Dark Fiction – A Stitch in Time Punishes Crime
Written By Casey Douglass
You are sat quietly in a train station, the distorted caterwauling of the announcement system informing you that aliens have invaded, that the country actually has a compassionate government, or more unbelievable lies, like the 10:30 train is running on time. It’s hard to tell what the damn thing says, so you just people watch, like you always do.
You realise there is a voice in your head telling you these things, but it informs you that you needn't worry, and it hopes that you will try to be more interested than scared. That’s it. Back to the people watching. Look!
A man in a business suit is striding across the tiled floor. Watch him. He looks a prick doesn’t he! Do you think he’s ramming his pretty personal assistant, the harassed looking woman bustling beside him? Oh look, he stumbled. She’s trying not to smile. How cute.
So what is so interesting I hear you wonder? The man was just invaded by another personality, just for the briefest of seconds. Do I have your curiosity? I expect I do.
You see, crime still exists hundreds of years from now. I am sure that will come as no surprise to you, an astute people watching person sitting on an uncomfortable plastic seat at a train station. But as in many things, the future has numerous new ways to deal with the less desirable parts of human nature. Serial killers are still the worst, people who would snuff out human life just because they want to, because it turns them on or gives them some feeling of power. Their punishment is the most severe. They are strapped into a chair that creates an M-field around them, sucking out their mental energy. This leaves the body pretty much dead, so it is recycled into MP’s notepaper as a reminder to keep them humble. This mental energy is injected into a quantum cell that... oh why bother explaining it all! The mental energy is sent back through time at one second intervals, to inhabit another’s body for the briefest of moments.
That might sound barbaric for the visited body but tests confirmed that they have little awareness of the visit, and some rather complicated algorithms stop the personality invading the body of anyone in a precarious position, such as a bomb defusal expert or a fan about to shake hands with a reality TV star. The fact that the invasion lasts only a second also safeguards against the criminal taking action that could harm the person being inhabited.
Why do it? I hear you thinking. Imagine being sent back in time, starting minutes away from your mental transfer, and going back years and years and years, only spending one second in each body. The assault on the mental faculties alone turns most of the punishees into gibbering wrecks within only hours of the punishment starting.
They do have set sentences however, and the final body that they possess will be one of their victims, chosen according to a variety of factors, so that they can experience themselves killing through another’s eyes. Even when half mad, they will know it, and know it in style. When the victim dies, they die, therefore ending their sentence.
Before you ask “Why doesn't someone from the future stop the crimes?” it’s all very complicated, causality and whatnot. If we could, we would, be assured of that. This punishment seems to carry little effect into the course of events, someone stumbles or almost drops something, then they move on with their lives. The algorithms are good at selecting who gets targeted.
Oh, yes I did say “We” didn’t I. You are a clever one! Yes I am from the future, and yes, I’ve been a naughty chap.
More than a second you say? It’s been at least a few minutes by my reckoning. Guess who has figured out a way to roam where he pleases? Go on, you are the clever one after all...