Glimpse of the Future
"OK, what am I looking at?"
The Director swept into the office with the impatient air of someone who has far too much workload and too little time to complete it in. He dropped his small stack of files on the black glass table with an thud and swung into the plush leather swivel chair situated at the head of the boardroom table. He looked around the rest of the surveillance team who shuffled their paperwork nervously or looked to each other to take the lead. The boardroom was much the same as the rest of their office complex; lots of black glass and chrome interspersed with large monitors displaying current events from different locations around the globe, data on specific suspects or graphics of the agencies logo. Alongside these were many notice boards filled with maps and mug shots of various persons of interest. Beyond the boardroom, other agents busied themselves with organised efficiency like worker ants. Even the women wore the same dark grey suits. There were no windows here, the only light not coming from the monitor screens was provided by bright fluorescent strip lights that ran in lines throughout the office. Agent Dawson took to his feet.
"The subject's name is Daniel Mills." He pointed a device at the screen dominating the far wall and an unassuming middle aged man's face filled it. He looked innocent enough; intelligent eyes looked out from a face beset with laughter lines. His hairline looked to be retreating back over the top of his head, leaving the remaining hair more silver than the original brown. Clean shaven and well groomed, he looked the sort of man who could pass anyone by without a second thought. The Director leant back in his chair.
"So, talk to me about Daniel Mills." He steepled his fingers as he studied the face.
"Daniel came to our attention a little over a month ago. Since then, we have had him under 24 hour surveillance." Agent Dawson slid a dossier across the table towards the Director who snatched it up and began flicking through the pages, concentration left deep lines on his forehead.
"I see," he began. "and you have found what exactly?"
"It's probably easier if I show you." With that, Agent Dawson pointed his device back at the screen and the face of Daniel Mills was replaced with the slightly grainy footage of a CCTV camera angled along a busy street. The Director immediately recognised the slight curve and architecture of Regent Street. It looked to be part of the early morning rush hour; the pavements were lined with pedestrians, most of which wore the apparel of the office worker. They trudged along in unison, dotted with a few early morning shoppers sporting trophy bags of purchases. The endless stream of people blurred into one, until the camera zoomed in on one section. Amidst the other down turned faces stood one familiar balding man, his gaze more alert than his peers.
"OK, so he works in the city, big deal." The Director tossed the file back on the table and turned to Agent Dawson with raised eyebrows.
"Bear with me sir. Look there." He pointed to the screen where Daniel was slowing his pace, causing several suited pedestrians to swerve impatiently around him. Glancing up and down the road, he darted through the gap between two stationary busses and resumed his progress on the right hand side of the road. The camera zoomed out again. The big picture showed now a woman hailing a taxi on the left side, one of which slowed too quickly for the cyclist behind to react properly. He skidded as he applied his brakes, causing him to careen into the kerb and flip up onto the pavement, into the crowd of pedestrians that Daniel Mills would have been walking amongst. As the stricken cyclist and pedestrians picked themselves up and dusted themselves down, the Director turned his chair towards Agent Dawson.
"Is that it? You better have a lot more than that, Dawson."
The agent merely nodded, the corner of his mouth turning up into a slight smile.
"Oh yes, we do. Watch this."
The screen flickered and jumped to another street scene; this one looked late night along a high street dotted with charity shops and fast food takeaways. It was clear that it was raining heavily; several large puddles hugged the kerbside, their surface dancing with the impact of more rain droplets and the trails of traffic that disturbed their outer edges. A few people hurried across the screen, heads down and hoods up. Before too long, another figure entered the edge of the frame dressed in an identical coat with hood pulled up. Agent Dawson identified the figure as Daniel Mills. Behind him walked a young couple huddled under one umbrella. As he progressed along the pavement, he seemed to slow a little, causing the couple to catch him up. Eventually he stopped completely and they passed him while he stood awkwardly in the middle of the pavement. A flash in the corner of the screen showed a car speeding past which obviously spied a large puddle as too good an opportunity to miss, as a huge sheet of spray swept across the pavement, completely soaking the young couple. As they stood, mouths open in shock, Daniel resumed his progress and carried on out of shot.
"Right, so he's a lucky guy?"
"More than that, sir." Agent Dawson remained passive, just the slight smile showing any emotion. "We were observing for two weeks and found no less than 8 instances like this."
Behind him, on the screen, footage from a station platform showed Daniel patiently waiting for a train.
"And you believe this man can what, predict the future?" The footage showed Daniel subtly moving away as the commuter next to him dropped a full cup of coffee with no lid. The next piece of film was from a camera at the top of Regent Street. The Director nodded at the screen. "What's this?"
Dawson glanced at the screen briefly. "The subject takes the same route to work every day, except this day. He took a longer route around because, unbeknown to anyone at the time, the end of Regent Street was about to be blocked by the emergency services to tackle a fire."
"OK." The Director seemed to be deep in thought. "But you know protocol. I take it you moved your surveillance into stage 2?"
"Of course Sir." Dawson calmly pressed a button on his device and the screen jumped to the interior of a tube train. "We wanted to start off small, you understand. We were pretty convinced by this point, but you know protocol."
The Director huffed his response, his eyes studying the footage. Daniel had embarked now and took the seat nearest the door. There were few other commuters in the carriage, more empty seats than occupied. As Daniel settled into his seat, another figure entered the carriage, just as the doors slid shut. This new figure stood holding a bar in front of the doors with his back to Daniel, but the Director had caught sight of his face and recognised him as Agent Cox, currently seated to his left. In place of the dark grey suit he currently sported, Agent Cox was wearing fashionably ripped jeans and a black hoodie which was pulled up. All the commuters lurched in unison as the train departed the station.
"At this point all I had been informed was to board this train and this carriage at precisely this time," Agent Cox began. "Then I was to open my instructions." Sure enough, the figure of Cox on the screen had retrieved an envelope from a pocket and was unfolding and reading the contents. "They stated that I was to think about mugging the subject. There was a photo of him on the letter."
The Director turned back to the screen where Daniel, who had been relaxing on the train, now had a look of concern on his face. He turned to the figure of Agent Cox and swiftly got to his feet where he moved down the carriage. The footage jumped to another camera, showing Daniel impatiently waiting at the door at the far end of the carriage and when the train came to a stop, he swiftly exited the train onto the platform as shown by the next piece of footage. He only relaxed when the train departed carrying Agent Cox away.
Agent Dawson smiled when he saw the Director now leaning forward in his chair, his impatient attitude replaced by one of complete attention.
"Naturally, we followed up with more tests of a similar nature."
"You haven't spooked him, have you?" asked the Director. "If you are right, and this man does have precognition, too many tests might make him aware. We don't know how he might sense the future, the last thing we want to do at this stage is to scare him off."
"All our surveillance would suggest he is unaware. No changes to routine, still socialising and still attending his job."
"Good, good." The Director sat back in his chair again deep in thought. No one around the table spoke, they all studied his face trying to read any signals there. His mobile phone began to ring. Snatching it from within his blazer pocket he stabbed at it. "Not now, god dammit." Finally he came to a decision. "OK, you've convinced me. We've never found one before, but this man might well be the first bona fide subject with precognition we've found. Bring him in."
"Right away sir." Agent Dawson snapped his fingers and the team exploded into action, punching data into laptops or making phone calls. The Director approached Agent Dawson.
"If you're right, then this day will go down in history. Keep me informed." He didn't wait for an answer, he turned and marched out into the corridor leaving Agent Dawson to smile after him.
Miles away, in an unassuming flat in a small town near London, Daniel Mills sat up on his sofa. He had been watching a nature documentary but now his actions were mimicking those of an animal who has caught the scent of a predator. He sighed and hurried to the bedroom where he retrieved a small bag from the top of the wardrobe, checking its contents briefly before grabbing his shoes and coat and exiting the flat without even turning off the television. He was secretly impressed; usually it took the governments a lot longer to discover his secret than that.