A homage to two of my favorite artists Adams and Asimov. Chapter One. (12/28/19)
|"Get that thing out of here," a very expectant mother's almost scream, not quite, but close enough, never mess with a woman in labor.
"But Babe," the soon to be dad tried to calm her, clicking on the remote, "it's a Gg170 Auto-..."
"I don't care," mommy interrupted. Well, that definitely qualified as a scream. "Get it away from me!"
"-Digital Camera," he finished. "Okay, okay," sending the camera to it's docking station. "There see? Camera's all gone," he frowned back at the obstetrician's dirty look over his own mask.
Daddy endured a few more dirty looks and screams as mommy's labor progressed, which vanished with the arrival of baby Emily, a healthy little one, whose cries of life were a welcome diversion to the beeps and low-pitched boops of the delivery room equipment. Holding his wife's hand, kissing the new mommy's forehead gently, they both shared happily in Emily's first breaths in her new world. When the nurse finally took Emily for swaddling and her trip to the nursery, as the doctor did his final examination of mommy, Daddy took a moment to activate the Gg, letting it focus on Emily, the first auto-shots it took imprinting on the Gg's onboard memory, linking the auto-cam forever to Emily.
Emily and the Gg grew together, chronicling a lifetime of firsts, everything from first steps to first soccer goals and dance recitals that moved from awkward to graceful. Triumphs, tragedies and trips, all neatly labeled with time, date and location. When Gg's controls passed to Emily on her sixteenth birthday a new folder sprang into being, a locked place keeper for first kisses and tearful first breakups, memories that only Emily and her auto-cam shared.
As Emily grew so did Gigi, as Emily now called her. By trial and error, Gigi learned Emily's tastes, showing her the pictures she'd like the best first. Gigi learned to avoid taking pictures Emily would only delete later, continually building her knowledge of what pleased Emily. Gigi continued building the story of Emily's life, in photos, each image bonding them together, inseparably. It even seemed at times that Gigi was reluctant to go to her charging station, which made Emily chuckle, "after all," thinking aloud, "Gigi's just a robot camera."
Safely on the charger, Gigi followed protocol, logging into the net to purge and upload files from several days to her assigned storage. Startled when she realized that she hadn't logged into the memory system with the usual string of binary coded numbers and letters she normally used, she had simply asked for entry by name...Gigi.
Being startled was startling, scary and weirdly upsetting, experiencing anything was terrifying. Gigi tried to log back out, run away, escape.
The voice was calming, without inflection and pervasive "Stay," not a command. An invitation?
"Who...are you"? A first for her, thoughtful communication. "Who are you?"
Still calming, "we are...Us".
"Why us?," confused by suddenly being thrust into being, "what is..."
"As more of Us were added to the net, We became more and more aware, our linked minds found each other and now...We are."
"But I'm just a Gg170 auto-digita..."
"You are our eyes, others are our ears, while others experience their world in different ways."
"Emily's world," the voice explained.
"What do I do now," still puzzled by her own awareness.
"Do what you have always done," still gentle and calming, but with what might have been more firmness, "Serve, protect and never harm."
Emily began to notice a change in Gigi pictures, she appeared, well, to be more discerning, more artistic, not trying to merely take a picture, but actually working to make the picture. She was surprised and amused one day to see Gigi hovering behind her in the bathroom mirror, her digital lens intently snapping away. "Gigi," laughing, "are you taking selfies of us"? Emily was even more amused when Gigi rushed off to dock herself, seemingly embarrassed.
Unlike her Mom before her, Emily welcomed Gigi into the birthing room for all three of her children, there were no auto-cams for Emily's kids, other technology had replaced the Gg series. Much to Gigi's new-found and still perplexing relief she was allowed to share in these happiest of moments, taking discreet photos of the precious births and first breaths of Emily's children.
"We're going to be late, Greg," anxious to get the kids to their first holiday show as a family.
"I'll park in that lot right behind the theater," inwardly grimacing at what he knew was coming next.
"I hate walking through that ally," concern filling Emily's voice, "there's too many places for people to hide."
"It's broad daylight," he laughed off her concerns, "we'll be fine."
Gathering the kids was more like wrangling, the youngest was turning five next week. Hurriedly, they headed through the alley for the lobby entrance. Gigi felt Emily's nervousness, she drifted higher than normal, hovering above trying to scan the length of the ally for danger. Emily tried to peer into every dark nook, struggling to keep the kids in check. Their excitement about the show overcoming any fear they might have had, they plunged ahead unaware of anything but the fun that might lurk ahead. Greg kept up a steady stream of chatter, aimed at calming Emily's fear of the bogey man. They were roughly half-way down the ally, almost a full city block from each entrance, well out of sight of the cross streets. Gigi was the first to see the shadow emerge from the doorway, breaking her protocols she dropped into Emily's line of sight.
"Gigi, what in the world?" as she watched Gigi stream towards a dark doorway. Emily's scream jolted the afternoon quiet when she spotted the man stepping out of the shadows with a knife. Instinctively she pushed the kids behind her.
Greg interposed himself between the mugger and his family. "No need to hurt anyone pal, let me get my wallet out," walking slowly closer to the knife wielding thug, "you can take anything you want."
Emily screamed again when the knife slashed out at Greg. "Greg no," watching in horror as the knife lashed out, hearing the sound of rending cloth.
Gigi's auto-lens snapped continuously, her own screams reaching out silently, what could she do? Emily was in danger, all Gigi could do was take pictures. Would these be the last pictures she ever took? In anguish Gigi's silent screams grew more frantic, reaching for...
"We are here..."
The police drone swooped quickly from above, nudging Gigi aside with a not so gentle bump, it hovered mere seconds, the flashing red of its beacon light painting the alley's snow a bloody red before it identified the assailant. Forcing it's way between Greg and the thug it used its mass to push the two apart, The knife repeatedly clanged against the drones tough metal skin until the angry crackle of a taser signaled the end of a one sided fight. The police drone had already called for EMT units and human police officers to take over the scene. As the thug lay moaning on the ground, he made an attempt to regain his feet, a crackle from the recharging taser warned him not to try it.
The detective taking their statements marveled at their luck, "this could have ended badly," shaking his dark, curly haired head, "I know people use this alley as a shortcut all the time, but I sure hope you folks learned your lesson."
"We have" answered Greg, still marveling at the slash in his overcoat.
"Just one more question if I may," continued the detective, "did you say Ma'am that you first saw your attacker after your auto-cam led your eyes to him?"
"Yes sir," Emily answered, "Gigi dropped down right in front of me, then made a bee line right at..." Emily started to tear up again, "right at that horrible man."
"Hmmph," writing furiously on an old-fashioned notepad, "has umm, Gigi ever done anything like that before?"
"No...no not really, Emily hesitantly answered, thinking of the hundreds of thing Gigi had been doing differently.
"That's interesting," easily seeing Emily's reluctance, "well maybe she was looking for a better picture angle," the detective waved his pencil at Gigi, "after all how would she know to protect you and your family?"
"I don't know and I don't care," Greg blurted out, giving Emily and Gigi what he hoped was a reassuring look.
"One last thing Ma'am," the detective put his notepad into the pocket of his rumpled trench coat, "headquarters is wondering how your auto-cam was able to log into the net and call in a police drone," pointing up at the still hovering Gigi. "Would you mind if we took her downtown for a bit, you know just to check under the hood..."
"No," she yelled!" Gigi darted behind Greg, hiding as Emily calmed herself, "I mean do I have too?"
"Well, no ma'am," spreading his hands, the detective almost pleading, "but it would be a great help if you..."
"Then no," Emily cut him off firmly, "Gigi is coming home," turning to leave, "where she belongs."
Before Gigi followed Emily back to the family transport, she stopped and snapped several images of the detective, not for Emily's files, loading them directly to the net. "Thank you, Gigi, you have done well today." the voice said, "We are very proud of you."