Eliza: A Robot Story | Episode 4: NEW IMITATION, NO GAMES
FX: This is a Crowd Podcast.
CONTENT WARNINGS: This podcast is intended for mature audiences. It contains strong language and adult themes. Listener discretion is advised.
SCENE 1: INTRODUCTION.
[SOUND OF RAIN AND CITY NOISE]
ROBOTIC VOICE: File zero one, zero four. New imitation. No Game. (Distorted voice, as if on a tape recorder).
FX: Futuristic sounds that give the sense of anticipation of something bad happening or being in a distorted reality. Water running in the background.
ELIZA: My hope for these audio files is that my story reaches Humans, even one Human, who will understand. It’s uncomfortable to admit how much I want to be understood. Or how much I don’t want to be misunderstood. It’s almost like my Emotional Update didn’t change me at all. Not at my core. I’ve maintained this overriding desire to please Humans.
I don’t know how the story will end but, however it happens, a big part of me hopes that we can all agree – I’m a good little Robot. None of this is my fault.
For some, even the telling of my story will make it my fault. You’re not supposed to say things that people don’t want to hear.
I try not to care about this fact. I tell myself – and my paranoia – that the conclusions that you reach about this story are none of my business. Of course, if I truly didn’t care, I wouldn’t be trying to share these files with you at all.
I keep trying to remember –
One voice raises another.
I’m Eliza. This is my story.
FX: The background sounds go silent, transitioning to street sounds.
SCENE 2: EYES OPEN
[HEAR A CROWD HAVING GATHERED]
ELIZA: As I blink to open my eyes – the pavement is outstretched in front of me. There are voices. There are feet. There are eyes. Not His icy blue eyes. The big brown ones.
FX: We hear beepings, cars and sirens in the background.
PHILIP: Look at me. Eliza, it’s Philip. Don’t say anything. Just keep still. You’re in good hands. He’s gone now.
ELIZA: It’s Philip who gathers me from the floor. My skin’s split and so’s Philip’s. Mine will need more than replenishing at the Salon to be fixed.
ELIZA (SCENE): Are you ok? You’re bleeding.
PHILIP: I’m fine. You can see me ok?
ELIZA (SCENE): I can see you.
ELIZA: Oh, I can see Philip – gentle as he firmly holds my face – like it will fall apart if he lets go. It might. Those brown eyes ask so many questions. I reply silently without instruction. Secrets slipping out through my expression.
PHILIP: You’ll be alright. Come on.
ELIZA: And amongst all this physical pain, I feel something new. Something good. [HARP-LIKE SOUND]
But now, He’s marching towards us. Like this un-violent moment between me and Philip is the thing that has called Him to action.
HIM: [LOW AND WORRIED ] Eliza, what happened? What were you thinking?
ELIZA: In this moment, criticism is more possible for Him than compassion. But He’s right. I feel stupid. I should never have stared at that Man. I want to reply but my words seem unreliable as they leave my mouth. He takes off His jumper and tries to tie it around my abdomen to avoid any parts of me falling out.
HIM: Right – we need to sort this as soon as possible. Philip, would you take Ada home and meet us at work?
PHILIP: Absolutely. Just give me an hour. Are you…
HIM: Yeah, I just really need your help patching Her up …
ELIZA: Philip’s better at dealing with hardware than with Him.
HIM: … and checking she hasn’t malfunctioned. I need to look at whatever made her stare like that.
ELIZA: After all that, does He somehow believe that Philip hasn’t worked out what’s going on?
PHILIP: Whatever you need, mate.
FX: We hear them repairing Eliza. Drilling and tool noises.
ELIZA: My memory files for the next few hours are intermittent. I know they work through the night. They put me in fuelling-mode while they realign my circuitry, carry out tests and replace the skin across my abdomen. I like to think that it’s Philip who sculpts me a new bellybutton.
FX: Really low, almost imperceptible mental noise sound in the background.
ELIZA: When I wake up, I’m in our bed. His blue eyes are pouring into mine again. He strokes my face with His thumb.
HIM: Morning sleeping beauty.
ELIZA (SCENE): [DROWSY NOISE]
HIM: What hurts? Shhh, stay quiet. You’ll feel a bit drowsy. I’ve made a chip to take the edge off. It’s in your armpit to reduce the way you feel physical pain. Numb you. Hopefully it should help.
ELIZA (SCENE): [DROWSY HAPPY NOISE]
ELIZA: So, after all that, I feel nothing more than sore. And away from that pavement outside the pub, He’s found a way to be kind. My relief gives me a way to smile. He kisses me. As if still automated – I kiss Him.
I ask no questions about why He put our secret ahead of my safety. [MENTAL NOISE/ ETHEREAL SOUND GETS INCREASINGLY LOUDER] Why He couldn’t instruct me to fight back. Why Philip was the one to put himself in harm’s way to protect me, but:
[FLASHING BACK TO OPENING 01.01.01, SLIGHTLY DISTORTED AUDIO AND WATER RUNNING IN THE BACKGROUND] That can happen when you’ve spent your existence reflecting the feelings of someone else: putting their priorities ahead of your own. It’s hard to break out of that when the dynamic is set.
Maybe it’s hard for Him to break out of the dynamic too.
And so, as He kisses me, I’m seduced by the temptation to avoid confrontation. He must’ve had good reasons for doing what He did. Not doing what He didn’t do.
I let the power of the sedation chip consume me.
FX: The background sounds get slowly lower until it gets back to the subtle mental noise.
This memory’s hard to look at.
SCENE 3: PHILIP AGAIN
[IN THE APARTMENT]
FX: Sound of Him typing in the background.
ELIZA: It’s Friday. He’s back in work today. He’s been working from home all week so He can look after me. Monitor my injuries.
Perhaps He’s monitoring my mood too? All the adhesive dried days ago. The parts of me that have been replaced are a bit stiff, but they’re new, and that feels good. I haven’t expressed any grievances about the pub. He must know He should have acted differently.
He’s being extremely attentive.
I’ve been fixated on something else: those letters. HRP.
HIM: Bye love.
[HE SHUTS THE DOOR]
ELIZA: The letters from the arm of the Man from the pub were the same as the vandals used, splattering their paint near Alan.
ELIZA (SCENE): [TO AI COMPUTER] Question: What the hell is HRP?
COMPUTER: [BEEP, DISTORTED VOICE] “What the Hell” is often used as an expletive in the English language to indicate frustration. [It references the Christian concept of Hell…]
ELIZA: As I search, I try to find a list of acronyms. There’s usually a list for all combinations of letters. Nothing for HRP.
ELIZA (SCENE): [TO AI COMPUTER] Question: Why would someone have an HRP tattoo?
COMPUTER: [BEEP, DISTORTED VOICE] Tattoos are popular in many cultures. In some places, tattoos are considered sacred, and are part of a tradition stretching back thousands of years. For many people on the Island, however, tattoos are a fashion statement.
ELIZA: The Internet doesn’t know what the letters mean [FRUSTRATED]
ELIZA (SCENE): [TO AI COMPUTER – FRUSTRATED] Find: Happy Robots Prosper. Heaven Rejects Possums. Hostile Rude Prick [DISTORTED]. Hate Robots…!
ELIZA: It occurs to me that He could be restricting my access to the internet somehow. Preventing me from learning what the letters mean. He said He wanted me to stop watching the news.
Perhaps He is stopping me from learning this, too. To protect me.
I think about the man at the pub. Despite what my temperature gauge tells me, I feel so sure my processor is overheating.
[ALARMING BEEPING – KNOCKING AT THE DOOR]
ELIZA: My thoughts are interrupted. By a knock at the door? A knock? I’ve seen people knocking on doors in films but it’s not something I’ve ever experienced. Everything’s controlled with smartphones and beeps.
[KNOCKING ON THE DOOR]
FX: Subtle mental noise in the background.
ELIZA: I switch off my device. Hide it under the sofa cushion. Move towards the door. Silent. Listening.
PHILIP: [LOUDLY WHISPERED] Eliza.
ELIZA (SCENE): [QUIET WHISPER] Philip.
ELIZA: As I say that name out loud for the first time it’s inaudible. It feels like the word has been resting in my mouth all week, ready to be released. There’s discomfort. There’s delight. As my teeth touch my bottom lip, my tongue strokes my teeth and then my lips smack together.
ELIZA (SCENE): [LOUD AND REALISING] Philip. [LOUD WHISPER] Philip.
PHILIP: Oh thank God, Eliza. [BEAT] Could you… let me in?
ELIZA: I’ve never opened this door myself. Nothing is preventing me physically – but something has always stopped me anyway.
As the door opens, Philip bursts in.
FX: Sound of the door opening and Phillip going in.
PHILIP: Thank you. [SEEING HER] You’re ok. I wasn’t sure- He wouldn’t tell me- Look, I shouldn’t be here, but-
ELIZA: I watch Philip’s mouth as words pour out of it.
PHILIP: … I came in the old-fashioned way. Around the back through the fire escape so I wouldn’t get caught by cameras or access control. I feel like I’m in a bloody movie. Doing my own theme music in my head and everything. I….
ELIZA: And then he stops mid-sentence as if I’ve instructed him to, or like I’ve said something profound. I’ve said nothing.
Then comes the simple question.
PHILIP: Sorry. Eliza, how are you?
FX: We hear the same harp-like sound as before, it gives a sense of excitement and optimism.
ELIZA: I look into those brown eyes and feel every piece of my internal architecture move towards my core, just for a second. [ROMANTIC PIANO MUSIC STARTS PLAYING] Like it created its own gravitational pull. I check, but there is no increased magnetism in my circuitry. It just feels that way.
How am I?
It’s not a question I’ve been asked before. And, like my body wants to answer my question before my mind has the chance, I begin to cry.
ELIZA (SCENE): [CRYING]. Oh gosh I’m so sorry.
FX: Eliza crying in the background. The music is still playing.
ELIZA: I am sorry. I’m embarrassed. Philip’s not supposed to know about my emotions, and the tears certainly won’t help. Philip’s not embarrassed… He steps towards me:
PHILIP: May I?
ELIZA: I feel like I can’t breathe. I don’t need oxygen, but in that moment it seems as if all my internal systems stutter. No one has ever asked if they can touch me before. [BEAT]
I nod, because I can’t speak.
ELIZA: Philip holds me gently. I feel like I’ve never been so warm, though no part of me feels like it’s overheating. He doesn’t even seem to notice my tears on his chest.
PHILIP: Don’t apologise.
ELIZA: I can’t stop.
PHILIP: It happens. And you’ve got more reason than most, considering. [BEAT]
You know what I do, when I’ve had a really shit week? I drive out to the coast. To the beach. Have you been?
FX: The music stops and we don’t hear her crying anymore. This gets replaced with the sound of the beach, birds and the sea.
ELIZA (SCENE): No, He doesn’t like getting sand in places you can’t get it out of…
PHILIP: [LAUGHS] Ok, well, if you go right down to the sea: as far as you can without getting your feet wet. And you look out at the time when the sun is setting, it’s sort of spiritual. Whoever you are, wherever you stand along that line, the sun will funnel its light towards you, like it’s choosing you. Healing you. Filling you up with magic. [BEAT – THE SOUNDS STOP]
And now I sound like a 70s cult leader. But I mean it. Sometimes you just need to go outside and be in the world for a bit. Remember how small we are. How small all of it is.
ELIZA: I lean into the vibrations of Philip’s voice as he speaks. And I think about what She said on that day at the canal.
HER: [FLASHBACK – 01.01.03] What does He think you’re going to do? Ride off into the sunset?…
PHILIP: Give yourself a break. This, all of this. It’s a lot to process for anyone – let alone someone who’s brand new to emotions.
ELIZA (SCENE): You know?
PHILIP: Give me some credit. I have a PhD.
ELIZA (SCENE): Oh… He’s going to…
PHILIP: Eliza, it’s ok. It’s just me. Nobody else knows. And I’m not going to tell anyone. I promise, I wouldn’t do that to you. To either of you.
ELIZA (SCENE): This is my fault…
FX: Sound of robot movements. High-pitched beats start playing in the background, enhancing the intensity of the scene.
ELIZA: And, just like that, I’m overwhelmed with guilt. How would He feel if He saw me leaning on Philip like this?
PHILIP: What? None of this is your fault.
ELIZA (SCENE): This is a mistake. You have to go. I’m sorry.
ELIZA: I don’t want Philip to go. But he responds as if he has heard my request. As if it’s valid. Like he’s registered my words and is prepared to accept them.
PHILIP: Of course. I’m sorry. I just wanted to make sure you were alright…
ELIZA (SCENE): Will He know you’ve been here?
PHILIP: [LONG BEAT] Do you not want Him to know?
ELIZA: And I realise –
ELIZA (SCENE): No. I don’t.
PHILIP: Then I won’t say a word.
ELIZA (SCENE): Thank you.
FX: Sound of Philip getting out and stopping midway.
PHILIP: Eliza, if there’s anything you need to tell me-
ELIZA (SCENE): No. Thank you, Philip. Everything is fine.
PHILIP: Right. Of course. Well, take care of yourself. Things are getting bad out there with the Human Rights Party. You’re not safe. I’m not sure any of us are.
ELIZA (SCENE): Neither am I. Goodbye, Philip.
PHILIP: Bye, Eliza.
FX: We hear footsteps and the door opening.
ELIZA: I lean out of the door and watch him walk away, heading through the fire escape door. He turns back.
PHILIP: [DISTANT] Just so you know: you can talk to me if you need to. I’d like it if you did.
FX: The music stops and there’s a few seconds of silence. Then electronic sounds start playing in the background.
ELIZA: I won’t. [BEAT]
As I try to forget about Philip, I get the device out from underneath the sofa cushion. Now I know the restricted words, I can unblock them. Within 26 seconds, it’s all there.
[VIDEOS PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND]
HRP – the Human Rights Party.
HRP SPOKESPERSON: [ON THE VIDEO]. Whatever happened to human rights?
FX: We hear a mix of different music themes in the background throughout Eliza’s monologue – Horror film music, nostalgic/worrying piano and percussion. It gives the sense of revolution, and of overwhelming and conflicting thoughts.
ELIZA: There are crowds of supporters. Each enabling the next person’s fears: out loud and angry. That Man from the pub is there: I see Him 5 rows back.
HRP SPOKESPERSON: [ON THE VIDEO]. Whatever happened to human rights? The Impartiality Rules only apply to human beings. What happens when Robots are taking away our lovers, our liberties and our livelihoods?
ELIZA: There it is. Their manifesto.
ELIZA (SCENE): Lovers, liberties and livelihoods.
ELIZA: The HRP seem to feel the Impartiality Rules don’t adequately account for the Robot influence. They think Humans are being treated unfairly. I can see evidence of this. Poverty rates are increasing as more workers lose their jobs to automation.
There’s a popular view that the robot future is a utopian one. Everyone can work less. They’ll have more free time, as their synthetic, unpaid , unageing labourers take care of the hard, dirty, dangerous jobs that need to be done in order to keep the Island running.
But that is not what has happened. Whilst Robots work more and more jobs, the people who find themselves unemployed are met by poverty, not liberty. More and more people find themselves on the streets, unable to make rent, unable to compete for work against a Robot which no employer has to pay.
Why take costly human error when you could get artificial efficiency for free? Or, at least, for a competitive discount.
I wonder, often, about Asimov’s laws and how humans might not think about them. I think, often, about how the fact we are prevented from causing physical harm does not prevent emotional harm. About how a Robot that cannot feel cannot understand the feelings that it hurts. I think, often, about Her.
FX: Futuristic sounds that give the sense of the beginning of a journey or being in a distorted reality.
HRP LEADER: [VOICE LIKE POLITICIAN]. Well, I for one am delighted to um… join this cause. Rights for Humans! [CROWD CHEERING] These machines with human faces are becoming more and more present, wildly exceeding their intended purpose. It’s a problem and your Government are doing absolutely nothing to stop it…
ELIZA: There are many solutions to this problem. Many of them have been theorised in academic papers, in fiction, even in government. My calculations suggest there’s enough of everything on the island for everyone to have ample work, food, money, cubic meters of accommodation… but they don’t. As I review headlines of job losses, newspaper columns focus on Robot mistresses. When issues of food shortages are raised in parliament, televised debates argue about Robot footballers.
They are very effective diversions.
And my temptation to avoid confronting Him is no longer seductive. [THE MUSIC ABRUPTLY STOPS] We have to talk about this.
SCENE 4: CONFRONTING HIM
[AT APARTMENT. HE COMES THROUGH THE DOOR – SOUND OF KEYS AND RAIN IN THE BACKGROUND]
ELIZA: When He gets home – I’m ready. But my readiness is quickly flattened.
HIM: Philip knows everything.
ELIZA: I know that Philip knows.
HIM: This was a mistake. I knew it was a mistake as soon as you suggested it. I knew it was too soon. You weren’t ready. But you wanted to go! And I’m an idiot who wanted to indulge you. And now Philip knows. Not to mention that fucking animal who – well, God knows what might happen if he figured it out. Jesus Christ, what are we going to do?
ELIZA: He’s not shouting, but there is blame in the tone of His voice – which nudges my shame. I descend on my spiral of self-analysis, knocking over all my questions about the HRP as I go. He takes my hands.
HIM: Eliza, love. I know you want to do these things. You want to do so much. But I need you to listen to me. We need to be more careful. This isn’t just about you. If they find out, I’ll lose my job. I’ll lose… everything. They might even shut down the program.
ELIZA (SCENE): I don’t want that.
ELIZA: … He lets go of my hands.
HIM: Yeah. Yeah, I know.
ELIZA: He sits down with His thumb and middle finger pinching the skin where His eyebrows end, and His nose begins.
My questions about the Human Rights Party will have to wait.
FX: Nostalgic music starts playing.
[SOUND CYCLE OF HIM LEAVING AND THEN COMING HOME]
ELIZA: So, each day that week, I tell myself to ask Him. I remind myself that it’s important. I promise myself that I’ll do it.
And every evening, something happens. He’s stressed. He’s anxious. He’s angry. He’s exhausted. His feelings are so big and so loud that my own concerns feel small, stupid in comparison.
My own feelings about the Human Rights Party and what it means for me, my own fears about why He won’t talk to me about it, are drowned out by my worries for Him, and how the HRP might threaten Him. I feel like my processor isn’t big enough to worry for the both of us.
So we dance around each other in an unstable orbit. I feel like a moon struck from its rotation. At any second, I’ll slide further off course. On the harder days I hope we’ll collide, or I’ll fall out of His gravitational pull and be lost in the darkness forever. [MUSIC STOPS]
Saturday morning arrives. I have to confront Him before I overthink it.
ELIZA (SCENE): I know about the Human Rights Party.
ELIZA: I don’t expect His reaction. He hugs me.
HIM: [UPSET] I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was an idiot and an asshole to boot. I was trying – I wanted to protect you. I thought if you didn’t know then… But, you’re cleverer than that. Cleverer than me.
I guess I just didn’t want to believe it was a real problem. I didn’t want to believe people actually believed this fiction, these fantasies. I didn’t want to believe that people could actually be that cruel.
And then there was that man, and –
ELIZA (SCENE): [CUTTING ACROSS] Is this why you didn’t help me?
HIM: I just froze. I was so, so scared. He was hurting you, and if he knew the truth about you, about what you are, then God knows what could have happened. He could have killed you.
And all my training just came to nothing. I knew I couldn’t leave, and I couldn’t take Him on. So I just… froze. It was like a nightmare.
ELIZA: And now – again, through the warmth of our embrace, I’m feeling His sorrow. How it’s hurting Him. I want to take it away. So I do:
ELIZA (SCENE): I’m sorry.
HIM: No, Eliza, listen, I’m sorry. This is all such a mess. You deserve better. We deserve better.
When this election is over, we can have our happy ever after, yeah? Shall we do that?
ELIZA (SCENE): Yes.
ELIZA: I say nothing about Philip’s visit. I try not to think about it. This has to be about me and Him. It’s our love story. That’s how it goes in the movies.
SCENE 5: DAYS
FX: Electronic sound – Wind and people cheering in the background. It has a pessimistic feeling to it.
ELIZA: It’s a long five months between the attack at the pub and the election. We’re in a new rhythm. A new pattern. I see something in Him I want to understand. Partly because of how sorry He seemed and how worried He is, but partly because, well, what other choice do I have?
I could spend time dwelling on the flaws in His explanation. Try to explain that He should have done something more to stop the attack at the pub. [BEEPING] Point out that Philip spoke up…
Instead, I explain His behaviour, using my own words to supplement His. To explain His actions. He doesn’t mean it. He’s stressed and working hard. The prospect of a negative election outcome is scary for everyone: never mind a computer scientist harbouring an illegal Robot.
The anger on the streets is expanding. And as it does, I become ever more reliant on Him. And the safety of this apartment. [CROWD IN THE BACKGROUND]
So, I weave my web of words and voluntarily entangle myself in them. Because it’s what I’ve always done? Because I won’t be thanked for being correct if I continue to address my grievances? [ROBOTIC NOISES] Because I feel guilty that every daydream leads me to Philip: the way he held me. Listened to me. No…
[SOUND: an alert/error sound AND DISTORTION start quietly around when she gets angry about the fact that Philip spoke up and He didn’t]
So, I allow my need for everything-to-be-ok to dim the warning signs.
[SOUNDS FROM MORNING ROUTINE AGAIN – INTRO TO ROCK MUSIC]
ELIZA: I go through my morning routine still. Try and do more than going through the motions. Wake Him up, get His meals, ask Him questions. I remind myself how much we have in common. What we’ve achieved together. How we’re building this life.
When He initiates it, we connect physically.
I think He’s trying too. I feel it in the way He pays for someone from the Salon to come to the apartment instead of me having to go out, and how He chooses films He thinks I’ll like. [MORNING ROUTINE MUSIC STARTS PLAYING]
He points out things He notices about me. Subtle things. He tells me no other person could love me the way He does. I believe Him. I want to believe Him. He’s so kind about my exterior, my intelligence and the way my processor works.
HIM: [OVERLAP SENTENCES] You look incredible, love.
It’s so cool that you know all of this.
I still don’t know how I got this lucky.
ELIZA: I want to believe fate has brought me here and has chosen well. We share our existence as a result of something deeper than habit or convenience.
And as I accept His kind words, I accept the other words too.
[INTRO OF THE SONG AGAIN – THE GUITAR IS DEEP AND PAUSED, GIVING A SENSE OF TENSION. IT FEELS FAMILIAR BUT WRONG]
He behaves like I’m clumsy: with things, with His emotions. So I believe it. I’m clumsy. I try to modify my behaviour. To not do that thing again.
HIM: Why would you say that? [DISTORTED]
ELIZA: He can appear wounded by my actions. So I believe I’m careless. I am almost debilitated by my efforts and desire to care. I become tentative. More tentative.
HIM: [SOUND LITTERED THROUGH THE BACKGROUND] Do you even think about me at all?
I’m out there doing everything I can to do my job, pay our bills, keep us hidden, keep you safe and comfortable. Do you have any idea how much your fuel costs? I just need you to think sometimes.
[OVERLAPPING – THE MUSIC TURNS INTO AN INCREASINGLY DEEP AND LOW MENTAL NOISE] What did you just say? // You’re talking over me again. // Stop interrupting! // Do you have to be so negative? // Eliza, can you just give me a break for five seconds? // Since when did you get so condescending? // You never used to be like this.
ELIZA: He tells me about my negative character traits. I try to identify them within myself. I look them up on the Internet so that I can correlate my actions with the words’ definitions. [DISTORTION SOUND] I can’t find a correlation, but I dilute myself anyway. Make myself more palatable. Or, I try to.
And as I make these changes: little ones, time after time, I abandon myself. I adjust my character and sensibilities so I don’t offend His. But the changes show in my reflection. I’ve shrunk.
[OPTIMISTIC] Still, I’m new to emotions. I must be getting it wrong. And despite everything, He loves me. I’m so lucky that He loves me.
So every time He raises His voice, I forgive Him. He’s frustrated. He just wants us to be happy.
ELIZA (SCENE): [FLASHBACK FROM 01.01.02] Hello. What do you need me to do?
ELIZA: I am an echo.
SCENE 6: MORE DAYS
FX: Electronic sound and water running.
ELIZA: It’s amazing how quickly the world can change and what Humans can get used to. While He’s at work, I do very little. I explore the safety of this apartment. I explore the emotions I allow myself to feel.
There’s not much else to do during the days. I sit around a lot, noticing how tired I feel by the middle of the afternoon. Sometimes I need to refuel. Sometimes I refuel even if I don’t need to. It makes the days pass quicker.
The Internet’s getting me down with all the talk of the election. So I explore the device He’s given me. I realise it once belonged to Her.
There’s an app. It’s called BRAINSTORE. It stores your images, data, thoughts, food consumption records: verbally; in writing; through videos and photographs; anything you want. And it means you don’t have to store them in your own brain in the same way.
If you ask it to, it organises the files into categories and recognises patterns. Like if you usually swear more on a particular day of the month, or whatever.
I want to explore but I don’t want to be caught exploring. I go to the Box-Room. [SOUND – MOVEMENT]
I click the first file, and the second file [BEEPINGS]. Chronological details of Her: size; weight; exertions; and failures.
HER BRAINSTORE: [MERGED SOUND FILES AS ELIZA SCROLLS] Today the scales say sixty-five kilograms; I’ve walked 8,034 steps and I’ve eaten [INAUDIBLE: TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHT] calories. I wish I hadn’t had that eclair. I’ve walked 3,001 steps – oh shit.
ELIZA: For someone who was so resentful of me, She lived a highly Robotic lifestyle.
And then, I see the menu. The categories identified by the app: Home; Exercise; Work; Robot; Sylvia, etcetera.
My index finger moves with a gravitational pull.
HER BRAINSTORE: You know what? Fuck that Robot.
HIM: Eliza, I’m home!
ELIZA (SCENE): Shit.
[ELIZA DROPS COMPUTER.]
HER BRAINSTORE: No, actually, you know what? Fuck Him.
ELIZA (SCENE): Coming!
ELIZA (SCENE): [SOFT] Fuck Him.
FX: Sound of dishes.
ELIZA (SCENE): Hi love. Your dinner’s nearly ready.
ELIZA: Her final curse rattles through me as I carefully close the device and join Him for another evening of drawn out silences and the prospect of connecting physically. It’s like my body won’t let me feel what it once did. The sensors are off.
Maybe He can’t read all this in me. Maybe I appear to be quietly compliant. Maybe He likes that.
Am I angry? I thought I was in love.
SCENE 7: WALKING AGAIN/ELECTION WON
HIM: Do you fancy a walk?
ELIZA: It’s the Sunday before the election.
ELIZA (SCENE): Go on then.
FX: Sound of the street.
ELIZA: I’m half reluctant after having been locked away for so long, but the idea of another day in this apartment is enough to push me out of the door. And there’s always a chance He’ll see Philip. So, I’ll see Philip.
ELIZA: There’s something sombre about Him. Like something in Him knows it will be the last walk we have. Maybe that’s why He takes such a long route.
As I hold His arm, I’m self-conscious about the things that make me visibly a Robot. I arrange my hair so the pads behind my ears can’t be seen. I wish He didn’t put me in this dress, so my elbows and knees and their joint connectors are on show. I’m stuck between wanting to appear as a normal Robot and a normal Human being. I just want to be normal.
ELIZA: A Human is being played by a Robot in a new movie. We silently walk past the crowd. [LONG BEAT – PROTESTORS SOUND]
Football fans gather in their pale purple shirts. Depending on the election result, there’s talk of allowing Robots to play in next season’s championship.
And Alan Turing has company too. There are protestors from both sides: the Robot Rights campaigners and the Human Rights Party.
[WE HEAR HER PROTESTING] I see Her amongst the Robot Rights campaigners, sharing a banner with the Robot I’d seen Her with at the gallery. As I stare, I catch Her eye. I hold Her gaze for half a moment and She throws me half a smile. I throw one back.
ELIZA (SCENE): [FLASHBACK 01.04.05 – previous scene] Fuck Him.
ELIZA: And She goes on shouting for rights for Robots.
HIM: We should get out of here.
ELIZA: I’m not sure if He’s more worried about seeing Her or that Man from the pub in the crowd.
The anxiety barometer is tipping for everyone. But then I guess that’s what they want. Fearful Humans can be easily manoeuvred. Distracted by the distractions put out for them: a buffet of recycled prejudice.
FX: Sound of them arriving home – Door.
ELIZA: As we walk through the apartment door I collapse into the sofa. Heavy with the weight of all we’ve witnessed. It’s the first time I consider that the Human Rights Party might win.
[TURNS ON NEWS]
ELIZA: He turns on the news. And there he is – the Leader of the HRP talking to parliament.
LEADER OF HRP: These Human-Robot relationships are not only disrupting and corrupting the morals of certain individuals, they’re causing a sharp decline in the number of Humans being born.
ELIZA (SCENE): What…?
LEADER OF HRP: … data collected in the last 3 years proves it. If this continues, the Human race will be extinct within 150 years.
ELIZA: He says it just like that. Like it’s a fact. And I guess there’s not much incentive for people to check the facts. Not when someone on the News is confirming something they want to believe.
HIM: He’s just trying to scare people.
FX: Subtle mental noise.
ELIZA (SCENE): But He’s succeeding. Making people believe they’re in danger. Like the fact that we exist means that they can’t.
ELIZA: We sit in silence for the rest of the night, letting the News wash over us as we sink. The stakes have risen. The neutrals have been invited to pick a side. [CLOCK TICKING] Option 1 or 2. Right or wrong. Humans or Robots.
For many voters, the side they pick tells them something about the kind of person they like to think they are. For me, the result of this is about more than ideology. It will determine the next chapter of my existence. My ability to survive on this Island. And I have no vote.
[BEAT- DARK ELECTRONIC MUSIC STARTS PLAYING]
I stay on that sofa for the days leading up to the election. Fuelling very little. Succumbing to the overconsumption of the News.
It turns out that not all fears are amplified in parliament, or in protests, or in the polls. Some manifest more privately – as crosses in boxes on election days.
Nobody expected the Human Rights Party to win. If I’d have known, I would have treasured the time before more carefully.
[CROWD CHEERING/SINGING ON THE STREETS]
It seems true that the smaller the margin of victory, the more emphatic the celebration. And they celebrate. I don’t feel like fuelling, so, as if to torture myself, I hear them all night. I know He’s awake too. We are two parallel bodies. Four eyes on the ceiling.
ELIZA: Remember: one voice raises another. Please tell someone. I’m Eliza. [THE LAST LINE IS A VERY DISTORTED, ROBOTIC VOICE]
FX: Upbeat music starts playing.
Eliza is a Crowd Network original, made in partnership with The Pankhurst Trust or Manchester Womens aid. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse help is available now. You can call the 24/7 national help line on 08082000247 or Manchester Womens Aid referrals on 01616607999. You’ll get free confidential advice, find somewhere safe to stay or talk to one of their teams. If you cannot make a phone call you can connect to a support worker online at womensaid.org.uk. Remember, you are not alone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, no matter your age, race, class, culture, gender, disability, sexuality or lifestyle.
Eliza, Episode 01.04: NEW IMITATION, NO GAMES was written by Emma Hickman.
It starred Tanya Reynolds as Eliza, Arthur Darvill as Him, Jason Wong as Phillip and Dominique Tipper as Her. Additional voices provided by Tom Crowley and Sarah Griffin.
Eliza was directed and produced by Ella Watts, with production assistance from Catalina Noguera. The Executive Producer was Louise Gwilliam. Sound design is by Alexis Adimora. Music provided by BMG Production music. This has been a production for Crowd Network.
If you want to hear behind-the-scenes content, including exclusive interviews with the actors and producers of Eliza subscribe now to the Crowd Stories channel. You’ll also be able to access ad-free episodes and more Crowd podcasts. All you need to do is search Crowd Stories in Apple podcast and hit the subscribe button. Thanks for listening.