Lair's eyes opened. They took a moment to adjust to the
darkness of the bedroom, but when they did, the first thing they
saw was the face of Darren, Lair's beloved husband, as he slept
peacefully beside her.
She remembered the chemistry, no, the electricity
they both had felt upon their first meeting. When their eyes
met, Lair knew he was the one. It was as if they were
magnetized, drawn by natural forces to one another, like a
positive and a negative charge.
Lair's hand reached out to touch her husband's own, but
stopped short. He looked so peaceful. She didn't want to
awaken him. Instead, Lair rolled over onto her side, facing away
from her husband, and thought over the events of the day.
The news had been abuzz with talk of the new spaceship,
the one which would head for the outside of Algo. There had also
been a lot of talk about the new Androids, and the debate over
And the question had come up again about when Darren's
mother would be coming in from Parolit for that long-overdue
visit. Lair knew nothing of her mother-in-law except for where
she lived, and as she lay there, half-asleep, Lair wasn't even
sure that she had that right.
Being in the highly creative state which precedes sleep,
Lair began to wonder if perhaps there was something Darren did
not want her to know about his past. But what? Darren was such
an honest, good, and yes, simple man. What could he possibly
have to hide?
Lair's mind raced with all the possibilities. She had
only known Darren two years, and he was twenty-eight years old.
At least...that's how old he said he was.
Now she was being silly. Or was she?
Could he have been a pirate? A renegade hunter? One of
the fanatical anti-Android activists of five years previous?
Lair shuddered at the thought of that possibility. She had spent
a lot of time fighting against those zealots. It would be her
worst nightmare to find one sleeping in her own bed.
Androids. That was a topic Darren was just as interested
in as she was. He'd shown a keen interest in the newest
Androids, the ones designed to be identical to humans in almost
every way. It was nearly impossible to tell one of those
Androids from a Palman being. The paranoid anti-Mother Brain
crowd was claiming that the Government was using them to spy on
people, even replace troublemakers all together.
Still, why did Darren have such an interest? Perhaps he
had helped to design the machines and retired, having to swear
when he did so that he would reveal no facts about the project to
anyone, not even his wife. It sounded far-fetched, but it really
Or maybe...maybe he had been forced to flee the project
for some reason and was in hiding. "Poor Darren!" Lair thought.
"That would be such an awful secret to have...to...keep..."
Her thought drifted away as a new possibility crept into
What if Darren was an Android?
Androids were often described as being not unlike
supermen, and Darren definitely was a superman. He could
do it all. When Lair came home late from work, Darren always had
a souflet or pot roast ready and waiting. If something ever
broke, Darren could immediately fix it. When the cat got stuck
in the tree, who got it down? Darren, of course! He was a man
with...with a little something extra.
Lair smiled as she had that thought. "A little something
extra..." Some extra things weren't as little as others...
"This is crazy," she thought. "I've married this man and
now, in the middle of the night, I've almost succeeded in
convincing myself that he's a machine. What's wrong with me?
But then again...it might explain his why I haven't seen his
mother. Androids don't have mothers... Oh, why didn't we
discuss this before we got married?"
Her guilty eyes drifted over to Darren, who had uncovered
himself after a series of warm breezes passed through the window.
There he lay, the man she loved, raven-haired, exquisitely
handsome, and with quite a beautiful body. But there was so much
more than that! Although it sounded trite, Lair had married
Darren for the beauty within, and nothing else. That he had a
beautiful exterior was only icing on the cake.
But could a machine not also be beautiful?
Although it pained her heart to do it, Lair could take the
suspense no longer. Gently, so as not to rock the bed, she sat
upright and leaned over her dozing husband. He was flat on his
back, so Lair simply pressed her ear against the soft skin over
his heart and listened. She listened hard.
And within her husband she could hear the whirrings and
clickings which could only be the telltale signs of a manmade
"Darling, what are you doing?" asked a voice.
It was Darren. He slowly began to sit up. For a few
seconds, Lair's ear remained at his chest as if fastened, but
then she began to creep backwards, clearly quite crestfallen.
Darren's eyes glazed over, and his face fell. Was he
ashamed? If so, for what? For being something he could not
help, or for trying to hide something he could not hope to hide
"How did you know?" he asked her. His face and voice rose
simultaneously and he said, "Nobody could have known! They made
us too well! That's why we were able to escape! They
didn't even know what to look for! The only ones who could have
known were my creators, and the others like me, unless..."
There it was again, that electricity between the two of
them which never quite went away, the sensation that proved for
certain that they were a match.
Like batteries. Like a positive and a negative charge.
Both of them tried to speak, one to interrogate, the other
to answer. But no words would come; there was nothing they could
say. And so they just sat there, silent, their two mechanical
hearts pounding furiously in the night.