In His Image
By E.S. Wynn

When they take you, it's like being eaten alive.

The machines. . . I remember the way they move, each limb flexing, stabbing, serrated, cruel. I remember the way they hummed, the way they pierced and knitted skin. I remember the sensation of their nanomechanical venom as it ate into my body, shredding flesh and bone into protein mush for the synthesizers. There’s a lot of the process I don’t remember, long gulfs of depthless darkness that hang between shattered fragments of memory. Most of it is images, flashes, bundles of flexible hose surging with neon liquid, slowly replacing thickening crimson with nanomechanical life, boiling away everything that made me human, everything that made me different from them, from the surgeons. They only take certain parts of you, only use the nanites on certain areas of your body, parts you don’t need once the new machinery is wired into what’s left. You catch glimpses of them sometimes during the procedure, patchwork faces silent and impassive as they wash in and out of the foggy crimson vertigo, but you never see their tools. You only feel them, hear them as they work, always clicking as they cut, clicking as they sew. Clicking, clicking.

Very little of what they stitch back into you is meat, and none of it is your own. Long, flat fingers as cold as sterile steel trace lengths of viscera, make tiny incisions as they go. Cut here, the marks say, and the machines obey. They remove each piece so carefully, so precisely that it seems almost as if it were a form of art. The graft comes just as gracefully, and it is only when it is allowed to grow that the graft becomes cold and inhuman, distended and pregnant with a festering and insidious potential.

Other hands excise will and spirit, graft sheets of dull composite to cover the empty spaces, sheets that provide a wall against the festering growths within, keep them from spreading. These too are processed into the machinery, reworked and forged into a sense of self that meshes well with that of the surgeons. Only in the end, when the last machine withdraws and the last pair of cold hands lowers you into your case, do you realize that you are now one of them, that you are one of their drones, part of their machine, a surgeon. In the reflection you catch on the edge of the case as they lower the lid to seal you in, you are confronted with your patchwork face. The urge to scream builds and builds within you, and yet in the reflection, your lips never move. Your face is an immovable patchwork mask, silent and impassive.

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E.S. Wynn is the author of the Pink Carbide Trilogy and the long running series The Cygnus War. He lives in rural California and is slated to graduate with his B.A. in English in May of 2010. He works as a part time author, part time editor, part time sword salesman and part time broker for Pre-Paid Legal services.
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