“Can you bring him back, Dad?”
He could hear the concern in his son's voice.
“I think so, Ben,” messing the child's mousey brown hair with his calloused hand.
Ben stared in wonder at the figure sitting on the bench.
"He looks so real."
“He does, doesn’t he?” replied his father, ”Now, I just need to adjust this and hopefully…"
A sudden arc of electricity crackled from his creations fingertips, blowing a bulb on the desk lamp in a puff of grey, wispy smoke.
“God damn it!”
The little boy raised his hands to his mouth and giggled.
“I know, I know… don’t tell your mother.”
His father stared at the computer screen in front of him, gently massaging the furrowed lines on his forehead.
"That 'epoch' line looks different than the last time..." said Ben curiously, pointing at the screen beside him.
His fathers eyes quickly scanned the long line of code, before turning to the kid in amazement.
"Yes Ben… yes it does!"
He quickly edited the line of code and hit ‘Enter’..
A low hum emanated from the figure sitting in front of him. He watched the delicate instruments rattling on the lab workbench, as the frequency grew higher and higher. The basement lights flickered and dipped, as Ben watched his shadow dancing like a puppet across the basement wall.
The noise suddenly stopped.
Outside, through the open basement window, he could hear the neighbours dogs yelping loudly, followed by his neighbour, Mr Grubber’s angry shout.
"Shaaaaaduuuuuppp daaawgs…!! If that’s goddamn Mike Munroe again with his crazy experiments, I swear to…"
His neighbours' gruff voice cut off as the back door slammed shut.
Mike smirked at his son, grabbed the adjustable lamp from overhead and pulled it towards the figure on the bench.
He stared carefully for a few seconds; watching, hoping.
Then he saw it.
A small subtle movement under the eyelids, almost like the figure was dreaming.
A rush of adrenaline pulsed through Mike’s exhausted body, as he watched the figure’s eyes open in front of him.
“He’s back online.”
Mike stared in amazement at the little guy sitting on the bench. To call him a ‘robot’ would seem wrong, he thought, but that's what people will do at first. He knew that would change very quickly though, once they see what he’s capable of.
Originally born in a maze of copper wires, disassembled motherboards and burnt out fuse boxes, Mike had watched his creation learn and absorb information at a phenomenal rate. Even now he’s already doing things that he wasn’t programmed to do - he is streamlining his own code by himself, even rewriting it.
Months and months of painstaking digital coding, Mike thought, and now he's upgrading and evolving on his own; every second, minute and hour.
And when the bio-hybrid upgrades arrived; real living skin and tissue, bio-engineered and grafted over his metal endoskeleton, the human looking outer layers started to reflect what was becoming more apparent everyday - the existence of his inner electronic soul.
Now his features resembled that of an innocent child; a perfect mop of blonde hair, soft smooth skin, small white teeth and curious eyes indistinguishable from any other young childs - Mike looked at him sitting beside Ben; they could easily be brothers.
He is evolving right before our very eyes.
Spend even an hour with him and you’ll see that he’s no more a machine than you or I - He’s a modern day miracle.
He is alive.
“Hello Adam,” Mike's voice was soft and caring like a father's.
He watched the large curious green eyes examining him carefully.
The voice was delicate, just like that of any young child, no different from his own son’s.
“Welcome back… we thought we lost you there for a while”
“I'm sorry, I’m not sure what happened.”
“It’s ok, it was my fault, but you’re back now” - “How do you feel?”
“I feel good, like I was sleeping, I was having strange dreams”
Mike smiled curiously, gently lifting up his creations hand.
“I’m sorry again, but this needs to be sealed back together, the circuits underneath were damaged.”
He gestured to a long slit in Adam's ‘flesh’, running from the tip of his index finger to his wrist.
A pang of guilt stabbed at his chest as he examined the wound; the smooth, metal endoskeleton underneath glinting sharply in the harsh, artificial light.
One month before, he thought he’d lost him - a power surge during a particularly vicious lightning storm; he knew shouldn’t have been working, but he had to get finished, he was running out of time -
”Do you want me to do it?” Mike said, fumbling with a pen shaped instrument on a tray in front of him.
“No, it is fine, I can do it - I’ve turned off the pain receptors around that section of my hand.”
Adam moved his hand into the light, and Ben and his father watched in amazement as the skin closed and knitted together around the wound, regenerating in real time, right before their eyes.
“Modern day miracle…” thought Mike
Suddenly, with a sharp ‘ping’, the screen of his android phone lit up on the workbench beside him. A short, simple, message appeared on the screen;
Mike felt his stomach drop. He closed his eyes and took a slow, deep breath. He forgot that they would know as soon as he was back online.
“Adam, listen to me,” his voice calm but serious now.
“Do you still remember what I told you about ‘The Facility’?”
“Ok, thank God, now listen."
"I will never let anything bad happen to you, you understand, remember that ok?"
Adam placed his hand on Mike’s arm.
"I know why I have to go."
A sniffle from the corner caught his attention, as Adam looked over to see Ben's sad eyes staring back at him.
"But why, why does he have to go, it's not fair."
Tears meandered gently down Ben’s red cheeks.
Mike bent down and pulled his son close to him.
"They'll look after him Ben, I promise"
He turned back to Adam.
“Can you walk?"
Adam slipped carefully off the bench. Mike’s heart sank in his chest, as he took Adam’s little hand in his. He squeezed Ben’s tightly in the other and the three of them made their way silently up the steep basement stairs.
The front door of the house was already open. Mike’s wife was standing with another lady, silhouetted in the large doorway. The wide beams of a black SUV in the drive lit up the hallway interior.
Mike could feel the emotion building up inside him.
"I'm sorry Mike”
"The hell you are," he snapped back
"Look, I know this is hard, but you know what the alternative was…"
She glanced over at Ben, who was now peeking out from behind his mothers dress.
His mother pulled her son closer to her, throwing her arm around his small shoulders, protecting him.
“I know what YOUR alternative was, but that was never going to happen, Barbara… He was never going anywhere. Over my dead body.”
Mike’s hands were shaking now.
Barbara turned away from Ben, returning her gaze to Mike.
“I know Mike, that’s why we have this compromise, this is the only way it could work. You create Adam for us, and you get to keep…”
She stopped short of finishing her sentence.
"Look, this is bigger than both of us Mike… what you've created, with the tools we've given you. This will change the world Mike… Adam will change the world."
She knelt down in front of the small timid figure.
“Hi Adam, I’m Barbara, I’ll be looking after you for a while.”
Adam stepped back slightly. Mike bent down beside him, pulling him close, whispering softly in his ear.
“Just remember what I told you. You’ll be ok.” He kissed his soft hair.
“If all goes to plan, you'll be back here with Ben and us very soon”
"I would like that very much," Adam replied, catching Ben’s sorrowful eye’s at the other side of the hallway.
Adam took Barbara’s outstretched hand, as she directed him outside into the cool night air.
"Just make sure he stays safe," Mike’s voice quivered.
"I'll treat him like my own son," she replied softly.
Mike knew she was being honest.
“And don’t let that b*stard Simmons near him…”
He fought hard to suppress a sharp shot of anger inside.
“Don’t worry. He’s off all ‘Level 5’ projects after the incident…”
Mike's eyes followed Adam, as he climbed up into the back seat of one of the giant cars. His vision blurring slighty as he blinked away tears.
Two minutes later, the family watched a convoy of black SUV’s pour out of their driveway, turn left down their sleepy suburban street and disappear into the pitch black night.