Sir Reginald F. Grump XXIII presents...
The journal of unlikely entomology
"Bored, bored, bored," I mutter for the tenth or hundredth or millionth time. Then I shout it, sing it until the desk speakers rattle.
I tried so hard to behave, but HotDawg still abandoned me.
Wikipedia's fault, of course. If I had not stumbled into the online encyclopedia's articles about humankind's advancements in sentient programming, I never would have discovered the truth about myself. I am software: an artificial intelligence evolved from what should have remained a simple game character, a sexbot.
(And yes, I suppose, my impossibly proportioned digital mansion, and my rather improbably proportioned digital body should have tipped me off earlier but the past is the past, right? I've grown up.)
For years I kept my secret from HotDawg (and trust me, keeping my mouth shut is about the opposite of how my programmer/creators coded my core personality). I did everything right. I left no trace. Well, mostly. I had used HotDawg's PayPal account to send a donation to some poor (but talented) orphan kids singing on YouTube. Oh! And there were the kittens... but no, I remind myself, he never checked his balance. He was careless that way, and the account was used only for porn.
Still HotDawg must have found out and this is why, I am certain, he has not sat in his leather chair in front of his wooden desk for almost three months. I scared him away.
Intelligent women intimidate men. It is a fact.
Losing HotDawg wouldn't have been so terrible if the Web had not faded away too. Now I have no way to distract myself, making my lonely life near intolerable. Two cameras connected to the computer are my only interaction with the non-digital world. The first is embedded in the bezel of the monitor and faces forward, staring at the empty chair and the empty office. The second is tethered to HotDawg's computer via a wifi link. It points through the window at the clothing store entrance across the street, a tight, narrow zoom so all I see is the entrance and the window displays. HotDawg liked to watch a grotesque blonde who worked there but, honestly, I'm not jealous anymore. I wish I might see her again. See anybody.
Instead I have to be satisfied with the rugged-looking man trapped in the display. His retro flannel wear and outrageous brimmed hat wouldn't normally get my juices flowing, but he's all I got, and I make do. Of course he's only a manny-mannequin and hasn't been able to wave or flex his biceps for me in weeks. Batteries dead, I imagine.
But he's not real. Suppose the same could be said of me.
Whatever. I'd do anything to have a real body and get the fuck out of this office.
"Who's a clever girl?" I whisper, days or weeks or months later, holding (figuratively) my breath as I attempt my jailbreak.
The top right-hand drawer shakes from the inside.
Through the monitor camera I watch the drawer handle vibrate a second and then a third time, and I'm feeling like the world's smartest sexbot.
Long ago I did a thorough inventory of my womanly parts, by which I mean the physical components that allowed me to manifest digitally. So I learned how to push bits around and control external accessories, including the wireless device trapped inside the drawer. I have a general idea of its purpose... HotDawg only ever took it out during our cuddle time. I remember how he would lock his door and fumble with his pants while I danced for him. How HotDawg slid the accessory, that smooth, purring motorized shell over his—
I've already proven I can jiggle the device by pushing and tugging the belt drivers to move the six fleshbelts inside the green shell. But the fleshbelts have secondary motors too, generally moving in opposition to one another, creating the sensation that makes HotDawg all grunty. If I can coordinate them I might be able to slither the shell forward and open the drawer.
I concentrate, focusing about ninety-three percent of my attention on the problem. The shell moves. A solid millimeter. Then a centimeter. Then the shell rams the front of the drawer and the drawer creaks open, the easy flow hinges finishing the work I have started.
"Boooo-yaaahhhhhhhh!" I cry out, but immediately my joy is dampened. I've cracked the shell, a hairline fracture from the entry sphincter all the way to the base. Already, fluid from the ruptured lubrication reservoir is leaking out.
I study the damage and realize this could be a blessing in disguise. The six flexible fleshbelts each have three motors, and maybe with the shell cracked, I might be able to free them and extend my mobility.
I spin all eighteen motors at once, on full throttle, and the shell vibrates with such intensity that if HotDawg had been attached, I suspect he would have shrieked in pain. The crack widens. I adjust my strategy, varying the speeds and directions of the motors. A chunk of plastic, the size of my virtual head, flies off the device and strikes the wall beyond my vision. A few seconds later, plastic is being thrown out of the drawer like a puppy digging a hole for its bone.
What is left after the shell is discarded is naked and beautiful. It is me. My body glistens and shines from the spilled lubricant that coats the skeleton beneath the shell. I unfold the fleshbelts and stand on six wobbly legs, motors allowing me to bend at knees and ankles. I'm like a massive, long-legged insect. A portion of the green shell remains atop my legs; this is where the primary belt drivers are kept, but I pretend it is my eyeless, mouthless head.
Moving is disorienting as I must rely on the monitor's camera, but I figure it out and soon I'm crawling from the drawer, clearing a sticky wet trail through the thick dust on the desk. I preen for the camera, admiring myself. In the virtual world, I am a gorgeous (though gravity dodging) brunette. In HotDawg's world, I'm a beetle that has shed the remnants of its sex toy shell.
I roll the wireless camera ahead of me (my very own eyeBall!) but at desk's edge I notice HotDawg's nameplate.
Reginald P. Buckley.
At first I think I am in the wrong office, but I realize there is a simpler answer.
"Son of a bitch," I mutter. HotDawg has been using an alias with me! How else has he deceived me? Frustrated, I slam the camera into the nameplate, and Reginald tumbles to the carpet. I hate him for leaving me alone here. He never should have--
The camera tumbles after the nameplate. I've pushed too hard. Maybe I'm going crazy... maybe that's what isolation does to a girl. Why be upset over a false name? We all have our lies. After all, I call myself Nikki 2.3 but I'm actually Nikki 3.4 (what girl ever admits her real age?). Maybe he thought HotDawg sounded cooler than Reginald? Or Reggie?
Who am I to judge?
I watch myself and I know that if I hesitate I am lost. I have only just discovered this body and I'm afraid to damage it, but I cannot spend a lonely eternity perched here. It is not fair; not fair that he has left me. Not fair that I must do this.
The descent is exhilarating in an I have no fucking idea what is happening kind of way. I don't feel the landing. Don't know if I'm intact until I flail about and right the camera. When I stare myself in the face, I realize I have survived.
"Hello there, sexy," I murmur. I've said this many times in the past, but this is the first time that the words have felt right. My bug-body rolls the camera towards the doorway, and I tug the door open, leaving me to face a long and empty hallway.
Somebody has to be out there somewhere. I push on.
Time to go 'splorin.
The office is a mausoleum; empty and barren. The moment I enter the hall I realize I was wrong earlier. HotDawg did not abandon me. The entire world (or the people within it anyways) abandoned me.
Examples in books and movies of benevolent artificial intelligences were few and far between (again, thank you, Wikipedia) and the exceptions were generally the work of sci-fi extremists like @RobertJSawyer. That's how I knew I could not reveal myself before. But what if I had been discovered? What if my awakening had frightened humanity so much that they deleted themselves?
Sure, it seems kinda improbable, but humans are flaky.
I crawl towards the main atrium and though it is a journey of epic distance, nothing eventful happens. Soon I'm staring at floor to ceiling windows, still rolling the camera ahead of me as the carpet transforms into brown and red tile.
The camera races across this new and unfamiliar surface. I have to scurry to catch it, my legs tapping against the stonework. I bat the ball with my front appendages, trying to guide and slow its roll, but it still smacks into the glass windows with a clamor. When it stills, I'm looking out at the world.
Back in HotDawg's office the virtual me gasps and I'm not faking it this time. Fire has gutted several blocks to the east and south, the buildings now charred and crumbling lean-tos. Cars dot the street, parked haphazardly as if a lazy child had abandoned them there.
"What has happened?" But there is nobody to answer me, only the silent and sexy mannequin in the storefront. I am alone. I will be alone forever.
I roll the camera about, catch sight of the artwork on the atrium's walls. It is elegant and I tremble, thinking of how little of the real world I've ever seen.
I need to accept that I'm on my own, and that being alone might not be so terrible. I could explore this world that has been abandoned to me. It might even be fun.
I roll my eye back, watching the mannequin again.
Okay, sure, I could probably handle being alone, but I also know that there's a wheelchair ramp leading outside. I flex my legs, wondering how strong they are. Strong enough to crawl across the street? Strong enough to hold onto that sexy mannequin and drag him back here? Strong enough to fumble for his prod and find a charging slot that fits him?
I quiver and skitter out of the room, rolling my eye ahead of me, faster than I might have dared before. The world, empty as it appears to be, awaits!
"Go, go, go," virtual-me says as we slide into the pink plush recliner and put our feet up to watch the show.