‘Let Me Think’ by Josh Sargent, age 14, Year 9, Soham Village College

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” – Ralph Waldo

My father told me of a time when activists fought for the right to speak their minds. Now, we’d be lucky to have
a mind of our own at all.

The technology started on our desks, and it brought ineffable benefits. Then it moved to our pockets, and despite
some issues, they disappeared when we switched it off or set it aside.

Zenatech had other plans. Zenatech profited on the back of our issues. Zenatech made sure we could no longer
switch it off or set it aside. After all, you can’t escape your own mind.

Every morning, I wake up to the hum of the Neuradevice, a constant reminder that my thoughts are not my own.

The implant, “courtesy” of Zenatech, monitors every neural impulse, filtering and adjusting them to fit the
corporation’s standards. Personal thoughts are a luxury we can no longer afford.

In the beginning, people celebrated the advancements. Who wouldn’t want a device that could enhance memory,
boost productivity, and ensure mental health? But the control came slowly. Updates that couldn’t be declined,
terms and conditions buried in legal jargon, and soon, the line between assistance and surveillance blurred.

One evening, while helping my father clean the attic, I stumbled upon an old, dust-covered tablet. It was an
antique, from a time before Zenatech. I powered it on, and to my surprise, it worked.

“What’s this?” I asked.

My father glanced over, a shadow of nostalgia crossing his face. “That’s from when we were free,” he said
softly. “Before they started controlling everyone’s thoughts.”

I explored the device for hours on end. Stories of protests, of people demanding the right to express their ideas
freely filled the screen. I realised how much we had lost. The realisation was overwhelming, and a spark of
rebellion ignited within me.

I began to seek out others who felt the same, quietly at first, using old, encrypted networks that Zenatech hadn’t
discovered. We shared stories, memories, and more importantly, hope. We call ourselves the Free Thinkers.

You may wonder how we can resist at all if our thoughts are controlled. The answer lies in a flaw, a glitch in
Zenatech’s system. When Zenatech tried to make the entire population forget about the company’s existence,
their attempt was almost perfect—but not quite. For reasons we don’t fully understand, a small fraction of us
were unaffected. We remember, and we fight for a cause only we know exists.

Zenatech is starting to notice our defiance. My father was captured when they realised he was free. He wasn’t
fast enough to get away.

We refuse to meet the same fate. Now, we hide, waiting out until our plan takes effect.

I dream of the day I tell my future son about our struggle. I will tell him how activists fought for, and won, the
right to think freely again. Zenatech will pay.