Twitch Stream Story: Engine in the Attic

Prompt: A scifi story about posthumanism and discrimination

Every footstep had to be sanctioned. Infrak’s steps had been predetermined for more than four years now. Each step with his giant feet, each as wide as a schooner, was clearly marked with concrete borders. These steps moved in a circle around the city. It was his patrol route, now that he wasn’t needed for battle any longer.

Infrak passed by the CC building, called as such because it used to be the city hall but eventually became the bank. It was capitol and capital. That was the joke, but Infrak’s titanium mouth couldn’t laugh or smile. He could get a look at his mouth once a day, halfway through his steps, as he passed the CC building, for its many windows were reflective and acted as a giant mirror.

What he saw in that mirror never ceased to drown his spirits a little more, to grow a little more scum in his wetware. His body was taller than half the buildings in the city. His chest used to be a shining beacon of red and gold, but all the paint was flaking and fading, and there were enough bird nests on his shoulders to look like the collar of a furry cape. His arms and legs were housed in banded springy rubber that was now cracked, revealing the skeletal metal limbs underneath.

His face was something between the front of an old train and a robotic superhero penciled in a penny comic. His eyes were empty, though they used to hold massive purple lenses. He saw a human standing in one of his sockets, waving. It was Vicky. Sweet little Vicky. Only fifteen and already the kind of genius that put Infrak in his titan’s body in the first place. She blew him a kiss, but he doubted it reflected off the windows and came all the way back to him. Then she disappeared into the shadows of his cranium.

He took another step. The reflection was gone. It might be the last time he ever saw himself. It was just as well. He couldn’t remember what he looked like back when the mirrors were smaller than his polished fingertips. He might’ve been a smaller godsend robot. All the initial units had been man-sized, as back then the foes of the city were man-sized as well. The transhumanists, with their genetic engineering and endless conveyor belt of new toxins, wouldn’t attain monster size until much later.

Then again, maybe Infrak had started as human. He just couldn’t remember. Those files in his mind had been corrupted by the reconstruction that rebound his behaviors. Memories replaced by hours of recorded hammering, sawing, welding… They hollowed Infrak out, took from him his rage, rebellion, and even his sense of poetry. He could no longer see the beauty of the Earth he protected, just the depressions of his routine footsteps.

One of those footsteps was surrounded by people that morning. They had signs, protesting his continued existence. They hated the sound and the rumbling of his patrols. Even now they didn’t want him to have the shred of purpose and dignity left. He’d accepted the new titan’s body, become one with it, and fought the giant posthuman beasts that threatened the city. Now they were gone. Infrak was victorious. He was the only monster left, and they saw him that way when they looked up and his jutting metal shoulders blocked out the sun.

He was just three steps away from the protest. He knew if he stopped they’d never let him go again. They’d take his legs and turn him into a building. Maybe he could keep the arms, but just for loading and unloading. He was already halfway there. His chest was mostly hollowed and filled with apartments. His sensors felt them skittering under his chest like lice, at least they did until the wire scavengers and delinquents burned or ripped those sensors out.

Little Vicky was the child of one of those families. She had wandered into his head more than a year ago, past the condemned signs, and found the computers that had the last shreds of his soul. She couldn’t tell him if he used to be man or machine, but she found things the reconstruction had missed, souvenirs to remind him of the glory missions when he was Godsend Infrak rather than simply ‘that fraking thing’.

She hooked up a small camera eye so they could exist together, like friends playing in a cave they discovered. She brought out video recordings of Infrak’s battles with various mutated monstrosities that used to be political dissidents and religious radicals: Vandalar the finned, Croximus the slobbering, and Murderwave. She would stand up and perform his finishing moves on a little dummy she made out of scrap metal. Yes, Vicky. Just like that. That’s who Infrak was. Not this guard dog. So proud of you. Keep practicing and one day you’ll be big and strong like…

Two steps away from the protest. He could hear them now, even through his rust and the tittering of the birds. Their voices were pure bile. They shook their fragile little fists, as if they could even do anything from down there. It was only the ones in his chest he had to fear. They could be making their way to his mind right now, prepared to bash his doors down like the portcullis of castle Frankenstein.

They weren’t even trying to act human. These were the animals of discrimination, thinking they smelled something foreign in their den. Something clicked in Infrak’s head. Or maybe it sparked. Or maybe it broke and tumbled noisily down to his feet, hitting a few parasitic human heads on the way. Whatever the cause, Infrak realized something. They weren’t acting human. It was on the antiquated platforms of thought and simple action, but this was still transhumanism, posthumanism, whatever it was called these days. They chose not to be human to Infrak.

They had to know what that choice could mean. An old heat rose in his frame. One step to the protest. These were the monsters he used to fight, just smaller, more insidious. That strategy could do nothing against the mighty Godsend Infrak. They took his ability to make new decisions for his body, but not the old wetware blood lust. He was made, down to every screw, to fight these post-humans. He had one weapon left: the flattening final footstep.

Infrak pulled with all his might, changed course for the first time in years. Great chunks of rust fell from his joints. A shadow passed over the protesters. Their signs went limp and their expressions dumb. Was this happening? Was Infrak moving from his route? The darkness of the shadow made it the only conclusion.

They screamed and ran for their lives, but they couldn’t move as fast as their most powerful creation, even in his dotage. Yes, run non-human things. Your cruelty transformed you. Made you the enemy. Infrak relished the heat, but it grew more than he expected. His collar vibrated and turned red. So close now. Just a few stories down and they would pay the ultimate price, becoming a smear of gum on his iron boot.

Infrak stopped. His foot hovered in the air. He’d been disconnected. Sweet little Vicky. She knew this day was coming. One would kill the other. That’s why she was in his head, making the finishing touches. She’d found one of his old internal forklifts. She’d painted it in her own colors of yellow and green. With it she’d made changes.

All the fuel from the flamethrower he used to have. The boosters from a head that could enter a scouting mode. Borrowed code from some of the smaller flying godsends. The birds had to abandon their nests as his collar shook. Infrak’s head separated from his body and rose over a great purple flame. Vicky and her friend ascended to the heavens, to orbit, where they could be free of those that hated the giant memories of the past.

She brought seeds with her to build a garden in the deep rims of his eyes. She would be one of the first to live the rest of her life off the Earth. Post-human in a way that gave Infrak comfort, like the memory of a giggle in the back of his mind.  

Author’s Note:  This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by 8valhala9 during a livestream.  I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog.  If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!

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