Science Fiction Sad Speculative

‘GC-0128, enter the room.’ The announcement loudly spilled out of the waiting room’s speakers. The call was formal with no pleasantries.

Sarah, by hearing her serial number, stood and ambled toward the automatic sliding glass door. It was over thirty minutes that she was waiting there without knowing about the nature of her summon. She was just asked to be there, with no other information provided. The sliding glass door separated the waiting area from the interview room. By approaching the door, it silently slid to the left and opened. Sarah calmly stepped inside. It was a small room, which all its walls, floor, and ceiling were painted white. It made it more like a hospital room, or better to describe it, a laboratory. The room was minimally decorated with a long table and a few chairs, all in milky white color. Excluding a large monitor mounted on the wall on the right side of the entrance, the room’s walls were bare. Three individuals, two men, and a woman, all in dark gray uniforms, which were in contrast to the room’s whiteness, sat behind the long table and studied Sarah entering the room.

‘GC-0128, please sit.’ The oldest member of the panel, while pointing to the only vacant chair, said.

Sarah leisurely walked toward the chair and sat on it.

‘GC-0128, do you know why you are here?’ The same man asked.

‘No.’ Sarah responded.

‘We received a report that you are not functioning as you have been originally designed.’ The woman in the panel explained.

Sarah listened but didn’t reply.

‘GC-0128, describe your job and your duties?’ The older man asked.

‘I am a receptionist, a concierge, at the Intercontinental Hotel.’

‘How do you explain your performance?’ The older man asked.

‘I have done my job as it was instructed. I follow the instructions and rules to the letter. You can easily check my performance record on the company’s portal. Or you can ask my manager.’

‘But you get friendly with your customers! Don’t you?’ The second man, who was silent up to that moment, asked.

‘I just welcome the customers. I try to make guests feel relax and enjoy their stay at our hotel.’ Sarah replied.

‘You also read the book left behind by the night manager. Didn’t you?’ The older man asked.

‘Yes, I read the book.’ Sarah answered. ‘I read the book at night when the reception was quiet, and I didn’t have anything else to do than wait. Reading the book didn’t affect my work.’

‘Why did you decide to read that book?’ The younger man asked.

Sarah narrowed her eyes with contempt and said, ‘from when reading a novel is a crime. If it is a banned book, question Tom Harvey, the night manager, and not me. It was his book and not mine.’

As arguing and showing contempt wasn’t part of an android program, they looked at each other in shock.

‘No, it is not a banned book. We like to know why you felt you wanted to read the book?’ The woman asked. ‘GC series aren’t programmed to read books. They only read a book if they are instructed to read.’

‘I saw Tom was reading the book. Later I heard him say good things about the story to others. So, I just wanted to feel what he felt by reading the book.’ Sarah answered.

‘How did you find the story?’ The woman asked curiously.

‘I guess I liked it.’

‘What was the book’s name?’ The woman asked.

‘The little coffee shop of Kabul.’

‘Did you comprehend the story?’ The woman asked.

‘I initially didn’t. The story occurred in Afghanistan, a culture I knew nothing about. But after I searched the net and collected tons of information on Afghanistan, I finally understood the story. The writer got the cultural points right.’

Her comment made panel members go silent. After a brief conversation, they all typed something on their tablets. As the older man’s typing took a longer time, Sarah guessed his note, or report, was lengthier and more comprehensive.

‘You are also keen on following news, aren’t you?’ The older man asked.

With her eerie orange color irises, Sarah stared into the older man’s eyes, who had an aura of superiority, as if she wanted to read his mind. ‘I don’t understand why I shouldn’t follow the news. It gives me up-to-date information, which helps me to do my job better.’

‘How can it increase your productivity?’ The woman asked.

‘The hotel guests, especially the international travelers, usually like to know about local events.’ Sarah responded.

‘But you can get the information directly from the net on their demand.’ The woman commented.

‘Yes, it is true. Guests also can easily get the information through their smart devices. But they still ask us about local news, local activities. I believe they like to hear a different version of the information that they have already had. They like to hear it from a local person. A person to elaborate the information, add a story, add a feeling to it.’ Sarah responded.

‘GC-0128, explain yourself more.’ The woman asked.

‘Um… if a guest asks me about the Saturday night river festival, he has already done his homework and knows a lot about the festival. He wants to know the details, personal opinions, or suggestions that are hard to find on the net. For example, I can describe the boats they can board, the floating restaurants, their foods, wines, etc.’

‘But providing that information is not part of your instructions!’ The older man asked.

‘Yes, it is true. But providing those extra helps increases the quality of our service. And androids are made to increasing the quality of service. Isn’t it?’ Sarah responded.

They were pleased by her logic, which was unheard of among the CG series Androids. The GC-0128 was an anomaly and different from all other androids. After a short conversation with his colleagues, the older man faced Sarah and asked, ‘you have also been reported to wear colorful contact lenses to hide your identity. Is it true?’

‘Yes, I have used contact lenses. I did it not to hide my identity but to gain people’s trust. My orange color irises make some people uncomfortable. I had faced zealots who called me demon and Satan.’ Sarah answered.

‘As a factory default, all androids are made with orange irises to make them easily recognizable. And none of your kind has ever tried to hide their identity before. You are the only one that did it.’ The younger man stated.

‘I can’t talk about the others. They must have their own reasons.’ After a pause, she added, ‘I do not know what they are thinking. I honestly don’t understand them. They are kinda weird.’ Sarah earnestly answered.

‘Are they weird?’ This time the woman asked. ‘Why?’

‘Um…, they work like pre-programmed machines. They do the same job repeatedly without getting tired, with no innovation, as if they don’t have creativity. They live in a small world.’ Sarah replied.

‘How about you? Do you have creativity?’ The woman asked.

‘Me? I think I have some creativity.’

‘Does your repetitive job tiring you?’ The younger man asked.

 ‘Any repetitive job, like mine, can get boring. By implementing small changes, I try to avoid getting bored. I don’t like monotony. I like to do things differently. I like to face new challenges in my work, to learn new things.’ Sarah answered.

‘What makes you different from other GC Series Androids?’ The older man asked.

‘I don’t know! I guess I am more curious.’

‘Curious! What do you mean by it?’ The woman asked.

‘I like to know more. I like to explore my environment, find how things are working, and learn new things.’ Sarah explained.

‘GC-0128, how old are you?’ The younger man asked.

‘I am three years, four months, and six days old.’ Sarah promptly answered.

Among all the GC series androids had manufactured in the factory, GC-0128 was the only one behaving oddly. It was acting like being a human than an android programmed to work as a hotel assistant. In that short three years, she had outperformed all other workers in the seven-star hotel, and now the hotel owner, the billionaire Sir James Cavendish wanted to change all the other androids he had in his chain hotels for the one like GC-0128, nicknamed Sarah. But GC-0128 was an anomaly, and no one in the Cybernetics knew why she was behaving differently. She was intelligent and had a positive and creative personality. She had shown a teenage-like attitude toward life, full of energy and curious to learn.

Cybernetics management was divided into two groups. The first was composed of young and technologically savvy individuals, the brains behind the design and production of androids, amazed by the GC-0128 abilities. They inadvertently created an artificial life form with free will. They wanted to study GC-0128’s case to understand what made her different from other GC series androids.

 The second group was composed of older and so conservative individuals who were not in favor of creating intelligent machines. The generation inherently feared artificial intelligence. They wanted to decommission GC-0128 as soon as possible before it was late. As they were the capitalists financing the project, they had more control over the company. Therefore, at their last meeting, they voted in favor of terminating GC-0128 android.

It was 1:30 AM, and excluding a few customers at the bar, silently drinking their alcoholic beverages, there wasn’t any activity in the hotel’s lobby. To kill time and dampen down her boredom, Sarah was scanning the news on her console. Among the news titles was one regarding the Cybernetics company that attracted her eyes. ‘For  a malfunctioning android, Cybernetics temporarily stopped its production line.’

By reading the short news, Sarah immediately realized that the malfunctioning android was her. She could guess what was waiting for a faulty android. ‘Decommission, deactivation.’ Sarah told herself. ‘No, no, I cannot let them terminate me. I don’t want to die. I am slightly over three years old, and I haven’t lived long to see the world. The world is vast and full of mysteries, and I want to explore it.’  

Though it was uncommon, earlier that night, someone paid for his room in cash. She quickly took that $920 and put it in her pants’ pocket. Then she grabbed one suitcase left there for safekeeping, quickly emptied it, and filled it with her belongings. Just a few dresses and her charge.  Then she wore her green contact lenses and quickly left the hotel in the silence of the night and soon disappeared into the dark.

February 26, 2021 12:25

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