"I-I'm out?" He looked up at them, more confused than shocked.
"Yeah, your number is up. Get up on your feet. We'll escort you to the debriefing room." The guard moved out of the doorway and pointed down the hall. He had his taser in his other hand just in case D-9897 tried to do something stupid. Not that it ever happened on release day, but it's better to be prepared.
Together they walked down the hallways, the other D-class in the cell block were holding back their cheers for Marcus and simply giving him a respectable nod for 'Ya made it.' Marcus might as well have been floating through that hallway. He was done. The month was over. No more feedings. No more cleaning. No more poking or prodding. It was all over with and his reward was in reach.
They made it to the debriefing room and Marcus is ordered to sit. He obliged with almost a smile as they strapped the restraints on his legs and arms. Still have to follow protocol even though he was minutes away from release. A balding well-dressed man stepped through another door, looked back at the long one-way mirror adjacent to him, and sat across the table with Marcus's file.
"So! March tenth to April tenth. Dee nine eight nine seven. Marcus Stuart Turnbull. No immediate family.. well… no surviving family it seems. Incarcerated and sentenced to death row by the state of Texas. Four counts of murder in the first degree-"
The man flipped to the next page.
" -three counts of murder in the second degree, six counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of vehicular manslaughter, fifteen counts of human trafficking, and one count of aggravated sexual assault of a minor… and you have some other pending cases it seems, but no matter. You served a total of two hundred and thirty four days on death row before being requisitioned by the Foundation."
The man closed the file and folded his hands. "You ready to reenter society, Mr. Turnbull?"
Marcus gulped audibly. "Y-yes sir. I am. I've done my time."
The man nodded and opened another and much thinner file. "So the details of your release are all set up. From here you'll walk through those doors and into another room where we'll begin the procedure."
"Yes well-" The man held back a chuckle. "-we can't let you just leave here knowing what you know of course. It's actually pretty painless. Shouldn't be more than a few minutes."
Marcus let out a tense sigh and nodded. "All right then. I'm ready when you are."
The man swiveled out of his seat and unlocked the straps to Marcus's chair. "Straight through there, Mr. Turnbull."
Marcus stood up and rubbed his wrist as he shambled nervously over to the door, suddenly flooded with internal doubt. Was this a trick? A test? A firing squad? His trembling hand gripped the chrome plated door handle.
"Oh, and Mr. Turnbull!?"
"Congratulations and good luck."
"Thank you, sir."
Marcus opened the door and stepped through. As the door clicked closed, the man took his pen and crossed out an entry on his clipboard.
▪ D-9893: Vincent R. Kinnear
▪ D-9894: Duane L. Mateiro
▪ D-9895: Charles J. Avitto
▪ D-9896: James F. Clark
▪ D-9897: Marcus S. Turnbull
▪ D-9901: Lewis T. Galvan
▪ D-9900: Andrew M. Sagendorf
▪ D-9899: Paul O. Pedigo
▪ D-9898: Sheryl G. Williams
The man walked back into the observation room where his older white bearded colleague was waiting. "All done?"
The man nodded. "Yeah, he didn't ask too many questions, this one. Went right in."
The older man clicked his tongue as he watched the procedure take place. "So the new implants… I hear they don't show up on the X-rays?"
"That's right. Opted for a thin composite casing instead."
The surgeons below worked feverishly on Mr. Turnbull's brain as the small device was delicately implanted onto the brain stem and connected to both cerebral ventricles.
"We still using the Class-F amnestics on these ones?"
The man again nodded and stuffed the files into his briefcase. "It's been working well enough. The retention rate is a tad lower than what we originally predicted, but it's within the limits."
The older man shook his head, reminiscing on the previous years of D-class asset decommissions. "Seems like a lifetime ago… we'd just, you know, monthly terminations being what they are… or were. I'm actually pretty satisfied with this alternative. The older methods left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Wasn't good for morale."
The briefcase snapped closed behind him. "I agree. And with the implants, there's no risk of an information breach. A triggered dose of potassium chloride in the right spot-" He snapped his fingers. "-death in ninety seconds or less. Quick, efficient, simple."
"So what would set it off?" The older gentleman looked over his shoulder.
"Well, with the integration of the Class-F amnestic and the identity reconditioning program following, we just have the original post-conditioned memories set off very specific nerve activation signals if they ever get past the neural interlocks."
The man confidently walked over to the monitors, briefcase in hand. "It's not as complex as you think; ever wake up from a dream you couldn't remember? Basically the same concept and the results are well worth it. I mean, their original lives are nightmares compared to what we are setting them up with."
In front of where he stood, hundreds of individual monitors were streaming live feeds from other conditioned individuals since the induction of the program. "Incognizant agents integrated into the civilian populace. Living and breathing like normal members of society. Students, businessmen, construction workers, pilots, stay-at-home mothers, pastors. And to think, total surveillance could be achievable within our lifetimes."
"Maybe in your lifetime. Still, it's something we could only dream of when I started."
A blank monitor flickered on casting an image of both men from a perspective below, outside the observation room. Mr. Turnbull's unconscious eyes fixated in their direction, unblinking and online. Both men sighed in contentment over their work.
"So what's this one getting assigned as?"
The man squinted his eyes trying to recall that bit of information. "A truck driver, I think. We'll have him stationed somewhere in Montana with his new identity."
The older man chuckled in disbelief at this. "Wow. Unbelievable that it's that simple. You're doing good work."
"This is why I joined the Ethics Committee. So glad we can put these people to use rather than disposing them."
The man shook his older colleague's hand. "We still on for lunch tomorrow?"