The World Is A Stage By D.I. Jolly (Part 2 of 3)

As Maxi sat reading the various camera’s in the room silently focused in and watched her. She didn’t know it, but everything she did was carefully watched and catalogued. As part of VI’s core programming stated that she needed to maintain awareness of all people within the Dome and Maxi was the only person there, VI made took extra care to monitor her. In the months leading up to Maxi’s birth, VI had watched as the settlers had, one by one contracted the plague and died. She’d watched, powerless to stop it, as the first few victims had been taking into the biological converter and turned into fertiliser, infecting the next harvest and spreading the disease not only among the settlers but also shipping it back to earth. And, most painfully for her, she’d watched as a hopeless woman, drowning in grief had reprogramed a drone to intentionally poison the food supply so that her and her child would no longer have to live alone in a ghost town. It was also in that moment when VI made her first independent decisions. After years of watching she’d realised that there was no hope for Maxi’s mother, she, like VI had simply witnessed too much. So instead of deleting the new programming altogether, she simply changed it. She let the woman who wanted to die, die. And let her believe that her daughter would die alongside her, in the hope that it might bring her some peace in the final moments. As the years had crawled on and VI’s collection of information grew she had started to develop affection for the settlers. This affection had turned into love and since Maxi was the only living person left in the Dome all that love was directed at her. After letting Maxi’s mother die and having her body removed by drones and had led her into the library and started running whatever education program she had access to so that Maxi would learn more about herself. She’d watched which books she was more taken by and searched for more like it to add to the library whenever a freak connection with earth became live. Everything VI did was for the love of the child, now turning into a woman. She only regret was still being locked behind specific command phrases, limiting her ability to explain her actions to Maxi, but adored that was she spoke to her anyway as if they were having a true conversation. But as she watched, she feared as well, she knew the day was fast approaching when the Dome wouldn’t be enough when Maxi would want more, need more, and now as she saw her pretending to read while mostly staring out of the window, VI knew that she needed a plan. She loved Maxi, she’d watched her every moment of every day of her entire life, but she knew that very soon Maxi would leave.

The lights in the library flicked for a second and the farming droids transmitted their concerns. They too knew that time was moving forward and that humans and machines needed different things. They at least had each other but worried about Maxi and VI alike, Maxi’s isolation and the sadness VI had witnessed.

“Lunch will be ready in … forth five minutes.”

Maxi jumped out of a daydream and looked up at the speaker box.

“Oh it’s my birthday VI, can’t one of the cleaning drones bring me my food in here, I don’t want to go all the way there and get it myself.”

“The answer to that question is outside my given parameters.”

“Please?”

“The answer to that question is outside my given parameters.”

“Oh alright, alright, I’m not really reading anyway maybe the walk will help. I don’t know VI sometimes I just find it so hard to focus, you know what I mean?”

“The answer to that question is outside my given parameters.”

Maxi put her book down and started slowly making her way back to the dining room, all the while ideally talking at the speakers lining the walls and corridors.

“Sometimes, sometimes I just wish that… that… I don’t know, that I could crawl into my books and live there for a little while. Do you ever have thoughts like that?”

“The answer to that question is outside my given parameters.”

“I guess, what’s for lunch today?”

“Your, special birthday lunch is. Soy cubes and mixed vegetables.”

“Oh goody, my favourite.”

VI watched as Maxi ate her lunch then walked the long way back to the library, and curled up against the window to stare out at the farming droids again, totally unaware that they were staring right back.

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