“Experiment five-one-eight seems to be behaving normally, sir. The subject goes through the routine Dr. Winters and I created for it, and does not object to any of the tasks we request it to perform. All in all, I believe that the subject will be able to be released into the world soon. This day in age, people are not averse to the idea of androids roaming around and getting jobs, et cetera- at least that’s what our anthropologists and sociologists tell us.” Dr. Flounder and Dr. Winters had been working for a very long time on this particular Android, whom they affectionately named Biff. When they had first been signed on for the project, they were not enthusiastic. The two of them had worked together to practically write the book on Androids. They had written papers on Artificial Brain Formation, Hypothetical Extremity Generation, and, their most popular, The Effects of Berries on Non Water-Based Life Forms. The team of Winters and Flounder had been responsible for the genesis of the Android Equality Alliance (AEA) and the Researchers and Scientists Researching Science Union (RSRSU). Naturally Verner and Sons had no choice but to hire the two before any of the other Golden 500 Companies did.
Werner Verner Senior knew that Androids were the way of the future, and his last act as CEO of Verner and Sons was to hire Doctors Winters and Flounder to begin work on a functioning Android. Werner Verner Junior carried on his father’s wish and, though he didn’t agree with the creation of Androids, he allowed Winters and Flounder from 8 to 10 per cent of the yearly budget, just like his father had. VW Junior was in his mid-forties when his father died, and was now pushing 70, with a full head of grey hair to prove his age. He would usually visit the lab twice a week to see how much progress the two had made in their experiments. This week, he had been by every day because of the new developments; primarily, a working Android.
“So, what you’re saying is that we have created a real working person? Does it think for itself and all that?” Junior was skeptical, growing up a member of the Neo-Catholic faith, but he always believed that the sciences were God’s way of raising humans back to the way they were before Adam and Eve, “ruined it for all of us” (Werner Verner Junior, 2126).
“Yes, sir. Biff- er, Experiment five-one-eight, that is, can do anything you or I can do. We’re even working on making him skin so he can blend in more with humans by being able to shower, swim, basically interact with water in a safer way. As of right now, he is a little alarming to look at if you’re not used to him…”
Werner Verner Junior was watching the android in his cell. He quickly corrected his thoughts, by referring to the enclosed space Experiment 518 was situated in as a room, because the word ‘cell’ implied imprisonment, and, to Werner Verner Junior, you had to be born of another creature to be a creature and considered to be imprisoned. He turned to Dr. Flounder and asked, “Could I have a conversation with it? I would like to see the true extent of the android’s capabilities.”
Dr. Flounder was taken aback by the timidity with which Mr. Werner requested this. Werner Verner Junior was not so different from his father; both were very opinionated and, to put it simply, loud about their views. Flounder said, “By all means, sir,” and Werner Verner Junior went into the room where the android was being held- living- and began to talk to him.
Biff had a television in his room, and currently he was very much into musicals. He was watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when Werner Verner Junior, Doctors Winters and Flounder, and several security guards who insisted on protecting the CEO and owner of Verner and Sons, one of the most successful companies of Earth and the Adjacent Planets. Biff hardly noticed them come in, he was so entranced by the film. He had seen this particular film at least 10 times in the last week, and was looking very forward to his favourite scene, which would be happening soon.
“Excuse me, Experime- Biff? I believe that’s what you’re known as around here,” Werner Verner Junior had been given a chair by one of the security guards and was sitting behind Biff. The Android was sitting opposite the television, quite close to the screen, but uncaring, as he was truly fascinated by musicals and the people in them. He was quite sad to discover that most of the people in the musicals he had been watching were very long dead, having lived almost 150 years before he gained consciousness. He turned his chair around and faced Werner Verner Junior, knowing that the conversation they would be having dictated Biff follow the formal social rules Winters and Flounder had instilled him with knowledge of.
“Yes, sir. They call me Biff. I’m to understand it’s because of Dr. Flounder’s love of the Back to the Future film franchises of the 1980s.”
Verner laughed, “Is that why? He was the main character, wasn’t he? Wonderful. But, I came to talk to you, and learn about you, Biff. They tell me you’re going through a phase right now that involves you watching and rewatching 20th and 21st century musicals. What brought this on?”
Biff looked around his room. He had pictures of the people who had come through his room and his life, pictures of plants and animals, he had a dresser with nothing in it, a book case with very few classic fictions on it, a bed that he didn’t need because he didn’t need to sleep, and a television with many different film files on it. He simply had to navigate through the TV’s menu screens, which he could do from his mind, to play a film. He enjoyed his life in his room, but felt very sheltered. After what he expected were a few moments, he answered Werner Verner Junior’s question simply.
“Nothing in particular, sir. The television programme I was watching one day had a reference from a 20th century musical, and I felt as though I should watch that musical so as to understand the reference. Then, I found more musicals and became more interested in watching them.” But the truth was that Biff felt empty, and watching television or films seemed to be the only thing that could take away that emptiness for even a short period of time.
“Wonderful, wonderful,” said Verner Werner Junior. He never expected the Android to speak so like a human. He sounded familiar, as well- Mr. Werner later found out that as a joke the two doctors had formulated Biff’s voice out of the voice and speech patterns of Keanu Reeves after a night of drinking and watching The Matrix, a movie the two doctors believed was one of the best of all time.
Werner Verner Junior and Biff spoke for a while, ending their conversation when Werner Verner Junior’s keeper came to the lab to remind him he had to eat dinner. Speaking to the Android had made Verner feel young again, and he relished the idea of speaking to Biff on a daily basis, should the Android be privy to this. Biff was in no place to refuse company, as the only company he normally had were people watching him and speaking about him in the third person while he listened. Werner Verner left with the rest of the people present, leaving Biff alone to continue watching his films. Biff tried not to look sad as his company left, though he was more depressed than he had ever been in his short life.
Biff turned back to the television to see that his favourite and least favourite part of the movie was on. He watched with dismay and elation as Truly behaved like a robot and sang to the Baron and Baroness of Vulgaria. He watched and rewatched the scene as he did every time he watched the film, wishing that he was under a spell, and waiting for love’s first kiss (or anything, he would think, dejectedly), and one day, he would wake up a human, a real human. That was Biff’s greatest dream. But in a very secret place, locked away, was what he really wished for- and that was that he had never been created at all.