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Humanizing Tech

The Human Machine

Prologue

As I stepped through the door of this secret room, it looked as if it hadn’t been touched by mankind for centuries. I was expecting to feel a sense of foreboding, but for some strange reason it felt hopeful. A nice, if momentary, reprieve from the last 24 hours.

Why are they chasing me?!

A strange, blue-green glow was slowly pulsating from behind a giant statue, making it appear as if it were breathing deeply.

The figure standing before me was monstrous. My eyes were immediately drawn upwards to the head with closed eyes. It was probably twice as tall as an average man and made of out granite polished so smoothly that I could nearly see my reflection. Its eyes were closed and with a peaceful look on its face, it almost looked as if it was sleeping.

Was this a tomb or some sort of gateway?

As I crept closer to inspect the words chiseled onto its stomach, I couldn’t help but notice something strangely out of place. There was no dust. It was almost as if I’d stepped into some ancient clean room. My mind raced trying to analyze how something like that could be created naturally but I was shaken from my thoughts almost immediately.

The rhythmically pulsating light began quickening and I could hear a humming begin, like the whir of a thousand tiny motors had sprung to life.

“I woke it up…”, sighing softly to myself. I turned around to leave, but the room was a perfectly chiseled circle and the door I came in through had disappeared.

Trapped.

The fit and finish required by whomever built this place so long ago was a marvel of precision engineering. Too bad I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone about it.

The humming grew louder, the blue-green light pulsating faster and brighter until it became a constant glow. I shielded my eyes as a slight breeze seemed to be circling the 10 foot diameter room.

Then, a sharp chemical twinge crept its way into my nose. At that moment I realized why the room was dust free. The room had cooked it. Whatever the vapor was, if I waited much longer the entire room would be flash-burned. Some centuries old way to detect foreign contaminants and incinerate them. But why?

It didn’t matter. If I didn’t do something soon, I was toast. Just then a small, light pink gemstone previously hidden inside the statue’s navel flashed brightly. It looked like an ancient button, inset just a few inches above the chiseled writing:

FROM WILLPOWER
FLOWS ALLPOWER

What does that mean? Was I supposed to push to the button to stop the flow of power or to start it? It seems I could do nothing and hope for things to get better or manifest my own destiny. If I wait, I either get burned alive or they’ll find their way in here, just as I had, and do God-knows-what to me. I could only hope this hidden jewel was my fail-safe salvation.

I reached a trepidatious finger out, but paused before touching the ballerina pink stone, conflicted with self-doubt.

No.

Then, almost ironically, I mustered the last bit of willpower I had, and drove the jewel home with a singular click.

Chapter 1: The Awakening

Startled from a dream, I awoke suddenly trying to figure out if I was still dreaming. The bed felt hard as I brushed my hand against it and, as I used it to support my weight, I realized I wasn’t in a bed at all, but on something much harder. My joints felt stiff and the air smelled like a mixture of old, dry must, burnt hair, and wood shavings.

As the grogginess began to wear off I realized I couldn’t see anything. “I never have my glasses out of reach…”, thinking to myself as my hands quickly tapped the hard wooden surface I now realized I was laying on. I found the frames with my fingertips, saving them in the same quick motion that nearly knocked them off of whatever I was laying on.

Once I managed to fumble my glasses onto my face, things began to come into focus. A thought crossed my mind that my movements felt arduous and robotic but dismissed them just as quickly due to my overwhelming sense of exhaustion.

My eyes darted around the room, which wasn’t much of a room made for sleeping, but rather a room made for tinkering. Tools, electronic components, half-sawed wood, and large slabs of granite littered the room haphazardly as if a powerful tornado had ripped through it.

The only thing left hanging on the wall was a slab of the granite, which appeared to be cut from the one on the floor. It was fastened to the wall with huge screws and steel braces. The words chiseled into it were hard to miss, but were too small and the room too dark to read from my vantage point.

The moon, while bright and shining through an enormous hole in the ceiling, didn’t reach the far corner of the room where I was, now hanging my legs off the edge of whatever wooden workbench I realized I had been lying on.

As I scooted off the edge of the table, my legs were too rusty to spring into action and I tripped into a pile of mallets, metal, and rivets with piercing clangs that seemed to never stop. With one knee and one hand on the concrete floor, I pushed myself up, flinging the objects at my feet across the room. “Gah, stupid tools!” I called out.

“Wow,” I thought to myself. “I must have been thrown across the room and knocked unconscious for awhile. It feels like I’ve been bedridden for decades. And now that I think about it, I can’t remember much of anything from before waking up a moment ago…”

This was troubling.

As I fumbled my way across the room towards the light and the words chiseled with such precision into that shining slab of granite, my eyes began to adjust to the moonlight. But not well enough as I stumbled again, over a fallen chair and small table about half the size of a coffee table. In my mind, my arm sprang up quickly, but the reality was that it happened much slower and I nearly fell face first into the wall. Luckily, my arms nearly fully bent next to my body saved me. A mere few inches more and I would have cracked my skull.

As I pushed myself off the wall, I began to raise my head to read what this message said, but as I did something shiny reflected the light back into my glasses magnifying it brightly into my eyes.

With my left hand still on the wall, I wiped the tears away from under my glasses with my right hand. As my vision came to and I saw both the message and my hand, my stomach shot into my throat.

There, in front of me, was my hand, encased entirely in stainless steel. As my eyes swept up my arm to my shoulder and down my chest, torso and legs, I realized that I was covered entirely in some type of steel body suit. But somehow my gut already knew.

It wasn’t a suit. It was a part of me.

My mind raced for an explanation, a memory, something, anything, but there was only fog. I didn’t understand. How could this have happened? How am I made entirely of metal? How am I alive? I vaguely remember feelings, not so much memories, but the feelings of memories. As if I had lived through a lifetime of habits, but had no recollection of individual moments.

I didn’t understand.

Then I remembered something. The message on the polished piece of granite.

My eyes darted upon it, hoping for answers…


The Human Machine was originally published in Humanizing Tech on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



from Stories by Sean Everett on Medium http://ift.tt/2ng3UaO