The Big O and all of its settings and characters are owned by Cartoon Network, Sunrise, and Bandai Visual.
THE BIG O Presents:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Roger saw an eye. A bar code. Bald children looking into the fire. A doddering old man offering him a tomato. Three giant robots marching through a burning city, lighting fires with lasers shooting from their eyes. A torrent of flames rushing through a subway tunnel. Shelves of books burning. Devastated cityscapes filled with giant broken robots, the most intact one with a hatch open and a man either dead or dazed sat staring out of the cockpit. A man who looked exactly like him.
"Aah!" Roger awoke with a start. Damn these nightmares! How could he get any sleep with this going on? He had been staying up later and later and getting up earlier and earlier just to avoid sleeping as much as he could. Pretty soon he would be unable to function.
Roger Smith looked at himself in a full length mirror and saw a handsome man who appeared to be in his mid-twenties. His broad shoulders and trim waist indicated both strength and agility. His jet-black hair with his strong jaw and high cheekbones on his boyish face made him the definition of 'tall, dark, and handsome'. But right now he didn't feel very handsome. His messy hair, black pajamas and sour expression was closer to 'looks like hell' but he stood up straight, ran his hands through his tousled hair and attempted to put on a brave face.
His face looked sour and bitter at the breakfast table, but the girl who sat across from him looked as calm and collected as one could imagine. Small wonder. R Dorothy Wayneright wasn't exactly human; she was an android who was constructed to appear as a slender teenage girl.
Roger snorted as he compared her neat, almost professional appearance with his own disheveled one. She was dressed in a reddish black dress that had a white ruffled collar and formal white cuffs. A set of black stockings and shiny black shoes completed her ensemble. Her red pageboy haircut was immaculate, her bangs broken by a black barrette. He, on the other hand, felt like ten miles of bad road.
"Did you have trouble sleeping last night?" she asked as she sipped her tea.
"Don't worry about it," he mumbled. "I'm fine."
"Did you have nightmares again Roger?"
"Yeah," he muttered. "I don't want to talk about it. You wouldn't understand anyway. Android's don't have to worry about strange dreams."
"It might help if you tell someone about them," she offered.
"Maybe when I get home," he shrugged. "I got a big day in front of me so I've got to get going. Maybe tonight huh?"
After he left for the day Dorothy discussed Roger's problem with Norman Burg, Roger's butler and valet.
"Roger is having nightmares again, but I don't know how to help him," she told the old man. "I know that I feel pain differently than he does, but it hurts not being able to do anything."
"Perhaps Master Roger just needs to realize that he's not alone," Norman suggested. "If he knows that you're sympathetic to his problem it should help him deal with it."
"He needs a distraction, but I don't understand human behavior," Dorothy said.
"We have a few books on human psychology in the library," Norman offered. "Master Roger has found them insightful during difficult negotiations."
"Thank you Norman."
When she was finished with her chores, Dorothy went to the library and spent the rest of the day reading.
When Roger got home that evening, his mood hadn't improved.
"Trouble at work today sir?" Norman asked as he followed Roger, taking his gloves, coat, and tie as he did so.
"It was a disaster!" Roger groaned. "I nearly got in a car accident because I passed a picket fence and it looked like a barcode! Talk about humiliating! After all of the fights I've been in I was nearly finished off by a fence that looked like a barcode! A barcode! I'm turning in early, Norman. I got nothing done today and I'm going to have to start again early tomorrow."
"Please Master Roger, you must eat something," the old man pleaded. "I've some game hens being heated. You like game hens…"
"Not a chance!" Roger snarled. "You know darn well that I love your game hens and I wouldn't insult them by eating them on a day like this! This whole day was a wash and I'm going to end it right! Goodnight Norman."
"Goodnight Master Roger," the old man sighed. "Pleasant dreams."
"I wish," Roger snorted as he entered his room and shut the door.
"Let me try Norman," Dorothy said as they looked at the door to Roger's room. "I'll give him a moment to calm down then have a talk with him."
"Very well, Miss Dorothy," Norman nodded. "I'm sure you know best."
When Dorothy finally entered, Roger was in his pajamas lying in bed, trying to relax. The lamp on his nightstand was lit and he had a book in his hand but he wasn't reading it. "Dorothy?" he muttered when she came in. "Where's my nightcap? I'll probably have trouble getting to sleep without it."
"Alcohol isn't good for you on an empty stomach," Dorothy said as she took a chair and set it next to Roger's bed. "You've been having nightmares," she continued as she sat next to him and set her book on the bed. "Tell me about them."
"There's nothing to tell," he snorted. "They're vague and disturbing, and make me wonder if Gordon Rosewater did something to my head when I was a kid. I don't know if they're memories of the distant past or portents of the future. They scare me and make me question my identity and wonder if Paradigm City is even what it appears to be. Deep down, I wonder who I really am. Or what I really am." As he spoke, the bravado drained out of him and his voice got quiet and uncertain. He stared at the door as he spoke and only when he finished did he look at her. "But you wouldn't understand," he sighed. "You don't have dreams like I do."
"That's right," she said. "I have completely different dreams."
"What?" he blinked. "You have dreams? I didn't know you even slept!"
"Every night I perform a hard reboot that runs diagnostics and reorders my files," the android girl explained. "When my mind is rearranged like that I have surreal and disturbing dreams. Should I tell you about some of them?"
"Uh, sure," he nodded. Androids had dreams? This he had to hear!
"Many of them seem symbolic or suggest scenarios that never happened," the girl said. "For example, once I dreamed that you took me on a picnic."
"A picnic?" Roger repeated. "I never took you on a picnic."
"And I've never been on a picnic," Dorothy agreed. "I can only assume that the experience came from the Memories of the dead girl I was based on."
"So what did we do?" Roger asked. "What did we talk about?"
"I don't know but I distinctly remember you offering me a hot dog," the girl said. "It wasn't in a bun or anything. When I touched it, it squirted mayonnaise out of one end."
"A hot dog squirted mayonnaise?" Roger repeated carefully as he raised a suspicious eyebrow.
"I think it was mayonnaise," Dorothy said. "It could have been cottage cheese or whip cream. You held it in your hand and when I went to take it from you it squirted mayonnaise in my face."
"In your face?" Roger blushed.
"Yes, it was a very strange dream," she said. "It was bizarre. The mayonnaise just kept coming. The hot dog you wanted to give me seemed to have an inexhaustible supply."
Roger sat up and carefully placed his book on his lap. He was blushing beet red and a bead of sweat trickled out of his hair. "So uh… what do you suppose it means?"
"I haven't the slightest," Dorothy said. "It was disturbing but exciting. My perceptions don't really make sense while I reboot."
"So um… have you had any other dreams that you can remember?" he asked as he undid a button on his pajama top and ran his fingers through his hair.
"I really can't remember most of them, but I do recall this one dream where you were a train like in the old movies."
"I was a train huh?" He smiled weakly.
"Yes, and I was a tunnel," she continued. "You were rushing through me, so long, so powerful. You literally had the power of a locomotive. Even though I was just a tunnel, I could feel you as you raced through me, an unstoppable force."
"I… I… raced through you?" he stammered. "All the way?"
"No. That was the strange part," she tilted her head as if lost in thought. "Just when you went halfway, you reversed engines and went back out. And then just before your locomotive left me, you plunged forwards again. Now what do you suppose that means?"
Roger's face, once beet red had now lost so much color that his skin tone almost matched Dorothy's. He hugged his knees and rocked in his bed nervously. "I… I have no idea," he declared as he shook his head bashfully. "I suppose that most of the time dreams are just… dreams aren't they?"
"I don't know," Dorothy said. "That particular dream had a very powerful effect on me. It was thrilling, exhilarating, and satisfying. I suppose that as a train tunnel I was fulfilling my primary purpose having a train pass through me, but why was I frightened even though I enjoyed it? I was a merely a tunnel. And why was it so important to me that you were the train? For some reason I couldn't imagine any other train entering me but you. I wouldn't want any other train in me. Just you. Doesn't that seem strange?"
Roger's face was red again, and the beads of sweat trickling down his face made it look like he had been running. "Yeah," he smiled weakly. "That sounds really weird. I guess I'm not the only one who has wacky dreams Dorothy."
"It reminds me of another dream I had where I was a lock and you were a key," she continued. "No other key could fit me but you slid right in and I felt an incredible release. The sensation of being unlocked made me feel so free… and so grateful. It was wonderful. It was what I had been waiting for ever since I was constructed. I wonder what it means."
"Now Dorothy!" Roger stammered. "Sometimes dreams are just dreams! They don't really mean anything!"
"Yes," she picked up her book and held it close to her body. "Dreams are strange aren't they? When we reboot the mind plays tricks on us and fills us with images that don't make sense. So you see that it's silly to put so much stock in your dreams. Most of the time a dream is just a dream. Nothing more. Do you feel better Roger?"
"Yeah. I guess so," Roger nodded and smiled with exaggerated innocence. "I feel better Dorothy. Thanks. I'll be thinking about your uh… dreams tonight."
"You're welcome," she said as she rose and put her chair back where she found it. "Do you want me to make you a sandwich Roger? I don't want you to drink on an empty stomach."
"Yeah, I think I'll just have water instead," he smiled as she stood by the door. "I'm feeling better Dorothy. I don't need to drink myself to sleep anymore."
"I'm glad," she said without showing any emotion.
On her way to the kitchen, Dorothy made a side trip to the library.
"Oh, Miss Dorothy," Norman said as he spotted her through the doorway while he was passing in the hall. "If Master Roger wants an early day tomorrow I better turn in too."
"Very well Norman," she said as she stood next to the bookshelf. "Don't worry about Roger. If he needs anything I will stay up for him."
"Thank you Miss Dorothy," the butler nodded.
As the butler turned to go, he read the title on the book that Dorothy was placing back on the shelf. Freudian Psychology.
We Have Come To Terms.