Author : Joshua Reynolds

They were tearing him apart. Muscle by muscle, tendon by tendon. Unraveling him like a ball of string. He screamed but he had no tongue and no sound came out as something cold and hard cut into his throat, spreading the edges of his flesh back like the petals of a flower.

Smith awoke suddenly and an empty bottle rolled off of his chest and bounced to the floor. He rubbed blearily at his face, feeling nothing, and sat up. The couch was a fold-out but he never managed to get that far before passing out. Empty pizza boxes and fried chicken buckets and styrofoam hamburger containers littered the floor of the apartment, mingling with empty bottles of booze. Cheap booze too. The best a government stipend could buy. Smith grinned humorlessly and stood up with a groan that was more from habit than any aches and pains.

After all, he didn’t have aches and pains any more. In point of fact he couldn’t feel anything anymore. Not cold. Not hot. Not nothing.

Oops. Double negative. He’d have to watch that. A sign of mental degeneration. He’d have to mark that on the chart they’d given him. Smith hunted vainly through the detritus of his life for something to drink and then gave up after ten minutes. He plodded into the kitchenette and poured himself a glass of tapwater and slugged it back. Water was just as good as booze in any event.

No tastebuds.

Life was shit.

He examined the glass. At least he could still see colors. Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to tell the exact shade of brown his water was flowing with today. Burnt umber evidently. That was a new one. He poured the rest of the water out and watched it swirl down the rusty drain. He set the glass aside, careful not to crush it and looked at his reflection in the mirror.

Average. Unnoticeable. Bland. Synonyms for the same conclusion. Plastic features that didn’t move right unless he concentrated on them, hair that didn’t grow, stubble that never went away. And underneath was what?

Plastic parts and wires. Everything human ripped out to make room for all those new machines. His bones were made of an alloy that the government had bankrupted four states to create. His muscles? Fibrous cable interwoven with neuron-optic wires to stimulate nerve memory.

Sometimes, when he moved too fast, his skin ripped.

It didn’t hurt though.

Nothing hurt.

“We have the technology. We can make him better.” He rasped, fingers trailing down the window. The glass cracked at his touch and he cursed under his breath.

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