It is loud, the all encompassing deafness as the information, the purchased rhythms and cadences of a Clockworks’ basic personality, is put in.
In the very beginning, Theodias lost a great many of the Clockworks’ predecessors to overload madness. Simply because cannot try to put the memories back, because you cannot make a personality or a soul exist with just data and magic. A human simply cannot be a god. So the builder must choose. What must the Clockworks be able to do? What can they be taught through modeling? How long does a Clockworks need to be educated?
0222014X was blessed in that now they knew the answers to those questions and though there had been a bit of a rough start, all her bits and bobs were working correctly.
They created for her a name, Odessa St.James. The two chose the last name because of the song, they said. They thought they were clever, and the person in yellow agreed.
So Odessa St. James was given 3 sets of basic police uniforms for work, 5 pairs of under clothes, 3 bras, 7 undershirts, two pairs of boots, an empty police utility belt, a smart looking police cap, two pairs of jeans, two sets of workout clothes, two tee shirts different shades of blue, hair ties, 5 pairs of socks, a set of PJ pants and shirt, toiletries, an instruction manual for her makeup and alteration protocols/incantations and a navy zip top canvas tote to put them all in.
They also showed her how each item worked as she was dressed, as if her data on the subject was insufficient. Lastly she was given the command Utile Dulci….. and she was in command of herself.
I was standing at the door of the Clockworks facility and it was so… quiet. Nothing hummed or sparked, the information running through my mind flowed through at a calming and leisurely pace.
I squatted down and dropped my bag, flexing my fingers and extending my arms to either side to stand up. Surely I knew how to walk and talk and move; I had just never done so under my own power before. It was a lighter feeling, freer and less stifling than what I had previously felt.
I stood and picked up my bag and waited by the large frosted glass doors ready to go out into the world.
Thankfully the ones inside had prepared me and dressed me appropriately in dark jeans, thick gray socks and gray ankle boots a teal long sleeved top underneath a dark gray pea coat. They said it was cold outside.
My long black hair was pulled back into a high ponytail and pulled tight and hair sprayed smooth. I had to look crisp, “no one trusts a scruffy officer!” one of the women said.
I was advised by another of the women to use “natural program 1,” when I was on the job and she had activated this program before I was released. It was fascinating watching the magic in the mirror as makeup shimmered into existence from seemingly nowhere. I was told it was a combination of magic and tech. The skin around my eyes darkened slightly; neutral browns shimmered and settled over my lids and in my eyelid creases, my eyebrows shaped on their own accord and were defined, my lashes extended slightly and thickened, giving my gray eyes the illusion that they were bigger than they actually were. A dusting of powder sprinkled across my face and my cheeks blushed and highlighted as a deeper contour spread around parts of my face. My lips became tinted with a barely there rosy nude color. It was almost instantaneous, “one last check,” the woman had said, and the whole process was done in 15 seconds. She called it my “girl next door” look and told me to study my manual for others.
“Make up, dressing well, and having poise,” (what she meant by the last one was lost on me) would “serve me as much as being able to apprehend a suspect on the streets.” How she knew this, I did not know but I thanked her as per my program. Or perhaps they were my instincts. Hard to tell. Police Officers had instincts so surely I had some too?
She then showed me how to put earrings into my ears, small gold studs, and lastly I received a necklace. A thin chain was hung around my neck and a delicate charm pendant in a double helix pattern, silver and gunmetal, ended in a small gold police shield. It was not a real badge but an identifier, I was a Clockworks owned by a police department. All of the Clockworks at the department should be wearing one.
She told me I was set. I was propelled out of the large changing room and here I stood waiting for Officer Kincaid. Officer Moira Kincaid with red hair they said. The lobby was silent and I hummed tunelessly, they hadn’t paid for musical skills after all.
What seemed like forever, but had actually been 20 minutes as per my internal clock, Officer Kincaid shoved open both of the frosted glass doors. Red hair curled all over her head, and her skin was the color of warmth; a rich chocolate brown that was chilled by her perfect black officer’s uniform. Her shirt and slacks were crisp, her boots shined, and there wasn’t a hat in sight. That was a violation of the dress code but the way Officer Kincaid held herself, I’m not sure I would have called her on it. Her face broke into a large smile as she surveyed me and she said, “You’ll do, yes I think you will!” And she chuckled and told me to grab my stuff.
Outside we came to her police cruiser, her partner seated in the front passenger seat waiting. He had blonde hair, pale skin and eyes hidden behind sunglasses in spite of the gray and frozen day. Though I couldn’t see his eyes, I could tell that he tracked my movements till I passed by him to unlatch the passenger door.
I entered the cage section of the car, stuffed my bag to the empty seat across from me, buckled up, and folded my hands waiting to go wherever they took me.
“She already seems to be an improvement.” The man said to Officer Kincaid, “she’s quiet.”
“I told you that not all Clockworks are like Stephanie, you should know that from our office workers.” Officer Kincaid replied, buckling up and reversing the vehicle.
“I know. She’s just going to be doing the same job,” he continued speaking about me like I wasn’t there.
I didn’t think that was customary of peers, but then again considering my entire life experience to this point (a mere weeks I know) I knew I was lesser. I also knew I couldn’t be lesser if I wanted to succeed. There are times to listen and then there are times to speak.
“Who was Stephanie?” I ask, not interrupting, but not necessarily welcome with my question.
“Stephanie,” Officer Kincaid said meeting my eyes in the rear view mirror, “was a Clockworks like you.”
“I don’t think you should-” the blonde man interrupted which earned him a negative sound from Officer Kincaid. She seemed to be the superior officer in this situation.
“Listen Trogdale, she might as well know what she is up against.” Kincaid shot back and once again began to tell me about Stephanie.
“Stephanie was a Clockworks. Our department’s first Clockworks approved for use in the field. Sure we’ve had Clockworks do office work, do shifts in the evidence vault, act as janitors… all the things Clockworks usually do when they are employed by the government.” The car turned out of the two mile long driveway from the Clockworks center and rolled towards the city proper.
“She was as you originally were supposed to be, a Clockworks designed for someone’s pleasure, I think the tag line was-” she stopped talking to think.
“Oh!” Officer Trogdale snapped his fingers as if that would make neurons fire faster, “The woman who can’t say no!”
I looked towards the mirrors in confusion. “Can’t say no to what?”
“Sex of course! What else?” Officer Trogdale chuckled at my ignorance. “She’s perfect Kincaid, she didn’t even get that!”
“But that’s rape,” I said, highly confused.
“Well, that’s a gray area. While Clockworks have rights, although severely limited, if one is programmed to not say no, she always consents.” Officer Trogdale continued to explain seeming to warm to the ethical debate. Removing his sunglasses I could see he had eyes that were very green and piercing.
“Surely not,” I say my voice rising a bit in outrage, “Wouldn’t that be an abuse of authority: like an adult and a child or a 5 Star General and a E-3?”
“Damn St. James are you psychic or something?” Officer Kincaid asked me, chuckling at my response. “That’s exactly the problem. They don’t make them like Stephanie anymore because of that. Officers or government employees shouldn’t have programming that falls in a gray area.
Anyway, Stephanie was supposed to help cut down on sex trafficking and prostitution in our district by going undercover and busting as many lowlifes as possible. I mean she didn’t look like a cop.”
“Hell no, she didn’t,” Trogdale snorted.
Kincaid continued, “She didn’t act like a cop and she could get picked up by pimps and prove herself an asset to his organization as it were. She didn’t mind because she was programmed not to mind.”
I felt my stomach tighten in pain and a great rolling sensation washed over me. Nausea. I was feeling sick. What exactly was I supposed to do here?
Officer Kincaid oblivious to my discomfort took a breath and continued her story, “And she was great. She busted people all over District One and Two. The problem was in the programming, remember I said she was designed to never say no? Well when she was programmed to be a police officer they were supposed to make her police programming the primary program and anything else secondary. She was supposed to never disobey her commanding officer. She was supposed to be comfortable with her role on the streets and her obedience to the Department was absolute.
“We didn’t think about it but technically Clockworks are second class citizens St. James and you’re going to have to understand that. People are not going to treat you like a person. They think you’re a robot and while that is an oversimplification, the general population doesn’t get what you are, not really. Because you and Stephanie are Clockworks you are ranked lower than our rookie cops. Literally everyone you meet besides other Clockworks are superior officers.” Officer Kincaid sighed, and the skin around her jaw tightened and her eyes turned steely.
“Once people around the Department realized she could not say no to them they started to abuse that in almost all ways possible. It was the biggest scandal in the news for months. Stephanie was sexually abused by many people in the department, forced to commit crimes, and even destroy evidence.
“At the time, the assholes in charge blamed the company that made Stephanie and Stephanie herself. While we expect a Clockworks to be less as a society, we still expect them to be more, as officers of the law, than their programming and magic allows them to be. Everyone expected her to do better but she couldn’t have. There was such a major flaw in the marrying of those two programs that it just couldn’t work.”
“What…. what happened to her?” I asked shaken by the hypocrisy I just heard.
“She went to court a lot. She uncovered a lot of dirty cops and you would think she was a hero because of that and the changing of the laws when it comes to how a Clockworks is programmed and specifically what programs are not allowed in government Clockworks.
For instance, you now only have to obey the Chief and even then, only as long as it’s within the current laws. That just wasn’t so 10 years ago.
Anyway in the end, Stephanie was taken back to the Center and used for research purposes.”
“What Officer Kincaid is getting at St. James is we are the department that had Stephanie. She worked with our people closely and while all the scum that coerced her are gone, some people resent her. They think she was the apple, like in the garden of Eden. She tempted those officers beyond what good normal folks were expected to resist. It’s her fault that they fell.” Officer Trogdale sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“That is some bullshit, Trogdale. Those people should have been stronger than that and able to control themselves as officers of the law should. How can we expect citizens to follow the laws and do what is right if we don’t?”
We were passing some of Little China and I looked out the window at the colorful arch we were about to cross under. Silence filled the cab like we were underwater, the first to open their mouths would drown.
“I know Moria.” Officer Trogdale spoke softly But with intensity, “I’m not saying it’s right. It’s not but it’s the reality. In that backseat is a Clockworks that looks, at most, barely legal that was created for some sadistic pervert. She was made for him and it’s legal! She could be murdered by him, raped, tortured and it would be legal! All because what would have been her classification. I know Stephanie didn’t deserve what she got. St. James will have to deal with that backlash though.“
With growing horror bleeding into numbness I realized the true worth of a Clockworks. We were disposable yet expensive, human but inhumanly viewed. “Someone loved her once,” I said woodenly, “someone loved me.”
“That’s probably the most fucked up part, St. James,” Officer Trogdale said quietly putting his sunglasses back on and staring out into the congested traffic.