The thing about serendipity that no one ever tells you is that it doesn’t always last.
We didn’t understand it when we first noticed the anomalies. All we knew was that the outcome was not the expected one. There was a bug somewhere. When Jerry came running in from the artificial intelligence lab, we knew we had something extraordinary.
He beckoned wildly, out of breath in the doorway.
“Whassa matta, Jerry, AIDAN suck your brain out?”
AIDAN was our nickname for the robot the AI folks had created. The robot’s name was DAN but the guys had lovingly tacked on AI and made him AIDAN.
“You gotta come see this, come see Aidan. Something’s really weird.” He ran to me and grabbed my hand. “Come, come, please. Hurry!”
I ran behind Jerry, chuckling at his life or death urgency. They’d probably just taught Aidan the Abbott and Costello “who’s on first” routine or something stupid like that. The AI people weren’t known for their biting wit.
A wall of lab-coated backs greeted me. Jerry shoved between Stu and Martin.
“Aidan, I’ve got Leila here. Do you have something you want to tell her?” Jerry pulled me in front of him so that I stood face to face with Aidan.
Aidan turned to Jerry, his red eyes focused on Jerry’s face. “My name is Dan, not Aidan.” A few whizzes and clicks later, Aidan, no Dan, faced me. “Identification verification in process, please remain still.”
I smirked at the guys surrounding us, but no one smiled or laughed or said anything. They all wore expressions of abject seriousness.
“Verification complete. You are indeed Leila.” Dan took two steps closer to me.
I narrowed my eyes with suspicion, and wondered what kind of joke was being played on me.
Dan narrowed his eyes too. Frankly, it was a little creepy.
I cocked my head to the side and sighed. “Come on guys. Stop wasting my time here.”
Dan mimicked my action and said, “Do not waste Leila’s time.”
Then I smiled in earnest. “That’s right, Dan. You tell ’em.”
“Do not waste Leila’s time.”
The AI guys all gasped in unison.
I turned to Jerry. “What else did you add to his program?”
Jerry snapped out of his gawk and said, “He was only supposed to tell a knock-knock joke.”
A couple more steps brought me toe to toe with Dan. “Hey Dan, knock, knock.”
Dan tilted his head to look me in the eye. The red lights shifted to orange then yellow then blue. “Leila has blue eyes. I have blue eyes.”
“Yes, I do and so do you now. How’d you do that, Dan?”
“I wished it to be so, Leila.”
“Can you make your eyes green, Dan?”
“If Leila wishes it, then yes. Do you wish this, Leila?”
“Yes Dan. Please make your eyes green for me.”
The light transformed from blue to a deep emerald green.
“Very nice, Dan. I love a man with green eyes.” I patted Dan’s hand that rested at his side. The robotics people had fashioned Dan in the shape of a man about six feet tall. He looked somewhat like a knight in shining armor except for the Jonas Brothers t-shirt and jock strap they’d slipped on him as a joke.
Dan, bent forward from his hip sockets until his eyes were at the same level as mine. “Leila loves men with green eyes. I am a man with green eyes, therefore Leila loves me.”
“Well, I can’t argue with your logic there, Dan.” I patted his metallic cheek.
His robotic hand whipped up and seized mine with a speed that startled me and everyone else. “Your third quadratic formula has a bug in it, Leila. Would you like me to link into your computer and make the necessary correction?” He released my hand and straightened.
I stepped back, puzzled at both the structure and content of his words. I had been trying to debug a program for the past three hours with no success. With a frown, I said, “Yes, please. Can you do that for me, Dan?”
He turned and walked to the main console and plugged in his USB equipped finger. I watched as he pulled up my project on the screen and edited the third quadratic formula. My jaw dropped as I read the revised formula. “That’s right, Dan. Thank you.”
Jerry stood by my side and whispered, “We don’t know how or why he suddenly developed an awareness of you or the level of logic he’s just exhibited. Like I said, we’d been trying to program in a knock knock joke, trying to get the Dan to understand comic timing.”
I pulled Jerry aside, speaking as we walked, “So you’re saying a bug or glitch has caused this?”
He crossed his arms and shook his head. “Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m saying. Crazy huh?”
“Well, are you analyzing it looking for the code that caused…this?” I spun back around at the sound of Dan’s voice. He’d brought both hands to his chest and begun chanting, “Dan loves Leila, Leila loves Dan…”
Suddenly, Dan stopped speaking. His arms dropped to his sides, and his eyes reverted back to their normal red color.
Tony from the server room sauntered in, still chewing his Subway sandwich. “Hey, Jer, I had to reboot the system cause we had some kind of continuous loop going. When I saw it was Dan’s program that was doing it, I reloaded this morning’s backup version. Sorry ’bout that but he was gobbling up the entire CPU’s capacity and boss man needed to stream some video, if you get my drift.” He chuckled and nudged Jerry in the arm. “Oh, sorry, didn’t see ya there Leila-girl. Mmm-mmm, looking fine though, lookin’ fine.”
A collective howl rose up from the group as they rushed Tony, a sea of white lab coats drowning him in their center.