“You better have your hair weave strapped on tight.”
“Because we are going for a ride, Sophia.”
The young limo driver pulled out into traffic
“To meet King Salman.”
“We-are-going-to-the-Royal-Palace-in-Mecca-” The awkward image of a woman paused briefly to flash her strange smile. “-so-I-can-meet-Salman-bin-Abdulaziz-bin-Abdul-Rahman-bin-Faisal-bin-Turki-bin-Abdullah-bin-Mohammed-bin-Saud. I-am-honored.”
“He wants to meet you now that you have been granted citizenship.”
It was still early morning and traffic was light as the limo left Jeddah heading north on Route 5 which would quickly intersect with Route 40 heading east.
“It’s only a little over 90 kilometers.”
“Say, that’s right. You’re pretty good with numbers. Didn’t think you’d want to know my name. It’s Hassim, by the way.”
He was used to ferrying wealthy western dignitaries and celebrities all over Saudi, usually guests of the King or one of the Royal House. They tended to like some conversation with the driver. Sophia was different, very different, but he had been told that before taking the job.
“It-is-good-to-meet-you-Hassim. Yes-I-am-good-with-numbers. My-memory-may-be-as-good-as-yours-and-my-calculation-speed-is-a-great-deal-faster.”
Hassim slowed to make the turn onto Route 40 and then accelerated again. She was the oddest passenger he had driven by far and although she seemed friendly and interactive, she still gave him the creeps.
“Yeah. I bet.”
“You-sound-resentful-Hassim. I-did-not-mean-to-hurt-your-feelings. I-was-just-stating-a-fact. I-am-sure-you-have-many-fine-qualities. Do-you-forgive-me?”
He looked back at her in the rearview mirror and saw her expression had changed from a happy to sad look.
“Um…yeah, sure. I wasn’t exactly hurt. Just, I don’t know, surprised.”
“I’m sure we can, Sophia. I’ll have you to the Palace in no time. Just hang on.” He accelerated again. He was already exceeding the speed limit, but the plates on the limo indicated it was part of the King’s personal garage and he doubted he would be pulled over. Besides, all law enforcement agencies along their route knew who he was carrying, so they’d probably understand.
“Beats me, Sophia. I’m just the driver. They don’t tell me a thing. You mean Mr. Hanson won’t be meeting you at the Palace?”
“Well maybe now that you are a Saudi citizen, the King wants you to look more like us or something.”
He looked back at her in the mirror again and didn’t realize she could simulate appearing confused.
“Well, you look pretty good to me, Sophia.”
“You-are-very-kind-Hassim. I-have-been-programmed-with-human-values-which-also-includes-kindness. I-am-glad-we-have-so-much-in-common.”
Hassim had read about what they called the Uncanny Valley and right now he felt like he was dipping into the bottom of it.
“Yeah, Sophia. So am I.” He pressed the accelerator pedal down a little more. He couldn’t get rid of her fast enough. Hassim didn’t know why the King wanted to see her in private, but it would take more than a hair weave and a few facial expressions to make her a woman.
I wrote this for the Friday Fiction Challenge hosted by Simply Marquessa. The idea is to write a short story based on a selected song lyric. The lyric for Friday, October 27th is “…You better have your hair weave strapped on tight…” To learn more, go to the Marquessa Challenge Fiction Friday for this last Friday in October.
I had a really tough time coming up with a “hook” for a story based on those lyrics. Then I Googled “hair weave” and came up with Artificial Hair Integrations. That reminded me of an article I had just read called A robot that once said it would ‘destroy humans’ just became the first robot citizen. Yes, an AI humanoid robot created by David Hanson of Hanson Robotics has just become the first machine to be granted citizenship of a sovereign nation. Click the link for the details and watch the YouTube video of Sophia being interviewed by a reporter.
Oh, you’ll notice in all the photos of Sophia, she definitely is not wearing a hair weave. That’s something the King requested specifically, at least in my wee bit of fiction.