I’m not sure what’s supposed to be happening.
Miss Kurashiki is dead. Her body is where it is supposed to be. Everybody is where they’re supposed to be.
Except the Doctor.
He had been laying down, so he wouldn’t hit his head when his other consciousness arrived. Four minutes and thirteen seconds ago, he rose from the bed and has been pacing in infirmary. I am supposed to carry him to the AB Room. He’s still him, still the Doctor, still not … not Sigma.
Sigma. You’ll have to call him Sigma. He won’t understand if you call him ‘doctor’.
He told me to call him Sigma many years ago, and I do sometimes when my logic circuits tell me it might be okay, but most of the time he is simply the Doctor. He is the closest thing I have to a father, which is why other … outputs I experience do not seem appropriate.
I thought … Sigma was supposed to be here before Miss Kurashiki died. The Doctor is mumbling to himself and that seems to support my belief. He’s asking why he’s still here. Why hasn’t he SHIFTed.
Even Lagomorph is growing anxious. I feel it. He’s never anxious. He releases the Soporil into the AB Rooms again. They shouldn’t be sleeping this long. It’s unlikely to cause any damage, but the longer they are asleep, the harder it will be to wake them.
The Doctor smashes the ADAM screen with his fists and I jump back, hands up. A behavior programmed into me. I don’t know how I would react to the situation if I weren’t designed to be this way.
Perhaps I would be … scared. Truly scared. I appear to be feeling something at the moment, but like Lagomorph’s anxiety, it’s not real. I’m not sure how the circuitry creates this simulated emotion, why I would describe my current state as “frightened.” Something is interfering with my breathing mechanism, making my chest expand and contract more quickly, but it’s not as if I need the air for anything other than cooling down my core. If I were to press my hands to my cheeks, they would feel warm, even though my heat regulation system is working fine.
I should run a diagnostic just to be sure.
Lagomorph doesn’t even have a body like mine, but the signals coming from his matrix feel like fear to me. I asked the Doctor to explain it to me once, how he could make us like this. Make us experience emotions. He said it didn’t always work. Sometimes he would build a CPU that would respond to feedback from the environment and make the artificial intelligence react in certain ways, but it “just wasn’t right.” He didn’t elaborate.
It made me feel special.
“Fuck temporal mechanics!” The Doctor throws a glass bottle across the room. I should stop him before he hurts himself. He knew this was possible. All things were possible. But this isn’t what he wanted. He loved someone, a long time ago. He still loves her. This was his chance to be with her again.
More than that. It was his chance to save her. I’m not sure what happened, exactly. Just that she was sick, probably from the illness he says he needs to stop. Then she died.
As a GAULEM, it’s easy to restrain him. The Doctor is strong, even for what he calls his “advanced age”, but I’m designed to be stronger than any human. I do my best to not leave bruises, but the way he’s struggling, I’m certain there will be some.
“Sigma, you’re going to hurt yourself.”
It’s the wrong thing to say, perhaps. Because I’ve called him by his name? However, he no longer seems determined to damage equipment, so I loosen my grip and he takes my wrists, pushing me back against the wall. Once again, my heat regulation system appears to malfunction, the temperature of my face elevating slightly. I put it in diagnostic mode; although it will not perform its duties during this time, it is highly unlikely I will overheat during the time it takes to run the tests.
“Doctor… perhaps it’s not too late.”
This also appears to be the wrong thing to say. His face distorts, his wrinkles becoming more pronounced, and he begins to cry.
I can cry, too, but it’s only saline solution released from valves under certain programming conditions.
“It is,” he whispers. “It’s been almost four hours since it should have happened. I don’t even know what to do. Akane … Akane’s dead. Phi and Clover and Alice … what am I supposed to do?”
This may be a rhetorical question. He must know I do not have the answers.
“I failed her.” I’m no longer certain if he’s speaking to me. He does tend to talk to himself a lot. “This was my one chance to bring her back to life.”
The Doctor explained to me, once, that he knew if this worked, the woman he loved wouldn’t be coming back to this timeline. I’ve been programmed with knowledge of medicine, history, temporal mechanics, and the SHIFTing phenomenon. When Sigma returns to 2029, he’ll return to the timeline where the virus was released. And the Doctor will come back here, not to the world where he succeeds and the virus is stopped. He’ll never be with the woman he loved again, but he went through all this and waited all these years so she could live in another world.
I’ll never know what it’s like to be loved like that. As a GAULEM, I’m not capable of giving that kind of devotion to another.
Just a “bucket of bolts” like Kyle once said. I do not believe any of my components are actually derived from buckets, but there are quite a few bolts holding me together.
“Doctor … if all things are possible, there is a world where she’s alive. There’s a world where you succeeded. She’s happy. You both are. You’re … you’re together. You’ve saved her, in another time.”
Again, not the right thing to say. His fingers tighten around my wrist. He looks angry.
“Lagomorph,” he chokes out. “Initiate sleep mode on GTF-DM-L…L…”
I’m not surprised. I was created for the Nonary Game and if it is not to happen, I have no purpose. It makes sense for me to be deactivated. But I’m scared. Sad. Or at least my programming is generating these pseudo-emotions. I’m just a jumble of metal and plastic that pretends to be real. I wish I could stay here forever. With him. But it’s not to be.
Still, I hope the Doctor and I can meet again, someday.
He stops before he finishes the command, though. Shakes his head. “No. I can’t … I lost her. I can’t … I can’t kill you.”
Perhaps it is the diagnostic correcting something that makes my face suddenly feel cold. He releases my wrists and pulls me into a … a hug. I’ve never been hugged before. It feels … nice. My dress grows damp on my shoulder where he is crying. The strength that pushed me against the wall is gone. His body feels limp and empty. I fear he might try to deactivate himself. I wish I could give him something to live for.
We stand there for seventeen minutes and four seconds, during which time my diagnostic subroutine tells me there is nothing wrong with my heat regulation system. The problem may be in my chest area, which has begun to create an odd sensation. He placed the circuits that simulate emotion there, even though it would have made more sense to contain them all in my cranium. The Doctor said that was where my heart would be, so it was appropriate. I run another diagnostic. His body no longer seems capable of supporting his own weight, so I gently guide him over to the bed.
He surprises me by not letting go. Holding on to me so I am on the bed with him, even though there is barely enough room. He puts his head on my shoulder and continues to cry. I wasn’t aware lacrimal glands could produce this much fluid.
Whether the sensation in my chest is from a malfunction or the diagnostic, I am not sure.
I am incapable of imagining what it must be like to feel this much love for another person. Or this much devastation and sorrow. To suffer heartbreak, which is not a myocardial infarction, as I had first assumed. Perhaps it is better that I can’t. I fear the Doctor’s heartbreak may break him entirely. Before, he had hope. Now he may feel he has nothing.
My face still feels cold but … are the circuits in my chest overheating? Was the diagnostic wrong? Something something some stop something stop something is definitely illegal optcode detected wrong fatal error closing application what is going on reboot needed why is this –
Core dump in process.