This story is by Dustin Walker and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The first time I projected my thoughts onto another person was five years ago, and it was because I reacted to my mother thinking about my dead body. It had been raining that night, and I had to go cheer at a high school basketball game. She was worried I would wreck since I was only seventeen and didn’t have much experience driving.
Before that incident, I dealt with the constant bombardment of others’ thoughts and feelings. I thought I was crazy because I wasn’t unable to discern the difference between my thoughts and others’, and it wasn’t until I had a vision of pimple-faced, bowl-haircut Jonathan Sturgis having sex with me in the boy’s locker room that I became aware that those thoughts weren’t mine.
Mom thought mainly about my death, and the boys around me thought mainly about having sex with me.
The 1st Law of Primary Thought states:
Each member of humanity possesses a dominant thought underscoring all others and forming the foundation of all subsequent feelings, and behaviors.
This Halloween seems colder for some reason.
Matt walks beside me too anxious to warm me up, which I know because I see an image of myself pushing his arm back and walking away. But it’s no problem.
I replace his thought with an image of him putting his arm around me. He complies with my thought, and I notice that his body seems to relax. I smile. I may be able to experience a normal date for once.
All the others required me to constantly replace nonsexual thoughts; a feat that frequently left my mind weak. It wasn’t that they would do anything about their thoughts, but if I didn’t maintain control, I would start to feed them. Those thoughts seemed much more powerful for some reason, and being swept up in them happened more times than I care to admit.
But Matt wasn’t like the others. I never got a sexual thought from him. He was always thinking about ways to make me happy.
We were going to a Halloween party at the Jasmine Royale Hotel, which I was initially against due to the constant bombardment of thoughts from hundreds of people. But I would be safe in Matt’s mind, and for that I hoped I would get to experience what normal people experience when they make love.
“Oh look,” Matt says as we walk through the ballroom doors. “The drink table is over there. Champagne?”
“Absolutely,” I say. I had booked a suite on the top floor with the pretense that we’d need it in case we drank too much.
As we approach the drink table, a blond girl in a short green dress sidles up to us.
“Matt hi!” she says. “I didn’t know you were coming tonight.”
“Oh, Kaylee,” Matt says. “Hi.”
I feel anxiety wash over me, and I notice a small sparkle in Matt’s eye.
“And who is your date?”
“Uh,” he looks a little sheepish, as though it hurt him to admit it. “This is Erin Wilson. We, uh, work together.”
Why is he suddenly nervous?
She looks at me smiling. She is beautiful. I can feel her joy radiating out from her and clashing terribly with Matt’s anxiety, and I can’t stop the twinge of jealousy from tickling my stomach either, which only sours the milk.
“Nice to meet you Erin,” she says brightly. “Kaylee Clemmons.” She sticks out her hand. I shake it, though I really don’t want to.
“You two have fun okay? I need to get back to my friends. See you around.”
She disappears into the crowd. I look at Matt and am momentarily taken aback at his facial expression.
I see an image of him and her sitting in a car. Matt wishes he could hold her hand. Feelings of yearning and rejection wash over me and leave me momentarily breathless.
“Well, she seemed nice,” I say. “So, you two know each other?”
“We were friendly a few years back,” he says. “I haven’t seen her in probably two years.”
I can tell he’s not telling me everything, but I decide to leave it alone.
The 2nd Law of Primary Thought states:
An individual will strive to keep their primary thought congruent and true within themselves to the point of distorting their reality to make it so.
After an hour of drinking and dancing, I’m ready to head upstairs. Matt’s somber mood had lingered, enhanced by four shots of tequila.
I promised myself I would not impose much on his thoughts, but as they now seem to be filled with images of him and Kaylee together, I reckon I’m going to have to do something about it, especially if tonight is to go well.
I send him an image of us kissing and him leading me into the bedroom.
Suddenly the image distorts. It’s Kaylee that he’s kissing instead.
I stagger as the image flashes into my mind. That’s never happened before, and especially not from Matt, whom I’ve never known to think lustful thoughts about another girl. I try again.
He’s kissing me and we begin to lie down.
Kaylee is kissing him. She smiles and beckons him to lie down with her.
I feel my face redden coupled with a strong desire to hit him. Why is he thinking about her? Why won’t he think about me?
No. I must be reasonable. I can’t allow my jealousy to ruin this. I just need to get him upstairs. Then we can go from there.
I send an image of us getting into the elevator and pressing the number twenty-three.
“Hey,” he says. “Can we go upstairs?”
“Of course,” I say.
As we approach the door to the suite, an image of Kaylee lying next to Matt invades my mind again.
I cringe a little as the thought strikes me.
I press into his mind harder. I need him to be thinking about me.
I replace Kaylee.
The thought distorts, showing her in my place. They begin to kiss.
My emotions get the best of me. I won’t lose to her.
I send an image of me holding his face in my hands, kissing him with the fierceness of a lion.
The thought distorts again, now stronger than before. He is caressing her breast and kissing her neck. She’s breathing heavily. She whispers into his ear, “I love you so much.”
I assault his mind. He’s mine tonight. Not hers.
He’s fondling me, and I begin to take my clothes off.
She’s straddling him, holding his head to her chest.
No, I’m straddling him.
She’s telling him how much she loves him.
I’m undoing his pants.
She’s saying she wants to be with him forever.
Oh, screw you Kaylee!
I’m standing next to him in a wedding dress.
She replaces me.
I replace her.
We begin flickering back and forth like a bad tape on an old film projector. I feel like I’m about to lose my strength. I can’t let this happen again on a date.
Suddenly the image shatters. Kaylee is gone. I am gone.
“No!” I hear Matt’s scream as we both fall to the ground, drowning in his grief. His breathing is labored; his face sweaty. He’s grasping his head with both hands and trembling violently.
I reach out a hand to him. “Matt?”
“No!” He forces my hand away. “Don’t.”
“Matt.” I touch his shoulder.
“No! Get away!”
He stands and begins running down the hall at a dead sprint. I immediately follow, but he’s much faster than me. He passes our room.
“Matt! I-I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have…”
Staring down to the end of the corridor, I immediately realize what he’s about to do.
“Matt NO!!” I shout but too late. There’s a sound of shattering glass, a splatter of crimson against the wall, and Kaylee’s name ringing out into the night as his body sails through the window, falling twenty-three stories to the ground below.
I don’t even make it to the end of the corridor before I collapse, sobbing, my face buried in my hands.
The 3rd Law of Primary Thought states:
The dominant thought is the essence of hope. Loss of the primary thought can result in severe depression and impulsive suicide.
I’m wrapped in a blanket, staring after the ambulance that took Matt’s body away. My mind feels numb.
“You didn’t know, did you?”
I look around to find Kaylee next to me. I don’t want to talk, so I say nothing.
“I was his primary thought,” she says.
“The one he thought about most. It was me.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” I say.
Her eyes find mine. “I think you do.”
I see a vision of a younger Kaylee projecting an image of herself deep into Matt’s mind.