Community Stories. Get Inspired, Get Underlined

Past Meets Future

By @Renfestlovrr

Chapter 3

Joelle was in her room thinking about how long she’s possibly been gone for in 2020. Surely her friends and family presumed her as dead if they had stopped looking for her. These anxious thoughts made her cry a little. No words could really explain the amount of fear and pain she was feeling. Not to mention seeing species she never knew existed.

 Just then, there was a ring letting her know that someone was at her door. She cleaned up her tear stained face and fixed up her hair as best she could. 

 “Come in,” she said, her voice cracking. 

 Data entered, stopping midway so as not to frighten her. “Are you finding your quarters to be comfortable?”

 Joelle nodded. “Yes, thank you… Is there something I can help you with?”

 “No, thank you,” he said. “I just wanted to inform you that if it would make you comfortable, you are more than welcome to examine me.”

 Joelle tilted her head as she thought about his strange suggestion. “That’s kind of a weird thing to say to someone you don’t know.”

 Data opened his mouth as if to say something but closed it with a thoughtful expression. “Ah, yes. I understand that you are afraid that I will harm you. I can assure you that I will not. If you want a better understanding of me, you are welcome to come closer and examine me.”

 “That explanation doesn’t make it sound any better than the first time you said it,” Joelle said, cracking a small smile. “But I understand what you’re saying.” 

 Data nodded and stood with his hands behind his back. “You may begin.”

 Joelle laughed internally. He was a very strange being, indeed. She had never met an android before until now. She was curious about him in many ways; was his strange complexion real skin? Was his hair real? Why were his eyes yellow? Joelle stood in front of him and searched his ****** features. 

 “Why are your eyes yellow?” she asked, feeling weird to ask such a question.

 “I am unsure,” Data said, avoiding eye contact. “Perhaps it is the color my creators wanted.”

 Joelle nodded, thinking about what else to ask. Every question she could think about sounded silly even to ask a human being. She began to reach for his face but stopped when they made eye contact. Data touched her hand and guided it to his cheek, letting his hand linger on hers for a while. 

 “Your skin feels warm,” Joelle said, running her hand to his neck and touching his hair. 

 Data nodded. “Of course. My skin was composed of a bioplast sheeting. Bioplast is a synthesized and extremely life-like skin material complete with pores, sweat glands, and even follicles that can produce hair.”

 Joelle looked at him confused. “I have no idea what all that means, but if it helps you sleep at night…” 

 “I do not require sleep,” he said, not understanding her joke. 

 She giggled. “That’s a figure of speech.”

 “Meaning what, exactly?” he asked, putting his hand behind his back again. 

 “Well, that means you are in denial and the other person can tell,” Joelle explained. 

 Data thought about that for a while then said, “But I am not in denial. What I have explained to you is the truth.”

 “I know… I was just… Never mind,” Joelle said, shaking her head. 

 He was definitely no doubt an android, Joelle thought to herself. Data seemed to not understand human humor or emotions. She thought about what Deanna had said to her before about how he’s more curious than anything about humans and their emotions. 

 “Data, are you able to feel sadness?” Joelle asked, breaking the awkward silence. 

 “I am able to feel a broad spectrum of human emotion,” Data explained. 

 Joelle thought for a moment before saying, “What emotions can you feel?”

 “I am capable of feeling curiosity, enjoyment,” Data paused. “Perhaps I have felt sadness once before. When we first met you and saw you unhappy.”

 Joelle sniffed, trying not to cry. He felt sorry for her from what it sounded like. The emotion she was most curious about but afraid to ask was if he ever felt comfort and love. Joelle sought to be comforted in this frightening time of her life. Not knowing the outcome of a situation was quite scary. She needed constant reassurance. 

 Data drew a little closer to her as he watched her happy expression go to sad once more. He felt it was his duty to make sure she wasn’t feeling sad. But there were some things he still did not understand about humans. Some of their emotions were quite curious to him. As Joelle began to silently cry again, she found herself in Data’s arms in a comforting embrace. 

 “I am sorry you are feeling this way,” he said, stroking her hair. “I wish there was something I could do to help you feel better.”

 Joelle buried her face in his chest and sighed. “This helps a whole lot more than you know. Thank you.”

 Data wondered if this meant she was no longer afraid of him. Although she was slightly shaking within his embrace, he could only hope for the best. 

 “I wish I could see home one last time,” Joelle said, muffled. 

 “You can,” Data said, remembering the Holodeck. “Come with me.”

 He led her out of the room and onto the elevator that took them to what he called Holodeck. Joelle followed suit, curiously. Once they arrived, Data turned to her with a slight smile. 

 “Computer, get me the year 2020, Michigan,” Data said. “Go inside.”

 Joelle was hesitant at first, but moved towards the door. Once it opened her eyes went wide as she stepped inside Michigan, 2020. She felt a small bit of excitement but kept reminding herself that it wasn’t real. 

 “Where do we go?” she asked Data, who walked in behind her. 

 “Where you wish,” Data said.

 Joelle smiled and headed in a random direction. She moved around as if she knew where she was going. Data followed close behind, as not to lose her in the crowd. She led him down a couple of blocks and to an apartment building with a red door. Joelle paused and stared at the building.

 “Is everything okay?” Data asked, nearly colliding into her from her sudden stop. 

 “This is my house,” she said in a whispered tone. “Do you think my parents are in there?”

 “It is quite possible,” Data said. “Whenever you are ready, go ahead and enter. I shall wait here.” 

 Joelle took one step forward then turned around and ran in the direction they came from. Data watched as she found the exit and disappeared around the corner. He stared off curiously, wondering why she didn’t go inside of the building. Maybe she wasn’t ready yet, he thought. 

 “Ms. Carter,” Data said, searching for her. 

 He heard a sniffle from around the corner and found Joelle huddled up in a corner with her face hidden in her arms as her legs were pulled close to her chest. 

 “I’m sorry,” she said, looking up at him with tears in her eyes. “I’m not ready to see them yet. I feel like my entire body is going to explode with fear and anxiety. I can’t handle this, Data.” 

 She buried her face again and he kneeled down in front of her and touched the top of her head. He was unsure what to say to make her happy. Data felt as though he was failing at his task. If only he could get her to smile… 

 “Ms. Carter,” he said, lifting her face. “If you are feeling guilty for what happened to you, it is not your fault. We have made you a promise to find a way to send you home. And I can assure you we have a crew working very hard to find the solution. Perhaps there is something you may be able to remember that could help us.”

 Joelle whipped a tear from her face. “Can I see the pod? Maybe seeing it will bring back something.” 

 “Let us go to the bridge and ask the captain. I am sure he would not mind,” Data said, standing up and offering her his hand. 

 She managed a smile, the first real one he had seen. 

Join the conversation

Like
Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry
Post a comment
0 Likes 0 Comments
Like
Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

Become a Book Nerd

When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.

By clicking Sign Up, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House's
Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Underlined