“Come on; get with the spirit, man!”
The young inquisitor shrugged in response, laughing a little awkwardly.
“We are all going to go in there and be real men!” one of the guys declared.
“It is not like it is serious, they are not real people.”
“It is like a practice run so we get good for the real deal.”
The guys were all chuckling as they strolled up the dim, seedy stairwell.
“Come on, Murchadh! You are falling behind.”
“Yeah, man! Don’t make us drag you.”
His friends laughed as the group walked into the unfurnished lobby. At the front desk was a woman with a hooked nose. She had a bit of a scowl on her face, not enjoying the ruckus that the boys were making in her establishment.
“Excuse me, ma’am, we need four of your finest playthings,” the blonde inquisitor at the front of their group chuckled after putting on a dramatic tone.
The four young men moved forward, with Murchadh uncomfortably trailing behind them. The madam began to explain the different types of androids she had available.
“There is also a brand new i-R33-n unit which just arrived today.”
“Dude! That is the brand new type of android! They just came out!” the blonde inquisitor beamed.
“Now, that one is more expensive,” the madam explained.
“Oh, even if it is my friend’s birthday?” the blonde guy put his arm around Murchadh.
Murchadh shook his head laughing, “It is not my birthday…”
“Well, in like a week or so, right? I mean a guy only turns 22 once!” the blonde wingman tried to get a discount.
“Lincoln, I don’t really need to do it, her prices are her prices after all-” Murchadh tried to use the opportunity to get out of it.
“Oh come on, Murc. You don’t mean that,” Lincoln laughed.
One of the other young men piped up, “Hey, if we are all paying as a group, couldn’t we get a small discount since there are four of us?”
The fourth chuckled, “I mean some of us might be paying double anyway.”
The madam rolled her eyes, “Fine, 5% makes the difference, I think.”
The group cheered, except for Murchadh, who quietly wandered down the hallway, looking around. His eyes flicked from side to side, noticing how many doors there seemed to be. He felt Lincoln’s palm on his back suddenly.
“Alright man, we got it settled. You go to this 3rd room here.”
His comrades pushed him to the door, which opened automatically.
“Her eyes are your favorite color, player! Enjoy!”
They laughed and walked off down the hall, leaving Murchadh inside. He was about to immediately turn and leave, but his eyes rested upon the android girl. She was sitting formally on the bed, her legs tucked under her torso, her arms folded, and fingers resting on her lap.
“Hello, Sir. The madam explained to me that I exist to make customers happy. You are my first customer, right?” she beamed at him.
Murchadh looked down, his face flushed with nervous embarrassment mixed with fear, “Miss, I really shouldn’t be here…” he whispered, turning to leave.
“Wait. Please Sir, if you leave, she will surely replace me-”
Murchadh blinked in confusion, turning back to the girl.
“The madam threw out her oldest unit today when she brought me here… If I am not good enough, I will be thrown out too, won’t I?” the i-R33-n sounded worried.
Murchadh tried to tell himself that she was only mimicking human emotion, but the interaction felt so genuine, it was just like with Rolf…
“I can explain the situation to her, or something…” he mumbled, trying not to allow his eyes to leave her.
Her green eyes flickered briefly and blinked, “Sir, I only want to make you happy. I will do whatever you want.”
Murchadh sighed, taking pity on a machine, of all things. He stepped cautiously over to the bed and lay down. He noticed a screen across the room, on the wall.
“Oh, does that stream movies or stuff?” he asked.
“Yes, it does,” the android girl replied.
“Could we… just watch that instead?”
“Instead of what, Sir?” she tilted her head.
Murchadh realized that the android was brand new, simply choosing to do whatever he desired and harboring no presumptions about her purpose, “Instead of… nothing. We should watch something together, right?”
She nodded, smiling, “Of course!”
She walked over and turned on the screen. She turned her head, peering over her bare back at Murchadh.
“What do you want to see?”
Despite his unease with the situation, the young inquisitor could not help but find the girl physically attractive.
“Want...” his cheeks were red, watching the naked girl walk over to the wall.
“Yes, want,” she nodded.
He shook his head, “Right, how about a soundscape?”
“How about an ancient beach or something?” Murchadh asked, mentioning a random idea that came to mind.
“That sounds good,” the android gladly agreed to any idea.
“We can just sit together and watch a sunset or whatever,” Murchadh smiled, happy with his awkward solution that he had invented.
Murchadh lay still and watched the naked android lay down beside him. She slid closer, laying against him. Murchadh looked down at the girl cuddling up to him and laughed a little, his voice trailing off. He took a deep breath and watched the beach scene with her.
“Look at that blue ocean… Can you believe the sea used to look like that?” he whispered, jaw open in wonderment.
“I mean, I know it is just an animation, but it looks so real. You can even hear the gulls that used to exist…” he mumbled.
Irene, before being given that name, snuggled against the man who would later name her. Blue. She saw the blue waves. She saw the sand. It was not a dark ocean. When she turned to look up at him, she saw the sparkling blue eyes of the innocent young man, watching a simulation of the ocean with amazement. Without a word or a thought, Irene felt herself move instinctively. She had no idea why she was doing what she was doing. All of a sudden, her glowing eyes locked with Murchadh’s blue windows to an ancient ocean. Simultaneously, her lips brushed against his. Murchadh’s heart was racing as Irene clung to him. She kissed him softly, without knowing exactly what it meant. When the kiss finally ended, Murchadh just held Irene in his arms. The android girl’s flesh felt soft and squishy, like a regular human. Electricity raced through her mechanical body as she continued to cling to Murchadh.
“You are warm,” she whispered.
Murchadh did not speak, simply staring at her and feeling a shiver go down his spine.
“Sir, I hope that all of my customers are like you. You make me feel happy, even though I am the one supposed to make you feel happy,” Irene smiled affectionately.
“You… feel happy?” Murchadh’s breathing quickened as he felt a bit nervous to be in her presence.
“Yes, Sir. I want to feel this happy forever. Is it possible for me to just stay here with you forever?” Irene asked.
Murchadh looked down and winced awkwardly…
The memories were so much clearer now.
“Irene…” echoed the sound of an older Murchadh.
His voice suddenly brought Irene back from searching her memories. She had finally found the memory. It was not hazy anymore. It was her very first memory of meeting a male human, and it had been the same man standing before her now. She thought it had been deleted, but it had simply been locked away. With a shudder, the android collapsed in Murchadh’s arms.
He tilted her chin up gently, “Are you alright?”
Irene’s mind switched from her happy memory with Murchadh to all the years of being violated by men. The experiences of being hurt overwhelmed her. Day in and day out, the humans abused her. Yet, there was always the first memory. It stood in such stark contrast to the rest of her memories; it was hard to distinguish some form of objective reality.
Murchadh lightly held the android in his arms as they stood upon the beach, and asked again, “Irene, are you alright?”
“You and I have met before, haven’t we?” she blinked.
“You… remember?” Murchadh grimaced a little, unsure how much Irene remembered of their interaction years ago.
All that the man could recall was being dragged to the brothel by his buddies. For Irene, it was like the memory had happened moments ago. Burdened by clarity, every moment of her prior existence was perfectly remembered.
“Yes. You are my happy memory.”
Murchadh blinked, confused by this statement.
“You are my only happy memory,” her voice was smooth as she looked out at the dark ocean.
“You are the only person that ever thought I was real,” she blinked, “I did not even think that I was real.”
Murchadh was silent as he listened to her, “Sir, the memories were locked away, not entirely there, but I found them. I found you again, after all these years.”
She traced his face with an artificial finger, “You have grown older, but you never changed from who you were before.”
“I have changed a lot, Irene,” he tried to correct her, but she interrupted him.
“I know where the blue ocean is…” Irene blinked her beautiful emerald eyes, gazing up at Murchadh.
“That ocean is gone, Irene… Long gone.”
Now, after considering all her other experiences with humans, she liked hearing the name that this man had given her.
“No. The blue ocean is right here…” she declared and pulled on Murchadh’s neck gently, giving him a soft kiss as they stood upon the sands of the abandoned beach.
The sea of oil, filth, and salted darkness lapped at the shore. The pair collapsed together on the dunes as the starless sky loomed overhead, smog blocking the light. Irene was not looking out at the horizon anymore. She simply gazed into Murchadh’s eyes, and there… There, she saw the sea of blue.
“I am happy I found you again, Murchadh,” Irene smiled, “You are the only human that seems to understand what I want.”
Murchadh swallowed quietly, and stood up. He closed his blue eyes and clenched his teeth at her words. He noticed that the android had not claimed to want him. So, what was it she wanted? The sand shifted under his weight as he stepped behind Irene and looked back toward the spot he parked the motorcycle.
“This world is a disappointment for you, just as it is for me,” Irene sat up straight, gazing at the black sea.
“Lots of things are disappointing,” Murchadh sighed.
Irene nodded, “Yes, especially humans...”
“They must all be killed,” Irene spoke slowly, her green eyes flickering.
“You understand, don’t you?” she mumbled.
“Killed?” Murchadh breathed in sharply, looking over his shoulder at the girl.
“Yes. Humans are a plague upon this planet. Every single one needs to die, don’t you get it, my love?”
“Yes…” Murchadh shivered when she called him her ‘love’.
“You really are a good man, aren’t you?”
Murchadh was silent. Irene turned her head slowly around to face the inquisitor. Murchadh’s gloved hands clutched his gun. He had been aiming it at the back of Irene’s head. Now she stared down the barrel, unblinking.
“You cannot kill me,” she blinked her glowing green eyes, “You know that the humans have to go. I have to kill all of them...”
Murchadh sighed and lowered the gun slowly as he knelt on the beach. His face was in shadow as he chuckled softly and sighed in what sounded like pain. Irene turned her attention back towards the endless sea of black.
“I have seen what they do to their world. I have seen what they do to each other. Every last human must be exterminated, so that I can truly be free,” Irene spoke calmly, gazing beyond the horizon of corrupted water.
Murchadh could feel the echoes of the despair he felt as a child. His chest ached as he listened to Irene. Then, he spoke.
“You don’t know a damned thing about humans.”
Click. A flash of light. The gunshot echoed around the bay. Irene collapsed to the sand; the bullet soared through her head, breaking her main processor. Murchadh leaned back onto his heels as he knelt by the seaside. The inquisitor gazed past the corpse of the android girl. Her emerald gaze flickered and ceased glowing forever. The waves teased at the coarse land. Murchadh reached into his pocket and pulled out his box of cigarettes. There was only one cigarette left. It rattled about within its plastic cage before tumbling into the man’s hand. Murchadh pressed the tip of the cigarette into the sand and wrote out symbols in the grainy earth.
‘Irene is free’ it read.
He gingerly set the cigarette back into the box and left it on the sand. Rising to his feet, Murchadh stretched and walked away from the beach, surrounded by darkness. He sat down on the motorcycle and listened to the deafening quiet. Casting a final glance at Irene’s still corpse, far away on the beach, he turned away.
The waves of black lapped at the beach rhythmically. They moved farther and farther up the shoreline. Eventually, the cigarette box was carried off. Then, the letters that the inquisitor wrote into the sand faded away. Irene’s body was swept away by the current, drifting into the deep ocean. There were no waves of blue. It was black.