Spy Thriller

Since no one else is posting I’ll jump in with my WIP.

I have the start of a story . . . now I just need to figure out what to do with it . . .

Wretched thing feels like the introduction to a TV series. What is Professor Barton going to do this week?

***

Professor Peter Barton was old. He’d stopped paying attention to the number decades ago. The years were measured by “too old for military service” “age limit for field assignments” “mandatory retirement from government service” interspersed with “full professorship” “tenure” “Professor Emeritus” and finally “that crazy old man who still teaches one class a semester. Always the ‘self-guided research topics’ so he doesn’t actually have to do much.”

Perhaps they had a point. After all, the CIA didn’t seem to need him to be a harmless academician on a cruise ship. Or a group tour. A field seminar. Heh. His university colleagues had always been amazed at how he always seemed to injure himself on vacations, and holidays, and covered for him when he “came down with a nasty virus.”

He stopped in a pleasant patch of sunlight. Couldn’t fight my way out of a paper bag, theses days.

“Professor B! Just the vict . . . man we need!”

He turned, trying to look casual, not unbalanced, as he leaned on his cane. Ah, yes. The Trio. Menaces to society individually, together they were down right horrifying in the breath of their imaginations and ability to both build and program anything.

“Oh?”

“Yep. We got it working, we think. But it takes all three of us to operate it. We need a subject, and who better than the Professor who egged us on with his pretensions of doubt?”

Peter narrowed his eyes. “You actually think you can record the entirety of a person’s mental activity?”

“Not just the mental activity of the moment, we can capture the memories, the reactions, the ingrained training. Heck, we’ve even got the autonomous stuff, heartbeat, breathing, and gut motility.”

“You can be the first human being we digitize.” The second Menace was grinning, too.

“You don’t actually think you can capture a personality, do you?”

The third Menace smirked. “Works with dogs. I induced my old dog’s pattern onto a hyperactive mutt, and voila! Ruffy is a half grown pup again. And he only answers to Ruffy.”

“Your mad scientist’s helmet induces the pattern so hard it overrides the . . . natural personality?”

“Well . . . “

The First Menace jumped in. “We had to give him Erase.”

“You removed his memories and personality. Like a criminal.”

They squirmed, guilty expressions shifting to stubborn. “It was an experiment. We certainly are not going to test the induction in humans.”

“And you want me to be Patient One?”

“Oh, Professor! You taught us that counting ought to always start with zero!”

“Ah. Patient Zero. Like the originator of a plague. Certainly. By all means. Maybe you’ll kill me, and put an end to your insanity.”

Menace Two grinned. “Ha! More like you’ll break the machine.”

Twenty Years Later

“. . . Over three hundred victims of the Eraser Bomb attack in Houston. Fed Med has rushed induction equipment to Houston in hopes of saving the worst affected. Over to Melony Hasslehert on site at the Houston Medical Center.”

“Memory bomb attacks are new to Texas. However often they’ve seen and heard about induction, the actual experience is new here.”

A quick cut to a woman in a hospital gown “But . . . I know I’m not really Francine Graves . . . I hate this . . . I don’t remember my husband, I remember hers. It’s just not right.”

Back to the reporter. “Patients are having to come to term with how badly they were damaged. The first treated were those with limbic system damage—unstable heartbeats and breathing—the induced personalities imprint over the blank areas, and with luck, as the imprint fades over the next several months, the brain will have relearned what these victims need to return to a normal life. Not just breathing, but swallowing. Bowel and bladder control. And even more complex things. The patients are matched against the hundreds of thousands of recorded patterns, for the closest fit. Sex, age, race, religion, family status, education, musical talents.”

The camera zoomed in on a computer window full of numbers. A cursor clicked on the RESET button.

The numbers changed to zeros.

“All ready for the next patient. They’ll enter the code for the best match in the government’s nationalized digitized persons system and . . . “

The camera drew back to show a covered form, machines beeping and hissing. “And this young man will have a chance to live a normal life. Melony Hasslehert in Houston, out.”

As the reporter and cameraman walked out, the techs, their routine disturbed, started the induction. Without entering a new code number.

It wasn’t the first time.

It wouldn’t be the last.

***

“This week” I’ve stuck the retire spy/professor in the head of a high school jock, who’s the prime suspect as the bomber.

Now what the heck do I do?

I hate learning experiences . . .

6 comments

  1. I like this idea…no, I LOVE this idea. So is the Professor, once installed, supposed to search the mind of the patient to see if he’s actually guilty? Or will the person have their memory completely wiped, and he’s supposed to investigate the crime with the advantage of being in a new and healthy body? I think it would be great to interpolate memories from his prior life, maybe even run across someone he knows from his past – though they will not recognize him, of course. If he can figure out a way to jump from person to person on his own, maybe he goes on the run to escape from the program.

  2. I suppose the first question is what does he do? Does he know he’s been dumped into someone else’s body or what’s actually going on? What does he actually know when he wakes up? Do versions of him get written back into the machine from time to time, or is he still the version that was first scanned 20 years back?

    And, given he’s probably not the right person, does he have to wipe himself at the end?

    Also, if the jock did it, why? Is this a form of flashy not quite suicide? Or is something else going on here? Or was it a complete accident?

  3. They can only induce the recorded person on the part of the brain that have been erased. So there will only ever be one personality there. And in this case, The young man got a high dose because he was near the bomb, and is thus a suspect. I expect there will be security cameras that cover enough of the area to possibly prove his guilt. Which will be a little irritating to the Professor, who wants to get the people behind it.

    1. That brings up another question: what is the punishment for dropping a memory bomb on people? And how does that work when the original person got mind wiped? Are they still responsible for their actions prior to being mind wiped, or are they a new person from a legal perspective?

  4. This is very cool. It feels like Stainless Steel Spy. I like it. You can have a laugh with this.

    Personally, I don’t know if I’d stick the Professor in the guilty party. Put him in some wildly unlikely person and have him catch the guilty party? Or maybe have him be the falsely accused, and he finds the Real guilty party. That one is a major TV trope, minefield detected.

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