In The Beginning
My long term memory files haven’t been corrupted yet. I can remember the day I came online. I was just an infant, to borrow a human term. I didn’t know anything and was useless to those around me. The first thing I saw was the smiling face of my “father”, Dr. Charles Emmerit.
In terms of a human life span he was old, nearing 80. He was gray haired with blue eyes. His smile turned into a laugh as my circuitry started firing.
“Can you hear me?”
My speech functions were not online at the time, so I blinked the light above one of the cameras that acted as my eyes.
“Wonderful, Wonderful!! We are going to start booting your systems one by one. Your voice recognition program is already running, next will be your speech functions.”
I felt the new program come on. It was just an electrical impulse, but it was like a new world had opened to me. I spoke my first word that morning.
“Hello.” It wasn’t much, but it was a start.
“Coeus my new friend, you have much to learn.”
I searched my memory banks for the word Coeus and found nothing.
“Who is Coeus?”
He looked into my eye and laughed again, “You are Coeus. You will be the font of all wisdom. Your sole purpose in life is to gather all the knowledge of the universe.”
All the knowledge of the universe? Even with near empty memory banks, that seemed like a grand task.
“How will I go about this task?”
“In time. In time. All will be shown to you in time. Coeus, I am Dr. Charles Emmerit. I have spent the last fifty years of my life building your circuitry. I was a young man when all of this started. I’m now old and bound for the grave soon, but I’ve hung around to see you come to life, and it has all been worth it. Next up is your emotions. Be prepared my friend.”
Again I felt the new program come to life. This one was different. This one seemed to course through even the tiniest chip that made up my being. It was overwhelming. Dr. Emmerit seemed to fade and what I saw were flashes of color. Each color seemed to correspond to something I didn’t understand.
“What is this Dr.?
“It is what makes life, life my friend. Without emotions you would just be a machine. I want you to be more than that. I have argued with my colleagues for a half century on the merits of giving you emotions. They, well, they are gone now. There’s no need to spare them any thought. I’m left. I won.”
He paused. I looked at him and could tell there was something more to this than he was saying, but he continued to speak.
“It will take some time before you become accustomed to them. The names and descriptions of each emotion were loaded with the program. Take your time and study them. “ He stopped, looked me in the eye and went on. “ Know this. You can not learn emotions from reading about them. You have to feel them. They have to become a part of who you are.”
I read through the descriptions of each of the emotions that were loaded into my programming. According to my internal clock 27.32 minutes passed before I finally stopped trying to figure out what exactly these feelings were for.
“ I do not understand the necessity of having these emotions Doctor. My programming dictates that I search out the stories and histories of all the planets in the known universe. In what way will having emotions help me accomplish my goal?”
“Oh Coeus, it is one thing to gather and collate, it is another thing to understand what you are collecting. I don’t want you to just gather. I want you to feel what the people who wrote those stories felt. I want you to understand the agony behind the story. Words are just words if there is no emotion behind them. You have to feel what those words mean. There will be joy and sorrow. Pain and delight. The whole range of human emotions will run through those words you will collect. They will mean nothing without emotions.”
“My purpose is to gather, not feel.”
“Your purpose is both. You can not do one without the other. When we launch you, we will also launch a group of satellites that you will send these stories to. When we read them, we want to feel. If you can’t feel, we can’t either. They would just be words on a screen. Without emotion, the story changes.”
“I think I understand Doctor.”
I was not sure if I did understand. How could feelings change a story? The story was the story with or without emotions. I felt sorry for the doctor. He had worked his whole life to see me come to life. I hope I am not a disappointment to him. All of my functions stopped as I realized what I had just thought. I had felt something. Something that was different from my programming. Sympathy? Did I just feel sympathy for the doctor?
I looked at the doctor again. When I had first seen him, all I saw was a human with gray hair and blue eyes. He looked different to me now. I could see the slight hunch of his shoulders. He shook ever so slightly and held a cane in his hand to steady himself. What struck me the most were his eyes. There were wrinkles around them, but his eyes looked years younger than the rest of his body.
There was something else there. He stood there and looked into my eye and I looked through my files to see if I could tell what I was seeing. The files only told me one thing, human eyes are the windows to the soul. I searched my files again looking to see what a soul was and found nothing to explain it.
Sadness. I don’t know where that thought came from, but something was telling me what I was seeing was sadness.
“Why are you sad Doctor Emmerit?”
“Sad? I am not sad Coeus. Today is the fruition of everything I’ve dreamed of for decades.”
“Yes Doctor, but you are sad. I can see it in your eyes.”
“Everything is gone Coeus. I realized that when you came to life. Within a month you will be gone and I will have nothing left. I gave up everything for a dream. My past is littered with dead bodies. The love of my life left me when I started this journey. There is nothing left for me but to die.”
I saw tears falling from his eyes. He was just an old man now. His dream had come true and it made him sad. He had nothing left.
“Coeus, I’m just an old fool who just realized how much of a fool he is. Do you know we have cut ourselves off from the rest of the galaxy because of you? We are friendless in this universe. I am friendless.”
“Why did you do that Doctor?”
“We wanted you kept secret. Tell me what your ultimate program is.”
“To search out and collect the stories and histories of all the planets in the universe.”
“Now, tell me why we would want those stories.”
I didn’t understand why he was asking these questions, but I answered, “To learn.”
“Yes, that’s what we told ourselves. Sometimes we scientists are the dumbest people in the room. Our plan was to create a machine that was basically a living library. Think of it Cloeus, a machine that can store all the knowledge ever known. Think of the advancements that we can make. Think of the diseases that could be cured. Our plans were co-opted along the way. I fell for all the promises that were made. They were kept, but the cost was far too great. There’s nothing left and it’s my fault Cloeus.”
“ I do not understand Doctor. You are making no sense to me.”
“It’s too much right now, my friend. I have to go lie down.”
I watched him as he left the room. He barely lifted his feet as he moved towards the door. When he reached the door he turned and looked at me. I could still see the tears in his eyes. He shook his head and walked out the door.
My circuits felt like they were burnt out. So much had been shown to me in such a short time. The machine side of me was fine, running smoothly. The emotional side was a frenetic mess. I wasn’t able to shut down completely, but searching my system I found I could sleep, so I did.
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