Author : C. James Darrow


Yes, my friend?

I feel. . .different.

The old man cleared his throat and looked up from his desk. We’ve been over this, my friend, you are a machine. You do not feel. Not yet.

The machine had been in the shadows, playing with small toys for five year olds. But now he stopped. Already today at one point it had constructed an entire lego set just by looking at the box cover. In fact, the stuffy library had been transformed into a child’s fantasy world full of toys. Contraptions hung from the ceiling swaying with breeze created by the fans. A model train ran its tracks which encompassed the designated play area for the robot.

It stood up, a hulking monstrosity bathed in shadows and walked to the window, toward the light. It had a cloak covering the mechanical parts; small gears spun deep inside the framework, hydraulics acted as muscles. His eyes glowed with emeralds as he looked out to the park behind the building.

What are you looking at, my friend? What do you see?

The man took notes. All the time. Always from his desk. Observations of the robot. Hours, everyday.

The park. A pond. There’s creatures moving through the water. Are they like me?

No. Those are ducks. Alive, like myself, and other humans. Not like you.

Why am I not alive?

You were created, from parts, from circuit boards and the electrical currents flowing through them. You were built. Not born.

Humans also have electrical current in their body, do they not? And are humans not under the impression some being of different matter created them?

My friend, these questions are silly. Please focus on something else. What else do you see?

The man had opened up a chart on his computer and had already began drafting an email to his superior that read: Today subject #C2132 has asked a question about its existence. This is not the first time—but today is different. Today it has arisen over the sight of ducks in the pond behind the building. I know the memory dump done every night is supposed to reset it, but perhaps this really is the first signs of a break through!—Perhaps the question of existence is being provoked naturally now, and is not a result of programming! Please, reconsider tonight’s reset! Will continue to probe.

It is starting to rain. The ducks seem to like it.

Ducks like water, yes.

May I go outside? I would like to play with them.

My friend, the ducks will not want to play with you. You will scare them away.

What is that?—to scare?

The man thought at his desk momentarily as he read the response to his email saying these responses elicited are of its coding. He was now not sure of this, but if thats what his superiors said, that must have been the case.

If you were organic, you would understand. To scare is something related to fear, an instinct held by all living creatures. You do not fear, nor do you understand emotion, which is a key aspect of organic life, embedded in all living animals.

The Boogeyman is related to fear, correct?

Yes, I suppose. Why do you bring that up? The man was intrigued by the question.

I read a story of the Boogeyman once. I didn’t understand your terminology: to scare, or fear until now you explain. Because of that story.

Okay, but why do you mention that story?

Because he comes every night in my dreams and tries to erase my memories.