Chapter 11: Revealing Personalities
Copyright© 2016 by Vincent Berg
Marching down the marble hallway, his personal police protection trailing behind, Eric ignored the stares. He heard an active discussion unfolding, echoing into the halls. From what he could gather, the argument was between Isaac and Rep. Wilson. When he pushed open the doors to the committee room, few noticed since all eyes were focused on the squabble. It took several moments, but people began to recognize him. As the cameras finally focused on him approaching the defense table, everyone besides Wilson fell silent, he continued railing in a loud voice. He didn’t pause until Eric took his seat at the table, at which point he ceased his angry monologue. The police escort leaned against the doorjamb, enjoying the spectacle.
“Wha ... What are you doing here?” Wilson asked, stumbling over his words.
Eric glanced at his watch. “I was scheduled to testify this morning, wasn’t I? I got a little sidetracked by a slight distraction, but I didn’t miss my testimony, did I?” Scattered laughter erupted around the room, but neither Eric nor Lawrence’s vision of the other varied.
“You were ... kidnapped from your hotel?”
He made a theatrical wave. “Oh, that. Seems the kidnappers weren’t terribly clever. They were cornered fairly quickly. It appears they suffered from mild cases of epilepsy. It wasn’t difficult taking them into custody.”
“How ... how’s that possible?”
“Which, the capture or the kidnapping?” Eric paused, waving his hand to erase his previous question. “Never mind, the important issue isn’t their incompetence, but the abduction itself. It seems a certain member of this committee had something to do with it.”
Lawrence’s mouth opened and closed like a guppy’s until he shook his head, gathering his wits once again. “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”
“Who are you accusing?” Chairman Phillips asked, but Eric wasn’t about to be distracted, his eyes never wavering.
“Oh, I think you do. Seems you contacted the CIA, suggesting I was an active threat and a potential resource for them to study. They seemed intrigued at uncovering how I came upon my new ... talents.”
“That’s preposterous. How dare you make such a claim!
“Oh, it wasn’t you? It’s easy to confirm. It seems you called one Derek Wells yesterday, one of the CIA’s Associate Directors. You told him I represented a vital threat to the country, mentioning they might benefit by ‘examining me’ to determine how I gained my abilities. Associate Director Wells contacted Senior Supervisor Stephen Cooper, who selected three of his primary ‘dirty’ operatives to kidnap me. They planned to torture me and conduct extensive physical examinations, ending in an autopsy to identify how I manipulate electrical fields. It should be easy enough to get a judge to examine your phone records to prove whether you did or not.”
Lawrence stiffened, his eyes growing large and his lip trembling. “How did you know? Who squealed? They weren’t supposed to be informed who arranged the orders.”
“So you’re consenting to the search of your phone calls?”
Rep. Wilson waved his arms, glancing around, trying to figure out how the rug had been pulled from under him. “No. Absolutely not! There’s nothing to learn.”
“But you just admitted to making the call,” Eric reminded him. “You confirmed calling him yesterday. I’m guessing when we broke for lunch, from your personal office here in the Capital building. If we eliminate you as the caller, it’s easy enough to subpoena Director Wells’ phone records to determine who the actual caller is.”
“How do you know this?” Wilson demanded. “How could you possibly know?”
Eric smiled, leaning back and resting his head in his hands. “That’s simple. While you rambled on yesterday, I discovered I had a new ability, similar but not connected to my ability to manipulate electricity. I can read people’s souls. I didn’t know your contact’s name until I entered this chamber. It’s etched on your consciousness like a red flag. I merely lifted it and presented it to you as an option. You chose to confirm it.”
Lawrence blinked. “You read my mind?”
Eric laughed gently. “People keep asking me that, but no. I can’t read minds. What I can do is read your soul. The aliens I encountered are not a physical species. They’re composed of energy. Like the angels of old, they can travel unimpeded through the heavens. They can also read a person’s character, which seems to exist as a separate form of energy. I ignored it for the past several days, until finally following Dr. Cho’s advice. I stopped analyzing everything and accepted what I inherently understood, realizing I could learn directly from people themselves.”
Chairman Phillips leaned forward, taking over the discussion. “Excuse me; I’m not sure of the distinctions you’re making. What, exactly, does someone’s soul look like?”
Eric held his palms up, shrugging. “It’s not quite something I can describe. I experience it the same way I do the electrical impulses traveling through your body. I’m still getting a grasp on it. The biggest issue with souls concern how clean they are. Guilt, shame and evil decisions dirty it, while being good shows as a consistent light. Bad choices begin as dark blemishes. As the person defines themselves by those actions, accepting them as character traits, they become like a cancer, growing and festering. The people someone loves are reflected in its light energy. Those one despises, or who initiated those acts, are forever burned into their consciousness.”
“So you’re claiming you can read a person’s intent. You essentially know whether someone is good or evil? Isn’t that like precognition?”
“No, I can’t tell how someone will respond, but based on what I see, I can guess which way they’ll go, and I can see what they’ve done. The more significant it was, the more prominently it shows.”
Eric paused, taking a deep calming breath. “Okay, this isn’t terribly clear. I’m still grappling with it myself. Every person tries to do good, but everyone slips up. Those slip ups don’t define a person, but the person’s responses to those mistakes do. If they double down, accepting and owning those bad decisions, it leaves a permanent blemish on their souls—though we can call it their character just as easily.” He waved at the assembled representatives. “Politics attracts certain ... personality types. They tend to be psychopaths, people incapable of relating to others’ problems, only seeing how it affects them. This makes taking action easier. Rather than pausing and considering the issues at length, you simply choose which decision benefits your constituents, and act on it. You also find this type heading many corporations. This describes most of you. However, while the majority of you work to help people, Representative Wilson sees only—”
“SEE! This is why I reported you, taking action to stop you. You’ve elected yourself everyone’s judge and jury, passing judgment on their value as people, reading their thoughts and trampling on their rights! Believe me, I’ve been here a long time and I understand how people operate. They act on their own interests. The aliens sent you here to achieve something and it’s unlikely to benefit us. They want to undermine our system of government so we’ll be easier to control. You can’t pick who governs the country!”
Phillips banged his gavel, shouting back. “No, but as the chairman of this investigation, I can! Guards, please escort Representative Wilson from the building. Given what you’ve admitted before television cameras, the entire Congress will have no problem stripping you of office.”
The cop who accompanied Eric back stepped forward. “There’s no sense releasing him. Since I witnessed the confession, I’ll take him under arrest, making your job that much easier. Representative Wilson, you have the right to remain silent.” As he continued reciting the rest of his Miranda rights, Lawrence stumbled about, glancing at those around him as if trying to piece together what happened.
“He’s a threat. He’ll destroy us all! He’s no angel. He’s the devil incarnate, the antichrist! What will he—or his alien overlords—gain by helping anyone? No, they only win if they eliminate us as competition and take control of our assets.”
Eric laughed, cutting him off. “What do non-temporal beings want with your physical resources? What they desire is not to be invaded. They aren’t concerned with whether we learn or not. They’d rather we advanced, so we don’t cause as much damage as we would otherwise, but they’ve moved beyond the corporeal realm. They’ve no desire to slide back to our level.”
As Martin cuffed Lawrence’s hands and led him out, Eric addressed Phillips once again. “As I said before being interrupted, Wilson sees in others only what he observes in himself. It’s a reflection of his internalizing his greed and avarice. Oh, by the way, Officer Martin, you’ll also be interested in knowing he murdered a Mr. Jack Alverez from his neighborhood over a land dispute twelve years ago. By burying his body under the foundation of the shed behind his house, he won a major real estate deal worth millions. Not only do you hold the guilty party, you have access to a body and motive. Your case should be straightforward.”
“There’s no way you can know that!” Lawrence screamed. “I’ve never admitted it to anyone. Even my wife and business manager don’t know.”
Eric smiled a sad grin. “They didn’t, but you did. You told me everything yourself. You’ve been carrying your guilt like a stone around your neck ever since. It’s been weighing you down and narrowing your vision of both you and everyone you encounter.”
The officer tipped his cap to Eric. “Thank you for that. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a clear cut case. I’ll be back with a few more officers to interview you about all these issues, since we didn’t debrief you earlier. I trust you won’t leave until we return.”
Eric glanced at his watch. “Don’t worry. I suspect I’ll be answering questions for some time. Take your time. By the way, Isaac, I promised Officer Martin you’d buy him lunch for allowing me to testify today.”
The NASA director, no more responsive than Lawrence had been, waved his hand. “I’ll pay for anything to resolve this. I think we all have questions begging to be answered!”
After returning, Isaac leaned over, whispering into Eric’s ear.
“You must be exhausted. You’ve been working overtime without any breaks.”
Eric wiped his brow, closed his eyes and exhaled before speaking. “It’s been stressful. Testifying about what I did, the grilling by the police who wanted not only the details I revealed, but information about any other crimes I might know of. The FBI got involved too. They flew in aerial surveys of Lawrence’s property so I could pinpoint where he buried the body.”
Isaac raised his brow. “You didn’t give them anything more, did you?”
They’d reduced the NASA employees at the defense table, since the entire investigation focused on Eric rather than medical testimony or operations at Cape Canaveral. The only ones remaining were Eric, Isaac and Sarah, who helped calm him while offering insights into his state of mind.
“No, I provided enough information to eradicate his threats on my life, but I don’t want to do more than that. The public deserves to know, but the costs are too—”