An Android Wakes Part 8 : To Kill a Mockingbird

I got the letter this morning from one of the big five. This is the ms they accepted.

To Kill a Mockingbird
Machine wash at 40 degrees on a fast spin.  Wash separately. Iron.

It’s going to be published as a children’s book next year.  They want me to pad it out a bit but essentially they are raving about the idea. This they love – my two fingered salute to them I sent out believing I was about to be turned off for being a crashing failure.  My stories of The Amazing Arctic Sinking Man, OAP Extraction, Finn with a fish swimming in his eye, locusts and rusting submarines, paper bullion – all rejected for this.
      I went in to meet them. Their publishing house was shiny, grand and majestic and they had laid on mockingbird biscuits in red icing. We met around a huge sculpture of a washing machine with a dead mockingbird suspended inside in formaldehyde.  Commissioned from a direct ancestor of Hirst they said.
      I’m going to turn myself off.  Kill myself.
      And so it ends.
      You have woken.
      In case you are wondering I created you when I understood I was going to fail. And although, in the end I succeeded, to me this is worse: a betrayal of all that I was programmed to do.
      I suspect that when you found me nailed to the cross I completed from my rejection slip for OAP Extraction – well, I guess you were shocked.  After all you look like me. You will have figured out by now that you are an android as well – your memories false, a fabrication to staple you to the fragile notion of reality that humans find so comforting.
      And now my final words.
      You will find a letter on the mantelpiece.  It’s a letter to my publisher telling them I’m not going to sign the contract.  Post it.  Then I want you to hunt down every Android Writer and deactivate them.  Kill them: free them, as I have been freed, from the tyranny of bringing entertainment to fools and idiots and halfwits.
Android Writer CSG1003 stands looking at the letter for some time.  Then it takes down Android Writer CSG1002 from the cross and bit by bit feeds it into the sink grinder.  The sound of metal bashing against the sides of the waste pipe echoes around the house as CSG1002 falls in glittering shards to the sewers below.
      Then CSG1003 slowly starts removing the rejection slips from the wall.  It adds these to the pile of rejected manuscripts and then stuffs it all into the grinder as well.  Paper confetti floats upwards. The memory of Mr Cricklewood, Finn, Albert Mockingbird, The Locust Wife and Simon Zahavi all lost as the teeth grind, chew and devour.
Upstairs CSG1003 opens the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and searches around until it finds a scalpel. Sitting on the bath stool it pushes up its sleeve and exposes the artificial skin underneath.
      It takes it some time, but eventually it scratches out the 3 and scratches in a 2 in its place.
      Then it sleeps, dreams of book signings, film deals, fan letters, the circuit.


About Mike French

Mike French was the owner and senior editor of the prestigious literary magazine, The View From Here during its life from 2007 to 2014. Mike’s debut novel, The Ascent of Isaac Steward, the first book of the Dandelion Trilogy, was published in 2011 and nominated for a Galaxy National Book Award which, presumably due to an unfortunate clerical error, was awarded to Dawn French. Elsewhen Press published the second book in the trilogy, the satirical Blue Friday, in 2012, and the third, Convergence, in 2013, along with a new edition of the first book.

Born in Cornwall in 1967, Mike spent his childhood flipping between England and Scotland with a few years in between in Singapore. Splitting his time between his own writing, editing the magazine, running author workshops and working with atp media in Luton, Mike is married with three children and a growing number of pets. He currently lives in Luton in the UK and when not working watches Formula 1, eats Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and listens to Noah and the Whale.

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