Something needs to be said, but my mind is still in chaos. He’s looking at me, I know it; he’s also listening, sneakily, to hear my honest impression about it. His sudden laugh makes me look up from the table. Of course he’s listening. You know I can’t help it, he says. Oh, I know that, but you also know I don’t like it. Shall I open my mouth and talk or are we continuing the whole conversation like this? Sure, I’d rather have you tell me what you think than let me do the job and decipher it for you. After all, you’re getting quite good at censoring your thoughts; no surprise here, you did have a great master. True, the word escapes my lips and I realise my voice trembles. I cough. He is the best from the whole gang and even though I knew a couple tricks before joining, in these past six months I improved greatly. His eyes are fixed onto mine, making it even harder to focus my thoughts properly. Foxy - my nickname rolls sleekly off his tongue - you don’t have to decide right away if you want to join me or not. Everything seems so sudden, yet this is what I’ve been preparing for: keeping my thoughts sharp under pressure. He calls me again and suddenly the silhouette of a fox takes form in my mind; perfect, I can focus on this. You know how hard it is for me to convince myself that it’s all for the greater good, I say. Using mind reading for… this, I glance at the plans drawn on the table, seems to me like a waste- And I keep telling you, it’s not! His eyes sparkle with fury for a split second before he closes them. A large hound prowls towards the fox, closer with every step. They can smell each other now: friends or foes? Thoughts like that keep me distracted, I explain seeing his confused look. Ignore them or just stop listening with your mind and use your ears instead. I’m trying my best to filter my thoughts, given what’s in front of us. Thanks, I hoped you might be ready for it and you finally understand why we’re doing this, otherwise… I interrupt him, familiar with the dangers of disobedience. Thinking may be dangerous, but not believing in the organisation is even worse. Anyone can listen to our minds right now and we wouldn’t even be aware of it... He says mind reading is like a drug; I can’t help rolling my eyes as it’s not the first time I’ve heard this comparison. Come on, Foxy, you know it’s a good comparison! He smiles. The hound paws at the fox, asking her to play. Eventually she relents, albeit cautiously. I grin back at him. Everyone knows about drugs, but what does that mean…? Knowing is one thing, he interrupts me, and doing is another. Sure, mind reading is illegal and so are drugs, but some choose to ignore the law. We however are both criminals now, even if you like it or not. Too late to do anything else, anyway, I admit and see his face light up. The hound is still friendly, it seems, but the fox still seems unconvinced. I assume this is the best plan you could come up with? Once we figured out how much money we would make out of this, yes, he says. Everyone around will benefit from it, our group worked hard and they deserve it more than those fancy millionaires. What can be more noble? Nothing, he continues as I didn’t respond. The gap between rich and poor becomes wider and wider, and no one cares about people like us. Reading rich people’s secrets and bribing them afterwards is the only thing we excel at! I bite my lip until the pain stops my restless mind, until it erases any potentially dangerous thought. The fox slowly moves away from the hound, hoping there’s still a chance he would continue her way; but he pounces instead. Growling, the hound forces the fox to retreat into a corner. She tries to run past him and to her surprise the hound stays still, he doesn’t oppose if she’s running away. Perhaps he is giving her one last chance. How about using mind reading without hurting anyone, at least? I ask quietly without looking at him, wincing at his laugh. You always had this idea ever since you joined us, Foxy. I admire you for that and always will. To be honest, he lifts my chin to look me in the eyes, at the beginning I thought you were here to spy on us and send messages back to the police. But then I started listening to your thoughts… A blank expression stays on my face for a second, then I burst into laughter. Well, I do hope I proved you wrong! You did get me addicted to mind reading though, and no police officer would fall that low. The violence is what I’m not so sure I can help with, I continue while the fox in my mind slowly turns around to stare at the hound, certain that he won’t move now. He’s waiting for me to continue. The truth is, I can’t imagine going back to not using mind reading any more. The power that comes with it, the challenge in case the wrong person is listening… or worse, typing down your thoughts. I breath in slowly. Expect me to be there, I suddenly burst. His eyes sparkle with delight for a second, and the fox takes one step closer to the hound, then another one, until she is standing next to him. I’m glad to hear- No hurting from my side though, I interrupt. I’ll do anything else apart from fight. He nods quickly. I know how your mind works, Foxy, and your cunning will be more helpful than your combat abilities. It’s a deal then.
Written on: 28 February 2019
Note: This story was submitted for a "1000 word challenge" competition on the theme of "Crime", and it received an honorary mention from the judges!