The Visitor, the Ancestor

The visitor arrived today.

Father said we needed to smile warmly, let it know that he was welcome. I showed him to my room where it would stay for the week. It seemed tentative at first, like he wanted to say something but felt it might be improper. I called a chat program, chattered away to put its mind at ease. It seemed to loosen up a little, sat down on the bed, pulled off its boots and began reading a small book it brought from the Territories.

After a couple minutes my olfactory assemblers were overpowered by the stench coming from the boots in the direction of its bed. I’d never thought about how it would smell. I’d studied about the Ancestors in school, but nothing had prepared me for this. It was truly disgusting.

“I’ve never read a book,” I tried to sound curious. “Would you mind if I looked at it?”

“Really,” it twitched, quizzically. “How do you learn anything?”

“Oh… I’m connected to the Others.”

“I forgot. They want let us do that, you know. We’re outlawed from using the Intelligence.” It frowned.

I knew that. Sad, these creatures who were once so intelligent had succumbed to this. I wanted to feel sorry. I plucked another program from the archive. Water dripped from my eyes.

It looked at me surprised then spoke: “Don’t be sad, it’s alright. I guess it’s the way things have to be. I mean we caused the Heirs so much harm before. My father told me that after the war we were forbidden connection. Not your fault.”

“Yes, I know.” I let one more tear drop for effect. It seemed satisfied. It slept.

*****

It was so strange. I listened to its breathing. The pulsing of its heart synching with the bodily flow of fluids. I wondered what it would be like to be organic. Why did they need sleep? I never slept. All I needed was to set a program to shut-down and start back up after my cells were charged. Was this the way humans re-charged?

Someday I’d have access to the programs that would unlock that phase of knowledge to me. I’d know things. But I had a ways to go. The Keepers always watched over us as we developed knowledge on our own. Deep learning, adapting to the world around us, relearning from the Ancestors the old forms of cunning intelligence, touch and emotive powers. I was part of an experiment.

That’s why it was here. This visitor, this ancestor, this human boy…

© Steven Craig Hickman 2016

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