Cosmic Winter Wonderland. Taken from Wikimedia Commons
Part 3 of a short story I am working on.
It was only a week later that reality would give me a rude awakening. One of the cleaning bots was in the halls, sanding away some food and wine stains that some idiotic drunk had spilled on the wall. The bot had its arm outstretched and was sanding away at the stubborn stains with its sanding wheel when all of a sudden my little sister, out of carelessness ran between us. I tripped over her and knocked over my mom. It’s amazing how something can happen so quickly and yet simultaneously so slowly. But most of all it was terrible. For a couple of seconds I was terrified that I’d lose my mom again. I saw her fall past the cleaning bot who tried to back away, only to have her arm cut open with the sanding wheel.
In no time at all, I was by her side. The bot was trying to apologize, but I brush it aside. I look at the cut to find that it was bad. She was bleeding profusely. I had to get her back home. It didn’t help matters that Nabiki was panicking. What happened next is all a blur in my mind, nor could I hope to describe how I got both my mom and my little sister back. If it’s one thing that sticks out from that moment was the shock on my mom’s face. She didn’t say a thing as I lead her back to the dorm. In hindsight it’s probably good that she didn’t. If she had of been panicking I would have been too. How I drowned out the cries of Nabiki, I don’t know. Needless to say, I counted it as a miracle when we got back to the dorm.
But getting back to the dorm with my mom still unconscious wasn’t the only thing I counted as a miracle at the time. Imagine my surprise when my mom suddenly said, her voice as clear as though she were healthy, “Oh my, I should be more careful. Thank you for helping me, Takeshi.”
“You’re okay, mommy!” Nabiki cried.
Nabiki was ecstatic. I was glad that one of us were. I would love to say that I was just as joyful as she was. But I would be lying if I did. My intuition was telling me that there was something wrong with all of this. I would learn soon enough that this was just a so-called miracle with a rational explanation. If only that rational explanation could have been one to put my mind at ease. It’s a crushing blow to one’s hearts and souls when rational explanations turn out to be detrimental to our illusions that give us comfort.
I went to get a towel to dip in soapy water to cleanse the cut. When I wiped away the blood I saw how deep it was. If only that had of been the worst of it. To my surprise I saw green veins of some sort sticking out. That’s when my illusions that all had been made right, that my mother was back with us, shattered. One of the green veins sent out a spark, shocking my wet hands. Ignorance certainly is bliss. But I couldn’t afford to live with my head in the clouds. This was not my mother. It was an android wearing human flesh. I suddenly felt noxious to the point that I was about to throw up. Not only had the Captain lied to me, but my fake mother was wearing human flesh and had stolen her memories. I had to excuse myself.
“Are you alright, Takeshi?” the android asked me, faking a voice of concern.
“I’m fine, fine,” I lied. “I just need to take a break.”
I made my way to the bridge. Once there, I demanded an audience with the Captain, only to be told by a guard at the door that he was sleeping in his quarters. But like a pain in the neck, I refused to go away until I saw Captain Fernandez. When the guard told me that I needed to leave, I defied him by trying to shove my way into the cockpit. He blocked me, but I threw up such a fuss and yelled so loudly that the guard eventually, after giving me repeated warnings, summoned on the intercom other guards to take me away. Needless to say, it wasn’t long until I found myself in the brig. According to them my crime was causing a disturbance. Nothing could have been further from the truth. My only crime was that I was a young boy who was scared and angry, who only wanted answers. But sometimes those who seek truth are punished for it. At least I was for the time being.
I was unsure of how long I would be in my cell. I didn’t care. I had no reason to. There was nothing waiting for me back at my dorm except for a metallic imposter of my mother, clothed in flesh. It was disgusting, it was obscene. I was irate. There isn’t much to do in those cells, and all I could do was lie upon the bed, fuming. They were cowards, the lot of them, or so I thought to myself.
I expected to spend a night in the brig. But life throws us surprises and not always good ones. “You mother is here to see you,” an officer said to me.
My fake mom was at the door of the brig, looking through the window. “Takeshi, my son, are you okay?”
“You’re not my mom!” I yelled at her.
“But I am,” she said, seeming genuinely taken back.
“I only want to help you.”
“What you want is to further screw up my life. You aren’t my mom. You’re an imposter.”
“Takeshi, I” –
“Leave!” I cut her off.
“But I” –
Before she left, I noticed tears forming in her eyes. It was unnerving.
Hours later the door to my brig opened. It was Captain Fernandez, and he was looking at me with concern in his eyes. “A rough night, I take it, son?”
“How am I to know?” I shrugged. “Who can tell when it’s morning or night out here?”
“I’m sorry you were tossed in the brig” he sighed. “I wasn’t alerted to your predicament until an hour ago. If I had of known in advance, I would have stopped my officers from tossing you in here. May I please take a seat?”
I nodded. He sat on the same bed I was sitting on, thankfully still giving me my space.
“You found out, didn’t you,” he said more in a statement of fact than a question.
Again, I merely nodded yes.
“Takeshi, there was no maliciousness on our part when we created an android of your mom,” he tried to reassure me. “Our hearts broke for you. We merely wanted to help.”
What could I say? Sure there intent was good, so could I really fault them? On the other hand, I couldn’t oblige them by thanking them or telling them it was okay. Because it wasn’t! None of this was okay. Even if unintentional, they hurt me further. So I said nothing.
“Perhaps our head engineer and chief scientist can explain it all better,” said Captain Fernandez as much to himself as to me.
In came a white haired and blue eyed man, about in his fifties, wearing clothes that can be best described as casual and formal, followed by a young Hispanic woman in a lab coat and black work dress.
“Mr. Takeshi, meet the miracle workers,” the Captain introduced me to the two of them. “This is Roger Harris, our chief engineer,” he pointed to the middle aged man. “And this is Dr. Juanita Jimenez, the head of the science department” he pointed to the woman.
The two of them reached out their hands to shake mine. I didn’t give them the pleasure.
“Well, there is much to talk about,” sighed Captain Fernandez. “We’re should we begin?”
“How about the beginning,” said Dr. Jimenez. “You see, we believed we could bring back your mom, in a sense that is, by extracting her memories before she died.”
“Extract! How?” I pressed the question.
“By use of a chip we planted into her brain before she passed. It was able to quickly retrieve most, if not all, of her memories.”
“And my mom gave her consent?” I asked sourly.
“Your mom didn’t just give her consent, she begged,” the Captain pointed out. “She wanted you to be happy.”
“See, originally we were going to manufacture your mom by extracting her DNA and cloning her,” continued Dr. Jimenez. “But as much technology as we have on this ship, we don’t have the ability to make her grow to adulthood faster, so we decided just to manufacture her skin, arteries, and blood vessels in the lab. Those we could grow and produce quickly. A clone would have taken years.”
“That’s where I came in,” interjected Harris. “I constructed the body and saw that the memories from the chip implanted in your mom’s head made their way into the head of the android. I even instructed my team of engineers to construct the frame and the wiring that the skin would be placed over. We spent sleepless nights working on the computer in her head, the mechanical brain where we would lodge the memory chip.”
“And her heart,” I shot at him. “I suppose that’s mechanical, too.”
“On the contrary,” Dr. Jimenez corrected me. “The heart is living flesh, again manufactured by our best scientists, scientists whom your father worked with, scientists who were pleased to know him. To bring back your mother after you lost your father, well, it just seemed the right thing to do.”
“And look at it this way,” pointed out Harris excitedly. “We engineered a body for her that’s going to be far stronger than any human body. Human bones break so easily. Muscles get torn if not careful. But her metallic body will take a lot. Furthermore, if damaged should be done to her head causing her to have, what I like to call, robot amnesia, then we have her memories stored in our computers as well.”
“This is grotesque!” I shouted. “This isn’t my mom. This is some thing… I don’t know what it is. But it’s a hodgepodge of machine and flesh. It’s worse than the Frankenstein monster.”
“But Takeshi, we brought your mother back, with her memories and everything,” protested Captain Fernandez.
“You did nothing of the sort. Stealing her memories and putting them into an android doesn’t make her any more my mother. No. Memories are more than that. They are personal and intimate. This robot only has a video recording of my mom’s life, not her memories. No wonder I felt something was off.”
“Takeshi, if you would just” – the Captain began to plead with me before I cut him off.
“Leave me alone!” I ordered. “I’m in no mood for more lies.”
So they left me to my gloom, but not before I was released from the brig and escorted gently by one of Fernandez’s officers back to my dorm. I would have liked to have left my problems in the brig, but I had no such luck. For not only was I forced to see the android of my mom again, but I was forced to see technicians working on repairing the wiring. But the discomfort didn’t end there. Nabiki was with our fake mom, holding her hand as the technician’s repaired the wiring.
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