New fiction: 'Penny For Your Thoughts' - 5


“Well… I don’t want to get anyone else in trouble. My friends didn’t do anything wrong,” Chu responded with hesitation.

“We already know who they are…” the fat one began agitatedly, but the other detective interrupted with a sidelong glance at his partner. “Signing this doesn’t affect anyone else. We just want to clarify your case,” he said with a bland smile. At that, Chu felt better. These men were police officials - surely they couldn’t just lie to him.

At that point his fate was sealed, though his case would still take some time to play out, because it was necessary to preserve some semblance of due process. Chu was lucky to receive only five years’ imprisonment under Article 105. The most active protest organizer, well known to the authorities, was arrested for show but quickly released. There was no one left, from the most recent incident, that could report their suspicions of his being a provocateur - they had all been sent up as well.

The detectives smiled smugly and patted each other on the back. This new technology seemed too good to be true. “This will make our jobs so much easier!” Wu crowed. “Maybe we’ll get a real vacation this year!” Tam replied. Of course now they would be busier than ever, with the automated system delivering so many new cases, but that hadn’t sunk in yet. Wu remained an investigator for two more years, until his thoughtcrimes were similarly discovered. Tam had better luck - he stayed on the force for a long time to come, until events beyond his or anyone’s control made the world change, seemingly overnight.