October 29, 2020

Verba ex Machina

Words From The Machine

The Chief of Security

7 min read

Photo by Ben_Kerckx on Pixabay

For this I started with the reddit writing prompt below and got some great lines the first time through. The first paragraph is a little awkward, but the second paragraph paints a very specific picture and does it with few words. None of the final results were quite good enough to post in response to the writing prompt, but there were enough good lines throughout that I wanted to at least post them here.

The Conspiracy Theorist

As I opened the door, I was shocked. There was no other way for me to do this than to walk around and talk to everyone in the office. There was a lot of stuff that had happened to me in the past that had not even reached my ears. But then, I was supposed to be looking for things to do, but instead I found a lot of things to be surprised at and amazed at, so all it took was a moment for things to go back to normal and I started to make myself understood.

But the next morning I was going to the office of the chief of security, an older man who had the kind of quiet, reserved manner of an accountant. Then he turned to me with a smile and said, “How about we sit down. Let me tell you the whole story of your life.”

A few years after this, I spent ten minutes with the Chief of Security, a man known, and to this day my friend, as Jim. He explained to me his career history: how he had been a clerk in the Department of Public Safety, worked in the private sector in various positions, became a detective, and went on to become the deputy director of the FBI. He told me that as a young man he was an early believer in the paranormal, but that in those days of the Internet and the paranormal had not yet come into vogue. When the paranormal came into vogue, I remember, he said, it was mostly because people had heard the name of the Devil on radio, the Internet, and on TV and heard something they believed to be a ghost, and had been convinced by superstitions to believe that there was a spirit there. So there was a general misconception that there was a spiritual world out there, and people began to believe that there really was.

So as the years passed, Jim and a small group of other people began to realize that something had happened to their own lives. Jim had heard some rumors about a ghost ship going somewhere, or some kind of UFO landings. So he began to believe that he had been visited by some kind of supernatural entity. And then he began to question his belief in it.

The first time I saw him was during a tour of the FBI’s New Jersey office. We had just walked out into the lobby of the building after a long day of interviewing ghosts. He was sitting up in the big chair in front of the conference room that had been installed, and he leaned over, looked over the wall, and began to talk. I was in awe at the way he talked. It was as if he had been reading some very strange and very profound books. He had been speaking for ten minutes. When he had finished he was back in his chair, reading some of the same books, just as he had done in the earlier hours in his office, and then he got up and walked away from the room.

When I asked Jim what the Devil was, he said, “You don’t really see the Devil, you see ghosts. But when it comes out to play, you see the people who play that thing.”

Like A Doctor Who Takes His Patients On Long Walks

As I opened the door, I was shocked. There was no other way for me to do this than to walk around and talk to everyone in the office. There was a lot of stuff that had happened to me in the past that had not even reached my ears. But then, I was supposed to be looking for things to do, but instead I found a lot of things to be surprised at and amazed at, so all it took was a moment for things to go back to normal and I started to make myself understood.

But the next morning I was going to the office of the chief of security, an older man who had the kind of quiet, reserved manner of an accountant. Then he turned to me with a smile and said, “How about we sit down. Let me tell you the whole story of your life.”

I was dumbfounded, at this sudden and unexpected turn of events. How had I missed all the details for so long? I had spent a whole year trying to get to know this guy, and now I was about to meet him in person. Then I realized that this didn’t explain anything. Was I just not used to the sort of thing the chief of security did, like a doctor who takes his patients on long walks? Or was he not used to talking to others? I turned and ran into the office where my boss, who had come to work around midnight, had gone to bed.

We Had The Same Mother, But She Didn’t Have Children

As I opened the door, I was shocked. There was no other way for me to do this than to walk around and talk to everyone in the office. There was a lot of stuff that had happened to me in the past that had not even reached my ears. But then, I was supposed to be looking for things to do, but instead I found a lot of things to be surprised at and amazed at, so all it took was a moment for things to go back to normal and I started to make myself understood.

But the next morning I was going to the office of the chief of security, an older man who had the kind of quiet, reserved manner of an accountant. Then he turned to me with a smile and said, “How about we sit down. Let me tell you the whole story of your life.”

“My parents divorced on the eve of the Great Depression, and, although my family had been wealthy, it wasn’t a great way to survive in a place like New York in the late nineteen-seventies. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood near the beach in Greenwich Village. My family was fairly traditional until our father died when I was thirteen. My mother was a homemaker working part time in a laundromat, and my father was a carpenter doing odd jobs. I was raised in a very conservative household, where religion had become an impediment to my growth. We attended a Catholic church in Greenwich Village, where my mother was priest. After a few years of attending Mass, the church became more and more conservative. I began to question my faith. I had a feeling that I needed to see a psychiatrist if I wasn’t going to be a normal person again, and the idea of that was a source of anxiety. A lot of my parents were working, but my father was working and my mom was not; when he died, we were left to support the family, even though our parents had a lot of money for the church. But I wasn’t allowed to go to church with them. My family was a pretty tight-knit bunch that was pretty well-off. We could afford a lot of fancy dinners, and so when someone died, it wasn’t like the money was gone. But we weren’t allowed to have dinner together unless we had to be alone.”

I looked at him again. “So you had been in a relationship with your mother? Then why were you going to Greenwich Village so late in life?” He nodded.

I shrugged. “Well, that’s kind of how things worked for a while after my dad died, too. We had the same mother, but she didn’t have children, so I had to make do with what I was given. My mom had died in a car accident, but my father still wanted to stay at my place when she was still alive. My mom had been living in an attic apartment until she moved out, and my father had left the family for work and stayed there until we moved to a big house with a garage. But he was too busy being the father of two kids to care about the house. My parents were divorced when he died. We got into some really good financial situations, and my parents became very good friends. But I couldn’t bring myself to go back. My parents were really, really nice and supportive, and I was afraid they would just let things go. I was a bit of an odd case, and I was really afraid of them.”

He looked at me and nodded. Then, with a shrug, he turned his head and looked at another old man with a similar look. He looked at me for a long while. Finally, he said, “I don’t want to be rude, but I think you’ve made it clear enough. I think you should go home and take a nap.

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