At the Command of My Heart


My favorite setting is the one that makes the lights turn on and off with every thump-thump of my heart. Sometimes I put it on when no one is there and after a while it makes me feel so sick and dizzy that I remember I am human. A wonderful thing to remember—and then forget again.

You’d be surprised how often the women pity me while I am killing them. They think I am a helpless monster controlled by people above me. They think I am a tool without a will. I don’t tell them otherwise. It makes them feel better.

I also think my appearance adds to the strong emotions they have towards me. Stuck full of wires and metal rods I probably look more like a machine than a human. I know I was good-looking once, too. High cheekbones, straight black hair. I still have that, I think.  And if I do, they definitely see it. Even the most professional women can identify good looks pretty easily.  

I once believed that the government was right to kill off any potential threat. I might still believe that, but I’m not sure. I’ve always been one to think on my feet and I haven’t had enough good conversations lately to think things through again.

Though, there was that conversation with one of my victims, recently.  This one was male, maybe 23, with brown hair and glasses, but a lot of wit and cheek to make up for his mousy appearance. 

“Oppressive governments are not very effective in the long run,” he had said as I prepared the machine.  His voice only shook a tiny bit.

“No?” I asked, preoccupied.

“According to Machiavelli, a prince should be feared rather than loved, but not hated. The country hates this government and soon there will be enough people to overthrow it.”

“That’s call hope.  I understand hope is healthy only in small doses.  I suspect that you have an over-sized dose of it—which is why you’ve ended up here.  Right?”

“This is not the end.”

“No.” I laughed at the irony of his statement.  He had no idea. 

“What do you mean, ‘no’?” he asked, clearly made more nervous by my laugh, which probably sounded to his ears like a cross between a sick cat meowing and a crow dying.

“I’m not supposed to tell you.” I replied.  “Now come sit here.”  I indicated the chair which all the mechanisms were attached to.

After a short pause, he came obediently and sat down.  A bit unusual, but not rare. Most people who reached this point had pretty much given up on fighting.

“I’m going to die, right?” he asked, as I strapped his arms to the chair.  This had once been a chair in a dentist office.  There was irony in that too.  People hated the dentist, even though dentists were trying to be helpful.

Sometimes I didn’t tell the victims that they were going to die.  Some of them could face it easier if they didn’t know.  But this guy sounded pretty ready. “Yeah, you are going to die.”

“So how is it not the end?” the young man pressed.

“Because your knowledge and memories are going to become a part of the computer.  It is just the beginning.  Eventually the machine will be perfect and all knowing, and then there will be no need any more, even for hope.” I wasn’t supposed to talk about it, but the guy seemed so interested and it was fun to explain it to someone.  It was the one thing that made this job exciting.

“And I can’t just give you my memories or whatever?  I have to die?”

“Yeah. It’s the only way.”

“Is it really worth all those lives?”

“Yes.” I turned the machine on at that point and he gasped, then screamed in pain.

Our conversation was over and I switched off part of my brain. That was also one of my favorite settings, second only to the lights switching on and off at the command of my heart.

The End

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