Stories from Refuge – 58 – “They started spreading rumors right away.”

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report C-14, interview with Tee 68A, recorded by Beatrice 75C
RY 100.9.26

I lied about my age. That wasn’t really my fault. They put me in Confinement after the Revolution, not in the paramania ward with the rest of the Empaths, but in a solitary cell in Criminal. I was trained by PsyOp but they never deployed me, so when Civil Council undid everything to reassign people, they thought maybe I wasn’t like the rest of that older generation of Empaths, maybe they could do something with me, but they needed to check me to make sure. They needed to keep me away from the influence of people like Richard and Cleo. Then they cleared me but they thought other people wouldn’t buy it, because of my age. I trained with some of the last Empaths under the old Government. So I said I was born in 76 instead of 68.

I said I never worked with Richard, either. That was kind of a lie, too. He had his eye on me when I started training. I don’t know why. He scared me.

All right, I do know why. I just don’t want to talk about it.

When the Reconciliation Council started they figured they could assign me here. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea – the Council, I mean. Having people get up here and talk about all the things that went wrong, all the bad things that happened, it just seems like trouble. I know James and Mary talk about how important it is, how it’s changing people’s lives, and I don’t know. Even Beatrice – you don’t talk about it much, and I can’t get a really good read on you, but I think you believe it, too. But I don’t know. It’s probably better if people just move on, put it behind them and forget and try to move on.

What? Why is everyone upset all of a sudden? No – no, that’s not what I mean. I didn’t make anyone forget. Look, here’s what happened. They put this headset on me and sent me out to get a living unit in 11d. I thought that was a lousy idea, calling attention to me being an Empath like that. If they wanted to disguise me, change my age to make me look more innocent, then don’t tell everyone I’m an Empath. My neighbors didn’t trust me. They started spreading rumors right away, like every time someone got upset about something, every time someone had a nightmare, they’d blame it on me. I tried to tell them the whole point of the headsets was to keep me from projecting but it didn’t help. Then it came out that some Empath wrote a letter to the Reconciliation Council admitting that she’d deleted people’s memories, and everything went to hell. I had to start sneaking home at night after curfew. One time I got up too late in the morning, everyone was up and about already, and I had to take this thing off and project at my neighbors to ignore me.

Yeah, okay, that was bad. That’s a violation of the Orders on Ethics. I’m probably getting in trouble for that. I’m probably headed right back to Criminal.

Just don’t put me back in with Richard. I didn’t try, I didn’t want to me good at the things he wanted me to do. Sure, it was easy for me to make people do things, even Empaths. I could get in under their defenses and scare them, really easily. Richard could break another Empath but it took him a long time. I heard that Bee held out for six hours before he got her to dislocate her shoulders. I never got to go up against Bee – she scared me, too – but I got into Kay’s head and gave her nightmares for weeks. I hear she’s got paramania now, she’s sedated, and I wonder if she’s still having those nightmares. I wonder if I did that to her, pushed her over the edge so she’s sick now. I didn’t even want to do it in the first place.

Alright. That’s a lie, too. I wanted to be good at something. Instead I just got in trouble. PsyOp never deployed me because of that. They couldn’t trust me, either.

©2017 Michelle M. Welch

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