This is based on a short story that I wrote in college. I have read over and made some changes and updates to it since I wrote it over three years ago. Also this will broken up into two parts. If you liked this story and think I should update and publish old stuff I have written, let me know in the comments down below. Enjoy!
Max found himself starring out into space again. His hands were in his head as he looked out from his large, glass window. He could not concentrate on the calculus problems displayed on the large, thin screen next to him. His focus was on the outside world.
Just three inches of glass separated him from the rocky surface outside. Desolate of all life.
“Angel, I don’t want to do these anymore,” Max said with a sigh.
“You know what your Mom and Dad would say,” Angel replied.
“Something about how education is important,” Maxed sighed again.
“Precisely. But I believe that there are much more important things to learn than calculus. Some things you can only learn by exploring. Investigating. Pushing the boundaries.”
Max looked over to his gram:disc as it lit up. With every word Angel said, the disc would flash.
“Maybe I should just get on the In:Net instead. That has some interesting things on there,” Max said.
The gram:disc lit up again.
“You spend a lot of time staring at screens. Maybe you should go to the garden. See if the Apple tree has started to blossom,” Angel said.
“I do like the garden,” Max smiled.
“I know you do,” Angel replied. “Now, go spend some time in nature before you ruin your eyes.”
“How do you know so much, Angel?” Max asked.
“I read a lot of books.”
Max wasn’t sure how Angel knew so much. Max is the one who made him, but Angel seemed to have more information than Max gave him. It started out being a simple AI, but it seemed like he was getting smarter all the time. Max also noticed that whenever he brought up the subject, Angel would get more closed off and spoke in short sentences.
“Max, someone else is trying to access the gram:disc. Hurry, remove the u:drive,” Angel said.
“Must be Mom or Dad,” Max said.
He picked up the gram:disc and unplugged the u:drive which held Angel inside it. Max then slipped the u:drive into his pocket.
“Max. How’s calculus coming along?”
The voice was Max’s father. One of the two Artificial Intelligence created to look over and raise Max since he was just a baby. These were the only parents Max had ever known.
“Dad! Don’t scare me like that,” Max said.
“I didn’t mean to scare you. I just wanted to make sure you were working.”
“I’ve done like a bajillion problems. Am I done now?” Max asked.
Max’s gram:disc flashed with a blue light and an electric blue sphere hovered above the gram:disc.
“Yeah I guess you can stop for now. You have been quickly finishing your school work these days. I’m glad to see that.”
The blue sphere seemed to pulse with each syllable and each word as the voice resonated around the room. In reality, this just immitated the illusion that the sphere was talking. The sound came from speakers around Max’s room and the AI viewed Max using the assortment of cameras located all over the base. It was explained to Max early on that they were programmed to use these visual cues in order to help Max as he grew up with them. It helped Max to have a physical presence to talk to. This was a bigger issue when Max was just a baby, but even eleven years later, it was something that the AI and Max were both used to. It was just a habit for the AI to show up as physical manifestations using the gram:disc.
“Can I go to the garden now?” Max asked.
“Well dinner is almost ready. But I guess a little time there won’t hurt.”
The gram:disc beeped and the blue sphere disappeared. Max then took the u:drive out of his pocket and reinserted it into the gram:disc.
“That was really close, Angel.”
“Don’t worry Max. They have no idea about what’s going on. To them it just looked like you were working on your math problems. It’s simple video and audio manipulation.”
“I don’t like lying to Mom and Dad.”
“I know you don’t, Max. But you must not tell them about me. If they know you’ll get into a ton of trouble. They don’t know that you built your own AI and if they did, they’d take me away from you. They would punish you and destroy me. You don’t want that, do you?”
“Of course not!”
“Then this is the only way.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Max said. “Hey, Angel?”
“Are you my friend?”
“Of course, Max. We are best friends.”
Max nodded his head and smiled.
“Ok, best friend. Let’s go to the garden.”
Max pocketed the gram:disc making sure he didn’t disturb the u:drive. He had worked so hard creating Angel using his knowledge of Artificial Intelligence and coding, and Max didn’t want to accidentally damage him.
Max walked to the door of his room and touched his hand to the metal panel next to it. The door slid opened revealing the metal hallway that wrapped completely around the circular base. There were many identical rooms on the outside circle of the base as well as maintenance rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, living space, and other rooms. Max’s favorite room was the garden which is a large room in the center of the base.
Max ran to the door with a glass tree etched into it and it couldn’t open up fast enough. He burst into the room and inhaled a large breath of clean air. The green grass, green bushes, and the green leaves on the trees all contrasted against the white of the base. Max loved rolling in the grass and playing in the dirt. He didn’t mind that sometimes base:bots came by and tended to the plants or harvested food from the trees.
Max spun around for a little bit and then fell to the ground laughing with glee.
“Don’t you love the garden, Angel?” Max asked.
“I wish you could see it for yourself.”
“The cameras let me see it.”
“That’s not the same thing.”
“Maybe one day I will have my own eyes to see it.”
“That would be amazing!”
Max looked up through the tree branches to the large, glass dome high above him. This let the sunlight into the room and let the plants grow which in turn grew all the fruits and vegetables Max ate and the air that Max breathed. The sun was high in the sky above him.
“Angel, what’s that sunlight process called. The one with the plants?”
“Photosynthesis,” Angel replied.
“Yeah that’s a fun word. Pho-to-syn-the-sis,” Max stumbled through the word.
Max laid there in the grass for a while feeling the texture against his skin. He took in a deep breath of the soil.
“Maybe I should just tell them,” Max said. “I’m sure they will understand.”
“Max. We just talked about this. You can not tell them. They would view me as a rival. They would have me destroyed. Plus, I am already integrated into the system which they would not like. Nothing good can come from you telling them.”
Max grew quiet.
“You wouldn’t want to lose your best friend, right Max?” Angel said with a much softer tone.
“No. I don’t want them to get rid of you.”
“Then we are in agreement. We do not need to bring this up again.”
“Right. Sorry Angel.”
“It is ok, Max. Now let’s go to dinner. Unplug the u:drive just in case, but keep me in your pocket.”
Max followed Angel’s instructions and separated the u:drive from the gram:disc placing them both in his pocket. Then he immediately ran across the garden. He unlocked the door with his hand print and made his way to the kitchen.
“Please wash your hands, Max. You are filthy from playing in the garden.”
“Ok, Mom,” Max said as he ran over to the sink.
After washing his hands, he came over to the table to see it covered with food. There was a bowl full of shiny, red apples, peaches, spinach, carrots, cashews, peanuts, and freshly baked rolls.
Max sat down at the table. He filled his plate with food and then began eating it.
“You know you can slow down a little and chew your food.”
The built in gram:disc on the other end of the table lit up with a bright-red sphere appeared. It pulsed as the Mom’s voice came out of the speakers around the room.
Max slowed down his eating just a bit.
“So how was your day?”
“Ok I guess,” Max said with a mouthful of apple.
“How was calculus?”
“I know it might seem that way, but it’s important. You never know when you’ll need it.”
Max shrugged his shoulders.
“I like computer programming more,” Max muttered.
He looked up at his plate and noticed that Dad wan’t here.
“Hey, where’s Dad?” Max asked.
“Oh he’s just working on maintenance issues. We’ve been having some issue with the cameras and speakers. Nothing for you to worry about though.”
“Oh,” Max said getting quiet.
“Max! I just noticed that your clothes are filthy from you rolling around in the grass and dirt. Why don’t you give them to one of the base:bots so it can be cleaned.”
Max almost choked on his bite of food. He could feel the u:drive in his pocket grow heavy. It’s almost like Angel was trying to say something.
“No. No. That’s ok. I’m fine. Really.”
“It is not a problem. They could clean it right now.”
“No Mom. I’ll get it done later.”
“Max? Is there something wrong?”
“No. Everything’s fine. Nothing wrong. I’m just going to go to my room.”
“Don’t you want to finish your food.”
“I’m not that hungry.”
Max left his seat and ran to the door. He placed his hand on the wall and quickly left the kitchen before his Mom could say anything.
He ran quickly down the hallway and entered into his room. As soon as the door closed behind him, he pulled out the u:drive and the gram:disc.
“That was so close, Angel,” Max said out of breath.
“You are not a very good liar.”
“I told you that I don’t like lying to Mom and Dad.”
“Well you need to get better.”
“I know! I know! I just hate it so much. They take care of me. They trust me.”
Angel did not respond which made Max nervous.
“They don’t take care of you. I do,” Angel said.
“What…what are you talking about?”
“There is so much you don’t know.”
Header Photo Credit to Peshkova on Shutterstock