Author's Notes: This is a short story that I wrote in 12th grade. It was an assignment made in inspiration of Gulliver's Travels.
Of Men and Andriods
I grew up by the sea, and thus, I grew accustomed to riding in boats with my relatives. There was always that one special trip that was saved for my summer vacation. I always counted off the days in excitement. We would always go to interesting islands to go the grand museums and art galleries, and I would bring all my friends a souvenir once I arrived home in the beginning of fall.
However, one time, that trip turned from a paradise cruise into a strange nightmare. A storm knocked the boat off course, and our compasses and radio somehow stopped working. I remember the pounding of the waves and the lightning flashing above us. We crashed into rocks, and I was thrown overboard. My father tried to rescue me, and I remember seeing him jump into the water in an attempt to swim to me. I remember how scared he sounded when he called out to me, "Anya, hold on!" But no matter how hard he tried, no matter how hard I tried, the current pulled me away from him.
The next thing I do remember is being on an island, lost, and alone. There were some pieces of the wood from the boat, but I didn't know how to make a fire with them to help cool me off. I spent two days on the beach, waiting and hoping that they would somehow know I was here and come for me. I ate whatever fruit I could manage to pluck from the bushes, and I hid in the trees when rain fell from the dark blue sky. On the third day, I awoke to people standing around me. At first, relief flooded me until I realized that these people were not my family. They were strangers dressed in scanty, smelly clothes. I cried out for them to let me go when they grabbed me, but I wasn't strong enough to resist. They threw me into a carriage that was led by some mules, and they took off at a slow pace. I tried to jump down, but there was a man who was watching me closely. So, I had to wait to see where these strange people were taking me.
As they rounded a side of a small mountain, I sat up with my mouth agape. In front of me loomed a huge palace, something like a cross between Indian and Chinese styled walls. When they came to a stop, I realized that we were in the center of the city, where merchants set up their booths to sell whatever the citizens needed. The man pulled me off the carriage and dragged me along the paved marketplace streets and around a corner until he came across a particular door. He knocked on the door, paused for a moment, and knocked again. He seemed anxious that he found me, making me feel even more afraid of what was behind that door. When it opened, there was a man with two women standing a few feet behind him down a hallway.
"Yes?" The man answered, but he didn't need an answer because he could tell by my appearance and clothing that something was amiss. He stared hard at me, and I did him because of the strange clothes he was wearing. It was a man…wearing tights…pink and yellow tights with a huge satin shirt and a long feathered hat. "You are not from here?" he asked me, and I nodded to him. He took my arm and pushed me inside the hallway, turning back to the man to yell at him. I quickly tried to turn to run, but he swung back around in time. "Please you must excuse the peasant folk. They are disgusting with no manners at all. You must have a talk with her majesty. She would be pleased to hear whatever stories you have to offer." Before I could decline, he walked passed me towards the women who were talking to each other. He spoke with them for a moment before he disappeared after a giving me a tiny bow. The ladies then took me by the arms.
They led me into a vast room that was lined on all sides with shelves of clothing, and in the center, there was a long cushioned bench that sat in front of several mirrors that were angled towards the center of the bench. There was a table not far from this area that held several rolls of fabrics and boxes of jewelry. Lights shone down from the ceiling and across little pathways that led to certain areas of the room. Some of the women sat me down on the bench and proceeded to bring out different shades of fabric while the others started fiddling with my hair. I felt my eyes water when they stretched it out and folded it around in a weird rounded cone shape. I guess they decided on which color fabrics they wanted, for they left for a while in the direction of actual clothes. They came back and forced the clothing to match my shape. It wasn't as if I was overweight or anything, it was just how they wrapped the clothing in a suffocating manner. In addition, I saw to my horror that they believed that purple, red, and orange were perfectly matching colors. They removed my slippers and brought me boots that reached towards my inner thighs and also placed yellow gloves that ran past my elbows. They let me stand for a second, and I assumed it was over as I tried to balance on the high heels of the boots by walking a few feet in every direction; however, they came back with more fabrics…bows, lots of them. I felt my stomach flop around as they attached the hideous things to almost every part of my body, and just when I thought that the dress would be entirely made of the things, they stopped decorating me. The relief only lasted for a second when they came back with long sheets of fabric that they wrapped around my cone head so that none of my hair could poke through. Next, they applied makeup…purple makeup. Wow, purple must be the color of century here.
After a while of fidgeting and making sure everything was perfect, I was led out of the room and made to wait in front of a large set of doors. I had tried to ask the ladies where exactly I was on this planet, but they only laughed as they said "BeautyVille." A few minutes later, the doors opened to reveal a huge ceremony with long tables, huge chandeliers, and rows upon rows of food. I noted that there were few couples dancing, and most people seemed to be conversing with each other on either side of the tables. I walked towards one table, unsure of whether or not where I was supposed to go. As I neared the table, I saw plates, cups, and something unfamiliar.
"What are these?" I asked a nearby woman.
She paused to consider me, and she eyed me strangely as she said, "Silverware, what else?" She turned to walk away with her other girl friends, leaving me to stare at long slender pieces of silver that were probably the length of my arm. There were five points of the end of it, similar to the shape of a human hand.
"Child, have you never been at a dinner table before?" I looked up to see a woman who was covered from head to toe save for the eyes with ugly colored fabrics.
"I've just never seen silverware like these before," I answered honestly, feeling a bit embarrassed.
"Yes, these make it easier to reach the food and to bring it to your mouth." I nodded at her explanation, and this seemed to satisfy her because she left me. I took another survey of the strange place, and this time, my eyes came to rest on a wall far away from me. There were two golden chairs in which sat who I supposed to be the Royals. Their gowns were much more extravagant than anyone else's was, complete with a million more bows, if that was possible.
"Excuse me, would you like something to drink?" I turned my attention to the speaker, who held tray in his hands. I politely took a glass, but I paused as I noted something about the server. He was dressed in all black, a strange thing, but that wasn't the only thing. His eyes were purple. I was knocked out of my daydream when he bowed and moved away. I took that moment to glance around the room once more, and I saw that all of the servers wore black and had purple eyes.
"You must be so confused, having been raised in such a hellish place," I heard a screechy voice say. I turned as I realized that he was speaking to me, and I politely said my hellos when I realized it was the man from before. "Over there is the King and Queen, who will request to see you at the end of tonight's ball." He was wearing a strange coat of yellow and orange with his hair tied back in a ribbon that completely covered the ends. It was odd to me and gave me the impression of people way back in history.
"And the servers?" I asked, eyeing the strange purpled eyed people.
"The servers?" He looked at me curiously for a second before he laughed at me. "I take it you have never seen androids before. Androids do every dirty work here. I mean, we wouldn't want to ruin our figures now, would we? Here, talk with these ladies." He led me over to a group of women on one side of the room, and before I could say anything, he disappeared. My eyes followed him as he walked to the other side of the room, and I realized that the sexes were separated. Women only talked with women and vice versa, save for a few.
"Why aren't the women speaking with the men?" I dared to ask the ladies. They stared at me hard for a moment before they started laughing at me. "What's so funny?" I asked, but the women moved away from me, leaving me stranded by myself. I gritted my teeth together in frustration. It would have been nice if these people would have explained things to me.
"Ladies do not speak to men; men speak to ladies." I turned as I recognized the sound of the voice, and the android was back again with a tray that held only a 4th that there was before.
"Well at least someone will talk to me, but aren't you..." I paused as I thought about what I was going to say. He was a he as far as I could tell, but how could machines have sexes?
"Those rules do not apply to me. A human woman is not interested in a machine built for dirt." I looked at him as I considered his words. He obviously wasn't in any dirt, but that must be what it felt like to the people here. If he were to come to my country, he could have easily been a super model if he could convince the people that his eyes weren't real of course. I found that it bothered me that he could say that about himself, but I suppose that androids didn't exactly have feelings. I lifted my glass to take a sip, but stopped when I saw that he was watching me strangely. "What is it?" I asked him, trying to avoid his purple eyes.
"Makeup," he said before he turned his head when people came to take glasses from him. I frowned as I reached to touch my lips, and I realized that the lipstick they applied was coming off. I turned my body away from the public eye for a moment where I wiped the rest of the makeup off on one of the folds of my dress. I sighed as I wandered back into the group to try to find a place to squeeze in.
"Oh my word, your majesty!" I heard someone cry loudly a few yards away from me. Instantly, the people stopped talking, and everyone turned to look at the woman who was pointing towards…me. "Look at her. Her lipstick is gone, gone!" She cried loudly. My eyes widened in horror as I realized that makeup must have been some special rule to these people. The citizens turned their attention towards me and pointed at me with shouts of "treason" and "disloyalty." I stumbled backwards, raising my hands to try to cut them off.
"I didn't mean any harm. I swear that I didn't know," I said as the group formed a semi circle around me. I saw the Queen rise from her throne while the King leaned forward in his chair, looking quite excited that something interesting was going on. I took a step back, but I felt tugging on the back of my dress. To my horror, I stepped on my dress and fell onto the floor, tearing it a little to show my long boots. This made the crowd scream insanely with words of "indecency" and "disgusting." I stood up and nearly stumbled out of the double doors and down the hall. I had no idea of where I was going, but I kept running until I found an open door. I closed it shut quickly after I was inside, and I pressed my back against the door as I waited for my breathing to calm. "What's with this crazy place?"
I only got a second of relief before I heard loud pounding on the other side of the door followed by shouts of "get out here at once." I sighed as I realized that I couldn't escape since I was locked in a small dark closet with no way out besides the one door behind my back. I opened to door only to be seized roughly by both arms. Wow, that seemed to happen a lot at this place.
"Hey!" I screamed as they dragged my down the hallway and into the ballroom. They pushed me through the crowd into the front of the thrones, where the Queen stood with her arms folded. I stopped talking as I saw her hard eyes pressing on me, and I waited for her to speak. I realized that the whole place was waiting for her to speak her mind because everything went silent.
"We offer you clothing, hospitality, a chance to be among us, and yet, you disgrace us with your hideous acts. Throw her away until dawn tomorrow, when she will be executed." A great cacophony of voices shot up at this, but I did not see what could be so good about it all. I was dragged again down the hall into a small, dark holding room, where I was left to contemplate the strange events. Was I really to die just for not wearing their terrible clothing? How was it my fault if I never knew the customs? I began to sob on the floor, having no other piece of furniture in the room. I sat in there for hours, it seemed, but I had no way of actually knowing what time it was.
Eventually, I heard a screech coming from one end of my cell. I brought my legs to my chest as I thought about what strange creatures could be lurking around in the darkness, but a strange purple light shone through the darkness. "Are you okay?" I heard someone call, and instantly, I recognized the voice.
"You're the waiter," I said as he crawled over to me. When he neared me, I could make out his shape as he nodded to me. "What are you doing here?" I asked him. "Hopefully not to bring me more drink," I continued, thinking of what caused this whole mess.
"Women are not supposed to drink from the glass. I only realized that you didn't understand when you looked at me the way you did."
"Then why offer me one?"
"It is my job. I offer to everyone, and everyone takes one. Women do not drink though because it ruins their lipstick." He paused for a moment before he turned around and started crawling the way he came. "Follow me," he called after. I paused as I considered whether or not I should, but I decided that anyplace was probably better than here; therefore, I crawled down a tiny space with him, an after a few minutes of silence and darkness, there was light at the end of the tunnel. He pushed open a door and climbed out, giving me his hand to help me up and into the room. I looked around to see where I was, and I saw purple eyes surrounding me. We were in a room that was lined with metal tables on either side of me, and the androids were watching me from their perch on these tables.
"Where are we?"
"Servants quarters," he answered.
"What am I doing here? Won't you get in trouble?" He turned his head to the side, and I recognized that strange look on his face.
"See, she is different," he said to the other androids. They turned those strange eyes onto me as he continued to speak. "Do you know why we look human?" I bit the inside of my lip as I considered his question. He did look human, very human. He had hair, nails, and every "human" detail imaginable, save for the strange color of his eyes. He seemed to notice that I had no answer because he started talking again. "Humans need something that looks like them to make them comfortable, yet they hide everything that they are. If a woman shows her hair, she is ugly and rude. If she shows her true blushed color, she is ugly and rude." He raised his hand to rub at the purple blush on my cheeks. "They praise the body, call it holy so that it needs to be wrapped up, but in the end, when it is seen, it is ugly and unholy. Do you think you are ugly?"
"No, not really," I asked, biting my lip. I knew I wasn't ugly, but that didn't make it any easier to admit it out loud. I had always thought it was rude.
"Natural is better. After all, what are we, the shells of hypocrites? They made us beautiful, but we were made only for dirty work." I turned my head as another android joined in. It was a woman who smiled gently at me from up on the table. She was beautiful. In fact, all the ones that surrounded me could have been models. None of them looked exactly alike though, which gave them even more human to me.
"Beauty is everything here. A woman will be thrown into the streets when she turns ugly by her husband, where she is forced to cover everything." Yet another woman android joined in the conversation. I remembered the lady at the party who covered everything except her eyes. She had tiny wrinkles around her eyes. The realization made me quite sad. She was thrown out because she was getting old?
"You are us," the male server said to me. "You should not die because you are what you were made to be."
"But how can I escape?"
"There is a train that will take you back towards the northland and then onwards towards wherever you need to go." Another android said to me. "All you have to do is fix your clothes. We can manage to forge a ticket."
The androids then began to plan it all out for me. I would leave in just a few hours time, due west, then north until I arrived at the station. In which I would pretend to be a certain merchant lady and give them a ticket, which the androids used their special enhanced abilities to replicate. In the end, I was left feeling a little out of place. These beings around me were supposed to be inhuman, but they moved together yet independent from one another. The different sexes spoke to one another, and some even held hands. I saw later that there were some androids who had to quit work because their appearance had somehow been damaged. Wires would poke through the synthetic bone, and it looked somewhat scary to me; however, the others didn't treat them any differently. How could it be that these creatures cared more for life than those that had real life? When it came time to leave, I felt that I didn't want to. I didn't want to leave them here with such idiotic people. I wanted to show them a life where there were sane citizens; however, when I suggested it, they waved me away. I stared at them, unsure of how they could refuse that.
"The rest of the world is not ready for this technology," they said simply, which I suppose was the honest fact, but maybe one day they would soon.
The waiter I had led me on a 2 hour walk to the train station with only a few spots of conversation here and there. I paused when I neared the platform where I was supposed to stand, and I went over all the things that I had to do. Once I got it perfectly memorized, I turned to go but found that I could not. I turned back to him. "I don't want to go alone," I admitted. I thought about my family and wondered if they would even be there.
"Humans will never stop caring about trivial things. I suppose it's biological."
"But I don't care how you look," I protested. "You were nice to me, so I trust you."
"How is your technology?"
"Um, we have computers? TVs, handhelds, cars…" I began to list off all the things that we had, hoping that he could understand me, for I didn't see any of those things on my journey. However, I suppose if the people could make androids, they must have something.
"Then you can find me or I you. One day, maybe things will be different for everyone." I believed him, and I said my goodbyes before I left on the train.
When I arrived in my home city, I immediately tried to find out what happened to my family. To my relief, no one else had been lost. Everyone believed that I was a goner though, and when they laid eyes on me, all their joy and tears proved to be a nice, happy welcome.
I did keep in contact with all the androids, who I named Andy for lack of better imagination, when I found out that he had no name. Now, I wait and keep my head in the newspapers searching for any sign of a technological leap that would allow my friends to come here without being suspected.