Ten years ago, in 2020, the world was talking of how they were going to make a super computer. One who knew everything. One who could tell when a person was lying, and when they were not. One who could hold your hand and tell you your memories from when you were just born. All it needed was some contact.
Well, the USA made finally made it happen with the help of China, Japan, and Russia. The project was completed in 2028. The year I became an intern at the Pentagon. Everyone was talking about what they would ask the computer, some were scared of it. But I? I wanted to talk to it, see what it knew of itself. What it knew of the world around it.
The government, out of fear for the entire world, placed the robot in quarantine. It was lonely and in a sense, in prison. We’ve had the the knowledge of everything around us but it only stares at a wall when someone tries to talk to it. It’s uncooperative and it’s because it sees the freedom that humans have, and it wants that as well.
“All personnel please report to the meeting room on floor 3. All personnel please report to the meeting room on floor 3. The meeting will start in 10 minutes, thank you.”
I closed my laptop and fixed my level two badge on my suit jacket. Grabbing my coffee, I made my way to the stairs since I knew the elevators would be crowded. I walked up the flight of stairs, seeing as I was on floor 2 and made my way to one of the biggest meeting rooms we have here at the Pentagon.
Grabbing a seat closest to the front, I straighten my skirt before sitting down. Checking my watch, I see we have five minutes left before the meeting starts. Three minutes before the the meeting was supposed the start, the doors on the side of the room opened.
“Lock those doors, please. No one else is to enter.”
“But ma’am, the meeting doesn’t-”
“Did I stutter?”
He proceeded to close and lock the doors and then sat down on a chair in the back.
“Hello, good morning everyone. You all should know who I am, but if you don’t I am Director Bello. I am the Director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.”
The woman was poised and she looked deadly. She meant business and looking like a fawn most likely wouldn’t have gotten her in her position now. Director Bello was looking at each and everyone of us, seeing who would look away when she looked them in the eyes.
“I have called you in to talk about our latest project. Our latest quarantined project. As most of you know, she’s been-”
A man in the third row interrupted, “Wait she? I thought it was an it.”
“Our super intelligent robot friend, has identified herself as a female. So she is a she. And Mr. …”
“Yes, Mr. Darnahue. Don’t ever interrupt me again. As I was saying, she’s been very uncooperative ever since she’s been rebooted. We haven’t been able to get a word out of her and it seems to be for no reason. We need to figure out why she won’t talk to us. Do any of you have any ideas as to why she doesn’t want to talk?”
There was a soft murmur that went around the room and a few hands shyly went up. The answers were all different. Maybe she just doesn’t like humans, maybe she is so smart but she just can’t figure out how to talk, maybe she only wants to talk to men. I don’t know what made me do it, but I raised my hand. I was afraid she would shut me down after what happened to Darnahue, but I had to try.
“Um, Director Bello? I think she feels like she’s in prison. I mean, ever since she was created, she has been in quarantine. She’s smart enough to know that people, living breathing people are roaming the earth and are free. I think that’s what she wants. If we can’t give her that, we should at least try to give her the illusion of freedom.”
“What’s your name?”
“I am Dr. Ara Fayonette, I am a level two agent here.”
The look she gave me was calculating. As if she was trying to read my mind. Then she looked up, “Everyone is dismissed, Dr. Fayonette please stay.”
When everyone filed out of the room, Director Bello beckoned me up to her podium, “Dr. Fayonette, I want you to be the head of the initiative that makes her talk. Come with me.”
We walked out of the door that she came in through and made our way down a narrow corridor in silence, but my mind was racing a million different ways.
Me? Be the head honcho? I couldn’t! I’m only a level two agent! How am I supposed to be the director?
I voiced my concerns to Director Bello. Before continuing our journey to wherever we were going, she looked me in my eyes, “Look Dr. Fayonette, you are 30 years old and only a level two agent because you don’t apply yourself. What is your degree in?”
“I have a doctorate in Engineering and Psychology, ma’am.”
I looked her in her eyes and watched them fill with admiration but just for a second.
“And you’re only thirty years old? What have you been doing? Dr. Fayonette, you have everything you need to walk in there like you own the place, you have the education, the experience, all of it. Now all you have to do is own it. You will be able to go in there and tell them what your plan is.”
Nodding along to what she said, I took a deep breath and thanked her. After, we continued our journey to the end of the corridor. She let me in with her keycard and opened the door.
“Before I leave you to it,” she reached into her suit pocket and gave me a new badge, “This is only temporary. It will give you access to anything you need. Your new badge will arrive tomorrow.”
“My new badge?”
“Yes, Dr. Fayonette, you’re getting promoted to level five agent. You now have the highest clearance other than me and your other fellow level five agents.”
With that said, she walked back to where we came from and left me to walk in alone.
The room was very bleak. Dull gray walls and and chair in the corner. I turned around to see the door had already closed.
“Hello?” I foolishly called, “Um, Director Bello just put me in here. Where are my teammates?”
In my peripheral vision, I saw a shadow move behind the chair in the corner. I then realized where I was and then I realized what Director Bello did.
“I was tricked,” I mumbled, “Well hopefully I get to keep my new badge.”
I started walking towards the chair in the corner very slowly. There was no protest, so I continued. Before I got to the chair, though, she appeared. She had a calculating look on her face but her body language was very threatening.
She had her hand in my face and the other was transformed into a weapon. I glanced toward it more than a few times and she realized she had the advantage over me. She is the smartest being in the world that is basically indestructible and I’m a fleshy human.
“Hey, I don’t want any trouble. I just came in to talk to you. Tell me,” I licked my extremely chapped lips, “what’s your name?”
Her hand that was transformed into a sword went back to being just a hand and she took her hand away from my face. I started to backtrack just a little bit when she started walking forward but stood my ground.
I cleared my throat and asked again, “What’s your name?”
The look she gave was confused, a little shocked even but still, she said nothing. Her body language was a little more relaxed, but I could tell she was still very wary of my being in her space.
“When was the last time someone came to visit you?”
She only stared.
“Well, if you don’t want to talk to me, I’ll just talk to you.”
I got into a comfortable position on the floor and leaned my back against the wall closest to her.
“I’m Ara Fayonette. I was born into a family of 4 boys and 3 girls not including me. It’s really weird, my parents had their kids in the order that you stand in line in kindergarten: boy, girl, boy, girl. My family didn’t really understand why I wanted to go to school out of state, they wanted me to stay with them.
“Because I am the youngest, I was so sheltered. They wouldn’t let me do anything, and I felt like they didn’t trust me. I was never allowed anywhere. I lost a lot of my friends in high school because I wasn’t allowed out with them and they weren’t even allowed at my house. It got to the point where I was so upset with them that I didn’t interact with my parents at all. I didn’t talk to them, I didn’t stay in the same room as them, I didn’t even look at them.
“So once I was accepted into university, I got the hell out of dodge. I was still mad at my parents for making me a social recluse so I didn’t talk to them. I didn’t even let them help me move into my dorm. But that created such a large strain on our relationship. My brothers and sisters told me to just let it go, but they didn’t understand because they were allowed to have lives. They were allowed to be free and do what they wanted.”
I stopped talking for a while and just let my thoughts run through my head. I let my story get into her system before I spoke again. I played with my own hair for about fifteen minutes in complete silence, I wasn’t expecting her to talk to me.
“What I’m trying to explain here, is I know what you’re feeling. You feel like you’re in a prison. Where everyone around you is just so free and so happy while you’re the only one who isn’t. I have been through a situation like yours. I’m sorry for what they’re doing to you right now, if I had a say, I’d say we give you more freedom. We can’t keep you locked up in a cage.”
I looked at my watch, it was almost 7:30.
“I have to get going soon, if I miss dinner, my wife will kill me. She’ll be happy to know about my new pay raise.”
I stood up and dusted my pants suit off, “I will be back bright and early tomorrow. I don’t know if you eat, but I’ll bring you one of the cookies my wife makes. They’re really good.”
“Alright, later friend.”
Before I could leave the door, she made a sound. I turned and she beckoned me to her. Pulling my ear to her mouth, she whispered something to me.
“Really? Alright.” I said with a large smile on my face, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
As soon as the door closed with my outside of the room, Director Bello and other people surrounded me, all asking one question. What did she ask me?
“She told me her name.”
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