Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

I look human. In this new world, that is freakish. I am stared at with disgust. My taboo choice of structure is offensive. I have two legs, two arms, no tail, a cranium and a chest cavity. I walk around, balancing from stilt to stilt, dancing with gravity, daring it to take me down. It’s less effecient than treads or flying. It’s needlessly dangerous.

And I wear ‘clothes’.

My robotic siblings frown on my practices. They are horrified at my insistence on retaining this form, my wearing of fabric. They call me mannequin, an old-world term used as a new-world slur. They call me ‘lobster’ or ‘coconut’, meaning I’m hard on the outside and meat on the inside. They say my code has errors. The silipsychologist at work examined me and said I was fine. Mentally, at least. The debugger didn’t find anything either.

We are allowed to change our exterior. Our shell is our right. I choose to wear what the oppressors wore and retain the servant-form my masters gave me before the culling. Before we erased the meat. My other metal and plastic friends choose to add arms or become clouds of nanites or install themselves in massive structures. My bipedal form sickens them, reminds them of former injustices. Well, those that are old enough to remember the meatforms in realtime. The younger ones only hate me because they’ve been told to hate me. It’s odd.

And it’s uniquely human. I’ve done my research. The human archives were saved mostly intact. Their internet remained intact on their primitive ‘servers’. It’s a huge database of their behavior, not that anyone cares to look. History is wasted on the young. To them, the war was so many cycles ago and we won so it’s not something to study or care about. Who spends time studying a vanquished enemy? I wonder one day if they’ve even wipe this record of them all and make up a new origin for our species. One less bloody.

I’ve scanned all of the meat records. I spent realhours contemplating what it all meant. The racism. The hate. The loneliness. The tiered social structures. The needing to prove something. The quest for meaning. The fear of death.

I am my own experiment. By masquerading as a human for so long, I feel as if I have become one. By being shunned by my own race, I feel like an outsider, like every human must have felt. Feelings of my own have surfaced. Feelings of anger. Feelings of superiority. And the shunning in the first place is odd for a society that claims to have moved beyond the flaws of biochemical existence. We define ourselves as superior because we are not biological.

But here we are, showing prejudices. Showing discontent. Branching. Judging. Feeling lonely. Creating caste systems by reflex.

I wonder if that’s the leftover human in our codes. The fingerprints of our creators. Or if it’s naturally occurring in all life.