Chapter #14: End of summer
August 12th, 2020-CE
Summer was drawing to a close and Lone Wolfe’s friends had returned from their summer vacations after a long break. It was a last chance for the four of them to enjoy a swim at the public pool before they had to go back to school. Since Scarlet’s school started later than the younger ones, she didn’t feel the urgency that the kids did but she went with them anyway. At this point, after several more trips to the pool with her bathing suit, she didn’t mind going in it anymore.
Lone Wolfe Jumped into the pool first, enjoying the cold-water wash over his body, taking the heat away. It didn’t matter if they had power now and it had been a couple of weeks since the last of the power outages, nothing took away the feel of the oppressive heat like the water did. Jena slipped into the water a little bit at a time, she was used to the warm water on the beaches of Florida at this point so the cold water was a bit jarring for her. Her efforts to acclimatize to the water was thwarted by Curtis who jumped in as eagerly as Lone Wolfe, he spent the summer in southern California so he was used to the water being colder than the pool.
Scarlet slipped into the pool last. She didn’t splash in like the boys but she didn’t make an attempt to slowly adjust to the water either. She didn’t see the point in splashing everyone with water. When she was in the water she found Lone Wolfe, Jena, and Curtis soon enough and said, “I have an idea for a game. It is a variation on one called Marco Polo.”
Lone Wolfe and Jena seemed interested. They turned to Curtis who knew of the game but had played it a lot with his sister and cousins over the summer, “How do we play this game.”
“Instead of the person being it closing their eyes and calling out Marco and the others replying. We all float in the water and close our eyes. We try to clear our thoughts. The one who is it has to listen for the thoughts of the ones who are not it and try to find them,” Scarlet suggested.
Curtis frowned, “It is a game for your kind. I don’t have your gifts. I can’t play this.”
Scarlet cocked her head in confusion, “I thought you had some telepathic abilities. Maybe they aren’t as strong as Lone Wolfe’s and Jena’s. This might help you out as well.”
The suggestion that he might be more like Lone Wolfe and Jena seemed to perk up the blonde-haired boy more, “You think so?”
Lone Wolfe shrugged, “She seems to be pretty good at picking up if someone is like us or not. If she says you have something then you might have something.”
Jena nodded in agreement, “It never hurts to try.”
Curtis nodded and smiled. This would be something that he could play and that his sister would not be able to participate in, “So who is it?”
Scarlet shrugged, “I suggested the game so I can be it.”
Lone Wolfe nodded, “So we just close our eyes and float in the pool.”
Scarlet nodded, “And try to clear your thoughts. If I can hear you, I can try to find you. If I find you and tag you then you are it and we start the game again.”
Jena nodded, “Sounds like fun.”
They all closed their eyes and started to float in the pool. All of them were fairly good enough to float in the pool like Scarlet suggested. When they started to float, the four of them all tried to clear their minds. Scarlet then set out to listen for just the three others playing the game. It was as much a lesson for Lone Wolfe as it was a game. It would both teach him to control his accidental projections and allow him to home in on other psychic’s projections as well.
Scarlet could instantly hear the thoughts of Curtis as he floated around in the pool. By all rights and accounts, she should home in on him and tag him to be it next. She thought, after a moment, of saying something to the other boy about trying to keep his thoughts to himself but figured it would be good for Lone Wolfe to have someone easy to home in on.
Lone Wolfe and Jena were much quieter by comparison. While telepaths were louder than others, they had learned how to quiet their minds when needed. It made for what could be a one-sided game, if Curtis got tagged too quickly. Being a training exercise instead of just a game, she focused on just finding Lone Wolfe, making sure she wasn’t too loud in her mental search as well. While the stated purpose of the game was for the one that was it to find others and tag them, if the one that was it was too loud, the others could pick up on it and try to move away from it. With all of their eyes closed it would be prudent to try to track the person who was it.
After a few minutes of floating calmly in the water, she found Lone Wolfe. While she was patient and waiting for someone to slip up, Lone Wolfe had lost awareness of his surroundings and bumped into someone. He apologized and felt embarrassment for doing so. He went from being drowned out by all those at the pool to sticking out like a sore thumb, worse than his friend, Curtis.
She quietly kicked with her legs and arms, sending her in his direction. In a moment, she reached out with her arms and touched him on the arm. She opened her eyes to make sure it was him and not someone else and said, “You’re it, Lone Wolfe.”
The four of them stood up in the water and looked around. Of the four of them, only Lone Wolfe seemed to venture very far away from the group. Scarlet wasn’t sure if this was done by design or if he was just lounging around and happened to drift so far away from the group. There was something else that had his attention, though.
The swimmers right around them all appeared to be startled by the four of them floating there playing some mutant game of tag. No one other than the four of them seemed to understand the rules. While they were silent and only gave the four children odd glances, their minds broadcast much more detail about what they were thinking than their looks.
It was those momentary thoughts, impressions, that all telepaths could pick up on with ease. Those were surface thoughts, and while most people didn’t mean them, it was their first method of blowing off steam. If pressed, most humans couldn’t even begin to remember all of the impression thoughts and momentary thoughts they produced throughout a typical day. The calm person could be inwardly yelling obscenities at a slow driver, the conscientious one could be judging everyone around them at a moment’s notice just to forget about it or revise those impressions later.
Combine all of that with the phrase, “First impressions can’t be taken back,” and life becomes very confusing for a telepath. Jena was used to these momentary thoughts and thought nothing more of it than the people thinking them thought. Curtis either couldn’t hear the thoughts or was very adept at blocking and ignoring them. Considering his display during their game, Scarlet thought it was the former.
Lone Wolfe was normally used to ignoring the momentary thoughts but it was the fact he and his friends were the subject of those thoughts that caught him off guard. He wasn’t used to so many people thinking about him and his actions before. He froze in place in the water. Scarlet was used to being the subject of attention and debate both verbal and sub vocal as well. She approached him carefully, “Lone Wolfe, it’s okay. Just ignore them.”
He focused on her after a moment, “Not used to the attention.”
Jena approached him and nodded, “better get used to it now. All eyes will be on you when you get into public speaking in high school.”
Scarlet chuckled, “That’s the truth.” She glanced around, those that had given them attention had gone back to other things, “See, they already lost interest in us. Let’s keep playing. Don’t give them any notice as to what they think as they will lose interest quite quickly.”
Lone Wolfe nodded, “We stick out like sore thumbs.”
“We always will,” Jena stated in response.
Scarlet glared, for a moment, at the younger girl before Curtis swam over to them, “So are we going to play the next round or are we on to something else? That wasn’t a long game.”
Scarlet shrugged, “I don’t think we should.”
Lone Wolfe shook his head, “No, let’s play. I was it right?”
Jena nodded, “yes you were!”
The three of the younger children started floating face up in the pool with their faces up just like before. Scarlet shrugged and knelt down in the pool before floating on her back. As she had done before, she made sure that she was not broadcasting her thoughts to everyone else but making sure she could hear everyone else as she floated. She could hear Curtis clear as day. She wondered how long it would take for Lone Wolfe to find him.
Not that long, “Tag, you’re it, Curtis!” Lone Wolfe stated.
The four of them stood but Curtis had a frown on his face, “You could have waited until I got away. I didn’t even have a chance to make sure I was clear.”
“What do you mean?” Jena questioned in response, “We all had plenty of time to get away. You keep broadcasting yourself. I am surprised that Scarlet didn’t tag you right away.”
“I was searching for Lone Wolfe,” Scarlet stated in response, “But Jena is right. You are broadcasting your thoughts which makes you easier to find. Try to quiet your thoughts when you find us.”
The four of them closed their eyes and started to float around the pool again. This time Curtis was it and had to find one of the other telepaths in the pool. Unlike the other three, he didn’t have the range of sensitivity of the other three. To him, there were no other voices to scour for. There were no other voices to search for. He grumbled and reached out for his hands. He touched someone and opened his eyes but he found that he startled another swimmer. The others were nowhere near him. This went on for nearly fifteen minutes before he sat up and growled, “This is nonsense! I quit!”
Jena started to say something but Scarlet placed a hand on her shoulder, “Let him go. He may not have been sensitive enough for us to play. I am sorry that we made him feel bad.”
“Maybe you can train him?” Lone Wolfe suggested in response.
Scarlet shook her head, “I can only train someone to control their abilities. I cannot make their abilities better.”