Welcome to another edition of Friday Fiction, with this week’s charming hostess, Julie at The Surrendered Scribe. Visit Julie’s blog, and enjoy all the great fiction being offered for your weekend reading pleasure.
Considering the auspicious date of this entry, I decided to go with a Challenge Entry from June 4, 2009. The topic that week was “Empty and Full,” and while this entry didn’t place, it did spark my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, “Empty Threats.” I think this was the last time I entered the Weekly Challenge. I really should get back into it.
Exiled With a Fool
Francesca opened her eyes to artificial lighting, and focused on an unfamiliar ceiling. The air had a processed smell, and a faint hum reached her ears. Coarse fabric covered her body instead of the lightweight, silky clothing she was accustomed to. She sat up and looked around, and saw only a solitary young man seated nearby. “What is this place?” she asked.
“This is Elba Outpost, Mistress Francesca,” he replied.
“Why am I here?”
“You have been exiled by the Revolutionary Council, Mistress. Your parents, in negotiating the surrender of the Adon Keep, secured your safety in exchange for halting the bloodshed of the war.”
“The Rebels won?”
“My parents - ?”
“I’m sorry; they could not save themselves.” He came over and offered his hand to help her up. “Their concern was for you.”
“Are you my jailer, then?”
“No, Mistress. I am your companion. Your parents insisted that you not be alone, so the Council requisitioned me from the Empties to accompany you into exile.”
She took the hand, and allowed him to escort her to the table. “I don’t understand. Requisitioned? Empties?”
“I was an Empty, created and raised in the lab. I was taught only what I needed for communication and basic self-care, and kept isolated from any outside influences. Once I reached maturity, I was placed into stasis until requisitioned, at which time my mind was filled with what is required for my assignment. Specifically, I was given the knowledge and emotions to both care for and about you.”
“So you’re an android?”
“No, Mistress. An android is a mechanical construct resembling a human. An Empty is fully human, awaiting the programmed personality and skills needed for the requisition.”
“But you were programmed to care about me, just like an android would be. Couldn’t they find even one person that cared enough about me to follow me into exile?”
“Perhaps, but the Council wanted no chance that you might have political supporters along to help you. You were allowed to live on the condition that you could never return to rally the loyalists against the new regime. My filling has left me politically neutral; I have no animosity towards you as the daughter of the deposed Adon, nor do I seek the restoration of the old power.”
“So that’s it? I’m stuck with you?”
“If you tire of me, Mistress, you may return me to stasis. I fear, though, you will find it a lonely existence with no one to talk to.”
“If I’m going to be stuck with you, I should at least know your name. What do I call you?”
“I have no name. I was an Empty, and now I am a Full.”
She sighed. “Great; I’m exiled with a fool.” She crossed her arms and regarded him with amusement. “So, am I supposed to just call you ‘Fool’ for the rest of our lives?”
“You may call me what you wish, Mistress. I remember being an Empty, and even a fool is better than that existence.”
The look in his eyes caused the smile to vanish from her lips. “You remember?”
“My filling gave me memories as though we had grown up together, but they cannot eradicate existing memory. Beneath the Full memories, I still remember my life as an Empty.”
She reached an arm across the table, just short of touching his hand. “Was it really that bad?”
“An Empty has no imagination, Mistress. I had neither dreams nor aspirations. I felt no emotions, either good or bad. I did not laugh or play, and only cried if I was hurt. We were kept empty, so that there would be little to conflict with whatever programming our requisitions filled us with. We did not live; we merely were.”
“I’m sorry; I had no idea.”
He smiled. “It doesn’t matter. I am Full now, and whatever you call me, or however you treat me, I would not go back to being Empty.” He bowed his head. “I will be your Fool if that is your wish.”
“It’s funny; now I feel like the Empty,” she said. “All that I’ve ever known is gone, and I don’t know how to live.” She took his hand again. “Will you teach me?”
“Of course, Mistress.”
She thought a moment. “Phil; you should be called Phil.”
“Thank you, Mistress Francesca.”
“Please, just call me Francesca.”
His smile seemed to fill the room, and she felt less empty. “As you wish,” said Phil.