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"A Question of Life" by DJ Tyrer

“This is most irregular. Most irregular, indeed.”

The judge pushed his tiny glasses up his nose and looked at the petitioning lawyer.

“Yes,” the lawyer said, “it is. Hence… this.” He spread his hands to indicate the hearing.

Adjusting his glasses, the judge looked up to take in the lawyer’s client, shaking his head and murmuring again, “Most irregular.”

Then, he said, “A biomechanical tyrannosaur owning a corporation? It’s unheard of!”

With a gentle cough, the lawyer clarified, “A biomechanical tyrannosaur with the brain of a man… the brain of the corporation’s major shareholder, to be exact.”

“I don’t know,” said the judge. He shuffled papers. “Let me see if I understand this… Biomechanical… Now, I understand what ‘mechanical’ means, but ‘bio’? That means ‘alive’, correct?”

“Correct,” said the lawyer.

“But, the question is… how much of it –” the tyrannosaur leaned closer “– er, him is alive? Other than the brain, of course.”

The tyrannosaur blinked, then leaned back. The judge exhaled.

The lawyer steepled his fingers and considered. “About fifty-fifty, I believe. The entire body, save for my client’s brain, is artificial, but the core had to be biological to maintain the brain. But, it has been augmented cybernetically.” He looked at the judge. “Ah, that means it is essentially robotic, both the organic and inorganic parts of it, but governed by a living human brain.”

Nervously, the judge examined the tyrannosaur.

“But, does that constitute being alive?”

With a shrug, the lawyer said, “Would you contest his life if he required an exoskeleton to overcome paralysis?”

“No, but this is hardly the same.”

“It is. My client suffered terminal injuries that left only his brain functioning. This is essentially the outcome of a brain transplant. An unusual brain transplant, granted, but still…”

The tyrannosaur growled, a rumbling sound produced by hidden speakers in its throat, and the judge blinked.

“Sorry… It’s a question of whether he can own a corporation as a non-human.”

The tyrannosaur blinked, then spoke: “Your honour, a corporation can own property – can own another corporation, even, and be regarded as a ‘person’ for legal purposes. A corporation is an entirely-abstract entity… not even alive. I am alive. I am no abstract. Can you deny me as much?”

Sweating, shifting awkwardly in his seat, the judge said, “I will have to take this under advisement. You have made some very cogent points, but this is a complicated topic and I can’t just rule on it like that.” He snapped his fingers.

“You can and you will!” The tyrannosaur roared.

The judge quailed. “But, I… I…”

The tyrannosaur lunged forward and seized him up out of his chair and snapped him in half, redecorating the wall of the courtroom. The judge’s legs tumbled to the floor and twitched for a moment. The rest of him, with a muffled wail, was swallowed down.

The lawyer wiped his hand across his face and shook his head.

“Not again! That’s the third judge you’ve gone and devoured before we could get a ruling. Someone is going to notice soon and, then, we’ll never be able to get a judge to guarantee your ownership.”

The tyrannosaur roared at him.

“A hissy fit, really?”

It growled and said, “I’ve had enough. The corporation is mine and nobody is going to take it away from me.”

Shrugging, the lawyer said, “The corporation made you; your shareholders might just decide to reclassify you as a test subject.”

Growling, the tyrannosaur said, “Let them try.”

The door opened and a cleaner half-stepped into the courtroom; it was after hours, but the courthouse wasn’t entirely empty.

“Is everything okay? I thought I heard a – oh, my goodness! What the hell is that?”

“I’m a tyrannosaur, you idiot. Did you never watch Jurassic Park?”

With a sudden lunge, it seized the man and shook him so that bits went flying, before swallowing what was left.

The lawyer wiped gore off his face. “Thank you very much for that little display…” He checked his phone. “What do you want to do next? I have another two judges we can try… What do you want to do?

The tyrannosaur turned and looked at him. Blood dripped from metal fangs.

“Kill you,” it said and snapped up the lawyer. It made a sound almost like a purr of satisfaction and said, “I always hated lawyers.”

It was silent for a moment, considering.

“Actually, it’s people I hate…”

With a loud crash, it smashed its way through the courtroom door, then it smashed its way out onto the street. Forget running a corporation, there was a whole world to rule…

A police car screeched to a halt in front of him, the officers staring out through the windscreen in confused terror.

With a crunch, the tyrannosaur planted its foot on the hood, crushing it to the road, and roared.

“I am your tyrant,” he cried. “Obey me or die!”

This was the life. Why waste it in an office when you were a monster, the like of which hadn’t been seen in aeons. Yes, this was the life for him.

He roared in satisfaction. A new age was dawning: His age.

DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing, View From Atlantis, and the 5-7-5 Haiku Journal. Their website is at


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