I awoke to the smell of burning hair and charred flesh. The voices were a mish mash of sounds, murmuring in the darkness. My arm felt numb, while the rest of my limbs screamed in tingling agony. I remember as a child my mother referred to it as ‘pins and needles’ the effect of the blood rushing back into an appendage that had previously been cut off from circulation. Wiggling my legs and trying to move was a burden. My eyes slowly began to adjust and the same soothing voice I had heard when I awoke from the fluid called to my ears yet again.

“You’re awake now. Good.” He brushed the hair out of my face and continued to speak to me.

His eyes were silver and bright like sparkling gemstones and his hair was rich and thick. When his fingers brushed against my scalp I felt a coldness that was unexpected. Was he a ghost?

Groggily I asked “who are you?”

He smiled faintly and said, “You are a part of a project that I helped to engineer; The Protogaea Experiment. Your DNA was sampled from host providers who were selected for their natural abilities and skills. I helped give birth to you and usher you into the new world. Although, this is not what was intended, you are alive and doing well.” he continued unwrapping bandages from my arm.

“What am I some kind of a robot?”

The words crawled out of me before I had a chance to retract them, I hoped he wouldn’t answer the question, I didn’t want to know. Instead, what I found out could have been worse, had it not been for the way he said it; almost with a tinge of jealousy.

“No, Sarah, you are not a robot, you are a clone, something far more beautiful and delicate than anything I could ever hope to be.”

***************

He paused and I asked, “What are you…that you have so much admiration for me?”

Looking straight at me he said, “I am a synthetic human organism, what would typically be referred to as an android. I have all the physical characteristics of a human and the mental capacity of a logic computer. I can display very real emotions, but inside I am little more than a machine. I lack the spark of uniqueness that you possess.”

His argentum eyes stared lifelessly down upon me, devoid of feeling — senseless. He is a body without organs, yet perfectly capable of all the functions of a human individual. Individual so clearly defines what he is that the very word takes on new meaning in my head. Not another creature could possess me so fully, so completely, as he does. I am transfixed. I am filled with desire…for a machine without heart.

“You should rest. When you are ready, let us know. I’ll send one of the others to bring you some clothes and food and check on you periodically.” He said to me softly.

I turned my head away and stared at my mutilated arm. Before he walked out, I called to him, “Whose idea was this?” I didn’t make eye contact, I believed it was his and if it was, I couldn’t look at him when he answered.

“It was a unanimous decision.”

“How very diplomatic of you. Did they teach you that at robot school?”

The tears began to flood my eyes; I could hold them back no longer. Eventually they exited the room. I continued staring at the thing, even as they left. I tried to lift it, but my arm wasn’t healed enough yet. It was like an anchor that tethered me to the bed frame. Eventually I would have to get used to it, but I had greater concerns. I remembered everything; the experiment, the cloning process, the alien slave camps. It came back in a wave of memories that I had tried to pretend was just a dream. Trauma plays tricks on the mind, but in this instance and for this time, I played the trick on myself. Anger, confusion, resentment, all the usual emotions crowded in and I fought them off without complication. I had to make a hard decision.

***************

A woman came into the room and brought me some clothes. “I’m Rensa. I just wanted to welcome you here. ROGER asked me to bring these to you.”

The logistics of trying to wrangle a shirt over this bulky contraption must have escaped them all.

“So, Rensa, how should we do this?”

She stood bewildered for a moment, then awkwardly began sizing the shirt up and finally pulled a blade out and lopped off the sleeve. “There, that should work for the time being, until we can find something else.” She smiled confidently.

I struggled to yank the thing over my new appendage until she finally gave me a hand. “Sometimes it’s better to let a person try and fail, than to offer help unwanted.” she rambled philosophically.

“Thank you, this should keep me warm until I can get up to speed.” I thanked her again, she nodded then left the room.