by Cameron Johnson

Chapter 1

Here is what I know for certain about The Event:

-No one knows who, or what caused it.

-It occurred nearly three years ago, on December 21st, 2012.

-Simultaneously, humanity developed a primitive form of telepathy, able to sense the emotional equilibrium of a group of people, and therefore interpret the desires of the group.

-People who know each other better, can tell specific desires or emotions, from those people.

-It has revolutionised Earths societies, how humanity interacts with itself and the outside world, and the political systems of our planet.

-I am the only one who does not have the Gift.

I have never been able to understand social norms, or react to choices that there has been a great deal of social pressure on me to make. Maybe this is why I always seemed to get picked out of a crowd.

                You have no right to call me a Uh, Henry, what did he say?

                A de-individualised irate imbecilic item functionally identical to a star fish coming down with a bad case of dead, I believe, recited Franks pet snivel.

                Yeah, and Im telling you to call me that one more time, threatened Frank, helpfully enunciating his point by holding his fist alarming close to my face.

I didnt need the Gift to feel the anger pulsating through this guy, although, judging by the crowd that had formed to witness the fight, as they must in order to fill the social norm, it must be impressive to be influencing the equilibrium noticeably in this crowd of 400 or so people.

The Gift decides that for them, lets them see what the group is doing, and is about to do. Lets them fit in, and remain untargeted, unlike moi.

The bell made a noise which was probably supposed to approximate a ring, and I got dumped on my arse, blissfully unpunched.

As I made my way to class, I realised that I still didnt understand why he was so angry.

Everyone in the school insults Frank, to some degree or another, without a scratch, yet when I do it, it manages to be a social fo-par big enough to warrant a beating. I hope class will be an improvement.

Philosophy got off to a flying start when the teacher walked in, tasted the mood of the class, sighed, sat down, and dumped menial work in front of us, knowing full well that it was never going to be completed.

I watched the interactions of everyone around me instead, that period.

Someone told the worlds least original joke, and everyone groaned and laughed, despite knowing exactly what the punch line would be.

Someone else told a story about some party they went to, and got hammered in, with everyone laughing, making jokes at the tellers expense, and staying quiet at the correct times.

I wonder if they can control it, the urge to be correct, to be synchronised, with a group. If it is just a whisper that guides, or an instinct that controls.

I wonder if the paper-thin masses would care either way.

Chapter 2

I could smell smoke. I was in an alley. Nearby, my friend crouched next to me.

                I think I can hear rioters ahead. I told him.

                I know. I can feel them. Theres lots of them mate.

                We should wait them out, in here. I said gesturing to the ally we were hidden in.

                He paused, then shook his head. No, they are going where we want to go. If we stay with them, we will be safe from more looters. He absently touched his shoulder. We are safest in the group. He pulled my hand. Come on, we cant get behind them

                They arent a group, they are a lynch mob, and they are headed for the government buildings, mate. They are dangerous.

                We will just go with the group, then well break off down an alley. Come on. He pulled my hand again. Look mate, we were on the opposite side of the city to our families, and my sense has helped us survive for nearly three days. Right now, it says to join with the group. Sensing I was weakening to his cause, he made a final push. We stay together, no matter what. He squeezed my hand as he quoted our mantra.

                Fine, lets go. Against all instinct, I ran towards the mob. They werent hard to find, and soon we were pressed up against people, from every direction. I kept a firm grip on my friends hand.

                We will not be controlled! Screamed the group, an odd rhythm to the words. We are people! The mob was whipping into a frenzy, we needed to get out now.

                I pulled myself over to my friend. Screw the plan, we need to get out of here now.

                What are you talking about? Were safe in here, and the sense tells me that we need to stay here.

                We will not be controlled!

                Fine, but we need to bail before we reach the buildings.

                We are people!

                Several kilometres later, we were advancing on the buildings.

                Thats our cue, mate. I still was holding onto his hand. We need to go. Now.

                Suddenly, the mob stopped. A dark skinned man had climbed atop a statue in the path of the mass of people. Everything became deathly quiet.

                They treat us like something they walked in with on their shoe. They expect us to listen, and applaud to their self-advancing schemes. They cant bear the thought of true freedom, so they watch our every action, listen to our every whisper, and gaze into the pool of the internet to learn our personalities, better than we know ourselves. He pointed towards the buildings. They expect us to carry on. They expect us to not care about how are brains are now connected to everyone else. They expect that their complacent public wont even turn a nail against them. Well my friends, how wrong were they?

                The crowd roared.

                Mate, we need to go. Now



                No. We need to stay. Something is about to change.

                The mob began to surge forwards, spurred by their leaders speech, and I was dragged along with it. I didnt let go of my friends hand.

Three sharp cracks filled the air, slowing the mass. All of my limbs went numb from sheer terror. On all of the buildings around us, armed police in full combat gear revealed themselves.

                Disperse immediately, or we will fire. Someone yelled down. No none moved.

                Final warning. Disperse, or we will open fire.

                The dark skinned man, still perched on his statue, yelled something, and the crowd roared in unison. Then we began to move forward again. The press of bodies surrounding me offered a choice. Move forwards, or be crushed underfoot. Swept along with the crowd, I flinched, and ducked my head, waiting for the moment.

After an eternity, the gunshots started. Bullets swarmed the riot. I saw the man on the statue, who had pushed the riot into its terminal march, topple from his perch in a spray of blood.

The group stopped, then turned, as if awakening from a dream. Then they fled. I couldnt move, and my friend tugged on my hand desperately, dragging me a few paces.

We have to go! Come on! he sounded like he was speaking underwater. Come on man, we have to stay together! He tried pulling me a few more metres, before giving up, and running to stay with the group. He didnt look back.

Frank I said weakly. I finally registered that the gun fire had stopped. Curling into a little ball, I hugged my knees, lying on the road. Everything began to blur.

I opened my eyes when someone touched my shoulder.

Its alright son, youre safe. Said a portly man in a suit, chaperoned by two fully armed policemen. Come inside, and we will get you home. Where do you live son? He asked as he picked me up.

I told him.

What happened to you son?

I told him everything.

I woke abruptly, head on my desk. Not three years ago. Not in the riots. The bell had gone. Trying not to yawn, I packed up my stationary, and headed to Math, alongside the rest of my class.

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