Nearly Human
Michael Maiello
--and so they destroyed your shop--

They ransacked it, shocked by the clockwork Head which spoke. It said gentle things even, it said, "how do you do?" and it said maybe five things, always in the same order--"nice weather today," followed by "let's go fishing in the creek." Marvelous, really, marvelous to, like de Vinci, draw inspiration from the designs of God and nature. I thought, at least, it'd be appreciated.

You were hurt?

By three drunken oafs who bludgeoned me with an iron bar. It was the largest one who swiped me across the shoulder with the pipe and then smashed the Head just as it suggested, "let's all pick wildflowers in the--" The constable came later and he took the broken parts away with him, said they were "required for evaluation by the police." So it's gone now and I'll never be able to duplicate the years of work which went into its creation-

Because of the complexity?

Because my hands shake now and the clockwork pieces fall onto my workbench and roll onto the floor where they're lost in the sawdust. Because they kicked my spine. They kicked my spine and silenced my hands and they kept kicking me--

First published: November 1999