Science Fiction Adventure Suspense

A Regenerating Dream.

Picked up by her mother, young Andrea was placed onto her mattress. Bedtime was never easy for Andrea, who whined endlessly each night. Sitting up with her arms and legs crossed, she moaned “mom, why do I need to sleep? I'm an android!”

The phrase 'recharging your batteries' was not intended to be taken literally; however, it was accurate regarding Andrea. Hidden under her left thigh was a small door with a battery. Impossible to remove, the battery was what kept Andrea alive. If she spent too long 'uncharged' she would indeed 'die' for real.

She sat beside her daughter and briefly paused. Attempting to control her temper became increasingly difficult with each passing night. Weary of hearing the same complaints, yet having no legitimate reason to give her, Andrea's mother frankly stated, 

“Why? Because I said so! Your father and I have been teaching you about 'blending in' with the rest of humans, and sleeping is something we do. Sleeping is a task all living creatures partake in. Getting tired is often bothersome and many consider sleep a waste of time. Yet when they do not sleep, their behavior and general functionality grows significantly worse. Eventually, something malfunctions without sleep. Extreme deprivation could result in death.”

Andrea recalled her past as she laid down. Like a cellphone running on low power, she would indeed malfunction. Trial and error over several previous outings as a young child revealed 'lack of battery power' was partially responsible for the disasters of the day. She knew her mother was right, although she swore she would never tell her.

“So you're saying I will 'malfunction' without enough sleep? Funny, I thought you did not believe I am a machine, yet you are using words which often reference machines. 'Malfunctioning' humans indeed. What are you saying mother,” Andrea sarcastically replied.

“I am saying you must go to sleep! GOOD NIGHT! End of discussion,” Andrea's mother shouted as she slammed the bedroom door with such force the door cracked slightly. Noticing the crack, yet also intending to sleep, she made note of the issue. She would have her husband buy and replace the door the following day. 

Reflecting on her creation, Dr. Rosalina James wondered why Andrea needed sleep too. As a Technical Engineering PhD, upon learning she could not have children, decided she would create her own. She was shocked to realize although she designed Andrea with numerous physical and intellectual enhancements, she forgot about adding 'no sleep required.' With an enormous investment of time, money and love placed into her creation, why not design the best? Perhaps she was running on a low battery the night she programmed certain sections of Andrea. 'Nothing is perfect,' whether specially built or developed between people. She and her whole family would learn how true the statement was throughout their lives.

Young Andrea finally gave into sleep. Laying still and closing her eyes activated the regeneration cycle. Her last thoughts were regarding her parent's reminding her constantly about 'blending in.' She was often forced to hide her unique enchantments to prevent undesired consequences, such as being taken away and experimented on. Whether an android's regeneration cycle and a human's bedtime are similar enough to compare is up for interpretation. What could not be disputed was eight hours of hell was forced upon Andrea each night.

Her body laid motionless on her bed, yet the gears in her head literally turned. Smashing into each other, each wire in her body unraveled and hid behind the destructive gears. Similar to how a spider weaves her web, the wires connected and wrapped around each gear one by one. Shocking each gear back into it's proper location is what Andrea imagined being bit by a black-widow spider would feel like. Thankfully, her programming prevented feeling pain or any other physical sensation. Her mother was not 'malfunctioning' the night she installed that enhancement.

Her disobedience caused her nightmares. The few times she willingly slept she had dreams filled with ocean waves flowing throughout her entire body. Each of the millions of gears were sea creatures or coral reefs. Jellyfish and electric eel wires hugged each other and other sea creatures. Fictional mermaids could be seen gazing at the fish jumping over each gear when they turned.

Andrea, like the fictional mermaids, also dreamed of being fully human at times. Yes, they suffered from nightmares and experienced pleasant dreams too. However, the differences were evident if remembered. Apparently humans often did not remember their nighttime experiences unless they were spectacularly vivid. Forgetting the crashing and exploding of each element in her body would be a blessing. 

Halfway through her regeneration cycle, she started remembering a lesson on bears. The relevant point was learning they hibernated during the winter. Winter had arrived on Lush Island, although telling the differences between the seasons was difficult on a beach. Andrea was grateful bears were not present near her home. They were however, present in her nightmares tonight.

Her body was a bear pit, the gears became stepping stones. When they connected with the internal wiring cords, a bridge was created. 'Quiet,' she thought. 'Slow and steady wins the race' Andrea recalled her father saying and in her dreams she took the advice. 

Steeping lightly she continued her quest to reach her thigh. If she could reach the battery perhaps her irrational dreams would stop with her being fully charged. Only a few more gears left she noticed as she proceeded. Throughout her journey she dodged bears of all different species. Waking up a bear out of hibernation in real life would probably result in death. Many humans, such as her father, were equally as dangerous as wild animals when woken up too early. She hated sleep; ironically she was a wild animal when being woken up. 

Surpassing the obstacles of the bear cubs, unusually rare bear species and polar bears proved difficult. The cubs seemed to wake up; they did not. If they did the other bears would have been awoken. Occasionally loosing her balance Andrea would sway and fall off the gear/stepping stone, grabbing the internal wiring/bridge ropes for dear life. Perhaps she would be fortunate enough to reach her thigh and charge herself quickly without self harm. In nightmares, nothing was easy for humans or androids. 

She stopped walking for a moment. Standing on one gear for too long was unwise she realized too late. A snap in half and an attempt at jumping away proved futile. The snap of the cord as the gear cracked into pieces, flying in all directions, was the last straw. If she had a heart it would have stopped. Breathing would have been impossible given what she was soon to behold. 

The bears heard her pass, the snap waking them up quickly. Unaware of her presence they began fighting each other. Normally, this would have been a wonderful distraction. Unfortunately, the bear brawl was moving rapidly, growing more violent with each second. Blood filled in the gaps of her body and the pressure from their steps started breaking the surrounding cords and gears. Eternity seemed to pass and Andrea wondered why she had not yet woken up. Nothing could have prepared her for what she witnessed with the final two bears, the black and brown bears. 

The Black Bear versus Brown Bear battle was taking place directly on the part of the thigh she was trying to reach all night. The brown bear was near death and the black bear was preparing his killing blow. Accepting there was nothing she could do for herself, she did the only logical task dream Andrea could do.

“STOP! I'M THE ONE YOU'RE LOOKING FOR,” screaming loudly enough she hoped. Panicking as she waved for them, “ I woke you up! I'm sorry...” Both bears stopped and set their eyes upon her. Both blood soaked, they raced towards her and she found herself uncertain about what should be done next. Some bears can be outwitted by playing dead, others you needed to flee before they caught and killed you she recalled. As she was considering her options...

“Good morning Andrea! I trust you had pleasant dreams?” Her mother shook her awake, noticing that she was tossing and turning in bed instead of motionless. A seven hour regeneration cycle was close enough. They had no plans for the day; being slightly tired would not cause significant trouble. 

“Mom! You'll never believe what I dreamed last night! Oh, and good morning to you too,” Andrea replied still panicked from the previous night. “What time is it? Have eight hours passed already,” she asked sitting up. She stared deeply into her mother's eyes. Looking underneath, clearly her mother got enough sleep; no dark circles could be seen.

Trying to calm her down, Andrea's mother remarked, “Well, only seven hours passed. Your tossing and turning made me wake you. For today, seven is close enough.” 

“NO! I need that one more hour! You're right,” Andrea cried.

Setting a timer for one more hour was pointless in Dr. James opinion. However, she humored Andrea and set it for one more hour. Dr. James knew she was right, yet adored when Andrea finally agreed. A smile stretched across her face. As intelligent as her little girl was, she was unaware her mother knew more about her regeneration cycle beyond the science and purpose. Regardless of the topic, any night they had a fight, the next morning she would report bad dreams. At least there were a few nights each week she had pleasant dreams. Perhaps there would be more in the future. 

An hour later, Andrea woke up without help and found her mother sitting in the living room. “Good morning mother. I'm glad I received the extra hour.”

“Better dreams I assume?”

“Yes. I do have a specific request however; never take me camping. I hate bears.”

Nodding her head, she inquired “Why bears? Personally I hate camping yet have nothing against bears.”

“Simple mother; bears hibernate,” Andrea replied.

Making no sense to her mother, she took Andrea aside and they watched TV, fully attentive to the cartoons playing on screen. 

March 27, 2021 00:54

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