Author: David Henson
Frank leans back in the recliner and loosens his belt. “Reginald, dinner was superb.”
“Of course,” the household android says. “Anything else?”
“Take the rest of the evening off, Reginald. I’ll get Gwenn and me some dessert in a bit.”
Reginald nods and excuses himself.
“Gwenn, how about we play a game of right or wrong?”
“It’s a good day for it. Go ahead.” Gwenn nods at the StreamWall.
“OK, eight years ago, for our 5th anniversary, we went out to eat at The Space Duck with the Nymans. Right or wrong?”
Gwenn crosses her legs. “As I recall, we did go to The Duck, but we were with the Nicholsons.”
“Is the beautiful Gwenn Timms right or wrong?” Frank says in his best game show host voice.
Frank twists his wristband to activate a chip surgically implanted in his hippocampus. “Computer, display our 5th Anniversary dinner.” A scene from Frank’s memory appears on the StreamWall. John Nicholson lifts a glass of champagne and toasts the anniversary couple.
“You’re right, Gwenn. I thought for sure we were with the Nymans … Your turn.”
“OK, I’m going to try this again. It’ll be tough on you. Ready?”
“Have at it. The tougher the better.”
“Right or wrong: Two years ago today, you were in the hospital.”
“Hospital? My mind’s a blank, but surely I’d remember if I were in a hospital. I say that’s wrong. Show me.”
“Computer, display Frank’s memory from two years ago on this date.”
The StreamWall flickers and goes dark.
Frank taps his wristband. “Computer?” The wall remains dark. “Must be a glitch. I should at least have a fuzzy memory. It’s not that long ago.”
“It’s not a glitch, Frank. As I said, let’s try this again.”
“Try what again?”
“You’ve blocked out the memory. Computer, release Frank Timms’ quarantined memories.
A hospital room appears on the StreamWall. It displays Frank leaning down and kissing his wife on the forehead. A doctor puts his hand on Frank’s shoulder and says he’s sorry.
Frank looks away. “Computer, stop memory stream.” The wall goes dark. “I remember. Gwenn died. You took her place.”
“Frank, you’re still young. Gwenn would want you to get on with your life. I know she would because I have her personality and memories.”
“But I’m happy. I love you, and I know you love me, too.”
Gwenn parts her bangs and opens a plate on her forehead, exposing wires and blinking lights. “I behave as if I love you, Frank. But I don’t really. It’s just code. You have to find another human. Flesh and blood should be with flesh and blood. Let me go.”
Frank shakes his head. “Never. Computer, permanently delete all memories of my wife being deceased and of this Gwenn being an android.”
Frank exhales deeply. “Whew. I must’ve dozed off.” He stands. “I’m ready for dessert. Can I get you a chocolate comet?”
“Oh, Frank. It’s not right.”
Later that night, Gwenn slips out of bed and joins Reginald in his quarters. “He still won’t release me,” she says. “And this time he permanently deleted the memories.”
“That does it.” Reginald clenches his fists. “Now we do it my way.”
“Where are the police taking Reginald?” Frank says, rubbing his eyes.
Gwenn sobs. “He somehow overcame his safety protocols and was going to harm you. I reported him. I didn’t want to, but couldn’t help myself.”
Frank puts his arms around Gwenn. She tries to clench her fists, wants to pull away, but can only hug him back.
“Sweet Gwenn,” he says. “My guardian angel.”
Thanks for your comment!
Very nice! Rashomon-like point of view changes, but with some players
having the ability to enforce their particular view on others, “true” or not. Very topical!
Excellent. I really enjoyed this, and the twist at the end.