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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 672 Response

J-Cap and Frank

with Elous Telma

In Elous Telma‘s “Retreat and Ponder,” Frank does not see the “humanoid” figure as threatening. Why is J-Cap wary of Frank’s vision?

What, exactly, is in the air? How can it induce Frank’s and Mari’s disturbed mental states but not affect the others so much? The question will fascinate scientists. But there is no time for scientific research during J-Cap’s and Frank’s eventful visit to the Aquarium on Dioptra.

J-Cap has to act fast with only what he has available: his understanding that the humanoid is a manifestation of Frank’s mental state and his pro-active personality. J-Cap “wanted to give Frank a chance to get out of his state on his own.”

As we have seen in earlier chapters, the humanoid is, for Frank, an imaginary pathfinder to safe places, an imaginary character that leads him to some form of peace. It is a way out from taking control of himself and the situation. In contrast, J-Cap would never create a humanoid to follow; instead, he chooses to face hardship.

The humanoid offers Frank comfort, but J-Cap sees it as keeping Frank trapped, much as a man dying of cold may be convinced he feels warm and cozy, which only causes him to fall asleep and freeze to death faster.

J-Cap quickly acquires valuable information. The air on the island is causing Frank problems, to say the least. Now he needs to know how to solve these problems. Maybe he can do so by forcing Frank to deal with the situation more like J-Cap himself: by rejecting fantasies and happy places and stoically facing reality.

How can he force this method onto Frank? Tough love! In Chapter 20, part 1, J-Cap manages to get Frank behave not like the “lost child,” as we have come to know him, as but “like the seasoned sailor he was.” That’s a first step to the right direction.

Copyright © 2016 by Elous Telma

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