Jack of Many Trades

Manifesting Metal

Originally posted: 2013-12-10

Apparently I forgot to post this last one. Sorry!

Ixtli went from dead asleep to fully awake with no drowsiness in between, only a mechanized beep. She felt the thin hospital sheets, the thick bandages and heavy tape around her middle, and even the dry air with a clarity that she'd never experienced before. The world was sharply focused and humming, and all that seemed fuzzy and far away was what had come before.

When she sat up, she heard the subtle hum of rotors and pistons, the click of metal on metal. She looked down, startled, and realized that sound was her. Her limbs gleamed in the harsh hospital light, and she couldn’t help staring at them.

A pair of soft clacks marked the door opening, and a small group of black-coated doctors swept into the room. The clear leader was a woman almost six feet tall, with dark skin and tightly-braided hair pulled away from her face.

Ixtli dreamed of that morning often. Eventually she covered her limbs in synthetic skin to cut down on the questions she couldn't answer. How could you tell someone that no, you didn't miss your old parts? And yet these felt right, the metal and oil, the electricity in her veins that kept her replacement organs running.

She started to think that maybe she'd feel more at home in her skin if more of her was metal, not less. There came a morning where she looked at herself in the mirror and noticed little threads of titanium and copper winding their way up her shoulders like veins from the synthskin edges. They were on her legs, too, and when she peeled away the latex skin she found that at some point, the hard edge where her body stopped and the junction for the prosthetic began had... softened.

Ixtli wasn't sure what this meant. As the days passed, it grew so slowly as to be almost invisible. The first to notice was her boyfriend, and even he took several days to see it.

"Is it painful?" he asked her as they lay in bed, and she'd grown so used to it that it took her a minute to realize what he was talking about.

"No," she shook her head.

He worried anyway, convincing her to come into the bio lab so he could check on her. Everything seemed to be functioning normally. There was just... less organic mass than there used to be.

"I'm not quite sure," she told him, "but I think I like it."

The sense of clarity snuck up on her quietly as she worked to prepare a new prototype. The machinist had not produced quite what she wanted, and ran her hand across the useless pieces as she waited for their replacements. The metal below her touch slid out of the way, and she stared at the small chunk of aluminum. It shaped to her touch, feeling more like clay than metal, then wrapped around her fingers and climbed her arm.

"Would you like to join me?" she asked the ribbon of aluminum, and it swooped in to take advantage, almost melting into her skin. Ixtli felt it become a part of her self, incorporating into the veins and arteries, catching and holding and changing the parts inside.

She smiled as she changed just a little bit more.