Unforeseen Dives – 22b – Confusion

<< 22a – Confusion

I breathed a couple of times before I released all my tethers. I pushed my personality and feelings aside to leave as much space as possible for the Ocean to submerge me. It was nice to be able to take my time again.
Rebecca’s warm presence pulsed three times at my core. I was good to go.
I filled my head with thoughts of the reader community. My acquaintances steered me in the right direction while my fear for their lives acted as my leaden weight until I reached the right depth. I scanned the waves of feelings for the red sheen of adrenaline. Not even a smidgen stained my vision. Maybe I wasn’t far enough.
It exploded in my brain.
All of a sudden I was deep in the panic. Adrenaline drowned everything else and burnt my synapses. Pain seared the too fresh scars of the New York bombing anew. The screams deafened me.
Rebecca reeled me back to calm in a matter of seconds.
“Are you nuts? What the hell did you do that for?” She yelled in my brain. She regretted her thoughts instantly; calling “nuts” a friend who was labeled mentally ill by decades of taboo was way below the belt.
“I didn’t do anything!”
“How do you call fast forwarding straight into the war’s heart?”
“I didn’t do it. Think about what you’re broadcasting, would you?”
I knew Rebecca’s reaction to fear was always violent but after the shock I just lived, I certainly wasn’t in the mood to let her take it out on me. I wanted to understand what happened too. I was sifting through the potential futures of the beginning of the war. How was I suddenly drawn so far ahead?
“Can it be a side effect on prompt diving?” Rebecca asked with a calmer tone.
“Don’t think so…” I decided to try it again.
Carefully, I explored the waters around me. Becky fed my senses with control and calm. My will steered me through the routine of all the readers in the world. They went on their merry way, burdened by nothing more than the worry of the average Joe. Definitely a pre-war setting. I pushed a heartbeat further. Then another. I perceived the sadness of loss, one that spawned across a third of the community.
It exploded again.
Rebecca was quicker this time around. I barely tasted bitterness and I was already back to safety.
“Since when are there whirlpools in the Ocean?” My partner and I choired. It described the experience perfectly. The jump ahead didn’t come from me. It originated in the Ocean itself. As soon as I came close to the problem I was supposed to investigate, a force dragged me ahead, way past the point I wanted to reach. The potential futures kept spinning and spinning around me, obscuring my radars and keeping me from my objective.
“Let’s see if the same thing happens in the non-readers’ future.”
I released my hold on the reader community and turned my attention toward the rest of the world. Those futures made one hell of a coral reef. Non-readers dominated the planet hence looking at what awaited them resembled a kaleidoscopic experience. The variety hit me hard. After a couple of minutes, I acclimated and suited up for exploration.
I knew I’d have a headache if I stayed here too long; there was only so much one’s brains could take. Even a peculiar one like mine. The density and strength of the non-reader community as a whole was the reason why we portioned out the usual dives by city.
I plunged a little deeper, carefully approaching the edge of pain that signaled the beginning of the war.
The rush of suffering assaulted me with such blunt force that I instantly snapped out of the Ocean. I tumbled down my chair, mixing panting and yelling in a panicked tune. My ears rang with a high pitch that shot stings through my cranium. Tears streamed on my cheeks. The carpet drank them up and roughened my face. My muscles trembled with the aftershock.
Rebecca probably dropped by my side in half a second but I only realized it after a while. The world was a blur, a blood-smeared blur. Survival instinct blasted me out of the Ocean. It kicked in when the smack was sudden and strong. Some people called it the psychic failsafe. It wasn’t safe. More like a last resort. If it wasn’t for Becky’s soothing presence cradling my consciousness and body, I might never have bounced back.
But I frailly did.
I heaped my senses into a wobbling pile. A gaggle of faces ogled me from my office’s door. I had just bathed in the rage of a nation and its bitterness bared my teeth.
“Out!” Rebecca growled before I launched in an endless stream of derogatory comments. The rigor strengthening my spine relaxed and I slumped against my partner, shaking uncontrollably, dehydrating my body to satisfy the demand of my eyes.
A shadow fell on me and I lunged forward before thought, or Rebecca, stopped me. I rammed the newcomer’s chest with my shoulder, causing him to lose his balance. He wrapped his arms around me. Momentum drove us down. The man deadened my fall with his body. He hushed when I burst in tears again, ashamed of the violence that wasn’t mine.
Only then did I recognize him.
Casey sweated a little and his breathlessness was caused by his run from his office to mine more than by my attack. His brain played a few sentences in loop. “I heard you yell, sound and mind. I thought my heart broke. I’m so sorry, Cass.” I buried my face in the curve of his neck and let his raw compassion flood my grazed heart.
At last, Becky and Casey prompted me up and I managed to stand.
“It’s becoming a habit of yours to catch me after a harsh dive.” I said with a crooked smile.
“It feels nice but I’d prefer you didn’t fall.” Despite the lightness of the opening and tone, the sentence was meant to be serious. “What happened exactly?”
Rebecca and I looked at each other for a second.
“There’s a hell of a problem in the Ocean.” We answered.

23a – Talk-show >>


About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

12 responses to “Unforeseen Dives – 22b – Confusion

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