Fluffy white clouds could be seen lazily floating by through a massive skylight illuminating a laboratory that looked like Dr. Frankenstein’s, if he’d lived at the dawn of the microchip.
Huge banks of computers stood like blinking monoliths along the walls, generating incredible heat and noise as they ran incredibly complex programs. Thick wires coursed along the floor to a central, sterilized glass chamber the size of a station wagon, with primitive robotic arms moving slowly within it. What they worked on was blocked from view by billowing clouds of liquid nitrogen.
Over seeing everything from a computer console was a live-wire of a man, Dr. Malcolm Fain . His face was alight with more than just the green computer screens in front of him. His mind worked fast, as did his slender fingers. It was the computers that were slow. But it didn’t remove the look of excitement on his thin, wrinkled face. All the while, his mane of wild white hair seemed to bounce at every slight movement of his head.
To say that he was in his element would be an understatement.
The noise in the lab grew louder, almost screaming as the computer mainframes ran at their peak. In the glass case, the robotic arms completed their work, folded themselves up and dropped out of sight, into their housings.
Malcolm picked up a phone beside the computer screen. His excitement faded a bit, revealing concern. “We are a go, Natasha.” he said into the receiver. “Do you want me to proceed?”
There was a pause. Malcolm listened and waited, patiently. He had worked hard on everything. This would be his greatest achievement. As much as he wanted to flip the switch, he also knew it wasn’t up to him. It was now up to Natasha. If he learned anything from his unpleasant time in Japan, it was that science must advance, but not at any cost.
Finally, as weak voice came through the receiver. “I’m ready. Proceed.”
An excited smile brightened Malcolm’s face. But, he caught himself. “You sure?” he asked, knowing that if this failed, the results could kill her. It would be yet another face to haunt his days.
“Yes. I trust you.”
A warmth filled Malcolm. His excitement was there, but so was a feeling of faith.
“Thank you Natasha. Prepare yourself.” Malcolm told her with authoritative concern.
Malcolm hung up the phone, typed in the final code on the keyboard and hit ‘enter’.
The computer banks along the wall somehow found a higher gear and roared like jet engines. The glass case in the center of the room glowed blue-ish white, becoming blinding.
Through the skylight, the sky started to darken, losing it’s color, as if drained of power.
A thunderous explosion rocked the lab.
Malcolm was thrown backwards, out of sight.
The gloomy, drained sky snapped off, as if someone flipped a switch.
The lab was thrown into silence, save for the crackle of flames.
Malcolm finally stirred. He felt broken pieces of glass and plastic on his face. He gingerly brushed them off, looking around him. There were more pieces of debris scattered on the floor around him. He looked up at the skylight. The sky was black.
He sat up, looking around at the remains of the lab, lit by small fires burning within the blown computer mainframes. The destruction was over-whelming. The lab, all his hard work, seemingly destroyed.
“Natasha!” he yelled.
He scrambled to his feet, ignoring the cuts and went to the remains of his computer console. The screen was gone, the outside scorched. He picked up the receiver, but there was nothing. He slammed the receiver down, then threw it across the lab. He buried his face in his hands. “Good God, what have I done.” He murmured
He stood like that for what seemed like hours, quietly sobbing. A part of him feared his idea, his brilliance would take him beyond reason. Now, he felt he has gone there, and he may never be able to go back.
As he lowered his hands, he saw a quiet, blue-white glow in the center of the room. The glass case was gone, but a cloud of vapor still lingered.
From the cloud, a female shape rose up.
“Holy shit.” Malcolm whispered.
The female figure heard him and looked in his direction. She stepped out of the mist and walked haltingly towards him. Although she had a slender, feminine shape, she was clearly not an organic being. Her torso and head were translucent, allowing the blue-white light of her power source to shine through slightly. Her limbs and joints were clearly robotic, but so much more advanced than the ones that were operating on her. Metallic polymer musculature could be seen moving beneath her thin, transparent skin. Her face was angelic, with delicate features and long, fibrous hair. Her eyes stood out, but for the wrong reasons. They looked dead, like doll eyes.
She opened her mouth and a flood of noise poured out. Malcolm clamped his hands over his ears. Soon, her lips began to move. The cacophony began to make sense. Random words, from various languages, became clearer, more defined. Finally, she closed her mouth and the lab fell silent.
Malcolm lowered his hands and looked at the marvel before him.
“Dr. Malcolm Fain.” The robot said. “This unit requires input.”
“So you shall have it.” Malcolm replied as he offered his hand.
The robot took his hand, a little too tight at first, but loosening up. He lead her around the ruined computer console, towards a door. Above them, through the skylight, the sky flickered and came to life, like an enormous screen rebooting. Numbers as big as city blocks counted down to full restoration of systems.
The robot stopped and looked up. “The sky?”
“No.” Malcolm said, “A dome, covering this facility. The whole city, in fact, is underground.”
The robot continued to look at the sky as Malcolm lead her out of the lab and down a hallway. The robot’s inner glow lit the way, revealing broken over-head lights.
They came to a door that was sealed. Malcolm tried to open it, but it was unmovable. “Security protocols must have sealed the room. ” He turned to the robot. “Can you open this?”
The robot went to the door, jammed her metallic fingers into the door’s seam and easily pushed them aside.
Malcolm was about to say ‘thank you’ when he noticed the robot was staring into the room.
Amid the dim flames of burning, blown computers was a woman, laying on a table in the center of the room. A cylinder enclosed the woman’s head, with a bundle of hundreds of wires that snaked off into the darkness.
The robot slowly entered the room, with Malcolm observing from the doorway.
The robot reached the table, looking at the feet and legs of the woman. They were bent, misshapen, seemingly lifeless.
“She has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Malcolm said as he entered the room. “She loss the use of her legs almost a year ago.”
“Affirmative.” The robot replied, her voice implying a hint of familiarity with the woman. She moved up the table and lifted the cylinder from the woman’s head.
“Her name is Natasha Oileg. She helped me design and build technology far beyond anything that exists. Namely, you.”
The robot leaned over Natasha, looking at her face. “We share similar features.” the robot said, sounding puzzled, and more human.
“You share more than that.” Malcolm said with some hesitation. “You also share identical synaptic pathways. All that Natasha is, is also yours now.”
Natasha opened her eyes and looked up into the robot’s face. Although pained, she managed to smile at the artificial face that greeted her.
The robot mimicked Natasha’s smile.
Malcolm pushed past the robot and went to Natasha. “Are you ok?”
“Yes.” Natasha replied with some difficulty. “She’s beautiful.”
Malcolm smiled, stroking Natasha’s hair, looking upon her like a daughter. “Not as beautiful as you.”
Natasha lifted her arm up awkwardly, touching Malcolm’s face.
He held her hand, kissing it. “Are you ready for the final step?”
Malcolm nodded and stepped back, allowing the robot to step forward.
Natasha reached for the robot’s hand.
The robot took her hand and held it like Malcolm did.
“Have you chosen a name?” Malcolm asked.
Natasha smiled. “Seraph.”
The robot’s inner power source glowed brighter, as if upon hearing it’s new name had sent a renewed surge of energy through it’s body. It jerked as if jolted with more power. It’s eyes began to shine and sparkle, then closed. The inner glow of the robot went out.
Malcolm stepped forward, worry in his eyes, fearing something had gone wrong.
A small spark ignited within the robot’s chest, near where it’s heart would be. The spark quickly became a line that flowed through the robot’s system, like blood through veins. Soon, it reached every part of the robot’s body, giving her a constant blue-white glow again, but brighter than before.
The robot’s eyes opened. They weren’t dead anymore. They looked vibrant. They seemed to glow with knowledge far beyond that of a mere robot. They seemed to glow with life.
Malcolm looked on in wonder.
The robot, Seraph, looked down upon Natasha, a hint of fear, true human fear.
Tears streamed down Natasha’s cheek. “Hello Seraph. I’m your sister. Natasha.”
The fear in Seraph’s face faded. A genuine smile grew on her face. “Natasha.” Seraph said in a voice that was sweet and soft.
“That man, he is your father.” Natasha said with pride.
Seraph turned towards an overwhelmed Malcolm. “Father.” she said with all the warmth of a living, breathing daughter. She hugged him tight and Malcolm hugged her back. He couldn’t hold back his tears any longer, nor the huge smile on his face.
Outside, a flickering sky completed it’s reboot, as the sun began to rise, signifying a new dawn.
Seraph, in a short time, has become one of my favorite characters. She’s an 21st Century fairy and Dr. Frankenstein’s monster rolled into one. I knew what her origin was, but never thought it out, or set a general time frame, which I’m always reluctant to do. Writing this allowed me to visualize her birth, as well as showing the great technological leap made, thanks to Dr. Fain and Natasha. But it also has heart. It shows that technology isn’t all bad, that there can be hope along side incredible advancements. As for the sky beyond the skylight, well, that’s for another story.
“Tales from the Infinatum”, “Seraph”, “Dr. Malcolm Fain”, “Natasha Oileg” Copyrighted © 2010-2011 Mark James MacKinnon. Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.