Static And Silence

Subject 643-M, age eight, sits cross-legged on the floor. Before him, a wide array of screens flicker rapidly, some with pictures, some words, some numbers. Thick tubes connect from the ceiling to a horizontal row of ports on his back.

He doesn’t remember. He doesn’t have to. Time is meaningless to a Scryer.

The boy’s fingers hover over a small black control box. He touches it sometimes, and images flicker more rapidly, or pause, or rewind. He rarely rewinds. The boy never misses anything.

When he sleeps, he sleeps in front of the screens. He likes the patterns, and he needs the ports. Sleep is a symptom of increased elusidol tolerance, so his dosage is increased to match.

Soon, the boy will be disconnected. The man worries about this. There are 12 others, but this one is the most talented. The man is concerned, but he knows he can get a few more years. He hopes the war is over by then.

The boy speeds through another segment, selecting words and pictures. No numbers this time. It’s not the boy’s responsibility to break the code, merely to locate it. The man hits record, and the pattern vanishes from the screens.

The boy doesn’t remember it. The next feed begins, and he touches the controller, upping the pace. The man closes the door behind him when he goes to check on the other children.

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