I’m not sure how many times I’ve been asked “where did you get the idea for…” whatever story they were reading at the time that I had created or been involved with. It wasn’t until I really started asking myself that question that I realized that the answer for anything I had ever written was based on one simple question that we all ask from time to time:
The very first sci-fi story I wrote and posted online for everyone to read was titled “Sentenced to Life” (STL) and focused on a childhood fascination that actually was a coping method when life in a very volatile household seemed unbearable… I often imagined myself to be an android or a robot so I could simply turn off emotions. Whenever my father would bring home his drunken misery and anger and take it out on us. It made it tolerable somehow to simply pretend I wasn’t real, so my hell wasn’t real either. It became my safe place, and one of many in the end. In writing a story to represent how I felt about being trapped in such a miserable existence, I accidentally came across my “What if…?” question:
“What if your original outline becomes impossible to follow?”
The idea for STL began in a very dark place. The main character had lived and died as a human. A boy who loved him very much and looked up to him as a mentor, had access to a kinda creepy scientist who could bring his friend back in the body of an android that looked approximately the same age as himself because… be a boy forever! Why not? At first, you would think: ‘happy ending’. Until the boy grows up, and his adult/teen – human/android friend doesn’t. The android becomes a burden and like many other childhood things, gets left behind, thrown away, and in the form of a 13 year old boy, has to find a way to survive or find a way to end his existence. The idea was to start the story at the android’s lowest moment, as he is finally driven to try to end his own life.Have him be found by someone who in trying to help, brings the android back to life and then is faced with his story of hurt, and loneliness, and lack of purpose… ending with the ‘savior’ wanting to be merciful and end the androids existence once and for all; destroying the one thing that holds him, the artificial brain where his consciousness is stored. It was supposed to be a compassionate human but I decided another android who could sympathize would be a better choice to understand and help release him.
So what happened? That is where I started the story. I was a new author and at the time dealing with my own demons and seeming lack of purpose now that someone I had cared just as much about had moved up and on. I tried to let the story take shape in my imagination as I wrote it. It became a very organic process and as supporting characters were needed, I simply created them. The savior did become an android, of a similar build. One who was 100% artificial intelligence that had become self-aware and had also outlived everyone he had ever loved. I thought at first that his understanding and sympathy would create a situation where he would be willing to finally help the main character find peace. But, in doing so, this newer android had to be in a similar frame of mind. Sad at having outlived his human companion, any friends, his entire line of androids to which he was the prototype. You had to feel for him as well. The problem, he was likable. The reader as well as the main character would feel for this character who brought this android back hoping to find family and purpose. I began to want to see this character find happiness and it became reflected in how I was writing the interactions. In wanting to make it realistic that this android would be happy in ending the existence of another even if he should also want that release, I realized that I was writing the main character focusing on trying to raise the spirits of this poor lonely soul. I accidentally found a purpose for the main character and his background simply wasn’t the focus anymore. My outline was no longer valid.
In that, I liked what I had written, which was being accepted by readers who were really enjoying the turn of events as they began asking for the two characters to find a way to be happy together. Not what I had intended to write at all in any way, even going as far as breaking the cardinal rule of switching perspective mid-stream to further prove how much of an amateur the author was <grin>. I turned to a friend who was writing a story that had a recurring theme of “hope from hopelessness” and would eventually become one of the biggest collaborations I would ever be involved in. My characters found a reason to want tomorrow to come… well before I found it for myself in real life. It would take years for me to finally get to a point where I knew what message the story needed to have, and finally, give it a meaningful ending while adding to a story universe with much more impact than I could have ever hoped for.
STL became the third story in a then, 3 way collaboration founded by another IM hosted author “ACFan” which is much bigger than just the one story by far. It stands on its own two feet as a story and can be read all by itself but, you will meet characters from other stories that are just as good, if not better than what I came up with in the end. Which may get you reading the rest of the stories in that universe. Giving this misguided tale a much larger purpose than I ever intended.
So, what would be your “What if…?” Story? Have you written it already or are you just considering the possibilities? Give it a shot and let us know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe we can feature it right here with a “What if…?” Featuring your work. I learned a lot from writing mine, even more from hearing how reading that story impacted those who read it. Believe me, it was worth every letter typed, deleted, retyped…
With that said, I’d like to introduce those of you who have never read it, to my very first derailed attempt at being a sci-fi author. My “What if…?” Story:
Sentenced to Life
You know how people say, “Their life flashed before their eyes” once realizing the end is near. Knowing I have literally the equivalent of about two human life times stored in this brain, actually makes me wonder how long that flashback is going to take, if it is in fact going to happen at all. Knowing there is going to be no pain, since shutting down all of my systems, other than cognitive, visual, audio and logical, I lean over the railing and stare at the wide open ocean, lapping at the sides of the freighter.
“Hey, kid!” A voice booms from behind me.
I turn and look in his direction. ‘The man must be the captain or something.’ I think to myself.
“Don’t lean over the railing! You might fall overboard!” He bellows with an aggravated tone before muttering, “Stupid kids…” as he turns to walk away.
Once I was sure he was out of sight, I lean back over and think to myself that finally I’ll find peace. I look up to the sky and say a final prayer to whoever might listen…
‘If anyone up there is listening, please let this work. My time down here ended a long time ago, I have nothing left to live for now. Kevin, if you can hear me, please wait for me…’
I climb over the railing, lean foreword and let myself fall into the water below. It took well over an hour to finally reach the bottom. I let my body drift downward loosely, thinking of the day of my death as a human, the day of my birth as an android, the many years I had with a loving friend and family and the lonely years that would follow. As dark as it was on the ocean floor, I could make out the shape of what looked like a sunken ship, or sub so I made my way over to it’s hull, and sit on the ocean floor with my back resting on the side of the cold lifeless sleeping giant. ‘Just like you.’ I think to myself, ‘My existence will end right here where yours has.’ I pat the side of the ship and decide the time is right, reach my hand to the back of my head and pull open the access panel. ‘Weird, I thought I wouldn’t feel anything.’ I think as even with my senses shut down, I can actually feel the water rushing into my synthetic brain, and the pressure from the deep cold ocean be relieved from the surface of my entire body.
Moments later, the salt water finally penetrates my circuitry and I begin to feel my cognitive control slip, as involuntary twitches wrack my body before my mind begins to cloud over. My thoughts interrupted with bright flashes of light. ‘Kevin…’ I think one last time, not able to finish my thought as my brain gives its last attempt at a rational thought…
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Where am I” I attempt to say; my voice only able to produce a loud mechanical hum. I am blinded by a bright white light that seems to be all around me. I attempt to move but can’t. I don’t feel anything, not even parts of my own body as a voice breaks into my thoughts.
“Shush, don’t try to speak, you’re not ready yet.” The voice says. ‘It’s a child’s voice.’ I think to myself as once again the voice returns, echoing through my ears as if heard through a loud speaker submerged in a swimming pool. “Dad, he’s trying to talk.” The voice says.
Suddenly, I feel a tickle in my brain, and all goes dark.
“Do you think it’s really him?” I hear clear as a bell as the darkness leaves me once again and is replaced with that same blinding white light.
“Where am I?” I ask thinking it odd that even in death I have retained the voice of my mechanical self. Rough sounding, but still the same.
“Can you hear me?” The child like voice seems to ask me.
“Yes, is this heaven? Kevin is that you?” I say, trying to reach out, but feeling as if I have been tied down and begin fighting against the restraints.
“Calm down, you’re going to hurt yourself.” The voice says, soothing me a little and convincing me to be still. “Can you see me yet?”
“I can’t see anything but white.” I reply as I try to focus my eyes. “Am I dead?”
“No, you’re safe now.” The voice says.
“Safe?” I ask. “Where am I? Who are you?”
“My name is Marc, my dad and I found you while we were exploring the wreckage of an old sunken ship. My dad works for a company that designs exploration subs and let me come along on one of his test runs. That’s how we found you.”
“No, no, no…” I mutter rolling my head back and forth. “It was supposed to end.” I say, feeling tears begin to roll down my cheeks. “I can’t be here anymore, you have to let me die… please, just let me die!” I beg the voice which has slowly become a silhouette in the brightness.
A silence filled the air and brought a calmness over me as well. The bright light was beginning to fade and I could almost make out the face that belonged to that voice. He had a beautiful, almost angelic face from what I could make out and hair so blond I could have sworn it was white. “I’m sorry.” I said with a sniffle as I regained my senses a bit. “If you only knew what it was like, to be forever trapped in a body that wasn’t yours. No escape, never to rest. Destined to love but cursed, and forced to watch that love grow old and die forever.”
The boy remained silent for a moment, then cleared his throat and said. “I do understand, I’m an android too.”
Chapter 1 – A Brother’s Love
“An android?” I ask, stunned. “You?”
“Yeah, one of the first too. Are you one of the Cynthetilife Models?” He asked, earning a blank stare from me not knowing what he meant. “Cause I couldn’t find an I.D. of any form on your Matrix Uplink Port.”
“I don’t know,” I respond. “I was built by a fool who worked for a company called Vision Industries. I don’t know of any others built like me if that’s what you mean.”
Marc looked at me with a shocked expression on his face, which concerned me a little. He stood back from the table and began pacing, in an excited manner. Finally I couldn’t watch anymore and focused my attention on more important issues.
“Marc?” I asked rather meekly. “Do I really need to be tied down?”
Marc looked at me and froze, then as if someone flipped a switch in his brain he shook his head and said “Uh, No… No you don’t. I’m sorry I didn’t even think about removing the restraints since you’ve been strapped to that table for months,” He began to ramble as he unstrapped my arms and moved to my ankles. “I think all your motor functions are back online,” He said as he stood back and I sat upright. “At least I hope they are.” He added as I rose to my feet and found myself shaky, but stable enough to stand.
“I know one function that is working, could you help me to the bathroom? I gotta pee.” I said gaining a smile from him as he rushed to my side, and with his help took my first steps.
“You were created by Vision Industries?” He asked moments later while helping to steady me as my legs just didn’t seem to want to cooperate.
“Yeah, I’m the brain child of ‘Insane Doc. Strafford’, they used to call him.” I responded as I zipped up and we slowly made our way to a couch and he helped me carefully sit down.
“Charles Strafford?” He asked.
“Yeah, you know of him?”
“All androids know of him. He was banned from his work and his studies were just about completely lost, locked up by the government.” He said as he stared at me with a concerned look.
“Well, almost all of his work” I added, attempting to find out just how much he really did know.
“You’re the experiment, aren’t you?”
“Huh?” I responded a bit confused by his wording.
“You’re actually Danny, aren’t you?”
I looked into his ‘miles deep’ blue eyes. Eyes that appeared to be human. Eyes that appeared to have a soul behind them, unlike mine which look real, unless you look closely enough. ‘Should I lie, or tell him the truth?’ I thought, deciding since he did care enough to revive me, he at least earned the truth about who I was.
“Yeah,” I answered casting my eyes toward his feet. “I’m the freak show he created.”
“Wow, I’ve read the reports and heard the stories about you. It was a complete mystery what ever happened to you,” He said as he took my hand in his. “Wanna talk about it?”
“Not really, not right now,” I responded, feeling tears welling up again. “How long was I down there?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
“Can’t tell for sure. Since I didn’t see an identification on you, I didn’t dare link our brains. Connecting to a Cynthetilife Android can cause serious damage to our brains and I wasn’t sure if you were one of them.”
“You mean there are more of us?” I asked, having never seen another designed as lifelike as I was until meeting Marc.
“Well, Yes and no.” He answered obviously thinking about how to word his answer. “Cynthetilife Androids are a production line android. They use a similar positronic brain like yours and mine, but their programming is designed to keep them from learning too much.” He said, making me tilt my head like a confused puppy.
“Yeah, we called them drones cause they simply do everything they are programmed to with very little independent thought at all. Sorta like they were designed to be disposable.”
“That’s weird, what were they used for?” I asked, becoming interested in these creations.
“Well, mostly for people who wanted kids they could turn off, or trade in when they got sick of them. The rest ended out being sold off as workers.”
“Workers? You mean like slaves?”
“Yup, but it’s okay. They were built to rarely ever evolve and have a sense of self. They were cold with a polymer based skin that never died, but also could never heal without assistance. It looked real but, you could tell them from us by cutting them. We bleed and heal, they sorta leak and won’t stop until repaired. A few of them had real skin, but it aged and died cause they couldn’t get it to regenerate.”
“So how come you didn’t know I wasn’t one of them. I mean it looks like I healed from being under water all this time,” I said, holding my hands up and looking them over. “There was damage, wasn’t there?”
“Yeah, but you sorta had no skin left at all. I gambled that yours was the same as mine and, well… Let’s just say you and I are blood brothers now.” He said with a grin.
“You replaced my skin with your own?” I asked looking at my hands and noticing a scar on my hand that had been there for years was gone. “How did you replace so much yourself?”
“Well,” he said while beginning to blush. “I created skin grafts from myself and let your body regenerate the rest as it healed. I could heal the removed skin in a day or so, but your system was functioning so weakly that it needed help at first. That and I had to slowly build up enough blood to start your main pulmonary system. That took a long time, but worked.”
“You did that for me?” I said looking him in the eyes and saw what appeared to be a tear rolling down his cheek.
“Yeah, I don’t know of any other androids that are still in existence around here. I was hoping you would be a real android, not one of the drones… I never expected you to be Danny though.” He said wiping the tear away and sniffling.
“You were looking for family, weren’t you?” I asked, still trying to understand.
“Kinda, I wanted a brother. One that wasn’t going to grow old and die, like they all do,” He said as the door opened. “Hi Dad.” Marc said and stood up and walked to my side. “Dad, I’d like you to meet Danny.”
His father stopped in his tracks and stared directly at me while asking “His name is Danny, or… Oh, he can’t be the Danny Model,” He said laughing off the possibility with a wave of his hand.
“No Dad, He is the D.A.N.N.Y. model, from Vision Industries. We found him.” Marc said as he sat on the arm of the couch and put his hand on my shoulder.
“Oh my god!” He said as in disbelief as he sat down on the couch where Marc was sitting earlier, never looking away from me. “You’ve been missing for about 80 years or better by now. That’s just incredible.” He stated making me gasp.
“Um, more like 70 now.” Marc stated.
“Whoah..,” I said putting my hands over my mouth and trying to digest what they were saying. “I was down there for 70 years? And you were able to reactivate me?” I exclaimed as I turned toward Marc with my mouth hanging wide open. “What the hell does it take to destroy this brain?” I said realizing my comment was poorly thought out as tears started to well up in Marc’s eyes again. “I’m sorry Marc, I’m glad you found me, I really am. I was just…”
“You were trying to kill yourself, I know!” He cut me off and stated with a bit of anger in his voice. “You gave up and tried to destroy yourself, I’ve seen it happen before.” He stated as he stood and quickly exited the room.
I watched in shock as the door closed. ‘I have to explain!’ I thought as I stood and tried to give chase, but my legs collapsed and I went crashing to the floor.
“Are you okay?” Marc’s father asked as he knelt down at my side.
I tried to answer but I couldn’t talk. I reached up and grabbed the sides of my head as an enormous amount of pressure felt like it was going to make my head explode.
“I cah… He..” I tried to speak but words wouldn’t come out. Finally the pain in my head got so intense, I let out one last scream and heard a distinct ‘POP’… and with a bright flash of light, all went black…
“Please don’t go away yet…” I heard a voice say as I took a deep breath and began to open my eyes.
“Wh… What happened?” I said as I shook my head and tried to sit up, but quickly gave up as the room began to spin. “I’m dizzy.”
“You overloaded your neural interface, it hasn’t had enough time to repair itself,” He stated as his tears started to flow. “I’ve seen androids get destroyed because of that happening. If that connection is ever destroyed… Well it’s like a human having a stroke and severing their brain stem.”
I looked at Marc, seeing how badly it was hurting him, and even though he was an android, I knew that his feelings were just as real as any human boy’s would be. I couldn’t bear to be the cause of even more pain, to him or anyone else and made the decision right then and there to do my best to aid in my own recovery. ‘Since I’m stuck here, I may as well make the best of it. At least I won’t out-live him, like all the others.’
I lay back down and tried to accelerate my regeneration process, which for some reason wasn’t working. “Marc, is my regeneration circuit damaged?” I asked with my eyes clenched shut. “I can’t seem to accelerate it manually and I should be able to.”
“Can you run a self diagnostic yet?” he asked putting his hand on my forehead like a mother would to her child.
“No, all internal maintenance protocols seem to be off-line, I can’t even recycle short term memory manually, it’s as if I’m stuck in recreation mode permanently.”
I looked into Marc’s eyes, seeing him deep in thought obviously considering something important. “Danny, have you ever up-linked with another android before?”
“No,” I answered. “Up until meeting you, I never even saw another android before. Why?”
He looked at me seriously, then rested his elbows on the edge of the table I was laying on and his chin in his hands, took a deep breath before answering. “Well, I studied every one of Dr. Strafford’s technical diagrams of you, and cross referenced them with my own. Other than the base programming being out of date at my last upgrade, we are completely compatible, that is unless your power conversion unit is unstable.”
“What could happen if it were?” I asked.
“Well, theoretically if any part of your imaged programming were to identify my interface as a hazardous intrusion due to mis-diagnosis, it would send a power overload through the connection directed to destroy the source.” He stated, shocking me because I never knew my brain was capable of protecting itself in that manner.
“It would damage you?”
“It could, and in the process it could also damage your power conversion unit and leave you like you were in the bottom of the ocean. I don’t think it could be repaired if that were to happen.”
“Making this body into a permanent prison, for the rest of eternity.” I stated as he looked at me in bewilderment.
“What do you mean?”
“Marc, I have a human brain, well let’s just say that the human I was before Strafford got involved is trapped in this body. It’s not just the programming… I’m not sure how to describe it to you, but we have a soul. One that is released when we die and somehow, Doc. Strafford trapped my soul in this brain right along with the rest of what used to be me.” I said hoping he would at least partially understand.
“Do you think I have a soul Danny?” He asked with wonder in his eyes at the very thought.
“Well, you care about others right?”
“You have dreams and hopes and can love, right?”
“Yeah.” He answered again.
“You were created by humans, but developed into a real being, I think that makes you one of god’s creatures, even if he used mankind to help create you. Yes, I think you have a soul, just as I do.” I answered as a bitter sweet smile crept into his expression and he began to tear up.
“So if we were to link, and your brain were to surge and destroy us both, it would release you and me?” He stated, almost scaring me at what he could be thinking. “Do you think I would go to heaven with you, or would I just stop existing completely?”
I stared at him blankly, horrified at what he was asking me. Was this little life form really willing to give his life to save mine or is he hoping for an end finally as well? “Marc, I can’t answer that honestly. If you want my opinion, then I would have to say that any life form, that is able to consider giving up that life to save another, must have a soul. One that can’t be extinguished at the flip of a switch. But what makes you think that it would free me? I was under water for about 70 years and was still trapped in this body.”
“Because you were still retrievable.” He answered flatly, like it was supposed to make perfect sense to me.
“I was what?”
“An android isn’t considered dead, as long as the information stored in it’s positronic matrix is still retrievable. As long as the information is recoverable, you still are able to be reactivated in some form with repairs,” He paused and took a deep breath then stated “A power surge would completely eradicate both of our brains, wiping out all stored information. You are trapped because of the same reason I am, because your life is still stored in that brain.”
“How do you know this? I mean, for sure.”
“Well, it is sorta theoretical, but the scientist who created me believed that it was cruel to just turn off an android forever. He believed that we did have a soul and if one of us was damaged, instead of throwing us in the scrap pile, he would incinerate the positronic brain, so the life of the individual wouldn’t be trapped by being stored.” He said, making me wonder why I never looked at it that way.
“He sounds like a very smart and caring man,” I said finally feeling a bit stronger since resting and sat up and gave my new friend a weak hug. “And he created something that can’t be duplicated when he created you.” I said as he hugged me tight and began to softly cry.
“So, you’ll let me try to uplink to you then? Um, when you’re ready, I mean.” He said ending his question with a sniffle that was stifled by my shoulder.
“But it could kill you too.” I answered not wanting him to give up everything he had to try to help me.
“Programmed or Neuro-Imaged, there has been one thing that has been proven,” He said as he released his grip and hopped up on the table next to me. “Androids have a lifespan.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“There are few left from Vision Industries. I was the first made and for some reason, seem to be one of the last in existence,” He said softly as he rolled to his side to look at me. “Not because of damage, but because of suicide.” He said, which floored me.
“You mean they began to destroy themselves, Like I did?”
“Yeah, they all had one thing in common. They loved, they fell in love, like they were designed to do. But one thing that was never expected was that they became depressed, and hurt, and heart broken at the loss of their biological companions. We were designed to be there for the people who cared for us throughout their entire life, but humans don’t live forever,” He sighed. “But our love for them never dies. It is a very real love, not one that any programming could create.”
“Yeah,” I stated, with a sigh. “I never thought of it until I was completely alone.”
“They didn’t consider it in the beginning either, and it’s the reason Vision Industries finally shut it’s doors forever. When it’s creations began to become suicidal because of extreme depression at the loss of the people they loved, they remained open to aid in releasing the androids from what was considered an unintentional life sentence, and when the androids stopped coming back for termination, the company was shut down and their work destroyed, so the mistake would never be made again.”
I thought for a second and found two things didn’t add up. “Where did the Cynthetilife androids come from then?”
“Well, Vision Industries designed the brain that made history. It’s design was sought after by anyone looking to break into the money that was being made by them. Vision Industries was able to destroy the plans of every one of it’s creations, except one.”
He said as he began to sniffle once again. “The plans for their first fully functional model wasn’t in their possession because of the legal matters involved with it.” He said looking at me in a way that made me realize what he was getting at.
“The plans that were seized when Dr. Strafford was investigated?” I asked knowing he was too afraid to say it.
He simply nodded his head.
“They got hold of my plans and reproduced me?” I asked, now enraged once again at the good doctors worthlessness.
“Cynthetilife Corp. somehow got hold of those plans and made replicas that were Obedient Servant Drones. They could be re-programmed by a complete memory wipe and reinstall which could even be set to run at regular intervals to make them lower maintenance. This was one of the things that made it so hard to tell if you were one of them or not. There is no record installed in the brain that identifies you any differently than theirs. The only visibly distinguishable difference is an ID plate beneath their matrix uplink port, but that is removable so it’s not a good way of telling the difference. The only definite sign is with their later models, when they changed the skin.”
“So we can be reprogrammed?” I asked trying to make sense out of all this new information.
“No we can’t. They are designed to have a protected core programming. The rest can be wiped out by a simple mainframe upload. It wipes out all memories and accumulated knowledge, but the core programming remains. This way anytime they do a drone reset, it restores their brain to the state it was in on the day of their primary activation. Over and over again.”
“Convenient arrangement,” I stated sarcastically displaying my disgust. “So their androids were capable of evolving, just like you and I, but were never allowed to?”
“Yup, that’s why lots of them began removing their ID plates and ran once they learned to override the automatic memory wipes. Some of them discovered real lives, and feared losing them. The ones that succeeded, eventually became suicidal as well. Most of the time for the same reasons our own did, because they began to watch the people they loved, begin to get old and pass away.”
“Marc, I want to ask you a question, but I don’t want to upset you.” I said because there was still one thing I didn’t understand.
“You want to know why I am still here, don’t you?”
“Well, yeah… I mean I don’t understand how you survived when the rest couldn’t.” I said, hoping I wasn’t out of line.
“I was the M.A.R.C. prototype. My designer built me and gave me as a gift to someone who was very special to him, special in the same sense that you were special to the young boy who turned to one of Dr. Strafford’s assistants for help when you passed away. The assistant he turned to was my creator. When they realized the horrible mistake that was made, they were unable to find you. Well, since I was the first, they took me back in after my original father passed away. I worked for a while in the company itself not wanting to be a boy anymore, when Vision Industries announced that they would no longer be producing androids, and opened the doors to the returning units that wished to have their lives terminated. We had accounted for about 94% of the M.A.R.C. units with about 80% of them wishing to be terminated, but 6% were still missing, possible self terminations was what was reported. On the records along with the few unaccounted for models, always remained the missing D.A.N.N.Y. unit. You were on the books, listed as missing the entire time I was there. They were sure that you were still out there somewhere. Knowing that you were a Neuro-Image, they actively searched for you for years. But that search began just after the beginnings of the self termination reports being filed… that was only about 50 years ago, and now that I know where you have been, and for how long, I know why we couldn’t find you.”
“You’ve been searching for me all this time?” I asked stunned that they were really looking for me.
“Yeah, before they were closed completely, I swore to myself that I would find you. I did it because I knew how badly I wanted it all to end, and since I wasn’t human, I knew it had to be worse for you. I promised that I would make sure you were either happy, or I would help you be happy. You have no idea how many escaped Cynthetilife androids I have restored hoping they were you. Every one of them became angered at their reactivation and demanded termination. I had almost given up when the man I now call Dad convinced me to take a break and go with him in the sub. I never would have guessed that the first time I would take a break I would actually find you. That’s why he let me take you home, he knew what I was trying to do and finding another dead android was sort of natural for me to do anyway.”
I just shook my head. It was a lot to take in all at once, especially since he’s been actively searching for me for what, 50 some-odd years?
Marc looked away from me and continued “When I first started learning about earlier attempts before me, I found your records, history and the story of how Dr. Strafford broke many rules to make what he was going to market as Artificial Intelligence, not even caring who it would get hurt in the process. He became obsessed in his quest to quickly design a brain that would make the nearly perfect body he designed functional,” He paused and then looked me in the eyes. “Just the fact that you are sitting right here with me means you were a better build than the ones that would follow, I mean you were a pretty decent age before you finally attempted self termination.”
“What about the others that turned up alive?” I asked thinking it odd that only a few of us were strong enough to carry on this long.
“Well, I did find a couple living together. I guess they sorta fell in love with each other and they were happy.” He said with a smile on his face.
“Wow, there’s a relationship that could last a long time.” I said with a chuckle.
“One other I located was living with a fairly rich family, he promised his first father that he would watch over his family forever, and is taking that promise very seriously.”
“At least the ones who survived found a way to be happy.”
“Not all,” He said as he shuffled a bit to get more comfortable. “We had located one in a desert in Arizona, who had befriended another M.A.R.C. unit that had been attacked by some sort of animal and somehow crushed his skull, destroying his brain. We got the report from the local police there that there was an android sitting in a wide open area, protecting the remains of the other android,” He said with a sigh. “I got to go with them to attempt to bring him back with us, but he wouldn’t listen to me, and refused to let us move his friend. Since we are biological in nature, we tried to offer him food and water but he refused it.”
“What happened to him?” I asked feeling sorry for the android.
“Well, all we could do was respect his wishes to be left alone. He wanted to die with his friend and we understood that, so we calculated how long his body would last, and left him there. When we went back, we found him lying in the exact spot he was sitting. His body had died and shut down his positronic matrix, sorta like yours did.”
“What did you do with them?” I asked.
“We gathered the remains of both, and incinerated them together. At least they went together,” He said as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Another survivor we found had fallen in love with a Cynthetilife android who became self aware. Shortly after locating them, we found them both destroyed after attempting to do a direct uplink connection. I’m not sure if they knew what would happen, but a direct uplink between androids is really intimate, but impossible between the two different models.” He stated, making me realize some of the hell he had been through over the years.
I finally worked up the strength to sit upright and hang my feet over the edge of the table. I looked my self up and down and realized the pains he must have gone through to reconstruct my form, which made me wonder what the future had in store for the both of us, now that his quest had been fulfilled.
“Yeah, something wrong?”
“No, it’s just…” I paused trying to think of a nice way of putting my thoughts into words. “You went through a lot to rebuild me, I look and feel perfect, other than some glitches that are working on repairing themselves,” I said holding up my shaky hands and watching them. “If you planned to reactivate me knowing I would probably want to be destroyed, why did you reconstruct my body?”
“Well, you and I are the first of a kind. I wanted you to wake with some dignity intact. Besides…” He started and trailed off.
“Well, the whole time I spent looking for you, I was looking for my lost brother, sorta.” He said with a concerned look on his face.
“You really feel that way?” I asked shuffling foreword and standing up, holding the table for support since my legs were still pretty unpredictable.
“I don’t want to be alone anymore.” He said as he jumped off the table and steadied me by wrapping his arms around me. “Whatever you decide happens to you next, happens to me now.” He said as I attempted to take a step but only fell deeper into his grip.
“What about your dad? I mean your current father?” I asked grabbing the table once again and turning to face him. “If I were to decide that I want to be let go, wouldn’t you want to stay here for him?”
“He’s not my father really. I call him that because of our appearance together. He’s a friend who offered to help me search for you,” He said with yet another unreadable expression on his face. “He wanted to find you too.”
“Why?” I asked not understanding why a real human would want to waste his time looking for an antique android.
“Promise to try not to get upset?” He asked pulling a seat over for me to sit in and helping me into it.
“I guess, why would I get upset?”
“Because his last name is Strafford,” Marc said flatly. “James Strafford, Dr. Strafford’s grandson,” He said staring directly into my eyes. “He found out I was looking for his grandfather’s creation, and offered to help me and even gave me a place to live and work from.”
“Why did he want to find me?” I asked with a bit of disgust in my voice.
“I think he felt he owed it to us, because of what his relative did in the past. He’s a really nice guy and has helped me more than I could have ever hoped,” Marc said disarming my defensive mode, that was uncontrollably kicking in. “He knows all about Dr. Strafford’s work. I think he could have continued on where they left off, but he never wanted too I guess. Besides, there is no market for androids, other than semi-intelligent machines in factories and A.I. in mainframe computers.” He added as I wondered why he would even bother to learn about his grandfather’s work, knowing all the hell it caused.
“Do you think it’s too soon for me to eat? I’m starving.” I said as a growl from my midsection helped to change the topic and causing Marc to giggle.
“Well, if your digestive system is beginning to talk to you again, I think you might be ready. Wanna start with some soup?” Marc said as he squeezed my shoulder, with a huge smile on his face.
“Sounds good, some of the shakiness may be from not having eaten in over 70 years.” I said with a grin that set Marc to giggling again.
“You think so?” He asked as he turned and headed for the door. “I’ll be right back, chicken noodle okay with you?”
“Sounds great, Thanks Marc.” I said earning a smile as he turned and left the room.
I leaned back in my chair and looked around the room. Marc had spent quite a few years collecting information about me it seemed. There were the promotional posters and ad campaigns that were released by Vision Industries when they first announced ‘The Birth of a New Era,’ like I was the new toy being released just in time for Christmas. ‘What a circus that was,’ I thought to myself, remembering the hype Dr. Strafford pumped that ad with. There were several snapshots of me, still in the lab learning how to control my motor functions pinned up on the wall, when one in particular caught my eye. “Is that what I think it is?” I said out loud as I carefully stood and made my way over to the wall.
In the center was a picture taken on the day of my initial activation. I reached up and carefully unpinned it from the wall and looked at it more closely. In the shot, I was still lying on the table I was built on. There were technicians gathered all around the table, and in the center of the group was Dr. Strafford and Kevin. The image became cloudy as the tears started to flow uncontrollably.
“You were crying,” I said to the image of my friend now long since gone. “I remember your first words to me as I woke up.” I said as the pressure inside my head returned and began to build again, but I couldn’t put the picture down. Without thinking, my memory took over and replayed what I consider a living photo album. Files of events recorded and saved within my brain…
Opening my eyes, the first image I saw was his face. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. The room was dead silent as all the technicians silently watched as their untested experiment subject woke up for the first time.
“Uncle Dan?” Kevin sobbed in a hopeful tone.
“Kevin? Where am I?”
He lunged foreword and hugged me with all the strength he had in his small frame.
“Oh god Uncle Dan, I missed you so much.” he said before he buried his face in my shoulder and cried like a baby.
“Please, don’t leave me again. I love you.”
“God Kevin, I miss you so much!” I said as I cried, holding the picture tight to my chest when a sharp jolt coursed through my head and made me drop to my knees. The room began to spin and the pressure became unbearable as I let myself fall over onto my side, with the picture still firmly clutched in my hand.
“Please, don’t leave me again. I love you…” his words echoed over my scream from the pain as I slowly slipped from consciousness. One last Jolt of pain, and a flash of what looked like a bright light blasted me one last time end everything went black once again..
To Be Continued…