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Title: Each According To His Ability
Author: nostalgia
Rating: PG, I'd say.
Disclaimer: Paramount own all of these people. "Darn."
Summary: An exercise in wilful opacity.
Notes: Beta by kbk. All the clues to this one are in the text, but it might take more than one read-through for it all to fall into place.

You're prompt with these letters, aren't you? That's the mutant way how long did it take you realise that you're not supposed to measure time by other people's heartbeats? How long did it take you to figure out you're not supposed to be able to hear them at all?

Anyway, in answer to your horribly obvious questions, everyone is fine. Jack's convinced he's figured out a way to turn lead into gold and he started yelling when I told him that they can already do that with nuclear accelerators. Life goes on with the tedious clockwork efficiency of the mental health profession.

Now on to the good parts, and I hope you know how to interpret the spaces between words. I'd make up a language for you, but it always freaks out our little censor (Hey! How are you!) when we do things like that. I assure him or her that it's nothing dramatic or exciting, it's just that mutant solidarity makes me want to keep the good gossip between freaks. They don't need to know everything, you know? And we need to do something to stop them getting too comfortable. For every Ghandi they produce there's a Pinochet waiting in the wings. (Joke, censor, joke.)

Anyway, there's talk of treatment (isn't there always?), and we've had a lot of visitors. Jack says it's because they need all hands to clear up after the war, which is probably true. We'll get to lead nice productive lives, just like you. Except maybe with fewer people around for us to annoy.

I'm sure you know how it is, you know exactly how it is, people wanting you to do things for them, making pathetic innuendoes about duty and opportunity.

And I think my brain's decaying, because every time I try to get the cube root of twenty-seven thousand I end up with one left over. Do you ever get that? And there has to be a cure because your neurons still seem to be firing. We'd welcome any ideas you might have on that subject, because it's making Patrick a little nervous.

If Jack was anti-social in a legal way they'd have made him an admiral by now, you know. All you need to do is give us the information, lock us in a room, and we can accomplish anything. Anything.

And we all miss Sarina, yes. You didn't actually say anything about that, of course, but you don't really have to. She'll probably just slip off into the ether eventually, go someplace where no one knows what she is. You know all about passing as normal, you could have given her a few hints. Makes you wonder how many of us there are, right? That's why they lock us up in this boring place; they have to maintain some feeling of superiority. And they like to think they can always tell when they meet us, that they have some kind of natural radar that points out the freak among them. But you passed as normal. If you'd never been found out you'd never have met us, though, and then your sad little life would be even duller than it already is.

It was nice, wasn't it? All of us talking in shorthand, not having to stop and wait for the normals to catch up. I bet you miss us. I bet you sit with your uncomplicated friends wishing they would think a little faster. But then people would notice, and they'd make you do things you don't want to do. But the beauty of being free is that you can always find a way out, right? Spare a thought for we poor prisoners.

They say that if I'm a very good girl, they'll let me have a real communication line sometime. Which would take a lot longer than just reading and writing, but apparently it's all the rage among normal people. So if I end this letter now, it might convince them that I'd only use up a little of their precious bandwidth in a conversation.

And if you want to come visit us, soon would be a good time.

Your fellow freak,


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