Friday Five Writing Prompt

Prompt challenge: embryo, future, fist, rider, spine

Begin recording. 

My mother says that my mind wanders and that is true. More true than she might think. I haven’t spoken with my mother in some years-other than the obligatory Mother’s Day card we have little contact. But this audio report isn’t about my mother.

Static. Pause. Begin recording. 

I developed this skill about seven years ago when I volunteered for the study. I am not certain how or why I heard of it; perhaps a friend sent me the link on Facebook. In any event, I needed the money. A few hundred dollars for two hours of work over a four week period was a small fortune to me then. It is now, as the effects of the study have seriously hindered my ability to hold a job. 

“What’s this study called again,” I vaguely remember asking as I signed my name before reading the details of the contract besides the amount. Foolish, in retrospect. 

“Project Panoptes.”

“It’s an eye test?”

“Sort of,” said the woman in a lab coat as she directed me to sit in a chair in front of a small machine. I’ve had eye tests many times. This seemed no different at first; then it became repetitive. And there were so many images. And so many lights. And, believe it or not, an aroma…as if something was burning.

 Static. Pause.  Begin Recording.

A person can pass me by; look me straight in the eye; and suddenly I am off…my own mind clasping on to theirs, riding through their minds eye.

I know when it is about to happen. My body will go cold, as if cold water is poured down my spine, and I clinch my fists, and my whole body constricts…off I go.

Most of the time, I travel into the past. I didn’t notice at first, but now I have learned the markers; mainly tech or cars; occasionally clothing. Every now and then, I share a mind long enough to confirm a date. The furthest past was in 1993 written on an invitation; though most are within the last twenty years or so.

Usually, it lasts a few hours or a day. One older woman met my eye and I spent time at the wedding of her daughter; the aforementioned journey to 1993.  Another time, another woman sat next to me on the bus. Our eyes met-I spent over a day as she was wandering around New York, homeless, scared. Her fear and despair searching for a place to sleep; to be safe; to last the night. On the bus, next to me, nothing indicated that she had ever struggled. But we never really know as much about people as we think we do. 

As you can guess, this makes life complicated. I haven’t met anyone else in my predicament. Holding a job is hard when you never know how your mind will drift away. For now, I restock shelves on night shift. If I drift away, who will notice? 

There was only one journey that may have been the future. A student from the local university (judging by the sweatshirt) made eye contact with me and I was off for two disturbing hours.  All around me were blue walls with flat screens images, videos, faces flashing across them lighting fast. Like watching Tiktok videos only sped up 100X. All the people around me-I guess they were people-wore cybernetic suits. I wore one or rather the mind I shared wore one- and we went to work in a lab with several human embryos suspended in chambers, moving, breathing, turning around. I never knew the work I (or we) were doing but she cried quietly while drinking herself into oblivion. It was only a brief glance in the reflective service of the lab table that let me know she was the same woman I met at the university at the beginning of the experiments. 

copyright Echo Ishii 

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