The shirt flickered like dead static. Blue, grey, green, grey, yellow, grey it went. It jumped and stopped — as if holding its breath — and then proceeded to shake and jitter.
Alex pulled the fabric away from his muscular toso and stared at the light emanating from the cloth. His v-shaped jaw quivered as he continued to gaze at the spectrum of colours. “I’m not one of them,” he said to the silhouette of a person hiding in the shadows of basement.
“Who are you?” growled a distorted voice. The sound of metal gears scraping against each other filled the space and drowned out the noise of the rattling pipes on the walls. “Who are you?”
“I’m…I’m more than that. I’m more than GamerGate, I’m a soul.” Alex’s body started to shake and he inhaled sharply as if he had become cold. “I care. I believe games are all things. Meant for all people.”
“Fifteen days ago you read the banned list,” the voice said. “In violation of its terms you played twenty-one pieces of patriarchal programming. You promoted a culture that silences the voices of the void. For those crimes, you are being banished.”
Alex slumped onto the ground and rocked backward and forwards. He cradled his torso in his arms and stared at his skin as it started to flicker. “You can’t do this to us, we’ve, we’ve got rights too.”
The silhouette stepped out the dimly lit corner. The person was a woman — not slim, but not overweight. She had a healthy frame with long brown hair and hazelnut eyes. Her blue jeans and low-cut singlet made her look normal, almost. Half of her face, the right side, was missing and had been replaced with metal and gears. As her jaw lowered, metal screeched against itself.
“Oh, I know about those rights,” she said. “I count them sometimes. I notch them on my externals, I slice them into my skin when I remember the pretty gamer boys who made one too many grabs for my breasts. ‘Don’t…wear…hyper-colour…t-shirts. One absolute rule. One. Not like the thousands we have. “
“I’l change. I promise I won’t laugh at the list anymore. I won’t mock it, help me. I’ll hire more women for my team, I know they can be good coders too.”
“The patriarchy never changes,” she said taking the lantern off the ceiling. “The patriarchy never dies. Only the voices of the void do not heed its call.” She leaned down and lifted Alex’s chin up, his face reflecting in her polished metal. “And I am one of those voices.”
With a singular motion, she brought the lantern down on his head and the static was consumed by the dark.