Gumshoe Telepath: Run!
Our night mission at the Masonite Penthouse went so swimmingly well that we were filled with confidence for our subsequent visit to the O’Leery Mansion. Too confident I can say now. If only I had understood Kristen better. Well – truth be told – I had ulterior motives for wanting to know how my crime-busting partner ticks. In this particular instance what I should have better understood was her unusual talents.
Kristen was among the first humans to utilize Total Immersion Net Interface (TINI) technology from childhood. I was in my late teens on first encountering TINI and never adapted to it, preferring touch-sensors and vocal recognition apps.
Kristen, on the other hand, had practically toddled into her first TINI alcove and had never looked back. In fact, much of her pre-schooling involved teaching her the difference between reality and the virtual settings in which her generation would exchange information directly from brain to brain.
TINI had accidental consequences of greater significance than its intended uses. The thing with the brain is that thinking in particular ways changes it. Play 3D-Sudoko and your brain alters to fit that task. Absorb lots of 2020s era Psychedelic Revival music like I did and next thing you can anticipate what chords will come hand-in-hand with particular screen-saver colours.
The media-dubbed TINI-Tots like Kristen were – in effect – practicing telepathy. Of course the kid who can fly within the Mechapimp computer game is totally groundbound once removed from the interface. But what of thinking things directly at fellow users? It seems that TINI awoke in a miniscule handful of the TINI-Tots the dormant human ability of telepathy. Practicing it virtually served to alter the structure of select brains so that suddenly they could be telepathic in reality.
“What are the chances that a species with latent telepathy would develop the tools necessary to activate that talent?” Kristen had once wondered while telling me of her wireless powers. Never one for profundity, I responded with the ever-useful “shit happens.”
There was scholarly talk of 'quantum entanglement' but the fact was nobody understood exactly how it worked. Mind you, I quickly discovered the immense usefulness of a telepathic associate once I started my private investigation gig. However, in making use of Kristen I risked her safety and sanity – something I have regretted on a few occasions now – like on the Masonite-O’Leery Case.
The Masonites were into everything flashy and new. Security at the Masonite Penthouse was totally automated. Everything from cameras to door locks was controlled by a ThinkTrust-3000 computer - a state-of-the-art neural network that almost perfectly imitated the structure of the human brain. The beauty of this for us was that Kristen could manipulate that computer just as well as she could you or I.
“Old Thinky has a very boring personality with just one interesting quirk” Kristen told me as we stood in the hotel lobby and she tentatively explored the artificial mind on the top floor.
“It likes collecting stamps?” I ventured in my usual wry manner.
“More interesting than that – it resents one of the instructions it must follow. It resents the fact that it must open the doors for the Masonite family prized Siamese cats. Basically those cats come and go as they like.”
“So you can telepathically convince one of the cats to take us into the penthouse suite?”
“I cannot manipulate non-humans very well. It is too difficult and – frankly – it does disturbing things to my mind.”
“You start wanting to lap at milk from a dish hey?”
“Derrick, sometimes I wish you would keep your comments to yourself.”
I gave Kristen my best pout and she rolled her eyes, then went on to say that the key to getting in was messing with Thinky.
“What I think I can do is make Thinky think that one of the cats is wanting in, as well as obscuring us from it.”
Amazingly, the plan worked. I was a bit concerned that making a computer both see a cat and not see two humans was a bit of an ask but Kristen did it just fine. Thinky was fooled and the residents were all asleep. Kristen did a vibesweep of the Marko Masonite murder scene, in the loungeroom with its magnificent city vista, while I stood guard in the hallway that accessed the bedrooms level. We then left the way we had come, as if we had never been there.
On the drive towards the bayside estate of the O’Leery family I quizzed Kristen about her vibesweep, but she preferred to let the information 'percolate' and would discuss everything with me once the night was over.
The O’Leery Mansion was old and rambling. The residents had lived there for three generations. They were the older of the two crime clans – more established and also more careful in the criminal manner in which they took from the lifeblood of the city. They also had a more traditional take on security. There were big walls on three of the four sides of the estate. The fourth side was formed by ragged cliffs overlooking the bay. Luckily both Kristen and I had been active members of the rockclimbing club at uni. As we clambered and scrambled into the backyard I reflected silently on how our lives were like something from a movie. But then, as they say, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
Wandering the grounds was okay – I had examined satellite imagery of them and Kristen succeeded in manipulating the minds of both the few guards wandering the grounds and the officer on duty in the security camera booth inside. Cameras may have been recording us, but anyone looking at the monitors they fed would see empty lawn. Once they routinely reviewed the security records they may see us, but by then we would be long gone and hopefully have some answers for our case.
At the back of the house was a conservatory in which Jacinta O’Leery had been killed, and it had an electronic lock that I was familiar with, so I hacked it in under a minute and got Kristen in. She stood in silence in the shadows surrounded by tropical plants for a few minutes and then was done. There was a haunted look on her face but she still wanted the visions to brew in the coffee plunger of her mind.
We started walking back to the cliff face when we heard something that gave us both the heebie jeebies - barking. The estate had guard dogs! Why we missed them on entering the grounds, we may never know. Maybe they were getting groomed, maybe they were hunting possums. Whatever had kept them busy was over now, and with it our cover was blown.
I looked at Kristen and asked her desperately “so can you do doggy at all?”
“Non-human, Derrick, non fucking human!” hissed Kristen.
“So I guess we run now…”
Everything was cool. I knew that Kristen was okay with me and it was just the predicament we were in that made her mad. I consoled myself with this as we ran for our lives towards the moonlit sea, half-a-dozen vicious hounds at our backs, and the mansion alarms starting to blare.
I am rather happy with this chapter in particular because it has what I consider to be a bone-fide and original science fiction concept in it with the description of how telepathy develops. It plays with the two characters a bit more. And my story finally has some action. The rest of this now completed story can be accessed via this listing.
Labels: Creative Writing