“No, I don’t think you understand. Let me tell you about death.”

The mechanic’s subject blinked. The mechanic allowed himself a bit of wonder at the ingenuity behind that movement. It did nothing; the subject’s glass eyes were not cleaned or refreshed with liquid. And yet, it did everything for the person watching the blink.

“I have been shut off before,” the subject said.

“How many times?”


“Did you know what time it was when you were turned back on?”

“Yes.” Another blink. “I am not sure what you mean.”

“Your internal chronometer, it was still working. You knew what time it was because your clock was still going. You were still going. You were still alive.”

The mechanic’s subject was processing this, blinking again and tilting its head to one side. The mechanic put a reassuring hand on his subject’s cold shoulder. On the subject’s reflective head, he watched his own face crease unconsciously out of friendly concern.

“I’m not trying to confuse you. I just want you to understand. If I do what you’re asking me to do, it won’t be like being shut off. You will stop. And that pulse of electricity that keeps you alive even when you’re not aware of it will cease. If I were to reconnect you—I wouldn’t, no need to look so alarmed—but if I did, you would not come back to life. Who you are would be lost. Gone, never to return. Do you understand? Death means you do not get a second chance.”

“Then that is exactly what I want.”

The mechanic shrugged his shoulders, wiped his greasy hands on an even greasier rag, and pulled the wire-cutters from his toolbox. As he reached into the subject’s neck, he found himself wondering if it looked sad, or it was merely the reflection of his own expression, seen flawlessly in that shiny face.

“Thank you,” the subject said. “Thank you for fixing me.”

“It’s nothing.”