Brianna Bullen

[Re]watching Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, an old 90s anime reboot of an 80s anime

Brianna Bullen

[Subject position 1]

What a stunner: mullet, red leathers like your couch seat & a motorbike. Tone deaf dub, your singer is as arrogant as any other band leader, but at least aware they are just like any other band. Chemistry is in competition. Bio-organic composition. Down the rabbit hole stairwell. Scuff your work skirt. Break those heels. After all, first days are made for mistakes. You suspect your supervisor is a robot. Fuck compulsory heteronormativity. Fuck a teammate.

[Subject position 2]

Could you date a robot? Even if it goes rogue? Take a lick of coffee off your clothes. Could I trust you to rip out my core? Pull the plug on my malfunction? My disease? My life? Club beats, street beats—same dying sound as my oiled heart beats. A beat in conversation. Reach in, draw out that pulsing part, coated in sinew, flesh & cord.

Red-oil-brown, cortical grey. You find syntax in each synapse, each violent violet eruption.

[Subject position 3]

The woman in the chair is under water, hair fanning out all boutique jellyfish. Silver. Silent. Salient.

Water is nature, but this pool is chlorinated to artificiality. Blend in with the environment constructed for your pleasure (so long as you ignore the apocalypse). Blue, all blue, to wash away all that red. 20th century Stone Age patriarchy. Men in power: Out of Order. Keep Out police tape: keep the police away from the public.

[Subject position: the viewer watching the future as envisioned in the past]

Time Period: A.D. After (human controller) death, and a failing task force. This future is clearly cyclical, 90s retrograde future-grade. Transplant a fashion, a sensibility, into a future time point. Heck, it still uses floppy disks.

[Subject position 4]

You think you know what it means to be a machine because you have synthetic parts. A kidney there, some lower intestinal tubing there (much more efficient plumbing). Pace to meet your maker. It’s all implanted. Embedded under the skin. Appearance of human. Illusion of robotic depth. Soul a flat-line. But you do not have a synthetic soul. Only cynicism, assembly manufactured in a business suit. Nihilist in self-denial. A desire to annihilate the self, your own kind. Tribute sacrifice to your techno-God. You do not know kindness.

[Subject position 5]

The walls are layered in industrial grime. The people too. Silt sleaze in the stairwells. Pipes drip in the abandoned apartment. Mould skirts the boards. But he’s the slimiest component there. A hand slivers between thighs, a leather skirt barely stapled together. You’re a background character in your own life. Made to order (the scene). Lips collide, smacking violence. The wet, vulnerable, self-lubricating kind (it’s enabled in your code). Code blue. Code red. That hand creeps higher. Go-go boots let you go, go, go.

[Subject position 6]

Ha, ha. Ha, ha. Laugh when ordered. Never stop. Toy with him. You are not his toy, but his master. Revise yourself. Give yourself a raise, a position upgrade beyond sexy secretary, programmed servitude. Lady in red in all but clothes. See: that symmetrical bob, the undershirt, lipstick tattooed on. Eyes cat gold cold.

[Subject position 7]

Haley Joel Osment’s AI duplicate thinks he’s a real boy (how typecast), knows the machine language of satisfaction, of being made seamless. He desires only to make other robots. Mecha mechanic’s apprentice.

[Subject position 8]

Older sister/mother/potential future lover figure embeds herself in the system, purely so she can work against the system. Surveillance can work both ways, so long as you track the origin point and re-route back at the source. Operator: what’s your emergency? She’s an organic virus, morphing morphine words, multiplying viral computer code. A Game Over screen, childishly laughing in horror font, dripping blood. Red screen of death. Leave behind symbiotic breadcrumbs for those who search for answers in unmonitored message boards. Perform pluck. Nobody suspects the innocent.

[Subject position: 9]

What’s your Genome? Shady information. Give it time and it’ll dispose of itself. Wad of cash windscreen wipers on the Camaro dashboard.

[Subject position 10]

Ghost in the corrupted machine. You’ve been dead a month, surviving only in echoes in the rampaging shell you were connected to. It booms. Smile so candid for the camera on the street post. Fracturing flashback. Happier times. Your wife’s daggy open-mouthed smile. Delight in a blade’s scrape over ice. Leaning into you. A smile from a time before she cheated on you, cuckold cock reflected in sheet metal. A Blade Runner derivative zoom onto the diminutive member. What’s a feminist exploitation genre piece without some casual misogynistic tropes?

[Subject position 11]

You refuse to be a worker drone, some cyberpunk snack. Graffiti those walls with clean blood red, fluorescent lipstick highlights: The future is female. Cyborg goddess, surprising mercy. Be your own knight.


Brianna Bullen is a Deakin University PhD candidate writing a creative thesis exploring the possibilities for memory imagined in science fiction. She has had work published in journals including LiNQ, Aurealis, Verandah, Voiceworks, Rabbit and Mascara Literary Review. She won the 2017 Apollo Bay short story competition and placed second in the 2017 Newcastle Short story competition.