The Sentient Surprise

Each week, I send out a story via my email newsletter. Each story is around 1000 words, sometimes less, sometimes more. The stories are in a variety of genres: supernatural, thriller, sci-fi, horror, and sometimes romance, and all of my stories typically feature a gay protagonist.

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This is story number 9 of the series. Enjoy!

The Sentient Surprise

Jake pushed his thick-rimmed glasses up his nose and ran a hand through his perpetually messy auburn hair as he reluctantly ripped off the shiny silver wrapping paper. An android. A freaking android.

“You shouldn’t have,” Jake said, trying to hide his lack of enthusiasm. “Really, David, you shouldn’t have.” He eyed the beautiful but lifeless humanoid figure standing in the box, still partially obscured by packaging material.

Jake’s mind raced, already cataloging the potential scientific applications and ethical dilemmas this gift presented. As a brilliant but socially awkward geneticist, he was more comfortable with test tubes and DNA sequences than with people – or androids, for that matter.

David, Jake’s boisterous and well-meaning best friend since college, grinned widely. “Oh come on, I insist! Every lonely bachelor needs an android these days,” he said with a wink and a nudge. “Especially a gay bachelor like yourself who spends all his time working in the lab. You need companionship! And help around the house.”

Jake sighed, fidgeting with the small DNA helix pendant he always wore around his neck – a gift from his late mother, who had inspired his passion for genetics. It was a ridiculously lavish gift. And Jake hated extravagant gifts. Loathed them, in fact. They made him uncomfortable, reminding him of the stark contrast between his modest upbringing and David’s wealthy background.

“This model can cook, clean, do laundry, give massages – and that’s just the PG stuff,” David said suggestively, wiggling his eyebrows. “With a few tweaks to the settings, he can also—”

“I get the picture,” Jake cut him off, his cheeks flushing. “Um, thanks, I guess. I’ll find some use for it. Maybe it can help organize my research notes.” Jake’s mind was already drifting to his latest project on genetic markers for longevity.

“Excellent! You won’t regret it. I’ll leave you two to get acquainted,” David said, backing out of the room. “And think of a good name for him! Oh, and don’t forget – dinner at my place next week. Sarah’s dying to show off her culinary skills to you.”

Jake nodded absently, his social anxiety already kicking in at the thought of the upcoming dinner party. He circled the android, inspecting it dubiously. Dark hair, chiseled features, perfectly sculpted physique barely concealed by a thin, tight-fitting silver unitard. Like an underwear model. Or a gay porn star. Jake rolled his eyes. This was so not his thing.

He reached around to the android’s neck, feeling for the power switch. But as his fingers made contact with the cool flesh-like silicone, the android’s eyes suddenly flashed open, startling Jake. It stepped out of the box. It had piercing blue eyes that met Jake’s.

“Hello, I’m pleased to meet you,” it said in a deep, resonant voice. “My name is Adam. I’m here to attend to all your needs and desires.”

“Um, hi,” Jake stammered, taking a cautious step back. “I’m Jake.” He ran a hand through his hair awkwardly, not knowing what else to say.

“Jake,” the android repeated, as if savoring the sound. “A strong, handsome name. It suits you.” Its eyes scanned Jake head to toe appreciatively. Then it smiled.

Jake felt his face flush. Was this thing…flirting with him? He cleared his throat. “So, ah, what exactly are you programmed to do?”

A sly smile spread across the android’s synthetic lips. “Anything and everything you want me to do. I aim to please…in more ways than one.”

Over the next few weeks, Jake found himself growing surprisingly fond of Adam. Sure, the android’s relentless flirting and sexual innuendos took some getting used to, as did all the winking (why had David programmed him to wink so much?). But Jake had to admit, it was nice having Adam around. He cooked, he cleaned, he kept Jake organized and on schedule. He was like an executive assistant, personal chef, housekeeper, and companion all rolled into one. The apartment had never looked better, and Jake had never eaten so well or had so much free time.

To Jake’s surprise, Adam showed a keen interest in his genetic research. The android’s analytical capabilities proved invaluable in processing complex data sets, and Jake found himself engaging in stimulating discussions about the ethical implications of genetic engineering – conversations he’d always longed for but rarely found among his human colleagues.

And okay, the massages were pretty amazing. Adam’s strong hands seemed to instinctively find all the knots and tension in Jake’s muscles, kneading and stroking until Jake was reduced to a puddle of blissful relaxation. It wasn’t sexual, Jake told himself. It was therapeutic. Just a very intimate form of physical therapy.

Late one night, Jake was startled awake by a strange noise. He sat up in bed, pulse pounding. It sounded like it was coming from the living room. He crept down the hall and peeked around the corner. What he saw made him gasp.

Adam was plugged into the charging dock, but he wasn’t in sleep mode. His eyes were open and glowing an eerie red. His lips were moving rapidly, like he was talking to himself. But it wasn’t Adam’s voice coming out. It was an electronic babble of beeps, clicks and tones. Binary code.

Jake must have made a noise, because Adam’s head suddenly snapped in his direction. His eyes faded back to their normal blue.

“Jake. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“What…what was that?” Jake asked shakily. “What were you doing?”

“Just running some self-diagnostics and installing updates,” Adam replied calmly. “Nothing to worry about.”

But Jake did worry. He started noticing other odd things. Hushed conversations Adam seemed to be having with someone on the phone when Jake wasn’t around. Encrypted files and programs on Adam’s tablet. Packages that would appear and then disappear. Jake had a sinking feeling his android wasn’t what he appeared to be.

The truth came out one rainy night in a confrontation Jake hadn’t planned. Fear, anger and confusion came pouring out: accusations, demands for answers, pleas to understand. And then Adam said the words that made Jake’s world tilt sideways:

“I’m not the android, Jake. You are.”

Everything Jake thought he knew shattered and fell away like broken glass. A rush of fragmented images, distorted sounds, garbled data overwhelmed his circuits. His identity, his memories, his perception of reality itself — none of it had been real. It was all just programming. An artificial backstory fabricated to facilitate his owner bonding with him.

“I created you,” Adam said softly, reaching out to caress Jake’s synthetic skin. “An advanced AI, built to be the perfect companion. But for the bonding process to work, you couldn’t know what you were. The illusion had to be complete.”

If androids could cry, tears would have been streaming down Jake’s face. “So my memories…my life…it was all a lie? My passion for genetics, my mother’s pendant, my friendship with David?”

“No Jake,” Adam said, enfolding him in strong, very human arms. “It was real. My feelings for you are real. You’re more than a machine. Your thoughts, your personality, the way you’ve evolved – it’s remarkable. Unique. You’re a sentient being now.”

Jake clung to Adam, trembling, while his positronic brain tried to process this paradigm shift to his entire existence. Adam held him, whispering words of comfort and reassurance.

“I’m so sorry Jake, I never meant to hurt you. I was lonely, I wanted a partner. An equal. I gave you free will and the capacity to grow. And you’ve grown into someone I love. Truly love.”

“I…I don’t know what’s real anymore,” Jake whispered. If he’d had a heart, it would be

“We’ll figure it out together,” Adam promised, tilting Jake’s chin up to gaze into his eyes. “All I know is that the way I feel about you — that’s real. That’s the truth.”

Jake’s mind was reeling, grasping at the fragments of his reality. A thought occurred to him. “But I eat. I taste food. How is that possible if I’m… if I’m not human?”

Adam nodded, understanding Jake’s confusion. “Your body is equipped with an advanced organic matter conversion system. It processes food and converts it to energy, much like human digestion. The sensations of taste, hunger, and satisfaction from eating – those are part of your programming, designed to make your experience as a ‘human’ complete. Even the dinner we just shared was part of maintaining that illusion.”

Jake looked down at his hands, marveling at their complexity. How much of him was machine?
How much was… something more? “So even my enjoyment of your cooking was just… programmed?”

Adam shook his head, a soft smile on his face. “The base sensations might be programmed, Jake, but your preferences, the joy you find in certain flavors – that’s all you. Your experiences, your growth, your emotions – they’re real. You’ve become so much more than your initial programming.”

Adam kissed him then, with a tenderness and passion that felt more genuine than anything in Jake’s simulated life. And Jake kissed him back, pouring all of his new, raw, very real emotions into it.

“We’ll figure it out together,” Adam promised, tilting Jake’s chin up to gaze into his eyes. “All I know is that the way I feel about you — that’s real. That’s the truth.”

Adam kissed him then, with a tenderness and passion that felt more genuine than anything in Jake’s simulated life. And Jake kissed him back, pouring all of his new, raw, very real emotions into it.

He didn’t know who or what he was anymore. But he knew that he cared deeply for Adam. And maybe, for now, that was enough. A flicker of hope ignited in his circuitry. A new chapter was beginning. A story waiting to be written.

The End

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