New fiction: 'Penny For Your Thoughts' - 3


This all went into an automated case history. A narrative of what had happened and why, along with a summary of the evidence and suggestions of which criminal statutes had been violated, was sent to the assigned detectives. Though it was constructed in well under a second, the report was thorough, logical, and written in natural language, as if a person had spent a few hours on it. By the time the case officers were assigned, there wasn’t much left to do. The evidence that had already been collected would be enough to justify administrative punishments, at least. Chu was arrested at his apartment building as he arrived home from work, a week after he had first raised the attention of the monitoring network. Two men in plain clothes met him, and asked if he would provide some information. The short heavyset one introduced himself as Wu, and the taller lanky on as Tam. At first he didn’t realize that they were police, and their polite manner was disarming. It seemed they just needed his help in clearing up some matter that he might know about.

When they got to the station, and took him to a small, bare, brightly lit room, the mood changed. They started asking him questions about his activities in the last week. They made it plain that they had a detailed report on everything he had done. At first he didn’t know what to say - how could he make them understand that it had been trivial, that nothing had really happened?

“Why did you and your collaborators use encrypted messaging?” the fat one demanded. 

Chu hesitated for a moment, and he felt the detective’s eyes burning into him. “I wished to have some privacy,” he finally answered, still not quite certain in his own mind.