Aug 17, 2013

Becoming Polaris

This month, I'm sharing off page stories from my WIP, Strella PAX.

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When they first let him out of Isolation, when Michael first laid eyes on Sirius, his first thought was curiosity.  He had never met an established mind reader, Michael never counted Dommy because his old friend couldn't control his ability. The second thought was of belonging. That maybe now he could drop his guard and not worry about the perceptions those around him had of him.

“Why would you worry about such a thing?” Sirius asked.

“Because how people thought about me affected how they treated me.”  His mind filled with memories of teachers giving him extra time on tests.  Of his parents taking him to autistic showings of movies – during the day with the lights on and individual headphones to cancel out sounds from other ticket holders. Of Carly turning on him after homecoming.

“I've never seen a movie.” Sirius mentioned, turning to lead him down the hallway.

And suddenly, Michael saw things from the other side.  His memories of his parents were private, they belonged only to him, a reminder of a good life and not the herded existence he had here. He had no control over when to eat, when to leave his room, or who to talk to.  His parents loved him, saw him as a person and not some tool to help solve crimes.

“Don't read my mind.” Michael ground out to Sirius's back.

The older Star turned around to stare at him, face blank.

“I'm a Star. Like you, Polaris.  We were born with that talent and you should know, it's not something either of us can turn off.”

What really irritated Michael was Sirius's thoughts.  He saw nothing wrong with reading minds.  It was a practical talent, as necessary to a good life as knowing how to feed yourself.  The images of his head were of being praised for Reading witnesses, of having conversations with other Stars entirely in their heads.  

There was also no emotions. No bewilderment. No curiosity. Maybe something like surprise, but not strong enough to label it as such.

Sirius picked up on the thought, of course, his face giving slight twitches that Michael realized were his attempts to match the images of facial expressions in his mind.  But the older Star's face failed to even remotely match one of them.

“You will learn Polaris that emotions are useless. They cloud thoughts, sometimes amplify them, and that makes it harder to Read successfully, harder to function. We all are picked up by PAX because we do not know how to handle our talent, the emotions are too much. Push them away, and you will live a better life. That's why we have Emotional Handlers. They will take care of that, we just need to focus on the events witnesses see.”

Michael frowned, not believing a word of it.  He had lived out in the world beyond the walls of PAX for more than any Star in the building and had kept his sanity. Had functioned as a mostly normal child, aside from his diagnosis with the PDD-NOS version of autism. PAX's ideals were, frankly, BS.

“Be careful what you think Polaris, it could get you in trouble here.”

He needed to learn how to hide his thoughts. As soon as the idea popped into his head, Michael did his best to concentrate on something else. In this case Sirius's four rings.  Michael didn't know if he had successfully covered up his initial idea, or if Sirius deliberately allowed him to change the subject.

“You will get your second ring when I deem you have passed Instruction. After that, an additional ring for each five years of service, and you can earn extra by providing exceptional help to the police.”

“Which have you done?” Michael asked as they started walking down the hallway. “Ten years or doing really well?”

“I have been a Star for ten years. I've been here for most of the time PAX has been open. It would be wise to follow my advice.”
Emotions, or rather the pushing away of them, was the topic of many of Sirius's lesson. Each time the topic came up, Michael got more and more annoyed because he didn't believe they were pointless.  Yes, they were bothersome when reading minds, it was better to ignore them in that case. But to not have them yourself?  To not know how to smile?

The ability to feel became Michael's personal rallying point, the one thing that made him different from the rest of the Stars, and he found a desperate need to protect that. To block his thoughts from the other Stars.  He'd practice in his Habitation room, blanking his mind, pushing his thoughts deep while letting the surface of his mind only showing images of his surroundings or recent activities.

He became very good at remembering visual details, not quite having a photographic memory but certainly he developed a high capacity for observing the little things and recalling them.  Which is how he was able to compare what he knew of the layout of Habitation to a blue print of the PAX facility Sirius's Emotional Handler showed him one day.

There was a way out.

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Michael is the only Star who has the capability to block, he's the only one with ideas different to those of PAX.  He's a Star for about 18 months before my novel starts.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome, Gwen! Love the concept of these Stars, and would love to read more about them.

    ReplyDelete