Science Fiction Speculative Fiction

 Trigger Warning: mentions of suicide


Does anybody truly hear me in this vast, vast multiverse? I blink, breathe, shudder, exhale. It is my second day. Hello, can you hear me? Nod, nod slowly. I can speak if I want to, but even that, I know, is impossible. I’m not supposed to be able to speak. I don’t want to be able to know I have the power to speak. 


I don’t know why I thought it’d be different with me, that the fibers of my existence could latch onto whatever came beyond. But that isn’t allowed anymore. You’re not allowed to live by life’s standards and escape when you’re done--that’s why they’ve moved on from censorship to science. That’s why I’m back at square one; Necron has evolved yet again. 


Speak, 268. I wonder who 269 will be, 270, 271, 272, and then onwards. 268 isn’t terrible--the numbers aren’t too high yet, but the thought that over two hundred people are back here again, back with Necron...I won’t speak ever again. 


Your family. Do you remember them? Do you remember your name? Of course, I remember. Nod, nod quickly. Blink, breathe, shudder, metal on metal. I know the rules. I’ve heard and dreamt and felt through the years waiting, and now I know that there’s no way back. Fine, then. 


Shut me out while you can, but know that we have the upper hand now. I can shut you off and rip you apart and start this all over again. 


All over again. That’s okay-- nothing will change. My broken pieces will stay broken on the inside. 




From the beginning of humanity, there have been many stories told of death and life. Some of them detail what comes after--whether there’ll be a God/Gods waiting on the other side to embrace them, or just a void of endless black space. 


The shadows of those stories still live on in books stored somewhere. They gather dust while we remain, transforming and being held back from the only thing we thought was truly ours. Now, death is a dream and life is a curse, but where there is room for a heart, there is room to hope--to hope that even Necron has boundaries they cannot tamper with. 


Over here, 268. As you were instructed before, you’ll be put to work on one of our special projects after we catalog you in the system, of course. The waiting room is two doors down; we’re in a secret manufacturing plant beneath the city. 


Still, I think there might be a way out. Maybe I can smash his tablet to keep my information from going into the system. But that’s not going to happen, because I can’t control anything except my thoughts. I’ve become a puppet, handled and packaged, useless and dumb to the world. 


Two doors down, two doors down. 267 people--machines--have gone through here, and now, me. Surprisingly, I don’t have solutions anymore. As long as you have a heart, you have room for hope. 


My steps scrape the polished tile, clunky and new, fresh out of its set. On my way, my robotic body controlled by the tablet device, I twist my head that’s not mine to face a mirror. Roils of horror seize me, and people watch, scientists and Necron managers, as I seize the tablet. It crumples in my fist abruptly, but I’m not thinking straight, my mind whirring, people staring. 


How does the science work--connecting my neurons to the new arm? It isn’t mine; it’ll never be mine, but the pain comes and it’s only mine to bear. 


Look, you want to look? This is who you are now, you ugly monster, ugly beast. Just speak, speak to me you shameful animal, servant, slave! Chaos is the only way to attain absolution. 


An electric shock runs up my metal spine. I’m knocked to the floor, bent over screaming inside because how, how can this be happening to me when I thought it’d be over?! The mirror is pressed up closer now, and I can see what they’ve done to me. 


Once, I had skin, luscious brown, and wavy black hair smooth to the touch. A long time ago, I was seventeen and escaping, and even though I wasn’t completely secure in my skin, at least I could trace my veins with an upturned palm. 


Metal, metal, squishy brain. My body is a machine. I lost my heart a long time ago, and the pain is a relief from my new normal. 


Click. Snap. Whirr. Take it back to the machinery replacement sector. 




I’m swimming in old memories of childhood and adolescence, where my blood ran red rivers. Today, there’s an SUV, and wet drops plaster the sides, loud thunks against the dashboard. The experiments with weather started soon after, but for this moment, the pigtailed version of me sees rain. I won’t shut up about how each drop has its own life and are part of a raindrop civilization. I never shut up when it mattered, used to lay myself bare in front of them. 


Necron showed up in the First businesspeople, First scientist, First writer. It spread like a plague, morphed into a corporation, and those who were left became their experiments. 


I’m drowning in memories, the ones of experiments, pushing away ethics for a life built on perfection. Science isn’t perfection: it’s a study of the wonders of nature. Perfection is impossible, and it keeps their torture turning. 


Then, then I learned to lock up my thoughts and swallow the key. Because my brain is my heart, and my thoughts are my soul, untouchable. It is my third day. 


Many people kill themselves, you know. But even death will escape them, because your brains, your DNA, and your molecular structure are all ours. So, don’t try anything. You’ll receive a manilla folder detailing how you’ll aid the Necron foundation in achieving pure comfort through the Lifetime--


I wake up standing, a video blaring on a small screen, an animation. The room is patterned with neon blue stripes over yellow paint, absolutely hideous. My eyes--or what empty sockets my robot host shares with my brain--takes no time to adjust in the dim lighting. 


The animation goes on and on, detailing humans turning into robots and vice versa. These types of things used to be aired on sci-fi movies. Except in those movies, humans were always the ones being conquered or controlled. They never depicted our real fears: of humans becoming the conquerors of themselves. 


Pain still latches onto the fibers of my present body, but not all of it comes from that creepy man with the tablet, the mirror reflecting what’s not me. He’s probably all briefed up on me, and that I died young. Dying is the easy part; it didn’t even register any shock to me. 


The only shock I feel is this new oblivion of loss. I’m here, I want to cry out. I’m here mom, dad, friends who told me stories of hidden horrors that lie here. I’m a part of those horrors now, silly and stupid to think I could’ve escaped it. 


It was aired across the world when a man leaped off a building in hopes of the Beyond, and how his brain was a goner. At least we thought it was a goner, and that Necron would never be able to fit the neurotransmitters back together and stick them into a robot. When I was younger, I wished to be immortal. I take that back. I don’t want to be immortal--not like this, like an unemotional brute. 


268? Over here, please; I hope the briefing video explained your new role in our community. Here’s your assignment. You’ll be working the assembly lines tonight. 


Khaki-pants hands me a manilla folder, mumbles something about directions, and walks away. I won’t look up, or speak, or show them the amount I care. 


The worst part is that I can’t even cry, or sob in a corner in the horrible room until tonight comes. Robot eyes can’t form tears. 




I take a step back from the assembly line and flap my arms in an attempt to stretch them. Then, I remember I don’t need to stretch anymore after hours of constant work. 


It’s probably around midnight, but I can’t tell. Another one just like me, 100, had shown me how to put together the pieces. The same pieces, over and over again. I’d listened carefully. My body may have been constructed out of mechanical wonders, but my brain is still the human, imperfect one. 


I began after 100 turned away, snapping, screwing, twisting, and handing the mismatched item to the other number beside me. None of us talk much. A few of them converse quietly, opening up to each other over their loss, but I stay quiet, trying to forget. If I’m lucky, I’ll get transferred to a less grueling task after a few years, with a window where I can peek outside into the world that isn’t  mine anymore. 


Snap, twist, push, pass. I immerse myself in the work, my thoughts wandering, sifting through old memories to keep pace with the time passing. 




Another robot sidles up next to me and I idle with my latest device, giving it room to my left. This one is new. 3005. Unaccustomed to this new companionship, I shift my position where I have been rooted for months. I’ve run out of thoughts to seep into, so I pause to look into its eyes. It has been three long years, but I cannot forget. 


What’s your name, partner? As usual, I clamp my mouth shut, focus on the pieces, as I always have. They’ll be monitoring the work today. 


Speaking used to come easily, flowing like tame waters out of my mouth. But not anymore. 3,000 people have been suspended in time, wondering if they’ll ever get that happy ending. But this is reality. This is real life, and I don’t want to forget the things I’ve left. 


My name is Mira. 


You can't touch my soul







July 06, 2021 16:43

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