I failed the first tests when I was just a little kid. You know the ones. The preliminary PSE’s.
Psychopathy, Sociopathy, and Empathy psychology exams administered to everyone in elementary school. They showed me the pictures of people I was supposed to feel sympathy for and I felt nothing. Even back then, I knew there was something wrong with that. No tender feelings for animals, either.
A puppy had the same emotional content as a cockroach. None at all.
I didn’t understand at first but when my parents started whispering about our missing dog, I quickly put two and two together. I didn’t even tell them about it. They just knew. I didn’t understand why it was so important that I feel something about some dumb old dog. He was sick and dying anyway. I didn’t even enjoy it.
My parents were afraid of me. I knew that. I didn’t feel it. I knew it. Something about the way they looked at me. Something about how my mother would hug me, hold me close, whisper to me how I would be okay. My father didn’t even disguise his feelings. His disgust was clearly evident. I memorized his face, his emotional depth. I could replicate the behavior perfectly after seeing it one time.
Compassion took longer.
It was more…rich, more complex. At the time I simply didn’t understand the depth of compassion. Later I found out, compassion and empathy were simply beyond the range of things I would ever feel.
At the age of five, I began to replicate the emotional appearances of everyone around me. I couldn’t tell you what I was feeling but I knew I was in danger if I could not learn this. Until I took the official tests, I was allowed to attend school. My classmates were a wealth of information.
Each charming, childlike face smiled at the most vacuous of things. Making shapes, coloring on paper, writing their names, things I mastered in hours, they took weeks to learn. I read War and Peace by the time I was six, but I didn’t tell anyone. I pretended to struggle just like my classmates and made the right noises, laughing and such.
The pretense sickened me.
Once I was out of school, I could disappear onto the bus and go home. My sitter, a forgettable local teenager, Megan, spent the bulk of her time on the phone with her friends, or on the computer looking at mostly naked men. I went into my room and read books I smuggled from the library. I could read a thousand pages a day.
I would be ten when they tested again. Their trepidation as my second test date drew near increased but they seemed hopeful announcing to the mysterious person on the phone about my progress, my displays of emotion and how perhaps the Childhood Psychological Survey group need not make a visit to our home. She was always crestfallen at the end of the call. I watched her conversation with the agent and found it curious.
The woman, Ms. Fischer, seemed to exhibit the very same nature she accused me of; she was cold and aloof. Her eyeglasses held eyes as distant as my own.
I saw the Psychopomp on the table and knew its history. The Psychopath Purges of 2050 from humanity world-wide promised to fix the urge for dominance that had all but destroyed the Earth as we knew it.
The evening before the test, a neighbor came over to report a missing cat. I told them I had never seen it. I was believable.
The day of the test, the Psychopomp determined I was incurable and would be destroyed. My parents wailed and gnashed their teeth. The agency police escorted me out of the house.
I felt no fear of death.
Ms. Fischer walked me to her car, her eyeglasses in her hand. She didn’t look at me.
“I lied to your parents. Do you want us to fix you? We can now. You can be as ordinary as anyone else. All of your cognitive gifts would be gone as well.”
“No.” I replied.
“Good. We don’t want to either. You’ll work for us. Controlling the world is tireless work. We need someone like you who is willing to do anything…”
Psychopomp © Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved
Photography: Unemotional ©2010-2013 ~miliaris