Stirk sat down in the waiting room. It was finished in a dull grey colour that forced any pleasant thoughts scurrying to hide at the back of his innocent young mind, where they were reported to belong. Reports of such things were quite adamant and were made surprisingly frequently. Thoughts had no place in the Human brain, even less so in the young on his colony. The attendant had told him he was next and that he wouldn’t have much longer to wait. He was alone with his thoughts, thoughts about how thoughts were wrong and should be banished. He considered it briefly but the irony was lost on him, of course. He would be eighteen in only two more days, and by the laws of his home-world, that made him an adult, a fully mature citizen who was ready to take his place in their society. He would be allowed to operate a vehicle, get a job or even procreate, if his DNA was considered desirable and if he was sent official Ministry of Reproduction instructions to do so, in triplicate, of course. He would even be allowed to say publicly that he was eighteen, once such things were proven to government satisfaction and the paperwork to do so had been formally accepted. He would be allowed to consume alcohol and a small variety of other depressants although few people did, the paperwork to do so was prohibitively complicated. He was happy, well, perhaps not happy exactly, but he was content to find a place for himself in this little corner of the galaxy and perhaps achieve his own dream of, one day, working for the Ministry of Bureaucracy, the highest honour of the entire colony, the place of filing and accountancy and endless rules; it would truly be excitement beyond his imagination. That’s not to imply that his imagination extended very far. He had always felt that it was unwise to think too much about such trivial things, especially since the government warned them frequently that thinking could give you brain-cancer and was quite anti-social. Nothing good came from thinking about things, and it was just common sense not to take such foolhardy chances. “Master Stirk Grolllybard. We’re ready for you now,” the attendant called out from behind her square, grey clipboard in a voice that was executed in a dull monotone with all the charisma of a brick, and not the fun kind of brick in a playful orange. He looked around to the sign that pointed to the grey doorway through which he would step in a child and leave a man, albeit not a very exciting one. He stood and experienced a small, fleeting moment of emotion that might have been pride as he stepped up to his destiny, straightening his grey tie and smiling a happy-looking but carefully measured smile, not too happy and not really too much of a smile. The door shut behind him, closing him into a grey, and slightly different shade of grey, operation room with impressive banks of equipment that made high pitched ping sounds and filled him with an abundant feeling of confidence. “Hello Mr. Grolllybard,” a voice called out from behind a shuttered-off section before a short, slightly overweight man waddled out to greet him with a very serious face that suggested that he didn’t much enjoy the company of others. “You must be Dr. 209.5!” Stirk smiled, very formally, while reaching out to shake his hand, a gestured performed on this world by grasping the wrist firmly and giving it a vigorous flopping about. “Indeed,” the Doctor ignored him and turned abruptly away. “Will you follow me please?” The request was more in the way of instruction and Stirk followed without question, he was happy to put his life in the hands of the Ministry of Protection and the men who they saw fit to over watch the safety of the planet. Who wouldn’t be? “Lay down,” the Doctor ordered, gesturing to a square, flat bed with a dull metal hand-rail surrounding it. It was grey but quite a light shade of it, almost exciting in the most boring way imaginable. The Doctor rolled up the young man’s shirtsleeve and inserted a small needle into his vein painlessly. “You need not concern yourself with the proceedings,” the Doctor assured him, “you will feel very relaxed and will then wake up and it will all be over. I will watch your mental process on the monitor and it will reveal your likely destiny. Your thoughts will be read digitally, converted into pure information and turned into a video. I will be able to use this technology to monitor your most probable future. We can predict, quite accurately what you will become, what actions you might take in the years to come. Your far future is more difficult to predict but the closer ones we can be quite certain of. With this information we can know who might pose a threat to our society and can rid itself of such unwanted elements. We will know your future.” “That’s amazing,” Stirk said as he felt a warmth spread through his numbed body as the first wave of the psycho-temporal drug entered his blood, letting his thoughts travel through time while the machines read them, and displayed them for the doctor to see. “Yes, I know,” he heard the voice echo distantly through his mind as if from a great distance but from somewhere inside at the same time. He was in darkness with an accompanying sensation of floating in a warm sea of security, drifting from reality to a place deep within his thoughts.   From the light, there was only blackness.   The doctor looked up from the monitor with a look of terror frozen onto his wizened features. The young man was sitting up on the edge of the bed smiling in a friendly, unassuming way. He suddenly noticed his young body, his strong arms and quick muscles as if seeing all this for the first time. He saw the innocent and repulsively ironic expression on his face as something passed from his lips, some comment that the doctor missed as he descended further into his fear, shaking openly, sweat running down his forehead. The automatic alarm system suddenly activated. The doctor was wrenched from his panicked thoughts by the awful noise of a siren. “What’s going on?” Stirk cried out as red warning lights flashed from the corners of the horribly dull room, stirring some long-buried emotion, deep down in the depths of his being. The doctor stood motionless except for the shaking of his head as he nervously, breathlessly looked around. “Please explain. Help me!” Stirk begged, seeming terrified of what was happening around them. “No,” the doctor whispered, his voice cracking, his head shaking. “No, please no.” Stirk ran behind the screen past the motionless doctor who pressed himself back against the wall in terror away from him. The monitor was empty except for a blaze of static interference and the instruments were all flashing with red emergency lights. “What’s happening?” he pleaded. The doctor was backed up to the wall, shaking his head as he began to sob quietly to himself. “What’s going on?” he screamed again but in fearful rage. He swiped up the long needle that had been stuck in him, that had allowed the doctor to view his future. He stepped back, shaking angrily his face flushing with anger and fear. “Tell me what you saw,” he said, twisting the needle in his hand so that it become a weapon in his grasp. “Oh God,” whimpered the doctor, backing away nervously, edging along the grey wall, wincing and turning his face away from his ferocious glare. “What did you see?” Stirk growled menacingly, his face twisting into a snarl. “Don’t kill me,” he pleaded as fat salty tears traced a path down his ashen, white cheeks. Stirk roared as he finally gave way to long buried emotions. Fury took hold of him, an emotion he was unused to and had no idea how to control. He lunged at the doctor, plunging the long, pointed needle into the doctors throat. It slid in easily, tearing through to the other side with the force of his thrust. He seemed barely aware of his actions as he stabbed down again and again sending blood gushing from his neck, splatting on the wall behind as the doctor croaked his last lifeless breath. He looked at what he’d done, dimly aware of the weight of the lifeless, bloody corpse that he held with his right hand just before it slumped noisily to the ground. He stared in disbelief at the heap of lifeless flesh as the seconds dragged silently by. With a sudden ear-splitting explosion the door dissolved as two men shattered it with a small explosive charge. Stirk turned to see two figures dressed in dull black, loose fitting clothes with shiny reflective glass protecting their faces. He saw their weapons as they both opened fire on him. He felt the tiny metal shards tearing through his flesh, shattering his bones and ripping his life from him. He fell to the ground in a swirling mass of darkness. He felt the distance growing, from the men, the grey room, from his pain. He felt himself sliding into an endless darkness that engulfed him.   From the darkness, there was only light.   Stirk sat up and yawned. He had indeed felt very relaxed and then suddenly awake, the doctor had been right, there really was nothing to worry about, not that he had been worried, not in the slightest. He smiled as he thought of how his life would begin when he left this room. The future was in front of him now. The doctor slowly stepped from behind his monitor where he had watched the path of his life, electronically rendered on his equipment. “So,” he began cheerfully, “what did you see in my future?”  
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