A Small Legal Problem

Flanked by court officers on either side and dressed in a court-issued blue jumpsuit, Susan Parker awaited her fate. The redheaded mid-thirty-something thought back to what brought her here; what started out as innocent flirting that had exploded into an adulterous affair.

Her problem was that in the world she lived in, to combat rising divorce rates, such affairs were now capital offences. Through advancements in science, however, one's "official" death was no longer the end of it. Now she stood nervously, along with her partner-in-crime (her twenty-something office assistant Diana Sanchez) as the judge entered the courtroom with a huff. Without bothering to look at the defendants, he voiced his decision in an annoyed tone: guilty on all charges. Before pronouncing the customary sentence for such an offence, the judge called out to the ex-husband.

“Dave Parker, before I pass sentence, do you forgive the convicted felons now standing before the court? Would you ask for leniency on their behalf?” The judge inquired. Dave shook his head.

“The court stenographer cannot record gestures. Please respond verbally!”

In a clear and unwavering voice, Dave responded.

“No, sir, I do not.”

The judge looked up and pronounced the ruling of the court.

“The defendants, being found guilty and with the aggrieved party not willing to forgive, are hereby sentenced to digitization. The digital remains shall then be entrusted to the plaintiff.”

Digitization, sold as a humane way to deal with criminals, was a process that turned the person from a solid being into electronic information stored on a portable drive. Once the process is completed, the person digitized is officially considered dead as their physical body is destroyed in the process. However, the information (the "dead" person's personality, memories, and so on) can still be accessed and altered as the owner desires.

As the Judge finished proclaiming the verdict, the court officers flanking Susan immediately stripped her of her jumpsuit and any undergarments she wore. The officers next to Diana quickly did the same to her. Cold and naked, Susan began to sob as she thought of the choices that led her to this moment. Naked and fully exposed before the court, all eyes now focused on the condemned. The digitization chamber was wheeled into the courtroom, Susan’s eyes affixing to Diana as she was led to the chamber. She nervously watched... knowing that it would soon be her turn.

Once secured inside, a technician typed on a computer console. with a low pitched hum, the chamber came to life. The chamber produced a blinding, bright-white flash, and it took a second for Susan’s eyes to readjust. The first thing she saw was that Diana had disappeared. No smoke, no ash, no blood, nothing to indicate that a person had ever been in the chamber. It was now her turn. Firmly, the court officers walked her naked body over to the chamber. She glanced at her ex-husband, looking for forgiveness... and was met with a cold stare.

Naked and now secured in the chamber, she heard the chamber’s lock seal and her mind began to race: was this going to be painful? Will she realize what happened after she is digitized? Before she could finish her thoughts, she had one last memory: a blinding white light and then... nothing.

With its job complete, the machine was wheeled into the next courtroom for new convicts to meet their fate. Clearing his throat, the judge continued: “Having paid the court fees associated with the divorce proceeding and sentencing, Dave Parker is hereby the rightful owner of the convicted remains. Please proceed to the court clerk’s office to take possession of your flash drives.” With that, the judge signed the divorce decree and ownership order, rose, and left, his work in the courtroom done.

Dave made his way to the clerk’s office. He knew exactly what he wanted done with the pair: the "Barbie" treatment, where they would be re-digitized to the size of a doll. Dave really didn’t blame Diana for what happened, so he would have her mind adjusted so that she would be a blissfully mindless and dutiful toy for him to play with (and one that would no longer be attracted to Susan). Susan, however, he blamed plenty. She will remember what she did and why she is now her ex-husband's doll trapped in a cage in the apartment they once shared.

Story by Encino
Artwork by Emanuele Parascandolo

High resolution (5100x3300)

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