He walked into his superior’s office. It was minimalist, you could say. There were no personal trappings inside save for a framed picture of a golden retriever, which sat on top of the heating unit underneath the window. His black desk had no decoration, and everything was meticulously organized at right angles to the edges. A computer monitor sat on top of the desk, to the right, hooked up to the CPU, tucked underneath.
His superior, who went by John Doe—much like everyone who had their own office—dressed in black suits with white shirts and black ties. He had parted hair, slicked to the right.
Number 7, the man who walked into the office, who had replaced Number 6 upon Number 6’s demise somewhere in the mountains of Turkmenistan, closed the door behind him and stood at attention, careful not to make eye contact with Mr. Doe.
Mr. Doe looked over Number 7. “We haven’t met.”
Number 7 did not respond.
Mr. Doe opened a drawer with a key and took out a black folder and placed it on the desk. He locked the drawer. “That folder contains your assignment. You may view it in the viewing room, but nowhere else. Standard protocol applies: Destroy the folder upon viewing it.”
The agent walked forward, took the folder—still not making eye contact—turned, and walked outside the office.
Inside the viewing room, a stainless steel cube in which a single rectangular fluorescent light buzzed overhead, Number 7 opened the folder and saw a single white sheet of paper with his instructions written in a clear, sans serif font in the center of the page. Each line did not extend more than two inches and was written in simple, clear English—of the sort that one would find in an encyclopedia article.
Number 7 read the instructions enough times to memorize them, replaced the piece of paper, and walked over to the slot in the side of the wall, over which “Incinerator” was written. He slid the folder into the hole, straightened his tie, and walked out of the room, making sure to turn out the light as he left.
Two days later, a man in a hole-ridden black sweater, jeans that were in danger of falling apart by the stitches, and a hollowed-out stuffed panda in lieu of a hat, stood on a street corner in an unspeakably small town in rural Montana. He had been screaming for seven hours straight, and, when the sheriff's department walked up to him to quiet the man, he knocked out several of them. Now, he stood alone, screaming nonsense into the night air.
The people of the town, for their part, seriously took up the idea of moving to another area, even though most of them had never left the county and saw the prospect of doing so as if it were a terrifying suggestion on par with hugging a puffer fish.
If any of them had made it close to the man, reached into his back pocket, and was not immediately attacked, they would have found a white sheet of paper. The white sheet of paper was one of the high-tensity ones, the sort that office letterhead is printed upon. It was a business letter from an organization that called itself “The Organization,” and it was from a Mr. Doe. On it was written: “Progress as stated. You will be alerted as soon as silence has been sufficiently killed.”