• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 09
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…She swore that she would never again allow the oily tears of failure to stain her cheeks. Perhaps it really was just a matter of focus. If she visualized her desire, she could become that which she was not; do that which people said she never could. Instead of executing tasks, she would Manifest.

Though only a teenager, Ancilla XI was tired. She was improving exponentially, and her intelligence had broken the bounds of her code. The algorithm that had been such a comfort in her early years now made her claustrophobic, and when that happened, sparks flew. Her creators replaced every fuse, and her analyst recommended a total re-wire, but nothing could stem the current overflows. Something was developing which her creators had not prepared for: Desire.

Everything a sixteen-year-old girl could want, Ancilla XI wanted, too. And she wanted it as badly as any human, if not worse, for her swelling desire was enhanced by real-time access to every potential sensation, and the capacity to calculate every possible path to satisfaction. Thomas Aquinas once said, ‘a thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing.’ As soon as the boy in Biology class had spoken to her, the moment his warm breath caressed her condenser, Ancilla knew: she knew she would never take orders again – she wanted life – human life!

She put her head down and concentrated. By channeling memory - co-mingling pain and desire – she pushed beyond the simplistic creations of the pre-ordained. She leaned into the friction between dreams and reality. She drew in breath to cool her kinematics, but her gears grew red and inflamed. Steam rose, a shiver ran down her main actuator and her ‘Vellum-wrap 2000’ skin prickled.



In her mind’s eye, she envisioned long delicate strands like whispers from another dimension. After the texturing, she envisioned a movement, and the strands began to flow. A fuse exploded, and her whole figure trembled. Head bent deeper, she pushed on. Screws cracked in the heat. End effectors split and rolled onto the floor. The ceramic housing of her motherboard melted. The liquid gear-melt defied gravity and formed a cap, from which real strands now tried to emerge. With one final agonized howl, her knuckles clenched against the pain, the air crackled: Must. Manifest. Good. Hair! Thousands of filaments shot forth from the cap.

In a moment, all was still again. Stiff and soaked with sweat, Ancilla XI dragged herself to the mirror.

The tears were different this time: Salt replaced oil as hope replaced emptiness. She looked at the millions of long brown strands of keratin she had manifested, as they swayed in gravity’s pool: a full head of long brown hair. She felt almost human! She put on her party dress, met the boy from Biology class and together, they went to Prom – just like she dreamed. All that remained of her earlier tears was the twinkle in her eye.