by adrian.dakota

“Perhaps, if we’d actually cared about him, it might have turned out differently. But like all machines, we completely disregarded what he wanted and only cared about our own.”

He couldn’t believe it – it couldn’t be happening – but there it was. The inevitable truth.

Raymond couldn’t believe what he knew his eyes were telling him. He had heard it himself.

“The system’s now ghosting,” said Cody softly. “Soon Ivan’s internal programming will completely disintegrate. I’ll give you a few minutes.”

Raymond just stumbled, unsure, forward, standing next to Ivan’s side. Shouldn’t he be crying? Feeling sad over the fact that his friend was dying? But he wasn’t. Why? What was he feeling?

Ivan’s voice issued out of one of speakers. His body was dying, now.

“Hey, Raymond.”

Raymond choked on his own laugh of despair. Ivan never changed. Not across the years that Raymond had known him, and he still didn’t when his entire system began to ghost. Raymond had only begun to know what that term meant.

“Hey, Ivan,” he said, trying to inject a sense of optimism into his voice. “You’re ghosting, then?”

He hadn’t meant for it to be so blunt.

“Yeah,” said Ivan cheerfully. “Finally, after so long. How far am I?”

Cody poked Ivan and pointed at a screen. “Uh, about a quarter of the way in,” said Raymond truthfully. “Why?”

“Just wanted to know. So, what’s up?”

His vision clouded, and Raymond felt his face getting hot. Why? Why didn’t Ivan care? What was wrong with him?

“Raymond, you okay? You seem awfully quiet.”

“Ivan, seriously!” yelled Raymond. “You’re ghosting and you don’t even care about it?”

Static of surprise issued out of the speakers. When Ivan returned, his voice was warm and comforting.

“Hey, Raymond, it’s fine! I’d known it was coming along for ages. It’s not like I didn’t prepare for it. Why, you missing me already?”

Raymond looked down at the small, lifeless body lying down next to him. There were no instruments wired up to the body, nothing that the movies so loved to stick in whenever someone died. Then again, Ivan wouldn’t need them. Why would a software program need them?

“Maybe,” choked Raymond, half-laughing.

Ivan laughed. “It’s okay, Raymond. I’ll be back before you know it. Perhaps after a body change.”

Raymond cast a look at Cody, who seemed surprised.

“Ivan, you’ve prepared for a body change?” said Cody. “How?”

“Oh, hey, Cod! I’d wondered where you went. Yeah, it should be ready now. Weren’t you informed?”

“Cody was telling me how your program had disintegrated so much that it would be impossible to stick it in another interface system,” said Raymond. “Or something along those lines.”

“So he has been educating you well,” said Ivan interestedly. “I’d be interested in taking over after I get better.”

“When you do, Ivan,” said Raymond, a single tear rolling down his cheek. “When you do.”

“I love you too, Raymond.”