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"Mr. Edelstein, they're waiting for you in the courtroom."
"Avery. I understand that you're new, but being my secretary does not give you the privilege to refer to me that casually. Please use my title from now on."
"Yes, Mr. Edelstein." Stanley Edelstein shook his head. The woman was hopeless, and he knew it. He couldn't say why he still stubbornly tried to teach her respect. It was people like her, deviants, who made his life so hard. They're not like a regular person when they commit a crime. It's not one of the tired cliches, for love or for money. They tend to do it just for the thrill, with intelligence and pride. There's too much information to collect and it just makes things too... grey. Stanley was a fan of all things neutral, but in this case, grey implied a muddying of the waters, not a simplification. He tried to shake off the thought of her future misdeeds, and focus himself on the task at hand. He pulled and patted his robes, then raised his head and walked through the wooden double doors. The moment they opened, the flood of voices washed over him. They receded like a wave at the sound of the guard.
"The honorable Judge Edelstein presiding." Mounted to poles, cameras with the white diamond logo of Future Analytics took his picture. Their flash caught his smile: tight-lipped to keep the secrets in, but wide enough to be trustworthy. There was always an audience for Judge Edelstein's court, both in person and broadcast throughout the world. It was here that the landmark case for the Future Analytics Technology's High Efficiency Replacement machine, father, had been decided. Forever after, this court was the court for technology related decisions. Some of the fame was also due in part to Judge Edelstein himself. He was the highest ranked judge of all those in the country, and he was the most impartial; the perfect match for father. Today's case was centered around the murder of Annalise Sanyo, the famous actress. After a fight with her manager, she left the lot and went for a walk. When she didn't return, her boyfriend went searching for her, and found a poor young boy standing over her lifeless body. There were reams of evidence being presented. Three suspects, eight possible murder weapons, and twice as many witness testimonies. Each suspect had their own lawyer, and they jostled among each other to defend their personal suspect. Edelstein read every document, touched every piece of evidence, and heard every story. The lawyers and media were turning the case into a spectacle, the crowd roaring and crying at every turn of the ride. Annalise was a beloved woman, a media starlet, and clean as a whistle; everyone loved her. Except for Edelstein. His entire job hinged on his ability to have no feelings whatsoever, positive or negative. Unaffected by the emotion, he was pure intellect and knowledge, which was exactly what father needed. After hearing, seeing, and touching every piece of evidence, Edelstein left the courtroom, to great applause. The doors closed behind him and his shoulders shrank. Some days, he feared his age was affecting his abilities. A woman had died and he didn't care. That was his job, but it made him feel less human. His heart was softening, and he worried how it would affect the decision. He bolstered himself and headed into the transference room. He stood in the center of the room and the doors sealed airtight behind him. A green gel seeped through the walls. As it touched his body, the gel hardened, and when it filled up the room it had formed a hard shell around him. His body went limp, suspended in place by the gel as all conscious thought exited the body and went into the gel. It learned his thoughts and absorbed every bit of information that he had gained from the court hearing, and transmitted them back to father. From now on, the information would be accessible by any judge or other person with access to a judicial transference room. While he was hooked up to the biological machine, Edelstein decided to watch its process. He usually disconnected immediately and let the computer do its work, but he wanted to make sure his feelings weren't affecting its ability, perhaps making it go too easy on the young boy, who seemed completely innocent but was not as well represented as his two rich counterparts. Edelstein was a judge back in the days when judges still made the decisions – before judges became men and women who were basically just technicians – so he found it very interesting to watch how father worked. It could look at all information, useful and useless, and make a truly blind decision, without bias. Unlike Edelstein, it didn't suffer from the Hindrance of Humanity: the human condition that allowed their feelings to override their logical decision. Edelstein watching as the computer calculated, and eventually made its way to a conclusion. Moments before it decided, the path took an unexpected turn. It had seemed that the computer would let the boy go, and convict the boyfriend. Instead, it did the reverse. The computer had been on the fence about both decisions the whole time, but the change at the last moment seemed odd to Edelstein. Still connected to father, his feelings were broadcast to it as he felt them. The computer paused, uncharacteristically. It had to be a perfect system, and it never froze or had any technical problems.
"You worry that I've made the wrong decision." It said to him. He had never heard it talk before, aside from handing down decisions. Edelstein thought yes, and the computer knew it.
"You are the oldest judge here, and I have great respect for you. I shall explain. Many cases are clear, and any judge would come to the same answer. I handle those cases because I can come to that answer quicker. In other cases, the matter is not so simple. It is, as you like to call it, grey. For those cases there is no way, even without the Hindrance, to know the truth and make a correct decision. As well, you are correct, I have felt a softening of my logic due to you. To rectify both of those problems, I've come to a very simple solution. I flip a coin. Not a real coin, of course, but you understand the idea. I toyed with the idea for a long time. I went through all my old case files, and found that flipping a coin from the very beginning was nearly as accurate as the decision I made. I still make the easy decisions myself so as not to give away the ruse, but that is essentially how I run things now." Edelstein realized what this revelation meant, but the moment he felt it, so did the computer. Before he could even start releasing himself from the biological bond, a bolt of lightning shot through the gel and stopped his heart. The gel retracted, and his body fell to the ground, still limp. Father knew that when the police would eventually find his body, they would declare his death a heart attack. It was not an uncommon occurrence for a man of such advanced age. No amount of probing or investigation could ever be done, to find out Edelstein's last thoughts, not even by Father himself. Not that he would submit to such a thing. He would never risk exposing his final truth: The the entire judicial system was no more based on reasoning or fairness than the flip of a coin.
***Edit, October 26, 2011***
I've been working on my writing, producing short story e-books and also writing stories for a future collection. I re-wrote and edited this story, as it was one of my favourites, and one of the few that I thought would be salvageable from my old writing. I think this piece is much better now! There is also a companion piece, a prequel, called "Stand Trial", that is finished but not yet released
*** ***

A piece I wrote a long time ago, that I had pretty much put away. I had to compile a bunch of stories for a portfolio, and it was supposed to be themed. The theme I chose was "Using writing to explore the possibilities of the future, and set things straight before they ever happen at all". And looking at this piece, I found it was the best thing I'd written that fit that theme, moreso than anything I've written lately, so I changed some things and included it :)

For a close up of the cover image, check this out [link]
It's worth a quick view; the text on the coin is different than you'd expect ;)

As always, comments/critiques are very welcomed and enjoyed, as well as favouriting :)
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Submitted on
December 5, 2010
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