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The Quantum Mind: Chapter 7

by Ventomology


“Hey Mrs. Johns,” Carrie said before class. She wanted to know what things looked like behind that camera. What was so interesting about seeing heat?

“Yes, Carrie?” Her voice was like whipped cream, airy and light.

“Well, I was wondering if I could look through your camera.”

“My infrared camera?”

“Yeah, what else?”

Mrs. Johns looked away, contemplating something or other and running a hand through that red bedhead. Her facial expression changed for a moment -though Carrie couldn’t catch what it was- before she returned to look at Carrie, smiling a little too openly. “Of course you may.”

“Seriously? Thanks!”

The camera screen was blurry until Carrie steadied it, but once she got a clear picture, the view was impeccable. Every shade from purple to bright yellow appeared on the screen, with orange being the typical skin color. The walls were bright vermillion, and the lights were almost white. Carrie giggled before turning the camera to look at her own skin.

Mrs. Johns materialized in front of her, snatching the camera away hurriedly. “That’s enough, young lady,” she scolded, a thin, forced grin on her face.

Carrie was sure her skin had been red on that camera. Not orange, but red. She was cold. And Mrs. Johns knew it.

“Mrs. Johns,” she started, before trailing off, uncertain of how to continue.

“Yes?”

She gathered her courage and looked the teacher in the face. “Um, why is my temperature so low?”

The bell rang and the classroom hushed, every student in the room turning attention towards the teacher and student. Everyone wanted to know what question had been asked.

“What was that again? I didn’t quite hear you.”

“I-I-I’ll ask you about it later, Mrs. Johns,” Carrie stammered, before trudging back to her seat while her classmates eyed her curiously.

***

Noel heard him screaming in her head, and it was driving her bonkers. Will you stop it already, Wong! I get it! You’re suspicious of Mrs. Johns. Stop screaming at me!

The boy didn’t stop. He was too wrapped-up in it. No, I can’t. She knows someone did something to Carrie, I swear. Quick, Noel, tell me what I could have done to cause her low body temperature.

Noel slowed her in-place jogging. That brat. He should have just looked it up. Nothing, unless you can force her blood pressure to drop.

I heard you insulting me. Can low blood pressure really make your temperature drop?

Noel sighed, causing her classmates to try stealing furtive glances at her without the teacher noticing. So my dad says, she answered, but in order for it to drop as much as you say, she’d have to be dead.

Anything else?

No, and shouldn’t you be concentrating on The 1812 Overture?

He fell silent for a few seconds, and Noel was about ready to speed up again when he called for her attention.

Hey, I know this is irrelevant, but what do you think caused this power?

Noel sighed again. More people sent her quizzical looks. She could see herself furrowing her brows in the mirrors on every wall.

You don’t have a clue, do you?

Assuming it’s a computer like you say, no.

But you’re already thinking about it. Whatcha got so far?

It’s impossible, Theo. A silicon transistor computer simply wouldn’t match the computational power you’ve shown, not one that fits in your brain anyway. And the other option-

Superconductors? Theo interrupted. Noel shivered. It was jolting to have her very thoughts be halted.

Yes, superconductors. Those require-

Extremely cold temperatures. Right. But how cold exactly?

One digit Kelvin sort of temperatures. That’s like interstellar space.

Dang it. That’s cold.

You see? I don’t understand this either.

What about quantum? he suggested, having sensed her earlier dismissal of the idea.

Noel didn’t answer him directly. He’d already read her mind and fell silent.

Quantum computers were even colder than that. 0.01 Kº.

She sped up again, concentrating harder. There was a possibility she hadn’t yet explored. What was it again? Ah, she had it.

Graphene?

That’s it! Unfortunately I don’t know much about how that would work-

I’ll look it up. Thanks for telling!

You should probably work on that snare part instead, she thought meekly, looking back up at the fitness gym. She knew Theo heard her, it was only a matter of him paying attention.

***

At lunch, it seemed Carrie was telling the entire world that she was some sort of special human, and that she was exceptionally cold. And this was exactly the sort of thing Yvette had been waiting for. Granted, she hadn’t expected to find the quantum computer inside of Carrie, or even that she might be the one to find it, but this was her chance.

She bid goodbye to Noel in the band locker room that afternoon before trailing Carrie to Mrs. Johns’s room.

The room was filled with slightly wilted plants, all of them having been abandoned for this new teacher. Carrie and Mrs. Johns were talking excitedly by the computer while Mrs. Johns clicked in grades.

“So, about my low body temperature, Mrs. Johns,” Carrie started, trailing off a little awkwardly at the end.

Yvette leaned forward in the door opening before realizing her mistake and ducking away. If only she had a glass or something for eavesdropping.

“Ah, yes, what about it?” Mrs. Johns replied after a few moments of grading.

“Well, you must have known about it already, so I was wondering if maybe you could tell me about it. I mean, this seems too supernatural even for my friends, so, you know.”

“You want an explanation? Hmph, I suppose I’ll humor you.”

“Oh thank you-” Carrie was cut off by Mrs. Johns’s theory.

“You see recently I tracked a cold spot here. It was something of a shooting star, but so cold, that interstellar space paled in comparison.”

“Wouldn’t interstellar space be kind of warm? There are stars everywhere giving off heat.”

“Believe me, Carrie, space is a cold place. Anyhow, I tracked this spot until it fell in this area, but I only had a general sense, not an exact location. I had to find it, and make sure that its coldness didn’t spread, because I believe this particular object is capable of forcing heat away from other substances. Unfortunately the National Lab here in town thought I was a lunatic and ignored my request for lab space and a team.”

“Okay, but how does the object draw heat from other things?”

Mrs. Johns did not answer the question. “But imagine my surprise when I found a person, you, who must have had brief contact with the object, thereby explaining your cold body temperature.”

Carrie seemed satisfied, but Yvette wasn’t. Lowering the human body temperature past ninety-five degrees would already induce hypothermia. At eighty-nine, hallucination could occur, and under eighty, well, that was death.

“So, based on the camera, exactly how much colder than a normal person am I?”

“Oh, I’d say around fifty degrees or so, maybe colder. That would leave you around forty-eight. ”

Yvette wondered whether Mrs. Johns was lying, or some chemical change had occurred in Carrie’s body, something that allowed this temperature. If only Noel was there to back everything up with her extensive trivia knowledge. Wasn’t there a kind of frog with anti-freeze blood?

No, she scolded herself, You know better than to involve earth-people.

It didn’t matter now. She’d heard what she needed, and Mrs. Johns was already getting up to close the door.

Yvette had disappeared from the poster-lined hallway before Mrs. Johns reached the door to pull it closed.

She must have sprinted through the school, because before she knew it, she had arrived at Mr. Wills’s door.

Knocking, she called for him. “Mr. Wills! It’s Yvette, I have urgent news!”

“Come in,” his deep voice said back. He was calm as a lion, watching its prey flounder in the grip of his pride-mate’s jaws.

She rushed in, her face set in determination. “Sir, I heard a student named Carrie Thornquist has an unusually low body temperature. Around fifty degrees, so I heard.”

“Ah, Carrie Thornquist,” the man breathed, stroking his beard as he always did. He lifted his eyes from the computer screen to look Yvette in the face. “Wasn’t she a friend of yours?”

She did not correct his use of the past tense. “Yes.”

Mr. Wills’s face transformed. He smirked, and his eyes glinted. “It certainly took you long enough to find out. My source had me informed on friday.”

“Your source?”

“Didn’t I tell you before?”

“No.” Yvette was hurt. It used to be that she knew everything Mr. Wills did, when Mr. Wills did. Sometimes she knew more. This was the first time he’d kept something from her.

“Well, I did hire another hand. She’s very good. The lady has identified two possible hosts already. Coincidentally, you’re acquainted with both of them.”

“And who might they be?”

“Why, none other than your friends, Carrie Thornquist and Lillian Kartal.”


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Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:06 am
barefootrunner wrote a review...



I'm here again. I'm still going!

Character development

So either Mrs. Johns was lying, or some chemical change had occurred in Carrie’s body, something that allowed this temperature. If only Noel was there to back everything up with her extensive trivia knowledge. Wasn’t there a kind of frog with anti-freeze blood?

This little baby does not belong to anyone. At first I thought it was Carrie thinking, because she had been in focus, but afterwards I figured that it was Yvette. You must give some indication that this does belong to her!

Plot

So that bio teacher is indeed another source! Fascinating! This is going along well. Every chapter brings the drama nearer. Just one question. Why hasn't Theo's body temperature been detected too? Oh, and another: why hasn't somebody touched Carrie and realised that she is as cold as ice? Surely they would notice?

Keep it flowing :D

barefoot




Ventomology says...


Oh... Yeah that thinking bit needs some work. Thanks for catching it!



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Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:06 am
Deanie wrote a review...



Hey there :D I've returned for more of your story!

This just continues getting interesting. So now that Carrie knows about her low body temperature, wouldn't she be a bit more curious about it. Yes she did ask the teacher what is was about, but if Carrie is this supernatural, I can just see her trying to get famous off it. This chapter also answers some previous questions about why Mrs. Johns was so interested in both of those two girls. And Yvette, I do feel sorry for her, being left out like this. It seems in her nature to leave Mr. Wills out of the investigation and complete it herself until she comes back with some hard evidence. Although, I'm still quite unsure what her investigation is?

My advice is that you make you're characters a bit more in depth and detailed. From what I've read so far, they seem reliable, and a bit ditzy in some places, and very emotion-driven. But apart from that, we know nothing about them in slightest. I don't mind Yvette's character being a bit mysterious, because she's the one with the mysterious job. But more so Noel, Theo and Carrie. I still feel like they're strangers to me, and that's not good. What you could try and do is slip in some favourites here and there. It's something I use as well. If you have a best friend, you know what their favourite colour is and etc. So maybe Noel is practicing her favourite sport while she's jogging. Or Theo put on his a blue shirt - his favourite colou. It's discrete enough that it doesn't stand out, but the reader gets closer with the characters.

I'd be a bit suspicious if Mrs. Johns didn't want me to see my low body temperature. And also, how does Carrie know what red stands for? Is she experienced with these types of cameras.... If I didn't know better I'd think red was really hot!

Lastly, I would continue with the show not tell advice I mentioned before. A perfect opportunity to fit in a bit more detail is when Yvette is feeling inferior to Mr. Wills because he's kind of replaced her. Don't tell us she feels silly and upset. Say she curled her hands into fists and raised her head because she didn't want to seem "human" (that only works if she isn't human, which I think is being hinted at?) Just add in actions where you use words, and it can make a chapter go from good to great! If I'm not explaining anything properly, just ask me in chat or on my wall or something :)

Getting round to future chapters in time ^^

Deanie x




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Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:04 pm
Zolen wrote a review...



Prepare for the ramblings of a very weird writer!

Now the first thing is I see no obvious spelling errors, so next to that is ease is finding a lack of meat. What do I mean by meat? I mean it feels empty, or there is not quite enough to make me imagine that I am there, no switch in mood even though I know there should be.

“Hey Mrs. Johns,” Carrie said before class. She wanted to know what things looked like behind that camera. What was so interesting about it?

Meat: I know I should wonder about what is behind the camera, but I don't feel it, try to imply some false enthusiasm or something. If she cares so much, maybe some imaginary would be nice.

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Then something else worth mention is something I call babble, I do it a lot, everyone does it a lot, its where you put descriptions where they are not needed or say something that sort of just appears and then is forgotten, like a left over phrase meant to imply something, but does not really fit as well as it should.

“Yes, Carrie?” Her voice was like whipped cream, airy and wonderful in every way.

Babble: As I understand this character has spoken a few times, if you wanted an introductory on how she speaks that would have been a good time back then but beyond that, a switch in tone should be followed with an action or event, otherwise it just sort of stands out [in a bad way] Maybe attempt to move the phrase down or rework it to come with an action?


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Then there are things I call de-still, rather then stop pushing on said mood, you add an extra word or a whole sentence. The sentence or phrase running or weakening what ever feeling the words would have impressed.

though Carrie couldn’t catch what it was- before she returned to look at Carrie, smiling openly.

De-still: I don't know if I have this what you meant or not, but it FEELS like its mean to be a cover up, to give a sort of 'off' air to it. Adding the word "openly" destroys that however, covering up the feeling.

Noel slowed her in-place jogging. That brat. He should have just looked it up. Nothing, unless you can force her blood pressure to drop to deathly levels.

De-still: Deathly is not really a good word, even if you're trying to imply her blood pressure islow with that word choice. It feels out of place and ruins what might have been a surprising moment if this was meant to be a revelation.



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Then there are phrases, words, choices that just don't fit, you see most people who are not big on writing have a rather limited vocabulary, and the point of a book is to immerse our audience, make them feel wanted and, for lack of a better word, worshiped. Everything needs to be within their understanding, nothing can be beyond or push a bit to hard on their vocabulary, so its wise to look around and look for alternatives when you would rather put a big word, as painful at they are. To this I label it overdose, mostly you seem good at avoiding it from what I see but I do see one at the moment of typing this and might see more of it. The best way to think about it is, "would a middle school kid know this word?" Then an extra ticket is under-dose, sometimes it's better to throw in a big word, in cases where otherwise you change the mood in the wrong direction, or it's getting close to a baby word.

Overdose 1: impeccable, a nice word, puts all the meaning you want in one word, but as I discovered somewhat beyond the middle school reading level, which would be fine but the tone of your book as well as its actors might not know it. So I point it out as something you might want to think of a simpler alternative for.

Overdose 2: vermillion, no middle school kid would know that color scarlet would be a possible alternative, not exactly the same but sadly not many people know what the color cinnabar is.

Under-dose 1:
Mrs. Johns was suddenly in front of her, snatching the camera away"

In this sentence, suddenly is a rather ill fit word, for me almost making the sentence appear just as suddenly rather then stick in a mood. An alternative to push the creepy mood, like Meterialized might be better for it.


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Then like other writers just simple grammar, or wrong word usage that does not seem right to me, this part will go in no real order. I am just writing this in case, if there is nothing under this then I did not pay enough attention or you were amazing.

The bell rang, and the classroom hushed, every student in the room turning attention towards the teacher and student. Everyone wanted to know what question was going to be asked.

She already asked the question, I think you mean answer.

“I-I-I’ll ask you about it later, Mrs. Johns,” Carrie stammered, before trudging back to her seat while her classmates eyed her curiously.

The bell rung which in school is used to signify an end to the class, and thus moving on to the next class room, she might go get her stuff, but the sentence implies she just sat down. Did I miss something?

No. I can’t. She knows someone did something to Carrie

Not sure what to suggest but 2 paragraphs, one of which this is part of is confusing me until I read on, I am not sure who is who and who anyone is talking to till I get half way through. (edited my own awkward text, yes, I have a spell check, sadly it likes to mess up my wording when I am not looking)

What about quantum? he suggested, having sensed her earlier dismissal of the idea.

Noel didn’t answer him directly. He’d already read her mind and fell silent.

Quantum computers were even colder than that. 0.01 Kº.

That is a lie. That is all. Quantum computers have no core temp requirements.






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Now there is more, probably, but I am almost to 5000 words, and not sure if I have the attention span to go on, but I have pointed out some clues and hints for you, that maybe will help you find them a little easier on your own, have fun!




Ventomology says...


Thank you for pointing out my mistakes and doing your signature red-pen editing! It helps a LOT.
Also, the quantum bit is true. In order to coax atoms into a state where they can be in two places at once, you must reach near absolute-zero temperatures. Sorry for the cheek.
But, thanks again!



Ventomology says...


Oh, and in my school, the bell rings before and after class, so I guess I'm just pulling from experience a bit much there. Thanks again!




Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
— Neil Gaiman