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

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