Yeah, I totally forgot to put this up yesterday. My bad.
Walter’s first steps were somewhat shaky, in stark contrast to DAVE’s streamlined first few seconds of existence.
And he seemed utterly fascinated with his own movements.
Anthony gave Walter some space to get used to the simple task of walking before introducing himself.
“Hey, bro! Remember me?” Anthony grinned up at Walter and waved.
Walter cocked his titanium skull as he peered down at my son. Then the scraps of metal assigned to be his “eyebrows” rose up and his jaw fell open. “Tony!” exclaimed a very high, rather childish voice. And then Walter swept Anthony up into a hug.
I stood back and simply observed the two interacting while tidying up my workbench. Initially, there was a bit of awkwardness, but that moment was swiftly overtaken by a comradery that seemed pre-established. It took me a moment more to realize, of course, they’ve essentially known each other for almost a year. They had just never “met” face-to-face before.
Initially, it was odd, hearing them refer to each other as “brothers”. But eventually I reached the conclusion that it was no odder than one of my brothers being my adopted cousin, and the other being a cloned extraterrestrial. Speaking of which, I thought to myself, still observing Anthony and Walter. I’ll have to speak to Funke about proper rights. I needed to be sure my family would never repeat the past.
While Anthony was at school, I took Walter with me to visit Dr, Funke at the Landgraab Industries. It was time for one of Walter’s weekly checkups with Dr. Funke, who liked to monitor Walter’s development as well as make more biological upgrades.
“Can you imagine it, Mayfield? We’re creating life here! Actual life!” The young man before me bounced on the balls of his feet, a large grin splitting his face.
I’ll admit it, it was thrilling. Funke and I were the sole reason Walter even existed at all! After I had written the initial programs guiding Walter’s ability to learn and respond, Funke had begun implementing bio-mechanical upgrades. The long-term plan was to get Walter as close to “living” as possible. With, of course, a few minor improvements.
Mortimer did not understand what it was I was doing, and he didn’t pretend to. He was simply there. A kind smile, a gentle hug, a congratulatory cuddle. He is incredibly supportive. For all the wonders of creating Walter, I’m not sure I could have gotten through the many, many roadblocks without him.
I’m not sure Walter would have either. For some reason he seemed to think that every technological failure Funke and I encountered was a direct result of his own inadequacies. I’ll admit, I wasn’t prepared for his self-depreciative response and subsequent tears. Damn Funke for insisting that tear ducts, of all things, be installed first.
Fortunately, Mortimer knew just what to do. He handled the situation, hugging Walter, shushing him, and calmly repeating that nothing was the fault of Walter. While all I could do was stand uselessly to the side.
Anthony didn’t seem to have any interest in Walter’s creation and continued construction, however much I tried. But he definitely had interest in Walter himself. The two were never apart for long.
The “brothers” did as much as they could together. To the point where Walter finally approached me about joining school with Anthony. I didn’t have a reason not to, so I sat him down and began tutoring him. And if he called me “Mom” during these sessions, who was I to correct him?
“Hey, Walter! Over here!” Anthony waved his arms wildly for his brother to throw the ball.
Walter wound up his arm. Literally.
Watching them play was a joy to me. But, as I caught the disgusted faces of the townsfolk, apparently I was alone in that thought.
Their horrified faces stuck with me through the rest of the day, throughout meetings and conferences, until I met with Dr. Funke later that afternoon.
Funke scratched his chin. “People might be unsettled by his metallic exterior. Well, if that’s how it is, we might want to try out the protosuit.”
I frowned. I found Walter’s exterior charming. The townsfolk reaction floated across my mind. But I suppose that’s just me.
For his next appointment, Walter left the Labs looking quite a bit different than when he went in.
Funke had grown Walter’s skin from a combination of our DNA, determining Walter’s coloring and facial characteristics. So Walter came out with Funke’s bright red hair and my eye shape and skin tone. The green eyes were an oddity. Funke giddily referred to it as a “mutation”. However, Walter chose his own wardrobe. Altogether, Walter was perfectly endearing, now outside as well as inside.
But, for some reason I couldn’t wrap my mind around, the people of Sunset Valley still responded strangely whenever Walter was near.
It began to wear down Walter’s otherwise boundless optimism.
And Anthony began showing his far less charming side to anyone who dared to comment on his brother’s oddity.
I stared down at the paper Anthony had all but thrown at me before storming off to his room. “What?”
Cloud Flower rolled her eyes. “Tony beat up some dude, and Mrs. Williams is pissed at him.”
My niece huffed and dropped her bag on the floor, kicking it underneath the table. “Some kid started saying how weird and inhuman Walter was.” She shrugged. “So Tony beat him up.” Cloud Flower grabbed a plate of Mortimer’s freshly baked pumpkin pie and headed upstairs.
My Anthony? …yes, I can believe that.
“What should we do?” I asked finally.
Across from me, Mortimer frowned. “I’ve never liked the idea of uprooting, but it might be for the best.”
I bit my lip. I’d been uprooted so many times, what did once more matter? But what about the boys? How would Anthony and Walter respond to being forcefully moved? Not to mention Cloud Flower. She’d be angry for weeks!
“It may be Walter’s best chance to live a normal life,” Mortimer said, accurately reading the emotions flickering over my face. “And Cloud Flower and Anthony are both still young enough to adapt.”
Slowly, I nodded. It wouldn’t be so bad. I could work anywhere, and Mortimer had been given the offer of a promotion. It had required an across-the-world transplant, but, given the circumstances, he was now considering it. It would be best for Walter; give him a chance for the normalcy Funke was always raving about. And the other children would adapt. If Medea could, they certainly could.
Medea’s face flitted across my mind, followed swiftly by Thomas’s, Lucy’s and Donovan’s. I would be leaving my siblings behind. My breath caught at the thought. Can I do such a thing?
Even as Mortimer and I made plans to sell the house and buy new property in a geographical region I’d never even heard of, doubts circled my mind. I’d never been anywhere without my siblings. They were the only consistent thing in my life for many, many years. Even now, with jobs and other family obligations, we all remained in close contact. How could I leave them all behind?
As it turned out, my worries were unfounded. At our next family meet-up, celebrating the birth of Lucy’s latest son, Jeromy, I had shared the news of my impending move with my siblings.
And it turned out that Thomas and his family were also moving. Not to the same region, but nearby. Thomas wanted to get away from his title of Rock Star and Darlene was looking to retire. How one’s fiftieth birthday sneaks up on us.
Upon hearing mine and Thomas’s news, Medea had burst out laughing. Apparently, she also was looking forward to a move, specifically to the same region as Mortimer and I. She had received an outstanding offer to join a very prestigious sports team, the Llama Yamas. She’d turned it down, she told us happily and with a wink. Humberto had applied for a large grant to study the so-called cancer-immune lemur, the Yama Ringtail. They were all set to move by the end of the month to “settle down a bit”, Medea said, absent-mindedly rubbing her abdomen.
Lucy and Glen had decided to move for Lucy’s art. She had attended a conference last year with artists that had been so astounded by her work, that they had offered to pay for her to move to the region and teach a few classes at the art university. It happened to be the very same region Medea, Mortimer and I had been looking at.
Following our elating news, Donovan had looked around the table with wide eyes. Then firmly declared that if the rest of us were going, he’d go too. Shaye shrugged nonchalantly and agreed.
So, it was decided. The Mayfield clan would be pulling up roots once more.
And gently, satisfactorily, we close the Book of Generation 2. Next we’ll have the Generation 2 Family Summary, before moving on to Generation 3 proper! 😀
Walter has his own entry in the Family Album now. Speaking of which, has anyone else ever turned a simbot into an android? Have you noticed genetic similarities between simbot and creator? Walter really does have Chloe’s eye shape and skin tone, and I was wondering if it was because of sim-genetics or just random chance.
Thanks for reading! ^_^