The Register - Part Two
By Neil Vogler
The worst thing I ever did was allow the name Dudley Aimes to go on the police’s Precognitive Abilities Register.
It’s three twenty-eight AM. I wait on my bed with a coffee and try to read a book, some detective thing. The problem is, the novel’s predictable. All versions of this novel were always predictable, in every possible permutation it could have had.
There’s a knock at the door.
Come in, I say, putting the book to one side. It’s already open.
The man who enters my open-plan apartment is very thin, pale, and has thick black wavy hair that looks like it could be made out of wool. He likes black; the sweeping, long leather jacket, the trousers, and his jumper are all the same deep shade. I myself dislike black. Such an overused, underwhelming colour.
My bed can be seen from the front door. I sit up, lazily, and motion my guest to come further inside.
I see you knew I was coming, the man says. He shuts the door and fixes large, watery dark eyes on me. Name’s Zuniger.
I had an idea you might be turning up, I reply.
My visitor places his hands behind his back and begins to pace. You know I’m a five, he says. I’m the highest-scoring five they’ve ever had.
I nod. That must be nice for you.
You’re a three, he says, pausing and staring at me again. Threes generally aren’t very sharp. So you knew I was coming. Do you know what I’m going to say?
You’re the five, I answer. Why don’t you tell me how I’m going to respond to that question?
Let’s not play games. I’m not one of the dullards from the station. Ambrose is in a coma. We both know you put him there.
The way I understand it, Maccaferty put him there.
My guest smiles coldly.
I’ll tell you what I know, Zuniger says. Threes see the future, but they see fixed points. They see one future. Fives see all possible futures. The way you acted today --and the way you let things play out – suggests to me that you are not a three. It seems clear that you have lied, that you have deliberately underplayed your ability level. There are severe penalties for such actions.
I see. And what do you want to do about that? I ask.
Zuniger is frozen in position.
I think you’re a five. All the fives work for me, directly. When we reclassify you, I’ll oversee your workload in tandem with you. And, when you play ball and behave, I’ll help you refine your abilities even further.
Again, I nod. Job offers in the dead of night. Whatever next?
We stare at one another. Zuniger’s eyes bore into mine. Undoubtedly, he’s seeing all of my possible reactions right now.
The thing is, I begin after a pause, I’m not much of one for working hard –
Zuniger’s already moving, already drawing his gun and squeezing the trigger. He shoots a metre to my right, then a metre above my head, then a metre to the left.
I simply sit there motionlessly whilst the gun goes off and bullets bury themselves in the plaster.
Nice try, I say after a moment. But I want you to know something.
I stand up. I’m not a three, and I’m not a five.
Zuniger is suddenly horrified. The look of realisation on his face is priceless.
I’m a six, I admit, walking towards him. I’m just a very, very lazy six who likes to drink and would rather be left alone.
I stop when I’m an inch from his face, and the barrel of his gun is buried deep into my stomach. I look him in the eye. He’s sweating. He doesn’t sweat easily, so I find this quite satisfying.
You’re not supposed to exist, Zuniger whispers, his eyes wide.
Well I do. You say you see all possible futures, Zuniger. The difference is, I see you seeing them. I see you picking your preferred futures from the variables on offer. And because I see you in the act of picking, I know what future you’re trying to bring about before you do.
Slowly, I step away from him, and I go and sit back on my bed. ...Tweet