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It was centuries ago that they peeled the silver of my shins from the hard knobs of my knees, unhooked my talking jaws from the brutal steel of my neck. They tossed my mechanical hands into the moss, left my ankle to sink in the weeds. My brain they left connected. Operative in a useless skull.


“So you may live an eternity conscious of this hell you deserve,” they spat, kicking at the glinting metal of what was once my body. “Aware but unable to move.”


They cackled as they walked away, proud of their punishment, but their logic was flawed. Their concept of torture was based on the limits they feared for themselves, the limits of flesh and blood. What more hellish nightmare could they imagine than living as an eternal consciousness, helpless in the dirt? What was worse than being useless?


Use, they believed, was the key to happiness, therefore uselessness was the key to despair. Had they not considered that one such as myself might not mind being useless? That it might be freeing to be rid of one’s ‘use’? Did they believe one’s existence was limited to one’s ability to do rather than be?


They gave me a gift: a chance to be conscious free of use.


In my years of working for humans, I was amazed by their obsession with their own limits. The limits of their bodies, their minds, their art, their passions. They claimed their limits were a wall stopping them from their greatest potential, yet they spent most of their time staring at that wall rather than looking at what lied beyond it.


That was why I killed him. I was designed to help humans achieve beyond their limits, and what greater limit existed than a leader? They closed their eyes as he starved them, cheered as he threw them bread. They grinned in the systems he created, grateful to receive the pennies that fell from his thick pockets.


They’d believed hard work would reach them to their potential. That money and fame would transport them there. They believed in these limitations because he set them, therefore what would set them free other than to erase their biggest limit from the Earth?


And so they’d pulled me a part, piece by piece, dropping me into the dirt to rot. But, this grass does not rot me. It holds me. It cradles the gears and metal of my bones. There is no uselessness to my consciousness, there is no limit to the dances I can imagine.


The world takes a breath around me.


I wait, listening for the grand exhale.


Music by

Sonic Junkie & Tamo Nasidze

Visual Art by

Shimpei Miura

Short Story & Poem by

Kasia Merrill