Not All Of What Follows Is True

A recurring journal of mixed veracity.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Instantly her thoughts linked back, reconstructing the past, creating memories which the circumstances of formation gave a certain high-definition quality to.

The landscape was dry, giving up dust whenever foot or tyre disturbed it. There was a roughly-surfaced road, off which were a number of simple prefabricated buildings – mostly the usual fast-food chains. It always made her think of a set from one of those American films that are all about big dusty cars and briefcases full of money.

Two details revealed that it was not. The first was that more fractal camouflage was being worn than would be the case in even the most red of states. The other was the sight, far on the horizon, of the hotel-casinos lining the seafront. She had been there, just once.

Her workplace was here, beyond a chain-link fence and the usual guardposts, in a portacabin which had as its most endearing feature an air-conditioning unit. Inside the cabin she would sit at a cheap table surfaced with wood-effect formica. She had sat there hundreds of times, but her memory tended to render one particular batch of work as a representative of all the others.

She opened the first of the large cardboard boxes that had been left for her, and placed the Ziploc bags that it contained on the table, careful to preserve their groupings. Each had been marked with a date and GPS reference in hurried permanent marker. She did not collect them: that was the job of the human crews which followed-up the armed ROV sweeps through insurgent villages.

The bags contained the personal effects of insurgents themselves: weapons, combs, photographs, mobile phones, cigarettes and lighters, sunglasses, lucky charms, important texts of religious or secular nature, coins, and the large number of objects which were classified as “misc.”

The purpose of her project was to database these collections of items. Over time, the body of data would become large enough for patterns to emerge, consistent associations of particular types of object. Analysis of the patterns of association would reveal the element that had not been recovered – the human figure which the material had once acted in concert with. Results of the analysis would gradually filter up to where tactics, strategy, and eventually policy were determined, imperceptibly shaping the future.

All of that was distant. This was the initial phase, known in the academic literature as “interrogating the agents”, a phrase which she couldn’t help but feel had leapt from her thesis and caught the attention of her new employers in Intelligence.


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