Fiction: Jonathan (Part 2)

(Missed part 1, read it here)

by Daniel Lively

In a technical sense, since I don’t sleep, I can’t wake up.

From time to time, I am required to plug myself into the ship’s computer system and spend several hours in hibernation. During this period of inactivity, processes and sub-processes work throughout all of my major software systems, cleaning up any fragmented information they find and generally making sure I continue running at peak efficiency.

My batteries once again recharged and my neural net free of proverbial dust-bunnies, I am reactivated and brought back to full functionality.

It is necessary, however, to keep several of my essential systems activated during these periods simply to retain a consistent chronology. My internal clock along with a simple peripheral awareness in case of emergencies are enough to get me by day-to-day, so not entirely unlike a human, I am always in some small way “alive.”

That all being said, it is a terrible mouthful to say that every day my autonomous and subjective systems are restored to their full capacity, so I will, for the sake of an organic narrative, employ human parlance:

I woke up.

Full awareness came back as it always does: quickly and without fanfare.

I stood from the largely unnecessary chair I sat in during my recharging sessions and walked from the computer room through to the control room, covering the entire space of my tiny ship in seven long strides. Not subject to the normal aches and pains of a human’s normal morning routine, I rarely wasted time with any sort of ritual beyond the standard system checks.

My three glass eyes clicked open and shut once, and I could see their green lights reflected in the control panel of the ship’s main console.

“Computer,” I inquired aloud.

“Good morning, Captain Jonathan,” the brisk female voice returned. It was designed to sound human, but its pronunciation was off by just enough to mark it as a synthetic voice, not unlike my own computerized expression.

“System check,” I said.

“All systems are operating within specified parametric boundaries. Faster-than-light drivers experienced a 0.02 per-cent decrease in efficiency for a period of three hours during your recharge cycle.”

My eyes clicked. “Reason?” I asked.

“Undetermined. Proximity to a large stellar body would likely cause such a loss in drive power, but none are marked within effective range.”

“We’re not within the Milky Way anymore. What are the odds we’d encounter a stellar body this far out?” I asked, tenting my metal fingers under my chin.

“Exact odds are unknown,” the Computer chirped back. “Astronomical.”

I smiled inwardly (I didn’t have a mouth, so inward was the only way I could smile, in point of fact), but I was pretty sure the pun was unintentional on the Computer’s part.

“Would you like to divert course and investigate?” it asked me.

I thought for a moment, my eyes blinking quickly in the way they did when I was processing new information. I had been going the same direction for a long time without any diversions, but for some reason the prospect of exploring something unknown didn’t appeal to me as much as it should have. I frowned (again, inwardly).

My mind wandered briefly back to the dream I had been having before I woke up. Dreaming was itself a self-induced state for me. As my memory was literally photographic, I had none of the problems that usually plagued humans when I saw them try to recall their dreams.

Every detail of my rooftop conversation with Dr. Kimberly Hsu was remembered clearly and perfectly, and the conversation itself had been a recording of a real event that had occurred thousands of years before I sat on the bridge of my tiny craft contemplating a woman who had been dead for millennia.

“No,” I said, shaking my head needlessly. “Continue on course. Are there any other discrepancies in ship’s functionality?”

“No, Captain Jonathan.”

“Good. Alert me if there is anything you think I should know. I’m going to check out for a while,” I said.

“Yes, Captain Jonathan,” the Computer said, and I leaned back in my still-useless chair and shut off my eyes.

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