Wren did not go to work in the morning. She’d fully intended to but the man in the apartment next to hers had to urinate, trying to remain asleep while fighting the strong signals from his bladder. His discomfort was so pressing it was what had woken her up. It seemed that overnight her awareness of the feelings of others had gone from a bit of an effort to an involuntary barrage.
The hundreds of people in their cubicles at work would be innocently but loudly broadcasting all their emotions, desires and physical discomforts. She’d drown in it.
Mr. Newcomb’s insistent bladder was irritating her so she focused on trying to block it. After a few minutes of mental effort she managed to find a way of ignoring it. There was no picturing a shield or bubble or anything stupid. She more or less decided not to feel it any more and so she didn’t. The problem was that within a moment she got distracted and felt it again so she had to go through the process once more. The thought of doing that all day long at work with hundreds of people was much too daunting.
She got up and typed an email which she copied to her team lead and the HR department, explaining that she wished she could give two weeks notice but unexpected and uncontrollable circumstances made it extremely difficult for her to continue employment. After she clicked send she sat back and stared at the screen, trying to decide how she felt.
Cash wasn’t a problem for the moment. She’d been putting money in her savings account since graduation, planning to use it for a down-payment on a house or an emergency; whichever came first. She had enough to survive on until she figured things out. If she figured things out. If she couldn’t figure things out she could move in with her mom… and brother.
Mr. Newcomb’s bladder twinged at her again. “Get up and piss already,” she hissed and to her shock he suddenly woke up and hurried to his bathroom. The relief was remarkable. She frowned to herself, though. Did… did she do that? It could have been a coincidence. A very convenient one.
She crawled back into bed and pulled the blankets up around her chin, curling into a ball. She wanted to feel safe, snug and warm. Mr. Newcomb got back into bed too but she pushed him out of her head, not wanting to share the moment with him. She wiggled into her pillow and shut her eyes.
She couldn’t fall back to sleep. She was too keyed up wondering how Sam would react to her sudden resignation. There was no way she could handle being in such a crowded environment with her brain suddenly doing new things. The night before she’d had to make a bit of an effort to do this new trick but already it seemed an effort not to. She focused a bit more, seeing if she could direct it specifically at Ms. Warren across the hall. She was still asleep, her dreaming mind oddly peaceful and happy. These were not things she normally associated with Ms. Warren. It was almost enjoyable to experience her as something other than a nosy, somewhat prickly neighbor.
Out of nowhere an urgent knocking pounded at her door. She bolted upright in alarm. It was six in the morning. There shouldn’t have been anyone at her door. As far as her newfound perception was concerned there wasn’t anyone at her door. The knocking had happened seconds before but she couldn’t sense anyone in the hall at all. She ran as quickly and quietly as she could and peeked through the peephole, seeing no one through its fisheye view. With a sinking feeling she unlocked the door, eased it open a crack (still on its chain) and peeked down at the floor.
Tags: Chapter Three