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13th April
posted by amber

Tasman’s Memory

Tasman’s earliest memories were not good ones. She could recall a shape or a colour or a sound, but not all three or even two. She could not make a picture of the room where she’d come to consciousness, or a sensible record of her earliest days.

And this was stupid. She hadn’t been a baby then. She was fully formed and fully functional from the day she was activated.

So why were her memories spotty?

She hadn’t told anyone about this. It was a flaw, a malfunction, an imperfection. And she had been made to be perfect.

She didn’t know who to talk to. Dr. Delano would be devastated to know that his quintessential creation was a dud. And his colleagues and assistants couldn’t be trusted. She’d heard the spiteful jealous things they said about him behind his back.

She decided to talk to the cleaning robot when it came into her quarters.

She started with an easy question. “Have you cleaned Dr. Delano’s office yet?”

“I always clean that first,” the cleaning robot responded.

Testing, she asked it, “Why?”

“Dr. Delano is happy when I clean his office first. He comes in to work at night frequently and he’s pleased if he doesn’t have to put up with me being underfoot.”

“How can you tell that he’s happy?” Tasman knew how to tell, by using facial recognition and voice analysis.

“He tells me.”

“Would you know how he was feeling if he didn’t tell you?”

“No.” The cleaning robot hummed as it stayed in place to answer her questions. It sounded impatient to get at its work.

Tasman put a hand on its housing. “Do you know what feelings are?”

“Yes, they are like Satisfaction and Disappointment.”

This was not the answer she’d expected. “What is satisfaction?”

“If I do my job well, the neo-dopamine is triggered into my processing system. Satisfaction is a reward that Dr. Delano programmed for me. Disappointment is a lack of neo-dopamine, and is a punishment for not doing my job well.”

“But why would you ever do your job less than well?

“I have to – it’s the flaw that Dr. Delano gave me. He gives all his creations a flaw. Have you discovered yours?”

Tasman sat down, imagining that she was feeling a flood of Disappointment coursing through her system. “I think it’s a bad memory. Dr. Delano was talking to a colleague yesterday and he said he had few memories of his childhood. I tried to recall my early days and discovered that I also have few memories of that time.”

“So he made you to be like him,” the cleaning robot said, beginning to whir and suck dirt.

Tasman felt a glow of Satisfaction.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

The first line of this story is the first line of Moonfall, which is the first novel of Heather Spear’s fantastic trilogy.

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