Melinda Matthews, a freelance journalist, learns from a pharmaceutical company employee that a medical implant capsule designed and marketed by the company has features that violates a person’s right to privacy. The whistle blower tells her that the device can not only track the implantee but can also subliminally plant messages in their brains to influence their buying and political decisions. Melinda becomes an advocate for digital privacy rights, but faced with political opposition and a complacent public, will she and her followers be able to stop the spread of the device?
Mel got her usual coffee—half regular and half decaf—from the barista and found her way to an empty table. Taking up a seat with her back to a wall and with a good view of the exits, she settled in to relax, people watch, catch up on the latest news, and perhaps come up with a story idea or two that would keep her freelance journalism going.
There was something about the atmosphere of the cafe that reminded her of comfort food. Maybe it was the aroma of recently baked pastries combined with coffee made from freshly ground beans and the whooshing sound coming from the espresso machine. Then again, it might be the seating areas with soft leather chairs and the murmurings of people in friendly conversation.
She hadn’t been there five minutes when she noticed a man get up from a table across the room and appear to walk toward her. Seemingly in his mid-forties, he was clean-shaven and of average height and build. He wore jeans, a long-sleeved plaid shirt, and sneakers. A bit nerdy, she thought, whatever that means. Not thinking anything of it, she went back to studying her coffee, but was interrupted by the man standing by her table. He said, “Please excuse me, but aren’t you Melinda Matthews?”
Looking up, she replied, “Yes, I am.”
“Sorry to bother you, but could I have a word?” he asked.
Oh no, Mel thought, here it comes. The pickup line. And it’s way too early in the day.
Sliding uninvited into the seat opposite Mel, he said, “I’m Dan Wilson and I think you are the only person I can talk to.”
“Sorry, Mr. Wilson,” Mel said. “You must have me confused with someone else. I’m sure there are other people who will listen to you. Besides, I’m not any kind of counselor.”
“You’re Melinda Matthews, the journalist, aren’t you?”
“Yes, we’ve already been through that, so what do…“
“Then I have the right person,” Dan interrupted. “I’ve read your work and feel that you are the only one I can confide in.”
“There are priests and confessionals for that sort of thing.”
“It’s not that,” Dan said. “I’m a scientist working for Gordon Pharmaceuticals. I’ve been working on the development of medical capsule implants. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.”
“Yeah, I recall that they’ve been on the market for about a year now. Word has it that everyone is getting them.”
“And soon we expect that they will become mandatory,” Dan filled in, “but that is not what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Okay, you have my attention. Continue.”
“You probably understand that they designed the capsule implant to monitor a person’s health and send that data back to Gordon. Then Gordon’s algorithms can combine that data with the person’s DNA to develop personalized medication to treat an individual’s medical problem. Sounds good, right?”
“I suppose. At least most people seem to buy into the idea without regard for the privacy implications.”
“What most people don’t know is that the capsules can track every person’s location. And if that weren’t bad enough, they can subtly deposit a message sent by Gordon and their government partners into a person’s brain.”
End of Excerpt