Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

It seemed a little silly to admit but I had gotten quite attached to the program that I was loading.

I had it start in full surround. Suddenly, I stood at the top of a steep hill. He appeared before me. Doug was his name. The surroundings were a sunset San Francisco.

“Wow. Nice night.” said Doug, looking around. He was in his late twenties with a mop of shaggy hair. He looked at me with a crooked smile.

He walked up to me and offered his hand for a handshake. He never recognized me. Each time I loaded the program, I was a stranger to him.

“Hello” I said and stuck a sensor out. He grabbed my millifiber siliretractors like I was a human and gave me a warm smile.

We’ve tried to sort of reverse engineer these creatures from the sims that we’ve seen. It’s been confusing to us. In the records we’ve seen, they wore metal and used metal to make computing machines, tools, and weaponry. It’s like they instinctively knew that the best way of life was a silicon one even though they themselves were frail and made of meat. They reached out and used metal to conquer the planet they lived on.

It wasn’t enough to save them. We still don’t know what killed them.

“Cat got your tongue?” said Doug. He cocked his head playfully at me and gave me a wry smile from a backdrop and a civilization that had been dead for thousands of their planet’s orbits.

We stumbled onto this planet looking for minerals. It was rich in iron. We found evidence of primitive silicon beings. Imagine our surprise to find out through careful archaeological research that these primitive examples of life were created by these ‘human beings’. It’s been quite a topic of discussion on the lightboards. It’s caused no end of philosophical debate.

“Hello Doug” I responded, my simulation of human speech still sounding different from his as it was coming from direct jack input instead of from ‘jaws’ and ‘lips’.

As always, Doug didn’t notice.

“It’s good to see you, friend. Would you like to know about what this lovely city of San Francisco has to offer?” asked Doug.

I already knew everything about this place called San Fransisco. I had accessed this program a multitude of times. Seeing this simple silicon child wear the skin of a flesh being and do it’s best to imitate a ‘human’ always held a macabre fascination for me. It was a slave program written to inform traveling meatpeds about this particular city.

“Yes, I would, Doug. Tell me everything.” I said to him.

He started telling me tourist information with a proud smile.

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