A Common Journey
What is the fundamental purpose of living? And I don’t mean in the grand scheme of things like a contribution to society over a lifetime, I’m talking about why people would choose to live their lives, day in, day out, where contributing to society is a by-product. So really, my question should be:
‘What is it that keeps people going?’
For many, perhaps they have a hobby or personal project, one that they can sink all of their passion and time into. They will obviously have a job that they will have to clock in at, but as long as they have their hobbies, they’ll be happy.
There are also people who genuinely enjoy their job, whether it be because they were able to do what they love for a living or something they have a talent for. It’s pretty common for people who have a talent or skill to go on and use that to work for a living whether they actually enjoy doing it or not.
And for the few saints that live among us, working towards a better tomorrow, helping others and contributing to society would be enough for them. You could perhaps say that they do this as a bragging right to fill their ego which could be true to an extent for some people, but either way, they enjoy what they do.
Lastly, you have people who may still be looking for purpose or maybe just live on auto pilot, therefore taking the path their environment has forged for them. Then again, you could argue everyone is on that path. For example if someone with a talent went on to do something with that talent for a living, you could argue that the environment has decided that for them, as talent is mostly predetermined. I feel as though that my own bias may be weighing in on this though as a strong believer in determinism.
To be frank, I don’t have a good answer to the question otherwise I wouldn’t even be thinking about it. You could put forth a good argument for any of the points made but I believe that most people would say that it’s a combination of all of the above but with the main factor being something different. That is of course the relationships and connections you make with other people along your own journey, as that is what it means to be human after all.
I let out a very long sigh, realising I’d been lost in thought thinking about pointless things. I’ve never even really thought about these types of things until recently, but with my current circumstances it was not hard not to transition into these thoughts if I had time to myself.
I was nearing my destination now so I took my eyes off the deep blue sky that I had been staring at and looked ahead. The test centre I was heading for stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of its surroundings with it being much larger and modern than the aging area it was based in. A lot of parts in England are often very old, so when the demand for these new test centres to measure psychic aptitude went up suddenly, they were lumped in every area promptly. Or so I’ve read as this all occurred before I was born.
As I came closer to the test centre I could hear the hustle and bustle. Once I turned the corner I could see the source of the noise which was a large crowd which flooded out of what must be the centre's reception.
“It’s way too hot for this.” I muttered to myself.
I wasn’t about to merge with the crowd on a hot day like this so I decided to just sit some distance away and wait for the crowd to die down. There were no appointments so you could just turn up to be tested when it was convenient, but that also meant that it was quite busy, especially during peak times.
To bide my time I observed the crowd. Two girls that were talking rather loudly caught my eye.
“You’ll be fine! All we can do is our best right?” The shorter one put both hands on the shoulders of the girl next to her. They’re probably friends.
“Well that’s easy for you to say! I’m sure you’ll ace the tests without even trying.” Her friend replied, pouting a little.
“Oh come on, you know that’s not true.”
“Hehe, well maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad.” She said gesturing a small distance between her thumb and index finger. “But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of you, going to a top school and everything.”
The shorter one looked like she was on the verge of tears now, for whatever reason.
“Wha-what is it, Hannah?” The taller one asked, alarmed by the sudden change in mood.
“It’s just…. I’m gonna miss you so much!”
“Hey now…we’re still gonna see each aren’t we? Maybe we’ll both have boyfriends next time we see each other.” She said softly, comforting her friend with an embrace of her own.
At this point I looked away from them as I felt as though I was intruding on an intimate moment between good friends, even if they were making a bit of a scene.
After that, time moved on quickly and it was about time for me to head to the reception, with the clusters of people having now dispersed.
I heard someone from behind call out to the people coming out of the test centre.
“H-Hey, wait a second!”
They called out again and suddenly someone put a hand on my shoulder.
I turned and looked at the person who grabbed me. It was a woman who must've been in her early 40s with blonde hair and dressed for business.
It was someone I hadn’t seen before so I couldn’t help but make sure they had the right person.
“Ah, sorry about that, is something the matter?”
I wasn’t in a rush or anything so I didn’t mind stopping but even if I was, I couldn’t exactly reject such an overwhelming force of brazenness.
“No, nothing's matter, it’s just that I recognise you from somewhere so I called out before thinking. Not to mention if I don’t figure out where I’ve seen you from it will bother me for the rest of my life.”
Okay, well that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but either way the likelihood that she recognises me is extremely slim given what my day to day life has been like.
She got closer to my face with her finger on her chin and an analytical look in her eye and this complete stranger just started staring at me.
After a few seconds she had a eureka moment.
“Aha! I know where I’ve seen that delicate face! Is your mum by any chance named Lisa?”
I was surprised to hear that name so I froze up slightly but quickly regained my composure and gave a small nod.
“Ah I knew it! I’m good with faces you see”
“Is that so”
“Mmhmm mmhmm” She nodded as if she was very proud of her niche skill. “She was always top of her class ya know, a real prodigy.”
So they were classmates then? They’re certainly around the same age so that was probably the case but won’t bother confirming though as I feel like she’d go on a whole other tangent if I did.
“Sounds like her”
I think I remember her mentioning something similar before but I honestly didn’t know much about her school life, so my reply was a bit bland.
“Are you aiming for a psychic school then? I suppose you must be, since you're here.”
“I can’t say I've really thought about it that much. I figured I’d just take the test and see what I get and go from there.”
I replied with my plan but my nonchalance seemed to yield a reaction.
“That’s no good! You’ve got to have something to work towards in my opinion. You know, something to motivate you. You should aim for your upper limit and if that’s the Top psychic school in the area then you should go for it! It would give you lots of opportunities in the future and not to mention I’m also a teacher there so you’ll get to see me again!
Wow, I’m suddenly motivated. Sarcasm aside though it could be worth considering it at least.
“The top Psychic school in this area… that’s the one just north of here isn’t it?”
“Yeah that’s right. My daughters just getting her test done now and it's where she plans on going. Oh, I can give you her number if you want?”
I’m sure her daughter didn’t want some stranger with her number, especially someone like me, so I politely declined.
“I’m only joking, gosh! So serious! What’s she been up to anyway, your mum? She was interested in science wasn’t she? Well I’m sure that with a drive like hers, the world was her oyster.
“Oh, no she passed away”
I could’ve just lied and not have her feel bad but I wanted to go inside now. Besides I shouldn’t lie if I don’t have to.
“Ohh….” Realising she’d blundered her welcoming face transformed into a serious expression.
“I’m so sorry for your loss, that’s terrible”
I replied in kind
“Do you mind if I ask what happened?”
“She had a brain aneurysm of sorts a couple months ago, something to do with the psychic powers, it was very sudden”
She was silent after that and I took the opportunity to leave as the final few people waiting were making their way in.
“Well, it was nice meeting you, but I should probably be going in now”
“Yeah, see you, and good luck in there”
I turned and made my way to reception.
Entering the test centre I was immediately hit with a blast of cool air which I very much welcomed coming from the humid atmosphere outside. The interior of the test centre wasn’t quite as expected with its white walls and floor that seemed to reflect every bit of light. It smelt clean and there was only one person at the desk now so I believe my patience paid off.
“Please make your way to the hallway to the left following the signs. Ok who’s next?”
I was called in a somewhat hurried tone as the woman at the desk pierced me with a stare.
I walked up and cleared my throat.
“Hello, I’m here for my aptitude tests”
She reached one hand whilst looking down at her desk writing something down with her other hand.
“Sorry, I didn’t bring it with me.”
She looked up at me, not hiding her irritation.
Sighing loudly she asked
“How old are you”
“Ok one moment please”
She typed what would probably be the information I just gave her into the computer but then she then gave it a quizzical look.
She looked again at me and gave me a look as if to say that I had come here without due preparation.
“You’re not showing up on the database, have you received any formal education before or taken any sort of test like this?”
I took a second to ponder that and then responded accordingly.
“No I haven’t, I was homeschooled”
Sighing again she said irritatingly
“Well you should’ve started with that, that’s important information”
“It’s fine, I’ll make a record of you now, Daniel Green right?”
I nodded and then she blazed through many questions such as my date of birth and all sorts of health questions. More people entered the building and started forming a line behind me so I made an effort to answer her questions promptly as possible so as to not waste her time.
After a couple minutes she finished the final details.
“Ok that’s everything please make your way to the left and follow the signs. And also bear in mind that as there is no record of any of your education or test results, the following tests will be a full representation of your capabilities if you plan to go into further education.
“Ah ok, thank you, and sorry again for the trouble”
“It’s quite alright”
She looked over my shoulder
I took that as my sign to leave and started making my way down the hallway making sure to follow the signs.
She said these tests will fully represent what I’m capable of, which made me chuckle a bit thinking about it. I suppose what she was referring to was that for most students, they have already taken many tests at their respective schools or at test centres previously meaning the test here would just adjust the existing average score they already have. Whereas in juxtaposition to others, this test will more or less decide whether I’m even eligible or not to be in a psychic school hence applying pressure to me.
Also, didn’t she say that there was no record of my education so would that mean that there was no record of me at all? It gave me a weird feeling because it was as if I had no identity or existence at all in a manner of speaking. Of course identity and acknowledgement comes in more than one form such as being a memory in other people's minds but now with my mother gone I couldn’t really think of anyone else I’ve had an impact on which left me feeling very odd indeed.
If there was no one to acknowledge your existence, did you ever actually exist?
“I suppose I should put some effort into that” I quietly promised to myself, with a plan of hitting the ground running at whatever school I end up at.
I felt I was getting closer as I could hear sounds and echoed voices reflecting through the white hallway but the path just didn’t seem to end.
Eventually after following some more signs I came up to another desk.
I was met with the same dismissiveness as before. Maybe it had been a busy day.
“Please go into hall 3, the rest of your test group is waiting.”
I made my way through the opening labeled with a 3 and started walking.
“More hallways huh”
As I kept walking down yet another hallway I started to wonder why such long hallways were necessary.
As if in response to that question I reached the exit which led into a space that must've been the size of a cathedral. What filled most of it was to the left of me which were what seemed to be 5 makeshift urban areas each split by a wall that must have been taller than 30 metres. All 5 areas came with a half demolished building, vehicles and debris spread across a stretch of road.
In front of me I saw 5 desk chairs with 4 of them filled by other testees, all looking at me. I didn't want to keep them waiting so I put up a limp arm and pointed to the empty seat as if to ask if I should take it.
One of the adults who must've been overseeing the test nodded, so I sat.
“Okay, now that everyone’s here I’ll start explaining what will transpire for the duration of your assessments. We will start with a written test that will assess your skills in problem solving and how you would deal with some delicate situations, otherwise known as the psychometric portion of the test”
A psychometric test was important as you wouldn't want to be teaching how to effectively use your psychic ability to the wrong people. It’s definitely something that if used well, can help many people but like a double edged sword, could also be used as a weapon to harm people.
A hand shot up from a boy next to me with an intense aura.
“Please leave questions until the end”
He brought his hand down just as suddenly as he raised it.
“Once the written section of the assessment is finished, we will then ask you to take the psychic part of the test which will be explained by another group of invigilators. Before we begin I would like everyone to bring their phones to the front as well, you’ll get them back at the end of the psychic exam.”
The four other people taking the test brought out their phones and placed them on the table in front of the invigilators.
“Alright then, I’ll start handing out the papers”
He then went on to explain all the do’s and don’ts like how we shouldn't copy other students or make any attempts to communicate.
He finished after a good 5 minutes of explaining.
As silence was the answer he received he said one final thing. The question the boy had must’ve been answered.
“The time is now 3:06, you have 1 hour to complete the test, you may begin”
I then went on to answer all sorts of questions like solving puzzles, finishing sequences , that sort of thing.
I'd say that around 20% of the test could be categorised as psychometric. For example, one question described a scenario of how it would be our first time as a licensed psychic and we had to save a bystander from a dangerous situation. It was multiple choice for this and to be honest I thought they were all decent enough choices apart from the obvious wrong answer which was ‘Be honest with her and tell this is your first time in this sort of situation’ which would obviously just make the bystander more worried about whatever the dangerous situation was.
I had to rack my brain for that particular scenario but I eventually answered with a choice that stated ‘I would reassure her by saying that everything was alright’ which was probably the shortest option but I thought it was best to keep it simple.
I wonder how I would really react in a situation like that though, would I be too worried about the ‘dangerous situation’ to reassure the person?
I kept myself amused by mulling over these scenarios. I looked at the clock in front of the desk that said 4:04. I was curious what other people were answering for the psychometric questions and I considered peeking at the boy next to me, but I thought better of it and just stared forward.
The rest of the time elapsed and the main invigilator spoke.
“Time’s up, pens down and sit patiently while we collect your papers to be marked.”
The testees let out a sigh and started making a mixture of faces towards each other as if to communicate how they did. From their intricate expressions I couldn’t quite tell what they were trying to convey but I think it was something along the lines of ‘it was tricky but I think I did alright’.
The invigilator finished collecting the papers and spoke.
“Ok please make your way to the combat area where the psychic part of the test will be explained.”
We all got up and headed to our left to the urban area part of the hall where 5 more invigilators were waiting for us.
One of the female invigilators spoke.
“Hello all, and welcome to the psychic part of the test. One of us will now be paired up with a testee for their test where they'll explain everything you need to know.”
I wonder which invigilator will be assigned to me? Whoever I get paired up with will be overviewing my test and pretty much deciding my future so I’d like someone who’d give me a fair assessment at least.
I do try to not judge a book by its cover but there was certainly a difference in demeanour between a few of them. In particular one man who must be in his late 50s seemed like he simply didn’t want to be here. I wasn’t sure what the background of these invigilators were but they are professionals though so I should hope they would all give the same judgement.
They finished discussing who was going with who and the man I was just thinking about walked up to me.
“Hello young man, I’m Dave. Let’s make our way to area 5 shall we? I’ll lead the way” As he cheerfully said, greeting me with a warm smile.
He seemed quite friendly contrary to my initial judgement.
Apologising internally to him, I followed his lead.
The urban areas were quite large so it took a little while to get to our destination so the man -No, Dave took this chance to start explaining.
“What’s your name?”
“Alright Daniel, well first we’re going to start with a simple reaction test where all you need to do is press a button as soon as you see the light turn green which I'll point out once we get there. You’ll do this 5 times and I’ll take the average. Simple enough right?”
Considering how to effectively use psychic powers, reaction times will, in a manner of speaking, act as a benchmark for what you are able to do as you can only stop and move as fast as you can see. Of course anticipation and planning can also help and there are ways to improve reaction time, but nevertheless it is still something worth measuring.
“After that, we have a scenario set up for you that’s designed to measure your psychic aptitude, so things like how well you can heighten your strength and speed and anything else you have to offer. However don’t just think that's all there is to it. If that was all this scenario measured, we could easily have you take some simple tests. No, just as much as your psychic power, this simulation will also test your ability to think on your feet and adapt to situations so please bear that in mind.”
We reached an urban area marked with a 5.
Like the other areas I had passed on the way to mine, there was a stretch of road with a few mangled vehicles, a lot of debris and a 3 story building that was half destroyed at the other end.
He directed me to a podium with a large red button.
“For the reaction test I would like you to simply press the button when you see that red light over there appears green.”
He gestured at a light on the building
I gave myself a little stretch and cracked fingers while thinking about if there was anything specific I could do to get the time I want.
Now mentally prepared I stared forward and at the red light.
“I’m ready when you are” I said without taking me eyes off the light.
Dave nodded and then a second later he spoke.
“The test will begin now”
I saw him press a button on a controller he was holding in the corner of my eye. I kept my sights locked on the red light.
A few seconds passed and there was no change. I kept my focus on it.
It changed colour and I pushed the button promptly.
I felt as though I got a good enough score with that one so now it was just a case of maintaining that score and not hurting the average over my next four tries.
I pressed the button 4 more times after that and retrieved the rest of my scores. I took my hand off the button and looked back at Dave, feeling confident with whatever time I got.
“Well done, well done, you’ll know what you got at the end of the exam, along with your psychic and written scores. Now I’ll explain the final test which is of course the psychic portion of the exam. If you’d follow me please.”
We entered the urban area and he started explaining the last test as we walked through the stretch of road, towards the torn down building.
“So, for the final part, In order to showcase everything you can do we’ve set up a scenario where a group of evil hearted crooks have laid siege to an office building you work at. You think everyone has gotten out safe but it’s your job to go in there one more time to check, and rescue anyone who is still there. Once we get inside the building this will all make a lot more sense when you see how exactly we simulate this”
The scenario sounds like a rare occurrence but it is something that you'd be prepared for if you go to psychic school and get your license to use your abilities. It ‘s part of what going to a psychic school is desirable, as not only will you have the skills you’d pick up at a normal school, you increase the level of safety of any environment you're in, making you very employable. I read that, since the government green lit the teaching of psychic powers 20 years ago, death and injury in workplaces as well as crime rate in general was greatly reduced.
We walked briskly and arrived at the building. Far away it looked like a regular torn down office building but now getting a closer look it was mixed in with a lot of digital equipment such as smart screens on the walls.
Now that we were inside he started explaining again, as he took me through the building.
“You'll start from the edge of the area that we just came from and you’ll make your way towards this building as fast as you can, however be aware that at any point during the course, unexpected occurrences may happen just like in a real situation so pay attention to your surroundings at all times.“
We started going up the first flight of stairs
“That is what these digital screens are for, so if for example you see that there is fire on the screen the obvious thing to do is to not go near it, as it will detect any movement within a radius and you’ll lose points off your final score if you enter that radius. On the other hand the screen may show falling debris so you would want to move out of the way of where it would fall out of the screen.”
We stepped over some debris and walked up to one of the screens.
“Not only do these have spatial sensors, they can also be interacted with and can withstand an incredible amount of force. So instead of dodging a falling pillar, you may wish to take the option of hitting the screen with enough strength that you would feel necessary to destroy the pillar.”
He turned to me
“Would you like to give it a go?”
I had no reason not to and it would be good to try it before the test.
He pressed a button on his controller and a pillar appeared a distance away inside the screen. It started to get larger as it moved towards me so I readied myself.
I let energy flow from inside my head down to the outside of my right hand to prepare for the impact on the screen. I planted my feet and twisted my body slightly and at the moment the pillar was close enough, more energy surged through my body twisting it back into place at a greater speed than you could possibly do without any psychic influence. I made a fist and extended my arm, making contact with the screen. There was a glow of light grey from my hand and a fraction of second later the pillar on the screen broke into two equal pieces and flew off screen.
The energy on my right hand dissipated and I turned back to the old man. He seemed to approve.
“Very nice. There may be more than just pillars to look out for so make sure to take the right action.”
We kept moving through the office and made our way to a room on the top floor.
“Once you come across the screen with the victim on it, this one here” Hepatted a digital screen that was sitting up right in the centre of the space “it is your job to save them by simply placing your palm on the screen which simulates that you have retrieved them and thus ending the test. So in other words your objective is to get to this floor as fast as possible. Any questions?
“Well it’s not about the test itself, but I was wondering what the top score was?”
He took a second to ponder the question
“Hmmm… well for someone of your age the best score I’ve heard so far was a time of 45 seconds with no penalties, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that.”
He waited a second to see I had any other questions and after realising I didn’t he spoke again.
“Well if that’s all please make your way to the starting area. I’ll be waiting here and monitoring your progress. Once you’ve made your way to the starting area please wait for light to turn green and then you may start”
“I suppose I’ll see you at the top then.”
I made my way to the starting area thinking about how to approach this test.
I believe that he showed me through the building to give me a chance on how to plan my approach through the building as even though part of what I was being assessed on was my ability to adapt, at the end of the day most people taking this test are are around 16 years of age and haven’t come across situations such of these so I think they take that into account as well.
I made it to the starting area and leant forward ready to sprint.
I heard him through a muffled speaker
I looked at the top of the office building and saw a camera that must have been capturing the whole road.
I gave a thumbs up to the camera and looked straight ahead.
The light turned green and I made my start.
Allowing energy to flow all through the inside of my body I darted to the building.
When I made it to my destination they made use of the giant digital screen on the wall outside with a video of a pillar flying right towards me. I saw it coming a little while off so I was able to slide under it and into the building without hampering my speed. That screen was probably used as more of a warm up so as I got closer to the finish line they would probably become more tricky.
Still in the sliding position, I flooded energy into my legs and got ready to jump in a gap between some fallen debris.
I launched myself through the gap, making myself small so as to not hit the debris and landed safely on the other side.
Just like the route I had mapped out in my head, I then had to immediately roll and keep myself low so as to not make contact with the roof that had collapsed in this section of the floor. I cleared the obstacle but as I emerged from the low hanging roof there was a digital screen with a falling pillar waiting for me from above.
My momentum was able to carry me a little distance away but I made sure to boost myself off the ground promptly to make sure I was out of range.
There was no way to know if the pillar had ‘come into contact’ with me so I continued, pushing away any doubt in my mind.
I made my way to the staircase like I saw before which would take me to the 2nd floor but the stairs had fallen apart, meaning I couldn’t run up to the third floor. However instead of following the route the invigilator and I took to the 3rd floor, I surged power through my legs and lept to it.
One thing that became apparent when he showed me around the building is that there were multiple routes to be taken all with different difficulties which meant that even if you had a good psychic aptitude, you may still end up with a bad time if you didn’t see that opportunity or take a slow path.
I was able to build up my speed at this point as there was much less debris in the third floor.
I arrived at a very large gap in the floor with many digital screens about 2 ft under me but unlike last time they were illuminating the hallway with a bright red. There were a few waysin which I could pass the gap but without slowing down I decided to jump over the gap making sure to externalise some of the energy at my feet just in case I was in the radius of the digital flames.
I cleared the gap and turned the corner to the space that was connected to the room with the victim in it - the finish line.
Turning the corner I was met with 3, 6ft digital screens with illustrations of what seemed to be the crooks that were described in the scenario. And on that screen the words ‘firing in’ and a countdown currently on 3 that was all prominent on the screen.
I pointed my right palm towards the middle screen and felt the well known feeling of the energy from my head make its way to my wrist.
Without hesitation I released the pressure and glowing grey energy shot out my palm as a trident towards all 3 of the digital crooks.
It landed with the timer still on 3 at which point animation of thugs being incapacitated were played on the screen. Although I was a bit curious to see the rest of the animation, I didn’t stay for it as my future was being decided as we speak.
I opened the door and saw the final screen with the victim and my invigilator right behind it and monitors with views of all corners of the building.
I reached for the screen and placed my hand on it, ending my final test.