Author : Willis Weatherford

“Mr. Lengua.” The man Nathan knew only as ‘the Agent’ paused a long moment in his crisp black suit before continuing. “Do you know why you’re here?”

“No. I don’t know where ‘here’ is, either. Nor who you are, where I am am, nor why,” Nathan Lengua said, and thought to himself “but I know you are feeling scared, old man”. The knowledge gave him a feeling of power and security.

The Agent’s carefully combed, purely white hair created a simple arc over the rim of his black glasses as his eyes scanned the file scrolling down the bifocal lens. As the Agent re-read the final page, Nathan felt the old man’s fear grow, and expand to include uncertainty. The Agent’s eyes flicked up to meet his own.

“Your location and my identity are classified from everyone without security clearance. That includes you. So, let’s focus. Tell me about Lexington.” The glasses pointed forward, the white hair glowed in the incandescent light, and the black suit remained perfect, but all Nathan needed to know, he could feel: the Agent’s hesitance and growing fear were as obvious to the detainee’s senses as the clothes were visible to his eyes.

Nathan thought back to Lexington, his most recent gig as a professional “Feeler”. Mr. Berg, a venture capitalist, hired him to be in the room “taking notes” as entrepreneurs pitched their ideas. Little did those budding businessmen know that the dark skinned, quiet clerk in the corner was taking notes on their every feeling, and would later reveal his findings to Berg in a private office.

“Well, Mr. Berg, I wouldn’t go for this one. When you asked him about his market research, he sounded confident but felt nervous. Judging by his resentment when you asked about his family, I’d say he has either a bad breakup or an illegitimate child in the recent past – of course that may be a flaw you are willing to overlook.”. Usually, Berg took his advice. And, judging by the growing profits, it was usually paying off. Nathan brought his thoughts back to the question at hand, and decided to keep up the facade. After all, the Agent couldn’t feel his nervousness.

“Lexington was my home for the past four months, my most recent job. I was working as a clerk for a venture capitalist. Your thugs nabbed me and brought me to wherever ‘here’ is. Presumably, you know why. I do not.”

The Agent’s irritation mixed with his own as the old man firmly planted a hand on the cool black desk in between them.

“The Security of Mentally Stored Information Act declares accessing the thoughts and emotions of compliant citizens to be illegal. You are suspected of violating that law at a level requiring, at the least, long term incarceration.” The Agent punctuated his official statement with a stern glance at the small man seated on the other side of the table. “Your compliance here, in this very room Mr. Lengua, will determine whether your offences require more severe penalties. You won’t be able to feel your way out of that one.”

Nathan considered his options. He recalled the foundational truth of his trade: ‘Uncommon knowledge is power; Common knowledge is weakness.’

“I’d like a lawyer”, he said.

“Feelers like you, Mr. Lengua, are non-compliant citizens, and as such have no right to a lawyer. I assure you, you’re on your own here.” As the Agent’s feeling of power and control grew, Mr. Lengua’s shrank until a rising tide of fear and helplessness swallowed it completely.

“I’ll take my chances in jail”

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