Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

He’s from the time before the bio-enhancements, before organs could be grown from a single cell. Age hollowed him out, and though his plastic face looks young, he’s just a shell. When I lean on his chest, I can hear what I imagine to be gremlins, moving around on the inside of his chest. Gremlins pumping streams of blood, moving his limbs and squeezing his heart.

His arms are hard and lumpy but he always sleeps with them around me, holding me to him at night. I used to slip out from under his embrace but let him embrace me. Bruises be damned.

He’s looked into bio-growth, but it’s expensive, and his system functions just fine. He’ll last for ages and the surgery, so simple for someone going from birth-wear to bio-wear, would be intense for him. He would have to replace his system, one part at a time, attaching bio-enhancements to clinking mechanical cogs. As soon as he would adjust, it would be time for another surgery, another hospital stay. Anyway, he’s not a man of the present he’s a man of our clattering, noisy past.

“They don’t make parts like they used to.” He tells me. He refuses to buy new parts. He searches instead for old parts and he fixes them up as he’s wearing down, rasping with the use of only one lung or hunched over an antique with a drill in his one working hand.

“What about when you run out of parts, when all the antiques are gone or broken?” I ask him, over and over.

He smiles his half metal smile and puts his one arm around me. “We’ll worry about that when we come to it.”

When his system needs fuel, his forehead glows orange with an unfamiliar mark. It’s the logo of the company that made him, long gone, absorbed, dispersed, back from the days of the big corporations, before the big crash. He’s old. I’ve said that. His fuel is rare and expensive. It is harder to find each time his light goes on.

“What about when all your fuel is gone” I ask him.

He cups my chin in his metal hands and brings his bronze forehead to my flesh one. “Our lights will all go out someday.” He tells me. “But my personal forever will be with you.”

His plastic and metal casing cools my flesh.

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