This is one of my first stories since I started writing again. There is a lot of passivity here that is pretty intimidating to try to fix.. so I’ll just post it here and see what people think 🙂 maybe you’ll have some suggestions! The prompt for this was ‘someone confessing their sins to a priest’… you’ll see I went a little haywire with it, hehe. I hope you enjoy!
The buzzing of the machines made Eric’s head tingle where the ports had been installed. He rubbed his finger around the edges of the metal hole, and noticed others in line doing the same.
The lines grew longer each week as more people signed up for the implants. It felt good to help the Company. Eric’s neighbors just completed their first confession last week. They told him in line how jealous they had been that he’d gotten his implants first. Eric didn’t remember them being jealous. He remembered them being scared and not talking to him.
The line shuffled forward, it was almost Eric’s turn. A Peacekeeper strode along the line, shining his light on people, looking for weapons or strange behavior. He also had implants, Eric saw. The improved memory was probably useful for that kind of job. Eric enjoyed how all his thoughts seemed so fresh and clear after each confession. He felt much smarter than before the procedure.
Eric finally found himself at the front of the line, only a dangling red rope separating him from the closed office door ahead. The door opened and a smiling confessor exited. The Priest waved Eric in from behind a monitor. Eric shut the door behind him and sat on the small stool across from the Priest. A bundle of wires led from a machine next to the table through the wall and out to the bigger machines Eric had seen outside.
The Priest smiled at him and picked up two plugs from table next to his monitor. They were attached to wires that led off into the bundle. The Priest stood up and leaned over the table to insert the plugs into the ports on either side of Eric’s head. Eric felt a brief rush of euphoria as they clicked into place.
“Eric Weisman.” Only the Priest’s trademark red cap was visible as he leaned into the monitor. “Glad to see you again.”
Eric smiled but remained silent; no question had been asked.
“You work in the accounts department, correct?”
“Any unusual or suspicious transactions this week?”
“Not that I remember.”
“Think back, nothing?”
Eric heard the clicking of buttons being pressed and knobs being turned, and memories of the past week flew across his eyes. He relaxed and let the vision overtake him, reliving the previous days in fast-forward. He felt no sense of unease with any of the memories.
“Nothing,” he said when it was over.
“Did any of the transactions involve the name Alan Kingston?” More clicks. Eric recognized the name. Kingston was on the board of directors for the Company. Eric remembered seeing him giving an angry speech on the news station when the Company tried to make the implants mandatory.
Again memories overtook his mind, this time focusing on names. If he’d heard them spoken, a voice from his mind whispered them into his ear. If he’d seen them written or typed, they scrolled in a list across his eyes.
“Yes.” He saw the name and it triggered a memory; Alan Kingston made a deposit into his business account on Tuesday last week.
“Anything unusual about it?” Clicking, and a beep.
It was a slightly large deposit, Eric thought. Actually he now remembered being surprised by it, but had put it off till the end of the day and forgotten about it. He remembered clearly now that he meant to talk to his superiors about it. He would certainly have to do that when he returned to work.
“Yes, I’m sorry I forgot about this. It was a suspicious transaction.”
“It’s alright Eric.” The Priest smiled warmly. “I know you will do the right thing.”
“Thank you for helping me remember,” said Eric as he left.
By Monday Eric was very upset about not acting on his suspicions. He talked to his superiors about his worries in great depth, and when a deposit of the same size was made again on Tuesday, the accounts department moved to have Kingston’s assets frozen pending further investigation. It was a very satisfying feeling to have had a part in helping the Company this way.
At the end of the week Eric returned to the Confession room. He sat in the chair and the same Priest plugged him in.
“Eric Weisman.” The Priest smiled and adjusted his red cap, then bent over the monitor. “Ah, yes, let’s see. Do you remember last week when I asked you about Alan Kingston?”
“Yes, I- uh… I…”
Eric had been thinking of something, and now he couldn’t remember. Something to do with the Kingston account that had been frozen at work last week. The Priest had asked him something just now and distracted him.
“I’m sorry, what?” said Eric finally.
“I said do you remember when you brought up Alan Kingston to me last week? You had some suspicion about a deposit?”
“Ah, yes.” Eric remembered now, he had asked the Priest if he was right to be suspicious. “I waited to make sure, and the deposit did occur again like I thought it would. We put a hold on the account for now.” Eric felt a surge of pride.
“Good. You are very observant to have noticed that. You are a service to the Company.”
“Now, was there any other suspicious activity this week?”
Several hours later the line was finally gone and Operator Kimble could rest. He fell down into his chair with a sigh and pulled off his red cap, rubbing a hand across the metal holes in his head. Sifting information from the minds of these dimwits was such a chore, their thoughts were so disorganized. His mind must have been that way too, before he became an Operator. He remembered his first day on the job being shown around by Operator Collins.
“This is the SI85.” Collins waved a hand at the machinery that took up most of the room. “The cerebral connectors were originally created by the scientist and programmer Sam Isaac, as I’m sure you know, for use in more fluid programming. He later found he could use the computer to organize his own thoughts, and even save them in the computer’s memory. It was during one of his memory organizing sessions that he saw the great use this technology could have in security.”
“Yes, I see,” Kimble said. “All things observed by anyone can be recorded, to be viewed later.”
“Correct,” Collins continued. “But Isaac focused on selling the improved mental abilities that came with the implants when he advertised for the product. Only the Company Executives were told of the other uses it would have. Employees were told that it would improve their productivity at work and at home as well, and at no cost to them. After the first few raved about it, more and more signed up.”
“And then the Spiritualization,” added Kimble.
“Yes. It was suggested that the implants enhanced a certain portion of the brain to allow easier communication with God. The screenings became known as ‘confessions’, and we, as you know, are often referred to as ‘Priests’. The people take comfort in the idea of telling all to a superior and being told what is right and wrong. As a result, we are one of the first and few Companies to have the SI85 installed and running, and the number one Company in percentage of employees with implants.”
Kimble leaned back in his chair. After that, Collins had shown him the confession room. He remembered his first time reading through another person’s thoughts. The power was enthralling. But there was more to the power than anyone knew.
He had discovered something several years ago while plugged into SI85 organizing his thoughts. He saw that he could use the machine not only to observe thoughts, but to suppress or encourage them. He could add fear to a memory that was not originally fearful, or remove it. Happiness, love, envy, he could manipulate these feelings by attaching them to whatever memories he needed. But it would surely be the end of SI85 were anyone to discover this. Kimble could not bear the thought of that. He had never used the power for any purpose, personal or otherwise. Until this week.
Something about that Kingston guy just pissed him off. He held back the Company’s progress – the world’s progress! – at every step. All it took was a little encouragement and suggestion with the machine, and that Weisman fellow had caused a lot of trouble for Kingston. Kimble felt good just thinking about it. With Alan out of the way everyone would be getting the implants, and having better lives for it.
A good days work. Kimble switched the program over to automatic and slipped the plugs into his head. Being out of control was exhilarating. This would be the way to die. Sam Isaac had been found dead in much the position he was sitting now, plugs in his head. Programmers were still trying to catch up to him, and as of now all programs were copied exactly when a new machine was built. Everyone was afraid to make any changes to what Isaac had originally set up.
Kimble’s thoughts shifted locations, moving to more logical sequences and associations. He did not know how he had managed to function before. That Kingston guy didn’t know what he was missing. He probably-
Kimble had been thinking of something just then and forgotten it. It happened often as his thoughts moved around, but he never got used to it. He tried for fun to grasp at what it had been. Something about Kingston. He had been thinking about how he had been tempted to use the power he had discovered to arrange some trouble for Kingston, but then that Weisman guy had taken care of it by himself. Convenient.
Another name popped into his head, Richard Grant. That guy, what a pompous prick. Grant had suggested to the board that he could update SI85’s programming without using the implants. What an idiot. Unfortunately though, it seemed as if a few of the members could be swayed. Maybe if Kimble could use that trick he had found, just this once, he could help the Company. No one needed to know.