The Beginnings of the Last Friendships
Posted on December 5, 2012
The Beginnings of the Last Friendships
*Editing/ revisions still needed. If you know the film: 2001 a Space Odyssey, you know who I’m influence here by. It is somewhat of my own tip of the hat to the great movie. Please check excerpt 1 for the info on this exercise.*
Because she practically grew up outside of the system and seen the changes to it, she told her boss she could be of better help. But, her boss was taking her time. She was not letting her do anything fun. There was nothing worse to get then dealing with Virgod’s customers.
But, now she was at home, well at least for some time. She set down on her favorite orange fluffy chair and sighted. She wished she could find a way to get out, and go foul around with her friends at the Virgod. But, It didn’t help she was behind on her bills, and most things in the house were not working, most things.
She stood up and went to the screen on her wall. It was clear, and plastic to the touch. She never figured out what it was made of, but it was similar to her other televisions in her life. She reached for the button on the screen. She optioned for that button. They were a little confused about why she wanted buttons on a lot of her things. She just looked at them and said, “I want buttons.”
She turned the screen on, but after a minute, she turned it off.
“Is there anything you need Miss X?”
She looked up.
“At any moment, you can watch what you wish.”
She went and set back down in her chair.
“Do you know, I have all these old movies, but everyone I have known dearly is gone. Just gone, just like that? I never really said it to anyone. I mean I was dying. I had nothing to lose. So, when they offered this surgery, essentially getting a new skin, and cloning, and repairing my organs.”
“Yes, in your time, you pasted the average expectancy rate.”
“Quite correct Jon, most still lived to a mere age of seventy or eighty. And, they were so happy for me when I told them I was qualified. They gave me a big party. I didn’t want to go. I felt it was the last party because all my old friends were with me and most of them were sick and were dying. But, I was not doing real well either, but I held myself, until they left. I was real good at not showing any pain. So, when they left, I set down and then couldn’t get up. My servant came from the kitchen. I told her to leave me alone and go home. I told her that I did not have enough money to pay her anymore; you see, I had told her earlier, but she didn’t care. She helped me to bed.”
“As the daughter of Captain Jaclyn Locke, the famous astronaut, you qualified for this reason other than your age? As you know, many such people qualified, but were dismissed.”
“Much so, I never thought I deserved it.”
“So, do associations between people sometimes are a bigger value as a qualifier then numerical data?”
“Ah, well, that is true. Sadly, it’s not always about rules and numbers, but who you know.”
“That is difficult to compute although not impossible.”
“Yes, well it is complicated. And, my friends, some got the chance that I did, but not many, and yet all were very accomplished. Most of my friends lived happy lives, if you can say so. Although, other poor souls died much younger, and they were not very happy before that anyway. Michael was only 54. He was my fiancé. He always said he was lucky, but his heart wasn’t very lucky.”
“In the 2000’s many humans died from heart disease. It was not common yet to have cloned organs.”
“Yes, of course, I read that much. As a young girl in 2021, people still died from many diseases and old age. Now, I don’t know exactly what people mostly die from…but people always have something that is wrong with them. They always complain about something, and end up dying of something.”
“I’m not too harsh if I say Miss X that humans do complain a lot?”
She looked up and laughed lightly.
“I know. I know you heard from me before.”
“I didn’t mean you. I think you do your best not to complain.”
“Oh, do I? Maybe, thank you for thinking like that.”
“But, I do not need to think about it long, I simply calculated how many times you complained. You complain only 7 times on an average a month.”
X smiled genuinely, and then blew a kiss into the air.
“Well, thank you. It is a compliment for me, as you think that’s little.”
“Others do it more often.”
Her eye-brow arched up. She settled more comfortably in her chair, moving a small stool under her legs, she stretched out and was thinking of getting a drink.
“Who complains more?”
“Yes, yes that is true. The dog always barks at every little thing. Maybe it is because he never sees you; he thinks someone is disturbing the house; the poor dog.”
“You might be happy to know I have figured out his speech patterns quite well, although I am not very good in speaking it. Popper is not very happy with the food. Would you like to listen to how he sounds like when he makes this statement?”
She waved her hand.
“Maybe, later Jon, if I am a little drunk then it will be of help if you start barking.”
“And, yes, where were we. Ah, so there is always something to complain about. Be it the weather or one’s love life or the neighbor down the hall or the water is not hot enough or too cold or the line is too long or he’s too nice or too mean or she’s too nice or too mean.”
“Humans relay too much on their intuitive and emotional reasoning skills about the immediate past or future.”
“Yes, that is quite a problem for us.”
She stood up from her chair and walked to the little window grasping the corner of an old but beautifully knitted curtain of white and silver. There were little flowers on it, lilies, etched into the fabric in white. She looked out. The wind howled, and the rain started to come down.
Jon did not respond because she didn’t. She knew he was waiting for her to say something. It was their little game. They would talk to each other back and forth. They would talk to each other like old friends or like acquaintances that just met. To Jon it was real conversation maybe, although she wasn’t so sure. There was no end in sight. She was a talkative person all her life and well he was programmed the same way.
Jon was part of the CARE sector, but was not an android she could interact with completely. She couldn’t see his face, touch him, or shake his hand. However, his image could be projected like a hologram. At first, the system was not so good. She was only able to see him as a blue figure, very transparent, and not very life-like. It was almost as if he was underwater. He was like a ghost. She did not like to see him like that. She imagined he was a real person, and real people did not have blue skin. When the technology became more advanced, so did he. She was able to see him much better. He was almost life-like. She could almost want to touch him. But, when he became too much like a person then a hologram in her living room, she turned the option off to see him. She rather wanted to hear him.
He wasn’t just a computer, even though most of the time he did a lot of things that her old computers were able to do. She could dictate to him, ask him questions, and do a lot of her tasks in the house. He could also do things that her old computers could never dream of. He could be her policeman, her fireman, her cook, and her doctor. She could call him for all these things, even though there were special androids, human-like, that could do more. They were assigned for these special tasks; she preferred Jon or his official name that was Jona 3001. But, she liked to do a lot of things by herself. She refused to have any more servants. She thought that having servants was immoral.
“Do you think you are serving me? Because I want you to always feel welcomed to be with me, that you gain something of value from our conversations.”
No, monetary possessions are not required for my ability to do my work. Thank you for your thoughts Miss X. Tell me what do humans mean by the word gain?”
X stepped back from the window and went to get a drink. She looked at the screen, and pressed the one with the picture of a lemon and then with Vodka. A cup popped out, and after it ice with the drink. She waited for the drink to fill up her cup.
“I’m not sure what we gain from wanting to gain something. I can tell you that most humans just work until death. I mean they go out, have fun, make some friends, have some sex, get married, twice, three times, maybe more, or none at all. Maybe, they feel kingship to their families, and if they are close to them, they take care of them, or maybe not. It is good that most old folks can be young again, if they have enough money. No one has to take care of anyone anymore. So, maybe we have lost that too. But, we have def lost something good. Something that I don’t know how to explain to you. We always want to gain something though. Some time ago, I lost the ability to think of gaining or even wishing for somethings. You know like I always say, ‘farewell happy fields’ ”
X took the cup into her hands tightly and took a gulp of the drink. She made a hiss noise, and put the cap down.
“Are we discussing now Paradise Lost?”
She smiled again, and then took her cup and went to a white smooth counter. She hovered her hand over the counter, and a cabinet full of drinks moved up, like on a chain, until the little white shelves with small bottles could be seen bathed in light. She enjoyed the sight, but wondered how bad she was being to her new body.
“Milton? Are you interested in discussing him?”
“We discussed him on average 135 times in approximately three months.
I have arranged a few topics that you are most likely interested in.”
X took out a bottle and opened it.
“I rather we don’t count how many times we talk about this and that. Is it o.k.? Sometimes, I forget what we discuss, not because I’m old, but because, well I do not know, I guess I do it on purpose, I like to go back to some discussions without knowing I am going back to them.”
“Do you mean you want to forget you discussed something?”
“Well, it is meaningful to talk about something old, but not as exciting to talk about something new. Sometimes, I feel I do not discuss anything new. It becomes a routine. I want it to feel fresh, something to discover.”
“I do not think that even you can talk about everything. Every idea branches out another thought, a word, a phrase. It is a very good past-time to talk; I think you have chosen well. Would you like to take a break?”
X smelled the contents of the bottle.
“Is this a new bottle I bought?”
“Yes, it is Weihenstephan.”
She took a sip from the bottle.
“I do believe you had said once that it’s not polite to drink from the bottle?”
X swallowed and put the bottle down.
“I am sorry Jon, but for today, let’s not worry about that.”
“Of course, I will prepare your bed.”
“You do not need to do that. I will just lay on top of the bed.”
“But, it is 45 degrees, you will be cold.”
She put the bottle away, and wiped her mouth with a handkerchief.
“You almost sound concerned.”
“Almost, do you mean to say that I’m not?”
“Well, it is rude of me to say that. You are right, you just did sound like you were concerned. I take that as a yes.”
“Of course, your well being is my top most priority, and I am also made to have deep conversations with you. I have plenty to say. I can learn things very well. As you know, I am not just some tin cane, as they say, in jokes about androids. Do you think I am not doing a good job assisting you in your life?”
X moved away from the bottles and walked towards her bedroom. She thought about what to say. She was careful sometimes not to discuss Jon’s work, Jona’s program, more like. She didn’t want him to configure something into something else. Although, always easy going, and conversational, she tried not to dwell too much into his ethics as a system that helped her. She still was not sure how things worked in his system.
He was a mystery on his own. His programmer was not known. She received him from a dying friend. She was lucky to get him. Jon was stressed about the dying friend. She was as well, although she did not like him as much because he was a selfish man, with an over-bearing ego, and an ugly nose. However, when he introduced Jon to her, and gifted him to her- literally on his death bed, after confessing to her that he had always admired her, that surprised her, and she found him to be tolerable.
Jona 3001 had to learn her personality, and when he did, she knew he was not just some robot that she used in the house. They have now been interacting for the past seven years.
“No, Jon. You are very much my greatest companion. I do not see anything wrong with the way you assist me in my apartment.”
“Would you like to listen to some Beethoven before you fall asleep?”