He taught me how to read people’s eyes — how they dart side to side, if tears become waterfalls. “If you read carefully, you can peel back the layers to their story — any story — and find where the fabrication starts and the truth ends.” The Lithograph Method, as the doctor called it, was stage one of my training, and he called it such because extracting the truth from body language was like making prints of repeated patterns. “This gentleman has a history of violence and uses anger as a distraction. If you combine that disposition with his propensity to steer the conversation away from the topic at hand, the probability is one-to-one — a one hundred percent chance he is lying. It is our job to extract information by any means necessary.”

I looked a the man through the force-field. He seemed naturally unassuming with his hands folded on the table, right hand on top of the left with thumbs crossed. At that moment, his eyes scanned the room in our general direction. As he swallowed, a large bulge glided down the front of his throat.

“You look parched. Can I offer you a glass of water?” A robotic voice rang out between the two rooms.

The man looked around the room, to the ceiling, under the table. “Water?” he asked.

“That is correct. Would you care for some added electrolytes? They can replenish salinity levels.” The robot spoke again.

The man was still confused. “Yes?”

A curved black line drew itself on the table and then depressed, leaving a cylindrical impression. From it rose a clear glass, filled almost to the brim with water. The table reconnected itself. “Here is the water you requested, distilled and infused with electrolytes. Please enjoy your hydration.”

He stared at it, peering into its transparent glass. He flicked it and the water rippled.

“Interesting,” the doctor scribbled into his light pad, the golden holographic words appearing in the air. “Suspect is exhibiting atypical behavior, projecting fear and confusion to cover up his fabrications. He appears to be trying to influence our interrogation process.” He pressed his palms together and the writing disappeared.

I looked at the man again, focusing on his eyes. “AGNES, can you magnify by 200, mid-range?”

“Of course, Sela.”

A screen appeared in the middle of the force-field, cropped from the top of the man’s shoulders to the tallest hairs on his head. Discoloration made the bottom of his eyes look heavy. His mouth was slightly agape and down-turned, brows upturned with eyes stretched wide. “AGNES, can you cross reference his simulacrum with stock humanoid photos? Keywords: confusion, fear, panic.”

“Analyzing now.”

Within seconds, the computer’s results appeared to the right of the magnified screen with almost identical faces. “Results match original with 99.9% accuracy.”

“The suspect appears to be acting — not part of his MO, but not unheard of for criminals to change their patterns. Let’s begin.” The doctor stepped to the left, lifted his index and pinky finger with the others curled under and drew an imaginary line straight down. A black door frame appeared in the forcefield and he walked through, myself a few steps behind. The man shook the table, knocking over the glass. The table absorbed both the water and glass. His eyes darted from us to the table, back and forth. He jumped up and pointed at us.

“You. How did you do that?”

“Do what, exactly?” the doctor responded.

“Open the field. There was a whole field just there, with trees and grass, and even some birds, and then it just opened up, right there.”

“You are referring to the two-way force-field. We can place soothing images on your side, to help relax your body and calm your mind, while we observe you from the other side. Scenes like trees and green grass, more commonly known as springtime, have been proven to have a psychologically calming effect, hence why is most commonly used for interrogations.”

“Forcefield? You mean like a two-way mirror?”

“If you are referring to the ancient observation system used by detectives in the 21st century, then you are correct. It was the precursor.”

The man sat down, his breath held tight in his chest. “Ancient? What year is this?”

“2,563.” I chimed in.

The man steadied himself against the table.

“You are Edison Bryn, are you not?”

“No! My name is Robert Townsend.”

His eyes told a story of truth. The computer did not account for the missing .1%.


19 thoughts on “Interrogation

  1. Oh this is cool! That shows you how accurate their analysis is. Townsend was honestly confused, but their assumptions led them to believe he engaged in deceit. I liked the flow of this. It moved through all the points that built this world so smoothly. Very easy and pleasant to read. You kept me interested throughout.

  2. I loved this story and the delightful twist. I could picture it so clearly, which is great considering its an unfamiliar world – your descriptions were spot on πŸ™‚

  3. I love sci-fi! Not only did I like the strange, perhaps Orwelian world you where hinting at, but the time-traveling suspect was a nice twist. Awesome post.

    1. Thank you! I grew up on everything and anything to do sci-fi, so it tends to show up in a lot of my writing. Not so much for the challenges, but in my longer works.

  4. Very cool! I love the world you’ve built here – and I would love to know more about what they were doing and why. Not to mention how Robert Townsend ended up in the wrong place (and the wrong time!). Very creative use of the prompts! πŸ™‚

  5. I admire how imaginative this post is. You created a complete and believable scene of the future of police work. Now I’m going to work out what AGNES is an acronym for!

  6. Really imaginative use of the prompts, S.J. I particularly enjoyed the use of the force field. The ending leaves me wanting more. How did Robert Townsend end up here? And where is “here,” exactly? And who is Edison Bryn? Nice work!

  7. Really cool vision of the future, and the story definitely left me wanting to know more. Who is Townsend and how did he get there, clearly out of his comfort zone. Nice work!

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