The Gift: A Science Fiction Short Story

The woman sat at the metal table, navigating the thick wooden puzzle pieces on the table in front of her delicately. She completely ignored the man sitting across the table from her, who was staring at her, large white eyebrows furrowed, tapping his pen in an annoying, uneven beat. tap, taptap, tappity tap, tap, tap. His decorated army uniform was in pristine condition, ironed and starched to the point where it almost looked unnatural. It was decorated with medals and stripes and buttons that jingled whenever he moved in the slightest.

So this is what they look like. He thought as he stared the woman down. She was small, and young, and significantly…normal. She wore flip flops, a bright colored tank top and white and black striped shorts. It was usual dress for summer in New Mexico, but still, he had expected…something else. Older. Scarier. Louder. Something…well, more.

“What, were you expecting some old woman with big Texas hair telling you that they could commune with your dead relative, Major Harrington? Or perhaps someone dressed in all black out of the Matrix who could run up walls and shoot lasers from their eyeballs?”

The man was taken aback as she responded to his unspoken query. 

“Or perhaps you would you like me to read your palm, and tell you when you’ll die?” With the follow up question she lifted her eyes from her puzzle, for the first time making eye contact with him. Her eyes were a piercing grey color, unlike anything he had ever seen before, and it made him inhale sharply.

The woman laughed a bit at the officer’s reaction, then rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to the puzzle in front of her. There was silence between them again, as the officer continued to tap his pen on the table, finally speaking. “You know why you are here, correct?”

“Is this a joke, Major?” She responded, leaning back in her chair, silver stare piercing through him, the gaze giving the elder man an actual physical chill. “Of course I know. I saw the parade of other quote unquote psychics in the foyer on my way in here. Have fun sorting through those soothsayers and wackadoodles.”

The man cleared his throat. “Right. Well, your supposed abilities have come to the attention of the CIA. We wanted to speak to you about a possible opportunity.”

The woman rolled her eyes again, for the umpteenth time in the conversation. “My abilities? I’m a simple magician who can guess what’s inside envelopes and what people have in their pockets. Besides, I was under the assumption that the army had discontinued all of their projects in regards to the supernatural fifty years ago. You know, something about it being all bullshit, psychic power isn’t real, burn the witch sort of thing. So what, is the military finally opening its mind to other things?”

“That’s classified at this time. And you came to our attention when you pinpointed two of our top secret army bases and the Colonel’s summer cabin on a map live on your YouTube channel last autumn, if you recall your brief imprisonment with us.”

She barked out a short laugh. “Right, I forgot about that. Good times. You know that the Russians, Koreans, Australian and the Chinese have been using special mind divisions in their army for at least the last two decades. Do you want to know how many times it has stopped the world from ending? Six. Literally.”

“Uh huh, so you’re still claiming to be an actual psychic then, not some sort of hacker or espionage agent. You have actual real mind powers. But the rest of these people out there are just hogwash.”

“I have remote viewing capabilites. I can see things happening elsewhere.” She said, twisting the puzzle pieces again. “I don’t have psychokinesis. I can’t move things with my mind. And I can’t view the future. Those are other abilities. It’s like how some people can paint and some people can sketch. They’re both art but they’re not necessarily interchangeable. And as for these other supposed physics as you call them, that’s their business. But the communing with the dead has nothing to do with psychic abilities so that is actual bullshit.”

Well, I’ll believe it when I see it. This isn’t my project I’m just the…” He sighed in annoyance again, “…handler.”

“You government people.” The woman said, scooting her chair out and pushing up from the metal table, “You can put a man on the moon and cure the most deadly medical conditions. But when it comes to things you don’t understand you suddenly revert to the Orthodox church of the 1500’s where everything is wichcraft. It’s not like mind powers is magic or dark arts. It’s quantum physics. Read a book.”

“If it’s science, it should be able to be replicated. That’s the scientific method.” 

The woman shrugged. “Sure. But you have to have the base materials to work with in the beginning. Some people do. Others don’t.”

“But where does it come from initially. It’s not a gene. It’s not like musical talent or red hair or something passed down or learned or things that run in families.”

“Oh, of course.” The woman sighed. “Where did it come from. It doesn’t make sense, so of course, it’s probably the dark arts, or magic, or aliens. That’s what you’re wanting to hear, isn’t it? Because something that makes NO sense is the thing that makes the most sense?”

The man put his hand to his forehead. “I hate my job.” He stood up, “The offer to assist with the opportunity with the CIA is retracted. You’re dismissed.” He scribbled her name off his list angrily.

The woman turned the key in her apartment door, the narrow door swinging open with a creak. The apartment was hot, but she didn’t really mind. She mindlessly moved around, opening the windows to let a breeze in.

 She made her way into the bedroom, stopping to gaze into the long freestanding full length mirror. She stared at herself intently, examining her sweaty hair and gazing at her large, piercing silver eyes as she smiled, then slowly blinked. When she opened her eyes again, standing behind her was a large alien grey- the same color grey as her haunting stormy eyes. He was tall, with large black eyes and long arms and legs, exactly as she remembered him being. When she whipped around to see him in person, he was gone.

It was true. The superior mind powers had come from the alien greys. Just like so many other things. Flight capability. Plasma weapons. Stealth planes. Dimension doors. Hidden technology tested in secret by classified government projects. Everyone knew, secretly. Everyone has that feeling, itching somewhere in the corner of their mind. That there is something else out there, somewhere.

Truth be told, she wasn’t sure if she would ever see the greys again. But she knew they were there. Always there, all around her. Some came for experimenting. Some came to help. But she had been one of the lucky ones to receive their gift.

#scifi #shortstories #fiction

Published by Hannah Eileen

Jesus. Cats. Podcasts. An introvert full of strange thoughts and musings.

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