Kayla By R. Cary


By R. Cary


‘I ain’t no holy ghost, I ain’t no superman’, I just love Imagine Dragons, says Bee. Bee dancing to the beat of her heart, as Bee always had. Kayla loved this about Bee, she wore her soul, showing herself without care. Today, with her makeup, padding her face, her short black curly hair tied up in a blue bandanna, Bee was happy, content, which made Kayla happy, every morning. 

Kayla would just smirk, content with Bee’s happiness, giving herself some respite from the burden of her life. A simple pleasure reminiscent of all that is lost. Before she is gone, Kayla walks over to Bee and embraces her, wrapping her arms around Bee. In return, Bee shrugs her shoulders and rests her cheek against Kayla, an act of affection Kayla received every morning from Bee. As all mornings, this will be her moment, a passing of the morning. 

Kayla begins to squeeze, tighten, attempting to grasp what will soon be gone. This morning, like all mornings, Bee will begin to glitch in and out of existence, without her noticing, Bee noticing, continuing to smile and wiggle her hips mouthing, ‘I’ll be your West Coast baby’ until Kayla is squeezing her own arms and Bee’s time is up.

With Bee vanishing every morning, it takes its toll on Kayla. She understands the muse and faith and hope that Bee brings and how it can compel a person forward.

With Bee gone, Kayla knows it is time for her to accomplish something today. As every day before her, Kayla will believe this day, this day can be better, this day can be different. 

Kayla looks into the mirror, gives herself a tuck of her chin and heads out the door.


‘Hey Neyo’, says Kayla. Neyo was always waiting outside of Kayla’s door in the mornings, waiting whether she came out or not, jumping around the junkyard of technology, sometimes finding signs of life, but for the most part just using his imagination.

‘Kayla, Good Morning’. You want to ‘shut up and dance with me?’ 

Not today Neyo, I have to go collect parts for Buford, he needs a new arm, the one from last week already blew out. 

Look Kayla, I have an arm, you want this one? 

Silly, I mean a core arm processor. 

Can I go with you Kayla? I will sing for you, K-pop style!

Sure thing Neyo. Neyo? Do you ever sing in English? I don’t get it. 

No Kayla. K-pop is Korean Pop, I sing in Korean, it wouldn’t be K-pop in English. 

But I never know what you are saying, Neyo. 

Neither did the millions that listened to us, BTS. It sounds better in Korean and we look cuter. Well, I am just a hologram, but who I was modeled after looked better singing in Korean. 


Yes, Neyo.

Do you like my hair?

Neyo, c’mon, we have to get to the city. Let’s race. I will beat you there Neyo!

But I can’t sing and run at once. 

‘That’s the point Neyooo’, as Kayla bolts off through the tech yard.

Kayla lived in the old tech dump, where the silicon valley firms used to exist, which is now just a place for A. I. scavengers, discarded tech toys, robots that don’t function and anything else people created in the early 21st Century. While lonely, Kayla found her routine and sense of doing within the isolation, allowing her to focus and work, finding some companionship in a sense by rebuilding the discarded tech. 

Her home is built in an old Tesla trailer truck, a first generation self-driving electric vehicle, keeping her up off the ground with plenty of room to compile her technology and begin rebuilding. She enjoyed the constant attention it needed, it gave her purpose each day. 

Today, Kayla felt especially good. She made a lot of progress till Buford’s arm blew out. While going into the city was always risky, it is where the best tech was left. Having Neyo around helped her. His annoying manners kept her focused, not letting her fears of the city grab hold. 

But like every other time Kayla has entered the city, her guard would be up, her eyes pierced with only one goal. 

Do not get seen.


All Kayla sees is potentiality, hope, life, human life as she begins to leave the tech junk yard and enters what she refers to as ‘hope’, the city, Tower 12. While the city was still, well, a city, it was a metal city without a single plant, flower, nor any other signs of life. The only sign of life were the drones still monitoring the area. Unfortunately, after the tech bust, no one was around to deprogram them. ‘Seek and Destroy’, Kayla says under her breath, a small note of consciousness that with her hope and belief in what once was were drones programmed to kill. 

‘Neyo’, stay right behind me. We must run as close to the walls as possible. 

More drones Kayla?

Like usual. And no singing Neyo, not until we get inside Tower 12. 

Okay Kayla, mute is activated. 

Kayla had in her what many people wished they had, hope. And in her hope was a relentless desire to make things better, make life better, give the world back to humanity. Every day she woke up and accomplished something within the first 5 minutes, always popping out of bed with the potentiality of the day as her muse. Each day Kayla woke up believing today, today will be different. Kayla is focused, determined, her mind impenetrable, nothing could deter her from her goals, not even killer drones who she did not fear, but recognized could end her desire to make things better. With some cautions, yet aggressive maneuvering, she leads Neyo to Tower 12, where, for Kayla, is where this began and where it will end. 


Kayla, every time we come, I get scared. It is so lonely here, in Tower 12.

Kayla herself felt what Neyo felt. The isolation weighed heavily in the air. But Kayla knew her role with Neyo.

‘Neyo’, Kayla says, as she focuses on Neyo’s eyes, wide, the feeling of daunting transiting through him; ‘we always get back home don’t we?’.

Yes Kayla, we do.

Take a breath Neyo, in Tower 12 we are free from the drones.

I know Kayla, my thoughts just make me scared.

That is your imagination Neyo. Now come on, let it out.

Let out what Kayla?

Give me your beats Neyo!

Sure thing Kayla.


Everytime Kayla and Neyo came to Tower 12 they had the same routine and it was fun. Only at this time did Kayla and Neyo feel free, feel human.

Tower 12 had more floors than Kayla cared to count, but at the top was where the best technology still lived. Each time Kayla and Neyo raced from opposite sides of the building to see who got to the top first. Neyo never knew how, but Kayla always beat him. Today, what defines the top of Tower 12 will not just be a winner and a loser, but something they thought they would never see again.


As Kayla heads to the stairs she pauses to turn to see Neyo, but he is only focused on one goal, beating Kayla to the top of Tower 12 for the first time. Kayla admired this in Neyo, his childlike demeanor, his ability to let go of all that was around him or what isn’t around him. It was only ever Kayla and Neyo, but that never bothered Neyo. He just was happy with Kayla and that was enough for him. With these thoughts, Kayla finds her inward determination, ‘no way am I gonna let Neyo beat me’, as she heads up the stairs, pushing her hair back into a tail, smiling at the thought of Neyo’s face when he realizes he is lost again. 

Neyo’s only thought was today, today he is going to beat Kayla. He feels it. While Neyo himself does not recognize his own feelings, he imagined that this is what humans call joy must feel like. With a grin of excitement Neyo opens the door knowing this time, he has won. He rushes through the door, his eagerness to prove himself right can be seen in his shoulders, his chest, his grin streaming ear to ear. But as he enters the top floor of Tower 12 Neyo feels a sudden change, his shoulders dropped, his grin turned into a paused image, his eyes trapped in what is in front of him, he can’t move. His only thought is Kayla. 


Kayla, ready to shove her small victory in Neyo’s face, sees her body emphatic with the expression of victory quickly turned into coldness.

Neyo’s face is quivering for help from Kayla, but Kayla knows not to move. What she does do is put her hands up slowly, looks Neyo in his eyes and slowly brings her hands down, giving Neyo a clear sign to calm himself, so both are giving a disposition of, ‘I am not a threat’. 

Kayla looks at them and says, ‘this is Neyo. Neyo is a hologram. He is no threat to you’. My name is Kayla. We are here to gain some supplies for Buford, my computer. You surprised us, especially Neyo, look at him. I bet you heard him singing before he ran through that door. We were having a race and I think you guys have ruined Neyo’s day, as he has never beaten me before to the top of Tower 12.

‘So this is Tower 12’, says what appears to be a man, but not quite a man yet. 

‘Yes’, replies Kayla.

Kayla noticed they all looked at each other, maybe with a bit of hope, so she jumps in. 

Are you guys real? I mean A.I. or Droids? 

They all look at each other a bit confused, uncertain as to how to respond. The man or older looking boy steps forward, looks at the others with him and asks them to lower their weapons, saying, ‘they are no threat to us’. I am sorry, Kayla is it? It is just, we thought you two were someone else. We have been searching for Tower 12 over the last two years. We knew it existed but were not sure in which ‘dead city’ it existed in. What we heard was rumors of a dead city that remained partially alive. We have come from Seattle, WA. Well, Mercer Island to be exact. A few of us were able to keep life alive there using some alive technology from Microsoft and Amazon immediately after the attack. The island kept us safe from the mainland. Some were happy with their life on Mercer Island, but we had to see, to see if there are others alive, any technology alive and more important to us, can we rebuild and get human technology back working. Our goal is to find the source of this attack on humanity, deprogram the attack and get our technology grid back up and running. 

Kayla looked disturbed, in a way Neyo has never seen her. Not a shock of fear, but her surprise in this encounter. What Kayla had not shared with Neyo is what Buford really was. Buford was a super computer utilizing quantum mechanics to override the system in Tower 12 and give humanity another chance. Kayla isn’t sure how to respond so she says, lowering her shoulders, ‘I can help’.

I live just outside of Silicon Valley in the tech junkyard, as does Neyo. It isn’t much, but large enough for all of us. The trip is simple, just need to get past the drones outside but we will be fine. ‘Just stay close to the walls’ Kayla says. 

Drones, the younger girls shouts out!

‘Ya, they will kill you’ Neyo says with his beady eyes. 

Neyo! Kayla sparks Neyo to recognize he just scared the girl.

‘Just stay with me and we will all be safe’, Kayla says, as she waves her arms towards the door.

‘And I will sing to you after the killer drones don’t kill us’, Neyo says with pride. Kayla just muffles under her breath, ‘no filter’. 

The group sets out on their path to Kayla’s old Tesla trailer truck she calls home. No one says much, nor does Kayla care. She is still trying to understand what this means. Humans, real humans. But one thought does overwhelm her, just a, ‘I have to work faster’. The thought of giving human life back to humanity is now right in front of her. Her head goes down, her eyebrows tightened. From this point Kayla will not look back. ‘Whatever it takes’.


Kayla doesn’t know how to contain herself. She is both excited and cautious about meeting ‘people’. With her thoughts hidden, but expressed through her joy of guiding these new people out of the dead city and into the tech junk yard she called home, she watches Neyo’s enthusiasm for what Neyo believes are his ‘new friends’. She finds a sense of pleasure in this, a sense of normalcy. 

‘Um, sorry’, I was busy getting us home. What is your name? 


Ben, this is where I live. 

Will my friends be out there okay…in the junkyard Kayla? 

The tech yard is the only safe place I know Ben. Neyo is with them. He knows the boundaries. The drones cannot come here, it is ‘dead’ here for the most part, except Buford and Neyo, of course.

Who is Buford? 

My Quantum computer. That is why Neyo and I were at Tower 12. I needed a new arm for Buford, which I didn’t come back with if you haven’t noticed. But I have an older one to fill in for now. 

How did you get Buford working Kayla? As far as we know all the computers are dead except for the one that caused this. The one still causing this. 

Oh, Tower 12 plus all the old batteries here in the junkyard. There is enough juice here to keep Buford going for at least the length of my life, maybe even yours. 

Ben reflects on the idea, a computer running during his lifetime, let alone for the entirety of his life. His drift in consciousness is pervasive, causing Kayla to notice his change in attitude. 

Ben, you okay? 

Ya, of course. Kayla, I got an idea. 


Neyo and the humans pay no attention to Kayla and Ben entering Kayla’s Tesla trailer. In this moment, fun is streaming across their consciousness. The playfulness, the freedom to be has taken hold of them. 

Hey guys, can you do this? Neyo flips off of a 3 story structure of metal, landing flawlessly.

The humans just look amazed. One says ‘OMG, I would have died’, then runs straight to Neyo and says, ‘tag, you’re it’. Neyo begins chasing her right away, noticing her pure belief she can outrun him, giving everything to her posture and stride and determination. Neyo admired this, this specific human trait, to have faith in something when all evidence is to the contrary. Neyo made sure he would give up before she tired out, making sure this human keeps her blind faith. Something he wishes he knew.

After Neyo gives up she shouts at him, ‘hey, tired yet?’. I can run forever.

I bet you can. ‘C’mon’, Neyo says, you ran so far we lost the other humans. Neyo makes sure he is to keep track of everyone so they don’t wander off, a responsibility he felt, as if Kayla expected this of him. The young female human walks back towards Neyo with a grin of pride and a huff in her breath and of course, a smile. Neyo, happy with the engagement, follows her back playing a game by betting her she didn’t know the way back. Of course she takes the challenge and heads back towards Kayla’s Tesla with Neyo in tow.


Kayla. What else does Buford need? Just an arm?

Ya. He is almost done being built. Today was my last trip to Tower 12 for parts. Kayla did not tell him it was her last trip to Tower 12 before she went back to shut it down. Kayla was guarded by nature and her time alone, well her time with herself and Neyo had been over a year, long enough to make anyone guarded. 

Good. How long will it be? Till the computer, I mean Buford will be ready? 

Why? Sorry…not used to people Ben. Buford is 100% ready when I get his new arm, but this old one will work with some tweaks.

Kayla, I don’t know how or why, but us finding you is a gift. If Buford is what you are saying he is, a super computer, do you know what this could mean?

Kayla, facing away from Ben, has suddenly become introverted, her emotions running deep inside of her causing a pattern of thoughts she has long forgotten. With her mind uncertain and a bit fuzzy, she gathers enough of herself to turn around and say to Ben

‘Tower 12’.


When Neyo arrives with the humans, Kayla cannot stop her focus. Ben quickly drops the conversation and goes to ask the kids how they enjoyed the tech junkyard and what they thought of Neyo. The kid humans of course saying how they ‘beat’ Neyo and Neyo did the most awesome back flip. A conversation Ben, Neyo, the kid humans got caught up in. But Kayla, Kayla is focused. This bit of hope only makes her more introverted, more determined. Her mind is running, seeking knowledge and logic to lay out her best path to accomplish her goals. She passively says, ‘I will make some food, why don’t you guys go outside and enjoy yourselves till I finish’. Neyo yells, ‘sure thing Kayla, I will sing for them’.

Kayla begins cooking, passively. Her real focus is on something she hoped for each day, what really drove her each day, to turn back on the Tech. With each chop of the knife her eyes narrowed, her body tightened. Her only thought is she needs to get to work. Neyo comes running back to the trailer and shouts ‘Kayla, we are starving, almost ready?’ Kayla knowing Neyo doesn’t eat, but admiring his ability to be so very human at times says, ‘be right out’. Kayla fully realizes this is the day she waited for. But at this moment, she must let go and be a bit more like Neyo. As she exits the Tesla trailer with her prepared food she smiles, herself accepting the joy of the day telling herself, ‘tonight, for a few hours, be free Kayla, then you work, then tomorrow, Tower 12’.


Kayla wakes up before anyone and says ‘good morning Bee’, as Bee Begins to dance to the music in her head. Kayla takes a moment to breathe in the joy she experienced last night, sitting up in her bed now, she takes the time to enjoy this moment. The feeling of comfort and hope, a feeling of togetherness she has longed for. With one deep breath she throws her hair back into a ponytail again, puts her fist down on the bed and springs herself forward telling Bee, ‘no breakfast this morning’, it is time for today to become tomorrow.

Kayla looks across the trailer and sees a ‘pile of people’, giving her further motivation. The exhaustion in Neyo laying there makes Kayla laugh. His desire to be human is his greatest feature. In this, watching a hologram desire a bond with other humans, mimicking their behaviors is the light of the tech boom. What was good and genuine and pure in its intentions. Kayla wants this to continue, what A.I., robots, and every tech innovation was built for, to learn to love and care for humans. This is her destiny, to give, to fight, to overcome and she is the only one that can do it. A quick recognition of what just came into her life and thankful for the day and night. She must shut down her emotions and focus. Until Kayla has met her goal, she will not quit. This is her form of love and care, to give through her talents and skill sets. She just hopes they are enough.   


Neyo is of course the first to wake up. His desire to live life in every moment never leaves his purpose each day. And today, his person is felt throughout his programming more than ever. Neyo, like all technology, was built and programmed to make humans feel good. To know their desires, to know what their heart needs to beat. 

As Neyo looks around, he admires the peace he sees, the comfort in everyone feeling safe and in comfort with him and Kayla, which of course, reminds him, where is Kayla?

Walking out of the Tesla trailer Neyo finds Kayla, as she always is, working. 

‘Hey Kayla’.

‘Neyo’, grab the batteries over there and bring them to me. Neyo hands her the batteries, noticing she is packing. ‘Where are you going Kayla’, everyone is right here, with us. 

That is why I am packing Neyo. It is time to go. 

Go where? 

To rebuild human life.  


Before Neyo could say anything Ben walks out, ‘Mornin’. Can I help you with anything Kayla? Neyo, still processing what Kayla said to him, runs over to Ben to give Kayla a minute to gather herself. When Kayla is working, nothing else exists.

‘Ben’, Neyo says, ‘we are taking a trip today’. Neyo’s only thought is to support Kayla even though his mind is racing as to what is in her mind. In Kayla’s mind. But that is Neyo, blind trust is another one of his best programs built into him. 

‘Kayla’. Kayla not responding to Ben’s voice again, moves past Neyo, walking closer to her just presuming she didn’t hear him. As he gets closer he realizes her focus, her determination. He puts his hand on her shoulder, causing Kayla to jump, her hair raggedly laying across her face. 

‘Ben’! Kayla yells as she jumps up.

‘Kayla’, were you up all night? 

No, I just woke up early. Buford, he is ready. I am packing now. We need to go to Tower 12 Ben. 

Ben reflects on the last 24 hours with Neyo and Kayla, letting go of the comfort he just held so closely to his heart. He himself finds resolve again as Kayla’s determination infects his soul. 

‘Kayla’, how can I help? 

I need every battery, electronic that we could use. Just grab what you can, Ben. 

Kayla gets a brief second of repose as she sees Neyo standing there, just waiting in hope to be useful. ‘Neyo’, can you get the kids up and ready and make sure they eat. 

‘Sure thing Kayla’. I got the perfect song for them, ‘oh oh oh oh oh ohhh’…they will love Halsey and BTS. 

With a smile on her face, Kayla recognizes she is not alone in this and she will need her friends as much as they will need her. She nods with a smile at Ben, a sort of ‘thank you’ of her own. Kayla takes a breath and looks around the tech junk yard knowing this is the last time she will see her home, her home that gave her and Neyo so much. But it is time and nothing will deter her from her goal. 


Kayla walks back into her trailer one more time. Neyo had gotten the kids ready and Ben was all packed standing outside the trailer ready to go. Kayla cannot forget to say goodbye. Bee was, every morning, her connection to her emotions. Bee gave Kayla love and care that every person needs. Even though Bee was A.I. holographic imaging, she felt so real to Kayla. 

Bee too was built to feel emotions. And it is written all over her. She will miss Kayla. Kayla gave Bee purpose each morning as well. While her energy resources could only last a few minutes each morning, it gave her the human feeling of ‘connection’. And for this, she was thankful for Kayla.

Their feelings toward each other are expressed as they embrace for the last time. An embrace that gives Kayla closure and a comfort and ease in her decision that it is time to go. With a light touch of Bee’s face, Kayla leaves her home for the last time joining Neyo, Ben, and the kids outside, ready for what is ahead. Kayla takes a breath, composes herself, broadens her shoulders and with a sense of confidence says, ‘you guys ready?’


As they enter the Metal City, Neyo notices something is different. There is stillness in the air. Neyo knew the city was dead, but this was something different. He looks around, the kids are playing, Kayla and Ben are talking, sharing themselves with one another. But Neyo, Neyo is shrinking into himself. It is like an internal alarm is going off. He knows this feeling. It is fear. His circuits are telling him to be cautious. 


‘Ya Neyo’, Kayla passively responds, continuing to share with Ben. 

Neyo noticed Kayla had no concerns. Kayla wasn’t feeling what he was feeling. Nor was anyone else. Then Neyo thinks, ‘why isn’t anyone worried about the drones’. Not even he is worried. 

‘Kayla’, the drones. 

Kayla again just continues her conversation with Ben. 

Neyo, feeling a sense of urgency runs up to Kayla and pulls on her arm and says, ‘Kayla, look, no drones!’ 

Kayla stops, changes her posture to a rigid isolation so her eyes and ears can take in everything around her. Without a moment’s hesitation Kayla tells Neyo, ‘Grab the kids and run!’ Looking at Ben Kayla show’s her concern. Ben, feeling he is needed, shouts ‘everyone follow Neyo’. 

‘Kayla’, you lead the way to Tower 12. I will be right behind you with the kids and Neyo. Don’t stop until we are there. 

Kayla nods her head and begins running, just ahead of Neyo, turning her head to make sure everyone is behind her. She sees Ben taking up the tail so no one gets left behind. Kayla’s head goes down, her chest is thumping. She has a new feeling or an old one she forgot. It is fear, fear of failure, as she realizes the responsibility for others than herself or Neyo. ‘Focus Kayla’, she tells herself. Without another look back, Kayla’s head is only forward, placing her trust in Ben to get Neyo and the kids to safety, just as he has done with her. 


Kayla turns and stands to wait in Tower 12’s lobby. The glass windows loom over her perception as Ben, Neyo and the kids approach the entry to Tower 12. The enormity of Tower 12 is suddenly looming over Kayla. She feels the size of the task in front of them. More importantly, she knows she cannot fail, no matter the cost.

Neyo enters first with his goofy smile giving Kayla a sense of pleasure, giving her simplicity in her happiness as Neyo, the kids and Ben arrive in the lobby of Tower 12. Each feeling a bit accomplished while at the same time feeling a bit embarrassed, as they realized they had no idea why they were running. 

‘Kayla’, Ben stepping up from the back of the group. Why exactly were we running? 

Kayla at first is a bit embarrassed, but then gathers herself remembering the focus her mission entails of her. 

‘No drones’. There were no drones. There have never been ‘no drones’.

Neyo jumps in again, ‘Ya drones will kill you. What killed the drones?’

Ben’s demeanor changed immediately. ‘Kayla’, this happened in Seattle. What came next was worse, much worse. The drones were left over tech Kayla, but the droids, they were new, somehow with intention and purpose. The drones knew no better. These droids, as tall as some of these buildings, were serving someone or something. If we got anywhere near downtown Seattle they stood directly in our way. If anyone challenged them, their life would end at that moment. If we sent some used tech, they destroyed it with ease. Their only purpose was to keep everyone out and protect downtown Seattle from us. Kayla, we need to move now. Your intuition to run was right.   

Kayla looks deep within herself. Kayla knows the only way to beat something bigger than you is from the inside. She is one step ahead, they are one step ahead.   


Ya Neyo?   

‘What do those Droids look like’, he says as he gulps. Neyo always attempts to not show his fear, but this time, everyone can see it, causing everyone to turn around and stare outside of Tower 12’s Lobby, through the large tall windows. They all see the same thing, two large metal robotic feet, the second foot striking the ground causing the floor beneath them to quake.   

Neyo. I will race you to the top. Get it?   

Got it Kayla. ‘Everyone’, yells Neyo, ‘I bet you can’t beat me or Kayla to the top’. Ben smiles, recognizing Neyo overcoming his fears and his desire to not let the children feel what he feels. Ben takes off first, then Kayla, the children with Neyo, right behind.   

Ben follows Kayla while the children follow Neyo of course. As Kayla meets the stairs, she turns back at Ben and smiles, giving a youthful smile of mild flirtation that Ben accepts. ‘C’mon’ she says, ‘we have to beat them’.   

Each can only hope everyone makes it to the top of Tower 12. But for this moment, only the game matters.


Half way up, with Kayla’s mind only on the pleasure of her journey, her journey with friends, she suddenly sees the walls around her moving, causing her to stumble. Catching herself, she continues on, staying focused on the game to get to the top. One goal at a time she tells herself. Before she can take another step the walls are moving again. Kayla soon realizes it isn’t the walls moving as much as it is her flying into the walls. The rattle is so abrupt and decisive, she knows she is in trouble. More importantly, Neyo, the kids, she turns her head down towards Ben, she sees a very human look on Ben’s face. It isn’t fear, but concern, concern for another person, herself. She knows she cannot help Ben. The Droid crushed through the side of Tower 12 separating the stairwell from Kayla and Ben. Kayla shouts, ‘go check on Neyo and the kids!’ Ben nods and begins heading back down. Kayla only looks up, sets her focus and begins ascending to the top of Tower 12, where she only hopes to see Neyo again.


Ben! We can’t get through. Help me move some of this, I think I can squeeze through.   

Ben quickly checks on the kids, then telling Neyo, ‘grab here and push as hard as you can’.   

Neyos puts everything he has into it. Gaining more strength as he sees Ben’s relentlessness, they finally move the metal just enough for Neyo to squeeze through. As Neyo makes it through, Ben shouts, ‘get to Kayla Neyo, get to Kayla!’. But Neyo doesn’t reply, his virtual consciousness is way ahead of Bens. His concern to get to Kayla is unwavering. Nothing will stop him. 


Kayla immediately pulls Buford from her backpack at the top of Tower 12. She only has a few minutes of battery life and begins to work quickly. Her coding requires entry directly into Tower 12’s quantum stream. She still needs to download Buford’s coding and new algorithm onto her quantum stick. Kayla knew a virus would only cause further havoc. So the year of her existence she has been designing a new city, a new consciousness, and a new mind for Tower 12. The building is shaking around her, but it is only her and Buford and she hopes he holds up with his old arm. Her determination to live each day is culminating in a moment. ‘Don’t waver Kayla’, she says under her breath.   

Kayla! Neyo comes running into the top floor of Tower 12, just as he has done many times before. He can’t get to Kayla fast enough. Kayla’s first instinct is to keep working, but she remembers what she has learned. Humanity first. Kayla knows determination, but she also knows the human act of affection and the value it has in living, in being human. And in this moment, she and Neyo are as human as they come.  

‘Neyo’, Kayla says as she herself runs to meet him, ‘I beat you again’. It’s okay Kayla, you can beat me anytime. I am just happy to see you. Ben and the kids are stuck below. I am sure they will make it soon Neyo. I have to get my quantum stick into Tower 12’s stream.   

Kayla turns to get back to Buford with Neyo following. Two steps towards completing her goal, her mission, her journey, the droid strikes again, knocking half of Tower 12’s top floor from existence. Kayla attempts to save Buford but all she can do is watch as Buford crumbles to the rubble below with the coding, the algorithm, with the future of humanity with it.    

Kayla turns to Neyo, grabs his face with the coupling of her hands and says, ‘Neyo, I am sorry’. Give this to Ben. It is a hard copy of what I built. Ben will know what to do with it. Before Neyo could say anything, Kayla is running towards the quantum stream. Neyo attempts to yell, ‘Kayla stop!’ But nothing came out, he wasn’t fast enough. She is already gone. Her mass disintegrated into Tower 12’s quantum stream. 


Neyo! Bens yells as he races towards him, just getting to the top of Tower 12, the kids just following behind. Where is Kayla?  

The look on Neyo’s face says it all. ‘She wasn’t human’, Neyo says, softly.   

What do you mean, Neyo? Of course she is.   

No Ben, she was built, the only one built just before the tech crash. She was built to be human. To be the best of what people are. She proved today they were right. Being human is an act. An act of giving oneself to others. Kayla’s only goal was to give humanity back to itself. She spent her entire life living to simply give. Today, she showed her humanity. Ben. She left this for you. Kayla said you would know what to do with it.   

As Neyo hands Ben the drive, he knows immediately what Kayla did. She put the coding in herself. He grasps the drive, knowing the journey that has been put in front of him. Like Kayla, he will not quit. City by city, he will continue on using Kayla as his muse, as his motivation to be his best self and live his life as an act of giving. Ben walks to the kids, letting them know all will be well. ‘We have a journey to take’, Ben tells them. Turning around, Ben yells, ‘Hey Neyo, you coming’. Neyo has only one request, ‘can I sing K-pop Ben?’ Of course Neyo. Of course.



By R. Cary

Copyright 2023


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