writing chapter 2.6
Josh logged out of his tournament game and hurried back to the hall. He’d been so distracted by what was happening to Portia that he’d stood there and let his whole team get ambushed, and they were glad when he got up and let someone else sit down and play.
He joined the line to go thru the hamster tunnel, and overheard people going the other way. Costumed crimefighters walked by talking excitedly on their cellphones, saying “Wow” and “Pow” and “Zap” like they meant it. A girl in a Hunger Games outfit pushed a steampunk inventor in his wheelchair, talking about how it felt to be in everybody’s mind at once. He felt her words inside of his head as she was speaking. He closed his eyes and inched forward with the crowd. He could feel dozens of people, quite near, who were there when they all started floating. There was something about their – he didn’t know the word – something about them that shone even thru his closed eyes. Something that made them as close as family. He caught the eye of a viking warrior he definitely didn’t know, and a smile of recognition registered on both their faces.
He stepped thru the crows and sat on the floor beside Portia, cradling her head in his lap and stroking her hair. She fell asleep for a moment. Friends and strangers were milling around, wanting to talk about what happened, wanting to take pictures, wanting to touch Portia and Josh. The crowd was buzzing, everybody talking at once, texting and tweeting and posting.
Josh felt a little embarrassed by all the attention, a little vulnerable. He sensed an eagerness in them, bordering on desperation. They all wanted to have a piece of the extraordinary thing that had just happened.
It was still going on, the hum, the vibration. They were talking about it all around him. Those who had taken part in whatever just happened were attracting their own circles of people who wanted to hold their hands and feel the hum. People were asking him what other super powers they’d come back with.
A quick check of their pocket programs showed them a vacant conference room nearby, so the hall cleared out, and a crowd piled into the room, tweeting the change of venue. More people showed up.
Portia was telling someone about the worlds they made. “And the people. They were so cute; tiny little things. We made them purple, with big hair. They were so simple, and they looked up to us. I felt really responsible for them.”
“Yeah,” Josh added, “she got so mad when the angel turned them off.”
“I was, like, livid,” she remarked.
“Yeah, she burst into flame, just like the angel’s sword.”
“He was impressed, wasn’t he?” she asked, reflecting.
“Yeah.” So was the boy.
Someone asked, “So you learned a bunch of superpowers, but it was just a dream, right?”
“Or a drug-induced hallucination,” Josh agreed. “Except it changed us, and we’re different now.” That was really convincing, the girl remarked. “We can hear each other think, and we know where people are with our eyes closed.”
“Like off in other buildings,” Portia said, “right now.” She thought of Fairy and saw her rushing up the elevator with her appointment book in one hand, punching in a number on her phone with the other. I think it’s growing, she said to the boy. I can feel a lot of people.
“Okay, if it’s real, then do something,” someone said. The crowd was enthusiastic, and cellphone cameras came up ready to shoot.
Josh and Portia looked at each other. What can we do? she asked. What can’t we do? he returned. What haven’t we done already in our world? They joined hands and felt the hum. They closed their eyes. They felt a tingle in their hands and feet, and a rumbling in their guts. They thought happy thoughts.
They lit up like fancy special effects at a concert, for a split second. Then the lights flickered out and the effect was gone. People checked their phones, and those that caught the moment had nothing but overexposed dazzle, and those that didn’t just had a picture of the couple holding hands, looking goofy with their eyes shut.
But everybody saw it. And felt the lights pressing on them like a colored wind. And were aware of everybody else gasping because they were suddenly aware of everybody else inside their heads. So they told their friends about that, and more people came by to see what was going on.
Portia and Josh tried again for something they could sustain, but no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t generate anything after that, and even the hum was softer after their flareup.
“I can feel it right there,” she gestured just out of reach. “But I can’t make it pull like before.”
“Maybe it’s something you can’t force,” someone suggested sympathetically.
“Use the force, Luke,” someone called from the further out in the crowd.
All we had to do was want something in the game, the boy complained.
“I think,” said Portia, “that the strength of the…the power…might be tied to your emotions. Or it’s, like, right brain or something, and you can only get it to work when you’re in an altered state. Maybe.”
“Like shrooms and X,” Josh informed the audience with a wink.
“You kind of have to relax into it, I guess. A flow…” Portia trailed off, still exhausted.
A few people left, late to their next panels. The boy and girl heard them grumbling as they went up the escalator. Too New Age for them.