The Fēilǜbīn was among the 12 Inner Colonies that adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Human Transplantation and Reconfiguration, affirming its stand to eliminate practices that involves altering and transferring human memories.
“We can only go so far as a race—this is where the madness stops. As a signatory, we will be ready to contribute to the work ahead,” Bioscience Secretary Agatha Sebastian said.
Sebastian’s daughter, Alexis, died 5 years ago after the rebels who kidnapped her transplanted her consciousness to a dog.
The Archipelago Times, 2117
W.B. Castillo Cloud Path, Manila 3
Sasha and Cyn sit at the back while you are sitting beside their Auto-aide, which is driving the Isuzu mobile into the cloud path. The rain keeps pouring, tapping the window of the car—inquisitive of what’s inside your mind as you hold on to a vintage 21st century revolver beneath your floral skirt. All you can think of is how it feels cold against your skin.
The rain pours heavier as you traverse a long and winding billow of clouds. All three of you in immense anticipation of what’s going to happen next, wondering who’s going to fall off the boat first.
Earlier in Café June
Cyn looks at you with eyes filled with terror, as if seeing a ghost for the very first time. After all those years, you think she never looked at you the way she’s looking at you right now.
“Is it that unthinkable, unimaginable?”
You witness her bewilderment from the opposite side of the table. You notice how she possesses an alluring body, probably better than from the time you first met twenty years ago.
Cyn’s now trying to control her shaking. You think she wants to move away from you, but your confession freezes her, mouth wide open.
Impatient with her silence, you take a deep breath and said, “You know, to be in this position, sitting in front of you, wearing this skirt – it’s not easy at all. It’s been fifteen years since that so-called accident. Don’t even think of lying to me now. You might think that I have a lot of questions which need answers, but I don’t. I know exactly what happened. You can’t keep me in the dark anymore.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” her words are trembling as if the entire castle of lies she built around your death is about to crumble any moment. You think you got her exactly where you want her to be.
“I really had no idea back then. If somebody told me that my wife and my business partner are secretly meeting, conniving to kill me, I’d say they’re out of their mind. But I was a little slow-witted not to see your deception and murderous intent—or maybe I did see it coming but turned a blind eye, because I thought it’s better to wake up every morning to that smile on your face than to think that you had been unfaithful.”
Cyn does not say anything. You think she’s trying to remain calm amidst the weight of your revelation. She’s about to drink her coffee but decides to put the cup back on the table. She raises it again, and now she’s looking inside the cup, giving it a nice stir as if reconstructing her thoughts carefully, knowing that she can’t say anything logically sound to defend herself. She understands that you got her cornered – you’ve caught her hands smeared with your blood, shackled her with the truth.
“I’m not surprised you pulled this off. You’re smarter than you think you are. You’re cunning—very calculating,” Cyn conceded but went on, “However, what you’ve done is illegal. All I need is to alarm the authorities, and you’ll be dead before my very eyes. They won’t bother to ask you any questions. You should know copying your memories and implanting it to somebody else is an atrocity of divine proportions.”
“Says the person who got a clone of her twenty year old self?”
Cyn’s trying to take the higher ground and shake you off with society’s legal boundaries and mechanisms. In this reality, you are simply one of Sasha’s employees, while she is a noble member of the upper class. If there’s anyone who will be dead, it should be you.
You sip your coffee and continue. “You look stunning, I must admit—really makes me feel nostalgic. But I bet Sasha thinks this body means much more to her.”
Her eyes grow wide. Now she’s stunned and you got her attention.
“Why do you think she seldom had sex with you for the past few months or so?”
She brings her face closer to you and whispers loathingly, “Don’t you have any shame?”
“Shame is something I abandoned a long time ago,” you say, fixing your gaze on her and taking another sip of your coffee, as if taunting her. “I needed her to trust me. How do you think I got a copy of all these information if she didn’t allow me to take a peek in her memory archives?”
You think she wanted to ask you how you did it—how you got this body and how you were able to unlock all the combinations of their intricate scheme. What it is that you want, is it revenge, retribution, satisfaction from inflicting suffering to her and Sasha. But she doesn’t say anything; she just stares at you with a disgusted look in her eyes.
“I hate to be so blunt about this, but I want the two of you dead.”
“Are you really saying that with a straight face? Good luck with that.”
“No, I don’t need luck. What I need is to get in the mobile with you for a bit, pretend it’s another meeting like in any normal day. The only difference is that she won’t make it there to expound the ideas of her great brain because it will be scattered in the car seat.”
“Jesus Christ. You’ve completely lost it, haven’t you.”
Her phone rings. It’s a notification that Sasha is five minutes away. You bring out your lipstick and paint your lips, pull your floral skirt a little higher—you were thinking of swapping it with something more formal, the dark blue skirt you purchased last weekend perhaps? Then you remember that you forgot to upload it before leaving your suite earlier. She’s just staring at you all this time, either appalled or amazed of the spectacle that you have become.
You’ve waited for this, for the grandiose moment of revelation, the disbelief and astonishment smeared on her face. You’ve rehearsed this for a long time, like a magic trick that nobody can figure out, but the trick is on you and you know it. You wonder if this is how it’s going to end, with the rain pouring outside, people going on with their inconsequential lives. Yes, this is what you have become – a whore and a prisoner of his past. You consume the remains of your coffee, close your eyes for a brief second, letting Thanatos’ If I Can’t be Yours lead you to the doors of your inevitable predicament.
“Now that’s a fitting melody for the final act of this comedy.” You wink at her as you clip a cigarette between your lips.
There is only silence as you’re now standing across Cyn inside a glass elevator to 58th floor where Sasha is waiting. She’s looking below at the enormous city as you stare at her back. That very same back that you caressed a long time ago now belongs to a stranger. You would like to ask yourself how it all ended up like this for the two of you. How she could betray you when all those years, everything you did was for her.
Is it that unthinkable, unimaginable?
No, you still have a lot of questions and answers that need explanation. You want justification for a crime she committed against your body and soul. But you know exactly how it goes:
Two acquaintances who never really get to talk to each other but cordially respect each other’s status and spouses accidentally meet in a book fair. They greet each other—nothing suspicious about that. Three days later and they meet in a science expo, they speak more than three sentences with each other and both think it means something—he invites her to a friend’s art exhibit next week and both start worrying about what to wear and being on time. The next time they meet, it’s with you in a company event—they never mention their fortuitous meetings with you; they spend the whole night with awkward glances, suppressed glow in their faces and both illusioned that that they are each other’s savior in each other’s miserable marriage.
“It has been fifteen years. You could have started a new life, start anew, live in the Outer Colonies. But you chose to go back to your past to hunt us down. Now you’re standing behind me, wearing a skirt and a cigarette in your lips looking like a whore, convincing yourself that it was all worth it.”
“You’re a murderer. You have no right to lecture me about my humanity.”
“And now you’re about to turn into one.”
Cyn glances at you over her shoulder, probing for any reaction.
“Don’t take me seriously. My life, our lives—you see all those people down there? None of us matter. Think of all this as part of a game, and our task is to play it. We all would like to think to ourselves that there is a purpose, a raison d’etre amidst all the unnecessary noise and trivialities but there is none.”
You stand beside Cyn, looking down at the bustling metropolis.
“Death is the only liberation. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Think of our plight as blisters you’ve sustained from the shoes you’ve been excruciatingly wearing all day at work. Think of finally being able to go home to your tiny room and untie yourself from such pointless constraints.”
“I get your point. But it depends what size and kind of shoes you’re wearing—if it’s becoming too uncomfortable, then maybe you need a new pair…”
“Not all of us can afford that luxury.”
Cyn reaches out for your hand. You want to move your hand away, but you do not resist. You did not anticipate this part where a brief touch of her skin slightly disorganizes the script you’ve been following all this time. The words almost seep out through the walls of your emotional fortress but they freeze upon reaching the tip of your tongue.
“Do whatever you came here to do. I won’t stop you. I don’t mind if you kill us both. I recognize the price of the sins I committed, and the payment for it is long overdue. There is no reason to prolong this burden. However, don’t even think about doing to me what you’ve done to yourself.”
She shifts her grip to your arms. Her warmth is about to melt the glaciers confining your memories. This murderer. This person you loved all these years. You know where her intentions lay and where she’s leading you to at this point. Are you going to turn a blind eye again?
You remind yourself of the betrayal, your pain and misery trying to amplify the purpose of this meeting. A tear drops from your eye. Must be the dust, you tell yourself, denying what it could have meant.
Cyn continues laying her intricate trap:
“I dreamed of the three of us very often back in our college days. I’m talking about real dreams. I couldn’t make up her face. At times that I did, I would forget them when I woke up—what remained is just a hazy familiar face—I had no idea it was her. In the dream, we were in a boat at sea, and you were steering the oars while we were just sitting quietly with our both hands in our laps, that scene made me really uncomfortable, somehow.”
“Well, I guess that I’ll be throwing both of you off my boat.” You laugh, as if mocking her dream. You hold her hand tightly but she lets go as you approach the floor where Sasha is waiting.
“Do whatever you need to do. Fulfill your purpose.” Cyn said.
Outside, the wind dances with the heavy rain. The sea like flood mirrors the neon lit buildings, the dreary heavens filling every nook of the city. You think you wanted to smell the wet earth for one last time, be part of its dirt and dust once again, far from the complexity of human relationships and life’s absurdities. G