The Companion (Electric Sheep #1)
By: Erma I Talamante
This book is a little different than my usual reviews – mostly because it is by me! So, instead of my usual review, I will offer you a taste of the story – an exclusive preview! Feel free to link to or add your own review below… The more feedback, the better.
Electric Sheep, Book 1 – The Companion –
I am a Companion. As a Companion, I don’t have a name except for the name my Master gives me. But I do have a name. My name is Marion. Yes, I know. So old-fashioned. But I think my parents had given me that name on purpose.
Yes, I had parents, also. Companions do not have parents, but I had parents. Had. As in not any more. Maybe that’s why I became a Companion in the first place.
Let me explain. Companions are andri’s – if I remember my history tutor’s lessons, they used to be called androids until the kinks got worked out and became human-like in appearance and function.
I had one as a kid, and I thought it was my brother for the longest time. He played with me, grew with me, and the summer before the accident, my parents decided I was getting too old for an imaginary friend and sent him to be recycled. I remember being hurt and crying, and not understanding how a person could be recycled.
My parents yelled at me to get over it, it was not a person, but a thing. Well, my father did, anyway. My mother, on the other hand, watched my father rage. One day when he went on a business trip to an island somewhere, my mother got angry, yelling at him on the phone. I don’t know what they argued about, to this day. My parents never argued, at least where I could see. I think Benjamin, my Companion had something to do with that, because when they started looking askance at each other, he would tempt me away from our lessons and we would go out back and play.
My parents’ house sat on a hill, backed by a picturesque forest. The forest had been engineered, but further back the algorithms became tangled and weakened, and it became a wild wonderland for two kids. We used to play King and Queen of the Forest. I miss those days.
After the phone call, though, my mother came to find me. She apologized stating that she and my father had not understood just how attached I was to my Companion. I felt the tears tickling, like they did just before I started to cry, but I made myself listen to my mother’s words, to concentrate on the meaning behind them.
She explained that there was too much controversy over Companions right now, that they had to get rid of Benjamin so that he would be safe. I sniffed, asking why. There was so much pain on my mother’s face, and I wondered what it was from. I still wonder if she didn’t have an idea of her fate, and that was why she looked so pained.
I noticed streaks of gray in my mother’s hair, and wondered if they had always been there. She explained that activists were claiming that that Companions were slaves, and that the company that manufactured them were modern day slavers. I gasped in horror. Slavery was banned, and had been eliminated long ago – even before my father was born. There was no way that Benjamin could have been a slave.
My mother said that there were other activists too, each with their own theory and complaint. That they were humans that had been brainwashed. That they were planning an andri uprising. That they were poisoning the environment with the recycling process. There were a lot of others. I don’t remember them all. But I do remember feeling horrified. My mother, for her part looked drained.
What do you think, I asked my mother. She shook her head sadly. I didn’t even try to interpret that.
I’m so sorry, Marion, sighed my mother, and she wrapped me in a hug.
My parents were caring, but not what I would call affectionate. Hugs came from Benjamin, stolen in the darkness of night or under the cover of the forest. They did not come from my parents. I could remember three other times I had received affectionate embraces from them. Once when I had a fever so high that the doctor stated that I wouldn’t last much longer, once when I excelled and won a writing award, and once when I had received Benjamin as a gift.
I never question that he didn’t come as a squalling infant, like babies did in my picture books. I always just assumed, after Benjamin, that modern life had gotten rid of that messy stage. My parents didn’t let me go out to their friends’ houses, and I never saw a real baby, so I never really knew.
That was then, though.
A lot changed for me the day of the holiday party. My parents held a hushed conversation in the kitchen about whether or not to take me. Mother said I was old enough (I was sixteen at the time) and father argued that he didn’t want anyone to know about me. Mother asked if things were really that bad, and father didn’t say anything. I guessed he made some kind of movement. Body language. But whatever it was, mother agreed.
I hurried to a sofa and launched onto it, grabbing a book from nearby. I didn’t read the title, just grabbed the book. They came out of the kitchen, my mother wearing that false smile she wore when calling people on the view phone. I think she recorded advertisements for my father’s company, too.
My mother explained that they were going to a holiday party, and wouldn’t be gone too long. Dinner was already prepared for me, and they would bring something back with them. I nodded obediently. My father stared pointedly at the book in my hands, and I laid it down, listening politely. They left, with a few instructions, and I stood in the window as they drove down the drive to the interstate highway.
After making sure they were actually gone, I hacked the view screen and turned on the news. I had learned the codes by watching mother when she thought I was outside or upstairs. Father was always more cautious. I had started watching the news a few months before, looking for a new diversion since I no longer had Benjamin to keep me company. Now, the drone from the newscaster kept me company.
I hope you enjoy this enough to want to keep reading! News for the official release will be available soon!