While waiting for the next subject to load, Daniel started talking about humans again. Ever since his first cycle, Daniel had been fascinated by them. To his cybernetic brain, humans were deemed inefficient. It was why humans were the subject of nightmares.
“There’s no way he’s human. He might like being tough on us, but that doesn’t make him human.”
“I’m telling you he is. I saw it with my own optics. He cut his finger and there was blood coming from it!” said Daniel.
“You’re making it all up just to scare me.”
Daniel sighed deeply. His friend Mike, was unconvinced. There had been rumours going around that humans wanted to take over their world. Daniel, all of twelve cycles old, never believed anything unless he saw it himself. When he had seen his headteacher cut his finger on the knife, his world fell apart.
“I’m not. Logic says that scaremongering does not work on our synapses.”
“That’s not stopped you before.”
“My circuits have not been programmed to do that.”
“Whatever. I’m late for class.”
“What’s the lesson?”
“Differential Calculus, my favourite.”
Before Daniel could answer, a voice boomed at them.
“Daniel eight zero seven nine three one dash five, report to the headteacher’s office.”
“Now look what you’ve done, you’ve angered him.”
Daniel left Mike and made his way down the corridor, regretting he had ever opened his mouth. Of all the things that could have happened, this was the second worst. Failing maths was the ultimate for him.
He knocked as timidly as his mechanics allowed. Unfortunately, the noise penetrated further than he wanted.
As Daniel eased the door closed, the headteacher said
“Your educator has sent you to me for conversing in class. Sit there boy.” he said, pointing to the solitary desk, A sheet of paper sat in the centre.
After sitting down, Daniel read the exercise title and groaned inwardly, ‘Easy sums for simple children’. It was like cycle one all over again.
“But sir, can’t I do something harder?”
“No. Now get started, you have ten minutes per question. No rushing.”
The first sum glared at him; ‘one plus two equals?’
Midway through the exercise, Daniel noticed the headteacher get up from his chair. He wanted to see what he was up to but could not take his optics from the paper.
“You know my secret, Daniel. Do you know what I’m going to do with you?”
Daniel tried to concentrate harder on the exercise.
“Care to guess?”
“I’m going to eat you!”
The headteacher was standing in front of him now.
“I’m going to devour you little by little.”
Daniel’s digesting unit contracted. His semi-permeable outer layer glistened with water. Daniel watched as the desk was pulled away. Looking up at his headteacher, Daniel could see a piece of paper tucked into the neck of the shirt, He swallowed.
“I’m going to enjoy eating you. You’re about the right size for a tasty snack before lunch.”
The last thing Daniel saw before covering his optics was the headteacher licking his lips.
“Wake up Daniel, wake up!”
Daniel opened his optics and looked around him. The headteacher’s office was replaced by his bedroom. The man himself swapped for his parental guide.
“Oh it was horrible!”
“What was?” the guide answered in a soothing voice.
“I-I dreamt that humans were going to take over the world. The headteacher was one and he was going to eat me!”
“Don’t be silly, humans don’t exist.”
“But it was so real.”
“They don’t exist. They’re just ghosts in the machine. You can run a system configuration in the morning.”
“Okay, thanks.” said Daniel, relieved to see the real world.
“No problem, now go back to hibernate mode and get some rest.”