He'd never been able to get the hang of talking to women. They just always seemed so different. Why would they want to talk to a lowly programmer like him? When he was younger, more naïve, he'd entertained the silly idea that one day he'd find someone who he could fall in love with. Someone who'd appreciate his interests, someone who who he could really talk with about the world - about life, about the future, about anything. But he'd long since dismissed those ideas as unrealistic. Just childish daydreams of a foolish young man. He'd gradually realised that he didn't need a woman in his life. Even when all his old friends had gone off and got themselves husbands, wives and then children, he'd been quite happy to stand stand by and watch. Sure, it might be nice to have someone you could truly share your life with, but he was fine as he was. Just him and his craft, and nothing to interfere.
His craft, as he was wont to call it, was that of the technologic arts. He was hired by science research groups to create simulated environments, with synthetic versions of our physical and chemical worlds, in which big pharmaceutics and biotech companies could do experiments without actually killing anyone if it went awry. The most recent project he'd been commissioned for was the most advanced he'd done yet: He was to create a system that perfectly replicated the biochemical reactions of the real world, in which virtual organisms could be grown, experimented on, and then deleted without the researchers feeling any ethical qualms about it. He'd been working on the system for months now, and his final test of its capabilities was nearly ready: He was going to create a virtual human being.
His finger hovered over the vital key, the pressing of which would begin the accelerated process of simulating the billions upon billions of chaotic reactions, interactions and subtle balances that make up the body of a growing human. He would create a perfect simulation of a human being, down to the last atom. He would, effectively, create life. He'd been through the implications of what he had been hired to do a thousand times, and each time had decided that it wasn't his problem - that he was just carrying out the tasks he was being paid to do. What his technology would be used for was none of his concern. Reminding himself one last time that what he was doing was for the benefit of science, he gathered his resolve, and pushed the button.
"PROJECT IVORY ACTIVATED." The words flashed across the screen, marking the beginning of the process that would discreetly make scientific history.
He watched with a sense of quiet awe as he watched the screen display the simulation of a tiny egg splitting, and splitting, and splitting again, dividing hundreds, thousands, millions of times to form the stuff of which we are all made. He watched this mass of sticky cellulose and DNA gradually become embryo-like in shape; form arms and legs and bones and eyes, form lungs and a heart and a brain, grow hair and a face, fingers and toes, muscles and skin.
The organism kept on growing. Birth went by in barely a blink, and then began the actual life ahead. Shapes and colours flew by on the screen as this computerised little human lived its life in hyperspeed. It grew bigger and bigger, learnt to walk and talk, learnt to eat, learnt to sing, learnt to read and write. It learnt about the world, taking part in pre-made simulations of school classrooms, moving up through the education system, sweating through exams, graduating, moving away from home. The absurdly fast display began to slow down as she reached her twenties, reaching a more normal pace, until, ever so gradually, time reached its normal speed on her twenty-fifth birthday.
He hadn't deliberately picked any particular characteristics when he was writing his creation's genetic code. He'd just been aiming for a stable human being. Nothing was immediately out-of-the-ordinary about her, although there was one very important detail: One situation that he hadn't thought to prepare for, with all his checks and failsafes. One outcome that completely took him by surprise.
She was beautiful.