heila punched in the access code and unlocked the door that led to the lab. There was a sign on the wall that said
AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY
BEYOND THIS POINT
Sheila was twenty eight years old and had joined Dr. Russell’s laboratory as a research assistant a month ago. Dr. Russell had used a variant of functional MRI to build a prototype mind reader. She was top of her class, Summa cum laude and had published a paper on how to boost signal strengths that improved the range and capability of Dr. Russell’s mind reader. But the reason why she joined the lab was not that mind reader. She wanted to research the pièce de résistance at Dr. Russell’s lab known to everyone as Dave.
* * *
Dave was picked up by Dr. Russell when he was six years old from an orphanage. The nuns at the orphanage had a tough time with Dave. He always won every card game that they played. He never talked too much and generally kept to himself. He would find out every one of the boys if they ever played hide and seek. All the other boys thought Dave was a freak. But he got into trouble when he tried to expose Father Daniel just in time before he could harm an eight year old boy. Nobody believed Dave and he reacted violently, scaring other kids. That is when Dr. Russell was called to do a psych evaluation of Dave.
Dr.Russell had never seen anything like it before in his life. He was astonished to discover Dave. This six year old boy could read minds! Dr. Russell would use Dave to break new frontiers in understanding the mind, how it works and contribute to the greater good of the society.
* * *
Dave and Sheila were sitting at the cosy table facing each other. Sheila had the mandatory headgear that anyone within ten feet of Dave was required to wear to protect the privacy of their thoughts from Dave’s peering mind eye.
“How was your day?”
“Just like any other. You need to inform Dr. Russell that I can now hear the people who sit in the table adjacent to this wall in the adjoining cafeteria during lunch!”
Sheila consciously adjusted her helmet while Dave smiled. He continued to draw doodles in his notebook.
“You have been in this lab for almost twenty years. Have you ever wondered how it would be outside this lab?”
“Yeah, I have lived a few years outside before Dr. Russelll found me. I don’t like to recall those years.”
“I am sorry. I did not mean to upset you.”
“That’s okay. So, why do you wear that helmet, Sheila? Are you afraid I might learn your darkest secrets?”
“No, the lab protocol requires me to wear this!”
“Protocol Schmotocol… Listen! There is no one around here except for that camera on the ceiling over there. Jack is the security guard who is on duty and I know at this time of the day, he is not watching the monitors. He won’t be back for another ten minutes.”
“How do you know that?”
“Did I not tell you that I know what people in the cafeteria are thinking? Trust me. C’mon… Enough of that. Let us play Truth or Dare. I will start. I dare you to take off your geeky helmet!”
Sheila hesitated for a second. Then she removed her helmet.
“That-a- girl! You are a sport.”
Truth – I’ve fallen in love with you, Dave. But, I’m afraid to ask or admit. Sheila hadn’t spoken a word.
Dave was stunned. His heart missed a few beats and then his mind galloped. Should I say, ‘I love you too?’
Yes, Dave you should. Sheila leaned forward and kissed him.