The rain fell softly on this summer morning. Across the land children on their school holidays were amusing themselves indoors. Tendrils of thought reached out, first tiny streams tumbling haphazardly across the land until they touched mind, then the streams became channels, rivers; thoughts reached out, explored, probed, and the data streamed back into headquarters where they were analysed by computers.
The children played on unaware that from this day on their future was pre-determined.
The Agent, Max, settled back from his computer, thrilled by the data he had uncovered. It was mind-blowing. So much potential in the population. He had never dreamed. He quickly typed his report and sent it to the Controller. Deciding he needed a break he helped himself to a coffee from the office machine, but when he returned to his desk saw that the Controller had requested his immediate presence.
The Controller nodded briefly as he entered the room.
“Ah, Max” the Controller’s voice was friendly, ” I have just read your report. New at this are you?”
“Just transferred from Human Resources”.
The Controller nodded. “Well, we do things differently in Potentials”.
The Controller sat back from his terminal and examined the young man standing nervously before him.
Max relaxed a little. “Thanks. Black, no sugar”.
The Controller fetched two black coffees and settled himself comfortably.
Max, what do you do with a problem called Max. Young, intelligent, enthusiastic, idealistic. He had checked his personnel file before summoning him. A high flyer Human Resources had said. Greater potential than they needed. They had recommended the transfer and now the Controller was regretting that he had allowed it. The one place the Controller didn’t want Max, or anyone like him, was in Potentials. But what could he do with him? The safest thing would be to simply send him back to Human Resources but they had already concluded that he didn’t fit there. The man was unaware of it but he was a boat rocker. He needed careful handling. Most of all he had to be brought under control and his boat-rocking potential nullified.
“Human Resources spoke highly of you”.
Max smiled, sipping his coffee appreciatively. Much better than the machine coffee in the general office.
“Tell me. What do you think of the work in Potentials?”
“Fascinating! I had no idea we could do this. Explore the minds of all the children. Ascertain their innate talents, then optimise their social conditions so that they reach their full potential for the good of society”.
The Controller sighed inwardly. It was one of life’s great mysteries how naive people got to live to competent adulthood but still remain so blind to the world around them.
“Quite so” he agreed amiably.
“Coffee all right?”
“Yes. Delicious. Thank you”.
“It is a unique blend. I have it imported specially”.
Max nodded. “Very good”.
Now the Controller smiled. “I have to say some part of your report and recommendations are excellent. I couldn’t have done better myself. The Headmaster’s son, streamed into Science, then on to Oxbridge. I shouldn’t be surprised if we recruit him when he becomes professionally established. This is exactly the kind of work that we want. However, some parts of your report were not so good. Perhaps you could clarify your thinking regarding this child?”
The Controller pushed a file across the desk. Max recognised it instantly. This was the highest potential that they had uncovered.
“Yes. A talented all-rounder. Highest percentile of intelligence, showing artistic, literary, scientific, military, humanistic and political potentials. Basically she would be a creative, innovative high achiever in any profession, but given her range of abilities she would be best used in something which employed all her talents. I recommended nurturing all her talents and put on a trajectory to also take her to Oxbridge”.
The Controller’s face showed no expression.
“And this one?” He pushed another file forward.
“He was the most highly talented in Mathematics”.
“Did you consider their backgrounds?”
“Yes. They will take particular care and investment. The girl’s poor, working class background would naturally hamper development of her talents. The Asian boy’s parents are shopkeepers whose only desire is that their son should carry on the business”.
There was a long pause while the Controller said nothing and Max fidgeted restlessly. Why was he in the Controller’s office? What had he missed?
The Controller arrived at his decision. He needed to get this man out of Potentials immediately before he found out what was going on. Sometimes naivety was an advantage after all, if you could divert the fools before they found out information that would disillusion them.
“Very good” the Controller said, pushing the files to the side as if they were of no importance. “Human resources were correct in their assessment. You are most diligent. However, regrettably I am going to have to send you back to Human Resources”.
He spread his hands apologetically.
“It is out of my hands unfortunately. The lady whose job you took over left to have a baby, and now has changed her mind and decided to return. I have no choice but to give her her old job back. But don’t worry. We all realise your potential and I am sure another opening will occur shortly. (In outer Siberia if I can arrange it).
With a smile and a handshake the Controller escorted Max to the door.
“No need to go back to your office. Your old job at Human Resources is waiting for you”.
Back at his desk the Controller buzzed Human Resources to expect Max, then accessed Max’s Potential access and cancelled it. He then deleted Max’s recommendations replacing them with the standard formula for dealing with lower class men and women who showed potential.
Disruptive children would be sent to the school. Older bullying children would be placed and teachers instructed to ignore the victimization, only to act when the targets tried to protect themselves. Both children would be diverted from good teachers to teachers who were incompetent or emotionally abusive. A formula of life-trashing, causing total frustration of the development of their abilities, combined with the maximum psychological and medical damage possible in their circumstances would be set in motion.
The woman flagged as prime breeding stock, coming from a family with no genetic weaknesses, intelligent, athletic, many talented, long-lived and youthful. Psychologically damaged and way too intelligent to attract men of her own social class out of the blue a higher social class man would appear in her life, get her pregnant, and then have the baby taken from her on the grounds that she would be an unfit mother. And after that, then what? A life of prostitution perhaps. Might as well make some money out of her while she soaks up all the social misfits. And the boy? He was destined for a surprise accident at a tragically early age.
The Controllers closed his report, sat back and enjoyed his coffee. Social stability did not just happen. It required work and planning.
Meanwhile Max. The Controller had no hard feelings towards the man. His naivety and idealism could still be used. But not in their organisation. He would be gently eased out, into some academic side line, perhaps. He would be permitted to tell the world he was a retired spy to reassure any potential recruits that they could leave any time they wanted.