It’s May, finally, and lovely Diana at “Myths of the Mirror” has launched a new Speculative Fiction Prompt – #writingprompt – and this is my take!
The Mechanical Man 1 – Being another you!
Over the years he had lived here, he had always struggled with love and intimacy. No wonder. Every woman he met either shrugged of disgust or treated him like dirt. He had got used to that! He knew he wasn’t much to look at, he was the meek, silent type, and he wasn’t rich. The fact that he was a kind, honest and reliable young man, didn’t seem to be enough.
After the last disappointing blind date, he decided to give up. Furthermore, he also decided to travel back home. Here, in this city, on this planet, he finally had to admit – he didn’t belong. He was too different.
With a deep sigh, he actually didn’t like changes very much, he went to the spaceport to buy a no return ticket home. Earlier that day he had resigned from his job. His boss had seemed relieved, he had noticed. He had also sold his apartment and most of his belongings. His decision was final, and he wanted to travel light.
On his way through the terminal, he suddenly senses that someone is watching him. He tries to pretend like nothing and keeps on walking towards the ticket counter. He gets a bit uneasy, though, and stumbles slightly.
”Can I help you?” a soft female voice says.
He turns around and sees the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen.
”I beg your pardon,” he says.
”I’m sorry if I intrude, but I saw you stumbled over there.”
’Pity, this time’, he thinks and a flicker of sorrow dances tango in his heart. Out loud he says: ”Oh, it was nothing. Just the shoe-lace.”
The woman looks down at his loafers and smiles. But it is a kind smile, he notices.
”I’ve seen you before,” she says.
”Everyone has seen me before,” he mutters.
”Probably,” she smiles. ”I’m Kaila, by the way. What’s your name?”
He can’t even imagine why she would bother to be interested in his name or in anything of his. But polite and well brought up as he is, he answers shortly, ”Millbourne, Andrew Millbourne, nice to meet you.”
He doesn’t know whether he actually thinks it is nice or not, but old habits are old habits, and it seems to be something nice about this after all. He tries to shake that good feeling off his chest but doesn’t succeed.
”So hello, ‘Millbourne, Andrew Millbourne’. Nice to meet you too! Can I call you Andy?” Her smile is big, warm and generous, and Andy – he accepts Andy with a nod – experiences some kind of warmth inside. The small thought that she might had been mocking him, melts away as quickly as butter on a sun-flooded plate.
”What are you doing here?” she continues. ”Going somewhere?”
”I’m going home.” Dark clouds enter his mind.
”Where is that, your home?”
”Ah! Earth! I know about Earth, I’ve been there!”
During this little chat, she has managed to move him away from the ticket counter to the spaceport cafeteria, and without any further ado, she orders two big coffees in glasses, Toffee-Taste with whipped cream on the top, and two long straws in each.
”That’s my favorite,” she says. ”How about you?”
”How about me, what?”
”Oh, that! That’s okay.”
She laughs, and in Andy’s ears, it sounds like ocean waves at the beach, seagulls and warm cuddly sand. He sighs deeply and his shoulders slack off.
”So Andy! Where are you going, and why?”
Her voice reminds him of the rippling brook in the wood back home. He closes his eyes for a couple of seconds, sighs, this time even deeper, and then opens them again.
”I’m going home to my parents since I don’t fit in here.”
”You don’t fit in here, you say. Do you fit in at your parents?”
He looks down at the table. He can’t understand this. Why is she bothering him with all these personal questions, and why is it so impossible for him to say ’Thank you’ and ’Good Bye’ and then leave? But he can’t deny he feels more relaxed now, here, at this coffee table, with her, this strange woman, than he has been in a very long time.
”No,” he admits. ”I don’t. But in another way. Not like this.” He stretches out his arms and looks at the people around them.
”The appearance, you mean. You don’t look like them.”
He shakes his head. No, obviously not.
”Look at me!” she says.
He raises his head and before his very eyes, she begins to change. In like a smooth blur, her appearance turns into his. Not into him precisely, but into a female of his sort, with his kind of appearance! Then she turns back again, back to look like – them.
”What you just saw, is the real me.”
”Yes, I changed, but they didn’t see it. Only you.”
”Yes, magic. I know magic. I know a lot of different things. And I can help you to look the same as – them.” She nods toward the ever-growing crowd. ”If you want to, or….” .
”Or what?” He is so tempted to look like all the others that he actually believes her.
”Or! We can go somewhere together, and be ourselves…”
”Shush. I’ll ask you something. But before you answer, consider deeply what to choose. Do you, deep inside you, really want to look like – them?”
She looks deep into his eyes, and calmly awaits his answer, while he doesn’t need to look around or think even for a second.
”Where are we going?” he says eagerly.
”I know a very nice place. The planet is a bit rough, mostly hot, some deserts, two suns – and I have friends there. By the way! Among others, there is this special girl I want you to meet. She is called Jaycee…
In peaceful silence, they finish their coffee, then rise and leave the spaceport. Behind them resonates the murmur of mechanical voices, and the metallic clinks, clanks, and jingles from metal against metal.
”Cybernetics!” Kaila scornfully snorts while they are pacing towards her vehicle. ”Sometimes these Cyborg civilizations really go too far.”
To the other parts in order, can also be found in the menu.
- 1.) Being another you
- 2.) Andrew Millbourne’s big secret
- 3.) The Voyage of no return
- 4.) Time in space
- 5.) The appointment
- 6.) Living in pain
- 7.) The Surgery
- 8.) Into the Darkness
- 9.) (If the end isn’t good, it isn’t the end…)