He stood at the sink washing his hands, turning the firm bar of soap over and over. He’d washed them for so long that his skin had cracked open and the water had begun to sting into the cuts.
He was the first one back, everyone else was out, which meant the polygraph machines were trained on him.
He stared at the soft white grease marks on the draining board and then at the repeating pattern on the kitchen tiles, by focusing on the purple flowers spilling out of their yellow vases he tried to empty his mind.
‘Think of something else, think of something else you idiot,’ he said under his breath.
He’d made a mistake at work. A genuine mistake. But now the polygraphs were picking up on any stray thoughts he might have. Any thought, any idea, no matter how private, could be turned over to legal documents and used against him. So he turned the soap over and over in his hands.
At last he heard the front door go and drying himself off he hurriedly made his way to the console in the front porch. He was too late. The polygraphs had already decoded and logged his private thoughts and electronic copies had already been verified and sent to the family’s lawyers.
He looked up as the single red eye of the polygraph machine, laser sharp and uncompromising, winked out.
Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Edinburgh