This is one of my original science fiction stories. It was first published as a flash fiction contest entry submitted to Anotherealm.com for the contest running December 2004-January 2005. Copyright remains soley with me.

Chronixiety

© 2004 Deron E. Meranda

The lights flicker back on. Again, I feel vibrations of distant turbines straining to regain speed; invading my crumbling concrete and steel vault. I have no choice but to persist through the outages. I welcome the harsh light, but it makes it no less lonely. Only memories of my dear Laurie ever speak to me.

hello
jeweled lights dancing round me
knights prancing 'bout the carousel
velvet ropes mark my boundary
candy lace and floss of pastel
i'm here
hello

How many months have passed since I woke in here? The measures of time lie concealed from me, fragmented, forgotten. Oh Laurie, where are we? I must escape this bondage.

hello
if i feel this am i dreaming
painted smiles frown down upon me
can i fly if i'm not breathing
paper dragons sing to calm me
let me in
hello

Dial needles begin to twitch. Pneumatic tubes swell. Machinery that sat dormant for hours in the nothingness now resumes previously unfinished movements. It's cold and unfeeling, yet the only form of animated companionship I have. Light and shadow drip along the intricate chrome and naked stainless armature. I retch at the imagined bitterness of its mercuric sweat. How I long for a warm embrace.

I look down at my limp arm bound firmly to a stained table, fingertips upturned. Nearby valves hiss, feeding pressure to tiny pistons. Even though I'm numb to it all, I momentarily wince as long slender needles pierce my flesh. The spreaders tug wider, allowing me to see the fine metal threads being pulled inside. The vivid red tissue is hauntingly beautiful in contrast to the muted greys and silvers elsewhere.

hello
mommy hold me please don't leave
floating clouds swim far below me
unfelt coldness now i perceive
have i forgotten that i know me
wake me
hello

I do not understand, but the engines finally obey my thoughts, mostly. The training is still imperfect, but it won't matter once I'm fixed. Staples bind my wound. The tether of wires snaps into a mated coupling on the exciter board. Springs retract. I stare at my curled fingers, they look so soft, so human. One moves. Laurie, what have I done? Another moves. The socketed cantilever swings me closer for inspection. I wish I had found the rest of me.

At the other end of my arm fractured bone meets metal. Screws and clamps bond arm to machine as the restraints are removed. It seems so strangely disjoint yet it is me. A vulgar grafting of muscle and gears and torn skin and escapements.

hello
do i remember when i was born
my soul was blessed with purity
childhood mischief should forewarn
nightmares reign my insecurity
i'm sorry
hello

I watch my arm as I direct it. I can control three of my fingers at will. I'm coming Laurie. Sensing my intentions, my locomotive flywheel begins spinning causing my whole carriage to shake as it energizes. I roll toward the steel door.

I reach with my arm and drag my knuckle along the wall. It snags the panel edge, sliding it open. I've tried the bio-lock keypad countless times already. I pray that it finally responds to my reattached organic parts. I turn my palm downward and pull my fingers open. My hand lands upon the sensor pad.

hello
i'm forever lost in my mind
will you ever forgive
fears and guilt entwined
can you make me live
hold me
hello

The worm gears framing each side of the door rotate making the locking pins retract. I shudder for a moment thinking about what lies beyond. I push against the door until the rusty hinges chatter and it swings open. A darkened hallway awaits me.

It appears as if nothing has moved here in centuries, except for spiders. The overhead maze of rusty pipes is thoroughly enveloped with knitted webs. Several floor tiles sport open cracks where tiny rivulets now flow. Dozens of numbered doorways line the long hallway. I see light at the far end.

Near the hallway entrance a badly eroded plaque stubbornly hangs by its last remaining rivet. With difficulty I read the crooked and pitted etching.

  Wing 17
  Cyber-Cryonic Reassembly

Emotions rush my mind. Cryonics. I've been frozen, abandoned. How many centuries? Am I alive, or human? My precious Laurie?

My wheels turn and I face a large lobby. That must be the way out. Don't think. My drive sprockets spin as I hurry away. Hues re-enter my desaturated world, blue carpets and green sofas. Daylight is ahead. Can I escape this hell?

I glimpse a large mirror on a side wall by the entrance. It's filled with reflections of a dry fountain overgrown with brush. I decelerate as the panorama scrolls by. I'm overwrought with terror. What kind of monster might stare back when I breach the scene? With a thud of clutch gears I halt; perhaps there's another way. But I must know.

Creeping sideways, spoked wheels and greasy chains pierce my view. I inch along, taking in my inhuman substitute body. There are small tanks with attached pumps and hoses. Leather baffles eerily compress in unison with my rapid breaths. Then on top, a glint of dreary daylight strikes a glass container sitting on brass gimbals. My God.

hello
i want to play with you again
can't you hear me scream
if i hide and count to ten
will it end this dream
mommy
hello

A pair of eyeballs stare back. Complete spheres with no lids to hide behind. I recognize the familiar green irises but there's no face. Through the syrupy soup I can see my brain. The surface veins throb. I try to shut my eyes but cannot. Something's wrong; then I notice the crude stitches. Sewn into the side of one lobe is another much smaller second brain. Two minds melded in an intimate union.

I cry tears into my jar.

Hello, Laurie. Mother's here now.