“Someday we’ll be safe.” I mustered a weak smile, knowing I didn’t even believe in my own words. The young woman in front of me named, Madison, presented an even weaker smile followed by a silent frown when my scalpel made the cut into her wrist. I stared into the pools of her frightened hazel eyes. Her chestnut hair flowed around her face in a choppy and messy “bob” cut…but it suited her. The color in her milky skin looked drained beneath the bright medical lights in my basement. I flipped her wrist and tapped the spot I would have to dig in for the extraction. “Take deep breaths…slowly…this will only take a moment…but it will hurt like hell,” I warned. She blinked and sadly peered up into my serious dark brown eyes. Before she could make any statements or question me any longer I dug deep into the thin skin of her small wrists with sterilized, yet magnetized tweezers. I’d done this so many times I was prepared for the reaction of yelling, trying to pull away, pushing me away with their other hand. Not her. She winced and flinched slightly for about thirty seconds as blood escaped the deep incision I made.
I knew how to work quickly and accurately and just as I expected, my tweezers pulled up the tiny chip lodged deep between her muscles and bones. She whimpered when I finally extracted the solid glowing chip and, tossed it on to the tray, then bandaged her more quickly than I cut. She eyed the glowing chip like it was a disease as it pulsated on the silver slab of metal. “It’s just crazy how we really agreed to have those things put into our bodies…they kept convincing us…” Her sad voice faded off as she shook her head in disbelief.
I patted her shoulder after dressing her wound.
“Hey, don’t feel bad. You’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last.” I peeled the rubber gloves from my hand and led her out of the back. She turned toward me and stared into my face with gratitude.
“Now, you’re going to have to care for this and give it a new dressing everyday. That was a pretty deep incision and you’re open to all kind of infection if you don’t keep it clean. The signal they inserted at the back of your neck will still be there…but without the chip they’ll be unable to see and control anything else. But in about an hour or so they will realize it has been tampered with and removed…you don’t have long.”
“I can’t thank you enough..” She grabbed both of my hands gently. “The money is already in the specified location that you gave me…I’ll be gone before sunset today.” She patted my hand then slowly sashayed away, but ducked her head low to ensure she wasn’t being watched.
I shook my head and headed back inside to clean and sterilize everything. I was deep into the business now. I’d been hiding out for years and now wore the reputation of a rebel, terrorist, and pretty much public enemy number one. Setting people free from beneath the government’s judgmental eyes and controlled terms of living was what I loved to do and was paid to do. But it held deadly consequences and a life of loneliness.
I still remember it like it was yesterday as I finished performing heart surgery on a very young patient of mine. Once everything was finished and she was stitched and ready for recovery, I pulled the rubber gloves from my hands and washed up. After informing her parents of our success and her promising recovery, I headed to the cafeteria for something to snack on during what I knew would be a long night shift. I had two more surgeries already scheduled and exhaled as I sat down for the first time in hours.
Something inside of me sunk as I unwrapped the turkey sandwich I’d purchased and saw the words “PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT” flash across the screen and our sad excuse of a president flashed a cheesy smile like he knew he was about to literally FUCK US ALL.
“Good evening fellow Americans! His voice boomed with enthusiasm, pale hands folded together on the desk in front of him as he continued.
“As you all know, nothing on this Earth can work nor be organized without order. We are currently living in a land that has lost control of what’s most important in this country…trust. We…need…to trust those surrounding us every single day of our lives in this beautiful land!” He pounded his small fist on the desk like he meant business.
“There have been far too many shootings, kidnappings, sex trafficking and murders by those surrounding us. These are people we communicate with everyday, yet these violent crimes continuously increase. We don’t know what is going on in the minds of others, we can’t read their emotions, their intentions. So how are we stop them? How are we to console their problems mentally by getting them the help they need? What if I told you that is all going to change?”
My eyes widened as he continued with the exact words I had been waiting for. The words that I knew would cause an even worse riot than police brutality, ICE, and feminism ever could. “I now introduce to you the chip that will change ALL of our lives.” He continued with a creepy smirk and lifted a thin computer chip between his fingers for all to see.
“This right here is the Surveil-Eye 3000. It looks small in size, but this chip of the future is PACKED with the ability to change the face of America and it’s safety. We will no longer have to wonder what’s in a young person’s head when depressed enough to shoot an entire school. We will no longer fear the reasons behind kidnapping, child pornography, or even just premeditated murders among ourselves. It reads emotions, violent thoughts, and whether there is ANY reason for concern about someone possibly performing terrorists acts, mass killings, or any tragedy…it sends out signals to law enforcement to act IMMEDIATELY! With just a small incision in the wrist, everything will become easier, safer, and we’ll be more involved with one another. Simply scan your wrist across an automated register to pay for all items and services. It is the new form of revenue and all that you earn is represented in this one tiny chip!”
He paused before he continued as if he wanted to let everything he said sink into our minds.
“Your bank account, credit card information, your yearly income, background information, credit score…EVERYTHING is now literally at your fingertips. You may feel this is an invasion of privacy and human rights but I assure you, there is no recording or audio recording of private or intimate moments. You’ll still live your life privately with only the monitoring of major emotions, depression, or issues that could cause harm to others! You’ll no longer have to fill out job resumes nor explain your background. Everything will be conveniently be stored in one place.”
I shook my head in disbelief. This was it, we were officially doomed and about to live beneath the thumb of controlling tyrants able to make everything we want and need something that can be disrupted if they chose to do so just by contacting the feds or exiling us, or even worse…death. He was grinning as if it were the best plan ever imagined and we should all be excited too.
“I pray this chip saves our country and it’s application will be required to remain in this country so…the decision is yours. But that decision will need to be made within two months before the start of the new year. Do what is right for us all.” With a smirk and a shrug he was gone and it went back to our “Scheduled programming.”
That’s it? The decision is ours?? What decision??
I hadn’t taken one bite of my sandwich and eyed the other nurses and doctors on their breaks. Their mouth hung open in shock for what seemed like five minutes. There was confusion, questioning, and then exactly what I knew would happen later. The conversation changed because there was no other choice in their opinion and discomfort could never be an option.
“Well maybe he’s right. He IS our president. It may put a stop to all of this unnecessary crime lately!“
“It shouldn’t be too bad, plus what will we do if we can’t buy anything or pay our rent? Provide for our families?”
“They said there won’t be any recording or privacy invasion. It’s in our wrists…what’s the worst that could happen?“
I rose up quickly, throwing my entire unbitten turkey sandwich into the trash bin, removing my scrubs, snatching my hospital badge from around my neck and leaving the hospital without notice. I breezed past doctors and nurses I’d worked with for seven years, cheerfully greeting me as I sped by without saying a word. I knew what time it was and everyone else would fall into the plight of delusion and cooperation.
I fell right off of the grid and withdrew every dime that I had in my name the next day, I closed all of my accounts, all investments, retirement, savings, stocks and bonds, anything that would be included in that chip and ended my entire life as everyone knew me. I would no longer be Doctor Cassidy Hartley, one of the most intelligent well renowned heart surgeons in the country. Many would even tell you that I’m dead, murdered somewhere unknown, kidnapped in someone’s basement…the stories and assumptions have been endless.
I snapped out of my thoughts when I heard the buzzer go off from upstairs. My heart thudded in my chest and my adrenaline kicked in like a shot of caffeine. Cautiously making my way to the intercom and cameras, I saw the face of a tall, dark and handsome, stern faced man in a black suit that hadn’t made any appointments nor contacted me.
Before answering I watched him closely, intently folding my arms. He ran his large fingers through his black wavy hair. He then checked his watch twice and jammed the buzzer once more, with authority and irritation this time.
“I know you’re in there…Doctor Hartley.” Him stating my name like that caused my heart to drop and I breathed deeply. I knew I’d have to acknowledge him or he’d certainly be back and I had to get rid of him.
“Um…there’s no one here by that name. Please leave.” I commanded.
“Ok…well Justice Young might live here then.” I gasped and turned back toward the buzzer, releasing the door so that it slowly opened and let him in. I grabbed my pistol, stuffing it in the back of my jeans before making my way up the stairs. When I walked in, I found him eyeing every piece of artwork I’d collected, and running his large fingers along my record collection next to a genuine record player it’d taken me ages to find and sneak in here. I cringed before speaking up.
“Please stop touching MY things.” I commanded. “And tell me why you are here.”
I walked over to my stocked bar in the corner to pour a glass of Brandy for my nerves, never offering him even a drop of water. He watched my every move.
A smug look covered his face as he walked closer on me.
“They told me you were still quite a beauty and I saw the recent photos of you…they finally snapped some of you coming through Mexico years ago, but they certainly do you no justice…’Justice’.”
He made air quotes as he stepped around my couch and eyed the alcohol on my bar.
“Isn’t that your name now? Kind of obvious and ringy don’t you think?” Like a personality or even a stripper.” He eyed my facial expression as he made his way around the room. I automatically grew agitated at his display of being the worst type of asshole in this moment.
“I know you didn’t come all of this way just to get a look at me and sarcastically compliment me, so what is it that you REALLY want, Will?”
“Hmm…still remember my name and everything, but for some reason you couldn’t tell me you were just going to up and leave the country?? Exile yourself for the betterment of your goddamn self!” His voice began to raise and the truth of his emotions began to spill out as he stood in front of me seething in anger and eyeing me like I’d stolen something from him. And I knew I had…his heart.
“What was I supposed to do, Will? As soon as I saw him make the announcement I knew I had to do…something…but I could not stay there! My father told me this was going to happen when I was a little girl! I mean he KEPT SAYING IT!”
I paced and took a sip of brandy as I thought about how everything had manifested and people often called him a lunatic or conspiracy theorist that didn’t have his facts together. “
“He was one of the medical scientists on staff helping create the technology for all of this to even exist! And you expected me not to believe him?? To just go along with everything? After all that I know? HOW COULD YOU EVEN SHOW UP HERE AFTER ALL OF THAT??” I screamed slamming my glass down in frustration.
“It never mattered Cassidy…we were getting married in two weeks…I didn’t care what was going on, what I had to do, or who I had to be just to be with YOU. It wasn’t supposed to be this bad…they told us all that it was this…simple…standard…for the greater America…procedure.” He didn’t even sound confident in his reasoning and I could hear fear in his voice. Just like everyone else I had helped, it was more than he ever bargained for.
I sighed and sat on the couch in exasperation. This was turning out to be quite a day.
I still hadn’t gone near him, finally deciding to ask the question I needed to know right now, besides all of the irrelevant side bar conversations about how I walked out on him.
“How did you find me?” I stammered. I finally calmed down enough to pull out another glass for him and poured him two large shots of Brandy. He had on an expensively tailored suit but he looked like shit. I could tell he hadn’t slept a wink in at least three days and eating had been out of the question.
He sat up straight and downed his Brandy in one gulp without even making a face from the strong taste of it moving down his throat. He eyed the glass in admiration and stared in my eye before answering.
“That’s pretty damn good. I see you still have excellent taste.” He licked his lips in reference to the liquor, but could quickly see in my face I was still patiently waiting for his answer to my inquiry.
“It wasn’t easy.” He shook his head and looked at me in amusement with that adorable grin. Then his face changed to sadness. “It’s like you truly…DIED Cassidy. No one could find any traces of you, the hospital knew nothing, your family…me.”
He began tearing up. “I thought the worst happened to you and that I’d never see you again.” My face remained unmoved by his tears and his emotions. “I still call your phone everyday, just to see if you’ll pick up..just once.”
His face became wet with tears and he hung his head like he was trying to desperately process my betrayal.
“I-I got a job…at the Pentagon about two years ago.” His breathing became heavy and he started to slump a little. I continued to stare into his face intently listening to the details carefully and weighing his words.
“They were there…conducting this worldwide search for you…this manhunt to find you by any means necessary once they…t-hey they heard…they heard.”
“Once they heard what?” I asked sternly. His speech was slurred and he tried to continue. “Once they heard you….weren’t dead…and what you…you were doing out heeeere.”
His beautiful face was sweating bullets now and he was slumped across the arm of the couch pointing at my face like a child.
“W-what’s happening to me? Cass….casss….ah shit.” He rolled off the couch like a hopeless drunk, hitting the floor with a hard thud as his eyes rolled into his head before going completely unconscious.
Will slowly blinked open his light brown eyes in confusion. He groaned and rolled his head to the right, processing everything around the room. His eyes finally became focused and landed on me in shock once he realized he was down in the darkness of my operating basement and tied to a chair because he’d obviously been drugged.
“Cassidy…WHAT THE FUCK??!!” He shouted in anger while he jerked his arms trying to break the military style rope ties that he’d never escape.
I reached in the back of my jeans and pointed my .45 right at his face with no emotion.
“Will…We’re going to try this again…how the hell did you find me and what are you doing here?” I asked slowly through gritted teeth.
“Cassidy, come on. Untie me! What is this? Why would I come here to harm you? I just really needed to know that you were ok! We haven’t heard shit about you in five years and this is the type of low you think I am??”
I swiftly brought my right foot up and kicked him dead in his chest so that he fell backwards in the chair. I stood over him while he winced in pain from hitting the back of his head on the cold tile floor.
“I won’t ask you again.” I stared straight into his eyes without blinking and slowly squatted over him waiting for him to tell the truth. I slowly put my pistol to his temple once again and made him realize the awareness of me not giving a fuck about his feelings right now.
“Cass…you’re in deep shit.” He stated with sad desperate eyes.
I instantly grew agitated.
“NO SHIT SHERLOCK! You think that you being here at all didn’t let me know that small fact? You came to find me because you were WORRIED?” I mocked his first statement.
“In fact, you’re wasting time and I already know what needs to be done.”
I cocked my gun back in one motion.
“Shit CASS!! CASS!! WAIT!!!” HE shouted while succumbing to flinching like a little bitch since he’d been here. All of that arrogance went right out of the window and I could see the purity of panic in his eyes.
“I-I don’t really work for the Pentagon…hell I don’t even work for the government, period, anymore. I lost my job…right after you disappeared and they figured out what you were doing…they thought I was involved in your escape…now I just work at the post office. The Survs ran up on me like three weeks ago when I was finishing my shift….started asking all of these crazy ass questions about you after you’d been gone for five years right on the exact date. Started talking all this shit about how they know you left me out to dry and asked if I knew where you were.”
I never lowered my gun and allowed him continue.
“They told me that they had a possible lead from someone about where you might be and knew that if they sent me, it’d be a better infiltration of your operation and that you’ve destroyed over hundreds of The Surveil-Eye 3000’s, damaging over 7 billion dollars worth of government property and helping other American citizens hideaway and leave the country once they want nothing to do with the chip. You’re all over the news in America, I mean that by the hour, check every flight and checkpoint type of shit. You’re on billboards, magazines, they talk about you on the radio…you’re the only one that performs the extraction…without death being the end result. Many others have attempted what you do, but they oftentimes hit the wrong vessel, or they send too much electric waves to the signal, causing damage to the brain. Cassidy, you’re the only successful extractor in the world right now and they’re still trying to figure out how you do it. You’re a terrorist and now they want you alive OR dead…they promised me a life of no worries and 5 million deposited right into my chip if I could somehow bring you back either way….”
His voice trailed off.
“I-I didn’t want to do it Cass…plus I knew you’d be too smart to see me show up and not think some crazy shit was going down! I begged -“
“SHUT UP!” I shut my eyes tightly. “So you still have the chip in your wrist? RIGHT NOW??!” I shouted in panic.
“Yeah…I mean…but I don’t-“
The buzzer began incessantly going off and I could see two men at the door on my cameras in uniform and obviously armed.
Will panicked when he eyed the screen. “That’s them! The Survs that came up on me!! OH SHIT!”
“OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR DOCTOR HARTLEY AND NO ONE GETS HURT!! WE KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!!! OPEN UP RIGHT…NOW!!
They continued to pound and buzz as my mind began springing into action.
I pulled out a large set of keys that were always in my pocket no matter what.
I grabbed my medical bag and began dropping in as many bandages, antibiotics, and operating tools as I could before grabbing another bag I’d already fully prepared and placed in the locked and hidden supply closet in the back.
“Cassidy! What the fuck? What are you doing??” Will yelled from the same position in the chair on the floor. “Just let me up, come on!”
I ignored his words and grabbed another bag that had everything else I needed; change of clothes, toiletries, another identity and passport. I slung everything over my shoulder and bolted past him.
“CAAAAAASSSS PLEASE!!” Will pleaded as I pulled out a book from what looked like a shelf against the wall filled with medical remedies and diagnosis. A secret narrow passageway opened in the wall and I stepped inside. Never even looking back at Will. I could still hear him screaming my name in agony after the door closed behind me and I executed my backup plan to get safety once again.
“Verd…what do you see?” Verd’s partner, Redman, cautiously stepped into Doctor Hartley’s home behind him.
“Hmmm…nice digs. Quite the art lover.” Verd sniffed around and eyed everything like a hound dog without saying a word. His sharp gray eyes rested on the two glasses sitting on the coffee table. He sniffed them and smelled the strong scent of brandy.
“They were here.” He icely stated before making his way down the hallway. His leathery face never displayed a smile and his job was the life he laid on the line for it. He pulled his damp coat around him and searched every corner for notes, files, paperwork…any clues as to what other locations she could possibly have as a set up.
She was clean and cautious with no traces of evidence, contacts, family photos, or anything personal.
“CAAAASSSSSS!!! PLEASE!!!” He could hear a male’s muffled shouting and searched for where it could be coming from.
Redman’s ears perked up. “Aye, that sounds like our guy.”
Redman was a rookie that was a little too excited about the mission for Verde’s liking but he admired his enthusiasm and how he only went by the book. His face was pudgy and he wasn’t in the best shape of his life to be a thirty-eight year old male in law enforcement, and his greasy black hair was graying and thinning, but Verde knew he was a quick thinker and an exceptional partner in Verde’s opinion. There were only the times when he made the most obvious statements and discoveries, like the one just spoken.
Verd rolled his eyes and made his way to the bedroom in the back, but turned quickly once he realized the sounds came from inside the bathroom. When he flung open the door everything looked normal, but he could hear the cries from behind the mirror over the sink. With great observation, he found a button near the most unbearable feminine products men usually wanted nothing to do with. An entire entryway opened and led to descending stairs and Verd quickly pulled his gun from it’s holster before creeping down to see what the commotion was.
Redman inched behind him and motioned for him to continue, letting him that he had him guarded from behind him.
Verde shook his head in disappointment and he lowered the gun once his eyes rested on Will being stuck on his back andhelplessly tied to a chair.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk…Mr. Fredrickson. What a mess we have here.”
Will’s eyes widened at the sight of them coming towards him.
“Look man…I told you that she’d be too smart for this shit and she’d know wassup when she saw my face! I tried!! I prom-”
“SSSSSSHHHHHHH.” Verde hushed him by gently placing the barrel of his gun to dark full his lips where his finger would be. Will’s eyes widened.
“Did you even get any information? Next moves? Anything we told you to do?”
“No, I mean, she drugged me as soon as I got here!”
Verd shook his head again and removed his hat from a head of graying sandy blonde hair.
“You fought a good fight for the service of your country Mr. Fredrickson…but I mean really…you’re a black, poor class, working mailman. And now you can add dumb ass to the list for actually taking the liquor she offered you. You drugged yourself.” He laughed in disgust. “Plus…Who the fuck would miss you?”
Will tightly closed his eyes. “Wait! WAIT MAN I-“
Verd quickly pulled the trigger, blasting Will’s head and what was left of it all over the floor.
He stared down at him a few moments and Redman looked on in shock but said nothing.
Comes with the job
Verde’s face become perturbed like he realized what he’d just done but began smiling.
“Sheesh…I’m pretty hungry Let’s grab something to eat.” He commented as he faced Redman and walked back up the stairs right past him. Redman shrugged and followed with a sigh. “I guess…when in Rome!”