We shoot behind the bigger shoot of a hardcore punk band in an abandoned flour factory somewhere in the western suburbs of Melbourne. The year is 2016. Their video would go on to receive 15,000 views on YouTube: 477 likes, 3 dislikes, and 4 full pages of comments. Ours would get 125: 5 likes, 2 dislikes, and a friend-of-a-friend to compliment the dancer. They have a camera crew and a proper backline. I have a camcorder and a mobile phone. We have to stop recording the second they begin to play. But it's too late to find another site to shoot, and anyway this one is perfect for my vision. So we have to make it work.
Morality aside, it was a typical procedure. They’d take my conscious mind out of my body, reinstall it into a computer, and then destroy the empty vessel that remained. But instead of making me a healthy clone, or transferring my consciousness onto the internet, they’d take my mind from the computer and put it back into a standard-model android frame: the glass and metal bodies originally sent to Human 3D printers that look like something out of retro science fiction, still in use in segregated countries today. I know that it will cause me problems if I travel, but I’ve spent my whole life feeling invisible, so I’m not about to settle for a “human-looking” Android body. I want something that will code me as synthetic automatically, without the need for any explanation. The council that approved and funded this procedure said this stipulation was the biggest reason they agreed to it, despite it being the first one in the world. The validation obviously felt amazing, but it made me sad for others who identified the way that I did. What if they had to know what being a synthetic person felt like, but also needed to enjoy the freedom Human-looking Androids had from Android persecution? They’d need it if they lived in somewhere less progressive, or really anywhere outside of New York City: birthplace of the April revolution, and the only place I know where Androids are embraced as equals, without fear. We have Androids in our schools and Androids in our government, Android-Human mind merges, and Android-Human separations. But not all parts of America are equally progressive, and our country is the freest in the world. Was it fair to say you had to want the visibility that comes with a standard model android body just to have them validate your pain, and agree to help facilitate the plan you’ve made to fix it? They say they allocate everyone’s resources “according to our needs”, but the implication of the councils is that not all needs are valid. But can anybody really claim that, when it comes to an identity? How would an observer even know?
I slap at an inoculation-mozzie on my neck, as I aim my harpoon launcher at the heat signature of the deer that runs across the forest floor, the swelling sounds of Smashing Pumpkins "Cupid De Locke" filling up my ears. The deer stops, taking shelter underneath a tree. I squeeze the trigger. CRACK! The deer falls down, and turns translucent as several spinning chunks of meat appear. Epic Victory: Clean Kill! a deep voice shouts as the celebratory text repeats the sound across my field of view. I see my hunter level rising at the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Haha, suck on that Nguyen. I clamour down the branches of the tree, retrieve my harpoon, wrench the deer open with my implanted hand claws, then put the meat inside my metal jaw and chew. It tastes like pork, but gamier. It’s deliriously good. The other Reavers run out from their hiding spots, and jump and cheer around me, picking up the meat, and tearing into it. Soon, only a skeleton is left. A Reaver hoists it up over their shoulders.
The men grumble as I glide out of the teleporter with my arms outstretched. I bow my head and crack a smile, too small for anyone to notice. They look at me in anger and disgust.
We thought they'd bring him back in shackles, blindfolded, with combat bots at either side of him. But Damien is alone when he descends from the transport ship, looking awkward, or embarrassed, more than anything. The ship departs behind him and the hanger closes. I lose sight of him as he steps under the threshold of the observation deck. Simon looks at Adrian, who shrugs.
The paper says ‘full communism,’ just like every other piece of paper printed out before it. In the control room, in response to a thought-command from me, the lead technician jabs the button for recalculation again, and again, and again…