The Vandernon is the latest experiment in Artificial Intelligence. It is a computer with a huge database of information how to act like a human, how to think like a human, and, most importantly, how to be a human.
But the Vandernon must be tested, must be calibrated.
Scientists have the perfect idea: ten people will be placed in a facility in which they are alone, cannot leave.
One of them is not human. Their brain has been replaced by a device that is synced with the main Vandernon system.
Yohan leaned on the metal wall, lighting a cigar with the fire that spewed out the immense furnace of the Vandernon.
"You shouldn't stand so close," I said, making sure to keep my distance away from the hot, somewhat open flames. "It could burn you."
Yohan shrugged. He pushed himself off the wall and took a few paces away. "There. Are you happy now?" He coughed, too much of the tobacco flooding his lungs along with the smoke.
"Why do you smoke that stuff anyways?" I asked. "Hardly anyone does, now. Might as well get some hardcore drugs if you want to take your mind off things."
"You mean all that junk they've stuffed in here?" Yohan scoffed. "Those things will kill you," he said, waving his hand in a dismissive sign, which caused him to teeter backwards towards the chamber of fire.
"You're drunk, too," I noticed, catching him by the arm and hauling him out of the furnace room and out into the reality of the Vandernon. The automatic mechanical doors clanged behind us as we stumbled through the endless halls, with nothing to do but walk.
I remember the day I had been selected to enter the Vandernon. It was through the Selective Service, which had surprised me because I thought that was only for military purposes. It was wintertime when I received the letter that would both ruin my life and make it a lot more interesting.
I had always waited outside for the mailwoman, who came on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It was a habit of mine (I think I quite liked her actually), so I always looked out the window beside the front door I saw her begin to drive into the neighborhood cul-de-sac, then I calmly strode out in my polo shirt and khaki shorts - no - pants - this was winter; I propped my arm onto the mailbox as she screeched to a stop in front of my house.
"Hello, Miss," I said, smiling. "Nice, cool Thursday day, isn't it?"
She smiled back. "Hello, Mr. Peare," she answered. She probably knew my first name from the mail, but never called me by it. "How are you doing, today?" she asked, casually handing me a package and four letters in an aside.
"Fine," I said, setting the mail on the ground. "You?"
"Same," she answered. "Just the usual route business. Better be getting on with it," she said, smiling in a way that seemed slightly apologetic.
"Oh." I picked up letters and the package. "See you, then," I said to her.
"See you too, Mr. Peare," she said, driving away.
It would be stereotypical to say this, but I will. I never saw her again.