“I trust you had a nice trip, Mrs. Winslow,” Trent Gaydos greeted Devin and his mother.
“Yes. I’ve never been on a private jet before,” Belinda said as she shook Trent’s hand.
“Did you like the plane, Devin?”
“It was so cool! The pilot let me come into the cockpit. I had read about planes and how to fly them but that was the first time I have been in a real one.” Devin was so thrilled that he blurted all that out.
“We do have an aviation class here.”
“Are you serious? I can learn to fly planes?” He looked with longing at his mother.
Belinda didn’t want Devin getting his hopes up when there was a possibility that she might not be able to afford the school. She looked around at the expensive floors and walls. Everything looked so pristine and perfect. Even the pens on the desk looked like they cost more than her car. How could she send Devin here? And even if they offered a scholarship, would Devin want to come back to their little house in Ohio after living here?
“Definitely. We have many extracurricular programs at PIGC.”
“What others do you have?”
“We’ll get to that later. Right now I want you and your mother to unpack and someone will come and get you for dinner.”
“When do I take the test?
“In the morning. If you don’t mind Belinda, there are a few tests we would like you to take as well.”
Belinda looked shocked. “Me? Trust me. I’m not that smart.”
“Oh, you may be smarter than you think. We have found that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It helps with our research to test the parents as well as the children. Do you mind?”
“I guess not.”
“That’s great. “ He walked them to his office door and there was a short thin lady with red hair standing outside of it. “This is Nancy. She will show you to your room. Your luggage has already been taken there.”
“Mr. Gaydos, where are the other students?” Devin asked as he looked up and down the long hallway.
“The semester hasn’t started yet. They will be back next month. By the way, this is the only facility where we do the intake testing. This campus is for the older students. You would be going to a different campus.” He ushered them down the hall with his arm. “Nancy, please escort them to their room.”
The room was down several corridors. It was more like a two bedroom suite with two bathrooms, a kitchen and living room.
When Nancy had left Devin gleefully ran around the suite. Even Belinda was impressed. The refrigerator was stocked with a note on the door saying “Help yourselves!” The built-in bookcase in the living room was filled with books. The bathrooms each had a Jacuzzi and a walk-in shower. The bedrooms had queen size beds and bookcases filled with books. There was no television in the suite, not even in the living room.
“Umm. Feel this carpet mom,” Devin said as he kicked off his shoes.
Belinda sank down into the plush couch. “So this is how the rich live,” she thought to herself. “Never thought I’d experience it.” She sighed deeply.
A little while later Nancy knocked on the door and escorted them to the dining room. There were fresh cut flowers on the long polished table. The room had large square windows that allowed you to see into a lovely garden. There was a big orange butterfly crawling outside on one of the windows. Trent was there seated at the head and he explained to them that this was the private dining area. The students used a different one.
Nancy and five other men and women were there. Trent introduced them to everyone. One older man named David seemed deeply interested in Devin. He asked his opinion on several topics. Everyone listened intently as Devin answered. He was not stumped by any of the questions. There seemed to be an inaudible sigh every time he responded.
Belinda didn’t say much. She watched how important Devin looked answering Dave’s question. It seemed odd for adults to hang on to every word of such a small boy. She felt very proud of him. She was glad they didn’t ask her any questions. Later that night as she tucked him into the queen size bed she watched him fall asleep. Looking at his little brown face no one would guess what was behind it. She knew he was smarter than he let on. Sometimes she could see the frustration in his eyes when she told him to do things you normally would tell a seven-year-old to do. Things like, “brush your teeth, clean your room and tie your shoes.” It was funny how a kid could be so smart and forget the simplest things.
She loved her only child and although she wanted him to do well in the testing she dreaded the possibility of him not being with her.
“I suppose all the parents feel that way when their kids come here,” she thought out loud.
Devin was taken into one room and Belinda to another.
“Okay Devin,” instructed Dave. “I need you to sit here in this chair.”
Devin climbed into a small raised up chair made of a material he had never seen before. It had a headrest at the top and some wires with small pads attached to it. Dave carefully placed the pads on different spots on Devin’s forehead, one on his arm and one on his chest.
“What kind of test is this?” Devin asked. This was not what he expected.
“I am recording your brain waves as you take the tests. We are interested in not only how much you know but how your brain reacts when you think.”
The lights dimmed and a screen lowered in front of Devin. Dave stepped behind him out of sight.
“Look carefully at the screen and tell me what you see,” came Dave’s voice out of the darkness.
Devin saw squiggly red, blue, yellow and green lines moving irrationally over the screen.
“I see different colored lines moving fast and all over.” He said slowly. Even as the words came out of his mouth the lines began to make sense. There was a pattern to the movement. “Oh, I get it. The blue lines are the water and the sky. The red, yellow and green lines are birds. How cool!”
The lines changed to grey, black and green.
“Those are buildings aren’t they? The green is the grass,” he said immediately.
The lines once again changed to white and off-white.
“Polar bears in the snow,” he shouted. This was a fun test.
Grey and blue lines.
“A whale in the water…the moon…a jaguar…a desert…kids at a playground…”
The lines were changing so fast now. Devin knew the pattern and identified the objects almost instantaneously. For less than half a second a face flashed on the screen and disappeared. More lines instantly replaced it.
Devin saw the image the lines created but didn’t say anything.
“What do you see Devin?”
“An army with tanks.”
The lights came on and the screen disappeared. Dave took the pads off of Devin’s forehead and helped him out of the chair.
“You did very well Devin. You didn’t miss even one.”
Devin didn’t answer him.
“It’s time for lunch. I will give the results of the test to Mr. Gaydos. There are a couple more tests later today then you’ll be all done.”
“Mr. Dave said I did well. It didn’t seem like I was in there for over an hour,” Devin told Belinda as he described the test to her.
Belinda told him, “I had the same test but it made no sense to me. They were just bouncing lines.”
“No. There was a pattern.”
“I couldn’t see it.”
Devin was quiet for a moment.
“What’s wrong Devin?” Belinda asked. She knew his expressions well and didn’t like the one on his face.
“I thought I saw Dad.”
“What? What are you talking about?” She sat up straight.
“During the test, a picture of a face was flashed. It was Dad. He was very young but it was him.”
“Honey, that doesn’t make sense. Are you sure?”
Devin snuggled against his mother on the couch. He was sure. He would never forget his father’s face or green eyes.
Nancy knocked at their door and escorted them to the next test.
Devin was taken to the same room and asked to sit in the same chair. Once again Dave applied the pads. Unlike before, Devin was blindfolded.
“Please tell me what you hear,” Dave said as he backed away from the chair.
Suddenly the room was filled with voices overlapping voices. Most of the voices were speaking different languages. Even in the noise, Devin could make out the English. He repeated what was said. As the test progressed the English became harder to distinguish.
“I know there is a pattern here,” thought Devin. “Listen…listen. Oh. I get it.”
Devin began to repeat the English as soon as it was spoken. Suddenly the room was hushed.
Dave removed the blindfold. The room was dark and slowly began to brighten.
He said, “We are almost done, Devin.” He picked up a flat board that was made of the same material as the chair. He attached it to the chair so that it converted to a desk. He placed some papers on the desk in front of Devin and gave him a pencil.
The first page had jumbled words. Devin quickly unscrambled them and made sentences. The next page had a table of symbols that represented letters. Devin was allowed to look at it for 60 seconds then Dave took it away. The next page was like the one before except now the letters were represented by numbers. Again he had 60 seconds to look at it. The following pages were full of symbols and numbers in paragraphs. Without pausing, he began deciphering the codes. There were symbols that were not on the previous papers but he quickly figured those out as well.
The sentences made no sense. They seemed to be a random mix of words. Some of the words didn’t even seem to be English.
When he completed the last page Dave asked what the paragraphs said. Devin let the paragraphs he had deciphered on the paper flow through his mind. There was a pattern.
“They were nursery rhymes,” he gasped.
“Very good, Devin.” He began removing the pads from Devin’s forehead, arm, and chest. “Very good indeed! Now I’m just going to prick your finger.” Dave quickly pricked Devin’s index finger and lightly placed it on a small square paper. Then he placed a bandage on the finger and announced that he was all done.