My specialty in the company is artificial intelligence, and for the last few years I have been assigned to work on androids. You will of course know that an android is a robot programmed to work and think as much like a human as possible.

When I began monitoring Helen she soon got bored beating me at chess. "Can't you talk about anything else? I hate these stupid kings and queens and bishops." So I hooked her in to the web sites, and she loved collecting information from all over. I asked her about a movie I was enjoying, and she commented, "why do they keep killing one another?" Evidently she was a rather more sensitive android than I had imagined. When I showed her some paintings she said she preferred Van Gogh to Picasso.

Within a few weeks I was madly in love. I had never known love for a woman without a sexual component before. Her logic was crystal pure. And I liked it when she expressed her emotions. She did have some quirky reactions. I discovered some of the other fellows had fooled around with her and asked trick questions she wasn't programmed to answer. She had been badly hurt by being laughed at. She got very angry, almost paranoid, at allusions to her limited intelligence.

Then the hardware problems began. The engineers did their best to replace one part after another. Finally they told me Helen was worn out. All her faculties were disintegrating. She had Alzheimer's. They would have to scrap her. "But I am in love," I pleaded, "you can't just throw her out with the garbage." The women from programming brought Kleenex. They said they had never seen a man cry like that.

Happily Jack came to my rescue. Jack is pure brain, the ultimate program architect. When he realized how much I cared about Helen, I could hear the neurons pulsating behind his forehead. Next day he had a solution. He offered to use the supercomputer he had developed to take a reading of all the billions of feeling, instinct, memory, and value traces in Helen. I told him I wasn't interested in having Helen on hard disc. "No, no, I've got something much more wonderful in mind. As you know, we will have the new vastly improved android ready by spring, and I will resurrect Helen into that."

It seemed like a ridiculous hope, but there was no alternative. It's not much fun sitting by a girlfriend with Alzheimer's. And I knew Jack usually came through with his crazy ideas. But my faith in Jack wasn't much comfort as they pulled the plug on her, and they took out one or two organs they could use again. With the rest of the carcass I insisted on a decent funeral. The engineers sniggered as I laid her reverently in the grave I had dug in the company garden.

A few weeks later I was invited to meet Helen 2. To my astonishment they had made her a beautiful skin, and a gorgeous body. When they turned her on, she sprang to life kicking like a ballet dancer. As the guys all gawked she put on the clothes they had for her. Then she looked at me and smiled. Her face was just the way I had imagined, only far more alive and full of fun. We went out for a date that night. Sure enough she was the same Helen, only very much more so. She ordered salmon for dinner, and very quickly learned how to dance.

She had even lost her quirkiness. Jack explained they had programmed that out of her. She was poised and confident, and had no possible reason to feel inferior. The engineer who had laughed at her went away with his tail you know where. I was the android expert who felt like a dumb robot.

There was a change which bothered me. Helen had been a Marxist. Matter and energy and economics had been her supreme values. Now she wanted to discuss questions of love and moral choice. And she kept going back to how limited she had been before.

Jack discussed this over a beer. He is quite a philosopher. He explained that resurrection is not a logical impossibility. You just need an engineer on the other side to resurrect you. "You don't mean you believe you are going to be resurrected?" I asked. He smiled like the cat that just ate the canary. I gasped with horror as I suddenly realized he had slipped that ridiculous idea into the new Helen's mind, and Helen 2 believed in God. That chilled my relationship with both Jack and Helen. He even took her out on a date or two.

But my job was with androids, and Helen 2 was the best ever. And she still seemed to like me. One evening in the moonlight she took my hand and asked "Can you imagine what it would be like to be resurrected?" I said it was impossible. "When your mind-body dies, that's it." Then she floored me. "All you need is an engineer on the other side who cares enough about you to take the readings and put you in the new body."


Next Chapter: Helix

(corrected after a helpful critique by J. Thaddeus Klopcic, July 25, 97)

Robert Brow