“Who are you?”
“My name is David.”
“That’s what you’re called, but who are you?”
David cocked his head, trying to understand the question. He was still thinking when his questioner interrupted again.
“Are you a person?” She leaned in, engaging him as directly as she could.
The boy opened his mouth, then closed it, seeming to consider carefully before answering. “Only androids are people.”
She nodded slightly. “And you are not an android?”
Again the boy’s forehead scrunched above his eyes, head cocked to one side. “Of course not. I am a human.” He looked at her directly then, staring into the visual sensors just below her laser eyes. “You already knew that, though. You were testing me, but I answered correctly.”
She observed as he nodded slightly and leaned back on his chair a little more. Very satisfied with his answer, then. She wondered what he thought they were doing, what these questions were for. She may ask him before they finished.
“David,” she said, “what is it that makes androids people, but humans not people.”
He leaned forward again, his arms supported atop his knees. One hand absently strayed to push hair behind his ear. His lowered eyes followed a small black beetle as it coursed across the floor.
After a moment he sat up again, looking at her. “Whoever is in charge,” he said, “they decided. Humans aren’t allowed to be people, so we just aren’t.”
“What are you, if you aren’t people?”
“Me? I’m a science experiment. I know some humans who are gardeners. Some are pets, but I usually don’t like those humans. They aren’t, you know, human enough.” He smiled.
The android processed. She wasn’t certain if his logic was flawed unintentionally, or if he had done it on purpose. Circular reasoning was a common form of humor among androids, but she had not heard it from a human before.
“David,” she began again. “What does it mean to be a person?”
“Weeelll…” He stretched out the word, seemingly to give himself more time to consider. “Being a person means being allowed to choose. Not just for yourself, but for others too.”
She considered his answer before responding. “You get to make choices,” she said.
“Sometimes. But Meltec, or sometimes someone else, always decides what my choices are.”
“Like my shirt. This morning I chose to put on the red shirt. But Meltec is the one who put the shirts in my closet. He chose all my shirts, I didn’t actually choose any of them.”
“And what would you have chosen, if you could choose whatever you wanted?”
His grin was sudden and complete. “Stripes, or maybe plaid,” he said. “I saw shirts with plaid and stripes on a vid from back when humans were people. I like all the colors.”
“Do you know why humans aren’t people anymore?” She found she was very interested in how he would answer.
“It’s because of the dying,” he said. “Humans killed themselves off, so when they were brought back, they weren’t made into people so they couldn’t do it again. Except…” He trailed off.
“Except I think maybe they didn’t. I think the people humans had help.”
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