Mistakes at the Movies.
Taking a deep breath, Dr. Rosalina James looked upon her creation. It was beautiful. Not 'it' but rather 'she' was beautiful. A little girl named Andrea, currently had the same fiery red hair, emerald green eyes and slightly pale skin that her mother also bore. Although red-heads often stood out from the crowd, bearing a resemblance to one's parents is natural. Thus, little Andrea was able to blend in with the people around her. If she learned she simply did not care for her appearance, or had a sudden need for a change Andrea could quite easily undergo one. Just one of the many abilities included in this android's design. It was now or never Dr. James thought. The final stage of Andrea's development was coming closer. The final step would be the most difficult one to complete before fully stating that she had created an artificial child. All the individual working parts functioned smoothly, yet being able to connect the dots and learn how to use and control her enhanced programming would be what allowed her to call herself more than a robot. Furthermore, although programmed to utilize a wide range of enhanced skills, emotional enhancements Dr. James learned, could not be programmed. She would have to teach Andrea how to blend in with the crowd. The only way she would be able to learn would be to practice interacting and eventually living among real people. She would have to leave Lush Island, the place she called home her whole life. Dr. James would have to trust in her abilities not simply as a creator, but as a beginning parent to make her daughter's life develop smoothly. She knew, just like when parenting a human child that there would be difficulties that the whole family would need to adapt to. After intensive instruction, the little girl knew how to operate herself. But, due to a lack of people other than her parents to observe, she knew very little about society as a whole. When told the news, the prospect of leaving home, although only a brief journey at first, excited Andrea. “Mother, did you just say we are leaving Lush Island? Where are we going? How long? YAY!” she exclaimed. Wringing her hands and pacing around the room she called her “Secret Laboratory” she spoke with Andrea, seriously having second thoughts. Concerns about taking her daughter out were extremely foolish in Dr. James eyes. Even if she needed a bit of development, her dreams would not be dashed. She built an android, the first to be considered an autonomous individual. Overcoming the challenges that she faced should make her current experiment rather simple in comparison. “Please, Andrea... one question at a time. Just because you can process so much information through your own brain doesn't mean the rest of us can. I can't answer several things at once without taking a single breath in between. That's one of the things that generally annoy humans to no end. Also, talking over another person, when things should be quiet is also extremely bothersome to a human. We are going to see a movie at the Tree Town Theatre.” “So are we only leaving for a few hours? Why can't we do something or go somewhere for longer? I want to see the world.” Andrea's excitement at taking a journey and 'leaving' the tropical Lush Island were tragically extinguished. Nothing more than a few hours out, seemed like a waste of time. Dr. James, rather surprised by the sudden change in mood, “my goodness, what's wrong? I would have thought it would be a pleasant surprise? Your birthday is soon. I must have forgotten to mention Daddy would be coming with us! Don't worry, eventually we will travel abroad. For now, think of this as just your first, but not your only journey.”
Yet again Andrea had a child's equivalent to a mood swing. An almost realistic looking frown turned back to a more genuine appearing smile. Dr. James was a Technological Engineer not an artist, so maybe she thought her daughter's expressions were due to lack of skill in that department. Nevertheless, at least that was something she could change in her daughter's programming. Hearing that her father would be joining them, as he had been away on a long business trip, she started twirling around the room like a professional dancer, repeating in an extremely girlish voice her excitement. Variations of “yay for Daddy!” were sung in a constant loop while she danced around the room. Well, Dr. James thought, at least she had the general idea of happiness vs sadness understood. Like a child she also did behave in a relatively humorous manner.
“Andrea, I'm thrilled you are happy but please be careful. You nearly crashed into everything twirling about that fast. Also, children cannot move that fast, so to blend in and not hurt anyone else, move slower. Now why don't you go get ready?” After sending her off to get ready, all Dr. James thought to herself was “Oh, dear, the room is a disaster!” If the shelves were not bolted to the floor, they would have broken and all contents destroyed. She made note to add doors to the shelves and bolt down the desk her daughter bumped into so this would not happen again. Pushing the horrifying thought of cleaning up her “Secret Laboratory” aside, she decided that going to the movies was an excellent and fun first test. How difficult could things possibly get? All Andrea had to do was show that she could be quiet, patient and express simple emotions. Happy or sad was likely all she was going to get since the animated feature was a G rated film. She did not want to expose her daughter to fear until she got those first two concepts grasped. More life experiences would be bestowed upon her, this was just simply the first. That thought gave her some momentary relief.
The day proved much more difficult that expected. Upon arrival home, Dr. Houghman gave Andrea a hug, then gave his wife a passionate kiss. Pleased that Andrea wanted to go out for some fun, he certainly needed a break from all the depression researching caused him he asked, “Are you excited? I am just to be home with you both. Go finish up now,” he told his only half dressed child. “We don't want to be late.” said Dr. Houghman.
Interpreting 'not being late' to mean hurrying up, the previously established point to control your speed instantly fled Andrea's mind as she, like a tornado, tossed her clothing out of various drawers until she found what she wanted, using her brush to pull the knots out of her hair. She was going to impress her parents by how lovely she looked. Wanting to wear a little makeup like her mother did, she opened a small section of her left shoulder and seamlessly turned a variety of small gears around until she had the slightly clownish arrangement of makeup on her face. She thought she looked lovely when she ran out to greet her parents.
“Mother, Father, I'm ready! What do you think?” “Andrea, I don't recall giving you permission to wear makeup. Otherwise you look quite nice,” said Dr. James. Her husband agreed, expertly disguising his personally unflattering opinion. While Andrea was getting dressed, and knowing he had but a few moments to speak freely, Dr. Houghman quickly took a moment to check whether the coast was clear. Taking his wife aside, in a slightly menacing voice, “Sweetheart, this had better work.” Realizing his tone was inappropriate to a clearly nervous wife, he hugged her and apologized. “After all these years I am still in love with you, and now Andrea. I'm worried for you and even Andrea's fate concerns me. You put all the parts together but the machine may still fall apart like any other piece of technology.” Insulted that he basically regarded Andrea as more of a technological experiment rather than a person, claiming how he cared when he truthfully showed little interest in Andrea, Dr. James now more than ever wanted this experience to be a pleasant one. Although people despise being proven wrong, that day she was determined to prove that he was wrong. That an android could actually function in the real world. A simple trip to the movies might start to convince him.
The adults were able to act pleasantly towards each other although there was a clear sense of tension filling the room as everyone walked out the door. Andrea would need to learn how to present herself appropriately so she could blend in. Today's journey away from Lush Island, while small, would begin the process of her learning. The only reason for Andrea's development in the first place was due to being Dr. James being diagnosed with the 'Ripping Disease.' The 'Ripping Disease' that Dr. Jame's husband was researching at the Humanity Research Facility was slowly tearing her apart. It ripped things away from where they should be often causing the need for many surgeries and other medical procedures to frequently be required. It also caused infertility that no medical procedure could cure. Time flies by so quickly and due to her almost complete focus on Andrea for 10 years, she forgot that her own time was passing by. Eventually accepting an exceptionally romantic proposal, Dr. Rosalina James married Dr. Jacob Houghman. Although her interests were more with technology and science, she still had the same desire to settle down and have a family. Ironically, an adopted man himself did not approve of it under any circumstances. He remembered his constant journeying as a foster-child throughout his life, not adopted until he was a teenager. These negative thoughts constantly plagued his mind and prevented him from seeing any positive about the process. With the lifespan of his wife uncertain, he certainly did not want something to happen to either of them, leaving their own child parent-less. But after endless fighting and ultimately reaching nowhere, rather than set their tropical island home ablaze with nothing either side conceding, she had to put the matter of family on pause. But never to be forgotten. When his wife proposed the idea of an artificial child to him, he was intrigued by the hypothetical creation his naturally ambitious and extremely intelligent wife proposed. The android would be designed so that it could grow naturally like a human would. It would have extensively enhanced abilities and most importantly, be autonomous. It might be able to change it's appearance at will, but whether a young girl or an old woman it would never forget what it learned, from books or experiences. Being built to look natural, but actually extremely strong, was a must. But as intrigued as he was by the idea that it could take care of itself if necessary, he did not seriously believe it was possible. As a loving husband, giving his wife something to focus on rather than just her pain was the most he thought would happen. Rich enough to turn a run-down hotel into a large family home, turning a beach of deceived tourists away, into an almost private tropical island. The secrecy Lush Island provided, in addition to a home large enough to be divided into house and workshop, allowed his wife to protect her work from prying eyes. A private island does not provide enough exposure to instill natural social development however. The wooden connecting bridge from the tropical island to Tree Town allowed for travel to complete errands and interact with other people seamlessly. Dr. James could also have some fun with her husband and eventually hoped their daughter, for all intents and purposes, would be able to join them. Most children had to be taught the etiquette of attending a public event the day of, but at least Dr. James thought, she had already gone over that before. Sometimes things need to be explained more than once, unfortunately. The car ride went successfully, with no obnoxious whining over whether they were there yet, or undoing seat-belts while driving. No fighting about riding in the backseat. This put a false sense of hope in both parent's minds. After they arrived at the Tree Town Theatre, unfortunately having to park a long way from the theatre, the day of sheer terror officially began. You can't pick and choose how much of a child you want, even an artificial child still needs to learn. Acting her age, she complained about the long walk, although she was built with great stamina. The situation started getting worse once they were into the theatre. Dr. James purposely pre-purchased tickets in the middle of the theatre as part of this experiment. At best, nobody would be tall enough to block the view, at worst how Andrea reacted to being blocked would be taken into account.
Growing impatient, Andrea moaned, “Daddy, are we going to be late?” The line to retrieve pre-purchased tickets was almost as long as the ocean surrounding entire Lush Island. Managing to maintain his self-control, her father replied, “ No Andrea, we are not late. The line is extremely long, but we are here with plenty of time to spare. Thank your mother for having us leave early.” Andrea's mother was pleased to hear something genuinely positive come out of her husband's mouth. A little flattery never hurt anyone after all. “Are you alright Mom and Dad, you look like you are in pain. I thought we were here to enjoy ourselves,” commented a slightly confused Andrea. “We're fine honey, just take your seat,” said Dr. James, barely holding herself together tripping over the armrests. Navigating the isles too small for anyone larger than a child was causing great discomfort for Dr. Houghman as well. Finding their seats they placed Andrea between the two of them. But as suspected, three tall teenagers happened to be placed in front of the small family. Even the view of 6 foot Dr. Houghman was partially obstructed. A woman of short stature herself, she was frustrated by the situation, but had more interest in her daughter than the children's film to care that much. As the 15 minutes of previews played on, none of which intrigued anyone, they had to endure the sounds of crying babies and people shuffling around to get a better view. While some were more successful than others, all of the commotion and the poor seating arrangement was slowly agitating Andrea until finally she hit a breaking point. Her eyes began to glow red and hit the back of the person behind her.
Grabbing her hand, Dr. James said, “calm down. You can sit on my lap if you want, I don't mind.” Seeing how packed in her parents were to their seats, she polity declined her mother's offer. She did not need anything else pressing on her. Still desperate to see the film, based off of a sci-fi TV show she adored, she decided to think creatively. Her mother often solved her own problems that way, so why shouldn't she be able to as well. In the darkness of the theatre, she put her hand in her collar to touch her shoulder. She did not need the light to see what buttons to press as she gradually increased the length of her neck. If they had been sitting in the back row, she probably would not have been noticed, but a sudden scream of terror clearly not related to the action of the film was heard by all. Far too late, her parents realized that something was wrong with their daughter, not the other children. Yanking themselves out of their seats, her father picking her up and carrying her, they flew out of the theatre and back into their car. Crying because of the fact that she missed the movie due to her behavior and fearful of her parents reaction, Andrea vibrated rather than trembling like a human would. Her father was enraged, finally lost all control. Rather than Andrea, he yelled at her mother, “I told you this was a stupid idea! Frankly SHE is a stupid idea and so are YOU!” “Thank you for setting such a wonderful example,” Dr. James replied in a surprisingly calm voice. “Don't you remember the first time you left home? Did it go as well as you hoped? I doubt it, but even though you aren't acting like it now, I know that over time you learned. From this experience I hope we can ALL learn something.” “What about me mother? Am I to be punished? I should be shouldn't I? I'm so sorry to you both for causing such trouble. I wasn't trying to do anything wrong,” Andrea sobbed to her parents. Shushing her, Dr. James quietly said, “Andrea, when we get home I am going to correct your appearance, but given how late it will be by then, the day will not be discussed until tomorrow.” Dr. James would need until the next day to ponder what was to be done. At least, albeit through unconventional means, the miniature 'journey away from home day' did have a positive result. Andrea was able to see how her behavior could affect those around her, and the parents both realized that they both must contribute to her development. Teamwork was what was going to make this family run smoothly and provide a positive influence on their daughter. At least she was capable expressing emotions.
“Mother, will we ever be able to leave the tropics and explore the world? Or have I trapped us here on Lush Island forever?” asked a guilty Andrea. “Once you can master the movies, then longer trips can be considered. Don't give up hope. I won't, not just yet,” soothing her daughter while resetting her appearance that night. Full reprogramming could wait until later.