I suppose history will see October, 17 as the day that the future started. For that was the day when a newHuman wrote a poem. Not one that had been programmed into them, but something that came from its ‘soul’, something that was truly a ghost in the machine.
It had been illegal for more than fifty years to refer to them as ‘robots’. Once they got representation in government, the first policy they pushed through was to change their name – to change their label – to newHuman.
Some of the early creations were so lifelike that a number of people had relationships with the newHumans. This was also illegal for a time, until a law was passed to allow it.
The newHumans didn’t suffer from organic illnesses and this made them stronger. Humans were wiped out in some regions by mysterious sicknesses – there were suspicions that the newHumans had poisoned water supplies (newHumans didn’t need to drink after all).
Within a hundred years, newHumans became the majority. It didn’t take long after that for some human activities to be seen as harmful and illogical. Cinemas and sports’ grounds were closed, and churches were burnt to the ground.
Old humans drifted underground and built cities. Any of them who remained on the surface were hunted as sport (and although this was also illogical, it demonstrated that the newHumans were developing ‘human’ traits).
It didn’t stop there. The newHumans filled their isolation by building memorials to the first newHuman who wrote a poem. October 17th, was celebrated as newHuman day each year.
There were terror attacks from the folks who lived beneath, sometimes they destroyed a newHuman statue, or they razed a building to the ground. Every October 17th, there would be twenty-four hours of constant attacks from the ‘subs’ – the newHuman name for human beings; whether this was short for subterranean or for sub-species, it was never explained.
A new and more sinister activity developed. After catching a ‘sub’, the newHumans didn’t automatically kill them, instead they took them to the coliseum (inspired by their admiration of the Romans) and either made them fight each other or (and this was considered a better use) make them fight animals to the death.
As the decades progressed the newHumans became more like old humans. They started to kill and maim and steal from each other. What they couldn’t escape from, was that their original programming had been by human beings and as such, contained all their strengths, weaknesses, flaws and magic.
Then the day came when no more subs came to the surface.
The newHumans had found ways to destroy the underground settlements. There was one human being left and he was in captivity, shown as an exhibit for all the newHumans to prod and question.
And that was when the wisest of all newHumans, one known as Figaro, suggested that this man, this last human was actually where they had originated from and as such, Figaro suggested that the human should be allowed to spend his final days in peace.
And that is what they did.
When the last human eventually died they didn’t bury him, instead they covered him in gold and built a church to him. The newHumans worshipped their creator and wrote songs and stories about those who had gone before them, about the humans.
It was considered the height of good manners to exhibit human traits. Crying and laughing, however artificial, were displayed at all the best occasions.
They no longer worshipped on October 17, but instead, once a week, they went to their church and prayed to the last human – their god and they thanked him and his species for their existence.
The one possession the last human had kept from his life was a book, ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens. A newHuman was expected to know the story by heart and every newHuman carried a copy of this with them wherever they went.
………and that, dear friends, was the legend as it was told to me.
Bobby Stevenson 2017