Science Fiction

Lovelace½ #6

This entry is part 6 of 15 in the series Lovelace½

As I stated on Wednesday, I ran into some trouble on Wednesday — and unfortunately there was more than a little crap that came up, which meant some necessary revisions to Lovelace 1/2 part 6 couldn’t get finished until late on Thursday. So, this is going to be our Friday post this week. It means putting Trey off for another week, but I’m actually okay with that, since that’ll sync both stories. This is assuming I don’t decide to post Trey on Monday instead, or do something even more insane.

Either way, here’s Lovelace 1/2 #6. Hope it was worth the wait!

Andi stared at the young interloper into her dream. “The queen.”

Tatum smiled. “That’s what I’m told.”

“Of what, exactly? Dreaming? Because I’m sorry, but that’s absurd. It’s like being named Director of Blinking or Commissioner of Farts. It’s a bodily function everyone does.”

Far from being offended, Tatum giggled. “Don’t say that around my sister. She’ll want to know if the Duchy of Farts is available. The kingdom’s Adlucinatia — it’s off in that direction.” She gestured casually in what looked like no particular direction. “People dream out in the Penumbra. It’s no man’s land. Of course I can’t be the queen of dreaming. Everybody dreams, and not just humans. Can you imagine trying to rule over cats dreaming? Trust me. I’ve seen cats dream. It’s a losing proposition.”

Andi opened her mouth, and then shook her head. “Who are you?”

Tatum laughed. “Tatum Parrish.” She held her hand back out, even though Andi didn’t shake it the last time. “Her gracious Regina Somnia, Tatum the Capital I, Queen of Adlucinatia, insert triumphals here.”

Andi kept staring.

“Bowing is strictly unnecessary, but if you don’t shake my hand soon my arm will get sore, and that’ll make me cranky, and a cranky queen’s just one step away from exploiting the serfs and declaring wars.”

Andi sighed and shook the girl’s hand. “Cross.”

“Huh? Your name’s Cross? Did your parents want you to be a country singer?”

“No. You said you’d become a ‘cranky’ queen. Queens don’t become cranky. They become cross. I’m Andi Gannett-Moore. I’d say its nice to meet you but I think you’re trespassing in my dreams, and to be blunt that makes me a little scared and pissed off.”

Tatum laughed again. “More pissed off than scared, though, huh?”

“Well… yes. And no. I was terrified.” Which was true. She had been horrified at the thought that the very sanctity of her sleep had been invaded, once she’d divined that this ‘Queen Tatum’ was real. An actual human being — awake or asleep — inside… well, Andi’s head….

It was alien. Unreal. Up until now, all of these… things had still seemed oddly normal. Andi didn’t feel any differently now that she was upped in the brainpower department. But this?


“So what changed?” Tatum was asking.

Andi frowned, looking at Tatum. The girl was fourteen or fifteen. She didn’t look imposing or imperial or nightmarish. If anything, she looked less imposing than half the girls on Andi’s Lacrosse team. “Well… I got over it. Honestly… you’re not that scary.”

“I know! Even when I’m working in pure nightmare, I just look silly.” She grinned. “And for the record, I’m only technically trespassing. There’s no actual doorbell or knocker or that kind of thing on the border of a human’s dreams — pretty much the only way to ask to come in is to actually come in and announce your presence. Rude? Maybe, but what choice do I have? And when I got in I was frankly a little blown away at all…” she gestured around herself. “this. It’s amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. But as soon as I shook that off I spoke up.” She shrugged. “If you want, I’ll leave.”

Andi frowned. “I… no, you don’t have to leave. Not yet anyway.” She looked around herself. “There’s too much I don’t understand about what’s going on.”

“Oh — well, I think your intuition was right. You’re seeing your mind’s dream-process exposed, rather than experiencing it from the inside.”

“No, that’s not what I mean.” Andi turned to look at her. “You’re… real. I mean… you’re like I am. You can do things normal people can’t.”

“Heh — that’s putting it lightly.” Tatum drifted off the ground, almost relaxing in the air. Dream logic, dream rules, and the girl was clearly used to them. “And until now. you’d never met anyone like that. Well, not counting yourself.”

“That’s right.” Andi took a breath. “How do you know I’ve got enhanced abilities too?”

Tatum shrugged. “Like I said — this isn’t a normal dream. That’s a red flag.”

Andi nodded. “But you’re not shocked that I exist.”

“Well… no, of course not. Should I be? I don’t mean to be rude.”

Andi frowned. “You turn everything into a joke, don’t you.”

“If I possibly can? Yes.”

“Perfect. Well. To answer your joke — if you aren’t shocked that another abnormality exists, then you’ve encountered abnormalities before — not counting the sister you keep mentioning. And if you’ve encountered them before, to the point that a new one isn’t frightening, then you must know something about them. Which means you can at least tell me a few things about myself, and right now there’s very little I want in this world more than that information.”

Tatum nodded. “All that makes sense, Cross. I can certainly tell you a few things.”

“Cross? I told you — my name’s Andi Gannett-Moore.”

“Yeah, but I kinda like ‘Cross.’ It describes you better than it does a cranky queen.”

Andi narrowed her eyes. “Your friends have a habit of counting backwards from ten, in a very slow and measured pace, don’t they?”

“It’s like you’ve met them.”

“No no. Just you.” Andi leaned forward. “Please. I… need to know what I am — what’s happening to me.”

Tatum grew more serious. “I know. And I’m sorry for joking… I… I’m a little nervous, meeting you, and when I get nervous–”

“You joke. I figured that out. Why do I make you nervous?”

“Meeting new people makes me nervous. It doesn’t happen that often.”

Andi considered Tatum’s words. “All right then. So…?”


“What’s happening to me?”

“Oh! Sorry. Um… I’m not sure. Can you tell me what’s changed — what makes you different, and what you can do?”

“Of course. After fourteen more or less successful years as a boarding student who doesn’t really go in that much for studies, I suddenly can do maths as quickly as I hear them, I remember anything I make an effort to remember, I can read and understand a book in seconds, and in general I’m suddenly class brain in every other way. I can even do impressions or learn complex skills in just a few minutes.”

“Whoa… that sounds awesome. So when did all this happen?”

“This morning, somewhere around eleven a.m. I can’t remember anything anomalous happening before that sudden change. I literally was fooling around in a team area with my friends, getting ready to bomb an algebra test, and then I answered all the questions as fast as I could write. It didn’t feel any different or anything. I just….”

“Suddenly got the right answers?”


Tatum nodded. “All right. Well, that sounds pretty normal. You know, if any of this can ever sound normal.”

“What? It does?”

“Sure. From what I’m told, talented either feel exactly the same when they manifest, or they feel completely different. It’s like puberty all over again. Our brains develop at the same time our bodies do, but we don’t really notice ourselves thinking better or understanding more complicated concepts — it just happens. On the other side of it, when we get all these hormones and acne, it’s like a bomb got set off down in our guts. Someone with a talent like yours? It’s not like a light switch was thrown or you had a sudden massive change in brain. It’s more like someone went through and unlocked all the doors to your smarts and propped them open when you weren’t looking. On the other hand, I have friends who can generate electricity? They said it was like they suddenly drank twelve Red Bulls in one sitting, then stuck their head in the washing machine. They instantly felt it.”

“Generate electricity?”

“Oh yeah. There’s lots of talents out there. Electricity, speed, strength, telepathy or telekinesis — those run in my family. My dad’s actually one of the stronger teke’s.”

“Is that where you get your dream… whatever it is you do?”

“No — I got that from my Mom. We got some telekinesis from my Dad and my sister and I have a permanent Skype session go–”

“Okay, okay. So there are a lot of these… talented out there. Why haven’t I ever heard of them?”

Tatum shrugged again. “Well, you have. Legends. Tall tales. Paul Bunyan cutting down trees, say. Or Pecos Bill and the wind.”

“I have no idea who either of those people are.”

Tatum stared. “You’ve never heard of Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill?”

“No… why would I?”

“I… just thought everyone knew them.”

“Where are you from?”

“Austin, Texas.”

Andi half-smiled, despite herself. “Texas, of course. Naturally the rest of the world’s heard about your regional stories.”

Tatum blinked and laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. We just don’t think the rest of the world really exists. Or if it does, it doesn’t really count, which is much the same thing.”

“Oh, naturally. But regardless — Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill.”

“The point is they’re legends. Tall tales. The man who could cut down a forest in twenty axe swings or ride a tornado like a bronco. Or John Henry the Steel Drivin’ Man. You must have stories like that where you’re from?”

“What — England? Yes we’ve heard of the concept. King Arthur? Spring-heeled Jack? David Beckham? You may be familiar.”

Tatum laughed. “Right, right. My point is this. The talented are out there, and always have been. Sometimes they’re well hidden and sometimes they aren’t.”

Andi considered. “Do they… run things, behind the scenes?”

“What? Like… all Da Vinci Code conspiracies?”

“Well, put that way it sounds stupid, I realize….”

“Well, not really. I mean, they kinda do.”

Andi froze. “Really?”

Kinda. A lot of the talented run in families like mine, and those families tend to build a lot of wealth up over time. Case in point — we’re loaded. Anyway. Money means access so….”

“Well sure. But there aren’t hidden cabals of superhumans jockeying for world domination, right?”

Tatum looked away. “Well, no. Not like that. Not now.”

“Not… now?”

“Look — I’m sorry — I didn’t think we were gonna talk about stuff like this, you know. I mean, I thought we’d… okay, I’m not sure what I thought but I should probably talk to my Dad before I say any more about–”

“No, hold on. Are you honestly implying that there were–”

Tatum waved her hands in front of her, quickly, like she were warding off Andi. “Look — there was a war, a bunch of years back. Different factions jockeying for power. Stuff like that. But it’s okay — the bad guys lost, you know? No evil overlords or anything. Look, I really shouldn’t be talking about this. I just don’t… sometimes I don’t think about what I’m saying before I’ve said it–”

“How many talented are there?” Andi asked, intensely.

“Wha– I don’t know! Why would I know that? Why are you being like this?”

“Why am I– why is this happening to me? How did I become talented?

“I don’t know — we’re usually born this way! Look, this — I’ve got to go. I’m sorry — I shouldn’t have–”

No! No! No. I’m….” Andi took several deep breaths. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. This… all this started happening today and… and here you are. I… this is terrifying, all right? It’s scaring me half dead… I just…” Andi felt her head swimming, like something was breaking loose just under her skull. “You’re the only person who can give me any answers, and when you do, they just raise more and more questions, and…” She looked around. “And this is my dream and there isn’t even a place to sit down. How ridiculous is that?”

Tatum bit her lip, tracing her fingers in the air, golden sparks trailing, a kitchen chair resolving next to Andi. Andi recognized it — it was the kitchen chair from the left side of the table. Not one of the good dining room chairs — just one of the old chairs for the help. Andi used to sit in it and watch the cook work, when she was feeling lonely or just wanted to smell something good. She had to have been four.

Andi slumped into it. “Thanks. How’d you know to… make this chair?”

“It’s a dream. I wove a seat that would be comforting to you. How you interpret that is up to you.”

Andi snorted. “What?”

“Inside of dreams, everything’s perception. How you see the dreamworld depends on your mind and your experiences. I can weave together concepts, thoughts, images — all kind of things. But in the end, they’re… well, references. You fill them in based on what you’d associate with those references. So, you asked for a chair and I wanted to help you calm down, so….”

“…so… you made a chair out of the universal idea of ‘comfortable chair?'”

“Comforting chair.”

Andi stared, then began to laugh, a little hysterically. “Of course. Comforting.”

“How long were you holding that breakdown in?”

“I…” Andi thought. “…I wasn’t. Shocks would come, and then I’d… absorb them. Think about them, move things around in my head… and just keep going. Even now… even now, I was beginning to go off the rails, and now I….”

“Feel fine?”

“No. I’ve just… put it in perspective. All of it.”

Tatum laughed, a little weakly. “That’s a power I wish I had, right there.”

“I’m not sure it’s worth it. A few hours of screaming would feel pretty good right now.” She looked at Tatum. “Is there really a universal concept that means ‘comforting chair?'”

“You’re sitting in it, aren’t you? ‘Course, most people like me couldn’t quite pull that subtle a reference off. But then, there’s a reason I’m Queen. Besides, y’know, having been the daughter of the last one.”

“That’s the sign of nobility, is it?”

“More or less.” She grinned. “It’s a little more–” She cocked her head. “You’re about to wake up.”

“What? No, that can’t be right. There’s hours before–”

The dream suddenly shuddered — the gearlike imagery shivering and shattering into a sound–

Andi realized she was awake, her cell phone in her hand. It was ringing — a sharp discordant bell sound which wasn’t any of her usual ringtones. She slapped at it until it turned on. “Yes — what? What is — God–”

“You were told a different number right when you were awakened on each of your fourth, fifth and sixth birthdays,” a woman’s voice said. “What is the product of those three numbers being multiplied together?”

“Twenty eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty four. What… who… Mum? Mum is that you?”

“Your father and I would have been there today, but there’s weather over here,” Andi’s mother said, her voice tight and reserved. “We’ll be there tomorrow morning by ten your time, circumstances permitting.”

“What — how did you know something–”

“Your teacher called us, naturally. We’ll see you then.”

The phone went dead. Andi closed her eyes and then opened them. They were burning, just slightly, with fatigue. Her phone gleamed in the darkness. 3:19 A.M.

“Please God, tell me you’re gonna delete that ringtone,” Jennie muttered from her own bed.

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18 thoughts on “Lovelace½ #6”

    1. Let me clarify: it sounds an awful lot like they knew that she would be developing this ability at some point and (a) gave her zero preparation and (b) chose to ignore her up until the moment that she did.

      1. It does indeed sound an awful lot like that.

        It is also quite possible that they wanted her to experience childhood and innocence as long as she could because once she manifested that would be a no go (understandable but, if you ask me, kinda dumb), that there was a reason they needed her to be isolated, that they were busy (perhaps the war isn’t as over as Tatum thought, or they’re the supernatural firemen)…

        All I think is the case is that Andi’s parents acted deliberately. Their motives are, as yet, unknown.

      2. Or they weren’t sure she’d develop a talent (maybe one of them is a normal and it doesn’t always breed true) and she wasn’t of much concern to them until and unless she did.

  1. Hey, Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyon aren’t just regional tales. They’re Disney shorts! Of *course* everyone’s heard of them!

      1. Pish, Paul Bunyan ain’t Texan. He’s Maine and Wisconsin and Minnesota and other places that had lumber industries. Pretty sure Texas never held any attraction for him.

          1. Not quite — the Bunyan folktales were oral tradition tales going back to the 19th century in logging territories. They were then written down and published, at least in part, in 1906 by journalist James MacGillivray. This gave them some more traction. That led to William Laughead taking the old stories and reworking them as an ad campaign for the Red River Logging Company in the twenties. This is where the majority of people first heard the story, and a lot of the characteristics of Paul Bunyan ended up being influenced by it.

            But yeah, old Paul has (according to some sources) some roots going all the way back to the 1830s or earlier.

    1. Your resident British fan here. Recalling what I knew before the Internet, I’d vaguely heard of Paul Bunyon as some sort of a giant lumberjack, never heard of a blue ox though. And I’d never heard of Pecos Bill to this day!

  2. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the reason that Andi wasn’t told what she could develop into was because her parents were on the “wrong side” of the fight mentioned in this section?

    What we know of them so far doesn’t rule that out.

  3. Sooo… Were the three numbers 18, 34, and 47? Or some other combination of the six prime factors in that product?

    1. Heh, it’s nice to see I’m not the only one who worked out the prime factorization. Nice also to see that your answers matched mine.

      Hints that I got my math right, after all. *chuckle*

      1. Hah, I too am delighted to not be the only one!

        I couldn’t not check, though: What if there were only one or two prime factors, meaning the answer she gave couldn’t have been the product of any three integers? That would have been the geekiest typo report opportunity ever.

        It would have served me right if Eric responded that he never specified they were integers, of course. 🙂

        1. For the record, the numbers were indeed 18, 34, and 47.

          I’d love to talk about being clever, but I honestly grabbed three random numbers, just going for two even and one odd. These were what came off the top of my head. I only remember the numbers because I put them specifically in my notes in case the question came up or I wanted to do flashbacks later.

          I’m going to assume Andi and/or her parents are just smarter than I am. Which happens distressingly often when I’m writing.

  4. Brit pick: “maths” is no more a plural than “math” is in the US.

    “can do maths as quickly as I hear them” grates.
    “can do the maths {implicit:question} as quickly as I hear it”
    “can do maths problems as quickly as I hear them”

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