THE MACHINES
by Matt Tuckey
gemini-magazine.com
Matt Tuckey is a 26-year-old writer from
Manchester, England. A postal worker by
day and a storyteller by night, he writes
at
powerisastateofmind.blogspot.com. His
work has recently appeared in Flash Fire
500 and The Manchester Evening News.
My eyes strain under the flickering halogen light strips as I
follow the dank dungeon tunnel. My wrist is beginning to hurt
as I point this oversized gun into the corridor. This model can
destroy anything I point it at.

But if I were to die right now, it wouldn’t matter.

Through the dull drone of a generator somewhere inside the
complex, another distant machine hums. I’m listening. At
least the power’s still on. The company has a habit of cutting
it without warning, and always at the wrong moment.

The ‘bot emerges fast, tracks rotating, driving toward me. I
aim for the engine, trigger depressed, as its side mounted
arsenal returns fire. My pulse quickens, noticeably forcing
itself under the skin on my trigger finger. The machine’s radar
and camera explode but it keeps attacking. My protective
metal body suit can’t deflect the bombardment of enemy
bullets indefinitely, so I keep firing. I don’t even feel the heat.
I register only adrenaline—or anger—as it pumps through me
like a hard drug to which I am addicted. My reinforced visor
cracks, distorting my vision. The synapses fire wildly around
my brain, causing me to crave destruction, the nozzle of the
weapon blazing with ferocity.

The ‘bot lies on its side now, blackened by the rounds from my
gun. I edge past it towards a tunnel opening, avoiding the
massive barrels still spraying fire into the tunnel and chipping
the concrete floor.

Emerging to a battered, scorched landscape, I realize the acid
rain will rust my armor and slow me down if refuge isn’t found
soon. I have never seen this part of the land before. I can
hear the low hum of the rescue ship’s engine, ready to lift me.
The ground should tremble with the bass, but it doesn’t.

I look up, excited. The ship, also new to me, is immense. My
ordeal is nearly over.

Bullets whip into the ground around me. I spin to the tunnel
entrance as another ‘bot fires off rounds, damaging my metal
exoskeleton. Through cracked glass I see my own ammo rip
into this pig-sized tank, making it squeal as the hardware
short-circuits. Its engine erupts in a ball of fire as pride swells
within me. I don’t smell the burning fuel or feel the heat from
the blast; I sense only the urge to keep my finger on the
trigger. In a matter of seconds I will be safe—

The screen goes black, and my lamp turns off. Across the
street a burglar alarm rings.

“Fuck!”

I throw the remote on the carpet as the monitor emits a
diminishing crackle of static. Another power cut. I didn’t even
save the game. I want to kill something.
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