The sun rose and managed to fend off the clouds, but it spent all its heat on the fight. Ben shrugged his coat tighter around his body and expelled a breath, which puffed out in front of him and hung on the still air. He slowed, running his eyes along the strip of green dotted with garbage below the bridge. His muscles tightened when he heard footsteps behind him.
He looked up as Jun approached. He frowned. “Did you follow me out here?”
“Yeah,” Jun said slowly. “Heard you leave. Wanted to thank you for giving me your bed. Haven’t slept in one of those in ages.”
Ben shrugged. “It’s no problem. I can’t really tell the difference between sleeping on a mattress and sleeping on the floor.”
Jun chewed his bottom lip and stared at Ben for a moment. Ben continued looking at the greenery. Jun cleared his throat and opened his mouth to speak, but stopped when Ben climbed up on the bridge railing and shimmied over the side. Ben held on and then lowered himself down so he was hanging about five feet from the ground. He dropped.
“What are you doing?” Jun asked, hurrying to the railing.
“Looking for flowers,” said Ben. He scrambled on the damp earth and over moldy mattresses and discarded metal, the smell of cold, wet dirt, mold, and green things wafting up out of the loam. He used his arm to sweep aside some thorny branches and peered into the dark crevices of a nearby bush.
“Why do you need a flower?” Jun asked.
“It’s for Zee,” Ben said as he searched the loam. “I can’t make a shape unless I study a physical representation, and I’ve never studied flowers. Never noticed them, you know.”
“Dude, it’s February,” said Jun.
Ben looked up, a confused frown on his face. “So?” he said.
Jun sighed and leaned against the railing. “Flowers don’t come out in February, man. At least not around here. And they wouldn’t be hiding under a bush anyway. More likely to find townies and cannibals that way.”
Ben lowered his arm and stepped back from the bush quickly. He looked up at Jun. “Where can I find flowers?”
Jun held out his bare hand in the air. “Feel that?” he said.
Ben copied him and stared at his own hand for a moment. “No,” he said finally.
“Dude, not with your skin. Feel it with your…you know…the frequencies? That funky mojo.”
Jun blinked at him. “Sure, man, if that’s what they’re calling it these days.”
Ben stared at his own hand again, pupils constricting. “Calcium, carbon,” he muttered. “Iron.” He paused. “I’m not sure what I’m looking for.” His eyes returned to normal and he looked back up at Jun. “What, exactly, am I supposed to be feeling?”
“Man, you’re too concrete. Frequencies can tell you more than just the solid stuff. They can tell you possibility…potential.” Jun held out his hand. “Delta T, man, delta T.”
Ben blinked in confusion. “Temperature?” he asked. Jun nodded enthusiastically so Ben closed his eyes and dove into the somatic instinct. Observing frequencies cost him little energy, changing them cost a lot. He could look without much worry of having to spend a week in bed. Seeing the potentials, as Jun described, required that he defocus his mind and look past what he already knew.
Gasping, Ben opened his eyes. He looked up at Jun, who grinned from the bridge. “Cool, huh?”
“Cold,” Ben said, smiling back.
“Flowers like warm,” said Jun.
Read the next chapter.
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