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The Telepath

by Andy Holmes 18 days ago in science fiction

A Short Story by Andy Holmes

Telepathy is a tricky thing. Everyone seems to have a pinch of it. People finish each other’s sentences, pictures flutter into the mind and those next to us start talking about our thoughts without us ever uttering a word. Were those thoughts broadcasted or were they received like a mental text message?

Evy Marner woke up at 3:04 in the morning. She was floating through the dreamscape when bright lights lit up her mind. Her husband was snoring on his stomach. Evy looked to the corner of their bedroom at the bassinet. Baby Lisa was six months old and like her father, she was dead to the world. The dog lay on the floor at the foot of the bed. Everything was still, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that the light switch in her mind flipped on for a reason. Something had woken her purposefully.

She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and walked over to the bedroom window. Their room was on the second floor and from the window she could see down into the neighbor’s backyard. A stray cat crept along the fence, setting off the motion detector and a floodlight perched on her neighbor’s roof activated. The light erased the inky dark and Evy saw her neighbor standing in the middle of his yard. He was wearing nothing, but a pair of red boxers. He was spraying a mound of dirt in with a garden hose.

Evy’s mind lit up again in a painful yellow. The light faded and left the trace of a haunting mental image.: lifeless fingers being covered up with soil. She stepped back from the window and rubbed her temples. A voice that wasn’t her own boomed in her skull.

You’re worm food now, darling.

The baby started to cry. It was a soft, muffled fuss-the kind fathers slept through, but that woke mothers up in the early hours of the morning. Evy cradled the baby and laid down on the bed next to her husband.

He rolled over and mumbled without opening his eyes, “Lisa’s crying.”

No shit sherlock.

Evy latched her breasts to the baby’s mouth and little Lisa drank herself back to sleep.

Exhaustion coiled around Evy’s mind and pushed her towards sleep. Unless she got up now and put Lisa back into her crib, sleep would overtake her and she’d suffer the night with tiny knees and elbows jabbing her in the back. She fought the wall of exhaustion eating at her consciousness and laid Lisa back in her crib.

She glanced outside. Her neighbor was gone and the lights were off.

These sleepless nights are starting to get to me.

Evy crawled back into bed and wiggled her butt against her husband. As they touched, the light in her mind fired up again and this time she saw him with a woman. The woman’s back was turned. She was standing in the moonlight on a balcony overlooking the ocean, naked save for a bed sheet, loosely draped around her bare shoulders. Her husband embraced the woman, kissed her neck, and whispered: “I don’t have to be at work until Wednesday.”

Evy’s squeezed her eyes shut and told herself that Daniel would never cheat on her. She was just tired and her hormones were still firing off at light speed.

The next morning, Evy juggled a crying Lisa while frying a pan full of eggs and bacon. Daniel fumbled with his tie.

“Boss emailed me this morning,” he said. “He wants me to go with him to Texas for a sales conference. I won’t be home until Wednesday. Think your mom can come over and help out with the baby while I’m gone?”

Evy’s hand shook. She knocked the frying pan over and eggs splattered across the kitchen floor. Daniel grabbed paper towels. As he wiped up the mess, she stared at the back of his head and a thought broadcasted out his mind into hers: I wonder if she suspects anything.

Daniel kissed her on the cheek and rushed out the door to work.

The grocery store buzzed. Lisa dozed in the stroller. Evy leaned over the handlebars of the shopping cart and stared at the fridge full of milk cartons. Her eyes glossed over the labels as her thoughts wandered to her husband. On their one year wedding anniversary, he surprised her with jewelry and roses. When the pregnancy test came back positive he wept and spent the next 3 hours pouring through baby books coming up with the perfect name. But the last few months were filled with taxing, sleepless nights and their romantic life had dwindled down to the occasional half an hour of Netflix and popcorn that ended in them both turning in the moment Lisa fell asleep.

“Excuse me.” A man stood behind her.

“Oh, sorry.”

Evy stepped aside so he could get to the milk. As he opened the door, she peered into his blue eyes. His mind opened up to her like a book. She saw a small puppy rolling around in the bed as the man slept. The puppy squatted and pooped on the empty pillow next to him.

“How’s old is your little one?” he asked, closing the refrigerator door.

“6 months. Her name is Lisa.”

“Welcome to the world, Lisa. Life is precious, isn’t it?”

“Yes, yes it is. You know if your puppy needs potty training we had a lot of success with our dog at Petco’s puppy school. It’s only $150 for 5 classes.”

The man’s brow furrowed.

“I didn’t mention anything about a dog.”

“Oh,” Evy smiled awkwardly. “I thought you mentioned a puppy. Sorry, I haven’t been sleeping much. This little one has been keeping us up all night.”

“Right.” The man hurried down the aisle and disappeared around the corner.

Evy rushed to the bakery. She spotted another woman with a stroller picking up some fruit. A baby boy, no older than a few months squeaked up at her.

Evy scooted beside her and stared at her forehead. The woman’s mind peeled open like a banana and Evy plucked the boy’s name out like a splinter.

Billy

“Your baby boy is adorable,” Evy said.

The woman smiled at her. “Thank you. What’s your little one’s name?”

“Lisa and yours?”

Evy gulped. She prayed she was wrong. Daniel couldn’t be seeing another woman.

“His name is Billy.”

Evy bit her lower lip and fought back the tears.

My husband. Have I lost him?

Evy’s hands shook as she juggled a crying baby and tried to slide the keys into the front door. She barely remembered the drive home. Muscle memory turned the wheel as her mind spun around Daniel.

“Hey Evy!” Her girlfriend Ann was walking her dog on the sidewalk. She waved back and smiled. “We still on for the 15th? I’m sure you could use the night out away from the little one.”

Ann’s mind poured across the front lawn into Evy’s skull. Ann was cheating on her husband with the pool boy.

“Does your husband know about Ricardo?”

Ann’s face flushed white.

The keys found their way home and the deadbolt slid open. Evy closed the door behind her. She walked up to the bedroom, laid Lisa in the crib and collapsed on the bed. She’d left the groceries in the trunk of her hot car, but she couldn’t find the strength to get up. Tears flowed down her face.

Daniel came home around ten. Dinner had gotten cold. She waited for him in the bedroom.

He entered and tossed his blazer aside. He leaned over the crib and kissed Lisa on the forehead.

“You don’t touch her.” Evy seethed.

“What’s wrong?”

His presence made her skin crawl. Twenty-nine hours of labor, never sleeping, nipples sucked raw, stretch marks and hormones like a firework show and this bastard was planning a weekend with another woman.

“Boss kept me at work late. I’m sorry I missed dinner.” He sat down next to her. “I know I dropped a bomb on you about going out of town this weekend, but you don’t have any plans right?”

Evy slapped him.

Daniel rose and rubbed his face. “What the hell, Evy?”

“I know.”

“You know what?”

“About her!” Evy balled her fists and hit him repeatedly. Rage boiled inside her chest and this man was going to feel what she felt. She was going to burn him alive.

“Evy, stop!” Daniel grabbed her wrists and pushed her back down onto the bed. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“You bastard.” Evy thought her eyes were dried up from all the crying she’d done earlier, but the tears came anyway. “You’re planning a trip with her this weekend. I know you don’t have to work. You’re going away to have an affair.”

Daniel started to laugh. “Baby, is that what you think?” He got up and walked over to his discarded coat. He reached into the pocket and handed her a brochure for a beachside resort and weekend getaway package. “It was supposed to be a surprise. Your mother will be here on Friday to take the baby and you and me...we are getting out of town for the weekend.”

Evy gripped her husband’s hands and her heart raced.

“Look at me, I’m telling you the truth. You’re the only girl for me.”

She looked up into his eyes. Yellow lights flickered on inside her mind. The woman on the balcony turned. The moonlight lit her face and her husband cupped her chin and kissed Evy on the lips. He was telling the truth.

Evy broke down and cried so hard her shoulders bounced like twin jackhammers. There was no affair-just a fragmented, broken thought she picked up.

Daniel hugged her. “I take it you believe me?”

Evy wiped her tears away. “Daniel, there is something I need to tell you.”

“What is it?”

“I think the neighbor murdered his wife.”

science fiction
Andy Holmes
Andy Holmes
Read next: Understanding the Collective Intelligence of Pro-opinion
Andy Holmes

Andy is an author raising two daughters in San Francisco. He writes short stories, novels and occasionally makes YouTube Videos.

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