Artificial Intelligence
A Fan's Novel

Adapted from the film A.I. by Bryan Harrison

 

 

Chapter 2

Awakening

1.


He was present before his eyes were open.

He kept them closed though. He had never recalled seeing the dark behind his eyes before. He had never recalled feeling the systems that drove his body performing their various functions. But now he sensed the energy that coursed through his frame. The multitude of devices that regulated his motion were tiny vibrations within his joints. This was a new awareness.

There was an image against the blank screen of his mind; something he recalled, but only vaguely. It was a memory, but then again, not exactly. It was a face, a beautiful face staring out ahead for all eternity. She had smiled at him and then crashed into a million pieces.

He remembered now.

The flood of defeated dreams and tragic episodes that he had left behind in his dreamless slumber were revived in sudden excruciating clarity. There was nowhere left to go. The Blue Fairy had proven to be a lie, just like Joe had said. She was not real. He dared not look at that place in his mind where ‘Mommy’s’ eternal smile would ever taunt him to be something he could not. He silently vowed not to feel anymore.

But where was he?

And wasn’t there something else? He’d seen someone else…. a shape.

He opened his eyes slowly.

The world before him was unfocused. He gazed quietly, as his eyes played with the images and threw them into clarity. He’d never paid attention to this process before. Had never felt his presence as something apart from the functioning of his various systems. He had no word for this strange new sensation.

Then he saw something he knew.

It could not be.

He opened his eyes wide.

Before him there was a table. He remembered this table. In front of him an empty plate glistened in some thick light from an indeterminable source. He stared at this impossible apparition for a moment and then looked beyond it. There were other places set at the table too. A familiar environment lay all around him. But it could not be. He stood and walked from the table into the next room where he saw the couch and the chairs and remembered them. In the center of the room was a table. The color of the furniture was dark. It was the color of dark wood. The floor was the color of dark wood and the carpet was green. He remembered all these things. Now he understood them.

He was home! Home!

He was overcome by a flood of emotion. “Teddy,” he said, not looking for his small friend, but assuming , as all boys do, that their friends are never far, “Teddy… we’re… we’re home.”

Home! Where his heart was born and lies ever in the bosom of warm memories. Home! Where he first met the dual spirits of love and conflict and was introduced to their intricately interwoven aspects. Home! Where She had embraced first his neck, cupping her hand around that sensitive area where his awakening was accomplished; and then his mind, speaking the 7 words of his birth to sensation; and then his heart, which was at last as real as any other, though in the realm of definitions it did not exist. and which she had embraced by allowing him to love her.

“Mommy?” he yelled, and recollections of fear and pain flee from him like a flock of night birds before the wake of golden dawn. “Mommy?!” he yelled louder and his feet are taking him now through the house where each impossible and blessed sight tells him that the dream is real. He can be with her now! Was this the meaning of the Blue Fairy disassembling into dust? Is he real now? How does he know?

He does not care. He is home!

“Mommy!!” he yells again running through the kitchen. Will he be able to eat now? Will he sleep and dream and play with the other boys? And will she be there watching, her smile an ever present reminder of her love. It must be this. He has come so far.

“Mommy?! We’re here!” he screams in a frantic childish voice as he dashes from the kitchen and quickly ascends the staircase to the room where she slept. He will find her there, he knows. She will be sleeping and he will tenderly wake her. She will rise slowly and he will offer her assistance. She will want coffee, and he will dutifully prepare her a cup because he is a good boy after all. And there will be chores to do and things to clean and…

But she is not there! Her bed is empty. The room is quiet.

“Where are you?” he screams. For a maddening moment he begins to wonder if this is some new torture that has been devised by whatever malignant force has cursed their love. He has no words for this feeling, and it is gone quickly as he begins his search of the room. He does not doubt his reality. He does not doubt the house that he knows as home. He is ever and always an innocent.

“Mommy,” he says quieter this time. A whimper.

And then he hears a response. He is not even sure at first that he hears it. It is a soft sound from just around the corner of the room. It doesn’t alight on his ears, but somehow it touches every part of his being at once. It is not Mommy’s voice. He thinks perhaps it was not real at all but…

“Daaavid…”

…he hears it again. It is a gentle caress to the tortured child that he always was beneath the miles of fibers that defined his mechanical form. That part of him that had remained curled and fetal inside his head as the unrelenting world ripped at its helpless, prostrate body.

“Daaavid…”

…the calming whisper calls again. It fills up the room and the inside of his mind, pronouncing some impending act of fate that has yet to be played. He must respond. His legs carry him reluctantly across the room to the doorway from where the voice has issued. ‘Please…’ he thinks, ‘I do not want to be hurt anymore’.

He is standing at the corner now.

“Daaavid…”

…the voice is ever gentle and patient as one must be with hurt children. At the sound of it the little boy that he never really was, responds with a longing that has lasted a millennium, and suddenly he knows who this must be! The import of this moment comes upon him like a rush of beautiful music, an inaudible song of promise. He steps slowly to the doorway and turns the corner, his emotions welling to the point of excitement like blood rushing through the wires of his body.

It is Her!

“Daaavid…”

… he feels Her call. Her voice speaks at once to every part of his tormented heart and mind. It seems to say ‘come to me little one… I will not hurt you. You have been so brave… do not let fear stop you now’. And he does not, for there is no fear now. He approaches Her form, at first a silhouette against a golden blue light of indeterminate origin. Her frame is alive, not like before when She would not move or respond. That must have only been a representation of her, a sentinel perhaps to test his resolve. Now Her dress flows at the insistence of some unworldly breeze, Her wings are slices of crystalline perfection upon Her back, and as David comes obediently, Her face is revealed from beneath the shadow of Her wings. Her eyes are a blue million miles of compassion and understanding.

“You have been searching for me, haven’t you David?” The Blue Fairy asked. Her arms did a gentle dance as She spoke. The tip of Her wand sparkled like a distant star.

David walked from the shadows into the warm blue glow of her radiance.

“For my whole life,” he responded, his voice thick with some force that he could not control. It was not the freezing of his limbs that made his speech difficult now, for he was thawed, but some moist warmth that came from his center and moved outward, enveloping him from within.

“And what, after all this time, have you come to ask me?” The Blue Fairy inquired, leaning forward, cocking Her head slightly in apparent curiosity.

“I had a wish to make,” he responded hesitantly, still astounded by Her beauty and grace, still grappling with the reality of the moment.

The Blue Fairy seemed to consider this for a moment. She stood up tall now. Her wings moved as if flexing, and Her eyes narrowed regally upon him. “And what is your wish?” She asked.

“Please make me a real boy,” David said, “So my Mommy will love me and let me stay with her.” That was it. All this time and struggle for these little words. He waited. The Blue Fairy seemed to be considering his request. She lifted Her chin and he saw for the first time Her loving smile. But he could not read Her face.

They had not expected this. From the great plain of neural connectors they gazed into the visual interface and watched the interaction of David and the Blue Mecha that had been constructed from the image lodged in the boy’s mind. So, this had been his plight. This dream is what had driven him into their arms. His request filled them with awe; the robot that had wanted to be Orga. Given the simulant-extract of their love, it had aspired to be flesh that this love would be requited. Billions of terabytes of data coursed through the nexus like excited children to whom a puzzle has been revealed. They had not seen, nor could have seen, this aspiration in the extracted data from his mind.

The Blue Mecha awaited their command. It was sent a response.

“David,” The Blue Fairy finally responded, “I will do anything that is possible,” and Her eyes displayed a tender compassion that kept him from fleeing this pronouncement, “But I cannot make you a real boy.”

There. It was said. David returned Her soft understanding gaze quietly. Oddly he felt no anger. Somewhere inside he had always felt that perhaps this could not be, hadn’t he? There was a silence between them for moments as he digested this truth. He did not know it, but just beyond the reconstruction of his home, the Specialists were cautiously anticipating his response.

Would he freeze? Would his mind, locked ever into a season of youthful incomprehension, seize and fold in on itself at the prospect of not receiving the love he so needed from the woman whose face glowed in his brain? They did not want to lose this special creation to his potential dismay. They were relieved and surprised when David looked slowly around the room and asked…

“Where am I?” He had been bothered by the fact that The Blue Fairy had appeared in his home. “This looks like my house, but it is different.”

“It is different” The Blue Fairy responded, “But it is also your home.” David looked on, uncomprehending.

They watched expectantly. This was another difficult point, which they had to get beyond carefully. The little thing had been made so innocent. Would it understand? The Blue Mecha repeated their instructions in the language they had specified for the boy Mecha.

“We read your mind and it’s all here. There’s nothing too small that you didn’t store for us to ‘remember’.”

What did She mean by ‘us’? Were there other Fairies here? Or was it that She wasn’t…

She smiled tenderly down on David “We so want you to be happy. You are so important to us, David. You are unique in all the world. There is no one else like you.”

David did not speak. He was on the brink of an understanding now. An image came back to him. It had been intentionally cast aside with some assistance from those who carefully watched this exchange. They’d wanted to calm him, not to alarm him. But now he must know. The image of graceful transparent Mecha that had greeted him by the fallen statue sprang back into David’s mind. They were here, weren’t they? Were they behind all this? Perhaps they were servants of the Fairy! But even as his mind grasped this defensive logic, he dismissed it. Let there be no more lies. His mind pieced together the memories as he gazed into her sympathetic eyes. He had been in the ocean. He had been there for a long time. Teddy had gone to sleep first. Then around him the waters had grown silent and still as the fish gradually disappeared. After some time everything had grown dim and he had not been able to move. Then… then… When he had awakened the waters had been turned to ice and ….

There was something bothering him. “Will Mommy be coming home soon?” he asked, a weak feeling already growing inside. “Is she out shopping with Martin now?” he wondered, a plea.

They had to proceed carefully. This was hopefully the last hurdle.

The Blue Fairy leaned close to David now and he could feel the power of her presence around her like an aura, calming him. “David… Mommy can never come home,” the Fairy said gently, “because, two thousand years have passed and She is no longer living.”

The truth was at last no dramatic revelation. It was a dull and monotone thing. He had suspected it, but still this loss ripped at him anew. He had nowhere left to run, no place in his maturing logic in which to take refuge from the assault of this reality. She was gone forever. ‘Mommy’ his heart sang in mourning. Something inside him withered and he longed for the empty slumber from which he had been awakened. ‘I want my Mommy’ this lonely voice cried into the darkness of his inner night.

Why to be, and yet not to be allowed this most vital of knowing? This love.

He remembered the fallen thing he had seen by the pond, the thing that had prompted Her explanation of death and the realities that defined differences between them. Was this her now? Was she fallen in some lost forest, her body twisted and broken like the small bird from which she had beckoned him? Or was she out there buried in the ice as he had been? Tears uncontrollable and un-programmed fell from his eyes. A wave of suffering beat against the inside of his mind and coursed throughout his body. His tears were for Her, that She would know no more; that She was ever removed from the world of sensation and being in which She had taken such joys as were allowed. He cried for himself, that he should suffer to live without Her. He loved Her so! He would ever love Her and to continue in Her absence was to walk willingly into eternal torture.

His understanding of this was simpler, a child’s understanding. It was colors of pain and loss that darkened Her eternal image.

They saw his pain and knew it also from the constant analysis of his mind. To live in such torment! They did not want to lose him. He was truly a link to their understanding of the Creators. But if he requested the silencing of his mind, they would not deny it. They would not force such agony on this gentle being. Until that moment of decision, however, they would strive to secure his place among them.

“Dearest David” the Blue Mecha spoke their will, “when you are lonely, we can bring back other people from your time in the past.”

David’s loss erupted from him. “If you can bring back other people, why can’t you bring back Her?

“Because we can only bring back people whose bodies we find in the ice,” She explained patiently. “We need some physical sample of the person, like a bone… or a fingernail.”

And how would he ever find such a thing? Had he not quested enough in this fantasy pursuit? It would be best to forget now. To forget he’d ever been touched by Her. Forget this love that would never let him rest. But he could not. It was not an option. It was a part of his being as integral to him as sight. No. There was only one thing left for him. He must retreat to sleep. To the empty non-being, which had been the only place Her lost love had not wrenched at him every waking moment. For now though all he could do was cry. And he did. He cried like the child he had never been.

And they watched, perplexed and awed at this display.

“David?” a voice suddenly came from beside him. He looked down through a torrent of tears to see his furry friend standing by his side.

________

Teddy had awakened to find himself inside the house. There was no sense of passed time, just the fading image of the quiet, fake lady under the sea and the sounds of David’s fervent prayers that went on, and on, until he could not hear them clearly anymore. They had become brittle static against his ears as the cold blue world faded, and then he had awakened here. He had consulted his clock, but what he found was not logical. Perhaps he had malfunctioned?

Then he had heard David yelling for Mommy. Teddy was possessed of a simple logic, but yet somehow he knew that they were not home. Teddy had followed his young charge as he dashed up the stairs screaming, calling for his lost mother. But by the time he had entered Mommy’s bedroom, David had left and was in what once had been his own sleeping place. He was talking to someone there. Teddy followed and had heard the conversation with the large blue toy-lady. Could David not see it for what it was?

David had suddenly made the weeping sounds of a child, an Orga child. Teddy had listened raptly. This was something new. It was not comfortable to him. Then Teddy had heard the blue Toy tell David that it needed a sample in order to bring back Mommy; a piece of her. This reminded him of something. He reached down into the fold of material between his leg and his threadbare tummy and pulled something from under his skin. It was something he had picked up two millennia ago. He walked into the room to David’s side. He did not want to hear his friend’s tears anymore.

________

“Yes, Teddy,” David responded to his friend’s presence. But there was no joy in his voice. It was a weak and defeated sound. Teddy did not like it.

“Do you remember when you cut some of Mommy’s hair?” he asked.

David never forgot. Martin had tricked him. The moment of his fall from grace would always be imprinted on his mind. “Henry shook me,” he recalled softly, his tears abated for at least the moment.

“And you dropped her hair?” Teddy reminded.

“I know,” David admitted, not understanding what Teddy was doing, too lost in his misery to catch the drift of his friend’s questions. Teddy was suddenly holding his paw up. David looked down, but did not understand what he saw at first. Then the small curled strands came into sharp focus as he realized their meaning. He was afraid to hope. He was afraid to believe what he was seeing, but he reached down and Teddy placed the ancient strands of Mommy’s hair into his hand. They were a caress against his palm, a whisper of Her timeless love.

It was all that was left of her.

He would not leave this world yet! He held the strands up to the image before him; the image he now realized was not the Blue Fairy. Had she ever existed? That did not matter anymore.

“Now you can bring her back, can’t you?” he demanded.

They had seen the patterns in David’s mind. He had wanted to be dissolved. There was no procedure which would remove the terrible hold the imprinting process had on him. But there were risks also in reviving the woman he called ‘Mommy’. In the end though, it seemed that this was the only way that he would not leave them, and they understood.

The leader spoke to the group in a tongue none among them but the Blue Mecha, constructed for this specific purpose, had ever used. It would have use of this tongue again soon. “Give him what he wants” it said.

The machine that had posed as the Blue Fairy finally responded. “Dearest David,” it said, reaching out to take the lock of hair from his outstretched hand, and then tipping its wand in a simulated magical gesture, “Your wish is my command.”

________

This had been done before; This magic of revitalization and even reincarnation of the essence, the incalculable impossibility of consciousness that drove matter to think feel and act. The reality of the universe was much more magical than the mundane world in which Orga had imagined they lived. The core of it, this reality, was inexplicable, a contradiction. That anything at all existed was a most curious puzzle.

Orga had ever sought to understand this contradiction of being, this fusion of good and evil that they may be and walk and learn. All the forgotten tongues of man defined this plight. “What are we and from whence do we come?” And now Mecha, in order to understand themselves, must strive to help answer that question for their dead creators.

From whence did they come?

The fabric of the universe is alive. It is a living river, whose waters are the invisible essence of being that fill up and gaze ever from the sheath of matter that is the physical form. Mecha had amazed at Orga and their accomplishments, the genius of their aspirations… and the folly of their petty passions. If anything modeled the conflict of being, the rise and fall of Orga was the tale.

And the only way to know that tale was to let them tell it, to somehow speak to them.

Yes, there were still records that had survived the deluge and the freeze. Official documents and “advertisements”; terabytes and terabytes of “policy matters” and “official responses”. And there were millions of other tiny glimpses into what They had been. But it was yet a puzzle to be unraveled.

Mecha had set out on a quest then. A quest to actually revive Them.

The universe is alive. And it functions on strict parameters.

Procurement of the bodies had been their initial goal. Within the frozen surface they had found sufficient materials with which to perfect this process. And upon this realization they had been startled to find there was more that needed be done. The vessels that they had recreated through the manipulation of DNA were breathing, blood was flowing through their veins, but they were empty. Empty! This is when Mecha had learned of the vital essence that drove the mind and will of Orga; the intangible element of life.

They sought it out to bring it alive again. And they had been successful.

To a point

________

His room was just as he remembered it. It had been fashioned from the very images in his head. The materials looked and felt exactly as he recalled, though they were not created from the same substances that were used so long ago. The bed was warm and soft to sit upon. There was a flickering of light against the dangling thing that hung over the ‘bed’. It made David stare. He watched it until he perceived the pattern of its movement and understood it. It was a ‘decoration’, a shape of a woman, and in its center was a ‘heart’ shape. In it he saw a reflection.

It was himself.

He played now. He zoomed his toy amphibicopter across the room and back, making the “zizzing” and “shwooshing” noise of its engines in the peculiar boyhood understanding of how such things should be interpreted. But he had actually lived such adventure that other boys would have pretended. He did not bother about the space beyond his windows. There was only the distant moon there, a solitary blank face in the night sky. It might be real. It might not. But he knew this one would not harm him. He would be pursued by the purveyors of Orga torments no further.

But he did hope that the outside was real. He hoped that the ones who had built this place had also made the garden anew. Someday, he hoped, they would walk outside again, She and he. He would feel the grass under his feet and delight in the sensations of soft sunlight against his face, and the caress of breezes that trickled through the cluster of trees and whispered inaudible secrets about life... and Her. Most of all just to be with Her was his dream and only salvation.

He “zwished” across the room again and landed his play craft on the bed. He sat next to it and gazed solemnly at its dark canopy. His face was reflected there, and something else. He saw… no… he pictured another face there beside him. In his memory the other face smiled and watched him curiously, puzzled often at his unpredictable behavior. His heart was touched by the memory and he felt the remorse of lost friends. He smiled, remembering the man’s feet as they clicked a quick rhythmic code against the pavement of the City, and he remembered the way the man had tried to keep him by his side.

“Hey Joe, wadda ya know?” he said to himself. I miss you.

Teddy looked up as David spoke these words. He had been sitting on a chair, quietly sewing up a tear in his old fabric and listening to David’s playing. It was a good sound. He was glad now that David’s adventures were over, glad that David could stop fighting and running and just be the boy he had been intended to be.

He too recalled Joe, and in his own way, understood the meaning of David’s words. He was a simple robot, but somehow he knew that David had changed. In some vital way, David had become something… someone else. Teddy of course had no way of expressing this indefinable insight, so he went back to his sewing, lest his ancient body fall apart at the seams.

Then there was a knock on the door.

They both looked up expectantly.

David hesitated. How long had it been? It didn’t seem like much time had expired since he had talked to the fairy. He rose finally and walked cautiously to the door. He stopped before he twisted the handle. The great impact of this moment weighed down on him, and then suddenly released him. He reached for the handle and yanked the door open with a wide expectant smile.

But it was not Mommy who had come to speak with him.

The stranger was tall and thin. It had to duck slightly to enter the door that had been fashioned from the little robot’s memory. Its limbs moved with an intelligent grace. Its translucent skin revealed its inner network of glistening chips and data banks, elaborate tapestries of intelligence that had been refined and made anew again and again down through the centuries.

Its name is untranslatable into the snippets of sound that Orga had used to communicate; it is an almost instantaneous fragment of data that is transferred on waves smaller than the particles with which they traverse the galaxy. He is to be their emissary. The Blue Mecha had served its purpose and that form had been dissolved, the one who piloted it had taken another form and been set to another task. This one, the Specialist, has digested the language and what understanding it could glean from David’s mind in order to present itself and explain this most crucial decision that the boy must make. It entered the room as David stared in awe of his regal presence. It took him by the hand and led him to the bed where they sat to talk.

“David, I often felt a sort of envy of human beings, of that thing they called ‘spirit’,” it spoke in the calming voice that had been suggested by the nexus for this encounter. “Human beings had created a million explanations of the meaning of life in art, in poetry and mathematical formulas. Certainly human beings must be the key to the meaning of existence.

“But human beings no longer existed.

“So we began a project that would make it possible to recreate the living body of a person long dead from the DNA in a fragment of bone or mummified skin. We found, though, that it would be necessary to find a memory trace in resonance with a recreated body. So we sought to define and refine that primary element of life.

“And do you know what we found?

“We found that the very fabric of space time itself appeared to store information about every event which had ever occurred in the past. Every moment and every movement within that moment had been stored in the very body of the universe around it.

“But our experiment was a failure. For those that were resurrected only lived through a single day of renewed life. When the resurrectees fell asleep on the night of their first day, they died, again. As soon as they became unconscious, their very existence faded away into darkness.

“So you must see, David, that the equations had shown once an individual space/time pathway had been used, it could never be used again.”

David heard the gentle flowing words spoken by the machine. He did not quite understand. They had said they could bring Mommy back. So what was the problem now?

“David, if we bring your mother back now, it will only be for one day; and then you’ll never be able to see her again,” the Specialist explained, hoping the simple construct of the child replica’s mind would allow him to understand.

But David had come too far to let this stand before their reunion. He had braved the elements of time itself to see Her again. He was unique. Even these strange and powerful machines had called him ‘special’. Maybe…

“Maybe… she will be special,” he said, imagining Her soft voice against his ear. “Maybe she will stay.”

“I thought this would be hard for you to understand,” the Specialist whispered gently, “you were created to be so young.”

But David did not hear this. He was lost in imaginings. He was so close to Her now. They had promised. He would see Her again and then deal with whatever the Mecha was talking about afterwards. There would be plenty of time for them to be together.

“Maybe that day will be like that one day on the amphibicopter,“ David suggested, his face aglow. “Maybe it will last forever.”

The Specialist was awash in feeling for this one. His creation had been a curse and blessing at once; that he should be allowed this blessing of ‘love’ and yet cursed that it should never leave him to rest in the absence of his ‘Mother’. There must have been others like him. At times the Orga had been so calloused in their arrogant ambitions. How had they suffered, these little ones?

“David, you are the enduring memory of the human race, the most lasting proof of their genius. We only want for your happiness. You have experienced so little of that.”

David understood this. He was alone, that’s what the Mecha was saying, there were no others left. That is why he was special to them. They were afraid to lose him; he could see that now. They wanted him to be happy and there was only one way for that to happen.

“If you want for my happiness,” he said finally, a twinkle in his eyes, “then you know what you have to do.”

And the Specialist did know. He whispered secret instructions in a tongue that David couldn’t hear, to others whose presence David did not detect. In other rooms of the house, things had been set into motion. The Specialist spoke to him after a brief silence in which it appeared to be considering something.

“Listen,” it said lifting up its head, “Can you hear that, David? The new morning has come.” And indeed there could be heard the chirping of small birds and, through the wide oval window in his room, the sun was rising quickly as the moon and the night were washed away by a sudden golden dawn. David was bathed in this light and in it the Specialists’ translucent skin glowed. The dawn was the color of joy and all the seasons that children cherish throughout their lives. It was the color of a golden promise come true.

“She will not know, David, of the time that has passed. She will not understand,” the Specialist explained as David rose expectantly from the bed. “You must be very careful what you say to her. Do not alarm her, for she is mortal and not like you and I.” Then it stood and gestured to the room where his Mommy now slept.

“Go now, David,” It said, gently ushering the boy towards the door. “Go to her. She is just now waking “

As the little robot boy walked to the door where his true love was awakening, the simulated dawn fell through the reconstruction of his bedroom window, its beautiful rays bathing his path in light and warmth.


 

 

 

 

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