I woke up to the sound of people shuffling around me, the air had a strong stench of antiseptic which caused the sides of my head to throb. I couldn’t understand why I could hear people as I had gone to bed alone in my apartment, but somehow it sounded as though I was back at the office. I opened my eyes to get hit by the glare of the overhead halogen white lights. I stared into them for a moment as I tried to place where they had come from. I moved my arms in an attempt to sit up, but I felt them restricted from moving.
“Subject is alert, awake and moving.”
On hearing the voice, I tried to sit up, to see who had spoken as it sounded unfamiliar and had come over a speaker system hidden somewhere in the room I was in. I realized I was strapped to a gurney of some sort with my hands, feet and entire midsection locked in place by large leather straps. Confused and dazed, I looked around for anyone I could see, perhaps to understand what was going on.
“Full system Dialysis complete. Over to you Ops.” The voice came again, and so did the smell of antiseptic. I was in a hospital somewhere, but what had happened?
“Who’s there?” I called out.
The background chatter and noises I could hear ceased temporarily, leaving only the slight buzzing of machines to fill the emptiness. My forehead was strapped down as well, preventing me from looking in any direction except upwards into the light. I knew whoever it was that worked here was close by, but why weren’t they answering? I called out again, hearing as my voice broke with fear.
“Can you hear me? I’m awake, who’s here?”
The sound of static interference played over the speakers for a few seconds before I heard the voice of a man, different from the original one who had spoken. It was calm and collected, perhaps the doctor in change. He said “Hello Eve. How are you feeling today?”
“I’m alright, what’s going on? Where am I?”
“You’re at a secure government facility where we are trying to help you get better.” The voice came in an almost practiced tone, one that seemed to be designed for calming people down.
“Better? But I’m fine. I was perfectly fine before…” I could tell that they were south of me, just below my feet as my eyes had adjusted to the lights and allowed me to see their silhouettes below me, but the strap prevented me from getting a better view. “I was fine when I went to bed last night. What happened? And can I get out of these?”
“Well, not exactly. You weren’t fine. An update needed to be made and you were required to be on site during the procedure.”
“I don’t understand. Look, doctor sir, can you please send someone in here to release me?” I asked as my neck began to ache. I heard a few clicking sounds come off the speakers, and with that, the strap holding my head and chest unsnapped and retracted to the side. I quickly sat up, and reached for my head to gently rub it, but my hands were still secured by my sides.
I got my first good view of the room since I had woken. It looked like a hospital, the walls were painted a glaring white with oil paint that bounced off the white from the bulbs overhead, making the room brighter than it should be. There was a gurney, one which I was on, and a small table to the far left of the room where several steel items were laid out. Right in front of me, was a long glass window with men and women on the other side, some sitting at a desk littered with different buttons and controls looking on at me.
“What’s going on?”
I heard the doctor speak. “Open the door.”
A steel door beside the glass window hissed before it swung open slowly, carried on huge hydraulic presses. I couldn’t imagine why I was being kept in such a high security room. The doctor walked in, along with a lady carrying a tablet and a young man, who could barely hide his excitement. The doctor was as I expected, old, with greying hair and a large frame. He stared at me through thick rimmed glasses with a certain glee hidden behind his glasses.
“What do you remember?” he asked.
“I came home from work, locked up my apartment and went to bed. Then I woke up in this hospital.”
“Oh, Miss Eve, this isn’t a hospital. This is a scientific research center.”
“Well, can you please tell me how I got here and why I’m here?”
“We asked you to come after you had followed the sleep algorithm and you did. You’re here, as I said before, for a system update, hopefully this will be the last time we will be working on software. We’re so close now, you are barely distinguishable between the average person.”
“What are you talking about? I don’t remember coming here.”
“Oh your memory bank wasn’t running, which is why you can’t remember.” The young man who couldn’t stop smiling pitched in.
I looked at the faces of all the people looking at me, completely at a loss for what was going on. The doctor smiled for a moment before proceeding to pointing a flashlight down my left eye, then moving to the right, I stared in return, hoping for some sort of simplified explanation, but none came. The lady seemed uninterested in me, watching some reading on the tablet she had come in with, her eyes never leaving it for more than a few seconds.
“Doc, wait, stop. What’s your name?”
“Doctor Quinn. Hey, please, I don’t know what’s going on here. But, thanks for the checkup, but I’m actually doing quite fine. If you can just let me go? I have to get some sleep so I can get up for work tomorrow.”
“You don’t understand, do you?” his smile widened, like a father looking in awe at a child.
“No. What’s going on?”
“Miss Eve, you’re an Android.”
The entire lab seemed to have frozen as the words left his mouth. I searched their faces for anything that would give away their elaborate prank or whatever it was, but there was nothing. Doctor Quinn and his colleagues stared at me, expecting something that was beyond me. I found it slightly hilarious at first, because it actually was. These people had just told me that I was a robot and somehow expected me to take it in good faith and believe them. I giggled, and this got them laughing. Even the lady with the tablet seemed to chuckle a bit.
“What do you mean I’m an android. Like, a smartphone?”
“No! Like a flipping T1000 yo!” the younger man spoke, his voice laced with excitement.
“Okay, and you guys want what?”
“To update your systems. Do you remember your car crash six months ago?”
I was a little shocked at first, but I realized that the news of my accident was not something that was hidden from the media. Anyone who was looking to find this information would easily acquire it. But somehow these people were going to try to make a big deal out of it. The least I could do was play along, perhaps goad them to think I believed them.
“Yes, I do.”
“You had a slight system failure. Your visual processor was unable to decode the data which it had received for two minutes and that resulted in the accident.” The woman with the tablet spoke in a very professional manner, all traces of humor gone from it.
“But I got my sight back after I woke up in the hospital?”
“No Eve, that’s just the thing. You never went to the hospital.” Doctor Quinn added.
“But I made a full recovery.”
“Of course you did. Everything was banking on the fact that you would get back on your feet and back in the field as quickly as possible.”
“I can remember being in the hospital.”
“As you should. It was all part of your programming. Or should I say, that it was added to your memory. Miss Eve, the objective of this whole thing, is to ensure that we make a device so human, perfect and lifelike, that would be used in the division of espionage. If you could remember anything other than the memories we’ve fed you, then that would be problematic.”
“Okay enough of this. Get me out of this damn chair. Whatever type of joke this is, it’s enough. If you don’t let me go this instant, I’m calling the police.”
The younger man laughed, holding his tummy to stop himself from laughing any further. “You think, you… Yo guys, Eve thinks she has rights.”
I couldn’t believe this. Everyone seemed to be just fine with keeping me strapped to a damn gurney just like that. I had to get to work tomorrow and these people were making some sort of a prank with me as the center piece. I couldn’t understand why they would go through such an elaborate process for someone just as normal as me. I wasn’t some social media entity with hundreds of thousands of followers who would be able to make this whole thing go viral on the internet. I was a basic customer service provider with a minimum wage and a good thing going. Whatever these people had in mind would certainly not work with me.
“Doctor Quinn. You’re a respectable man, whatever this thing is, I’ve had enough. I need you to let me go this instant or there will be serious consequences. You will all be prosecuted to the fullest extents of the law if you do not let me go, right now.”
“Eve, I’m being completely serious with you. We have about sixteen minutes for your update to compile before it’s sent into your neural pathways. You are truly an android robot we created.”
“No, there is no way! What is wrong with all of you? I have a life, I’m not a robot. Call my boss, call Kennedy. If you truly did break into my home, you might have my phone with you. Call them, they’ll tell you I’m not some robot.”
“Of course that’s what they’ll say, because as I’ve said, you were designed to mimic human life to perfection.”
“I wasn’t designed to do shit!” I screamed, trying to pull myself off the gurney.
“Alright hotshot. Hey, Louise, can I have that?” the lady with the tablet handed it over to the man who had entered with the doctor before she turned to leave. “Have you ever found it weird, that you never had an injury?”
“Screw you, I’ve banged my knees a handful of times. And I was in a damn accident!”
“I thought we already concluded that we had manufactured the thoughts and memories of your time in a hospital. Other than that, have you ever chipped a nail or gotten a paper cut?” the man asked, smiling ear to ear.
“Look, I’ll answer your questions if you let me off this damn gurney.”
“No way. We need you there for the upload. Anyways, other than the times you did as a kid, do you remember ever injuring yourself?”
“I’ve been careful.”
“Or maybe your skin is synthetic. Something we have perfected and made sure it is almost indiscernible from normal skin.” Doctor Quinn added.
“Eve, most of your memories are things we’ve planted inside your mind. Think about it, how are you able to remember things from nearly twelve years in such detail? That’s right, because it’s some media file just playing in your head.”
“I have a job to ge…”
“Miss Eve, we got you that job to see how you would handle everyday situations, and interactions with ordinary people. And you’ve done so well, we let you out there for four years and this is the second time you’re coming back into the lab. After this, we will go into mass production and begin selling to the United States.” Doctor Quinn looked nearly animated now, waving his hands in excitement as he spoke, his glasses almost falling off his nose. “You are the next big thing in the world of espionage and military, and the United States will be the first to possess such advanced technology.”
“Check this out.” The younger man clicked a few buttons on the tablet.
I felt a jolt in my head, as I heard a soft whirring sound. I blinked and my vision was instantly filled with a long string of ones and zeros and a plethora of hash strings from some sort of code. I couldn’t see the room I was in anymore, only the numbers everywhere I looked. The numbers ran back and forth, a million instructions being carried out by the second and somehow, I could process and comprehend all of them. They felt like a part of me, like something that was a necessity to my continued existence.
I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to push the images to the back of my mind. When I opened them again, they were gone. I stared at them.
“That was your code Eve. All the instructions that run your systems. Now do you believe us?”
Whatever they had shown me had opened my mind to a lot of possibilities. I felt more in control of my entire body, my senses seemed heightened as I could smell the sweat coming off the both of them, and the scent of lavender that still lingered in the room long after the lady had left. Whatever I had seen, it had done something to me.
“Every dream, every time you had sex after a date, every new brilliant idea, that was all put into your mind by the brilliant scientists here. Every single person you see back there has worked countless hours to make you the perfect machine that you are.”
“You’re both crazy. You’re both fucking crazy! All of you here, are out of your goddamn minds! This is kidnapping, and if you think I’ll just let this go witho…”
I heard the sound of a bicycle running down the tarmac, wind blowing past the ears of a child laughing as she plowed down the street. I knew what the video that was playing on the tablet was before he could turn it around to show me because that was one of my fondest memories of my parents. It was the day I had learned to ride a bicycle. My mother’s voice called out to me, asking me to be careful as I picked up speed. I would run into the curb in a few seconds, get thrown out the seat and bump my shin against a tree.
“As you can see, we created these memories for you Eve. To make sure that everyone, including yourself, would never believe that you were anything other than a normal person, until. It was time for your mission. You would be the perfect undercover agent. The sleeper who never needed rest.”
My father picked me up and carried me over to my mother who stood waiting with some antiseptic to clean the wound. I could still smell the antiseptic as she hummed five little monkeys. I felt the tears sting, but regardless of how much I begged, they just wouldn’t come. I couldn’t bring myself to cry at the realization that my entire life was a lie.
“Amazing. Yo, Doc you need to check out her reactions! She is off the charts; her sentience program is doing more than we could ever imagine.”
I wanted nothing to do with them. I wasn’t an android, what they said didn’t make me who I was. I wasn’t going to change my entire life based on what they said. I had to get out, I had to leave and find out what this was all about. But these restraints tugged at my hands.
“So, all we’re going to do, is upload this update and send you back out there. Don’t worry you won’t remember any of this. I’ll make sure all memories of this is wiped off, I just needed to see how you would react, and Eve, you are simply extraordinary. I’m certain they will be willing to pay top dollar for you.”
I desperately needed to leave, I needed to show these people why they were wrong. I wasn’t just some machine; I was more alive than they knew and I would do everything I could to escape.
“The compilation is complete sir.” A voice called in over the speakers.
“Wonderful.” The Doctor turned to leave. “Strap her down, James. And remember, Eve, what you’re doing, you do for the good of all of humanity.”
I looked around for anything that would give me a leg up in my escape, my mind racing than ever as I now had access to all its processing power. It stunned me how I realized that, but I would bother about that later. Somehow, I realized that somewhere deep in my coding, there were certain controls that restricted me from using the full extent of my mechanical chassis, as I was only permitted to do things within the range of believability. I locked onto that, and flipped it off.
Blinking back the codes, I opened my eyes to see the Doctor Quinn’s associate tapping away at the tablet. He would shut me down any second. I kicked my leg upwards as hard as I could, cutting right through the leather strap, and kicking the tablet clean out of his hands. It smacked screen-first into the roof above before falling back on his head. My arms followed suit, breaking free of their restraints. I heard a loud air-horn blare as I grabbed the man by the throat and hoisted him off his feet. The large steel door began closing.
I knew I couldn’t get out if it locked entirely, and I wouldn’t be fast enough to get there. I saw myself do a quick calculation and toss the man caught in my grip across the room. He landed right between the door and its frame, unconscious. I jumped off the gurney and ran right through the door as it crushed the screaming man, cutting him in half at the waist.
As I turned to face the Doctor standing by the controls, my legs gave out beneath me as they refused to respond to me anymore. I could see the lady working at the controls, quickly trying to get me offline. I had to fight, I had to make sure I kept living. My eyes began to grow dark at the edges as I heard a pulsing sound come from my chest, right before I blacked out, I saw the lady walk up to me, staring directly at me, she spoke.
“Doctor, I think the fact that she fears death so much is proof that we have created it.”