Author : Grady Hendrix
Thereâ€™s that clanking, again. Thereâ€™s that ratcheting, sound. Thereâ€™s that grinding of gears and that whining of servos. Heâ€™s gotten used to the way his guest bedroom sounds like a robot factory, ever since Grife Marauder showed up.
â€œJim, you gotta take me in, man,â€ Grifeâ€™d said.
Grife was an old school punk, his entire body wasted away except for gorilla-sized arms maintained by years of drumming. James was used to seeing him under the stage lights, bald head gleaming arrogantly, but now he was scared, now he was pushing past James to get into his living room.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on, Grife?â€
â€œI got…I donâ€™t…Iâ€™m…they done something to me,â€ he managed.
â€œI donâ€™t know!â€ Grife shouted, then he clapped a hand over his mouth and pinched his lips together.
â€œDo you want some water?â€ James asked.
â€œNo! No water.â€
â€œI woke up, right? This morning? Weâ€™re recording so I gotta be there by twelve. I look over, and this isnâ€™t my arm.â€
â€œWhatâ€™d you have last night?â€
â€œNothing much. Sip of tequila, bit of Vicodin, couple of joints. Teeny bit of coke, a few Ambien to put me out.â€
â€œWell…â€ James said.
Grife knew James wasnâ€™t taking him seriously, so he took his jacket off. His left forearm was covered in metal. Pistons ran up the sides. Silver and gold wires snaked through the core.
â€œYour arm is stuck in there?â€ James asked. â€œLet me get some soap so it wonâ€™t tear your skin.â€
Grife pulled on his forearm with all his strength and his skin stretched, gruesomely.
â€œIt is my skin,â€ Grife said, tears streaming down his face. â€œHelp me.â€
He spent the rest of the day in the guest bedroom with a blanket pulled over his head, watching TV. The next morning his entire arm was metal.
â€œGet it off,â€ he moaned.
â€œI canâ€™t, Grife.â€ James said. â€œItâ€™s growing out of you.â€
It was a beautiful arm, precision engineered and finely crafted but Grife couldnâ€™t appreciate it.
â€œMaybe itâ€™s psychosomatic,â€ James said.
â€œYou said you were pissed that the band was getting into this post-punk thing and were replacing you with a drum machine on some of the tracks. Maybe your mind is reacting to that by turning you into a machine?â€
â€œIâ€™m not turning into a machine!â€ Grife yelled and then he pulled the blanket over his head and sobbed until he passed out.
Every day, he sat in the dark room, growing. And every day there was less of Grife and more of what James had come to think of as the Grife-Machine. And now there was that clanking, again. There was that ratcheting and that whine of servos. He got up and went into the guest bedroom.
â€œLook, man,â€ James said. â€œI think we need to get you to the hospital.â€
The Grife-Machine rotated its speaker towards James.
â€œLuk mann,â€ it repeated, tonelessly. â€œEye thank wee need two git u two thee huspitul.â€
And then it stood up, and it began to walk.
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows