Roger was enjoying a very vivid dream. The woman with him was beautiful, her skin smooth and silky under his caressing hands. She sought his mouth, molding herself against him. He returned the kiss with increasing passion, grasping the hem of the sheer nightgown she was wearing and sliding it up and over her head. This was...this was...
This was not a dream. "Dorothy!" He managed to roll away from her and sat up, wrapping the blankets around himself to prevent any further contact. "What are you doing in my bed?"
"What's the matter?" she asked innocently. "I heard you cry out in your sleep and came to see what was wrong. It was pretty obvious that you needed me."
He frowned. It was the third time this month that he had found himself in this kind of situation. He reached over to the side of the bed and picked up his robe and tossed it to her. "Put this on, please." The sight of her was just a little too distracting.
She caught it and slipped it over her shoulders, looping the belt around her waist twice and tying the ends. "You aren't happy with me," she said sadly.
"That's right," he acknowledged. Truth be told, he was more worried than angry. He was only human, and one of these days she was going to pull this kind of stunt during a moment of weakness, or he wasn't going to awaken in time to put a stop to it before it got a lot further than he was willing for it to go. Her awareness was growing in leaps and bounds, and the last thing that he wanted was for her to get a clearer understanding of this part of her programming and hate him for taking advantage of it. Explaining this to her in a way that made sense to her so she would stop doing it was the obvious solution, but so far he had been unsuccessful in getting the point across.
She stared down at her lap and a tear slowly made its way down her cheek, followed by another, and then another until she was crying in earnest. Roger sighed and thought longingly of the sleep he was missing. Whoever had thought that a pleasure-bot would be easier to handle than a human woman had been sadly misguided. "Don't cry, Dorothy. You just made a mistake, it's no big deal. We're getting it straightened out now, aren't we?"
She sniffled a little. "You don't want me."
That was something new. The time before she had blamed herself for her perceived failure. Roger wasn't sure if it was a positive change--the idea of a guilt-tripping android made him shudder--but maybe this represented progress in a roundabout way. He moved over to her and maneuvered her onto his lap, patting her shoulder reassuringly. "That's not true and you know it, Dorothy."
"Then why won't you let me love you?" the tears started falling faster. "I'm supposed to make you happy."
"You already do," he reminded her.
"No I don't! I made you unhappy!" she wailed. Roger sighed a little. Although she looked like an adult and had the mind of an adult, her emotions were definitely somewhere back in the childhood years. Still, it wasn't her fault and he knew that she was doing the best that she could.
"You make me happy and I love you very much," he said firmly. He had a sudden idea, perhaps it would make his feelings a bit more clear to her. "The problem is that you are still relying too much on your programming," he said, waiting patiently as the sobbing slowed down. When he was sure she was really listening, he continued, "What you are working on is making your own decisions, remember? There's nothing wrong with using the information in your database once you decide on your own what you want to do. What you are learning to avoid is letting the program make the decision for you. Do you remember when my father was calling you Dottie and you didn't like it?"
She nodded, tears stopped at least for the moment. "The routine said to smile and act as if I liked it."
"And what did you do?" he prompted.
"I looked at the information inside to figure out how to tell him nicely that I didn't want him to call me that," she said. "And he didn't mind!" she was still a little surprised. "He said he was happy I had told him."
"Exactly," he said patiently. "And when you heard me calling out in my sleep, did you decide to come in by yourself or did you just do what your program said?"
"I ran the routine" she admitted after a long pause.
"If I already know that your program tells you to do things you don't want to do or don't agree with or don't like, how can I be sure that it's really what you want, then?" he asked. "How do I know that you won't feel differently when you understand things better?"
"I will always want to be with you, Roger. I love you," she said simply.
"Is that you or the program?" he persisted.
She didn't speak for a moment. "I don't know," she said finally.
"Until we both know the answer to that question, I won't be with you in that way. Do you understand?" he spoke the command, hoping that it would be accepted. It was getting to the point that she was more likely to refuse than not.
"I understand." She nodded and Roger let out the breath he didn't realize he had been holding. "It makes me sad, though."
"I'm sorry. I know it's hard to get a handle on," he said. She started to cry again, quietly this time. He stroked her hair and murmured comforting words. "You're doing very well, you really are. You should be proud of yourself."
"There's so much to figure out," she complained. "It's easier to just use the routines, then I don't have to think about it."
He knew better than to say anything. He truly believed that she had to work it out for herself if she was ever going to be fully conscious. He thought it rather ironic that a newly-conscious android would have to wrestle with the same kinds of dilemmas as a human being did. Should one rely on habit or take the time and effort to do something new? What was that quote? "The unexamined life is not worth living"... He continued to soothe her until the tears finally subsided and she seemed calmer. "Do you feel better now?" he asked.
"Yes. I'm sorry I made you unhappy, Roger," she said contritely.
"We've got it all worked out now, so don't worry about it," he said, unsuccessfully trying to stifle a yawn. "I'm sorry, Dorothy, but I'm going to fall asleep on you pretty soon. Do you think maybe you can go back to the couch and cycle down for a while to recharge?"
Her eyes filled again. "Please don't send me away," she pleaded. "I won't do anything to make you angry with me, I promise. I'll let you sleep no matter what you dream about."
"All right, all right," he said hastily, hoping to forestall another bout of crying. "But if you don't behave, Dorothy, I'm not going to let you into my bedroom any more." He made a mental note to talk to the household staff in the morning. She probably wouldn't be happy about it, but it was more than time for her to have a room of her own. She'd get used to it, though, probably even prefer it after a while. He got back under the covers and held them up. "Come on. Keep the robe for now," he added hastily as she started to untie it.
She curled up next to him and settled her head against his chest. "I love you."
He shifted a little so she wasn't cutting off the circulation in his arm and stroked her hair. "I love you. Don't worry, you'll get it all figured out after a while." He was soon sleeping peacefully.
Dorothy snuggled a little closer, letting the slow thudding of his heartbeat comfort her. "I will always love you, Roger, program or no program," she whispered and activated her suspension mode.
"Hmm..... sounds like classic separation anxiety," Gordon told his son as they held their informal Tuesday breakfast meeting. "I remember you when you were a little boy on your first day of school. You were excited, but when you realized it meant you had to leave your mother, you cried and cried. Alex was furious with you."
"Dad, " Roger said with embarrassment, "what does that have to do with Dorothy? Not that it isn't fun to hear about what a little brat I was or anything, but I'm really worried about this." He took a sip of coffee, hoping the mug would help hide the flush he could feel on his face.
"You shouldn't be worried, is the point," his father answered. "It's perfectly normal and she'll grow out of it."
Norman, who had been silent through his grandson's description, nodded in agreement. "This is actually a positive development because it means that her sense of self is becoming strong enough that she can imagine what it would be like to be without the people that she loves. That frightens her, so she seeks reassurance."
"Exactly," Gordon said. "She's going through it a lot faster than a human child would, but so far it's very predictable. It's been just about six months since you told me you thought there was some kind of self-awareness brewing, and as far as I can see, she has gone through every stage just about by the book. I think it moves more quickly for her because she can think on a fairly adult level and can puzzle some of it out without having to wait for her brain to catch up like a kid does."
"Okay," his son said. "Granted that it's normal, what do I do about it in the meantime?"
"I think you're on the right track," answered Norman. "We'll give her a suite of her own. Don't make it a punishment, though. Present it to her as a reward, her own space that she has to herself where no one will bother her that she can decorate however she likes." The older man laughed. "Don't be surprised if she sneaks back into your room for the night at first. When I was a kid and we moved to a bigger house, my two younger brothers used to come and sleep in my room all the time. I didn't mind because we were all so used to sharing that none of us were really comfortable alone for the first few months."
"What got them to stop?" Roger asked.
"Time, more than anything," his grandfather answered. "That and of course the inevitable fights we got into that reminded them that having their own rooms meant they didn't have to stay and listen to me!"
"I agree," Gordon said. "As far as her attempting to seduce you goes, well, it sounds like you finally explained yourself clearly enough that she'll let it be for now."
"I hope so," Roger said fervently. "I'm sorry that my original idea of commanding her to put that part of her programming on hold for a while didn't work."
"She seems to be resistant to anything that tampers with her wishes concerning the pleasure routines," his father observed. "I can't help but wonder if the conflict was so strong that she took permanent control of the program to avoid having it ever happen again."
"She said that something broke," Roger remembered. "She didn't say much more, though. She started making those sounds at Big O again and that was the end of the subject."
"Interesting. We have three possible cases of awakening, and two of them referred to something breaking," Gordon told them.
"Really. Three? That's amazing," Roger poured himself more coffee. "Do they have anything in common?"
The eldest Rosewater nodded. "According to this report, all three experienced a fairly severe conflict recently. The one that seems to be the most advanced is RDW5062B, a nurse-companion model who is caring for a Mrs. Lisa Moore, a retired employee of the company. She was with us for over thirty years, so when one of the folks still in contact with her found out she'd had a stroke and was having trouble getting around, he suggested that we send her one of the newer models to test out some of the new software we wanted to use. That was over a year ago, and it seems to have worked out very well."
"And there was a conflict?" Gordon asked. "I haven't gotten through the most recent reports fully, I'm afraid."
"Yes, she has been very depressed over the stroke and the long recovery," Norman said. "She started to have some kind of breathing difficulty, and tried to prevent the RDW5062B--Felix, she named him--from administering the appropriate medication and calling the ambulance. She physically fought with him, and he resolved the conflict by picking her up and carrying her outside with the intention of bringing her to the nearest hospital. Naturally, the police were called because of the commotion and they called the paramedics."
"Have you spoken to her since?" Roger asked.
"Oh, yes, the police contacted us as soon as they realized Felix was one of our androids. I went right down, of course," Norman said. "Amazingly, one of the responding officers, Alan Gabriel, caught on right away to the fact that Felix wasn't trying to hurt her but rather was doing the only thing he could think of to help, and was sitting there on the steps talking to him when I got there."
"No kidding, Dad," Gordon said. "What did he tell him?"
Norman smiled. "You'll both appreciate this. Seems Gabriel has loved robot stories since he was a child, and was aware of our most recent project. He'd been following it in the news and is really enthusiastic about it. He saw that Felix was in difficulty--like Dorothy, the conflict was affecting his motor skills--and figured it was likely caused by the kind of things he'd heard Lisa saying to him when they were putting her into the ambulance. She was apparently cussing him out for refusing to follow her command to just let her die in peace, and Gabriel was pretty certain that Felix was incapable of following that particular order. He sat him down and told him that he'd done exactly the right thing and that sometimes when people were as sick as Lisa was they said things they didn't really mean. He was explaining about depression when I arrived."
Roger laughed. "Sounds like you should be offering him a job in the research division," he said.
"Don't think I wasn't tempted," his grandfather told him. "He really loves police work, though. He practically came out and said that if we ever built a robot detective, he wanted to be first in line to test it out. I'd also be willing to bet that if we were to build one and send it to him, he'd name it Daneel Olivaw."
"It sounds like we lucked out," Roger said.
"We did. His quick action moved Felix out of the conflict safely, much as Big O helped with Dorothy," Norman concluded.
"Have you interviewed Mrs. Moore yet?" Gordon inquired.
"Only briefly," came the reply. "She was quite annoyed that Felix refused her direct command to never attempt to save her life again."
"Why does that sound familiar?" Roger chuckled, thinking of similar incidents with Dorothy. "And what does Felix have to say about all this?"
"According to him, now that he understands that Mrs. Moore is depressed because the recovery is so slow, he wants to do whatever he can to help her get better. He says that she is kind to him and he likes taking care of her," Norman said. "What I was thinking is that it would be interesting to bring Dorothy to meet him. Maybe the two of them could swap notes."
"That sounds like a good idea," Gordon said thoughtfully. "Dorothy seems to be at a stage where it would be appropriate for her to take part in more activities on her own, and I suspect this would interest her. She really surprised me the other day. She handed me one of those child development books that we've been accumulating recently and she had highlighted a whole section for me to read."
"Did she? She hadn't mentioned that to me," Roger was very curious.
"The chapter was about a psychologist named Erikson and his theory of the stages of social development in human children. She had highlighted the section concerning the first three stages and said that she believed that she had completed those processes." His father passed him the book from a stack on the chair beside him. "It was cute, really, if a bit surreal. I looked over the information on the first stage and asked her about it. She said, and I quote, 'Roger is consistent in his behavior towards me 91.67 percent of the time, which has been more than adequate for me to learn the meaning of trust.'"
"91.67 percent, eh? I'm slipping," Roger rolled his eyes.
"That shows a great deal of initiative on her part," Gordon said. "We all agreed that we shouldn't make a secret of the fact that we are studying what has been happening with her, and I'm glad we did. It's paying off handsomely. None of us would have thought that she could analyze her experience of the changes she is going through and correlate it with a known model of development, but she that's exactly what she did. Even better, she realized the information might be useful and brought it to me."
"It could give us an important glimpse into human development as well," Norman agreed. "A baby or small child can't tell us what stage they are in, we have to observe and make educated guesses. Dorothy can talk to us about it."
"I'd like to have her talk to a psychologist some time in the near future," Gordon said. "There's one who works for us who is pretty open-minded, and I am sure she would be very interested in the process. The more information we have, the better we'll be able to predict the course of an awakened android's development. It might even make it possible to determine which ones are likely to wake."
"Whoa. Wait a minute." Roger held up a hand. "Before we turn her into a lab rat, let's talk to her, shall we? She may be an immature person, but she is still a person and I think we should take her wishes into account."
"92.53 %consistency as of this moment," Dorothy joined the three men.
"Sit down, dear," Gordon patted the chair next to him. "I'm sorry to talk about you as if you weren't there, I didn't see you come in."
"I know, there is no need to apologize" she said, accepting the offered seat. "A psychologist is a person that studies the human mind and thinking process, and can assist a person who is having emotional difficulty, correct?" When Gordon nodded encouragingly, she continued, "I would be willing to speak to her. Perhaps she will be able to shed some light on some of the emotions I have been experiencing recently. I am not sure what to make of them, I have never felt anything like them before."
"New feelings?" Roger asked. "What kind of feelings?"
"I don't know," she informed him. "That's why I think talking to someone who has studied these things might be helpful. Don't worry, I will tell you all about it when I have figured it out."
"You know my door is always open, Dorothy," Norman reminded. "I don't know that I'll be of much help, but I'm willing to listen."
"I know, Grandfather," she said, smiling at him with affection. "I may well take you up on that offer."
"Please do," the older man told her. "One of the things we talked about today was that there are a couple of androids that seem to be waking up in much the same way that you did. I was wondering if you would be interested in meeting one of them."
Her eyes went wide. "Like me? An android like me?"
"Yes, his name is Felix and he is a companion/nurse model. I take it you are interested?" Norman said.
"I am very interested. It is nice to think that I am not the only one of my kind," she said.
"I'll set it up for you, then," Norman said. "Gordon, if you get the chance, please get back to me on those reports. You're much more up to date on the clinical end of things than I am, I'm sure there's information there that I've completely missed."
"You haven't forgotten about this weekend, have you?" Dorothy asked him.
"No, indeed I haven't," he smiled. "Roger's loss is my gain." As the others looked at them questioningly, he continued, "Dorothy and I are going to do some work on the Big O over the weekend. Roger is going to be attending the robot expo in Boston and we realized last week that he's going to be too busy to do much of anything other than attend meetings." He addressed himself to Dorothy, "It wouldn't be fair to leave you sitting there in a hotel room for hours and hours while he's off talking technical stuff, or worse, having everyone wanting to take you apart to see what makes you tick if you went to the meetings with him."
She looked a little stricken by the reminder, so Roger kept his tone light. "Just don't forget to screw the access panel back on properly this time. I was almost scarred for life when it flew into my face!"
"I don't forget anything like that when Dorothy works with me," Norman said, pretending to be insulted. "It was all your fault for not letting her come with me that day."
"And on that note," Gordon said cheerfully, "I call this breakfast adjourned. Work calls!" He picked up a mini-recorder off the table and headed towards the door. "I'll get this transcribed and edited, expect a copy in a couple of days."
"I should go too," Norman said regretfully. "Dorothy, we'll be leaving bright and early on Saturday. Ask Cook to pack us a lunch on Friday night." He also left the room.
"Only 93 percent consistency?" Roger said kiddingly once they were alone. "I would have thought that I rated at least a 95."
"92.53," she corrected. "Most humans fall in the range of 80 to 90 percent, so you're doing better than average."
"Do I want to know when I wasn't consistent?" he asked.
"I don't know. Do you want to know?" she arched an eyebrow.
"Hey, that's my trick!" he said with mock severity. "Don't evade the question, missy."
"Yes, you really want to know but you also know you will be sorry when I tell you," she said, smiling at his teasing. "Item one. When you said it was wrong to talk behind people's backs and then I heard you call Alex a pompous sack of sh..."
"You're right, I'm sorry I asked," he interrupted with a groan.
She looked at him steadily. "I warned you."
"You did," he admitted. "So Grandfather has already claimed you for the weekend?"
"Yes. I still don't understand why I can't go on your trip with you, though," she pouted a little. "I could help you by organizing your notes and getting your clothes ready."
"We've been over this," he said patiently. "Good morning, Alex," he greeted his brother, who had just come in. "Shall I tell Cook you're up and ready for breakfast?"
"Please," the other man replied, reaching for the coffee. "Did you see the rankings? I've moved up to third in C class."
"That's great. You'll make it to the B division in no time," Roger said. About three months ago, Alex had decided to enter his own Megadeus into competition. It was possible in another year or two that brother would face brother in a tournament, but Roger had decided he would deal with it when the time came.
"I'll let her know," he turned towards the kitchen, Dorothy behind him. "There are going to be times that both of us need to take care of things by ourselves," he told her, picking up the threads of their interrupted conversation. "There are going to be things that I like that bore you to tears, and vice versa. It's good to have interests of your own, it gives us things to talk about."
"But I like everything you like!" she protested as they left the room. "I like to take care of you..."
Alex listened until distance made their words unclear. So, his brother was finding out the hard way that he shouldn't be encouraging this aberrant behavior. He shook his head. It really wasn't fair to the poor thing--not that she had feelings or anything, but she was still a fine piece of machinery and his brother was abusing her by treating her like this. Her decision circuits were running all the time, and Alex didn't doubt that it was just a matter of time before she burnt out.
If she had still been his, he would have wiped everything and started over. His intention had been to make her behavior flawless but not indistinguishable from a human--if he wanted the annoyances of a live woman, he could find plenty, and if one wasn't willing, another would be.
One of the cook's assistants put a plate in front of him and refilled the coffee pot. He began to eat, thinking about ways he could turn the situation to his advantage and reclaim his android.
Next Page >