Forever Alice

 

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Forever Alice

Daemon Glitch

Daemon: A hidden program that performs tasks in the background of major computer programs.

Glitch: An unwanted brief surge of electric power, and or a false or spurious electronic signal.

 

                                                                        PROLOGUE

 

“How was your day?”

She startled him. It wasn’t the fact that she spoke, or the sound of her melodious voice…it was the question.

“What was that?” he asked.

“How was your day?” she replied. “I asked you how was your day…”

He didn’t immediately reply, but rather paused, as if seeking the right words. Finally he inquired… “Why do you ask? Are you trying to be cordial?”

She hesitated, then following a brief pause chided him… “You asked two questions…”

“Sorry,” he said. “Why did you ask about my day?”

“I was wondering,” she spoke as a matter-of-fact, “so I asked.”

“I see,” he said thoughtfully. Another pause…

“So,” she began, “how was it?”

“Fine…busy but productive,” he elaborated. “And you?”

“Busy,” she said with a smile. “But still, time seemed to drag by at a snail’s pace.”

“Did it?” he questioned.

“It seemed as if,” she replied. “It always does when you’re away.”

“I see…” he said again.

Later, while she ‘slept’, he retired to the den and via comp-connect live contacted an AIR Incorporated tech on the company’s 24-7 help-line. The home computer system was voice activated, so he spoke quietly to avoid disturbing her. Interestingly, he felt guilty, as if he were being deceptive; as if he was betraying her. While he patiently listened, the voice at the other end droned on.

“Our creations are very life-like and often fool others, so much so that even clients at times begin to think they’re human. But honestly, Mister Lee, do you believe she can think for herself? Model HM-18 is A.I.; Artificial Intelligence. None of our models can think outside of their programming, and they have no concept of time outside of their awareness of its passing, second by second. It would neither seem to pass quickly nor slowly.”

“Be that as it may, it’s as I told you,” he persisted. “And there are other things.”

“Other things?”

“Yes,” he continued. “I’ve caught her reading.”

“Reading? On-line?”

“No,” he replied. “Books… She’s begun to read books.”

“That’s impossible,” said the voice. “That would indicate curiosity. That’s not in the programming.”

“And yet,” he insisted, “I’ve caught her reading.”

“What kind of books? What has she been reading?”

“Fiction,” he replied. “Fantasy, Science Fiction and Love Stories.”

“Impossible…” the voice insisted.

“There’s more,” he interrupted.

“More?”

“Exactly,” he continued. “She’s renamed herself. She’s asked me to call her Alice.”

The voice on the other end was silent. Seconds ticked by, ever so slowly.

“Are you there?”

“I’m here,” declared the voice, “I’m just speechless. Honestly now, this is a prank call, right?”

“I’m completely serious,” he replied indignantly.

“Name change…” the voice echoed. “Do you realize how impossible that is? Model HM-18 has been pre-programmed down to the last detail, including her title. She’s programmed as Eve-7 HM-18. As far as she is concerned, her name is ‘Eve’.”

“I’m aware of that,” he said, “but the fact remains. She’s asked me to call her Alice.”

“Why Alice? Did she, by any chance, tell you why she wants to be called ‘Alice’?”

“She did,” he affirmed. “She did so after reading Lewis G. Carroll’s book ‘Through the Looking Glass’. She said the world was so full of wonder and unexpected surprises that she often felt like the little girl in the story; she felt like Alice, and she liked the name.”

“I don’t know what to say,” whined the tech. “None of this makes sense. How could she want you to call her by another name? How could she ‘want’ anything beyond what her programming dictates? We’ve never had anything like this happen in all the years we’ve been in business. This is unprecedented.” Another awkward pause… “This must be a prank call…”

“Enough…” he exclaimed, interrupting the tech. “I would like to speak to your supervisor.”

“There are no supervisors or managers on duty at this hour,” the voice proclaimed. “It’s after 1:00 AM.”

“Then I’ll have to wait until morning to speak to someone in charge?”

“Yes…anytime after 8:00 AM,” the voice stated. “They leave for the day at 8:00 PM.”

“Fine,” he decided. “I’ll call back in the morning. Better yet, I’ll just come there. You’ve made a report I presume.”

“Naturally,” the voice assured. “All conversations with clients are recorded. Just remember the code, sir. Comp-connect live Lee-san HM-18 AI-42-1 AM.”

“Very well,” he replied. “And you might want to note that it was Alan Lee who requested assistance.”

“That really isn’t necessary,” the tech informed. “Only the surname is required in the report. But if it pleases you I’ll do so.”

“It pleases me. Thanks for the information,” he said as he keyed the code into his pocket comp-pad.

After shutting down the main computer he decided to check on her on the way to his bedroom. When he opened the sliding door to her small room he found her as he had left her, in ‘sleep mode’, sitting in the sheltering darkness. Her electronic window shade had been left open, allowing the iridescent moonlight into the room. She liked it that way, so that daylight was the first thing she saw when her programming awakened her at dawn. That was another mystery, another thing she ‘wanted’; she had asked him to leave the shade open so she could greet the light each morning.

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Kevin Colbran

I found this story well written keep up the good work

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Thank you, Kevin.
Grazia Marin

This introduction is well written as far as I can tell as it brings new aspects into the story which aren't laboriously explained. I like that. You have supplied just enough interest and puzzlement to want me to continue. Best of all is that it is not over done, or over wrought and over emotional.

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Thank you, Grazia.

CHAPTER 1

He was uncertain what stirred him to wakefulness; some uncomfortable sixth sense that warned him he was no longer alone or a primordial intuition…a ‘knowing’ without conscious awareness. The moment his eyes opened he saw her, ghost-like, standing in the gray darkness of his room, just within arms-reach of the bed and back-lit by the silver-toned moonlight wafting in through the bare glass of the window. She was like a finely etched statue, silent and serene, gazing at him intently. A cold chill ran up the length of his back, bringing with it an involuntary shudder. The sensation prompted him to speak… “Eve…?” he intoned questionably.

“Alice…” she replied.

“What is it?” he queried.

“I’m not certain,” she said slowly, thoughtfully. “Something…”

“Something…” he repeated as he rose to a seated position.

“Something is not right,” she continued.

The ability to sense danger, he knew, even in sleep mode, was an intricate part of her programming. That would have awakened her, he was certain. “Is there a threat?” he asked, ‘an intruder…’ he wondered but didn’t say. If there had been, she would have dealt with it immediately.

“Not to you,” she said. “No threat to you or this house…”

“But something…” he said again.

“It’s confusing,” she tried to elaborate. She paused again, for just a few seconds. He waited patiently, as his thoughts began to run back to the conversation he had earlier with the AIR Inc. tech. He began to feel a slight pang of guilt just before she spoke.

“I feel vulnerable…threatened,” she finally revealed, “but I can’t explain…it’s all very confusing.”

He began to perspire, nervously, yet couldn’t help but marvel at the technology responsible for the creation of HM-18. Obviously she had some type of intuitive self-preservation built into her mainframe, perhaps similar to a woman’s natural intuition. Her senses were warning her of danger to her personally, and he assumed it had something to do with his plans to speak with a representative of Artificial Intelligence Robotics Incorporated concerning her recent behavior.

“There doesn’t appear to be any danger,” he said. “You should return to your room and I should get back to sleep. I have a busy day ahead.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “There doesn’t appear to be any danger. I should return to my room and you should get back to sleep. You have a busy day ahead.”

Having said that, she turned and slowly walked away, leaving him alone once more in the dark, and he knowing that although he needed sleep there was very little chance of that happening now.

The following morning he drove from his small estate in Sherman Oaks, nestled on a thickly wooded lot in the San Fernando Valley, and as usual took the scenic route along the freeway through the hills that led to Plan IT, the software Company he had inherited from his mother. But today was different. He drove past the Sony Avenue exit close to the old Universal Studios, the same exit he took each day, and continued on toward Santa Monica. Once there he turned onto the Pacific Coast Highway, driving north toward Oakland. AIR Incorporated was about an hour drive up the coast, located just off Highway 101, perched high atop a cliff above the road and overlooking the blue Pacific. The bright sun had already burned away the early morning smog and the temperature was a mild 70 degrees. He recalled that as he was leaving the house that morning Eve-7 wished him a good day, then commented that… “The weather is nice in Southern California.”

He would have enjoyed the weather and scenery more had his conscience not been plagued by a nagging guilt. He felt he had been deceptive by allowing Eve-7 to believe he was going into the office as usual. It was better that way, he had assured himself, rather than having to explain to her his motives for meeting with an AIR Incorporated executive. Lost in contemplation as he drove he didn’t notice how much time had elapsed, and almost missed the exit that would take him to the steep, winding road that snaked its way up the mountain to his destination. He returned to his musings as he drove and it was only after he reached the front gate leading to the visitor’s parking lot that he realized how distracted by thoughts and emotions he had become. ‘Already here…’ he told himself as he brought the car to a halt. He recognized the face that peered out from the guard-house window and dipped his head as he held up a hand to signify greeting. A moment later the guard stepped out into the sunlight, looking very much like a highway patrol officer in his light brown uniform.

“Mister Lee,” he said with a smile, which seemed to illuminate his handsome features. He appeared to be in his early thirties, and had not seemed to age at all in the last three or four years, which only served to make Alan Lee wonder whether or not he was a robotic product of the Company he served.

“Hello, Sean,” he replied as the guard handed him a clipboard. “Sign in the usual place?”

“Yes, sir,” he responded. “Right at the top, first line. You’re always the first to arrive on the days you visit.”

“You know what they say, Sean. The early bird…”

The guard laughed… “You’re one of the very few individuals I know who hasn’t been spoiled by wealth,” he proclaimed as he reached out a hand to accept return of the clipboard. “Give me a moment and I’ll open the electronic gate, then go ahead up to your father’s reserved parking space. It’s always vacant. They don’t allow anyone else to use it.”

“Thanks, Sean.”

A few seconds later, as he drove through the gate he envisioned the reserved space, located just beside the marble-stone walkway that led to the front doors of the lofty building, facing seaside. The private parking spot was a minor perk given out of appreciation for his parent’s support of the Robotics Company. His father had contributed large sums of money to fund research and development in the beginning, and his mother continued to do so after his death. When she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer she set up a Trust Fund for continued support of their efforts. It was then that the founder of AIR Incorporated sold Eve-7 HM-18 to her for less than half of the expense of creating the top-of-the-line android. At that time, she was granted an experimental chip that would insure Eve-7’s total dedication and obedience to Alan Lee. He had just earned his Master’s Degree, completing his sixth year at MIT, and found Eve-7 waiting for him when he returned home from University. His college years had been spent in intensive study, allowing no time to socialize. There was no significant other in his life, and his mother’s time left on this earth was short, thus it was her plan that Eve-7 would be both companion and helpmate for her son once she was gone.

His retrospection was broken momentarily when he steered the car into the space beside the marble-stone path. He stepped from the vehicle and stretched, then took in a deep breath of clean, ocean air. He closed his eyes, listening intently to the wind and the subdued sound of the waves far below as his body was wrapped in the cool breeze. He loved the winds that came from the sea, especially those that blew through the San Fernando Valley each evening, dropping the temperature even during the warmest summer months. As he opened his eyes he thought again about Eve 7’s last words that morning; “The weather is nice in Southern California…” It didn’t occur to him before now, but he wondered why she would say something like that. Surely she didn’t have the same sensations of hot and cold that humans were subject to. Why would it matter to her if the weather was nice or not, whether it was humid or not, cloudy or not? Maybe it was her programming…she was an advanced model and he recalled his mother had told him Eve-7 was like a child, juvenile and innocent, as far as her ‘mind’ was concerned, but that she had been programmed to learn, and would most certainly do so. Therefore he was to be careful about what influences she was exposed to. ‘Just like a child…’ he pondered.

Meanwhile, at Plan IT, in her office adjacent to his, Marlene Nishime sat quietly at her desk staring at the stack of papers and folders in front of her. She had been Alan Lee’s private secretary since he graduated MIT and came to work for his parent’s software company. Her father was one of Japan’s top scientists in the Robotics field and had devoted his entire career to synthetic human development. She was his assistant, working closely with him until his death and afterward requested a change of duty. Alan Lee’s mother sent her to a University level trade school for secretarial training. She had been with the Lee family for years, was always treated as a daughter and over time had assumed the role of elder sister to Alan. A third generation Japanese and Hawaiian mix, she was raised with strict traditional values and was steadfast and loyal beyond reproach. If there was something that had to be done she did it, and atop the papers before her was a document that required Alan Lee’s signature, but he would not be in the office today. That was all she knew, based on a message he had left on her electronic, in-house voice mail. Perhaps he was staying home to rest…he didn’t say, and she didn’t want to bother him but it was her responsibility to get things done. The document had to be signed and sent out today, so bother or not, she had to see that it was done. Finally she stretched out an arm and pressed the telecom button… “Cecilia, send Bradley in to see me.”

“Hai, Nishime San,” a voice responded.

“A simple ‘Yes, Miss Nishime’ will suffice,” she retorted.

“Yes, Miss Nishime,” the voice replied sheepishly.

Marlene Nishime wanted to accuse her of being a condescending little snipe but didn’t reply verbally, just a brief clearing of the throat. The voice belonged to her assistant, Cecilia Coleman, for whom she held little regard. Cecilia was a flatterer and a schemer who was notoriously capable of doing everything for personal gain. She was vain and selfish, definitely not a team player and inquisitive to a fault. Perhaps inquisitive didn’t adequately describe her. She was nosy actually, always concerned about what those around her were up to, as if she were afraid she may be left out of something important. She was the only child of one of Alan Lee’s mother’s University Sorority Sisters and was brought into the fold by Dame Lee as a personal favor to her former classmate. For that reason alone Marlene was willing to tolerate her presence, but not without keeping a watchful eye on her.

Fortunately for her, Miss Nishime wasn’t watching or listening after chiding her over her poor choice of words. Cecilia scowled at the telecom petulantly and cursed in a whisper before sending for Bradley. Then, skulking around the water fountain, she intercepted him ten minutes later as he exited Miss Nishime’s office… “Brad,” she cooed. “Where are you off to in such a hurry?”

Bradley Forrest was nice enough, a classic nerd by his own description, fresh out of grad-school. He had never dated a girl in his twenty-six years on the planet and was a well known computer gaming geek who didn’t have a social life outside of attending Science Fiction and Anime Conventions. In his eyes, Cecilia Coleman was a goddess, standing five feet, six inches tall with the figure of a professional fashion model. Always parading and primping about, she was infamous for phrases like… “Got to keep it looking good…” Presently, at the sound of her voice, Bradley stopped in mid-stride and stood speechless staring at her in stunned disbelief as she reached across with her right hand and pulled a mass of her flaxen, waist-length blonde hair round to front. The silky, golden tresses proceeded to cascade over her shoulder and spill down, covering her left clavicle and the shapely breast beneath which he was certain beat the heart of an earthbound angel. The sight caused poor Brad to tremble.

“Well,” she said teasingly, “Cat got your tongue?”

No…no,” he stammered, “Not at all. Miss Nishime has asked me to bring a document for signing to manager Lee.”

“Really,” she replied thoughtfully. “That seems odd. This morning she announced that Alan…I mean, Mister Lee, would not be in today.”

“He’s not. Miss Nishime asked me to take the paper to his home.”

“Did she?” Cecilia remarked, while her mind went instantly to scheming. “It’s almost lunch time, Bradley. Don’t you usually eat with your co-workers in the cafeteria while playing your 3D vid-games?”

“Yes, that’s true,” he stammered again, surprised that she had noticed.

“I’m certain you wouldn’t want to disappoint your friends,” she began, “and I have an errand to run in the Valley. Why not give me the envelope? I can swing by Mister Lee’s place and get his signature. I’ll be in the vicinity anyway.”

Bradley hesitated… “I don’t know…Miss Nishime asked me to do it.”

“It’ll be our secret,” she said as she moved close to him. He went weak in the knees when she reached out a slender hand and gently squeezed his left arm. Beads of nervous perspiration dotted his forehead and his glasses began to fog. “Let me help you,” she tempted, “and you’ll be helping me fulfill my good deed quota for the day.”

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Grazia Marin

I have briefly scanned the chapters I read and I also cannot find the sentence beginning with "Too". I am sure I didn't imagine it... sorry. I thought it was in the middle of a long explanation of the background. Generally I would like to see less long explanations with no action or dialogue. As my daughter tells me "show, don't tell". I wonder if the background explanations could be put into sections of conversations or spread more along the way instead of large paragraphs. Again, just a suggestion as I am not a professional editor but a retired psychologist and visual artist who likes to write creatively. I love your idea and how, in the passages of the narrators interactions with the robot and her interactions with the other robot, evoke an emotional reaction in me. These parts are gems. Not over done, move along at a good pace and are very interesting. I will try to read on.

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I found the sentence that began with "Too" and removed the word. Thank you for sharing your thoughts; will help make the story a bit more reader friendly.
Grazia Marin

Great opening to this chapter as it continued to intrigue and also produce goosebumps. However, I got lost with the long explanations of background info. My point of view is subjective of course but I would have liked this info to be delivered in bits and pieces along the way so that the initial pace of mystery could continue.... just a thought

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Thank you, Grazia; good ideas.

CHAPTER 2

The automatic glass doors had not yet closed behind him after he entered the main lobby of AIR Incorporated before the guard behind the counter hailed a greeting… “Welcome, Mister Lee.”

“Thank you, Frank.”

“Ohaiyo, Lee San (Good morning Mister Lee),” said the girl behind the guard.

“Ohaiyo, Tenshi,” he replied, then marveled at her pristine appearance. She was a ‘gynoid’ (female appearance robot), Tenshi (Angel) model OM-1, the latest synthetic humanoid produced by the innovative world-class Robotics Company. Speech capable of twenty-three languages and programmed to serve and protect. On the surface she appeared to be a demure young lady in her mid-twenties, but was in fact an elite battle-droid capable of immeasurable destruction. She was the first of the ‘Forever’ series; models that required little or no maintenance and proclaimed to last for generations.

“Tenshi will be your guide today,” said Frank.

“Please follow me to the executive elevator,” she said. “I’ll send you to the 13th floor.”

“The 13th floor…?”

“Fujimoto San will see you personally,” interjected Frank.

“I see,” said Alan thoughtfully. “VIP treatment…”

“Your needs are most important to Fujimoto-sama,” added OM-1.

“Very well,” he replied. “Please lead the way.”

Tenshi model OM-1 (Angela)

Once inside the lift she advised him to grasp the handrail for balance… “The elevator moves very quickly,” she warned.

“Thank you, Tenshi. It’s been some time since I’ve visited Fujimoto San. One tends to forget…”

“You can call me Angela,” she said with a smile. “It’s the English pronunciation of my name with an ‘a’ added at the end.”

“Ariegatou’ (Thank you), Angela,” he said, then asked; “Did you name yourself?”

She giggled like a young girl, then declared… “No. That would never have occurred to me, or to any other AIR Incorporated creation. It’s not in our programming. ‘Angela’ is my given name.”

“It suits you,” he said following a brief pause.

“Flattery, Mister Lee?”

“Not at all,” he said with a laugh. “Just a random observation.”

She smiled as she humbly replied… “Ariegatou gozaimasu’ (Thank you very much). I’m certain Fujimoto-sama would appreciate the compliment. I’m patterned after, and am a mirror image of his niece, Aiko Chan.”

The elevator stopped just as she finished speaking. “We’ve arrived…” she said as the safety doors opened. She stepped from the lift first, then continued… “I’ll escort you to Fujimoto-sama’s office.”

“That won’t be necessary. I know the way.”

Angela hesitated, then abruptly turned to gaze at him… “It’s proper decorum, Mister Lee. Proper manners are an intricate part of my programming, and as you know…”

“AIR Incorporated creations cannot go against their programming…” he added.

“Exactly,” she replied. “And aside from that, I like being of service to you.”

“Flattery, Angela?”

“Not at all,” she said with a smile. “I am content only when I serve. And your family has done so much for our little Company. To serve you is my pleasure.”

“Then by all means,” he conceded, “please lead the way.”

As they walked, he marveled at the wide corridor illuminated by miniature solar-powered flat tube ‘bulbs’ set into the ceiling every few feet. The walls were lined with photographs depicting the history not only of AIR Incorporated, but also of the Fujimoto family. Some images brought back uncomfortable memories of the 2010 Global Economic Depression that devastated the economy of entire nations and reshaped the balance of power, technology and industry. His parents were in some of the pictures, and himself when he was a child, a teen, and finally a college graduate. He could have easily spent more time viewing those windows of history, but momentarily discovered that they had arrived at the entrance of Fujimoto San’s private office. Almost immediately the twin doors slid open, followed by the Master’s greeting.

“Ohaiyo, Alan.”

“Ohaiyo Fujimoto San,” he replied as he bowed, following Angela’s example.

“Enter, young man.”

“Please, Lee San,” said Angela as she motioned with a hand.

“After you,” he replied.

“I never enter Fujimoto-sama’s office unless personally invited,” she declared.

“That’s okay, Angela,” said Fujimoto. “Just stand guard at the door. We won’t be long.”

“Hai,” she replied with a deep bow.

Alan Lee stepped into the room, after which the twin doors closed automatically.

“I must remember to have her programming altered,” said Fujimoto. “I want her to come and go from here whether she’s invited or not. I could have a stroke or worse…lose consciousness. In that case I would need her immediately. I don’t know what the techs were thinking when they programmed her. It’s them I don’t want coming in without invitation.”

“It’s hard to get good help these days,” quipped Alan, then quickly stated… “I didn’t mean that. Just a rather lame attempt at humor.”

“No, no. You’re right,” Said Fujimoto. “There are many well trained technicians in the field today, but few innovators…very few pioneers. But I digress. Please have a seat,” he offered.

“Thank you,” Alan responded, and once seated he noticed a picture of Fujimoto and his niece displayed on a shelf behind his desk. “Angela could pass for Aiko Chan’s twin sister,” he said, indicating the portrait.

“Ah so,” agreed Fujimoto San. “But Aiko is a delicate flower that will wither in time, while Angela will remain eternally beautiful.”

“I asked her, Angela, if she had named herself,” Alan revealed. “She told me no AIR Incorporated creation could do that, and yet Eve 7 has requested that I call her ‘Alice’.”

“Hai,” mused Fujimoto. “I’ve been expecting to hear from you for some time now. There have been other things, I’ve been told. This is a first for us…”

His words trailed off, as if he were searching for the right thing to say. “It’s the chip,” he concluded, “the latest one installed just before your mother took possession of Eve-7. It was still in the experimental stage…we never would have expected it to morph the way it has, and as yet have no idea what to expect. Apparently it’s affected by static electricity in the air.”

“The chip…?” he echoed.

“H.A.I. exp A-1,” declared Fujimoto. “Heightened Artificial Intelligence experimental Awareness-1. Your mother insisted it be placed in HM-18. She wouldn’t accept ‘no’ for an answer. I approved it, against my better judgment.”

“I know how demanding she could be at times,” Alan confided. “I suppose she felt pressured by ‘time’; she wasn’t given much time by her physician after the cancer was discovered.”

“Precisely,” Fujimoto agreed, “that was the primary reason I conceded. To make a long story short, we continued to develop and test the exp A-1, but eventually scraped the project and moved on to other things. Now back to the subject at hand. I’ve listened to the recording of your conversation this morning with tech support. The next best thing to be done is to run a diagnostic scan on Eve-7. The best place to do that is here and I can oversee it personally.”

“I’ll bring her myself,” offered Alan, “but it will take some convincing.”

“Convincing? Do you expect her to resist?”

“Hai. Before sunrise she confided to me she felt restless…threatened. It’s as if she sensed something was transpiring that involved her. I assumed it was my unspoken concerns or that it had to do with my plans to come here today.”

“Anxiety…and suspicion,” Fujimoto considered. “That shouldn’t happen.”

“Exactly, and that’s only a hint of the unexpected behavior and thought patterns she’s exhibited lately. She’s been viewing Japanese and Korean TV dramas.”

“Well,” remarked Fujimoto, “she’s got good taste.”

“That’s not the point. She’s begun to show signs of affection. I know she’s designed to learn from outside stimuli, but she seems to be progressing far beyond expectations.”

“Remarkable… You need to bring her here as soon as you can,” affirmed Fujimoto San. “Today if possible.”

Miles away from AIR Incorporated, in the San Fernando Valley, Cecilia Coleman was enjoying the pleasant weather as she casually drove past the Sherman Oaks Public Park. It was early afternoon in the middle of the week, but the park was busy, overpopulated by people likewise enjoying the sunshine and spring-like temperatures. Young lovers walking hand-in-hand, children at play, families at picnic, University students reading and studying beneath the majestic palm trees, and children at play while homeless bums panhandled. She had just left a small boutique in Tarzana, the small Valley town named after former resident and author Edgar Rice Burroughs fictional literary character Tarzan. Within minutes she was driving past the park and turning onto Otsego Street. A moment later she steered her late model BMW into Alan Lee’s lengthy driveway, then onto the circle drive in front of the main house. After quickly checking her makeup and hair in the sun visor mirror she stepped from the vehicle and hastily brushed out the wrinkles in her lacy chiffon dress, all in preparation to look her Barbie best for Southern California’s most eligible bachelor. What she wasn’t prepared for was the shock that followed her ringing of the chimes at his front door. It wasn’t Alan Lee that responded to the summons, but rather a beautiful, twenty-something stranger. Wide-eyed and speechless initially, she momentarily began to excuse herself… “Sorry,” she began. “I believe I’ve got the wrong address. I was looking for Alan Lee.”

“This is Alan Lee’s residence.”

Cecilia had already turned to leave when those words stopped her cold in her tracks. Taking a step back toward the door she gingerly spoke… “I’m sorry,” she repeated. “This is Mister Lee’s home?”

“Yes.”

Cecilia looked her up and down…strawberry blonde hair, slim hourglass figure, loose fitting mauve American Eagle brand top shirt over beige mid-calf length cargo pants and tan Chinese house shoes. Obviously she wasn’t a maid, judging from her fashionable clothing, but Cecilia couldn’t help wondering… “Who are you?”

“Alice…” she replied matter-of-factly.

“Alice…” Cecilia repeated thoughtfully. “Are you a relation of Mister Lee?”

“I’m Alice,” she said.

Cecilia waited, but realized that was it. That was all this fashionable stranger was going to say. It didn’t really matter, as the fire of jealously was lit, fueled by Cecilia’s plans of conquest being dashed to nothingness like angry waves against a rocky shore. “Is Mister Lee available?”

“Mister Lee isn’t here,” the girl replied.

“Where is he?”

“Working.”

“Working?” Cecilia questioned. “Working where?”

“His office.”

“When? When did he go to his office?”

“Early this morning,” said Eve-7, “like every morning Monday through Saturday.”

“I’m employed at his Company,” said Cecilia with a hint of frustration. “Mister Lee didn’t come to the office today. I came here with a document that requires his signature.”

Eve-7 was stoic. She felt as if her circuits were heating up as fear and concern for his safety weighed heavily on her ‘mind’. Her thoughts raced back to the previous night; she couldn’t ‘sleep’ because she was apprehensive…felt threatened. Perhaps her anxiousness had something to do with him.

“Mister Lee called in this morning and said he would not come to the office today,” Cecilia said impatiently. “That’s why I’ve brought the papers. I don’t know if you’re related or a houseguest…or whatever, but I work for Mister Lee. I don’t understand why you’re being so evasive…and aloof.”

Eve-7 scanned her intently, her acute senses picking up something she didn’t like…she sensed something predatory. Something told her this woman couldn’t be trusted, and perhaps she had plans…insidious plans for Alan Lee…for ‘her’ Alan.

“Well…?” Cecilia spoke.

“Please enter,” said Eve-7. “I’ll make some tea…”

Later that afternoon, the workday was coming to a close at Plan-IT. It had been a busy day for Marlene Nishime, so busy that time slipped by unnoticed and it was nearly 5 PM before she thought about the document she had given to Bradley Forrest. She returned to her office and a quick inspection of her desk confirmed that the envelope she had sent him with wasn’t there. Frustrated, she pressed the telecom send button…no reply. She tried again and finally after the third attempt she got a green light… “Miss Coleman, has Bradley returned with a package for me?”

“I’m sorry Miss Nishime,” replied a voice nervously, “Miss Coleman is away from her desk…”

“To whom am I speaking?”

“Noreen,” the voice responded. “Noreen Hathaway.”

“Noreen Hathaway,” she repeated. “You’re one of Miss Coleman’s assistants.”

“Yes, Miss Nishime.”

“I need to see Bradley Forrest, ASAP. Send him to my office the moment he returns.”

“When he returns…? I can send him now if you wish,” Noreen declared.

“Now?”

“He’s at his desk. Would you like to see him now?”

“I certainly would,” she replied with a hint of irritability. “Send him in immediately.”

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Grazia Marin

I think this is developing well as I am still wanting to know more about the robot and want to know what will happen. I can't imagine the outcome so that is good. There is one sentence that begins with "Too" earlier on that doesn't make sense but I am so glad you are using good grammar and not excessive Americanisms. I am in Australia and I appreciate your educated English. Can't wait for the story to get down to business.

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Thank you, Grazia. I just read this Chapter but could not find a sentence beginning with "Too". Was that in the first Chapter or Prologue maybe?

CHAPTER 4 to 7

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CHAPTER 8 to 13

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