Prompt: You have the ability to read minds at will, but choose to never let anyone know about it. One night, you hear someone think “if anyone out there can read my mind, PLEASE HELP!”
Zoey sat on a barstool near the end of the bar. The EDM music was ‘bumping,’ as her parents would say, and the nightclub was full of people dancing together. Too many people all bunched together in a ball of sweat, heat, and energy for Zoey’s taste, but she often attended this night club. There was a female bartender Zoey was interested in who usually bartends on Friday nights, but for whatever reason, she was off tonight and Zoey was drinking alone in this club. Also there was an added benefit of the loud EDM music drowning out all the background noise and the voices.
When Zoey was born, she heard people’s thoughts. She didn’t understand how it came to be, but she was born with that ability. At first it was so overwhelming that it shut down her body and Zoey was unable to hear her own inner voice. It was like a crowd of people constantly screaming into her ears. It was hard for a long time because no one really understood this ability, and she was afraid to share thinking she would be whipped away to Area 51 or someplace like that. However, after having this gift for 22 years, she had it mostly under control. The people’s thoughts were just a low buzz in the back of her mind like static on an old television set. The music helped drown out the fuzziness of other people’s thoughts.
The male bartender came over and pointed at Zoey’s drink saying something that she couldn’t hear. She could just read his mind, but she didn’t like prodding around in other people’s thoughts. It was a respect thing plus she liked being in control of her abilities. She never really tested it, but she thought it was better underwraps.
The bartender pointed at her drink again and then at the bottle of whiskey in his hand. Apparently that means “Do you want another one?”
Zoey nodded and mouthed ‘Yes.’
He poured another one and Zoey went back to scanning the crowd of people. Maybe there was someone in the crowd I could dance with.
Zoey laughed at the idea. Yeah right. I don’t dance. Especially not with strangers.
Zoey pulled out her phone and opened up her Tinder App.
Before she could swipe left or right, there was a loud voice penetrating her mind.
If anyone out there can read my mind, please help!
Zoey clapsed her temple with both hands knocking over her drink. The voice was so loud it reminder her of her latter days when every voice was that loud.
The bartender rushed over and mouthed something, but it hurt so much that it blurred her vision. Eventually her vision cleared and she saw the man staring at her in confusion and worry.
She tried to talk over the music, “I’m alright.”
The guy gave her a puzzled look.
Zoey pointed at herself and then did the “ok” hand symbol by extending her fingers and touching her index finger to her thumb.
The voice penetrated her mind again but this time it was quieter and it sounded like it was spoken through tears.
Please I need some help. If you can hear me, please help.
The weeping voice made Zoey wobble a little bit, but to an outside observer it probably looked like she had one too many drinks. Zoey continued to clutch her temple with one hand and looped the strap of her shoulder bag over her head with the other.
She concentrated for a second and she tried to focus her mind. She imagined herself opening a door which was her go to technique to open her mind to people’s thoughts. She wasn’t sure why or how this worked, because of the unknown circumstances surrounding her telechelic abilities, but it seemed to work. She pictured herself opening the door just a crack and in a moment there was a flood of other voices in her head. Some were singing the song that was playing in their own heads, some were talking about getting laid, and others thought about turning another year older. Some were happy to be here, and others were annoyed by the scene or distracted by other things on their mind.
Eventually Zoey focused a little bit and felt this wave of sadness that she’d never experienced before. It was like this sadness was her sadness. She was feeling this person’s emotions, which was a whole new experience for her.
The wave of emotion seemed to be pouring out of the women’s bathroom, so Zoey started heading that direction. She was able to get across the club without much trouble while staying close to the edge, and she made it to the women’s bathroom.
Outside the bathroom stood a large, muscle dude who looked like he was out of a movie about a fraternity who seemed to be guarding the door or blocking it. He wore a black, tank top with greek symbols on it and the lack of sleeves exposed his muscular arms. He wore tan, cargo pants and Nike shoes. I guess some girls were into that, but Zoey thought he looked like he was probably either the Quarterback of his High School Football team, the High School Bully, or both. He had his phone pressed to his ear and he seemed to be swearing under his breath.
His thoughts were muddled with anger and annoyance at some girl named Allison.
“Excuse me,” Zoey said as she stepped around him to get to the bathroom.
He moved aside with in a small grunt.
She pushed the door open walking passed the man at the door and closed the bathroom door behind her. She looked around and the room seemed to be empty. She looked around and caught the sight of her own reflection out of the corner of her eye. She turned and saw that there were hot tears rolling down her face and her face was bright red. Zoey quickly brushed the tears away. What was going on?
Then Zoey heard quiet sobbing from the last stall.
“Hello?” Zoey said keeping her voice low.
She heard a sniffle and then a small voice, “H…hello?”
“Is someone there?” Zoey asked.
The last stall door opened and a blonde girl about the age of Zoey stepped out of the stall. She was wearing a short, frilly, blue dress and matching high heels. Zoey thought like she looked like the head cheerleader or student council president of this imaginary high school she imagined people attended.
The girl was clutching a small, black bag and a cell phone.
Bzzzt. Bzzzt. Bzzzt.
Zoey’s mind wandered a little bit and she took in this girls thoughts. This girl was Allison. Outside was Zach who apparently was Allison’s boyfriend. Zach often put the fraternity and hanging out with the “bros” ahead of Allison and her happiness. From Allison’s memories, Zoey could tell that Zach was emotionally abusive, but Allison made excuses for him.
There was another wave of sadness that washed over Zoey and she began wiping tears from her face again.
“You been crying too?” Allison asked handing out a kleenex to Zoey.
Zoey accepted it and dabbed at her eyes, “Yeah. I guess tonight’s been a rough night.”
“Yeah,” She said dropping her voice. Allison sat her phone on the bathroom sink and it continued to buzz.
“I don’t mean to pry, but is that guy outside your boyfriend?” Zoey asked.
“Y…yeah..” Allison said, the tears starting again.
“Hey it’s ok,” Zoey said placing her hand on Allison’s shoulder.
“Apparently I ruined his night by planning a fun date night out at the bar. There’s some dumb hockey game or something and he wanted to hang out with his dumb friends. And apparently I’m the emotional one for crying after he screamed at me in front of all those people out there,” Allison said through her tears. “And now he’s calling me and calling me. I’m surprised he hasn’t walked in here yet.”
“Yeah he’s right outside the door,” Zoey said.
Zoey imagined herself shutting the door in her mind and the outside voices became a buzz again. Allison’s thoughts seemed to create the loudest buzz. Zoey still picked up a few words and incomplete thoughts.
“I…I can get you out of here if you want me to,” Zoey said.
Why am I doing this? I don’t know this person.
“H…How?” Allison looked up at Zoey.
“First let’s turn off your phone,” Zoey said picking up the phone off the sink.
Allison reached out her hand reluctantly, but let Zoey hit the power button. The buzzing of the phone stopped.
“Now this is what I’m going to do,” Zoey explained. “I’ll go out there and strike up a conversation with…your boyfriend out there. I’ll tell him that there’s no one in here. That you must have escaped out the window.”
“There’s no window in here,” Allison said.
“Don’t worry, I’m a pretty good liar,” Zoey gave a little smile. “When he goes off to find you, I’ll come back and we’ll sneak you out. Ok?”
“Why…why are you helping me?” Allison asked.
“We’ve both had bad nights and us girls have to look out for each other,” Zoey asked.
And she is pretty cute.
Zoey shook this idea out of her head.
“Ok,” Allison said.
“Now, go hide in the stall and I’ll get rid of him,” Zoey said.
Allison nodded placing her phone in her bag. Allison went back to hiding in the stall.
Zoey walked out of the bathroom to see Zach still standing there muttering a stream of curses at his phone.
“Excuse me,” Zoey said.
Zach turned his head towards Zoey.
“Are you waiting on someone or something?” Zoey asked.
He looked her up and down, “Yeah, my girlfriend is in there.”
“Ummm…there isn’t anyone else in there,” Zoey said.
“What?” Zach’s expression become stiff and upset.
“Yeah I just went in there and no one else was in the bathroom,” Zoey continued. “She must have slipped out the window or something.”
Zach let out another flurry of colorful curses and then stomped off towards the entrance of the club still pressing the phone to his ear and then letting out some more curses.
Well that was pretty easy.
Zoey turned back and cracked open the door, “Psssst. Allison. He’s gone”
Allison peaked her head out from the bathroom stall and collected her things.
“H…how are you going to get me out of here without him seeing?” Allison asked.
“Don’t worry, they kind of know me here,” Zoey gave a small smile.
Zoey led Allison alongside the edge of the dance floor back towards the bar.
The male bartender noticed them and flagged them down.
“Are you alright?” He asked barely audible over the next EDM song playing overhead.
“Yes,” Zoey said. “Can we go out the back?”
The bartender gave her a confused expression.
Zoey pointed to both her and Allison. “Go. Out. The. Back.”
The bartender hesitated for a second looking from Zoey to Allison and back to Zoey and gave a nod. He motioned for them to follow him and he led them back to the back exit.
It was far enough from the music that they could hear each other.
“Here,” Zoey said handing the bartender 40 dollars. “This should cover my drinks and you can keep the change.”
“Well thank you,” He said. “Stay safe out there.”
“We will, thanks,” Zoey replied.
Both Zoey and Allison went through the exit and out into the dark and wet alley behind all the storefronts on the street. It had recently stopped raining and the alley way was full of puddles.
“Well.. thanks for getting me out of there,” Allison said.
“Yeah no problem. I know how guys can be,” Zoey said.
He’s not usually like that.
Zoey grabbed her head.
“Hey, you ok?” Allison asked reaching out to Zoey.
Zoey waved her hand away, “Yeah I’m fine. Maybe just too much alcohol I guess.”
Allison didn’t look convinced.
“Well again. Thank you,” Allison said.
“No problem, its not a big deal,” Zoey said.
They stood there in silence for a little bit.
I could really use some food.
Zoey struggled not to grab her head as Allison’s thoughts entered her head.
Why was she so hard to keep out?
“Hey, if you don’t have anything going on. Maybe you want to go get something to eat. I know this little dinner that serves all day breakfast,” Zoey said.
“Oh. Thanks, but I can’t. I need to get home. I’m sure Zach is looking for me,” Allison said.
“Yeah that makes sense,” Zoey said looking down at her feet.
Allison reached into her purse and pulled out pen.
“Here,” Allison said grabbing Zoey’s hand. “Let me give you my phone number.”
Allison proceeded to draw on Zoey’s hand.
“Why don’t you text me and we can make some plans to go to that diner. I owe you one,” Allison said.
“Yeah I can definitely do that,” Zoey said with a smile.
“Ok I better head out,” Allison said with a small sigh.
“Do you know how to get back?” Zoey asked.
“Yeah my house isn’t that far away so I should be fine,” Allison said. “Thanks for your concern.”
“Yeah no problem,” Zoey said.
Allison gave a nod and started to walk down the alley away from Zoey.
Zoey looked down at the numbers on her hand.
I actually got someone’s number. I guess my gift isn’t too bad.
Allison stopped a few feet away and did a quick turn around.
“Ummm… sorry. One real quick thing. I’ve been thinking about the last few moments and reliving it in my head,” Allison said. “When you came back from talking to Zach, you used my name. But I don’t remember telling you my name.”
Oh crap. Think fast. Think fast. Think fast.
“Your boyfriend. He…ummm…used your name. He told me your name was Allison,” Zoey said with a nervous quickness.
“Oh. Yeah that makes sense. And I don’t believe I actually got your name,” Allison said.
“My name is Zoey.”
“Well it was nice to meet you, Zoey. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight Allison, nice to meet you too,” Zoey said.
Allison turned back around and continued walking away from Zoey. She eventually made her way to the street and turned the corner.
Zoey gave a heavy sigh.
I guess what I said is true. I am a pretty good liar.
Zoey eventually walked back towards her apartment which was in the opposite direction of where Allison went. The buzzing of people’s thoughts were still present in her mind. There was a louder buzz that Zoey recognized as Allison’s thoughts. The buzz became quieter and quieter as Zoey and Allison walked in opposite directions from one another, but Zoey still felt Allison’s presence in her mind.