DR. LIGHT’S LABORATORY - As he locked the new cannon onto the boy’s arm, snapping it into place with a round, satisfying click, Dr. Light stepped back from the laboratory table and surveyed his handiwork.
“How do you feel?” he asked, switching his focus between the upgraded, forearm-length blast weapon and its owner’s serene, childish face.
Curiously, the boy rotated his new left arm.
“How do I feel?” he answered.
Dr. Light’s eyebrows arched in mild surprise, as though he had somewhat expected the existential inquiry any day but was still caught off guard. He had never prepared a formal, comprehensive explanation, but he had imagined the conversation a thousand times over the years. After a moment of pacing, he turned to the robot boy, whom he viewed as a son, who was dangling his legs absentmindedly.
“Well, I could offer you the long engineering explanation,” the scientist joked. He enjoyed that, after so many decades of work, he could provide a strictly technical response to such a fundamental question. Only two people left in the world could do that, as far as he knew.
“But the basic answer is that you feel because you were designed to have human feelings,” he said simply. “You were created by three people, and one of us in particular – the leader of our team – wanted more than anything for you to feel connected to being human.”
“Why?” asked the boy. His new arm felt a little heavier, he thought.
“Well…” Dr. Light paused and smiled sadly. “She would say things like she wanted you to be able to feel the warmth of her hands on your cheeks or that she wanted you to feel lucky sometimes. Then she would go figure out how to do it.”
He laughed. “She worked on you obsessively.”
There was a long silence.
“Why don’t I remember her?” the boy asked finally.
Dr. Light hesitated. He looked searchingly at the robot boy’s face.
“Human beings are very receptive to fooling ourselves,” the scientist began, gently flattening the youth’s black, synthetic hair with his palm while he spoke. “And sometimes we want to believe in a thing so much that we mistake it for actual knowledge.”
The old roboticist fell silent, shutting his eyes. When he reopened them, stinging and wet, he was looking toward the new arm cannon. “And it’s not until something unexpected happens, like an accident, that we realize we are wrong.”
The robot boy regarded him with concern.
Dr. Light looked lovingly at the face of his creation. “The truth is that you don’t remember her because you have no memories of her.”
“But in a past life, my son, you and she are still together.”
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