The interrogation room was brightly lit, so much so that it was more comfortable to squint than keep his eyes all the way open. And so he didn’t even try, reclining in the seat and letting his eyes flutter closed. He could hear the people passing by outside, each occupied by their own reality, and started to build a wall in his mind, closing out the unnecessary noise. He had been unable to keep from picking up some of the information about the case on his journey over, and he knew that he wasn’t one of the most important people. There was someone important in this, but he had pointedly shut out the information before it could drag him in. He knew all the people who worked with him, driving the taxis around the city. He had certainly shared a drink with everyone who had been picked up by the police, and knowing anything was only going to get him involved.
He didn’t want to be involved. He knew what it would mean to become involved. It would mean an upset to the life he had so carefully constructed around him, it would mean truly plunging back into the life he had once led, when life had seemed to bend to his whims. He had promised he was done with this. It was why he had come to Boston, why he had become a taxi cab driver. They were lost in the background, forgotten about, and that was the way he wanted it.
All he had to do was keep his cool, and keep the wall in his mind up. Answer the detective’s questions, prove that he had no relation to the murder that had the whole city worked up, and they would let him go. That would be the end of it.
His mind was still, floating lazily along the perimeter of his wall. He was going to have to wait until someone found it worthwhile to speak to him, and so he relaxed, subconsciously reinforcing the wall whenever a crack began to appear in it, ignoring the potentially tantalizing bits of information that still managed to slip their way in. But when the door finally popped open, it broke his concentration. The female detective who had come to pick up the cabbie crew was standing in the doorway, staring at him.
They kept me waiting for an hour? Bastards. And then the thought was smothered under a wave of self control, and the wall was reinforced.
Her face was pointedly blank, but he could still see the judgements on it. Police always made judgements, whenever they looked at someone. They couldn’t help it. She saw an Arabic taxi cab driver, slogging his way through the mud of life, longing for influence, but unable to find it. Probably law abiding, but possible involved with something. His skin color was enough to bring about that assessment.
“Salil Karim?” She asked politely as she sat down in the metal chair across from him. There was a sore spot on his back from where he had been leaning against the chair. If they were going to keep people waiting for so long they should at least have the decency to give them more comfortable chairs.
“I hope so,” he replied with a flit of a smile, “or else you have walked into the wrong room, and I’m going to be kept waiting longer.” Her eyebrow shot up. No, that was too much. Too much life for a cab driver. She wanted a stereotype, wanted to be able to get him out quickly. He could fill that role.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Karim,” she began again. “My name is Detective Alexia Rose. I’m sorry that I kept you waiting in her for so long.” Calm, collected. She was obviously sliding back into the role she had created for herself. There was a specific line of questioning to follow. She would follow it now. “I have some questions to ask you, if that's alright, and hopefully we can get you out of here as soon as possible." A short smile was made at him before she broke eye contact and opened the manila folder. There was a few moments of silence as she shuffles through the papers, but she looked up again and began to speak. "How long have you been working as a driver for Jack Bewely's cab company?"
"A little over a year," he replied calmly. "Although I've been a cabbie for longer."
"And how long have you known Yahya Mubarak."
What did Yahya have to do with it? The little Egyptian man was his friend, perhaps the only real friend that he had ever had. He was funny, relaxed, happy, and most certainly innocent. Salil knew him, as much as he might try not to. He had a family, three children, and would never do anything to risk hurting them. Why were they asking about him for a murder investigation? The temptation was growing, and his concentration was slipping. Detective Rose was starting to come into focus in his mind. Her eyes were intense, she wanted and answer. She wanted to move on.
He had to make a decision, and he had to make it quickly, before the decision was ripped away from him. He had promised himself that he wasn’t going to get involved, wasn’t going to fall back into his old patterns. But, in the end, the decision was made for him anyways.
He had touched her mind before, if only briefly, when she had come to pick up the cabbies. And now it was waiting, right there, and the hole that suddenly appeared in his wall was enough for the stream of her consciousness to enter his mind. He couldn’t help it. And then he knew. Yahya’s cab was the last place that the murdered man had been seen alive. He was probably the last known man to have seen the man alive. And he was the primary suspect. There was no way he could make bail. He was going to sit in jail until the police found or made up enough evidence to lock him away for good.
Now he widened the hole unconsciously, and sent out a tendril of his own consciousness to touch the detective’s mind. Now he could dig a little, wind his way through the layers of her mind, and learn whatever he wished about her. The pathways were unfamiliar, glowing in shades of orange and blue-green. But it would only take time to find what he wanted to know.
He was committed now. He had made his decision. Now he had to keep her still long enough, distracted, so that she would not think there was anything odd about him. So that she wouldn’t remember him, except as cabbie number eight. Or, perhaps not. He needed time to get out, yes, but he also was going to need her to help him clear Yahya’s name. His promise still nagged at him, his promise not to interfere. Only this once.
If he needed her, he was going to have to put more of an effort into this. He would need time, of course, time to get out of the office and gather his own information. But if he needed her to come find him again, he was going to have to make sure that things didn’t match up. Which meant he needed to take this interrogation in a strange direction.
There was no one nearby. She wouldn’t remember until things got bad enough for her that she had to review the tape of his interrogation, and there would be no one to intervene too soon.
“You have it all wrong, Detective.”
That wasn’t the answer she was expecting. “I beg your pardon?”
“I’m sorry, was that too fast for you. You. Have. It. All. Wrong.” Now he was being rude, and he had her undivided attention. And she was willing to play along.
“Well, please forgive me, Karim. What do I have wrong?”
“Did you know, detective, that there are layers to the human mind?” His tone was light and friendly now, and she couldn’t follow it.
“Layers? What are you...”
“I divide them into five. The first is surface thoughts, whatever is happening at the moment, whatever you might be thinking about. The second is deeper thoughts, connections between events, the subconscious things you might not notice you are thinking about at any given moment. The third is short term memory, the fourth, long term memory. And now things start getting a little tricky, because you get to the part of the mind that most people don’t even know that they have. It is the part that actually interprets what you see, chooses where to store it, and is able to recall things. But it isn’t perfect, and, with the right stimuli, it can misremember things. In fact, with enough time, it is easy to manipulate.”
“I beg your pardon,” she said, starting to grow frustrated with this distraction. “But can you just answer the questions, please?”
He only needed a little more time, and he would have her. “I am sorry to have to use you like this, detective. It isn’t normally my style. I hope you will remember that, if you don’t remember anything else. I didn’t want to interfere, but, sometimes, things have to happen.”
And then he was in her deepest mind, the part that he could use to manipulate her, mold her into whatever shape he wanted. But it wasn’t that large this time. It was, after all, only a few minutes. A fake interrogation, where things had been going smoothly, until she had pried to deeply, and Karim had lawyered up. Now she had to let him go, because she had nothing to hold him with.
But he also left her with the feeling that she had forgotten something, had missed something. Something incredibly important. Something she could only remember by rewatching the interrogation. It would take time for the feeling to grow, but, depending on how often she listened to her hunches, it would give him a day and a half. And then she would try and come find him.
Her eyes were blank, and he truly did feel guilt over what he had just done. He had learned a lot about the human mind in his twenty eight years of life, and his hardest lesson had taught him that the free will of the mind was sacred. It was not an easy thing, for him to use her. But this was one of those moments when something had to be done. He left her with an echo of comfort, the safety felt in a mother’s arms.
"Thank you for your time, Mr. Karim." She said calmly. "We will contact you if we have any more questions."
They would see each other again. And soon.
Thank you for taking the time to read my introduction to The Listener. It is loosely based off of a Canadian TV show of the same name, but, as it pulls neither characters nor setting, there is no need for you to even know what the show is about.
There are a few things that I'd like you to know about the story that it would be impossible to fit into my introduction:
- This story will be episodic, with each case being an "episode". The part I have described is only the beginning of the first "episode", and is the only bit of the story that I have thoroughly planned out. Other than that, it is left to our desires and ambitions. Because of that, this story could go on almost indefinitely. And, as obsessed as I have been with it, that doesn't sound like a bad thing to me.
- You would be playing the (preferably female) detective who, along with her partner, is in charge of figuring out the murder that begins this story. However, her world is turned upside-down when one of the people that she is interrogating turns out to be a certain Arabic telepath. But, unless you so wish, your character does not have to be particularly feminine. She is, after all, the lead police detective. I would not be adverse to her being an FBI agent, or some equivalent, because that opens up a much larger scale than just the one city a cop would have jurisdiction over. However, she is your character, and, other than the fact that she is some sort of cop, I don't want to force anything onto her. For both of us to be deeply engaged in this story, you need to truly care for her, not think of her as some sort of puppet.
- I'm... not entirely certain that I portrayed Salil right in the introduction. He does have a lot of experience, and he has made a promise not to use his ability, but there is a certain innocence in him that I don't think I managed to get across. He is not particularly calculating, in fact, he tends to react more off of emotions and instinct than anything else. However, he does have the potential to enter your character's mind and change her. But, I, as the author, only have one moment when I specifically plan on doing that, and it is only to get Salil out of the police office when she starts wanting to arrest him for knowing more than he should. Should it happen again, it will only be after both of us have discussed it, and decided that it would make some interesting plot twists. Believe me, I have no desire to write for your character. If I did, this would be a book, not a roleplay. What I so love about a roleplay is that two people get to work together to bring the interaction between characters alive. I wrote her in the above text because I had to. There was no one else to take her. I will not be doing such things in our story. Although I won't deny I like her name.
- This is not a particularly light story. It is deeply psychological, delves into matters of morality and the rights of an individual. Although it is technically a "cop show", the primary part of this story is not about police work and detective skills, because telepathy throws most of that out of the window. It is about your character, deciding when, where, and how it is moral to use Salil's ability, who it can be used against, and determining whether someone's thoughts and "memories" are enough to determine whether or not they deserve to go to jail. But that doesn't mean it will always be heavy. I'd desperately love to throw things up with a few comedic "episodes" in which Salil and your character either just have a little bit of fun, or something unexpected happens and some hilarity ensues. However, I have already semi-planned out the first "episode", and it ends with ripping Salil's heart apart. If you aren't comfortable with tragedy, even temporary tragedy, this probably won't be a good story for you.
- You will also need to be able to control multiple characters, especially your character's partner and boss. They are both going to come to play larger roles in later "episodes", I would hope. There will also be crime bosses and minor villains, temporary allies and romantic interests that we are going to need to play. It is not a two-person world.
- In the end, if you like the way this story sounds, this is a two person effort. I may have a way that I'd like the first episode to go, but so long as it still achieves the necessary things, almost anything can change. This is a partnership, and I am prepared to work for it.
- There are only two other things. The first should be fairly obvious after the amount of stuff I have typed. Yes, this is advanced. Please be ready to stick to that. I may be asking to see a writing sample if I can't find a story in the Guild to stalk.
- The second thing is, perhaps, the most important thing I have. Please, please, please, please, do not contact me if you think there is a chance you might be dropping this story. I pour so much of myself into it, and when you leave it rips everything apart. Not only the story and the characters and the world, but me as well. When you leave, you leave me truly heartbroken. Please, if you need to, take a minute, an hour, a day, and think about whether you are ready to commit. And then tell me that you are. I will believe you.
I think that is all I have. As if that wasn't enough. I hope, even if you aren't going to contact me, that you enjoyed getting to read it. Have a good day.