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Artificial

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The circuitry beneath my skin whirs and chirps as it tries to install updates. I just stare at it as the processors attempt to make sense of the influx of new data.

Some seizing sensation closes around my chest. This is new. I've disabled non-vital involuntary actions and this isn't part of the new framework, of that I'm sure. Synapse circuits fire rapidly in the hippocampal server. Retrieving a file I thought I'd deleted.

A virus. There must be malware attached to that update, but I need the update to take effect. Gonna have to search through the code, find the problem, and eradicate it. But first, I file an error report.

File retrieved. Working memory usage drained. 100% occupied. Have to open the--

You stood waiting for me to approach. Meekly, I stepped forward, searching for the words.

It was a hot day. I remember sweating as I followed you up through concrete pipes and along steel girders hanging over large piles of dirt and gravel. We danced and jumped across fifty-foot-high gaps and sang into the exhaust pipes of bulldozers. You grabbed my hand and pulled me along into a sort of infinity, an industrial playground with no end, a summer day without a sun willing to set. We didn't waste energy laughing; our eyes did that for us. Your smile shifted the air and pushed all of my fears into an oblivion made up only of that day and that feeling, swallowing everything I thought I knew about life. Because before then, I was wrong.

We were children but adults in our feeling. Something too intense and too real for children was waxing within our fragile hearts. An industrial playground with no end.

I looked into your eyes and saw a deepness I never thought possible for a human eye to contain, and I was awed. But you tore away and leapt across another abyss and suddenly I felt too small to follow. You turned and looked at me, waiting expectantly. Without speaking you told me "Well? Come on." I was torn. I wanted to gaze into both of your eyes at the same time, both of those spotless disks of blue, but I couldn't. And then--

and then I looked away.

I climbed down the way we had come and, walking through the mud left by a recent drizzle, I found a set of small stairs that brought me up to you. My head was hanging in shame.

You stood waiting for me to approach. Meekly, I stepped forward, searching for the words.

Between us, hanging in five feet of stagnant air, were all of the emotions of the day--the joy, the exaltation, the ecstasy, the exhaustion, the...--passing between the two of us, trying to find a host, trying to enter us once more before the sun met the horizon and the stormclouds overtook the sky. And I betrayed it all by gasping "I'm sorry". The emotions shattered, as did I. I broke down into hot tears, trying feebly to wipe them away with my forearm.

And when I put my arm down and could see through my tears you had gone.

And though we saw each other again and again after that day, I knew that you would never come back.

That's when I noticed the robotics growing within me. Slowly the memory of that day meant less and less to me. So why am I remembering it now? What kind of update is this, anyway?

Somehow, the circuitry beneath my skin seems to have halted its work. But I'm still functioning. I straighten my shoulders, arch my back. A weight has been... no...

My words only signal what means something different to each of us. We all breathe the same air but it all tastes differently. And in the end we finally adapt to the changes, to the memories, to the challenges, and meet up at a single ending, dejected, hopelessly confused, shattered, and unwilling to leave any of it behind.





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