"Good morning miss, do you know where you are?" The slightly metallic voice was surprisingly soothing to my ears. I gingerly opened my eyes and saw a MAA standing over me. The medical assistant android was about six feet tall and humanoid looking with smooth lines and unassuming features. He was very calming to look at in his off-white scrubs and thin green hat. I suppose he is supposed to be as gentle on the eyes and mind as possible to make patients as comfortable as possible. I looked past the MAA to the window behind him. The shade was up and early morning sunlight is streaming into the room past a large city that is sparkling with the remains of a night's rain. I looked around the rest of the room and saw what little there is. There is a door directly across from the foot of my bed and a slightly larger one on my left in the corner, that one has a single thin window in it. There is a small table to my right with a glass and a pitcher of water on it, and a vase of flowers, white lilies I think. On the far right wall near the ceiling is a single monitor screen which is currently off. The soothing white and green walls would have given it away even if the MAA hadn't been there; I am in a hospital room.
I tried to speak, but when I opened my mouth all I got was pain and a strange raw sensation in the base of my throat. The MAA reached over and started filling the glass with water, "I'm sorry, just nod right now, we had to intubate you during the surgeries because of the damage to your throat and neck." He placed a straw into the glass and held it in front of me to drink. The water is cool but not cold, it was quite soothing to my throat which was starting to hurt more and more as the drowsiness slipped away. After I drank all I could I leaned back feeling exhausted from the effort of drinking most of a glass of water. My entire body was starting to ache. "Just nod slowly yes or no. Do you know where you are?" I nodded. I am in a hospital.
"That's very good," he sounded a little condescending in his metallic tone, "Do you know what day it is?" I shook my head; I have no idea, maybe Friday? "It is Thursday the twenty-sixth of February, three thousand twenty one." Thursday? That felt wrong, but I couldn't think why. My head was really starting to hurt.
"Last question then I will let you sleep." I nodded, "Do you know what your name is?" I started to nod, of course I know what my name is, everyone knows their own name, mine is ... it's ... My eyes got wide in shock and I sat up. I can't remember my name; I don't know who I am. I tried to speak again but only rasping sounds came out. "It's okay, you don't have to speak, just nod or shake your head." His ever calm tone was almost infuriating now. I shook my head, a little too hard, it made my neck spasm in pain, I gasped and leaned back into my pillows again. "it's okay that you don't remember, it will come back to you. Try to rest now. I will bring you something to eat in a few hours."
I watched him walk out of the room through the door with the small window. As he left I suddenly started feeling very alone. I tried to remember anything I could, but I couldn't think of anything. I looked out the window again to see if I could recognize anything there. Off to the right, barely visible is the Tokyo Memorial, so we must be in the Minato ward of Tokyo. This means I am in Tokyo Metropolitan Emergency Hospital. That is something at least. I must live around here right? I start trying to think of my home but I can't seem to bring anything to mind, just vague outlines of images I can't seem to focus on. The memories are right there, if I think harder maybe I can remember them. But every time I try to focus on what is there it slips away, so I try harder and it slips away faster and I can't remember anything!
I lean back and turn my head away from the window. I try to relax but instead I start to cry. The effort of trying to remember is too much to hold back, I feel like I have lost everything. I feel like I used to have friends, a boyfriend maybe, a dog. I know I have a dog. I stop crying for a moment as I try to home in on that memory. It's a small dog, I think, I can hear it bark, but it's disjointed, not attached to anything. Again the doubts rush in and I am alone. What if I don't have a dog? What if I'm remembering something else, a commercial maybe? A friend's dog? Who are my friends? I start to cry again, feeling even more lost and hopeless then before. Eventually my crying wares me out enough that I fall back to sleep.
I wake up to a mostly dark room. The city outside is bright with life and lights and casts a strange blue and yellow glow into the room. There is a little bit of light coming from under the door and some light from behind me. I crane my neck around to see what is making the light and I see panels on the wall that are emitting a soft glow. I try to read what they say but it's hard to focus on the panel. I realize I am quite thirsty again and my throat feels even worse than before. The glass and pitcher are still on the table so I pull my right hand out from under the heavy blanket and reach for the pitcher to pour a fresh glass. The pitcher is only about half a meter away, but as I reach out for it, it seems impossibly far. I lean up on my right side and try shuffle over a little in my bed but as I pressed my left hand into the mattress I fall back over like my hand wasn't even there. I pulled my arm out from under the blanket and scream, my left hand and forearm are gone. There is just a medical cap over where the limb used to be. I held it up and couldn't seem to stop screaming. My hand is gone. My arm is gone. But I can feel them, I can feel where it should be but my eyes are seeing nothing.
I use my right hand and fling the blanket off, still screaming. The blanket goes flying onto the table and sends the pitcher and glass into the floor where they shatter and water seeps across the floor into the dark. I stare down at my leg and scream even harder, my left leg is missing just below my hip, the stump is hidden by the medical robe that I am wearing. My right leg is sticking out from under the robe; I can see a giant gash along my right calf that is stapled closed and coated in a layer of clear liquid skin. A doctor, a nurse, and a MAA come running into the room. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but the MAA and the nurse held me down to the bed and the doctor pressed something into my neck. I felt a sharp sting then my screaming died off and I relaxed back into the pillows again.
I see the doctor yelling at the MAA and I have a vague feeling it's the same MAA from earlier. I wonder absently what is wrong that the doctor is yelling and pointing at me. The MAA nods several times while the doctor just keeps yelling and finally the doctor leaves the room. The MAA starts talking but I can't make out any words. I can't seem to bring myself to care about much of anything at the moment. He opens the door directly across from the foot of my bed and pulls a blanket out which he promptly places over me. I feel so relaxed now. I close my eyes to the nonsensical sound of the MAA talking to me and fall back asleep.
I wake up to early morning light again. The MAA is standing by the window pouring some water into a glass. There is a tray of something on the table next to a new pitcher of water. "How do you feel today miss?"
I try to sit up in the bed but can't seem to get enough energy to rise. The MAA leans forward and presses a button on the side of the bed causing the back to lift up and place me in a more sitting position. I nod my thanks and say in a cracking and sore voice, "Better than last night." I pause for a second to get some air back into my lungs, "I'm sorry about that, I think the doctor was yelling at you because of me."
"There is nothing to apologize for; you had a shock last night." His voice was calm and steady as always.
"But it was my fault, I feel bad for you having to endure that because of me." I started reaching for a glass of water.
The MAA handed it to me and let me hold it while he poured water into it. He placed the straw in the glass and said, "I do not feel things, I am just a machine. You subjected me to nothing of consequence to my working parameters." I felt a little foolish, he is right, he is just a machine, he has no emotions.
"So," I started, "last night," I paused, finding it hard to continue, the MAA waited patiently with its unmoving calm facial expression, "was that a nightmare? Did I really see what I thought I did?"
"I do not know what you thought you saw, so I can not answer that question. But I suggest you find out for yourself when you are ready." He paused for a second and leaned forward to the table, lifting the lid from the tray on the table. "Would you like to eat something? It has been many days since you have actually eaten."
My stomach growled at the thought of food. "I would love some eggs," I said. I looked up at him in amazement, "I like eggs! I like them a lot! Especially hard boiled, is there any chance I can get hard boiled eggs?"
If the android had facial features I am sure he would have smiled, "I will try, but your throat was very damaged, I believe the doctor would not want you to eat anything quite so solid yet." He picked up the tray and placed it in my lap. I looked down and saw three small bowls of different coloured past. One was red, one was green, and the last was brown. "The doctor recommends that you eat all of it. I believe this will make him more likely to allow you hard boiled eggs."
I sipped on my water some more, "You believe? I thought you were just a machine, can machines believe in something?"
The MAA tilted his head ever so slightly to the right, "I calculate that he will be more likely to allow you hard boiled eggs. You should start with the green one and finish with the brown. I have been told that the brown tastes the best and the green the worst."
"And how does the red one taste?" I asked, feeling a bit silly for asking a machine how something tasted.
"According to patient three seventy one, like stale tomatoes." I giggled, which hurt, but it felt good. The MAA tilted his head again as if trying to figure out why I was giggling. "If you need anything else, please use the call button on the side of the bed." He pointed to a small panel that I hadn't noticed on my right side. I nodded and took a giant, over exaggerated, bite of the brown sludge. It tasted like chocolate pudding. The MAA tilted his head again then exited the room. I smiled and continued eating my coloured goo's.
The red one did taste like stale tomatoes, which I think is worse than the green that tasted like peas and asparagus. I think. Since I can't seem to remember what they look like I can't be certain that I have the right name for the right flavors. I did eat it all, with a bit of effort, and drank the entire glass of water. I placed the tray back onto the table and leaned back.
I couldn't stop thinking about my arm and leg. I needed to know if what I saw last night was a bad dream or if it was real. From the way the MAA spoke I'm already certain that my limbs are gone. But I hope otherwise. I gingerly pulled my left arm out from under the blanket. I can feel the blanket rub against the back of my hand, a feeling I am incredibly familiar with, I think it's a feeling I had almost every morning. I instinctively close my eyes as the blanket falls away. I just couldn't seem to look, I am too scared of what I already know to be true, the blanket fell away much too fast, my arm is too short. I gingerly open my eyes and look at where my hand used to. The arm was cut clean just above the elbow, I am missing my left hand, forearm and elbow. The medical cap is stretched tight like a plastic skin and crinkling a bit around the edge where it is sealed against the skin of my upper arm. There is a long thin cut along the inside of my upper arm leading almost to my armpit, it has a seal of liquid skin over it, but this one is thin enough that it does not need staples. This one looks surgical though. The memory of my legs sprang in without effort, the sight of the long ugly gash in my leg, and the absence of my other leg. I passed it from mind and concentrated on my hand again. I tried flexing it and making a fist. Watching where my hand used to be I could imagine my hand clenching into a fist and opening again. It felt like I was clenching my fist but there is nothing there. Nothing at all. I reached out and tried to grab the blanket with my invisible hand, but it didn't work. My hand really is gone. I slipped it back under the blanket and leaned back. Looking at my leg can wait till tomorrow, I feel a bit sick. I lowered the bed with the buttons that MAA had used and leaned back to try to sleep. I fell asleep as soon as I closed my eyes.
When I opened them MAA was standing in front of the window, it was morning again, I must have slept for a good eighteen or twenty hours. "Good morning MAA." I said, a bit joking.
"Good morning little miss, how are you feeling today?"
"Little?" I said a bit exasperated, "I'm nineteen years old!" It took a moment to sink in, "I'm nineteen! I know how old I am!" I was about ready to jump out of bed and hug the MAA.
"I am glad you remember, and I only meant little as in you are only one hundred fifty centimeters in length."
I smirked at him, "I know. How are you today? And are you really glad I remember my age."
The MAA tilted his head again, "I don't know. The correct answer my subroutines keep returning is yes, but the logic behind that answer is circular and has no answer. Why do I have a definitive answer with no logical answer?" I was a bit stunned; I didn't know what to say. "Excuse me, I must go run diagnostics, my systems must have a corrupted variable." He promptly turned and walked out of the room leaving me alone with the morning sun and a new tray of coloured pastes.
I felt bad for some reason, but I couldn't figure out why. I had somehow made a machine fault. But all artificial intelligence are supposed to have fail safes to keep from getting stuck on a logic loop; the preverbal divide by zero. But somehow I had managed to do it. Why did he get stuck on it, he probably had a sub routine that told him he should be happy when I am, that's all it's likely to be. Sitting up, I reached over and pulled my tray down to my lap. The food today was exactly like yesterday, green, red, and brown paste. I ate it in the order I was told to before, it's better to have a lingering taste of chocolate than that of peas and tomatoes. I also managed to pour my own water by placing the glass on the food tray and just tipping the pitcher forward from the edge of the table. It was difficult but I felt accomplished for having done it all myself.