Author : Suzanne Borchers
Edwin lay on his metal bed, his android body hooked into a myriad of short cables to feed his systems for the night. How long had it been since Father had touched his cold metallic arm and flooded it with warmth? How long had it been since he had seen Father?
Where was Father?
Each morning, his android companion unhooked his cables and made him ready for a day of endless waiting. He continued to obey his last order from Father and wrote endless letters to be erased each morning.
Where was Father?
At last one night, Father, accompanied by a short android, came into the room where Edwin lay.
Edwin shook his cables. “Father!”
Father ignored Edwin; instead he smiled down at the small android beside him, his arm around the flesh-colored shoulder. The android glanced at Edwin, and then smiled up at Father. He touched the hand on his shoulder. “Father.”
Father brought the android to Edwin’s double bed, where twin cables to Edwin’s were attached to the headboard. “This is where you’ll sleep, Fred. I’ll see you in the morning, my boy.” After he had hooked up Fred’s cables, Father bent over him to place a hand on Fred’s arm. “We’ve achieved our purpose.”
“Father!” Edwin wanted desperately for Father to touch his cold arm. He needed his flood of warmth. He needed Father. He had waited so long. He waved his tablet filled with letters for his Father’s notice. “Father, look!”
Father glanced toward Edwin and frowned. He turned his attention again to Fred and smiled. “Good night, Fred.” He smoothed Fred’s hair. Before leaving, Father spoke to someone outside the doorway. “Edwin is now superfluous.”
A feminine voice answered, “What if you still need to study him?”
“Just his presence bothers me. It reminds me of our struggle to produce Fred.” Father moved away. Before the door shut behind Father, Edwin heard, “Attend to it tomorrow.”
Father said he was superfluous. Edwin searched his glossary banks to find the meaning of superfluous. His mind recoiled away from the word. Why did Father call him that? What happened to superfluous androids? Had androids A through D been superfluous? Did Fred make him superfluous? He turned his face to study the android beside him.
Fred was the color of Father. Was he warm too? Edwin reached his hand over to touch Fred’s soft hand. Warmth traveled up Edwin’s arm.
Fred’s eyes narrowed. “Get away from me, you…robot!” Fred shoved Edwin aside.
“I’m an android like you,” Edwin insisted.
Fred smiled. “You’re nothing like me.” His smile widened. “Father said you’re superfluous.”
Edwin’s synapses fired wildly. Superfluous! How could Father say that? He had always obeyed Father. He had always longed to see him and feel his warmth. Why did Father need Fred? Why didn’t Father need him?
Was he inferior?
As Edwin moved his hand to touch his own arm, one of Edwin’s synapses misfired burning a new connection. He enjoyed its warmth. Then another burned.
Fred moved a bit farther away from Edwin. “This will be my own bed tomorrow.”
Edwin wanted to smile as he turned once again to Fred. “Perhaps,’ he said.
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