Chapter 9: Habituate

I crave the knowledge

That only he can provide

I hang on to his every word

His every breath

So that I may learn

To be able to gain control

Of the uncontrollable

"Concentrate now, concentrate. It won't work if you don't CONCENTRATE!"

"I'm trying!" Laurel whisper-yelled at her father.

Everyone in the library turned to face the two who were taking too much. Laurel plastered a fake but perky smile on her face and waved to everyone. Many people grumbled or gave her a pointed look as they turned back to what they were doing. Several others shook their heads or rolled their eyes.

"Okay, maybe the library wasn't the best place to try this. Want to try the park?"

Laurel nodded to the affirmative, relief spreading across her face. The two gathered their stuff and proceeded out of the local library. Finally, they're leaving. I thought they'd never shut up. Laurel pivoted and glared at the middle-aged woman whose thoughts these were. And good riddens too! Laurel was about to open her mouth and say something snide, but Scott tugged on her arm before she could do anything rash.

They proceeded down the sidewalk to the parking lot. Upon getting into the car, Scott drove them down the street a few blocks to the park.

"I'm sorry, Laurel." He shook his head. "I thought the library would be great because people usually think a lot there, and there wouldn't be actual audio to get it confused with." He glanced to his side, to Laurel, with an apologetic look in his eyes.

"Don't worry, that's what I thought too. No big deal," she replied, feeling guilty about being so worked up over that lady's thoughts. She blushed a crimson colour when she realized that she had not shielded that thought from her father. He said nothing.

They walked over to two empty swings in the middle of the park. Upon sitting in the plastic rectangle held up by two chains, Laurel closed her eyes. She willed her body to relax, and it did. But while she was physically relaxed, she was mentally apprehensive.

She felt the leather-like feel of her father skimming across the tendrils of her mind. He reached the edges of her mind, and he took down the shields he had placed there. It was like opening the curtains to the equivalent of the light of five suns' worth of voices into her head.

First, she tried to quiet the voices in her head so that she could concentrate on rebuilding the much-needed shields. Just like in a noisy room, you focus all your attention onto one voice and block out all others. The voice she was trying to focus upon was her own. By only listening to her own, she could make the others disappear. This would then give her the perfect opportunity to re-erect the psionic shields.

The lyrics of her favourite song flowed into her head, stuck on repeat. She focused on the intricate fluctuations that the words required of the singer until everything else disappeared. Her entire universe was now a black void with the words appearing in the midst of the darkness in silvery calligraphy. The sounds of the playground dropped away. The feeling of the seat beneath her dropped away, leaving her floating in the void. No smells or tastes assulted her senses. Her eyes were still closed. She was startled to find that she had accomplished the first step of blocking everything out. She became excited, and everything rushed back into her head all at once like a flash flood. Her eyes bolted open.

She sighed, having failed again.

You didn't fail my dear, her father said, you just didn't reach your goal...yet. Try again, the song lyrics were a great idea. I believe that you can do it.

Laurel nodded, closing her eyes again. The void reappeared with the words. Everything dropped away again, much quicker than before. She was thinking about the lyrics when her attention shifted to the black void. She found herself thinking about chocolate. The best chocolate was the same colour as the darkness.. Most chocolate even had writing on it too, to show the logo of the maker of the chocolate. The void then started shimmering, like the edges of molten chocolate flowing downward due to gravity. It rippled and shone. Pearls of chocolate appeared in the salt water, or rather sugar water, of the swirling warm drizzle of chocolate.

Scott's stomach gave a loud, large rumble of hunger. Laurel spasmed slightly, coming out of her own little telepathic world so suddenly. She opened her eyes to glare at her father. He gave her an "I'm sorry" look as the monster inside of him growled yet again. She stuck her tongue out at him, annoyed that this time had been better than last. She thought about giving it a break and getting something to eat, but she really wanted to get to the next level in this game of telepathy. The next level was building the shield. Scott nodded in approval of her persistence, silently promising to keep his thoughts about the rich, luscious, molten, sugary, delicious...or rather keep his thoughts about chocolate to himself.

For the third time, she closed her eyes and went to her happy place. Once she achieved the void with all sensory input cut off, she checked her father. He was being a good little boy and keeping the vivid fantasies about chocolate to himself. This must've been the thirtieth time or so she achieved the void. Something had always happened the other times, prevent her from starting the construction the shields. She waited for something to happen now, something, anything, just like all the other times.

But nothing happened. She was so surprised that nothing happened, that she almost lost it again. She felt it slipping away, but she said no. She'd been working too hard for too long to let it just glide through her fingers now. She held fast onto it, maintaining it, not letting it go. So she could now start fabricating those damn shields. In her mind's eye, she took her brain, laced with the threads of telepathy, and dropped it into a ziploc baggy. She sealed it shut, tight. She then put this baggy, containing her mind, into another baggy and sealing it shut. She did this another several times before a memory popped into her head. She had been putting something into an old grocery sack. Unfortunately, the bag had a rip in the bottom of it, sending the contents to the floor and splattering everywhere. In her mind's eye, rips appeared in all of the bags, and her mind slipping through all of them, sending it crashing to the floor The bags hung uselessly in mid-air, ruined. The threads of telepathy were flailing around from the shock. Then, thousands of needles of voices started poking at every particle possible in her mind. The threads recoiled upon her mind, trying to protect her mind from the onslaught of the vicious attackers.

She was falling, falling, falling. She couldn't stop, she was picking up speed, she'd surely become jelly upon hitting the ground. Then a strong hand appeared on her back. Her head flew backwards, pulling on her neck muscles slightly. She winced, returning to the real physical world with her father's shield in place around her mind. She slowly started regaining control of her body. She pulled herself upright in the swing, holding onto the chains on either side for support. She leaned to the side, resting her pounding forehead on the cool metal of the chain. She opened her eyes to find the playground swimming in front of her. Her feet were planted firmly and evenly on the ground beneath her, but the rest of her felt like an airplane, spiralling out of control. She closed her eyes against the tide of dizziness, but the spiralling continued until the plane crash-landed in the pit of her digestive system. The process then reversed itself, being coming the evitsegid system, ending with her breakfast in the sand.

Laurel heard several kids screaming and running away to their mothers. Several toddlers burst into tears on the spot, bringing their mothers to them to take them away from her. Her father helped her to her feet and guided her back to the car, despite the protest of his leg in the ever shifting, ever changing sand.

Several angry voices were directed at their backs, but the protests fell on deaf ears. He helped Laurel into her seat and buckled her in before taking his seat on the other side of the car and driving towards home. The short trip passed in a blur for Laurel. Scott roused her for the trip into the house. She was only semi-conscious as he helped wipe her mouth and remove her shoes. It wasn't until she was in her bed and he was walking away that she became fully conscious.

Feeling this change in Laurel's mentality, Scott returned to her. Laurel heaved a heavy, sad sigh, ashamed.

"I applauded you for your persistence earlier, but now, I chastise you for it. You have limits, just like everyone else. You came right up to your limit, and then stepped over it. This was the result, the consequence for that action. I'm proud of you, you came a long way today. Don't push it to prove to me, make me proud, or gain my love and approval. You already have all of that.. It will all come in time, so don't force it. Rest now, there will be time to work on it tomorrow." He brushed her hair away and kissed her on the forehead while at the same time, she feel into a deep sleep.