Author: David Barber

“Yes, I remember this one. His ex called it in. We found a bookcase full of porn. Vintage 2D on magnetic tape,” said Frank.

The woman sitting on the other side of the desk is Jan Fierro, the Department chief.

“When you say we, for the record.”

“Frank Scott, Officer with the GenderPol. And Jen Johanssen. She was my partner at the time.”

“But you and Officer Johanssen disagreed about it.”

“What to do about it, yes. We all know porn’s linked to gynocrime, but he was a collector. It was all shelved by date. Jacks collect stuff. I mean, friend of mine has a Toyota classic that runs on gasoline.”

Fierro is about to put him right.

“Yes, yes, I know what the law says, but he was never going to rape anybody.”

“In your opinion. And what did the courts decide?”

“Oh, biochemical castration. Behaviour mods. Temporal lobe remodeling, the lot.”

“And you don’t approve.”

“Crime against women’s down isn’t it? It’s just… No. Nothing.”

He shrugs at the next file.

“Thought you’d bring this one up. Yes, I may have mentioned victimless crimes and Jen really stomped me. Desensitisation theory, learning to think about women as objects, you know?”

Fierro was a looker, a fatal mix of desirability and the unattainable. He’d never had much to do with her, even when GenderPol was first set up and they were still the same rank. He was just a jack, right? But when somebody pinned up a photoshopped picture of her in the men’s locker room, he was the one who took it down.

“Jen hated virtual stuff. Said you never knew what you were plugging into. The jack had a silverlace on and…”

“For the record.”

“A silverlace, a neural interface for total immersion software. He was under the spell; didn’t even hear us crash his door. A work colleague apparently. All it takes is a picture and some code.”

Wearily, he explains how the software morphs faces onto bodies, so a jack can have sex with any woman he wants. Virtual sex. Under the spell.

“Yes, I know a lot about it, it’s my job. And I resent the implication.”

Fierro hands over a statement she wants reading out. For the record.

“I have never used morphing software involving… who said this?”

“Sit down Officer Scott. Unless you’re resigning?”

On the street it’s what they call being jackknifed. “I never thought about Jen like that. We were partners.”

He realises he’s clenching his teeth so hard they hurt.

“Yes, I’ve heard about the new scanners. I’ve heard they can hack your dreams. I also know my rights.”

Fierro smiles, something she only does on special occasions. She knows something, the bitch.

“Yeh. That’s my signature.”

The tech adjusts the silverlace on his scalp. “Try to relax,” she says.

“Easy for you to say. Even thinking about women will be a crime soon.”

“All gynocrime begins in men’s heads,” the tech says primly.

“And how long before this is compulsory?”

“Ask yourself what you have to hide.”

“What, from the Thought Police?”

“From women.”

This is a test. The scanner will record your brain state while you are under the spell. Here is a picture of Jan Fierro.