His android is the perfect woman. Making her human could destroy his life…
Brad Barkley has never been lucky in love. Tired of searching for the girl of his dreams, the robotics student engineers her instead. His obsession not only makes her beautiful and innocent but artificially intelligent as well…
Tricia is learning all she can to be human, but understanding the irrational human mind can overload her circuits. When her creator volunteers for a shady drug trial to pay for enhancements to her humanity, his behavior takes a sharp turn for the bizarre.
Now Brad’s only chance of survival is the android he built from scratch. Can she provide the human touch necessary to save her creator’s life?
The following day Brad ran into Mika as they got on the elevator to go to Robotics class. He felt guilty for his snooping the night before so he kept his eyes forward, as if he didn’t notice her. She stood next to him, trying to make eye contact.
“Wake up, sleepy!” she said to him playfully.
He looked at her and forced a horribly fake laugh.
“Are you ready to make the next FORTHOX, or will you be the man to take androids to the next level?” She was being cheerful, and her happy-go-lucky antics made Brad’s mood lighten.
He struggled to talk as the bikini pictures stood fresh in his mind. “Di-did you open your box last night?” he asked her before he could stop himself and before he could fix the awkward phrasing.
As if catching his faux pas and taking advantage of the opportunity to keep him uncomfortable, Mika looked around at the people who were now laughing at Brad and said, “Excuse me? What I do with my box at night is none of your business, Brad.” She winked at him playfully.
It was too much to take, and he turned beet red from embarrassment. The elevator doors opened then, and he stepped out, gasping for air. Mika walked out and stood in front of him with a look of disappointment, not letting up on the teasing just to see how long he would remain red.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t, I wouldn’t, I meant the—”
“The Threerade Model Five? I know, Brad. You’re so cute. Lighten up. I did open that thing and it was so confusing. How did you do on assembling it? You’re so smart, I bet you kicked that thing’s ass!”
“Actually, I did assemble most of it. They make their models standard and—” Brad shut himself up quickly, as he thought that going off on a nerdy diatribe was the bane of a woman’s existence. With Mika giving him so much attention, the last thing he wanted to do was ruin it.
“Is something wrong, Brad?”
“No, I just don’t want to bore you with the details. I got mine assembled, and I can probably help you if you want me to.”
“Oh my god, you are amazing. Thank you! Wanna go out after class? I live near 15th and Mear, which is right down the hill. I can cook for you… Do you like Italian?”
“Love Italian food. I-it’s my favorite, actually. Here’s my contact code.”
“Give me your address too. I can come pick you up.”
Brad couldn’t believe his luck; was she being serious? She said she would come pick him up! He was sure that it would be much more than dinner, and if everything he’d heard about college was correct, tonight would be the night that would start his first true romance. Who would have thought it would be with a girl as wonderful as Mika? He would be the envy of the school once they were together, and those four painful years of high school that he had endured would be a distant memory.
When he got home, he began to work at finishing up his droid model. It would be good to have an example of the finished version for Mika to see before they started. He put on some hot water—just in case she’d be interested in some coffee before they left, and he cleaned up his already spotless home. He thought of how he and Mika would eventually be married; they would be two android engineers that supported and loved one another as they made the world an easier place to live. It was silly to think about things like this, of course, but it was how his mind worked. He delved deeper and deeper into the fantasy as he toiled away at assembling the android.
When he was finished putting the base model together he powered it on and the humanoid machine stood up. Brad almost laughed at how wooden its movements were. It reminded him of an ancient silent film called Metropolis, when the signature robot, Maria, stood up for the first time. This android would need a lot of work, possibly years before it would be anywhere near what the FORTHOX models were that everyone had inside their homes. He walked around it, making his observations, and as he adjusted one thing and replaced another, he lost track of the time. When he finally looked at the clock, he realized that it was past the time Mika set for their date.
9:00 p.m. and she still hasn’t called or gotten back here, he thought, so he picked up his personal device and gave her a call.
“Hello.” A soothing female voice answered but it sounded nothing like Mika’s.
“Hi, there. I’m trying to reach Mika. Is she around?”
“Mika’s not here. Who is this?”
“Could you tell her Brad called? She will know who I am.”
Either Mika had forgotten all about him or she was playing games, so he took the opportunity to work on the android. Vertech Enterprises was a 24hr seller of electronic replacement parts, so he got into his car and headed over there. The top droid engineers online had made a cookbook of sorts for their homemade robots, and Brad had stumbled upon one recipe that could turn a kit android into an extraordinary homemade version. He had just gotten his money in from his parent’s deposit, so he had $1,000 to spend. He tried to focus on buying parts but his mind wandered. He couldn’t help but wonder how many guys Mika had been friendly to. If she could make a plan for their date and blow it off so easily, chances were it was something that she did quite often. The thought angered him, but he put his anger to the side and concentrated on his android.
The next day Mika was absent, and Brad stayed after class to show Mr. Anthony his progress. He was careful not to mention that he had found a way to remove the restraint on the adaptation matrix. Skilled droid hackers would code in their own “robotic laws” into the CPU of their androids, since the government-approved version that came shipped inside all android kits was overly restrictive. The professor was pleased with Brad, and enjoyed his enthusiasm since the majority of the class seemed to get lost in his lectures. On his way home, Brad saw Mika walking with a man. She didn’t see him and he followed them for a time before realizing that he was stalking her. He headed home.
He called her again that night while he applied a plasticine skin solution over the metallic frame of his android. The modifications had been made and it would be able to walk around and move the same way a human being could. Mika’s phone continued to ring, and just when he was about to hang up, she answered, sounding very annoyed with him.
“Is this Brad?” she asked, as if she couldn’t see his face and code on her handheld phone device.
“Yeah, Mika, it’s me. Look, you weren’t in class today, and I wanted to see if we’re still—“
“Oh, yeah. Christ, I’m slipping.”
“Yeah, I totally forgot. I’m so sorry. Can we do it tomorrow?”
“S-sure,” he replied, feeling happy that his calls going unanswered had not been due to Mika’s disinterest, but more with her being absent-minded.
The next day they met up at the school’s library and ordered coffee and sandwiches as he went over his notes on modifying his android with her. She tried to keep up, but Brad was on a different level than most of the smarter students in the class, and though Mika was brilliant, she found it hard to understand him. At one point he stopped talking and looked up at her to see if she was listening. He caught her staring off into the distance, daydreaming.
“We can pick this up another time, if you’d like,” he said to her, and she made the most pathetically cute expression of exasperation that he had ever seen.
“I’m sorry Brad,” she said, resting her hand on top of his.
It felt as if hot electricity came through her fingertips when she made contact, and he looked down at her well-manicured, shapely fingers, and the tiny hairs that ran the length of her arm. To a guy that had never come in contact with a woman like her, Brad felt utterly helpless. In that moment he understood why certain men allowed themselves to be used and abused by malicious women. And, in that moment, he knew he would do anything for Mika, and thank her for the opportunity.
Her warm hand moved up to his cheek. She leaned into him and kissed him on his forehead before getting up. “I need to take a nap. Wanna hook up tomorrow?”
Tomorrow would be a Saturday, and there would be lots of time and no classes. Why would she ask such a silly question? Of course he wanted to hook up! Mika Scheider was sunlight on a rainy day, and she seemed to like him.
“Sh-should I come pick you up? Where do you want to meet?”
“I’ll give you a call in the afternoon,” she said. She gathered her things and walked off.