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This is Telepathy

Megan Neumann lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband and several poorly behaved animals. Her short stories have appeared in such publications as Crossed Genres, Luna Station Quarterly, and Perihelion Science Fiction. She thanks the Central Arkansas Speculative Fiction Writers' Group for their scathing critiques and loving support.

Sarah sticks the needle in her arm and falls backwards, feeling the pain of the wound and the soft sheets of her bed. It doesn't hit her immediately. Several minutes pass as the nanites travel through her bloodstream and latch onto her brain. To Sarah, those minutes last an eternity. Each time she injects, the wait feels longer than the time before. She craves for the connection to be initiated, to be alive with the world again.
The nanites will attach to the neurons in her brain and enable a wireless data connection. The interpreter software she installed months earlier render the webpages as something that can be interacted with by thought alone.
When her connection goes live this time, the banging on her bedroom door starts. A hundred webpages appear in her mind, her session from last time restored--Twitter feeds, Facebook statuses, and a thousand Instagram photos flood into view. She consumes them hungrily as the banging on the door grows louder.
"This is telepathy," she whispers as the thoughts of thousands fill her mind. Those that also injected update their statuses with their thoughts, and Sarah knows them as they know her own.
Injecting is illegal, but that's rarely enforced. Sarah thinks the illegality of it pointless. It is a precautionary measure since the long-term effects are unknown. There have been a few cases of the injected wandering outside under the influence and causing accidents. Sarah knows better. She locks herself in her room where she lies in bed, enjoying her connection to the world.
Tricia's voice now accompanies the banging. She yells something, but it's too difficult for Sarah to make sense of it. The interpretation of data consumes too much of Sarah's mind. She can stop and listen, but she needs to take advantage of her time. The injection lasts only a few hours. After that, the nanites will deteriorate.
Someday, it will last forever, Sarah thinks between page loads. Then she will inject for the last time. She imagines a world of telepaths.
Beneath Tricia's voice, a baby cries. The sound reminds Sarah that she needed to upload photos of Taylor. His third birthday party was last weekend, and Sarah has pictures of it on her phone. She connects to the phone and uploads the pictures to her accounts. A tsunami of likes and compliments rush over her. Her body convulses, and her head swims. She's never had so many people connected to her at once. She smiles and tears of joy leak from her eyes.
"You're supposed to watch Taylor tonight. I have to go to work," Tricia says. Sarah hears this, but finds little meaning it. "I can't be late again."
Sarah tags Tricia in the photos. Someone comments that they are such a cute couple. What a beautiful baby they have. Three people like that comment.
Outside the bedroom, Tricia stops banging. Sarah hears Tricia's footsteps moving away from the door.
"I'm taking Taylor with me," Tricia says. Sarah will try to remember Tricia's words for later, after the nanites die. For now, she wants to stay connected to her friends, to the world. She updates her status to say she is so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Author Comments

I've always wanted psychic powers, but now that I'm in my thirties I'm starting to realize I'll probably never develop powers on my own. When I started writing this story, I'd been thinking about how humans could achieve something close to psychic ability through technology. Being able to access the internet through thought would be, in my mind, telepathy.

- Megan Neumann
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