The Deputy

(From the forthcoming collection of short stories – Canadian Tales of Passion & Aggression)

The day was grey and wet and reminiscent of the mood in the oppressive meeting room hidden under a drab stone building in the heart of Ottawa, Canada.

A dozen somewhat curious civil servants had gathered in the windowless room that had not been used since the Japanese precognitive nightmares of 1945. One thing that had piqued curiosity was that the minister was sitting at the head of the table with the deputy minister to his right. This had never happened before. The minister never led meetings…at least none of substance. The minister led meetings in bright cheery locales where the media was present. The minister led periodic “buckle down” and “good job” meetings with staff where numerous platitudes were poured forth. The minister left the hard work to the deputy minister and staff who cataloged and dutifully filed verified instances of supernatural occurrences within the boundaries of Canada.

Staff would look for trends and predictive curves to feed to other departments to assist in decision making but otherwise the job was not nearly as exciting as one would think a job in the Ministry of Supernatural Occurrences would be. There were no vampires, sparkling or otherwise; no werewolves or monsters of any kind. There was the odd ghost poised ominously in a window but they never spoke…they just remained as silent witnesses to the living.

Something was up to be sure.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the minister began, “something is up.”

All eyes were on the deputy minister who’s barely perceptible head-shake refocused the room on the minister who chose to ignore the breach of protocol.

“I am here in this capacity because the Supernatural Emergency Measures Act has been engaged.”

The minister’s announcement was met with stunned silence. SEMA had never been engaged. It was a running joke in the ministry that the act would never be engaged because no one outside of the ministry even knew about the act. Nevertheless it had been and now the person leading the meeting was not merely MOSO but in fact the most powerful person in the country.

“Over the years our statistics division has been periodically working the archives for various trends,” he began. “Of course we’ve had some luck in preparing for major natural disasters and the odd political disaster as well…but this…this is something different. This is an emergence of sorts and we are baffled about how to respond.”

With a nod to his right the deputy minister took over with the meat of the matter as it were.

“Over the past year our stats division has been running some new numbers and we have uncovered two major groups within the population who appear to have significant psychic abilities,” she said.

“What kind ma’am?” An innocent question asked without thought, in a moment of tension.

“Well of course I am getting to that aren’t I Smith or else why would we all be here?” It was a curt response, strained and to the point and it silenced all other potential questions leaving the room in silence as the deputy continued.

“Stats has uncovered a group of people who have the ability to predict and know the feelings of others without necessarily having any interaction with these people whatsoever,” she said. “We are calling them Psychic Empaths. “Generally speaking it seems as if the PE’s do not even know they have this ability as it seems to operate beneath their consciousness informing their response to the people and the world around them. I’ve asked Leery to take over at this point.”

Leery was in fact Tindle Leery, head of stats division, a predictably bookish man of pudgy features and thick glasses with a near tropical forest of back hair pushing well above the confines of his shirt collar warding off potential friends and acquaintances.

“We began running an algorithm on various conversations that we have been recording in over the past thirty years and started noticing a frightening and exciting trend,” Leery began. “Mostly the conversations that piqued our interest were between lovers in outdoor terraces and cafes over lunch, but the same phenomenon has showed itself in workplace discussions, living room and bedroom conversations and throughout email and social media.”

“Tell-tale signs are the Psychic Empath are sentences that begin with phrases like “You’ve never felt” or “You always feel” or “I know you don’t want/need/love” etc. and so on in this fashion. We are theorizing that the PE moment is driven by a deep seated anger that acts as fuel for the actual predictive moment wherein the PE unleashes a stream of facts about the target individual’s internal emotional state that the PE cannot possibly know. Currently our analysts are estimating that nearly a third of Canadians exhibit this skill and by extrapolation the rest of the planet as well.”

“Good God!” It was Smith again.

“Good or not it is happening Smith. Keep your exuberance to yourself. Tell them the rest Leery,” the deputy pressed.

“Of course ma’am,” Leery said and continued. “Our study of the PE has revealed a counterpart psychic population. It is the PE who identifies this group in their own psychic outbursts. Ironically the counterpart is almost always the person with whom the PE is exercising their talent on. The PE reveals that the counterpart or someone they have been conversing with has been emotionally changing and manipulating the PE or someone the PE is close to. Tell-tale signs include statements that begin with “You make me feel” or “You make him/her feel” or the shorter “You make me so”. Each sentence is followed by an emotional attachment or state. We have dubbed this group the Emotional Telekinetic for their uncanny ability to reach into the minds of others and literally make them lose control of themselves and feel certain emotions…they are often oblivious to this talent and we believe they are by far the most dangerous of the two groups. Again we estimate at least a third of the population is ET.”

‘What are we going to do!” It was Smith again…he had come unhinged and was clearly on the verge of panic. “We have to respond to this before it gets out of hand. We need to engage the pharmaceutical companies for assistance…perhaps the Americans can assist! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?!?!”

‘THAT IS ENOUGH SMITH!” The shrill voice of the deputy had cut through Smith’s and silenced him like a bullet. “You need to leave this room and return when you are capable of managing your emotions.”

Smith was seething as he slowly gathered his papers together all the while mumbling under his breath.

“What’s that Smith?” asked the deputy. “Come now, share it with the rest of us.”

“You always do this!” Smith unloaded with a look of fiery loathing directed at the deputy. “You make me so angry and you know it. I know you do…you want me to leave this department, you’ve wanted it from day one…don’t deny it!”

The deputy looked at Smith calmly and reached forward, pressing and holding the button on the table intercom.

“Security we have one,” she stated. “We have a PE here in our room…activate emergency protocol 1.”

Immediately the sound of running could be heard in the corridor outside while Smith stood in shock. The doors burst open revealing four armed security guards who strode toward Smith to whom the deputy pointed.

“That’s him,” she stated. “Take him and hold him until he can be properly interrogated. The rest of the room looked on in stunned silence while Smith screamed as he was being dragged out.

“You know I’m right about her,” he said to his peers. “You know you have said the same thing to me!”

But no one said anything as he was led away. The ramifications of what just happened and who the deputy was were clear now.

“Shall we discuss our response plan now,” the deputy said cheerily.

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