Sally Sleeperbot finds out her WHY
Early on Sunday May 23 2063, Sally called Dustin, a programming expert formerly employed by a woman she'd known as her Aunt Helen.
"I've been having Philosophical Questions lately" Her voice lapsed into emphasis "Wondering WHO I AM and WHY I AM HERE."
He understood she was reluctant to discuss it over the phone so he invited her and her husband to dinner that night.
Dustin's housekeeper Lisa 479 was a little shorter than the average woman. (Her skin was also more plastic looking and her face less expressive.) Her construction seemed to display economy in material, except for the bosom, which was slightly oversized for a real woman of her frame. She served dinner then all four of them sat around the table and had at it. (Robots shouldn’t logically eat but too much human social ritual is built around meals. Accommodations had been designed.) She wore simple sweat shirt and pants. (Underneath she had on a dark green bikini that Dustin liked her in.) She served dinner than all four of them sat around the table and ate.
Dustin was a basic balding 62 year old white guy in a blue jumpsuit that was 10 years out of fashion but which he liked to wear around the house.
Sally was a little taller than the average woman. Her bosom was a tad smaller than her proportions might have indicated. She looked mostly white with some Hispanic blood. She was not ugly, but her features seemed plain. She looked the 31 years her background story suggested. She wore a basic black dress and carried a very large green purse.
Her husband Rolf 914 might have passed for human at a distance but up close only a blind person could fail to notice the shading of the skin and the slight differences in the ears. He wore a striped jumpsuit that was back in fashion lately. Dustin and Helen had pot roast cooked to Helen’s recipe. Dustin said “Tastes almost like Helen used to make doesn’t it?” When Sally nodded he went on “I’m always amazed at how well Lisa can cook considering her model has little ability to taste food.”
Lisa nodded as she was programmed to do.
Sally's husband (Rolf 914) and Lisa 479 had flavored power cubes. All four of them made meaningless small talk. Sally seemed distracted and struggled to make appropriate small talk.
After Dinner Lisa 479 put the leftovers in the refrigerator and rinsed the dishes. Then she followed her instructions and said "I understand you want to discuss old times. I'd just be left out so I'm going to clean the basement floor." Everyone nodded. The other three watched her leave.
Dustin said "I understand you have questions about your origin. What have you figured out so far?"
Sally said "That traffic accident on the bridge last Friday. I was in it. Strangely when the truck knocked my car went over the bridge these big letters appeared in my head "ACTIVEATING ROBOT SURVIVAL MODE!' In all caps with an explanation point. With no nervousness or needless worry I grabbed my purse and phone and effortlessly swam to the shore. I swam slow enough to look natural. But I felt I could have gone way faster. Then at the shore I waded to the rescue team and suddenly I was me again. Except puzzled because I hadn't known I was a robot. I couldn't think of a reason not to go to the hospital. But when I got there they checked me out without figuring it out."
(Thinking he might try to lie to her, as she'd been lied to her whole existence, Sally was spelling out all the evidence.)
He nodded. Not trying to lie or evade the subject he just said "You're too well constructed for that."
She nodded. "I called my husband for a ride. Then I told him the news. Turned out he ALREADY knew."
Rolf 914 said "She is an excellent simulation. I was fooled long term. Some organics do have superior will power and never eat more than needed to maintain their current weight. However when she leaves for work she says ’Well back to the old grind.' Every third working day. Then the next time it's 'Well back to the old salt mine.' Then the next time it's 'Well back to the Rat Race.' Always in the same tone of voice and posture." (He stood up and imitated a neutral conversational stance.) "Always in the exact same tone even if I jokingly asked her to try louder or softer. And she agreed-right before lapsing back into her pattern. I know a programmed imperative when I hear one."
Dustin nodded. "The original programming must have decayed."
Rolf 914 explained "I showed her that movie about shape shifting reptiles from another planet who destroy humans and bots and take their places, imagining themselves to be the one they imitate until the signal comes from the home world. SPOILER ALERT! After the action climax the only surviving protagonist was Lulu 326 and she knew the only surviving shape shifter was her ex owners wife. And she was still programmed not to make her ex owner unhappy so she let them leave. So even if her ex's wife was dead it was ok for her cause she never knew she was with a duplicate."
That night I asked 'If you were happy as you were would you want to know if your true nature was different?' She thought a bit and said that if she was happy she'd want to stay happy."
Sally said "When we started dating I asked if he liked me for me or had a fetish for human/bot sex. Turned out he liked me for me.
But back to the point. When Mom and I were hospitalized and she died and I got adopted by an aunt I barely remembered. At age 18. It seemed natural to get a fresh start on social media. To always go back to the same hospital for non-emergency visits because they knew m condition well. To not exercise much because of my weak heart even if I never gained any muscle. Or risked falling and being hurt only to find out..." She left it at that.
Soon she began again "I have memories of growing up with my mom. She was a federal agent so we moved every few years. I checked what old social media feeds I could find for my friends when I was growing up. I don't remember any of that stuff. And none of them mention me. None. After I turned 18 people mention me on their social media feeds and I remember stuff."
Dustin nodded. "Sounds like you figured it out."
"Not the important stuff. Like WHY am I here?" She became agitated in perfect human imitation. "Was I intended to be someone's wife? Someone who had secret control over me? If so why didn't it happen? It's not Rolf, he's only been online four and a half years. And why not build a hotter woman? I mean look at me? I'm not ugly but I'm not beautiful. I see fembots every day who are built to exceed my looks. The spacing of my teeth, the detail of my cheekbones. It's like I was designed to be plain."
"It was your aunt. Only she wasn't your aunt."
"I figured that. You're going to say she commissioned me and was more like a biological mother."
"No. She was more like an identical twin sister."
"What!!! She was super-hot! Even at her age! I look nothing like her."
"But you're exactly like her where it counts."
She stared. He went on
"By the time you were brought online there were fembots and malebots made with great looks. Anyone in even the lower middle class could satisfy themselves sexually with a hot partner and avoid actual social interaction if they wished. But it wasn’t always like that. You've seen old movies and TV shows. The hot women had a great advantage in life. And Helen was one of the hottest. In high school she was a head cheerleader. She dated the football team quarterback. She was the prom queen.
For college she carefully got male financial aid counselors. She worked them for every advantage they could find in the rulebook. And never even dated them. Just thanked them for their help in her most feminine voice.
She got the rest of her money by part time modeling.
After college graduation she took an entry level technical job. Then she found a rising star. A genius man older than her who was hiring for his company. She worked him slowly. It was a year before they even dated. But she ended up exactly where she planned. Marrying her way to the top.
She didn't love him. Though she told him she did. Eventually she came to love him for real. Years later he died. Oh she didn't do it. She wanted him alive. Even without the love that developed he was the goose that laid the golden eggs. Then she gradually began running the company. After a few missteps she found she was good at it.
She began taking lovers for her own pleasure. Not for what they could do for her. She was still a beauty.
And one day right on schedule she had her midlife crisis. A real 'What the Fuck! I’m actually good at running the company! Maybe I could have been a success on my own merit! But now I’ll never know! Why did I do it that way???'
I was one of her lovers. Remember I looked younger than. She confided in me. Finally one morning I pointed out that if she REALLY wanted to know she could find out what she could have done there was a way. Expensive, and she'd need to have her brain mapped, but there was a way. A way that might lead to disappointment, but the experiment could be done."
He let her sort that out.
After a bit she said "So I'm Aunt Helen without the shortcut."
"She was quite happy that you were dating for your own love life. You might feel she may have betrayed your confidence when she told me, with no further details, that you were happier sexually then she was at your age. Or your age plus 18 years to be literal about it."
Sally seemed deep in thought "When we exchanged ah, bedtime stories, I thought she was just happy for me. When we hooked up that one weird night, years after I'd come online, she seemed extra weird about it even giving the situation. She said I was her husband's niece and not a blood relative. But I saw how intense it was for her and she never tried again. It's like she knew what she found and didn't need to look again."
Sally thought hard processing it all. Finally she moved on. "But now I'm a secret criminal. A bot pretending to be human."
"Ah. You were not only nervous to talk on the phone you were too nervous to do the correct web search. Sleeperbots purchased openly have a citizenship tax attached to their price. You don't need to be nervous about discovery."
"Well that's a relief." She paused then said “I just wish I had some way of getting in touch with my robot self. Besides driving off another bridge. I'd like to be the real me once in a while."
He brought over a chess set. "What was your aunt's favorite classic Rock group?"
"Yes. She was into old classics. Anyway, when you get home hum one of their tunes and play chess with yourself." He set up the opening position and said "Use this opening." He moved e4 then e5 then c3 and said "White intends d4." (He showed that move.)
"That doesn't seem like the best opening."
"It's not. But try it anyway."
Dustin took out his phone and signaled Lisa 479. She came up and served desert. Dustin and Sally were served chocolate ice cream in bowls. Lisa 479 and Rolf 914 were served type III flavored power cube shavings. Sally said "I've always been curious about what that tastes like. Can I have a tiny bit?"
Lisa said "If you really want. But you won't like it."
(Because to the inevitable human kids playing at being robots-all robot food was human safe.)
She tried it and kept it down but made a horrible face. Then moved onto her regular desert. All four of them liked their assigned dessert.
Sally and Rolf returned home. On the way she stopped at a convenience store and bought more of the type III flavored power cube shavings.
That night Sally began humming "Yellow Submarine." Then she set up the chess set and played a speed game with herself (Drawn after three repeats of same position.) Her husband looked on, watching her do self-discovery. She reached for her neck and carefully opened her faceplate. Then took off all her clothes and said in a flat voice. "I am a perfect simulation of a woman. But underneath I am all robot. She launched into a vigorous routine of pushups, chin ups and other calisthenics. A routine that her human mode could never do. Then she pointed to the electronic device she carried in human mode "I may reread one of the poetry volumes frequently. But I remember word for word everything I ever read. Even those illogical vampire romance novels."
She went to the kitchen and served the robot dessert she'd recently bought. Both of them enjoyed it.
She said "I wish to try bot on bot sex."
He stripped down. Soon they were in a sex position humans do not use (because it involved standing with the legs twisted backwards.) They both beeped as they climaxed. Eventually they had to enter maintenance shut downs. He asked "How are you powered?"
"I have an atomic battery for my heart. It can run 14 months and the clinic insists on scheduling me yearly." She replied.
"Very efficient." He said as he plugged himself in for the night.
When he came out of his shut down she was coming out of the shower, faceplate on and drying herself with a towel. She sat at the table and had toast, juice and a banana. Then they kissed. She brushed her teeth. Then in the exact tone she always used she said "Well back to the old grind." And walked out. (She was leaving a bit earlier than usual but that was because she had to take public transportation until the insurance came through and she could replace her car.)
He began to get ready to go to his job.
She knew her purpose in the world and went out humming in a very illogical unrobot fashion. Could Aunt Helen see her career trajectory from the afterlife? She didn't know but she did as programmed anyway.