by Denis Winston Brum
Juan de los Reyes is sitting at the edge of the bunk. A naked prisoner
inside an insignificant metallic square. The medical sensor display
above him shows good health. On the side wall, the justice chronometer
records in red numbers: one minute left to his judgement. On the
opposite side of his cell, the legal assistance console is in standby
mode. Juan’s hazel eyes are lost on the floor carbon steel plates.
The countdown reaches zero. A virtual window opens. A golden scale
shines in a blue sky where celestial clouds pass while an artificial
choir sings the United States of the Americas anthem. The image
dissolves to a judge dressing in a black robe. He is tall, thin, has
golden blonde short hair, a tough face, piercing blue eyes and his
complexion is rather pale, a characteristic that artificial
intelligences designed for people. When the grave voice echoes through
the cell, Juan turns his bald head up slowly to the authoritarian
figure in front of him and listens:
“Juan de los Reyes, identification code HW. 2020/1027, the United
States of Americas Court of Justice is now in session. You are accused
of not having observed the rules of the PROWORK 4.7 training program in
your workstation. The proceedings reveal that you are a recurrent. Do
you consider yourself guilty or not guilty?”
Juan did not move a muscle in his face.
“Do you consider yourself guilty or not guilty?” The judge narrows his eyes.
A new voice, low and controlled, comes up from the left corner of the cell.
“Your Honor, I believe that my client does not realize the gravity of the accusation that it is being made to him.”
Juan turns to the voice while the virtual projection maximizes itself,
transforming the claustrophobic cell into a wide judgment court. The
man who is talking is medium height, has gray blonde short hair, green
eyes, the complexion rather pale, and wears square framed glasses. He
is wearing a light blue suit and is sitting behind a dark oak desk,
just like the rest of the furniture of the judgment court. Over his
desk a plate informs: Defense Attorney.
Another voice comes up and Juan turns to his right looking at the twin
of his attorney, working for the prosecution. The only visible
difference between them is that the prosecution’s attorney wears a suit
in a darker blue.
“I disagree, your Honor, the defendant was accused again of the same
crime, so he knows what he did.” His lips move in an almost
“Objection!” The defense attorney widens his eyes.
“Rejected.” The judge elevates his chin.
Juan follows the discussion apart.
“Prosecution report.” The judge reclines in his wooden high-back chair.
The prosecution attorney stands up and is getting ready to speak while
a window opens by his side. The window is showing the frozen image of
Juan wearing his silver protection suit, above the window there is a
bar labeled Evidence A, 10.10.2077.
“As the recording will show,” the prosecution attorney raises a tone of
his voice, “the defendant’s behavior in his work station is an
intentional sabotage to PROWORK 4.7 training program.”
Everybody looks at the Evidence A. The image, now in movement, shows
Juan going down a long corridor between two walls of machinery. An
intense red light was beaming against him. Behind the transparent visor
of the protection suit it was possible to see Juan’s emotionless face.
The prosecution attorney starts to talk again, “We can see through the
image that the defendant is working properly in the geothermal energy
station. His function is simple: control the admission of primitive
magma and supervise its cooling while it generates energy to our
reactors. The defendant should reach his work station, check the
temperature, control the flow of the cooling fluid, and make sure that
the reaction is kept in the appropriate speed.”
Juan walks to his work station installed besides the pit, down there
the magma moves in slow incandescent waves. His face suddenly shows a
deep frustration. Just after he seems very anxious, timid tears
dropping on his pale face. While he is getting closer to his
instrumentation console the face shows an endless torment. Juan falls
to his knees. The warning signal echoes on the power plant.
“It’s enough.” The prosecution attorney interrupts the Evidence A and
the window closes. “It’s evident that the defendant did not adapt
himself to the training program resisting the process. He does not have
the skills necessary to accomplish his functions at the San Andreas
Geothermal Station - Magma 5 Level.”
Juan does not react at all. His attorney speaks for him. “Objection,
Your Honor. The PROWORK 4.7 Training Program is very recent. The human
beings require more time to adapt than the cyborgs. However, after
being adapted, they are useful in high-risk functions like these where
even the cyborgs could melt their circuits. I asked that the defendant
would be sent to a reprogramming center.”
“Your Honor, the defendant was already reprogrammed,” the prosecution
attorney spread his arms wide, “and we already know the result.”
A window labeled Evidence B, 07.23.2077 opens by his side. The image
starts to move showing Juan on a restrain bed with two neural-terminals
attached to his temples. Next to him, there are dozens of other human
beings in the same conditions.
“Here we have the defendant being reprogrammed for the PROWORK 4.7
program.” The attorney points his index finger to the window. “As we
know, this training program was created to handle slow workers. As the
image shows, the defendant is having his emotions and life memories
erased in favor of his work instructions. The tests that were carried
out by the psycho-motor scanners revealed that the efficiency in the
execution of the duties increased up to 153.7%. This makes the PROWORK
4.7 Training Program the most productive tool for correcting human
failures. The defendant in question resisted the method twice. So, the
prosecution demands that he be declared guilty.”
The judge pronounces the sentence:
“Juan de los Reyes, identification code HumanWare. 2020/1027, the
United States of the Americas Court of Justice, after a fair
4.49-minute judgment, declare you guilty of an intentional
non-observation of the PROWORK 4.7 rules. I sentence you to be deleted
and that the functional parts of your body be transferred to a cyborg.
The sentence will be executed immediately.” He hit the hammer on the
The judgment court slowly fades away in front of Juan’s empty eyes.
Behind him, a wall section slides revealing two metallic arms with
their silver neural-terminals reflecting the light of the cell. The
devices are automatically connected to his temples. Juan does not try
to resist. Since the PROWORK 4.7 reprogramming his mind, he has been
lost in a very distant time, a childhood memory continuously runs
through his head: his mother preparing to give him a bath and
accidentally letting him fall into the hot water. While the justice
system engages the lethal charge that would cease his existence, Juan
remembers how the magma heat feels as boiling as the water of his
© 2021 Denis Winston Brum
Bio: Denis Winston Brum developed his writing skills working in
the advertising business. He published the children’s book “As Férias
das Fadas”, the Young-Adult book “As Quatro Linhas” and the adult book
“Redemoinhos”, all in paperback. Denis Winston Brum also released the
adult e-Book “Adiós Pampa Mía”.
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum
Return to Aphelion's Index page.