Chapter 7:

Something Weird

The Time Capsule - Part 1

  Let's put aside our two potential love birds for the moment and talk about something, er, 'weird' for a lack of a better word. Ever since I woke up I have been gradually feeling, noticing even, that I have changed. And with every hour that feeling gets stronger, as if I have not yet fully awoken yet. Let me explain.

  My senses have been getting sharper. I can distinguish faint sounds from farther than I used to while I can hear loud sounds quite more intensely. My nose has become far more sensitive. I can smell more acutely less intense smells, such as those of the cherry blossoms in their pre-blossom state. Their smell feels a bit raw or 'unripe', this is how I can only explain it.

  My sense of taste also got stronger, while my haptic sense got more sensitive too. I can now taste subtle 'tastes between the tastes'; I can taste not just the whole but each individual part of a food clearly. My sense of touch got oddly sensitive too, which feels the weirdest of all, since this affects the entire body. When Fumiko-chan fondled my back last night I could feel not just how warm her hand was but even the beating of her heart!

  But arguably the weirdest and most scientifically inexplicable of all is the effect on the sense of my sight. I used to wear somewhat thick glasses for -5.25 degrees of myopia. After four days I ditched them because I no longer needed them. During that week my myopia gradually diminished, and that gave me quite a few headaches, since my glasses were no longer suitable and my eyes were trying to adjust.

  At the fourth day I estimated that I had only a couple of degrees of mild myopia and in another 2-3 days my eyesight would be crystal clear. Which is precisely what happened.

  The only possible explanation for the above is that they were caused by the toxic pollen. It didn't just put us under apparently. It also changed us (yes, it affected the others too; more on that later) improved us, dare I say mutated us even. And it keeps on changing us. No scientist back in the day reported any such effect. 

  That was clearly impossible, since you cannot test the post-awakening state of anyone when none on the entire Earth has yet awakened. And there was little time to examine the pollen itself in depth. A few teams barely managed to sequence its DNA but none had time to scrutinize the new genes the mutation spawned.

  I will speculate that nature decided to offer a gift to the survivors. Make them stronger, faster, fitter; more able to survive in this new harsh world. It's a gift that keeps on giving, since each morning I wake up I notice new effects. After a week we started noticing the first non sense related effects, but I will talk about that later. I need to describe how I raised the issue to the others first.

  I was, naturally, worried they might think I lost my mind. During the second day, a while after our team turned into an octuplet, I wasn't sure the effects were real yet, since they were rather subtle. So I decided to only talk to Fumiko-chan about them. While on our way to look for a safe sanctuary I drew her a few meters away from the others and coyly asked her,

 "Have you, er, noticed anything weird happening to you since you woke up?"

  "Is that a trick question? What exactly do you mean, spit it out!", Fumiko-chan oddly looked a bit upset.

  “I worry that if I raise this you might think I turned insane or something”

  “Are you referring to our ‘changes’ luv? Yeah, I noticed them too. And as you can see I have more guts than you too”, she said with a mix of anger and tease.

  To be frank at that point I blushed a bit. I knew that she said that to help me spit it out, but I was a bit embarrassed that I didn’t trust her right away with the info and that she was indeed bolder than me. I love that girl, and probably do not deserve her.

  “OK my love, my turn. Let me report what I have observed. Basically all my senses have been sharpening, with each passing hour. Gradually but steadily. I have started feeling stronger, faster, more confident even. And I suspect this is only the beginning. It appears that mother nature gave us a little gift. A gift with many parts”, Fumiko-chan was listening with a very serious expression.

  “More or less I’ve noticed the same changes anata ('you' literally, kind of 'darling' in this context). Above all it’s the smells with me. I have always have had a rather sharp nose, but I think I can now distinguish a single cherry blossom petal among a thousand jasmine ones.

Which is nice, and can be handy, but the bad smells have equally intensified. You cannot have the good ones without the bad ones apparently”, I though it was a bit strange that Fumiko-chan was explaining this so naturally, but then again this girl was almost fearless.

  “Do you think we need to tell the others now or wait a bit? I suggest we wait until the newest members of our group start to feel the changes as well. They basically just woke up and their head is in an ‘post-awakening dizzy’, state so I doubt they have noticed anything yet’, I said.

  “That is a good idea Asahi-senpai, but I suggest we talk only to Akira-senpai in private. He is arguably the best educated of us all, along with you, so he might have some insight about where these changes might lead us”.

  And so we did. We unhooked Yuki-chan from him (temporarily) and took him by the side to have a private chat that we made look non suspicious.

  Akira-kun looked relieved when we explained.

  “So I wasn’t losing my mind after all, that’s good to know. I thought the changes I noticed were all in my head, the result of post-awakening shock. If both of you see changes then we all will. A mutation, apparently. This not my domain Asahi-kun, it is yours, but I suspect the pollen played around with our DNA a little bit during all these decades.

  I am really excited to see where the changes will lead. Are we going to get super powers or something? And would that be a good or a bad thing since the bad guys would get them as well?”, Akira-kun’s eyes were glowing with a mix of excitement, awe and a bit of fear.

  “Probably a bad thing”, said Fumiko-chan, “I know you boys have an obsession with shooting lasers out of your eyes, flying, lifting semi-trucks with one hand etc but girls tend to be more practical than that. We would think a few steps ahead about the ramifications of these powers. I love manga and anime too, but that does not necessarily mean I want to be a super-powered Shonen character, unlike you boys”.

  Fumiko-chan said these words with a part scolding and part teasing mood. She was, of course, right. She was (almost) always right. If we developed super-powers a couple of months from now and met guys like the four Yakuza goons we fought who were also super-powered, our fight would be very different to the almost bloodless one we had last night.

  Some of us, or from them, might even die. A single dead of our own might break us, since we are hanging by a thread already. We need to prepare emotionally and mentally for such an event, and we also need to learn how to control our powers if such powers indeed manifest. And, of course, I will be responsible for these tasks as well. Being a leader is a thankless job, and in my case it is also an unpaid one, but I will do my best to take care of my team.

  “Biologically speaking a sharpening by 10 times or more of all our senses, along with becoming up to, say, ~5 times faster and stronger, is indeed possible. Shooting lasers out of our eyes is not. I keep an open mind about stuff like telepathy -of emotions, not thoughts; though I cannot rule out the latter either- and telekinesis and other tele-bits.

I once saw something in a lab I could not explain, along with a colleague; we even had it on video; we showed it to our post-doc supervising professor and he thought we manipulated the video to pull a prank on him; no matter what he would not believe us.

  Since this appears to be a genetic mutation I will postulate that whatever happens to us will remain within the bounds of biology and the laws of physics. However we do not yet know the actual limits of biology, particularly the precise neurophysiology of the human brain and its untapped potential -that was my second planned PhD before Naturecaust struck.

  So almost anything could happen to us. We could even fly if telekinesis is indeed a thing and use it to propel ourselves. No lasers from eyes though. We would turn our retinas into fried egg yolks”. I had both of their attention. Fully. Even Fumiko-chan’s eyes were glowing with wonder now.

  “You never told me about that lab incident”, Fumiko-chan complained.

  “I wanted to verify it first love. While we had it on video as you surely know science is all about replication. Even if, particularly if, something appears to be scientifically impossible – or, more accurately, ‘not yet explained by known science’ – and even if we have documented proof of it, like that video, unless we can replicate it it is useless. 

  And we weren’t able to replicate it because out test subject -a volunteer who was there for something unrelated- got so afraid by what happened that he shut himself inside a psychiatric clinic and asked for the strongest anti-psychotics so that it doesn’t happen again.

  I heard that the doctors were hesitant, but when he talked about levitating a disk with his mind and then (when he got afraid) dug it deep in the wall right next to him, without ever touching it, they happily started him on heavy doses of Haldol, Akineton and Abilify combined. You know, the 'fun drugs'. I visited the poor man at the clinic and he could barely speak.. My colleague who also witnessed the incident later on denied it even happened so that he doesn’t bury his career. We even had video of the entire thing yet no-one believed us. 

  Another professor (a physics one this time) even scolded us for wasting his time. It is a great pity when great minds shut themselves inside a box of preconceived ‘scientifically orthodox’ ideas and get so tightly trapped inside that they are unable to escape the box, even if the evidence for ‘unorthodox ideas’ stares them right in the face”, I explained with a bit of sadness and a bit of anger.

  “I would have killed to see that video. I know of multiple ways to verify whether it was authentic or not. I could even prove it. Surely there must be no way to retrieve it now, right?”, Akira-kun looked highly excited.

  “Unfortunately we had it stored in the server of the university. I do not recall  ever making an off-line backup. That was arguably careless of us, but on the other hand we had no way of knowing that a biological apocalypse would strike less than 6 months later”, I explained.

  “From the point of view of known physics what you described is seemingly impossible. On the other hand one of the favorite maxims of my best physics professor was ‘The physics of tomorrow might be the metaphysics of today.’ So I also keep an open mind. And I know you are not lying. 

  The very few times you are lying, usually to make a joke or pull a prank on me, you have some body tells I am not going to disclose. You had no such tells now. So the incident you described either indeed happened or you believe it happened. I have the feeling it is the former. 

  Which is… extremely exciting, to put it mildly. I need to work this a bit in my head, how/why telekinesis could be possible within the physical laws. Electro-magnetic induction maybe?”, Fumiko-chan was almost as good at reading the body language as me. I trained her myself because I did not want liars and con-men to fool or take advantage of her; I confess I’m guilty of being protective of her, perhaps even over-protective). 

  She learned fast. She is a natural at this, and soon she is going to surpass me. What a joy it is for the student to surpass the teacher!

  Our dear descendants from the future, I believe we are now getting into the most juicy parts of my account. In the next chapters I will move a bit away from who dates whom in our team and into these mysterious, almost mystical powers mother nature gifted us. Unless nature later on decided we gathered too much power and switched them off, you must also have these powers. 

  I suppose that would depend on how our species treated nature in the next 9 – 10 decades. I really hope, with light and wonder in my heart, that we did not go back to its old (self-)destructing ways and gained some wisdom at last.

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