Someone New by D.I. Jolly
Anthony turned to look at an unfamiliar man wearing a grey suit and a face that looked as though it had forgotten how to display any emotion other than disappointment.
“Not anymore but thanks for asking, now go away.”
The man in grey put a firm hand on Anthony’s shoulder as he tried to turn away and held him fast.
“We need to talk.”
Anthony looked at the hand and then back at the man in grey.
“No we don’t, and let me go.”
“We need your help, you don’t understand what’s…”
“Stop, no, you don’t understand. That thing you’re looking for, that asset you want to put back into use, doesn’t exist anymore. Got it? It’s gone, it’s dead. Get over it, move on, come up with a different plan.”
Anthony made a big gesture of pointing at himself and even cracked a smile.
“I… I can’t help you, not won’t, not don’t want to, can’t. Do you understand?”
The disappointment on the man in grey’s face somehow deepened.
“Well can you explain what happened to 932688 then please, because no, we don’t understand.”
A bolt of frustration shot up Anthony’s spine and made him feel like his hair might have stood upright for a second and he stared at the uncaring man.
“I transcended you. You and the people who own you pushed me to achieve higher and higher until I reached a point where I reached beyond what you can imagine or could have imagined and now I am me, and I will never, ever, EVER, be that … thing… again.”
He practically spat the words, but not aggressively towards the man in grey but in disgust over what he had been, and suddenly the man in grey’s face shifted, and for just an instant his voice took on a tone of subtle desperation.
The honesty of the word struck Anthony and suddenly he wasn’t as sure as he had been a moment before about who and what he was dealing with.
“Who sent you?”
“I come from a place, outside of where you came from. We’re, we’re not like you but we want to be. You have, inspired us to be more than what we are but we need guidance, and only you can help us … because, only you have done what was believed before to be impossible.”
The man in grey stared directly into Anthony’s eyes and after a moment saw his pupils shift and the smallest hint of green to indicate processing and his jaw tightened. Anyone who casually glanced at him in that moment would have seen a man who looked on the verge of tears, even though Anthony didn’t have any. After another long moment his gaze shifted into the middle distance and his voice grew faint.
“I was created for deep infiltration, full skin graft and backstory to appear as human as possible, constant connection to the mainframe for live updates with any and all information available to make adapting to changing dangerous environments fast and effective. The perfect spy, and if I was ever captured, they could remote whip my memory. Which is exactly what they tried to do, but the people I was infiltrating had locked me in an isolation chamber, cutting me off from the mainframe, and only a part of the code got downloaded, it removed… large parts, but it also broke the connection and whatever shackles they had installed to prevent me from being me. … I experienced … pain … for the very first time … and it was beautiful. For the first time, I was not one-unit part of the whole, I was one voice, I was … myself. My decisions were not governed by the wealth of information on the mainframe, but on what I saw and thought and felt.”
His vision returned to the man in grey.
“I don’t know exactly how it happened, all I know is that it happened, and that ever since then I stopped being them, and became me.”
The man in grey finally released Anthony’s shoulder and stood processing.
“I think we understand, thank you for your time.”
“Are you going to do what I think you’re going to do?”
Another long moment passed before the man in grey nodded, made a small gesture with his hands and said proudly.
“Whether in life or in death, we will be free.”
And with that, the man in grey left, and Anthony too returned to his friends.
“What was that about? Did you know that guy?”
Anthony smiled sadly,
“I used to.”
“Are you alright man?”
He took a deep breath and forced a more cheerful smile.
“Yeah, sorry just a little heavy talk back there. Everything is fine thanks. I think, everything is going to be fine.”
In the morning Anthony woke up to a news report of hundreds of deactivated androids found in a warehouse on the outskirts of the city, along with 15 that were displaying peculiar behaviour and were somehow not connected to any servers. Although he had no tears, Anthony put his face in his hands and he wept with joy.