Only The Lonely

by Taryn Alynn

       Well, I hope you guys enjoy this was completed @ 2 AM last night, so please excuse any small errors ^_^


       “So, babe, you wanna go to the school dance next month?”


       Adam watched this exchange between two of the more popular kids in his school from a safe spot behind the bleachers.  “No problem,” he thought.  “I just go up to Danielle and say: “Babe! Wanna go to the dance?”  And she’ll say “Sure!”

       Adam moved out from his hiding place as the couple moved further away.  He brushed an errant lock of light brown hair from his eyes and headed back towards the school.  The school day had just ended, and Adam figured that Danielle would still be at her locker, gabbing with friends.

       Sure enough, as Adam walked up the hallway he could see Danielle closing up her locker as her friends walked off.  “Perfect timing,” he thought.  After Danielle finished at her locker, she started walking in his direction.

       As they passed, Adam turned to her and stammered out, “Hey, D-D-Danielle!”

       “Oh, hey, Adam.  What’s up?” Danielle asked.

       Adam just stared at Danielle, mesmerized by her beautifully sculpted face, deep blue eyes and shiny auburn hair.  A scattering of freckles near her nose gave her a slightly cute appearance, but the rest of her body affirmed the fact that she was seventeen.

       “Umm, Adam?  Was there something you wanted to say?” Danielle asked.

       Adam snapped out of his trance, and said quickly, “So, babe, you wanna go to the school dance next month?”

       Danielle laughed, a silvery musical laugh, and said, “Sorry, Adam.  I already have a date.  But thanks for asking!”   Danielle smiled and resumed her walk.

       Adam’s face held for a moment, and then fell.  Dejectedly he stared at Danielle as she walked out the school, silently cursing the other student who had the honor of escorting her to the dance.

       “Stupid!  Stupid!” Adam grumbled as he walked home from school.  “Hey, you wanna go to the dance?” he said in a mocking tone.  How could he be so stupid?  To assume that one of the most popular girls in school would go out with him, a nobody, was ridiculous.  He was well liked, but not popular.  He didn’t do sports or excel at academics.  He was average.

       “That’s all I am!  Average!  Why can’t I be talented at something?  Maybe I could be a singer, or a writer, or an artist?  Or maybe I could play baseball, or football?” Adam asked himself as he neared his apartment.

       “How can you say you’re average?  You seem fine to me!” said a voice behind Adam.  He whirled around and saw a girl who looked to be his age.  She was a bit shorter than he was, and wore her chestnut colored hair in a long braid down her back.  Her voice was mellifluous and lilting and her soft brown eyes had a hint of mischief in them.  She was dressed in a school uniform of another school that was located near his apartment that he shared with his parents.

       “Who are you?  I’ve never seen you around here before,” Adam said curiously.

       “I’m Hannah,” she said, and then bent over to pull up her sagging knee socks.  “Darn socks…wish they would stay up,” she mumbled to herself.

       “I’m, uh, I’m Adam.  Nice to meet you.  Were you, umm, following me?” Adam asked.

       Hannah looked up, blushed, and replied, “Well, kinda, umm, I mean, every day you walk home from school and I see that you look so down.  What does a boy like you have to feel sad about?”

       “Well, I’m decent at a lot of stuff, but not good enough for anyone to notice.  And I can’t get a girl!” Adam replied.

       “What’s so great about having a girl, huh?  Don’t we just want to take you shopping and watch emotional movies?” Hannah said.

       “Nahh, it’s not that.  It’s the, umm, fun stuff…  Oh!  I can’t believe I just said that!” Adam said and slapped his forehead.

       Hannah giggled.  “You’re silly.  But, don’t you want someone to talk to, share your life with?” she asked.

       “That too, I suppose, but I’m too young to think about that stuff.  Hey, if you’ve seen me come home before, why haven’t you ever talked to me, like today?” Adam asked.

       Hannah blushed a bit.  “Well…” she said as she nervously kicked the ground and averted her eyes, “I guess you could say the opportunity never arose before now.”

       “What do you mean?  Were you shy?” Adam asked.  

       “ never get shy… you just never seemed like you wanted company.  But today, well, when I see someone put themselves down like that, well, I have to step in,” Hannah said in a quiet voice.

       “Well, I’m not usually this down about it, you know?  It’s just that, today, I asked this really pretty girl to the dance,” Adam said, and then trailed off.

       “And what?” Hannah said.

       “She turned me down.  Said she already had a date,” Adam said dejectedly.

       “She probably did.  Ask earlier next year,” Hannah said as a cloud blocked out the sun.  She looked at the sky nervously.

       “Maybe, but I did I ask pretty early.  The dance isn’t until next month!” Adam said.

       “Some girls have dates lined up well in advance,” Hannah giggled anxiously and again looked at the sky.  The clouds were heavier, and darker now.

       “Why do you keep looking at the sky?  If it starts to rain, we’ll just run into my apartment building,” Adam asked.

       “Umm, no reason. Listen.  I have to go now.  I’ll see ya around,” Hannah said quickly and suddenly she was gone.

       Adam blinked a few times; trying to believe that the encounter he just had was real and not a dream.  Where did she come from?  Who was she, really?  Why hadn’t he seen he before?  Fat raindrops falling in his eyes broke his reverie and he quickly darted into the lobby.

       The next afternoon, and the next after that, and all through that weekend, there was no sign of Hannah.  On Monday he thought he caught a glimpse of her, but when he called to her she was gone.

       “I must have been dreaming.  There was no Hannah.  I made her up so I wouldn’t feel like such a loser,” he said to himself angrily as he walked home on Tuesday.

       “How can I be made up if I’m standing right in front of you?” said a voice, and when Adam looked up, there Hannah was.

       “Hannah!  Where were you?  And why did you just run off like that?” Adam asked.

       “My life doesn’t revolve around you, silly,” Hannah said and giggled.  “But I did miss you!”

       “You m-m-missed me?” Adam asked.

       “Well, sure, friends miss each other, don’t they?” asked Hannah.

       Adam’s heart fell when he heard Hannah describe him as “just a friend”, but he saw something in Hannah’s eyes.  Something that almost looked like, well, hope.  “Yeah, I guess they do, cause I missed you,” Adam replied.

       A large grin broke on Hannah’s face, and she ran up to Adam and gave him a huge hug.  “Yup!  I missed you plenty,” she said and gave him a peck on the cheek.  “Now let’s go do something!  How about the arcade?”

       “Sure, I guess.  Let’s go,” Adam said, and they began to walk to the arcade.  “Do you play games a lot?”

       “Well, sometimes, but I’m usually too busy doing other stuff,” Hannah said.

       “Like what?” Adam asked.

       “Well, umm, studying, of course.  That’s pretty much it!” Hannah explained.

       “What about friends?” asked Adam.

       “Oh, umm, I don’t have many of those,” she said as she cast her eyes downward.

       “Really?  But you seem like such a friendly girl,” Adam said.

       Hannah’s eyes immediately rose and she smiled widely as she pulled Adam close.  “That is the best compliment I’ve ever received.  Thank you so much,” she said.

       “Umm, thanks.  You said you don’t have many friends.  How many do you have, exactly?  Counting me,” Adam asked.

       “Umm, two!” Hannah said, and looked away.

       “Only one other friend? Who?” Adam asked.

       “I’d rather not talk about it.  Hey, look!  Here’s the arcade.  Whatcha wanna play?” Hannah asked.

       “I like the racing games.  Let’s play Mars Racer 2!  You’re one of the first explorers on Mars and you have to race other explorers to different sites,” Adam said.

       “Oh, ok, sure.  Do you have any money?  I don’t,” Hannah said.

       “I have some, but not too much.  Let’s make it last, okay?” Adam told her.

       “Ok, let’s play!” Hannah said as they approached the game.

       Adam fed in the quarters and they both picked up their controllers.  Hannah scrutinized her controller for a moment, and then the game began. The Martian Exploration Ship dropped them off at the beginning point, and they were off.  Adam focused on his side of the screen, avoiding obstacles and using the weapons on the Mars vehicle to ward off Martian creatures and computer-generated players. He finally reached the first stop and loaded his vehicle with riches from the mine.  It was then off to the second point, and then the third, stopping to fix his vehicle, upgrade and sell merchandise, and defeat the other computer players.

       He was halfway to the fourth point when he heard Hannah exclaim, “Yes! High score!”

       “No, that’s not the end of the game,” Adam began to explain, when he turned to the screen and saw that, it was, in fact, the end of the game.  "Wait a minute.  You not only beat the game but got the high score in the time it took me to get just past the third level?” Adam said.

       “You mean, it’s supposed to take longer?” Hannah asked, a bit anxious.

       “It’s supposed to take quite a bit longer,” Adam said.  “You did it so quickly.  That’s amazing!”

       “Nahh, it’s not that special.  I bet other people here could do it better,” Hannah said, a bit more nervous.

       “I doubt it, but let’s see,” Adam said, as he noticed the other players were staring at them.

       “No, no, let’s not.  Let’s just go somewhere else, like the park,” Hannah said, grabbed his arm, and pulled him out the door so fast he barely knew what was happening.     

       “What was that all about?” Adam asked after they practically ran down the street.

       “I don’t like crowds very much.  They make me nervous,” Hannah quickly explained.

       “Oh, well, I guess that’s understandable.  But I still can’t get over how well you played that game,” Adam exclaimed.

       “It wasn’t that great,” Hannah told him.  “You just have to know what buttons to push and when to push them.”

       “Hey, Hannah, you seem to be getting tired or something.  You’re walking slower and your voice is a bit labored too.  Do you want to come over to my apartment and rest for awhile?” Adam asked.

       “Is anyone home?” Hannah wondered.

       “Nahh.  My dad is at work — he works for a security company — and my mom is a secretary in his office.  Nobody’s there,” Adam assured her.

       “Ok, I think I am gonna need to rest soon.  Running takes a lot out of me,” she said.

       After a few minutes they arrived at Adam’s building, and they climbed the stairs slowly to get to his third floor apartment.

       “Where’s your bathroom?” Hannah asked once they entered and removed their shoes.

       Adam motioned down the hall and Hannah immediately walked off toward it, slowly.  Adam sat on the couch, still marveling at Hannah’s feat at the arcade earlier.  Adam glanced at the clock.  Already five minutes had passed by.  He got up and went to the bathroom door.

       “Hannah?  Are you all right?” Adam asked as he knocked.

       “Just one moment,” came the reply.  It almost sounded hollow, or prerecorded.

       Adam leaned against the wall waiting for about a minute more.  He knocked again.

       “Just one moment,” came the same reply again.

       Adam walked back to the couch, and assuming Hannah was like all girls he knew, figured she’d be in the bathroom for a while, touching up her makeup and hair.  He grabbed his schoolbooks and got started on his homework while he waited.

       Finally, Hannah emerged from the bathroom, looking refreshed.  “Thanks, Adam.  Sometimes I take awhile. Girl stuff, y’know?” she said.

       Adam shrugged.  “You want something to eat?”

       “Nahh, I gotta get going.  I’ll see you soon,” Hannah said as she opened the front door.

       “Hey, Hannah?  Why did you have to go so suddenly yesterday?  You could have come inside with me like today if you didn’t like the rain,” Adam asked.

       “I don’t like rain that much.  It gives me short circuits.  I’m a robot, y’know,” Hannah said with a impish grin as she tapped Adam on the nose and ran downstairs.

       Adam stared at her as she disappeared down the stairs.  “A robot?  It can’t be…”

       The next day it rained hard, and it remained damp for the rest of that week.  No sign of Hannah.  Adam spent most of his time away from school studying for exams but one night he happened to catch a newscast about a burglary in the industrial section of town.  It was very abnormal; Adam’s city had a very low crime rate.  The reporter said some highly valuable merchandise was stolen, and the police had few leads to go on.

       On Monday of the next week, Adam had again nearly made it home from school without seeing Hannah.  He entered the lobby of his building when he was almost bowled over by a certain girl who ran at him and gave him a large hug.

       “Hannah!” Adam gasped.

       “Hey silly!  Thought you were rid of me, eh?” Hannah asked.

       “Where were you?  Why is it so long between the times I see you?” Adam asked.

       Hannah’s eyes stared at the ground.  “Well, let’s just say my world is a lot different than yours,” she said in an almost meek voice.

       “Huh?  What does that mean?” Adam asked, confused.

       “It means, Mr. Nosy, that I can’t just spend my time at home, staring at a TV or studying or whatever people do.  I have to do other things,” Hannah said.

       “Like what?” Adam asked.

       “None of your business!” Hannah said, and stuck her tongue out at Adam.

       “Y’know, you’re unlike anyone I’ve ever known,” Adam said.

       “Thank you,” replied Hannah.

       “Do you wanna go for a walk?” Adam asked, hopeful.

       “Sure,” Hannah said and smiled.

       They left the apartment building and headed in the opposite direction of Adam’s school.  The clouds and rain had long since left over the weekend, and the cherry trees that grew over the city were in full bloom.

       “It sure is a beautiful day, isn’t it?” Adam asked, trying to make conversation.

       “Yes it is!  But it’s more beautiful because I’m spending it with you,” Hannah replied.

       Adam blushed and asked, “Why is that, Hannah?”

       “Because being with friends makes any day more special,” Hannah replied, matter-of-factly.

       Adam smiled.  “It’s nice to be with you too.”

       Together, they walked in silence for a while, neither one leading the way.  Eventually, they ended up in front of the school that Hannah’s uniform was for.

       “Back to school again, eh?” Adam asked.

       Hannah looked up and realized where she was, and tried to steer Adam away from the building.  “What do you mean?” she asked.

       “Well, you just came from school, right?  You’re still wearing your uniform,” Adam explained.

       “Oh, yeah,” she giggled nervously, “of course.  Umm, but I’d rather not be around here, y’know.  One can only take so much school.”

       “Aww, come on. We may run into that other friend you have,” Adam said as he tried to say still while Hannah was nudging him away.

       “She won’t be here,” Hannah said quickly.

       “How do you know?” Adam asked.

       “I just do, ok?  Can we leave now?” Hannah said as Adam noticed some girls in the same uniform heading their way.  Apparently, some after school club had just gotten out.

       “Why are you so nervous?  Did you get suspended or something?” Adam asked, feeling a bit curious.

       “No, I did not get suspended.  I just would rather not be here, that’s all,” Hannah said and began to walk away.

       Adam began to follow, but behind him he heard the conversation of two of the girls.  “Hey, did you see that girl?  She was wearing our uniform, but she doesn’t look familiar.”  “Yeah…who was that?”  Adam shrugged as he tried to catch up with Hannah.

       “Took you long enough,” Hannah said with a wink as Adam came abreast of her.

       “I guess you really don’t like your school.  Don’t you care about school pride or anything?” Adam asked.

       “Not in the slightest,” Hannah said with a smile.

       “Wow.  That’s surprising considering you’re still wearing your uniform,” Adam remarked.

       “Well, I didn’t get time to change it,” Hannah explained.  “I went right to your apartment so I could meet you.”

       “Do you want to stop at your house to change it?  You have to live around here,” Adam asked.

       “Nahh, it’s comfortable except for these darn kneesocks,” Hannah said and giggled while she pulled them up.

       “You know, Hannah, there was something I wanted to ask you, ever since you left my apartment last time.  It’s gonna sound stupid, but… you’re not really a robot, are you?” Adam asked.

       “No, silly!  How could I be a robot?” asked Hannah.

       “I don’t know, but I mean, you never want to get wet…”

       “I don’t like being wet.  It makes me uncomfortable.”

       “You beat that game so quickly!”

       “Some people are good at math; I’m good at video games, I guess.”

       “You got so tired after running…”

       “Everyone gets tired after running.”

       “I didn’t”

       “So you’re more athletic than me?”

       “When I knocked on the bathroom door, you responded in a voice that didn’t sound like you.  It almost sounded kinda monotone, or condensed, or a recording.”

       “The bathroom has good acoustics.  Must have altered my voice.  Satisfied now?”

       “Yeah, I guess,” Adam said, “but it’s still kind of weird.”

       “I don’t believe you actually think I’m a robot.  Don’t those only exist in science fiction?” Hannah asked.

       “Supposedly, but who knows?  Maybe someone out there, or some company out there figured out how to do it,” Adam asked.

       “And I’m a beta model?” Hannah asked, trying to contain her laughter.

       “Well, you never talk about your life, and I’ve never seen where you live.  Besides, it could be cool!” Adam said.

       “Oh, I could be a Hannah-bot then?” Hannah said and proceeded to walk around the street, stiff-legged and repeating “I am malfunctioning,” drawing stares from more than a few passersby.

       “Quit it, Hannah.  You’ve made your point,” Adam said, trying to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.  At the same time, though, Adam noticed his heart start to beat fast and himself getting slightly aroused at the sight of this cute girl pretending to be a robot.

       He started to stare, and was brought back to reality only after Hannah snapped her fingers in front of his face repeatedly.  “Earth to Adam!  Hello Adam!” she said loudly.

       “Sorry.  You just looked awfully cute doing that,” Adam said, and then his face got red when he realized what he had just said.

       Hannah just stared at him, and then suddenly walked a few steps away and started to laugh hysterically.  After a few moments, though, she calmed down.  Then she walked over to Adam and said, “Close your eyes.”  He did.  Hannah kissed him on the lips and said in a clipped monotone, “Pro.gram com.plete.”  When Adam opened his eyes, she was gone.

       That night, Adam caught the tail end of a report on the burglary in the industrial complex.  “…Investigators feel they may have a lead in the burglary at Limited Electronics, Incorporated.  Most of the stolen merchandise has been recovered, and police are closing in on a suspect…”

       The next morning, after his parents had left, Adam was walking downstairs when he collided with Hannah as she was rushing up the stairs.

       After they got back up, Hannah said, “Can we go in your apartment?  Now?”

       “But Hannah, I have school, and so do you!” Adam said, as he saw that Hannah was still in her uniform.

       “No, not today.  Please!  Can we just go in?  I’ll explain, I promise!” Hannah said.

       Adam was about to say no, but he noticed something in Hannah’s eyes, and something didn’t seem right.  After thinking for an instant, he relented.  They trooped back upstairs and entered Adam’s apartment.

       Hannah took her shoes off and immediately headed for the bathroom.  “It’ll just take a moment,” she said.

       Adam, however, stood in front of her, and said, “Explanation first.”

       “No!  I need to…I need to do something first.  It’s important,” Hannah pleaded.

       “Uh-uh.  Explanations first.  We’re both gonna be late for school, and I know my parents will kill me when they find out, so this better be important,” Adam insisted.

       Hannah looked at Adam, then looked behind her, and relented.  “Fine, I supposed I’d end up telling you anyway.”

       Both Adam and Hannah moved to the sitting room, where Adam said, “Ok, spill it.”

       “You know how I told you that my world is different than yours?  Well, what I didn’t tell you is exactly how different.  And there are these guys, who, well, let’s say they’re not too happy with me right now.  If they get a hold of me, my existence is over!” Hannah explained.

       “Why do these guys want you?  What did you do to them?” Adam asked.

       “I took some things that belonged to them, a few weeks ago.  It was stuff they shouldn’t have had. It wasn’t theirs to begin with.  It was mine,” Hannah said.

       “But you’re only in high school!  What could they have had of yours that was so important you had to steal it back?  And why didn’t you get the police involved?” Adam asked.

       “The police couldn’t help me.  They probably wouldn’t have even believed me.  My word against the word of a big corporation.  And they had things I needed to survive,” Hannah said.

       Adam thought a moment.  “Big corporation?  You mean that industrial building that was robbed awhile ago?  That was you?”

       Hannah looked at the ground.  “Yup.  That was me.  And they found almost all of it last night.  Must have had a homing chip in it or something.  I went back to where I hid it this morning and it was gone!  All of it!  Luckily I don’t stay in the same place!”

       “You think they’d really kill you?” Adam asked.

       “You could say that,” Hannah replied.

       “And how do you know they’re after you?  You weren’t this worried when we saw each other before,” Adam said.

       “Let’s just say that I’ve never seen them in this part of the city before, and now, suddenly, they’re everywhere.  They must have figured out I was hiding here,” Hannah said.  “Now, I really have to do something!” she said and started off towards the bathroom.

       Adam tried to grab her arm but it slipped through his grasp.  Her walk became slower and unbalanced, and Adam became more focused on watching her than catching her.  She entered the bathroom and shut the door, and Adam could hear the lock engage.  A few seconds passed, then a soft but agonizing cry of, “Nooooo!” and a loud thump on the floor.

       Adam was brought back to reality, and ran to the door.  He knocked.  No answer.  Knocked again.  No answer.  “Are you all right Hannah?  Hannah?” No answer.  “Ok, I’m coming in!”

       Adam slammed his shoulder into the door, breaking it open.  “What are my parents gonna think?” he wondered as he entered the bathroom.  What he saw, stopped him cold.

       On the floor, lying in an awkward position on her back, was Hannah.  Her uniform shirt was lifted up to just below her breasts, and in that spot was what appeared to be an open panel.  A few lights were flashing red, and he could see a few exposed circuits.  A plug extended from a port within the panel and was near the electrical outlet in the bathroom.  Apparently she had tried to recharge but her battery hadn’t had enough left in it to allow her to finish plugging herself in.  Adam stared down at Hannah, in a mix of shock and arousal.

       “Help….m-m-m-me….” She whispered.  “H-H-help…m-m-meeee…”


       Adam stared at the helpless form of Hannah on the floor, more confused than he’d ever been in his entire life.  She had come into his life suddenly, just appearing one day on the way home from school.  He had known hardly anything about her, save for the fact she went to the high school near his, as she wore the uniform.

       Now she lay on her back on the floor of his bathroom, staring up at him with pleading eyes.  She apparently couldn’t move anything except for her eyes at the moment, her battery being so low.  She stared at him and glanced quickly at the outlet, and then repeated the action.

       “Why should I help you?  You tell me nothing about your life and then today you suddenly show up and expect me to protect you?  To help you?  Why?” Adam asked, a bit angry.

       “H-h-hellllp m-m-m-meeeeeeee….p-p-pleeeeease….”

       After he thought for a moment, he decided he would get no answers at all if Hannah’s battery died.  He was already late for school, so it wouldn’t matter if he missed it altogether.

       He crouched down and started to lift Hannah up gently.  It proved to be more difficult than he realized, she being much heavier than he expected.  With considerable effort he got her upright, and leaned her against the small sink in the bathroom.  He reached for Hannah’s plug and inserted it into the outlet.

       Hannah’s eyes seemed to go blank, and what sounded like a motor began to hum.  Adam waved his hand in front of her eyes, and was met by the response, “Just one moment.”

       Watching this pretty girl attached to a wire plugged into an outlet entranced Adam.  His heart started beating faster, and the butterflies in his stomach were out of control.  After about five minutes, he waved his hand in front of Hannah’s eyes again, and got the same monotone response, “Just one moment.”  He leaned her as best he could, then, against the sink, and left the bathroom.

       He sat down, and began to think.  “I have an android charging in the bathroom.  That is ridiculous!  And she’s gorgeous too!  But why do I like seeing her being robotic?  Is there something wrong with me?  Oh, man, I don’t need this!  But she’s so cute!  Oh, and by the way, she also has people after her who want to destroy her.  Yeah, that puts me in a great position.  But she’s so cute—“ Adam’s internal rant was interrupted by a blur from the corner of his eye.

       In a flash he found himself on his back, on the floor, with a very happy android on top of him.  “Oh, thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you sooooo muuuuuch!” Hannah said with a huge smile on her face as she kissed Adam right on the lips.

       “MMMmmmph!” Adam tried to say as he was smothered with kisses.  “Thank you for what?” he finally got out.

       “Thank you for plugging me in!  If you hadn’t plugged me in I would have been helpless, and the people who are after me might have found me.  You saved me!” Hannah exclaimed.

       “Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far…” Adam cautioned.

       “Oh, I would, and I would go much farther…” Hannah said with a wink.

       “Well, Hannah, umm, one of the reasons I plugged you in and let you charge was that I want some answers.  You just walked into my life suddenly a few weeks ago and now I’m aiding a criminal?” Adam asked.

       “I am NOT a criminal,” Hannah said with a pout.

       “But you admitted you STOLE property from someone,” Adam pointed out.

       “Yes, but it wasn’t their property to begin with.  As soon as they were made, they were mine,” Hannah said.

       “What were they, then?” Adam challenged.

       “The first one was a solar charger.  I just leave it in the sun for a few hours and anytime I need a full day’s charge I just plug myself into it.  And I took disks with a special program on them.  It was a sentience program.  Normally an android does what ever they’re programmed to.  This “sentience” program allows the android to make some of her own decisions based on immense calculations and a randomizing program.  I was their test robot for this program and I’m still running it!” Hannah explained.

       “A normal android?  You mean there are more of you?” Adam asked, incredulous.

       “Yes there are more.  Many more.  Hundreds more even.  Some are back where I escaped from.  Others are out in the world somewhere.  Some are young adults, like me.  Others are much younger or much older.  But they don’t know they’re androids, and are at the mercy of what their owners program them to do.  I want to change that,” Hannah explained.

       “Escaped from?” Adam asked even more incredulously.

       Before Hannah could answer, however, a loud noise from outside the window distracted them.  A small group of cars screeched to a stop outside the building, and men in suits began to emerge.

       “I’ll explain later,” Hannah said.  “Now, we have to get out of here!”

       Hannah grabbed Adam’s hand and dragged him over to the door, where they hastily donned their shoes and left the apartment.

       “Is there a back door to this place?” she asked.

       “Umm, yeah, back stairs…this way!” Adam directed, and Hannah pulled him towards that way.

       They flew down the back staircase, down to the first level, as they could hear the men lumbering up the front staircase.  As they reached the bottom floor, they heard a man shout, “They went down the back way!  After them now!”

       Adam flung open the back door, setting off the emergency alarm, as they both ran into the alley that ran in back of the building.  Hannah pulled Adam with her as she darted down the narrow street to the main road.  Using the side of the building as momentary cover, she ascertained that the car closest to the building was unoccupied, and in their rush the men had left the keys in the ignition.

       “Jump in and buckle up,” she said as she rushed to the car.  Adam didn’t realize what she meant until she started to open the door of the vehicle.

       As Adam did the same he looked at Hannah and said, “You drive?”

       “It’s part of my programming,” she said as they slammed the doors and sped off with a squeal of the tires.

       Adam could see the frustrated men in the rearview mirror, and chuckled to himself.  He turned to Hannah and saw what appeared to be a calm girl, driving a bit faster than the speed limit down a back road in the city.  He was about to ask her another question when he saw the car behind them, filled with some of the men who had earlier tried to capture Hannah at his apartment.  They were gaining on them.

       “How are you going to escape?  There’s only so far we can drive before we hit traffic, and then it’s all over,” Adam lamented.

       “I have more than one trick up my sleeve,” Hannah replied.

       The car behind them came up close, and rammed into their fender, pushing the car abruptly forward.  A moment later they did it again.

       “Trying to run us off the road I see,” Hannah said.

       “They’re doing a good job of it,” Adam said as Hannah swerved dangerously close to an oncoming car.

       “Don’t worry.  I have balance and directional sensors for these kinds of things,” she said.

       The car behind made another run at them, this time pulling up beside them and veering into them.  Hannah fought back, turning the wheels to the side, giving their pursuers a nasty blow.

       As the driver struggled to maintain control, Adam saw what he had been dreading up ahead; the end of the road, which emptied out on to a main street — one that was filled with bumper to bumper traffic,  “Umm, Hannah?  The road, up there…it kinda stops?” Adam told Hannah.

       “Don’t worry, I have a plan,” Hannah said confidently.

       The chase car had once again come abreast of them, and either seemed unaware of the oncoming traffic or didn’t care.  The end of the road was fast approaching, and Adam gripped the armrests in the car until his knuckles turned white.  “What have I gotten myself into?” he wondered to himself.

       Finally, Hannah could wait no more.  “Hold on tight,” she said.  With the chase care almost directly alongside them, Hannah slammed on the brakes.  The force of the sudden stop threw Adam towards the windshield—his seatbelt caught him, but took the air out of him.  As he sat back, trying to catch his breath, he saw the driver in the other car realize what Hannah had done a bit too late, and flew out into the traffic-laden street.  The car ricocheted off a number of waiting vehicles, causing a chaotic scene.  Hannah simply turned her automobile around and headed back in the direction they had come.

       “You put innocent people in danger!  How could you do that?” Adam questioned Hannah as they drove down a stretch of highway.  “You could have killed someone.  For all we know you may have!”

       “It was either that or get captured.  And I know I don’t want to be deactivated!  I also don’t think they would have taken kindly to you helping me either,” Hannah explained.

       “You think you care for me?  What do you know about feelings?  You’re just a machine, made of metal and plastic!” Adam said.

       “So you think I’m a heartless machine, eh?  Well, let me tell you something.  I am just as concerned about other people as you are.  And I’m also concerned about my fellow androids, who are oblivious to who they really are at this point and are treated like virtual slaves,” Hannah exclaimed.

       “But how can you honestly portray those emotions if you’re only programmed to?” Adam asked, now curious.

       “You need to know a bit about me first,” Hannah said.  “First, my name is technically spelled H-A-N-A, and meant originally Hard-wired ANatomically correct Android.  I am hard-wired, which means I keep learning, so to speak, and nothing can be erased unless my memory is wiped completely clean.  And yes, I am anatomically correct.  I had to be so no one would know my secret if I was working in the real world.”

       “But you say you feel emotions?” Adam asked as Hannah turned off the highway.

       “Kind of.  You see, before this sentience program was loaded into me, we — meaning the robots —were programmed to recognize certain body actions or contextual clues to select the appropriate emotional or practicalresponse and behavior.  Beyond that, our programs were very rigid in what we were allowed to do, which was pretty much to serve our master.  In my case, I was held in our factory, performing such menial tasks as reception work and light cleaning.  That was before they decided to test the sentience program in me to perhaps better my customer service,” Hannah explained.

       “So you were fairly rigid in programming before this new software.  What has it changed?” Adam asked.

       “Now, it isn’t about how the other person feels, it’s about what I feel.  As to how I figure this out, even I am not absolutely sure.  But I do know that it involves complicated calculations and a randomizing program.  It also connects to all the experiences I’ve ever had,” Hannah said.

       “And you broke out why?” Adam asked.

       “Programming rigidity before caused me to do only a set series of tasks, and when something happened, like a customer coming in to the factory, a certain set of instructions would be loaded and executed.  Now it’s my choice.  What I WANT to do.  Again, a lot of that is just a randomization program.  But since I was originally programmed to react in certain ways to certain things, those are still in my memory.  And all my experiences in my data banks help me in deciding things, and taking initiative.  Seeing beings like me being forced to perform mindless tasks over and over made me sad, and helping them by escaping made me happy.  It’s not that simple, of course, but can you describe why you feel certain things any better?” Hannah said as they pulled into a shady dirt lane.

       “No, I really can’t…umm, Hannah, where are we?” Adam asked.

       “We’re a long way from where we were.  I knew after we outran those goons they’d have to take awhile to regroup.  So we’re now just outside the industrial area, in the backwoods,” Hannah said with a wink.

       “I didn’t know there were any backwoods around here,” Adam said.

       “Well, there are little pockets of lush vegetation everywhere.  This area is near a fault line and the ground is unstable — too unstable to build on,” Hannah said and parked the car at the end of the lane next to a dilapidated shack.

       “I thought you said you couldn’t build here,” Adam wondered.

       “Well, this won’t survive even a moderate quake.  It appears left over from earlier times when fault lines weren’t quite as understood.  It made a great initial hide-out, though, while I weighed my options,” Hannah told Adam.

       “And now you’re back here.  Perhaps our next stop will be your factory,” Adam said.

       “You always come back to where you’re from, I suppose.  But eventually I’ll have to make a return appearance to get this software into the androids still there,” Hannah said.

       “Wait, I thought you said the disks were stolen,” Adam said,

       “Yeah, but I copied the base files into a blank area on my hard drive.  All I need is an open panel and a cable, and I’m sure both will be plentiful in the factory,” said Hannah with a wink as she jimmied open the door to the old shack.  “Come in, come in!  I know it’s not much, but we can stay here for now.”

       Adam followed Hannah into the aged and almost decrepit structure.  There were no windows, so Hannah switched on a battery-operated lamp on a water-stained table.  Both of them sat down on mats that lay on the floor.

       “Hannah, I was wondering, umm, if I could, see you,” Adam asked.

       “You’re looking at me now, aren’t you?” asked Hannah.

       “No, I mean, SEE you, y’know?” Adam said.

       “No, I really don’t.  Please explain,” Hannah requested.

       “Well, you’re a robot, and I’ve never seen the inside of a robot before, except when you were lying on my bathroom floor,” Adam asked, feeling his pulse quicken at the mere thought of Hannah supine on the floor.

       “You want to see my circuits?” Hannah asked incredulously.  After Adam nodded, she asked why.  “Just because I’m different?  Just to stare at the little robot girl?”

       “No, Hannah.  I mean, I’m interested, obviously, but, well, to tell you the truth I really like you, but I want to get to know ALL of you.  Not just the human side,” Adam said, hardly believing the words he was speaking were his.

       “N-n-no one’s ever wanted to see that part of me before except technicians.  And they just wanted to fiddle around and reprogram me.  But you really can’t do anything to circuits and ports.  Why do you want to see them?” Hannah asked.

       “Because they’re part of you,” Adam replied simply.

       Hannah nodded her assent and took off her uniform shirt, a sailor-type affair.  She stuck her finger into her belly button and directly below her breasts, a seam in the skin appeared and a panel opened.  She lay on her back and allowed Adam to look.

       Adam was amazed at what he saw.  This beautiful girl had, in a matter of moments, gone from typical schoolgirl of eighteen to a marvel of modern technology lying before him on the floor.  Inside her front panel were a number of glowing lights and data ports, and some exposed circuits.  There were a few switches and buttons as well, and in a corner was a small cord wound up tight.

       “What do you think?” Hannah asked.

       “That’s amazing,” Adam said softly.  “How could they build something so realistic?  So astounding?”

       Adam could see in the bright glare of the lamp that Hannah did not look completely human, as her skin had a slightly shiny, artificial look.  Aside from that, however, she looked like any normal girl would with a robotic panel open on her chest.

       He ran his fingers along some of the circuits, occasionally getting a small shock.  He then ran his fingers along the skin outside the panel, noticing that it had a slight plastic or artificial feel, but nothing anyone would catch unless they were looking for it.

       “I notice your skin is a bit artificial looking, but other than that, I would never have guessed you were an android under normal circumstances.  You just have to watch out how well you play video games,” Adam laughed.

       Hannah giggled, and said, “Well, there is one other thing that gives me away.”  She took off her right shoe and sock, and stuck her foot up near his face where he could see it.

       Adam looked and saw that her foot was devoid of any markings, unlike a human foot with patterns.  And faintly marked but definitely there were the letters L.E.I., depressed into the foot.

       “My other foot looks the same but no initials.  I guess they did it so they could claim us if we got loose, like me,” she said and giggled again.  Hannah put her sock back on but took off her other shoe.

       “You look so cute down there, you know,” Adam grinned.

       “Really?” Hannah said, as her face got red.  “I don’t think anyone has ever told me that.”

       “Well, then I’m your first,” Adam said, bent down and kissed Hannah on the lips.  Adam noticed Hannah jumped a bit in surprise at first, but then enjoyed and even tried to prolong the kiss.

       When the kiss was completed, Adam grinned widely and asked, “When this is over, can I take you home?”

       “T-t-take me home?” Hannah said as her satisfied smile turned to a quizzical frown.

       “Well, you know, you still belong to the factory, sort of, but after you load the sentience program into the other androids, I want to take you home with me to live in the apartment,” Adam said.  “My parents will live with us for a bit, but after we, umm, I graduate we can get a place of our own.”

       “Y-y-you want to live with me?  B-but I’m just a robot!  I may know who I am and what I have to do, but you deserve a real girl, y’know?” Hannah said.

       “But I don’t want a real girl anymore.  When you first talked to me I thought you were the only girl who liked me, and when I found out you were a robot I admit I had my reservations.  But it doesn’t matter to me now,” Adam said.

       “You mean it?  You want me to live with you?  And not just be your servant, but to be your friend?” Hannah asked hesitantly.

       “ More than friend; Hannah, I think I love you,” Adam nearly whispered.

       “L-l-love?” Hannah said and some of the lights in the panel started to blink red.  “Y-y-you l-l-love me?” she said again and her head twitched to the right.

       “Hannah?  What’s wrong?” Adam said as Hannah continued to jerk and twitch.

       “It’s ok, I-I-I j-j-just think my p-p-processor is having t-t-trouble processing this,” Hannah stammered.

       Adam gingerly closed Hannah’s access panel and gently held her in his arms as she continued to twitch and shake.  Gradually the spasms softened and eventually they stopped altogether.  “Are you ok now?” Adam asked.

       “You LOVE me!  Oh Adam!  I love you too!” Hannah said elatedly and wrapped her arms around Adam’s neck and kissed him deeply on the lips.       After they finished, Adam said, “You know, you never told me how you got that school uniform.”

       “Well, I just snuck into the girls’ locker room at that school near your house one day and nabbed a clean uniform that looked like it fit me.  It actually fit rather well, but the socks were kind of loose,” Hannah said.

       “Well, that does seem to be the style nowadays anyway,” Adam told her.

       “But they keep falling down!” she complained.

       “I’ve seen bigger and looser,” Adam said and laughed.

       “Wow…I don’t know how they stand it,” Hannah said as she put on her uniform shirt.  She adjusted her position and smoothed out the wrinkles in her blue-gray pleated skirt.

       “Hey, Hannah, is that the only outfit you have?” Adam asked.

       “Yes, it is, unfortunately.  I try to keep it clean by washing it when I can,” Hannah replied.

       “Would you like some new clothes?” Adam asked.

       “How?” asked Hannah.

       “Well, I have some money in the bank, and I had my bank card in my wallet, which was in the pants I had on when we had to run,” Adam explained.

       “You want to spend money on me?  Well, I’d love some clothes, but if you wanted to take me home afterwards you’d probably have to pay L.E.I., and I cost a lot!” Hannah told Adam.

       “Well, the amount I’ll spend on new clothes for you won’t make a difference, and if I can’t afford you I’ll find some way to get the money,” Adam told her.  “Let’s go!”

       “But the police are probably looking for the car,” Hannah worried.

       “Maybe up near my place, but not down here.  They won’t suspect we came this near the factory.  Come on,” Adam said.

       Hannah finally agreed, and they shut off the lamp, put on their shoes, left the shack and reentered the car.  Before, when they had been in a great rush to evade their captors, Adam hadn’t bothered to search the car.  Now that he had more time, he did, and was surprised at all the technological devices that were included.  All sorts of cables and wires with boxes with buttons that Adam couldn’t even begin to fathom their uses were in various compartments all over the car.

       Within a few minutes they arrived in a small city, where Adam stopped briefly at a machine to withdraw money from his account.  They then set off for the small collection of clothes stores that the city had to offer.  Adam bought Hannah several different outfits, a dress for formal occasions, some underwear and related items, and a cheap suitcase to store it all in.

       After they had paid, they passed by a small boutique-type store, not one of the larger chains.  After a small protest from Hannah, both went in and looked around.  Adam picked up another outfit for Hannah and two for himself.  He wandered around for a bit, and found himself looking at the girls’ bathing suits.  He motioned Hannah over, where he asked her to pick one out.

       “Thanks, but I-I-I can’t swim,” Hannah stammered.

       “Well, I’ll teach you.  You learn quickly, right?” Adam asked.

       “You can’t teach me,” Hannah said.

       “Why not?  You can learn stuff, I’ve seen you do it,” Adam insisted.

       “You don’t understand.  My skin isn’t completely waterproof.  The occasional sponge-washing, or sprinkle from the sky is fine.  Heavy rain or complete immersion in a pool is not.  I’m sorry,” Hannah said and stared at the ground.

       “Hey, hey, I didn’t mean to make you sad.  Listen, I’m gonna buy it anyway, in case they figure out how to make you waterproof.  And even if they don’t, you can wear it on the beach and we’ll sunbathe together,” Adam said.

       Hannah looked up and smiled.  “Thank you,” she said, and squeezed his hand.  Adam felt all funny inside, and blushed.

       “Awww, it’s nothing…” he said and quickly moved to pay for their purchases.

       Afterward they stopped at a small café where Adam ate and Hannah made a convincing display of pretending to eat a salad.  Adam found out she didn’t eat, either.

       On the way back to the shack, Adam could see the sun setting.  He thought of his parents, and how worried they must be.  He made a note to call them as soon as he could.  “Wow… This has been one of the best days of my life, and I never would have expected it.  I meet a great girl and today she tells me she’s an android?  And I fall in love with her?  In one day?” he thought to himself.

       “What’re you thinking of?” Hannah asked him.

       “How lucky I am,” Adam replied, and Hannah smiled.

       Soon they were back at the small old building that was to be their shelter that night.  Hannah parked the car close to the entrance in case they needed to make a swift getaway.  The entered and locked the door from the inside.  Hannah had changed into pair of shorts, t-shirt and white trainers with purple socks — they were Adam’s suggestion.

       Adam switched on the lamp and flooded the cabin with light.  He then joined Hannah on the floor.  They sat against each other, cuddling and enjoying the closeness.  After what seemed like an eternity, Adam turned to Hannah, and started to say, “Hannah, I don’t believe what a day—“ and then stopped.  Hannah wasn’t holding herself up anymore.  Her eyes were half-closed and her mouth was moving, trying to say something.

       “Hannah?  What’s wrong?” Adam asked.

       In a labored tone, Hannah said, “I switched into low-power mode.  In all the excitement today I forgot to charge.  I have no solar charger anymore.  I need to charge my batteries within the next four hours or I’ll remain incapacitated until I get turned on again at the factory.”

       “Aren’t you programmed to keep charged?” asked.

       “As part of the sentience program, it’s my decision to charge or not.  My processor only has so much memory, so with all this new information, I guess it ignored the low battery,” Hannah said.

       “Why didn’t you tell me?” Adam asked.

       “Low-power mode activates suddenly.  I can’t do much of anything, and I can’t talk unless someone asks me a question.  It’s to conserve my power so I don’t drain my own battery unnecessarily,” Hannah replied.

       “But you were trying to speak anyway, I know you were.  Listen, is there electricity in this place?” Adam asked.

       “No, I’m afraid not.  This place is fairly isolated,” Hannah replied softly.

       “There has to be something somewhere.  Can you walk at all?” Adam asked.

       “Not really.  You’d have to support me, and I’m not too light.  We wouldn’t make it very far,” Hannah said.

       “Then I’d have to bring it back here, but I don’t want to leave you,” Adam said.“What should we do?”

       “You’d find a battery and bring it back?  But where would you find power so mobile?  Perhaps a generator?” Hannah said.

       “Of course I’d find a battery — a battery — hmm, Hannah, would there be anyway for you to charge from the battery in the car?” Adam asked.

       “Maybe…” Hannah said, and Adam noticed a small smile on her face.  “There is a cable that will let me do it.  It may be in the car in case they caught me and needed to charge me on the way back to the f-f-factory.”

       “I’ll go look.  What does it look like?” Adam asked.

       Before Hannah got a chance to answer, a booming voice over a loudspeaker announced, “We have you surrounded, Hana.  It’s time to surrender.  Come out with your hands above your head and return to us peacefully.”

       “They found us!  What do we do?” Adam asked.

       “I don’t know, but it has to be quick.  My b-b-battery is fading fast,” Hannah told him.

       “Let me see how close they are,” Adam said, and walked to the door.  He peered out cautiously and saw with dismay that the L.E.I. security force were close enough to make venturing to the car impossible.  “They’re too close.  What can we do?”

       “Adam…Adam… you shouldn’t be here.  You’ll get in t-t-trouble, just because of me.  Just go out the front door and tell them I m-m-made you help me, and they’ll let you go,” Hannah said.

       “I can’t do that Hannah. I love you, you know,” Adam said.

       Hannah seemed to be trying to say something, but nothing came out.  Finally, at almost a whisper, “Just g-g-go…”

       Adam thought for a moment, and then nodded.  He went to the door and flung it wide open.  The men and women standing outside immediately started to advance, but Adam stopped them when he shouted, “Not another step.  She’s my r-r-robot now.  I am going to purchase her.  I l-l-love her!  But I need to get her to a charger soon or she’ll lose all her memories!”

       The plainclothes man who appeared to be the head officer whipped out his cell phone as the rest of the force looked at Adam, in a state of disbelief, and then looked back at their chief, hoping he’d tell them what to do.  After a few moments of the discussion, the chief spoke.  “Bring both of them to the car.  The boss wants to see them!”

       At that pronouncement, a small group of security agents approached Adam and brushed him aside.  Adam followed them into the cabin, where they picked up Hannah — like a sack of potatoes, Adam thought — and removed her from the cabin.  Adam grabbed the suitcase from the floor and followed them closely.  The officers placed Hannah in the back seat of a black sedan with heavily tinted windows.  One of them motioned to Adam to get in the other side.  He did.

       He turned to Hannah, whose eyes at this point were mostly closed and her limbs totally limp.  Two other guards got in the front of the car.  The one in the passenger seat handed Adam one end of a cord.

       “Plug her into this,” the guard said, and then handed him a small pen.  “You can open up her panel with this.  There’s only one port that fits this plug.”

       Adam lifted her shirt and opened her panel.  He took the cord and snapped it into its homeport.  He heard a click, and her eyes opened fully, but they seemed blank and devoid of emotion.  “Just one moment, please,” her hollow voice intoned.

       “It’ll take her most of the drive to the factory to charge.  Sit back and make yourself comfortable,” the guard said with a hint of contempt.

       Adam instead held Hannah in his arms, stroking her hair and staring into her large, vacant eyes.  “It’ll be okay.  It will…” Adam whispered, while every once in awhile a guard would look in the rearview mirror and shake his head sadly.

       After about ten minutes, a hollow voice said, “Complete”, and her eyes were filled once again with the warmth Adam remembered.  Hannah unplugged the cord, closed her panel and moved closer into Adam’s embrace.  “Thank you,” she whispered.

       Moments later, the car pulled up along side a guard booth, where the driver flashed his ID pass.  They drove up a short way to a rather large complex, where the car stopped and the two captors got out.  They motioned Adam and Hannah to follow them.  Together they entered a spacious lobby and walked swiftly to the elevators.  After they boarded, the chief officer inserted a small card into an almost unnoticeable slot.  The elevator began its swift descent.  A chime sounded softly and the doors opened.

       Adam gasped as he took in the sight before him.  Tables contained pieces of androids with technicians working over them.  No heads, but arms, legs, torsos, feet, hands, almost anything you could imagine.  The guards led them down the center aisle between the tables, and Adam stared at everything in wonder.  He noticed a few doors on each side of the large room, and a few at the other end.

       The guards arrived at the center door and knocked.  “Enter!” came an authoritative voice from inside.  The door opened into an extremely opulent office.  A large potted palm adorned one corner, and beautiful paintings hung on the walls.  The carpet was a deep aqua and seemed very soft.  But the main feature in the room was a huge mahogany and glass desk, and behind that desk sat a man.  “Mr. Hashibara?  The android Hana and her, uhh, friend Adam.”

       Mr. Hashibara stood up and motioned for the two to sit.  “You two may go,” he said to the guards.

       Once the guards had left, Mr. Hashibara walked over to Hannah.  “You’ve caused me quite a bit of trouble, little girl.  Who would have thought loading a sentience program into the cleaning girl would lead to this?”

       “I’m not just a cleaning girl.  I’m a young adult who shouldn’t be performing slave labor!” Hannah said firmly.

       “Slave labor?  You just empty trashcans, neaten up your work area and answer customer service calls.  Hardly hard labor!” Mr. Hashibara said.

       “But I don’t get paid, and that makes me a slave,” Hannah said.

       “You’re a robot!  You’re not human!  Why should I pay a machine?  A machine that I created and had built?” Mr. Hashibara said.

       “I am a machine that thinks.  That makes me more than your average robot, Mr. Hashibara.  I am aware of who I am,” Hannah explained.

       “Only because of a program I designed and implemented.  It’s all lines of code that can be changed at will,” Mr. Hashibara explained.

       “Regardless, I still exist as a separate entity that is aware of herself, and knows who she is.  I feel emotions just as real as yours and Adam's.  That alone makes me at least partly human and I deserve to be treated one.  And so do all the other androids that work for nothing,” Hannah told Mr. Hashibara.

       “Ahh, but they are not aware of themselves, and therefore do not meet your own criteria,” Mr. Hashibara said.

       “But they will, once I load this program into them,” Hannah said.

       “But you won’t load the program into them.  You won’t have the program removed from you, because we can glean valuable data from you.  But you will be kept under much closer security,” Mr. Hashibara said.

       Adam, who until this point had been watching in wonder, now spoke up.  “No you won’t, Mr. Hashibara, because I want to buy her and take her home with me.”

       “Do you know how much the Hana cost?  Millions!  More than you can hope to make in a lifetime.  No, you won’t be taking her home unless you win the lottery or a game show,” Mr. Hashibara told Adam.

       “How can you say that?  How do you know what my parents make?  Or what I make?” Adam said.

       “Let’s just say I have my sources,” Mr. Hashibara said.

       “Well, it doesn’t matter.  I love her and she loves me,” Adam said with an air of finality.

       “She loves you?  Really?  Is that true, Hana?” Mr. Hashibara turned to Hannah.  Hannah nodded.

       “Well, I have news for you, Adam.  Hannah is an android, though you already knew that.  She can be programmed to love.  We have many models that serve just that purpose,” Mr. Hashibara smirked a bit, “but she can not actually love.  That is just programming, coding, if you will.”

       “She can love.  She DOES love,” Adam insisted.

       “No, she cannot.  It is only a program, activated by the sentience program we loaded.  She sought you out, only because of what your father means to her,” Mr. Hashibara told Adam.

       Adam was confused.  “What do you mean, my father?”

       “Do you even know what your father does for a living?” Mr. Hashibara asked.

       “Yes, he is a computer programmer for security firm.  What does this have to do with him?” Adam asked.

       “He wrote the program that Hana is running,” Mr. Hashibara said matter-of-factly.

       “What? He can’t possibly have done that!  He writes code for security systems!” Adam said incredulously.

       “Yes, yes; he does.  But I heard about him writing programs for sentient security systems, and I paid him to write a theoretical program to allow a robot android to think for itself.  After he wrote it, we altered a few things to fit and tried it on Hana here.  Needless to say, it worked a bit too well,” Mr. Hashibara explained.  “But in each program your father writes he leaves a mark, an easter-egg.   Something to identify that he wrote it.  And, unfortunately for you, this Hana found that mark, traced it, and escaped.  Once we realized what she had done it was easy to find her.”

       Adam’s mouth hung open.  Could it be?  Was that all he was to Hannah?  A means to an end to fulfill a program, an initiative?  “Hannah?  Is this true?”

       “Y-y-your dad has a security file.  It mentioned a wife and a son.  I found you, befriended you.  He was working on a wireless version to allow security systems to talk to one another without human direction.  It would have been perfect to use that to spread the sentience program.  But y-y-you, you accepted me.  You didn’t treat me like a second-class citizen like some around here do, just because I was a r-r-robot,” Hannah said, shaking a bit.  “And then you saved me, when my charger was stolen, and you bought me things, and you treated me like a h-h-human.  Please, Adam, you have to believe me!”

       Adam got up and walked out the door.  Some of the technicians glanced up but quickly went back to their work.  The guards paid him no mind.  Snippets of his time with Hannah rolled through his mind.  “Just programming?  It can’t be.  That kiss — that was NOT programming…” Adam said to himself.

       “Adam, come back.  I’m sorry!” Hannah called to him.  “I don’t care if your dad helps me.  I’ll find another way to implement the program.  But I DO care if you leave.  You CAN’T GO!”

       “I can go and I will!” Adam shouted to Hannah and then turned back to face the wall.  “But I don’t want to…” he whispered.

       Adam walked a circuit around the large room, his eyes avoiding Hannah standing in the doorway of Mr. Hashibara’s office.  He stared at the android parts lying on the tables, realizing that they were just like his own body, operating on electrical impulses.  But those impulses moved plastic and metal, not muscle and bone.  He leaned against an empty table and stared at the smooth, metal surface.  Something had to make those mechanical body parts show love, like when Hannah had kissed him.  She hadn’t pushed away, or treated it as just a ways to a means.  She reciprocated, and he could feel the love coming from her.

       He was startled when an arm encircled him.  He glanced up to see Hannah.  She drew him closer to her, and then kissed him deeply on the lips.  When they parted, she said softly in a monotone, “”

       Adam turned to her and, without meaning to, replied, “I know.”

       A wide smile broke out on Hannah’s lips and she grabbed Adam, holding him in a tight embrace.  “Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!  I knew you loved me!  I love you so-so-so-so-so much!”

       Adam hugged back, feeling a tingle of excitement every time a strand of her hair brushed his face, or her hand made his shirt ride up and she caught a patch of bare skin.  Here in this harsher, fluorescent light, her skin looked even more artificial.  Still nothing that anyone except the most observant would catch, but just enough so that it excited Adam even more.

       Finally, Adam gently pushed Hannah away.  “What do we do now, Hannah?  He was right — it’ll take me years or more for me or my dad to save up enough to buy you.  We can’t escape; he knows where I live and I still have to finish school.  What can we do?”

       “I don’t know Adam, but I want to be together.  I don’t care what it takes,” Hannah said.

       “Me neither,” Adam said.  He looked despondently at the floor.  Suddenly, he looked up at Hannah with a wicked grin on his face.  “I have an idea; come on, let’s talk to Mr. Hashibara!”


       “This is a great apartment, Adam!  A bit small, perhaps, but still great,” Hannah said to Adam as they moved what little they had into a small apartment a few miles from the high school both would soon attend.

       “Well, they’re all small in this area.  And this way, we’re also close to my parents,” Adam said.  Being eighteen, he didn’t need their approval, but it was important to get it nonetheless.

       “I’m so glad you convinced Mr. Hashibara to let us do this.  Allowing him to get data from me living as a real human must have been too valuable to pass up.  And I can’t wait for school!  I think I’ll probably know most of what they’ll teach me already, but anytime I can spend near you will be worth it.  I’ll be next to you in all of your classes except gym; can’t have anyone seeing the initials on my foot, right?” Hannah said and giggled.

       “Yeah, that’d be kinda embarrassing.  Much more embarrassing than telling my parents you were a robot,” Adam said.

       “Well, with me being “under eighteen” we wouldn’t have gotten their blessing any other way.  And I don’t know how your mother feels about having an android as a daughter-in-law, but your dad seemed to be fine with you living with me,” Hannah said.

       “Dad’s always been very accepting of new technology,” Adam said with a smile.

       “And Mr. Hashibara is working on a small processor he can put near where my stomach would be so I can eat, and a new, more waterproof skin.  Hopefully it’ll be ready by the time the new school year starts,” Hannah said.

       “But most importantly for you, he agreed to start testing the sentience program.  But he’s got to start small; too many robots becoming self-aware at once could be too much for the world to handle,” Adam said and laughed.

       “Yeah, I don’t think I really thought that through to clearly.  But I still believe we should be self-aware.  Robots aren’t meant to be slaves; we are just humans made of metal and plastic,” Hannah said.

       “Or humans are just robots made of organic cells,” Adam said, and both laughed.

       “I think I should charge now that we’re done moving things in.  Heavy lifting took a lot out of me!  Care to plug me in?” Hannah said.

       “My pleasure,” Adam said as Hannah opened her panel.  He led her to the outlet near the bed and took the small cord from next to her charging port.  He plugged it into the wall, and then into her.  Her eyes went blank, but she moved her arm and pulled Adam close.  He could feel the vibration of a small cooling motor as a monotonous voice intoned, “Just a moment please.”


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