Author : Soo Kim

I had been taken.

Her hands clutched the bar across her lap, as the seat swung to some soundless melody. It hovered expectantly, like the next carriage of the ghost train at a macabre amusement park, waiting to lurch forward, through the chill, silent night.

Wrists aching from the bandages, ragged now where they hid the razor’s kiss. She turned to look at him, white beside her. Only his long hair moved, like sinewy gossamer waving slowly. She dared not breathe.

The chasm opened in front of them; a gaping toothless maw. At last with a jerk the seat propelled forward, and they entered the dark, ducking and weaving through the naked girders of the cavern’s supporting structure. The deepening black, spread beneath, like an oil slick, thick and sticky on their eyelids.

There was presence here. She could see the red blinks of tiring LEDs, that caught reflections off metallic bodies strewn like straw, limp over twisted mounds of junk. The fug of abandon twitched at her nostrils. It took hold of her, the still broken lives of the machines.

She knew that they were waiting, watching ready to rise up and take her; to strip her and change her into what they were. Empty broken things. She clutched the talktalk to her chest, afraid it would betray her, its pulsing light and vibration would be enough to wake those frozen limbs into clutching hands and desperate, wailing voices. The seat carrying them forward slowed. A raised service platform of punched steel plate appeared, dimly lit above the mechanical graveyard they were travelling through. She thought that it looked like a stage awaiting some kind of monstrous freakish act.

They stood, together on the platform, an island, surrounded by an ocean of malware. A still obidient audience, waiting the final performance. He turned. Behind her there was a flicker of movement in the dark; a strange grinding squeak as if from a rusted clockwork mouse. He pushed roughly. She fell towards the sound, tumbling to the feet of figure tainted with the glimmer of metal emerging from the dark.

Tall, breasts firm and high, her once golden skin tarnished with age and streaked with oil and grime. But she was still whole and strong. Her face hidden, hunched. The slow mechanical squeak was coming from her turning hand like a sour organ grinder. She straightened, the wrenching caught and her face exposed. The frayed jumble of optic fibres finished in empty sockets and her nose a collapsed bridge falling into a deep ragged hole from the middle of her head down to where her mouth had been. Her hand still clutched the arm of the mangle where what had been the remnants of her hair was caught between the massive rollers, her head mottled with broken stubble twisted chunks bleeding black from the roots, down the eyeless sockets, dribbling down her neck.

And she knew it was HER and that HE had brought her here and SHE was to be her tool. She heard a voice, still strong and deep and she felt the desire and the will of HER voice – what would it take to make me beautiful again…

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