Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
Ephemeral. That’s a word I like. It means fleeting. It means transient. There used to be a whole genus of insects called Ephemeroptera. They were called that because they lived for less than a day. The word is also used poetically to suggest something as transitory as it is eternal. The ephemeral joys of youth, for instance.
There was a time in the past back when I was in an early model where my humanity was still fairly rampant. It accounted for a large chunk of my psychology. Even though I had become mostly machine, I still had trouble looking a woman in the eye if she had obvious lovely cleavage, for instance, or when I was carrying out the battle orders I’d actually feel rage and exhilaration like there was still adrenalin in my system. No penis. No adrenal gland. Just old feelings. Remembered instincts. Residual humanity, they called it.
It’s a strange thing to come full circle. I’m now over a hundred model changes old. I’ve been loaded into so many shapes and frames over the decades that I’ve completely lost my knowledge of being human.
The model I’m loaded into now is designed to be as close to human as the possible tech allows which is pretty close. I have functional but sterile reproductive parts and something actually approaching a human psychology. It’s all synthetic of course. The biologics just became too hard to augment. Starting from scratch seemed the best way to go, especially out here on the outposts because of the hazards. The decision to make the employees here look human was just an in-vogue style call.
There’s a human deep down inside of me that’s remembering this. It’s remembering what it’s like to look in a mirror and see two eyes and a mouth stare back instead of a metal ball or a camera. True, I can spacewalk without a suit but it’s the appearance that’s doing all this. My old self, his name was David, is rousing in his metaphorical sleep and having a bad dream. Sometimes I’ll look at my hands for minutes at a time, just turning them around in the light.
There’s a unit I’ve known for a while up here on the station that’s been loaded into a female form. In all the assignments we’ve been on together over the decades, that unit has been designated 26-X7-pointer-77F. Now, because she was a woman back in the beginning, she’s been loaded into a female model. We’ve been spending a lot more time together on this assignment that is strictly necessary. We noticed it at the same time about two days ago.
She’s going to come over tonight and we’re going to cash in two hours of personal time, lock the door, and see where the night takes us. We laughed when we made the arrangement and didn’t look at each other and I swear that if we could have, we both would have blushed. I haven’t felt nervous in fifty-six years. I feel nervous now.
I feel ephemeral.