Artificial Intelligence
A Fan's Novel

Adapted from the film A.I. by Bryan Harrison

 

 

Chapter 8

Where The Lions Weep

1.


They moved quickly through the night sky. Because of their fortunate accident of breaking the ship’s comm-unit, their path could not be traced. But the hunt was on for the rogue Lover-Mecha and his strange little accomplice. Police were manning new vehicles and taking witness reports. At locations all around Rouge and all the way into Scotch Plains and Morristown, they stopped other crafts and asked questions. Had they seen any police cruisers in the area? Had they seen a Mecha and little boy aboard? The Police could not have imagined where the fugitives were headed.

David and Joe did not know this however. David was too young to know and Joe had never been in ‘bad’ trouble before. He did not know the lengths that Orga would go to preserve their laws. As they dashed over the open seas, the sun alighted in the corner of the sky. The new day was coming in a growing wash of purple, then red, against the horizon. David had never slept. Neither he nor Joe discerned the passage of time as Orga did. Each new day was just a continuation of events. But this daybreak had a new portent. He did not know that he felt like Orga did upon awakening at the prospect of a new and better day. What now stirred his unique processor was ‘hope’. It had only been another word in his intentionally limited vocabulary; until this morning that was. Now it had a meaning. He watched the glimpses of the sunrise he could glean through the thick fog. Soon he would be a real boy! A real boy! He could feel Mommy’s love getting closer as they zoomed over the restless waters.

-2-

Their arrival was a magic moment for them all. But on David it had an impact that Joe and Teddy could not know. As they watched, the clouds parted and the inner walls of the cockpit displayed an outline of large rectangular objects. Then the outlines faded to be replaced with the actual view of the structures they had represented. Was this it? Was this where the lions wept? These seemed like buildings that jutted out of the water. They were old and gray, rusted stalagmites, reaching weakly into the sky. They had once been part of the height of civilization, but that had been before greed and arrogance had ruined the world. While mankind had been looking for the advent of some prophesied monster, deciphering ancient rhymes and riddles, their own prideful negligence had destroyed what had taken them centuries to create. Their new power, this ability to manipulate the various forces that shaped the planet, driven by greed and thoughtless pursuit of more and more of everything, had corrupted the very mechanisms that stabilized the gentle balances of their environment. So it turned out that Mankind had become its own beast, its own prophesied demon.

Man Hatten; The sunken city; The place where mysterious entities yet made their home. What manner of life hid still within the rusted walls of these dark and ruined skyscrapers? Who was this Dr. Hobby? How did he know of the Blue Fairy? Was David alone in this quest? Maybe Joe could join him and they could be friends in life? But David thought only of Mommy now.

Mecha Restricted Area!

The words flashed upon the glass in front of them. The craft’s onboard computer sounded a quick alert as the words flashed again and repeated the phrase aloud in a warning tone. David and Joe ignored the warning. They had no choice but to go forward. There was nothing left behind for either of them. As they passed another invisible barrier, the warning stopped.

David saw an odd statue as they flew. It was a hand thrust out of the water. In its grip there was a faded stone thing that may have been supposed to represent a torch. As they rushed by, a flock of birds erupted from the holes in the ‘flame’ of the torch and flew in all directions. David wondered what had happened to the Orga world. But he forgot that thought quickly as Joe slowed the craft. They had come to the first of the great structures. They had arrived at The End of the World.

-3-

“Destination achieved,” the computer said as they crossed the last invisible gate.

“Man Hatten, David,” Joe said, his eyes taking in all around him. “The lost city in the sea at The End of the World.” This was a place that he’d only heard about in rumors and warning tales. It was said that even Orga were afraid to come here.

“Where the lions weep,” David added pensively. But David saw no lions. He saw huge shadowy buildings, broken and ancient, sitting quietly in the ocean. Where would there be lions? Was it a riddle?

The giants that had looked so solid in the distance now proved to be broken hollowed out husks of buildings. He had not seen buildings so big ever. Even the structures in Rouge City had been so much smaller. David saw things inside the buildings, through the broken windows that ran up and down the sides of them. And there were chairs and tables and desks, like the one Martin had at home, but much bigger. They were strewn around different levels of the buildings, in disarray. In the clutter inside were unidentifiable items; things that looked like boxes and maybe some electronic things, huge video monitors and shattered computers. And so much paper. It was tossed around everywhere! David wondered what all the paper was for. What had the Orga been writing on all that paper?

Beneath them there were the tops of smaller buildings that barely rose above the water line. And in between them there were boats! David looked down excitedly. The boats had sails on them and floated lazily in the breeze. David knew sailboats! All boys knew what a sailboat was. Did people live there? What a mystery this place was. It was indeed something out of a fairy tale.

They came to another set of large buildings. These were much taller than the rest. Perhaps they had once reached into the sky, mocking the canopy of stars above, a shining proof through the night that man had conquered the seasons. But all things must pass. They were ominous shadows now. One of them had fallen and now leaned against the other. Rust and corrosion lined the metal frames that ran the length of the giant ruined towers. David felt a new tension as Joe maneuvered the craft underneath the large broken building. The giant loomed so large over them that it dwarfed the amphibicopter and seemed to put some invisible pressure on the craft. This could not be, but passing through the shadow of the structure was exciting in a way David had not known before.

Teddy freed himself from David’s grasp and stood up on the dashboard. There was something not right about this place. He could sense a rumble. Some small vibration all around that did not feel like it should be there. He growled as he surveyed the area. Joe looked at the small bear. What did it sense? Was it afraid? Was it trying to warn them of something? Joe knew that Mecha were not supposed to come here. Maybe they knew, the Orga, maybe they knew he and David were here and had set some dangerous trap for them. Or what if this Blue Fairy was indeed some magical thing. Joe scanned the area but could discern no threat. In this dark place however, anything seemed possible.

David felt the rumbling too. It was coming from near them. It seemed like it was all around but he could feel the source of it shifting as they moved beneath the building. He had an idea.

“Turn around Joe,” he said.

What was the boy talking about? To come so far and then quit now? Was he afraid? “We’re not going to give up now David,” Joe replied in a resolute tone. But David was not thinking of giving up. He had realized that they had come into Man Hatten from one direction and had not changed direction since. What if what they were looking for was on the opposite side of one of the buildings they had already passed.

“Turn around Joe! Turn all the way around!” he said, not bothering to correct Joe’s assumption. But Joe had realized what David meant. He accelerated and flung the craft in an arc. They circled the fallen building and were now headed in the opposite direction. There were more small buildings and taller ones. These were more solid looking structures. More stone than glass. They had a different appearance. Older. Firmer. Their windows were still intact and only darkness could be seen beyond the glass. David wondered what lay in that darkness.

Then they heard the rumbling clearly. All three looked ahead. There was some kind of pillar before them. Massive. Stone. Water was rumbling down the face of it. Joe lifted the craft up the length of the pillar and what they saw shocked them. In front of them were two great feet. Clawed feet. No… they were paws! Joe slowed the craft. They looked up simultaneously. Teddy’s gaze followed too. Above them the riddle was solved in an instant. Joe moved the craft upwards and the immense statue face of a great lion came into view. Water poured from its mouth and eyes like a fountain. It wept! The riddle had been solved. This was where the lions weep!

The lion stood hundreds of meters above the water and behind it there was a building. To their left there were other lions, all of them gushing water from their mouths and eyes, creating a great rumbling that affected all around them. Joe flung the craft along the front of the great building. It was a stone fortress, like the smaller buildings, but it seemed newer than the rest. Its walls were not worn and decrepit. The rims of its windows were not browned with rust and decay.

Was this where Dr Hobby lived? Did She make Her home here too? David could barely contain the excitement that coursed through him now as they moved slowly up the front of the building. It rose hundreds of meters above the lions, and they could now look down on the statues. David and Joe discerned an opening in the building where the copter could enter. And they did. Joe glided the craft out of the sunlight, smoothly into the shadowy landing dock. Then they alighted. Destination achieved. Now what?

Joe pressed the canopy button, and before the door even finished opening, young David set his Teddy aside and jumped excitedly out of the craft.

“Professor Hobby!” he yelled. “Professor Hobby!” He rushed into the shadows of the landing bay, heedless as usual of any potential danger that might lie there.

Joe was more cautious. This place was dark and seemed strange. He heard Teddy rumbling beside him and picked the bear up. “I guess you and I will have to keep an eye on him, eh Teddy?” he said. Then he and Teddy left the copter to catch up with David, who was already running up the stairs at the back of the dock towards some glass doors. Beyond the doors a dim blue light shone through the fogged glass.

As Joe walked up behind David, he saw that the boy had slowed and indeed seemed to be engaging some caution too. He was glad to see it. They still had no idea what lay beyond the doors. Let it be what he wants, Joe thought. He did not know why David’s satisfaction would be his as well. He was not programmed for these thoughts.

As they came hesitantly closer, the doors opened. Joe and David looked at each other and then passed through. This area was smaller, a hallway of some sort. It led into darkness on either side of them but David saw that before them was another door. It was not glass as the others, but some thick solid material, and on this door something was written. The letters of the phrase shone with an eerie light. He walked forward, but he already knew what it said.

Come away O human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping
Then you can understand

As he stepped closer David could see that the words were not actually shining, but had been carved into the door itself and through them a quiet room could be seen. The light from the room shone through the words, and he and Joe were bathed in it as they stood at the threshold of David’s destiny. Beyond this door lie his dreams! It was really happening! The fairy tale had been right! He would tell Mommy about this when he came triumphantly home to her! He would tell her of all his adventures. He saw her now in his new imagination. She would run to him and hug him up and shower him with kisses and squeeze him and promise to never let him go again; To never leave him alone again; To love him forever!

Forever!

There was a feeling like music in David now. It sang throughout his body and in the once secret part of his brain, which had all but taken over every aspect of his processing. He had never understood the ‘music’ of Orga, but now he thought it could make sense, these tones in space, this emotional language. Now this anticipation of his dream come true changed him again. He was happy. He could go home soon.

Joe looked at his young friend. The first creature he had ever been given the opportunity to care for. David’s face was ecstatic. ‘Check’ that! Joe had never seen Mecha look so. A new realization dawned on him. Maybe David wasn’t really like him after all! Maybe David was... something different; something... new? The boy’s glowing smile was contagious, and as Joe returned it he had another realization. There’d be no place in David’s new life for a rogue prostitute Mecha like himself. Once David was a real boy, his Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t want the likes of Joe around. He accepted this. If he never saw David again, remembering him like this would be forever a bright spot in his brain, a moment he could look back on and relive again and again in whatever dark place his future found him. He didn’t know what love was. He didn’t realize how closely he had embraced it. He held his hand out to the door. It was a gesture of letting go for him. Go now, David, the gesture said. Go and find your dream. I’ll be here if you need me.

David stepped forward. It was his time. He reached out and turned the handle and then stepped into the quiet office of the mysterious Dr. Allen Hobby.

-4-

“Professor Hobby?” David said. His words fell flat in the quiet room.

Is this the place where his dream will be made real? Could such magic really occur in a place like this simple room? It was not so different from the rooms at Mommy’s house. There was a table ahead of him. It was glass, and surrounded by chairs. The chairs were blue. They were all the same. This must be a meeting place. Perhaps someone had been here recently, perhaps often, maybe many people. Were these floors walked upon by Orga made new from ones like himself?

Perhaps the Blue Fairy Herself had sat in one of these chairs! His excitement was a solid thing now, roaring inside his head. ‘It is happening!’ it said over and over. ‘It is really happening!’

Before him were books laid open on the table. A lamp above the table lit the pages, displaying a scene of someone’s intense study. Against the walls there were shelves of books and books and more books. So many books! Mommy and Henry had not had so many books in the entire house as there were against these walls. Dr. Hobby would probably be the smartest Orga David had ever met.

If he was Orga.

What if Dr. Hobby was like Dr. Know, a floating head with no substance? Would he play games? Would he taunt and tease and…

But that did not seem right.. This room did not seem like the room of a Mecha. The room was warmed to the level that Orga felt comfortable, and Mecha would not need so many things for comfort, so many chairs and books and tables. Mecha could just sit on the floor or stand indefinitely.

Across the room there were more doors. Glass doors. Like the others they were fogged so you could not see through them. Perhaps the Professor was through those doors. Maybe he was working on another happy Mecha. Making them ‘real’! David stepped cautiously toward the doors, his new mind creating images of what might lie beyond.

“Professor Hobby?” he said louder.

Then he heard the soft whisper of paper against paper. He froze.

There, in the corner, a chair, a big one; like the ones in Dr. Know’s office. It was facing away from him. Then he heard it again, a sound as if someone was turning pages.

“Professor Hobby? Hello?” The breathless anticipation that he was programmed to simulate felt all too real. Before him, cloaked by the back of the chair, sat the one who held the answer to all his dreams.

He stepped faster into the room and approached the large chair that was surrounded by a fortress of books. The Professor must be there reading! The golden light of a small lamp embraced the corner of the room, and David stopped just behind the chair. He will be ‘real’ soon. He imagines a thousand things reserved for Orga that now he too will know. He imagines the feel of the grass of Mommy’s lawn against his feet! He imagines the eating and the swimming and running and dancing and a million of Mommy’s hugs and kisses for him and him alone!

‘It is happening’, his new brain says , the fairy tales are real!

“Hello?”

There is another rustle of paper.

“Is this the place where they make you real?” David asked. It was no more than a whisper. A plea. I have come so far. Please…

The chair turned and David saw who sat there.

The image was logically rejected at first. ‘No. I did not see that’, his new brain said. A mental blink. It took a nanosecond. The image though, and verified. It was refreshed and registered again. A boy sat there. He was blond. He was dressed in a white jump suit that hung on him like robes.

David’s mind froze.

The boy in the chair looked up at the other that had come into the room. The one who had called the name of the Professor many times. The boy had heard and registered each greeting and request. But it was not his name called, and the voice had not triggered any of his limited lists of profiles, so he had ignored the voice and continued his task. But then the intruder had asked a question. The question was general. It was posed to no one in particular. It should be responded to. He looked for an appropriate response.

“This is the place they make you read,” the boy in the chair said. But the face of the other did ‘shock’ and ‘confusion’. The boy in the chair did not intend for his response to create this type of reaction in the other. So he did ‘smile’ to show ‘friendliness’.

-5-

David could not process what was happening. He did not understand what he was looking at. Inside his head mechanisms that still were learning to cope with new and, as yet, undefined feelings, now choked on the information they were receiving. The boy in the chair was impossible. He could not be. A thousand questions were stuck at the ports of David’s mind.

“Are you real?” David asked, stunned.

The boy did not understand the question. He looked deep into his mind and found a suitable response. “I guess,” he said. Then he went back reading. It was his ‘task’.

David’s friends stood at the door observing the spectacle before them. Joe’s eyes darted between the two boys. He had heard of things like this happening but he had never anticipated it here. Not with David. This was trouble.

“Are you.... me?” David asked. He didn’t want to hear the answer. Something inside him was already running away from this place. But another part of him was opening its eyes. Another aspect of this imprinting that Cybertronics had not anticipated. Something basic and feral was awakening in him.

“I am David!” the boy in the chair said. He did ‘big smile’ and reached up to do ‘shake’. But the other was not interested in ‘shake’ and left the gesture unanswered.

“You are not!” David replied, stepping away from the outstretched hand. The awakening thing in him grumbled and rose from its solitude. It whispered a dark secret to David’s new brain.

“Yes, I am,” the impossible boy in the chair insisted, “I am David!”

“I am too,” David replied weakly. What else could he say?

“Hello David,” the boy in the chair said. The other called “David” would not finish the gesture of familiarity so he withdrew his hand. He had to finish his task. He stood to walk to the table where the Professor had left his other ‘tasks’. Then he walked to the table. He sat in a chair at the table. The boy had much to read yet. There were things he had to ‘learn’ and many things he had to ‘understand’ and ‘remember’. Perhaps the other would like to join him? He turned his head and did ‘smile’.

“Can you read?” he asked. “Perhaps you can sit down with me, and we can read together?” But the other’s face still did ‘shock’. And there was something else there too, something ‘unfriendly’. He knew ‘unfriendly’. He decided that he would calm ‘David’.

“Let’s be friends,” he said.

David did not hear the request for friendship. A fortress had suddenly been constructed around the eternal face of Mommy in his head. David’s own face was a grimace, a mask of anger and fear, a reflection of the new thing inside him.

“You can’t have her,” David snarled. The beast had been awakened. It had explained everything.

David had not understood what ‘David’ had said. The noise was ‘angry’ and ‘hostile’ but failed to impart meaning. “Excuse me. I cannot hear you,” he explained politely.

“She’s mine,“ David said, and his hand moved to the table, grasping the base of the lamp that lit the pages of the books. “...and I’m the only one!”

The beast in him roared. “I’m DAVID!” it yelled as it moved into the world with a sudden ferocity. David yanked the lamp up and swung. The lamp struck the impossible boy in the face, ripping a hole through its flesh, exposing circuits and sensitive infrastructure. Sparks flew. An electric reek filled the air.

The boy was not real. But there was pain. Or what could be known as pain.

“I’m David!” David swung again. The lamp missed its target, crashing down on, and through, the glass table. Shrapnel shards of glass sprinkled like sudden hail upon the floor. The books went flying like a flock of escaping birds, to land in disarray around the room.

The boy still had thought. But could not see. Alarms commanded action. He tried to rise, to escape. But his body would not respond.

“I’m David!” And this time the lamp struck effectively. It whistled through the space before him in an arc and crashed against the impossible boy’s head, sending it flying across the room in a violent shower of sparks and electricity.

Joe stepped back from the door when he saw the Mecha boy’s destroyed head land at his feet. Check that! He looked up at David and saw him swinging the lamp through the empty space where the other had been. Its body laid on the floor now, wisps of smoke and a puddle of vital fluids escaping from the place where its head had been.

“I’m David! I’m special! I’m unique!” David screamed like an Orga child, as he swung the lamp aimlessly. “You can’t have her!”

What’s this? Modify profile indeed! Trouble! Bad Trouble!

Did that broken Mecha have a Mommy and Daddy like David? Were they here somewhere? They’d be coming for their Mecha boy. Joe was unlicensed. On the run. He stepped back away from the door, into the shadow of the hall. Then he turned and ran, ignoring the complaints of the little bear in his hand.

“We must not leave David!” Teddy complained. But Joe was not listening. Legs whirring, he ran quickly with Teddy in hand to the amphibicopter and closed them inside. In moments they were airborne. Moving quickly from the darkness of the dock to safety.

In the room they’d left behind, David swung and swung the lamp over his fallen enemy. He muttered a mantra:

“I’m David! I’m David! I’m David!”

... like a prayer. His enemy had indeed fallen. But there was something else that he must hold at bay now. It was something that came crashing through his fortress even as his own demons were released upon the other.

“I’m David! I’m David! I’m David!”

He would beat the empty air until he killed this thought; until the reality of what was occurring here relented and ran away.

“I’m David! I’m David! I’m David!”

Something in him had been wounded, and the damage was just beginning to take affect. Like the other, the one whom he had destroyed, he bled. Unlike the other, the pain was not behind him.

It had just begun.

The silent figure at the door watched the spectacle for a moment. He’d heard the commotion and seen the copter dashing out of the dock as he’d rushed down the hallway. He’d ran to his study and saw the Mecha boy’s head smashed beyond repair on the floor. In the room, the boy bot’s body lay lifeless. Still. But standing above the dead bot, angrily swinging a dented and ruined lamp, stood another David. This one was alive; more alive than any Mecha before.

He hadn’t expected the boy so soon.

“David, stop!” the man yelled and stepped forward. He wrapped his arms around the fighting boy and wrestled the lamp away from him. The struggling Mecha loosed the lamp and weakly fell to the floor. It turned and looked back up at him with confused and worried eyes.

David had thought it was Joe that came up behind him and took the lamp, but this was another man, an Orga man. His face was familiar, but David could not place it. His hair was blond like David’s, but there was much missing from the top of his head. His eyes were kind and intelligent. He looked on David with a curious wonder and... concern. This must be…

“Dr. Hobby?” David asked excitedly.

Dr. Alan Hobby, visionary, CEO and Director of Operations at Cybertronics of New Jersey, Manhattan Division looked down with amazement on this boy; this boy with the face of his long dead son. He smiled at his wonderful creation.

“Yes David,” he said, “I’ve been waiting for you.”

-6-

They had found him. They had known his precise location, tracking him since he and the rogue lover-Mecha had cleared the forest outside of Haddonfield. But still they’d let him go. They’d decided to conduct a test. David had surprised them, astounded them. Embracing a children’s fairy tale and inspired by love, fueled by a desire that they had programmed, their creation had set out on a journey to make real a dream, a dream that they did not predict. Most remarkably, no one had taught him what to do or how to go about accomplishing this. It was all self-motivated reasoning, the one aspect of human thinking that they had sought to refine in its brain.

And David had achieved this beyond their expectation. They had actually lost him for a while. But when they found him they had decided not to make their presence known. They were involved in a real time experiment, a test of a most unique device. A simple test, really; where would this new -found reasoning take him?

“Dr. Know told me you’d be here,” David said, looking up at the man who would save him, make him real. “Is Blue Fairy here too?” he asked excitedly. He so longed to meet Her. His brain was beginning to sing again.

And there it was. Hobby had finally heard it for himself. The thing they had not foreseen. This incalculable element; that this creature would develop its own reasoning. A fairy tale of all things! A child’s bedtime story! He cupped the boy’s face in his hands. The illusion of his son sitting here with him was so real. But he was not. The Professor felt a small reminder of his own distant pain, and pushed it back.

“I first heard of your Blue Fairy from Monica,” Hobby said. At the mention of the woman’s name the Mecha’s face lit up. The imprinting. It would never leave him. “What is it that you thought she could do for you?”

“That She would make me a real boy!” David said, not understanding the nature of the Professor’s question. He thought he was making a request to a qualified representative.

Amazing! Hobby made a mental note to re-interview Monica Swinton. He had to know when David had first begun to understand that he was Mecha. There had been hints all along. The little things the prototype had thought up in its excessive attempts to please the imprinter; the little jealousies that erupted when the Swinton boy had come home; and the amazing things he had written in crayon. When Hobby had seen those he had become excited indeed. He had never imagined what the Mecha would do when it fully cognized its own nature. Problems and potentialities were presenting themselves.

“But you are a real boy,” the professor said smiling. David sat uncomprehending. Was that it? Was it that fast? He didn’t feel any different. The man’s eyes were scanning him curiously.

“At least as real as I’ve ever made one,” Hobby added, “which, by all reasonable accounts, would make me your Blue Fairy.

“You are not Her!” David responded quickly, angrily. He did not want to understand what the Professor had meant by his last comment. The singing in his head had stopped again. “Dr. Know told me that She would be here at the lost city at the end of the world where the...”

“…lions weep, yes I know David. That’s what Dr. Know needed to know to get you to come home to us.” Hobby was quiet as this set in. The Mecha’s face was registering combinations of emotions and mental reasoning that they’d not intended to install. “And it was the only time we intervened,” he said.

David’s logic processors were struggling to put together things that his new mind would just as soon have left in incomprehensible pieces. This was not his home! His home was with Mommy! Where was the Blue Fairy? The singing had given way to a silence, a silence that went to the bottom of his brain. The pain was coming back in that silence. He was feeling bad again. He didn’t struggle as the Professor lifted him.

“It was the only help we gave him, to give to you,” Hobby said as he lifted David. “To get you to come back home to us.” He set the boy in a chair.

“This is not my home,” David said. But there was no fight in it. Already he was starting to understand what had occurred. Already the image of Blue Fairy was retreating into the silence and pain that was quickly consuming his brain. A scream was building somewhere in that silence.

“Yes David. This is your home; your real home. And your real parents are here too, waiting to see you again.” Hobby smiled down on his creation. “David, until you were born, robots didn’t dream. They didn’t desire anything unless we told them what to want; didn’t move unless we told them what to do. Do you have any idea what a success story you’ve become?!” He knelt before the boy in the chair, the simulator whose heart was breaking as he spoke.

“You astounded us David. We wanted to see just what you’d do. Where your thinking would take you. Would it take you to the logical conclusion?” Hobby gazed intently into David’s eyes. In his excitement he did not see the suffering there. “The Blue Fairy, David, is part of the great human flaw; to wish for things that don’t exist.

“Or would your thinking take you to the greatest single human gift? The ability to chase down our dreams! And that, David, is something no machine has ever done, until you.”

The Professor’s words assaulted David’s brain.. They stung him in a way that no machine had ever been hurt. The Blue Fairy did not exist? But the story had said she did! The story told what happened and...

..and this was all ‘reasoning’ wasn’t it. Was that what the Professor was saying? The understanding had come unwelcome; unwanted. His reasoning was what made the Blue Fairy real. For the first time ever David felt tired, beaten. She was supposed to be real. He was supposed to be different; Special.

“I though I was one of a kind,” he said weakly. Please don’t tell me more. I don’t want to know.

The Professor’s eyes begun to water, his face was strained and sad. He looked away, to some imaginary place. “My son was one of a kind,“ he said. “You are the first of a kind, David,” he offered as consolation.

But David was following a new devastating line of reasoning. If this was his home, and the Blue Fairy didn’t exist, hen he would have to stay here and...

Hobby stood and wiped the tears from his eyes. The Mecha was too real in its new emotional state. It reminded him of too much. They had set out on a dream quest, an attempt to achieve the impossible, and that impossibility now sat before him; gazing up at him with the eyes of the boy he’d fathered, loved and lost, years before this robot child was ever imagined.

And what was it he’d imagined? Bringing back his son? Hearing his lost boy’s laughter again? That was a fancy. Alan Hobby was not a fanciful man. He was a man of dreams; Of vision. He believed that these two things, combined with information and sheer determination, overcame all obstacles. Pragmatism was the necessary discipline when engaged in pursuits of the impossible. It was what tempered the dream and made it real.

“David?” Hobby said softly. The robot was so quiet. He had to know what it was thinking.

...and he would never see... never see... her again. That was it really, wasn’t it? The rest really didn’t matter. Pain and loss pressed down in him like a living thing.

“My brain is falling out,” David said to no one.

“Would you like to come meet your real mothers and fathers?” Hobby asked. “The team is anxious to talk to you.” But the robot was not responding. It sat despondently, looking more than ever like a sad little boy. It was the imprinting. Considering the high level of unpredictability they’d witnessed thus far, they’d have to do something quick before any vital data was lost. The prototype had been through so much. The destruction of the other David was a telling advent. There could be some internal error occurring. There was really only one way to find out; one course of action to follow.

“You wait here then,” he said to David when the Mecha wouldn’t rise. “I’ll gather them up.”

His real mothers and fathers? ‘Who would these people be?’ David wondered. He only had one Mommy. Her face burnt a bright red pain into his inner eyes. He watched Professor Hobby walk from the room, the man who could have saved him; the man who had instead, broken his heart and now left him paralyzed from the weight of his words .The man stopped once more as he left. He made an odd smile at David.

“We want to hear everything about your adventures,” he said. Then he paused for a moment, as if reflecting before some crucial step. “We want to thank you. And tell you what’s in store for you next.”

Pragmatism required sacrifice.

-7-

What was in store for him next?

Joe and Teddy were gone. He had not even noticed them leave. He had actually forgotten about them when his mind had reached out with a new emotion; the ‘hate’. With ‘hate’ he had destroyed the other David; the threat. The immensity of that act he had not understood. But hate had accomplished nothing. It had left him empty and wanting. Mommy was no closer.

David was gazing at nothing, lost in his anguish, when something caught his eye. In his departure, Professor Hobby had left the sliding glass doors open. Beyond them, there was something in the room. Something he’d seen before. Slowly, pushing against a great resistance that came from within his own mind, he rose from the chair. He followed the path the Professor had taken. One slow step at a time he crossed the boundary into the room, through the doors that had been left open by the Professor. The man had not expected David to leave his position. He was used to robots doing what they were told.

The big room was quiet. There was a muffled hum through a great window on the other side. Diffused light shone through that window, casting a gloomy glow and shadows on the walls. Across the room, near the great window, there were rows of large boxes. There were computers and machines and metal poles that ran like vines up from the floor and along the wall. And hanging from the vines...

… were people!

They were boys like himself! He took a step forward. Something in his head told him to go no further; some part of him that had been tortured too much said that he should go back and sit down and wait for the ‘team’. It said that the ‘team’ would know what to do, that the pain would be over and he could...

They were him!

No! Enough!

The boys in the room hung from metal poles. Their faces were expressionless. Lifeless. He walked now among them. His unblinking eyes surveyed everything, missed nothing. They wore white jumpsuits, like the other David had worn. Like he himself had worn when he’d first come to live with Mommy. Their faces were of all the various shades of Orga, and their hair was blond and black and wavy and curly, long and short. All around him the David’s hung in silence, waiting to be born. And what would they be born into? Their mouths hung open as if some word waited to escape. Their lifeless eyes gazed at nothing. He gazed back.

He had been here before hadn’t he? Was this the place where he was born? And before that, what had he been; another lifeless mask hanging from a pole? His mind was running from this place even as his body stepped further into the room.

Before him, in a large chair under the great window sat another of him. The thing in the chair was not completed yet. Its head was opened like the Nanny had been. A mass of wires and connectors hung from the inside of its face. Empty eye sockets looked up at the great window where the grey light came in. A loose mane of blonde hair clung to the rim of its opened skull.

David walked closer.

He could see out through its eyes from where the back of its head should have been. He stopped at the chair and placed his face behind the mask of the robot. Gazing out from its empty sockets he looked up at the window and saw a silhouette imprinted in shadow against it.

It looked like a bird.

Can you say peacock?

And there had been other words hadn’t there. Words and questions and numbers and so many other things that lurked within the countless data-banks in his head.

Something made a sound behind him. What now? He turned to see a row of boxes. What were those? Don’t. Don’t go there. But David could not stop himself from walking towards them. He was headed for a great precipice. Beyond lay an abyss. He stepped slowly towards the edge. The boxes were tall, as tall as he. On the side of the boxes were silhouetted, the shapes within. He knew what the shapes must be. He should go now. But he had strayed too close to the edge.

Across the top of the first box it read:

A LOVE OF YOUR OWN

Then, beneath it he read what he didn’t want to see. What he’d known all along known would be there.

DAVID

There was another row behind him. They were called:

DARLENE

The boxes filled the empty room. He was alone among them.

Then, just behind him, the sound again! He jumped. One of the boxes had moved. Was it alive in there? He didn’t want to see. He stepped back and away from this nightmare; away from the dangerous edge. But it was too late. He had slipped now, and the abyss was swallowing him up. What had been an assault from a solitary invader was now a raid by an unceasing army. They had been built too many and too quick. He was not special at all. He was just another blank faced boy hanging from a wall.

He was Mecha; built specific; just another one of many.

Duplicable. Replaceable.

And alone.

 

 

 

 

 

Maintained by www.comeawayohumanchild.net