"Good guess Old Man," He said as he wiped the tears from his eyes and turned to face the voice. "But I haven't worn those in years." He said and ran into a hug with the older gentleman as I watched and recognized him from the picture I found in Marc's room.
"Who's your friend Sweetie?" He asked as Marc looked at me expressing his embarrassment but let it go.
"Uncle John, this is Danny. He's my brother."
"Brother? Did I miss something here?" He asked as he sat in the chair closest to the door and we both joined him.
"Sort of, Eddie never told you about another android built before me that they lost track of. Actually, I don't even think he knew at that point."
"Well, I'm sure he would have said something if he had known. I remember his mentioning others that were prototypes of sorts, but well anyway Danny," he said holding out his hand. "I'm John, I have no idea what you've heard about me so far, but if it came out of this one's mouth here, I'll deny it all right here and now to save some time," He said with a straight face getting a laugh from me and a jab in the ribs from Marc. "Ow, could you at least pick a new spot?"
"It's nice to meet you sir," I said, adding; "But I've only heard nice things about you so, unless you're aiming for a more colorful reputation, I would just smile and nod if I were you." I said with a wink, getting a laugh out of both.
"Oh yeah, you two are definitely related." John said as he wrapped his arms even tighter around Marc who suddenly got a somber look on his face and stood up.
"Uncle John, I'm gonna show Danny around the place. I'll be inside in a little while, okay?" He asked John as if he was actually hinting to him that he wanted him to leave.
"Okay Marc, I'll be inside if you need me," He replied kissing him on the cheek. "Danny it was nice meeting you, I hope we get a chance to get to know each other."
"That would be great, nice meeting you too," I said as he turned and went back in the house.
I watched as Marc closed his eyes as he did just before John appeared once the door was closed and began to cry.
"I love you." He said in the direction of the door before sitting back at the table and attempted to stop crying.
"That hurt you, Marc. Why did you bring me to meet him if you weren't ready?" I asked taking his hand in mine.
"Whenever I come here, I normally talk to him about regrets, about missing him, how much I love him and that I always will. That just felt too real, like we were just acting normal. I'm not used to that anymore. I guess I just wasn't ready for that." He said finally letting his sobs subside.
"I don't know what to say. Won't he wonder why we're still sitting out here?" I asked as I realized that he may think we were just avoiding having a discussion in front of him.
"No, he's not here anymore, just you and I." Marc stated with a sigh.
"Oh," I said knowing this wasn't part of his plan behind bringing me here. "This may sound sort of cold, but how do you go about creating all of this? Places, People, Smells and Sounds. It's all just too real."
"That's actually easy," He said wiping his face with his shirt sleeve. "Your memory captures detailed information when creating memories. We found that you could create an interactive likeness by compiling all the available data on one particular subject," He said as he looked at the house. "The data is so accurate in most cases that you could measure the floor plan of this house for example, and it would be an exact, or extremely close match."
"But with people?"
"People are just as easy, John and I knew each other intimately. Any gaps I had in his creation were filled a little by a detailed journal he kept, and from even more information I got from Vision Industries in his reports during my testing, and reports from Eddie, who was the man who paired the two of us, and drove the final production line of androids into the main stream. He also had a relationship with John when he was my age. Well, 13."
"I see. So you took every detail you had of John, added the knowledge you gained from all other sources, to compile... what is this exactly?"
"An interactive memory, I call it." He said as he looked out toward the ocean.
"Can I ask one dumb question?"
"Sure," Marc replied without even looking back in my direction.
"Plum?" I asked getting a giggle from him finally.
"Oh man," He said as he shook his head and stared at the deck. "When Uncle John first brought me here, he took me shopping for new clothes. I sorta slipped in these brightly colored briefs, and well, I used to make him guess what colors I had on," He said with a warm smile. "Sometimes I would even let him pick the colors I wore. It was the small things that made him so special."
"Sounds like fun." I replied as now I was becoming lost in thought. 'If all this is possible with the information I already have, I could create a getaway of my own.'
We remained silent for a while, listening to the ocean and the seagulls. It was quite an amazing view.
"Well, we can always come back here if you like." Marc said standing up with me following suit as suddenly the scenery was replaced with the same blackness that I now know as our interface.
"How do we leave this place?" I asked not really sure how to snap out of this mode.
"Remember how we got in?" He asked with a smile.
"Yeah, we just closed our eyes and we were here." I replied.
"Well, they are still closed. Open them," He said as he folded his arms as if waiting for me.
It took a second to separate the idea of my imagined eyes and my real ones, but once I clearly knew the difference I opened them and found myself lying on the table next to Marc who was now unplugging his connection.
"That was incredible," I said as I reached behind my head and disconnected myself as well. "I kinda feel alone now though." I said as I realized how dumb the comment must have sounded.
"Yeah, that's the problem with connections like that. You can get dependent on being connected that closely." He said as I hopped off the table.
"Looks like you were right," I stated taking a sip from my coffee. "it's still hot."
Marc jumped off the table and put the cable back on the stand it was stored on. "Well, we probably would have taken longer if I hadn't misjudged myself on the way in."
"Nah, I understand how you feel," I said heading for the lab door. "I just hope we can do that again sometime. Maybe you can even show me how to create my own place to go and take you."
"Deal. Actually we can start on that after lunch if you want. You'll be surprised how easy it is." Marc said as I returned to the kitchen and topped off my coffee.
"What about memories stored before I became Robo-Boy?" I asked getting a giggle from Marc.
"Robo-Boy?" He asked and sat down at the table.
"Yeah, that's what I sorta sarcastically referred to myself as whenever I was kinda depressed about the whole situation. It just sorta stuck as the only mild way of referring to the time before I died." I said sitting in the chair next to him.
"Hmmm," He said as he took a sip from his cup. "I guess you can simulate them too, but accuracy would probably depend on how clearly your positronic brain can analyze your human memories. It should work."
"Well, I want to start with a human." I said getting a nod from Marc.
"Yeah, I miss him," I said looking out the window. "I want to see him as he was when I last looked at him with human eyes."
"Well," Marc said standing up and heading to the coffee maker for a refill. "Unless you specify otherwise, your brain will probably incorporate all of your memories of him, regardless of the image you choose for him."
"What does that mean?"
"It means, he will know of all the experiences you two had, even the ones created after he grew up. Unless you set a cut off time period and let your brain sort it all out for you."
"I can set whatever parameters I want?" I asked as he sat back down.
"Yup, but just so you know. Be precise about your parameters. If you are vague in any part of your planning, he won't be convincing to you. It took a few tries before I had John right."
"Is this a bad thing? I mean, should I be clear to myself about the reasons I want to do something like this?"
"If you are feeling guilty about creating a memory you can interact with, think about this. Is there anything wrong with keeping pictures, videos or personal items including someone you loved who has passed away?" Marc asked in a serious tone.
"No, it's a way of preserving their memory," I stated, realizing I had just answered my own question as Marc replied by only raising his eyebrows. "Point taken, Thanks Bro!"
Marc smiled and took another sip of his coffee. "So, what do you want to do until lunch, we haven't really done anything since you got here; together I mean."
I thought for a minute, not really coming up with any ideas. "Well, what do you normally do when Jim's away and you're home alone?"
"Oh, just the usual stuff. Eat, watch some TV, work on an android, visit John. We could watch some TV I guess." He said with a giggle.
"Don't you ever go out? You know ride a bike, play some ball, skate... Normal stuff a kid your age should be doing." I said not being able to contain a laugh.
Marc glared at me in a playful way, probably realizing I was hinting that we should go out and have some fun. "Do you play golf?"
"Well, it's not what I was getting at exactly, but it's a start," I said rolling my eyes a bit. "I've never played."
"Are you kidding me? I can teach you. A two second upload and you'll play as well as I do." He stated with a smile.
"Where's the fun in that?"
"Well, then we can play together." He said very innocently.
"Wouldn't it be more fun if you taught me the old fashioned way?
"I can but it would be…" He stopped in mid sentence as I think my point had just sunk in. "For that I would need to schedule some time at the driving range."
"Okay then, I guess that rules out golf for the moment," I said with a smile "But I really would like you to teach me."
"Cool, I'll call tonight and see if we can get some time in tomorrow then," He said with a huge grin. "So what do you want to do today?"
"I dunno, go outside for starters. I want to get some real sun," I said finishing off my coffee. "Wanna build a sand castle?"
"Are you serious?" He asked looking at me like I had lost my mind.
"Oh come on, when was the last time you built a sand castle?" I said standing up and putting my cup in the sink.
"Honestly, I never have. I have implanted memories of doing it as a kid, but they aren't real," He said developing a grin. "I gotta find you a swimsuit, and we could probably borrow some buckets and stuff from the kid next door."
"There are kids in the neighborhood and you stay cooped up in the house. Don't tell me you forgot how to be a kid." I said putting my hand on his shoulder.
"How old were you before you became um… Robo-Boy?" He asked sarcastically with an evil grin.
"Old enough to appreciate being 13 again," I said as he stood up. "You've worked long enough, lets go out and have some real fun." I said as an ear to ear smile came across his face.
I watched as he ran for his room to start rummaging through his dresser. 'His programming makes him 13, but I'll bet he's completely forgotten what it's like to be 13.' I thought as I entered the bedroom and got hit in the face with what I thought was a sock.
"That will fit you," He said as he began to strip out of his clothes.
"Where's the rest of it?" I asked with a laugh as I held the red piece of material out and looked at it. "A speedo? Gawd! I've never even worn one of these." I said as he pulled his up over his thighs.
"You're kidding?" He said now laughing. "You'll get a better tan, besides you've got the body for one." He said with an evil grin.
I reluctantly began to undress and slipped on the less than skimpy piece of material. "This is so embarrassing," I said getting a chuckle from him.
"You'll get over it, besides, all the kids around here wear them so you aren't going to stand out," He said as he tossed me a shirt that matched the suit. "Here, this may make you feel better."
After getting dressed, and looking at us both in the mirror I realized he was right. "Wow, we look good."
"Good? We look hot and probably shouldn't go out at all." He said as I gave him a swat and we ran for the back deck.
"Let's go next door and see if Jerry is home. He's come over here a few times asking if I would come out and play." He said as I followed him off the porch.
"You know him?"
"Well, I always made up some sort of excuse about not being able to go out. He doesn't know me that well at all since they just moved here in the spring," He said stopping in his tracks. "I've sorta avoided him cause I didn't want to act like a kid anymore."
"You're overdue," I simply answered and pushed him along toward the neighbor's house. "It's what, the end of fall and this is your first time playing on the beach this year? There are laws against that kind of behavior young man." I said with a laugh.
"Oh shut up, I've had fun building myself an older brother." He said as I bust out laughing.
"Real fun, how old is this kid anyway?"
"10 or 11 I think, I never asked him. I do know he's an only child though. He's got a few friends I think." He said as we reached the gate. Before opening it, he stopped and stared at the house, like he was thinking of something.
"Something wrong?" I asked.
"No, not really. It's been years since the last time I came over to this house. When I first came here, there was an older couple living here. Ginny and Ralph Marsh," He said with a warm smile. "I guess they were sorta like having grandparents." He added as we entered the yard and went up on the back steps.
Marc looked at me and took a deep breath before finally working up the courage to knock.
An older woman answered the door and smiled. "You're the boy from next door, aren't you?"
"Yes Ma'am, I'm Marc and this is my brother Danny. Is Jerry home?" He asked looking a little nervous.
Turning back into the house, she said, "Yes, wait here and I'll go get him," and left the door open.
"Jerry honey, Marc from next door is here for you." We could hear her say which gave us both a giggle.
We continued to listen in as we heard "Marc? He's here? Really?" in an excited tone and we heard him run for the door.
When he reached the door I just stood back and didn't say anything. Marc was right, he had to be about 10 and was cute as hell. Almost shoulder length dirty blond hair, Hazel eyes, a bit skinny but more wiry looking than scrawny.
"Hi Marc!" He said as he came out on the deck and closed the door behind him. "Who's your friend? I've never seen him around here before."
Marc looked at me and smiled. "Jerry, this is my brother Danny. He just came to live with us a few days ago."
"Cool, I didn't know you had a brother," Jerry said as he smiled at me. "You guys going swimming?"
"Well, Danny wanted to build a sand castle and maybe do a little swimming. I don't have much beach stuff so I told him I'd see if you had buckets and stuff and see if you wanted to help build it too."
"Really?" He almost shouted in excitement. "Cool, let me go tell my mom and get a bathing suit on." He shouted as he burst back through the door shouting for his mother.
"There aren't many kids in the area I'm guessing." I said to Marc, a little shocked at Jerry's excitement.
"Not really, There are some older kids in town but out here, only a couple I know of. Mostly older too," He said looking back out toward the beach. "I suppose I could have come out once in a while, he does seem kinda lonely."
"Well, bro," I said with a grin, "I think we are about to get skooled by a 10 year old," I said, getting a confused look in response. "Time to learn how to be a kid again."
"I'm ready!" A voice came from the doorway. "What are we gonna need?"
I looked at him and grinned. His speedo was almost identical to Marc's and he wore a matching shirt, just like we both had on. "Does this area has some sort of a beach dress code?" I asked getting a jab from Marc.
"Puh-lease," Marc said rolling his eyes. "It's not our fault you don't know how to dress." I swatted at him in response and he ducked out of the way giggling.
"You'll pay for that bro," I said returning my attention to Jerry. "You've never built a sand castle before?"
"No, but I do have plastic buckets and shovels and stuff. My mom bought them, but I never really bothered to use 'em," He said as he turned back towards the opened door. "Mom! Do you know where the beach stuff is?"
His mother came back to the door way with a puzzled look on her face. "Beach Stuff?"
"Yeah, the buckets and shovels and stuff. We're gonna build a sand castle." He said with a huge smile.
"Well, I'm happy the stuff is going to actually get used. It's all in the basement," She said with a smile. "You may want to ask one of your friends to help dig them out."
"Cool!" Jerry said as he looked over his shoulder at Marc. "Would you mind helping me get them? They're probably buried."
"Sure, lead the way." Marc cheerfully replied and followed Jerry into the house, leaving Jerry's mom and I in a cloud of dust.
"So, you're Marc's brother?" She asked with a smile.
"Have you visited before?" She asked making me a little uncomfortable not knowing how much she knew about Marc. "I mean I haven't seen you around at all."
"No, Marc and I kinda met for the first time yesterday."
"Well, I hope now that you have met, we'll see more of the two of you," She said as she sat down in one of the chairs on the porch. "It's nice to see Marc actually come out of the house. Jim told us he was having a bad time since losing his family. I'm sure he's happy to have you in his life now."
"Yeah, he has told me that Jerry has come over asking him to come out a few times, but never wanted too," I said hoping to talk to Marc about our story soon. "I kinda dragged him out today."
"Maybe that's just what he needs then." She said as we were both distracted by thumping noises and giggles getting closer from inside the house.
"We're ready, Let's go!" Jerry exclaimed tossing a mesh bag at me full of brightly colored beach toys.
"Wow, you plannin' on building one castle or a whole complex?" I asked with a grin.
"Too much?" He asked looking at Marc who was holding a bunch of towels and a bottle of sunscreen.
"Nah, I think we still need to get a bulldozer, and probably a permit to build though." Marc said with an evil look.
"Let's go clown, we got a castle to build," I said turning toward Jerry's mother. "It was nice meeting you."
"If you boys would like, I'll make up some sandwiches for lunch. I'll yell when they're ready and you guys can picnic on the beach."
"That sounds cool," Marc said with a smile. "Thanks, Mrs. Owens!"
"You're more than welcome, now go and have fun." She said with a smile as she turned to head back into the house.
Down on the beach we unloaded the bag of buckets and shovels. There were even different shaped forms and such that would help to dress our castle up a bit. We got right to work clearing a section to work in where the high tide smoothed out the sand earlier in the morning.
"Since the tide is still going out, the sand is still kinda damp," I said as we began digging a round trench and starting on the base of our castle using the sand we removed. "This is gonna be perfect."
About an hour later, we had the castle started and a wall built around it when we heard Jerry's mother yell from her porch.
"That must be lunch!" Jerry said as we all decided it was a good time for a break.
While Jerry and Marc ran back up to the house, I opened up a couple of the big towels and spread them out just in time for them to unload what looked like a banquet in sandwiches and soda.
"Wow, your mom didn't have to do all this." I said staring at our lunch in awe.
"It's okay, she works as a caterer, this amount of sandwiches and stuff is nothing for her. "Jerry said as he began to tear into a bag of chips.
"This is awesome." Marc said as he grabbed a paper plate and filled it with potato salad, a sandwich and chips.
"Yeah it is, we gotta be sure to thank her later on." I reminded him as we all set back and began to eat.
"Marc, can I ask you a question?" Jerry asked slowing down our feeding frenzy.
"Sure, what's up?"
"What's it like, you know... being an android?" Jerry sheepishly asked causing Marc to choke on his soda and me to freeze just about to take a bite of my sandwich.
"You know about that?" Marc asked sopping the soda off of his face and arms.
"Yeah. Jim came over a few months ago, when we first moved into our house. I overheard him talking to my parents about the neighborhood and stuff when he asked how they felt about androids," He said as he put his sandwich down. "Once he found out that my mom's family used to have one and were okay with them, he said that you were one and that he felt we should know because you wouldn't be growing up and he didn't want us to eventually think you guys were hiding it from us."
"Well, that makes sense," Marc said looking to be deep in thought. "I just wish he had told me that he was going to talk to you guys about me."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked." Jerry said looking a little upset.
"It's okay, I was just shocked, that's all. It's cool that you know. I'm glad I don't have to keep it secret really." Marc said gaining a weak smile from Jerry.
We spent the next half hour answering his questions and eating. Marc explained how we were related and that we were in fact brothers, which Jerry thought was really cool. We also learned that he was 11 years old as of last month and this was his first time living near the ocean having moved here from Glendale, Arizona. After our lunch was finished, we went back to work on the castle for at least a couple of hours, which came out much larger than we expected.
"Wow, I've seen people build castles like this but, never done it before," Jerry said as he looked at the castle in awe. "Would it be okay if I let my mom come down and see?"
"Sure." Marc said as he sat down and continued to admire our work.
"I'll be right back!" Jerry yelled over his shoulder as he bolted off towards his house.
"That was really fun, Danny," Marc said as I took a seat beside him. "You were right, I really should try to get out of the house a little more often."
"See, I told you," I said as I patted his shoulder. "There are lots of things I bet you haven't bothered to do because you didn't feel the need anymore."
"I guess so," He replied as he looked out over the ocean. "Like sailing. I haven't bothered to sail at all since Uncle John passed away."
"Do you have a boat?" I asked directing my gaze in the direction of his. "Maybe we could go out sometime."
"I have the one stored in my memory. The real one is in bad shape and isn't sea worthy anymore."
"Hmmm..." I responded noticing a boat off in the distance. "Could it be fixed?"
"It would have to be totally stripped down to its skeleton and be rebuilt," He paused and looked back at me. "Jim has it on a trailer on his family's property, holding it for me," He said in a somber tone as he redirected his stare toward the castle. "Why, what are you thinking?"
"Well, you have a workshop right here. If we can get our hands on the materials maybe we could restore it," Seeing no real reaction from him I added, "If you wanted to I mean."
"You would do that for me?" Marc said with a hoarseness that told me he was about to cry.
"I would do that for us. To preserve a real memory for you and build new memories for us both," I got out just before his tears ran don his cheeks.
Hearing Jerry shouting to his mom to hurry up, as if the castle was going to vanish or something; he quickly wiped at the tears in a desperate attempt to hide them. "Thanks, Danny." Marc whispered as he dried his eyes once more and cleared his throat.
"Oh my goodness boys, that is incredible!" Jerry's mom exclaimed as if we had just constructed a museum piece.
"We even left a little bit of sand so there's still some beach left." Jerry said earning a playful poke from Danny.
"It's not that big," Marc said as he looked it over closely, probably to hide his swollen eyes for as long as possible. "I can still see over it."
"Guys, is it okay if my mom takes a picture of us near the castle?" Jerry asked in an excited tone.
"Um, okay. Do you think we could get a copy of it, Mrs. Owens?" Marc asked as Jerry knelt down inside the wall we built around the castle motioning for us both to do the same.
"Absolutely, I'll let you know when I get it developed," She replied as Marc and I took our places on either side of Jerry putting our arms across his shoulders.
"Okay, smile!" She said in an enthusiastic tone as she snapped two pictures. "Well boys, I hate to break this up but Jerry needs to get cleaned up and get his clothes together."
"Oh Mom, can't we go tomorrow? I was having fun." Jerry half whined as we all began to pick up the beach toys and what was left from our lunch.
"I'm sorry but no, your father already planned this trip. Besides it's only for a few days." She replied as she began picking up the towels.
"Where are ya headin'?" Marc asked Jerry as he tied off the first bag of buckets and shovels.
"Dad has a vacation and were goin' back to Arizona to spend a few days at my Granma's house." Jerry replied in a disappointed tone.
"Well, we'll be here when you get back. Maybe we can do something like this again." I added, finally getting a smile from him.
"Really? That'd be cool!" He shouted as we began to lug our cargo back up to Jerry's house and help put everything away.
After returning the beach toys to the basement and promising Jerry to make plans for when they get back, Marc and I thanked Mrs. Owens for lunch and said our goodbyes. After leaving, we went back and sat down on the deck and looked over the castle we spent the day building.
"Too bad the tide is gonna take it," Marc said with a sigh.
"Yeah, but Jerry will have the picture and if you wanna teach me how, we can keep it in here." I said pointing at my head.
"Deal" he said as he sprang to his feet. "You want to start learning now?"
"I guess so, how long will it take?"
"Not long, you won't believe how easy it is to map out something like that," He said as I stood up and turned for the door. "I'll grab the interface and bring it into the living room so we can be comfortable."
"Okay, you want a soda or something?" I said opening the door and heading for the kitchen. "I'm kinda thirsty."
"That sounds cool, I'll just be a minute." He said as he rushed off to the lab and I poured a couple of cold drinks and brought them to the living room.
I sat down on the couch and took a long sip from my glass. 'I wonder how hard this is going to be, or if we'll have time to begin creating Kevin today.' I thought as Marc returned with the computer cart and a big cardboard box.
"Moving in?" I asked as I tried to figure out why we needed the computer. "I thought we were just going to link to do this."
With an evil grin as he started rummaging through the box. "Well, I was thinking we could do a little more than just the sand castle today. That's only gonna take a few minutes anyways."
"Okay then, what's all this stuff for than?"
"Well, you said you wanted to recreate Kevin and while I was researching you I had access to all his personality profile data that was taken during his interview with Vision Industries when it was decided he would be able to care for an android. That became a standard procedure until we were mass produced," Marc said as he plugged the computer in and began digging out tons of disks with Kevin's name on them. "He was profiled several times in the first 8 years of your android life and I was able to save them all."
"What's in a profile that will help?" I asked taking another sip from my soda and sitting back.
"Well, it is a form of neural scanning that determines interests, moods, feelings, likes, dislikes and anything else that they could use to insure that caring for an android was still desired and not a burden to the client."
"That's not the same kind of scan they did to me is it?" I asked suddenly realizing that they may have found a way to trap him much like they trapped me.
"No, your neural image reproduces every aspect of your human brain, entirely. That's easy to do with a subject that is not alive because they…" He said as he seemed to suddenly become uncomfortable with the topic.
"What? They needed to remove my brain?" I asked as he merely nodded his head in agreement. "I figured they did that anyway, you can talk about it, you won't upset me."
"I know, but for a second I forgot that you were human and it's kinda nasty to talk about. I don't want to make you upset or anything because of what they did."
"You aren't going to upset me. I've been in this body for a very long time. I know a little of what they had to do to put me here so it really doesn't bother me to talk about it," I said putting my hand on his shoulder. "So are we going to work on Kevin first then?"
"Unless you want to do the sand castle first."
"No, this was really thoughtful of you. I want him to be my first attempt," I said as he powered up the computer and handed me it's interface to connect to myself. "I would rather do this with someone who knows what they are doing, so I don't mess him up." I said earning a smile as he inserted the first disk.
"There is a ton of information on these, plus videos taken during your construction, home videos and any public appearances he made throughout the years with Dr. Strafford. It will all help to make his likeness more believable," He said as he looked back at me. "Your brain will file it all with memories that you will later compile to recreate a personality from. You ready?"
"I think so. It's gonna come to me like a thought, right?" I asked wondering if this is going to be like the last time I was hooked up to the computer.
"Yup, just think about it and you will see it all as it is transferred, like remembering stuff you forgot about."
I nodded my head and sat back. "I'm ready," I said as the first disk was uploaded in a few seconds and he put the next in.
"You okay?" He asked as I must have had a stunned look on my face.
"Yeah, that wasn't what I expected at all," I said as I grabbed my glass and emptied it. "This isn't going to take long at all, is it?"
"Well, that was disk one of 87. I guess it depends on what you consider a long time," He said with a smile as he uploaded the next.
Nearly two hours, and three glasses of soda later, I unplugged from the computer and sat back in the chair waiting for my head to stop spinning. "That was incredible," I said as I downed the remainder of my third glass of soda.
"Wanna take a break?" Marc asked as he powered off the computer and rolled the cart away from the couch. "We should probably eat something before getting started. This part is going to take a while."
"What do we have?" I asked as I stood up and nearly fell back onto the couch. "Wow, my legs are shaky."
"Yeah, that happens when you upload that much information at once," Marc said with a grin as he sat next to me. "Your brain is busy filing and processing all the new information we just fed into it. It takes so much of your own resources to handle that much information that your normal functions respond with a little lag until it's finished. Just move slowly, like you're tired and you'll be fine."
"How long will that take?"
Marc thought for a second before standing up and putting his hands on his hips. "Long enough for you to have to sit here and let me make you something to eat."
"Okay," I replied with a giggle. "so what's for dinner then?"
"You like pizza?"
"Are you an android?" I shot right back with a smile.
"Pizza it is then but, I have to warn you. I top a mean pizza," Marc said as he turned and walked through the door shouting back, "You like anchovies?"
"Gross!" I shouted back.
"Good, neither do I." He replied as he shuffled off to the kitchen.
Sitting on the couch, I suddenly felt my head clear. 'Must be finished processing.' I thought as I tried to think of ways to look at some of what was uploaded. The first implanted memory I was able to access was the 3 dimensional profile images of Kevin. 'God, they didn't miss a thing.' I thought to myself as every little detail was as clear as if he was standing right in front of me. I decided to dig a little further and found a video I recognized. 'This was taken before I died. How the hell did Vision Industries get their hands on it?' I thought as I closed my eyes and watched, I remembered filming it but, never saw it as an android so I didn't have a copy to reflect on, until now.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Uncle Dan, look what I can do!" Kevin shouted as he heaved the front wheel of his mountain bike up in the air!
"Hey, you finally got it!" Shouted my human voice from behind the camera!
Just then he looked at the camera as he passed on one wheel, causing him to lose his balance and topple over on his side.
"Oh man," He said as he scrambled to his feet. "Figures, you missed it when I made it all the way down the street but have the camera running when I wipe out." He complained as he wiped off the dust and picked up his bike.
With a chuckle, my human self said, "Do it again, this time don't look at me, bonehead."
Kevin jumped back on his bike and went to the end of the road, very slowly looping back in my direction. Once he was just barely rolling, he hefted the wheel off the ground again and rode his wheelie right past the camera and down the road.
"I did it! Did you get it all?" He yelled in an excited tone as he flew back toward the camera and dropped his bike on the ground. "Play it back, pleeease!" He whined as he disappeared behind the camera and after a couple of fumbling noises, the video ended.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"You okay?" Marc asked as he sat down on the couch and handed me a plate with a couple of slices of pizza on it.
"Yeah, I just watched a video I haven't seen since before I died," I said as I took a bite. "Wow this is good!" I exclaimed as I tore into the first slice. "How did my personal belongings make it into my files? I thought my family got all that stuff."
Marc put his slice down and swallowed what he had in his mouth then answered, "They did, but the contract signed when you were to be Neuro-Imaged meant he was allowed to catalog everything about you," He looked away for a moment then directed his gaze at the floor. "He had the authorities seize what was temporarily his possession."
"Well, that explains why my family wanted nothing to do with me or anyone who was involved after all this," I said as I tapped the side of my head. "What a bastard."
"It was just something else that proved he was dishonest and self serving." Marc said as he polished off his slice of pizza.
About 30 minutes later, dinner finished and the dishes washed and put away, we went back to the couch and Marc picked up the link cable and held one end out in my direction. "You ready to get started?" He asked as I accepted my end and nodded my approval. Just like the first time, I instantly felt his presence once both ends were connected.
"We'll be here for a while, you may want to lay back." Marc said as he stretched out on the couch leaving me enough room to lie down next to him.
Once we were both comfortable, I closed my eyes and waited for his image to appear in front of me.
"Okay, how do we get started?" I asked as I looked around having no idea what to do.
"First you have to think about what you want to do," Marc said as he looked to be deep in thought. "Keep in your mind that you are here to create an item that you want to interact with, then take my hand and lead me to the spot you are standing in. Then you will be hosting the connection. Your brain will provide the environment you need to create anything you can dream up."
"Okay," I said as I walked over and took Marc by the hand, thinking of exactly what he told me to. "Come with me," I said as I led him to my spot and suddenly the light in the area he was standing in vanished. "Did it work?" I asked as we still seemed to be standing in an identical black area.
"Yup, we are now in your brain," He said as he continued, "Want to have a seat? This is going to take a while." As he said it, a task chair appeared behind him and he sat down.
"How did you do that?" I asked as I just stared in awe at what I had just witnessed.
"Easy, just imagine that whatever it is you want to create is already there. The more detail you think of, the more accurate the item will be," He said as he sat back. "Go ahead, try it."
Looking at the empty area next to Marc, I imagined that there was a second chair when suddenly it became real. "Cool!" I said as I poked it with my finger! Just to make sure it would hold me before sitting in it.
"Now, creating a human is similar but way more complicated," Marc said as he rested his elbows on his knees. "First, you need to pick the image to use, whether it be from a memory, imagined or from one of the files we uploaded. Then you need to picture that image as real and standing in front of us."
"Okay then, I know I want Kevin to be my age, well as he was when he was 13. So, I want to use the 3 dimensional image of Kevin we uploaded." And just as I said it, a blue light similar to the white glow around us appeared just in front of us and Kevin was standing in the middle of it. I gasped at what I saw as it took me a little by surprise.
"Amazing, isn't it?" Marc asked as he took my hand and brought me out of the daze I slipped into. "Are you crying?"
"Sorry," I replied wiping the tears from my eyes. "He looks so real."
"No need to be sorry," He said as he stood up pulling me with him. "He is just as real in here as you are. Go ahead, touch him."
I stepped over to Kevin and touched my finger to his cheek and pulled back as if I had received an electric shock from him. "He's cold."
"So make him warm." Marc said as he stood back and folded his arms with a warm smile on his face.
"Think of the temperature you want him to be, and it will happen."
I thought for a second then stepped over to Marc and put my hand on his cheek. "I want him to be this warm," I said receiving a smile from Marc. Then I stepped back over to Kevin and once again touched his cheek, and it was warm. "It worked!" I said as I drew my hand back and looked him over. "But his skin doesn't feel real, like he's a doll or something."
Marc just smiled and nodded his head indicating I knew how to fix it now.
I closed my eyes and pictured the memory of the day I was activated when we were finally alone and Kevin put his hand on my cheek. I focused on what his touch felt like as I reached over and grabbed the hand of his likeness and held it to my face. Instantly it felt just as it did on that day.
"You incorporated a memory on your own, awesome!" Marc exclaimed as he touched Kevin's shoulder and smiled. "You learn fast bro!"
"What's next?" I asked as I released Kevin's hand and it fell lifeless to the side of his body.
"You decide, Just work on his appearance first. Then once you are happy with the way he looks, feels and even smells we can incorporate a personality." Marc said as he sat back in his chair leaving me standing face to face with my project.
"Smells?" I asked as I walked a circle around Kevin.
"Every little aspect of him, you need to recreate. Just pick it out as you go."
"Can I control him? I mean make him move and stuff." I asked as I tried to figure out where to start.
"Oh yeah, just think it and he'll do it." Marc replied as he seemed busy thinking about something so I focused on Kevin.
'Open your eyes.' I thought and jumped when he did, and they were nothing but black circles. "Hmmm... Looks like I really do need to pay attention to detail," I said as I pictured a time that I looked directly into Kevin's eyes, and suddenly the black circles became the life filled Hazel eyes I had always admired. "That's better, close your eyes my shadow." I said and Kevin closed his eyes.
"Shadow?" Marc asked as I didn't mean to make the command out loud.
"Yeah, people used to ask me where my shadow was whenever he wasn't with me, back when he was much younger than this. Where ever I was, my shadow was pretty much always close by. It just stuck," I said as I took another walk around Kevin, singing just over a whisper, 'Wherever we go, everyone knows. It's me and my shadow'. "What was the point in these 3 dimensional images?" I asked as I got silent, trying to think of a time in bed when Kevin had just gotten out of the shower. I remember noticing how he smelled at that moment, then smelled his likeness and found the scent was perfect.
"It was supposedly intended to be incorporated in your positronic brain, so you would have accurate details regarding your owner. In your case it wasn't needed but, Dr. Strafford created the policy and followed it I guess."
"He had to be naked when they took them?" I asked as I looked at the form standing in front of me thinking how embarrassed Kevin must have been, or would be right now.
"Yeah, it wouldn't be accurate if he wasn't," Marc replied. "But if you put clothes on him before you get his body right, it will mean more work editing him later."
"I guess so," I said as I thought back to the same night when we climbed into bed and I kissed his head and said goodnight. I noticed how nice his hair smelled and wanted to incorporate that memory as well. "Bow your head for me buddy," I said and his head bowed forward so I could smell his hair. "Perfect, now look at me," I commanded and he did. "This is so weird," I said as I noticed color appear in his cheeks. "Marc, Kevin's color just changed and I didn't tell it to."
"Yup," Marc said with a giggle. "You learn fast alright. You did command it to change. Subconsciously your brain realized his coloring was wrong, so it made the adjustment for you. That only happens when you are in this creative mode. In real action, small things you take for granted will be adjusted by his programming once it's active."
"Small things?" I asked as I looked back at Marc.
"Like if he's active, he'll get sweaty and his smell will change accordingly. The scent you just gave him is what he will smell like at the beginning of any visit until his environment alters it."
"Neat, so I won't have to even think about it?"
"Nope, it will be handled automatically."
After almost an hour of thinking up every time I ever saw him naked, I was convinced that I couldn't make him any more perfect than he already appeared to be. I repositioned him several times to verify that there were no mistakes with any aspect of his body.
"I think I'm done," I said gaining Marc's attention as he seemed to be preoccupied with something and not paying attention. "No wait a second," I added as I walked back over to Kevin and looked at his face. "Smile for me kiddo," I said and realized I had overlooked a small detail. Picturing his smile in my memories his dimples suddenly appeared and the right corner of his mouth raised just a bit more than his left, just as Kevin's used to in real life. "That's better," I said once again thinking of details I may have missed. "Show me your teeth," I commanded and chuckled when I realized I had forgotten that the image didn't include inside his mouth. A few memories later, his lips, teeth and tongue were finished when I suddenly realized, I was far from being finished. "Exhale." I said as I leaned in to smell his breath.
"He can't yet," Marc said standing up and stretching. "He has no internal organs yet."
"Oh, wonderful," I said with a defeated tone in my voice. "How am I supposed to recreate something I have never seen?"
"That's what I've been working on. With this kind of recreation, you can have the subject emulate bodily functions but they aren't always accurate. I spent years cross referencing medical records, DNA samples on file, and even the dietary records taken on John to make him as real as possible. I compiled all the same info and recreated his biological structure," He said as he stepped in front of Kevin. "Incorporate biological structure file Kevin-01 and initiate," Marc commanded and Kevin began breathing. "Now he can exhale, has a real heartbeat, pulse and his nervous system is even functioning. If he was ticklish, you can test that out now as he will respond to touch now." Marc said with a smile as I walked over to Kevin watched him breathe in and out.
"Kevin, open your mouth and exhale," I commanded as I once again leaned in and noticed his breath had no scent at all. I adjusted it and decided to test what Marc told me and gently tickled his side. "Did you see that, he flinched."
"Tickle his feet and he might even kick." Marc said with a giggle.
"His feet were never ticklish, but his sides were always a great way to disarm him," I said with a laugh as I decided it was time to cover the poor kid up. I picked out a memory of him getting dressed and replicated each piece of clothing until he was completely dressed. "Okay, is there anything you can think of that we need to do before we start on his personality?"
"Nope, I think you have it all under control. Have him sit down and we'll get started. Are you thirsty?"
"Yeah, wanna whip up a couple of sodas before we move on?" I asked as I turned back toward Kevin. "Okay shadow, sit down on the floor, look up at me and smile," I commanded and he did just as I said. "He looks so real already," I said as I patted his head receiving no response, which reminded me that we had more work to do. "Okay, close your eyes kiddo."
"Here's your drink." Marc said taking a sip from his glass as I took my seat and downed half of my own.
"Drinking in here has no affect to our real bodies, right?" I asked looking at the glass.
"Nope, but it fools your brain into thinking it isn't thirsty anymore. In here, getting thirsty is an emulation but, stay in here long enough, and your real body will be neglected." He said as I nodded my head.
"Where do we begin?" I asked looking at the not so lifeless looking form sitting indian style on the floor in front of us.
"You already have," He said looking at me and smiling then continued, "You already have what you hope him to become in your mind, you just need to incorporate all your memories of him, all the small things that makes him Kevin to you with all the uploaded information of him. Think of everything in your brain that involves him in any way, then picture it all coming from him," He said as he pointed at Kevin. "This is going to be the most involved process you will need to accomplish. Be specific about his age, as he will remember everything throughout the course of his entire life but act the age you specify," Marc said as he grabbed my hand. "and be sure to specify how long it's been since you last saw him. This way he will react as a human to seeing you for the first time. I found that it is more realistic to include a real memory for him, so each visit will be that much more real for you," With a smile he added, "You can either make him aware of time while you aren't here if you want, but remember if you do, he will know if you haven't visited in a long time. I specified 24 hours regardless of the actual time passed, just so I don't need to explain to John why I don't visit everyday."
"Thanks Marc. I never would have thought of that," I said as he released my hand and I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I focused on the task of gathering the information first and then added my own specifications as Marc suggested, which took almost an hour to do by itself. Once I had the profile completed I looked at Marc and smiled. "Wish me luck." I said getting a nod as a response.
Looking at Kevin I smiled and whispered "Come back to me Shadow." as I thought of the final step to incorporate his personality with his mind. I could suddenly feel the enormous amount of energy it took to finalize the process but it took a few minutes before I felt the transfer take place. I watched as the blue light around him faded and was replaced with a white light, just like the one surrounding Marc and myself.
"Kevin?" I asked receiving no response from him. "Marc, somethings wrong," I said as I looked over and saw that neither Marc or his chair was in the room anymore. "What did I do wrong?" I asked as I stared at Kevin, who still sat in the same position I placed him in before the transfer.
"Marc! Marc! Please, I did something wrong!" I yelled into the blackness, still getting no response. Tears began to well up in my eyes as I looked at Kevin. "You were supposed to wake up," I said as I leaned forward and cried into my hands. "I knew it was to good to be true."
"Uncle Dan? Why are you crying?" A voice I recognized half whispered as I felt a hand softly touching my shoulder. Looking up I was stunned to see Kevin standing in front of me with a tear streaming down his right cheek. "I'm here now, please don't cry."
I jumped out of my seat and hugged him with all of my strength. "God I missed you," I cried as I held him for dear life. "I thought I would never see you again."
"I missed you too Uncle!" He cried as he hugged back with an equal amount of strength. "I'm not sure where I've been, or even where we are now but I promise I will never leave you again," He said as he buried his face in my neck and continued, "I love you Uncle Dan."
"I love you too, Kevin, I love you too…" I muttered as I opened my eyes and realized I was alone on the couch in the living room.
"Marc! Oh no Marc!" I shouted as I bolted upright noticing the cable wasn't attached to the back of my head. 'Please tell me that wasn't a dream. Please God, I don't want to loose him again.' I thought as I looked franticly around the room for any signs that it wasn't all a dream, and found nothing.
"MARC! Please help..."
To Be Continued…
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Notes from the Author:
Yes, I have some apologizing to do. First of all for taking so long to actually get this chapter done and second for ending it the way I did. (I know I'll hear about it later. [G]) Things have been extremely trying at home the past few months and even though I've tried the story just wasn't coming from me like I had hoped for, until a couple of days ago. Funny how that happens.
I really need to thank my "Family" online and off for being patient with me as I never intended to start this tale and not finish. Chapters may come slow, but it all seems to work out for the best in the end.
A special thanks & hugs go out to my two editors. Not only do I thank you for encouraging me to continue to write (By encouraging, I do mean ankle chewing and several wet spots on the carpet ;) but you also inspire me in real life when it just seems to be too hard to press on every day. Just like this story, when it all seems to come to a screeching halt and seems impossible to move on, I just remember that you two are a part of my life and it really helps to keep me going. Just Thanks for letting me be "Uncle Jeff" again... I've missed it.
As always, this story is dedicated to my nephews; Jonathan, Logan & Coby. Whether grown and on your own, or to far away to give a hug to, you three are the reason I have so much love to pour into the friendships developing in this story. Jon, in real life I miss My Shadow though judging by the man you have become, and your comments about wanting to "Make Me Proud" not too long ago. Rest assured, there is no way on earth I could be any more proud of you than I already am. Kevin is my tribute to you...
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Notes from the Editing Team:
Wow! This is sooo cool. Jeff is writing a great story and he has some pretty neat editors too :)~
Thanks for lettin us help you with this. It is a really fun project.
Jeff is one heck of a writer and we are both glad that he is BACK ---- FINALY !!
Way To Go