Professor Nia Elston was apprehensive about accepting the incoming telepathcom. She had a funny feeling something was wrong. As usual, she was right.
Kiana, Dr. Spellman’s assistant, entered her head. She informed Nia that her test results were complete, and that she was to mind the doctor directly, ‘while she was still capable’. It was this last, foreboding piece of thought that further heightened Nia’s anxiety.
Nia sat down at her desk and immediately tried minding Dr. Spellman. After several tries and an exhausting amount of effort she finally got through to the good doctor.
“Nia, I’m so glad you minded me. We need to think over your test results.”
“Ok, Doctor, but from the tone of your thoughts I can sense this won’t be good.”
“I’m afraid you’re right. The results all point to hypogyriosis. In short, you’re rapidly losing your ability to telepath.”
“Can anything be done, Doctor?”
“We’re seeing more cases like yours in our older population, but I’m sorry to say that there’s no known cure at this time. All we can do is continue to monitor your situation. But Nia, if I were you, I’d make it a priority to mind all those who are important to you.”
Shaken, Nia cut off her thoughts to the doctor and buried her head in her hands.
Over Nia’s thirty-plus years as Professor of Anthropology at the State Virtual University she had often lectured on the sequence of events that had brought humankind to this point… the isolating pandemics of the 21st century… the development of direct-to-brain transmitting devices… the obsolescence of verbal communication… the accelerated development of the brain’s hippocampus… and the resulting evolution of mental telepathy.
That her own telepathic ability was now in jeopardy was hardly a shock to Nia. She had been noticing symptoms throughout the past year. People on the street seemed to be unaware of her thoughtful greetings. Several of her students claimed they weren’t receiving her telepathed lectures. Nonetheless, Dr. Spellman’s validation of her fears came as a crushing blow. She was in danger of losing contact with the only things left in her life that had meaning… her only son, Lux, who lived a thousand miles away, and her love of teaching.
Nia leaned back in her chair, took a deep breath, and exhaled forcefully through her mouth. With each subsequent breath, she tried to vary the airflow. She remembered her grandfather telling her that this was how people used to communicate. All Nia could manage were unintelligible swishing sounds.
Frustrated, she shifted her efforts to telepathing her son. After several unsuccessful attempts, Lux finally entered her mind.
“Mom?… Mom? Is that you?”
She struggled to think anything in response, but it was too late. He was gone.
Nia’s head began to ache. She moved to the bedroom to lie down. With the internal thoughts she still had left to her, she began to rationalize her situation. What was so bad about the loss of all external communication? After all, it was rare that she ever saw anyone in person. Not her son. Not her students. The few people she encountered on the streets were primarily delivery personnel from the few remaining companies that had not yet transitioned to automatons. Now she would have only herself to communicate with. She would become the center of her own universe. Talk about introspection!
With this thought she began falling into a deep sleep. Or was it sleep? Nia groped for another thought… any thought. But try as she might, she could not complete one. Every thought she began quickly dropped into a dark chasm until all that remained to her was a thoughtless void.
This story previously appeared in 365 Tomorrows July of 2021.
Edited by Marie Ginga
Dick Narvett retired from a life in international business and independent film acting. He currently lives in rural Pennsylvania, where he writes flash fiction and poetry. His work can be found in MetaStellar, 365 Tomorrows, Star*Line and Better Than Starbucks, among others.