Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
We first noticed it three days after we left the orbiting platform on our way to Mars. Initially, Tom and I thought it was just the years of extensive training. You know, you’re functioning so well as a team that you seem to know what the other person is thinking. But, as it turned out; we were actually reading each other’s mind. At first, it was just wisps of words. We joked about it until we started picking up entire sentences of thought. Houston put a dozen shrinks on it, and pored over NASA’s archive of astronaut medical reports. Apparently, seven of the twenty-four people that flew to the moon reported vague instances where they thought they knew what someone else was thinking. However, psychic telepathy testing after their return to Earth revealed no such ability. Doctor Elisabeth Myers, the world’s foremost expert in physical telepathy, suggested that all humans possess thought-transference ability from the days before our ancestors had speech. Although the ability still exists, it was eventually drowned out in the overall static created by billions of people transmitting simultaneously. However, once in isolation, and far removed from the overpowering mass of Earth’s population, the ability became apparent. Based on the Apollo data, and our description of the daily strengthening of our mind reading capability, Doctor Myers calculated that the individual range may be short, but the Earth-mass static would become negligible at a radius of approximately five million miles. Regardless of the situation, it was too late to abort, so we had to deal with it, and continue the mission as planned. Maybe, NASA predicted, the enhanced communication would be a good thing. Oh, how wrong they were.
The remainder of the seven month journey to Mars was pure hell. In essence, we were clinically schizophrenic. There were always two voices in our heads. Every thought occurred simultaneously in each other’s mind. The more we tried to suppress our thoughts, the louder they became. We knew all of each other’s intimate thoughts and memories. Even while we slept, our minds were one. It was a constant battle to prevent the other’s conscious from dominating, fearing that if we let down our guard, the other mind would take control. And we each knew the other was fighting the same battle, which only magnified the problem. There was only minimal relief during the six months on Mars. We took turns taking the rover to its maximum range. During those precious days, the voices were reduced to mere whispers. Looking back on it, that was probably our downfall. The marginal relief we had only made us dread the return trip to Earth even more. We knew we couldn’t survive it. But we also knew we couldn’t take any extreme action, like killing the other, because we always knew what the other was thinking. So, together, we reconciled on what needed to be done.
On the day of our scheduled lift off, we sat at the conference table. I thought “rock”, and Tom heard “rock”, and thought it too. I heard him hear me, and he heard me hear him hear me. And so it began; a telepathic feedback loop. The pain became excruciating as the duel escalated exponentially. And then, after an indeterminable amount of time, there was silence. I had won. Tom was dead. Exhausted, and bleeding from both ears, I wept. But my grief wasn’t about killing my friend; it was the realization that mankind would be forever trapped on the surface of the Earth, unable to explore the universe beyond the moon.
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