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Dylan's Story (1)

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2229. New York City.

            In high school, Dylan Valle had been the star of the debate team, and had always dreamt of a life in politics, working to change policy to make the Earth Alliance a better place. He had dreamed of becoming an EA Senator himself someday, of making speeches and waving to the cheering crowds – maybe even running for Earth president. He would end poverty, he would create jobs, he would change the world.

            But then at seventeen, in the beginning of his senior year, he developed telepathy and within a week, was expelled. He was suddenly transplanted from his cozy hometown outside Buffalo to the campus of a Corps’ school in the heart of bustling New York City, where he would spend the next year as an Academy student.

            He was told he would be tracked for the Business Division. Dylan didn’t know exactly what telepaths did in this Business Division, other than work for companies and help keep negotiations honest.

            “But I don’t want to go into business, I want to go into politics,” he told the staff member at the Psi Corps office.

            “Sorry kid, telepaths can’t run for office. Laws forbid it.”

            “Then I want to work for the government. I want to do public policy in EarthDome, in Geneva.”

            “Sorry, kid. That’s just not possible.”

            Dreams crushed, he arrived at school. The campus felt foreign. Everyone at school spoke English, but he felt as if he’d been dropped into a faraway country. Students all wore identical gold and umber school uniforms, and black leather gloves. They never engaged in casual physical contact with one another when conversing – no hugs, no friendly punches on the arm.[1] They always maintained a certain distance while talking. There was certainly no kissing.

            Everyone treated the teachers with the utmost respect at all times, and the teachers never called him Dylan – he was always “Mr. Valle.”[2]

            In the dining halls, posters adorned the walls, showing smiling telepath teenagers of all ethnicities, modestly dressed, holding trays of food. “Healthy bodies, healthy minds” read one sign. “Ask your friends today: have you had three servings of vegetables?” read another.

            On his first visit to the dining hall, he took several slices of cake for dessert, putting it with the rest of his food onto the plastic tray.

            “You really shouldn’t take so much cake,” the student behind him in line said. She was a pretty girl with brown skin and almond eyes.

            “What?” he said, shocked, looking up. “There’s plenty more for everyone else-”

            “No no, I mean, it’s not healthy to eat so many sweets.”

            He looked at her with horror and a flash of anger. “Who the hell do you think you are, my mom?”

            She blinked in surprise. “The Corps is Mother and Father,” she said. “We’re all brothers and sisters to each other. I’m just looking out for you. You should have another helping of broccoli instead.”

            “Bug off!” he shouted. “What I eat isn’t any of your business!”

            Then he realized everyone was staring at him. Students at tables near the cafeteria line had even stopped eating. He could hear a proverbial pin drop.

            Later, they were saying, without saying anything at all.

            That must be him, the kid who just arrived today.

            Yeah, that’s him.

            He stomped off to the far side of the cafeteria to eat his meal alone, and enjoy his cake in peace.

 

[1] See A Race Through Dark Places for one rogue telepath’s views on telepath culture, gloves and boundaries.

[2] Gregory Keyes, Deadly Relations, p. 40 onward. Once students enter the Minor Academy, teachers no longer refer to them by given names, but by Mr./Ms. [surname].