Author : William Mason

“They used to have something called friends.”
“What?” asked the boy,

The machine beeped a few times, and resumed with its synthesized voice, “Friends are people whose company you enjoyed; people who are an extension of you.”

“Friends.” repeated the boy, his voice bouncing off the glass walls of the Institute.
“Friends were one step below family. Are you familiar with the word family?”

“Yes” the boy replied with eyes that lit up “I remember that word from last were! I took some recall pills, I remember I had a …”
The screen on the front of the machine changed colour, an interrogative gesture. The boy strained to remember the word.
“A father, yes I remember!”
The machine returned to its colourless screen.
“I had a father, and a mo…mo…a Mother!”
“Very good,” said the machine,
“I remember them” continued the boy “I saw their faces, they had masks on, and the green smoke all around, and then… I was on a moving channel”
“Yes you were born when you came out of the other end” said the machine.
The boy raised his eyebrows, trying to remember something “Tell me more about friends.”
“A friend is someone whom you spend time with for the sake of enjoyment, a friend is someone with whom you have shared interests or shared activities”

“Are you my friend?” asked the boy,
“No,” said the machine, “I am your teacher”
“Can a teacher be a friend?”
“No” repeated the machine,
A man in a lab suit entered the glass enclosure, and the boy looked back.

“Class is over” the man said softly,
The boy jumped up and ran out with haste.
“I’ve been observing the lessons,” said the man, “He is progressing quickly.”
“Of course he is” said the machine, “soon he will be able to make friends with the other subjects.”


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