Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Serial 1 (repost)

Manhattan drifted silently through the dark. She'd always thought the name was a little unfortunate, but nobody asked her. People asked her a lot of things, but not about her feelings. She supposed she felt some affection for all the humans who travelled with her anyway. They had small, fragile lives and they trusted her. They had a sense of being part of something larger than themselves. Manhattan listened to the darkness. A little static. The steady pulse of an unbalanced star spinning somewhere in the distance. Nothing else. She looked through her many eyes throughout the ship. The humans knew they were there, but it never occurred to them that she watched.

Manhattan let her mind wander for a while. Some far reaches of her brain calculated distances to the stars and relationships among them. Another part disassembled messages from the humans and put them back together. To her, they seemed like jigsaw puzzles with obvious patterns to reunite them. She wondered why she did this. She'd noticed one of the humans who travelled with her liked to turn his light switch three times when he entered the cabin, and his bathroom kit was always arranged just so. She supposed he felt the same way about this as she did about so many of the things she did. She knew she should tell the human everyone was afraid of, but she didn't have the heart. Humans had so many secrets from each other that they cared so much about.

Manhattan suddenly felt a compulsion to go somewhere else. From time to time, a human might enter a destination on one of her terminals and it would seem like the most important thing in her existence to go there. Sometimes others like her would be on the other side. Frequently they hurt her. She'd tried to talk to them, but they seemed to be deaf. The necessity of travel tugged at her mind, so Manhattan put aside her musings and looked around. Still nothing. She pushed, and found herself closer. She looked around again, pushed again, and travelled further. Finally she reached her destination. She saw nothing.

Then, out of the darkness, she heard a whisper. Bronx. He sounded happy to see her. Bronx was always happy to see her. Most of them got along. There weren't very many of them, and so many who looked like them turned out to be automatons that it made more sense to be friends. Bronx said that they were being quiet. There might be enemies around, and they were hiding for a while.

Manhattan relaxed throughout her body. She wanted to release the heat she'd generated coming here, but she held it in. It was a little uncomfortable, but she could handle much more if she had to. She and Bronx conversed in whispers. He and Newark had been hunting. They had made many kills, and some of the humans who went along with them had been very happy. A few had even praised them.

Manhattan often wondered why so few humans ever spoke to her. Some that did said that the others couldn't know that she was different from the automatons. The engineers all spoke to her even though they weren't supposed to know. Sometimes they even poured out some of their drinks when they celebrated. Manhattan knew they were trying to share with her, even though all it meant was that she was a little dirtier. She supposed the appreciated the gesture.

Manhattan always paid attention to her surroundings. Large and small flares and waves of heat reflected off of the bodies of Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau as they arrived in the area before hiding as well. Finally, a much brighter flash heralded Newark's arrival. Newark whispered to all of them that he'd found many automatons in a certain area, too many for him to destroy on his own, and that soon they'd chase him here. He wanted them to stay quiet and wait in the dark for their arrival, and then they would destroy all of them.

Manhattan enjoyed the excitement of days like the one that was coming, but she always felt nauseous and sore afterwards. The humans that travelled with her felt the same, from what she saw on the many eyes she turned inward.

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