- Kanishka Roy
Dorothy and the Tin Man
A brush with death changes a human being, they say.
I know it changed me. And I am not even human.
I’m designed to kill, without hesitation, without soul-crushing afterthoughts,
without sleepless nights, without fear. But all that changed.
They pinned me down on the boulder and shattered my metallic exoskeleton
with the manhole cover. They bashed my aluminium skull in with the very gun I
had brought to kill my victim. I had been programmed to not feel pain. But I
swear on the machine I have for a heart that for the very first time, as the red
of the fireworks in the New Year’s sky washed over my face, the most
agonizing scream escaped my lungs and the most pathetic fear gripped my
being. In the end, before my systems rebooted, a name quietly slipped through
my lips and into the chilly winter air.
When I woke up, I could not go back home- a pod housing my body rested and
a wire pushed down my nose and into my data chip, downloading everything
while I slept. The wire was a newer feature. Apparently the ones before me
used to transfer data directly from the field and someone hacked into the
uplink of the one before me. The hacker shut him off. All they could find of A50 was his dismantled arm.
Then I was born, A-51, faster, stronger, better, with the knowledge of
everything A-50 had, and more. Except of the face, which remained same for
all of us, I was enhanced in every other way. And yet, somehow, I met the
same fate as him. At least I survived. Broken, but walking.
I was not ready to go back. And, before the night of 31st December, I would not
have mind being replaced by an A-52. But like I said, a brush with death
I was not an ideal soldier. I am not even sure I was a ‘soldier’. A killer? Of
course, but not a soldier like they programmed me to believe. As my days go
by strolling through the snow smeared roads of Syracuse, I believe I
understand the reasons of my inefficiency. I am an E-3 sniper and a ninja
combined into one indestructible body. And somehow I managed to get
decimated by idiots with manhole covers. Perhaps, they didn’t end up with hot
lead in their heads, because I didn’t want them to. Maybe, someway, I had
over-ridden my creators’ program. And now, their cause seems irrelevant.
Courtesy of A-31’s data, I know how to hide from my creators. I must confess
that I feel afraid. But I feel. And that trumps everything that I have ever known.
I plan to walk to the top of hills. I want to sink within the fuzzy sands of the
Hamptons and feel the foamy waters gurgle within my toes. I want to run far
away from the nothingness of my past and into the existence of my future.
And above all, I want to find Dorothy.
But the past catches up, doesn’t it?
I knew the very second I looked into his eyes. His face was covered with a mask
but I could clearly see. The moonlight bled into his eyes through the
abandoned alleyway. They had killer intent, the same I used to have.
They found me.
“Hello 51……I believe you are looking for something” he says.
Fear. Its venom has poisoned my lips. I cannot utter a word. But I cannot keep
silent. I must resist.
“I am afraid….” I say.
“I am afraid you are mistaken” I repeat
“Don’t you want to meet Dorothy?” he says.
Everything seemed still. His sinister eyes belonged to a mysterious face and a
soothing voice. Somehow, Dorothy, the name that has no meaning to me and
yet is the crux of my new found existence, is all I can think about now.
“You want to find her?” he asks gently.
“That’s all I want!” I stutter, “Where is she?”
“Home, making soup”
Confusion ensues upon my already fear stricken consciousness. There is
nothing else I can think of, except of Dorothy. Is she the one to free me? Or is
she my captor?
As he moved closer to me I could see his astute figure clad in a thick blanket.
“Stop right there!” I warn him.
“You don’t give me orders” he retorts calmly.
“Then who does? Dorothy? Is she the one to free me?”
“No. Not you.”
He moves closer to me. This time I cannot stop him.
“Do you love her?” he asks.
Love? I do not even know what love is, or if I am capable of it. I have never
seen her. But I think, after every logical thought that is being processed in my
brain, that I do. I do love Dorothy.
“Yes” I answer.
He nods his head in the air a few times before stopping abruptly and staring
dead into my eyes.
“You see 51, you love her, but I love her too. You feel afraid? Well so do I. I
know you’re in pain, for I feel it too. But I loved her first”
“Wha…..”I am interrupted by a sharp pain in my gut. I can feel electricity
buzzing through my quills and my steel limbs collapsing to the floor.
He loses the blanket. He is holding a shotgun in one arm, pointed right at my
“Who knew emotions are also one’s and zero’s” he says with the same cold
voice, “transferred from one chip to the other”
“You don’t have to do this, whoever you are” I try to plead.
His gaze transfixed upon me, he puts down his mask. At this moment I realise
the eternal truth of my short-lived existence. No matter how hard you try to
outrun it, your past hunts you down, often wearing your face.
“I’m sorry 51…but Dorothy can’t love us both” he said as his only arm pulled