Chapter One - Thoughts

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How many thoughts do humans have each day? If you're not a Prolific, the answer is fifty to seventy-five thousand

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How many thoughts do humans have each day? If you're not a Prolific, the answer is fifty to seventy-five thousand. How many of those thoughts have value? All of them.

1

THOUGHTS

"Jacob Ashton," the woman in the suit called out at the front of the lobby. I gained my feet and gave her a nervous smile which she returned with cold disinterest. She was tall and slender, and her graying hair was pulled back in a neat bun. "If you'll please follow me to the back."

I walked across the grime-coated linoleum flooring as I followed the assistant to the exam room located behind a reinforced steel door. There were others in the lobby, waiting for their exams. Some of them, mostly the young like myself, had that nervous spark of hope, while the veterans sat with something that more or less resembled a disheartened sense of duty. The other people waiting in the lobby faded away as I walked. My heart pounded in my chest as I prepared for my three-year evaluation, the evaluation which could decide my future for the rest of my life.

"Any health problems we should know?" she asked in a flat voice.

"No, ma'am."

"Very well, if you'll have a seat in the chair we will get started," she said as she pointed to a cushioned red chair.

The woman's heels clacked against the surface of the floor, and I took a seat in the chair. I breathed deeply and tried to collect myself, though I knew the jittery nerves wouldn't affect my performance.

I heard that this wasn't going to be like a typical thought collection session, but rather a system presenting challenges for my brain to solve, problems I wouldn't remember when waking up.

The restraints on the chair latched around my arms and legs, and I tried to keep my breathing calm.

"Just relax please, Jacob," the woman said as she rubbed an icy alcohol wipe on my forearm, the strong scent flooding my nose and bringing about more anxiety.

"Will this hurt?" I asked, already knowing the answer.

The woman gave a sigh, indicating she'd responded to the same question many times. "Yes, it will, but only for a second."

She slid a long IV needle into a large vein in my arm, and I winced. There was a cold sting as the fluids trickled into me.

"Your session will take about four hours, and you'll be paid for your time regardless of whether we select you for a unique Government position," she said as she put the headgear with the neuro pads on my head.

"Breathe deeply for me, Jacob," the woman said as she injected a blue fluid into the IV bag that hung above the chair. The color trickled down the tubing and connected with my arm. I breathed in several deep breaths as I felt my head spin and vision go white.

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