The Trial of Arthur Travis
by Aniela Bielanski
Arthur Travis was, by all accounts, an upstanding citizen, which was
why he was shocked to find himself waking up one Tuesday morning with a
mass of well-dressed people around him and handcuffs on his wrists. The
officer who had handcuffed him informed Travis of his right to remain
silent, but that was no issue; he was mute, and had been since birth.
He could only stand and walk as directed by the police to the small
black car parked outside his apartment.
An assortment of press vehicles and reporters were gathered around the
car, parting slowly as it pressed forward. The car’s radio was tuned to
a local news station. The morning anchor spoke with the bland,
authoritarive tone required of his field about the murder of Silicon
Valley tech mogul Philip Azuvello by one Arthur B. Travis. The killer
was easy to find, as security footage displayed the entire event.
Azuvello hadn’t believed in cloning, and had avoided uploading his
mind. He had acquired no digital backup and relied on a security detail
Travis, a Vancouver native, couldn’t understand how his life had gone
from a simple nine-to-five job and a modest apartment to an
international murder case. Nor could his lawyer.
“They caught you on video,” he explained, almost to himself, showing
Travis the permitted stills from the footage. “You were honestly rather
impressive; it’s not every day that someone bests the security of such
a major figure.”
Travis simply looked at the man.
“I think the only thing we have going for our case is that you somehow
managed to get from the valley to Vancouver overnight. And a lack of
motive, I suppose, but nobody really liked Azuvello anyway.”
He laughed at his own joke. Travis continued to stare, not even
offering a smile, and his lawyer rubbed the port on the back of his
neck awkwardly before continuing on.
“Right... I guess that was a bit too soon. How did you get from the
valley to Vancouver in a night anyway? There’s no record of plane
tickets, and a car or train is much too slow.”
Travis reached for a piece of paper and wrote something down, then
showed it to his lawyer. The man spoke no sign language, as much as
Travis wished he did. Silence was a beautiful thing. The lawyer read
Travis’s paper and chuckled once more.
“I’m afraid you must’ve Mr. Travis. They caught you on film. It wasn’t
questionable either; you deliberately showed yourself to the camera.
This isn’t so much a trial as a formality. You really should take the
deal and do the time. It’ll only be twenty years before you’re eligible
Travis shook his head. There would be a trial, and he would be found
innocent. After all, he hadn’t committed a crime. Surely the footage
must be mistaken.
The first day of the trial went about as poorly for Travis as it could.
The prosecution requested and was granted permission to play the
damning security footage. Travis was shown fighting the security force
before firing on Azuvello. He followed by turning to face the camera,
his face easily identifiable, and giving a short laugh before
Travis, as always, remained silent. His lawyer maintained that the
individual in the footage couldn’t possibly be him, and finding that a
futile path turned instead to argue the lack of a motive. The
prosecutor countered that Azuvello was strongly disliked by many in the
region, and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to assume that Travis felt
similarly. A back and forth was had over the motive, but did little to
The prosecution rested, thoroughly satisfied with their case, and his
lawyer tried again. Called to the stand was Travis’s employer. “Where,”
asked his lawyer, “has Mr. Travis been for the past week?”
“Work,” his employer responded. “Though he has been absent for the last
few days. Sickness, if I recall correctly. And of course I don’t keep
track of his weekends.”
A miss. Travis still had a chance, however, and his lawyer continued.
“Has Mr. Travis ever expressed any ill will towards the late Azuvello
or his company?” A no. “Has Mr. Travis been a consistently upstanding
employee, displaying no... homicidal tendencies?” Objection, leading
question. “My apologies, how would you describe my client’s performance
at your company?” Decent, without any notable failures. It was
The second day, the defense tried again. “He must be a co-opted clone;
his eyes are the wrong color,” Travis’s physician asserted when called
as a witness. This shot, while seeming at first promising, turned out
to be a miss.
The manufacturer, called as rebuttal, was the one who shot it down.
Presenting the manufacturer with the security footage, the prosecution
asked about the validity of eye color as a means of determining whether
a clone had been co-opted. The manufacturer asserted that yes, it was
one of the most effective ways of finding a stolen clone. The
prosecution then pointed out that the footage was in greyscale. This
would not be an issue had the killer’s eyes been, say, a dark brown,
but Travis’s green eyes could not be clearly determined to be different
from the light color shown in the footage.
Despite this, the prosecution’s argument now had a dent, though not
something that could be called a hole. What if the killer’s eyes were
wrong? How could it be known? Why hadn’t Travis accepted a guilty plea
given that he was so clearly at fault? Was there some evidence that
everyone else had missed?
The prosecution pressed further when challenging the physician. Unclear
eye color in the footage required a clone body to be much help to
Travis, and none had been found, nor were there any records of one
prepared for him. Not only that, but Travis was on record as not
wanting a clone. Even if he had, why wouldn’t he have used it in order
to enable himself to speak? Travis did not react to any of this,
instead doodling or perhaps composing something on some paper allowed
On the third day of the proceedings, Travis’s lawyer played his last
remaining card, Mrs. Dana Travis (née Collins). The woman, now in her
sixties, took the oath and then the stand. He went through the usual
questioning, asking about Travis’s habits, his personality, and his
recent contact with her, and then asked a final determining question:
“Did you ever secure a clone for your son?”
To Arthur Travis’s surprise, the answer was yes. Against his wishes,
his mother had acquired and put into storage a clone for the potential
event of her son’s untimely death. The defense now had much to work
His lawyer was triumphant. “Mr. Travis is a first time user: the
original copy,” he told the court. “In order for this murder to have
been committed by him, the killer seen in our footage must not have a
port. I ask you to confirm it: do you see a port on the killer’s neck?”
The security footage was not forthcoming. While the killer very
deliberately showed his face to the camera, his neck was almost
entirely covered by a large fur coat. Travis, hoping it would have some
effect on the results, pulled down his shirt to display his bare,
“My client asserts that he never desired a clone, and thus it has been
assumed until now that one does not exist. My client’s parents however,
against his wishes, secured him a clone which is currently in holding.
Should we not find this clone to ensure that it has not been tampered
with? I would say that we should attempt to avoid putting away an
innocent man for the theft of his own body!”
After some deliberation it was decided that the court could not proceed
until this clone had been located or determined missing. It would need
to be destroyed anyway, if he were guilty of such a high offense.
Neither location or destruction would presently be an option however,
as the clone was not in the storage facility listed in the documents
acquired by Travis’s lawyer. According to management, it had been moved
under unclear orders and was now lost. The prosecuting lawyer suggested
that it could be located if still in good condition were Travis to be
killed, as his death would trigger the activation of the clone’s brain.
This was rejected by both the public and the court however, who were
beginning to look towards Travis with a sympathetic eye.
Travis’s case had picked up new steam. How could he have travelled from
the valley to Vancouver in roughly one night, with an entire
investigation revealing no record? While his time the days before the
murder was somewhat unclear, there was no evidence that he had
travelled by plane in over a year, and his employer reported that he
had been present in the week prior. His motive was sketchy, and his
record outstanding. He himself had displayed no knowledge of the event
unless previously revealed to him by someone else, and had no combat
training or ability, much less that required to take down even an
inexperienced security detail.
This was compounded by the discovery of a body just off of the grounds
of Azuvello’s house. Initially a regional case, the media sensation
around the assassination of Azuvello brought to its assigned officers
the idea that it may be connected. The body was spirited to Vancouver,
and sure enough it was identified as the corpse of Arthur B. Travis,
who was at that time sitting in a courtroom at his own trial. There
were two notable distinctions however. The corpse had a port at the
base of its neck, and its eyes were found to be a striking electric
© 2020 Aniela Bielanski
Bio: Aniela Bielanski has been writing sci-fi and fantasy since
childhood, and is currently attending University of Northern Colorado.
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