The rain that lasted for the past two days was slowly passing over town. Jaime was five minutes late to his appointment. His long black jacket hugged his body tightly. A million smart fibres sensed the slight panic and cold Jamie was feeling. The data was analysed and processed in a fraction of a second. The smart fibres started to warm up and did their best to keep Jamie warm. He had his hands in his pocket and a hood to cover his head from the drizzle of rain. He walked swiftly but with a slight limp and careful enough not to step in a puddle. In his head, he believed the hidden charging ports in his feet could cause a short circuit. Because as far as Jamie is concerned, He is not a human. He has never been. He believed beneath the flesh and skin, He was man-made. That it was circuits and fibres that kept him standing. Much like the magic of circuitry that keeps his jacket working. He too was made of silicon. He saw his glance on a shop window, but he quickly turned his gaze away.
“That man is not me” he would mutter to himself.
He finally arrived at the door he was looking for. Above the wooden door, plastered onto the wall was a holo sign.
Dr Conrad Estel, licenced therapist, Counselor. BA, MSc in Human- Droid Relations.
The doorbell echoed across the hallway, and from his office, Dr Conrad broke his voice.
“Come on in Jaime, I’ve been waiting for you”
The door opened, and Jaime walked into the building. He nodded at the Receptionist, who is so obviously a bot, “Just like me” Jamie said to himself. He walked up to the consultation room and walked in.
Dr Conrad was a tall man. He had dark skin and wore his glasses on the edge of his nose. A sort of a balancing act in Jamie’s mind. The room was filled with a white light that was emanating from the ceiling light. The light bounced off Dr Conrad’s bald head. His long white coat blended well with the seat he was sitting on.
“Come on in and have a seat, Jamie.” He instructed Jaime.
Jaime hung his coat on the rack and the smart fibres quickly dissipated the water that was trickling down in to vapour. Half of the weight Jamie carried into the room is now hanging on the coat, and the rest of it was slowly sunk into the white faux leather seat he sat down. He looked into the eyes of Dr Conrad, and Conrad smiled with Jamie and got down to business.
“So, How have you’ve been? Have you made any progress in the last two weeks?” Conrad asked.
Jamie thought for a minute and chortled. Looked down on his feet for a second and said “Well, I’ve been trying”
“This is good, Do you want to tell me how you’ve been trying?” Dr Conrad asked attentively.
Jamie closed his eyes for a second. He pictured himself in his head, back in his apartment. His mind ran to last Tuesday. He sent a message to work, saying he is feeling under the weather. But he was not, He was sitting on his broken sofa, with his right leg gripped by the ankle. The sole of the foot was bleeding, covered in crimson blood dripping down to the wooden floor. He was wincing in pain.
Jamie opened his eyes and shook his head
“I’ve been using the methods you taught me”
He extends his right hand to show a band he was wearing
“Every time I think I am not human, I snap this.”
“Excellent work Jaime, the band is there to take your mind off the undesirable thoughts.” Dr Conrad said.
“That’s quite the word to use.” Jaime shot back with blame in his tone.
“What makes you say that ?” Dr Conrad was curious.
“I know what I feel, I am not human. I haven’t been one for the longest time.” Jaime muttered somberly.
“And when was the last time you felt Human Jamie?”
“If you believe my fake memories, I think it was before I was enrolled in the Open University. That’s where they send all the Droids.”
“Well so was I, I got both my degrees at the Open University. Are you saying I am a droid as well? ” Dr Conrad asked, extending humour to lighten the mood.
Jamie looked at the Doctor for a while. His skin had blemishes on them, and on his right hand, there was a scar that was healed a long time ago. And his eyes, They hid a sort of darkness or pain.
“No, You are clearly a human.” Jaime was sure
“So tell me, what happened at the university?”
“Well, it’s not like any of us go to a university anymore, It’s just a VR headset that connects you to a virtual learning space. I did well in my class, but I never made any memories. Or friends. Most of them would often meet IRL and have coffee or talk about things they all liked. I was never invited. I think they knew what I was.” There was a sense of defeat in Jaime’s voice.
“I am sorry to hear that. Have you made any friends at work?” Dr Conrad was sincere.
“It’s just a cubicle job. I go in, sit down and do what I have to do and get out as soon as I can. Heh, In fact, That’s how I first started suspecting I was a droid. ” He said, unattached to the words.
“Work is work. We all have to do what we have to do Jaime.” Dr Conrad assured Jaime.
“I know that I’ve seen the posters.” Said, Jaime.
“Have you been eating well?”
“I don’t think food has flavour anymore, I just eat because I have to.” Jaime ran his palms down his cheeks and rubbed his eyes.
“Are you saying you don’t feel hungry? There is no appetite?” Dr Conrad asked as he made notes on his device.
“No, I am saying I don’t know if the hunger I feel is real.” There was apparent confusion in Jaime’s tone.
“Well, That’s the most significant difference between a droid and a human. Humans feel. They feel hunger, empathy. I haven’t met many droids which are capable of feelings and emotions.” Dr Conrad explained.
“What If I am some sort of a new version? A beta test. The Corporation has been making all these secrets test lately.” Jaime voiced his inner thoughts out loud.
“Yes, but all the information about the droid program is 100% transparent. I am sure you’ve read all of those.”
“I have. I have read the manuals a thousand times.”
Jaime stood up. He walked to the window of the office. Out there on the streets, he was looking at a family under an umbrella. The mother and father holding the hands of two beautiful kids. Jaime sighed, his breath fogged up the glass.
“I’ve noticed you are limping Jaime again, Have you been cutting your feet again.”
“Yes.” Jaime almost barked back. “I want to know if there is a charging coil in there.”
“Does it hurt when you cut your self?” Dr Conrad was curious.
Jaime didn’t answer. He walked back to his chair, This time trying not to make his limp visible.
Doctor Conrad was still anticipating an answer. He gestured by nodding at Jaime.
“A little” Jaime almost muttered under his breath. “I sealed it up with a first aid wand. The skin is sealed. The wound has to heal.”
“Well, Droids don’t take time to heal now do they, Of course, there is some scaring when the skin is fused together, but they don’t have wounds.”
“Then why am I convinced that I am a damn droid” There was anger in Jaimes’s voice.
“I’ve been seeing you for a few weeks now Jaime, almost 3 months. I think it’s fair to say you are suffering from a Psychosis. I’ve dealt with many humans, as well as droids who are convinced they are human.”
“I don’t need you to tell me I am crazy doctor, I know that,” Said Jaime looking at the blurred glance of himself on glass doors of the office cabinet.
“No one is Crazy, Jaime, The psyche is a fickle thing. It’s what keeps us functioning, Sometimes loneliness and lack of companionship can cause the psyche to talk with you. And it often ends up talking too much over your own thoughts. Am I making sense to you.” Dr Conrad explained.
“Maybe” Jaime looked down towards his feet. And kept his eyes there.
“I think we have to make a decision here Jaime, are you ready to think about medication ?”
“I thought droids get bug fixes or updates, “Jaime said jokingly.
“See, now that’s the kind of humour a droid is not capable of.” Dr Conrad was happy with Jaimes touches of humour.
“I am not sure if medication is the right choice for me. When I was a child. My father had nightmares, and we took him to the Doctor. He was given medication, and He was never the same.” Old thoughts stirred up new anxieties for Jaime.
“Well, Look out the window. The times sure have changed. The medication I give you will not have any side effects. The Corporation has perfected these formulas and has put them through thorough testing.” Dr Conrad added assurance to his voice.
“Soon, you will be able to let go of these unwanted thoughts and get out there and make friends. And you won’t have to take them afterwards.” Dr Conrad said making eye contact with Jaime.
“Yeah, maybe I’ll end up having droids as friends,” Jaime said with a smile on his face.
“They do make good companions, don’t they? Well, that’s our time for today.”
“I am always surprised by how you know its time without even looking at the clock,” Jaime exclaimed.
“Well, that’s the thing about practise Jaime, Will I see you again next time?”
“Of course, Thank you, Dr Conrad.”
“You are welcome, Jaime. Your medical file will be updated, and the medication should be arriving at your house by the time you reach there.”
Jaime stood up and shook hands with the Doctor. Dr Conrad placed his hand on Jaimes’s shoulder as he walked out of the office. Dr Conrad walked back inside his office. He removed his cozy shoes and paced across the seats they sat on. With three clicks on his medical pad, he updated Jaime’s file. He put it on his chair and walked towards the large glass window. The rain has picked up again. A sound of thunder was heard over the great city that was looking at him. He could see Jaime out on the street running to avoid the rain. Dr Jaime sighed, but the window didn’t fog up this time. He felt sorry for Jaime and every broken soul that walked into his room. It’s a tiring job listening to the woes of others. He slowly stepped on to the white charging podium. A blue glow and a humming noise started to emit under his feet.
Written by Vishva Laksshapathiarachchi
Illustration by DRG