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The Cost of Secrets: A Paranoia Tale

Words: Rise,Fallen

By Charles CarlosPublished 4 months ago 5 min read
The Cost of Secrets: A Paranoia Tale
Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

There was concern amongst the group - they suspected hidden recording devices within the books in the library. With so many books, it was impossible to individually check each one. The librarian vehemently opposed the idea, arguing that such valuable items could be damaged by careless handling.

One of the members stated that if they were worried about recording devices, it was possible they were already being recorded. Another member, embarrassed by the comment, retorted that the group wore robes to avoid being recorded by such devices.

The meeting was tense, with a window providing a potential opening for a drone to record their conversation. While this seemed unlikely, the members made an effort to avoid the shaft of sunlight with its dancing dust motes.

The treasurer suggested finding a new location, but the group was reluctant to move from the library. After all, it was the ideal setting for a group of writers to convene.

One writer suggested a solution - they could rewrite everything, but include a code word at the beginning of each line. If anyone attempted to copy it, the text would not make sense.

The chair conceded that this would be a suitable temporary solution until they identified the source of the breach. They tabled further discussion for fear of teaching the potential culprit how to improve their tactics. The group fell silent, despondent and unheard.

As the last light faded from the window, the members began leaving one by one into the damp, grey evening, feeling unseen and unacknowledged.

The librarian paused outside the library, scanning the street for any members in disguise. After a quick circuit, she removed her cardigan and shook out her hair, ready to depart. Removing the caps from her shoes, she made another check for any signs of surveillance. Finally, she removed her smart-specs and delivered them to a dilapidated game shop, muttering at the writers' supposed intelligence.

As the days passed, the group of writers continued to meet in the library, but there was a noticeable tension in the air. The members whispered their conversations and avoided any sensitive topics. The librarian, a strict and intimidating figure, made frequent rounds to ensure no one was speaking too loudly or acting suspiciously.

Despite their efforts to keep their discussions secretive, the group couldn't shake the feeling that they were being watched. One member suggested they investigate the possibility of hidden cameras or microphones, but the others dismissed it as paranoid.

However, their fears were confirmed one evening when a young woman burst into the library, panting and out of breath.

"They know!" she gasped. "They're coming for us!"

The group exchanged confused glances, but before they could question her further, there was a loud banging on the door.

The librarian hurried to answer it, but was met with a team of government officials, all wearing black suits and stern expressions.

"Are you the leader of this group?" one of them demanded.

The librarian straightened her spine and fixed them with a withering glare. "I am the librarian. This is a private writing group. What business do you have here?"

The officials produced a warrant and began rifling through the shelves, pulling out books and examining them carefully. The group of writers watched in horror, their worst fears realized.

Finally, one of the officials turned to the librarian. "We have reason to believe that this group has been engaging in illegal activity, namely the creation of advanced artificial intelligence. Complete with self-learning algorithms and sensory abilities that surpass even human abilities."

The group stared at each other in shock. They had never discussed anything remotely close to this.

"We have reason to believe that this group is a front for an underground organization that is developing advanced A.I. We've been monitoring your conversations and have evidence to support our claims."

The librarian shook her head in disbelief. "That's impossible. We've never discussed anything like that."

The officials produced transcripts of their conversations and recordings, causing the group to realize that their code-word strategy had been useless.

The officials began apprehending members of the group and leading them out of the library in handcuffs, accusing them of treason and endangering national security.

As the last member was dragged out, the librarian collapsed into a chair, feeling the weight of the accusations and the potential consequences. She had dedicated her life to the library and to the preservation of knowledge, and now her beloved institution had been implicated in illegal activities.

Days turned into weeks, and the news outlets picked up on the story, blowing it up into a national scandal. The government officials refused to release any information on the specifics of the investigation or the charges against the writers, leading to rampant speculation and rumors.

The librarian found herself the target of angry protesters and threats of violence, blamed for harboring a group of criminals. The library's funding was cut and it was forced to close its doors, leaving the librarian without a job or a purpose.

Months passed, and the group of writers were finally given their day in court. However, the trial was shrouded in secrecy, with only a handful of government officials and lawyers present. The writers were not allowed to bring their own legal counsel, and were given little information on the charges against them.

In the end, they were all found guilty and given lengthy prison sentences, with no chance of parole. The librarian, who had chosen to represent herself, was sentenced to life in prison for aiding and abetting a criminal organization.

As she was led away in handcuffs, the librarian couldn't help but wonder if things could have been different if they had simply moved their meetings to a more secure location. It was a bitter lesson in the dangers of suspicion and paranoia, and the devastating consequences of supposed breaches of national security.

If you enjoyed this story, give some of my other works a try, such as my fantasy/horror pieces, dystopian tales, or microfiction entries. I welcome feedback and comments. Thank you for reading!

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