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The Turing Test

Dajan and Ezra had been tasked with relocating the entire contents of the upstairs stockroom to another, empty stockroom, one level down.  They had the use of one cart and a handtruck between them — as well as a freight elevator — to carry it all to the second floor.


                             “You know, when your uncle said he would take me on as his apprentice,” Dajan huffed through labored breathing as he hoisted another giant package onto his shoulder.

                             “...I envisioned tracking down perps, or interrogating mooks...” he whined to his mentor’s nephew as he steadied the package so he could get it onto the cart, balancing the load by swinging his unburdened arm out to the opposite side.

                             “...at the very least, gathering evidence at a crime scene, or picking up reports from the local precinct,” Dajan’s diatribe dragged on.  “...NOT cleaning out a storeroom!”

               “How do you think I feel ,” Ezra grunted back, his own heavy, very wide load weighted across the back of his neck, stabilized with both arms, like the yoke on a pair of oxen.  “I’m a highly trained spy, and here I am being conscripted as a moving service.”

                             “Hey, that reminds me,” Dajan pursed his lips in puzzlement, setting the package down on the cart.

                              “I’ve been meaning to ask you...” his eyes lit up with the anticipation of his question.

                              “What is Gallia like?,” he blurted, probably quicker than he intended.  “I mean, does everyone there have magic and psychic abilities?”  He inched closer to his compatriot.

                             “I heard there are actual living therianthropes there,” he blustered.  “Is that true?”  Dajan was giddy as a schoolkid.  You’d think he was preparing to sit on Santa’s knee.

Ezra’s brows furrowed in a moment of deliberation.

              “In many ways, Gallia is not really all that different from America,” he responded.

              “I mean, it’s not exactly like America,” he corrected, restacking Dajan’s heavier package against the back end of the cart, and reordering the other, lighter boxes on top of it.

Dajan gave him a hand resetting those already situated into the most manageable position for moving the cart.

              “Our cities are designed differently, obviously, to be more accommodating to our special gifts,” Ezra explained to his uncle’s apprentice.  “But not everyone who lives there has magic abilities or psychic powers.”

              “For instance,” he continued.  “Most therianthropes don’t actually have any magic or psychic powers.  They can only shape shift.”

                             “Only!,” Dajan exclaimed.

Ezra snorted.  He ambled back to the section of the stockroom they had been loading up last, not moving in too much of a hurry as he spoke.

Dajan followed, eagerly, keeping an equal pace.

              “And there are others living there with no special abilities at all,” Ezra relayed along the way.  “Most of those come from already established gifted families, but even some of them are sometimes just born that way — an arbitrary stroke of the genetic lottery, I guess.”

                “Though, in Gallia,” he clarified.  “...they’re considered the genetic anomaly.”  His face clouded over briefly.

                “Hell, for a while there, even my own family thought I was plebeian,” he sulked.

                             “Whoa,” Dajan whistled.  “...that must’ve sucked.”

              “You’ve no idea,” Ezra scowled.  “It sucked donkey balls.  In my neighborhood, I was teased mercilessly for being a plebe.”

                             “But...” Dajan frowned.  “You’re a technomancer, aren’t you?”

                             “I mean, I know they are super rare,” he went on.  “No one in my class or the one ahead of mine or behind it had a technomancer in it.”

                             “In fact,” Dajan reddened a bit.  “...until I met you, I thought technomancy was a myth!”

Ezra nodded as they reached the next set of packed items, and sat down on one of the larger trunks.  It was not the first time he’d heard this confession.

              “Technomancers are VERY rare,” he admitted, pulling one knee up under him.  “...Even in Gallia.  And I’d be surprised if there were any in Ndakinna.”

              “Thanks to my Aunt Enora, though,” he mused.  “...there is finally a true test now in use today for ferreting out technomancing ability in children.”  Ezra chuckled.

              “Before that,” he disclosed.  “...we were usually discovered by accident.”

                             “How so?” Dajan asked, curious.  He began surveying the remaining items to go down, testing a few here and there for size and weight in comparison to the room and load capacity left on the cart.

              “All right, sure, I suppose I can tell you that story,” Ezra agreed, as he watched the apprentice study over the best approach to continuing their workload.  Between the two of them, Ezra was more the master of “Tetris-ing,” with a keen, highly advanced sense of visual-to-spatial acuity, but he enjoyed seeing how the family’s latest protégé would solve this kind of puzzle, so he kept his skills to himself, and deferred to Dajan in this area.  Besides, it wasn’t his skin in the game here, anymore.

              “...but in return, you’ll have to tell me some stories from the Academy,” Ezra proposed.  “I would love to know how a country that doesn’t formally recognize magic users and psychics manages to train them.”  He stood, ready to grab whatever Dajan directed.

                             “Deal,” Dajan beamed, pushing a couple of file cabinets sideways onto the dolly.

              “In my case,” Ezra began.  “...like I said, at first they thought I was a plebe, so they enrolled me in plebic schooling — I don’t think that’s what it’s actually called, but that was how it was most commonly referenced.”  He took the dolly from Dajan and waited for him to pick up whatever he was going to carry.

              “Unlike here, prosaic school is usually private or alternative education in Gallia and Ndakinna, as there are so few prosaic humans there,” Ezra revealed.  “So I started going to this plebe ‘satellite’ institute.  My folks still had hope for me, since I could communicate telepathically.”

Dajan placed one hand on the other side of the file cabinets and motioned forward with the other.  Ezra gave an approving nod of acknowledgment.  He was right, of course.  It would take both of them to balance the pair of cabinets all the way back to the cart.  Together, they wheeled the cabinets on the dolly to the cart, still parked at the service elevator, with Ezra pushing, Dajan keeping it steady and helping to steer.

                             “So, even though you could mindshare,” Dajan puzzled, cocking his head to one side as they walked, a bit slow and awkwardly.  “...they still thought you were a plebe?”

              “Mindshare,” Ezra contemplated, bobbing his head a little, slowly.   “I like that.  Might have to swipe that one from you, if you don’t mind.”

                             “Go right ahead,” Dajan offered freely.  “...I make no claims on it.”

              “...anyways,” Ezra pressed on.  “...yes, because it was all I could do, or so it seemed, at that time.  I couldn’t move things telekinetically, and I couldn’t read objects.  At least, not the kinds of objects they gave me.”  He smirked.

              “If they had put any electrical item in front of me,” he reflected.  “...there would have been no question that I had special abilities.  But, even with the telepathic communication, I still couldn’t initiate it... I could only receive and respond to it.”  He leaned back against the wall while Dajan started to maneuver the file cabinets from the dolly onto the cart.

                             “Oh, nevermind me,” Dajan wisecracked.  “You just go ahead and rest your tired bones, old man.  After all, I’m young, I’m strong... I don’t need any help with this at all!”

Ezra grinned and pulled himself loose from holding up the ceiling to lend a hand to his labor partner.

              “So, I had been in the school about a month when we had our first computer lab,” he reminisced as the two of them heaved the massive pieces onto the already full cart.  “I have to admit, I was excited about that.  Up until then I had wished my powers — whatever they were — would finally erupt, so I could get the heck outta there.”  Ezra sighed at the memory.

Dajan leaned the dolly against the wall and considered the cart, looking for any more space on it.

              “They were just going to be teaching us some basic computer skills, but they had us all taking a general typing test first, to see where we were at with our natural aptitude,” Ezra recalled, his voice taking on a sort of far-off quality.  “They specifically told us not to go back and fix errors in our typing, because they wanted to get a feel for our raw skill level, or an idea of how much need there was for improvement.”

Satisfied that they’d filled the cart to maximum capacity, Dajan pushed the button to call up the freight elevator.

              “So we went ahead and completed the timed typing test without looking at what we’d done until the timer went off.  I hadn’t even really thought about what I was doing,” Ezra paused a moment before resuming.  “...I was just doing what came natural to me.”

             “When we were all through, though, everyone else in class was snickering and pointing at the typo errors and the auto-correct goof-ups on their screen, but I was just sitting there with mine,” he recounted.  “I read it through several times, and compared it against the copy, but there wasn’t anything wrong with it.”  He looked intently at Dajan, who didn’t seem to have fully processed the magnitude of what he’d just been told.

              “I had never used a computer in my life before that moment,” Ezra drew out, pointedly.  “But I had no errors on my first ever typing test.”

Dajan raised an eyebrow, impressed.

              “The girl sitting next to me... Katie,” Ezra slowed his flow of thought and smiled, his eyes fluttering a bit.  “She thought I was some sort of typing savant.  She got all giggly over the fact that I had no errors and that auto-correct hadn’t goofed up any of the words I typed.”

The chime of the elevator rang out as the lift reached their floor and the doors opened.

              “The teacher was not so impressed,” Ezra muttered, his mouth turned down.  “He figured I was cheating and — as a lesson, no doubt — he made me retake the typing test on the projector screen, so everybody could watch as I ‘reenacted a miracle.’  And, just to make sure, he sat behind me and looked over my shoulder.”  Ezra sneered in disgust.  It was obvious he was right there, all over again.

The two of them worked together to roll the wheels of the heavy cart over the brink of the elevator entrance, and into the lift carriage.

              “Well, I was nervous, of course,” Ezra conceded, as Dajan pushed the button for the second floor and flattened himself against the side wall to make room for the whole cart to squeeze in so the doors would close.  “...so there were errors, naturally, but no auto-correct goofs.”  Ezra pushed the cart in the rest of the way, and stood behind it, with his back to the elevator doors, sucking in his gut as they closed behind him, and the car lurched into motion.

              “The teacher figured my auto-correct feature must be turned off, so he grabbed the keyboard and mouse from me, and started checking settings,” he droned.  “...but he couldn’t find anything wrong with the setup.”

The elevator chimed again as they reached the 2nd floor.

              “The teacher couldn’t prove then that I’d done anything to cheat, but he was still convinced that I was ‘hacking’ the system somehow,” Ezra vented as the doors opened up against his backside.

                “This general attitude — about me being some sort of ‘corrupt delinquent’ — went on for a few weeks,” he grimaced.  “...and for a while there, it was a pretty unpleasant environment at that place for me until, after enough repetition of similar circumstances in different settings — because, let’s face it, it’s not exactly like I can turn this sh-stuff off, right? — they finally recognized that I was actually psychically linked with the computer.”  Ezra’s eyelids lowered to almost closed, as he nearly lost himself in the past.  The elevator gave a signal that the doors were going to close on him, snapping him back to reality.

                “It was pretty hard to ignore, once I started typing without actually using my hands,” he murmured, leaning low over the cart, like he was sharing a secret, with a twinkle in his eye, and a tenable hint of pride.

Dajan looked positively gleeful, eating up Ezra’s story like a 2-yr-old with birthday cake.

Ezra backed the cart out, pulling the wheels over the threshold, while Dajan held the door open and pushed the cart from the other side.

              “Once they figured out it I wasn’t cheating or hacking,” Ezra expounded as they moved the loaded cart down the hall to its destination.  “...and it wasn’t some random fluke, it was actually my ability that was making it happen, they started testing me with other electronics.”

They reached the new storage room and carefully rounded the corner into it.

              “As soon as they realized what I am, they got in touch with my folks, and I was shipped to the Academy on the first train out, where Rhiannon was attending advanced magical classes,” Ezra’s tone became more upbeat with this brighter memory.  “Of course, being a technomancer meant I was still in special classes, because the usual magic and psychic classes weren’t really all that relevant to me.”  Ezra began moving the smaller boxes from the cart onto the floor.

Dajan set them into their new home on the storage room shelves.


                 “Huh,” Dajan calculated, scratching his head. 

                 “And to think... the fact that you didn’t get a bunch of auto-correct errors is how they discovered you’re a technomancer,” he pondered.

                 “How do they test for it now?” he queried.

              “Well,” Ezra answered, scratching his own head.  “...they still use a simple typing test like the one that ‘outed’ me as part of the process, but they also do some general electronics repair and basic programming tests in a whole spectrum of probing evaluations that involves an over-arcing, broad-scoped, methodical, systemized analysis to assess a multitude of different levels of technomancing skills and abilities.”

                            “That’s a mouthful!” Dajan quipped.

Ezra winced and rolled his eyes, mocking pained offense.

              “You said it,” he granted, pointing a finger gun at Dajan and clucking his tongue in his cheek.  He let Dajan organize the smaller boxes on the shelves how he saw fit, since he was the one who was going to be accessing them most often.  He helped Dajan with the larger ones.

              “Basically,” Ezra illustrated.   “...if you can program the computer without knowing any code, then they know you’re a technomancer.”

              “Or,” he winked at Dajan.  “...if you can set the correct time on a VCR.”

Dajan groaned and threw a small clock radio at Ezra, which he naturally caught without so much as a blink, and the two continued unloading cartons, cabinets, chests and boxes from the cart into the 2nd floor storage space, laughing and swapping stories as they worked, until it was time to take the empty cart back up for another load, to finish clearing out the space that would become Dajan’s bedroom.



LJI WEEK 24:
THE CUPERTINO EFFECT


Additional stories from this world, in chronological order:
| In The Beginning  |  Escalation  |  Project X  |  The Woodshed  |
| Meet the New Boss  |  Back To Reality   |  The Interview |
| The Turing Test  |  Ohm’s Law  |  Hero’s Anthem |

Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
jem0000000
Oct. 10th, 2014 08:23 am (UTC)
Lol, by that criteria, I'm a technomancer. I've never had any trouble programming the VCR. :)

This was sweet.
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:40 am (UTC)
Haha, you might be, thank you for reading.
jem0000000
Oct. 14th, 2014 12:45 am (UTC)
Lol! You're welcome. :)

beeker121
Oct. 10th, 2014 11:18 pm (UTC)
Telepathically linking to a computer seems like it could be useful, but for some reason I'm thinking there's a catch....
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:43 am (UTC)
There's always a catch! Thank you for reading.
eternal_ot
Oct. 11th, 2014 07:09 am (UTC)
Ha! I always enjoy reading these stories and this was a FUN read yet again..:D..Cool take on the prompt..Good job!
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:44 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoy my stories, thank you for the compliment.
eska818
Oct. 11th, 2014 09:04 am (UTC)
You really make this universe feel real. :)
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:45 am (UTC)
Thank you.
adoptedwriter
Oct. 11th, 2014 05:52 pm (UTC)
The dialogue was great in this piece. AW
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:46 am (UTC)
Thank you.
dmousey
Oct. 12th, 2014 04:23 pm (UTC)
It won't be long until microsoft comes up with a new feature where you can telepathically link to your Ipad! I've been convinced of this for years! LOL.

This was a very cool read! Thanks for penning. :)
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:48 am (UTC)
I'm sure Apple, Microsoft, or Google will be releasing head jacks soon, Thank you for reading.
penpusher
Oct. 12th, 2014 09:39 pm (UTC)
I might have guessed that technomancers would be more common that others... but this is an interesting view! It reflects tellingly on the society of Gallia, and likely what they prize.
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:49 am (UTC)
Yes they tend toward magic and nature more, thank you for reading.
roina_arwen
Oct. 13th, 2014 12:40 am (UTC)
Great characterizations and a full take on the topic!
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:49 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like it, thank you.
roina_arwen
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:57 am (UTC)
Whoops - just noticed my typo (that's what I get for not wearing my glasses, LOL) - it should have said "fun take" :)

You're welcome!
karmasoup
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:23 am (UTC)
I'm really pleased to see that these two seem to be becoming friends. I'm guessing they're probably not around the same age, as Ezra is already established in his career, and Dajan is just coming up in his, but Ezra does seem very young at heart. In effect, they're almost as related as cousins would be, with Dajan living in Ezra's Uncle's place.

I look forward to stories in which Dajan might have the opportunity to join the team. (And I really want to eventually get to see that Uncle in action, too!)

Still really enjoying this universe! Great job this week.
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 03:51 am (UTC)
Thank you I'm sure that Uncle Alden will be featured in a story sometime soon.
halfshellvenus
Oct. 13th, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
“Or,” he winked at Dajan. “...if you can set the correct time on a VCR.”

Hahaha-- clearly, my Dad would have failed this test. Though part of it has to do with the refusal to read instructions on technical devices, because he assumes it's obvious enough to pick up. Or, apparently, utterly impossible. :D
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 09:23 pm (UTC)
Hehehe, I know it's old technology, I was going to go with either the VCR or car radio.
rayaso
Oct. 13th, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC)
A telepathic link to a computer -- what a great idea for a story. You did an excellent job.
mamas_minion
Oct. 13th, 2014 09:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you
favoritebean
Oct. 13th, 2014 11:48 pm (UTC)
I had to laugh at the vcr reference, simply because even the most technically adept have problems doing that.
mamas_minion
Oct. 21st, 2014 07:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah I figured the VCR example would be universal for everybody.
talon
Oct. 14th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC)
This was a cool slice of life! And a great nod in the title, too :)
mamas_minion
Oct. 21st, 2014 07:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you, your the first to mention the title glad you liked it.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )