“Thank you for coming, please take a seat,” the interviewer said without looking up.
I wondered how many people she’d seen today. It was a game of numbers after all. Finding the perfect candidate. You just had to look into enough futures and eventually you get a great match.
I sat on the rigid white chair beside her silver desk. She looked at a tablet, shook her head, and dropped it in a hole marked ‘reject'. She grabbed a new one and looked at me for the first time. Her eyes were intense and blue. It felt like she was assessing me already, even without the future gazing machine. I thought she could see right through me.
“You’ve thumbed the pre-interview terms and conditions. So, why don’t we get down to business, shall we?” she said.
I nodded. Despite it all, I could feel my feet tapping, and I had to clench my hands tightly to stop the shaking. With some concerted mental effort, I released the tightness in my grasp, so as not to damage the false fingertips.
“Please confirm your name and date of origin.”
“Kian Sanders. Origin date, May the 3rd, 2316.”
She handed me the duller.
“No, thank you,” I said.
She furrowed her eyebrows, like a ripple on a serene lake. “You don’t want the anaesthetic pill?”
“I prefer honesty and pain rather than delusion.”
I rubbed my arm, trying to distract myself from my own lie. It wasn’t going to be painful for me, not today. Maybe other times. But today I just needed to fool the FGM. I couldn’t do that if I was not fully lucid.
“Please tell me you’ve done it before?” she asked.
“Yes, of course.”
Her face returned to tranquillity. “Alright then,” she said. "I’m not sure if I’m impressed or concerned.” She laughed a sudden and unnatural laugh.
I realised she must have been nervous. Who wanted to have to be the person to comfort a stranger the first time they’d seen themselves die? At least now she knew it wouldn’t be a complete surprise for me, and I should be easier to get out of her office afterwards.
“Place your hand in the gauntlet, and your face in the mask of the FGM.”
My heart pounded. It didn’t matter if I was found out, not really. Worst case scenario was being thrown out of the corporation. There were other employments. Black market opportunities. But nothing with the pay or perks that Crania offered. This was plan A. It was everything I’d ever dreamed of. And I’d been working on this deception for years. Testing enough black market bloods to find the right one. Testing enough second hand FGMs to understand how to cheat the system.
I put my hand in the gauntlet. The metal was cold on my skin. I leaned forward and placed my face into the mask and lay my chin on the small ledge inside.
“Focus your gaze on the time dot.”
I relaxed my gaze and peered deep into the mask and made out the time dot.
“Capture in five seconds.”
A needle stung my finger. The machine needed blood to work. The DNA from your cells. An identity thing. Make sure it had the real you. I could only hope it didn’t go deeper than the false fingertips.
Light from the dot leaped forward and pierced my eyes like lances. I was awash with images of the future. I had to focus and not let the machine detect any confusion from me. That was it. As simple as cheating a lie detector. If I rejected the images, then it would reject me too.
The images were not of me. But of the man who provided the blood sample. He had the brightest future of any I’d tested. And he was doing well in these future images. He had great rapport with clients and colleagues. He had fantastic ideas in boardroom meetings. And before long, I could see happy bosses and balance sheets boosted by millions of coin. Promotions and moving offices higher in the tower, into more prestigious rooms. Then, he was CEO after ten years. He oversaw several hostile takeovers. And led Crania to be a dominant monopoly. It was a little too good. I hoped she’d believe it.
The visions kept going. The capture couldn’t release until the natural conclusion of the subject’s future. The duller would have numbed this part. But I saw it. A year from retirement. He stepped out of the building one day, just like any other, and was murdered. A man whose face was contorted by rage. Maybe a jilted colleague or a rival. The face looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. It didn’t worry me too much. Neither person was me.
I slumped back in the chair feeling light headed. I thought I might pass out. Seeing him die -- it still took my breath away. I took a moment to steel my nerves. When I felt okay again, I looked at the interviewer. She had a broad smile on her face. She swiped up and down on a tablet.
She offered to shake my hand.
“My name is Grace, by the way,” she said, effusively. “This data is very impressive. Very impressive. I won’t lie, it’s the best I’ve seen all day. All year even. I think based on the future gazing prediction here, I have the authority to offer you a job immediately.”
“I’d be happy to accept,” I said, shaking her hand.
“Great! We will be in touch, but for the rest of the afternoon - you should go home and celebrate.” She smiled and rubbed my shoulder.
I left the room and headed out of the building. I was elated and sickened. It had worked. And so far, I had not been caught. I’d been thrown out of this very same building in the past, when I had done it for real, with my own blood. Several years of research and now I knew how to play the system.
Was it fair to be rejected by a system that says it can tell your future? When it does not consider who you are as a person? I think not. Is it fair to cheat the system that has been chosen to be used? Probably not. I figure the two things cancel each other out. I sleep fine at night.
And I have a plan. I plan to future gaze every single day and get an advantage. Be as good as predicted, maybe even better. I'm sure it will take a toll on me. I’ll see my death every single day. It's the only way I can be good enough. It is the price I am willing to pay to be accepted by the best. And to be the best.