“It seems kinda fragile, you know? You sure you couldn’t build anything bigger… and maybe just a touch more… durable?” I couldn’t stand the sound of my own voice. That high-pitched squeak was going to drive me insane. I heard a clicking sound behind me and then, suddenly, my vision multiplied by a thousand images and in perfect clarity. I could see all around me for three-hundred-sixty degrees. “Whoah! What’d you just do?”
“I instantiated the multi-faceted sub-routine for your ocular units.”
Still paralyzed, I shifted my head around to the tiny extent that I could and took in my surroundings: bland room, white walls, lots of computer equipment and a big bank of servers. There was a couch against one wall that looked like it had been slept on. A blanket sagged over the back, and a pillow rested on one arm. A stack of small, empty white boxes with wooden sticks poking out of some lay scattered on a table against the wall. The TV was on with the volume turned down very low. The workbench I was bracketed to had every sort of electronic device and tool I could think of, and a few I didn’t recognize. They looked homemade but serviceable. And there, behind me and looking… sheepish?… whatever a sheep was… sat Varma Sing: skinny; bug-eyed; massive Adam’s apple; arctic white, neatly pressed shirt buttoned to the top with a collar that was too big for his pencil-thin neck; nervous-looking. Such was my creator.
“Hi, Varma,” I said cautiously, my voice piercing my own ears. He smiled, revealing a mouth full of perfect, white teeth. “Look, we have to do something about my voice. I can’t live like this….” I realized that I wasn’t technically alive. “Well… exist like this.”
He got an almost hurt look on his face. “But… I though you would…”
“No buts, Sing. This voice goes.” Something on the TV caught my ear.
“Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them,” it said in a deep, silky timber.
“There!” I screeched. That voice… on the TV. The deep one. Who is that?”
“Hunh?” Varma looked confused. He stood up, walked by me and looked at the television set. Then he looked back at me with disbelief in his eyes. “You want to sound like Darth Vader?”
I searched my databanks, pulled up a profile and played the voice back over and over again in my head. “Yes! That’s IT!” I was bursting with excitement. “Make me sound like Darth Vader!”
Varma just looked at me in for a few seconds, licking his lips and blinking his eyes slowly. Finally, he just sighed. “Okay. I’ll see what I can do….”
“Thanks, dad!” I squeaked. “Owe ya large.”
Varma stepped past me and sat down at the computer. I heard the clicking sound again, and now that I could see what he was doing, realized that he was at a keyboard. He clattered away for a couple of minutes, and I felt a peculiar squirming sensation at the periphery of my brain, as if someone were shuffling dust around the corners of my mind.
“There. Try it now.”
“Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them…” I said. I felt my first sense of delight. I sounded just like Darth Vader and I loved it! “Varma, you’re the best! I wanna have your babies!”
He started chuckling.
I had to try the new voice on for size. “I am your father, Varma. Give in to the Dark Side. Together we can end this destructive conflict and bring peace to the galaxy.”
Varma lost it completely. He started laughing like a madman, and tears rolled down his cheeks.
“What did I say?” I asked, not getting the joke. That sent him right over the top. He laughed so hard that he fell off his chair and bounced off the floor. The chair shot out from under him and bounced off the door to the lab. Varma was still rolling on the floor laughing (yes, I said ROFL) when it cracked open and a human with long blond hair peaked… her?… face in. Something inside my brain tingled, and there was an aching sensation that I couldn’t explain. I found myself picturing her head on top of the volleyball players on Varma’s brochure.
“What’s so funny, Varma?” she asked as she stepped into the room. She wore a long, white lab coat, and shapely legs stuck out beneath, set into black high heels. The skinny man kept laughing, and I saw his arm rise from below the desk and his index finger point at me. It sounded like he was having trouble breathing, but he hadn’t stopped laughing. Her eyes tracked to where he was pointing, and she focused her gaze on me. “Did you finally get it working?” she asked as she walked up to the table.
“Hello there,” I said. For some reason I wanted to hold out one of my legs, but I still couldn’t move anything but my neck.
She got a funny look on her face, and a smile crimped up the corners of her mouth. “Hello,” she said slowly. “What’s your name?” she asked me, a sparkle lighting up her eyes. Varma, who had just about stopped laughing, started chuckling again.
“I am SIGI. And who might you be?”
It was her turn to start laughing, although when she did it, it was a light, beautiful sound that made me tingle even more. “My name is Abigail,” she said between laughs. “Abigail Lynch.” She turned her head to the man on the floor. “Varma…” she started in a confused tone, “why does it sound like Darth Vader?”
It was too much for the poor man to take. He was screaming with laughter now, and his breathing and laughing was interrupted by deep, gasping coughs. Abigail’s face split into a wide grin, and she started laughing more heavily, right along with Varma.
“Somebody want to tell me what’s so fucking funny?” I asked, my deep voice turning surly.