Dr. Jean Speerel
Jean is an imposing woman with icy blue eyes and dark secrets she’d do anything to protect. For one, she has the ability to read minds. But despite these secrets, Jean has built a commendable reputation as a neuroscientist and criminal profiler for U.S. intelligence. Jean is always in control. She dresses impeccably, keeps a meticulous home, and uses her telepathy to manipulate any situation in her favor. But when her life is threatened and she discovers the world’s biggest secret – an alien – she must go to increasingly extreme lengths to keep her grip on things, no matter how destructive the consequences.
Character introduced in Book 1, Chapter 8.
Exceptional Ability: Proximal (short-range), observational telepathy, also commonly known as mind-reading. This is the most common and typical form of telepathy, however the strength exhibited by different individuals varies widely.
The only child of an affluent family on the East coast of the United States, Jean Speerel knew about her ability from a very young age, and realized then that she may be the only person with this power. She was extremely intelligent and intuitive in addition to having telepathy. When she was 6 years old, while playing with other children in her elementary school playground, she listened to their thoughts. At first, she told the other children and they didn’t believe her. She was able to prove it and convinced them all by telling them what they were thinking. Then they told their parents, and before long, she was taken to the principal’s office, and, with her mother called in, asked to explain herself. It was at that young age she realized telling people about her ability could get her into trouble. It was also then that she decided not to tell the truth, instead she said she had made it all up. Eventually, the whole thing blew over and nobody gave it a second thought.
Telepathic ability like this comes with an odd effect — she refers to it as an “echo”. Just before people speak, they think of what they are going to say. It can be a jumble of thoughts and words that converge and coalesce into a sentence that plays in their minds just before coming out of their mouths creating a sort of echo. As she learned about the echo, she also learned how to ignore it. Amateur and weak telepaths are easily distracted by it, but she has a great deal of control over her power and she has a very effective mental filter for the echo.
Suffice to say, the advantages telepathy gave her were enormous. She could read the thoughts of everyone around her: teachers, her parents, classmates, everyone. She could play into their interests, get them to help her or give her things just because she knew things about them. But the disadvantages were staggering. She realized that people routinely lie. During high school, her supposed “friends” frequently thought ill of her while telling her they liked her. Boys she didn’t know who passed her in the hallway objectified her for her body, but also criticized her without saying a word. Even though teachers patiently answered her questions, she annoyed them by asking too many questions. Her parents didn’t trust her even though they encouraged her and told her they did. Everyone, all the world, lied.
The deceit from other people was disheartening and isolated her. She stopped just actively reading minds because of the constant barrage of negativity. She also found that reading the minds of teachers to cheat on tests was too easy and lacked inspiration. She had enough intelligence and self-motivation that she didn’t need to cheat.
Her intelligence, academic achievements, and her parents money ensured she could attend the Ivy League college of her choice, Brown University in Providence Rhode Island, and indulge her fascination with neuroscience. She knew she was attracted to this subject in part because it might explain something about her and her unusual mind. She always, and perhaps with some hubris, felt that she was mentally, and perhaps genetically, advanced.
It was during her freshman year of college that she met and began a relationship with Jacob, another freshman who was also a biology major. He was immediately attractive to her. He didn’t lie. Well, he almost never lied, and he was completely attracted to her — very infatuated with her actually. It was almost embarrassing to her the way he thought about her and so often. She very much liked him, and liked more how he made her feel. It was like holding up a mirror to yourself that always makes you look your best. But Jacob was simple — very straight-forward. He did what she was interested in doing and took her places when she asked. He would do anything for her. His adoration grew tiring to her, but she continued to see him because it was easy and because he was easy to manage. That is, until she noticed one of her lab instructors, Elias. He was in his 30s and he definitely didn’t think like the average person. He had dark, complicated thoughts and it seemed that he was frequently on the verge of saying something very inappropriate to students, but then backing off just before the echo. Jean was utterly fascinated by him and would catch herself smiling when she read his mind as he lectured. He was the exact opposite of the uncomplicated Jacob.
And then it happened. Toward the end of her second semester of her freshman year, while she was having an informal dinner with Jacob at his apartment. He said “are you reading my mind?” She knew he wasn’t joking because she was reading his mind at the time. She was mortified. How could he know? The look on her face gave her away. “Can you read my mind?” “How is that possible?” — the questions came almost as fast as the echoes. She wasn’t prepared for it, and she didn’t know what to do, so she left abruptly. He called her repeatedly that night, but she didn’t answer. She was exposed in a way she never had been since she naively exposed her ability when she was a 6 year old.
Jacob left messages for her: it was Ok, and he just wanted to understand it, and, always, how is it possible, and how can you do that. She could not understand how he knew, but she hit upon a possible reason that was only confirmed to her through Dr. Morris’ research many years later. Prolonged exposure to telepathic contact can make even a non-telepathic person aware of its presence. And she most definitely spent the most time reading his mind of anyone she knew except perhaps her parents.
Jean ended her relationship with Jacob, and at the end of the semester, began to pursue Elias. And it was easy to get with Elias. She knew how dark, how unhinged some of his thoughts could be and how that informed his sense of humor, and she could match him with some very dark humor of her own. At first he protested that he should not date a student, but she assured him that, since it was summer break, she was no longer his student. And besides, she wasn’t a typical student anyway. The first time they made love was intense for her. She tried to control how much she read his mind so he didn’t become aware of it, but she was utterly absorbed with him. The things he thought during sex were pornographic, yes, but somewhat unsettling, but very much mesmerizing to her. But he had amazing control, too. He never said many of the things he thought. She just enjoyed the darkness from a safe distance.
A month later, Jean ran into Jacob at a market near campus. He made it seem like a chance encounter, but she knew he planned it. He was still very much obsessed with her. Since she spent most of the previous month at Elias’ place, she hadn’t realized that Jacob was now camping out at her place. He also knew she was seeing someone else. With Jacob in this state, and knowing about her secret, she didn’t know how far he would go and it bothered her. She had trouble relaxing later that day with Elias. The next day, there was a knock on the door, and Elias answered it. Jacob was there now — he followed her to Elias’ apartment. Jacob was both shocked then angry that she was sleeping with an instructor. Elias warned Jacob that he wouldn’t tolerate him around there. Jean was stunned and many things echoed back and forth — somewhere in the middle of the shouting match, Jean could hear that Elias wanted to kill Jacob, though didn’t say it. Then Jacob blurted out “you know she can read minds — good luck with that!” She could read that Elias was confused by that comment, but seemed to shrug it off as some dumb ploy of Jacob’s. Jacob left after Elias repeatedly and increasingly loudly said he’d call the police.
That night, Jean and Elias sat quietly eating dinner. She could tell that Elias was mulling whether a relationship with her was a good idea. She brought up the subject of the altercation earlier in the day. Elias expressed concern that he could get in trouble for seeing a student since he was a new instructor. This position was a huge break for him and he shouldn’t be risking it. She reminded him he had already. Then he thought “what if I were to kill that guy — he’s unstable — I could very easily make it look like suicide.” Elias asked her what she thought were the odds Jacob might talk. She told him it was a definite possibility. Several things went through Elias’ mind and she realized he’d attempted to kill someone before, but didn’t succeed. Jean said in a joking manner, “well, you could kill him, just be sure it looks like an accident!” Elias didn’t laugh. He asked her if she thought people would believe Jacob could commit suicide. She said “yes” and that was the last they spoke of it.
Later that week, she heard on the local news that Jacob was found dead of a likely drug overdose. They were drugs that were readily available from their university lab, so he could have gotten them, but she knew it was Elias. Elias was different after that — distant. He was very concerned about the impropriety of their relationship, but she knew he was also bothered about killing Jacob. Obviously, he never confessed it to her openly, nor did she ask. It made her uncomfortable as well. All those dark thoughts in him. She knew she’d have advance warning if he decided to attack her, but it might not be enough advance warning. So she left him.
Later that school year, she learned that he had a relationship with another student and that the administration found out about it. Although he wasn’t terminated, he was put on probation. While on probation, he committed suicide. And that was that. That experience taught her two valuable lessons: if someone tries to reveal your secret publicly, prepare to lie and lie well, and if you kill someone, you’d better be able to handle the emotional consequences of the action. It was also helpful to learn that even non-professionals could be effective killers if they are so motivated.
Jean went on to obtain her Ph.D in Neuroscience then post-doctoral work with a medical non-profit in Washington D.C. She became more involved in consulting work and obtained a consulting position with a prestigious non-profit medical organization that lobbied the government. She was an extremely effective negotiator and lobbyist. Eventually and quickly, she made her way up the food chain of power first as a consultant on health-related policies and laws in the House, then on security-related health issues first with the House, then the Senate. She eventually became a general adviser to the Intelligence Community (NSA, CIA, Treasury Department OIA, FBI, DoD’s DIA, etc.) Her background includes deep knowledge in both neuroscience and neuropsychology. She can get into both the medical aspects of how the brain works and the psychology of the human mind. Criminal profiling has become a recent area of her consultation work.
Now, she’s learned of a possible effort by the Chinese government to study telepathy. And, that there is a man named Dr. Morris who has been studying them as well.
She decides to find Dr. Morris.
Dr. Morris’ Medical Notes
Abe brought my attention to a person he just met, Dr. Jean Speerel. She has concurrent, proximal (short-range) observational telepathy. It is Brocal and beta wave-based. She can read the thoughts (not memories) of other people near her, which is the classic form of telepathy — she’s a mind-reader and a powerful one at that. She has also learned how to filter out the voices of others so she can hear one at a time even in large crowds.
Abe expressed a concern that Dr. Speerel was able to read his mind even though he attempted to block her telepathy. That would suggest she has a Morris telepathic power rank value of high — the first of that rank we’ve encountered in a mind-reader.