Author: Philip Carrigan

Jordan didn’t leave a note before he jumped off that bridge. All he left was a brief voicemail: “It was just a fantasy, man, I didn’t want to hurt anybody. Turn Jonni on, you’ll see why I couldn’t stay. Just… just don’t tell my ma about her.” Jordan’s tone was soft, shaken, and he stuttered through the message. I could hear the shame in his voice.

Jordan was ahead of the curve when it came to AI, even more so than the college brats that actually studied in our classes. The girls he repurposed were trash when I found them, but by the time he finished working on them, they were like new. Hair brushed straight, their kittens scrubbed with disinfectant, and their pasts wiped clean from internal hard-drives. They were supposed to be sex-dolls—nothing more. Programmed to act like they wanted to be screwed, so there wasn’t usually too much work involved for Jordan. Lots of wealthy boys in college buy artificial sweethearts to keep them company, but they tend to lose interest when a new, virgin model comes out. At least they stopped knocking-up their house-maids.

They say AI is still in its genesis, but I don’t know a thing about the technical differences between models. They’re just Jennifers and Cassidys to me. Still, we made decent bread refurbishing and selling them for a quarter the price they were initially bought for, and that was enough for us.

Then I found a Plain Jane. Her eyes were brown and no larger than any real girl’s eyes. Her nose was actually a little big: not the usual, nearly nonexistent kind I was used to seeing in these Monicas. I had pulled her out of the trash by her tangle of raven-black hair and almost didn’t bother bringing her over to Jordan’s place, but I hadn’t scored anything better so I figured I may as well try.

Jordan was obsessed with her from the start. He snatched her from me and slammed the door shut. That pissed me off, so I took a week to cool down before heading back. When I got there, Jordan didn’t want to let me in, but I’m bigger than he was so I insisted. His apartment was a mess as usual: clothes strewn about and boxes of old food stacked on the counter. The only clean area was his computer desk where the Charlotte sat in his chair, naked and propped up in an almost natural position.

“I call her Jonni,” Jordan sputtered. “She reminded me of a girl I used to like in high school, who I’d used to think about doing stuff with. You get it, man? Let me keep this one, and I’ll give you the full cut on the next doll.”

Fine. A full cut was cool with me. I left without saying anything else, and I didn’t hear from Jordan for three weeks… until that voicemail hit my phone. I went and checked on Jonni, who took her sweet time booting up. So there I stood in Jordan’s apartment, amid all the abandoned clothes and trash, waiting for this robot to turn on. When her AI faculties finally loaded up, she started screaming for Jordan to stop doing whatever he’d last been doing to her. God, I still haven’t told my girlfriend about this part.

I don’t know what Jordan had gotten into, or how he hacked her that way, but I’ll never forget the way she begged and begged for him to leave her alone. These girls weren’t supposed to sound so convincing.