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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 17: Brown 61
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 16: Slade 48
Theian Orlina Lelach suddenly looked at the infant who was, in her mind, her child Theian Toreinu Morach, but in his own mind Derek Jacob Brown. She had a look of puzzlement and uncertainty.
"Did you say something?" she said.
Not exactly, Derek thought to her mind. I don't have enough control of my mouth yet to actually say anything. But I know how to think things that other people can hear, and to hear what they think, so in a sense I said something. I thought it loud enough for your mind to hear it.
She looked at him, then shook her head.
"This is crazy, Orlina Lelach," she said.
Yeah, it does seem crazy. I'm sorry to upset you, but it's rather frustrating. I have so many questions, and I can't ask them.
"Questions," she responded. She didn't seem to be asking.
Yeah. Well, some of them won't make any sense at all, not in any way that I can think to ask them; and others are so far out there that I think I won't ask them yet. But maybe I can ask you some things.
"How could a question not make sense?" she asked.
Well, O.K., are we little, or are the trees big?
"That is a silly question. We are exactly the right size for sprites to be, and the trees are the right size for trees."
Derek could not decide whether that answer showed a keen understanding of the nature of reality or a complete failure to grasp the point of the question. He decided to take a different line.
Your parents, and my father's parents, often talk in a different language. I don't know that language. What is it?
"Our parents speak the old spritish tongue. They want to preserve the old ways."
Derek thought a bit about the old ways. It was often the case that old people wanted to preserve old ways and young people were moving with the times. But there was something he was missing, something that still didn't make sense. He couldn't put his finger on it.
"Is there anything else?" she asked.
He would have liked to ask if anyone had seen his equipment. Some of it seemed to be rather close at hand, but he hadn't seen it. But there was no way he could make that make sense. His new mother was trying to come to grips with the idea that her infant son could telepathically send his thoughts to her; this was not the time to let her know that he had the memories of a human who had been to half a dozen other worlds. He should move slowly with this. It could get very scary if she became frightened of him.
No, I'm sure I'll think of something, but that gives me something to think about. Then he had another idea. Is there anything you would like to ask me?
"Yes," she said. "Can you hear my thoughts?"
Ouch. That was very perceptive. But he'd asked.
I'm glad you're my mother, he thought to her. You are a very smart person. Yes, I started listening to your thoughts before you knew I was going to be born; but I didn't know you were my mother then. And I can't hear them all the time–only when I'm particularly listening for them. I've listened to my father's thoughts, too. I could probably listen to anyone's thoughts, if I tried, but yours are the only ones I've tried.
Lelach was thinking. Derek realized abruptly that there must be two kinds of thinking, the one kind that he heard when he read minds and the other that he sent when he used the telepathy. Although he was in touch with her mind now, he didn't hear her thoughts because they weren't thoughts she wanted to send to him; but if he switched to reading her mind, he would know her thoughts, but not be able to send his own. He wondered if he could do both at once; but then, it struck him as somehow inappropriate to experiment on his mother. This thought then put his entire view of psionics in question. On whom was it appropriate to experiment? You would not experiment on strangers; you would not experiment on friends. Lauren, he recalled, learned some of her abilities from people who had learned them by working with each other, and had their permission, even encouragement, to practice on them. She had then refined her abilities by using them on creatures who were clearly her enemies and the enemies of all life, the vampires who preyed upon the people of another world. If he was going to teach himself these mental powers, he was going to have to do so by experimenting on someone; that meant he was going to have to give a lot of thought to the matter of whom that should be.
At the moment, he was very tired. He was sharply reminded that this body could not sustain long periods of even mental effort. I think I'm going to sleep now, he sent to his mother, and then closed his eyes. He heard her gasp. Perhaps seeing him close his eyes at that moment had brought home to her the realization that it really was his thoughts in her mind. He did not have time to consider that before he was asleep.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #164: Versers Proceed. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: