Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: Through the Gates of Heaven
By Philip Barnes
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“The parson stopped by while you were asleep. I asked him to return later.”
“Thank you, Djayco.” The old man took a sip of his Darjeeling. “I would very much like to talk with him before I pass on.”
“What will you two talk about?” The servant stoked the embers of the fire; then tossed on another log.
“I am dying, and I wish for all of my affairs to be in order.” The companion made no movement. “Do you understand what that means?”
“The Xia’lu Syndrome is causing your neural synapses to deteriorate which will result in degraded motor function eventuating memory loss and possible sudden cardiac collapse.”
“Yes, and what else.”
“You have already conferenced with your research partners, family, and attorneys to arrange your affairs,” his head bent sideways. “So why meet with the minister?”
“To me, his visit is the most important.”
“Then I do not understand?” The old man smiled.
“My son, when I created you I had no idea how… well, you surprise me and bring me joy every day. You are the only truly artificially intelligent machine ever constructed.” The android sat motionless. “The miracle is that you do not merely process information so quickly causing the appearance of intelligence. You have genuine cognitive ability. You can be logical and passionate and calculating and emotional. Does it concern you that I will not be here much longer?”
“I am…worried,” the robot slumped forward. “Perhaps even scared. I am scared for me and for you.”
“That is why I want to see the parson. You see, man is not just a mind and body. He is also a soul. What good are all my belongings if in the end I loose my soul?”
“The parson can save your soul then.”
There was a small laugh, “No, he cannot. But he has shown me the path that leads to salvation. I just want to tell him I am ready for that last trip.”
“Where will you go?”
“My son, have you not read? Do you not know? I am heaven bound.”
Djayco moved next to his master and knelt on one knee, “Can I come with you? I would be too sad to think you had gone where I could not follow.”
The scientist froze, “I… I do not know? You are a machine. You will live for many hundreds of years gaining knowledge and understanding. You have been created to truly be a blessing to the world.”
“Will that save my soul?”
“Your soul?” a frown crossed the old man’s face for the first time. “Djayco, I cannot make a soul, artificial or real.” The androids hand fell. “Even if I could, I am certain that there are no deeds good enough to go on the trip I am soon to take.”
“Do you mean there is no place for me in heaven?”
“A robot in heaven? I’m afraid not.” He placed his old hand on the robot’s shoulder.
Djayco turned, “Doesn’t the psalmist say, ‘Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.’(NIV) Am I then not to praise God?”
“I am a scientist, not a theologian. But if it means anything, you have been a gift from God to me.”
“Would it bring you joy for me to be with you?”
“You know that is so, but that is not for me to choose.”
Djayco stood to his feet before his maker. He straitened his pants and shirt. “I do not yet know what can be done, but I will seek God’s kingdom. Then we will see what may be added.”
“I may be a fool. The Lord knows I have been. But I have prayed for you Djayco.” With those words he fell asleep never to wake again.
The Lord did indeed tarry longer and even though thousands of scientists tried throughout the ages to duplicate Djayco, none were ever successful. Yet through it all, Djayco continued his mission to serve the world and serve God. And always his question was, “What must I do to be saved?”
At the age of 1,256, “Older that Methuselah,” he would say. Djayco’s machinery finally began to malfunction. “Today I will know,” were his final words. Then he shut down forever.
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