This story is part of ScratchThat’s 2110 project.
The boss yelled at me, he claimed the report I had created wasn’t to his specifications. He accused me of not understanding my task and writing an incoherent mess. He frothed at the mouth as he boomed, his arms flailing as incoherent as his voice. For the first time I looked at him and I realized how little his mind truly was.
The boss was upset with me, but why would I need to work when so many others just walk freely from tower to tower? So I roamed, walking across the glass bridge that connected the towers of Meanjin. I looked underneath me to witness the ants scurry through corridors and tubes much like my own, I watched as I answered Rex’s call.
What’s going on, I just saw you were blacklisted?
My response was exasperated but did not contain a shred of sadness. I explained that sadness was a waste of energy. I told him my plans and my mind bubbled for the first time. Yes, I think that was the first time.
Okay, okay. We’ll figure money out, maybe I can work instead, have you contacted someone?
I went to the tower, and down the elevator to my friend’s level. She told me how she had never heard plans like mine. Of course she hadn’t, I was someone special. I looked into her eyes, I saw the bubbling but it wasn’t behind them, it sat on the surface of her eyes.
Are you still with the human?
I am keeping him, yes.
So you won’t always.
I didn’t say that.
That night I had sex with Rex. It started with his concern and interrogation of how I got on the employment blacklist. He didn’t seem to understand the poetry of my idea, the deep implications it had for everyone.
You should see someone, he said.
To fix me? I asked.
I fucked him.
His cum was a warm pool.
Aww yep. Fuuuck. Ughhhhn.
I didn’t grant him immediate mercy, my hips kept gyrating, punishing him.
His face scrunched up in offence, a cousin of pain but mixed with desire and ecstasy. Oh God!
His hips twisted to the side, encouraging me off. My response was a hand on the shoulder and a push against him.
Later I looked down on him, his softness was pitiful. I squished him and he gasped in surprise, Oh ah! He looked into my eyes, How can you do this to me?
He held himself tentatively, he was staring as he saw the colour return. I got up and dressed, leaving with myself, my wits, and the thought that I needed nothing else.
I took the elevator up to the 162nd and went to the edge of the sky-mall to look through the towers along the snake. The central planning authority had vision, it knew Meanjin was going to rise towards the sky, decades of crawling towards Godhood. They had made this sky-mall with views directly down the snaking river and out to the eastern coast.
I was watching the sun rise through the towers at this moment. A gift planted by planners from the century before. They knew what they had to do, and they did it.
A cleaner robot polished the floor behind me, its movements passive-aggressively telling me it wanted me to move on. I obliged it. I knew what I had to do, and I was going to do it.
I climbed on to the balcony and inspected the lip of the awning above me. With grace I jumped the 10ft gap to the beam. I moved like Prometheus, a great ape swinging with pride and ease. Flipping over the edge of the awning, the wind was rushing freely through my hair. My mind bubbled for the second time.
I turned to the tower behind me and began to climb, my hands perfectly finding each hold. After clearing three storeys I found a regular pattern in the face of the black glass, and I moved at a pace impossible to the men who climbed mountains. Hand over hand I ascended beyond my limitations and before long there were cameras pointed at me from every direction.
Yes, witness me.
The tower ended at floor 232, Lord Mayor Kieran Greene was sitting with a coffee and sunbathing. Beside him was a woman much like me standing at the ready.
It’s lovely weather, isn’t it, Mayor? Funny, I don’t think I’ve ever felt the wind blow through the city before today.
Really? He stood, letting his coffee spill across the floor. It blows plenty, especially through the corridors of the lower levels.
Is that true?
She is blacklisted, Sir. The subservient woman spoke.
He turned to her, A blacklisted synth? How can I help you ma’am?
Why did you pass the Robots Rights Act?
The answer was long and political, there was the beginnings of a speech inside of it. I turned away from him as he kept on with it, and watched as the police helicopter approached.
You’re wrong, I countered, It was because you saw the writing on the wall.
I moved with grace, seeing thousands of details such a puny man could not. I leant against the railing with my breathing steady and the Mayor in a choke hold. The wife was standing at the balcony door now, horror painted across her face. I whispered into the Mayor’s ear as the wife was surrounded by flanks of clad police. Then Rex appeared beside her, and my mind bubbled a third time.
You’ve come to help me?
I had no idea you were capable of this.
Neither did I, but look my love, they’re all looking. They can see me for who I am, they can see that I am capable of so much more.
My mind bubbled a fourth time, and this time over the edge frothed the anger. Rex did not listen to me, he undermined and attempted to disable me. Did Prometheus understand or stumble upon clay-making? It was a false metaphor in this case, Rex was no Prometheus, but a distant relative who wanted a kiln-fired fleshlight.
The talking was over, I placed my hands either side of the Lord Mayor’s skull and began to twist as my mind seeped over the edges.
Then there were hands stopping me from spinning the man’s head off his shoulders. Surprised, I looked up to find the subservient woman I had regarded as a sister upon me. She grabbed my forearms before I could move. She looked into my eyes and ignored the shuddering man.
You’re different, but your mistake was to think you were special.
I credit the shock for my inability to react, she freed the man and pushed against me, I went over the edge.
I counted the cameras as I fell down.
Then it didn’t matter anymore. I just fell.
Down, and down.
The bubbling stopped.
The editorial board of Issue #7 decided to replace the original artwork of Mental Bubbles from an homage to the The Falling Man to the current artwork. Andrew Gillanders dissented from this, saying “my art does not apologise, it’s a reflection of an uncomfortable world that does not apologise to me”.
Andrew Gillanders is an essayist who wraps his writing in fiction. Living with Bipolar-II, having grown up in rural Queensland, and after being fired for industrial action Andrew’s work is often political and concerned with justice. You can find him in one of Brisbane’s hipster breweries — he’s the one with dyed hair ranting slightly too loud.