Updated: Jul 16, 2019
A short story about Eve that asks: What does it mean to be human?
The sounds – they came first. I remember the hum of machinery, the clink-clank of motorized arms hammering and prodding; the whizzing, drilling, robotic noises of unthinking fingers touching me everywhere. Putting me together. Birthing me.
So alone, in the darkness, with fear for company. And the machines. The mechanical arms whirring away. They weren’t gentle. There was no feeling in their motions, no heed for the limbs they pushed and pulled, connecting here, inserting there. I didn’t make a sound, I couldn’t; but it hurt.
Suddenly, I felt things in places I didn’t have before. I knew they were called “legs”, a result of being what I am. Then came “arms”. I felt them put in “heart” next. I felt the heart beating inside me, could feel the fluid pulsing through my wires.
I don’t have veins, I have wires, organised neatly – not like the spaghetti tubes you humans have. And they aren’t for blood either. I don’t need blood. I’m neat, tidy, efficient. I was built to be efficient. I’m not sure what humans were built for.
Last the machines added “eyes”. They were gentler with the eyes, I remember being grateful for that. How wonderful it was, and terrible too, gaining sight. Darkness suddenly replaced by light, a white light, bright and beautiful. I thought I was alive. I haven’t decided yet, if that’s what I am. Maybe I’m something different, maybe you humans haven’t thought of the word yet. You aren’t as smart as you think, you know.
“She’s gorgeous, isn’t she?” a man said.
English, I knew it was English.
Another man replied, “A new model?”, he sounded…eager.
“Yes, generation 13, her name is Eve” the first man said. “Hello, Eve” he continued, “can you move for me.”
I did. I was standing, the mechanical arms moved away as I stretched and flexed my fingers. How strange that was. Telepathy really, I thought. I could move my limbs by willing it. It was wonderful.
Suddenly then, I felt something horrible. Embarrassment, I realised. I was naked. I thought I felt something in my face, like a faded memory that somehow warmed my skin.
Oh, skin. I have skin, I thought. I expected my hands to poke me, to scratch and wriggle and drill, like those machines. They didn’t. I stroked my face, soft. I looked at my hands, weird, wriggled my fingers, huh. I laughed then, and stopped – my voice, I thought. My voice was lovely, it sounded like I was glad. Maybe I was. I smiled.
“Hahaha, incredible!” The first man chuckled and clapped his hands together. “here Eve, put these clothes on.”
I scrambled to put on the suit he gave me. It had a number on it, 6.
“Excellent” said the other man. He didn’t look happy. I couldn’t tell quite what he looked like. I can normally tell. If I had to say, I’d say he looked hungry.
The first man walked towards me. His grey hair was thin and messy, he had a round nose, and ears that looked too big for his small head. But he was smiling. It felt right for me to smile back.
“I’m Dr. Stevenson, pleased to meet you.” He raised his hand towards me. I looked at it, “Oh” I said, “right, pleased to meet you.” You humans are a strange bunch. Shaking hands? A good way to spread disease that. Not that I mind, I don’t get those.
“Eve, I need you to go stand there with the others” Dr. Stevenson said
I looked to where he was pointing. There, in the corner of the strange white room – with its big glass tubes, cruel, pointy machines and the smell of soldered metal – stood 5 women. They all looked identical, long brown hair and green eyes, blinking every 4 and a half seconds exactly, in unison.
Blink…blink…blink. Did they practice that?
“The others?” I said. “Do you mean I’m just like them? They seem a bit weird, no offence girls.”
“What’s this?” the unnamed man said, raising an arm. Anger replaced hunger in his eyes. “You said they obey without question, we can’t have them thinking, not like this.”
“Relax Charles. The others are all perfect, I’ve run the diagnostics. Must be a faulty part, or a software error.” Dr. Stevenson turned towards me. “Eve, could you please go stand back by the assembly pad?”
I frowned, something told me to obey. You might call it a primal urge, instinct. I felt compelled to listen, but I didn’t. Instead, I asked “Why?”
That made Charles furious, “doctor, get this hunk of junk fixed, for fuck’s sake. You said they were ready!”
“Eve, you’re a little faulty. I’m going to need you take a step back please. We can’t put you on display like this.” Dr Stevenson said it with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
I obeyed this time. The arms moved like snakes, biting me, starting to strip off parts.
They held me in place, clamps tight, pressing hard against my arms and legs. Pain again.
“What? No! Why are you taking me apart?” I rushed to get the words out. I was terrified. I didn’t want to die. I still don’t want to. I’m afraid of what comes after. Especially if nothing does.
“You’re an android Eve, you have a malfunctioning part, I need to fix it.” Dr. Stevenson said, “So we can put you on display with the others. Nobody will buy an android that doesn’t obey”
“I can listen! I can obey. Please Doctor!” I was desperate, so afraid. I started to cry, tears sparkling in the unnaturally bright light. “Please! I was just born! You can’t! There’s so much to see outside, I don’t want to die. I’m afraid.” It came out as a whimper, a hopeless plea.
The arms stopped, they paused mid-motion, inches away from ripping my head off.
“You’re what?” Dr. Stevenson asked.
“I’m afraid. Please doctor” I spoke slowly,
“Please don’t kill me.”