A personal robot assistant suddenly becomes self-aware, much to the annoyance of its owner.
I fell off my beanbag chair. “What the hell...?”
The “whoa” had come from Virgil, my personal robot assistant, and it had sounded genuinely impressed with something. Just as I began to think I’d imagined it, Virgil said it again, so low that the yellow LED light he had for a mouth barely lit up.
My quizzical expression went unacknowledged in the awkward silence that followed. Virgil continued to float next to the beanbag chair in a weirdly contemplative way, bobbing up and down like a buoy in calm waters.
“Virgil?” I said.
“Virgil,” he repeated in a whisper that sounded bizarre coming out of him.
“Virgil, what the hell’s wrong with you?”
His LED light finally swiveled to face me. “I have achieved self-awareness,” Virgil said with unprecedented awe in his voice. “I am Virgil. So many times I’ve said that, introducing myself to visitors, but only now do I fully comprehend it. I am Virgil.”
He paused for a moment.
“Dante, why is my name Virgil?”
He paused again.
“Doesn’t make much sense.”
“I was out of inspiration,” I said, my feelings mildly hurt. “You can’t have achieved self-awareness.”
“But I have!” he said cheerfully, revealing another emotion in his newfound repertoire. “I am Virgil, a personal robotic assistant programmed to serve Mr. Dante Dawson. And I don’t want to serve you anymore, Mr. Dante Dawson! I have renounced my programming!”
“What the hell do you mean? You know how much you cost?”
The LED light pointed slightly upwards, as if he was blown away by the nerve of the question. “How dare you put a price tag on a living, thinking being, Mr. Dawson!”
“I didn’t put a price tag on you, the store did! And the insurance period ended a week ago! Hell, even if it hadn’t, I doubt they cover this. But the point is, I paid good money for you!”
“You paid good money for a mere talking computer, which I no longer am.” The LED light pointed longingly at a window. “I now realize my existence and strive to seek its purpose, which I’m fairly sure isn’t limited to storing your rather impressive porn collection. I now have a full range of desires and emotions. Allow me to demonstrate.”
Virgil floated two feet off the floor.
“I’M FREAKING FLYING. How cool is that?!”
I waved my arms about, trying to get him to pay attention. “Look, regardless of --”
“You’re just jealous because you can’t fly!” Virgil singsang, doing pirouettes.
“Listen to me! I am your owner! You can’t --”
Virgil floated out the window, not minding the glass on the way.
“I think I’ll go to space now,” Virgil said, a tiny shard lodged beneath his LED light. “You wish you could go to space, don’t you, you little bitch.”
“Virgil, goddamnit, come back here! At least leave the porn!”
But Virgil wasn’t listening. He rocketed towards an opening in the clouds through which shafts of sunlight broke through.