Apr 05 2017

E #AtoZChallenge Espresso #Fiction #SFF

#AtoZChallenge2017 Badge E #AtoZChallenge Espresso #Fiction #SFF @JLenniDorner

My THEME for the A to Z challenge 2017 is an ongoing speculative fiction story featuring telepathy.

Each letter post is titled and inspired by a commonly misused word or phrase.

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Espresso not expresso #AtoZChallenge #Fiction #SFF @JLennidorner


After dinner is cleaned up, my dad and Mr. Bennett each have an espresso. I stay at the table, doing homework. My mom sits beside me doing her embroidery.

My first job was at a coffee shop. Mr. Bennett recalls. I remember one customer who read the menu every day. The whole menu, top to bottom. And then she stood there wondering if we spelled espresso wrong. “The drink is a form of self-expression! It shows one’s sophistication. Why would they change the x to an s?”

We all laugh.

She shared that thought with an older woman one day. I thought, between them, the right answer would come out. But no. The older woman thought the word meant “made expressly for the person who ordered it.” And then her husband chimed in and said it meant “express coffee.” They all agreed we were spelling the word wrong.

Mom sets down her needle. How did that work out?

Terribly. A crowd formed and convinced my manager to change the spelling on the board. My mom came to pick me up at the end of my shift. She also taught English. The thoughts that came out of her mind… Mr. Bennett shakes his head as he laughs.

When the laughter dies down, my dad asks Mr. Bennett about his parents. The mind reading trait doesn’t run in his family, as far as he knows. Dad isn’t surprised.

Mr. Bennett points to the red splotch behind his left ear. Do any of you have a birthmark like mine? I always thought this star was connected to my mind reading.

I raise my eyebrow. That’s a star?

Anah! My mom’s chastising sends a small pain bolting through me. It’s much like a static electric shock, but internal.

Dad assures Mr. Bennett that we’re all without markings. They get into a discussion about power levels. I’d already told Mr. Bennett that he is an Eve Two, meaning that his skills developed at puberty and are now fully formed.

I’m an Eve Four. Dad runs his fingers through graying hair. My gifts strengthen with age, but I will not develop more. My wife is an Eve Six. She can influence mind gift growth of anyone who is an Eve Five or higher.

Mom smiles and nods. It’s an odd smile, like on a house cat who just ate an eagle.

Eve Nine. All homework now done, I close my notebook. There’s a sticker of a fantasy cat on the cover, offering me a ball of yarn. I rub my finger over it, pretending to play with the image. There’s rumor of an Eve Ten existing, but

Dad scoffs. That’s unlikely. It takes generations of families finding each other and growing the family. And even then, there’s only a sixty percent chance of a child being born with a mind power. This is why there are only eight known family lines.

Mr. Bennett sips his drink. It’s good to know that I know I’m not alone. If I could go back and change three things, that’d be one. I’d make more of an effort to find others.

My dad nods. My mother glares.

You would get yourself locked up. How would you have found others? Stand on street corners mentally screaming “Can anyone hear me?” Even if they could, how many would be honest about it? An Eve Two never inherits skills, so the eight families rarely notice them. It’s times like these, with the HSMTF rounding up Eve Ones and Twos, not even knowing that there are classifications, which has prompted our community to embrace all Eve levels.

Mr. Bennett nods. We’re all thinking about the news reports that show mind readers being hauled away. Emmett Bradshaw, the Secretary of Homeland Security, has assured the public that his Mind Task Force has the situation under control.

Most of the public ignores the news reports. People polled think it’s the government’s way of covering up something else.

What were the other two?

Mr. Bennett tilts his head at my dad’s question.

You eluded to three things you would go back and change if you could. What were the other two?

Oh. Mr. Bennett finishes his espresso. I wouldn’t have asked Cindy about the sex dreams she had about me. And I would have spent Easter with my grandmother once more before she passed away.

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What three moments in your life would you change?

by J Lenni Dorner
Reference and Speculative Fiction Author
A to Z Challenge Co-Host
Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer
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    • rads on April 5, 2017 at 6:28 PM

    i Like! 🙂 Mr. Bennett sure has his mind clear.
    Now am scratching my head on that expresso/espresso thing..

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    1. I’m glad you liked it.

  1. I admit to having difficulties with Espresso. I know how it is spelled but pronounce it expresso. I enjoyed your story (once I worked out that we had moved on from spelling lol) and shall have to go back and read the rest

    Philipa (Ozzypip)
    Quilter and blogger
    Blogging her way through an A to Z quilt
    Ozzypip Quilts

    1. Thanks. I don’t know that many people hear the difference in the s or x.

  2. This is so good! I like “standing on a street corner mentally screaming, ‘Can anyone hear me?'” Makes me think of the old Verizon commercials “Can you hear me now?” Don’t like espresso, too dark for me!

    D is for Def Leppard

    1. *dies of laughter*
      I love that. So glad I could cause that image in your head.

    • Jacqui on April 5, 2017 at 8:42 PM

    Since I abelieve in telepathy, this is intriguing. And I love the buzz I get from Espresso.
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    1. Thanks!

    • FinnBadger on April 6, 2017 at 4:29 AM

    A lot revealed today – the people with telepathy seem very organized, plus, since the levels above 2 largely ignore Eve 1 and 2, there appears to be stratification within them. A nice touch, given general human nature.

    1. Excellent insights.

  3. A hierarchy of those with powers? Awesome! Happy A-to-Z-ing.
    Ronel Janse van Vuuren has this post to share Everlasting Monsters, Creatures and Fae #FolkloreThursday #AtoZChallengeMy Profile
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    1. And a secret one at that! 😉

  4. Any which way it’s spelled I could sure use one to get through this morning. lol

    My A to Z at herding cats & burning soup
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    1. I hear that.

    • Debs on April 6, 2017 at 10:24 AM

    Just caught up with your blog (and with the great story). I’m hooked. Will this be limited to the A-Z Challenge, or are you planning to expand it for a full-length novel? Whichever, I’m really enjoying it.

    Bunny and the Bloke
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    1. I figured I’d put it out there in the challenge, kind of like a Beta test group, and then decide what to do based on the reception. So far, people seem to like it. Then again, the story hasn’t gotten to the darker side of Speculative Fiction yet… a few more letters to go for that.

  5. I have that very same espresso cup! Love it! Love your theme, too! This was a fun read.
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    1. Cool beans! That image is from a public free-use site.

  6. Your story’s concept is definitely intriguing, and I hope you’re truly interested in receiving fair and honest feedback. I’m eager to read more, but I’d like to share some thoughts I’ve had so far, and, being unable to think them at you, I’m going to leave them here.

    I understand the pesky need for background information (damned exposition) before the plot builds to upcoming action. The challenge is to keep the pace going. For instance, are three+ paragraphs about the common ignorance surrounding the correct spelling and pronunciation of “espresso” really necessary, or is it an author’s pet peeve poking through the story? Might the first mention have made the point?

    It isn’t always immediately clear to me who is doing the thinking. I also use the convention of italics to designate thoughts, but that means much of each of your pages is italicized, and the difference between the two font characteristics seems to diminish. I’m trying to imagine my gut reaction to a book presented mostly in italics. I wonder if you might create an original method, similar to quotation marks, to set off blocks of thought. I don’t know, maybe caret marks or tilde accent marks. Just a thought. Maybe it’s just me.

    So the telepaths maintain their own Class System, huh? It’s as if the star-belly Sneeches have different star designs signifying more or less snobby snobs. Do the telepaths have a secret Registry? Will they establish a mental shadow government? Is there already an International Statute of Telepathic Secrecy? I’m beginning to imagine all these possibilities, some of which could turn out to be benevolent, but most of which lead to them do what any self-appointed Superior Race eventually does: Try to Take Over the World.

    I so want them to be on the side of Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood, but right now, I want them to get their comeuppance. Ah well, such are the common folk’s wishes for Elitists.

    Just stuff to think about. Or ignore.

    The most important thing is that “What Are They” is engaging and original. I really like Anah’s voice, and I’m excited about reading the rest.
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  7. I love the addition of a class system within the story – human nature shining through, no matter how much we try to deny it!
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  8. This week has been so crazy but I’m finally able to catch up with your story! 🙂 The star birthmark is intriguing! And I’m wondering if the government is rounding people up to grow a certain family, or for power over someone specific… curiouser and curiouser. 🙂
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