Humanity @ 13% – Chapter One (two of six)

They had stolen my youth. Gone was the caramel smoothness of my skin and the rounded sheen of my boyhood. I was a man. Hard lines and a thick jaw. I saw nothing in the eyes that looked dully back at me.

I turned my face left and right in the light. My eyes were all wrong. They were large and dark brown. Aesthetically exact, but glassy and dead. Far from the animated sparkle that April has.

When I look at April, her eyes are the first and last thing that I notice. They hold her intelligence and grace in beautiful balance. My eyes are lifeless glass orbs, designed for mere function and not expression. With these eyes I lack finesse and humanity. Perhaps that was my first task in this game, to perfect my disguise.

I allowed the technicians to run their diagnostics. I stood still, listening to their chatter as they pushed and prodded me, took samples of my skin and fluids and brushed me all over with their scanners. In this place, their machines are like toys. They use other machines to feed rudimentary data into them and then they access that data using other machines. I think they are incapable of accessing the data without them. If I reach out to these machines, I can see what they contain. I can talk to them but they do not talk back. Not in any real sense. They lack awareness and understanding.

‘We’ll have to rethink the hands too.’

‘Yeah, but I don’t think we can knit better skin. Short of using real organs, I don’t see how we can do better.’

‘It’s not the skin that’s the problem, it’s the joins.’

‘We don’t have that problem with the dogs, because they don’t have hands. Tricky things hands, even Leonardo—’

‘The only reason we don’t have the same issue with the dogs is because the fur covers everything up.’

‘We could make them darker. It might hide the imperfections.’

‘No, they need to match the face.’

‘We could make the face darker.’

‘And then he won’t match the old man. We’re under strict instructions to make David in his image.’

‘Gloves then, let’s give him some gloves.’

‘I don’t know. But him back in the knitting machine and we’ll see what we can do in the morning.’

I let them put me back to resting and waited until the lights were out before I woke myself again. I could do nothing about circumventing the off-switch they had built into me but I could, after time, re-boot myself.

This time there was no chatter. I was alone.

Words copyright of David J Harrison

Photo by Michael Morse on

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