Social Psychology by Atalanti Evripidou (June 2020)
My death became viral. I didn’t mean for it to happen. No, that’s a lie I can’t afford right now; I totally meant for it to happen.
People talked about it for days, while Athens burned. Thugs in masks pillaged stores downtown, policemen in riot gear laid siege to universities, and protesters lit up Syntagma Square with four thousand candles, holding a wake for me. Artists condemned my killer, reporters dissected the murder video trying to figure me out, members of the parliament cried havoc on TV.
I watched it all and kept notes in the name of science.
“That poor girl’s parents,” my mom said, “not even knowing that their little girl is dead.”
“Look at what she’s wearing, she was clearly looking for trouble,” my dad chipped in. “With those black clothes and all the makeup.”
I scribbled furiously and, in the meantime, the manhunt went on.
They never found the murderer, of course. Protests were taking place every day, feminist scholars wrote long pieces on womanslaughter, and I gathered newspaper clippings for my discourse analysis.
“Who could have thought?” Yannis told me over coffee three weeks after we’d released the footage. “Man, I look good in that uniform.”
And he did. It was his dad’s. The gun was fake – the blood too.
We’d get a ten on our dissertation. We’d publish a paper and be celebrated by our peers. We would make history with this experiment.
So we kept our silence and let everything run its course. But, then, something happened that wasn’t part of our plan.
I got a face and a name. It wasn’t my face nor was it my name. I got them nonetheless. A reputation too. Victim of police shooting identified, read the headlines. They said I was a prostitute and an addict and I had threatened the officer’s life.
First, it was the protesters who stopped marching against police brutality. The artists followed, deleting Tweets and apologizing for their initial statements. The feminists were the last to give up and they fought valiantly till the end. But give up they did.
We’d written about two thirds of the dissertation when I started fading. My hair became duller, my eyes sunk in their sockets, my skin got blotchy. I thought I was simply tired.
When Yannis stopped calling, I told myself he must have been busy with work. After a couple of days, I gave him a ring.
“Who is this?” he asked.
“It’s Katerina,” I replied.
“Katerina who?” he said, sounding genuinely perplexed.
“Your partner? The one you’re doing your dissertation with?”
“I’m sorry, you got the wrong number.”
And then I knew.
Panting, I threw my phone on the bed and furiously searched for my ID card. I’m still not sure why I did it and I was certainly not prepared for what was printed on it. I was gone. It wasn’t my face nor was it my name. I had become her, I had become the face and the name, the prostitute and the addict. I didn’t know what to do.
A few days later, a small wound appeared on my chest, leaking blood. It is now a gap, growing wider by the minute. I don’t know how much time I have left; I need to get the truth out into the world. I became viral once. Perhaps I can do it a second time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Atalanti Evripidou is a speculative fiction writer and poet from Greece. Her short stories and poetry have been published online as well as in various anthologies. She is also a columnist and reviewer for Nyctophilia.gr, Greece's most popular webzine for horror and fantasy, and its counterpart, Phantasmal magazine. Most recently, her collaboration with co-author Antonios Galatis has been featured in Onyx Path's "Gods and Monsters", a companion book for the 20th anniversary edition of the role-playing game "Mage: The Ascension".