to the Machine
Copyright 2012 by J. David Norman
near-future society, driven by delusions and hallucinations from a
brain implant gone wrong, convinces himself that he can become the
first android by inserting metal and circuitry into his body at
squeezing his eyes shut despite looking away, rammed the
freshly-sharpened knife into his own thigh. He had become accustomed
to withholding the screams during his "upgrade procedures."
Whimpering quietly in the dim lighting of the grungy dead-end
alleyway, he dragged the recently-sharpened knife towards his knee
with a rip, his scream echoing around him as he left a wide opening
in his flesh. Warm blood bloomed around the rough incision and pooled
onto the concrete beneath him, the intense pain already subsiding to
a numb throbbing. Tears mixed with dirty sweat on his face and
dropped quietly onto the green tee shirt he had stolen only a few
A blur of cars
flew by the opening of the alley with a dull hum, their headlights
briefly sending lines of light spinning across the wall as they
passed. He bit down on his bottom lip to curtail his moans and sobs,
focusing his eyes to his lap. Charles peered at the cut filled with
dark blood, then grabbed a small metal pipe from beside him, found
earlier while searching through the garbage. With a shaky hand he
shoved it into the open wound. The pain was reborn like fuel on a
dying fire, igniting the agony. Fortunately he was operating under
the cloak of pre-dawn, when it was less likely that people were
milling about this side of the city, and even less likely to
investigate the screams of torment coming out of the dun alley.
with sunlight on his eyelids and buzzing in his ears. He blinked
rapidly, shook the sleep out of his head, and covered his eyes with a
dingy hand. He wondered for a few moments why he was leaning against
a bright, hard plastic dumpster. Suddenly images of cutting his own
body flashed through his mind. He shot his eyes to his leg, spotting
the open wound, dark with dried blood. He focused harder on the
swollen wound, seeing the metal glinting through maroon flecks.
Several flies were whizzing around him, focused on the exposed gash
as much as the garbage.
his breath, then reached into his pocket while leaning on the other
hand, feeling gingerly for his tools. As he gripped the roll of green
thread he had stolen a week earlier, his other hand slipped on the
damp concrete. He fell to his elbow, barely twisting his leg in the
Biting his lip
and squeezing away the tears from his eyes, he shoved himself back up
against the white dumpster, noting that it was his blood he slipped
on. He wiped his hand on his shorts and again carefully pulled needle
and thread from his pocket. Vision blurring, he fought off the urge
to pass out again. He knew he had to complete his upgrade before it
was too late.
threaded back and forth across the open wound without precision. A
couple of times he had to rethread due to it pulling back out of the
already-rotting flesh at the edges when tightening it closed. Finally
he was able to tie off the filament, leaving a bulging, painful area
streaked with blood.
his work, staring at the bulge with a feeling of contentment. It was
done, though not as easily as the small circuit board pilfered from
an old-fashioned radio and installed into his chest a week earlier.
That was the first of his personal advancements. He remembered from
his mental implants a few months earlier that anything installed
takes a while to activate in tune with the human body, so he was
still waiting for the radio to be fully activated within him.
Hopefully something as simple as metal for advanced movement will
more quickly integrated.
implant needed "exercising," according to the surgeon after
the procedure. Certain neural connections had to connect naturally.
His handheld was installed with a program designed to sharpen
cognition, memory, and reflexes, and he was directed to use it three
times per day under penalty of international health laws. At the time
Charles did not see the need in some silly IQ games devised for
children, instead focusing on his work at the factory. He had been a
machinist for years, using grinders and drills to shape metal bits
for ship engines and hulls. The doctor warned him that his implant
could be redacted if he didn't follow instructions properly due to
public safety. Use of the mental training program was being recorded
to ensure he followed his directions.
scarcely recall growing more and more obsessed with the lustrous
metal that he had worked with on a daily basis, to the point of
rarely leaving the machine shop at all. Every afternoon at his work
station was sterile bliss as the sunlight streamed through the
building windows and caught the metal sheets perfectly to flash deep
into his eyes. A couple of weeks had passed, and as he was loading a
new sheet to carve and drill, red and blue light abruptly splashed
across the glass double doors at the factory entrance. Two police
officers entered and spoke with the receptionist. All Charles had to
hear was his own name drifting down the hall from the muffled
conversation to know that they were coming to have his precious mind
Fear had flown
through him like water from a tap as he quickly maneuvered his way
through the back doors and headed toward his apartment to hide out. A
block before arriving he had noticed across a hoverbike across the
street marked "911" in bold numbers. He stopped, cursing in
frustration and catching his breath from the two blocks he had
From then on he
had hidden in a couple of abandoned houses, as well as stolen food
and other items while the occupied houses were empty for the day.
Over a week passed as he contemplated how he could successfully
become fused with the metal, literally heart and soul. It was during
one of the more recent break-ins that Charles had decided to find the
needle and thread that would be needed to start such a grand process.
. .a process that would be the beginning of a new world turned to
metal and the rust of the weak scattered to the winds.
here and sleep at the shelter or somethin', huh?!"
himself off the ground, his vision gradually focused on a man hanging
out of an alley doorway. The man had the look of a fat angel standing
there as the light from within streamed around him, an angel yelling
something about finding a better place to depart this mortal coil
than behind his night club. He tried mumbling that it was as good a
time as any to start exercising his leg implant, but found his mouth
too dry and weak to form anything but a raspy squeak.
just in time to see metal blossom from down the left leg of his
bloodied shorts. Small sterling plates like manufactured opaque
crystals glistened and shifted across his knee and down his shins and
calf. His eyes widened in joyous horror as he witnessed himself
transforming into a new being, something beyond any human or animal
form ever created.
side of the dumpster and attempted pulling himself up. His heart felt
close to bursting out of his chest as if he had just finished a race
instead of just recently waking up. As he pulled, so did the
stitching in his chest for the motherboard implant, and pain pulsated
from it like a supernova, overwhelming even the throbbing of his leg
as metallic growth poured down his body. Charles lost his grip on the
slippery surface of the dumpster, crashing the side of his face into
the building's brick wall and stumbled down the alley.
left leg that
had been upgraded felt weighted by a hundred pounds or more of
refined lead, and more began to twinkle and pour down his right left
as well. He staggered maladroitly through the empty pathway between
the towering ziggurats of the city, and after what seemed an aeon his
gleaming body spilled out of the alley.
unlocked the backdoor of his nightclub angrily at having to take out
the previous night's kitchen trash. He knew he had told the other
kitchen crew at least five times to make sure it gets done before
they leave in the mornings in just the last two weeks alone.
bulging black bag into the dumpster, he spotted a leg smeared with
blood laying on the ground on the opposite side. Oh
better not be a murdered body back there. . .
apprehensively. He walked around nervously and saw a ragged, bearded
drifter laying down, one side of his pants stained almost completely
black with dried blood.
are you alive?" he yelled at the body. "You should get out
of here and sleep at the shelter or something, huh?!"
shifted and rose partly from the ground, startling Mr. Takahashi.
"Okay now go on! I'm sure you can find a better place than at my
night club to give up the ghost." The blood-soaked guy mumbled
incoherently to himself, sat up relatively straight, and his eyes
grew wide in alarm seeing the blood covering his pants and leg. "Come
on, I'm sure you'll be fine. I don't want to have to call the cops to
get you out of here, buddy."
himself up, but immediately collided face first with the brick wall
of the night club. Mr. Takahashi watched him continue limping and
falling, thinking this guy would certainly not make it all the way
before kicking the bucket. He had the appearance of someone that had
just been beaten to the very brink of death, and then chunked in the
garbage to rot like the bag he just disposed of himself.
finally reached the opening to the sidewalk and street, Mr. Takahashi
turned to go back in, relieved he didn't have to go to the extra
trouble of dealing with whatever that was all about. With a sigh he
passed through the doorway, ignoring the faint sound of screams and
twisting metal as the door slammed closed behind him.
in past three women, one of which shrieked at the sight of him. He
offhandedly assumed it was his glorious metal form that shocked her
as his foot then slipped off the edge of the sidewalk. Agony shot
through him as his body was jarred against the murky pavement.
Incandescence grew quickly in his range of view as a hovercar hummed
directly towards him. In a flash the front bumper smashed into him
and appeared to Charles to melt deep into his chest, as if they were
both made of liquid metal. He thought he could feel his legs sparking
under the car as he was propelled down the street.
suddenly as he was struck by the hovercar, the merging of man and
machine was thrust into oncoming traffic. He had barely a second to
register his body merging together with a second hovercar behind him,
realizing with euphoria that this was what was meant to happen, this
is how he had to become absolute metal and machine. Only this fusion
could complete the process, and these complex mechanical vehicles
were making sure it happened, as if it were his destiny.
The last thing he
saw was dark liquid metal splashing around him. Liquid shards
saturated his field of vision as he was absorbed, and thus
transformed, into his new metal form. . .a god among men.
picked up two glasses from a small table near the front of the club.
He glanced at the wreck outside as he wiped a damp towel quickly
across the tabletop, but froze as he focused on the horrifyingly
sickening sight in the street. Two hovercars were smashed into each
other and had fallen the ground, the glow of their plasma flux
engines gone out completely except for one that was flickering, like
an old neon sign. What shocked him was that compressed between them
was the mangled, twisted body of the hobo from the alley, his bearded
face hardly recognizable splattered with so much blood. Oh,
he thought as he set the glasses
on the side of the bar, at
least I don't have to deal with him, and his suffering has come to an
David Norman is a self-employed Web enthusiast, book worm, and
blogger, juggling all three each night until the sun comes up. If he
could one superpower of his choosing, it would be Super Concentration
to help focus on his writing without being distracted by his cat or
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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