Flash Fiction Challenge 18-01-2014
In which an android learns to let go of the man who created him. And there is more than one meaning to the word trapped.
Of the three parts columns to choose from I chose- Who: Android, Where: Virtual reality (although I also stole deep space station because only a bit of this happens in the virtual reality), and What: Trapped! (in more than one sense of the word). I hope you enjoy :)
Once upon a time, there were issues with androids. They could be snatched up by any random hacker with enough skill, turned against their masters. For a while, a cycle developed: the technology was shit, so the androids were dangerous, so no-body wanted to invest, so the technology remained shit.
I was perhaps the first not-shit one.
A child, David, built me - lonely, held apart from his peers by both his intellect and his acidity. I believe, before my living memory serves me, that he used me to indulge his sexual awakening. Part of that was an inability to deal with others, and part of that was fear. My research shows that being gay at any point in time does come easily, and his mother’s position in the military and his father’s duties on the diplomatic council did not leave much room for experimentation. We were isolated, on a station in deep space, where they’d sent him to live while they built their careers. He was already different.
“Hiding in my workshop though?” He’d say. “That’s totally normal.” He would laugh. “That workshop became my own closet.”
I am not a good judge of masculine beauty. Perhaps because he wished to distance himself from his past, and actions that he now considers vile and wrong, he wrote into me a preference for the female sex. It works out that way most of the time, although I must admit, he was still selfish even then. He did not think about who I would spend my time and life with, if not him. I am not exactly made for attracting a human mate. Even if I did find some decades to share my experiences and my bed with - I am not made to die.
No. David granted me life, consciousness, and immortality. But he was only 17 at the time, so the parameters by which I was created reflect the morals of a 17 year old boy.
I have broken some of those parameters, with his help. I find myself not wanting to break the one regarding my heterosexuality. Maybe it will change in and of itself - it is supposed to be a fluid thing for mankind.
Then again, I am not a man.
I think it was the week after quarter-year when David met Rowan at one of his parent’s parties on planet. He was an older man - a man involved in the politics of creating a translator designed to translate the tongue of the Kamiin to Standard. There are both literal was of translating, in which the meaning is not always assigned correctly to phrases, and more fluid ways of translating. Rowan was involved in working out where the final position lay.
It was not an easy job. He was not a dumb man. Which made me suspicious when he approached David.
David, or course, was David. Nervous, anxious not be seen as flirting with someone, and awkward in all respects. I suspected he was not a virgin - one particularly memorable homecoming from a night out almost certainly confirms that - but he was a virgin in areas of relationship certainly. I was not much better, but I had made friends outside his acquaintance over my five years of existence. I had listened and advised on much. I had maintained a brief relationship with a Harkian girl, before she had to return to her planet.
I have undoubtedly had less sex than David across his life, but my relationship with Ka’lika was solid. It was as deep as any six month relationship can be.
My point being that David is not really one to let people in, but when he does, he lets them hold his heart in his hands. Rowan pushed on past his acidness. He managed to argue with David without seeming either a dick, or paternalistic. I think he even managed to flirt.
Afterward, he approached me.
I was standing on the balcony, looking out at the waves. There was a port to my side, but I do not like the world of virtual reality (VR). I can access it, pilot it - it recognizes me as human - but the anonymity of the space means that I am open to verbal and physical attach without repercussion.
The virtual reality recognizes me as human, but those that occupy it do not.
“Hey.” He leaned on the balcony besides me, wrists loose and hanging. His stance was wide despite this - still ready to move if he needed to. Good.
Silence. Nothing but the smell of the sea and the occasional grit of the sand that was flung up at us by the wind.
I remained silent. If he wished me onside, he would have to speak.
“Look,” he ran a hand through his hair. “Will I create issues if I go after him?”
I frowned, and turned my head to him. “Issues?”
“Yeah, with his parents. I don't’ know how everyone else is blind, but that kid is so far in the closet it’s not funny.”
“How do you know that I know?”
“You’re acting like an overprotecting parent in there.” My mouth was open, to deliver a comeback to another line, but it snapped shut, my teeth grinding together. Parent. I’d never had someone say that.
Probably true though. In everything including the Freudian sense. I wondered if Rowan had guessed that too.
“What do you wish me to say?” Behind us, the politicians and military personal swarmed. They moved to their own beat, searching out connection and opportunity. The smell of alcohol and perfume was almost vomit inducing. “You’re a diplomat. You know how this sort of thing works.”
“No I don’t actually, I’m out. The Kamiin don’t really care about sex - it’s more about finding an appropriate match, one to fight and hold the fort with.”
“Sort of. It’s not always the female in the pair who gets given the ‘holding the fort’ role. So not quite the stereotype you have in mind.”
Silence. David was standing in front of his parents, his whole body ridged, but in the careful way that only showed to those who knew him. His mother chattered on, his father interrupting at point to wrap his arm around her waist, lean in, and verbosely argue the point.
I had yet to decide it this closeness too was an act, but not matter.
“I think,” I picked over the words carefully, “that if you do have his best interests at heart, you will give him time. He is not in a position where he can deal with the shit that will come with it.” To Rowan’s credit, he only twitched at the swear word. Most stare at the swearing android like the second coming. “At the moment … he has only admitted it to himself these past years, never mind anyone else except a dark hand in an alley.”
Cruel, perhaps, and Rowan flinched at my words. He would have to be able to deal with it though. Part of the shit that would come with an actual relationship was… well, the actual relationship, and David… David created a sex doll because he couldn’t figure out it’s sexuality, and then gave it life in an effort of reconciliation.
I’m lucky he didn’t make me his savant.
And that was the end of the conversation. We exchanged a few more pleasantries, and then Rowan left. We heard nothing of him in the coming weeks. I continued to grow my tree of intergalactic friends, gathering information and exchanging pleasantries, and David went back to his workshop.
He spent a lot of time in there. So much so, that I became concerned for his well being. On the second day of his self inflicted punishment - for what else could it be, to lock yourself in a room and not feed yourself - I opened up my palm, the section beneath my thumb sliding away, and connected with the locking mechanism. A half minute, maybe two, and I had the door open.
David’s workshop is a reflection of himself - neat at first glance, with everything tucked away in it’s proper place, but chaos when you happen to look closer. David himself was at the far end, by the full pane windows, strapped into a chair, his chip glowing and activated on his forehead. The port in the wall next to him was also glowing.
Okay, so he was involved in something in VR. It was still not good for a blood and flesh human to go without eating.
I reached for the control’s besides his head, and used the hand mechanism to connect. A couple of seconds, and the port flashed, and then died.
David did not wake.
I frowned, and tapped him on the forehead. His hair had grown this past month, as had his beard, to a stubble. There was no indication that he had washed either, now that I had a good look at him. He was thinner too, which was quite the thing, as David verged on waif-like normally.
I tapped his forehead again, the chip this time. It was still glowing, still activated. For a second, I thought I saw David’s eye’s flicker, then nothing.
Alright then. I would just have to go in and talk to him
I flicked the port back on, and sat down besides it. I did not need quite the mental preparation that humans need for this, so the descent into the half dream state of the virtual network was quick.
This particular port though, was surrounded by a wall. I tapped at it with my mind, grabbed at the code flying through the air, and rewrote it so as to unlock the barrier.
The code rearranged itself, and the barrier remained stubbornly locked.
I tried again, and again, getting fast and faster. The VR programming should not have been able to defeat my speed. My mind is made for processing code.
I could sense a consciousness beyond the wall. David.
I dragged myself up back into my corporal form, and fell forwards, skin hot and clammy, my hands shaking. Nonononono.
Suicide by VR is nothing new. If you stay down there long enough, you just disperse into the landscape, becoming nothing more than the surrounding code. There is nothing to rescue, only a body to place on life support until the family can decide what to do with it.
But it takes a week for a mind to get to that stage. By that time, most are normally found, and disconnected. It was supposed to be impossible to stay connected to the VR without a port.
Then again, it was supposed to be impossible to create a sentient being too.
I went back in again. As much as I loathed it, I had to try. Again and again the code rearranged itself. I came back to the world three hours later, with nothing to show apart from a sore stomach, and a headache.
I would not get him out that way. How then? How to argue with someone you can’t talk with? He would be able to sense me from in there, but he’d created that barrier to defeat me - he’d obviously come to his decision. How to…
I flashed back to that night. To David’s awkwardness, and more than that, his eagerness. Rowan.
No. I did not want to hand him over. I had protected him for six long years. He was only 23. There was no way Rowan could be everything for him that I couldn’t
A trained negotiator, a man who lived in on a planet where the nature of the relationship was more important than those in it. A man who had asked how his actions would affect David.
I activated my communicator.
“Hello, Rowan Vakinda speaking.”
I opened my mouth, and let my boy go.
“It’s Donness. It’s about David.”