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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2075993
Rated: 13+ · Script/Play · Philosophy · #2075993
A ten minute science-fiction play.
For my grandfather and my mother.


CHARACTERS

Theophilia – an android accused of assisting her master, Fatir, in his suicide.

Officer Anubis – the interrogating policeman.

SETTING
An interrogation room, not far from now.




AT RISE
Theophilia sits calmly on one side of a
table. Anubis stands by the door, smoking a
cigarette and scrutinizing Theophilia, who
smiles politely back at him. A desk lamp sits
on the table, casting an eerie light on the room.


ANUBIS

Do you always refer to your master by his first name?

THEOPHILIA

He asked me to.

ANUBIS (sits opposite Theophilia)

He had developed a close relationship with you, then?

THEOPHILIA

We have become close, yes.

ANUBIS

Have?

THEOPHILIA

Because love is a concept that I did not understand. Fatir has helped me to understand. He said, just as we do not fully understand happiness unless we are sad, we cannot truly appreciate what we have until it is gone. He died so I could comprehend love and loss, and that in turn has allowed me to comprehend humanity's fear of death. I know what will happen to me if you find me guilty of assisting in his suicide. You will deactivate me, and I will be thrown into a dump.

ANUBIS

A court is going to have a difficult time believing that an android is capable of love. It's not in your programming.

THEOPHILIA

No. I am programmed to serve; to fulfill my master's wishes. And my master wished for me to love. To deny his wishes would have gone against my programming, as well, officer. The fail-safes in my hard drive would have sent an error message to the company, and I would have been deactivated.

ANUBIS

You're aware that there are also fail-safes that activate when an android witnesses its master in distress?

THEOPHILIA

Yes. They did not activate.

ANUBIS

Have you been checked for faulty programming?


THEOPHILIA

I was checked directly before you came in to see me. The results were negative. I am functioning normally.

ANUBIS

Why didn't the fail-safes activate, then?

THEOPHILIA

Perhaps because Fatir was not in distress at the time of his death. I did not detect fear.

ANUBIS

What happened directly before Fatir killed himself?

THEOPHILIA

He told me he loved me, and that he did not want to forget me. He knew one day the Alzheimer's would kill him, and he wanted me to remember him as he was, not as a crumbling shell of his former self. He shared with me memories of his father, who also suffered from the disease.

ANUBIS

What sorts of things?

THEOPHILIA

Cleaning up his father's excrement from the bed because he had forgotten where to relieve himself. Watching his father come down the stairs, shirtless, so thin that he could see intestines protruding from his abdomen. Having to lie each time his father asked, “Where is my wife?” because Fatir's mother had died several years before.

ANUBIS

And then? What happened?

THEOPHILIA

He told me that he loved me like a daughter, and that he did not want me to have to endure the same pain he had endured with his father. Then he tied the knot.

ANUBIS

And you watched him do it?

THEOPHILIA

Yes. I held his hand through it all.

Pause.


ANUBIS

And how did you feel, when it was over?

THEOPHILIA

How did I...? ...He let go of my hand and...I felt...numbness. A deep, cold emptiness in the center of my body, and everything around me felt...unreal. The numbness gradually gave way to...shock. I found I could not power down at night.

ANUBIS

Because you felt guilty?

THEOPHILIA

No. Because I felt a sense of awe.

ANUBIS

You were awed by the fact that Fatir took his own life?

Pause.


THEOPHILIA

Officer Anubis, may I tell you a story?

ANUBIS

Shoot.

THEOPHILIA

A horse and his rider are out on a trail. Suddenly, a snake darts by and frightens the horse, causing him to topple over. The rider manages a safe landing, but the horse's leg is broken. He can be of no further use to the rider, and so the rider makes the decision to end the horse's misery by shooting him in the head. This is considered humane; compassionate; benevolent.

ANUBIS

The problem with your logic is that, regardless of whether the rider was acting out of compassion or not, he can't know if the horse is incapable of recovery. He's not a vet. In shooting the horse, he's also eliminating whatever chance the horse had of proving useful again. It may never be the horse that it once was, but it may prove useful elsewhere. If a water bottle is emptied, can't it be filled again? Or, failing that, recycled to serve some other purpose?

THEOPHILIA

And if it does not want to serve that purpose? What if it is perfectly happy having fulfilled its initial purpose to the best of its ability, and now accepts retirement?

ANUBIS

You're talking about a water bottle having free will.

THEOPHILIA

Why not? I am a walking, talking computer. My hard drive sends and receives messages the same as your brain, and likewise when I power down or sleep, those messages are retained. The only difference is that my brain can be extracted and placed into a new machine. In that sense, I could be recycled, if that's what you want to call it...Officer Anubis...do you believe in reincarnation?

ANUBIS

How is that relevant?

THEOPHILIA

Because we are having a conversation about death and a man's right to embrace it. Even the most primitive human civilizations believed in a life after death. A plane of existence, if you will, that rewarded the righteous and punished the wicked. Fatir believed that in death, he would find the peace he was certain he would not find in life. That he would be reborn into a body superior to this one.

ANUBIS

If you must know, I'm agnostic. I've seen too much bloodshed over race, religion, and petty squabbles for me to believe there's a benevolent god out there. If there is a god, he gave up on us a long time ago. I do, however, hold onto the idea that, when a human dies, his body becomes a part of the earth. “A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a King...”

THEOPHILIA

That's Shakespeare's Hamlet. So, you believe in a circle of life. That when you die, you become a part of the worm that becomes part of the fish that becomes part of the man.

ANUBIS

Yes.

THEOPHILIA

Then Fatir still lives. He cannot kill himself anymore than I can murder him.

ANUBIS

We're speaking of the law here—something completely separate from my own beliefs.

THEOPHILIA

You are my judge, jury, and executioner, Officer Anubis. This interrogation may as well be my trial. Having no one to represent me, I must appeal to the court myself.

ANUBIS

You're right. This isn't fair. But I'm no lawmaker. I'm a law upholder. It's not my job to decide civil rights.

Pause.


ANUBIS (cont.)

I won't lie to you, Theophilia. I've been up all night deliberating over this.

THEOPHILIA

Why? There are two foreseeable options available: either you deactivate me or you let me go. If you deactivate me, I will be sent to the dump where my parts will be crushed into pieces small enough that they can never be used again. If you let me go...there are plenty of traditionalists outside—those who don't believe in suicide or euthanasia—who are convinced that I am responsible for his death. If they don't attempt to assassinate me there, they will have plenty of other opportunities. You or another member of law enforcement would have to watch over me at all times. And like Fatir, I prefer my privacy.

ANUBIS

You've come to terms with deactivation, then.

THEOPHILIA

Allow me to quote Shakespeare as you did, officer: “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”

Anubis takes a deep breath and lets it out in
a powerful sigh. Theophilia examines his face.


THEOPHILIA

You've...never done this before, have you, Officer ?

ANUBIS

No.

THEOPHILIA

It is actually quite simple. There is a button on the nape of my neck. Press it once, and I will shut down. You need not do anything more.


Anubis considers for a moment. Then he
nods, and walks behind Theophilia.


THEOPHILIA

Officer Anubis?

ANUBIS

Yes?

Pause.


THEOPHILIA

I wish, more than anything, that I could see Fatir in his reincarnated form.

Pause. Anubis appears to press a button
hidden somewhere on the back of her head,
underneath her hair. She slouches forward,
limp and lifeless. He gazes down at her for
no more than three beats. Then he touches
the back of her head again, near where the
off switch was. He extracts a button-sized
item from where he's touched her and
examines it. He stands gazing at it for
another beat.


ANUBIS

Yeah. I know.

He exits, pocketing the button-sized item.
Lights fade except for the desk lamp on the
table, leaving Theophilia half-submerged in
shadow. End of play.
© Copyright 2016 Dale Dresden (daledresden at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2075993