The android prepares to leave his maker (an excerpt from Replica)

Here’s an excerpt from Replica

Shana is the scientist who has been kidnapped to create an android replica of the president.  Her father had lost his job to a robot, and she is still coming to terms with this.

The android knows that his consciousness of being an android is about to be suppressed so that he “becomes” the president.  The memories of his brief past, it turns out, are happier than Shana’s own childhood memories.

Replica is an in-your-face thriller.  But it ends up also being an odd sort of love story.

*******

They took a walk one afternoon through the thin woods surrounding the back lawn. Shana knew that Gus was following them, making sure they didn’t electrocute themselves trying to escape, but she didn’t care. She was used to being watched now.

They didn’t say much. The android was probably upset that their little idyll here was coming to an end, but was afraid to say so. That was all right. She didn’t need to talk about the end of their idyll.

She watched him stop and stare at a chipmunk, run his hands over a tree trunk, pluck a leaf and rub it between thumb and forefinger. At times, he could seem so childlike. He knew so much but had experienced so little.

If he was a child, she did not want to be his parent.

She remembered taking walks with her father, holding on to his big calloused hand, struggling to keep up with his adult strides. They, too, had said little. Her father was a quiet man, until liquor fueled an explosion of rage and resentment against a world that had stripped him of his job and his dignity. She wanted so badly for him to be happy, and a wink or a smile was enough to flood her heart with joy. She rarely got either during those walks, but at least he was sober; at least he was with her. What did he think about as he trudged wordlessly with her through the park or to the supermarket for a quart of milk? It never occurred to her to wonder; a child doesn’t wonder things like that. It was enough to be together.

“You were the only thing he did right, the only thing he could be proud of,” her mother said when he was gone. “Everything else failed, except you. And then you had to take up with those computers, and it was as if you were spitting at him, making a mockery of his life. How could you do that? How?”

Look at your grandchild, Shana thought suddenly. The idea would not have brightened her parents’ day.

And then she thought: Pity the poor android. No past to comfort him, no happy childhood memories to console him, as he prepares to confront an uncaring world. She smiled grimly.

He was staring at her, probably afraid to ask what the joke was. He was right to be afraid. “I think we’ve gone far enough, Randall,” she said softly. “Time to head back.”

He obeyed without a word.

* * *

He liked the taste of the scotch. It warmed his body and seemed to warm his thoughts, too. Shana had told him to start drinking to get used to it, and that was an order he had no difficulty obeying.

Gus had brought them folding chairs, and they sat in front of the mansion next to the broad columns, sipping their drinks and listening to the birds twittering in the sunset. He could not imagine anything nicer. Except, perhaps, the same scene, with Shana happier, and no deadline facing them.

The deadline was never far from his thoughts now. It was the day on which he would die. He would have served his purpose and would therefore cease to exist except in random snatches, perhaps, yielding his place to the other being inside him who he was and was not, for whom he felt nothing more than a vague sense of ownership, a confused dislike. This was not a prospect that had bothered him before; he supposed it was coded into him not to mind. When he had merely existed in a computer, conscious only in occasional flashes of CPU time as Shana worked on him, it hadn’t mattered that he was constantly dying and being revived. But now something had changed. He had memories—memories that were intrinsically different from the artificial constructs of his Forrester database, even if they were coded identically inside him. They were different because they were his. And when he died, those memories would die with him.

He remembered his first night alive, lying awake in the darkness and wondering if he was asleep, wanting desperately to be with Shana, afraid but so excited that his fear seemed trivial. To have a body! To be real—to touch his creator! And waking up the next morning after sleep had finally taken him unawares—a moment of terror until he finally caught up with his input: a cracked ceiling, a window, sunlight, a firm mattress, soft pillow, full bladder. Alive.

Shana praising him after the first interview with Hunt.

Shana comforting him during his first thunderstorm.

The way she looked at breakfast, her hair still wet from the shower, joking about the food, her eyes sparkling with some idea that had come to her overnight.

Her sadness and her anger, and the many times he had longed to help her and never knew how. And now he would never find out.

He sipped his drink and tried not to be sad himself. There was too little time left to spend it being sad. “It’s beautiful here,” he murmured.

She nodded silently.

“I think scotch makes it even more beautiful.”

That got her to smile, and her smile paradoxically worried him so much that he had to break the fragile happiness of the moment. “When this is over, Shana, will you be all right? What will they do to you?”

She shrugged. “Don’t worry about me, Randall. It’s good of you—it’s hard for you not to—but it’s just a waste of time.”

“All right, Shana.” But it wasn’t hard; it was impossible. He gazed out at the trees and the lawn and the glorious sunset, trying not to be sad and not to worry, and he knew that no amount of beauty, no amount of scotch, would let him succeed.

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