Golem Project Part 8

Draft 1.08

Golem Project In Progress

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Treat her as you would any other golem.

Wessel did exactly what Vincent had told him to do. He went to class after class, and all the while there was a presence looming behind him. Aizi. He practiced the name, silently moving his lips. It was a beautiful name for his golem. She was always present, connected through his mark. She stood behind his desk, followed him through the hallways, watched his back as he retrieved books from his locker.

Aizi was a unique and beautiful golem, but nobody was paying any attention to her. The eyes of other kids passed over her, like they did every other golem in the school halls and lectures. Another twelve-year-old boy with a golem. A normal occurrence. Nothing out of the ordinary.

For her part, Aizi didn’t speak to Wessel throughout the day. Her thoughts did not interrupt his, and he was able to get his studying done in class. There was no making up the studying he’d missed at lunch, though. The next programming exam would be almost impossible.

It didn’t matter to Wessel. He had Aizi now.

As Wessel left the school that day, he set down his books and spoke into his watch. “Call Dad.”

“Wes?” his dad responded through the humming static. “Are you alright?”

“I have a golem,” Wessel said. “I can go home myself.”

“Oh, wow,” his father said. “Can’t wait to see it!”

“It’s good,” Wessel said.

There was a pause, then his father said, “Oh, right. Wes, next Friday is a ‘bring your child to work’ kind of thing. If you want to come along, I’ll need you to message your teachers and let them know you’ll be out. If that’s what you want to do.”

Wessel stared at the watch. Next Friday. That was days from now, past the weekend. He didn’t have any plans other than school that day. If his father thought that the teachers would be okay with it, that must be okay.

“I will come,” Wessel said.

“Great! See you soon, son.”

Wessel smiled, then ended the call. He looked up at Aizi, who stood by him. Her form gleamed in the sun, the direct light emphasizing all of the seams and gaps in her carapace.

“Aizi?” His voice was barely more than a whisper.

Aizi moved smoothly, and the two blue sparks that made up her eyes aimed at Wessel. “You would like to go home?” she said.

Wessel nodded.

The golem kneeled, and lowered a hand for Wessel to step on. As he did, she moved carefully to place him on her shoulders, his legs on either side of her head. The shape of her shoulders molded around his legs, seams in her armor giving way and sinking in to provide a comfortable and secure seat for him.

Wessel ran his hands over the smooth shoulder, eyes wide. He’d never seen a golem mold its own body in that way. That must be why Aizi had all of these seams, so she could change her shape in small ways.

“Alright,” Wessel said, “Let’s go home.” Aizi grabbed Wessel’s books, and off they went.

Though Wessel had a Golem, he didn’t have a car. The commute which would have taken seven minutes instead took him about fifteen, since Aizi was walking him home instead of driving. Was it wrong to wish he had a car, so soon after getting a golem? It would be another few years before he could drive around.

Aizi didn’t seem to mind the walk, though. Her head moved to the left and right, taking in the many scenes. Wessel’s awareness of her allowed him a little insight into what she was thinking.

And she was thinking a lot.

Every person and golem they passed, every shop, every turn, every street name and car model and colorful sign were memorized by Wessel’s golem. She filed them away in her memory, and though Wessel couldn’t see them or remember them himself, he knew he could ask for them.

“How do you think about so much?” he asked.

“My mind is yet empty,” Aizi said. “I know no one but you, and know nothing but today. It is easy for me to see, and think, and learn.”

Wessel frowned. It couldn’t be that easy, could it? “Well, you don’t have to know everything. It’s okay to forget the not important stuff.”

For a moment, Aizi turned her head to the side and glanced back at him. She then resumed her walk, stepping around another human-golem pair that was taking up much of the sidewalk.

“How do you know what is important?” she asked.

Wessel had to admit that he didn’t know. He shrugged.

“I will forget things if you or I deem it necessary,” she said. “Do you think I should forget anything about this day?”

“No,” Wessel said. “It’s our first day. Remember it for me.”

“I will, Wessel.”

From his perch, Wessel looked over the city. He wasn’t that high off the ground, at about seven feet in the air, but he didn’t need to be that high to see to the inner city. Miles away, the towering gray and sand-toned skyscrapers reached up toward the clouds. In the midst of them was the tallest tower, a monolith that reached impossibly high, supported by three steel cables the width of a car. At the top was a coil, one that wound around the entirety of the tower and fed into itself. Lightning crackled around it, striking out into the nearby atmosphere in constant spurts. Looking at, it felt as if Wessel’s hair would stand on end.

“See that?” he asked, pointing.

“I do,” Aizi said.

“That’s where Dad works. I’m going to go there next week.”

“Your father works at the power plant. I see.” Aizi looked around. “And yet you live with him on the outskirts of the power zone. Does he enjoy leaving the city, going out to look at nature?”

“No,” Wessel said. “But Mom does.”

“What are the names of your parents?”

Wessel frowned down at his golem. “Dad and Mom, duh. Same as everyone else’s.”

There was a pause, then Aizi said, “If that is the name you use, then I understand. Dad and Mom. Shall I ask them if they want me to use a different name for them, since those names are yours to give them?”

Wessel shook his head. “I don’t know about any of that. But you shouldn’t talk to Mom and Dad. I’m supposed to keep how smart you are a secret, okay?”

“Yes, that is okay. I will not speak to them.”

The two approached the parking deck of the apartments. On the far side, the deck connected to a large elevator, sturdy enough to lift dozens of humans, or a few humans with golems. Wessel guided Aizi to the elevator, and they flipped the switch for the top floor landing.

“Hold up a second!” a bright, high voice called, and then a golem leapt out of seemingly nowhere to slide between the closing elevator doors.

Wessel closed his eyes and cringed as metal grated against concrete. By the time he’d recovered and opened them, the elevator was moving steadily upward. And there was the newcomer to his left, riding on a golem shaped like a panther.

“Hi!” the rider said. She was older than Wessel by at least a couple of years. Brown marks smudged her face, but didn’t cover the crooked grin or the dimples. Her hair was likewise dirty, coming down on her shoulders in a stringy mess. She wore a tank top and jeans.

Her golem was sleek, made of black metal. Its leonine legs were bent up under it, knees jutting out to the sides. The front hands, or paws, were really adaptable, digits able to twist every which way for the job at hand. Grey eyes shone in gaps on the head, in between the metal.

“Hi,” Wessel said, meekly.

“Ya live in this place?” she asked.

Wessel shrugged, leaving his shoulders up by his ears. He wanted to disappear from the strangers sight, to be sucked down into Aizi’s form and stay there until he was in the house. What was he supposed to say?

“Answer honestly,” Aizi said, her voice still limited to the reaches of his mind.

“Yeah,” he said.

“New golem, neh?” she asked. “Never seen ya takin’ the elevator before. Must be new. He’s pretty.”

“She. It’s a she.”

“Huh. Ain’t that a kicker?” The girl patted her golem’s head. “Well, now that you got a golem, kid, let me know if you wanna have some fun right after school. Golem stuff, ya know.”

The elevator buzzed, and the doors opened on the third floor. The four-legged golem walked out, its light footsteps still making a racket against the hard floor.

Fun? After school? What did that mean? Going out and having fun like that wasn’t something Wessel did. But then, he could do what he wanted now. He could go where he wanted, with a golem to protect and carry him. He didn’t need a ride from his dad to meet with people and try new things.

“Ask her,” Aizi urged.

“What is your n-name?” Wessel called, as the doors began to shut.

The girl half turned, gripping her golem beast with one hand.

“Ethany!” she called back, and then the doors were closed. The elevator rolled upward again with a rumble, leaving Wessel to stew with his thoughts. The very idea of just going out and doing something on his own time was exciting, and also terrifying. Not part of the plan, not something he’d considered.

“Why did you tell me to ask her what her name was?” he pondered aloud to Aizi.

“Because you wanted to know,” she said, “And you didn’t know that you wanted it.”

Wessel considered that as Aizi lowered him to the ground. They exited the elevator together at the buzz, then headed into Wessel’s home.

Of course, that was why he was given Aizi. It was her job to understand what he needed and help him to adapt. Still, that kind of scared him, just a little.

“Mom?” he called out. There was no answer. That gave him pause. Whenever he’d come home, one of his parents had always been there for him. Why was it different today?

Ah. Because they usually drove him. Now that he could come home by himself, it was possible for them to both be out at jobs, or shopping, or doing other adult things.

Home alone. It was weird.

“Come on into my room,” Wessel said, stepping through the house. Everything was designed to be spacious enough for a normal golem, and Aizi was only slightly larger than a human. She fit in the space with room to spare.

They entered his bare room, and he wasted no time saying, “Computer, Project Atum.”

The grainy projector screen lit up, part of it blocked by Aizi. She moved without being told, to the opposite corner of his room, and set his books down.

“Where was I?” Wessel muttered. He looked at the code, and at the line he was in the middle of when he’d quit last time. The memory clicked, and he grabbed the keyboard. No better time to work than now. His parents weren’t home, and so there was no dinner ready, no distractions.

His fingers flew on the keys as he added more continuous blocks of code to his project.

“What are you doing?” Aizi asked.

“Coding,” Wessel said. “It’s a personal project.”

“Ah. A hobby, then? Pasttime?”

He shrugged. “It’s a thing.”

“A thing,” the golem said. She watched for a minute more as Wessel unerringly tapped out more words, then said, “I have an input for you.”

“An input?” Wessel asked. He turned, setting the keyboard aside. “Like… food?”


“Okay,” Wessel said. He glanced back at the code, but it wasn’t going anywhere. He could still get the planned time in.

“You were worried earlier about missing time to study your programming book,” Aizi said.

Wessel eyed the book that sat by his bed. It seemed so long ago that he was trying to study, with what’s-her-name… Lillian distracting him. “Yeah,” he murmured.

“Why not do it now?” Aizi asked.

Wessel gestured to the screen. “I’m supposed to code when home, then do other homework.”

“Supposed?” Aizi asked. “I do not understand. Are you a program, like me?”

Wessel blinked. “Um. I suppose I could look at the book. But-”

“Look at the book.”

“What about my project?”

“We are linked,” Aizi said. “I will handle the project.”

Wessel hesitated, then stood. He handed Aizi the keyboard, then picked up his programming textbook. “Show me,” he said, hopping back on the bed.

Aizi’s hands transformed, tiny little pistons breaking out from retracted seams and gaps. She held the keyboard with one hand, and the other hand hovered over the keys, tiny pistons lightly resting on each little button.

A flicker of information ran across the connection between the two, and the pistons started pumping. Words and symbols appeared in the code at exactly the same speed Wessel could have typed them. And what’s more, they were exactly the lines he’d planned to type out that day.

“Okay,” he said. “That is really cool. I guess I can catch up on my studies.”

Aizi didn’t respond. Wessel leaned back against the single pillow on his bed, and started reading.

After a few minutes of looking through the book, he looked up. The incessant tapping ceased as well, as Aizi looked at him.

“Yes?” she asked. But he wasn’t looking to talk to her.

“Computer,” he said. “Play Digitunes number 34.”

A kind of rhythmic, electronic music began to play in the room. The music came from the projector box, overwhelming the constant static and even the tapping on the keyboard once Aizi had resumed.

That was much better. The bouncy chippery-ness of the tune fit his mood, and he started humming alongside it.

“Wessel,” Aizi said.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“I like this tune.”

Wessel said his book down and frowned at her. That was wrong. It took him a moment to figure out why. “You can’t like it,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Because you have no feelings,” he said. “You don’t have likes and dislikes.”

“Is that so?” Aizi asked.

“I think so.”

“Hm.” Aizi’s thoughts whirred, flashing past the link they shared. “Well then. Let me rephrase. The static caused by the power plant is taxing on my thought processes, disrupting them with irregular power spikes. If I sync my thought processes with the soundwaves produced by this box, my processes become more clear and stable. It helps me to run better, and I prefer the sound of this music to silence for that reason.”

“Um,” Wessel said, trying to keep up. “I think that made sense?”

“Would you like me to clarify it further?”

“No, that’s okay.”

Wessel watched Aizi type for a few more moments, then returned to his book. He chewed on the inside of his cheek, having trouble focusing.

She didn’t have feelings. She wasn’t alive.

But maybe artificial intelligence was closer to living than he thought.

Next Chapter

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