Episode 5: Like Minded
“FOCUSYOURMINDPSYBORG,” Professor Tullage said, her voice reverberating within the empty mind space. Juan floated alone in the pitch blackness of The Shifter’s mind, listening to the voice of his professor and tried to follow her instruction. Concentrating on the memory he wished to view, the space around him began to shift, color slowly seeping into the darkness around him. Forms started to gradually take shape, becoming more recognizable with time, and soon Juan found himself with the living room of the young Shifter watching the small boy as he sat down watching Saturday morning cartoons.
“VERYGOODPSYBORG.YOUREGETTINGBETTERATTHIS!” Professor Tullage’s voice rang out, causing Juan to smile at his accomplishment. He was getting better at accessing memories within the mind, although he knew he still had much to learn. He was still nowhere near his teacher’s level of skill yet. As if reading his mind, Professor Tullage materialized beside him, patting the boy on the shoulder.
“This looks near perfect. The image is clear, and I’m even able to get some reads on his emotional state as well,” she said.
“Yes. He seems to be quite content alone in his house. While I’m sure it helps not having his father nearby to cause him pain, it seems that The Shifter was a loner by nature,” Juan replied.
“Can you relate?” the professor asked, raising her eyebrows.
“Of course. I, too, am what many would consider a loner, although it has more to do with my inability to empathize with the feelings of my peers.”
“I disagree,” Professor Tullage stated. “You have the ability, you simply lack the practice. You have to want to be social, Juan. It’s not going to just simply come to you!”
“If that is the case, then why should I? I know what it’s like to be hurt, professor. To lose someone you love. Why should I risk going through that again? Would it not be easier to simply read their minds to know what others need, rather than risk exposing myself and making it difficult to manage my abilities?”
Professor Tullage gave a knowing smile at the boy before shaking her head. “I once thought the same thing, Juan. Until I lost control of my powers and became overwhelmed by the voices of those around me. If it hadn’t been for Empath, I would’ve lost myself long ago.”
“Professor Meulman? He was the one who saved you?!”
“That’s right,” the teacher replied. “Empath taught me that there was more to a relationship than simply being able to anticipate the thoughts of others. You have to share in their feelings, in their experiences. It’s only once you’re able to tap into the hearts of others, that you can truly understand how their minds work. Do you understand, Juan?”
The boy thought for a moment before nodding his head. “Yes, maam. I believe I do.”
“Good. Because there’s a group of students within your class who would very much like to know the real Juan, not the Psyborg. You’re more powerful than you realize, Juan, and one day they’re going to need you. Better that you stand beside them as friends rather than strangers, no?”
Juan smiled and nodded his head. Perhaps his teacher was right. Maybe it was time for him to start to open up. While he knew he was facing Team Davids this week in the Battledome, it wouldn’t hurt to befriend their opponents. Who knew? Maybe they had more in common than he realized.