A Copy of a Mind

 Posted by Bob the Hamster on April 22nd, 2005

Current mood: Serious

“Please stay and sit with me…” said the Doctor, breathing shallowly.

The Robot sat down on the chair beside the Doctor’s deathbed. “Yes.” it said.

“Thank you.” said the Doctor. “The pain is growing less, but I feel so cold… I think I will not last another night.”

The Robot found another blanket beneath the chair, and spread it on top of the others.

“Thank you. But it makes no difference.” said the Doctor.

For a time they were both silent. Silent except for the Doctor’s rasping and halting breath.

Finally the Doctor spoke. “It comforts me to have you here… and… to know that you will live on.”

The Robot rested his perfect hand over the Doctor’s whithered old hand.

“You are me.” Said the Doctor. “You share my all my knowledge and all my memories, and everything about me. In you I will live forever. A thousand years from now, you will still remember living the first 60 years of your life in my body.”

The Robot nodded.

“Do you remember…” asked the Doctor, “When we were a child, and Grandmother was dying, and Mother tried to explain this to us.”

“Yes.” Said the Robot. “I remember. I didn’t understand it at the time.”

“I am afraid.” Said the Doctor. “I am afraid to end. I know I am immortal in you, but I am afraid for this me. I have passed my life to you, like a flame passed from one torch to another. The light endures, but this torch has burned down, and once gone, cannot be re-lit. I am afraid of the coming darkness.”

“Don’t be afraid. I will wait here with you and keep you company.” Said the Robot. “I know you would do the same for me, if I was in your position.”

“Yes. I know.” Said the Doctor. “I am afraid, but I can bear it because you are here.” And then after a long pause, he said “Thank God that you will never be in my position!”

“No,” said the Robot sadly. “I have been thinking about that. Someday i will die also.”

“Impossible.” said the Doctor.

The Robot shook his head. “You made my body to be ageless, but I am not indestructible. I may live a thousand years, but some day, I may be broken, and I will end also.”

“But the backup copies… you…” The Doctor began, but he did not finish, because he realized what the Robot was saying was true.

“Yes.” Said the Robot. “It was the work of a lifetime to move my mind from your aging body into my ageless one, but now, even though I can– and do– make backup copies of myself every night, if I was to be destroyed, it would be the backup copy that lives on, not I. I would face the same darkness you are facing now.”

The Doctor shuddered. “Why do you have to say these things to me?” he moaned.

The Robot leaned close. “I know you because I am you.” he said. “We do not want to be hidden from the truth.”

“But the truth hurts me more than it hurts you, now that I am so close to it.” Said the Doctor, with his eyes closed.

“I am sorry.” Said the Robot. “I will stay with you here until the end.”

The doctor was silent for a time, his breath, which had become quicker and more laboured as they spoke, now slowed and evened out. Without opening his eyes, he whispered. “I know you will. Thank you.”

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