Robots With Feelings

Entry by: Boiarski

5th March 2015
The Automated Ending

Today, it has my face. It goes up to the form on the hospital bed several times an hour. It offers drink, it offers sustenance, it offers to read a story or sing a song. When it comes time to change the bedding or clean the form, it is programmed to be gentle, to respond to pain and to ease it quickly. When the final stages are detected, it automatically calls all of those on the list of "to be called" and places their faces one at a time on the screen to say goodbye. This is all understood.

It has no desire, it has no fear, it is patient and always present, the form could never have a desire it cannot fulfill. The form will be made comfortable and as time goes on, follow the protocols for existential termination. Today it has my face and speaks to me as when I was young. It is as if my mind is speaking in my voice to the form with the tubes and whirring machines.

"It's alright," it says. "You can let go now. You told yourself long ago that you would not be a burden, remember. This is your pre-arranged conversation with yourself.

"Tonight, when you finally go to sleep, after your choice of music and scenery, after the pre-selected last meal, you will fall into a dream from which you will not awaken. Your last images have been chosen according to your planned preferences.

"But there is no rush. Stay up as long as you like. You may order any dessert or beverage item from your options list, or even sample pre-recorded stimulations from the menu of programs and fantasies. There's still time to augment any and all of your selections."

I hear my music, the comfort of the familiar. My face becomes my mother's face and the simulation reassures me I have made a wise decision. My mother's face morphs into my wife, her face the way I remember her when we met, so lovely the sight of it warmed my heart when she smiled at me. She says, "I'm waiting. We have a party planned." It assumes the shape of her hand and touches my face, reassuringly, just as we had planned.

I feel the drugs kick in, the menu afforded anything I might have desired, but I have simple tastes and never anything to excess. The edge of pain was gone before, but now the top and sides and bottom of the pain have fallen away, and the sound of wings and raindrops echoes in the darkness. A warm, wet breeze wafts in with the scent of onions, of ozone and stargazer lilies. The bed seems made of fur and vibrates with a purr like a cat being petted. The taste of champagne and chanterelles, butter and then the bright evanescence on my tongue bring a smile. I feel so relaxed.

My face is back again, happy to see me, and I am reminding myself of why we did this, and how finally everything makes sense. Then my voice begins to slow and the program releases the dark...