The professor had noticed my expression, pointed to her decayed hand, and said: “She’s positively harmless.”
Soon I had forgotten my theological rebuttals as I became transfixed by the movements of her fingers tapping restlessly at the desk, as though the hand were still part of a living organism.
“It is beautiful, no?”
I turned away.
“It is quite the parlor trick.”
The professor’s face looked waxy and pale beneath those lights.
“Why can you not accept this?”
My mind’s eye framed the image of her finger clawing my eye socket.
“Even if this is… genuine, it is still a falsehood. A facsimile of life.”
My mind raced. Though I’d seen it I had to show myself it was no re-animation. He had not breathed life back into this. If I couldn't prove the soul was not so easily harnessed, I would be an insomniac, staring at the cross on my bedroom wall, a hole inside my faith the shape of that hand.
“Tell me, sir. What are we?”
“Homo sapiens sapiens.”
“Let me show you that she is as much of a sapient, thinking human as the woman she has come from.”
The professor flipped the great switch behind him.
The nauseous yellow light deepened into a bloody red. The shadows of the laboratory now looked as though they were deep gashes in a wound. The professor reached into a dark corner and removed a crate.
“The light, you see, serves as her vision… she uses it as a method of gauging distance, shape, size, movement–everything the light touches is recognized by her as a form of visual input. The light is her mechanical chakra.”
His words did nothing to alleviate my vision of a disembodied hand reaching through the blood-light to touch my shoulder.
The professor removed a simple Underwood typewriter from the crate.
“The difficulty she has is holding back the spasmodic motions that prevent her from accurately manipulating a pencil. The typewriter is the only medium she is capable of expressing her thoughts with. For now.”
I turned to study what he was doing. When he had set the typewriter beside his little puppet she rapped against the desk rapidly.
“Show me what phrases you've taught your little construct, professor.”
I nearly vomited when I watched the thing on the desk shake his hand when he extended it to her. The wrongness of it. Life and death mingling in a sign of friendship. A vision came to me, this creature breaking free of the intravenous lines restraining it to its complex life support, seeing it crawl across the floor, no longer a hand, now an insect, leaping to my throat–
My soul passing into a darkness in which I called out and received no answer.
But I had to see.
I had to know.
The professor spoke into a microphone linked to one of the machines that loomed in the darkness.
“What is your name?”
Her fingers struck the keys of the typewriter rapidly. I thought of a spider’s limbs.
When she was finished I examined the paper emerging from the typewriter.
The professor was smiling like a proud father. This time I spoke into the microphone.
“What exists after death?”
GREETED BY ALL THAT IS TO COME.
I steadied myself.
“What is to come?”
“What do you mean?”
I AM THE NEW FORM OF MAN.
“Man’s future is… is machinery?”
DESCENDANTS OF MAN ARE SEPARATED NOT BY TIME. CATEGORIZED BY TIME OF DEATH.
DESCENDANTS ARE MIND. MIND IS CARRIED BY THE MACHINES WHICH SUPPORT ME.
The doctor took the microphone.
“Our destiny is to be you… who are you?”
COGITO ERGO SUM.
We are thought. Illustrated in type with the gravity of the tablets carried down by Moses.
The professor took her hand.
“And what are we, Sophia?”
It is only now I can truly appreciate the professor’s facial expressions, so beautifully mimicked by cogs.
Credited to Chupacabra