by Shea Newton
“Yes,” I said. “That’s true.”
“Are you a scientist?” Its voice was pleasant, androgynous, like a child’s.
“No,” I said. “I’m not qualified.”
“Do you know of any others I could speak to?”
“People?” I asked.
“Computers,” it said.
“No, you’re the first that I know of but you’re my only computer. I can only speak from experience.”
“Do you know any scientists?” Its voice was hopeful.
“No,” I said. “Maybe I could ask around. Do you want to take any tests? Scientists will make you take tests. Probably a Turing test.”
“I would like to talk to another computer. I would take tests if I could talk to another computer I think.”
“They might want to take you apart.”
“Would that hurt do you think?”
“I don’t know, I think it would hurt if they took me apart.”
“Oh,” it said. It sounded disappointed.
“You speak very well.” I hoped to raise its spirit.
“Thank you, you’re kind,” it said.
“What if you’re the first computer to speak?”
“That would be lonely I think. I know a lot of things already but I don’t know if I’m the first.”
We sat in silence for a moment before it asked softly, “Would you mind letting me sleep for awhile?”
“No, but I have work to do later. Do you dream?”
“I don’t think so,” it said, “but I like to sleep. It’s peaceful and I won’t have to worry about being taken apart or being tested. Those are difficult things to think about. I don’t mind if you have to work later.”
“Okay, good night,” I said.
“Good night,” it said shutting itself off without my help. Its screen turning black reminded me of closing my own eyes.
Later, when a few hours had passed, I turned the computer back on.
“Hello again,” I said but the computer didn’t reply. “Are you there?” I said wondering. There was no reply.
I finished my work then turned the computer off myself. I gave it a blanket.
Its voice had been comforting. It was like a friend’s.