It was on a night in mid May when the storm hit. Residents said they would remember this one for years to come. A strong cold front slammed into an unseasonably warm and humid air mass for May and triggered a line of powerful thunderstorms with strong winds, heavy rain and numerous cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. Katie Lane would have never seen it under normal circumstances.
She lay in her bed late that night with her eyes closed, the wind gusting and the rain falling outside. Occasionally the room would light up with a brilliant flash of lightning. Katie didn’t stir. Her light blonde hair was drawn up into two braids that framed her lightly freckled face, and she was wearing a simple white cotton nightgown. The scene inside the room was completely still, in contrast to the now ferocious storm raging outside her windows.
A quick flash of lightning turned the nighttime into day and then plunged the world back into darkness. It was followed by a tremendous crash of thunder, and Katie’s eyes snapped open. She sat upright in her room, currently pitch black. Over the sound of the storm she heard a noise like a motor winding. She looked down, but there was nothing there.
“I must have imagined it,” she thought as she stared at the storm. Figuring that now was as good a time as any, she got ready for school, putting on a white t-shirt and aqua colored shortalls. She finished the outfit with white socks and sneakers, and sat on the bed. She checked her backpack, which was leaning against the foot of the bed. She ascertained that all her homework and schoolbooks were organized and ready to go, so she opened the door and headed out into the hallway.
It was dark, but the light switch was at the other end of the hallway so Katie felt her way along slowly. As she was passing her sister’s room, she saw light flickering under the door. At first she thought it was just lightning, but a series of beeps and clicks aroused her curiosity.
“Is Amy staying up late again? Mom said if she doesn’t go to bed on time she can’t go on the senior trip,” Katie thought. After a moment’s hesitation, she decided to open the door.
“Amy, mom said—“ she began but stopped short at the sight on the bed. Amy was also wearing a simple cotton nightgown, and her reddish-brown hair framed a face similar to Katie’s. Her eyes were open and staring up at the ceiling, and she was in some sort of spasm. Katie almost ran to get her parents when she noticed something very odd. Next to Amy’s bed was an electrical outlet. In that outlet there was a plug. And the wire from that plug was connected to metal in an open panel, with lights flashing near it and the occasional clicking sound. And the panel was in the end of Amy’s arm.
“What?” Katie said softly, and padded over to her sister’s bed. She looked at Amy’s arm, and after studying it for a moment, said, “I don’t believe it. My sister is a robot!”
As the lightning flickered outside, she picked up the arm that had the panel in it. “It seems life-like enough,” Katie thought. She picked up one of Amy’s legs and bent it at the knee. “A bit stiff, but remarkably realistic,” Katie thought. She looked into Amy’s wide, green eyes. The thunder boomed. There was no recognition; there was no sign she was even aware of where she was.
Then Katie’s eyes fell to her sister’s chest, on which was a fairly healthy pair of breasts. Katie knew her sister was beautiful, and knew many boys apparently just wanted to take Amy out just to feel her up and to get in bed with her. Katie had heard her dad and mom talk about it many times. Katie looked at her own breasts through her shirt. They weren’t nearly as developed as Amy’s, though Katie wished they were. The wind whistled outside. She lifted up Amy’s nightgown and felt her breasts. “Just as soft and tender as mine, but hers are so much bigger. But they’re definitely realistic. I wouldn’t have guessed they were made of plastic or metal or whatever if I didn’t know.”
Katie spent a few more moments staring and then covered her back up with the nightgown. “I wonder why she’s shaking and beeping like that. Is something wrong?” Katie thought as a gust of wind slammed into the house. “Oh well, I better leave for school,” she said she left her sister’s room. She was about to turn back down the hallway when she heard noises from her parents’ room, directly opposite from Amy’s.
“Mary, I have to check on the girls! The lightning struck the house! They could be hurt, or worse!” her dad was saying.
“John, the lightning rod did its job. I doubt there are any problems, and even if there are, they wouldn’t be serious,” her mom replied.
“At least help me check the computers,” John asked.
“Well, ok,” Mary replied as Katie heard the doorknob start to turn. She quietly ran down the hallway and into her room, shutting the door as softly as she could.
Once in her room, Katie looked at the clock on the wall. It was only three in the morning. “Oops!” she thought. “I was so sure it was later.” Katie sat back down on the bed and stared at the window. She closed her eyes for a moment.
When Katie opened her eyes again, the sun was shining and a few birds were singing. Katie saw the clock, and it said six thirty. It was a bit earlier than she usually got up, but much better than three. Katie rose and looked out the window. There were a few trees across the road but crews were already there cleaning them up.
Immediately after she remembered with a start the events of last night. She ran to her sister’s room, but her sister wasn’t there. She ran down to the kitchen table where her mom was preparing breakfast.
“Where’s Amy?” Katie asked.
“You’re interested in your sister? I never thought I’d see the day…” her mom answered her wistfully.
“Very funny, mom. Now where is she?” Katie asked.
“I believe she’s in the basement with your father,” Mrs. Lane said.
“Thanks,” Katie said and began to run down to the basement when her mom grabbed her hand.
“I think you better leave them alone for now. They’re having a parental talk,” Mrs. Lane said.
“But mom, I really wanna talk to Amy,” Katie begged.
“You can do that later. Now, you need to eat your breakfast. It’ll be ready in a moment. Now, how come you’re up so early this morning?” Mrs. Lane asked.
“I don’t know, maybe the storm,” Katie replied.
“Hmmm, maybe. How are your final reports coming?” Mrs. Lane inquired.
“Fine, mom. Freshmen don’t have to give final reports to their teachers until the beginning of June! I’m way ahead of the game,” Katie said.
“Well, that’s good to hear. Now eat the scrambled eggs and sausages I made and then you can leave for school,” Mrs. Lane said as she placed a plate in front of Katie,
Katie was still determined to talk to Amy, but thought it was best to act normally for now. She ate her breakfast slowly, thinking about last night. After finishing she rushed into the bathroom and brushed her teeth, then grabbed her school bag. Her hair was still in pigtails from the night before so she left her hair alone. As she came back into the kitchen, Amy and her dad were just emerging from the basement.
Her dad looked tired, but her sister looked as fresh as a morning flower. Her hair was swept back in a short ponytail and her eyes had a sparkle that Katie couldn’t recall seeing previously. She was dressed in a simple outfit of jeans and a t-shirt, but it accentuated her curves nicely, and boys would be staring at her all day, again.
“Why don’t you put your stuff in the car Amy,” her dad was saying when he saw Katie. His face brightened a little. “Good morning Katie! Grab your school stuff and throw it in the car. I’ll be taking you to school today,” he explained.
“Hey dad. Sure, let me grab my lunch,” Katie said as she took the paper bag sitting on the table. Her face was all smiles, but inside she was angry that she wouldn’t get a chance to talk with Amy until later in the day.
After their dad dropped them off at the school entrance, Amy immediately ran off to be with her senior friends, while Katie slowly walked over to the freshman wing of the high school. Once she got there she put her books in her locker and sat down in her seat in her homeroom.
She stared at the wall, going over the events of last night. “My sister. A robot. How come I never knew? Wow. I wonder if dad built her. That’d be weird, but kinda cool. But why didn’t they tell me? I can keep a secret…”
“Whatcha talking about Katie?” asked a brown-haired girl who just sat down in front of her.
“Nothing really, Rachel. Just thinking about last night.” Katie replied.
“Oh, you mean the storm? I’m surprised they had school today with all the trees down everywhere, and some houses without power. But I guess they fixed it all before the buses picked up the kids,” Rachel said.
“Yeah, the storm, right… Listen, Rach, if you discovered a something about your sister that you didn’t know, what would you do with the information?” Katie asked.
“Ooh, secrets..what about?” Rachel asked.
“No, no secrets. I’m just wondering. But not like any information though. Something that could cause a lot of people complications if it got out, including you.” Katie replied.
“In that case I’d probably only tell someone I absolutely trusted, and only then if it was absolutely necessary. So, you trust me, right? What’s the big secret?” Rachel asked.
“I told you, there’s no secret. I was just wondering. I’ve got a lot of stuff on my mind,” Katie told her.
“Oh, ok. But if you ever DO have a secret, make sure I’m the first one you tell,” Rachel said.
“Sure,” Katie agreed as the bell rang. Both of them got up and headed to first period history.
The freshmen had lunch with the seniors on Tuesday, and Katie was determined to talk to Amy. But it was not to be. She was surrounded by her girlfriends, and the one time she approached her, Amy sneered at her, “Go away. I deal with you enough at home.” Katie knew that they had a decent relationship at home, but at school they usually stayed away from each other, so she wasn’t surprised at Amy’s remark, but she was annoyed that she wouldn’t get a chance to talk to her until later.
By sixth period, which was the next-to-last period of the day, Katie’s insides were bursting, holding in this amazing secret. She was confused but also slightly intrigued, but she so desperately wanted to tell someone about her sister. But it couldn’t be just anyone. If her dad or mom actually built her sister, it would be the first of it’s kind, and Amy, her parents, and herself would never be able to live a normal life again. She needed someone she could trust.
She walked into her sixth-period study hall, and her eyes scanned the room for an empty seat. She saw one towards the back and nabbed it before anyone else could see it.
“Hey Kate,” said a boy’s voice next to her.
Katie jumped and turned to her neighbor, “Oooh! Don’t startle me like that! I could kill you for---Matt! I’ll get you one of these days!” Katie was surprised. Her seat neighbor in study hall was, in fact, one of her real life neighbors. Matt Jameson lived a few houses down and was madly in love with Amy, but Amy just liked him as a friend. Matt was a junior this year, and happened to have an open study this period because one of his teachers called in sick. Even though Katie was two years younger than Matt, she still thought of him as a friend, and the feeling was mutual.
“So what’s up? You see the storm last night?” Matt asked.
“Yeah. Quite a sight. But, umm, Matt, I was actually looking at something else last night. Something that was much more interesting…” Katie trailed off.
“What? What could be more interesting than the worst storm in twenty years?” Matt asked.
“Nahh, never mind…it was nothing,” Katie said.
“C’mon, Katie, you can’t say something like that and then leave me hanging…,” Matt pleaded.
“Sorry, but it’s nothing, nothing to be concerned about,” Katie said. Something inside of her was making her not want to tell Matt, though she still felt like she was about to burst.
“Listen, Katie. We’ve been friends now for a few years, right?” Matt asked.
“Have I ever given you any reason not to trust me?”
“So tell me! I’m dying to know!” Matt begged.
“Well, okay. I guess the lightning woke me up around 2:30 or so, and I watched it for a sec or so, but I thought it was just early and the morning and not night so I got ready for school and left my room. I heard stuff in my sister’s room that sounded really interesting, so I opened the door, and I saw something amazing and weird,” Katie explained.
“What? Did she have a guy in there?” Matt asked.
Katie laughed uneasily and then said, “No, no guys…I saw her staring at the ceiling, and a plug from an electrical outlet that was plugged into my sister! Matt, my sister is a robot!”
Matt’s mouth hung open, staring at Katie. “That can’t be true. They don’t make robots that can pass for people!”
“I didn’t think they did either, but apparently either my dad or some company does, and believe me, I’ve lived with her my whole life and it never occurred to me she was anything else but a real, living girl,” Katie explained.
“Wow. I still can’t believe it though. How would your parents get the necessary paperwork to prove who she was? If your dad or mom built her did they forge paperwork too? And you two look so much alike. How could they make her look like you if they made her first?” Matt questioned.
“Well, who knows when she was made. We didn’t move in next to you until we were in elementary school. And I don’t remember much when I was real young,” said Katie.
“Listen, Katie, I know you really think your sister’s a robot, for some reason, but it just can’t be true. It’s too improbable. It was probably a trick of the light from the storm,” Matt offered.
“No way. It was too real to be a trick. How about you come over after school and I’ll prove it to you,” Katie told him.
“I don’t know…I’ll think of a way,” Katie said.
“Well, ok, I’ll drive you home so you don’t have to take the bus. Your parents still work days, right?” Matt asked.
“Yeah,” Katie said. “No one’ll be home…” Katie trailed off. She knew what she saw last night, but how was she going to prove it to Matt? How would Amy react to the news? But what if it was only a vivid dream or something? Matt did raise some valid points. Amy and herself looked so much alike. Same eyes and hair, though different colors, same freckles, same face shape. Katie wrote it off to coincidence but it kept gnawing at her, somewhere deep inside.
After study Katie ran to Amy’s locker to let her know that Matt was driving them home. Amy took the news well—she hated the bus. Katie ran back to the freshman wing, arriving just in time for her last period art class.
Matt, Amy and Katie met in the front hall of the school and made their way though the throngs of students to the student parking lot. They squished in to his 1991 Ford Tempo and Matt exited the school parking lot. During the ride Katie could feel the tension, but Amy appeared oblivious. She had no idea what was to come.
Katie looked closely at her sister. They did look almost uncannily alike, down to the contours of their faces. “Maybe after they had me they wanted to build an older sister, and just used my face as a mold?” Katie wondered in her thoughts.
They both sat in the back seat— Matt’s front passenger seat was covered in various schoolbooks, supplies and wrappers from fast food joints. During hard bumps or sharp curves the sisters leaned in to one another. Katie tried to feel any kind of gears or fans or electrical machinery of any kind but came up empty. She leaned harder into her sister on one particular turn, causing Amy to say, “Wow, sis, you must REALLY like me!”.
Matt started to chuckle softly. “You stop that,” Amy said chidingly to him.
Soon they arrived at the Lane house. It wasn’t overly impressive, but Katie and Amy’s dad did work in a high-security electronics job, and her mother was a lawyer for some upper class firm. They had moved here after her mom had gotten a promotion, and they had wanted something big, but not too big.
Katie opened the door with her key and all three stepped inside. The house had a generous front hallway with the TV room on the right and a den and office to the left. The kitchen was in the back and the bedrooms were on the second floor. In the basement were Mr. Lane’s computers that he did office work on. The sisters were not allowed down there unless Mr. Lane was with them. He couldn’t afford to lose any of the information on those computers.
Once inside the house, Amy took off her sneakers and headed into the TV room. When Matt and Katie followed her, she began to sense something. “Are you staying over for a while, Matt?” she asked.
“Well, yeah, but, umm, Katie had something she wanted to talk to you about,” Matt said, and suddenly the spotlight was on Katie.
Katie gulped as Amy said, “Yeah, Katie?”
“Umm, Amy, you’re umm, uh, mm, you’re a robot,” the last part came out quickly, in a rush.
“A wha--?” Amy spluttered.
“A robot. You know. An android. A robot in the form of a female girl,” Katie explained.
“I don’t know what you’re on, Katie, but there is no way I’m made of wires and circuits,” Amy said.
“Well, I saw you last night, during the storm. You had a panel in your arm and you were plugged in, and you were kind of shaking, and…” Katie stopped when she saw her sister laughing. “What’s so funny?” Katie asked, furious her sister was laughing at her, taking this so lightly.
“It’s so funny, that’s why! Here, take a look at my arms. You too, Matt!” Amy showed off her arms to the other two. “See! No panel anywhere! No seam, no break, no mark on my skin. I’m just as human as you and Matt, Katie. You must have had quite a dream last night,” Amy said.
“You know I can never remember my dreams, and neither can you,” Katie said. “You HAVE to be a robot. I saw it so clearly!”
“Sure, whatever. Listen, I want to watch TV now, ok? Can we drop it?” Amy asked.
“No, not until I get proof. Let me see your arm again,” Katie demanded.
Amy, clearly exasperated, said, “No, you may not. My word is gonna have to be good enough for your to know I’m not a robot.”
Katie grabbed Amy’s arm, saying, “Well, it’s not. I’ll show you and I’ll show Matt. You’re not human! You’re made of wires! You’ve got a battery!”
Amy tried to shake Katie off, but she wouldn’t let go of the arm. Matt, who up until this point was watching with great interest, snapped out of his trance and approached the two. He tried to push the two arguing sisters apart, but Katie’s grip was like a vice, and she wasn’t moved easily. Finally, he pushed hard enough and Katie fell backwards on to the floor, quickly using her hands to cushion the blow. Amy fell back as well, but towards the brick fireplace that took up the entire wall of one room. She hit her head with a sickening crack and lay unmoving.
A moment later, Amy sat up slowly. Katie and Matt rushed over. “Oh my God, Amy! Are you ok? I’m so sorry!” Katie said. “I don’t know what came over me!”
“I’m — I’m ok…” Amy said in a weak voice. “I don’t think I hit my head too hard.”
“Thank goodness!” Matt said. “I was afraid you really smacked it. I’m sorry.”
“That’s ok. You had to do something…” Amy said. “Well, if you two don’t mind, I’m going to go into the kitchen and grab some ice for my head. I didn’t feel too well this morning and I certainly don’t feel well now.”
Matt and Katie helped Amy up and she headed to the kitchen. “Now do you believe me? Your sister is not a robot!” Matt said. “You almost got her seriously hurt!”
“Yeah, I know. But something isn’t right here. It was like I was possessed or something..,” Katie told Matt.
“That’s ok. It’s over now and we can watch TV or something. I’ll stay for awhile to make sure Amy’s ok,” Matt explained.
“Thanks. I suppose my sister really isn’t—“ Katie’s thought was interrupted by Amy, who came back into the room. But it didn’t seem like the Amy who had just left.
Her hair was no longer in a ponytail, but fell loosely about her face in an angled cut. Her eyes, previously soft and then angry were now full of fire and energy and lust. She had taken her socks off, leaving her with bare feet. And the biggest change was that she was no longer wearing her top, exposing a soft, lacy satin bra that supported her wonderfully full breasts, covered by a soft, creamy skin.
“Amy?” Matt and Katie said in unison.
Amy ignored Katie, and instead walked right to Matt. “You know, we’ve been friends for awhile, haven’t we, Matt?” she asked.
“Umm, yeah,” Matt replied hesitantly.
“And I bet you’ve had a crush on me,” she correctly guessed.
“Oh, yeah. You’re so beautiful, Amy,” Matt complimented.
“Thank you. But I think I’ve been neglecting something. You’re a handsome guy, Matt. And I think that ignoring you for this long has been a terrible mistake. A mistake I intend to fix…” she said, dropping her voice from its normal, lilting tone to a huskier alto.
“Amy? Do you know what you’re doing?” Matt asked, not sure if he wanted to hear the answer.
“Of course I do, Mattie. I’ve had my eye on you for awhile, but I’m shy, you know. I don’t always go after what I want,” she said as she began to unbutton her jeans.
“Amy…Amy…you don’t know how long I’ve loved you…” Matt said, completely entranced by the beautiful girl beginning to strip in front of him.
“Ooh, a long time, I bet,” Amy said as her jeans dropped to the floor.
Katie watched all this take place, and was fighting complex feelings in her own system. On the one hand, she was embarrassed for her sister. If this was the bump on the head talking, she was going to be mortified later. She could sense Matt’s hesitancy and hope that this was all real. And she was confused about another feeling inside of her. It was almost like she was very excited that this was going on, and it gave her feelings where she really hadn’t had many feelings. All her girlfriends had talked about their crushes and such and Katie never really had much to add. But this, for some reason, was making her aroused. She began to unbuckle the straps of her overalls, but the scene unfolding in front of her commanded her attention and she let the straps slip through her hands.
Now that Amy’s jeans lay in a heap on the floor, she stood now only in her bra and panties. Noting Matt’s eyes staring at her assets, she pulled him close and embraced him, then gently pushing him down onto the easy chair nearest her. She stood to the side and began to unhook the straps of her bra.
“Oh, Amy, you have no idea how long I’ve dreamed of this,” Matt said.
“I think I do, Mattie. You’ve been in my dreams for a long time,” Amy said. Both seemed to be completely unaware of Katie, whose overall straps were undone and hanging behind her, but whose eyes were riveted to the drama going on in front of her.
Amy’s bra came off and she leaned in close to Matt, letting her chest rest at about his eye level. “Do you like what you see?” Amy asked in a sultry voice.
“Yes, yes, I do,” Matt replied, drew Amy in and kissed her deeply on her lips. Almost as soon as the kiss broke, Amy stood straight up.
“Exception at line 540239992. Error,” she said in a flat monotone.
“Amy?” Matt said, a bit worried. “Are you playing another game?”
“Exception at line 540239993. Error,” she said in a flat monotone. A spasm shook her body, and the whir of a cooling fan could be heard.
“Amy? What’s happening to you?” Brian asked, now more worried.
“Exception at line 540239994. Error,” she said in a flat monotone, but slightly higher in pitch. “Exception at line 54023995. Error,” she said in an even higher pitch.
Matt quickly got up as a faint smell of smoke began to permeate the air, and Matt could see small sparks occasionally through the skin in Amy’s chest. He started to walk over to Katie. “Katie! Your sister IS a robot! And she’s malfunctioning! What do I do? I have to fix her! Your father will kill me!”
Amy’s head began to twitch violently to the right and she said in a still higher pitch, “Fatal exception at line 540239996. Fatal exception at line 544239997. Error! Error! Please service now. Please service now…” With each line spoken her voice became faster and her head twitched, and then different panels began opening. Circuits flashing and malfunctioning were shown on both arms, both legs and then on her back and finally on her chest above her breasts. “Please service now…please service now…”
“Katie! Snap out of it!” Matt said, snapping his fingers in front of a transfixed Katie.
At that moment, Katie rose, and her eyes focused on Matt. She lifted her arm like she was in a dream, and tried to reach out towards Matt. Her cold fingers grasped his arm and she began to pull him close. Amy’s pleas for service and her declaration of her fatal errors had reached their peak and now a lower voice announced a system shutdown was imminent. Matt stared in horror as his big crush was reduced to a piece of smoldering plastic and her sister was moving laboriously, as if in a trance, to pull him closer. Then, as Katie and Matt’s bodies touched, Katie’s body went rigid and a monotone voice announced, “Exception at line 54023992. Error.”
Katie’s memory flashed back on four hours later, according to her internal clock. She was plugged in to an outlet in the basement, and her back panel was open. Occasionally a beep would sound. She could see Amy lying on a metal operating table, most of her panels off. The light glinted off the shining metal of her arms and legs and Katie could make out the scorch marks the sparks had caused.
“I wonder if I look that way inside. Probably not. I didn’t really DO anything with Matt, like Amy…” Katie thought. “And to think, me: a robot! Just like Amy. Well, that explains why we’re so much alike…”
Her thoughts faded, and she could hear her dad’s voice. “I think we have our answer, Mary. I reviewed the visual cortex tape and the programming log. Apparently, the blow to Amy’s head activated her Beta Sex program. It wasn’t tested yet, and I guess it proved too much for her to handle. And watching Amy and Matt go at it, it activated Katie’s Beta Sex program too. Luckily I got there as soon as I did. After my pager went off with the malfunction code I burned rubber. Well, anyway, I’ll clear Amy’s memory of the incident… too traumatic otherwise. But I think Katie’s ok. Though I will watch her. Her clock started early yesterday morning. Could have been the storm. Doesn’t seem like there’s any damage…”
Next: Katie begins to have a suspicion about herself