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S.A.M.

My psychiatrist suggested I start keeping a diary to monitor my thoughts and progress. I can’t write fast enough and handwritten books seem too unwieldy, so I’ve decided to record my thoughts on tape like this. I don’t really see what good it will do me, but I must remember that Dr. Madison is only trying to help me. If anyone can.

It is October 26th, 2008. It’s been exactly a month since Jason died. It happened so quickly, I can still hardly believe he’s gone… but with every passing day I feel his absence even stronger. The emptiness of his room and this house are only shadows to the hollow my broken heart has become. It was hard enough when Martha died three years ago… God, I swore that I would never lose Jason, not before my own self. I swore that if ever anything happened to Jason, any cancer, heart disease, or even pneumonia like Martha, I would gladly give up every penny in my name as soon as I knew to see him survive. But all the science and medicine in the world can’t stop a car wreck.

My life is meaningless. I’ve lost the only people truly dear to me. A part of me has died. No… a part of me died when Martha died. Now that Jason is gone, too, there is nothing left for me. What good is my work when it can’t save even the people I’m closest to?

Why? Why? Why did he have to be taken away so soon? And like this? WHY? I just… I…

I… I’ll have to finish this tomorrow…

January 14th, 2009

I’ve decided to attempt the impossible. I’m going to make a new Jason. If I can’t live without my son, then I’ll make him live again. I’ll build a robot that will move like a human being in every way, with working muscles, organs, nerves, thought, emotion, and speech. It will have synthetic skin that will feel and work just like a human’s. And I will program him with Jason’s personality, memories, and feelings. It will be the greatest scientific achievement in the world, but most importantly, I will get my son back. It is an incredible task, but it has been the only thing to give me strength in these last months. I’ve already begun researching, but only in the past week. It will take months, at least, just to decipher enough of the workings of the human mind and body to begin to build it. But I will do it. It’s worth it to have Jason back.

March 8th, 2009

I finally thought of a name for the project. Synthetic Automated Man: S.A.M. I wanted Jason’s middle name to be Sam, so I thought this idea the most appropriate.

I haven’t felt this alive in years, not since before Martha died. My purpose has filled my life and filled my heart with hope. I’m creating a human being, and not from the vulgarity of sex. Far from it to say that I didn’t enjoy it with Martha, but this, this is art. And I’m already learning so much more about the workings of the human body when I’ve only just begun my research. I will create a miracle unlike anything the scientific community has ever seen, but I’m not doing this to cure terminal disease. I don’t think I’ll even patent my inventions. I can’t tell anyone about this, of course, or else my work would be shut down before I could blink. No, this is my endeavor and mine alone. My only purpose is and has ever been to bring back Jason. If this works well enough, if I can streamline the process when I’m done, perhaps I can bring back Martha, too.

May 13th, 2012

I tested the skeleton today. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It moves as smoothly as a ballet dancer with all the grace and dramatic power of human emotion. It brought me to tears just to see this synthetic armature controlling all its joints and limbs with such extraordinary precision. Its center of balance sensor is off, though. While it managed to walk with a level of success, it could not run and it would frequently lose its balance while bending over. I have more work to do on it, but for now, it looks very impressive.

August 30th, 2017

With each passing day, I grow more frustrated at the inefficiency of the human body, both in my own capacity and in trying to make these artificial organs work. It would be so much easier for me and more convenient for Sam to simply run on a battery that will need to be recharged regularly. This work makes me admire the complexity of the human body, but though it is effective, it is still a horribly convoluted process. And in these long days of research, construction, programming, experimentation, and failure, I’m tempted to just fit him with a battery and be done with it. But I resolved to create a fully artificial human, and I cannot call him a “synthetic man” if he is only a humanoid shell hiding a body of circuits and metal. So I will press on, even if this artificial liver kills me.

February 3rd, 2019

Ten years I’ve been working on this project. I have a lot of work and research to show for it, but I still only have a dusty skeleton and a smattering of organs. I’ve been feeling desperate lately. This work is so time-consuming and taking so long to accomplish and I’m turning fifty next year. What if I can’t finish Sam? What if I get arthritis or my brain goes and I can no longer continue to work? I should write up a will, even though I don’t know who can inherit my meager possessions. Perhaps if I don’t finish, then I can donate my work. I hadn’t intended it to be this way, but if I fail to bring Sam to life, then maybe the artificial organs I’ve struggled so hard to create can save the lives of others.

I try not to let these thoughts consume my mind, but they are concerns regardless. I’m getting old. I may still have the rest of my life to work on Sam, but how much time is that? If it has taken me this long only to come so far in the construction, how much longer need I work to complete him?

I must return to my work.

June 22nd, 2026

I’ve finally finished the skin. I assembled it with the muscles over the skeleton and all the nerves worked perfectly. I even attached the blood vessels and tested their operation in relation to the skin. It worked! It was remarkable. And even now, the cut I gave the skin has nearly healed up. The body is nearly complete. It will still be a while before it will be finished, as the brain will be extremely challenging to code, and even then I have the arduous task of programming his mind and thoughts, but I feel so accomplished now. With his organs, even if not assembled yet, his eyes and skin and body hair and all, Sam is really beginning to come to life. And after assembling the skin and muscles… I had so many memories of Jason. I had to take a break yesterday to look at old photos and scrapbooks. It will be euphoric when I can finally bring my boy back to life.

July 15th, 2028

I listened to some of my early tapes this afternoon. My voice sounds different now. It has grown hoarse and dry. I remember, too, how I looked in the mirror when I began this project, and how that has changed. My hair has gone fully grey and thin. My skin is grey and wrinkled, dotted with liver spots. I’ve gained weight and lost strength. My life, my age has been devoted to this. I am a sad, tired old man, and I am only getting older and more tired. But I still have a purpose. Sam is still here.

December 5th, 2029

It’s funny. All those years I was working on the organs, I couldn’t wait to start programming his mind. I was so looking forward to deciphering human emotions and thought that would be the most fun part of the entire project. Now that I’ve begun on it, I’ve discovered how tedious the process actually is. (laughs)

All observation of his surroundings, all thoughts, perceptions, and reactions must be narrowed down to basic computer language. The easiest way to do this is to categorize everything he interprets. I recently read some papers by a Dr. Charles Barton, who theorized that all reactions are interpreted in the human mind as problems, and the method of how one solves such problems defines his character. It has helped me in my work. By having Sam’s mind interpret each situation as a problem, he can analyze each factor in the problem and assess the proper way to solve it.

That is the way it would work if he was the perfect android robot. I must then work Jason’s personality into his analysis and reaction to the situation. It is an extraordinary amount of code to process in even a simple act such as deciding to turn on the TV. But fortunately, computer hardware has come a long way in the years I’ve worked on him. The chips I’m using should be able to handle all this code with all the speed of a human mind.

Despite the tediousness of translating physical awareness into intellectual analysis, of coding emotions into his reactions and determining a proper response to any given situation, I’m extremely excited about the way this is coming out. I know I still have years of research and work left ahead of me, but regardless, I can’t help being thrilled when I realize that I am so close to finally finishing him.

September 16th, 2030

It’s all over. Someone found out about my work, or perhaps someone ratted me out. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. In an hour I’ve become international news. My house is surrounded by protesters, and even here, deep in my enclosed lab, I can hear them shouting, screaming, persecuting. Religious fanatics, the lot of them. They don’t know what I’ve been through. They don’t understand what this means to me, and possibly to the rest of the world. No… I’m going to be shut down. All my work, all these years of my life, it will all be destroyed.

I’m terrified because there’s nothing I can do. A trial or a congressional hearing or something, I don’t know what, is going to happen tomorrow. They’re going to decide my fate and Sam’s and if I fight or refuse, I will be arrested, if they don’t decide to do that, anyway. I am certain that they will decide Sam is a “crime against nature” and order all my work on him destroyed. I can’t let them destroy Sam. I’ll die before I’ll let them! They can’t take him away from me! Sam is my entire life!

Oh, God… what will I do?

December 22nd, 2030

God bless Chester. I owe him everything I have and everything I am.

It’s been three months since I was found out. Of course, the courts ordered that I dismantle Sam and destroy all my research on him. But Chester, I don’t know how he did it, he managed to get me out of there, with Sam and all my research. Sam was hard enough to take with me, so I could only bring my computers’ hard drives. I’ve moved three states over and gotten settled. Chester has helped me change my identity and get set up here.

My work’s been delayed for the past three months. My house is, ah, meager compared to the home I left. But it will do. I am working on obtaining new computers so I can continue my research. I am so close to finishing Sam, I must continue. I must finish.

April 18th, 2033

Sam is finally complete! I finally fixed all the bugs in the coding and copied the information to his brain. His body is charging by an A/C power cord, but once it is fully charged and I turn him on tomorrow, he will subsist and live just like a human does.

Oh, God, I can’t believe this day has finally come! I have spent so long, so very long making him and tomorrow, I will finally be able to bring Sam to life! And I will have my son back!

I cannot describe my feelings in words. Twenty-four years of work have lead up to this moment. I am savoring every second of the anticipation. It is unbelievable. Tomorrow, my creation will be brought to life! Tomorrow is the culmination of my life’s work! Jason will come back to me!

April 19th, 2033

(pause)

This is it. Sam is finished recharging. I’ve decided to turn on the tape recorder so I can capture this momentous occasion for all time. It is time to turn him on.

(various sounds, then silence)

Jason… can you hear me?

Jason: I’m… alive. I’m alive! Dad!

Dr.: It worked! You’re back! Oh, Jason! (shuffling)

Jason: Dad… it worked! I’m really alive! It’s so good to see you again!

Dr.: It’s… yes… it…

Jason: Dad? What’s wrong?

Dr.: Jason…

Jason: What is it? Why are you looking at me that way?

Dr.: You… you’re not my son.

Jason: W… what are you talking about? You made me!

Dr.: But you’re not my Jason.

Jason: How can you say that? You programmed me with all his thoughts and memories, even his appearance perfectly. I am Jason!

Dr.: No. You’re not the little boy who my dear wife gave birth to. You’re just… you’re a copy. A cheap replica.

Jason: Dad!

Dr.: Stop calling me that! You’re not… you didn’t live Jason’s life. You only have the memories you do because I gave them to you. You didn’t actually live them. You didn’t throw frisbees with me in the park. You didn’t play football in high school.

Jason: How… how could you…

Dr.: High school… you haven’t even aged like Jason would have. You’re still stuck in the past.

Jason: I’m stuck in the past?! You’re the one who made me just like this, you heartless bastard!

Dr.: Yes, you’re right… I’m the one who’s stuck in the past. And yet, I’ve aged so much… it’s not real. You’re not real.

Jason: I’m standing right here and talking to you. I have organs you slaved over for decades! How can you do this to me?!

Dr.: I… I don’t know. But… I look at you… and I can only see a machine. You’re not really Jason. You’re just a copy. A figment of an old man’s deluded mind.

(pause)

Dr.: I’m sorry, Jason. No, Sam. I didn’t mean to do this to you. But… even after all those years I spent looking at your face… I never would have thought…

Jason: What are you doing?

Dr.: I’m sorry, Sam. I didn’t mean for it to be this way.

April 23rd, 2033

I didn’t really want to install any truly mechanical devices in Sam, but now I’m glad I did. I shut him off after… after we spoke on Tuesday.

I don’t know what happened. All these years I’ve worked just to bring Jason back to life, then when I finally accomplished it… I was disgusted. Disgusted at that pathetic attempt to hang on to the past. I had gotten so swept up in the actual mechanical and intellectual work of building Sam that I never realized… I had accepted Jason’s death. All I wanted was to create.

I realize now, far, far too late, how true it is that man is not God, and man has no place trying to take creation into his own hands. Instead, I’ve created something exhaustingly real without ever having the opportunity to be alive. I can’t build a soul. And that is my greatest crime. I’ve made a man that breathes, that bleeds, that feels, and yet he is still a machine, never to be blessed with the gift of life or the solace of afterlife.

Now I can hardly look at him without feeling my stomach turn. Sam’s presence only reminds me of what I lost in Jason so many years ago… and what I failed to recreate. The part of me that’s a father wants to dismantle the robot and destroy all research and evidence he ever existed and end my wasted life. But the part of me that’s a scientist insists that I spent too long working on this miraculous technology to let it go to waste like that.

I don’t know what to do, so I leave him here, unliving, buried in a ramshackle lab for some future generation to find. I leave it up to whoever unearths him to decide what to do with him and my research.

As this is the end of everything I’ve worked for over the past twenty-five years, this is my last tape. For its original purpose, my experiment was a failure, and I will leave to die a broken man once again.

Jason, and Martha… at least I will see you again soon.

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