Forever Garden: Chapter Three by Sophie Gardener

We’ve teamed up with RMIT’s School and Media and Communication and asked students to respond to the themes of Melbourne Knowledge Week and reflect Melbourne’s future. This response by Sophie Gardener explores the humanity of Melbourne as we move into the future. This is the first chpater in her series ‘Forver Garden’.

Sophie was really interested in the idea of Melbourne as an entity and how it interacts with its inhabitants, specifically the young people that will decide its future. With Siggy, she wanted to explore how we will move towards the future, whether this manifests in a utopia, dystopia, or something uniquely Melbourne.

CHAPTER THREE: AI AND THE DYSTOPIAN FUTURE

Siggy’s sheets stick to her tacky skin. Cleaning up the carnage of E Grove has taken weeks, and she spends every day covered in sticky, milky sap. All of the young pods have been piled together and burnt. She can’t do anything more, except watch her parents rebuild years of fragile ecosystem. The biggest blow is the destruction of their newest genetic engineering project, which they had housed in E Grove. Even worse, at least to Siggy: her implant doesn’t talk to her anymore, beyond relaying messages. She’s tried apologising to no avail. It’s too quiet in her head.

Siggy tries to turn over, has to physically peel the sheets away so she doesn’t get tangled. She’s drifting back to sleep when her implant starts beeping. Siggy thinks her implant’s doing it just to spite her. She switches it off.

You can’t turn me off.

The voice is indescribable, like biting into tinfoil and white noise at the same time, and nothing like that. There’s no vocal signature to attribute it to anyone she knows. No source. But messages always have a source. It’s impossible to hack an implant.

I am the source. I can show you the source.

Siggy wakes to the rain with a need for fresh air. It’s quiet all the time now, no voice to point out the city’s small beauty. Melbourne seems dimmer without it. She heads into the shower, scrubs the last of the moth milk off her skin. She stomps back into her boots, pulls on a kevlar jacket and zips it up to her chin. She takes the Green Tunnels, water trickling through the leaves overhead. The mothplant doesn’t make an appearance.

The train pulls up at Eureka Station. When Siggy goes to stand up and step out of the carriage, the robot murmur keeps her in her seat. She feels weight on the back of her neck, turns around. No one is looking. No one is there. The only other passenger is the camera that juts down from the ceiling. It moves, imperceptibly, as if sizing her up. Siggy turns back around quickly. The doors close on the shining glass of the platform, and the train pulls into the MetroCircle. Siggy watches the stations pass and pass, similarly glued in place.

Her implant beeps. The murmur: Now arriving at Flagstaff Station. It is as if a gear unclicks, and suddenly Siggy is able to stand and exit the train.

Why Flagstaff? she thinks to herself. Nobody ever comes here.

Flagstaff mainly serves as the intersection between the Metrocircle and the City Loop, but at this time of day it’s deserted. Siggy feels that weight on the back of her neck again. She looks up at the camera above her, which is trained on her. She looks around at the others, all pointing at her like a magnet.

I am the source. I can show you the source.

READ CHAPTER TWO | READ CHAPTER FOUR >

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