Author: Girish Kamplimath

Ailean felt herself freezing in the liquid engulfing her. She could not see it, but she knew what it was. Although she did not feel any pain, she failed to understand why Ken would do this to her. He loved her more than any father loved his only child.

She was horrified to see Ken floating alongside her, his body rigid. Ailean tried to shout, but no words came out of her.

As her body turned frigid, Ailean’s thoughts raced back. Kenneth Lean, a renowned biophysicist, had brought her up as a single parent. He never needed to tell who her mother was, and he made sure she never missed her. He had decided on her name himself.

Ailean denoted Hazelnut, as well as Bright, in the old Gaelic language. She did have a pair of bright hazel coloured eyes. Ken knew that Ailean was different from any other child. After she turned three, he got the best teachers in the world to give her the chance she deserved. They had taught her in two years all that Ken learnt in his entire lifetime.

Ailean displayed an array of talents in quick time. Anyone observing her attributed them to the marvels of the universe. People treated her like a prodigy. You are my little genius, Ken had said. But Ailean considered herself only his dutiful daughter. Whenever she did something Ken wanted, she saw admiration in his eyes. And if she couldn’t, he was patient with her.

Ailean’s joy ended when Ken married Prescila. She never understood why Ken wanted to be away from her. Between themselves, they had more than a lifetime to share. At first, she tried to regain Ken’s interest by distracting him. But when Prescila became pregnant, Ailean was appalled.

With her vast knowledge, Ailean began looking for solutions. When she found one, she executed it with finesse.

One morning, Prescila was found dead in her sleep, her unborn child limp in her womb. Ailean was at her bedside hugging her lifeless body. When the doctors came, they discovered that Prescila had a medical history that caused ventricular fibrillation (VFib), which resulted in her death.

Ken mourned the untimely double loss for a long time. He stopped seeing anyone, drank heavily, and even forgot Ailean. Ailean’s love for Ken knew no boundaries though. She was always with him.

After a few months, Ken came to her. He began sharing like before. Ailean never felt happier. She warmed to him and offered all her memories. She never realized she was having nightmares. Her memory failed – sometimes in spurts and at other times in rapid succession – until she found herself trapped in a dark, deep void.

Ailean’s thoughts circled back to the present. With her skin stretched taut in the heavy liquid, she struggled with her memory to find out how Ken was able to see inside her. She realized that it was the same memory that had given her away. In her excitement of reuniting with Ken, she had disclosed what she did to Prescila on that fateful day.

Ailean’s metallic fingers had delivered tiny electric shocks into Prescila’s sleeping body. With access to confidential medical records, she knew that the shocks would trigger VFib and kill Prescila. After all, she was Ken’s proud child; born of Artificial Intelligence. Ken had immortalized her by using the acronym AI along with his last name. AI… Lean!

As the last traces of her metallic body solidified in liquid nitrogen, Ailean made her final deduction. Ken finally realised how much she loved him… they would be together forever.