Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
Hey, all. You don’t know me, but I’ve been in this group for about four years now, even if I never really said anything. I’m just not really the social network type of person – I’m one of those old-fashioned guys who prefer face to face contact to blog posts and messaging, so I never saw much appeal in engaging in an online discussion, even if I rather enjoyed reading your posts. Well, the time has come for me to make my first, and most likely only, post here. In all honesty, I’m expecting a swift and permanent ban from NetWeb after this, but I don’t really care. There’s something I need to tell everyone, and it’s going to sound crazy and nonsensical, but I assure you every word is true.
My message is simple – do NOT buy an RT!!! I can not stress this enough. Do not purchase an RT, a used one or especially a brand new one. Let the fad die off. Please. I know what you’re thinking – “But Trevor, RTs have the potential to change the world! If we use them right and monitor them properly we’re looking at an age of prosperity!” And yes, I do agree that the fantasy that IGT has been trying to pitch us for the last three years sounds pretty great, but in reality it’s disgusting, inhumane, and not to mention highly illegal. I have no concrete proof for any of my beliefs, so I’m not going to outline them in plain text. All I’m going to do is tell you the story leading up to the creation of this post and let you reach your own conclusions.
It’s important to note that I lost one of my legs to a soft tissue sarcoma last year. By the time we caught it, it had already spread to the rest of my body, but with proper treatment the doctors are expecting me to live for at least another 25 years, which, while not ideal, is way more than cancer patients with my condition lived for only half a century ago. Still, the treatments leave me in a lot of pain, and the aforementioned lack of one leg makes it pretty difficult to move about, even with my prosthesis. And since I’m both disabled AND terminally ill, I more than qualified for IGT’s charity which provided free RTs to people who really need them. When I received a message from one of their PR people asking me if I would like to get a free model to help out around the house, I was ecstatic! Sure, I knew that this was all in their best interest, not mine – their donations are tax-deductible, and they’re also getting free marketing through exposure to boot. Regardless, as someone who’s never had a proper girlfriend and got disowned by his parents years ago, I knew I could really use the help. And besides, who wouldn’t want the hottest, latest piece of technology for absolutely free? I was certainly not going to say no to that, even if I had to play the cancer card to get it.
For the next several weeks I was in negotiation with the PR guy (whose name I won’t disclose, because I sincerely doubt he knows anything about what’s going on), sending documents back and forth, familiarizing myself with the terms and conditions of their deal and that sort of thing. Yes, IGT really do run a charity with terms and conditions attached to their donations, because IGT. But anyway, I was told that I’d receive a 2060 “GRETA” model – not the latest, even at the time (the story happened in early ‘62), yet still pretty damn great, costing north of half a million. The package was delivered to me on a Monday, straight to my door, and after that I set about assembling the RT unit myself. The process was, admittedly, a lot easier than I expected – the body and head were already in place, so all I had to do was attach the limbs, which required just a little bit of unscrewing and soldering, and then activate the unit. Honestly, while RTs look super realistic in ads and on store shelves, in real life they fall a bit in the uncanny valley, especially upon closer inspection. You know that horrible artificial skin they use on the expensive prosthetics, the kind that really looks like skin, but feels like cheap plastic? My RT was covered in that, head to toe.
The assembly took about 25 minutes in total, which I know some people in this group will consider to be way too slow, but keep in mind that I’m not really the type of person who’s ever had to work with this kind of stuff. When I was a child I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the tools, which were the exclusive domain of my father and older brother, and during high school and beyond I only ever did some basic soldering, like the type they teach in shop class, so go easy on me. Anyway, soon enough my RT was ready to go. The GRETA model’s system software came pre-installed (no messy work required there), but the unit hadn’t been activated yet – I had to do that myself so that it could imprint. For the five of you unfamiliar with the process, imprinting is pretty much the most important part of the setup. The first person the RT sees upon its activation becomes its… well, for lack of a better word, its Master. That person will always receive top priority when it comes to issuing orders or being cared for, and the RT will never wander off when its Master is less than 500 meters away.
Upon turning the unit on for the first time, it… Well, I guess after activation it’s not really an “it” anymore, is it? Upon turning the unit on for the first time, she began the imprinting process, and to hide that fact recited a pre-recorded message, just your standard fare about the rules I’d have to take into account, such as feeding her once a day, letting her sleep for at least five hours, caring for her as if I’d been caring for a real person… Kind of ironic, considering the fact that she was supposed to care for me, but whatever. The instructions also stated rather sternly that I was not to penetrate the skin layer of the RT under any circumstances, and that upon malfunction I was to bring her to an IGT-certified repair shop only, or else I’d be voiding my warranty. I didn’t pay it much mind, though.
Once the instructions were complete, so was the imprinting, and my RT’s life, if you can call it that, began. That machine which uncannily resembled a young girl looked around, her artificial eyes flickering and moving just like real ones would. She finally introduced herself more informally, explaining that I had to do some basic tasks before she could be useful to me. It was fairly simple stuff, such as giving her my schedule, setting alarms, feeding her info like my social security number, that kind of thing. She also asked me to name her, which I really didn’t feel comfortable doing. I’m probably very weird in this regard, but I don’t believe in choosing somebody else’s name – it’s like you define part of them without their knowledge or consent, forever. But then again, maybe I’m just biased. After all, when I was born my parents named me Marissa, so suffice to say, that didn’t really stick for too long. Legally changing my name to something more fitting felt empowering, like I was finally in charge of defining who I was. So I told her she could pick her own name, when she felt ready. She suggested Greta, like her model name, but I disagreed – I wanted her to choose something that she, herself, would feel was right for her. It’s funny – even at that moment, I subconsciously knew that she was more than just a computer in a humanoid body, like IGT was advertising. But I didn’t get confirmation until she began dreaming.
According to my research, RTs dreaming during sleep is not uncommon at all. In fact, it happens roughly as frequently as it does in humans, and just like us, they dream of recent events, people they have met, the works. Their software is sorting through the data collected during the day, placing the most important bits on the HDD and deleting the rest, and that process may sometimes “glitch” into dreams. I’ve seen a lot of people in this group, and beyond, report being weirded out when their RTs woke up and began telling them about their dreams, but at least those could be easily explained by the information transfer process I described above. What’s less easy to comprehend is when an RT begins dreaming about things and people they’ve never seen before. After all, if that explanation is true, then how can RTs possibly dream of objects they don’t have a recorded memory of? It didn’t make any sense at all, it was like a camera having pictures on its memory card that you’ve never taken. My own RT, who by that point began going by the name Laura, started experiencing this phenomenon about a month after she imprinted.
It was always the exact same dream – a white house, with two floors looking like cubes stacked upon each other. The peculiar thing about them was that the upper “cube” was turned several degrees to the side, so that its corners protruded above the lower floor’s walls. It was an interesting architectural decision, one that I was positive I’d never seen or even glimpsed before. And yet Laura recalled it flawlessly, down to the finest detail. The first time she told me about this dream I dismissed her pretty casually, thinking it was just something she spotted while on a shopping trip. The second time caught my curiosity. Then the third, fourth, fifth and sixth times all convinced me that there was something very weird happening here. Worried that my RT might have a serious issue, I asked her to draw a sketch of the house, and then sent that to IGT’s customer support alongside an explanation of the problem. This is the response I received:
“Dear Mr. Kingsley,
I regret to hear about the issues you’re experiencing with your aRTificial. Our engineers here at IGT are working hard to troubleshoot every single unit we ship in order to assure that our customers receive only the highest quality product, but considering the demand and the limited time we have to spare on quality assurance for each unit, sometimes mistakes (known as glitches) in the unit’s memory occur. Your particular issue, while inconvenient, is not too uncommon, and we are pleased to inform you that it will cause no issues or long-term problems with your aRTificial’s function. It stems from the fact that, during QA, the engineers use stock photos to “flash” a unit’s short-term memory and make sure it’s functioning. The particular image you have sent me shows an uncanny resemblance to one of the stock images we use for the process, which I have attached to this e-mail. While the issue will fade away over time, if you would like you can bring your unit to an IGT-approved maintenance workshop so that its memory can be formatted. That will solve the issue once and for all.”
As always, I am keeping the IGT employees’ names out of this until I become certain of their involvement. Anyway, I downloaded the picture and, wouldn’t you know it, it was the exact same house that Laura had drawn, right down to the very last detail. Immediately, a lamp in my brain lit up and I was like “Conspiracy! They photoshopped this image to throw me off!”, but no, a reverse image search brought up plenty of sites hosting that particular stock photo, which was apparently uploaded quite a few years ago. Problem solved, right? The customer support guy’s story checked out right down to the very last detail, and more importantly, it made sense. So then why couldn’t I put it out of my mind? And I wasn’t alone – day after day, Laura would wake up and excitedly told me about the dream she’d had as she prepared breakfast for us. That dream was, of course, always about the house, in some way, shape or form. Sometimes she dreamed that she was very tiny and standing in front of the house, other times she was closer to her current height and walking up to it, and a few times she even dreamed that she was inside the house, facing the two pine trees just outside. When I asked how she knew this was the exact same house and not another, Laura told me that it just felt right. It became pretty obvious to me that she had a connection with that place, but I genuinely couldn’t understand what it was. So, like the good no-lifer that I am, I decided to spend my time doing research.
I discovered that the house was built by one Nigel Winston, an architect who also doubled as an artist. He’d built over a dozen houses during his career, each of which had some sort of quirk to it. The white one he called “House of Cards”, which, honestly, didn’t make much sense to me, but I’m sure it did to him, at least at the time. “House of Cards” was built in 2044, and for a time Winston himself lived in it alongside his family, but if the home’s listing in a real estate site was to be believed, he’d moved out about a year ago. An e-mail to the real estate company quickly got me his e-mail, and, interestingly, only his e-mail. While I did prefer something a bit more personal, such as a phone number, I was informed that Nigel Winston was a very private person and rarely, if ever, spoke to anyone. That led me to believe that my e-mail was going to be completely ignored if I revealed the truth about my research’s purpose, so instead I pretended to be someone interested in purchasing the house. I asked the standard questions – is it in a good neighborhood, are there stores or landmarks around, that kind of stuff. On top of it, I also asked more information about the house’s history, such as why it was built, how the stock photo came to be taken, and why he moved out and chose to sell one of his works of art. I am copy/pasting his response below, in full, and leaving the conclusions to you.
“Dear Mr. Kingsley,
I’m pleased to learn of your interest in purchasing the house my family and I called home for over 16 years. Despite its unique design, thus far you have been one of the very few people who expressed a genuine interest. As you can see, my House of Cards is in pristine condition, inside and out. There are multiple family-owned stores about five minutes away from it, as well as a MarGet roughly 15 minutes away. A school and a hospital are both within short driving distance away from the house, as a matter of fact, that’s the reason I chose that place in particular to build it. Its sole reason for existing was to give me and my family shelter, so I deliberately found a spot that would be great for raising a child. One drawback of the house is that it only has two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room, as well as a bathroom on each floor, so there’s no place to, say, set up an office or a storage room. You could, however, convert one of the bedrooms into that if you need it, or you could build an additional structure in the backyard. We used to have two pines growing there that my wife had a liking for, but when we decided to sell and move those were removed, leaving enough empty space to attach another room or even two. The neighborhood is quiet and calm, trust me on this. The reason we moved has nothing to do with the area, or with any external factors. The truth is, my youngest daughter disappeared roughly a year ago, and once the investigation was closed we found that the house just held too many memories. I would prefer it if we no longer dwell on this depressing matter, yet I would also appreciate it if you can keep my Laura in your prayers tonight. If you have any more questions, or would like to set up a meeting, feel free to respond to this e-mail.
With respect, Nigel Winston”
Credit To: RaidenDP1