Adapted from the film A.I. by Bryan Harrison
Im afraid, she said finally. Her eyes teared and she looked away.
So it was fear after all. Catalog that. Modify profile. Modify approach. Respond:
Of me? the man asked.
Yes, yes, she responded quickly; too quickly.
Elaborate that. Suggest?
That I will hurt you? he asked, his gaze penetrating, unyielding.
She breathed deeply. Her chest rose, hitched, fell. Yes, she admitted.
Drama there. Modify profile. Respond:
I think that... the man who was not a man paused there until he saw her breath catch, youre afraid of letting go Her breath released. He continued, pacing, I think youre afraid of happiness... He shifted his weight, cocked his head to the other shoulder, chin back and eyes slit and this is starting to excite me. He concluded, touch of a whisper; touch of a tremble. Good. She was looking at him now. Not the eyes yet. Check that.
He moved closer to the bed, stood in front of her. Are you afraid of seeing the stars... pace, Patricia? Her arms unfolded. Not yet her eyes. I can show you how to reach them.
Im afraid of what youve got under there, Patricia responded. Her gaze flowed down the length of his body and stopped at the spot. May I see it what it looks like first?
Check that. Modify approach:
He knelt before her, hands warmed, light on her thighs. His face was perfection so close. Is this your first time... pace, with something like me?
She paused, eyes yet averted. Chest, breasts, rise... fall. Ive never been with Mecha, she admitted.
Catalog that. Respond:
Well, that makes two of us, he whispered. Appropriate smile. She laughs, relief in her face. Good that. Laugh with her and wait.
Im afraid it will hurt, she said plainly.
Finally. Elaboration sufficed. Respond:
Patricia... pace, once youve had a lover-robot he stood, the perfect contours of his frame alive, yet not, beneath the trim folds of his clothing, youll never want a real man again.
She smiles at this. He is strength and desire. He exudes an eloquent lust, warmth and pheromones modified by the moment. He gazes down at her. He is patient. Understanding. She sees this in him. He sees something too, beneath the collar of her shirt and reaches to part her blouse. She does not stop him. His fingers caress softly along her neck.
Check that. Inquire:
Are these the wounds of passion? he asks her gently.
He has found the bruises. She smiles and nods a pathetic lie, which she cannot sustain. No, she whispers finally, and her tears belie the smile behind which she has hidden for so long. Shadows of violence and misery are restless behind her eyes.
He cocks his head quickly to the side and back, so fast that she that does not notice. Something inside him is activated.
Do you hear that? she asks, puzzled, searching the room. She knows that music. It is something from a dream; from some long ago time depicted in celluloid archives. Men and woman dance there. There is romance and elegant laughter. He moves his hand across her line of vision and draws it to him. She follows, realizing from whence the music has come. She laughs fully and looks finally into his eyes.
His eyes are only for her.
You are a goddess, Patricia. He moves upon her now, this device perfect in its function and form... You wind me up inside and their eyes are just beats away. But you deserve much, much better in your life. He is against her now; his breath simulacrum is on her mouth and neck and breasts and she is lost in it and in the heat rising from him, strong against her. You deserve...Me.
She is consumed by him; beneath him. She will never be the same. He has no awkward moments. He does not tire or subside. His heat and size are calculated precisely, his thrusts perfectly timed. Her passion erupts quickly, fully and repeatedly. She cries out. He is superb! He is perfect!
He is designed specific.
She leaves him finally. Regretfully. When can she see him again? Saturday? Sooner maybe? Tomorrow?
She will never see him again.
The Shangri-La has come over the pager that dangles on his chest. Who is this? Ah, Bevins. Good, that. Step it up. Work to be done. Cant keep the ladies waiting. Never keep them waiting.
The night is cool; the music is jazz, that erupts from dim lit widows and doorways of smoky street side parlors. Solitary men, woman, Orga, Mecha, watch from those. They nod their heads as he passes. What you need? What you looking for? We got it. Hey! Hey! Cmere! Cmere! He smiles and struts on. He is not customer. He is merchandise. He is Joe; He is a gigolo. He is Mecha.
He gives some of them a quick show. His feet skip and heels click a quick rhythm against the pavement. They blur gracefully in the dim blue light of the street. Nice touch that. Very chic. Very glamour. They love it. The whirring in his legs is inaudible under the music and laughter around him. There is festivity here. There are lust and drugs and a thousand other unnamed Orga appetites to be filled.
There is danger here too. But it does not touch him.
He does the Kelly step against the curb. Passersby ogle. An old Orga, sleeping on the street, awakens at the sounds and swears at him. Then there is the flash of old-fashioned neon in front of him. Rooms... rooms... rooms... the sign says endlessly. The Shangri-La. Jane erupts from the door as Joe tips up the entranceway stairs.
Hey, Joe, wadda ya know? she asks casually, moving away before he can respond. She is sleek in purple and black. Flesh fit suit. Flawless. T n A extraordinaire. Very trim. Very sex. The pager dangling from her neck lights even as she arrives on the scene. Her face is unblemished beauty. Lips permanently rouged and a waistline that will never change. Eyes, impossible blue; Mecha blue.
Hey Jane, hows the game? he respondss over his shoulder and opens the door of the dim lit Shangri-La. He assumes he will see her again so there is no need for camaraderie. And even if he should not. So? They are Mecha.
Hey Joe, wadda ya know? the tired looking man at the counter says. Its Williamson tonight. Check profile. Good, that.
Hey, Mr. Williamson. Could you place a D.N.D. on 1.0.2. he requests, flashing the numbers with his fingers. Williamson nods, Sure thing, Joe, and tosses the keys on the counter. Cant keep the customer waiting. Joe grabs the keys and is off. His strut is automatic. Programmed.
Hey Joe! Williamson calls. Joe turned, graceful even in this simple gesture. When youre finished here, make sure you crack your collar open. Show off your operating license, eh? The Flesh Fair is in Barn Creek and the hounds are out hunting for strays.
Flesh Fair? Check that? Trouble? Catalog. Joe smiles, opens his collar and displays the luminous green tag implanted in the flesh of his chest. He is legit. Good thing I ran into you, Mr. Williamson, he says with a wink, Im off now. He twirls smoothly, and keys dangling in hand, poses against the banister before he ascends. Mustnt keep a lady waiting.
He climbs the stairs rapidly but he doesnt loose his breath. He never looses breath. He cannot. Upstairs he stops at 102. He places his hand to his face and his fingertips become luminous. The center of his palm becomes covered in a gelatinous film. The film firms and becomes reflective, a mirror. He looks at himself.
Check profile. Bevins. Modify.
Touch of eyeliner from his finger like magic, but it is not magic; he is Mecha. His hair comes alive now, and then he is blond. His cheekbones lift and chin juts, ever so slightly. Nice touch. Good, that. His eyes are green now and covered in a fine sheen of sparkle. He is prepared for Ms. Bevins
Or so he believes.
Ms. Bevins. Its Joe. At your service, he says as he opens the door into the dark room. His accent is perfect. Joe struts into the room in this new profile. He cocks his head and music channels from secret parts of his body. It is spicy, percussive. She is on the bed. She is silent. She is waiting. Joe jumps easily beside her, his mechanical limbs barely disturb her, where she lay.
She is still. Her back is to him.
Ive been counting the seconds since last we met, he says. Still she has nothing to say. She does not turn to face him. Is she upset? Check profile. Elaborate. He leans forward and sees something glistening on her cheek. Check that. Respond; He reaches down and swipes a finger over the wetness. Have you been crying Samantha? Ive found a tear.
Still she does not respond. He leans closer. It is not tears that cover her face. She is not waiting. She is no more.
Check this! Trouble! He jumps up off the bed.
Hey Joe, wadda ya know? the man in the shadows stepped into view. Joe faced the man, scanning him in the faint lights from the windows; an aging, balding Orga, paunchy in his designer suit. Check profile. Nothing. How many seconds has it been since you two were together? the man asked. He is Orga. Joe must answer. He turned off his music, consulted his clock.
Two hundred and fifty five thousand, one hundred and thirty three, he responded.
thirty-four, thirty-five, and the man walks to the bedside, looks down on the dead woman. Thirty-seven thirty-eight thirty-nine, and the man leans close to the dead womans face. His face is passionate. He seems to want to kiss her. Forty-two forty-three and he says Goodbye Samantha, and never forget, you killed me first. Then he does kiss her, on her naked dead shoulder. Forty-nine, fifty and he is leaving Joe alone with this dead Orga woman; the last place in the world a Mecha wants to be found.
At, two hundred and fifty five thousand, one hundred and fifty six seconds since theyd last met, Joe realizes that Samantha Bevins has just gotten him in trouble. Bad trouble.
Outside the Shangri-La the night is raucous. Joe is lost quickly in the noise and traffic of pedestrians. He paces quickly from door to door, to alley and then through the street. He is Joe again, his hair a jet-black gloss against his skull. His face set to masculine default profile. He has no heart to create a pulse to race, but he is thinking, thinking like never before. He was not designed to think, only to respond and act. The few logic processors he does have help him to navigate the complex world of Orga safely, with a minimum of friction. His creators were alert to the animus about them, the Mecha. They gave him sufficient charisma and fortitude to protect himself. But Joe does not understand all the ramifications of the dead body yet to be discovered in the Shangri La. He does not know about establishing time of death and gathering witnesses to attest to his location. He does not consider legal avenues. He is Mecha. He knows only that he will be blamed. That is all he needs to know.
As he walks, a cruiser slides quickly through the dark street ahead. Joe doesnt realize that it is too early for the police to be alerted. He does know that few in this part of the city have ample funds with which to own a cruiser. The cruiser is either customer or police. The latter is a safer guess. He moves quickly into the shadows of a doorway and the vehicle speeds by.
He does not move then for some time. He stands instead, statuesque, gazing into nothing as his mind considers this situation. Time passes. The street is quiet now. Some Orga men pass by. They are drunk and trying to sing. Joe hears them but his mind is working on something else. He realizes finally that everything has changed. There is no emotion at this realization. He does not cry or curse the cruel fates. There is only response.
In his arm a miniscule release valve opens and his hand flicks back at the wrist. Where Orga contain flesh and sinew, he has a small assortment of blades and tiny welding devices. He pulls a blade from his arm and closes his hand once again.
There is only one way to truly identify him, this he knows. On his chest the license glows faintly green in the night. This seal of legitimacy that would ordinarily save him, is now the link to his disposal. He opens his collar and places the blade against his skin. It is not real skin. Joe is not real. But there is pain, or what could be known as pain; signals and numbers that encode restrictions that only the strongest act of determination can override. As he cuts the identifying license from his chest, alarms go off behind his eyes. Joe has never ignored them before. But then again things have changed. Perhaps, forever.
Very dismal. Very gloom.