Philip Hamm

The following transcript was taken in the case of the State v Jason Runner 3.1.173. The detective in charge was Commander David Finch (Registered Neuropoliceman 25001) assisted by Sergeant James Harris (Reg. N.P. 44001). Judge Malcolm Madison (2841) presiding.

"Seismic monitors have picked up unusual movements in Apartment 30034 Block A51."

"Go to Stage One, Harris, and monitor the video traffic."

"Already done; the suspect has been communicating with students and colleagues in the Education Department."

"He's a teacher? What's he saying to his students?"

"Nothing that could be interpreted as radical so far; transcripts reveal he's been down-loading the correct assignments with no embellishments and no additional help."

"Keep watching; he might be sending subliminal messages."

"There's some evidence of sarcasm but the emotive content is within parameters."

"Check the students; see if they're reacting normally."

"There are ten currently engaged in the History Units."

"What do the achievement statistics show?"

"They're all meeting Government targets... There's something else in the records..."

"Let's hear it..."

"Three other students went off-line in the last month. Two of them have been sedated and the third is undergoing an evaluation for psychosis."

"Why wasn't the teacher a suspect?"

"There was nothing to indicate he influenced them in any way. The Case Officer put the failures down to hormonal stress and administered a regime of corrective drugs."

"'Hormonal stress', that's just code for 'he didn't know'. Do a deeper analysis of the teaching units. Look for any fingerprints in the core programmes where he might have altered the facts and tried to cover the evidence. What's his name?"

"Jason Runner... He has previous for a minor infringement of the rules on 10.1.172..."

"So I see; he failed to issue Unit 103 on the anti-democracy laws."

"It was picked up by the Education Department and he was suspended for five days without privileges..."

"Was it deliberate or a neglect of duty?"

"He's down for neglect; he claims he was unwell and unable to inform the Education Department. It was a minimum sentence and the Department didn't think it important enough to inform us."

"I wonder... Have the security tags on any of the files been changed in the last few months?"

"There was an up-grade last month..."

"For what purpose...?"

"Some of the older units were removed from the curriculum."

"Was Runner aware that these changes could have been taking place?"

"He must have been, Commander, they were under his purview."

"Did he request their removal?"

"There's no name on the record."

"The security would have been down while the old files were removed. Sergeant, do a comparison of existing history units with those that we have in storage, see if there are any differences between them...

"...Commander, we have an anomaly in History Unit 478... There's been a change in the Second American Revolution section: the word 'repressed' has been added..."

"In what context...?"

"'The Freedom Fighters of the Sumter Revolution repressed the subjects loyal to the president and persuaded them to join the new America."

"What should it read?"

"According to our version it should say 'corrected'..."

"He tampered with the records while the security was down. We need to reconsider the impact he's been having on his students. If he's trying to imply State coercion and possible links to torture then he needs to be stopped before he damages more young minds. We need to go to Stage Two immediately; I'll instruct Judge Madison and get him to authorise the internal surveillance to monitor the situation... Judge..."

"Commander Finch, how can I help you?"

"We had a minor disturbance in a seismic detector and need permission to go into the subject's internal surveillance to monitor the situation."

"One what grounds?"

"He's a teacher and he's on record for a minor violation last year. We did a sweep of his systems and found an anomaly in one of his teaching units. He changed the wording of one of the history units while the security was down and my suspicion is he's going to do it again."


"I think he might be trying to circumvent the filters and download new programmes. We need to see what he's doing; the seismic activity could be his attempt to access the mainline directly."

"He could be moving furniture..."

"But if he isn't... Three children are under psychiatric care already... We need to look at his personal files to either confirm or deny he's subverting the system."

"That sounds like reasonable grounds. I'll send you the authorisation code now..."

"Sergeant, we have access..."

"Visuals on-line... What a mess... There's evidence of extreme anxiety in the living room... He's tried to barricade the front door... The carpet tiles are up in the teaching room, what do you think he's trying to do, find an alternative route out?"

"No Sergeant, I think he's looking for the junction box to the communications link."

"One of the student monitors has been broken. That's a clear violation of Government Property..."

"Getting access to his personal files... He's been altering a number of units. He's changed the word 'pioneer' to 'despot', 'fair and equitable' to 'corrupt and unjust' and he's added the word 'alleged' to the unit on the Super Virus of 2142. These are clear semantic field violations... Judge Madison..."

"Commander Finch, what have you found?"

"It looks as though he's been re-writing the history texts and is about to break into the communications link to down-load them directly to his students."

"Let me review the evidence. Where is the subject at the moment?"

"Harris, where's Runner?"

"Asleep in the bedroom..."

"Give me a brief run-down of what he's been writing..."

"Yes Judge: It seems like a series of propositions contrary to the truth. He's suggesting the Sumter Revolution was against the interests of the people; the S.V. threat wasn't real and the constitution has been changed to allow violations of human rights rather than to preserve them..."

"Standard perpetration of disinformation; very well, I give you permission to go to Stage Three while I log the case and prepare the ruling."

"Thank you Judge."

"Commander Finch...?"

"Yes Harris...?"

"The suspect is getting up."

"We have Stage Three clearance: Introduce the nano-psychs into his water supply and let me know when he's sedated."

"He's going straight to the kitchen... He's drinking... He's going back to the bedroom..."

"Did you introduce the nano-psychs in time? Do we have a signal?"

"Telemetry coming through now..."


"Brain activity on-line... It's reading slightly above normal... Shall we introduce the hallucinogens?"

"As soon as you can Sergeant; let's hear what he has to say for himself. Microphone on-line... Mister Runner, can you hear me?"

"Who's that?"

"I'm a detective Mister Runner. You've got some explaining to do..."

"I don't want to say anything..."

"Never-the-less you will Mister Runner; we've introduced nano-psychs into your bloodstream. You won't be able to lie or harm yourself in any way. We just want to hear your version of what you think you're trying to achieve."

"I was trying to tell the truth."

"To whom, Mister Runner?"

"My students... The world..."

"What truth is that...?"

"This system is corrupt."

"How can that be Mister Runner; you have everything you want: food, shelter, a job... Why do you want to lose all that?"

"It's not enough."

"That's just being greedy. If we all thought like you there wouldn't be 'enough' for everyone..."

"It's not natural..."

"What isn't...?"

"Being stuck here in this apartment, nobody to talk to, and all on my own..."

"You can talk on-line to anybody in the world, isn't that enough?"

"What about contact? I want to be with people and not just see them on a screen."

"But you know that's how the Super Virus was spread; you're the historian, you know how it nearly wiped us all out. Why would you want to risk all our lives by suggesting we should breathe on each other again?"

"Because I don't believe there was a virus..."

"Of course there was a virus, Mister Runner, the evidence is only too clear..."

"That's your evidence; mine is different."

"How do you know that?"

"From my own research into Public Records; it shows the death rate is still above the level of natural loss. The virus couldn't still be killing people thirty years on so I looked into the real causes of death; our isolation is killing us, Mister Detective."

"But you found no evidence to suggest the virus never existed?"

"But I didn't find any to suggest it did, either. Instead I found bits and pieces about the Sumter Revolution that suggests they created the myth of the virus to get political control over us..."

"Perhaps you misinterpreted the data. More importantly, how were you able to access those records; they're way above your level of clearance?"

"I managed to get a pass. I was going to claim I needed it for statistical evidence because I was planning to use it in a new unit for the students..."

"That's a clear breach of your licence to teach, were you not made aware of those parameters when you applied for the pass?"

"I didn't apply. I was sent the pass by an anonymous sympathiser."

"Sergeant Harris, examine the postal record for any unexplainable deliveries... Mister Runner, how did this 'sympathiser' make contact?"

"He didn't."

"Then how was he aware of your interest in the Public Records?"

"He must have heard about my suspension for refusing to propagate the lie about democracy."

"You mean your illegal tampering with the curriculum?"

"It was only one unit..."

"...For which you were suspended for five days. How did that feel? No access to the web, no hot food, minimal heating and lighting..."

"Not good..."

"Why would you risk that again over a few unfounded statistics?"

"I don't believe the system is just..."

"'Just' what, Mister Runner...?"


"Your accommodation and all you enjoy is provided for you and for free, how is that 'unfair'?"

"We should be allowed to make our own decisions."

"...Like whether or not to spread the Super Virus and kill each other?"

"But I don't believe there is an S.V."

"You know that for certain?"


"There you have it Mister Runner; if you're not sure then why risk it?"

"I'd rather die out there than be stuck in here for the rest of my life."

"Suicide is a crime Mister Runner. I should warn you that I'm authorised to take any measures necessary to prevent you from harming yourself."

"It would be my decision..."

"And you're convinced it's the right one...?"

"I'd rather be dead than trapped in this cell for a moment longer."

"Commander, the nano-psychs are beginning to wear off..."

"Thank you Harris, I think we have everything we need. Closing link... Judge Madison...?"

"Have you got the evidence?"

"Yes sir, more than enough. Request permission for Stage Four; he's made a clear threat to his own life."

"In what way...?"

"He wants to leave his apartment. He made a statement of intent that he will attempt suicide if he stays there any longer."

"Very well, cut off all communication with the outside and apply the sedatives to his food and water supply. That's the fifth one this week, Finch, have you found a cause?"

"The prisoner made a reference to an accomplice. Somebody is leaking disinformation across the system."

"You'd better track them down quickly. If this goes on for much longer we'll have an epidemic on our hands."


© 2006 by Philip Hamm

Bio: Philip Hamm says, "I am currently a lecturer in English Literature and American History at a college in the UK. My other stories published on the web include ‘The Great Barnooli’s Wedding Reception’, ‘Around the World in 80 minutes’ and ‘Ivory Tower’. I’m working on a series of science fiction/fantasy novels but keep getting distracted by the need to create maps and diagrams of every little thing so I imagine I’ll be old and grey before they see the light of publication." 'Neuropol' is a sequel of sorts to Libertas Scriptor (Aphelion, September 2005).

E-mail: Philip Hamm

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