Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
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The Problem With Gibson

by Dave Weaver

Daniels saw Gibson at the bar, clutching his bourbon like it was a long lost friend. The guy looked a wreck both mentally and physically with a complexion whiter than his raincoat.

"Buy you a drink, Mr Gibson?" Daniels signalled the barman.

"You know who I am? Lemme guess, IRS? State Department?"

He sunk this double in one gulp.

"I take it your winning streak came to an end?" Daniels asked.

"The front cover of Life didn't help. Big rollers all know me now, can't even get a regular job."

"Guess you're still bitter about what the last administration did to you. They ruined your life."

Gibson looked around at the seedy bar. "D'ya think?"

"Can't have progress without breaking a few eggs though..."

"Yeah? Well I ain't no fucking omelette!"

He got shakily off his stool. Daniels put out a hand. "Whoa there buddy! I'm on your side. Those bastards offered you peanuts in compensation. I'd want to get my own back, maybe make a few bucks...?"

Gibson's eyes sharpened. "You some kinda spook?"

"I work for the Governor, our next president."

Gibson snorted but the other put a conspiratorial arm around his shoulder.

"What's it like being able to read peoples' future thoughts, Gibson? I saw your file, must give you one helluva reach on the other guy. Or gal?" He winked. "To know what someone's gonna think or say before they do?"

"What's it like? Nobody talks to me anymore! I've lost my buddies, my girl, even my folks."

"So try it on me. What am I..."

"You're fretting about your pet cat, 'Ronnie'." Gibson cut in. "You live on your own, he's old, you're afraid he's gonna die real soon..."

"OK, ok... Jesus! So what happened, some kinda scientific screw-up wasn't it?

"Nanobotic Thought Surgery. You said you'd seen my file."

"Didn't say I understood it."

"I wanted to be a healer." Gibson gave a defeated shrug. "But the little buggers kept corrupting. Left me like this."

Daniels gave him a long look. "Tell me, Gibson. What do you think of the Governor?"

Gibson smiled sarcastically. "I guess he's a chip off the old block."

Daniels nodded. "That's our problem. But we need a good man in the White House after we got shot of that last guy."

"Unfortunate choice of words."

"But accurate. Like that bullet."

"Are you saying...?"

"I ain't saying nothing Gibson, but now its our turn. The New Republican Party will lead our nation back to God, with the right people making the right decisions. We need a man of your 'talents' to help us. Let me explain; the Governor tends to say things without thinking them through, little errors the press use to make him look an idiot."

"Not difficult."

"He's gonna do a series of one-on-one live debates with that do-gooder bastard Robson. It's going global so we can't mess up."

"And you need some kinda...'control mechanism'."

"Read my thoughts exactly." Daniels told him.


The brightly lit hall was full to bursting, lined wall to wall by dark-suited security men with severe haircuts. A bank of cameras sat in front of a stage holding two podiums with autocues.

Daniels stood with Gibson in the aisle. He pointed to a reserved seat.

"You can do it from there?"

"No problem." Gibson replied.

"Just read his mind and give him a little warning when he starts to think off-message. The electrodes we've placed in his head will administer a small shock to his synapses. You have the remote button in your pocket. Got it?"

"Don't let the Governor say anything stupid."

"In one. I'll be over there." Daniels pointed. "Don't fuck-up, Gibson."

The two candidates entered to applause and the debate began. Robson made his opening remarks then waited for the Governor's reply.

"All very laudable I'm sure, Senator Robson, but welfare reform costs tax dollars. Our many enemies demand that we create a stronger military presence..." He faltered. His head twitched. "A stronger..." It twitched again, violently. "I mean..." The Governor's arms began to jerk then his right leg kicked out, knocking over the podium. The autocue crashed and broke. He fell to the floor like a demented marionette as the spasmodic dance continued. People began to laugh.

Daniels rushed over to Gibson's empty seat. He found him at the bar, getting drunk.

"What the hell...? You're in big trouble buddy!"

"I just pushed for every lame-brained god-fearing piece of reactionary crap in his head." Gibson smiled at him. "The people deserve to see what they're getting."

"The people...? You know what your problem is, Gibson?" Daniels roared at him, summoning security. "You're just too damn...democratic!"


© 2010 Dave Weaver

Bio: Dave Weaver is a graphic designer living in St Albans. He is a member of the Verulam Writer's Circle. Dave's 'Finding Uncle' short story was published in Hert's University's 'Visions' anthology. His most recent Aphelion appearance was Blow-up, November 2009.

E-mail: Dave Weaver

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