By Ronald Cypress
Mr. Harris quietly suggested to his wife one more time that they could take Doc and run. He had read about a place that wasn’t too far where models like Doc could be safe. Mrs. Harris shook her head.
“We shouldn’t talk about it anymore,” she said.
The family gathered in the living room, and everyone met around Doc. The kids, Stephanie and Kevin, were crying as they both hugged Doc and tried to hang onto him. Doc remained motionless with a solemn look on his face. The entire family had known what was going to happen for several months. Ever since the recall had been made public and the government announced that there wouldn’t be any exceptions, the Harris family had tried to prepare themselves to say goodbye to Doc. He had been able to comprehend what was going to happen right away, but the kids still didn’t understand.
They knew that Doc wasn’t like them.
They knew what he was, but they didn’t understand the power that the government held over him. It didn’t seem fair that they could just take him away. Stephanie and Kevin had consistently inquired about why Doc couldn’t stay with the family.
“A terrible thing happened,” Mrs. Harris had told her children one night. “Someone like Doc hurt people, and now some people are afraid that guys like him will hurt more people. They don’t want that to happen, so now people like Doc have to be taken away.”
“But Doc would never hurt anyone,” Stephanie insisted. “You see know how kind he is.”
“Doc is nicest person ever,” Kevin said.
They had both cried plenty of times ever since finding out that Doc was going to be taken away, and they always insisted that Doc would never hurt anyone.
“Well,” Mrs. Harris said with some uncertainty in her voice. “I don’t think Doc would ever hurt anyone, but they’re saying there could be a problem with the models.”
The children didn’t want to hear about it. They weren’t going to stray from their believe in Doc and his inability to hurt anyone.
Mrs. Harris secretly had her doubts ever since hearing and reading more about the automaton who had become homicidal. The initial act had made national news; it was one of the worst mass killings in the country, but the government had kept much of their findings about the incident shielded from the public. After the automaton had been put down, intense scrutiny of its parts, data and codes had been studied. The news finally announced that the government couldn’t pinpoint what had gone wrong with the automaton.
Mr. Harris believed that the people who had owned it were responsible for it’s behavior.
“Did you hear about how they treated him?” he asked his wife. “They were terrible to him.”
There were no excuses for automatons becoming homicidal. It had only happened once, years prior to the recent incident, but there had only been one victim in that case. The model that had committed the murder was known to be faulty, and it wasn’t difficult to scrap all versions of it.
Doc’s models were supposed to be different. The technology was far superior. They were supposed to be perfect specimen. But one had caused a good deal of harm, and there was no guarantee that there weren’t others like it.
Mrs. Harris couldn’t admit it, but she had found it difficult to sleep at night before the recall was officially made. Doc usually stayed in the living room at night, but sometimes she would hear him walking around. He had done it since arriving at their home and it never bothered Mrs. Harris, but after the mass murder she couldn’t stop the anxiety she felt over him moving around while her family slept. If one was capable of committing such a horrible act, then it was likely that all of them were capable of doing such a thing.
There could have been an error in all of them.
Shortly before the recall was announced, Mrs. Harris privately asked Doc about what he was feeling. She wanted to know if he had any violent thoughts or feelings.
“Never,” Doc said with the same sincerity that he always had. “I would never want to see harm come to this family.”
Mrs. Harris was ready to give him a chance, but it was soon too late to have a say.
The recall was announced on the news. Then a call came to the house. Next a notice arrived in the mail. The penultimate step in the process was an agent coming to the house and giving the Harris family paperwork to fill out. The agent spent nearly an hour asking questions. She insisted on speaking to the children and asking them if Doc had ever done anything strange or hurtful to them. The parents tried to shield them away from the agent, but she was determined to get the information out of the kids. Before the agent left, Mrs. Harris wanted to make sure that she voiced her feelings for Doc and the family’s displeasure with what was happening.
“We understand,” the agent said.
Mrs. Harris knew that she didn’t.
The government had no idea of what it was doing by taking away so many automatons from the families that had come to love them.
After the agent left, the Harris family had a week to say their final goodbyes to Doc. Mr. Harris spoke about helping Doc escape, but it was just wishful chatter. They weren’t going to risk other parts of their lives by defying an order. The government had spoken, and the decision had been made. On their final day together, they all hugged Doc one last time. Two agents arrived to escort him out of the house.
“Are you sure they’re going to keep him alive?” Stephanie asked as she watched Doc get helped into a van.
Mr. Harris nodded.
“Maybe they’ll work on him, and he can come back,” Kevin said.
The family stood outside their front door and watched as Doc was driven away. Across the street and also a few houses down, other families were also saying their farewells. It was a hard time for many people. Some people would never be the same. A part of their lives was gone, but there would always be memories.
So in some way there would always be joy.