Jesus shit, September? I thought sure I’d posted more recently than five months ago. Amazing how time flies. Although I’m making no indication that I’ll post any more frequently than that, I’d sure like to. We’ll see how it goes.
Anyway. Had another of my trademark fucked-up dreams (it had been a while), and got it down to paper. I’m pretty excited about this one. Working title is The Device, though as you’ll read, that’s not gonna end up being the title.
Not-too-distant future. Something like 2065. It’s our world, but with one small but major difference (sort of Philip K. Dick-ian in that way). Hung juries are a thing of the past thanks to a device capable of scanning the accused’s mind and seeing if memories of committing the crime are present. It’s extremely expensive to operate and has side effects in the subject, so it can’t just be used anytime anyone’s suspected. Other than this one option at trial, an option of which jurors are specifically discouraged, the police and the courts work exactly as they do in our world.
In a drunken haze, Our Hero wound up being involved in a murder. He doesn’t think he actually committed it, but the memories of that night are too foggy for him to sort out (this is specifically not a problem for the device). Conventional evidence puts OH at the scene and the weapon in his hand, but it’s not conclusive. The jury deadlocks at 8-4, and then votes to use the device.
The device reveals memories of OH committing the murder. He is sent to prison. Case closed.
Ha, no. Not case closed, full stop. More like case closed, dot dot question mark. Hero’s Lawyer is deeply convinced of his client’s innocence, and is certainly worried about his quality of life in prison after the device has been used on him. Both OH and HL think the device may have been rigged, to secure a conviction. HL butts heads with antags in law enforcement and the justice system, who think plain and simply that the case is indeed closed.
In a rarity, this all kind of crystallised for me into a viable third act. I usually don’t get those from my dreams. My dream is one vivid scene, usually from Act 2. It’s not hard for me to figure out how we get to that point, but where we go from there is usually not as clear as it was in this case.
The resolution is that OH is indeed innocent of actually committing the murder, though he’s guilty of a lesser offence, one which the conventional evidence also supports. But the device wasn’t rigged, nor did it malfunction. The thesis of the story is the frailty of human memory. Memory sucks, people. OH heard himself be called a murderer so many times that he, even in just his subconscious, started to believe it and started to remember the hazy drunken night that way.
The only thing I’m worried about is having this come across as a luddite wet-dream, a “DOWN WITH TECHNOLOGY~!” piece. Because it’s not actually about the device at all. It’s about memory. Realistically, the only way the story ends is with the device being used in the judiciary substantially less than before. I’m not sure how to make it clear that it’s not because it’s a big bad evil machine, but rather because the machine’s purpose is inherently flawed in the first place.
But on the whole, I’m looking forward to fleshing this one out. Thoughts?