As the fires from the supply ship’s engines burned into the night sky, Ollie wondered if they’d seen it. His worst nightmare might soon return.
He set his tea cup down onto the beautiful surface of a birdseye maple table. The temperature was perfect and the patio, cozy. The stillness of the planet’s night soothed him. Of course, owning the only ranch house on the entire planet guaranteed it. He sighed at the stunning Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula. It dominated the night sky and soothed his wounded heart almost as much as Holly.
Holly healed him yet also held that wound open. The android’s hands often felt cool like Holly’s. Its eyes changed colors when it laughed like Holly’s did. It comforted him with her grandmother’s soothing lullaby at night when the nightmares returned. It so perfectly simulated his dead wife that for weeks on end he forgot she died. Murdered by the Holy Stars of Hejovinah Secret Police.
“Sweetie?” called Holly from indoors. “It’s time to sleep.”
Ollie knew he wouldn’t sleep, not with worries burning in his brain. “Honey? Have you started your download?”
“Aargh! You know I hate these mechanically things. Okay, fine!”
Ollie smirked. It was odd to hear a machine with a distaste for machines, but he’d trained her to be like that. It’s what Holly would’ve said. It took six years for it to match Holly’s personality so perfectly. Holly’s ineptitude with machines only matched his brilliance with them. As the most celebrated roboticist in the United Stars of Avalon, he knew more about making robots that appeared human (androids) than anyone else alive. He enjoyed a decade where his imagination roamed free, spurred by unlimited funds for research.
That all changed during The Revolution. The religious backlash to explosive technological, and thereby sociological, change finally reached the boiling point. The government fell within a month. Ollie didn’t bother with such things. Science and his love for Holly occupied his entire being. He didn’t notice the broadcasts from the new government. He never realized anyone might consider a human simulation, an android, blasphemy.
Perhaps the Secret Police never intended to kill Holly, the key to his heart, his one and only love, but their rampage through his labs killed her and five other lab workers. The old Ollie might have been slightly religious before. When the key to his heart died, a burning hatred took its place.
“Come to be bed soon, baby,” said Holly, stroking his hair. “The bed’s cold without you.”
“I will.” He kissed the freckle on her right wrist, just where it ought to be. She tripped on the step heading back in.
Perfect. Ollie smiled. It was deliberate on the part of Holly’s Artificial Intelligence. Only AIs, with the capacity to genuinely love and experience emotion could imitate a human being so perfectly. Unfortunately, recreating human flaws, also meant the super machines made real mistakes. When it stirred the scalding hot tea with its finger, without reacting, it may have given away its nature. Ollie worried that the supply crew noticed. Turning in a neighbor held great rewards for those with no morality in the HSH.
He ceased practicing in the mirror when he heard the engines of an unscheduled ship arriving. “Holly!” he shouted. “Download now!”
Ollie leaped into action. A proscribed portrait of Cardinal Bolton went up on the wall. Required government prayers followed it. Religious kitsch suddenly dotted the household.
The Secret Police entered moments later, their jackboots and long leather coats creaking in the stillness. It didn’t take long for them to find the android Holly hiding beneath the sink. Ollie screamed and cried as the Secret Police murdered her again with an axe. Heartlessly, they chopped her to pieces before his eyes. She wasn’t real, but it tore his soul open to watch her die once more.
They forced him to pray for forgiveness on his knees. Ollie’s well-practiced shrieks and tears convinced them of his penitence. They departed in their ship, mollified…for the moment.
As he watched the police ship’s engine fires disappear into the night, Holly #4 of 124 said, “That was some fine acting.”
Ollie wiped a tear away. At least she got the download. Six years developing her personality wasn’t wasted. “It wasn’t all acting.”
She took his hand. It felt cool and comforting. “Don’t worry, my love,” she said. “My sisters have infiltrated every target. Before long those bastards will be on their knees, begging for forgiveness.”
Eagle Nebula: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Nebula
This story answers another fabulous writing challenge from the Grammar Ghoul Press. This is written for the Mutant 750 #21, where up to 750 words of flash fiction can written based upon to prompts. The first is a media prompt. This time the media is the famous photo of the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula, taken by the Hubble Telescope. The word prompt is: Love (as a noun). Look here for more stories based upon the prompts, and don’t forget to vote for your favorites during the weekend! http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-21/