Author : Gray Blix, Featured Writer [ bio ]

At a Calgary hockey camp, parents and players watched a goaltending 8 year old novice stop everything shot at him. Might as well have been a brick wall. Coach brought a talented 16 year old over to rapid fire a row of pucks, a 125 kph fusillade. But to the kid, they were like nerf balls, floating lazily in his field of vision, easily blocked, swatted away, or caught.

His reflexes were… unnatural, coach thought, but he was small and could be intimidated into submission. Reverting to his semi-pro days, coach dropped a puck to the ice, grabbed a stick, and skated towards the kid fast, threatening to take him out if he didn’t give way. The kid saw coach as a lumbering Neanderthal and kept his stance until the last second. Puck on its way to the five-hole between his legs and coach almost upon him, he nevertheless had plenty of time to not only deflect the puck, but to glove it, lean aside, and extend his stick to clothesline coach, who fell backwards onto the ice. The crowd collectively gasped.

Looking up, coach saw the kid’s eyes, grey with flecks of gold, gleeful behind the mask. “Again!” the kid demanded. Then remembering who he was speaking to, “Uh, again, please?”

“So far,” lectured the Caltech professor, “we have reports, worldwide, of hundreds of thousands of kids with extraordinary… no, superhuman, visual-motor reaction times — averaging 25ms, ten times faster than normal. They process visual images at 250 or more frames per second, again ten times faster than normal, with equivalent cognitive throughput.”

An Atlanta 15 year old, learner’s permit in her purse and grandmother seated next to her, flicked the turn signal of an ancient Mercury Marquis station wagon approaching a freeway off ramp. Following closely was an 18-wheeler, and from the left an SUV veered across three lanes to cut in front of her. She realized instantly that they were going to be sandwiched between the two vehicles. To the other drivers and her grandmother what happened next was a blur, but to her it was slow motion, as she experienced everything in life.

If she hit the brakes, she calculated, the semi-truck would overtake them in seconds. Speeding up would rear-end the SUV ahead and they’d still be crushed by the semi behind. A glance at the mirror showed they’d hit another truck if they swerved left. She did what she had to do to survive — jerking the wheel to the right and braking to spin the wagon 180 degrees, skidding it backwards onto the narrow shoulder and pinning the driver’s side against the guard rail, just as the passenger side was sheared off by the truck, horn blaring.

She sat silently, cars whizzing by on the freeway as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Her eyes, gray with flecks of gold, were moist as she looked across at the open space where her grandmother had been seconds before. “Sorry, Meemaw” she said.

“There must be many more than reported,” the professor continued, “tens of millions, who don’t yet realize they’re different, who think everybody sees people shuffling around like zombies, TV as slide shows, and jet planes as gliders. What do they portend for our species? I can only say they represent a major evolutionary step. Oh, and they all have gray eyes flecked in gold.”

Audience members turned to see the eyes of those around them. Laughed.

None could foresee that gray-golds would not only soon be outcompeting their kind in every walk of life, but that before the end of the century, slower humans would be eliminated altogether.

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