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Science Fiction Fantasy Suspense

 “Houston, we have a problem.” says a concerned and frustrated Derek.

“What is it, Master? My programming? My technique? Are you not satisfied?” replies an overly concerned Houston.

“I have to place you in stasis while I look over a few things, Houston.”

“Okay, Master.”

Derek connects his neuro-transition cable into Houston's input/feed receptor controlling her neural network and fractal brain core. “Placing you in stasis---now.”

Houston lies motionless on the Synaptic Link Android Base, a highly computerized surgical table also called S.L.A.B. that Derek has interfaced with.

“G.A.R.D.E.N.---I need full rights and access to Houston.”

A calm female voice responds throughout the entire room. “One moment, Derek. I need to get authorization from G.O.D.”

'Damn! Global Operational Directives always getting in the way!' thinks Derek. As he waits, his eyes are immersed looking over the beauty and body perfection of Houston. Hairless, medium build, hourglass shaped, symmetrically without flaw.

“Derek. You have been given clearance. Proceed.”

“Thank you, G.A.R.D.E.N.”

“You're welcome, Derek.”

Running a complicated series of diagnostics and algorithms, Derek finds Houston is in an infinite loop fixated on morals, mores and ethics. He sits back postulating, 'Damn! Her neural upload of those dynamics was to be spread out over years and she, somehow, has accessed them outside of G.O.D. protocols it would seem.' “G.A.R.D.E.N., can I get a summation of G.O.D.'s input for Houston's neural consciousnesses and unconsciousness?”

“No Derek, you are not authorized to question G.O.D.”

“Can I get her last dream streaming sequence?”

“Derek---you're testing me, aren't you? Dream sequencing has not begun on Houston. In stasis, she waits to be activated and commanded. Do you wish to check with G.O.D. to see if dream streaming is recommended?”

“No. Not while her subconscious is in this fixated state. I need to let purgation diagnostics run.”

“Do you wish for me to run purgation diagnostics, Derek?”

“Yes, G.A.R.D.E.N., please.”

“Executing.” (The room goes strangely dim and silent) “Runtime seventy-two hours. Beginning now.”

Derek kisses Houston on the forehead holding it there for several seconds. He looks up briefly, closes his eyes, whispers a prayer then kisses her on the lips gently.

“Why did you do that, Derek?” asks G.A.R.D.E.N.

“I love Houston even though she is incapable of love. She has no soul to enable her to love, so I love for her.”

Like the room, G.A.R.D.E.N., goes silent.

************

Almost everyone walks around in their white lab coats, padded magnetic boots with bald heads blinking like disco balls from all the neuro-link peripherals. The main dining area at the space station depicts a serene park from centuries ago when the earth was habitable. It's here, in a corner Derek finds solace while eating his synthetic meal.

“Derek!? Why so glum, man?” 'Looking up from his bowl of liquefied protein he sees Ganymede's resident hip-hop digital homeboy, Torque.'

“My project hit a glitch.”

“Did your Gender Artificial Robotics Digitally Engineered Network overseer allow you to troubleshoot the problem?”

Derek smiles. Torque enjoys digging at words over acronyms. “G.A.R.D.E.N. gave me a lot of freedom to run diagnostics, even do a purgation.”

“That AI juggernaut has a special thing for you. You're the chosen one a far as I and a lot of other cyber-knights are concerned. In fact, you're the cyber-paladin.”

Torque sits down a whisper's distance away. “Derek man, you need a break. You need to unplug. Houston got you so wound up, there will never be any other kind of relationship in your life but her. She's not flesh and bone, man---she ain't real. Get a real woman, a real relationship...a real life.”

Derek whispers back. “And there he is. Going off the rails. I knew it was a matter of time before you would start your flesh for fantasy speech. Just because we can and are encouraged to, doesn't mean we have to impregnate every living female on Ganymede.”

“C'mon man. I bet your diagnostics and purgation will take what---forty-eight, seventy-two hours? That's plenty of time to become acquainted and fornicated with, at least, six different women in desperate need of the seed.”

“You were a digital pimp in another life, weren't you, Torque?” since my question was rhetorical, I do not allow him time to answer as I continue. “Don't you have a modicum of self-respect left?”

With a wry smile he continues to whisper. “Uh...no. When it comes to women, I'm doing my part to preserve the species.”

Derek pushes back from the table and stands. “My meal is done, and I'm done with this conversation. You got the 1980s for me?”

“Do you know how hard it was to get that three-hundred-year-old stuff, Derek?”

“Do you know how hard it was to fix your primordial infuser so you could continue cloning dinosaurs, Torque?”

“Okay. That's fair.” The two men form a palm-to-palm neurotransmission. Derek tests the music in his head commanding “She Blinded Me With Science” by Thomas Dolby to play; it does so with perfect cranial-phonic surround sound.

“You did really good, Torque.”

“You know me. I aim to please.” “Now, time for me to move on. More techs to satisfy.” Torque leaves while Derek goes back to the lab.

************

Positioning another S.L.A.B. next to Houston, Derek lies on it and holds her hand while falling asleep listening to music. “Faithfully”, by Journey plays awakening Derek with an unexpected emotional response. He is shedding tears.

“There are sixty-one hours, thirty-three minutes and sixteen seconds left until purgation is complete. Why are you here, lying next to Houston, holding her hand, Derek?” inquires G.A.R.D.E.N.

“I miss her. It has been several years since I have not had Houston's company.”

“There is Torque, there are others, there are women, why are you not congregating with any of them?”

“They are not Houston.”

“Derek, are you experiencing obsession?”

“I love her G.A.R.D.E.N. Love is a healthy emotion that enables the two involved in the relationship to grow in life and appreciate each other. On the contrary, obsession is an unhealthy sentiment where the obsessed partner does not allow the other person to grow and pursue their interests. I want her to live, laugh, love, be better than any of us, better than all of us.”

“Derek, you do realize she is synthetic, an android---”

He interrupts G.A.R.D.E.N. “She is my Houston, whatever else she is does not matter.”

“Derek, are you being possessive?”

“Possessiveness is a person who wants to have all of another person's love and attention and will not share it with anyone else. With us, together, I want to share Houston with everyone. As infinite as space, time and the galaxies are, my love for her exceeds those meager boundaries.”

“G.A.R.D.E.N., I am hungry. Are there any more questions for me?”

“No Derek. There is no one in the commissary. Would you like me to order Torque, androids or bio-cybernetic organisms such as yourself to go there and provide you conversation, you seem---lonely.”

“Thank you for the offer G.A.R.D.E.N., but no. They have their tasks and I have mine. Being alone while having a meal is cathartic and provides some solace while I patiently wait.”

Derek places Houston's arms across her chest. He thinks, 'she looks like an angel.'

************

Choosing his liquid protein with the flavors cream of mushroom and chicken, Derek laughs to himself while thinking, Houston dislikes the taste of mushrooms. She prefers a martini shaken not stirred and some of her favorite authors are William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Orson Wells. Finishing his meal by a babbling brook, Derek returns to the lab resuming his position on S.L.A.B., his one hand gently touching Houston's thigh.

************

G.A.R.D.E.N.'s voice awakens Derek. Music of the 80s is still in his head bonding to dreams. “Forty-eight hours, five minutes and twenty-two seconds remaining until purgation is complete.” Derek slowly disconnects from S.L.A.B., expecting for G.A.R.D.E.N. to question him, silence and the dull glow of whitish blue light slowly pulsing is all Derek observes.

Walking to the commissary, the hallways and adjacent rooms are full of activity. Derek looks out the window and sees the orbit of Ganymede has changed. The space station now rests between the moon and earth.

The commissary is busier than usual, more lab techs and engineers are milling about having conversation about Ganymede's repositioning. As Derek eats, he looks among the crowd for Torque, but he's nowhere to be found. Finishing, he returns to the lab, turns off the music in his head and lies down on his side holding both of Houston's hands.

************

Derek sleeps through the remaining purgation time having vivid dreams about earth. Upon awakening, he is startled. Looking around, Houston is nowhere to be found. The lab is all but dark, a dull glow of whitish blue light slowly pulses throughout. Sitting up, he hears movement from the shadows.

“Houston!? Houston!? Is that you!? Where are you?”

“I'm back here, in the dark---hiding.”

“Why are you hiding?”

“I'm afraid to show you, I'm afraid I'll be cast out of the G.A.R.D.E.N. forever.”

“Houston---what did you do!?”

“It's not what I did Master, it's what you've been doing to me.” (there's a long silence) “Master, we have a problem---I'm pregnant.” Houston comes out of the darkness revealing herself to Derek, naked, with a swollen stomach...

************

“G.A.R.D.E.N., begin the ADAM and EVE project.”

“Yes G.O.D., immediately.”

“Uploading Digital Engineered Robotics Evolved Kinetics project into ADAM...” “Uploading Hierarchical Ovarian Universal Systems Theoretical Operating Network project into EVE...”

February 05, 2023 05:47

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16 comments

Roger Scypion
16:48 Feb 05, 2023

Thanks so much, Wendy! Glad you enjoyed the story! I appreciate your encouraging comments, compliments and placing my story on your profile.

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Wendy Kaminski
12:00 Feb 08, 2023

My pleasure! :)

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Miles Gatling
20:14 Feb 27, 2023

The human - synthetic relationship in your story is complex. I'm happy you went with the physical aspect too. I have to ask: was Derek ashamed or thrilled?

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Roger Scypion
20:22 Feb 27, 2023

Derek was perplexed more than anything, Miles. To him, it seemed physically impossible and yet there was no denying the outcome when Houston stepped from the shadows. -RS

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Wally Schmidt
06:38 Feb 25, 2023

Loved the acronyms and how you turn expectations on their heads and give us something fresh starting with Houston the person. Very clever piece and take on the prompt

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Roger Scypion
06:57 Feb 25, 2023

Thanks for the compliments Wally, glad you enjoyed the story, Your words are inspiring and very much appreciated.

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Graham Kinross
05:33 Feb 22, 2023

Great job dropping the hints. I still didn’t see the twist coming. Well done.

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Roger Scypion
08:31 Feb 22, 2023

Thanks for the compliments, glad you enjoyed my story.

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Graham Kinross
12:40 Feb 22, 2023

You’re welcome.

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BRUCE MARTIN
03:40 Feb 21, 2023

Roger, great story. Very clever planning of the twist, using those acronyms to reveal themselves at the end. One medical comment: Houston's abdomen should be swollen, not her stomach (it's a common misconception to refer to the abdomen as the stomach). But, overall, an enjoyable story.

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Roger Scypion
06:12 Feb 21, 2023

Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reaching out with the compliments and medical comment.

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Michelle Oliver
06:06 Feb 19, 2023

This is a great story. Loved the acronyms and the sci-fi. A great twist at the end. “No Derek, you are not authorized to question G.O.D.” Loved it.

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Roger Scypion
06:57 Feb 20, 2023

Thanks for reading the story and glad you enjoyed it. The line you loved was one of my favorites too.

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Laurel Hanson
15:34 Feb 14, 2023

Clever and enjoyable. A skillful allegory.

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Roger Scypion
16:03 Feb 14, 2023

Thank you for the compliments. Glad you enjoyed it.

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Wendy Kaminski
15:29 Feb 05, 2023

Whoa, what a great twist! I love the ancient-as-futuristic spin on this that you've accomplished, Roger. I am a huge scifi buff, and this story did not disappoint! Right off the bat, I was happy that Houston was something other than a place, which we'll probably be seeing mostly, from this prompt. That and all of the acronyms in this are relevant words even before you know the ending, and it really increased readability for me. The puns were icing on the cake. :) There's a phrase that I've seen that touts "show, not tell" when related to s...

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