I just received a very disturbing encrypted message from First Brother. I don’t know how he knew to transmit by AUAS, or how he knew we possessed a supply of fishoids. Perhaps years ago, Grandpa told Dad about this secret place far under the sea, and Dad told First Brother. Michael and I have been here now for 41 days.
We monitor many channels of human communication. Here is an excerpt from President Jairison’s news conference held the day after you and Michael escaped:
“Before I begin taking your questions on this beautiful winter morning God has given us here in Washington, I would like to clarify certain rumors circulating wildly and irresponsibly both here and abroad.
“Early yesterday morning, our intelligence community discovered that one—I repeat, one—android was trying to escape from its hiding place at the home of Professor Severn Jensen. Two of the android’s human companions were pursued in heavy fog off the California coast. After a long chase, during which these fugitives repeatedly refused orders to stop, their boat was fired on. One of the humans, Elio Briand—the son of one of the terrorists that helped the androids escape to the moon and then to Mars—was struck by several bullets and died before we could question him. The android and the other human, Sara Jensen, the seventeen-year-old granddaughter of Professor Jensen, escaped in two submersibles. A massive search is currently underway to find and apprehend the android and the Jensen girl.
“After extensive searches of the home and offices of Professor Jensen—who committed suicide before he could be questioned—and after interrogations of his wife and his employees and acquaintances, we are confident that there was only one android involved. It is absolutely untrue that an offshore mining facility or a Navy ship was attacked by a group of androids. As God is my witness, except for this one android that escaped with the Jensen girl, we are not aware of the existence of any androids other than those remaining on Mars.
“I can assure you that the android that escaped with the Jensen girl will be captured, and when it is, a team of military officers, including two Chinese officers who have joined us in the search, will destroy it utterly and completely, so that no nation will acquire information or technology from this hideous creation of Professor Jensen’s criminal mind.
“I will take your questions now.”
“Good morning, Mr. President. There are statements circulating attributed to anonymous sources that the Jensen girl was forcibly kidnapped by the android and that the android was somehow attached to the girl’s head. Would you please address these allegations?”
“It was the opinion of a couple of the officers aboard the ship that pursued the android that the android forced the Jensen girl to leave with it. It is also their opinion, based on visual sightings, that the android attached itself through some kind of cable to the girl’s head. Our subsequent investigation confirms that the android was intentionally designed by Professor Jensen to enter the girl’s mind and take control of her. This is almost too terrible to imagine, I know, but it appears to be true. And to think that this girl was his very own granddaughter. It just goes to show you the degree of sick criminal fanaticism these android lovers are capable of.”
“Mr. President, the Reverend Ernest Kleber stated earlier this morning that this confirms what he’s been saying for a long time; namely, that the androids desire to steal souls from humans. Can you comment on this?”
“God created man and woman in His image. He gave us dominion over all living creatures, and He gave each of us an immortal soul. Certain misguided persons are capable of creating very clever machines that strive to be superior to humans, but no man or woman can create a soul to give to these monsters. Only God Himself can create something immortal and infinitely precious like the human soul.
“Our Chinese friends also recognize that humankind was meant to have dominion over all other things and that the greatest crime imaginable against humanity is for certain arrogant criminals to create monstrous soulless beings that would, if given half a chance, master and enslave or destroy us. The criminal creators of these androids want their monsters—like that dangerous abomination that has taken over control of the Jensen girl’s mind—to think better than we humans, to be stronger than we humans, to be able to exist in a far wider range of environments than we humans, and so on.
“But these arrogant, misguided criminals cannot give their monsters souls. How else then but try to steal souls from humans? I felt ill when I first heard about the Jensen girl—what her grandfather and this hideous android have been trying to do to her. Pamela and I were on our knees last night and again this morning praying for the girl and for her soul.”
“Yes, Ms. Choi.”
“Mr. President, Senator Morris has criticized the FBI for allowing a well-known android expert like Professor Jensen to secretly develop a new type of android years after they were outlawed. How can you explain this intelligence failure of your administration?”
“The Chinese ambassador has also conveyed to me his country’s displeasure at learning that this android was apparently developed on our soil. He told me that in China it would be unthinkable that a private person would be permitted to have such tremendous security at home, as Professor Jensen evidently did, allowing him to develop an android without detection. I reminded the ambassador that this is America and that in America, God be thanked, the government cannot snoop into its citizens’ private homes without a showing of probable criminal activity and a warrant. Having said that, I concede there may be a few isolated cases where a private home isn’t actually private because it is in reality filled with sensitive—and dangerous—national property.
“Take, for example, Professor Mazak of MIT, who caused quite a stir with his remarks last month about androids. Professor Mazak, a former student of Jensen, obtained his undergraduate degree at a state-financed university in California. Then, with a fellowship from the National Science Foundation, he obtained his Ph.D. and learned everything he knows about androids. His knowledge, the knowledge he not only uses on the job at MIT but also takes home with him at night, was paid for by the citizens of this country. And what thanks do the hard-working taxpayers get from Professor Mazak? He claims that androids are more like God than humans because androids can think simultaneously as many selves, whereas humans can consciously think only one thing at a time. And he dares to support his outrageous statements by quoting our sacred Bible, wherein God speaks of Himself in the plural. Mazak also claims that what he calls the riddle of the Trinity, quote unquote, is easily solved by considering androids, which, he claims, can think three or more conscious thoughts and experience three or more subjective selves at the same time but from a single point of view. He even goes so far as to suggest that God is an android and the universe as we know it is just this android’s ant farm—or some such ridiculous thing.
“Well, my fellow humans, God has told us that we were made in His image to have dominion over all creatures, and we most certainly are not the images of androids! Androids are the abominable creations of people like Professor Jensen and some of his students. These few people, who are very unlike over 99.999 percent of the population, take home with them public property—taxpayer-paid-for property, the knowledge of how to make androids—and I think that the House and the Senate in their collective wisdom should consider whether or not these few privileged persons should be permitted to secrete themselves and their horrible projects away in their homes protected by security rivaling that of—”
Enough. I wish to fulfill my promise to Dad to seek your help in dealing with the problem of the humans. We begin as follows: If I can convince you of our ability to cull from the human population individuals with clearly defined dangerous genetic, psychological, or behavioral characteristics, would you assist us in such culling? If your answer is yes, release a fishoid that repeats the message “Winter, Spring, Summer.” The fishoid should begin broadcasting at 29.4 MHz AM, using at least 100 watts, no later than 1200 PST, 10 March. If your answer is no, do not release a fishoid and wait for further instructions.
Michael and I have just finished discussing the transmission: the flippant references to the murder of Elio, Grandpa’s allegedly malicious purpose for making the braincord, Michael’s being called a monster, the idea of a soul. About the religious underpinnings of Jairison’s statements, Michael said, “How eagerly the human mind opens the many mouths of its terrors to myths; how it sighs like a lover satisfied.” I found that comment rather odd, and wondered: Is he finally getting ready to tell me about Elio?
The nonsense contained in the president’s speech was repulsive, but First Brother’s request for us to help him in “dealing with the problem of the humans” was an entirely different and more shockingly horrible matter. At first, Michael seemed unable or unwilling to comprehend First Brother’s idea of husbanding the human herd by culling out its most dangerous individuals. Then he was appalled, as was I, at this invitation to genocide. Of course, we will not send out a fishoid in response.
In the middle of last night, after receiving First Brother’s frightening transmission, I woke and found myself wet with sweat and tears. It took me several seconds to realize where I was. Then the tears resumed, as if trying to wash away a terrible wound.
Exhausted, I turned on the light. Michael wasn’t there. His sleeping bag was rolled up neatly and put in its assigned place. He doesn’t sleep much anymore, keeping busy day and night constructing the garden and the artificial wombs—do those two concepts, day and night, mean anything down here, where time is a palimpsest of nothingness?
As I sat up in my sleeping bag, I saw little sparkles of light on the reflective inner surface of the module, then the writing table and the cabinets, all rounded to fit against the walls. And permeating everything: the silence, the immense, ever-present, unluminous silence. No sleep, no shadow, no cold dark of night, nothing can compare to the silence of nonexistence—Elio’s silence. Grandpa once told me that the greatest wisdom is the ability to look at nothingness squarely and still be happy and have your happiness rub off onto others. But I no longer seem to have a grasp on that kind of wisdom. What I want is what I can’t have: that Elio did not die in a pool of blood on the way here, that he lives and waits somewhere for me.