Author: Dave Ludford
“Well, what do you think?”
You turn from the window to face me and the force of the emotion I suddenly feel hits me like a physical blow. Your third face is pure, serene, and beautiful beyond words; it is the face of love. An unbelievable transformation from your second face which was anger bordering on pure, twisted rage. I beam the biggest smile of my life, temporarily speechless, and your reciprocating smile floors me.
“Beautiful, Rena. Just beautiful,” I eventually manage to mutter, so softly I briefly fear you haven’t heard me. “Just…wow. But I have to ask: how come the dramatic change from yesterday? Your second face… I was, well, shocked by that. You had me worried.”
Your brilliant blue eyes dip briefly before looking up once more into mine, and answer by way of a question of your own.
“Did you see my first expression, Thomas?”
“No, of course not. That was two days ago, I didn’t know you then.”
“It was sorrow, Thomas. Sorrow borne of grief.”
“Do you want to talk about that?”
Your expression becomes enigmatic, distant, and unreadable, but you do not elaborate. There are further questions I feel I want to, need to ask, but I watch rooted to the spot as you walk slowly and calmly away; a swan, gliding.
“The sorrow and grief came with the realization that I’ll never make the grade, Thomas. Many of us don’t, you know that. We are wired up with the technology but not all of our mutant brains can deal with it. It’s too much, all in one go. Too much to deal with. So day two was spent being angry when I’d quickly come to terms with that. It’s unfair, but we don’t get to make the decisions around here. Your species play god while mine get to be the lab rats.”
Later that third day and you’ve agreed to see me again. I can’t keep away. As an Approved Visitor, access is easy. The white-coats love to show off. Don’t even seem to mind their ‘failures’, as they term them.
“OK, Rena, I get that. I understand. You’re not the only one of your kind I’ve met that feels like they’ve failed. But your expression now…the love that beams from you. What does that mean? That, I don’t understand. How does it follow on from the anger?”
“It’s a guaranteed decommissioning, Thomas. An admission that I’ll tolerate no further testing. It is hard to navigate the implants to discover that emotion, but possible. They won’t tolerate love, Thomas. That’s too human and they won’t accept that, no way. And I can’t go back to my previous drudgery of an existence before I was selected for the tests. Best that it ends this way. Go now. Please.”
“But Rena…we’ve only just met…I can’t, I won’t leave you…”
You keep smiling but say nothing further. I turn, reluctantly, and step a few paces towards the door. Turn back, but you’ve gone. The room is empty.