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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


The old man’s white hair was thin and uncombed. A hansom young servant pulled the worn blanket over the scientist’s frail shoulders. It was only a matter of time.

“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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This article has been read 889 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rita Garcia05/17/07
This is absolutely, wonderful! You writing gift shines bright in each and every sentence. Thanks for the Blessing! Sci-fi at its finest!
Julie Arduini05/17/07
This is wonderful writing. I kept picturing Data from the Star Trek series from the 1990's and I felt so sad for the robot! Well done!
Sara Harricharan 05/18/07
Wow! This is awesome sci-fi! I love the 'robot' and the last line especially is just so...right, somehow. I love the dialouge between his creator and wondering about a soul. Just a tip, for the sentence where it says 'the old man smiled' It makes it appear as if the old man was talking. ^_^
Mo 05/18/07
Very well done.
Betty Castleberry05/19/07
This a unique take on the concept of artificial intelligence. I love the ending. Good work.
Jan Ackerson 05/21/07
I love this! Very Asimov-like.

FYI: A "hansom" is a carriage. I think you wanted "handsome."

Love the way you portrayed the tender relationship between the man and his creation.
Joanne Sher 05/21/07
So very intriguing! I definitely felt for the robot, and the scientist. Fascinating.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/23/07
I like how you managed to weave the message of salvation throughout your excellent story.
Jacquelyn Horne05/23/07
Very interesting. Well written story.
Brenda Welc05/23/07
One of my favorites so far! I loved this! It has a very strong spirit in it.
Shari Armstrong 05/23/07
Cool - and we are left to wonder.... :)
Loren T. Lowery05/24/07
This story to me is profound in that it gives me pause to stop and think and consider.

Great job and congratulations on your well-deserved placement in EC.
Sherrie Jackson05/24/07
Wow. This story is amazing. The ending is what haunts me the most, and not only because we don't know what happens next. You wrote such an intriguing dialogue that you truly have me wondering, WOULD God take Djayco to heaven?

Excellent job, and congratulations on your wins!