CHAPTER 13 – 2020: EVILA-SI-RAEF, by António Ladeira

©João Jacinto, Sem título www./joao.jacinto.399

Translated by Nick Caistor & Lucia Caistor Arendar

Edited by Sarah Jacobs

“Everything suggests it is the ones who’ve been programmed, which includes para-humans like you (do you like the expression ‘para-humans’, Reboredo?) who since then have been keeping us prisoners of fear.”

“Do you like your name, Reboredo?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“I was the one who baptised you ‘Reboredo’, one day when I wasn’t feeling inspired. You used to have a different name.”

“What was I called? I swear I didn’t know. Yesterday, at your place, I was sure I’d seen you before. It’s just that I don’t know where, Teresa, I haven’t the faintest idea. It’s as if there was a fine mist shrouding the memories I have of you and other things.  Help me remember. I feel you can help me, I just don’t want you to tell me …”

“That you’ve been programmed? I’m sorry to say that’s true.”

“Were you in the team that built me?”

“You were the ‘2020 – EVILA-SI-RAEF’. I worked for what was then called the Decontamination Institute before I disagreed with what they were doing and joined Professor Ricardo’s team. For the rest of my life I won’t forget your batch – EVILA-SI-RAEF. (Show me the tattoo, it’s on the prosthesis, that’s it.) That batch was full of glitches. Recycled material, sub-standard silicone and plastic, electronic components with dubious origins. Among the glitches: you have memories from before the programming; you recognised at least one of the people who built you; you have doubts, awareness, remorse, call it what you will …”

“I do. Now that you mention it, I’ve got all of them.”

“You’re programmed with glitches, and I adore you for it!”

“You adore me?”

“I adore you, my Reboredo. (I like the name more and more, who would have thought it?) The thing is, if you told me everything you know, and what you don’t know you know, if you agreed to have a session to recover your deepest memories, perhaps Maria and I could …”

“Could what?”

“Maybe we could discover, deep inside you, the true, hidden protocols of the Institute for the Contamination of Fear (you see, I know its real name).”

“But I can show you the protocols without any recovery session, and without you unplugging me. (I don’t think I’d like to be switched off, even for a few minutes.)”

“I mean the real protocols. Not the protocols you think are real, the ones you repeat to yourself with the regularity and stubbornness of a robot.”

“I don’t like that word.”

“But it’s what you are: a robot, a machine, a machine for creating fear.”

“Yes, but with glitches, reservations, don’t forget. And increasingly: doubts, lucidity, repentance …”

“Everything indicates (or at least according to the theory I’ve been working on with Maria ever since your visit) that the virus really was neutralised in the pandemic three years ago.  Everything suggests it is the ones who’ve been programmed, which includes para-humans like you (do you like the expression ‘para-humans’, Reboredo?) who since then have been keeping us prisoners of fear. A fear that you inadvertently have spread and reinforced, including the myth of the return of the Professor. (Ricardo is dead and buried.) Maria and I want to prove the following: we shouldn’t fear the sun, even if we should be grateful for  the darkness; no one can infect us if we don’t first allow our thoughts to be infected; for some time now the virus has been no more than an invention of the Programmers, spread by those that have been programmed. That’s why we want to create tests to identify (and study) the Programmed among the population.” 

“And how can you identify them? Those who don’t have easily identifiable glitches, I mean. I deal with colleagues every day, and I never know whether they are Programmed or Infiltrated and, in either case, if they are convinced or reluctant.”

“It’s very hard to identify one of the Programmed. There are all kinds, and they’re everywhere. Some are very intelligent; some aren’t. In a few cases, it’s immediately obvious they’re synthetic; in other cases, you’d swear they were organic. Some don’t know what they are, and those are the most arrogant and dangerous.  Others never really were programmed, but spend their whole lives torturing themselves because they think they were. They feel guilty and it’s thanks to this guilt, it seems to me, that they show they could be rehabilitated or even rebel. Some days I even see signs that Maria has been programmed. On others, I look at myself and see myself as the most ‘programmed’ woman in the world. That’s probably the main characteristic of the rehabilitatable Programmed Person (because, as you know, there are some who cannot be changed): to realise what you are and what you want to stop being, if not completely, at least as much as possible. Let’s not lose time, Reboredo. Come home with me now and let’s begin the session. You’re going to relax. You’re going to trust us. You’re going to lie down in this bed you can see, between the two of us, and you’re not going to think about anything, are you? Reboredo? Reboredo, are you all right? Reboredo!!!”

Read the original chapter in Portuguese

Antonio Ladeira is Associate Professor of Lusophone Literatures at Texas Tech University (U.S.A.) where he coordinates the Portuguese program. He holds a Licenciatura in Portuguese Studies from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and a PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California. He has taught at Middlebury College, Yale University (Instituto Camões lecturer) and worked as a researcher at the Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil (Fulbright Grant). He has published five books of poetry in Portugal. In 2018, he published Os Monociclistas: histórias do ano 2045 (Lisbon: On y Va) and Seis Drones: novas histórias do ano 2045 (Lisbon: On y Va). He published a collection of short stories in Brazil, Estás Livre no Sábado (Realejo, 2018). A Spanish language collection of his short-stories was published in Colombia (Vestigio, 2019) under the title Território (trans. by Jerónimo Pizarro and Diego Cepeda). He writes lyrics for American jazz singer Stacey Kent, nominated for the Grammy Awards. He collaborated in DN Jovem (Diário de Notícias).

Nick Caistor is a British translator who has translated many Brazilian and Portuguese authors, including Jose Saramago, Paulo Coelho, Rubem Fonseca, and Edney Silvestre.

Lucia Caistor-Arendar translates from Portuguese and Spanish into English. She has co-translated books by Liliana Bodoc and José Saramago. Her background is in urban sociology and civic design and most of her research and writing focuses on community development. She is Anglo-Argentinian and has spent extensive time in Latin America. She now lives between Lisbon and London. 

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