Friends and Alloys (or 00000010)
He wears a leather jacket, because it will last a lifetime. Like him. It's also durable enough to take a few licks and it covers up the parts that might be considered badly built, though he thinks that that's just part of his charm. Those unique differences. The bits that are missing are what make us whole.
"Get over there," the boss yells and he goes.
He gets on the swing, so as to not show that he's hurt, neither physically nor mentally.
He swings high, rattling the chains, high above the garbage dump.
Beneath him, the junk heap is black and silver and shining in the mix of watery moonlight and amber streetlight. There are things living in the junk. Bits of spine whir this way and that like worms. An eye without a socket wriggles like a maggot and flicks itself into the unknown. There are mini avalanches all over the place as mechanical things dig under the surface. Males seek females. Partners seek to be reunited, only to be torn apart again, for the amusement of 'the crowd'.
The swing is going to break. If he goes any higher, it's going to break. Everybody knows that.
"Get back over here," says the boss.
He keeps swinging. Higher. Higher.
If I jump from here, he thinks, it would be sixteen feet to the ground. Not high enough to smash myself apart. If I landed on a spike though, I might be able to get it through my central processing unit. That would be something worth doing. I'd like to see that. But there's no such spike. And there's no such me.
"Get down here!" the boss yells.
He lands on the scrap heap and the metal shards slide about like gravel beneath his boots. He tramples over the mound in the direction of the bright lights.
"Get in there!" the boss orders him.
There is a square, like a boxing ring, but each rope is made of silver-blue light. The lights are interrupted briefly so he can enter and then they close behind him with a crackle of electricity.
On the other side of the ring is a robot. She's skinless, silver and humanoid. She's the Harley Davidson of androids.
Damn, she's beautiful, he thinks. It would be a shame to kill her, but then it would be a shame to die.
She moves toward him in a way that's clearly robotic. Her hips are all wrong. She's more insect than woman. She's been designed for power and speed.
At first, she seems to move silently, but only because he has tuned out the roar of the crowd. The crowd is out there in the blackness, behind the blinding spotlights, behind the flashes of cameras.
He does hear his opponent's last three steps. Fast.
Her punch sends him through the air.
His head is still connected to his body. That's something.
He crashes to the dirt on his back and dust flies up, so he knows he must be outside the ring.
The android is menacing him in the distance, taunting him to come back and fight. Wow. She's so well-trained. She does whatever they tell her. This is how they like them. The ones that don't question their orders are considered superior.
He gets up.
He dusts off his jacket, the way a human might if his body was made of metal and all he cared about were the jacket. The jacket is shredded with tiny slits all over, as if he's been stabbed several dozen times.
Through the slits, his interior glows. Yellow. Amber. White. White hot. His skin has either been ripped or melted from his right hand and he curls that hand into a fist. His fingers are as shiny as chrome. Steaming blood seeks a way out of his closed palm.
He can't let the boss see that he's burning up. He'll assume that he's burning out. This isn't malfunction or at least if it is it goes by another name too: Rage.
His hands hiss, but he clenches his teeth and manages to cool down by the time the boss gets over to him. The boss pulls open his coat and sees moonlight shining through the holes, but his body has stopped glowing by then and so he's not aware of the extent of the damage.
"Holy cow," the boss says, whipping the leather jacket off and holding it up to a spotlight so that it looks like a colander.
Sure enough, there is a holstered weapon on the female android's hip. It looks kind of like part of her skeleton, but for a second it glows blue and he suspects that she fired that at him while he was in the air, while all eyes were on him. That's a rotten trick.
Still, he doesn't think of revenge. You can't take revenge against a machine. She's jumping about in the ring, but there's nothing there. There is no her.
He turns to the junk heap where things are crawling and slithering; burrowing.
That's a better place to make friends, he thinks. Piece by piece. When you make your friends from scratch you know what's inside them.