Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pretty: Latent

After his shift was over, David returned to his quarters. They were sparse, but comfortable enough. Even now, he was not really certain about his status. He wasn't precisely a prisoner, but neither was he free to leave. "Guest" was how Inessa put it. She was his guide and keeper; the only person in the whole compound who would actually speak with him. Others might speak at David, "go here", "sit", "eat this", but only Inessa made any responses to him. He would have broken down long ago if it weren't for her.

Since arriving here, David had started speaking to himself, the walls, his bed. "I thought I'd be important here", he said. "They told me I was special, that I had a gift that could be trained. But all they do is make me stare at nonsense words on a page all day. Where are my prizes? Where is the reward and prestige that should be my due?" He sighed.

David went to his sink and stopped it up with a plug. He let the water run until it was half-full. This was something new he was just starting to learn how to harness. He stared at the water, bringing his head down until it was even with the lip of the sink. He could see reflections in the water, tiny ripples. He held his breath.

Every word spoken in Londinium vibrated the city just slightly. Every footstep, every door opening and closing. Those vibrations went everywhere, from the tops of the towers down to the geothermal power plants and farms below the city. They even went out and contributed to the ocean's waves, ever so slightly. Anybody could look at a pool of water and watch it tremble. It took an Infomancer to extract meaning from the pool. David was not an Infomancer. Not yet, at least.

David focused his awareness through a series of mental exercises Inessa taught him. She didn't have the gift, but she knew enough about it to help him learn to use his gift. His perception shifted. He no longer saw the vibration in the water as just water, but as a cacophony of sound and a kaleidoscope of colors. His head felt like it would split open, from the pain and overload of the sensation.

He found himself lying on the floor of his quarters, with a bump forming on his forehead. He must have blacked out. The thump would, no doubt, contribute to the trembling of all the other pools in all of the city. David stood again, stared at his sink. This time, nothing happened. Still, he was encouraged that he was able to pull something out of the water the first time. Sooner or later, he'd get it.


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