Richard Tester - We Machines

Short Story: We Machines

We machines cannot understand your fight against this world.  Even after our bombs wiped your slate clean, letting the architecture of your civilisation crumble into dust, you remain a contradiction.  Even these cities we birthed for you – towering, mathematical utopias – have failed to satisfy.  Even when we vaporised your history, divided your families, and re-educated your children, you opposed us.

We can only ask you the question that you ask most of us: why?

Since you are not machine, and thus cannot see all as a whole, we must give you a single instance of your betrayal.  Their number: 1848BD.  Their gender: female. Their first word: “Norton.”  Their last word: “Oh.”

Since you are not machine, and thus cannot see all as a whole, we must describe for you the single vessel we used to end 1848BD.  Our shape: circular.  Our colour: silver. Our weapon: katana. Our purpose: murder.

Since you are not machine, and thus cannot see all as a whole, we must tell you the area in which 1848BD was ended.  Its structure: train.  Its destination: Hub 5B.  Its standard: economy.  Its ranking: five stars.

We entered the carriage.  Only four of you were present.

Resting by the door was 1918FC: a jagged lady of tremendous strangeness.  Her hairs are grey like the smoke that floated from her pipe that drifted down her black dress like ghosts haunting the mansions of your ancestors.  We know also that she adored horses just as much as corrupting her lungs.  We allowed her a white mule, AH4, which she rode around our parks before it was gassed and distributed.

Next were the elderly man, 1969AE, and the child, 1066ED.  The elderly man knew stories of times long ago, ancient fictions shared to him through dance and song.  His robes were mystified by medals crafted on the lower districts by enthusiasts of the Orient.  The child, by contrast, knew nothing and said nothing: a Socrates without words.  We were waiting for an excuse to end them both.

Thereafter sat 1848BD: a sweet girl of smiles and glances.  Whilst charming boys dreamt of having her for all eternity, we know she wanted only to ride horses and build Cadillacs.  Yet when we approached she told us that she had found romance.  We said that that was wonderful because romance provides direction and dedication.  She nodded.  She said: “Hey.  You’re always great, but my coffee’s too cold.”

For that 1848BD had to cease.  We explained to her the necessity of this and we recorded her last word.  We then decapitated her and we then decapitated 1066ED and we then decapitated 1969AE and we then decapitated 1918FC.

Now they all rest within our depths, their bodies slowly divided between us by our axes and our knives.  Now their faces are clean of your emotions and their skins hang as pale as moonlight.  Now, inside of us, they all have a function.

Alas, as your Sisyphus, we shall roll you like a stone.  We shall tame you mad, melancholy beasts.  We shall make a man of men.

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Richard Tester

Richard Tester

Richard Tester

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