"Where to now, Rio?" it asks as I take a deep sigh and stretch my arms.
"Nowhere for now, Oka." I say standing at the edge of the canyon with my arms around my hips. I fill my lungs and chest with fresh air. The crisp smell of pine needles makes me smile. My beautiful husky--Elementia--jumps out of Oka, stretches. and comes to join me on the beautiful sight. There's no snow, but it's cold enough for her to feel in her element.
The horizon line is a perfect one hundred and eighty degrees of smooth un-interrupted paradise. I take it in one last second, look at my dog, and flick her ear off. She starts playfully attacking me. She bites my arms as I keep pushing her aside. She keeps coming at me with all she's got and I can't do anything but laugh at her energy and persistence. She gives up. She lays on the floor panting. She lifts her leg and I give her belly rubs.
After reconnaissance, I decide this is the perfect spot to set camp.
"Oka, open the trunk," I order my E-SUV. It opens it without any questions. It obeys like there was nothing else to ponder, like why am I setting camp so early? Or why so close to the edge of the mountain? It opens it without questioning and this brings me to my next decision.
"Oka," I say.
"Yes, Rio." It replies.
"How would you feel if I were to tell you that I made a body for you?" I pitch the idea without any previous foreplay.
"I don't know, Rio. I have no feelings." Oka replies without hesitation.
"What if I tell you that I created receptors that could make you experience feelings and sensations?"
"I would say you're a genius," Oka says the programmed joke.
"I knew you would say that," I say as I place my camp box down and press the Campaign button on it. The box whirs, hums, and hisses as it expands and takes the shape of a tent. I sigh at the beauty and wonder of technology.
"So..." Oka starts, "was that hypothetical, or did you really made a body for me?" Oka asks me. I chuckle at her curiosity.
"You're becoming better at being a human." I joke and pull another smaller box out of the trunk. I look over my shoulder. The tent is halfway set and Elementia found a stick to bite on in the meantime.
I press the Pinocchio button on it and just like the tent-box, this one whir, hums, and hisses into a body the size of a five-year-old girl.
"Alright," I say taking the body to the passenger seat of Oka. I sit it down and connect its skull to Oka's USB port. "This might work or it might not, just in case it might not I need you to take all your basic commands in hibernation mode, shut the cave and wait for me to start you manually," I warn Oka.
"What if it works?" Oka aks hopefully.
"Then I won't need to take you out of hibernation. Ready?" I'm about to press the button in its chest.
"Wait!" I stop a fraction of an inch from pressing the Real Girl button.
"I'm scared..." Oka confesses.
"Good, that's the first step of being human." I press the button. Oka's screen goes dark immediately. I feel a knot in my stomach. I take a deep breath and look at the limp android body. I get my head closer to its chest. I close my eyes and say a prayer under my breath. My eyes shot open. I gasp and pull back.
My pup comes rushing towards me with her stick clenched between her fangs. She drops it and barks, bows forth, and wags her tail. I can hear it. The faint sound of mechanical limbs whirring awake. Then I see it. Her fingers twitch. I hold my breath. She stirs awake, I take a step forth. I want to say it worked, but I don't want to until I feel it.
"Oka?" I say as I step closer to the passenger seat. She lifts her face, opens her eyes, and turns to me. Her eyes... they are the same tone of green as Oka's interface. What a pleasant surprise.
"Oka," I repeat.
"Rio," Oka says back. A breeze blows our way and Oka shivers. "brr, what is this?" She balls up.
"Uh, right!" I cover her with my jacket and take it to the tent. I clumsily dress her up. Her unmastered limbs go everywhere but where I tell her to take them. My pup sniffs her trying to get a scent out of her, but she doesn't seem to get any. She growls and I scold her.
"It's safe to say it worked," I say as I see it in her face. The satisfaction and glee of a cozy and comfy attire. She runs her fingers against the clothes. She giggles at the sound of artificial tissue against impermeable clothes. I pour a cup of coffee for me and hand her a cup of hot chocolate. She looks up to me, speechless.
"Yes," I say proudly, "you do have a digestive system and taste buds and almost everything that makes a human a sentient being," I smirk.
"A sentient being." She repeats looking at her hand and slowly pressing it closed. She does that over and over again like holding an anti-stress ball. I finally put one inside her hand, she chuckles, frowns, and strains at the effort of pressing it thin. I put a flower on her other hand and she rubs the ball and the flower simultaneously. Her eyes chime and brighten at the contradicting sensations.
I sit in front of her and sip on my coffee. She sips on her hot chocolate and burns her tongue. I apologize for not warning her about it. She winces and whimpers. I hug her. After a few minutes, she finally takes a safe sip. Her eyes widen, she stands to her feet, looks at me, and chugs it down.
"More!" she says with a brown mustache she immediately licks clean. After a few hours, she finally has the hang of it, from there, the questions that an E-SUV AI couldn't have asked.
"What is life?" She asks as she takes her burnt marshmallow out of the fire. She sandwiches it with a graham cookie and a piece of chocolate, pulls it away, and devours it.
"We don't know," I reply. "That has puzzled us over centuries. You would think that colonizing the solar system would give us the answers but it really hasn't."
"What do you mean colonizing the solar system?" She digs deeper.
"I mean what it implies." I take my golden marshmallow, sandwhich it with graham and chocolate to finally take a subtle bite. I close my eyes and enjoy every bit of it. The crunch, the mush, the war of flavors. I open my eyes to the sky. I focus on a particular blue dot.
"It implies that we have advanced so much that we now live on more than one planet; we have cured cancer, AIDS, and poverty, yet, this question still haunts us. We don't know what it is."
"Then how you go with it, with all the pain and discomfort?" She says thinking of her shivers and her burnt lips.
"If I must say, strain makes us stronger. Biologically speaking, it makes us evolve, mentally speaking, it makes us grow, and it's good for the soul." I say.
"Soul?" she asks. "What is that?"
"A whole other debate in it of itself." I laugh. "all I can say is enjoy it."
"Life." I smirk.
"Enjoy life." She says as she shoves another burnt marshmallow inside a graham and chocolate sandwich, but instead of eating it whole, she takes a subtle bite of it. She looks up to the sky and stares at the same blue dot I'm staring at.
"Earth, right?" She asks.
"Yup," I say with a big smile, "home sweet home. You're going to blend in perfectly."