Monthly Archives: August 2014

Learn – Chapter Three

Click here for Chapter Two

Throwing on my jacket, I grabbed a cookie and stuffed another couple into my pockets as I left the house to visit my father in the hospital.

Dad left to help in the cold war about eight years ago. He wasn’t supposed to tell us anything about it, but there’s no hiding surface thoughts in this family. Shortly after he got activated, we all knew he had to go and there was no way to stop it.

He was one of the best spies in our country. With his mindshifting, he was able to siphon off a lot of crucial information. He was an expert in blending in and also seemed to learn anything he put his mind to. I don’t just mean that in the way parents use to motivate their children. I mean that he could learn anything, and in an unnaturally short span of time, too.

Dad could master any skill he wanted to, but languages seemed to be his forte. It was always so fun going on family holidays because he’d just use his mindshifting to pick up the local language and/or dialects there. In a day, he’d learn how to order food, say please and thank you and ask for the toilet. The next day he’d be able to ask for directions in the local tongue. In about a week, he’d be conversing like a local himself.

Dad would share his whatever he learnt with my sisters and I. We didn’t pick it up as easily as he did, but we were able to get the gist of each language. At the very least, we were able to ask for help if we needed it. Although we shared information mind to mind, Mum would sometimes join in and we’d teach her the old fashioned way. She wasn’t totally useless as you might think. Once she’d learnt enough of the language, she could really become a shrewd bargainer.

As I walked away from my house, I lifted the hood of my jacket over my head and stuffed my hands into my pockets, taking them out only to have a bite of cookie. I was focused on Dad and I didn’t want to be distracted by another stranger’s relationship woes.

Half an hour later, I stood in front of the hospital where my dad was warded. My sisters visted Dad everyday after school, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. Being here always made me feel angry and frustrated. I took a deep breath and stepped inside.

I hate hospitals. It’s partly because there’s always a lot of people with problems but it’s more because it’s cold and depressing. The smell of disinfectant wafted towards me as the glass doors slid open to let me in.

Dad was warded on the fifth floor. That’s where they keep all the patients in comatose. Although I hate all hospitals in general, I actually kind of like it there; it’s quiet, not quite serene, but it would do. There are never a lot of people, just the nurses going on their rounds and sometimes family members of the patients.

I pushed open the door to Dad’s room and padded in. There was no one else in the room but Dad and his roommate, both lying in their beds, each attached to machines monitoring their vital signs. I took a seat beside Dad but didn’t touch him yet.

“Hi Dad,” I whispered. “I’ve missed you.”

I closed my eyes, steeled myself and put my hand on his arm. Instantly, I shifted. Usually, I could feel Dad shift back into me, as I can feel my sisters when we touch. But ever since Dad was brought back in a coma, we couldn’t feel him shift back. It was like he was trapped, and I guess that makes sense. He could still receive information from his senses, so he could still hear and feel me if I would talk to him or touch him. That was how we communicated. I would speak out loud and he’d hear me, then he would think his response and I’d “hear” him.

But that was only during his lucid moments. Most of the time his thoughts were all jumbled up. Sometimes it wasn’t even his thoughts. See, in addition to mindshifting, Dad also was able to “consume” the minds of others. Their consciousnesses, if you will. My sisters and I didn’t even know he could do that until the first time Dad had a lucid moment and told us about it. That was about a week after he returned. It’s been almost three months now, and he’s still been struggling.

According to Dad, in order to consume a mind, the person would have to willingly be pulled, or would have to be in a near-death or unconscious state, such that Dad would be able to forcibly pull that person’s mind into his own. He would also “download” all the memories and experiences of that person and after some processing, Dad would be able to retrieve the information he needed. Normally, he would only be able to obtain surface thoughts through mindshifting and verbal prompts, but sometimes the information he needed would be so huge that the bits that floated into the person’s mind he was shifted into wouldn’t be enough. Depending on the age of the person, Dad would need some time to process and reorder all the memories, deleting any unnecessary information. The older the person, the longer it would take to extract all the memories he needed, since there was more information to process. Once that was done, he’d let the consciousness fade and die by cutting off the energy and nutrients. All his victims had died after he pulled their consciousness, so once he lets a consciousness fade, it’s gone forever.

Yes, it’s very sick and twisted and cruel. But necessary. That’s what made him one of the best. But it’s also what put him in a coma. Dad told us he had tried to consume four minds at once and was knocked out by the sheer information overload. While Dad was down, the four minds had run loose in Dad’s head, causing a lot of mental damage. Dad was only just able to imprison them, but maintaining four mental prisons as well as feeding them took a lot out of him, not to mention all the information he had to process and the repairs he had to make to his mind. We were lucky Dad still even remembered us.

The twins were right: Dad did feel weaker. When Dad told us about the other minds, my sisters decided to document all the memories of the people he had consumed. In the three months he’d been here, Dad had faded two minds, both non-shifters. Of the two that he kept, one we discovered had been a shifter himself, and the other one had a weird mental shield. We had no information about that guy except that he was a male enemy and that it hurt Dad every time he tried to break the shield. Dad calls him the Historian. I can’t even find a wall to hit in Haley; it’s like she’s invisible or camouflaged, whereas the Historian’s wall was obvious and painful.

The other mind Dad had taken was a guy called Lucas. Lucas was a fighter. It was hard for Dad to process his memories because Lucas would keep struggling against the mental prison and did his best to overload Dad again by pushing more memories to Dad.

“Dad?” I asked cautiously.

Hey Zacko, he replied warily. Looked like Dad was lucid. Lucas must have been regaining his energy to fight Dad again. I could feel Dad systematically sorting out the memories as fast as he could.

How’s your mother? he inquired.

“Worried about you. As are all of us,” I replied. “Ally and Anna came by earlier today, but they told me you couldn’t talk to them.”

Dad gave a mental sigh. Yes, Lucas is still being a pest, he muttered. He was playing it cool, but I could feel him slipping.

I’m about to fade him, he informed me. I haven’t got everything I needed, but I can’t keep him around any longer.

“Good,” I said. “Wake up. Come back to us. We all miss you, especially Mum.”

Not yet.

Although the Historian’s shield hurt Dad when he tried to attack it, the Historian himself had been quiet, so Dad saw no reason to fade him yet. Besides, he needed to process the Historian’s memories, so he just left a mental prison dome around the Historian, shield and all.

“Still no peep?” I asked.

None, he replied with a little suspicion. I don’t think I will be returning soon. Tell your mother and sisters I love them.

“I will,” I promised.

Suddenly, I felt the whole room shake. I broke contact with Dad and my eyes snapped open. I glanced around quickly, but nothing was off with the room. I frowned. Then I realized, the tremor had come from within Dad. I quickly put my hand on his arm again.

No, Zack! Get out! he shouted at me. The Historian’s shield was pulsating outwards, each time shaking Dad’s surrounding prison. Each clash between shield and prison wall resulted in the shaking sensation. As the shield expanded and contracted, Dad’s prison wall cracked, crumbled and finally shattered. The shield continued to expand towards Lucas and shattered Lucas’ prison. As the shield moved over Lucas’ consciousness, I felt Lucas himself fade.

Then the shield started expanding towards me.

Dad was doing his best to form a prison around the growing shield but the Historian just kept expanding, easily smashing through Dad’s feeble attempts.

Go! Dad yelled at me.

I snatched my hand away, but not before I felt Dad mentally wrap himself in his own mental prison. I jerked back so hard that I toppled over in my chair and hit the ground with a thump.

I rolled over and pushed myself up just as a nurse came rushing in to find out what was going on.

“Sorry, sorry, I just fell over,” I told her, embarrassed. The nurse helped me pick up the chair and set it right.

“Zacko,” I heard a voice rasp from behind me. I turned to see that Dad’s eyes had opened.

But that was not my father I saw staring back at me.

Click here for Chapter Four

-Jace

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Epic Rap Battles of History

EPIC RAP BATTLES OF HISTORYYYYYYYY!!!

Okay yeah I’m a huge fan. I’ve watched every single rap battle ever since I found them. And I’ve memorized a few of them too. So far, I’ve got down Adam VS Eve, Master Chief VS Leonidas, Michael Jackson VS Elvis Presley, Bill Gates VS Steve Jobs and Turtles VS Artists.

What? I had some free time. *shrug*

Okay okay, I practice while I’m in the shower. #bathroomrapper

I’m really good, but it seems like the guys in the other shower stalls don’t always agree with me. Hmph. :

Is it sad that I ERB myself?

Anyway, I love ERB because they’re so creative with their words. Not only do they rhyme, they follow the character’s style very closely. It’s really entertaining the way they stay true to the character and rap well at the same time.

I tell you, if history lessons were taught this way, I’d be very interested in history. It’s fun to just watch the characters battle, but if you truly understand each character’s quirks and habits, you really appreciate it a lot more. Captain Kirk has an obvious style, but I’m not familiar with him. I’m sure that if I was a Trekkie I’d be laughing my ass off.

Another example is Master Chief VS Leonidas. I was partway through learning this rap when I watched 300 again. I watched it because I had the sequel and I needed to watch it in order. They were awesome shows and I finally understood the reference by Master Chief when he said “you will not enjoy this, but it will be over quickly”. I love these small references that are obvious only to true fans of the characters.

There have been some female rappers on ERB (Adam VS Eve, Sarah Palin VS Lady Gaga, Cleopatra VS Marilyn Monroe and Miley Cyrus VS Joan of Arc) but I don’t think the actresses chosen were really good. Except for Eve, Sarah Palin and Lady Gaga, the rest lacked….. attitude. My favourite is Eve because she was played by Jenna Marbles, someone I know has attitude. That’s the kind of rapper ERB needs.

It’s very interesting to see different styles of rapping by different characters, not only the differences in each character’s own style, but also the differences in rap styles chosen to blend with each character.

So far there are three seasons for ERB. Here’s the playlists for Season 1, Season 2 and Season 3. Enjoy!

I can’t wait for Season 4 to start!

-Jace

50 Words of Grey

Last week, I finally finished reading 50 Shades of Grey for the first time.

Honestly I didn’t find it as exciting as it was hyped up to be. The erotic scenes were pretty unspectacular; I’ve read better scenes in non-romance novels. Okay yeah, each scene was still a turn on, but they weren’t what I expected, especially from an erotic romance novel. Perhaps my expectations were higher. Ah well.

But the thing that intrigued me the most was the sheer power of E L James’ vocabulary. She used so many words that I didn’t recognize. I felt like I had to have a dictionary or thesaurus with me as I read the book. Since I didn’t have one of those handy in camp and I didn’t want to waste data on my phone, I just took note of the foreign words and their contexts so I could look them up later.

I found a total of 24 new words. And that’s just in the first book. As of this writing, I’m halfway through book two and I’ve already found 12 new words, not including the original 24. I might actually use some of these new words in my own writing projects.

Me, with my larger-than-the-average-Singaporean’s vocabulary, struggling to understand these words! Imagine just how many words others would have to look up? Words like ‘profligate’ and ‘acquiesce’ were alien to me, although I could guess at their meanings from the context.

(Just FYI, ‘profligate’ means wasteful and ‘acquiesce’ means to accept reluctantly)

Incidentally, I came across a new phrase from one of blogs I follow: Purple Prose. Urban Dictionary defines Purple Prose as ‘a term used to describe literature where the writing is unnecessarily flowery’. And while 50 Shades isn’t overly purple, the writing is quite flowery. I feel that some of these advanced words needn’t have been used. When there are too many unfamiliar words, it really turns the reader off, especially if the plot is as boring as this one. Yeah I said it. 50 Shades of Grey is boring. The only thing that carries it are the erotic scenes.

(I’m fully aware this started off as fanfic from Twilight, so I didn’t expect much plot-wise)

I don’t think this is worth reading again, but I had to read the trilogy at least once so I could form my own opinions instead of just listening to other’s talk about it.

-Jace

Learn – Chapter Two

Click here for Chapter One

“Mum?” I called out as I unlocked the front door to my house.

“In the kitchen!” she yelled back at me. I kicked off my shoes and stowed them away in the cupboard before following the delicious smell of baking cookies. That meant my best friend was here. Before I even enter the kitchen, I hollered, “Hi Haley!”

Haley is my best friend and neighbour ever since she and her mother moved in next door when I was twelve. She’s a year older than I, but we click really well and that, in itself, is weird. She isn’t my best friend because I know her every thought and always understand where she’s coming from. Heck, I could be anyone’s best friend if that was just the reason. No, she’s my best friend because I can’t shift into her mind. It’s weird. She’s the only person I’ve met that I can’t shift into, voluntarily or involuntarily. The first time we shook hands I got so confused because I just saw her as she was, through my own eyes.

She and my mother both know about my mindshifting ability, though they can’t do it themselves.

“Zack-Zack!” Haley greeted me as she always does. She’s been calling me that ever since she found out my mum used to do that when I was a child. My parents brilliantly named me Zachary Isaac. Ha ha.

I grabbed a cookie off the cooling rack and took a huge bite. Mmm… Chocolate chip, my favourite. Mindshifting always leaves me hungry for sugar and Mum knows it. She poured me a glass of milk, which I accepted gratefully and started dunking the rest of my cookie.

Gotta love Mum.

“So what was it this time?” Haley inquired, nibbling on a cookie herself. I gave them a brief rundown on what happened at the cafe.

“I just wish people would just talk to each other more,” I complained as I finished my story.

“Well, not everyone is as blessed as you are,” Mum reminded me. I sighed.

“Awww, that’s so sweet, what you did! You should be proud of yourself, Zack,” Haley mock swooned. “You’re like a romantic superhero!” She’d been quiet the whole time I was recounting my tale. That’s what I love about her; she knows how to listen.

“Yeah, saving the world one uncommunicative couple at a time. Woohoo.”

I’m not a superhero. I’m not a good person and I don’t want to be. It’s only because I’m exceptionally curious to find out about other people’s lives that I bother at all. I have a personal bugbear with people who don’t communicate with each other, so I always feel compelled to fix relationship problems.

“You don’t have to save everyone, you know,” Mum said as she tousled my hair. I shifted into her mind for a moment. As usual, she’s worried about Dad. She was also thinking about the twins, who were supposed to be home by now.

“Hey, it’s almost four, where are your sisters?” Haley echoed my mother’s thoughts.

As if on cue, my twin sisters Allison and Annabelle entered the kitchen at the same time and greeted all of us in unison. They turn 17 this year, six years younger than I, and we’re very tight. We have been, ever since Dad had to leave for the war and I’ve had to help take care of my family.

Ally and Anna can mindshift too, but they don’t interfere with other people’s lives as much as I do. We suspect our abilities were passed down from our father, but both our paternal grandparents passed away before I was born, and dad was an only child. How convenient.

Interestingly enough, they’re also telepathic. They can communicate with each other mind to mind. I think it’s a twin thing. They used to have to be in skin contact to mindspeak, but recently they’ve been able to move short distances away from each other and still retain mental contact.

This telepathy is nothing more than two people mindshifting to each other and then thinking what they want to say. One person thinks what they want and the other person “hears” or feels her thoughts and emotions, then responds. As far as we know, only the three of us can mindshift, and thus mindspeak. We can’t project our thoughts to another person, so there’s no mindspeaking with a non-shifter.

And now the twins have a new trick. It’s so unfair.

They each took a cookie and Anna touched my hand. It’s our little ritual: we update each other on our day without speaking a word. Since they’re both always in contact with each other, only one of the twins has to be in skin contact with me to swap updates. Mum and Haley waited patiently for a few seconds.

Ally and Anna each gave Mum a kiss then went up to their room.

“They stayed back a bit to finish their school project. Yes, those guys are still hitting on them. No, the twins can handle them. They also went to visit Dad. He’s no worse, but no better either. Dad sends his love,” I reported to Mum as they leave.

Mum nodded her acknowledgement without comment.

“You know, it’s still freaky how you guys do that,” Haley muttered.

“You know, it’s still freaky how you’re still shielded,” I threw back. Even the twins can’t shift into Haley.

“Thank goodness for that!” she said. “You’re so not welcome in my private thoughts.”

“I don’t need to be in your head to know what you’re thinking, Hales.”

“Oh really? What am I thinking now?” She challenged me.

“You’re thinking about having another cookie,” I said with confidence. I broke off a large chunk of my cookie and stuffed it into her mouth.

“You know me so well,” she mumbled through a mouthful of cookie and rolled her eyes at me.

***

After Haley left, I went up to my sisters’ room and knocked on their door.

“Come in,” they chimed in unison.

“Okay I covered for you guys. What’s up with Dad?” I asked as I closed the door.

The twins are sitting at their computers, updating our notes on Dad. I put my hand on Ally’s arm.

Dad’s thoughts are getting more erratic. He’s still in a coma, but his thoughts are more jumbled and fragmented. We could only get a bits of thoughts and flashes of memories. He couldn’t even talk to us today.

I felt their sorrow, and a bit of fear.

What’s happening to him?

We think his mind is overloading. He can’t repair his body and contain the minds he’s consumed at the same time anymore. They’re fighting him, and he’s losing.

Click here for Chapter Three

-Jace

THE003 Her

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Yes!” I replied immediately and automatically closed my eyes. I knew what was coming.

He put his hands on my shoulders and I felt him lean closer to me. He kissed me, the same way he did three years ago, and I melted into him, the same way I did three years ago. It was the same kiss that marked the start of our beautiful relationship.

We were in the same course in school, but different classes. I recognized him by face, but we never had a chance to interact. It was the occasional glance here and there, but I never really did think much of him, until I met him during our internship together.

We made small talk at first, but then over the course of our internship, I noticed that he’d often get jobs that two people could work on together. Well, one person could do it, but two people worked faster together. And for some reason, we always ended up as partners, either by him asking me, or by our boss assigning the task to us both. The first few times, I didn’t think much of it because I thought it was because we were in close proximity to each other, so it was easy to just ask me for help. But over the nights of shared dinners and comfortable conversations, I realized that there was something more than work to our relationship.

I guess it should have been more obvious to me. He’d ask me to have dinner together with him nearly every weeknight before we went home. The first dinner was a little awkward at first, but we discovered that we had a lot in common to talk about. We liked the same music, books and movies. We’d argue about stuff like if Edgar Allan Poe was better than Stephen King, or if Alien was better than Predator.

Yeah, I’m a fan of the horror and thriller genres and it turned out he was too, which was a nice surprise. I like surprises.

We became very close as a result of all this bonding time and I grew very comfortable around him. I felt I could be my adventurous self. He was very sweet and such a gentleman too. Not only did he tolerate my impulses, he walked me home every night, even though he stayed much further away.

I don’t know exactly when I realized I had fallen for him. I guess it was a slow, gradual and inevitable thing that just happened. I mean, how could I not?

He was quite reserved, very much the opposite of my fiery attitude. Most of the time, he’d just let me have my fun, but once in a while I managed to coax him to do something crazy with me, like get him to eat spicy food. The one moment that stood out for me was the Chilli Chocolate incident.

See, I love spicy food, and when we happened to stumble across chilli in chocolate, I just had to taste it. Naturally, he wanted nothing to do with it, stating that was was almost blasphemy to chocolate. I locked eye contact with him and asked him, “Do you trust me?”

We’d been through this same routine several times. I would ask him to taste it, then pretend to get mad, insult him, and then finally guilt trip him. The trust thing gets him every time.

He took a bite. I watched as his face changed from oh-god-why-am-I-doing-this to hey-this-ain’t-that-bad. I took a bite myself, and discovered it was only mildly spicy. I’d had a theory that since the chilli was in milk chocolate, the milk would counter the capsaicin in the chilli, the chemical which causes spiciness.

On the last week of our internship together, he turned my own line against me. We were walking down the river, happily licking our ice creams to cool our tongues after the spicy chicken wing dinner we had. I was just about to finish when he suddenly stopped and turned to me. I stopped as well.

“Close your eyes,” he said.

“Why?” I asked suspiciously.

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Yes, of course,” I replied, finishing off my ice cream and closing my eyes.

I felt a weight on each shoulder – his hands – and sensed him leaning in. His lips met mine, and I started a little in surprise, but managed to keep my eyes closed. I recovered quickly and wrapped my arms around him, pulling him closer as I kissed him back passionately.

Like I said before, I like surprises, and I especially loved this one.

-Jace

THE003 Him

“Do you trust me?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied without hesitation. She smiled and closed her eyes.

We were celebrating our third anniversary together. Our third year since we officially became a couple, which was about a month after we met.

I met her when I was doing an internship as part of my study module. We were both attached to the same department along with several other interns, helping out mostly with data entry and small errands. Basically not much more than coffee boys and girls. She and I only met and talked to each other during that internship. I mean, she was in the same course as I, but from a different class. I knew her face, but we never had an opportunity to mingle before.

Over the course of the internship, she and I became quite close. I’d always ask her out to have dinner together. Nobody else seemed to ask her out and she never asked anyone either, so it was always just the two of us.

Not that I minded. I’d tell my colleagues I’d be having dinner with a friend and they’d leave me alone.

We had dinner together almost every weekday night. I discovered she loved spicy food, even and especially the ones that would make her start sniffing tearing up. Her cheeks would also turn a pretty shade of red, which was kind of adorable. Each meal I ask her why she tortures herself so and she always replied that it wasn’t torturous. I personally hate spicy food like chilli, curry and peppers. I mean, I can eat it if I’m forced to, but I’d always pick something else.

I remember there was one night we had Japanese food and she’d ordered curry rice. This was our third week of our internship together and we had grown quite close. She was playfully doing her best to make me taste Japanese curry and I was quite adamant in refusing. She called me weak and unadventurous and I still wasn’t having any of it.

Then she looked into my eyes and asked me, “Do you trust me?”

“Yes…” I answered hesitantly.

“Then take a bit of curry. It’s not spicy at all!”

“No!” I exclaimed.

She pouted. “You don’t trust me,” she said.

“…Alright, alright fine,” I gave in reluctantly.

She beamed and instructed me to close my eyes and open my mouth. I did so and she slipped a spoonful of Japanese curry into my mouth. I was pleasantly surprised; it actually wasn’t very spicy. Quite delicious, in fact. Of course, I didn’t love all spicy food immediately after that, but that one incident made me realize how much I did trust her.

On our last week of our internship together, I took her out to a fancy restaurant for dinner, as a sort of celebration for completing our internship and, as a result, finishing our final module for graduation. We ordered spicy chicken wings and she made me eat them too. We were both in tears by the end of it, but on a high, laughing and joking and just generally being silly. We went for ice cream afterwards to cool our tongues and took a walk beside the river to enjoy the cool night air.

We shared a comfortable silence as we ate our ice cream and strolled along, taking in the sights of the night activities. I realized that after this week, if I didn’t do something, I probably wouldn’t see her again. I finished the last bit of my ice-cream, stopped and turned to her. She stopped too. I looked into her eyes and I said, “Close your eyes.”

“Why?” she asked curiously, tilting her head cutely.

“Do you trust me?” I asked.

“Yes, of course,” she replied with a smile and finished off her ice cream too.

“Then close your eyes,” I told her and she did so. I took a breath and mentally psyched myself up for what I was about to do.

I put my hands on her shoulders, leaned in and kissed her lips. She twitched in surprise, but didn’t open her eyes. I closed my eyes as well as she kissed me back and I felt her wrap her arms around me.

That was our first kiss and the day we officially became a couple. Since then we’ve shared many kisses and I’m sure we’ll enjoy many more together.

-Jace

Learn – Chapter One

This is my 150th post! As a sort of mini celebration, this shall be the first chapter of the first book of my trilogy. Enjoy!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m the guy who thinks he knows everything.

You would be right.

My name is Zack. I can read minds. But it’s not typically what you might expect. I don’t hear other people’s thoughts just like that. I can’t dig through your brain and find out all your dirty little secrets. But what I can do is “get” you. I can click with anyone, simply because I’m able to put myself in their position.

Almost literally.

See, when I make skin contact with someone, I automatically shift into their head for a moment. I see what they’re seeing, feel what they’re feeling, and think what they’re thinking at that point in time and for as long as I remain in physical contact. I’m just a passenger in their head and they don’t even know I’m there. I still control my own body. Believe me, it’s bloody weird watching myself from another person’s point of view. I call it mindshifting.

I can’t really help it. It just happens whenever I make skin contact with someone, and it’s quite disorienting when I’m not expecting it. But I’ve had a lot of practice so now I’m not as affected by the vertigo as I used to be.

Don’t even ask about sex.

I’ve been able to mindshift for as long as I can remember and for most of my life, I thought it was normal and that everyone could do it. I never understood why people argued, or why there were misunderstandings in the first place, but my ability helps me understand both sides of an argument and I can generally figure out a solution. Which is why I’m standing in the middle of a cafe, between a guy on the verge of hitting me and a very exasperated woman.

I guess I should back up a little and start from the bookstore.

I love mystery novels because I can usually predict the ending. This part has mostly nothing to do with my mindshifting ability, it’s just that I understand people so well that I can partially predict what they’d do as well as their motives. It’s not a hundred per cent accurate, but I do quite well, if I do say so myself.

I had found an intriguing new book to read and as I headed to the counter to pay for it, I noticed this young woman browsing along the Mystery section with a basket of books in hand, looking a little lost. My curiosity got the better of me so I “accidentally” bumped into her, making sure my hand touched hers. The short contact was enough to get a split second mindshift.

“Sorry,” we both mumbled at the same time.

“I know what you’re thinking,” I said, “you can’t decide which book you want to get for your boyfriend – no wait – husband. And no, neither one will make it up to him.”

She looked at me suspiciously. “I’m sorry, do I know you?” she asked.

“Not yet,” I replied mischievously, “but you’ll want to.”

I turned and walked away, knowing full well I’d piqued her interest and she’d come after me.

Three… two… one…

“Hey wait! What book should I get then?”

“Neither. It won’t solve your problem. You should just tell him.”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

I sighed dramatically. “You’re pregnant and you haven’t told your husband yet. You don’t want to get his hopes up, so you’ve withdrawn into yourself and kept away from him. He’s noticed you’ve been distant and you feel guilty about it, so you’re here deciding how to apologize to him. I bet he probably likes mystery novels.” I gestured to the book in my hand.

When I mindshift, I can follow all of a person’s surface thoughts and feelings. I’m also acutely aware of the physiological body functions that are happening at that point in time, although each person doesn’t normally notice these things about themselves. I notice them simply because they’re different from mine. For example, heart rate. In this case, I/she had felt a little queasy and there was a slight discomfort in my/her abdomen.

She looked a bit fazed. I didn’t blame her. I get that reaction all the time. She mumbled something.

“What?” I asked.

“He’s my fiancé,” she repeated a little louder. “You were right about everything else except my fiancé. He’s not my husband yet. But how do you know all this?”

I wasn’t going to tell her I could mindshift, but all the mystery and detective novels I’ve read have equipped me with other skills I could use to cover myself.

I smiled and said, “You’ve got several books in your basket, mostly self-help and recipe books and just one on baby names. I didn’t take you for the mystery type, so I guessed you were getting the mystery books for someone else. I noticed your ring after I guessed you were buying it for your boyfriend and corrected myself.”

“What makes you think I was guilty and wanted to apologize to Frank?”

“You just admitted it. Besides,” I put my hand on hers, made myself make eye contact and watched myself through her eyes as I said with a straight face, “I know what you’re thinking.”

I felt a thought form in her mind.

“My, you’re quite the Sherlock Holmes, aren’t you? Would you like to-”

“-get coffee?” I interjected. “Sure.” I let go of her hand and walked off to the counter to pay for my book.

“I was going to say doughnuts,” she called after me.

“No,” I tossed back at her without breaking stride. “You weren’t.”

***

Her name was Melissa and I had managed to convince her to tell her fiancé, Frank, that she was pregnant. We watched him through the cafe’s glass walls as he jogged up the steps and pulled open the door. He scanned the cafe and Melissa waved at him. He smiled at her started walking towards us, but as his eyes shifted towards me and I could see his whole demeanor change with each step he took.

“Oh my God I knew it!” he exclaimed.

Oops. That was not the reaction I had anticipated. Melissa and I stood quickly.

“Frank!” Melissa hissed. “Shut up, you’re going to make a scene.”

“You’re cheating on me with this guy?!” He shoved a finger in my face.

I slapped his hand away and, of course, mindshifted. Uh oh. This was going to get ugly quickly. He was already thinking of hitting me and knew exactly how he would do so.

“Dude, I know what you’re thinking,” I started to say.

“Yeah, well, think about this!” He said as he swung at me.

For a moment, I sighed inwardly. I already knew where the punch was coming from and casually caught his fist in my hand without flinching. Yeap. I’m just that good.

“Please don’t,” I watched myself say with his fist still in my hand.

“Frank!” Melissa grabbed him.

Frank threw another punch at me with his other fist and again I caught it without breaking eye contact. I had to admit, this guy had balls, but not much else. It looked quite comical from an outsider’s perspective.

Trust me, I would know.

“Enough!” I barked. “She’s not cheating on you.”

He finally backed down, like I knew he would. Typical nerd. All I had to do was assert my dominance and he would submit.

Okay fine, I guess most people would back down after two failed attacks.

“I know what you’re thinking.” I repeated. “You’ve put in a lot of effort into your relationship and you’re afraid she’ll somehow ‘wise up’ at the last minute and dump you. Well, I can tell you that she loves you very much. In fact, she thinks she’s not as smart as you are and has always admired your brains. She’s as insecure about you as you are of her. Both of you really need to talk this out.”

Frank and Melissa both sank into their chairs, staring at me. Melissa hadn’t actually said any of those things. As I gathered my stuff, I looked at Frank and said, “She’s got something to tell you.”

As I walked out of the cafe, I pulled out my mobile and called my mother.

“Hi Mum,” I said. “I did it again.”

Click here for Chapter Two

-Jace