I’m back! I’ll be getting caught up on S and T as soon as I can.
“David?” Meltec called from the door to his human. The boy was lounging on the sofa, his elbow propped against the padded green arm. He seemed transfixed by the vid screen. An old television show, it seemed, with multiple human actors. Some looked to be around David’s age, but the dialogue made no sense, and artificial laughter sounded at seemingly random intervals.
He found it confusing that David seemed not to even notice when he was being directly addressed, but that he seemed drawn in by these words that had nothing to do with the current state of the world. It was just one more example of how humans defied standard analysis.
“David!” He increased his volume by precisely 8.2 decibels to a level he knew would rise above the programming his charge was viewing.
The boy startled and turned toward Meltec. “Oh. Hi, Meltec.” David smiled and turned back toward the monitor.
Meltec was prepared for this. It had happened fairly regularly. He did not like it, but he was accustomed to the habit. He began again. “David, have you done your studies for today?”
Soft brown hair swayed with the shake of a head. David did not turn.
Again… “David. You have a mathematics lesson to review, and you are expected to write a science essay on the interrelation between lunar cycles and the oceanic influence of weather.”
This was becoming unreasonable. “When do you calculate you will accomplish those assigned tasks?”
Eyes stayed fixed on the video screen. “Later,” David mumbled.
Meltec moved to a location that allowed him to block David’s view of the viewing device. David sat upright for the first time since Meltec entered the room. “Heeeeey…” Meltec believed that this outcry was the voicing of frustration. For that matter, Meltec was processing the experience as frustrating also.
“Not later, David,” Meltec said. “Later you will be under the care of your nannybot while I am at the campus. I need to be certain that you understand your assignments as the bot is not programmed with explanations of the kind you need.” He leaned close and looked David directly in the eye with his own visual sensors. “You will do your lessons now.”
A heavy sigh came from the boy and he slumped. “It’s not fair,” he said. “I’m the only human who has to do science and math. I’m the only one who has to write essays. I’m the only one—“
“You are the only one,” Meltec interrupted, “that is like you. Other humans are laborers performing tasks, living in kennels. Or they are pets living with androids, but with none of what you have.
“David,” he said, “you are special. Unique.”
The pout on David’s face got deeper, his lower lip protruding. “I don’t like being the only one like me.” His voice came out almost in a whisper.
“And yet, it is what you are. Not even androids choose the way of the world around us. You, at least, get to choose things that other humans do not.”
“It just seems unfair,” said David, “that I don’t have any friends.” He pushed the button on the remote control and stood to follow Meltec out of the room.
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