ken and barbie

A tale of two droids.

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 11 May 2023



After we settled in, explored the grounds, our luxurious lodge, the numerous bedrooms, dens and conference rooms, a kitchen spanning the entire basement stocked with supplies and the outer buildings hidden in the trees encircling ours, it was time to discuss with Dora the matter of help.

Dora at first suggested that we appropriate six, three males and three females. We could easily house them and they could easily perform all our chores, tend a large garden of vegetables, cook for us and be our personal servants if we wanted such.

Even though I trusted her now, (she could have killed us a hundred ways and times but didn’t) I wasn’t comfortable with a crowd of robot people that outnumbered us two to one.

Besides, there was no need. The juice had never stopped flowing in this deserted camp. The cameras, the entire surveillance system was still up and running. It was tied into Dora’s Wi-Fi and no intruder stood a chance. There was no need for guards patrolling the fences. I insisted she only send two for now, to see how we got along. I also asked for a truckload of supplies for starting a farm and catching game. Eating out of cans these last months was getting to me. Now that I had the time and place I was going to resume my old habit of hunting. This redwood forest teemed with small game, pheasants and rabbits, perhaps even deer and my mouth watered for fresh meat.

The next day when the truck arrived Dora seemed to be in a high state of excitement: “Sam, I think you’re going to be very happy with my choices. I tested everyone with their glasses off and the pair I picked were the two best, in strength and beauty and cognitive skills. I scanned every mind in great detail. These two have some functional independence. I believe that with time and your company and example a part of their human consciousness might be restored. I’m looking forward to this experiment. I’ve instructed them to take off their bands in your presence and follow your guidance.

As the two pulled up to the lodge and stepped out of the van, I could see Dora had been very selective. Both were tall with athletic builds. They looked like the pride of some university. The woman was fair skinned with light long hair and a stunning face. She could have easily made any cheerleading team. The man was tanned and muscular, with black hair and had the looks and deportment of a star quarterback. He held out his hand to shake mine as we met, taking off his glasses as if out of politeness, like taking off your hat, remarking how happy he was to be here.

The woman did the same, giving me a big smile and remarking how fresh the air seemed in this oxygen rich forest. I wondered if these remarks had been programmed because they fell silent after that and stared up at the towering trees with wonder, as any small child might. Then they put their goggles back on and asked us where to unload the truck.

After that we asked Dora to show them their separate quarters and get settled in. But we also invited them to dinner with us, which we prepared for them on this first night. This was going to be a strange affair I thought, with their glasses off, a test to see how human they were. I devilishly poured each of them a glass of red wine along with mine and a half-glass for Beth and Amira, as there was an extensive wine cellar here which renewed my ancient taste for it.

As they sat down with us they formally introduced themselves, the woman asking to be called ‘Jane’ and the man ‘Tom’. They ate their meals with all the normal gestures and looks a human would but they glanced at the wine with a puzzled look and took a sip reluctantly only after I savored mine. With a slightly sour look on her face Jane asked what it was. I told them it was a drink made from grapes fermented and that in time they would relish it, that it was good for their health and would help them sleep. The bottle I’d picked was from a select corner of the cellar and over eighty years old. I could tell by the delicious smoothness it was a rare vintage, probably worth a mint in former times.

Only in their talk did we discover limitations. Amira asked Jane what she liked to do. She didn’t know. Then Amira went on to ask where she shopped for clothes, which confused her completely. Amira saw this embarrassment and told her that she’d show her the outfits she had and that she could borrow some. Jane did reply that she’d like that.

Tom, after I poured him and myself a second glass of wine, was a bit more sporting. I asked him if he’d like to come along with me the next day and lay out some traps to catch some small game for fresh meat. Before he could answer I told him I would show him exactly what to do and that he’d get to know the forest around us, which was a good thing, as we’d be staying here some time and that it would be fun. He was ready and willing, with a smile.

By observing the slight nuances of their eyes and lips I was pretty sure they had no idea of what ‘fresh meat’ or ‘fun’ was. They were vegetarian I found out from Dora later on and ‘fun’ was never a part of any of their routines. But I was trying to see by such a common word as ‘fun’ if they had any dim recollections of childhood. Apparently the didn’t.

Then I asked Dora if they showed any pleasure in having sex when they were told to procreate. She said ‘no’. They were assigned different partners each time as there were no mothers or fathers in their hives. Everything was communal. They performed it like any other command, like taking out the garbage.

I saw they would have to be rudely prodded back into their forgotten lives, but I would attack it radically. I would show them the pleasures of the hunt, the taste of cooked pheasant and rabbit accompanied by five glasses of wine and sweet deserts and after that the pleasures of sex, taking Jane on personally and assigning Beth to tackle Tom.

I wasn’t dejected. They had no personalities or tastes, no emotions or identities. But I thought I saw the nascent sparks of such things in their curiosity. I would say Jane was a three year old in human development, Tom maybe four.

We would treat them as such and live with them closely, goggle free, explaining everything to them one on one, switching the two with me or Beth and Amira to give them both male and female perspectives to life with the hope they might develop quickly into real people.

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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