Trial of an Extro

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Following a savage civil war between the Extros and the Intros, a middle-aged woman stands trial for her life; an innocuous and apparently harmless woman, while in the background, the prosecution and the media tries to improve the trial’s ratings.

Submitted: December 30, 2008

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Submitted: December 30, 2008

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Trial of an Extro
 
 
T
he Galactic Court Room was called to order and Prosecuting Counsel got ready to begin the second day of the trial. The first day had been quite successful with ratings in the tens of millions, an audience satisfaction figure of 6.7, and a voting participation rate of 94%. Four defendants had been found guilty and humanely atomised, two had been found not guilty and each one was to receive a 1% share in Galactic revenues. One had been found very guilty and was tortured by his peers, according to corporate norms. 
As the trial began, the camera zoomed in on the first defendant, Linda Brennan. She was a woman in her thirties with shoulder-length black hair and dull grey eyes; non-descript in most ways, and not very telegenic. The Producer had wanted a prettier defendant for the all important first slot, but the judge, who was very old-fashioned, had said that telegenicity was not relevant.
The Producer would have to rely on the hideous nature of the crimes themselves to capture audience share. That and the pulling power of the prosecutor, voted Sexiest Counsel in Legal TVs last poll. The judge, who still enjoyed some kind of tenure unrelated to ratings would just have to be suffered.
The Prosecutor finished oiling his hair, checked his vanity mirror to make sure his moustache was sleek enough, waited for the compare to finish introducing the case and addressed the defendant right on cue. The Produced loved working with Prosecutor Hamilton. He was a commutate professional.
 
-Mrs Brennan, could you tell the court when you realised that there was something seriously wrong on your home world?
-It hadn’t seemed like a problem at first. No-one even really noticed in the beginning. People just wanted to live with people who were like them, that’s all. There didn’t seem to be nothing wrong with it…seemed like the most normal thing in the world, it did.
-Normal, Mrs Brennan? Normal! How could the brutal slaughter of 4 billion people in two weeks be normal?! If this is defendant’s idea of normality, ladies and gentlemen of TV jury, an orgy of bloody violence, then I for one hope I never have to witness her idea of what is not normal.
-Objection Your Honour. The Counsel for the prosecution is grandstanding.
-Sustained. Counsel-you will address the court and not the TV screens. Do I make myself clear?
 
The Prosecutor said that Judge Deftile had made himself perfectly clear and promised not to do it again. He almost certainly would, of course, since Trial by TV, with the audience as the Jury, meant it was impossible not to pander to the TV audience, but he determined to be a little more subtle about it in the future. Like the Prosecutor, who was a personal friend, he believed that the judge figure in the TV Trial should be done away with completely, or perhaps the role given to the compare, or someone who knew more about the importance of audience ratings.
He waited until the camera was on him again and gave it one of his trademark sultry looks. Then he returned to questioning the witness.
 
-Mrs Brennan, I ask you again when you realised there was something wrong on your homeworld?
-Well, I guess it was at the start of The Legislation. I began to get a bit worried like. My Bert, he said it wasn’t right. He said they didn’t have no right to tell people where to live and where not to live.
-And you had to move yourself, didn’t you Mrs Brennan?
-That’s right. We had to move. My Bert said it wasn’t right. We’d lived in that estate for three generations. Three Generations. But they said we weren’t Intros. Said the bleedin’ perso tests proved it. So, we had to get up and go. They was always telling us what do, they was.
-Please state for the record who you mean by ‘they’ Mrs Brennan.
‘They’? I mean them-the Intro’s. Never give an Extro a minute’s peace they wouldn’t. Kicking us off our own estate. Telling us to go and live with our own kind over the other side of the wall. Bloody In…
Mrs Brennan caught herself before finishing ‘Intro’, but it was too late. The TV microphones had picked it up and the camera had zoomed into her face and recorded the anger and hatred in her eyes at the mention of ‘Intro’s’. This would probably count against her in the voting stage later, but she had eight more minutes of trial left, so she hadn’t given up hope, but she fidgeted uncomfortably for the remainder of the trial, moving her weight from one leg to another. A thin line of sweat was also visible on her upper lip, glistening in the studio lights.
-Humm…I see. I see.
 
The tanned Prosecutor successfully stalled his way into the first commercial break, dragging out the ‘hum’ and raising one quizzical eye brow at the camera, another of his trademark gestures. He had made sure that the last thing the jaded TV Jury would remember was the witness’ reference to ‘Bloody Intro’s’.
Most juries, he knew, made up their mind about a defendant’s guilt or innocence by the first commercial break.
After the ad break it was the defence lawyer’s turn. He had been a brilliant and scholarly lawyer in his youth, but that was before Trial by TV became the norm, and his career had nosedived since, dependant as he was on complex legal arguments that the TV audience rarely understood. His agent had told him to change his style or he would have his TV licence revoked, and without that he would never be able to pay the mortgage.
His agent had sent his tapes to a consultancy firm who had given him a 10-point Performance Improvement Plan to help him connect with the average couch potato, who they reminded him, now determined guilt, past sentence and controlled his salary, in full accordance with the programme set out in the New Deal Direct Democracy (NDDD).
The Defence lawyer secretly hated the NDDD, but he didn’t admit it for fear of being considered a fascist. He returned to the nervous defendant.
 
-Mrs Brennan, you said before that you wanted to stay in your family flat, that you didn’t want to move into an Extro-only area.
-Yeah, that’s right.
-So you actively opposed segregation.
-Well, yeah, I suppose I did. I wasn’t no card carrying Integrationnist nor nothin’, but I didn’t wanna move. No sir.
-Thank you, Mrs Brennan. The prosecution’s witness, your honour.
-Thank you. Now, Mrs Brennan. When the government asked you to relocate, you I believe you later filed an objection on the local council’s Vid Phone Message Board, isn’t that right.
-Er…Yes, I think I did.
-And on what grounds did you object to the relocation Mrs Brennan?
-…I don’t remember exactly…
-Well, perhaps this will jog your memory, Mrs Brennan!
 
The prosecutor theatrically pressed the play button on the remote control, holding up his ‘Surprise Evidence Card’ card for the cameras and raising his left eyebrow knowingly.
The TV feed switched to the recorded message Mrs Brennan had left at her government office objecting to the transfer. It was obvious immediately to the whole TV Jury that she had been very drunk when she recorded the message. She was swaying in front of the kitchen camera with a bottle of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Her husband Bert sat at the kitchen table behind her in only his underpants, his pot belly hanging over them. He appeared to be too drunk to speak and was barely conscious. Mrs Brennan did all the talking.
 
-Now listen here, you pencil pushin’ prats. I ain’t movin nowhere, y’hear. I luv me flat an’ I’m stayin’ put, right! An’ in anyways, the new flat you’se is offerin me stinks of piss… and the ex-tenant was a dirty filthy Intro.
Who the bloody hell d’you think you are making my estate an Intro Estate in anyways? This here is a clean neighbourhood, innit? Not like those filthy vermin-ridden Intro Estates. Cockroach Towers, they’s is. They spread disease, y’know. Dirty smelly B’startds!
Now listen ere. You try an’ fill me estate with that Intro Scum, an’ I’ll effin kill the bleedin lot of ‘em. I’ll knife ‘em up the ass, Intro scum. I’d rather torch the place than see Intro’s pollutin’ it. I’ll burn it down with them in it-you here me?!
 
The video message stopped, Mrs Brennan looked at the ground, and the defence lawyer pressed the ‘Lost Cause’ button on his console. That was his fifth loss in two days. If he lost the next case as well, his salary would go to the Prosecutor. Worse still, if the rest of the week continued like this he could even end up losing his Trial TV licence, and then where would he be? Back in the minor third rate courts with the traffic offenders and jaywalking cases.
The trial was put to TV Jury immediately, and the Compare told the jury to consider their verdict during the commercial break.
The Defence lawyer would be able to use the extra four minutes for his other defendants in the Trial by TV Jury show. That gave him a four minute advantage over the Prosecutor, and he would need it. The clearly was no point in wasting a full 10 minutes on Mrs Brennan’s case.
The audience found Mrs Brennan very guilty of genocide in the Introvert/Extrovert wars of Gammus 5, and she was tortured to death by one of the surviving Intros who had been found innocent yesterday. The Torture began live on the Trial by TV show, but then was recorded for the later ‘Torture Show’, a highly rated and critically acclaimed spin-off of Trial by TV.
The ratings for the day had been good, but not as good as the day before. Mrs Brennan just wasn’t telelgenic enough and even her Torture Show ratings were disappointing.


© Copyright 2019 Phillip Donnelly. All rights reserved.

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