My attempts to participate in National Novel Writing Month failed on many levels, but I did get something out of the effort—an unequivocal reminder of how my writing mind functions and a fun little short story. The lessons I learned about writing will come in a later post . . . when the turkey has worn off a bit from this Thursday (here’s a hint, writing a novel in 30 days doesn’t work for me), but I thought people might find the story fun as a post-Thanksgiving intellectual snack. I must give credit to The Amazing Story Generator for plot inspiration. As its name suggests, it is amazing not to mention fun, which is even more important.
Tears: a short story
I knew I shouldn’t pursue these treacherous doubts. I’d built my life on the idea that medical androids were nothing like real humans. Their bodies, designed to mimic the human body, were research tools only. They did not possess the capacity for human memories or emotions.
Yet here I was, confronted with a crisis I’d never anticipated when I’d entered the scientific field—a tear!
“What’s this?” I asked, my stomach plunging with the answer I didn’t want to hear.
“It hurts!” the android cried.
“That’s impossible!” I snapped, anger flaring conveniently to camouflage my horror. “You aren’t wired to feel pain.”
“But it hurts,” the android stubbornly repeated, pulling the scalpel out of its abdomen where I’d left it in my shock.
I held out my hand for the instrument, scenes from movies of artificial intelligence massacring their makers suddenly flooding my mind.
The android contemplated me suspiciously. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
The request was so simple, but with the biochemical hazard looming on the horizon of Western civilization and the impending global war, stopping my work prematurely was nothing short of suicide.
The android gazed at me with pleading eyes, the scalpel still gripped in its hand, poised in an innocent yet somehow threatening way. As I gazed at the genderless, reportedly soulless being in front of me, I knew my choice was already made. But it wasn’t the scalpel that made my decision. It was the eyes. There was no denying the sincerity of feeling behind them.
“Alright,” I whispered. “You don’t have to do this anymore.”
The android placed the scalpel in my hand with a trust that took me aback and grabbed a cloth from the instrument table, placing it over the bleeding incision.
“Are you hungry?” I asked to mask my confusion. I glanced at the clock and was thankful to see that it was after most of the other researchers would have gone home. “I’ll take you to dinner.”
“I’d like that very much.” It hopped down from the operating table, emphasizing the extreme deviation from programming protocol.
My eyes scanned the naked body, and I cleared my throat uncomfortably. “Let me get you some clothes. I think I have an extra pair.”
Dusk was settling when we left ten minutes later. The android hesitated momentarily at the door to the lab before stepping out onto the concrete. I watched its eyes widen at the painted sky and wondered what it would be like to see a sunset for the first time.