Author : Rollin T Gentry
I opened my eyes and had no recollection of how I came to be sitting at that table with three complete strangers.
The room was divided into quadrants by a force field with one man occupying a slice of the round, steel table. Behind each man was a closed door. Each man’s legs were bound to the legs of his chair, and the chairs were bolted to the floor. Before each of us, molded into the table, were a green button and a white button.
With short haircuts and grim faces, the others looked like soldiers. Feeling the top of my head, hair bristling, I assumed I looked the same. A synthesized, female voice filled the room.
“Certain parts of your memory have been blocked for this test. Following the test, they will be restored. One of two scenarios has been selected at random. Scenario One: One of you is an android, and the other three are human. Scenario Two: One of you is human, and the other three are androids.” She paused, and we waited to hear the rules of the game. “The green button will release a neurotoxin, killing every human in the room. The white button will detonate an electromagnetic pulse, destroying every android in the room. You may begin.”
Our hands shot to the edge of the table then stopped. I had no memories of who I was and guessed it was the same with the others. Looking around the table, I quickly made eye contact. They all looked human to me.
We’d all heard fairy tales of androids who were programmed to believe they were human. How could I be sure I wasn’t one of those? If I were an android, what would be the result of killing three humans, or even one? Deactivation, I’m sure. But I’m human; I know that much for sure. Destroying an android or three would mean little in the outside world.
In an instant, my hand was on the white button. I looked around the table to see who would go limp, but all I saw were three, very much alive, humans with their hands on the white buttons in front of them, breathing a sigh of relief. Those sadistic bastards and their “test”. We were all human. The green button would have been death to us all. I heard the restraints on my legs and the door behind me pop open.
A voice filled the room, a human, male voice this time. He sounded bored. “The time is 1300 hours, 46 minutes. Test 31B completed successfully. Move the androids to the final stage of processing.”
Two men in white jumpsuits picked me up under my arms, lifting me to my feet. I said to the man holding my right arm, “But if we are all androids, then we should be deactivated.”
“You can tell him,” said the man on my left. “They’ll wipe their memories again before shipping them out to the front.”
The man on my right pressed the green button and said, “The buttons don’t do anything, mate. The test is about verifying the two H’s. Isn’t that what Dr. Bristol’s always prattling on about? ‘Human Life Believed. Human Life Valued.’ The army can’t very well have a bunch of robots throwing themselves into the line of fire or shooting their superior officers, now can they?”
“I suppose not,” I said, as they led me away to the final stage of processing.