The Taylight Zone - Anthology Seven

20 - The Android Child - Stephanie (formerly A.J.)

After it was all over, keep in mind, he was made of metal. But no piece of metal ever had a soul like his.

ONE - The Boy Without A Face

Amanda got out of the car without waving to the driver. She looked up at the home’s address before shutting the door and pushing her sunglasses off of her eyes. She walked past the main room and into the lab, where Victor was working. “Hi, Vic. Did Mary Anne tape the Hanson concert for me last night?”

Victor looked up at his daughter’s best friend, a strikingly beautiful girl of fifteen with fair skin, dazzling blue eyes, dark red hair and a slightly freckled smile. “Yes, she left it in the VCR downstairs.”

“Thanks,” Amanda said, turning to go down to the den.

“Wait a minute,” Victor said, stopping Amanda. He motioned towards what he was working on. “I want you to see my latest project.”

Amanda walked back to the figure. It was a teenager’s figure lying on the examination table under a sheet like Frankenstein. Its face was covered up and the only reason Amanda suspected that the creation was male was because there were no breasts. At least, not in visible from the cover of the sheet. Otherwise, it looked like a basic person around her age. “What is it?”

“It is a protocol human and it is a he,” Victor replied proudly.

“What’s his face covered up for?” Amanda asked, touching the cloth that covered the boy’s face lightly with her fingertips.

“THAT is the amazing thing! If you were to take off those cloths you would see a stone white face. He can adapt to any person’s face, body and voice! He can look like anyone he desires to.”

“How come you won’t pick?” Amanda asked.

“Well,” Victor started, “it’s like a child with names. You might grow up to hate being called Amanda, right? So I think he should decide.”

“Is he alive?”

“Not yet. I was about to administer the shock that would start his heart up right now. Would you like to see?”

“I guess,” the skeptical Amanda replied.

Victor went to the control panel and talked to Amanda while typing in some things. “Amanda, do you have a boyfriend?”

“No,” Amanda said. But then she got the drift. “Hey, wait. You don’t plan on setting me up with this--thing?”

“I do, actually,” Victor replied. “I thought of Mary Anne but he’d seem too much like a brother. But you may find him attractive when he gets his looks, and even very smart. I’ve all ready began to program brain waves into his mind and he’ll learn very fast. In about three days he should be up to the tenth grade level.”

Amanda nodded. “I’ll think about it.”

Victor laughed. He stepped away from the computer and pressed a button. “Look and see, Amanda.”

Amanda sighed as the electric and static shock began to build up. She could feel it, and was a little frightened. But her pity went towards the boy as the electricity went into his heart.

He began to move, to shake as his body functions started up. And suddenly the electricity died.

Amanda should have known not to get her hopes up; that this was just another one of Victor Largo’s weird experiments.

The boy stood up, pushing off the sheet. He wore a white body suit and as his eyes met Amanda’s she saw they they were white--no pigment whatsoever. It made her shiver.

“Son!” Victor said energetically. He hugged the boy tightly. The boy himself stood at a good five and a half feet. Victor pointed his new son downstairs to the den. “Explore! You know what to do, son. Just don’t be hasty in picking your skin color and your looks. You’ve got to keep them forever.”

The boy nodded and looked over at Amanda. He tapped his father and pointed at Amanda, wanting to know who this strange creature was.

“Oh!” the doctor cried. “Turn around Amanda. Don’t let him see your face. Not until he picks his own. You don’t want to create another you. Actually a boy you. That would be rather funny, wouldn’t it?”

Amanda smirked at the doctor’s chuckles and turned her back to the boy.

The boy looked at Amanda and then retreated to the den.

Amanda turned at the sound of the closed door and crossed to Victor. “He has a personality?”

“He can develop his own,” Victor replied. “He’s a good kid.”

Amanda laughed. “He’s a boy, I don’t know how good he will be.”

“Yes,” Victor said off handedly. He put his hand on Amanda’s chin. “You know, you have a very lovely face. You do. I have an--”

“Oh no,” Amanda slapped his hand away. “Don’t you get any ideas, you witch doctor. Just tell me about this boy.”

While Vic and Amanda talked about his details, the boy went down into the den. He tried to sigh, but was frustrated to find that he had no voice. He sat on the couch and picked up the remote control. He knew TV and VCR. Those types of things had been transported to him by brain waves. He pressed a button and the VCR turned on. He pressed another and the tape inside began to play. Three boys were singing to a gigantic theater full of screaming fans, mostly girls.

There was a drummer, whose shots were very brief. He looked the youngest, but none the less handsome. His face was rounding out and coping well with the loss of baby fat. His eyes were a light caramel brown, very intriguing and very nice. His hair was like pure spun gold and quite long for a boy. It fell two inches past his shoulders, but the boy noted that it framed the drummer’s face very well when he shook his head back. His lips were light colored and slightly full with a smile to it that showed how friendly he appeared to be. His chin was slightly clefted and he seemed exuberant and in good health. He wore flashy colors, a weird tye-dyed blue and white shirt and white matching pants.

However, his voice coated was with puberty. It showed that it was nice before, would be nice after, but right now was bouncing from octave to octave without control. As he shouted “One, two, three, four!” it did that exact thing.

The boy shook his head but kept the young one into consideration. He fast forwarded a few commercials until the group came back. Now the camera focused on the oldest one.

He had very nice taste in clothing. He wore a gray silk-like suit that was the color of ashes but contrasted with his peach skin very well. His lips were longer and not as wide, and he had perfect teeth. And although his dark and mysterious brown eyes were creative, he had something wrong with them, something the boy didn’t understand. The left one appeared to be. . .pushed up. Dented. It didn’t seem to affect his sight or ability to play the guitar but it looked it a little off. His arms and body seemed toned and he looked like he was in shape, and quite strong at that. His voice was deep and loud and carried the sound of the song very well. His hair was tied back in a low ponytail and was probably no longer than his shoulders. It was a dark blond color and slightly curly. He was an option, but the thing with his eye worried the boy. He didn’t want to live impaired, if this boy was.

And as the song ended the focus went back to the one it had mainly stayed on--the middle one on the keyboard. He seemed to draw the most screams of the three. He began to sing and his voice increased the volume the audience made. His voice went perfect with the words and music. If he wouldn't pick one of their faces, he'd listen to their music anyway. His hair was in. . . two parts, it seemed. His long light blond locks seemed to whisper against his shoulders and he had a long braided tail, something the boy had never (been programmed to see) seen before. His eyes were a light cloudy blue. He checked the mirror and raised his left hand to his exposed eyes, which were the color of ice, or rather, no color at all. The keyboardist, like the drummer, had a clefted chin and his mouth had a few freckles by it. His nose was also randomly dotted with a few freckles here and there. His lips were light pink and his skin was the most creamy and fair of all three boys. His teeth were pearly white and the eye teeth looked a little vampiristic and dangerous. But his smile was reassuring, innocent and sexy.

That did it. The boy stood up and began to glance from the door to the TV screen. He hesitated to leave and find his father; like the singer would disappear and never be seen again before he found out who he was. He turned to the door but stopped short.

Amanda stood at the door, leaning on the frame and looking at the boy. The boy pointed to the TV set.

Amanda smiled and came closer. She walked past him and over to the television set. She pointed to the screen to the drummer. “That’s Zac. Do you want to be Zac?”

The boy shook his head impatiently.

Amanda pointed to the oldest boy. “Issac? Do you want to be Ike?”

He waved his hands in protest.

“Taylor, then, huh?” Amanda smiled.

He crouched down and stared intently at Taylor, who was singing lead again!

on a slow song that had the girls screaming and the guitarist Isaac shooting angry

Jealous? glares at him.

“Nice taste,” Amanda said. She looked over at the stereo cabinet and her heart began to pound like a drum when she saw the boy’s reflection in the door. His eyes began to change. The colorless pigment became a smoky and barely detectable gray, then a slight tone that was considered maybe blue, a cloudy blue and then a slightly deeper blue with light white fillings. His skin went from a dead white to porcelain cream to light peach. Suddenly he stood up, rising above her by about an inch.

He looked at her for a while, his eyes studying the first person he’d ever seen--not counting his creator--a little bit closer. He found her quite attractive and he wondered if every one of the females were as lovely as this one. He reached down and took her hands and put them up to the bandages on his face.

Amanda was a little more than frightened now. She felt for the start of the bandages around his

What is his name?

face and found it. She found that it was excitement and anticipation pumping the adrenaline through her veins. She unfastened the safety pin and began to unwind the ace bandage from the boy’s head. The top revealed a perfect part and equally perfect blond hair. As it further unwound, the pressed down hair and clear forehead became more open. Amanda’s lips went dry and she licked then over. She found her heart rate speeding up faster and faster as she freed his face. She cleared up his eyebrows and worked faster as his clear and beautiful eyes blinked at her with curiosity. She looked up and into them and smiled, pausing for a moment. The twinkle in his eyes let her know that he was smiling back. She continued to unwind and didn’t stop until she got a little past his neck. She glanced from the TV to the boy. A perfect match; you wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart. The boy here was just as incredibly handsome as the one on the screen. He also had this innocent wonder that added to his looks. “Very nice taste indeed.”

He turned his head, scanning the room. His hands were still bundled up with bandages, but the jumpsuit had some how transformed to what the keyboardist was wearing. At least, the top of the tight fitting blue sweater he wore and the four chokers were showing. He pointed to the scissors on the table across the room. He was frustrated at his lack of voice; the keyboardist was now singing back up, and fast singing at that so he couldn’t concentrate on it.

Amanda looked at the table and then back at the look-a-like. She went over to it and retrieved the scissors. She cut the bandages with difficulty down his shoulders and then took his left hand in hers. He smiled at her again, and she felt her face flush. She cut off the bandages from his left hand and then went to put the scissors into it. “You want to finish?”

He opened his mouth again and recalled his ever-frustrating situation. He flexed his right hand.

“Oh, sorry,” Amanda apologized. She cut the bandages from his right hand and paused until he waved her to finish. She cut around the sides of his black with blue string jeans and then off the tops off his combat boots. She backed away and stood up while he kicked the bandages from his shoes. She looked at him in awe. “I’m Amanda Cunningham. Um, welcome to. . .the outside I guess, um--”

He looked up at the TV set where the group was giving an interview with a bunch of VJs. He concentrated on the middle boy, but found his eyes straying to the mirror above the entertainment system. He looked exactly like this boy. . .what was his name?

“So, Taylor,” the VJ asked, “how’s that wrist healing?”

Taylor smiled and looked at the camera. “Healing pretty good, I guess. I’ve been holding off on putting too. . .”

The boy turned from the TV to Amanda and took in a deep breath. He mimicked the smiled and tone with perfect accuracy. “Taylor. Call me Taylor.”

Amanda went breathless and found that should couldn’t even nod.

TWO - The Only Way To Live

Mary Anne studied Taylor. “Good God.”

“I know,” Amanda hissed as they watched Taylor search racks of clothes and pick out what he wanted. “Isn’t he so cute?”

Mary Anne held up her hands. “He is my brother now, I say nothing.”

Amanda giggled excitedly.

“But you know I like Ike better anyway,” Mary Anne whispered and giggled along.

Taylor walked over to the girls. He put on a black leather jacket. “What do you think?”

“Wuh-” Amanda started, her mouth dropped open at the site. Then regained herself. “It looks okay.”

Taylor exchanged glances with Mary Anne before taking off the jacket and holding it under his arm. He winked at Amanda, who smiled, then walked away.

“He likes you,” Mary Anne replied, her blond curls bobbing as she nodded.

“Shut up,” Amanda blushed, poking Mary Anne in the ribs.

“He does,” Mary Anne pressed on.

“You think?” Amanda said with small hope hinting in her voice.

“Hello! I know so,” Mary Anne replied. “I know these things.”

Amanda grinned. “He told you, didn’t he?”

Mary Anne burst out laughing. “Yeah.”

“Okay, giggle girls, I’m done,” Taylor cut in, walking over with the clothes he picked out.

“Damn,” Mary Anne said. “Not even I pick out that many clothes.”

Taylor shrugged and began to walk away. “Mare, don’t hate me cause I’m beautiful.”

Amanda shook her head. “His second day of living and he’s already a typical fifteen-year-old male.”

“He learns fast,” Mary Anne shrugged. She tapped her watch as Taylor walked over with his bags. He handed half of them to Mary Anne, who took them reluctantly. “Too fast.”

Taylor looked between the laughing girls with a puzzled look. “What?”

“Nothing,” Mary Anne shrugged.

“What?” Taylor asked Amanda.

Amanda shrugged and looked down, laughing hard.

Taylor shrugged. “Women.”

The girls laughed even harder.

Taylor raised an eyebrow. “Let’s go; Dad’s waiting.”

Amanda walked into Delia*s, her eyes glued on the black leather jacket in the window which had red stripes running down the shoulders.

Taylor followed her in. “You’d look nice in that.”

Amanda shrugged off his opinion and wished Mary Anne hadn’t gone off to her dance class. She flipped over the tag on it and dropped it instantly and turned to head out of the store.

Taylor looked confusedly from the girl to the jacket, then back to the girl. He went to follow her. “What’s the matter?”

Amanda sighed. “Two hundred and sixty two dollars! God, I just better forget it.”

Taylor shrugged. “Well, yeah, I guess then.” “But it was so beautiful, wasn’t it, Tay?” Amanda sighed.

“Yeah,” Taylor agreed. Then he stopped in front of the music store and pointed to a dark blue mixed with black bass guitar. “Now look at that!”

Amanda shook her head. “If I were you, Tay, I’d stray away from music.”

Taylor made a face.

“So, when you grow up will you look like Taylor Hanson still?” Amanda asked, pulling Tay into the direction of Baskin Robin’s.

“Yup,” Taylor replied, peering into the ice cream cases. “I copied his metabolism one hundred percent.”

Amanda thought she heard a hint of regret in Taylor’s voice. “Do you like your body?”

Taylor looked up and hurriedly put on a smile. “Yeah.”

“Well, you better,” Amanda smiled back.

Taylor just nodded and looked back at the case.

Amanda bit her lip. “Are you going to school? I know it’s only June, and school kind of just got out, but will you be registered in September?”

“No,” Taylor sighed. “Dad thinks it’s best if he teaches me at home. Or something.”


Taylor stood up looking determined. “Amanda?”

Amanda looked up. “Yeah?”

“Um, nothing,” Taylor replied. “Let’s go, it’s late.”

Amanda shrugged. “Okay.”

“Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

Mary Anne stepped out of the bathroom and observed her brother slamming his head into the closet door. “Taylor, you’re going to damage your head.”

“Uh, and?” Taylor replied, rubbing his sore forehead.

“What’s wrong?” Mary Anne asked, coming out fully and shutting the door.

“I could h--” Taylor started. Then he stopped. “Hey, why would I tell you? You’d go tell Amanda.”

“No I wouldn’t,” Mary Anne promised.

“Yeah. Sure,” Taylor agreed sarcastically. “What, do you think I was born yesterday? Oh, wait, I was. Well, I’m not stupid!”

A grin spread across Mary Anne’s face. “Of course you aren’t, Tay.”

“Shut up,” Taylor replied, going into the bathroom.

Mary Anne laughed to herself. Then she stopped and turned towards the bathroom. “Hey, wait! I was in there, Taylor! TAYLOR!”

Taylor paced nervously outside of Amanda’s window. He’d thrown pebbles for the past few minutes, but there was no answer. Just as he was about to throw another one, the window slid up and Amanda poked her head out.

“What?” she hissed to Taylor. “Tay, is that you?”

Taylor’s flushed face could barely be seen in the night. “Yeah.”

“Well, what is it?” Amanda replied, running her hand through her tangled hair.

“I just. . . can you come down here?” Taylor stuttered.

Amanda cocked her head in consideration for a moment. “Allright.”

Taylor waited somewhat impatiently for ten minutes. Then the breath was drawn from his lungs as the vision came from the back door in a blue silk robe over a dark blue nightgown. Her long hair was brushed out (like she’d let a boy see her messy) and fell around her face and shoulders. Taylor bit his lip. “You look nice.”

“You woke me up to tell me I look nice?” Amanda asked in an amused tone.

“Um, no,” Taylor said, shoving his hands in his pockets uncomfortably.

Amanda began to feel bad.

Taylor decided to cover up for the awkwardness in one swift movement where he’d either score or majorly strike out. He swept his arms around Amanda and pressed his lips to hers.

About a good minute later, Amanda broke from the kiss. She was a little woozy and overwhelmed.

Taylor himself was a little surprised. “Um, w-whoa.”

Amanda laughed.

Taylor stood looking at Amanda, who was laughing like crazy now. Did I do something wrong? he thought.

Amanda recovered from her fit and looked at Taylor, who looked more confused than ever. “Oh, Tay, I’m sorry! Come here.”

Taylor let Amanda take his hand and lead him to the patio, where they sat. She lay her head on his shoulder, and he put his arm around her. They stayed that way for a while. “Hey, Amanda?”


“Why in hell did you laugh?” Taylor asked.

A smile spread over Amanda’s face and she patted Taylor’s knee. “You look really cute when you’re confused.”

“So I didn’t do something, like, stupid, right?” Taylor continued.

Amanda lifted her head up. “God, no, Tay.”

“Oh, okay, good,” Taylor replied, relieved.

Amanda held back giggles and kissed Taylor on the mouth.

It was Taylor this time who was laughing.

THREE - Seeds Of Love

Amanda sighed again and looked out the window, swirling her finger on the side of the couch cushion.

Mary Anne crossed her arms. “All right, that’s it.”

“What’s it?” Amanda said, her trance broken.

“You are hiding something from me,” Mary Anne accused.

“I-I am not,” Amanda replied with a small smile.

“Like hell you’re not,” Mary Anne laughed. “And you only get this way when it’s a boy. It’s Tay, isn’t it?”

Amanda erupted into giggles.

“Oh, when?” Mary Anne begged.

“Last night.”

Mary Anne’s face went blank. “How? Oh, that stupid jerk! He snuck out, didn’t he? How could he not get caught?”

“He’s the faaaaaaavorite!” Amanda teased.

“Oh, shut up,” Mary Anne replied, slapping Amanda with a pillow. The front door opened and Taylor walked in with his friend Andy Gorman. “Hey,” Taylor said, his voice to both but his eyes on Amanda.

“Hi,” Amanda said back.

Mary Anne burst out laughing. “Favorite my ass!”

Taylor crossed his arms and followed Andy downstairs, shooting confused looks to Amanda.

Mary Anne recovered. “Oh, he’s just so dumb. Just so perfect.”

“Perfect?” Amanda wondered, only catching one word. Yes, she had to admit he was flawless. She searched her mind and his picture in her heart. He was. . . perfect.

Mary Anne looked at Amanda. “Mandy? Amanda? You okay?”

Amanda gave a low laugh and looked down into her lap, then back up at Mary Anne. “Yeah. Of course. I mean, why wouldn’t I be? Yeah.”

FOUR - Taylor Largo/Taylor Hanson

Taylor’s fingers lightly trembled and beads of sweat began to form on his forehead.

Victor looked at Taylor. “You were out last night.”

“Y-yes,” Taylor said softly.

“Where did you go?”

“Amanda’s,” Taylor muttered. He wished that he could lie to his father, but he wasn’t programmed like that. Victor knew how his brain worked.

“I anticipated problems,” Victor said, looking up and seeing Taylor turned away. He slapped Taylor’s face hard. “Look at me when I speak to you, boy!”

Taylor’s cheek stung hard and he fought back tears of pain. “I’m sorry.”

“We have work to do,” Victor said. “Get down.”

Taylor licked his lips. “No.”

Victor froze. “Did you say ‘no’?”

“No,” Taylor repeated in a firm tone. “You said you’d stop programming the waves into my mind. I think I’m fine the way I am. Leave me alone.”

Victor laughed. “That was before my plan.”

“Plan?” Taylor asked in a small voice, backing away. He was scared now. Victor said he’d stop the brain wave transfers, but he had been hiding something lately.

“Yes,” Victor answered. He sat on a stool and proceeded to recite his plan. “You were an incredibly amazing discovery. A total likelihood to the person whom you took from. You can do things with those looks, that voice, that talent so you so adorn by a glance.”

“I don’t want to do anything,” Taylor replied. He touched his hair. “I’m actually thinking of dying it maybe a brown color.”

“No, you won’t dye it,” Victor said in a psychotic and low tone.

Taylor looked confused. “And why can’t I?”

“Because he didn’t dye his, and you must look like him,” Victor replied.

“Why did you make me?” Taylor asked. “Tell me. What am I here for?”

“Well, at first I wanted a son,” Victor said.

Taylor was taken back. “D-did I do something wrong?”

“No, not at all,” Victor continued, his face lit in an devilish glow. “Now I realize the power I can have, what you can do for me and what others like yourself, Taylor, can do. I can be the ruler of everything. I can be rich. I can do anything as long as I have people like you who look like superstars, presidents, prime ministers.”

“You are nuts, Dad,” Taylor muttered. He went to get up, but Victor grabbed his arm.

“The band Hanson comes here in two days. You are going to sneak into their room and do me a favor.”

Taylor’s eyes widened in holy terror. “NO!”

Victor slammed Taylor’s body against a table.

Taylor groaned and his hands went to his ribs, which felt like they were on fire.

Victor sat at the computer and began to program brain waves into Taylor’s mind.

Taylor began to forget his ribs when sudden thoughts began to intrude on his outlook.

They need to be taught a lesson, they need to die.

What? Why would they need to die?

Kill him, Taylor. Kill him and you can be famous. You can get any woman you want and go to places you’d only had programmed into your mind.

I don’t want another girl, I want Amanda.

Amanda was the first you saw. Maybe if you’d search around, you could find someone that suits you better.

She suits me fine! GO AWAY!

Kill them. You need to kill him. Stab him to death because he stole your looks, Taylor! He stole what you could have had. But now, you’re stuck here. . . in this town. . . forever.

He did. . . I did. . .

HE stole them! HE ruined you! HE cheated you. HE-- “Needs to die,” Taylor resolved, standing up.

Victor laughed, handing Taylor a closed switchblade knife, then a long and sheathed one.

Taylor accepted them both with a devious grin. “It’s time to have some fun.”

FIVE - The Merge

Two days later, Taylor, Mary Anne and Amanda went to the concert in Antioch, which was a nice three hour drive. Victor decided on staying overnight at the Hilton.

Taylor seemed somewhat uneasy and kept trying to talk to Amanda, but kept his peace whenever he caught his father glancing at him, which was quite often. The brain waves were still circling, but the impact of them had gradually wore down.

Amanda sighed and put her hand over Taylor’s. “Tay? Are you all right?”

Taylor snapped to attention, his hand over his backpack which held his knives as well as other things, but none more important. “Yeah.”

“Well, you don’t look it,” Amanda replied, taking her hand away.

Taylor made a face and pulled his cap lower.

The girls had had a time at the concert, but Taylor preferred to stay in the hotel and not get mobbed. But even if he wanted to risk the migraine, he had work to do.

There would be no backstage passes at this concert; the Hanson boys would just high tail it back to the hotel right after the concert.

Taylor gave a sigh and got up from the floor and drew his hand out of the backpack and unsheathed the long knife. His switchblade was tucked away in his back pocket. He replaced the knife in its sheath and returned it to the bag, which he had slung over his shoulder. He put the hotel keycard in his pocket and left the room.

“That had to be one of the best concerts we’ve ever performed!” Zac Hanson boasted.

“I know!” Issac laughed in agreement.

Jordan Taylor stopped at the soda machine and extracted money from his pocket. “Wait a sec, guys. I’m really hot.”

“Hurry up, Tay!” Zac cried, following the rest of the family in the elevator. “We need to get back to the room. The fans will be gettin’ here soon!”

“Okay, okay, I’ll be up in a second,” the Hanson waved at his brother. He banged on the soda machine, which wasn’t accepting the dollar. “Dammit, work.”

Taylor bounded up the stairs to the Hanson floor and came out just as all but Zac had gotten inside the room. Little Zac had stooped down to tie his shoe.

Zac stood up and stepped back. He thought Taylor was wearing a white t- shirt--he had stripped off his overshirt during the concert--and blue corduroys and Docs, but this Taylor wore blue Jincos, a blue sweater--which held much meaning for THIS Tay--and Airwalks. “Taytor, dude, hurry up.”

“Y-Yeah, one sec,” Taylor replied softly, his voice a mere mutter. His head was pounding like steel hammers were being pummeled into his skull. His backpack sagged off of his shoulder and his lips went dry as he fell to one knee. He tried to block out the voices, the pain, but that only brought it on more.

Him! HE should be brought to the lab! We can make another Zac and then terminate him!

No! He’s an innocent boy! Leave him alone!

You can’t wuss out now. You’ve come too far. You’ll get caught and be killed. And if they don’t kill you, I WILL.

No! No! N-- “Tay?”

Taylor shuddered. Zac’s arm was around his shoulders, comforting and strong. He found himself leaning against the boy’s grip. “I-I’m. . .”

Zac felt something deep within himself, like butterflies in his stomach. But he knew this wasn’t the butterflies. It seemed like. . .fear. But that was stupid. Fear? Of Tay?

Jordan Taylor walked soundlessly into the hotel room, oblivious of any outside interactions. He noisily slammed the hotel door.

Zac jumped up, losing his grip on Taylor. He saw the door shut, and his pounding heart slowed down. He turned around and looked down. “Taylor? Tay? Wh-where’d you go?”

SIX - The Incorruptibility Of A Soul

Taylor sat outside of the back door of the hotel, panting for breath. His eyes were clouded with tears, and his face was streaked with them. “I can’t. . .I can’t. . .KILL HIM!!!”

“Kill him?” said a soft, taught voice.

Taylor looked up, a smile spreading across his face. "Mary Anne!"

Mary Anne knelt before him. “I know it all. I know everything.”

“Dad. . .he’s crazy, Mare. We need to get out of here.”

“NO, Taylor,” Mary Anne sighed. “YOU failed.”

“What?” Taylor whispered.

Mary Anne sighed, withdrawing a .45 from her back pocket. “When Shellie Kirsesten Largo died sixteen years ago, our ‘father’ went mad. He took to creating protocol droids, and other such things. Two years after the death of his wife, he moved to California and created a female android, which he named Mary Anne. I served no sole purpose, I was his companion. And I obliged. I did my job. You, on the other hand. . .”

“Won’t murder an innocent boy! And then who knows who else!” Taylor shouted, standing up.

Mary Anne cocked the gun and raised it to him. “You need to be terminated. Just like all of the rest of the mistakes.”

“No! Please! Mary!” Taylor pleaded.

“I was not programmed with compassion,” Mary Anne smiled blankly, pulling the trigger.

Taylor’s body slumped to the floor.

Mary Anne looked down, putting the gun in her back pocket. She dragged Taylor into the van across the street where her father was waiting. Taylor needed to be welded and recycled. He was, after all, metal.

“Good child,” Victor cooed. “Now you go back up with that Amanda. But, Mary, will she talk about Taylor?”

Mary Anne threw her head back and laughed. “Please! No one has seen Taylor but us and that damn rotten Andy boy! No one’ll believe her. His mere week and a half long existence will go unnoticed, I guarantee.”

Victor kissed Mary Anne’s forehead. “You make me so proud. Now, get.”

Mary Anne smiled softly, an almost human smile. She walked back towards the hotel, figuring that if Amanda was watching out of her window--for, heh, “Taylor”--it would be safer to go around the back. She sighed to herself as she walked, thinking. It was such a good plan. Such a wonderful idea. We could have became so powerful, so--

“Excuse me?” a young male voice asked. Mary Anne looked up. There stood Zac Hanson, looking scared and defenseless, his arms wrapped around himself to ward away the cold. “Hello.”

“Hi,” Zac replied, his eyes darting around the alleyway. “Have you seen my brother, Taylor?”

Mary Anne’s demonic grin spread across her face. We might become it yet. “Yes, as a matter of fact I have. Just this way, across the street.”