Sunday, June 16, 2019

Chapter Two: Trapped

I dialed Julia's number.  When she answered, I said "How soon can you come to..." and I realized I didn't know where I was.  "...umm, I'm at a lab and I have to find out where it is.  Most likely near our house." She was living in Oregon by this time, and she was making plenty of money to fly down as long as her schedule wasn't too tight.  Then I realized our middle daughter, Anna might be a better support for Kim.

"I can fly down this weekend with Jeff."
"Who's Jeff?"
"Dad, come on, you remember Jeff, the pilot?"
"Sorry, no clue.  But you know a pilot and he's willing to fly you around... That's awfully nice!"
"Yeah!  So what's up?  Is mom okay?"

"Yeah, she's fine, but I... Okay, I'm fine too.  Umm... I feel great and umm..."  I had never considered if my children had any attachment to my physical body.  I had no idea how that thing was doing. "Sorry.  It's complicated.  Okay, I have to tell you now because you'll be totally freaked out otherwise.  I was in a car accident and... Do you remember iCyborg?"

"No way! So my dad is gone and you're the robot that got his code?"

While I pondered how to answer that, she started screaming.  I don't think it was into the phone.  I probably should have asked Kim to call her.  I waited for her to talk, but instead she hung up.

I called Anna and things went much better.  I just said "Mom could probably use some company right now..."  A few minutes later I found the address of the lab and texted it to her. I texted it to Julia too, and also "Please consider that I might actually be here instead of" but then I erased "instead of" and put the period after "here."

"Hon?"  I wanted to let her know that Anna was coming and would probably bring our youngest, Jenna, and that Julia at least knew.

I started walking around in the suite that ICM had set up for us and found her sitting outside petting a dog I didn't recognize.

"Hey hon, I called Anna.  She said she'll be here tomorrow morning, probably with Jen."
"Well, I figured with all this stuff that's going on, it would be nice if the kids were here."  She didn't respond, so I elaborated.  "I'm glad you told me they already had you meet four other versions of me.  The tech said I should ask you about it because it was- he said 'there were difficulties.'"
"I'm just really tired," she said. "Can we talk about it later?"

"Yeah."  I sat down in another chair, facing her.  "Can I rub your feet?"  She shook her head and scrunched up her face because she didn't want to cry.  I looked at the palms of my hands.  They were perfect, rubbery, and plastic, and I could really feel it when I touched one hand with a fingertip from the other hand.  She couldn't tell that I was really there and not just some technological wonder.  I worried that she figured the programming was trying to trick her into believing something false, but I knew that it was true.  At least I wanted it to be true.  Whatever I was, I still loved the woman and suffered the discomfort of her situation.

I felt so trapped.  I felt like crying but the sensation of tears would not come.  I could tell that my eyes were not glassing over, and the expression of sadness I felt was not matched by the appearance of my face - at least that's how I felt.  She was shaking her head no in answer to my question.  I got up, kind of disgusted with ICM, and said "This thing doesn't let me cry."  The crying was in the voice, but not in the face.  "It's torture being unable to show you that this is really me," I said, "And it's not your fault at all."  I walked away.

I started looking for a way I could contact someone from ICM and get my hands on the videos of the other robots.  The suite was pretty simple but I couldn't find a way out.

I walked back to Kim and asked, "Can you show me how to get out?"
"They said not to let you out."

Chapter One
Chapter Three

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