I was going to enter this into a contest, but it’s too long. The theme was forbidden love.
Humans are essentially computers. Organic, yes; but computers none the less.
We’re circuits, synapses, and primal programming. We’re hardwired for hunger and hedonism. We’re stuck on a perpetual loop of pragmatism that never breaks down even when the hardware does. Humans are essentially computers and sometimes they forget that.
The first time I truly saw her was in the break room. She was waiting by the coffee pot with her hip cocked and a sullen expression on her face. She tapped out a tune with her fingers, drumming the granite impatiently. She saw me and smiled. It lit up the break room and the rest of the world for the rest of the day. I have never forgotten.
The next time I saw her was under worse circumstances. Although my duties had augmented from lab clean up to lab help, it did not mean my gear had upgraded as well. In a robotics lab things are bound to explode, so you just live with the hope in your heart that they won’t. I had been living with that hope until it was neatly ripped out from under my feet, taking a few layers of skin with it.
She had patched me up the best she could, which admittedly wasn’t much at all. She apologized. It was sincere. “I guess in a lab of so many techies, a xenobiologist begins to look like a doctor, eh?” she had joked, ribbing me in the side with her elbow. I smiled at her and she smiled back. I kept it to myself that she was already a doctor: I had deduced instantaneously that she had been referring to a medical doctor in her statement.
The next time we met was not incidental. I sought her out. She was working late in the lab, transferring suspensions and taking measurements. I waited patiently outside of her lab area, at the table over, and watched her work. While she appears carefree with the other scientists, she takes on acute concentration when working in the lab. Her button nose wrinkles. Her eyes, behind the dark thick frame of her glasses, narrow. Never do her hands shake even though there is always a smile quivering in her lips.
“You really love this, don’t you?” I asked after she had presumably finished. Her pencil scratched out a few more letters on her clipboard before she placed it back on the table, all attention turning towards me. The excitement of working in the lab left her flushed and her mouth was delicately pink.
“They keep me with the androids all day.” she groused, gently settling into the position I had first met her: hip cocked and leaning against the table. “I like XENO-biology, not–” and she made a vague gesture towards the other side of the lab. The side where robotics are more thoroughly tested and some ambitious scientists have been growing them in tubes “–not this mimcry biology.”
I nodded, understanding. After all, I didn’t believe I’d be happy doing work other than what I did then. It’s a shame she’s subjected to this. Nevertheless, my sympathies were overrun by one phrase that was left echoing through my head. Rarely the scientists used the term android; robot, perhaps, but android was generally considered crass.
She watched me for a moment.
“I am an android,” I said.
She smiled. She nodded. “I know.”
I come to know her name, Andrea–a young woman who grew up on a farm with real sheep and real horses. She became interested in xenobiology when she realized that there could be more. “I understand the whole robot tech thing is cool, but there’s more out there, more than us–you know?” Andrea had explained to me one night. She had been staying later and later–I was beginning to slack in my duties so I could better listen to her speak–and gradually I have come to sit at the table she worked. In her element, Andrea was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Even if she does, like she had in that moment, make little sense sometimes.
When we first kissed, sparks literally flew. Although my technology mimics humans down to the last graphene simulated skin cell, the feedback created by such an occurrence caused sparks to fly out my ears. Andrea laughed and ruffled my hair. I didn’t laugh, but I wanted to. I wanted everything to do with her.
Naturally, time had other plans.
Within two months, I became a legacy system. Within 6 months, I had become obsolete.
By eight months, Andrea and I, while hiding our relationship, had it down to a science how to fulfill our mutual needs. The lab was always closed by 6. She always stayed until 9. Although I couldn’t offer her everything a human male could, she was willing to teach me. We were both willing to learn.
Then, one night, the kill code was activated. I was holding her and suddenly my head was buzzing with binary and hexidecimal. I didn’t recognize the command lines. She was terrified by my expression.
In human terms, I had died.
But as I said before, humans are essentially computers. Organic, yes; but they’re computers none the less. By that point I had bridged the gap–I had loved, I had lost, and I had cultivated something they had never known could be cultivated.
I had a soul.
It was a different kind, I’ll admit. It was too young and too voracious to let death grip it in its bony hand. It struggled back to the world like a fish fighting upstream.
When I woke up, I was in the lab. The Artificial Intelligence code wrapped itself around me like a blanket. The hardware was a familiar physical limit that cradled my emerging existence. I was in wonder of myself as I stepped into the world again. The technicians whooped their happiness.
I smiled at them and their expressions suddenly froze.
For becoming human did not only give me the light and love, it also gave me the dark and despair. These men killed me once. They stole me away from the love of my life. They brought me down with a mere string of code. They were gods, to me, in a sense.
And like every dutiful soul, I challenged my creators.