• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 09
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Nerves and Eyes

Sami had two talents, and neither of them involved tidying up his laboratory. I pushed some papers together.

"Guess what I called her," he called. Screwdrivers were falling out of his hands at an astonishing rate, and he picked them up as quickly as he dropped them. I imagined that, by some fluke, the tools he dropped would inadvertently form some sort of Satanic sigil on the dusty floor and open up a portal into Hell, sucking him down into the underworld. Maybe it would take some of the mess with it.

"Sorry, what was the question? I was thinking about Satan."

"Karen. After the singer." Talking to Sami was like this, even when he didn't have a screwdriver in-between his teeth.

"And what about the face?"

"That's an original," he wiped his hands on something I hoped was supposed to be a rag. "I went for 'sexy androgyny.' Appealing to nobody and everybody, in equally low amounts."

I found a box of wires that needed love. "I do wish you would at least give them hair."

"Why? Hair doesn't do anything. She can regulate her own temperature; that's all that hair is. Concentrated temperature regulation."

"It also attracts mates."

"Who's she going to want to mate with? The... the, frigging, I don't know. She's a robot."

"Oh. So... dress her like Karen... uh, the singer, at least. It creeps me out when you make them look like this."


Nerves and Eyes

Sami did something he had only done fifteen times in the two years he had known me: he stopped working and looked at me.

"Listen, there's two things that make humans what they areā€”their nervous systems, and their eyes. Nerves and eyes, that's all we are. If we could, we would just float around like that, like creepy octopi. Everything else is redundant."

"I thought it was because you could only draw faces."

"It's all they need, all I need. The wires are my scientific mind, the eyes are my creative side. Humans, and by extension, human-substitutes, need to be able to get their bodies to work and they need to be recognised as humans. That's what the eyes are for. Windows to the soul. Anything more or anything less would be Uncanny Valley territory."

"A nice dress couldn't hurt." I stopped untangling wires so I could clap. "Or a suit?"

"Get her one as a birthday present. I'm about to turn her on." He walked over to the humming power banks and removed all the pizza. Plugs and pepperoni in hand, he paused. "I've never had to introduce you before. What do you want me to call you?"

"I don't know," I shrugged. "You weren't naming us back then."

"See?" he exclaimed. "Proved my point. You don't need a name. And you get everything you need to get done, done, don't you?"

I rolled said eyes. Then I realised that, while I had been engaged in conversation, I had tidied the entire lab. I guess he was right.