“Crush them with fear,” he said, and hung up the telephone.
One wall of his office was covered with video screens. Many of them were of the flat, expansive, and expensive variety, but more of them were oddities, relics from bygone technological eras. A small cluster of square bulging monitors sat in the corner near the floor. Thick black cables snaked out of them and collected into a tight bundle that wormed into a hole in the baseboard. A row of heavy-looking tube screens was stacked next to this, the flickering images they displayed all but obscured by the ghosts of years of past activity, forever burned into their smoky grey faces. All the screens were lit, though, and they displayed seemingly random scenes. In one high-definition picture a man paced in a kitchen, something flashing in his hand. A knife? A mobile device? It was hard to tell. One of the tube monitors showed the phantom image of a city skyline that flashed in bright relief against a darkened sky at regular intervals. Lightning strikes? Explosions? Again, difficult to know.
“Don’t bother trying to interpret the information,” he told me, sudden and startling at my shoulder. “Everyone who comes here does and fails. There is no reasoning with it, this data. It represents the chaos of the world at large, a reminder of how little control we really have over things.” He patted me on my back. I thought I could feel a cold chill come through my jacket from where he touched me, but that might have been my imagination. “Is it an art installation, then?” I asked.
He chuckled, the dry and papery sound of leaves blowing over a cenotaph. “Something like that. Now then,” he said, rubbing his hands together, “Marcus tells me you have good news.”