A Penny For Your Thoughts, Part I



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Scene Title A Penny For Your Thoughts, Part I
Synopsis Curiosity leads Daniel Linderman to a dark discovery.
Date May 8, 1991

"Lightning strike."

Daniel Linderman folds his hands, looking to the two other men sitting at the table with him. Neither Robert Bishop nor Caspar Abraham have a problem with the decision. "Then it's settled, Elle's little incident in Ohio was caused by a lightning strike. Mr. Abraham, instruct public records to get that out to the papers and…" he looks over to Bob. "I'm going to recommend that Elle stay at the Hartsdale facility indefinitely. Obviously Charles will have final say in this but, we can't afford another incident like this bringing attention to us."

Bob scrubs one hand over his mouth and shales his head. He wants to argue, but it's been a long and difficult week and the last thing he wants to hear is more of Daniel Linderman's voice. He closes his eyes, then pushes his chair out and stands without saying another word. Linderman watches him leave, brows furrowed, and then turns to Caspar who offers an awkward smile and likewise makes for the conference room door. "Ah, one last question, Mr. Abraham?"

Caspar lingers at the corner of the table, waiting expectantly.

"You archived Ms. Bishop's experiences, correct?" Linderman asks, also rising from his seat to meet Caspar around the other side of the table. Caspar nods, brows furrowed, trying to get ahead of whatever Daniel is thinking. He doesn't have time to. "In the future, let's refrain from a copper redaction." He says, placing a hand on the back of a chair. "We're trying to limit the amount of work Charles needs to put in, and we've discovered that the telepathic blocks Maury utilizes aren't as long-lasting. We can't afford gaps causing the potential for mental breaks, so we're going to start deploying a new field asset. A boy we've recovered from Haiti with a rather remarkable ability."

"Am I…" Caspar swallows, trying to maintain his composure. "Are you firing me?"

Linderman laughs, surprised by the assumption, and gently puts an arm on Caspar's shoulder. "No, not at all. We're just relying less on your unique talent. In special cases where it's called for, we'll still need your assistance, but Angela and Arthur have decided that it may be a fair time to give you a sabbatical. Not as any kind of punishment, but a reward for your long service with us. The work you did for Noah and his late wife Kate was exceptional, but between that and this incident with Elle… Charles is becoming rather tapped."

Caspar smiles, but it's a tiny little twitchy thing. "And this… Haitian? He can make false memories?"

Linderman frowns, then shifts it quickly into a smile, patting Caspar's arm. "No, but his erasure method is overlooked by the mind unless directly called attention to. A smaller scar, so to speak?"

"So I'm being replaced." Caspar says with a deep frown. "I've served the Company for over a decade and you're—you're putting me out to pasture?"

Linderman gently squeezes Caspar's shoulder. "Again, we are giving you a sabbatical. Full pay, full benefits. Just no responsibilities. This is because you have done admirably for us, Mr. Abraham. Above and beyond our expectations, and we will need to call on your unique services in the future of this I have no doubt. But you've earned your rest. You were a young man when you joined us… it's time to enjoy the youth you have left."

Linderman's explanation has Caspar's shoulders slacking and the indignation draining out of him. "Full pay?" He asks with a hint of a smile. That's when Linderman smiles back fully. He knows how to sell bad news.

Primatech Paper
Odessa, Texas

2:42 pm

May 8th

Walking briskly down the corridors of Primatech Paper's subterranean office levels, Daniel Linderman flips a penny in one hand while whistling to himself. Security cameras whirr softly in the hall as he rounds a corner, breezily stepping into a nurse's station. He tucks the penny into the front pocket of his black vest and knocks softly on the door before entering. The nurse, a charming middle-aged woman with curly blonde hair sets down a clipboard and looks up expectantly to Linderman.

"How is Haram doing?" Linderman asks with one brow raised. The nurse pivots in her seat, beginning to organize some files.

"Haram?" She wonders, then makes a soft sound of recognition. "Oh! Yes, he's not doing so well. That assignment with Mr. Raines didn't end well and he's extremely agitated. I spoke with Mr. Deveaux on the phone and he's not willing to authorize a memory wipe yet to help deal with the stress. I had my own suggestions, but it didn't feel appropriate to get into an argument with Mr. Deveaux, he was already rather stressed sounding."

"What would you suggest?" Linderman asks, casually leaning against a filing cabinet.

The nurse looks up at him and without hesitation offers, "Double his lithium and lay in an extra dose of Haldol." Linderman barks out a laugh at how flat of an answer it is and slaps one hand on top of the filing cabinet in amusement while barely restraining a laugh.

"Well that should certainly keep him calm!" Linderman chirps, bubbling with bits of laughter. He flashes the nurse a smile and shakes his head, satisfied, and shows himself out of the nurse's station. Though, as he passes out the door he turns and lingers for a moment. "Though, do be careful? Mr. Haram is a valued agent, even if he needs a little time off." The nurse shrugs and returns to her mountain of paperwork, while Linderman pulls the penny out of his pocket and returns to his sweep of the facility floor.

Eventually, Daniel makes his way to the vault entrance, checked in by the Primatech security and allowed access into the sealed space. Rows of glass-faced cabinets, some full and some empty, greet Linderman on his arrival. He turns to the leftmost cabinet, opening up a chest-high case containing a glass jar filled with pennies. He lifts the lid and deposits the 1991 penny containing Elle's memories of the Ohio Incident, then hesitates. Nearly lowering the lid, Linderman looks at the jar and his faint reflection in it. He slides his tongue over the front of his teeth, then touches the outside of the jar. His fingers ghost over the glass while a faint hint of excitement and curiosity nibbling at the corner of his mind.

Glancing at the vault door, Daniel steps closer to the case and reaches inside the jar of pennies. He slides his fingers down into the jar, at first disappointed when all he feels is cold copper. But as he pulls his hand back out, there's a tell-tale prickling of static electricity, a little vibration in the pad of an index finger. He breathes in sharply, then holds it as conspiracies are born in his mind. He has a reaction to one of the pennies, which means his memories are encoded on it, which means—since he isn't experiencing missing time—Charles altered his memories.

Linderman angrily snatches the penny out of the jar, rolling it between forefinger and thumb without hesitation. He doesn't wait to go home, he doesn't take it out of the vault. Pride, anger, and confusion lead him to make a rash decision. The moment he firmly clutches that Penny in his hand, he is awash with a torrent of experiences and recollections, memories stolen away. A vast stretch of time redacted and spackled over by Charles' ability. Horror, then, dawns on Daniel Linderman's face as he hastily throws the penny back into the jar and places the lid on it, heart racing.

Backing away from the jar, Linderman looks down a his hand, trying to come to terms with the flashes of memory he saw, grapple with the things he now understands fragments of. Even those half-glimpsed scraps of truth hanging in the corner of memory are terrifying shadows, reaching out and threatening to break him. Trembling, Linderman covers his mouth with one hand, then hesitates. Everyone was redacted. Suddenly, Daniel's heart sinks in his stomach, his eyes track the walls of the room and he realizes how suddenly alone he is.

Paranoia creeps in next about what they would do if they find out what he knows. Squaring his jaw, Linderman stumbles away from the display cases and steps out of the vault. He tries to tamp down his fear, his paranoia, and his uncertainty. Curiosity has him at once wanting to re-examine the penny, but at the same time fear of the little he recalls has him recoiling from the barest suggestion of it. But there is a thought he cannot get out of his mind, a splinter now lodged in his thoughts so soundly. He cannot tell if it came from the penny, or if it is his own response to what he witnessed.

It rattles around in his mind as he walks. Haunts his inner voice.

This world is sick.

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