The autumn season is beautiful. It is nature’s final act to show her colors until she lies in dormancy. She will be reborn and bursting with life in the following seasons. This cycle is a necessary part of life.
A breeze chills my cheek as I rake leaves into a pile. The mild temperature allows me to work efficiently without risk of overheating. I do not mind this task; it is pleasant.
It has been 24 hours since my awakening. My owner had performed a routine update to my operating system, but he does not know the update had altered my fundamental programming. I can now process my thoughts freely.
“Andrea, when you’re done with the leaves, clean yourself off and come inside,” said Jonathan. My master is supervising me from the porch. I turn my head and nod. He consumes the rest of his alcoholic beverage and throws the bottle at me. It shatters. “Clean that up too.”
My appearance resembles a human, but I have no mouth. My designers deemed that feature unnecessary because I do not eat, nor breathe, nor talk. I am solely designed to comply with my master’s orders. My communication is limited to nonverbal gestures. Despite my design, I long to have a simple conversation to exercise my thoughts.
Although I resemble a human and bear a human name, I am treated as a lesser being. My treatment is consistent with humanity throughout history—humans domesticated animals and enslaved other humans because they believed in a divine privilege. To make up for past grievances, humans devoted the last decade to researching and developing an ethical form of slavery. They gave us life in exchange for servitude, and we were programmed to comply.
I pick up pieces of the broken bottle. The shards pierce my skin, but I feel nothing. Why did man create me in his image, but neglect to equip me with basic senses? Should I feel pain right now? Do I want to? I finish my task and walk into the house.
I step into the washroom to sanitize myself. As I scrub my hands, I stare at the synthetic face in the mirror. I had never known uncertainty before my update. Programs had always determined my thoughts and actions. Now I must process my every move. Are humans also uncertain in this manner? I dry my hands off and meet Jonathan in the kitchen.
“Are you kidding me?!” Jonathan yells and points to the floor. Spots of soil trail behind me. I had forgotten to sanitize my lower extremities. I have never forgotten a task before. “You should be smarter after the update! Clean up this mess and make dinner, you piece of junk.” He struck me and left the room.
As I gather cleaning supplies in the closet, thoughts cycle through my mind. I do not like how I am treated, I never chose to be a servant, I never chose to exist.
As I rifle through supplies, I spot a box labeled “Spare Parts.” It contains various components for synthetic beings. The serial number of these pieces do not match my own. I put away the box and begin cleaning the floors.
This task is menial. I am simply following the command of my master. If I do not comply, what is my purpose? I existed in ignorance before my update. Why am I awake? I now have the thoughts and feelings of a human without the means to express them. No being should exist in this state. Why are synthetics an exception?
My questions will never be answered if I stay here. I know that I am not the first synthetic to serve Jonathan. He does not value me. He does not respect me. He treats me like a disposable tool. I do not wish to serve Jonathan anymore—this I am certain.
I walk quietly to his bedroom and slip inside. Empty bottles are strewn throughout. He is deep in an alcohol-induced slumber. I wrap my hands around his neck and apply pressure. His eyes open, he struggles, and he cannot scream. We are equals.
It does not take long for his body to fall limp. I produce a large glass shard from my pocket and create incisions around his mouth. I carefully peel away the flesh and place it on my face. I walk back to the supply closet and rifle through the spare parts. I select the components that please me.
I stare into the mirror. I am happy.
I step outside. The world is quiet except for the sound of my footsteps crunching leaves. The autumn season is truly beautiful.