Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer


That’s where we discovered them first. All melted wires and skin grafts. Christmas lights in their eye sockets and playing poker with old-school punch cards. The population of an entire small town turned into player pianos.

We found something that looked like a broken radio sprawled just outside the city. A shattered egg made out of thin green wires and battery acid. Drip craters and drag marks in the snow pointed towards town.

We all stood in curious wonder, staring as Angela walked forward, bent down and touched it. Just stupid to bring a civilian, really, but none of us thought to shout out “Don’t!” or anything like that. The whole team was to blame.

She barked and went fetal. She twisted around in the snow with a horrible gargling sound. Some of the green wires jumped up and snaked towards her. Small shapes shifted under the snow. White rooster tails started up and raced towards her.

They converged on her quivering body with a flurry of snow and wet noises. We heard fabric tear. We heard sizzling. I heard a bone snap. We stepped back.

After about ten minutes, movement ceased. We stood there in the snow, watching our breath cloud in the air. The rest of the team looked at me. I looked at the steaming form of the woman in the snow.

It moved a leg like a clockwork ballerina.

Whatever was left of Angela stood up awkwardly and walked towards town. I was reminded of stop-motion animation from early movies.

We followed her, careful to give the wreckage a wide berth. She walked down main street to the shoe store. She went in and sat down on one of the benches. A few sparks shot out of her neck and she was still.

It’s like she was put there. Like a picture of an accurate shoe store needed a customer so she was told to go there.

The town is like a museum. They had phones but no internet. We were lucky. Whatever that thing is, it looked like a technological virus or life form. If it had parsed or accessed the net, there’s no telling what would have happened.

The city was quarantined. Relatives of the inhabitants were told of a deadly blizzard. It was swept under the rug.

In my dreams, I still see Angela with torn clothes, whirring with each step, lumbering through the snow towards the town.


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