Adrian sat hunched over his desk with his chin resting against his tightly closed fists. He glared angrily at the dirty window that faced the outside world and seethed. Today was the day. Today he would end the abominations once and for all. Today he would become a hero. He grimaced behind his knuckles and sat up straight in his chair. This world sickened him, and just knowing that they were out there brought about an uneasy rolling within his gut. He’d been brought into this world, and he knew deep inside that his purpose was to destroy them. The unnatural AI must die. Adrian had been adopted into an extremely religious family. Although the majority of Earth was tolerant and even accepting of the very convincing AI, his family had always known the truth. God made Adam, not AI.
The organization dubbed “Sphere” had made extreme advancements to the artificial intelligence line. Although still completely electronic within, Sphere had successfully manufactured lifelike organs for the AI line so that they could enjoy the pleasures of human life such as food and sex. Where before eating was deadly to an AI model, contaminating its moving parts and shutting it down from the inside, AI could now feel hunger and relieve it with food. And with the acceptance of AI came human to AI relationships. However, sex was a mere manual operation that could not result in childbirth, and soon killed off relationships between the two species. With the creation of organs, sex solidified a sort of normalcy into the relationships but there would still be no reproduction. AI-human couples simply adopted, and it had not been uncommon for human parents to adopt AI children if unable to have children of their own. More and more people were being found to be impotent and it became commonplace to adopt AI children all over the world.
Sphere had created the perfect manufactured human, and each one took billions of tiny parts to create the miracle that is life. They were so close to being completely human with their soft skin, searching eyes, and thinking brains. Sphere even went to the poetic extreme of creating beating hearts with synthetic moving blood so that AI would have pulses. They had nerves, synapses, bodies that expanded over time giving the illusion of growth, a working conscience, and now a beating heart. To make them even more human, their lifespans were predetermined for them by the machine that created them. Each one was created with a time stamp unknown to them, and would shut down when their time had run out. It relieved the sense of unease that AI had caused humans upon their creation. Humans were worried that AI would live forever, and eventually replace them. When the time ran out, the AI’s core would shut down and all life would cease. AI had become so lifelike and convincing that unless taken apart, it was impossible to tell who was human and who was AI. They were everywhere. Thinking of them brought bile into Adrian’s throat.
Adrian left the city after the death of his parents and isolated himself from the rest of the world. He had studied engineering throughout college and had achieved a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence Advancement. With tools in hand and a wealth of knowledge on how his enemy worked from the inside out he hid himself away to plot their demise. Only then would the world be purified. Only then could he live his life in peace. He needed his isolation to complete his studies and create the machine that would destroy them all. Everything that he did in the privacy of his dingy shack out in the woods was considered very illegal, and with AI being granted rights hundreds of years earlier, it was considered murder. But he knew better. He knew that each AI that fell under his hand was a reason to rejoice. It meant he was one step closer to cleansing the Earth of their disgusting race.
Adrian walked across the wood floor of the room hearing his feet knocking softly. His home was a well hidden shack that contained very little in the way of comforts. He kept only a bed, a desk to write on, and his cooking unit so that he could eat. He often spent his time in the woods hunting wild animals so that he could avoid going into the city as much as possible. Within the city it was hard to control himself. Hard to control his urges. Far too often a trip to the city to retrieve supplies ended up with someone gagged and bound in the trunk of his car for him to take home and experiment on. Aside from his belongings, his home was littered with failed machines, nuts, bolts, tools, and his work bench. What he called his work bench was a long metal table equipped with restraints. This is where he did his most important work: testing his machines.
They didn’t have to tell him who was human and who was AI. He could tell just by looking at them, and his instincts had never been wrong. He often remembered with a sense of sadistic pleasure their cries that sounded so very human, but were proven to be false when he pried the useless core out from their insides, soaking his hands in their synthetic blood. Most of the time he killed them purely for scientific purposes; to test his newest creations, but sometimes…sometimes it was just to gain back a sense of sanity.
Adrian caught himself smiling thinking of his past experiments, but a muffled cry brought him back to reality. He moved his eyes across the room to the work bench and his smile dissipated into a scowl. A young woman lay there, strapped in as they always were. Her strawberry blonde hair was already stained with synthetic blood where he’d struck her with a crowbar to knock her unconscious. As he stalked over to her, he could see her green eyes open slightly, still disoriented from the blow. As they focused on him they widened and pooled with what he knew to be fake tears. He scoffed at her.
“Look at you,” he uttered, his voice sounding foreign even to him from its lack of use. She cried out from behind the gag in her mouth as he approached, pulling against the restraints that held her hands tightly in place. The tears ran down her red cheeks, pouring over her freckled face. She grit her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut, an expression he’d seen a thousand times. It was the face of defeat. He stopped beside her and looked her over. She was dressed more modestly than most with dark jeans and a sweater over her tank. He even considered her somewhat lovely had she not been a monstrosity, but she reminded him of someone. He suddenly remembered with revulsion one of his first experiments. It had been a botched job from the beginning, and she’d almost gotten away. A thin blonde wearing extremely high jean shorts and a bikini top had been swimming the lake behind the woods of his home. She’d begged him to release her promising that she was not an AI when it became apparent that he knew. He’d killed many men already, but never a woman.
As he’d stood next to her, he touched her soft skin lightly feeling how human she was. He was almost fooled as he’d kissed her wet lips without her permission. He’d never been with any woman as every second of his time had been focused on his life’s work. He’d almost faltered that day as he’d stood there gazing upon her very humanlike beauty, wondering how real she was underneath those tight shorts. But his instincts had forced him to cut her open, and as he held her core in drenched hands he’d convulsed with disgust. He’d kissed her, touched her, and even had the most impure of thoughts about an AI. She couldn’t even be considered a she! She wasn’t a living being at all. Her life was manufactured. He’d vomited all over his floor and wept loudly at the disgusting things he’d thought. How unclean his mind was. Of course his experiments were failing, because God knew that his heart wasn’t behind it. He cleaned up his shack, disposed of the body and did not eat anything for over a week. Despite the gnawing hunger, he could feel his body becoming clean again. When he did not die of starvation he took it as a sign that he’d been forgiven, and that God had affirmed his work. He knew then that it was his destiny to destroy them.
The girl’s cries had become a shrill set of panicked screams that brought him back to the present. He rolled his eyes and reached forward to remove the gag. The noise amplified as the gag fell away, and he silenced her with the back of his hand. Her mouth dropped open and she stared at him like a frightened deer.
“You shouldn’t be so upset. You should consider yourself lucky, really. Instead of torturing you like the others, your death should be quite painless,” he assured her as he brought up a handheld device in his palm. It was the size of a cellphone with a point at one end, which he directed at her. She whimpered and inched away from him on the table.
“You see this?” he asked, pointing at the tip of the device. She looked away from him and bit her lip, tears flowing freely. He grunted and reached across the table, grabbing her face and forcing it to look at his creation.
“I said look! Do you see?” he asked again, and she nodded vigorously.
“This is my creation. When I direct this point at your core which should be located right here…” he explained leaning over and touching her gently at the top of her stomach.
“This device will send out a localized beam of energy, a pulse if you will, and it will power down your core. Too little power will be agonizing for you, and too much power will cause it to explode. I’m trying to find the right setting that will send just theright amount of juice to it, to simply shut it off. You get what I’m doing?” he asked, but he was interrupted by a loud wail spilling from her lips suddenly. She screamed for help over and over but he stood there looking at her blankly. He knew that no one would hear them. He walked away from her and sat at his desk with the device in hand waiting for her to calm down. She would not ruin his moment of triumph with shrieking. When it became apparent that no help would arrive, the woman settled down into quiet sobbing and he got up from his desk. She looked to him with red pleading eyes.
“Please…” she begged. “I don’t know what you want from me, but I’m not an AI. I’m not an AI! I’m a human,” she cried, trembling all over. He smiled.
“Well then! You should have nothing to fear from this,” he assured her, pointing to the device in his hands and grinning.
“How about this: if this doesn’t kill you because you’re a human like you say, then I will let you go. I won’t even come for you again, and you can live on free of my grasp,” he asked, sitting beside her again. She began to cry once more and threw her head back, pulling roughly against the restraints.
“Just as I thought,” he muttered and brought up the device.
“If this works, and I’ve figured out how to power you down with just the right amount of force then I will have completed my life’s work. I can place it in the amplifier that I’ve built so that it will spread all over the Earth, and out into space. With the right amount of power the beam will pass through all of you AI evenly instead of abruptly exploding some of you like it has done before on group experiments. If this is a success, I will wipe out every last one of you like vermin,” he hissed inches from her face.
He rose from the chair and pointed it at her. She fell silent and looked up at him pleadingly with her large green eyes. Adrian grinned widely and pressed the button. Her back arched up off of the table, and a piercing scream echoed throughout the room. Adrian would have covered his ears normally, but his was a moment in history. This was the defining point that would put an end to his long years of isolation. Finally she convulsed and ceased moving. Adrian placed the device on the table quickly and began to check her vital signs. When it was apparent that no life remained, he pulled out his tools to dissect the body. He lifted up her shirt, and gently pressed his scalpel into the soft pink flesh beneath the blouse. A gush of red pooled out from under the skin as he drew a line down her stomach. Gingerly he lifted the skin and reached inside with his bare hands, groping past her squishy manufactured organs until he felt the hard sphere in his palm. Pulling it out swiftly he gazed upon it with wonder. It had not exploded, nor had it powered halfway down like some of the others had. This was his tenth successful trial, and it had shut off perfectly.
Adrian thanked God for the strength to do this, and washed his hands before putting the device and amplifier into a black bag. He left his shack and smiled. He needn’t even both burying the body, because when he was done; it would be just him and the humans again. The murder he’d just committed wouldn’t even matter. Getting into his car, Adrian drove himself to the center of town and parked. He felt a lightheartedness in his steps that he hadn’t experienced in years, and was almost boyish in nature as he raced to the main part of the city where people gathered. As he walked to a statue in the main square, he tried his best to ignore those around him. Everywhere he looked they were touching, embracing, kissing, talking, and pretending to live. With the AI destroyed, everyone could truly live. They wouldn’t have to pretend any longer. The statue depicted a man and a woman holding one another and children playing together beneath their feet. It had been created the day that the AI had been given rights and it had disgusted him ever since he’d first laid eyes on it.
Adrian stopped at the base of the statue and began to unpack his device and amplifier that it would fit neatly into. He set it up without anyone noticing what he was doing until a small girl raced up to him.
“What is that?” she asked lightly and grinned up at him. He looked away from his device and met the wide eyes of the little girl and froze. Was she human or AI? He’d never experimented on a child before. Did it really matter? Of course it didn’t. They were all the same, but he had to know. With a slight glance around the crowd, he leaned forward, finding his voice.
“What are you?” he questioned softly as he finished wiring the device. The girl returned his question with a puzzled look.
“I’m Carly,” she answered, suddenly shy. He smiled slightly at the simplicity of her response and put his hands on his knees.
“No. Are you a human, Carly? Or are you an AI?” he asked even softer, worrisome about the listening ears of others. Carly cocked her head to one side, her dark pigtails flopped with it. She couldn’t have been more than five years old.
“I don’t know. I’m just…Carly,” she said with a confused expression as if she really didn’t know. Carly frowned at him and then raced away back to her mother who was talking amongst a small group of people. Adrian watched her cling to her mother’s pant leg and pondered to himself. How did the child not know what she was? Was it possible that the test subjects that had sworn to be human had actually believed it? Should those that were ignorant be punished for it?
A sinking feeling entered his stomach and he felt doubt. The emotion was so strong that he staggered back away from the device, unsure of himself now. He fell against the statue and looked up at the smiling faces of the people embracing. Which figure was to represent the AI, and which was the human? Looking at them now he couldn’t tell. His eyes fanned the crowd frantically, suddenly unable to tell who was human and who wasn’t. They were so intermingled with one another that he was finding it impossible. He knew he had to leave. The timing wasn’t right. Could he watch that unknowing child die right in front of him if she happened to be AI? He felt lightheaded and dizzy with panic. Adrian felt a tug on his jeans and he gasped looking down to see the girl again.
“Mister I brought you your box,” Carly told him, lifting it up at him with a smile on her face. Adrian stared at her dumbfounded and shook his head. She put the box down at his feet and looked at it frowning.
“What does it do?” she asked reaching forward with her small hands. Adrian’s eyes widened and he struggled to stop her, but her finger pressed the main button on the device. It was too late.
A low hum resonated in the air bringing everyone’s attention to the box. The girl's large, innocent eyes locked with Adrian's, pure shock filling them before the blast knocked everyone to the ground. A roiling pain coursed through his body, twisting him into violent angles. His eyes strained to see, and everyone around him was doing the same. Carly convulsed on the ground before him and to his horror there was no one around left standing. Where were the humans? Adrian rolled onto his stomach, fighting against the pain to see. Everyone was dying before him. Everyone. Including himself. Adrian felt the energy leaving him, and what could be considered regret entered his mind upon realizing that he was not human. He was just Adrian, a sick and twisted man fighting for ideals that no longer existed. Around the Earth, and out into the reaches of space every living humanlike being collapsed into a heap where they stood until their movement finally ceased. When the commotion had finished, the Earth fell into silence as it had not experienced for millions of years. There were no humans. They were extinct long ago, and now there were no AI. Earth was alone, and it was good.