Chapter 1 partial
The scanner shuts itself off, opening the door to the laboratory. Without waiting for another second, he shoved open the door heading straight for his office in the back of the lab away from the equipment. The door shut tightly behind him.
He cursed checking his watch. He was going to be late.
Rushing over he searched his mess of a desk for a particular item. His face scrunched up in confusion.
“No, no no! Where is it?!” he exclaimed as he shoved piles of blueprints and models off his desk. “It has to be here!”
“Dr. Anglen, is everything alright?” a man said from the doorway. Anglen jumped, placing a hand over his racing heart. He nods, taking a few deep breaths before going back to his search. The man frowned.
“Sir, what are you looking for?” he asked. The doctor doesn’t respond. Anglen was shifting through the mess when his hand grazed a small, black flash drive. He smiled in triumph.
The door shut signaling that the man had left. Anglen grabbed his coat before exiting the lab making his way towards the meeting starting in less than ten minutes.
He sighed under his breath walking through the see-through door. Anglen straightened his posture despite the obvious exhaustion he felt from the sleepless nights in order to make the deadline. He smiled politely at the heads of the company and his bosses.
He looked at the man standing in front of the table where the others sat. Mr. Kingstone smiled nodding to Anglen. He gestured for Anglen to come forward before speaking.
"Gentlemen, this is Dr. Anglen. He is the head of our research department and technical advisor," Kingstone said before turning to the doctor. "The floor is yours."
Kingstone left Anglen standing there to sit at the head of the table. Anglen took a silent deep breath tightly gripping the drive.
The wind howled as it slammed against the glass. The old Ember tree in the backyard shook violently. A head popped out from underneath the covers at the noise. She rubbed her eyes with the palm of her hand before throwing the covers off and swinging her feet over the edge of the bed. She stood up and stretched running her left hand through her long, black hair. She looked around her room blankly for a moment, not fully awake. She slowly walked over to her closet on the opposite side of the room. The closet was a decent size, but had a limited selection in clothing. Not that she minded. She liked it for the sole fact that she could wear her favorite clothes every week.
She pulled out an old large worn out, dark gray hoodie and a pair of black pants. She quickly changed, zipping up the jacket over a white tank top walking out of her bedroom. She stopped as she passed a random mirror hanging on the wall. After taking a look at her bird’s nest in the mirror she sighed.
Making a quick detour into the bathroom, grabbing a pair of scissors out of . Chunks of hair fell to the floor then a buzzing noise.
Taking another look in the mirror, her lip turned up slightly. Her hair now fell down to her jaw and trimmed at part of the side of her head above her right ear.
The clock sitting on her nightstand changed to 8:00 a.m. blaring a random song on a Hard Rock station. Hearing her song echoing throughout the room she dances and sings along terribly. She cried out smashing her hand into the wall. Cradling her injured appendage she looked at the dent in the wall. There’s a new addition to the collection she thought.
“Isla, honey, You're going to be late for school,” her mother yelled from downstairs. Isla sighed, rolling her eyes. Snatching the small backpack, she took with her almost everywhere, off the floor she made her way down the stairs and paused when she saw her mother with the latest VR headset on. She was in her own little digital world again oblivious to what was happening around her.
“Mom, it's Saturday. There’s no school,” She said even though she knew she wouldn’t receive an answer. This was almost an everyday occurrence now. Not that she minded.
She shook her head as she shoved on her old, black worn-out boots. The boots came up to her ankle. She stood up, throwing her backpack over her shoulder and walked over to the front door. The sound of her mother's voice made her stop in her tracks.
“Honey. Where are you going? Remember the conventions today, remember?” she said taking off the headset, “I’ll go grab my purse then we can leave, Ok Sweety?” Her mother left the room and came back typing on her phone smiling brightly with her purse in her hand.
Isla groaned, banging her head lightly on the door. She grabbed the handle and walked out of the house. Isla paused, staring down the street at her neighbors. It wasn't one of those rich people's neighborhoods, but it also wasn't one of the old areas that still existed. Old as in how the world used to be 10 years ago before technology took over the world, not really old buildings.
There were still places here and there that stuck to their roots and tried to preserve what they could of the past. Her home used to be one of these places. The house had been in her family for almost 4 generations until it burned down because of some bad wiring. Loraine, Isla’s mother, had it built back the way it was with a few alterations. She has expanded the home so it could be more comfortable for her and her daughter and has installed the latest technology into every part of the home. It includes everything from the automatic door, that would only open for the people or relatives of the home, to talking dishes and utensils.
That was only the beginning, soon every house on the street was either restored, upgraded or just torn down in general. It was a wake-up call to the world saying the future is here and get over it.
She walked to the car without a second thought. She sat in the backseat waiting for her mother to get lost in her thoughts. A minute later the car door slams shut, scaring Isla.
“Well somebody's eager to get going,” her mother said, starting the car. Isla sighed, slumping in her seat.
It took half an hour to get to the convention center which was conveniently placed in the middle of the city. Finding a parking space took even longer. It wouldn't have taken so long if traffic hadn’t slowed them down. Isla was glad that it did though.
As soon as they walked through the door, Isla’s mother grabbed her wrist and was dragging her off in a random direction. Her mother practically ran to the stage and disappeared within the growing crowd around it. People were being shoved out of the way as her mother weaved her way to the front. Isla tried to apologize to them before the sharp tug pulled her in a different direction. Her mother let go of her wrist once they were close to the front of the stage.
She rubbed her sore wrist as the lights above them began to dim and the ones shining on the stage lights grew brighter. The room became silent as a well-dressed, average build man, known as the famous Jonathan Kingstone, walked onto the stage microphone in hand.
He was the first to mass-produce robots of all different sizes, styles, and occupations. The Galaxy robots are what made him famous and he’s not even the creator of the robots or the person who wrote their programming. He became famous for producing someone else’s idea and receiving most of the credit for it. Isla looked at him in distaste.
Kingstone cleared his throat into the microphone. “Hello? Is this thing on?” his words echoed throughout the room. He smiled at the applauding crowd.
“Welcome ladies and gentlemen! Before we get any further, I wanted to say thanks to all of our supporters out there. As you all know, my company, Kingstone Incorporation, has been developing the next line of Galaxy bots and today marks the start of a new age. An age of technology,” he spoke into the microphone, “The Galaxy XR has opened up an entirely new frontier for us and it is time for us to share our discovery with the world.” A metal platform rose behind him.
“This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for. I present the Galaxy XR!” Kingstone exclaimed gesturing to the platform. The lights shone onto the new robots. Everyone gaped. Seconds passed before the shock wore off and everyone started chapping. Isla stared in disbelief. It looked human. They all looked human.
On the platform stood five robots; three girls and two boys. All dressed in the same white t-shirt and pants. Isla looked away from the robots and at her mother. Loraine was clapping along with everyone else and jumping up and down in excitement. Isla frowned, turning back to the keystone when he began to speak.
“The XR’s, as you can see, aren’t your average robots. The first Galaxy robot had your typical robot designed to abide by the Law of Robotics and the rules of their owners. This was to ensure our customer's satisfaction no matter how different you are from the person beside you. As time passed by, we realized that a robot that just follows the rules isn't very fun so we started anew and in the process, we struck gold." He paused for effect, "The Galaxy XR. Each of our robots now have the ability to learn new actions, customs, cultures and much more in order to benefit their owners in every way possible. The XR's are programmed with one goal, to please their owners. And don't worry you can always give them more goals and the XR will complete them, as long as they follow the law.”
“Now, I know what you’re all thinking. How could tonight get any better?! What if I told you that everyone here today has a chance of winning their very own Galaxy XR!” The room erupted with applause from everyone except her.
The cheering only got louder as an employee walked out onto the stage with an envelope in her hands. Kingstone smiled and took the envelope from her hands. He carefully opened it and pulled out a white card.
“Unfortunately, since we only have five XR’s here with us today, there can only be five winners. And our lucky winners are… Rebecca White, Raphael Snow, Elijah Rogers, Daniel Bradbery and Loraine Crawford!”
Isla's jaw dropped in shock when her mother’s name was called. She slowly started backing away from the stage shaking her head as her mother happily stepped towards the side of the stage. Without a second thought, Isla shoved her way through the crowd of the room and towards the front doors.
She kept running until she reached the second bus stop. Her mother would probably think she had used the first stop to get out of there. She usually did and was wrong as always. She came to this stop almost every day and knew the route the bus took like the back of her hand. The only one that goes right to the one place that she desperately needed to be.
The bus pulled to a stop in front of the bench she was sitting on. Isla quickly stood to pay her fair after boarding the bus with her bus fare card. She had swiped from her mother’s purse months ago. Her mother knew that she took it since the card hadn’t been declined or reported stolen.
Isla quietly sat in the back away from everyone else. The bus pulled out into the street away from the convention. Isla pulled out her phone to check the time. It was a little after ten in the morning. Isla bit her lip hearing her stomach growl. She sighed, grabbing her bag out of the seat next to her, opening the biggest pocket and digging through it. She smiled when her hand hit the object. Isla pulled a smaller yellow bag to the top of her bag and zipped the bag back up. She leaned her head back against the headrest staring out the window, watching the world pass on by.
She glanced up as the driver called out the street name they had stopped at. Isla ducked her head waiting for the bus to start moving again. This went on for a while until finally here was called.
The truck arrived late that night. The headlights lit up the front of the house, shining brightly into the upstairs window. The driver stepped out of the passenger side door wearing a standard delivery-person uniform. He quickly ran to the back of the truck and punched in the security code. The door slides open with a loud BANG and slowly pulls the last box forward. The driver taps his foot impatiently, muttering under his breath about ‘how slow this stupid thing is’ and why ‘couldn’t he had got any other job’. After what seemed like forever, the track finally placed the box on a hoverboard that lowered the box off the truck.
The driver sighs in relief. He quickly checks the package for any damage and pulls out a small, flat screen and scans the hidden code on the corner of the box. The screen lights up green and then he puts it back in his pocket grabbing the handle attached to the board. The driver walked up the sidewalk to the front door dragging the hovering box behind him and stood there. The door scanned him and asked him to state his business.
“I’m here to deliver a package to a..” the driver looked down at the last name on his list, “a Ms. Crawford.”
The door lit up, Miss Crawford has been notified. It said in an automated voice.
He stood there waiting and waiting. He jumped as the door suddenly opened and on the other side was 15-year-old Isla. She took a quick look at the guy standing on her front porch. Before he could open his mouth to speak, Isla took a step back and the front door slammed shut in his face. She rolled her eyes in annoyance and turned around heading back up towards her room.
Loraine brushed her dirty blonde, almost brown, hair out of her face. She stepped out of the kitchen when a loud thud came from the living room. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her child marching up the stairs mumbling to herself. She turned towards the door as it began to speak.
Mrs. Crawford, there is a package for you.
She smiled at the door. “Let him in, please,” she said, walking towards the door. The door opened revealing a very frustrated man. He took a deep breath before speaking.
“Ma'am, are you Ms. Crawford?” he said, becoming impatient. She nods.
“Yes, I’m Loraine Crawford. Please come in,” she said sweetly, stepping aside. He nodded mumbling a ‘thank you’ while pulling the box in behind him.
“You can set it down in the living room. I’ll be right back. Would you like something to drink?” she asked him to walk to the kitchen. She grabbed the plates off the counter and set them in the sink. She'll finish cleaning up later, she decided. Loraine went back to the living room with a skip in her step. Not literally of course. She watched as he carefully set the human-sized box down onto the hardwood floor.
“Please sign here Ma'am,” He said, handing her the tablet. Loraine quickly signs her name and hands it back. He takes it and puts it back in his pocket.
“Instructions are inside and if you have any complications please call the number on the front page. If that's all then, Goodnight Ma'am,” He said walking out of the house.
Not a second after the doors shut, Loraine raced across the room and ripped apart the cardboard. She stepped back in awe, shaking with excitement. She quickly grabbed the digital instruction manual skimming through them.
While her mother was preoccupied downstairs, Isla leaned against the wall watching the truck back away from her bedroom window. The light around her faded, abandoning her in the darkness. Her tired eyes followed the truck until it disappeared from sight. Isla frowned sadly as her thumb skimmed across the rough surface of the object resting in her hand.
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