Author : Jason Frank

“Now, it’s just the two of us. Why don’t you start by telling me what it is about you that is special?”


“Come now, there must be something… some small ability you keep from everyone, some extra talent that no one else seems to have? You wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t something.”

“There could have been a mistake.”

“We are here only to talk about you. The competency of our Fifth Alignment’s Inquiry Board is not under discussion, though I would like to add that we don’t make mistakes. Relax.” He got off his stool and disappeared into the circle of darkness that surrounded her. The darkness was so thick, so palpable that it could have concealed anything.

Her mind worked on the darkness. Anything could be there beyond her field of vision but some things were quite unlikely. There was very little chance, she thought, that her friends and family crouched in that opacity, struggling to keep themselves from busting out and yelling surprise before the proper time. Her birthday was weeks away but her family was known to go to extremes to ensure surprise when surprise was called for.

“So…” he’d had a drink of water and used some of it to anchor the sparse hairs on his head more forcefully to the side they already favored, “… if you don’t feel like talking about how you might be different than other people, perhaps you wouldn’t mind going over some of the ways in which you feel you are just like everyone else.”

“I… I am happy to be a part of the Fifth Alignment.”

“Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same as you. Trust me. What else?”

“I want my parents to be proud of me. I want to be the kind of person that is well liked. I want to do what is right. I want to be closer to the me I imagine. I want all the cratecatchers on my block to celebrate me in song. I want to have a partner for the third dance of every sponsored shaexit. I wonder what other people think about me.”

“Perhaps your specialness has to do with being typical, perfectly typical. Perhaps it is your complete lack of specialness that is special? Could that be it?”

“It is possible_”

“Ha ha ha, I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. That is assuredly not why you are here. Think harder. Think about any differences you’ve noticed in yourself, no matter how seemingly insignificant.”


“Come on, we don’t have all day. Ha ha ha, again, I’m sorry, we have all the time in the world. Don’t feel any pressure.”

“I imagine things.”

“Yes? What kinds of things?”

“Well, when you walked off to where I couldn’t see, I imagined that my friends and family were standing there in the darkness, waiting to yell surprise and laugh at how they had me going.”

“Hmmm, very interesting. You were rather accurate.” He waved his hand and the room lit up to reveal a startling percentage of her friends and family, bound as she was to lightly slanted, upright beds. Unlike her, their mouths were covered. Very much was being said by their watery eyes, however.

“Finally, we are getting somewhere. I would classify this as some rudimentary form of ESP at the very least. Hmmm, perhaps it’s time we move on from talking to more… productive tests.”


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