Justice Served

Image by Nikyeli Seyev

She sat, waiting as the crowds swirled in an unending milieu, a swirling riot of colour and change. A seemingly infinite sea of humanity washing over her, threatening to drown out any sense of individuality or purpose. He had noticed her immediately – he noticed everything, his processors recording the flickering of neon pink and chameleon green billboards, selling everything from Grenzo’s Hamburgers to the Senator’s latest unfulfillable promises. Scanning each surgically-enhanced face, logging each mote of dust that spun, trapped for a moment beneath the hellish gaze of artificial suns cast high in the firmament. The cacophonous beat of a million heartbeats, the shuffling of two million feet.

“Citizen, are you unwell?” his blank visage flicked toward her, “You have been stationary for twelve point three oscillations.” She ignored him, trying her hand at a most dangerous game. “Citizen, you will respond.” She turned away, pulling her cape tight around her, pulling her hood over her hair. As though its thin layer of warmth could protect her from his attention, as though he would just stalk away to again explore the press of flesh and pseudo-skin, as though he would go about his business.

“You have point one oscillations to respond, citizen.” He left unsaid the full weight of his threat, allowing the inner itch of guilt to build, sighing inside her chest. He detected her quickening of pulse, the shallow, the echo of her breath within her hood. She was guilty of something, physiologically at the very least.

Again she adjusted her hood, staring into lenses of public security cameras now plunging toward her – she had been judged, apparently. “You have been fount guilty, citizen. The crimes you are guilty of are Creating a Public Disturbance,” she could hear the capital letters slamming into place even through the atonality of his voice. “Guilty of Disregarding the Directions of a Law Enforcement Droid and of Loitering. Have you now anything to say in your defence?”

Still she held her tongue, and the camera droids floated away – they had seen her refuse to respond. The citizenry needn’t see how peaceful such a death could be, it was enough for them to see her judgement. She too became weightless, floating upward with the all-seeing eyes, defying gravity as she joined the dust motes circling the city centre. The crowd became her funeral’s parade, uncaringly circling her grave.

I was over reading io9 (they’re from the future) when I saw that they do writing challenges! I was surprised to say the least, I always thought they were a news aggregator. The image at the top really resonated with me, and everyone was writing human-robot love stories, which is interesting, but not really my style. Then I saw Chuck Wendig’s Random Word Generator Challenge (I used Senator, Hamburger, Cape and Funeral) as well as BeKindRewrite’s prompt Inner Itch and Sunday Scribbling’s prompt Explore. Anyway, comments and criticism always welcome, as usual!

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12 thoughts on “Justice Served

  1. Katherine says:

    I like the futuristic justice system and the circle- he creates the crime then judges and executes the sentence. Her action makes no difference. I like that we don’t hear why she doesn’t answer, too. It makes her more real in an odd way. We don’t hear her voice but so
    mehow this means she has more of one.

  2. oldegg says:

    What a great write. Even in this short piece my mind conjured up so many scenarios why she should choose to end living in the futuristic world where every nuance of your behaviour was monitored, as she knew so well.

  3. Jae Rose says:

    What a perfectly crafted piece of fiction..i was so easily transported to this place..at once intimate and remote..wonderful..jae

  4. The descriptive tension of this scene pulled me in, waiting to see what would happen. I loved the outcome, different, creative, something to ponder!

  5. DBJohnson says:

    Very powerful. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your work.

  6. evenstarwen says:

    This was amazing. You gave us such an excellent perspective on their world and society with so few words. And I feel like I know her somehow, even though she never said a word.

    I especially love the last line: “The crowd became her funeral’s parade, uncaringly circling her grave.”. Just…bravo.

  7. lynnette-net says:

    Woah lovely! 🙂 As always, brilliant!

    • Thanks everyone, I haven’t bent my stories into the further future for a while – and I have to say it felt good, writing robots into dystopian futures, rather than human-instigated apocolypse…I may have to expand this piece, but I don’t want to risk the strength of her character even though she doesn’t say a word.
      *Walks away to ponder and sip on Pinot Grigio*

  8. I think maybe she knew another mote of dust.

    This was very well played.

  9. 4joy says:

    Always a fan of sci-fi, I was thrilled to read you short story, and ‘explore’ the websites you mentioned…..This is not a future I wish to come to fruition – to become space dust for literally doing nothing…

  10. There’s some really great imagery in this, Chris, not to mention the actual storyline. I could imagine this being a much longer, and very intriguing, piece!

  11. Jon says:

    Gorgeous picture. I can see why you responded to it. And it was a well-written piece. Had a definite heart and point of view.

    Because of the picture, there was less of a need to identify the “he” in the story – I wonder if the piece would have worked as well without the image anchoring us to the man? in black.

    I agree with the previous commentor who liked the idea of ‘him’ creating the crime and then judging – what a brutal existence, where you can’t even rest without someone prodding you. I wonder if she’d responded but stayed stationary what he’d have said/done.

    Couple of minor nitpicks: “trying her hand at a most dangerous game” made it seem as if she was planning to walk away at the end of it – just push the boundaries as far as she could. Since that wasn’t her plan, the line stuck out at the end. And “milieu” in paragraph 1, I don’t think that’s the right word?

    Still and all, very good work. Thanks for sharing!

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