Chapter Description: The dust has settled since the rule of the Daycare-A.I.s ended. Some might even say a mantle of silence has fallen. Yet, rumors remain amongst those interested in returning to a simpler way of life.
Jenny Clauson walked down the street until she reached a large building which looked the same as the rest. Yet, the address and the instruction how to find it had been clear. Had she been betrayed? Had this all been a prank? The entrance was lit though, nearly welcoming. Biting her lower lip, she walked the last meters and hesitantly entered. A security guard sat at the counter and looked up from his smart phone.
“I’m sorry,” she said, now sure it had been a prank by someone giving her a wrong address. “I …”
“Good evening Mrs. Clauson,” he interrupter her. “You can go to room 3b, the second door the left.”
Jenny starred at him. “Okay …”
She walked in the direction he had pointed to, while he continued watch something on his smart phone. Maybe not a prank … or this sort of prank. Laying a hand on the hand of the door leading to the room, she hesitated. Could she trust …
Biting her lip, she opened the door and entered.
Behind it she saw a rather ordinary looking woman wearing an official looking dress sitting behind a large desk working on a file.
“Mrs. Clauson, good evening, I’m Mrs. Willson,” she greeted the younger woman. “Please have a seat.”
Still feeling stunned, Jenny entered, closing the door behind her and took place on the chair in front of the desk.
“I …” she began and stopped, asking instead the one question. “Is it real?”
The woman smiled. “That we offer a solution for people wishing for a simpler life? For wishing to live as toddler, long before the worries of adulthood?”
Reluctantly Jenny nodded. So often she had secretly wished for it, so when the invitation came upon her computer and smart phone by a way she couldn’t explained she just had to give it a try.
“Yes, we do …” the woman explained. “Or rather she does.”
With this a hole opened in the ceiling and out came a large camera shining a soft blue light.
“Hello Jenny,” a kind voice came from it. “I’m Anni and I’m so glad you came.”
Jenny looked at it open mouthed as it looked at her as if it were a head.
“Anni is an A.I.,” Mrs. Willson explained. “One specially created to take care of daycares. She has monitored you and registered your desire, so she is offering you to live under her care ... if you wish so.”
Jenny starred at the camera and then the woman.
“I … yes,” she admitted. “But how?”
“If you decide to join, I will take you with me,“ Anni looked to the left and a part of the wall slid back, revealing a hole. “You go down the rainbow slide and the moment you land, you will be one of my charges. My helpers will help you out of the adult clothes and dress you appropriately. Soon you will make a trip to my nursery and life there with other older little girls and boys who chose it like you.”
“You wrote I could life … be …”
“Biologically a toddler?”
Jenni nodded. There were rumors about large breakthrough in making people younger in the official news. She had followed them interested, nearly feverishly, but assumed this was still years in the future.
“Sure, I can make you biologically as young or old as you wish.” Anni explained. “There are toys in all sizes in my daycares. Which age would you want to be?”
“Two,” she explained. “I …”
Jenni swallowed. She didn’t doubt it. Yet …
“And if I decide against it?”
“You can stay a week and then decide,” Anni assured. “After this you can decide every time to return to your old life and I will make sure all the technicalities like your biography will fit.”
The girl thought about it what seemed like a very long time, then she nodded.
“Well then,” Mrs. Willson noticed. “Let us quickly end the official part of the evening.”
She presented her a file and gave her a pen for subscription which Jenny overflew. It was what they had just discussed and that she agreed with it,
“Anni runs the daycare,” the older woman explained. “I’m from the government to make sure everything goes according to your will.”
“Ahh,” Jenni replied.
She guessed there was more story behind it, but didn’t want to ask. She didn’t want to have second guesses, the need to think ahead, think of betrayals. She just wanted to live. Simple. Clear and innocent. She put her signature under it and felt like a ton had been lifted from her chest.
“It is all right,” Anni promised her, gliding nearer, as Mrs. Willson took back the paper work. “You can use the slide now or wait a bit.”
Jenny took a deep breath. She had waited so long. Dreamed so long.
Anni’s camera head walked to the opening and waited. Jenni followed her and stopped a moment. She was tempted to look, to make sure she wouldn’t land somewhere hard. Instead, she chose to trust.
“Thank you,” she told Anni.
The head nodded and she slid down the way she remembered always going down the slides on the playground as a small child.
It was better than any slide she had used before. Rainbow slide, Anni had called it and it was a fitting name. There ground was a set of lights, shining like a rainbow. The sides were decorated to look like clouds and there were suns, stars and hearts beside them, all smiling. The girl wished the slide would never end, but when it did, she landed softly on a large mattress soft as a pillow.
She looked around in the room, which was decorated in the same way as the slide. There was a door, a giant teddy sitting in the corner and … a large changing table! Besides it hung a shirt with a smiling sun and a pink overall with smiling kittens, the sort of she had sometimes looked in the internet and wished to be able to wear. Had the A.I. known it?
Just Jenny wondered what would come next, the giant teddy bear stood up.
“Hello Jenny, Anni told me to help you get dressed,” he explained in a jovial sounding voice, as it slowly walked up to her and offered its paw. “Do you want to wear a dipee? I could change you.”
Jenny was a shocked by the size of what had to be a robot, but somehow managed to control herself. She had always liked teddy bears. These cute, cuddly stuffs wanting to the be the friend of every child. Plus, the option of a diaper … she hadn’t been changed since she had been two and wanted it secretly since such a long time … Now there seemed to be no more reason for secrets.
“Yes,” she told the bear, taking his paw. “Please!”
Up in the office the entrance to the slide had closed since a while and Mrs. Willson just finished the paperwork.
“All done,” she stated, filing the paper. “For the government she is a minor and I doubt she is thinking about all the legal headaches this brings.”
“Right now, she is playing ball with the teddy while sucking her pacy,” Anni explained, her eye hovering besides her. “So, I guess not.”
“How is the other work going?”
“Child protection service is informed about 17 other cases since yesterday,” the A.I. noticed, watching the human put the file in a briefcase. “No sign of rouge A.I.s or anything else.”
“Good,” Mrs. Willson replied. “A successful day.”
The woman massaged her temples.
“You know,” she noticed. “Sometimes I wish for a little break from adulthood myself.”
The door to the slide opened.
“You are always welcome,” Anni assured her warmly.
“Not today,” Mrs. Willson replied, standing up and taking the briefcase. “But thank you for caring.”
Had Anni’s camera head been able to do so, she would have smiled.
“This what I’m there for.”