"Doctor, I don't understand what my mind is telling me," says the patient as he sits across from me.
"How do you mean?" I prompt back.
"It's like a hazy dream, but it keeps getting clearer rather than fading away. And it's more every day."
"How about you tell me your dream?"
"I dream about being a dictator of a small Eastern-European nation. I have mercenaries at my disposal, I call myself General. My portrait is posted on every street corner and there are holidays in my honour that I have declared." He has puffed up a little, then deflates with a sheepish look. "Sometimes I remember specific things, like a plane ride or some ... execution. It's disturbing, but kind of exciting, too. It feels like a lot of power for one man."
"It sounds like a subconscious fantasy, perhaps a response to your job. How long have you been a janitor?"
"Three years now. No, four, I think. You really think it is just a dream? It feels very real."
I wave away the question and try to keep talking about his job. "And you've worked all four years at the one place?"
"Si. Yes." he says, eyeing me suspiciously for a moment.
"Maybe it's time to look for a change of scenery. How about the headaches?"
"A small one all this week. It comes and goes."
"Okay, I'm going to increase your anxiety medication a little." I fill out a new prescription. "I'll see you again next week, Pablo."
"Yes ... if I have the time."
He stands to leave and gives me one last quizzical look. After he closes the door behind him, I make some notes and pick up the phone, dialling a number from memory.
"Chief? Doctor Silvestra. It's about 'Pablo'. The memories are coming back, and I'm not sure how long the drugs can keep them suppressed, and that's if he keeps taking them. We may need to discuss other options."
"Sil, this *is* the other option. We convinced the CIA that assassination wasn't necessary and incarceration wouldn't work. This is supposed to be the new way. If we can't make it work, it's back to the bad old days. Try reprogramming him again, and find him a wife this time."
"I ... Yes, Chief."
I hang up the phone and try to remember how many times we have done this. In twenty years since deposing General Viktor Nostroyev, we have reprogrammed him, let's see, eleven times including those two weeks in Florida. It's worked for longer this time, but the unravelling has progressed further, too. Next time we might not get the same chance to move him.
Mokalus of Borg
PS - This one has come together in a few stages.
PPS - Please let me know what you think.