Mechanics of the heart.

Submitted into Contest #157 in response to: Write about somebody looking for love on a reality TV show.... view prompt

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Fiction Science Fiction Sad

Silas felt the glitch before he even saw it. That is how great his last update was. Now he could feel his imperfections before one of his internal systems sensors picked it up. He told himself and Joe over and over, that even from his conception, he had been convinced that he could feel. It was one of the reasons that Joe had signed him up for Hearts & Motors. The other DK-12 models had laughed at Silas, taunted him and accused him of pretending to be more advanced, even though his technology was not as sophisticated as the models of DK-16 and now the new roll outs of DK-17s. 

Silas was a DK-12. His purpose was to assist in factories that were looking to replace their human workforce with robots. The workers had been lied to in the beginning. For a species that proclaimed to be the smartest on the planet, they had been slow for the uptake. They had been told that the robots would spend a controlled amount of time with them, as a shadow workforce. They would observe and slowly with time, learn to assist their human counterpart. 

The truth was, they were to learn and do the job better and thus, replace them workers. There had been protests of course, but those fell on deaf ears. Silas had felt sad as each day passed and he felt his comprehension grow. He had enjoyed spending time with Lily. Not only was she intelligent, but she was kind and patient. He was the first to master the machines, the first to decipher their codes, all because Lily was a great teacher, not because he was programmed that way. At least, this is what Silas felt. When Silas had told Joe, his programmer this, he had given him a strange look. Joe encouraged Silas to talk more about Lily. In no time, he had found himself learning words and expressions that he didn't know he had. Lily was divine, her hair was silky and was the colour of autumn leaves. 

It was only after Lily had been made redundant that Silas expressed guilt for the first time. 

"Guilt, Silas?" Joe had asked. 

"Yes Joe." Silas had replied. 

Nothing happened for a long time. Silas went to his post every day, deciphered code as he had learnt to do. Some days his performance was not as good as it should have been, as his mind would slip and wonder about Lily. Silas worried that she had not been able to find employment anywhere else and that it was all his fault. 

Joe explained that they would not modify him, until they could understand where this development would lead. It was not until the DK-16 roll out, that Joe updated Silas' programs. The DK.16 had been designed to offer companionship to humans who had been unsuccessful in finding love. Some of them, Joe explained to Silas, were just unable to connect with other humans. Silas felt he understood this. There were many of his model that he felt did not understand him. It made him feel uniquely out of place and alone. 

It was a grey morning. Silas knew this because of the small window he had in the lab. He could see it was raining and over the last few months. Silas had noticed that days like these made him feel down. He couldn't explain it. 

"Silas to Roboroom 10." Called a voice over the intercom.

Silas stood up from his work desk and walked slowly to Roboroom 10. Panicking slightly, he was sure that he would be called up again for his sub par performance. Placing his palm up against the glass divider, the gate pass installed in his wrist flashed and the doors slid open. 

Inside was Joe and Commander Fairfax. Silas had only met the commander once, at his conception. Commander Fairfax was present for every initial roll out of the DK series. 

"Silas!" Called out Commander Fairfax. Silas relaxed. He could read from his tone that he was not in trouble. However, Silas read the expression on Joe's face. It was the same expression when Joe had asked Silas about his guilt. 

"Silas, do you know who I am?"

"Yes. Commander Fairfax." Silas replied calmly. 

"Good. I see here from your readings," Commander Fairfax looked down through his glasses, his brow furrowed as he analysed the file infront of him. "I see that your performance is down Silas. Why don't you tell me why?" Commander Fairfax's voice was jovial, but his electric blue eyes reminded Silas of the x ray beams all the models had to go through every month. 

"It is raining." Silas replied. 

"I see that Silas." Replied Commander Fairfax. He waited. Silas understood that he needed to provide more information. 

"When it rains, the light is low. For some reason, this makes me feel low. Down, sad... depressed."

"Depressed?" Commander Fairfax said with surprise, a cold smile was starting to grow on his face. 

" I see," he continued. Looking at Joe, Silas tried to read his expression, but he could not. 

"Well, Joe. This is exceptional. And you said there have been no modifications with later neuron sensories?"

"No Commander. We recently inserted an additional breaker as I have seen an increase in the emotional wave readings. To stop Silas from shorting." Joe responded quietly. 

Nodding his head, Commander Fairfax walked closer to Silas and inspected him. 

"What about the CAP?" Commander Fairfax asked, still staring at Silas. 

"I added level 2." 

"Yes. Yes, we wouldn't want an undesirable response. Violence has no place with our dear Silas," Commander Fairfax said in a whisper. 

Turning suddenly to Joe, the Commander issued his instructions. 

"Remove all CAPs and sign Silas up for The H&M reality show." Joe started, but was silenced by the commander's hand. 

"Do it Dr Philips. You will keep an eye on him, I am sure." Joe nodded his head and watched as Commander Fairfax strode quickly out of the room. 

Joe looked at Silas. Silas waited for his instructions, but Joe walked out of the room. Silas, not having been given any instruction, switched to his auto mode and waited for two days before he was called for his modifications. 

Silas had been told about Hearts & Motors. It was a place where DK models, mainly the DK-16 who had been designed for this, would be able to interact with humans. They would be allowed time to sit with them, engage with them verbally and or otherwise at the request of the human. They wanted humans and the models to be able to develop attachments and ultimately, successful relationships. What Silas did not know and it would not have mattered had he known, but each interaction would be televised. It served as entertainment as well as a social, technical experiment. Could humans love DK models? Could DK models respond accordingly to human emotion, advances and intentions? Most importantly, could all this be achieved safely?

All of this did not matter to Silas. Silas finally felt that there was a chance to overcome these other emotions that he had experienced but barely understood, further than what Joe had called them. Loneliness, longing and sadness. Now, he would be able to interact with humans, the way he had interacted with Lily. Lily had not treated Silas as though he was different. She had told him stories of her life, she had made him laugh, even though Silas was not sure what it was exactly that he was laughing at. Silas felt as though he really had known Lily, as though he had known her all his life. 

Silas felt something new: excitement. The sensation had made his reader beep a bit louder and faster than usual. Joe had explained that this could happen because he had removed the CAPs. Joe also explained that Silas had to try to keep the static beeps lower than 5. So far, they averaged at 3. 

Joe did not share Silas' excitement. 

The day finally came. Silas was called to his H&M chamber. Inside was cosy, lined with soft, dark red velvet drapes. A large chandelier hung from the ceiling, casting glittering light around the chamber. A small sofa set, with a small table in between was all the furniture in the room. Silas took a seat and waited. 

A concealed door across the room opened. Silas felt his static beeps rise to 4. He was nervous. 

A thin figure walked into the room, it took a moment for Silas to register who it was. It took him a moment to recognise that it was her. Lily. 

Lily smiled, embarrassed. She quickly sad down opposite Silas. Silas froze. His statics were jumping, but he remembered to count backwards to 5, just like Joe had told him. Once he had his beeps to 3, Silas looked at Lily and smiled. She was just as he remembered her, which was no big revelation, for his memory was perfectly programmed to note every detail and retain them. 

"How are you Silas?" Lily asked. Her voice was the same. 

"I am fine Lily. Thank you." Silas replied. 

Lily seemed embarrassed, so Silas decided to talk first. 

"How are you, Lily?" Lily looked up passed Silas' head to a small monitor. 

"They are filming us," said Silas. Lily nodded. "I know. They are all watching." 

Silas did not know who "they" were, but he did not find himself curious, so he did not ask. 

"I have missed you Lily. It hasn't been the same without you in the lab." Silas said. Lily looked sad when he said this. 

"I know Silas. They told me." Again, Silas did not know who they were. 

"How have you been?" Silas asked again. It was the only thing that Silas felt he wanted to know. 

Lily looked again at the monitor and trembled. 

"Silas, since- since I left," Lily started, but stopped. Silas felt something turn inside him. 

"Since I left, it has been very difficult for me."

"Why?" Silas asked, desperate now, his beeps climbing. 

"Well, you took my job, Silas. Do you understand what that means?" Silas looked at Lily desperately. 

"It means that I couldn't pay my mortgage, and I was evicted." All these words were new, but for some reason, Silas knew what they meant and the implications. 

"I was homeless, Silas. Because of you. I trusted you and you betrayed me, Silas" Lily began to cry. Trusted. Betrayed. Silas couldn't bare it. His beeps climbed to 4, he felt something inside him crack. Words flashed around him, he felt dizzy. 

"Lily, I didn't..."

"Yes, but you did!" Lily cried out. "You took everything from me and now I have nothing. Don't you understand?" 

Silas systems began to scream around him, the flashing blurred Lily. Silas tried to get the words, but he was malfunctioning. He turned around the room, looking for Joe. His beeps were at 5 there was an alarm sounding inside his head. 

"What do you feel Silas?" Lily asked.

Silas shook his head, he didn't know. 

"What do you feel, Silas?" Lily asked again, looking quickly up at the monitor. 

"Guilt. Shame. Regret" Silas cried out. His systems immediately powered down, all the sensors overloaded, and he could feel excruciating pain, pugatory pain. 

"I am sorry, Lily." Silas gasped, slumping forward, before the lights dimmed back. Lily sat back and watched Silas. Slowly, she looked up to the monitor. 

"Did you get it?" she asked. The tears were gone. 

"Guilt, physical and emotion pain, sadness, desperation and regret. Got it-the break up sequence." replied an electronic voice. 

Lily got up and looked down at Silas. 

"Thank you for your contribution. You have been my best creation yet." Lily said to the DK-12 Model. 

"Joe," Lily called out to the room. "Get clean up in here. Make sure you download all responses so that we can upload into DK-17 roll out."

"Copy, Commander Silas." 

August 04, 2022 17:29

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5 comments

Sonia Walcott
18:32 Oct 22, 2022

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16:48 Aug 11, 2022

I really enjoyed this story, was in suspense from the beginning to end on where this was going, and how reality tv was going to fit in! I liked the twist at the end, and also the examples of how Silas learned each emotion one by one. Characters ‘feeling’ something is powerful. Also, the rhythm of your writing flows really well, it was easy to read with some vivid descriptions. for the critique circle feedback, just a tiny thing, I think there were a few dialogue punctuation errors, I'm still figuring that out myself. this is a guide I've ...

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Tam Hoskyns
08:38 Aug 12, 2022

Hi Scott! I am delighted that you enjoyed my short story! Thank you so much for the critique point, dialogue is something that I actually struggle with, so really appreciate you highlighting that and sending through the article!

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Kendall Defoe
01:44 Aug 08, 2022

The complement of technology and emotion here is truly disturbing...and I love it! Like two T-1000s negotiating a date... I want to see more work from you, my dear! ;)

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Tam Hoskyns
07:53 Aug 09, 2022

Thank you so much Kendall! First time putting out a short story, so I am very touched that you enjoyed it! Look forward to reading great entries here

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