A/N: My first finished SF! Ever! I wanted to try something new, so I hope the result is acceptable! Enjoy!
It was the year of 2384, and there had just been yet another election. Yet another choice of leader.
Elisa Parker, a generally average citizen, had always considered herself to be sensibly skeptical of everything that simply seemed too good to be true, so when Bernard Summer had first started appearing as a candidate as the successive Head of State, she hadn’t believed his lies.
He promised to end corruption, to close the huge gap between the rich and the poor, to not let the wealthy make the decisions in his place. He promised that anyone should have free health care, and Elisa had looked down on her missing arm with a cynical smile; a souvenir from an explosion in the laboratory. She had been supposed to get a prosthesis, but for reasons she was never truly explained, that had simply never happened.
Summer promised that those kinds of things would never happen under his reign. That anyone should have access to decent health care as well as a decent standard of living. The same old promises, which every candidate came with.
But when Summer actually won the election, something most unusual happened. He kept his promises.
Not overnight, of course. But during his five years as Head of State, he made enormous improvements. He was intelligent, compassionate, hard-working and – more astounding than anything else – absolutely impossible to bribe. Elisa got her prosthesis and was able to finally return to the working force after two hellish years as unemployed.
People had tried to stop him from going through with it. Oh, people had tried. CEO’s of the largest companies in the country, politicians who were against Summer’s improvements, banks.
But if what people said was true, that anyone had their price, they hadn’t found Summer’s yet. No amount of billions could make him go back on his promises, and the people, the common people that is, adored him. He was their saviour, their knight in shining armour, and he had yet to let them down.
There was no doubts that when Summer’s time ran out, he would be re-elected. A Head of State could be elected thrice, and there was no doubt among the masses that Summer would stay on for the full fifteen years. Only two other Head of States before him had ever done that.
Not everybody loved him though. A lot of people had lost a lot of money because of Summer, and there had been more attempts of assassination than on the previous three Head of States combined. Which was why it probably shouldn’t have come as such a shock to the people, when someone shot at him during his Speech of Gratitude after his first period as Head of State.
None of the previous attempts had been anything close to successful. They hadn’t even scared Summer. He’d held a speech about refusing to give in to terrorism and had showed absolutely no signs of fear. People had saluted his bravery, and the attempts to remove him had only made him even more popular among the masses.
But this time he was hit. In the middle of his speech about what humanity could still do for each other, he was shot, three bullets in the face. He fell to the ground with a loud thump. People screamed. Elisa screamed. It wasn’t fair. They were still supposed to have him for another decade.
And then Bernard Summer got up and looked over the crowd.
Elisa barely kept herself from screaming this time. There should have been blood. There should have been blood, and shattered bone and brain spattered all over the place, but there was none of these things. One side of Summer’s face was still wrinkled skin and his right eye still stared out on the people in front of him with a kind glint in the blue eye. The other side of his face was iron and steel and flying sparks.
Bernard Summer wasn’t human.
Around her people panicked, and Elisa was whisked away along the crowd, barely registering where she was going. Her brain was busy trying to catch up to the situation, and Elisa hadn’t graduated with honours for nothing. Bernard Summer was a robot. An android. Except he couldn’t be, because androids didn’t exists. At least they only did in theory.
Elisa looked down on her own prosthesis. Was it really so unfathomable that a group of scientist had moved beyond what people had thought possible at this time? That a group of intelligent people, smart people, had sat down around a table and discussed the country’s problem with bribery? That they’d decided the only way to have a Head of State, who couldn’t be bribed, was to create him themselves? To make him inhumane. Bernard Summer would never accept bribery because he was programmed not to. He’d always do his best to reshape the country into an utopia because that was what he was created in order to do.
Somehow Elisa had found her way back to her house, and she let herself collapse on the closest chair. Summer, whom she had always admired, had never existed to begin with. Except that he had. He still did. Summer wasn’t human, but he existed. He’d been the best Head of State they’d ever had, and Elisa wasn’t ready to let him go.
They’d tried to make the Vice Head of State take over, of course, but to the politicians’ shock, the people wouldn’t allow it. Across the land the people refused to work. It was the biggest strike there had ever been. Sixty percent of the working population stayed at home, while the remaining forty struggled to keep up. The shops didn’t open, the factories were ghost towns. It wasn’t that the current Head of State was a particularly bad president. He just wasn’t Summer.
The strike was kept up for fourteen working days before the politicians gave in. Fourteen days, which cost them billions. A country simply couldn’t work if the people refused to. But still it couldn’t have a robot for a Head of State. If not technically illegal, it was unheard of.
Finally it was decided. There would be a reelection two weeks from now, where the people would decide if they would willingly be led by a machine of all things. What was next, they were asked. Will you allow your toaster to decide what you want for breakfast? Your computer decide where to go on vacation?
The following weeks were a blur of propaganda. Not everyone wanted Summer back and they tried their hardest to convince the common people of the same.
He’s a machine, they were reminded again and again. Or rather; it is. It doesn’t feel. It doesn’t think. It can get hacked, reprogrammed, controlled. It doesn’t have a conscience. It is dangerous.
And finally the day was there, and Elisa sat in front of her computer staring at her screen. There were two boxes and she could only click on one of them.
Summer or Carter, who worked as the current Head of State. A good man, in Elisa’s opinion, but not unbuyable. Summer or Carter? Machine or human? Who would have greater success leading her into a brighter future?
She clicked Summer.
Across the country people sat in front of their own computer, being presented the same choice. Summer or Carter?
Sixty-eight percent clicked as Elisa had.
The machine won.
5 thoughts on “2384”
I feel like this could be turned in to a really successful movie. You go girl!
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Hi, Maria. Great short. I am reading some of your work, and would like to follow, but can’t figure out how to follow you. Others have a follow clicky, but if you do, I can’t seem to find it. Anyway, great writing! I see a future for you for sure. I am in the same boat. Working on a BA in creative writing and journalism at Griffith University in Australia. My dream is to be a Novelist. Good luck on achieving yours!
Hi Kisinjo, I know there can be some problems following me. Right now you need have WordPress in order to follow me, but I’m hoping to change that within the following months 🙂 thank you for your kind words!
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Actually, Maria, I have a blog as well. It is useyourwords75.wordpress.com. If you are keen, have a look! You are most welcome!
Looks interesting! Though I can’t understand then why you’d have problems following me – it should be in the same place as for yours… Hmm, I’d have to investigate this!