Quo Vadis Essay, Research Paper
(Latin For ?Where Do You Go??)
His arm was tattooed in black ink with the word ?Alpha?. Behind his ears, there were instructions for both shut down and generator functions. These were handy in the Sears Catalog days before The Pollution. The days when playgrounds were full of laughing children were over. By at least two hundred years, they were over. The dry Nevada air whipped his synthetic hair into his eyes. He blinked it out.
Before The Pollution, he was known as Philip. He helped his owners with their housework, and provided comfort to their two small children when they needed it. In short, he was a Domestic Android. He had a purpose. A reason for being. Now, he was just waiting for his piston-hearts to shut down. In a world with no one to serve, a housekeeper was useless.
Y Chromosome B-17. Scientists had divised that it had, before the Pollution, regulated the white blood cells from multiplying too quickly in the early stages of life. It had been mutated to prevent sperm from being able to fertilize eggs after the Pollution, preventing the species form growing. The last of the children, Danny Webber, had been born on 5:13 on March 19, 2987. He had grown up in Boston, followed by the media, hounded by fans, until he had been shot to death by his stalker. Emily Walker of Hoboken, New Jersey was next in line for World?s Youngest. Her tattered Presidential Campaign posters from the election in 3021 were still flecked about the ruined landscape. When the world?s population reached collectively over sixty-five, there are more important things to do than think about taking pride in your community.
The Pollution had been released from an underground shaft dug buy the InGen corporation, a subsidiary of Dow Corning Sony, Ltd. They had been strip mining Zaire in an attempt to replenish the world?s fossil fuel supply and broken through to a pocket of gas of undisclosed origin. When oil had been stuck, the gas found was released through a main breaker fan, and into the ventilation systems of all 500 million United Housing Projects worldwide, a decision by the UN to stop the threat of overcrowding cities by building residences up, not out. It was quick and cheap, and free to all. The earth?s population was infertile within three weeks.
Philip saw the water tower and passed it. He had taken a vow three years ago not to maintain his salt water battery, leading himself to brain death. Not brain death, exactly, more like prolonged sleep. His CPU would shut down, blinking out light to his filters, and his internal generator would shut down, but little else. A machine could not kill itself, and a computer stays alive at all costs. His battery could run for eternity on the minimal levels of salt in the air alone, but there was a built in safety valve, in case the poor soul was dropped in a lake and could not reach dry land, he would shut down and ?die?. If things became truly unbareable, he would step of a pier himself, into the black abyss of the algae farms found in various states, started by the hippies trying to restart the Age of Reptiles or something. Philip looked up from the ground. The cracked pavement ended at a building up ahead. An end to his suffering might be there.
The silver tabs on his boots made hollow clicking noises on the sparsely- green pie crust known as dirt in Nevada as he crossed the ?lawn? to get to the building. It rarely rained there, but when it did, it was best to take cover. He pulled his scalp off, revealing the metallic cap of skull under it. He was overheating. All this thinking could do that. He cursed himself under his breath, as if someone would hear him. A poem was crudely scribbled on a wall. The ink looked like dried blood.
We?ll need a new jungle when the zoo age begins.
We?ll track down television sets and kill them for their skins.
We?ll squeeze the juice from cell phones, and smear it on our faces,
while zebra dawns at dusk drink from a gasoline oasis.
With our necklaces of radio-teeth and bat code face tattoos,
we?ll build a tribal fire of soundbytes cut from Central Network News.
We can sacrifice each logo; all those big, fluorescent words,
up from satellite flowers, keening, rise, the kareoke birds.
We?ll boil and shrink recording heads, and hang them up on sticks,
we?ll start a Jaguar cult and dress up like an XJ6;
turn our CD?s into windchimes, turning slowly in the breeze;
we?ll pursue the vegan cannibal through fiber-optic trees.
Wearing Sony bones through our noses where the sampled monkeys scream.
We?ll wade waist deep into the Astroturf of joystick jungle dreams.
We?ll forget that we had color, we?ll forget that we were white.
And in the Jungle, the quiet Jungle, the lino sleeps tonight.
Philip recognized this as the anthem of the Asian movement. The last to die. The first to riot. They had been the technophiles who sacrificed their television sets to bonfires. Philip moved on to the building up ahead. He sniffed at the dusty air.
The building was splattered with a brick red paint that had been wearing off for at least ten years. The sign nailed above the door read ?PLANNED PARENTHOOD.? This was a laugh. An abortion clinic surviving a world that wanted children so badly, they would kill each other for one.
The light switch didn?t work. Of all the useless electric fans and television sets running for years all over the world, these stinking lights were on the blink. That?s American craftsmanship for you. He was Japanese made. A Toshiba. The American ?droids were all gone now. Toshiba made the best robots. He flipped on his internal light, the beams pouring out of his eye sockets.
A man was slumped in his chair, his head lolling back and forth as his circuits shut down. Couldn?t be human. Humans biodegrade faster than compost heaps. Ahhh. Another Toshiba perhaps? A kindred soul? Philip moved to him, and lifted his shirt sleeve. The tattoo read ?Beta?. Yes. They were brothers. Philip reached in the man?s back and, upon finding his saltwater gland, pulled it out, and jammed it into the pocket of his canvas trechcoat. He might need this tonight for light, if his internal generator got too hot.
One light was still working, Philip noticed as he yanked down on the string next to it. It hovered over a large white cylinder marked in black spraypaint. It read: UNSPOILED. This was certainly a quandary. Thunder cracked outside the boarded up window. It was going to rain tonight, and Philip couldn?t risk being out in another one of those salt-storms that the Pollution had caused. He?d be dead by now if it wasn?t for that one back in 2984. Those asinine scientists decided to put the Ozone back on track before they died, as if anyone would be around to enjoy it. The Pollution clung like lint to it, and, every so often, broke up and rained down on the earth, bruising its already scarred surface.
His nest was made. Wires and cable boxes, computer terminals and keyboards, he could rest up for tomorrow. He looked at the light hanging above the cylinder. It was a beacon, beckoning him towards it and the secrets it held inside its creamy exterior. He ambled over to it and lifted the lid. Whitish smoke wafted into his face. Toxic to humans. A simple nuscance to androids. The gas was a deterrent to thieves and rioters who might want to steal whatever was inside. He plunged his hand into the sub-zero interior, feeling for the switch that would reveal to him what, exactly, was in the post-millennium egg. The nucleus of the egg rose. Thirty small cylinders stood, cooling in the dry desert air. Embryos. At least three hundred unrelated embryos. Fertilized: between 16 June, 1999 and April 18, 2009; before the Pollution. These children could be fertilized and restart the human race. Begin anew, without war, famine, or any racial differences. This could be the true utopia. These children would be untouched by any of the mutations, the impurities of any previous kinds. Philip sat down on a cot. This was a punch in the face. He sniffed again. Thunder cracked and the rain began outside. That was that. He was inside for the night. Smelled like a salt-storm. This was not a good situation. He hoped the roof didn?t leak. That would be unpleasant. Unpleasant indeed.
Before he could even consider the possibilities that were presented in this case, Philip had to run some diagnostic checks on his battery. He unhinged his knee-joints and crouched into a ball, plugging into the nest. His wires were looping off his back and into the wall like cobwebs. His brown canvas trenchcoat wrapped his body into a cocoon of fabric. He closed his eyes, the bright globes turning inward as he did; he had to run a check now, or risk getting leaked on later. His shirt unzipped slowly as the keyboard that served as ribs pushed its way into the world. He re-opened his eyes and began typing.
RUN \:…SALT / BATTERY / DIAGNOSTICS:
…………done……….battery at 9%…….danger level surpassed by 41%………….
He clicked the message off the LCD screen and pushed the keyboard back inside. He stood and turned back to the cylinder and seized the center of the embryos. He yanked upwards as hard as he could, pulling the children out of their safe haven. He was as close to rage as an android domestic could be. He slammed the bundle down next to the head of the fallen Toshiba. He ambled back to the giant white shell and closed it. Instructions on the top explained how to bring the tots to term. Then, it all stopped. The light bulb exploded, showering Philip with sparks. The room was ink-filled now, and Philip had to turn on his auxiliary power to be able to see.
If he had been mortal, he would more than likely be yelling at the ceiling, pretending to be chatting with the Almighty. But he was a synthetic, and violence and irrationality were two things it was not too prone to. Yet he stood, amid the natural and mechanical carnage, arguing with his AI (artificial intelligence) about the future of a world that didn?t care to thank him when it had been alive, and now that it was dead, expected him to be its savior. His piston-hearts thumped his synthetic skin, echoing through the darkened shelter.
He was above the downed the Toshiba, the room fully lit by its salt-water battery. He held the directions he had peeled off the top of the cylinder in front of him, reading it carefully before his decision was made. The embryos could be brought to term in 3 months. 90 days! It took God six days, and a synthetic ninty. In his left hand, he held a Rogea Plasma pistol. His CPU didn?t recognize this as a deadly weapon, so he could kill himself with it if he wanted to. He hadn?t known this until he checked the scalp of the Beta Toshiba. His gears were melted, and there was dried plasma in his ear. It was down to Life for all or death for one. He blinked, not because he had to, but because he was developing his human traits more and more these days. Gingerly, he set the directions on the table. He pressed the gun to his temple and squeezed the trigger. The battery in it popped out, shattering as it hit the floor. He dropped the gun on the floor, knowing what he had to do. Was it possible for a divine presence to manipulate a being it had not created? Philip had been ready to end it all. He had pulled the trigger in accordance with the information he had on firearms in his memory banks, but the gun had malfunctioned, rendering it useless. A divine presence, maybe. A CPU oversight, more likely. He pulled his wires out of the wall. It was all over now. He walked out into the salt water rain, the kind that fell in clumps and bruised the earth. His long slumbering battery yawning awake in his back as he neared the door. This was it. This is what he had chosen. Androids were never blessed with free will, but here it was. He had chosen. It was life for all. The children were in the chamber now, being brought to term. Genes perfect, DNA, impeccable.
Utopia was upon this world. He would teach them the correct ways.
?Quo Vadis?. He had found out where to go.