Being that the majority of the fun about roller coasters was the controlled fear, “Daisy” didn’t think to distort the emotions of anyone around here and dampen their enjoyment – unfortunately, she kind of little bit maybe forgot that everyone except Dr. Stein had known they were on a roller coaster for several minutes now, had waited in line for even longer to ride and was nervously anticipating the drop – which came presently and with fanfare, if you could call Travis’ protestations fanfare.
“Daisy, what the fuck?!” He screamed, “fuck” seemed to stretch on to infinity, and then sharply burst, like the tenuous reality of small children on the cusp of learning adult truths, as he ran out of breath.
“Daisy” giggled, to put it mildly. Daisy lost control of her vocal chords and let them stampede through fields of untamed prairie until they ran themselves out and came back to the barn, heads low and panting. She’d been “traveling” all her life, attaching to unsuspecting passerbys moving through the world around her, but they were never having fun with her, they were always enjoying the moment with whoever it was she was attached to. For the first time in her life, she felt like she was a normal person, living a normal life and enjoying a day at a theme park with a friend.
It was no small bonus that she’d spooked Dr. Stein in a wholly innocent way either. She liked to see people afraid, nervous – but not of her. It made her feel like a monster. To spend your whole life, always aware on the fringes of your consciousness that everyone around you is afraid of you, is ready to initiate a woefully underdeveloped plan to kill you should you “break quarantine”.
So to really be living this experience closer to normal than she ever had before, with someone whose trust she seemed to be gaining and whose fear seemed to be dissipating – she couldn’t have asked for more.
“Shit. Sorry Dr. Stein, I should have warned you. These are my travels! I’ve been all over the world. Isn’t it amazing?!”
Much to her dismay, when she looked over at Dr. Stein to share in her delight, he wore a mask of terror instead. She was hurt, and confused to say the least.
“Daisy, I don’t know what’s happening, but please make it stop – there’s so much!” He could barely speak, the ride was nearly over when he finished his sentence.
Sweet, black endless dark. Merciful oblivion. It seemed to stretch on for hours, but much like the fear he’d experienced it was faster than he could ever hope to measure.
“Daisy, what the fuck was that?! I think you almost killed me!” Travis screamed, completely forgetting, in his small fear, the much larger fear the loomed so small and fragile in front of him, capable of his immediate obliteration if she so chose.
Of course, all mistakes are paid for and he very quickly remembered his place in the hierarchy with his young charge when he felt a change in the atmosphere of the room around him, not unlike the pressure one feels during a deep dive. He could still breathe, but he was definitely laboring and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to move any closer to Daisy if he had been rolling along steadily in a Sherman tank or traveling in a bullet train.
“Daisy” hurled herself across the room, a scant few feet, completely naturally without the aid of her considerable powers and tucked her knees up to her chest, burying her eyes into her knee caps while she hugged herself tightly and rocked ever so slightly. She sobbed quietly and softly, barely making herself heard when she pleaded with Dr. Stein.
“Please, don’t hurt me. I’m sorry. I don’t know what I did, I didn’t mean to!”
Travis Stein, with years of training in a Special Operations infantry unit as a member of a team who specialized in interpreting the behavior of people and becoming human lie detectors, had completely forgotten the power dynamic in play between him and Daisy and everything had turned sour. He realized, despite her mental prowess, he was still dealing with a child and he was still an adult. In times of great stress, she would react instinctually and regress to the age she was biologically and briefly forget all of her worldly knowledge and experience that regularly made him look like a dunce. With answers sheet in hand, he began to take the test that would determine if his life expectancy was going to decrease rapidly or not.
“Daisy?” He called, soft and low like pitching a baseball to the first kid on the team graduating from hitting off the tee to real live big kid pitches.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” As he spoke, he could feel the air thinning, the pressure decreasing, and his own life expectancy returning to average levels.
“I was just really scared, but I think I know what happened. If you want to talk about it, we can figure it out together once you feel up to it, okay?”
The pressure had completely dissipated, the room was normal and safe again, and Daisy wiped her eyes and slowly made her way closer to Dr. Stein. For his part, he held stock still, doing his best to look calm, and inviting. He didn’t want her to know that he was still in the throes of a very mild terror at the realization that he forced a powerful Laoton Scale individual into a corner and made her genuinely afraid.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Stein. You said you think you know what happened to you, and I think I do too. Tell me your end and we’ll figure it out so it doesn’t happen again.” Travis could tell by the measure of her voice that she was back to her old self, the fifteen year old girl with a wellspring of life experience and knowledge bubbling up under the surface.
“When we were on the roller coaster, it was like I was drowning – my brain was being flooded with images, memories, feelings, knowledge. I knew everything about that girl sitting next to me, not you, but the girl you… rode?”
“Rode works as well as anything. I can borrow their consciousness to any degree I chose. We were mostly passengers. Able to control their bodies, but when we left they won’t have known we were ever there and would just remember screaming their heads off on the rollercoaster.”
“Okay, so the guy I was riding – I think, I felt like I was becoming him and he was taking over my brain? Is that right?”
“You’re much smarter than you seem to be Dr. Stein. That’s almost exactly what was happening. The only thing you missed on, is the taking over. If you had your own powers, or you were a more experienced traveler with me, you’d have been able to lessen the flow and control the amount of information you were receiving from him. With practice, you might even be able to sever the connection entirely and shunt your consciousness back to your body.”
She made no mention of how far those capabilities extended. No mention of how, at any point during her ride, she could completely shut down the consciousness of her host and assume total control. People, she knew, didn’t like to consider the idea that she could infect their minds and take control of them part and parcel like a cheap body snatchers B movie. Nobody wanted to consider the possibility that she could completely swap bodies either, the thought that she could be walking around as a high ranking government official, and he would be trapped in the body of a fifteen year old girl and all the misery that came with. She was sure Dr. Stein would intuit these things though, after all – smarter than he seemed.
“What do you mean, I’m smarter than I seem? Don’t you know everything about me?”
“Ha!” Not so much a laugh as an expression of humor and incredulity. “Just because I can know everything about someone, doesn’t mean I do. Wouldn’t that be so rude, and creepy? Like what if I watched you poop or something! Super gross. I try not to peak at the people around me. I mostly just catch your surface thoughts and a general feeling of health. I don’t dive any deeper unless the surface thoughts don’t sound good for me or if I can feel something wrong with someone. For instance, I know you’re starving and craving pizza. I also know that you came here because you were worried about your meeting and you wanted to talk to me about it.”
“I am! I did! That’s so cool! Would you mind if I went and got us some lunch first and then we talked about the meeting?”
“Not at all,” she smiled wryly “I’ve got all the time in the world”
Dr. Stein felt the power in her words play over his skin and instinctually knew that time was moving of its own free will again. As he keyed up the first airlock and it began to hiss, he remembered.
“You never told me your name? You said Daisy wasn’t your real name.”
“Eluria” he said, testing it out between his teeth. “I like it, it’s nice.”