Thinking about myself. Placing judgement thereon. Judgement that was meant for other people, but I can no longer tell the difference. They show me images on a cinema screen of a woman with my hair and my physique in all kinds of conflicting situations. She robs a bank. She climbs a mountain. She takes her six children to the park and smokes a joint. And when she looks to the camera, without a doubt she has my face.
Only I didn’t do any of those things. Not that I remember. And I can’t help but judge those who did.
Maybe that’s the point. Maybe these actions are approximations, or metaphors for things I have done, and they want to see how I react to more explicit versions of my petty crimes and achievements. They want me to judge myself because they can’t decide whether or not I deserve to go to jail. Maybe it’s to introduce empathy into the entertainment/justice system. Or maybe they’re merely giving me a taste of my own medicine.
I altered a bunch of images. Moving ones, live ones. I changed the faces on realtime security streams. Sometimes it was to protect identities, sometimes I just wanted to see how reality could be manipulated before my eyes. And it really was, too. You overwrite the footage of a woman at a football match, the exact seat she knows she was sitting in, with the likeness of a stranger and she’ll no longer believe she was there. The time stamp is overwritten in her mind, the memory is gone. She’ll believe, instead, that she was at a privacy rally. It got out of hand, and she punched a police officer. The truth, as far as any onlooker and the law is concerned, is always exactly as recorded.
There are no recordings of me changing the faces. I saw to that. I’d be surprised if there were any recordings of me at all, other than the cameras watching me right now.
Then again, maybe I did rob that bank. I remember the anxiety I felt upon those stone steps, for sure. I remember the white van parked outside, the location and software version of all the security bots, the blue queue barriers. I remember the gun, the screaming. I remember all that cash stuffed in my small handbag and thinking at least we could all live a while longer. It’s hard raising six kids on your own.
The cinema goes dark. I’m free to go.
Emanations is an experiment in automatic fiction writing by C.R. Dudley. These surreal fragments come from states of meditation, excitation, or indifferent vacuity, and are subject only to the lightest touch of editing. She considers them to be little windows into the back rooms of the mind.
C.R. Dudley is the author of metaphysical sci-fi collections Fragments of Perception and Mind in the Gap. She is an artist, mind explorer, and founder of Orchid’s Lantern press and blog. You can find many of her reviews, articles and flash fiction pieces on this site, or sign up to her newsletter via www.crdudley.com.
If you would like to write for Orchid’s Lantern, please visit our submissions page.
Reality can be quite confusing sometimes… Very well written, loved it.
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Thank you 🙏