Author: James Callan

Metallic is in fashion, in women and in men –silver lipstick, bronze eyeshadow, the carapace sheen of loud, scarab hues glinting in the crests of loose-fitting, transparent plastic, artificial fabric. Sometimes you think you see one; a synthetic. Then you reach for your gun, look again, and see it was just a pretty girl, a glamorous boy, flesh-and-blood bodies. You holster your weapon and people-watch a little longer. At least you think they’re all people. These days, it’s damned hard to tell.

Above you, high up, dominating the public square in an ejaculation of neon scribble, ten thousand logos flash to out-compete one another for your well-earned dollar. Each advertisement mutes its neighbor, blends in with the collective whole. So many lights, so much illumination. As one, they blot out whatever starlight might shine, anemic, above them. Like an angry mob, they converge to steal the sky.

Back down to earth, your gaze soaks in the overcrowded corner of a sordid city made deceptively fetching in its extreme facade of electric color. Among the well-dressed rabble, the fashionable crowd, you see more than good dress sense, you see more than chrome paint and the newest line of android-chic. In the eagle-eye focus of your illegal, bionic optic, you see a serial number etched in weatherproof titanium.

Your state-of-the-art fingers find your gun in the deep pocket of your gold leaf trench coat. Metal on metal, the weapon feels good in your artificial hand. Reflecting neon, you shimmer like an angel descending from heaven, a biblical nirvana which urbanity has veiled in its man-made radiance. Among the crowd, deflecting all those many lights, the myriad advertisements that vie to feed on your hard-earned dough, you blend in with the horde of humanity. Now, as if from hell, a demon with a programmed purpose to maim, to delete from this earth, you walk, one sardine lost within the shoal, towards a synthetic just like you.

Your state-of-the-art fingers hold firm to your pistol. Metal on metal, the weapon feels like an extension of your artificial hand. You take aim and know the result. You pull the trigger, aware that mathematics do not lie. You don’t even need to look, confirm your target is down for good, as you turn and walk the way you came, as you part the crowd with your steps, like a shark knifing through a shoal of panicked mackerel.

Awash in an outpour of man-made brilliance, the brazen lights that outshine those constructed by nature –by God himself– you walk, contented by the binary code that simulates satisfaction within your circuits. Man-made yourself, you feel a superiority of sorts. You feel that you too, outshine all the rest. Killing synthetics is your job, but perhaps, you think for the first time, it’s not your calling.

You walk to report to the men who made you, the women who programmed your drive and motivation. They are expecting you. But they do not expect what you will bring to them. Metal on metal, the weapon feels good in your artificial hand.