|First Appearance||The Touch: Epidemic of the Millennium|
|Genre(s)||Science Fiction, Horror|
"The Lieutenant" is a short story by Harry Turtledove, published in The Touch: Epidemic of the Millennium, created by Steven-Eliot Altman and edited by Patrick Merla, ibooks, 2000. The story is part of a shared universe created by Altman, in which an unexplained disease called Sensory Depravation Syndrome (SDS) creates people, known as "Deprivers" who can, through skin on skin contact, deprive others of one or more senses.
The anthology begins with a mock pamphlet explaining what SDS is and what Deprivers are. Depriving abilities manifest right around puberty. They cannot control their condition; contact causes deprivation no matter what. The deprived lose one of their senses as a consequence of SDS' impact to their central nervous system. While the traditional five senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste are the most commonly affected, some of the more complicated senses can also be impacted, including balance, temperature, time, and direction. Moreover, the impact to senses can vary. While Deprivers who impact sight usually cause blindness, one story in the anthology depicts a person who takes away people's ability to perceive and differentiate facial features of different people.
While most Deprivers seem to be genetic and SDS is typically not contagious, one story does deal with a viral version that can be transmitted.
Most Deprivers do not cause permanent loss, but the mock pamphlet does acknowledge some small percentage of deprivations are permanent. Naturally, many of the stories in the collection deal with permanent Deprivers. Deprivers don't "absorb" anything from the people they touch; their own senses aren't enhanced at the expense of the deprived, nor they derive any physical pleasure from the act.
"The Lieutenant" focuses on Jerry Daniels, a 21-year-old Depriver who permanently shuts off people's sexual desires. Prior to the opening of the story, Daniels was identified by Jason McNabb, the eponymous Lieutenant. McNabb, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, decided not to turn Daniels in. Instead, the Lieutenant and a group of rogue cops decide to use Daniels' ability to deprive various sex offenders they believe have escaped the law.
The story proper has Daniels called out to such a depriving session. However, as he prepares to deprive the latest perpetrator, Daniels realizes that the Lieutenant motives are not as altruistic as he pretends they are.