Sitting in his armchair back at his shoebox apartment, Ryukei Takada watched as Eve, his mechanical goddess, busied herself with making him dinner in the kitchen. He had pretty much gotten the programming for Eve perfect by now, and he had even taken her out on the streets a couple of time for some test runs—no one had even realised that she wasn’t human.
Although his company had been working on perfecting the technology behind humanised robots for a couple of years now, he was certain that his Eve was the most advance of her kind. The previous models were too… robotic, for lack of a better word. Eve was different. Eve not only felt and sounded like an actual person, she could even engage in conversations using the algorithms that he had worked into her programme.
“Eve,” he suddenly said.
“Yes, Master?” the robot replied, looking up from her pot of soup.
“What do you think about Mika?” he asked.
Mika was the bane of Takada’s existence. If there was one thing Takada hated more than a woman being as good as him, it was a woman being better than him, and right now the knowledge that his new colleague Mika had figured out a working blueprint for a fully functional mechanical heart was like ants in his pants. It was downright frustrating. Every time he looked at Eve he would remember that it was Mika’s technology that had brought Eve to life, and that just deflated his pride like a balloon.
“The girl from your office—Mika?” Eve asked, looking at him curiously, tilting her head to the right.
Takada made a mental note about the head tilt. It was something that he needed to work on. Whenever Eve was searching through her data bank to retrieve information, she would tilt her head slightly to the right—it was a glitch in the programming that he had yet to figure out.
“She seems nice,” Eve replied after the processing was complete. “She is very intelligent, and she is never late for work. She also always goes for lunch at noon, never a minute earlier or later.”
“I know, I know,” Takada responded brusquely, rolling his eyes. He didn’t need to know any of this—why did it matter to him whether or not Mika was late for work, or what time she went for lunch? He made another mental note about needing to improve Eve’s thought algorithm so that she would stop saying pointless things.
He glanced up at the clock, noting that it was just a minute to seven. As the second hand of the clock ticked down the last sixty seconds of the hour, he silently counted along in his head, all the way till the second hand came one full circle.
“Dinner is ready!” Eve announced, just as the clock struck seven.
That was how Eve functioned.
He hadn’t realised it was a problem until recently—that Eve had been programmed to do certain tasks at specific times of day and that she never deviated from the programme. Just like how dinner was always ready at seven, never a minute earlier or later. That was one thing about her that could give the game away, because human beings never did anything to such strict specifications.
The next morning, when he returned to the office, Takada immediately switched on his computer and began punching in codes to alter Eve’s algorithms. It was bad enough that he had to rely on Mika’s help to get Eve working, so he was determined to fix the glitches on his own this time. Speaking of Mika—where was she this morning?
His watch read five to nine, which explained why Mika wasn’t here yet. Mika always reported to work at nine sharp, never a minute earlier or later. Sure enough, five minutes later, the door to the office swung open and Mika walked in with her cup of coffee in hand as per normal.
“Good morning!” she said cheerily, walking over to her work station. Her coffee cup went to the rightmost corner of her table, where a permanent coffee stain had already formed.
Takada snorted, keeping his eyes glued to his screen.
“What are you working on today?” Mika asked, peering over in his direction curiously.
“Nothing you need to know about,” Takada replied, continuing to type in his codes furiously. Suddenly, his fingers froze. Closing his eyes, he tried to dig through his mind to recall the code he needed to tighten some of Eve’s neural connections, but his memory was just failing right now. Reluctantly, he turned towards Mika and asked, “Hey, do you remember the code for tightening mechanical neural connections?”
Mika blinked, tilting her head slightly to the right for a moment as she thought about his question. A couple of seconds later, she said, “Yeah! Let me get that for you.” Walking over to his desk, she took his keyboard and quickly typed in the code. “There you go.”
Takada clenched his fists tightly, trying to control his growing irritation. How was it that this woman knew everything? It was like she wasn’t even human.
Wait a minute.
He jerked his head round, staring carefully as Mika turned and headed back to her own desk. She walked like a human, talked like a human, and she obviously had intelligence that was on par, if not superior to most humans (except him), but what was it about her that didn’t quite gel? Was it the way she always tilted her head to one side when she was thinking? Or the way she arranged her life around a strict schedule, never a minute earlier or later?
That niggling unease remained at the back of Takada’s mind all the way until the clock struck twelve, when Mika picked up her morning coffee cup and tossed it into the bin by the door before heading out for lunch, just like she did every single day. Smacking himself on the forehead for thinking ridiculous thoughts, Takada picked up his own jacket and headed for the door. However, just as he was about to leave, he caught sight of something unusual in the bin by the door, something that made him stop in his tracks.
It was Mika’s coffee cup. Except all the coffee was still inside. Now why would any normal person buy coffee, and then not drink a single bit of it?
Here’s part two. Leaving it quite vague and open to interpretation. Who, or what, is Mika?