The framework of the Story
A small research team led by the internationally reputed psychiatrist Dr. Abbott Barnaby is undertaking an experiment about the development of personality in the overcrowded flood of information in our world today.
In an artificial environment a girl is created but the leader of the team gives us no information about the origin of her heredity, e.g. of the sperm or egg cells. For the following 18 years she is to live in a hermetically sealed living area without any visible doors to the outside world nor to the existence of other human beings. Afterwards the girl is to be informed (about the life she has led till now) and prepared for life in the real world outside. This living area is equipped everywhere with hidden cameras and microphones, and roughly 50 screens are installed on one wall of the main living room.
In the baby and toddler phases robots, without any resemblance to human beings, look after the girl; in addition on one of the installed screens runs a learning programme that is adapted to the actual phase of the girl’s development and which, helped by robots, teaches the girl to speak and, later to read and write. In the course of time the robots will become more and more inactive, staying more and more frequently in a motionless “Stand-by”-function and then, on the girl’s 11th birthday, they become completely inactive. The girl understands this state (of the robots) as being “Death”, as she has learnt that her life, too, will end one day. A few days later all the screens will be switched on and from this moment on will continuously show specially selected programmes of all sorts, for example, films, news, entertainment shows and documentaries.
At the beginning of this phase, the girl is very confused and shocked but quickly develops a great interest in these moving pictures, which, after some months, leads to a black-and-white way of thinking and finally even assumes religious characteristics. Threatening or disgusting pictures are classified as “Hell”, all things beautiful and positive as “Paradise/Heaven” and both of these represent to her a possible place for the time after her present life (“Life after Death”).
As her thoughts about influencing the decision about her personal place for “life after death” circle without any conclusion in her head she begins to believe in a “higher Power” which takes that decision for her and, at length, she even begins to pray.
During all this time life on our planet is changing enormously. The chasm between the rich and the poor widens, environmental problems become more acute. Religious wars (also between smaller groups) break out and finally provoke international military conflicts. During the years of the girl’s isolation Dr.Barnaby has developed an increasingly personal relationship towards the girl. He sees what she has written in a sort-of diary, listens to her soliloquies, sees her facial expressions and gesticulation. Increasingly he feels doubts, even shame, and finally begins to question the experiment and even wonders whether he should not terminate the whole project.
One evening, when the girl has reached the age of 16, Dr. Barnaby gets a phone call from a colleague, who informs him that part of a religiously fanatical army has deployed an extremely infectious virus as a biological warfare agent (also in intercontinental rockets). There is no antidote, no longer any way out. In his despair Dr. Barnaby (who is in fact an atheist) folds his hands and prays. Then he composes a kind of farewell letter addressed to the girl because he knows that he too will succumb to this deadly virus; then he activates the 48-hour-long countdown to the opening of the doors in the girl’s living quarters.