Reading is Believing

If you were to ask one thousand people if they would like the ability to read minds I’d bet good money that over half would say yes. We’ve seen this play out in a variety of media from Professor X to What Women Want and Kelly on Misfits. The thing people so rarely consider is that having the chance to read minds might reveal things you won’t have the luxury to forget. How do you separate what people imagine from what they actually do?

Jay had been having an odd week. Work had become so mundane that she could hardly remember what she actually did once she left the building. A co-worker who had an annoying habit of over sharing was telling her about an experiment going on at the local university. A group of ill-advised PhDs had been working on a way to give people the ability to read minds. They never explained exactly how they did it but it’s not like Jay had any plans this weekend and besides it would be the easiest $200 she ever earned. Her co-worker sent her the link and she put in her information. They replied with the quickness and gave her an appointment. As she laid in bed unable to sleep to wondered if it would really work. Hopefully it was a pill or something that was done by a needle. She wasn’t really in the mood to have some machine mess up her hair. Just because she didn’t have any plan doesn’t mean she didn’t want it to look good. Being a mind reader seemed like it was streets ahead. Just imagine the information she could gather with that ability. No more dead-end researcher job for her. A reporter who was psychic would be an advantage. No secret would be safe from her. Every story would be breaking news. Before she knew it she had drifted off to sleep.

Her alarm was unusually loud this morning but then again any alarm set for Saturday morning is going to be a literal rude awakening. Jay got out of bed and began her morning rituals. She had about three hours before her appointment and that was plenty of time for her to get ready. As she stared into her closet she wondered out loud what exactly one wears to an appointment in which you’re going to be experimented on? In the end what she picked was nothing fancy, a dress that was a happy medium between comfortable and flashy. When she arrived to campus they met her outside of the science building. It was much larger than she had anticipated. Apparently some money bags type had just donated a brand new building with state of the art equipment as well as a grant program designated for out of the box projects such as this one. The PhDs who met her outside were odd-looking. The woman looked no older than twenty and was incredibly twitchy. It was very unnerving. The other was looked like the type of person you would expect to have a volcano lair fully staffed with monochrome henchmen. As they led her to their lab she couldn’t help but wonder exactly she had signed herself up for. It seemed like such a great idea at the time but now as they let her to the lab she could feel the regret bubbling up. “We’re almost there. It’s the last door on the left,” mumbled the twitchy one under her breath. The lab was surprisingly ordinary looking. It looked like it had barely been in use. Inside was the third PhD who looked like the white guy in every monster movie who gets ignored but ends up being right. “Thanks for your interest. All you need to do is take this pill once a day for the next fourteen days and report to us if anything changes or you develop any abilities,” said the Matthew Broderick look-a-like. Jay to the bottle of pills, her money, and a pamphlets before being led back downstairs. As she walked back to her car Jay looked at the bottle of pills in her hand. There was nothing special about their look.  Fourteen pills could change her whole life, or a quick way to make two hundred bucks.

Day fourteen and still no change. She’d taken the pill every morning for two weeks and had no change. No mind reading nor any nasty side effects. At this point she was certain she was in the placebo group. Her big mouth coworker was probably in the placebo group or she would have finally noticed how annoying she was.  Jay went about her saturday reading with the occasional writing. Around 2PM she got a call from the trio of PhDs asking if she could stop by before the day was over. They didn’t really give much detail but from the way they sounded it seemed urgent. When she arrived she they were all waiting for her in front of the science building twitching with nervousness. The Matthew Broderick impersonator fumbled with his words as he asked a weird question,”Have you experienced any side effects from the pills?” This question confused Jay as she had assumed she was in the placebo group. THey went on to explain how all of the other test subjects had experienced side effects ranging from blurry vision to phantom vertigo. Out of the 500 participants Jay was the only one to experience nothing. Her lack of results were odd. After a thorough check up by another doctor and a series of test they couldn’t find anything wrong with her and sent her on her way. That night sleep did not come easy. Jay couldn’t help but wonder what was going on but she couldn’t dwell on it for very long because it was very late and she was exhausted.

“I should just kill everyone,” whispered a voice from out of the shadows. It jolted Jay out of her sleep. She scrambled to check all of her locks and windows. There was no one in her apartment but something was definitely off even if she wasn’t sure what. The next day at work the office was weirdly louder than usual. Everyone was over sharing in a manner that made her uncomfortable. To drown out the noise Jay took her laptop and noise canceling headphones down to document storage so she could focus. At first she was able to focus in the silence getting quite a bit of work done, then there was a strange voice. She couldn’t place it but it wasn’t coming from within the room. besides she had on noise canceling headphones, she shouldn’t be able to hear anyone. Then there was another voice talking gibberish. It was suddenly becoming clear that something had gone horribly wrong. Maybe she had actually developed the ability to read minds. She ventured out of the room with head headphones hanging around her neck. A confused intern stumbled by without opening her mouth but Jay could hear how worried she was about the sports writer who creeped her out. As she made her way back to her desk she could hear everything her coworkers were thinking. Apparently journalist are very insecure at all times in ways that are both shocking and confusing. The blabbermouth of the office had a crippling fear that no one was actually listening. It didn’t make them any  more likeable, it just added a new layer of pathetic. Jay hadn’t considered how much was on someone’s mind on at any giving time. Forget all the insecurities that are constantly creeping in, the amount of sexual things people think at any given time is insane and that can make conversation awkward. You don’t want to think about the amount of people who are thinking about you naked or the number of people who wonder if they smell like poop. The mundane things people think about is actually the biggest downside. Who knew we spent so much of our day wondering about if they turned out some light when they left in the morning. This was going to be the opposite of useful.

It had been a few months since her new-found abilities manifested and despite all the tests known to man, the three PhDs were unable to determine the source of her ability. She managed to gain some control over her newfound ability but it has become quite cumbersome for her daily life. Telecommunicating to work became the norm for her because the voices in her office were too much to bear. The flaw with mind reading is that thoughts aren’t actions. People think about so many things they never act on and it made her paranoid to hear it all. Dating was impossible  at this point. Reading minds during dates take all the mystery out of it and increases the creep factor. It had destroyed any thing she had resembling a social life. This went on for nearly five-year. Some days the voices were so much she would vanish into the woods to get any sleep. One day as suddenly as it appeared her ability vanished. Still, normalcy was just out of reach for her. She may not hear the thoughts of her peers but she couldn’t forget what she had already heard. When Jay tried to return to work it was too awkward for her. It was only a couple of months before she resigned. A new job on the opposite coast gave her a fresh start around people she didn’t know. No one knew she was leaving until she was gone. To this day she makes a point to never talk to those people.


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