When we speak mind to mind, telepathically, dialogue will be in italics.
Our latest family addition is in the pool, Oceane is almost always in the pool. We installed an endless pool on the roof, kind of neat, set the flow and off you go. Crawl stroke, backstroke, you're swimming but you don't go anywhere, a liquid treadmill. The entire roof of the pool is a skylight, the walls have big windows, lots of daylight.
We've also discovered a few things. First, she's perfectly willing to do whatever it is we ask. Left to herself, she hangs on the roof, outside if the weather is nice, in the pool area if it's not. The rest of the time she's in Chloe's or the twins' room, dreamily watching the water rock, music plays in the background. I call it music, she prefers isochronic tones, alpha binaural and Tibetan Singing Bowls.
She will watch movies with us, never by herself, and when she does, it's more like she's enjoying our company and Amaya or Dasha's string of comments on the program, the movie itself is only of marginal interest. If you ask her afterwards about a scene or a character, which I have, she has no idea, as if she hadn't watched at all.
She sleeps in a separate bed in the twins’ room, that will change soon, her room is nearly complete, attached to the pool. Our second floor is Janah and I, the twins, the workshop, the pool, and Oceane's bedroom.
Amaya took her shopping, she has a small selection of jeans, skirts, tops, sneakers and jackets, but seldom goes out. She swims nude, she's frequently around the condo nude; despite her background, it isn't sexual. She doesn't come on to anyone, doesn't get flirtatious, she's just naked. We told her she had to wear something at tea and meals, of course when workers or visitors are around. Amaya got her linen and silk nightshirts, but as soon as she can she ditches those.
She has zero interest in formal education, she does like our rooftop garden, Daria and Janah show her what to do, she is meticulous about caring for the plants. She has a natural sense for languages, not writing or reading, conversational only. The twins teach her Russian, Janah French, Nikko Japanese and Zi Chinese. Janah guesses she retains so little, there's unlimited space in her brain for languages. She came to us virtually blank.
We're discussing our little anomaly over tea, "Oceane retains only the things she's interested in. She knows how to care for the plants, she's a language junkie, she's often off someplace in her head. Zi, what do you and Chloe make of it?"
Zi, "Her aura has colors I cannot describe. They seem to be related to the kinds of pale blue and soft yellow I associate with calm, equanimity, serenity."
Chloe, "She’s silent most of the time, but will answer a question if asked, often somewhat vaguely, but she responds. Whether it's genetic temperament or an outgrowth of being confined is impossible to say. While her world has clearly expanded, she's content to be in the universe of our home. If she goes out with Amaya or the twins, she's aware of the environment, doesn't walk across the street without looking, doesn't smash into people, but she also seems to see a different world than we do. Once I asked her about some boys playing basketball in the park, what she thought they were doing. She said, 'I don't think about what they are doing.'"
Nikko, "You ask her what she was thinking about?"
Chloe, "That was my next question, she said, 'I don't think about anything, I feel the air, hear sounds, smell the scents, see people in motion or sitting on a bench. At home, I forget all of it.'"
Janah, "If I were to stick a label on her, it would be an aesthete, with a corollary. An aesthete is highly sensitive to beauty, Oceane is highly sensitive to sensation, the flow of language, the air on her skin, scents, textures, being in water. Other things are there, but she attaches no meaning to them."
Dasha, Daria, and Eloise come along, "Ees tea Dahfoney?"
"Sure is, green left, black right, you may need to stick it in the microwave a bit."
Dasha makes three cups, black for she and her sister, green for Eloise, they sit, I ask, "Seen Oceane?"
Dasha, "Da, she ees finish swim, hair drying. You will get her art supply."
"She asked for art supplies?"
"Nyet, she ees make drawing wiz peencul, gud."
"What did she draw?"
Amaya, "Don't make me beat it out of you, how did she do? What's it look like?"
Dasha sighs, heads to the stairway to her room talking to herself, "Eemaya haf always to know what, why, we say Oceane ees gud, enough already to buy art supply."
She returns with a sheet of ordinary printer paper, on it is a pencil drawing that is so Daria and Dasha it's like a photograph.
Amaya, "Good God, it looks like a black and white camera image," she passes it around.
Oceane comes down the steps, sheer linen nightshirt hugging her almost not quite curves. She finds a place, Dasha pours a cup of green, heats it a bit, places it in front of her.
Amaya, "Where did you learn to do this, it's remarkable."
"Kara said she sees the drawing before she draws it, so I came home and studied the paper, then I drew Daria and Dasha."
"Can I show it to Kara?"
She shrugs her shoulders, sips tea.
Janah, Well, well, well.
We finish up, Dasha and I stay to clean up and plot dinner, decide to pass by the moms' condo before we hit the deli.
Kara, "Jiminy, she drew this?"
"Yes, you gave her a method, she stared at the paper, picked up the pencil, here it is. We didn't see her do it, but it didn't just fall out of the sky. Plus, Dasha said she drew it. She wouldn't make it up, she doesn't do made up, she's a literalist, Dasha says what happened."
Susan, "No she wouldn't. In this case there's really no point, why fabricate?"
Dasha, "Dahfoney will get better pencil, gud paper, she did not ask for paint or brush. You will ask."
Kara, "I have the things she needs here. You're going to the deli, I'll bring them over tomorrow."
"It's a plan."
Kara, "Can I hang onto this, I'd like to show James and take a closer look myself."
"Sure, if you have the time Sis, come along with K-mom, call first, Oceane keeps odd hours."
Susan, "Odd hours?"
Dasha, "She ees up at night, goes for sweeming, maybe to keetchen for apple or banana, then slip until ten or eleven. Sometimes to bed early, sometimes late, sometimes not until morning. She haf own clock, not regular clock."
Susan, "Is that good for her?"
"Sis, her entire being is in another time zone. She's healthy, never ever complains, if we ask her to do something she does it, otherwise keeps to herself, bothers no one, asks for nothing."
Kara, "Beats to a different drummer, if she's going to express herself through art, common drumbeat won't help."
Susan, "One day Janah's going to collect a normal person and none of you will know what to do with them."
"Normal people are boring."
"Is that a Buddhist saying?"
"No, it's a Buddhist way of being."
We take off, time to graze deli selections, Sy and Sehba have fried fish tonight, stuffed baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, we get both, chop raw vegetables for Oceane, I spot freshly made hummus, she might go for that.
Lucky guess, hummus is a hit, good thing, it's low fat, full of fiber, good carb-protein ratio. Best thing is she likes it. Given her penchant for vegetables and fruit, I have to keep up her protein level. If she like hummus, she'll like beans, that'll solve the protein problem. She also drinks the yogurt, whey protein, Chia seed and berry smoothies I've used for years to keep Nikko functional.
Janah, "Yum, mac and cheese and a stuffed potato, mix in hummus with the potato, perfect."
Eloise, "I got new cases for the IPhones today. Now your phone will also be a stun gun, and the case protects the phone."
Nikko, "Geez, what next?"
"You can also use it's battery to recharge your phone."
Oceane is crunching broccoli, cauliflower and yellow pepper, she dips them in her portion of hummus, eats a small bowl of carrots, carries her plates to the sink and disappears up the stairs.
"Sis and Kara are coming over tomorrow, Kara's bringing starter art supplies."
Amaya, "I am anxious to see what she comes up with, I am interested in illustrating my next book."
"That would be cool, like the Pessl novel, Night Film, she has all those old photographs that illustrate the text."
Nikko, "Why don't you put the book online? Not like Scribd, on a website, you can add whatever you want, audio, video, photos, charge to read, no shipping, no publisher cut."
"That, Nishiko, is a good idea. I shall get Mayumi and Katsumi to design the site."
"They have careers, perhaps ask Susan, she likes that sort of thing and she gets first look at your work."
Morning, Susan calls at seven thirty, "Oceane mobile? Probably not."
"Have to go see, come over anyway, we're dawdling on breakfast prep, just getting it cranked up."
I disconnect, Dasha's with me, "Oceane awake?"
"Don't wake her, Susan and Kara are coming for breakfast, it will be ready in fifteen minutes or so."
I waffle prep, Dasha is breaking eggs, grits bubble on the stove. Bacon and sausage on the griddle. We remodeled the kitchen to add a restaurant style grill. Too many people for skillets and pans.
Sis and Kara arrive, their condo is less than three blocks from Chapmans, we live on the top floors, underneath us is the exclusive private girls' school Janah and I attended. Lacy Chapman, the school's founder, lives down the hall, she gave us the space to build out years ago. Since then we've sucked up most of the available fourth floor and built more rooms on what used to be the roof.
Kara, "This kitchen, it's gone commercial."
"No choice, breakfast around here is like a diner, we can crank out eggs, bacon, sausage much more easily. Make all the pancakes at the same time, clean one griddle, done."
"Still have to do those the old fashioned way, but they're popular so I got a commercial waffle maker, does ten at a time."
The scent of coffee and grilling does its job, girls wander in and take a seat, Dasha and I pass plates of scrambled eggs and a waffle, platters of bacon and sausage, big bowl of buttery grits.
Susan, "I still miss those long ago breakfasts at home, but the Village Diner is a simple alternative. I wonder how many meals we've collectively eaten there?"
"Geez, Janah and I have gone at least once a week for twenty years, can't count the years we spent at the temple, that's over a thousand times."
Sis, "And you're still only twenty five."
"Isn't like we asked for it. I'm nearly forty in time on Earth, still mid twenties, so's Janah, Nikko and Zi. Amaya and Chloe are sixteen, Eloise twenty someodd. The twins are perpetual teens, no clue what happens to Oceane."
Susan, “Kara and I made it to creaky thirty nine before you figured out the DNA bit. Better than the fifty five-ish we would be.
Amaya, "Susan, Nikko made an interesting suggestion. She said I should consider putting my next book on a website. It would allow for other media, video, audio, photos. People subscribe, pay a flat price for the content, cheaper than buying it even on Kindle. My end would actually be better. What do you think?"
Susan, "I only like it if I get to design the site."
Amaya grins, "That was my ulterior motive in asking you."
"Let me design something, you can play with it and see what needs to be tweaked. Do you want to write it on the site? Seems simpler."
Amaya, "Good, I mean, there will be spell check, cut and paste, font flexibility, colors, italics, right?"
"Yes, and readers will be returned to the page where they left off. It will take cards or PayPal, but we won't store card numbers or passwords. I can make that plain on the purchase page. E-mail addresses will be required so it can send them a password, which they can change. I'll also make it clear we don't retain e-mail addresses. Do you want a contact form?"
"I think so, we can try it and see what sorts of comments come in."
Susan, "Enough to get me started, I'll have something in a few days, I can make adjustments as you use it, you can add other features if you find it helpful."
“Can you make it write books while I shop? I will not have to employ so much brain strain of thinking up plots and characters.”
Nikko, “How can you possibly do more shopping?”
“I can rise to any challenge, as I have clearly demonstrated.”
Dasha is talking to the grill, “Eemaya ees for making us peefect beautiful girl, what ees…oh, da, waffle to oven for warming, fleep bacon…maybe we haf Shadow person to keel soon..”
Susan tells Kara, “Everyone here lives in an alternate universe.”
Oceane makes an appearance, smiles at Susan and Kara, the empty seat is next to Kara, on purpose, to show her the art supplies.
Dasha brings her a cup of tea, cut fruit, small portion of scrambled eggs and grits. No meat, she'll eat seafood, shrimp or fish, not crazy about red meat or even chicken. Janah's a vegetarian, it's no problem for us, we do veg every day.
We make small talk while she eats, when she's done, Kara pulls out a variety of pencils, letter size and oversize sketch pads. She left the paints, easel and canvases by the door, we're not sure how much art Oceane wants to get into.
"These are for you. Your drawing was impressive, and beautiful."
Oceane, "I like the feeling of it, the sound of the pencil on paper. I did a couple more last night, these pads are much better than copy paper. Lots of pencils."
Kara, "The part that draws is graphite. These pencils have a variety of graphite, some softer, some harder, some make fat lines, others very thin. Just play with them, you will find which ones suit what you need. Oh, I brought an electric sharpener, much more exact."
Oceane studies the pencils, she doesn’t know from thank you, her gentle smile is better than thanks.
Kara, "I brought paints and brushes as well. Would you like me to show you how to set it up?"
Oceane nods once, she's pretty spare with movement, even seems to swim sparely, like Nikko when she moves. Minimalist motion.
"Set up in the work shop for now. Her room is finished but I need to get something to set the easel on, the floor is off white tile."
Susan, "Oooh, I want to see."
We trek up to the newest addition, Susan says, "I should have suspected, no wonder she lives in the clouds, you put her there."
"She likes it, and can go right to her second home, the pool, just through there. She does allow the rest of us to use it though."
Kara, "Splendid, you live like royalty. You redesigned the workshop as well?"
"Eloise needed more of a bedroom. We had a full bath installed when we built it, but there was no separate bedroom, she slept on a twin bed in the workshop. We extended a wall and made a bedroom. She picked it out, didn't want one of our extravaganzas."
Susan, "It suits her."
I lay out a square of visqueen, Kara sets up the easel, gives a brief introduction to the paints and brushes, "The trick is to play with it. Mix colors until you find something you like. If you get into it, we'll get a second easel so you can dab colors and densities. I don't do watercolor, you may prefer that. Unless you want the colors to bleed into each other, you need to wait until one color is dry before adding another next to it. There aren't any rules, try everything you think of."
Oceane is quietly taking it in. If she wishes to pursue it, Chapmans has an art teacher and Kara will be happy to offer her instruction. Kara earns another smile and a brief hug.
We leave her to do whatever, return downstairs, Kara says, "She's a bit like Janah, I felt a sense of calm with the hug. She really is untouched by the world, isn't she?"
"Considering what she experienced, it baffles us, but there it is. We don't attribute causes to everything, we skip trying to explain that she's this way because of or in spite of her experience."
Susan and Kara take off, we're pushing ten o'clock, Janah needs to get to the temple.
Manolo, "Master Sylk, Abbess, welcome."
"Good to be in the temple. I see the garden is turned over, I'm not used to seeing a space with no plants."
"We are leaving portions fallow for a year, the land needs a rest. We will keep one quarter unplanted each year. The soil in our elevated gardens is being replaced, it will all be fresh by spring planting."
Janah, "Soil needs to be refreshed and nourished, it can't supply what it doesn't have, perhaps the subject of a talk after meditation."
Manolo grins, "We are honored to have the garden as part of your instruction."
Janah goes off to administrate, I chat with David Li for a bit, then head to Tan's hut for qi meditation. (Qi is my spelling for chi, pronounced chee, energy or life force.) Master Tan trained Janah in advanced qi. Trained is the wrong word. Janah was already advanced, he transmitted his qi skills to her over two years. It is a difficult dangerous process and Janah fell ill along the way. Shadows train in advanced qi, the difference is many are not temperamentally suited in the first place, others take on too much too soon and the mind is broken. If it doesn't kill them, they become a kind of hyper-psycho, they can take a mind, bend it to their will. If you encounter one, he can take your money, you will give it to him (or her) you will offer up your child, you will kill yourself if he commands it. There is no redemption for a Shadow, sending them to jail, if anyone can actually get them there, will only result in more death. They will sooner rather than later simply walk out of prison and no one will stop them, in fact, the guards will open the doors. When we come across one we are required to delete them, Shaolin have died in the attempt.
Master Tan returned to the void years ago, but his spirit inhabits the hut he lived in, it's our favorite place for qi meditation. I settle in for an hour, then a second, I am absorbing energy which circulates through my body and blood. It is this meditation we believe to be partly responsible for our vitality, that we do not age. Genetic mutation does the rest. Our family are GMOs, they like it.
The bonds between the girls who live with us are like neural networks, some of us even merge with some of the others. Merge means just that, two people become physically and mentally one. Janah and I have done it for years, then with Nikko. It is a unique transformative experience, understanding another by being another. No confusion, no misunderstanding, only clarity and bliss. You can find it, just give up fear, secrets, hiding, deception, judgment and opinion. Oh, and it will require another person willing to do the same thing. Good luck with that.
Speaking of which, Janah comes along and we merge for an hour, then blissfully make our way to lunch. Lunch in the temple isn’t until one, we decide to visit Fong's, been too long since we've seen Ning. Lunch at the temple is taken in silence, I've already been silent for three hours, another hour and my brain will explode.
Ning, "Daphne, Janah! Taking our or eating in?"
"Good question, let me see," Dasha, has everyone had lunch, who's around?
All except Nikko and Zi. I haf no start lunch. Eemaya ees writing, Daria and Eloise een shop, Vesnushki ees sweem, I sweem earlier, Oceane ees paint.
I'm at Fong's, I'll bring it home then.
"Had to chat with Dasha, guess we'll take out, everyone's at home except Nikko and Zi."
Nikko and Zi walk into the restaurant, "We were going to grab lunch and go home."
"Nobody's eaten yet, I'm getting takeout to bring home."
"Then include us, be good to have a half day off."
Ning goes off to put together something, we don't need to order, she's sent lunches and dinners over to us for years.
Amaya, I'm leaving now to pick you up, save the food getting cold while you walk it home, girls are hungry anyway.
At home, nice, it's only one and everybody is here.
Nikko, "Chloe, do you and Daphne want a kendo session later?"
Yes and yes.
"Before or after tea?"
"Before I think, is good with you Chloe?"
Everything is good with Chloe, Nikko asks out of courtesy. Oceane floats down, smiles at everyone, has a half plate of Chinese vegetables and brown rice, rinses her plate and floats back up the stairs.
Amaya, "Always a pleasure to see you Oceane."
We laugh, Oceane is the house ghost, appears when she chooses, disappears the same way. Probably stressful to have to wear clothes for too long. I tap into the IPhone, check her room, yep, nightshirt she was wearing draped on the chair, she's cross legged on her bed in nothing, I click off.
Dasha, "I watch her make sketch on roof, skyline of city, like in fog or smoke, dream city. She ees also paint."
Chloe, "What's she painting?"
"Maybe practice, many colors. She puts paint here," a finger points at an imaginary spot, "then here," finger moves, "then done wiz a color, she waits until dry, then different color until cahnvas ees fill."
"Has she said anything about lessons?"
Amaya, "I shall go and see, you have me curious."
When we built Oceane's room, we added another circular staircase that goes to the workshop. Eloise and Oceane use it to get to their rooms. The staircases are in our workout room, along the far wall, they don't suck up much space, but we couldn't add stairs to Oceane's room, it's on a part of the roof that's over the elevator and hallway to Lacy's place. The first staircase goes directly to the roof, the second to the bedroom for Janah and me.
We decide to meet for kendo at two thirty, tea will be four thirty or five, Dasha and I clear the table, load the dishwasher, then stretch out together on the couch in a fit of nothing. We zone out until Chloe comes back, dressed for kendo. I hop up the stairs and get ready. Nikko, Chloe, and I do kata for an hour, I spot Oceane on the steps watching. We have formal matches, Chloe and I are a good contest, a match with Nikko is no contest. Then Chloe and I go two on one against Nikko. We manage to keep her busy, even nab a couple of strikes. If we used real katana, Chloe and I would be bleeding out.
"Haven't lost jack Nishiko, maybe you shouldn't practice for a year or two, even up the odds."
Nikko, "Maybe you should practice more often."
Chloe laughs, I'm not selling Nikko on the idea, probably couldn't take her if she was in a wheelchair.
"I'm under a quick shower, Dasha will get tea started, see you in a few," I'm off to drench, back down in fifteen in a t-shirt, let my hair air dry.
The ghost even participates, Amaya says, "Her painting is extraordinary, the Russian Philistine saw splotches of paint, it is her room in abstract, incredible detail. She is Salvador Dali reincarnated as a seven year old weirdo."
Oceane, "Dasha never saw it finished."
Amaya, "Ah, then I apologize to the Philistine, who likely wouldn't recognize Oceane's genius anyway."
"I recall it being Dasha who pointed her artistic talent out to us in the first place."
Chloe, "You're on a downhill slide Amaya, retreat."
Amaya grins, "Conceded, and the snacks are splendid, such light airy cookies, these are not from a box."
"No, Dasha's on a cookie roll, these are meringue crisps, vanilla and almond, she whips a mean egg white."
Oceane takes a bite of one, stares off into her alternate universe, "Sweet air," she crunches the other half, Dasha wipes a crumb from her lip and earns a serene smile.
"What did you think of kendo?"
Oceane, "What is kendo?"
"When you watched us practice with the shinai, bamboo swords."
"I like the movement, slow and deliberate, then sudden, hard. I will draw it," she stands, I say, "Just leave the plate and cup, we'll clear the table in a bit.”
No reply, probably exhausted from all the conversation, she disappears up the stairs.
Nikko, "That is a strange young lady, is she doing okay? Seems content, does she interact with anyone?"
"Dasha and Amaya mostly, Chloe started swimming, she sometimes hangs around for that."
Chloe, "She's not there when I swim. I mean, she's in the pool house or on the roof outside, but she's elsewhere. Her aura is a peculiar combination of colors, ones I haven't been able to attach to a particular state of mind."
Amaya, "We talk of feelings, sensations, not emotions. How the air feels, how water feels, the scratch of the pencil on her sketch pad, the brush on the canvas, sun on her body. If I ask her about people, the family, she has no idea how to express herself, she has no opinion, no judgment, her sense of it is that everyone is harmonious. She didn't say harmonious, she said all together, but that's what she meant."
"Any idea of whether she includes herself in the all together?"
"Her exact words were, 'we are all together'."
"Oh, good then, she feels a part of something at least."
Janah, "On a different note, there's work. Anyone want to go to Philadelphia and brutalize an abuser?"
I've taken it for granted that you have read the prior books explaining the Society and our role as domestic abuse vigilantes. You can find more information about the beginning in Book III Chapter 6.
Here's a summary of the Society:
The Society by department
Our area is Social Skills, refocusing, as in, ‘Mr. Asshole, you need to work on your social skills. We’re here to help you refocus your energies, so you will cease being a sadistic annoying putz.’ Others do pre-planning, learn target habits, document bad behavior. We deliver the message and keep targets occupied so innocents can be extracted and relocated.
Opportunities funnel into, the Identification Group, which decides if the problem rises to the level calling for a refocusing. It’s their job to investigate circumstances, verify information, make sure it’s not embellished or overstated. The Society’s sources don’t advertise themselves in any way, they just hear stories. If the stories are independently confirmed by the Society’s own people, then Surveillance gathers physical details surrounding the target and any innocents. They suggest the most logical time and place for the refocusing, avoiding Social Skills teams having to follow around the target to pick out the where and when. We may override suggestions based on the situation. With few exceptions, Social Skills teams don’t appear until show time. Sometimes we call them Social Workers rather than Skills, it’s the same people.
Each arm is critical to the mission, Surveillance has to be more devious than Social Skills, they have to follow around the target without raising suspicion. For that reason, it’s made up of the most innocuous people imaginable. No trench coats or private eye types, instead manned mostly by women, usually seniors. Nobody thinks twice about a nosy old lady. Other Surveillance members are retired men, expert at adopting a kind of slow dopey drawl, pretending they can barely remember the answer to their last question. The elders ask the same stupid questions two or three times. How could a guy who can’t remember two seconds ago be any kind of threat? The success of the Society is based on the premise that people see what they expect to see and act accordingly. It would be a long stretch for targets to connect a barely noticed senior a month earlier to my fingers in their throat today. Targets lack the imagination.
Transportation and Travel arrange flights, cars, lodging. They deliver fake driver’s licenses, passports or other ID, a valid license saying Janah is a brain surgeon if it came to it. There is so much work in the states, international travel isn’t a part of it. Passports come in handy as alibis. The Society could supply a passport verifying that we were in Venezuela, or Paris, or Uzbekistan if we were ever charged with anything. Additionally, Travel arranges places to park targets if we need them quiet for a while. Or a quiet place where nobody can hear them scream.
Extraction removes innocents and takes them to wherever they need to go to be finished with the target forever. Extraction details what will be done for them, and what won’t. Running back to the place they came from is a choice, but there wouldn’t be another offer to escape. The Society concluded that the only convincing that they would do is convince the target to quit being an asshole. If the innocents can’t get a grip and take advantage of the chance for a new life, they aren’t considered innocents any longer. They become accomplices in their own misery. C’est la vie.
Placement sets up the innocents in new locations, new jobs, gets them needed medical or psychological care. Placement never sees them, never sees the new employers or landlords. They might be ghosts for all anyone knows.
Placement personnel don’t know they are Placement personnel. They don’t know why they are setting up jobs, or apartments, arranging to buy used cars or calling for doctor’s appointments. They don’t have a clue about the Society or any of its activities. They work individually from home, off a set of online instructions. One might set up a job, another person across the country might arrange to buy a used car, someone else schedules medical appointments, a fourth arranges for an apartment. Once their role in the process is done, the site they log into disappears. When it’s time for them to do another job, they’re contacted, given an online address with a new set of instructions. They are paid well, in cash. None of them complains about their employer. None of them have the slightest idea who employs them. They are told they are working for a company that provides the services they are asked to perform. Despite the circular non-answer, the rate of pay trumps any curiosity.
Compliance, also called Minders, monitor targets for whatever time it takes to ensure the refocusing is effective, no less than a year, sometimes longer. Compliance personnel are also older, retired. No one asks why they aren’t at work or school, or how they can just hang out all day. Minders can be around if they’re needed while Social Skills works. Sometimes we need people to redirect traffic, keep them away from a house or office while we deal with a target. Minders track targets after we refocus them. An occasional postcard reminding then to be a good boy, a phone call with a similar message, a note stuck under a windshield wiper, an e-mail, even a text depending on their tech sophistication.
If the target moves, they get a call or a note within a day or two after settling in. There is no place to run unless they leave the country for good. People think about doing that, they mostly don’t. Too much new language, finding employment, even illegal employment, is a problem. In movies, people move around the world like everything is as simple as a plane ticket. It isn’t.
Lastly, there are Cleaners, you can guess what they’re about. Refocusing is often messy, blood and broken furniture. Cleaners clean.