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The Thoughts of Anne Goode
Is this working? I wondered. Play.
“Is this working?” the thought recorder played back to me in my head.
“You’re looking very confused, dear,” Rob was staring at me intently. We’ve been married for several months now, but if someone were to ask me right now if I loved him, if he meant anything at all to me, I wouldn’t have to think twice. No.
“I don’t know, honey, I’m just feeling a little tired,” I lied.
“I’ll stay home with you then; I have the power to. I’m the boss,” he beamed.
Never passes by the chance to show off, I thought. Ever since he became a multi- trillionaire from inventing the lightweight person jet, which he named the FlightMobile, and became widely used as means of transportation, his ego had been growing larger and larger.
“No, no, they need a boss like you around,” I insisted, feeding that ego.
“You’re absolutely right about that, but are you sure you don’t want me to stay?” he furrowed his brow, looking genuinely worried about me. I looked away, because I knew it was bad to have real relationships with people. Feelings develop and you get tied to them. You become weak.
“Of course. Have a nice day, Rob.”
As soon as he closed the front door and I heard his FlightMobile fly away, I immediately went into my room and changed for the day. I changed my appearance and my entire identity. I tapped the back of my head in a zigzag pattern, and I felt my entire body begin to transform. Every morning when I “changed” I would remember the painful surgery I had gotten to be able to do this. But it was all worth it, I thought, looking into the mirror and not recognizing myself. I loved that feeling- not knowing who I would be that day, because even my fingerprint would be different. I left no traces. Getting this surgery was vital for my job; when I am on a mission, no one can know who I am. After all, to the public, I was just the young and beautiful housewife of a rich innovator. I smiled, imagining Rob’s reaction if he found out whom I really was.
In fact, I thought, he just might find out one day. If he breaks the rules, I would be obliged to kill him. I pondered the idea for approximately 2.3 seconds before concluding that he would never try leaving the planet. Because that’s against the rules.
Realizing that I had exactly four minutes to get to work, I swiftly put on my favorite coat (which changes shape according to my body that day), large sunglasses, and dashed out the door and into my own FlightMobile. Three and a half minutes later, I parked my jet into the roof-top lot of Mama’s Little Bakery. Of course I didn’t work at a bakery. Our top-secret agency used the bakery as a cover, so people wouldn’t suspect what we really do.
I stepped inside and went directly to the restroom. Closing the door, and entering the third stall which had an “OUT OF ORDER” sign forever placed on it, an automated voice in Portuguese greeted me, “Olá, nome e verificação de retina, por favor.” The machine used a different language everyday as a precaution, in case an illiterate person happened to walk in. We’ve even used Martian before. Everything we do is top-secret, even from the people doing it. To this day, I still don’t know who my boss is, or how our “business” came to be. I don’t know who I work with, or who programs the automated voice everyday. However, I’ve always known for certain that there are other people who have the same job as I do, because I’ve heard about disappearances often. It’s better that way, I had been told. And I knew it was true. I did as the voice said, and wrote my name, Anne Goode on the touch screen door with my finger, and opened my eyes wide for the soft light to scan my retina. That was one thing the surgery couldn’t change: my eyes.
“Bem-vindo, Anne,” the voice welcomed me, as it did every morning before giving me the files for my mission of the day. I had always taken pride in being able to say that I have completed every mission the day it was given to me. I was always good at what I did, and I did it efficiently. A folder of papers were ejected from a slot on the door like an old-fashioned vending machine. The papers were made of edible materials, of course. We left no traces.
I flipped through the files on my way out the door, and suddenly came to a chilling stop. The person. The name: Robert Stevens. This can’t be right, I thought, No way. What the hell did he do?! The white paper, in clear bold words, answered me:
Death Penalty for: Attempted travel outside of the Ozone layer.
Stupid, stupid guy, I shook my head, why would he do such a thing? I searched through my memory for a reason, and suddenly remembered him mentionening that he was developing a new personal jet, one that might even be strong enough to travel in space. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I was too busy strategizing the fastest way to strangle someone. Besides, I thought, everyone knows that traveling outside the planet is strictly forbidden. And by strictly, I mean death- worthy strict. It made me feel a little queasy thinking about how I would kill him. At home? Before dinner? Or maybe purposely crash into him in my FlightMobile. I got into the jet and sat there, thinking. I jumped at a knock on my window. Who could it be? My dear husband Rob, of course. I puzzledly put on my sunglasses to cover my eyes, and lowered the window, wondering if he could somehow tell that it was me.
“Excuse me, ma’am, but I could not help but notice that you seem to be having some trouble starting your FlightMobile. You’ve been sitting in there for quite a while. I’m the inventor of the jet you’re in, and would be more than happy to assist you,” he offered with a smile.
I could have easily said, “Yes, why of course! I just can’t remember where the start button is. Could you show me?” and bat my eyelashes at him, seeming like a damsel-in-distress from those ancient stories. And then, shove him into the my FlightMobile and stab him. Or shove him underneath the machine and run him over. Instead, the words, “Thanks, but you can mind your own business,” came out of my mouth. I swiftly pulled out of my spot and flew away. I felt sick. No relationships, I told myself. But I could not deny the fact that I loved Rob. Not in the way I was supposed to love him as a wife, but I loved him as a friend. He wasn’t all that bad. Just very ignorant, and human. I wasn’t sure if that last part applied to me.
I knew the consequences for not completing a mission within 48 hours. I would be forced to take a drug that would make me lose all of my memory. Either that, or death, but really, what was the difference? They would ship me somewhere where nobody knew me. I would be a different person, with a different life.
I spent the next 47 hours and 53 minutes at home, trying to be the best friend I could be to Rob. But once I was gone, he would nonetheless still be killed by someone else. There were no exceptions. For the first time in 19 years, I cried, realizing I had been in the wrong business for too long. But Rob, poor Rob... there was and is nothing I could do to save him. Even though he brought it upon himself, I still felt guilty.
Is this still recording? I had forgotten that I turned on the thought recorder days ago. Play. All the my thoughts and everything that happened during those days replayed back to me. While I was listening, there was a knock on the door, and I knew the life I knew now would be ending shortly. I stopped playing the thought recorder, and internally turned it to record. Bye, I thought.