Forever Friends

What if you could meet your best friend, soulmate and lifetime partner in a single person by the time you're one years old? It may seem like an impossible dream, but with the creation of Forever Friends, it's finally become a reality. These perfectly realistic androids are so human, that it's impossible to differentiate them from normal humans. The best part is that because these Forever Friends are linked to you in infancy, they will learn and grow with you every step of the way and become your perfect friend with the same hobbies, interests and desires. Add the fact that the government gives equal rights to every citizen, your life will be perfectly happy and free from selfish desires. Designed by two young girls with a dream of peaceful lives for all and an end to all world conflicts, Project Harmony was instated universally. However, is this the future Tessa and Lena wanted or will they find that they've only encouraged blissful ignorance and enslavement by our darkest desires?

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2. Simon

Simon opens his eyes to see the familiar white of the laboratory walls and hears the gentle tapping of Tessa’s keyboard. He sits up slowly and turns his head to the right, to be greeted by her kind chestnut eyes and warm smile. Even a year later, seeing her is comforting.

“Good morning Simon, did you sleep well? You seemed very peaceful before.” Her voice is sweet and gentle, like that which a mother might nurture her child with. Simon likes it.

He moves his legs to the side, so that they dangle from the table, as he sits upright. “Good morning to you too, Tessa. I slept very well. I dreamt of my birth and meeting you and master.”

“Wow, that’s wonderful Simon. I’m glad you can dream now.” Tessa approaches Simon and gently presses on the back of his head, and there is a beep, confirming recognition of her fingerprints. This is a security measure she implemented such that only she and Lena, may enter Simon’s brain center. Simon stays perfectly still, allowing his master to do her morning checkup as always. She talks as she works, not missing a beat. “We slept well too actually. Though, I will say Lena was a bit nervous about today. In a few hours, we officially reveal our Project Harmony proposal to the President of this nation. You may not understand yet Simon, but he is a very important official for our country and is the only one who can help us implement it.”

“What is Project Harmony Tessa? I have heard you and Master discussing it several times, but I’m afraid I don’t understand what it means. Is it a kind of peace measure?”

“You’re on the right track Simon, but it’s a bit more complex than that. Our country has already undergone a major change over the last several centuries. A long time ago, before you or I were even born, the world was in chaos. There was war and violence over even the most miniscule things and humans were slowly, but surely destroying ourselves and our planet.”

“War is the act of aggression and murder between two or more groups over differing ideals. If humans still exist and the world remains, then does that mean those ideals merged?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say the ideals merged, but rather were eliminated altogether. It became clear to the world leaders of that time that humans would never be able to truly live happy, selfless lives or learn to respect one another as long as so many variables divided us. So, they came together to develop the Treaty of Equality. This was a universal law that set a single standard of living in every aspect of life. In other words, everyone would have access to the same standards of healthcare, the same safety protections, the same rate of pay regardless of their career, the same opportunities regardless of age, gender or race and the same consequences if they were to break any aspect of this law. It ultimately aimed to equalize the livelihood of every human, while allowing us to retain our individuality and free will. It took many centuries, but by the turn of the new millennium, the treaty found its foundation and has remained deeply rooted since. We no longer have to be envious of what our neighbor has anymore, because we can have it too if we so desire. It’s a system that is nearly perfect, but Lena and I intend to push it over the edge and make it perfect with Project Harmony. I explain more on that later though, ok Simon?”

“Yes, of course Tessa.” Simon feels her close his brain center and immediately begin to give him a physical. As she feels around his body, testing out his joints and mobility as well as his mechanized organs, he decides to ask a question. “Tessa, if I may ask, is the world a better place now? If everyone has the same things and the same opportunities and there is nothing left to be envious over, does everyone get along? Does everyone love one another now?”

Tessa loses her smile momentarily and Simon fears he’s said something wrong. However, she places her hand gently on his shoulder before he can feel guilt and smiles proudly. “That, Simon, is the very question we are trying to find the answer to, with Project Harmony.”

Simon looks confused. “I’m sorry Tessa, but I did not comprehend your statement as an answer to my question. I know I must wait for the explanation on Project Harmony, but I still wish to know if the world is a better place as it is at this moment. After the Treaty of Equality.”

Tessa laughs. “You saw through that one, didn’t you Simon?” She sees that Simon is still confused by her phrasing and so she elaborates. “Well, the truth is, I really didn’t want to answer that question Simon. I don’t want you to have a poor image of humans or the world, for even the smallest of blemishes. However, I respect you too much to lie to you, so I will at least say this. The world is so much better now in 3021 than it was in 2021. All nations get along and respect each other’s laws and culture. Students like Lena and I were until just a few months ago, no longer have to stress over how to pay for their education or worry about paying back loans, as education is free for all. Quality of life has increased exponentially now that healthcare is universally free. Even having children is no longer an issue, as the government funds the scientific conception and adoption of healthy babies at random, to those who don’t wish to or can’t conceive on their own. Adoption for orphaned and disabled children is funded as well.”

“The Treaty of Equality certainly solved the world’s biggest issues and made it a much better place. However, it can do nothing about what’s in the human heart and mind. Humans are imperfect creatures by creation and so there are still innate emotions that influence their behavior and make them act in mean or selfish ways. Their personalities are as they are and no measure of laws will change that. So, Lena and I dreamed up a way to solve this final issue preventing a perfect world. Project Harmony was that dream and now here we are. Not only were we able to successfully create you Simon, but our childhood dream has the chance to become reality. We never could’ve imagined we’d get this chance. It’s all thanks to you Simon.” She hugs him tenderly. “You are my greatest accomplishment and there will never be anything greater.”

Simon feels a new sensation in his chest and suddenly, he feels water on his cheek. “Why are tears falling from my eyes? I am not sad. I am quite happy right now. Is there something wrong with my systems Tessa? Should I run a diagnostic on myself?”

Tessa laughs endearingly. “Those are tears of joy Simon. They are a perfectly normal reaction in this situation. You are perfect Simon. I know it, Lena knows it even if she refuses to say it out loud and at the end of the day, the world will know it. It’ll be your time to shine.”

Simon continues crying from his joy, feeling that he might finally understand a little bit more of what it means to love. He knows this love he’s feeling for Tessa now is not a romantic love like she has with Lena, but one more of adoration and familial bonds. In a way, he is like her and Lena’s child, but in a figurative sense. However, he now has a thought. “Now that you and Master are married, will you be adopting a child? You would be a wonderful mother.”

“Thank you, Simon, but we will not be having a child, as Lena and I are far too busy. Besides, Lena would prefer it just be the two of us, like it’s always been.” She smiles, but seemingly in sadness. “Anyway, we should go have breakfast before Lena comes in here and destroys us both. I want to test your digestive system anyway, if you’d be willing Simon.”

“Of course, Tessa, I would be delighted. I have been quite eager to try Master’s cooking.”

Tessa laughs nervously and says, “you say that now, but…” under her breath. Simon puts on his shirt and follows Tessa to the kitchen, which is pitch black when they arrive.

“Why are the lights out Tessa? They are not normally-.” He is cut off by the sudden switching of the lights and Lena appearing with a plate of pancakes, with a candle inside them.

They shout, “Happy Birthday Simon!” He is speechless as more tears fall from his eyes.

***

“Hey babe, I think he’s broken. He’s been staring at those pancakes for like twenty minutes now. The candle has long since burned out and the wax is all over the pancakes.”

“Well, that wax might just make it go down a bit smoother.” Tessa grins at her joke.

However, Lena doesn’t find it nearly as funny and frowns. “What are you saying? Does that mean you find my pancakes hard to swallow? If that’s the case, then I won’t cook them anymore. Actually, I think I’ll stop cooking for you at all you ungrateful-.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry honey. It was just a stupid joke. I love your pancakes.” Tessa gazes into Lena’s eyes with an affectionate remorse and it easily calms her down.

“Fine, but I make my pancakes really special, just for you. Appreciate my efforts.”

Tessa wraps her arms around Lena’s neck and gets close to her face. “I know honey and I do appreciate everything you do for me. I love you so much. I hope you know that too.” She leans in and they kiss with a deep affection, as if no one exists but them in the world.

Simon watches them and feels warmth in his chest. He sees them kiss often, but only after an argument or if they are in a flirty mood do they kiss with such passion. He enjoys sharing in their happiness at these times, but he also feels something else. A desire of sorts, to be in that kind of situation. He can’t help but wonder, will he ever have a love like that? Is it even possible for an android like him to experience that kind of true passion and love? He makes a mental note to ask Tessa about this later, but for now, he finally eats his pancakes. “Master, these are delicious!” Tessa and Lena both look at him with a smile and laugh. He doesn’t understand why, but right now he doesn’t care because he’s happy. For at last, he feels like real a human.

***

“Well, don’t you clean up well? If I didn’t know better, I could fall in love.” Lena compliments Simon as she finishes adjusting his tie. She steps back and allows Simon to look at himself in the mirror. “I think I outdid myself on your design, as you can really pass for human.”

Simon looks at himself in the mirror and can hardly believe his eyes. His previously unkempt black hair, has become smooth and slicked down like the finest gentleman. His deep green eyes seem to be amplified by the black, round glasses he was given for style purposes as his vision is perfect. His black suit sits perfectly on his tall and slender frame, his black dress shoes complete his outfit and his green tie tops it off, to match his eyes. “Master…this is wonderful! I really look very human. I feel human too, but of course I know I am not.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that Simon, because you’re special. Realism is what we’re going for of course, but the others, are never to believe they’re human. The purpose of all who follow you will be plain and simply to be the perfect lifetime companion. Your kind will become whatever they so desire, you will do whatever they request of you and you will devote your very existence to making them happy in such a way that they will never feel unfulfilled and therefore will be able to live as productive members of society. They will have no need to victimize others to get what they want from them, because your kind will already be providing it for them. They are essentially their other halves. They are their best friends, lovers and soulmates all in one package, and they will have them starting from infancy. They will be, their Forever Friends.”

“Then, will I also become a Forever Friend for another master, Master?” Simon asks.

“No, because you’ll be different from them Simon. I’ll never say this of any other humanoid, but I’ll make the exception for you. There’s no doubt that you, Simon, are human.”

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