With The Loss of Privacy

On the tiny screen figures were writhing.

Alda, who was the ship’s recruiter, coughed uncomfortably. “Well, that was… that was educational.”

Wysomercki wrote something down.

“Was that normal?” he wanted to know.

“It was just a fantasy, sir,” Wyso said atonally. “It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t have an overarching moral, or a narrative thrust, really. It just is, free-floating.”

“But a fantasy is a constructed –” and he winced as the speakers squealed tinnily. “– is a constructed reality, a selection, however unconscious, of elements perceived of as positive or negative. And surely all such constructions have an aesthetic drive? A, uh… uh, a moral purpose?”

She clicked through to the next segment. Blood spattered against the screen; the speakers wailed feedback. She dialed the level down, way down, until the noise stopped. She made another small note. Alda stared at the screen in horror, and shook and quailed and grew pale.

“Is there a problem, sir?”

“Uh, no, uh, not as such, no…” He was clammy. Wyso made another note. She looked closer at the screen, picked out from the minute figures threshing there the figure of the recruiter.

“Ah,” she said.

“It just, it just is, right?” he said. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

“No, sir,” she said. “You’re very ordinary.” On the screen light reflected off an endless wheel of flensing knives.