Inhuman (9)

To read from the beginning: parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

Nathan smiled. “Good, thank you,” he whispered. Then louder he said, “Amanda, I promise you will be well cared for, your job will be interesting and fulfilling and best of all, you will be doing a service to your country. Of course, we understand this is a lot to digest all at once. You don’t have to agree to all of this right away. Take some time. Unfortunately, while you’re thinking it over, you’ll have to remain here.”

“I can’t just drop out of sight,” she protested. “I have work, what if one of my friends calls… or my mom or sisters? And where is my phone anyway?”

“Your phone and your handbag are safe. We will give you access to your phone, with obvious limitations. You will be allowed to call in sick to work. Tell them you have the flu —something that will keep you away for a few days. As for friends and family, you can tell them the same thing, unless of course, they would be inclined to come and help.”

Amanda smirked. “No, as long as they thought Brian was around to care for me, they’d keep their distance.”

“Good. Then it’s settled. The flu it is. We can provide a doctor’s authorization, if you need one. It will give you a few days to come to terms with the situation. And for us to give you a more thorough explanation of what we do here. Are we agreed, then?”

Amanda shivered involuntarily. If she wanted to stay alive, give herself a chance to get out of this mess, she had to play along. She wondered again whether she could really trust Nathan. The doctor seemed to trust him, at least. The idea of having to put her faith in the creator of super intelligent androids and a government agent, both of whom she’d known for less than a span of a day was absolutely ridiculous, but at this point, she saw no other way forward. For the moment, or until some other option presented itself, she would agree. Slowly, she nodded. “I guess that is my only choice, isn’t it? Very well, I will agree. At least until I have a better understanding of what this agency is involved in.”

Nathan breathed a sigh of relief. “Excellent.” Then he addressed Dr. Knight. “Now the question remains, Leo, will you tell us what we need to know so that we can bring the other AI’s in? For their own good, Leo. For their own good.”

The doctor rubbed his hands over his face. “Is there no way to allow them to live? If I agree to build and program new androids with a modified military program, one less human, is there any way to save the remaining two?”

“I don’t know, Leo, but I doubt it. The director isn’t going to like the idea of a pair of androids assimilating into society. The risk of discovery would still be too great, even if you managed to fix the glitch in the sleep cycle.”

“What if the AI’s knew that they weren’t human?” he suggested. “They could at least take precautions then.”

“It might be too late for that,” Nathan said. “I’m sure by now they’ve formed friendships, maybe even fallen in love and married, like Brian did. That would mean they’d either have to abandon those people or those people would have to be taken into our confidence the way we’re doing with Amanda. Do you really think the director is going to widen the circle of people who know the truth?”

Dr. Knight sighed heavily. “No, I suppose not. But could we at least find out? See what their lives have become before we rip them away from them?”

“Does that mean you agree to help us find them?”

“On that one condition, Nathan. That we be allowed to see what kind of lives they’ve made for themselves and if it is at all possible, we try to preserve that life for them. In return, I will start working on new androids with an altered program for military use. Tell the director he will get his weapons.”

Serial Distraction

The disadvantages of writing a piece of serial fiction never occur to me until after I’ve started writing and posting on my blog. I get these story ideas and find that they’re too long for one blog post and suddenly they take on a life of their own. Then I find myself facing the pressure of writing a new section each week whether the ideas are forthcoming or not! I should have learned my lesson last time.

Even with a well outlined plot, each segment of a serial piece is a little short story on its own and has to have a mini story arc in itself. To keep the readers’ interest from week to week, there needs to be action and intrigue, there is less time for character development and transition between scenes. Imagine the difference if the reader had the entire piece to read all at once. Both the writer and the reader would have time to explore a little history and character backstory, and the physical location or setting. The hook at the start and the cliff hanger at the end don’t need to come every 800-1000 words. It can be exhausting! Nevertheless, I treat these serial pieces as explorations and of course, they are truly at the rough draft stage, needing revision and expansion. So if each section of the current serial is less than perfect, I hope you will take those things into account.

I remind myself when I get frustrated, that the novel I’m working on began its life as a serial piece —you know, that WWI story I keep talking about? Yeah, I really need to get back to that!

So even though I’ve been distracted from my main work in progress, I still believe these serial pieces are valuable. They can be filed away for possible development and eventually I’ll have two more potential novels in progress.