So imagine a shady figure walks into your office one day and sits down opposite you and just stares as you. Then, after what seems like an inordinately long time, that figure starts to speak. Starts telling you intimate details about your life, your wife, your ten-year-old. Telling you things that they could never know unless they’ve been watching you a long time and collected a database of facts from doctors, dentists, schools, banks and work.
Without emotion she tells you that your wife is up for promotion, your little girl's piano playing might win her a scholarship to the best conservatoire around, that your bank is considering your mortgage application.
Then she tells a story. Creates a world where your wife is invited in to a meeting with HR and instead of smiling and telling her she's got the job, there’s stern faces and she's told, much to her surprise and mystification, that there’s a security guard ready to escort her from the premises.
After your daughter plays beautifully for the scholarship panel, the judges shake their heads and say no. Many hours of tears ensue. The shadowy figure then throws the story forward eight years when your daughter fails her a-levels, despite expecting to pass with flying colours. The very next day your wife is diagnosed with cancer despite there being nothing wrong with her. Imagine the pain of cancer treatment when there was nothing to treat?
Then, she smiles. A smile that doesn't reassure, a smile that is not contagious. But she smiles anyway and tells you that all is not lost, your wife can still get that new job, your daughter can be a success, just as long you cooperate.
Cooperate, a friendly word made sinister.
There's no violence. There’re no guns, but there’s something in that voice that tells you that she has the power to make those threats real.
So you’re left with the choice; put your family’s future in jeopardy or sell out your friends, your colleagues, your beliefs in order to protect the ones you love. Do you make those photocopies once a month and hand them over to the shadowy figure in the shadows of the underground car park? Or do you stand up for your principles?