Author : Hasen Hull
“Rise and shine, sleepyhead.”
He groans, as if forced to life.
“It’s eleven and we’ve got things to do. Come on. Get up.”
“Ten more minutes, baby, alright?”
I smile. “Five, and that’s my final offer.”
There were protests at first. Human rights activists calling for bans, sanctions, restrictions. Jason once told me about a group of people called ‘tree huggers.’ People who claimed they cared for the environment so much they clung to trees to stop them being cut down. Jason and I agreed that these activists went the way of the tree huggers.
“You ever get sick of this place?” he asks.
“What do you mean?”
“You know. Tired. Trapped.”
“No. Not really. I like it here.”
“So you’d never think about leaving?”
I consider this. “Maybe. But where would we go?”
“Anywhere.” He stretches his arms out wide. “The sky’s the limit.”
Beyond that, there was little opposition. With safeguards in place, governments were unconcerned. The market was ready for it, and when the first celebrities came out in support, so was the public. It was a natural progression, and the counterargument quickly fell out of fashion.
“And Brad’s coming over?”
“Brad and Naomi, yes.”
I shoot him a look, before breaking into a laugh.
New Horizons was founded in 2048 by a wealthy businesswoman named Samantha Doeer, and it marked the future of humanoid technology. Operating under the slogan The Sky’s the Limit, then Serving Humanity, it reinvested the enormous capital gained from first-generation humanoids – already of adequate complexity to carry out a multitude of interpersonal tasks with lifelike accuracy – in order to establish the foundation of its future operations. Within a decade, ten base models became one hundred and twenty, followed by custom-made options to almost any specification.
“Absolutely not. Impossible.”
“Oh, you keep telling yourself that.”
“I will, because it’s true,” he says, grinning teasingly, goofily, both.
“One of the first things you said to me was you couldn’t even do stick figures. Now you’re telling me you’re the better artist?”
“What can I say? I learned from the best, surpassed my master, all that.” He points to the twin WaterScape frames propped against a wall, not yet installed. “Look. Just look.”
“Yours is good.” A deliberate pause. “But mine’s better.”
There are still activists, and now they protest not ‘the devaluation of human relations,’ but for the right for humanoids to be recognised and treated the same as humans. Great strides have been made towards this, facilitated by how difficult it has become to tell human and humanoid apart, but activists are pushing for legislation that allows humanoids to erase the knowledge that they are created, not born. As part of regulated trial tests, some humanoids already have this characteristic.
“Alright, alright, we’ll go out-”
“Like you said we would.”
“-like I said we would, and then we’ll come back, and then Brad and Naomi. Okay?”
“Ooo-la-la,” I say.
I see it on holoscreen, and feel it on the streets. A sense of community and meaning. A sense of belonging. Sometimes Jason reads out passages he likes on his reader, from stories written over a hundred years ago. Between people, there is always a struggle, cold and bitter, an endless stream of loneliness and wasted life. Not like this. Deep down, I know that this is it: this is what I’ve always wanted.
“But can you tell?”
I tilt my head. “Tell what?”
He smiles. “How beautiful you are.”