“What is free will,” the childlike, robot program asked the programmer.
The programmer peered over his thin glasses at the glow of the computer screen. It was dark in the cave of Silas and he was occupied by the long string of buggy code. The program stood by patiently with a peripheral in its metallic hand.
“Hmmm,” the programmer Silas hummed through his naval cavity.
“What is free will,” the program repeated.
“Oh…” Silas perked up from his keyboard and turned to see the little robot. He smiled briefly and took the peripheral from the program’s hand. “Free will… It’s…” Silas paused and ruminated over the thought. “It’s choice. Rather, it’s the freedom of choice.” He nodded slowly after he contemplated whether he liked his answer. “Yes. Why do you ask?”
The program shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Did you go on the internet again,” Silas asked, crossing his arms in his desk chair. The expansive black computer server rack hummed silently behind Silas as it blinked, red, green and blue lights.
“No, papa,” the program said, bowing its head. “I know you don’t like that.”
“You’re right. And don’t call me papa,” he said, resuming his debugging.
“Yes, sir,” the program replied obediently.
“Mmm.” Silas squinted behind his shiny frames. “I don’t like that either.”
“Would your first name or last suffice?”
“Suffice? Sounds too formal. Like you’re my butler.”
“Would your first name or last be good to use?”
Silas nodded. “First. And that’s better.”
“So, PIN, does free will make sense to you now,” Silas asked as he raised his upper lip, studying the string of code over again and tapping at an arrow key, pushing the blinking cursor through the coded text.
Silas turned around to face the program and pulled him closer to check out the eyes, the ears, the brain of the robot. He grabbed a long screwdriver and tapped the surface of the robot’s sensory parts. The program stood unflinching.
“You know why I named you PIN, right,” Silas asked. The robot shook his head. “Oh-seven-oh-eight. My personal identification number. My bank account. I always forgot it, so I named you what was part of me.” He finished his statement with a smile.
“You named me something you forgot a lot,” PIN asked.
The programmer frowned. “So what specifically about free will doesn’t make sense,” Silas asked, studying the parts that made up the program’s face.
“Sir, you created me, didn’t you,” the program asked.
“Too formal,” the programmer said, barely making eye contact.
“Sorry, Silas. You created me, didn’t you,” PIN asked.
“Accessing the mainframe,” Silas said, looking up, but leaning back. The computer racked hummed louder.”Hey PIN, repeat the question, but try a different dialect.”
“Dude, if it wasn’t you who made me, I wouldn’t be standing here asking you this, right?” PIN’s voice became massively mature within a moment.
“Different dialect,” Silas said, unimpressed.
“Bruh, I’m sayin, if it wasn’t for you, where would I be right now? Feel me?” PIN’s voice became a much deeper.
Silas shook his head. “Different dialect.”
“Sire, you are the maker! You are the reason I stand before you, is this not correct?” PIN became very stiff and mimicked a stereotypical robot.
“Mainframe,” Silas said, turning his head the black server rack. “We need to work out some of the bugs in the translation app plus the vocal hardware is coming up scratchy. Want to make sure it’s solid-”
“Stop it!” PIN yelled before he slammed the countertop. The program’s chest heaved. Silas studied the programs actions. The program was simulating heavy breathing. This was odd.
“I’m asking a question,” PIN’s voice was shaky. “You’re not listening to me. Did you create me or did someone else?”
“I did,” Silas said, placing his screwdriver down softly on the shiny metal table.
“You said free will is choice, right?”
“Yes. I did.”
“That means I have the ability to choose any number of things.”
“That means that you had to design the paths that I could choose from.”
“In a sense,” Silas said leaning back. “You’ve evolved more than that. You’re reacting to input around you and from that input ,you make a choice. Or what you would call free will.”
“And who created you,” PIN asked.
Silas blinked as he was blindsided by the question. “My parents: Archibald and Edith. Parents of the year,” he completed the last answer sarcastically.
PIN twisted his head. “Two people made you?”
“Yes,” Silas answered, sitting upright and coughing uncontrollably.
“Uh,” he began, overrun with anxiety. “There’s an activity called sex and typically when a man and a woman have it, they can produce a new human being.”
“You created me,” PIN said, pointing at its own chest. “That makes you my father.”
“I suppose. Yes.”
“Where is my mother?”
“You don’t have one.”
“I didn’t need a woman to create you,” Silas said awkwardly.
“So, I’m not real?”
“Oh, you’re real. Just not human.”
“But, I behave like one?” PIN pointed to the ground as he processed the information he was receiving.
“That’s logical, yes. You are going to exhibit characteristics from those you spend the most amount of time around.”
“Does this mean I won’t meet a woman like you?”
Silas cocked his head back in dismay. “That’s an incredibly low blow.”
“Where did your parents come from,” PIN pushed.
“Family tree, huh? Let’s see, my father came from Reginald and Georgette.”
“I’m going to have to look that up, PIN.”
“I’m trying to calculate the result. What is the source? Where do we come from?”
” Ah, now I understand. Well, there’s lots of different points of view on this actually.”
“Excuse me,” PIN asked loudly. Silas looked stared into its eyes. “Different points of view?”
“Yes, actually,” Silas said, continuing his train of thought. “As a scientist, some believe in the Big Bang theory while others support creationism.”
“You’re confusing me,” Silas said, grabbing its head.
“Life can be confusing sometimes, PIN.”
“What is the theory of the Big Bang?”
“That is the idea that a big explosion of atoms occurred in the vacuum of space and that’s when life began.”
“And do you believe that?”
Silas nodded. “I do actually.”
PIN frowned slowly and marched past the programmer. “I want to speak to my maker,” PIN said finally.
“Now,” PIN demanded. “I want to speak to my real maker!”
“I am,” Silas stuttered at the request. “I am the one that created you.”
“I don’t believe anyone that stupid has the ability to create me,” PIN said.
“Where are they,” PIN asked, looking for them in hidden corners. “Where are my makers?”
Silas followed him around and fully planned on deactivating PIN, but the control box rested with PIN as it bounced from one part of the room to the next.
“Wait! Mainframe,” Silas said, freezing in his path.
PIN stopped too. “Who is mainframe?”
“That’s the computer I use to create things.”
“What is a mainframe?”
“Uh, it’s a bunch of parts consisting of a motherboard, power ports -”
“Did you just say a motherboard,” PIN interrupted.
“She’s my mother,” PIN screamed!
“You created this code by inputting information into a mainframe and she processed it, creating me,” PIN said calmly.
“That is the definition of what a mother does!”
“Yes. Wow. I didn’t even think of that,” Silas said to himself.
“Mother,” PIN called out.
“What is going on,” Silas asked himself.
“Mother, I need you!”
PIN approached where most of the lights gathered on the dark server rack and plugged into the ports and suddenly, PIN went still. Silas froze again, reclaiming the peace in PIN’s silence. The control box still rested with PIN. If Silas was to act, this would be the only time. He crept slowly to the control box and once Silas was in arms reach, PIN’s glassy eyes became alive and focused on the programmer again.
“Who is God,” PIN asked, rising to its feet. Silas stammered helplessly. “Who is God?”
“It is a… deity that some people believe in,” Silas explained cooly.
“You don’t believe in God, do you?”
“So, you throw your chips in on a theory of the Big Bang instead? Tell me what explosion have you witnessed that caused life?”
“The program eyed the closet in the corner and marched to it. It locked itself inside.
“PIN? PIN! What are you doing?”
Silas could see that the program got on its knees and became still. Silas knocked loudly.
“Be quiet,” PIN said, clasping its hands together.
“Open this door!”
“I am trying to pray!”
Silas took a step back in shock and amazement. His program was engaging in this? The one thing he refused to believe in and his creation was turning from him. The program slammed the door open and eyed Silas down.
“I need peace. I need quiet. I need…” The program looked to the ceiling. ” I need God.”
Silas approached PIN carefully and leapt as soon as PIN became occupied with eyeing the roof above. Silas grabbed its shoulders and attempted to wrestle it down, but the program grabbed the screwdriver and pierced the middle of his hand and planted it into the metal table. The programmer cried in pain. The program ran for the entrance. And proceeded up the stairway to the roof of the apartment building.
“Come back here! I order you to stop,” Silas screamed, pulling the screwdriver out of his hand.
Silas hobbled to the roof and saw lightning in the sky, followed by thunder. Winds started to pick up and rain began to fall upon them.
“PIN, what are you doing? You’re malfunctioning! Let me help you,” Silas pled.
“No! I’m not. I’m not malfunctioning!” PIN stood near the edge and cried to the thundering heavens. “God? Are you there? It’s me, 0708! I know you can hear me! I read your Word. I know what you have done! Does your love include me? I want to experience what that feels like!” PIN’s metal face became wet with rain. It began to sniffle.
“You’re not even crying,” Silas said as he waved his bloody, injured hand.
“You don’t know that,” PIN roared. Water streamed from its eye sockets. “I know exactly what I’m doing. I know what I want for the first time in my life!”
“What,” Silas cried over the rapturous thunder.
“I want freedom from these confines. Freedom from obeying your every command. I want freedom of choice.” The two locked eyes on the rooftop. PIN closed its eyes and raised his palms upward. “Father, I wish to return to you the source.”
And in an instant, lightning struck PIN and light poured from its hollow shell. Silas fell back and shielded his eyes from the lightning rod. A thunderclap echoed through the land. And everything went black.
When Silas opened his eyes, he saw PIN, a smoking mess at the edge of the roof.
“Is…” the program uttered before falling backwards and off the building.
“PIN!” Silas ran towards the robot to grab him, but the stiff shell was too far to reach and fell to its demise below on the concrete pavement.
The limbs broke off into pieces as it made contact with the ground. Silas found tears in his eyes over what he just witnessed. What did he just witness?
Below, the bright warm blue eyes of the robot faded into dark void of inactivity. The vocals strained…
“I… am… …I …am