Lazy Luddite Log

30.8.12

Gumshoe Telepath: Mirrors

It is over twelve months since the last instalment of this story but it takes me ages to get the concepts and motivation to make these happen. The key concept of this chapter – Mirror Neurons – is one I knew I wanted to use for several months but only now do I have a go at writing.

By the time we got back to my apartment the media were buzzing with news of the assassination of the Congress Minority Leader. We had to get past that however and focus on finding a parallel event happening in another part of the world. We had returned to Casa Derrick because we wanted both privacy and my criminally superb home access to the Net.

Our progress was frustratingly slow. Kristen was hampered by the fact that I eschewed TINI interfaces in my home and she had to use touch sensors and vocal recognition just like me. I was hampered by the fact that every bloody time I looked at a report of a murder I wanted to cry. The last time I had been that much of a pansy was as a teenager watching gritty history docos. I must have been feeling the pressure of our predicament.

In scouring the Net we were looking for any attacks on those we guessed could detract from the power of centralizing global government. Who, other than the Congress Minority Leader, represented the greatest obstacle to world domination? We considered the presidents of nation-states that had declined membership of Global Monetary Integration. We looked at military admirals and generals with a popular profile. We even looked at those actors who flirted with sub-cultures deemed non-rational by the Government Majority.

Nothing much seemed conclusive. None of the incidents we looked at fit the behaviour patterns of our suspected Twin Telepath Assassins. Eventually Kristen declared it was coffee time so we moved from my study-loft to my couch pit.

“What are we overlooking Kristen?”

I was exasperated and my telepathic partner in crime-busting seemed frustrated too. She glanced over the rim of her mug at me with what looked like a hint of resignation.

“Do we have to do this Derrick? Have we even asked ourselves whether this is a job for us anymore? Gangland murder is one thing and political assassination is another.”

Kristen had a point. The fact that we had only just now even contemplated the impact of the changing scenario for us showed just what dogged investigators we were. But did it matter to us anymore?

“You think we just pack it in then Kristen?”

“Well we can report what we know, rather than what we suspect, and let the Cops take care of the rest of the Masonite-O’Leery case. This is so totally beyond us and we have lives to get on with.”

I liked living a small and private life but I also was surprised that Kristen was the one suggesting we let this one go. Between the two of us it was she that was the authority-condemning radical.

“So you reckon we just let your predicted dictatorship take hold?”

“Derrick this is dangerous and we have loved-ones this could affect too. Dammit”

“What?”

“I’ve totally forgotten to check my personal messages the last few days. Give me a few beeps.”

I let Kristen return to the loft while I stared absent-mindedly at my pixel-wall. The apparent bricks were slowly morphing from granite to sandstone. Usually that relaxed me but today I was just too perturbed.

“Fuck!”

Kristen had exclaimed audibly and I rushed to her.

“What’s the matter kid?”

“Dr Pax is dead. He drowned in his own spa. Police say it was an accident but many of his protégés – telepaths like me – find the whole thing very suspicious…”

Kristen was visibly distressed and I felt her shock and sorrow. She must have been projecting in this stressful moment. And along with emotions came thoughts too, startling thoughts.

“Kristen… how could your mentor be a threat to the Government?”

“Mirror Neurons, Derrick.”

“Okay…”

I knew enough to know that Mirror Neurons were brain cells that allowed us to imitate the actions of others. They were also widely held to be the biological font of empathy – one mimicked others by constructing mental models allowing one to feel as others felt.

Despite my awesome trivia mastery I looked puzzled so Kristen elaborated for me.

“Dr Pax was investigating the stimulation of Mirror Neuron development via telepathic means. He felt that such an ability could be incredibly useful in all sorts of conflict resolution scenarios.

Suddenly something dawned on me.

“Hey Kristen did that thing you did to me at the Roundtree have anything to do with Mirror Neurons?”

“Yes.”

“Coz I’ve been wanting to cry all day.”

“I may have boosted your compassion in the process of getting you to understand me…”

“Boosted my compassion? Thanks a whole bunch!”

I felt like launching into a rant at Kristen regarding this affront to my rugged personality but was distracted by the whirring of an unusually low-flying hovercopter over my apartment block. A moment later Kristen grabbed me by the shoulders.

“There are several minds – the ultra-disciplined military kind – on the roof of these apartments and…”

“And what Kristen?”

“A Twin is with them!”

“Shitburgers!”

I rushed to secure the door then changed my mind. In that same instant Kristen started staring intently at the door and muttered “I can totally make them overlook your front door…”

“Forget it – there is more of them and they have a telepath too. We gotta get away and fast!”

I grasped my jacket from the hat stand by the door and threw Kristen her trench coat. I then rushed to the window, opened it, and gestured for Kristen to get onto the fire escape. She took my suggestion and started rushing down the steps, three floors of them, towards the network of alleyways of my neighbourhood. I followed her down the steps just as a violent banging started at my door.

I felt to make sure I had a gun in my jacket, and I did, but I also suspected that getting away was by far the best thing we could hope to do. Someone very nasty and determined was after us. I wondered exactly what the connection between Dr Pax and Kristen had been but it was hardly the best time for questions. Once more we had to run for our lives.

This chapter feels a bit forced. I move from dialogue to science fiction concept to action and hope it all flows and makes sense. Still it now feels like the story is coming to some kind of conclusion and that in itself is heartening.

The rest of this now completed story can be accessed via this listing.

Cross-posted here.

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