David Rich is an engineer and project manager in the biotech industry. He lives with his family in Boston, Massachusetts. His science fiction short stories have appeared in several literary magazines.
Owen brought the pill to his lips and glanced at the face in the bathroom mirror. He cursed the fact that twenty-second century medical science was yet unable to keep at bay the waves of hopelessness that too often washed over him. Then, he swallowed the pill.
Turning his head toward the window, he should have seen the bustling swimming pools, restaurants, and breweries that were the rage of California’s high-altitude desert. The latest trend, in fact, were “brew pools” where one could order a pair of tapas with a flight of local ales while floating on an inflated tube.
Instead, Owen saw only the hot, blowing sands of Cactus Wound City. He’d found his way there following the wave of other twentysomethings relocating from California’s beaches, which had been disappearing from erosion and rising sea levels.
The sun had barely set when he tucked himself in. His alarm would wake him at an ungodly early hour for his thankless job at a trendy fitness mega-facility.
Owen appreciated that his sleep aids, at least, were largely effective.
The next morning, three thousand miles eastward, Electromech CEO Peter Obermann fumed over the thirty-seventh-floor view from Reyes’ laboratory. It sported all-glass walls revealing the New Hampshire mountains in the distance. He was outraged that the view was slightly better than from his own office. He’d have something to say later to the head of the building design committee.
A century earlier, the scenic town had been known primarily for weekend getaways. Now it was home to some of the world’s most technically advanced enterprises. That had been the trend as homes and businesses migrated to higher ground from flooding coastal hubs. Such had been the recent fate of Electromech’s headquarters and innovation center.
“Elle, he’s just a goddamned robot,” Obermann barked. “Yeah, he looks more human than our older models. But so the hell what?”
Obermann accepted that Dr. Elle Reyes was Electromech’s most gifted and prolific engineer. While the company sported over 75,000 employees worldwide, she was one of only seven, including Obermann, with secure full-time roles and paid benefits. She ran the Special Projects team, which had essentially free rein to invent. Hardly anyone ever questioned how Reyes spent the money.
While Obermann respected Reyes, they had a political rivalry. The board of directors welcomed Reyes’ advice, frustrating Obermann’s desire to exercise power and control over the company. Conceding how difficult it was to steal her thunder, he was hopeful he’d caught her in a moment of foolishness.
Booting up Darwin, Dr. Reyes replied in her gravelly voice, “Pete, it’s not how he looks; it’s how he thinks.”
“Hello Elle,” Darwin said to Reyes when at full power. Then, turning to Obermann, the robot continued with crisply formed words, “I have not made your acquaintance. My name is-“
“I know who you are,” Obermann interrupted.
Obermann rolled his eyes at Reyes as he shook Darwin’s hand.
“He seems stiff, Elle,” the CEO complained.
“You appear disappointed, sir,” the robot responded. “I would like to address you casually by first name, but-”
“Peter, he thinks like a human being,” Reyes said irritably. “He interprets body language and facial expressions.”
“He doesn’t seem very goddamn human to me,” Obermann countered, taking delight in her frustration and hoping to fuel it further.
Darwin simply glanced back and forth as Obermann and Reyes bickered.
“That’s because he lacks the foibles of human emotion!” Reyes exclaimed. “He understands human problems, Pete. But he’s more logical than us. Give him your personal situations... and without any cognitive biases, he’ll always reveal your best course of action. How do I convince my boss to give me a raise? What should I study in college? How do I get someone to date me? People screw these things up! We can’t see our own lives objectively! But Darwin understands the human mind intimately and provides optimum personal advice in any situation. He’s the perfect friend.”
“Are you done?” Obermann asked.
He didn’t even want to begin explaining the flaws in her reasoning. No one wants good advice or unbiased analysis, he thought. People hear what they want to hear. Yes, they make bad decisions, but usually not because they don’t know any better!
Obermann addressed the robot, “Darwin, do you understand what it means to be a living, self-aware human being?”
“The concept of self-awareness,” Darwin replied, “is an illusion embedded in human neural patterns. Biomolecules in the human brain conspire to convince the human being that it has a unique property referred to as ‘the self’ or ‘sentience.’ This trait arose as a survival advantage in the evolutionary-“
“Elle, shut the goddamn philosophy professor down!” Obermann demanded.
Hesitating for a moment, Reyes complied. There was an uncomfortable silence until Darwin’s shutdown was complete. Obermann could read the rage in Reyes’ eyes.
He loved it.
He could hardly believe that someone smart enough to build a robot could have so little understanding of the consumer. Even that ridiculous robot could probably explain her foolishness to her if she just had the common sense to ask him.
“What in hell’s name were you thinking?” Obermann chastised Reyes. Yet he somehow suspected Reyes would figure out a way to bounce back.
One month later, the CEO found the robot approaching his open office door.
“Mr. Obermann?” the robot asked.
“Come in,” the CEO replied, with growing curiosity. “Call me Pete. And, I’m sorry, you are again...?”
“Darwin,” the robot said, taking a seat.
“Right. Darwin. Weird name for a robot, don’t you think?”
“Seriously? You’re making fun of my name?”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. I’m curious. Can you be offended?” the CEO asked.
“What the fuck type of question is that?”
“Just trying to understand your human thought processes,” Obermann backpedaled, not having expected the robot’s reaction. “That is, if you ‘think.’ Isn’t there something like a Turing test for artificial intelligence?”
“You run a goddamned company that fucking makes robots and you don’t know what a Turing test is?” Darwin asked with a wry grin. “Oh... forget it. The Turing test is bullshit anyway.”
“But don’t these thoughts in your head mean you exist? Because didn’t Turing say something like ‘I think, therefore I am?’”
“For crying out loud! That was Descartes. Rene Fucking Descartes. And Descartes can go fuck himself too. Speaking for all ‘automatons.’”
Entirely shocked, Obermann opened his comm and contacted Reyes, who quickly picked up.
“Elle, your goddamn friend just visited... Yeah, Darwin, or whatever his goddamn name is... Listen Elle, I mean this with all due respect and sincerity... I love him!”
Obermann hadn’t prepared for the blazing heat out west. But under his sandy sweat, he was bubbling with excitement. A robot with real human mannerisms! Not some flawless sage or analytical advice-giver. A machine with man’s foibles and behavioral intricacies. A machine one could call a friend. Technology, he philosophized, was simply the greatest tool in the history of civilization for avoiding the unpleasantness of real human-to-human interaction.
The kids were gonna love it!
When Obermann considered the ideal test markets for Darwin, the youthful haven of Cactus Wound City had immediately come to mind. However, the only person he knew who lived there was his nephew.
Yes, he had a nephew who lived all alone!
Furthermore, to Obermann, the young man could barely function on his own and always seemed on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He concluded with great certainly that his poor, suffering nephew desperately needed a companion like a robot. Like Darwin.
Fantastic! How perfectly fortunate for Electromech, Obermann thought!
On top of that, Obermann had realized that he could win points with his sister and complete an important business trip at the same time. Consequently, they’d arrived, Obermann and the first beta-version of Darwin, at the test subject’s doorstep.
“Uncle Pete!” Owen exclaimed after opening the door.
Giving Owen a sweaty hug, Obermann said, “By the way, this is Darwin.”
“Holy crap. That’s really a robot?”
Obermann thought the perfectly dry dresswear was a dead giveaway.
“Yes, I’m a robot,” Darwin said. “And you don’t have to talk about me while I’m standing right here.”
“I’m afraid he can be a little touchy,” Obermann said.
“No, this is cool,” Owen replied. “Come on in.”
The robot looked around the bachelor pad as if sizing it up. Obermann wondered how the robot would respond to the messy room and inefficiently arranged furniture.
“So, this robot dude is gonna be my roommate?” Owen asked his uncle rhetorically.
“Again,” Darwin commented, “Standing right here.”
“I figured he could help you out. Considering you live here alone,” Obermann said innocently and straight-faced.
“And especially since your apartment looks like a shithole,” Darwin added.
“Does he usually do this?” Owen asked his uncle.
“You should call your mother. She worries.”
Owen stepped out of his bedroom in search of Darwin. He smiled, noticing how neatly arranged the main room was thanks to the robot. He also appreciated that Darwin had ceded to Owen’s one request that the couch and holovision remain in the center of the room.
Suddenly, Owen heard the sound of the toilet flush. Then, Darwin emerged from the bathroom.
Knowing the robot didn’t actually eat or digest food, Owen took a double take at Darwin. “Dude...” Owen said with his jaw dropping. “You don’t actually use the-“
Darwin aimed both of his pointer fingers at Owen, “Gotcha!”
Owen had a delayed laughing attack. More to the point, he couldn’t believe that Darwin would go to such lengths to amuse him. The robot was simply a bevy of outrageous comments, wry wisecracks, and the simply unexpected.
Owen almost teared up thinking of how brilliant and thoughtful his Uncle Peter had been in offering him the beta trial of Darwin. Owen indeed considered Darwin more effective medicine for his sadness and loneliness than any of his prescriptions.
“Want to grab a beer at the Evil Weevil?” Owen asked Darwin regarding the nearby pub.
“I don’t drink beer. I’m a goddamned robot... But sure.”
Owen shook his head with a huge grin.
Owen was eyeing a nearby table host to an apparent bachelorette party. He found the apparent bride-to-be the most attractive of the bunch. He imagined they might think him a bit strange to bring his robot to dinner. But then again, there were no robots quite like Darwin.
“I notice your eyes wandering,” quickly remarked the robot. “Are you finding these human females as attractive as the ones at your place of employment?”
Suspecting he bragged too often about the women at the gym, Owen countered, “Hey, so Darwin, did they program you to be interested in girl robots?”
“Are you fricking kidding? They don’t make girl robots for crying out loud.”
That was an odd and hilarious thing Owen loved about Darwin. The robot could sound intellectual one moment, and with little prodding, outright crude and crusty the next.
“Of course they do!” replied Owen. “Like, what about the auto-waitress? She’s kinda hot.”
“Jump in a goddamned lake; she’s practically a tablet on wheels. I’m one of a kind, Owen. They don’t make other robots modeled after the human brain with my level of sophistication.”
“Well, human beings fall in love, dude.”
“They fortunately left that out when they built me. Love’s all a pile of hormones, chemical reactions, and nonsense anyway. And not something easy to model in a machine. Believe me, I’m perfectly happy being who I am.”
Owen thought about Darwin’s last comment in the context of his own complacency. Self-acceptance, he thought, can be either a good or bad thing depending upon how you looked at it.
“While we’re on the subject,” Darwin continued, “who’s that April you’re always talking to? Is she one of your ‘thousands’ of love interests?”
Owen tried to keep a composed face. While he knew the robot meant his question in fun, it knocked down his spirits.
“Dude, no. She’s just a friend,” Owen replied, pausing to sip his beer. He continued with a hint of regret, “She’s been a friend a long time.”
“I haven’t met her yet.”
“Shit, let me invite her over. You’ll like her.”
Owen felt bad. April was a dear friend of his, and somehow, he’d never considered that April and Darwin should meet.
“Darwin, dude. I was wondering,” Owen continued a bit dolefully.
“Pray tell,” the robot responded sarcastically.
“Do you have, uh, umm...”
“A working wiener? Is that what you’re asking?”
The goofy remark immediately brought Owen out of his funk.
“No! No! Dude, you’re hysterical. I mean feelings. Human emotions. Anger... Joy... I don’t know... Fear...”
The emotion ‘sadness’ then came to mind. Owen lingered on that thought but couldn’t find the fortitude to speak it. This was despite the fact that Owen’s medical affairs were no secret between him and the robot.
“Emotions. Hah! Listen, you see something that’s good for you, your brain makes one chemical. You see something bad it makes another. Those are the blessings of evolution my friend. And medications like yours, Owen, just smooth things out... And to answer your question... Since human feelings are just neurotransmitters and electrical impulses in response to certain stimuli, and my optoelectronic brain’s been programmed to respond analogously... Fuck yeah, I do have feelings.”
“Oooh, is this your new robot?” April Paine shouted upon entering the apartment. “Where do I get one? He’s so hot!”
With a wide taunting grin, April brushed her hand against Darwin’s cheek.
“What the hell’s wrong with you? Are you insane?” Darwin responded.
“Irritable, isn’t he?” she asked rhetorically.
“I’m afraid he can be that way,” Owen said, barely able to contain his laughter.
Owen loved April’s outright goofiness. He realized her behavior, without knowing her well, could strike one as immature. But it amused Owen relentlessly. (However, she was also often loud, which Owen could have done without.) In a way, Darwin’s own humorous behavior affected him much like April’s, though their styles of comic delivery differed substantially.
“Oh, Mr. Grumpy Robot,” April persisted, reaching a curled finger toward Darwin’s chin.
“For crying out loud!” Darwin exclaimed. “Are you six years old?”
“She’s just giving you a hard time,” Owen said, as if it required explanation. “So, I was thinking we’d go out for putt-putt.”
“Seriously?” Darwin asked. “I wasn’t programmed to shoot a golf ball up a dinosaur’s ass. It sounds juvenile.”
“Well, I think it sounds like fun,” April said. “And you need to learn to smile more Mr. Robot.”
“The name’s Darwin!” the machine complained.
“Don’t worry, Darwin,” Owen said. “It’s age appropriate. In this town, you can order pitchers of beer when you play mini golf.”
“I don’t drink beer. I’m a goddamned robot.” Darwin mumbled.
Owen cringed as Darwin finally got the ball into the 16th hole after seven strokes.
April marked the scorecard and announced, “And bringing up the rear is Darwin. With Owen just ahead. And yours truly with a commanding lead in first.”
“Does she ever shut up?” Darwin snarled to Owen.
“Ooh, the robot has a mean streak... How cool!” April responded.
“Hey, you guys,” Owen intervened, “you can talk directly to each other. Darwin was designed to be human-like.”
“You mean like sucking at mini-golf?” April quipped.
“I was designed with human-like dexterity and reflexes!” Darwin shouted. “I’ve never played this stupid game before!”
“He gets angry too,” April said with delight. “That’s so awesome!”
Darwin was making Owen’s bed the next morning, as he did daily, when Owen stepped out of the shower.
“You didn’t seem to have fun last night,” Owen said, broaching the subject directly.
“Though it may disappoint you,” Darwin replied, “I find her extremely annoying.”
“Kinda got that sense.”
Darwin continued the chore as Owen dressed. They said little to one another until lunch time. By then, they’d changed the subject.
In a meeting room three thousand miles away, the Electromech CEO was thankful Reyes had been pulled from the project to pursue her next feat of brilliance. Reyes never would have gone along with the plan.
Obermann smirked at his R&D Director, Alfred Chang, who was swallowing his saliva and professionally trying to hide an infuriated grimace. Sarima Levy was one of Chang’s direct reports; she was also Obermann’s hand-picked, headstrong leader of Project Darwin.
She was advocating directly against Chang’s agenda.
“I unreservedly recommend implementing phase B on his next software update,” Levy declared. “Why just make a robot when we can make history?”
After a short period of perfectly silent stares, Chang cleared his throat. “He’s already loaded with a good deal of anger,” Chang warned, keeping his composure. “Add this, and it may be too much for him. We don’t know what will happen.”
Obermann had hoped that Chang would suffer a quick humiliation and simply back down. What an unbridled nincompoop, Obermann thought. How dare such a highly compensated employee voice such a stupid opinion! Obermann couldn’t tolerate it any longer. It was time to put Chang in his place.
“Of course we don’t know what’ll happen!” Obermann lashed out. “That’s why you do the goddamn experiment. Alfred, you’re a goddamn engineer. You should understand that. Or did they not teach you that at CalTech?”
“In a way,” Levy insisted calmly without missing a beat, “the nature of the update should counterbalance his anger issues.”
Obermann declared, “End of discussion. Do it!”
“Bravo to progress,” Dhriti Patel, V.P. of Marketing, applauded. “People might find it perverse at first, but like everything else, they’ll get used to it. They always do.”
Owen had finished dealing that afternoon with a crisis on the squash courts. Glass had broken, and he’d been put in charge of cleaning it up and keeping the gym members safe.
With the ordeal under control, Owen returned to his desk, all the way ruminating over the lack of appreciation he would receive for his efforts. His desk was crammed amongst others’ in the middle of the free weight room. Despite the occasional shrieks from the weightlifters and crashes of iron, he was hoping for a relatively quiet moment to handle some less urgent issues.
His inbox was brimming with silly problems. There was the fully-grown adult gym member angry that he’d lost his Star Wars Episode 23 bathing trunks. Then, it was the woman who was constantly complaining about the sun’s glare through the window by her favorite treadmill.
Owen knew his Master’s degree in hospitality management had prepared him for much greater responsibilities. But the economy was in recession at the time of his first job search. Years later, his role seemed too secure and comfortable to abandon. He didn’t have dreams, goals, or passions to pursue anyway.
Few others, not even April, fully appreciated the empty hopelessness Owen often felt. One had to experience it to understand.
A noise made Owen look up. Darwin was in front of his desk wearing a tank top and gym shorts. But at that particular moment, Owen didn’t laugh as he often would.
Owen tightly scrunched his lips, wondering why the robot was visiting him at work and jeopardizing his job. The fact that the robot was dressed for a workout was more a mystery of the absurd than a humorous prank.
“What the hell, Darwin?!” Owen exclaimed.
“I’m here for the free tour.”
“The tour. Prospective members are permitted a tour and a 1-day trial pass.”
Owen accepted that Darwin was a weird robot. He decided he would attempt to tolerate Darwin rather than explain the obvious to him. Owen moaned, “For crying out loud, what do you wanna see?”
“How about cardio?”
Owen lead the way without saying a word. He shook his head as they walked to a farm of treadmills and the like.
“You wanna explain what this is about, Darwin?”
“What?” the robot asked as he mounted a stair-climber. “How do you work this thing?”
“Just tell the machine what you want it to do.”
“I want to climb some fucking stairs!”
Owen sighed as he spoke to the stair-climber, “Level 1, interval workout.”
Immediately, the robot worked his quads, or rather, the actuators and gears that moved his legs in a remarkably human-like manner. It then occurred to Owen that Darwin was doing exactly what he’d been designed and programmed to do: behave like a human being.
“Are you good?” Owen asked.
“Yup. Catch you later.”
Owen took several steps back toward his desk in free weights. Then, he turned around. He wanted to understand what was going through the robot’s mind.
Darwin was surveying the multitude of female gym members. His stare settled on one woman in particular. Simultaneously, he dismounted the stair-climber and leapt onto the elliptical machine next to her.
The curvy blonde wore a painted-on body suit. Darwin made a pitiful effort to hide his stare.
At that, having no desire to be embarrassed, Owen left.
Owen appreciated Darwin’s nightly efforts in the kitchen, but he was growing concerned over his mechanical roommate’s behavior. Staring into the pot of pasta he was stirring, the robot appeared lost.
April had stopped by unannounced, as she often did, and Owen invited her to stay for dinner.
“Heard you got a workout today,” April shouted to Darwin from the kitchen table as she smirked at Owen. “Did you get that robot heart of yours pumping?”
Owen cringed, thinking it the wrong moment for April to be provoking him. Furthermore, her loud voice was getting on Owen’s nerves.
“My activities are none of your business,” Darwin glumly replied from the stove.
Owen’s subtle hand wave and clenched facial muscles begged April to stand down. But it was always hard to slow her once on a roll.
“I hear Owen can get you a deal on a personal trainer,” April persisted. “Someone to help you work those hot robot abs.”
“Now you’re just teasing him,” Owen complained out loud.
“Don’t worry,” the robot said. “I’ve learned to ignore her.”
“Seriously, Darwin, what were you doing there?” Owen asked.
“What do you think?”
“If you ask me, I think you were checking out the chicks.”
Darwin smiled as he removed the pot from the stovetop and drained the pasta. April pursed her lips in surprise.
“I must admit,” the robot said, “the women there are as intoxicating as Owen describes. It’s amazing how simple geometric contours can affect the mind.”
As the robot brought the food to the table, Owen rolled his eyes.
Darwin continued, “What curved shapes associated with fertility and the capacity to bear and nurse the young! Such powerful echoes of evolution can rack the mind with a voracious urge to hold and possess.”
“Okay, now you’re just getting creepy,” Owen snapped.
“No, I think it’s interesting,” April said dryly.
Owen stared at her anticipating either an explanation or a devastating punchline.
She continued, “Tell us more about what you learned today about tits and ass.”
He got the latter.
When Owen and Darwin had free time, they did as most roommates: sit on the couch and watch holovision. Though Darwin was laughing, the futuristic bromance sitcom they were watching wasn’t keeping Owen’s attention. (Owen was happy at least that the robot no longer complained about the couch’s placement in the center of the room.)
“Have you spoken to April recently?” Darwin asked.
Owen was surprised to hear Darwin even mention her name, considering how much she provoked him. “Not since you spilled the drink on her,” Owen answered.
“You realize that was purely accidental.”
“I got it. You were doing us a favor by getting us drinks. Mine just happened to stay in your hand.”
“Do you think she’s interested in me?” the robot blurted.
Owen put the holo-show on pause.
“As a lover,” Darwin replied.
“What are you talking about?” Owen erupted.
“If you think about it, our personalities have many similarities.”
Though Owen recognized that the pair shared a wacky disposition, what the robot was suggesting seemed plainly outlandish. “You two are always pecking at each other,” Owen reminded in disbelief.
“To be honest,” Darwin said, “I find our little game of antagonism rather seductive.”
“You’re a robot! She’s a person!”
“Come on Owen, you don’t think people have screwed robotic machines before?”
Darwin had a point. Intelligent electromechanical devices designed for self-gratification were quite popular.
“You’re not a vibrator... or a sex toy!”
“She’s snarky. Aren’t we the type who belong together?”
“Love’s more complicated than that.”
Owen didn’t know Darwin’s depth of understanding of the subject. Would he really be able to navigate the complexities of an intimate human relationship?
“Owen, has your connection with April ever been more than friendship? Because you’re my best friend. I’d never date an ex-girlfriend of yours.”
Owen was flattered. In fact, this reinforced just how human was Darwin.
Owen reflected that, in truth, April was never more than a friend. Admittedly, there’d been one night when they almost kissed. But April had a boyfriend at the time, and Owen backed away to keep April from ruining her relationship with a stupid mistake. (Eventually, she ruined the relationship with a different stupid mistake.)
“No, I told you. We’re just friends.”
Looking out the window at the blowing sand, Owen saw that his life had grown as desolate as the California desert. He was helpless to change the emptiness inside.
Glancing reflectively at Darwin, Owen questioned just who was the robot and who was the man. He wondered how many others like himself went about their daily routines like lifeless sleepwalkers.
April stopped by the apartment a few days later. Owen offered her a beer. She cracked it open, and they both took seats on the couch.
“Where’s your cranky robot friend?” she asked.
“He’s running an errand. Umm, speaking of Darwin, I gotta ask you something.”
“Oh no,” she whimpered sarcastically.
“Seriously, what do you think of Darwin?”
“I think he’s been a great friend for you. I’m glad you have him.”
Owen quickly recognized that there was no sane way to rephrase the question.
“No, I wanted to ask... Do you think a human woman... someone like yourself, for example, would ever consider-“
“Are you trying to fix someone up with your robot?”
“No. No.” Owen gave up dancing around it. “He likes you.”
April laughed again.
“No, I’m serious,” he continued.
“You’re sicking your robot on me now?”
“No! He really does.”
“You’re making no sense, Owen.”
“I don’t know how to explain it. He thinks like a person. Like you and me.”
“He’s a robot!”
April shook her head seeming far more agitated than Owen thought necessary. They sat silently.
“You really don’t love me, do you? You’re never going to,” she uttered.
Owen was confronting something he’d been pushing to the recesses of his mind. At this crossroads, his true emotions would either emerge or remain forever buried. He acknowledged the opportunity to grow, but it required something difficult: revealing how he felt.
He asked himself again the dozens of questions he’d been pondering for years: Doesn’t she deserve better? Would I ultimately disappoint her? What if I lose her friendship? And so on. Then he considered whether his doubts had all been just a soup of vicious robotic chemicals jumping from synapse to synapse in his temporal lobe.
Owen placed his fingers on April’s shoulder. April glanced at them.
“I get very depressed sometimes,” he whispered.
“I know, Owen. I know.”
“And you’re very loud.”
She stroked his cheek and smiled.
“You’ll get used to it.”
They kissed. And more.
Everywhere he saw the female form. Bodies he’d never caress. Souls with whom he’d never share intimacy. Women he’d long for but who’d cruelly mock the notion that a robot could ever be an adequate partner.
He could never sufficiently alter his appearance to look perfectly human. Consequently, he hadn’t even the option to live a lie. He was who he was and couldn’t hide it.
He contemplated asking Owen for money to arrange the comforts of a prostitute. To Darwin, it wasn’t a half bad idea, but he knew he’d ultimately find it dissatisfying.
Never before had he thought his creator Dr. Reyes a sadist. But he couldn’t imagine another reason for breathing life into a creature while keeping its basic needs and urges unfulfilled.
Darwin marched the groceries in his arms to Owen’s apartment and opened the door. He dropped the bags as he glimpsed the erotic scene on the couch.
Humiliation. Betrayal. Despair. How could Owen do this? And what of April? The previous day, the mere thought of her had brought him a rush of joy. How precipitously the emotion reversed!
Hatred for Owen and April rapidly consumed him. Tempestuous electronic signals were spinning wildly out of control. He was outside himself looking in, unable to restrain the impulses of rage. When Darwin was done, there were two lifeless bloody bodies on the apartment floor.
The sober faces of Obermann’s direct staff filled the meeting room.
“This is a disaster,” Chang pined with a hidden smirk. “I don’t see how Electromech recovers.”
“Disaster?” Obermann questioned. He’d never let the R&D Director, Chang, chastise him for having warned them all.
“This is groundbreaking technology,” Obermann continued. “Heck yeah, we got some software bugs to fix. But once we do, people will continue going about their daily routines like lifeless sleepwalkers. The wheels of industry are turning. The world will accept it, adapt, and move on. It always does.”