Saturday, December 21, 2013

Chapter Two

So, that day started off just like any other day, with getting out of bed and turning off the dream feed and eating breakfast and brushing teeth and hair and picking an outfit and getting dressed and walking outside.

Which was where the "like any other day" part stopped. Because it had rained overnight and now the clouds were already gone, and the air felt sharp and electric. The city surrounded her, cool and huge and spacious under a sky that was that kind of blue you only get after a rain, sort of like a normal blue, only ten times brighter too, because everything around you glitters in that rained-on way that makes the light slow down and last and last.

It was one of those days Bitsy could have sworn she was alive.

Her train to work came right on time, which was normal. And the same crowds of androids swarmed into it, a couple of them even familiar, here and there, like the guy who always read the old-fashioned printed version of the news on that thick, folded-up paper. And the pretty Asian-model girl who had some kind of bug in her makeup app and never got her blush or eyeshadow on quite right. Bitsy always wondered whether those kinds of eccentricities had just crept into the population as codeglitches that weren't quite bad enough to trip an update threshold, or if they were holdovers from the days when there were still lots of reals walking around, and every android needed a quirk or two to make it less obvious they'd come out of the factory, since the more droidy you were, the less likely a real would want to hook up.

She'd watched plenty of history feeds about those days, but you could never know what to trust, because after all a big part of Professor Heisenborg's plan was to jumble up the data banks so no one could be sure who was real and who was android.

It fascinated her, though, and just thinking about it usually zipped her through her commute so she was at work before she knew it.

Except that that day, coming off the train, she turned the way she normally turned, and this guy turned the opposite way with a big cup of coffee, and he ran right into her and spilled it all down her front and half knocked her over in the process.

"Factory!" she cursed, trying to keep to her feet and also lean over to get the steaming-hot coffee-soaked front of her shirt away from her skin. "Ow! Aah!"

"Oh my gosh, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," the guy was saying, one hand reaching for her shoulder but not getting there, like he didn't know whether to touch her or not. "Are you all right?"

Bitsy looked up with her face in an angry squinch, ready to cuss him out.

And then his eyes met hers, and she looked into them, very brown, very earnest.

And she knew that he was Real.

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