Author : Todd Hammrich

The first thing to hit him upon waking was the metallic taste in his mouth. Every morning it was the same taste. It told him the machines inside his body had been working again; cleaning, scrubbing, scraping and sterilizing. It was the symbol of his life. Sterile.

He got out of bed and admired his physique. His body was muscled and smooth. He was the ideal image of man, someone’s ideal anyway. It amazed him how fluid-like his movements were as he strolled across the room. It was the machines again, always the machines. They had sculpted his body to look like this so he could do the work required of him. Their work.

“Good morning. The time is 8:05. It is time for breakfast. Your nutrition solution is awaiting you at the table.” The sound issued forth from hidden speakers all around the room and followed him as he went into the dining room. “Today’s schedule is full. You must work quickly to fulfill your quota.”

His nutritive solution tasted slightly bitter to him this morning. A clear sign his body was in need of some essential materials for the maintenance of the machines that scoured his body of all ailments. It occurred to him then that maybe they weren’t ingestible by humans, but he knew that none of the material would get through his body. The machines would undoubtedly absorb all the harmful material before it got through his stomach.

On a whim he decided to take the day off. “I don’t feel like working today computer. Please re-schedule today’s activities for another time.” His voice sounded like the rasping of tissue paper, not because anything was wrong with him, that would not have been permitted, but because he used it so rarely. He would go out walking he decided. It wasn’t necessary, he knew, but it brought him pleasure to see natural world outside his small habitation complex. He liked the thought that Mother Nature was reclaiming her world without the aid of any machinery.

“If you are certain. We will carry on tomorrow then. Do not go out of range of the transmitters. Enjoy your walk.” The computer knew him all too well. It had probably already known he would not be working that day anyway. He knew that it had when he found his hiking pack by the door already prepared.

The outside air was clean and lacked the bite of reprocessing chemicals permeating his enclosure. A perfect circle of plant life surrounded his dwelling, exactly 10 meters from the walls. Machines were very precise. His complex sat on a small hill overlooking a ruined city, the walls and streets of the ancient world decomposing at an accelerated rate because no one was there to stop them.

It was a strange thought that struck him then, a sadness that threatened to overwhelm him. “I am the last. The last of the human race.” It was so terrible that he knew he would not be able to bear it. Immediately he dashed across the open space and through the trees trying to get out of the receivers range so that the machines inside would lose power and he could die.

Before he made it even halfway there the machines released a wave of chemicals into his blood stream that calmed him. He stopped, forgetting what he was doing. After many long minutes striving to remember he made his way back to the enclosure and decided he would work after all. The computer made a silent tally: Attempt number 3650. The machines kept track of everything.


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