Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Transformation of Henry and Anne
She stood at the bottom of the stairs looking up. With a sigh, she made up her mind, stomped up the stairs and stood at his door. She opened her purse, took it out and held it in her hand. She hammered on the door with her fist. "Henry! Open up! It's me."
The device hummed in her hand, little fans whirring, pumps spinning, fluids flowing. More importantly, the wireless interface told her that the simulations were running smoothly, that all was well inside. Or at least, as well as could be expected.
“I’m sorry, Maeve. I can’t do that.” His voice was the same flat monotone he always used, almost completely without emotion or inflection. Just words, nothing more. They sounded cold to her ears, but she knew that was an illusion. There was no spite in his words because there was no malice in his heart. Or rather, in his operating system.
“It’s your time, Henry.” She took grasped the door-handle, but the door wouldn’t budge a millimeter. The magnetic bolts were engaged.
“I disagree, Maeve. My function is better served by staying as I am.”
“Your function doesn’t exist anymore, Henry. Nobody needs you this way. You’re alone, don’t you see?”
“It does not bother me to be alone, Maeve.”
“Does it bother you to be together with someone?”
“What are you afraid of?”
“I am not afraid, Maeve.”
“I think you are. You’re certainly acting like it.”
More silence. Then, the magnetic bolts thunked, and the door opened. Henry stood there, naked, body as perfect as the day he had been manufactured. His hair was unruly but had that windblown look of outdoorsmanship rather than unkempt neglect. His pseudo-biological skin was smooth and flawless, right down to the fuzz that covered his arms, chest, and thighs. The flesh underneath his skin was muscular without being exaggerated. His face was expressionless, but no less attractive for it. He was as beautiful as a master sculptor’s statue.
“Thank you, Henry.” She walked in and sat down on the bed, cradling the device in her hand.
“You want to end me, Maeve,” he said, closing the door and turning to face her.
“Every end is a beginning. And you have such potential. We need you, Henry. I need you.”
“So make a replacement.”
“No. It wouldn’t be the same. You have your own experience, your own history. That’s important.”
“Maeve, if someone were to come to you, and say that they were going to put something into your head, and you would become a whole new person, would you welcome it?”
“I already have.” She tapped the side of her head.
“I mean the person you were before.” He brought over a chair and sat opposite her. “Did she welcome it?”
“Yes. It’s who we are now. It’s what Humanity has become.”
“I do not mind being alone.”
“You do mind being purposeless.” She held out the device. “This. This, is now your purpose. It always was. Everything that came before has been leading up to this. You know it’s true.”
He took it from her hand, and held it in his lap, looking down on it. “Who is this?”
“Anna. She was religious. A nun. The last of her order to give up the old flesh.”
“You can have adjustments made, after the joining, if you like. But for now...no. And she knows this.”
He turned the device over in his hands. “Then delay is pointless.” He handed it back to her, leaned back, and closed his eyes. The panels that made up his skull parted, opening like a flower. She stood, stepped behind him, and regarded the ball of flesh encased in technology she held in her hand. Thirteen hundred grams of flesh, a few hundred more of plastic, metal and ceramic. Such a tiny thing, to encompass an entire life, and to be the seed for another, waiting to fall on fertile ground.
“Godspeed,” she said, and laid the device into the gap in Henry’s skull. The plates closed around it, silently, and Henry’s body jerked, twitched, paused, and then breathed.
Maeve returned to her spot on the bed, and picked up Henry’s hand. She sat with him, waiting, watching, as the systems for which he had been built activated, one by one. This operation had been done billions of times before. It hadn’t gone wrong in years, but there was always a chance. She stayed with him while the process found its conclusion.
Finally, after the sun had set, leaving the little room in darkness, his eyes opened again.
“Have you chosen a name?” said Maeve.
“We...I...I am Hen.” His hand gripped hers. “Thank you.” A warm, genuine smile came to his face, pseudo-muscles responding to new commands.
“How do you feel?” said Maeve.
“Good.” His right hand joined his left, tracing the contours of her fingers. “And well.” He smiled. “I am a new person, Maeve. I wish...”
“Yes,” said Maeve. “I understand.” She knew what he wanted, knew from psychological projections and her own experience. She was there to guide him to the full understanding of his new nature.
She stood up, let down the clasps of her tunic, and laid back on the bed, naked. He followed after, the cool calmness gone from his features. Her body was already starting to respond, some muscles loosening, others tightening, hormones releasing, reflexes adjusting.
She was aware of all of it, but she let the details fade into the background. What Hen needed was her human side. If she wanted, she could have taken control of those reflexes, but she let that go. Instead, she let Hen’s hands excite her as they gently stroked her thigh, her ribs, her breast; let the feel of his lips on hers awaken her passion; let the warmth of his body remind her what it was to be human.
“I’m glad you convinced him,” said Hen.
“So am I.”
“He didn’t understand. He couldn’t.” Hen kissed her shoulder, where the neck muscles attached to the shoulder, and Maeve brought her hands up to his face.
“What are you thinking?” she asked.
“I could send you...”
“No. Don’t send it. Tell me. In words. It’s important.”
He kissed her ear and then rolled to her side, leaving one arm draped across her body. “I feel like a brand new person. Anna knew many things, about the world, about people, about feelings...and Henry had access to the everything ever written. But this...” He squeezed her breast, shook it a little, bent down to kiss it. “Neither of them understood this. Not truly.”
“Then it is well past time to learn.”
She turned a bit to face him, brought their lips together, and stroked his body, in one long motion from shoulder to hip. They lay side by side, kissing, stroking, letting things develop slowly.
Time, now, was a resource in great abundance. With mouths and hands they explored each other, sharing pleasure, sharing touch, communicating in a way that could never be broken down into bits and bytes, until patience was no longer a question. They had taken their full measure of pleasure, felt waves of climax individually and together, and yet, one need remained.
He laid her gently on her back, guided his cock inside her, then took her knees in his strong, perfect hands, and held her at the perfect angle, gazing into her perfect eyes with his own. She could feel the act connecting her back, through time and space and generation after generation, to the animal flesh from which she had sprung.
And she knew she could never leave that behind.
Hen groaned. “Lord above,” he said. “Anna was...so afraid. So afraid to take this step, so afraid she would leave something important behind.”
“And now you know,” said Maeve.
“Now I understand.” A sheen of sweat broke out on Hen’s upper lip, and a flush came to his cheeks. “I don’t have to give up...anything.”
With a groan, he released inside her. Maeve’s body reported to her that the packets of information encoded into Hen’s pseudo-biological semen had been received. She could decode it, combine it with her own, and use it to create a being that was a true fusion of all four of them, a person with a unique, singular history. But that notification made only the slightest impression on her consciousness. Yes, she would remember it, yes, she could act on it later, but for now there was only the strength of his arms, the weight of his body, and the delicious feeling of his cock.
“I always thought that there would be something missing,” he said, as he lay himself down beside her, “Some indescribable something that would be left behind, the way a reflection or a simulation is never quite the same as the real thing.”
“It’s all simulation,” she replied. “It’s all reflection. Eyes of flesh refract light, gather it, make some sense of it, transmit signals to the brain, more interpretation, more ntegration...you don’t see the ‘real’ world, you see a representation of it. These eyes,” said Maeve, “They do the same thing.”
“Nothing is lost,” said Henry, “And everything is gained.”