As time went past, Jot noticed something was strange with Richard. “You’re staring at people,” mentioned Jot during a meal.
“What? Why would you say… yeah, I am.”
Jot commented with silence, but he obviously meant “why?”.
“Well, I guess having a near death experience just makes me look at people differently. A different outlook on life.”
“Also I think maybe people are glowing. I don’t suppose you see people glowing?” Richard’s experience at seeing people differently had upgraded to a sort of glowing. He wasn’t entirely sure if it was an upgrade, but what he was seeing was more clear, and less vague.
“You’re not glowing.”
“Nobody who shouldn’t be glowing,” Jot gestured to a student passing by.
That guy was definitely glowing. Richard could see that clearly with his eyes. It wasn’t like with other people who were glowing as seen through his… other eyes? That was a nicer way to think of it than as through his psychosis. Richard was getting slightly worried about it. Maybe if he closed his eyes, when he opened them, it would all go away. Close. Open.
Jot wasn’t glowing anymore. No wait, he hadn’t been glowing anyway. What a disappointment. That other guy was still glowing. No wait… he was supposed to be glowing, as confirmed by Jot. Everyone else… was normal. No glowing. At least Richard’s psychosis listened to his whims… for now. It had turned off before, but it was nice to be able to turn it off on purpose.
“Well, I wasn’t particularly feeling bad, but… sorta.”
“Good. If you actually feel sick or something, tell me, and don’t make me carry you back to the clinic. Unless you actually need me to.”
Richard had no qualms about Jot’s ability to go through with his threat/offer. He’d seen Jot loft one of his bags that was heavier than Richard as if it were nothing.
As it was just about time to go to his next class, Richard looked down at his plate. It was empty. Fortunately, he was full. He was glad that he seemed to have consumed a regular amount of food, at least for this meal.
In the first day of classes, Richard only shared one with Jot. Even if they had the same major they wouldn’t necessarily have shared any classes, so Richard was glad to have at least that one. Upon comparing schedules, they actually shared a few other classes later, as well. That was good, because Richard didn’t want to be basically alone and friendless when there were also weird things happening to him.
Richard was majoring in biology. He’s always found the variety in traits that people people possessed fascinating. Although there was the most common “standard form” as it was often called, which humans fit snugly into, there were also many others. People might have more or less limbs, different senses, or different forms entirely. For example, the chef on the ship had six arms. Xevaronians like Jot had senses that were particularly attuned to fine details, but that wasn’t considered very different. Some species relied on different uses of their senses such as echolocation instead of relying primarily on sight. There were also very different ways of thinking and many cultural varieties, and Richard was interested in that as well, but he could only learn so much at once. There were also more exotic senses and traits that Richard couldn’t even begin to explain, at least not really. That was why he was here to learn. Even with all the possibilities he considered, though, that was just the variety available in sapient species. Among non-sapient things, Richard had heard of certain flowers that had exceptionally developed senses of gravity, and would always face directly away from gravitational pull. If placed in a pot or something similar and tilted, they would eventually bend to face “up” again. Not quickly, of course, because plants generally did not move quickly, both because they didn’t possess the means and because it was a waste of energy. So far, nobody had been able to figure out exactly why they did this. Theoretically, it must be important for them… but it also made for some interesting gardens and flower arrangements.
Thus, the classes that Richard was attending should have kept his attention. However, even disregarding the fact that the first classes generally just were introductions to the course, he found himself very distracted. He found himself especially distracted by the girls… perhaps the should be called women, but it was one of those strange transitional phases where both terms were applicable, or neither were. This wasn’t the same sort of thing as when he had started noticing girls in puberty, at least not mostly. Instead, he found himself doing something like cataloging traits. These were simple things like height, hair color, and the rest. The same thing happened with men, too, but Richard felt like it was done more quickly. Perhaps that was just his imagination though, because all of it happened quickly, as soon as he saw new people.
Richard’s strange contradictory thoughts were still occurring. He felt like he was concentrating fully on the people around him, and then his thoughts would linger on specific traits, but he couldn’t really say what they were. That said, he also felt like he was listening to the teachers. Not fully, but with at least half his attention. Richard could control what he was doing if he concentrated on paying attention. However, when he stopped observing and cataloging people around him, everything suddenly felt rather dull, as if there were something missing. That was all that could be said, and Richard couldn’t explain what was happening. However, though it was strange, it also felt alright… and he was paying attention enough to understand what the teachers were saying. Looking around him, he could tell he wasn’t the only one who was distracted either. Richard supposed some of it was just the newness of where he was. After all, he had rarely ever left Utopia, so perhaps that was why. Not that he was particularly far from where he had been, since he was still in the same system… and still could see the same gas giant nearby. However, at least the campus he was on had a very different atmosphere. Not in any sort of physical terms, that was mostly the same. Instead, it was the social atmosphere that was different. He was now surrounded by (mostly) young people, and with a bit more variety in the types of people. Richard shook his head, and everything went back to what was basically “normal”. Whatever that meant.