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Science Fiction Speculative Fiction

   The doors opened on a cold whim. No sound, no protest. Everything fell into the silent ambience of the alabaster lighting encapsulating every corner of the Civilian and Culture Building. The door slid shut behind without notice. In plain view was the conduct coordinator, a lump of a post-modern human more akin to a walking thumb, sitting at the circular desk in the middle of the room, a product of middle management handling the valuable contributions and disciplines of its employees. There was no name plate or tag to identify the coordinator except that each employee was expected to memorize said information from the very start, especially prior to conferring with their supervisors. The coordinator went by the name of X9836-97. It was an androgyn, a sexless neo-civilian without a background other than the instructions given upon birth—inception rather—and the standing duties assigned in compliance with the greater society.

   X9836-97 pretended to look busy moving insert holos around for viewing convenience, never bothering to look up at the behavioral analyst walking in with a slight hesitancy to his gait.

   “Hold it right there, C2513-08,” the coordinator shot out a trill with a feebleness undercut by the mendacity of its intent. The analyst followed suit as X9836-97 finished whatever it was doing and faced forward. “That’s enough. Please remain where you are.” The urbanity was cold, done as a perfunctory measure in a professional setting.

   C2513-08 would remain standing for the duration. X9836-97 continued, “Well, it looks like I have some good news for you, C2513-08.” The analyst sighed with relief; all responses were strictly internalized. “It appears,” the word was intoned, “that the proper disbursement of all psycho-social criteria has been met regarding the civilians of interest. A précis of analytics and predictive models have been made. We now have a full schematic blueprint on every memory and intent…" the coordinator paused and briefly shifted to a more playful mein, "And they thought they could buck the system. To their disadvantage, we have every civilian’s brain pattern and habit recognition mapped out. The data collated is subsequently used by the companies to tailor their marketing to those deemed worthy. That is why we value every nuance of information in order for obedient civilians to remain corporeal.

“However,” C2515-08 heard his heart skip a beat on the last word, “You tarried on a few subconscious bits of data left somewhere in the back of the prefrontal cortex,” a simulacrum of the itemized section of the brain phased in between them, “and hence, neglected to account for a few hidden engrams of emotion and intent that could have insinuated acts of subversion or even premediated murder.”

“X9836-97, how do you even know––”

“Anyone,” the coordinator intoned again, “is a potential criminal, C2513-08. Anyone! A clear lifelong record can no longer be relied upon as a determinant of one’s future conduct. Such a civilian on the surface can pass for an obeisant model civilian, but there are lingering subcomponents often buried somewhere in the brain with motives, even unbeknownst to the host, leaving the potential for transgression. Think of it as a virus that may or may not result in an outbreak. It would not be worth the risk. That is why every corporal mind has to be thoroughly examined and mapped out for the psycho-social database that makes absolutely sure no ounce of deviancy threatens the codes of conduct. And you failed to make such a composite report!”

The other balked. “Though,” X9836-97 continued, “there is a bit of silver lining from the situation in question.” C2513-08 suppressed the urge to cock his brow at the duplicity. The coordinator was deliberately toying with him. “Because of our need to be circumspect with every tract of information collected, in other words to cover for one’s flaws, we were able to pick up a few precursors of potential criminality you overlooked! From our findings, the individual had a hard time showing gratitude, as if we don’t provide the utmost satisfaction for every component of our society, which implies the civilian under scrutiny was preoccupied with ideas and desires external to the provisions of the state.

“Well, this particular civilian was deemed too risky to continue with corporeality. You know the punishment for harboring even a modicum of ill will is liquidation!”

The analyst kept staring, trying not to interrupt his superior with futile questions.

“That is how we free ourselves of potential dangers inherent in the corners of the unseen mind.

“Also, C2513-08, we have a bit of good news. It has come to our attention that the recruit you trained turned out to be a fitting success and she will be starting Monday, all thanks to your direction in building our corporeal infrastructure. Behavioral analysts play an integral role in retaining mental and social stability for a submissive civilian body.”

“Thank you, X9836-97. Is there anything else you need to prepare the new recruit for the job at hand?” He remained perfunctory, itemizing each facet of his job to protocol.

“No, not at all, C2513-08. She has all the necessary training to begin on her own. Your performance excelled in meeting the criteria by which the recruit must abide in procuring the full application expected of her. She will make a great replacement for you!”

“Replacement? X9836––”

“Ah, well, now I’m afraid I have some bad news.” The analyst visibly showed a change in decorum as he ever so slightly slumped in posture. “Due to your performance ebbing on the last assignment, an oversight unbecoming of a model civilian, your job has been forfeited and deferred to the proper substitute. We thank you for your valuable time and service. You will shortly be liquidated and yield your space to the succeeding generations of civilians willing to keep our society from falling into the hands of those like yourself, specifically, the chaos of liberty.”

“Are you kidding?”

“C2513-08, you have failed your position, you have failed us, and I regret to inform you, you have failed yourself in the fulfillment of your obligations. The latter alone should encourage you to atone for your shame by facing discorporeality with a dignified aplomb.”

C2513-08 raised his brow in horror. “Aside from your occupational shortcomings, we’ve done a full diagnostic on your brain pattern and determined that you are in fact dissatisfied with your life and our codes of conduct. I even saw it in your body language from the time you arrived here, so there is no sense in rebuttal. Therefore, upon my witness on behalf of the Civilian and Culture Corporation, you are hereby sentenced to immediate liquidation!”

“What? You can’t do this, you wicked––”

He lunged forward too late as a beam of light showered from the ceiling and disintegrated him on the spot. C2513-08 was no longer corporeal. 


July 22, 2022 08:26

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2 comments

Jenny Blur
02:04 Jul 28, 2022

Richard, I love this story and also love, love the description: post-modern human more akin to a thumb—totally using in that in an upcoming conversation. Thanks!

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R. J. Gaines
02:21 Jul 28, 2022

Thank you so much! I try to throw a few offhand descriptions that often come out as neologisms, usually with varying results. I really appreciate that you liked this!

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