Backlight chapter 7

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Chapter 7: It's alive!

After the brownie day, Nigel goes radio silent for about a week. I don’t think much of it, but I do miss spending time with him.

Mostly because when I’m not with him, I’m left ruminating in my own thoughts, which usually painfully remind me of all the unanswered messages and calls from my dad and sister. And of mom.

Fortunately, that ends, when Nigel sends me an excited text.

xxEndOfAnEraxx: BIG NEWS!!!!

xxEndOfAnEraxx: MY ANDROID IS READY!!!

LightEnvelopingDark: !!!

LightEnvelopingDark: Holy shit, dude!! That’s awesome!

LightEnvelopingDark: Did you turn it on yet?

xxEndOfAnEraxx: Not yet. I want you to be there when I do.

Oh my god.

LightEnvelopingDark: Hell yeah, I’ll be there!! When?

xxEndOfAnEraxx: As soon as you can get here.

LightEnvelopingDark: Give me 30 minutes.

I beeline out of my flat and head to Nigel’s. This is a momentous, once-in-a-lifetime occasion, I can’t delay this by a second.

I make it to Nigel’s in record time. When I ring the doorbell, Nigel also answers in record time.

He’s grinning widely and I can tell that he can barely stay in his skin.

Nigel: I cannot tell you how excited I am.

He leads me to his living room, where the android is sitting on the couch. It’s clearly human-shaped, with a head, torso, arms and legs. Its face is just a circuit board with exposed wires and one eye on it, though.

Valo: It’s amazing!

Nigel: Wait ‘til you see it move.

Nigel: Do you want grapes? I got some grapes for the occasion.

Nigel offers me a plate with green grapes. I take a few. Nigel pops a few grapes into his mouth as well.

Nigel: It’s so much easier to find fresh fruit here than in the UK.

Nigel: One of the reasons I left the UK was because I couldn’t find fruit at the stores anymore.

My ears perk up. Nigel has never talked about Britain before.

Nigel: When I was a kid, fresh fruit were easier to find.

Nigel: But it kept getting harder and harder. Until one day, there only was canned pineapple.

Nigel: I mean, I was already planning to go expatting, but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Nigel regards the plate of grapes grimly.

Valo: Why did you choose Finland?

Nigel blinks, like he forgot I was there.

Nigel: Uh, well… There were a few reasons. People here know English well. Good healthcare. Not too far from the UK. And I got a job easily here.

Nigel flips another grape into his mouth.

Nigel: But enough of that! Let’s bring the bot to life!

Nigel sets the plate down on the coffee table and claps his hands.

Nigel: I’ve run extensive tests on the legs, arms and hands, so I should hope it knows how to use them right out off the bat.

Nigel: But. We shall see.

Nigel ushers me to stand in front of the couch while he half-crouches on the couch himself, facing the android.

Nigel: Ready?

I nod. Excitement is bubbling inside my stomach.

Nigel waits until I settle before he circles around the couch and fiddles with the wires before setting a plain metal plate on the android’s face.

A small LED-light on the faceplate lights up. It blinks yellow for a few seconds, before it lights up green.

Nigel grins and stands up in front of the android.

Android: I am awake.

Android: Wifi connections detected.

Android: Bluetooth disabled.

Nigel: Marvelous.

Nigel: Hello… Ah, hell, I guess I should give you a name now.

Android: You can name me later.

Nigel: Okay, then. Good morning. I am Nigel, your creator. You will obey everything I say.

The android’s green light blinks a few times.

Android: Understood, Nigel. Nice to meet you, Nigel.

Nigel grins and wraps an arm around my shoulders.

Nigel: This is Valo. You can obey h- them too.

The android turns its head towards me. The green light blinks a few times again.

Android: Understood.

Nigel: But, you know, my commands take priority. No offence, Valo.

I shrug. Fair enough.

Android: Nice to meet you, Valo.

Nigel: Can you stand up?

The android begins to move, sitting up straight before shakily standing up. It staggers a little before stabilizing.

Android: Standing up.

Nigel: Good job. Can you walk?

Android: Where should I walk?

Nigel: Hah, I like you. To the front door and back should be enough.

The android takes a few hesitating steps. It starts walking slowly with shaky steps.

Nigel: I borrowed an AI from the university. I unfortunately don’t know how to code one, so I had to outsource that.

I nod as the android returns, with much steadier steps.

Nigel: How was it?

Android: Practise is needed.

Nigel: But you didn’t fall once. That’s good.

Android: Thank you, Nigel.

Nigel: We should test your internet connection. What should we make you google…

Valo: What’s the weather for today?

Nigel: That’s a good one.

The android’s light blinked yellow.

Android: Today’s weather forecast for Oulu, Finland. It is 29 degrees Celsius and sunny, with no wind. Highest temperature will be 29,9 degrees Celsius and the lowest temperature will be 27 degrees Celsius. Sunrise today was at 1:22 AM. Sunset today will be 12:23 PM. Length of day is 23 hours, one minute.

Nigel: … Yeah, sounds about right.

Nigel: Wow, now that you put it like that, it sounds… unbelievable.

Nigel: The sun is down for only one hour?

Nigel: How do you live like this?

I shrug.

Valo: I guess I’ve gotten used to it when it’s been like this for my whole life.

Valo: I have nothing else to compare it to.

Nigel rubs his chin.

Nigel: I guess that checks out.

We’re quiet for a moment and regard the android standing in front of us.

Valo: So… What now?

Nigel: Hm?

Valo: What are you going to do with it?

Nigel:

Nigel: Hm.

Nigel: I didn’t think that far.

He waves his hand.

Nigel: I’ll figure it out. Maybe it can learn to cook.

Valo: M-hm.

Valo: Where did you get the AI for it, again?

Nigel: I copied one from the university.

Valo: …Do they know you have it?

Nigel shrugs.

Nigel: Didn’t really ask for permission.

Valo: Is that legal?

Nigel grins.

Nigel: Probably not.

I force a smile. I can’t help but be worried for him. What if he gets caught?

Nigel suddenly speaks up, drawing me from my thoughts.

Nigel: Hey, this is kind of sudden and weird, but… have you… noticed something?

Valo: …? Like what?

Nigel: Like… The air?

Nigel: Does it feel different to you?

Nigel: Like that night after the street fight? And during the ghost hunt?

I stare at him, baffled.

Nigel: Nevermind. Forget I said anything.

Valo: Okay.

I had forgotten about that. It’s been a while and a lot happened between then and now.

Valo: I… I have noticed.

Nigel’s eyes flicker back to me.

Valo: Like, air feels different sometimes. Thicker?

Valo: But it’s still really easy to breathe?

Nigel: Yes. Yes! Exactly!

Nigel: It’s like you’re breathing gel. But not in a bad way.

Valo: Yeah. What IS that?

Nigel: I think… Something is changing.

Nigel: Things are going to change.

His tone is slightly dreamy and faraway. Like he’s talking more to himself than me.

this is also a wip lmao

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