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.