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Meat Puppets

by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

Table of Contents
Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
appeared in issue 242.
part 6 of 7

Jonas lives alone and works for the weekend. He’s woken up feeling hung over from his reason to live. While he’s walking off his hangover, the friendliest girl he’s ever met comes to him and starts sharing his life.

We all know that machines don’t have a soul, and there’s some dispute whether even humans have one. But let’s suppose there is and that there is what the hopeless romantics refer to as a “soul mate.” In the future, such a thing might be made by a factory in your own town.

Carmilla followed Maya to the NLT building.

“They’re here already?” asked Carmilla angrily, some disappointment showing on her face. Maya nodded.

“Did they get in? Please, tell me they didn’t get in!”

Maya shook her head. Carmilla looked disoriented for a while, scratching the back of her head, looking around the ground while she considered her situation.

“Let’s just go in anyway and kill her!” she finally said, with a mad gleam in her eyes.

“We can’t just...”

“We can break in and run after them!”

“Stop! If we do that, the security system will track us and fry our nerves when we get out,” said Maya.

“What?” Carmilla shook her head, staring at Maya.

“Anyone can get in; there are no guards, but if you don’t go in using a key-card or at least with someone using a key card, the company satellite will scramble your neurons once you go out of the building again — from space.”

“From space? Uh-huh. Go get a rock!” Carmilla ran towards the building.

“No! I’ve seen it happen!” said Maya and grabbed her.

“Okay, what then?”

“We go in through the front door, and I get a new pass assigned to me, because I lost the other one,” said Maya.

Carmilla gave her a sideways look, “You haven’t told them about your other pass?”

“No. It’s still valid. Until I get a new one that is.”

“Okay, let’s do that then,” said Carmilla, and walked to the front door, which was rather far away.

Maya got a new pass without much trouble, and they entered the building. Maya found a console near by, and used it to locate Elfa.

“She’s in Phase II,” said Maya.

“Sounds hi-tec and mysterious,” said Carmilla.

Then they ran to the other side of the building, and went to the second floor, where Phase II was.

“She better still be here,” said Carmilla when they reached the door.

“Don’t worry, she could roam around this place for hours, you’ll see,” said Maya, and opened the door.

Anton was there, checking on something as they entered. He turned around and smiled as he saw Maya. He raised his hand to wave to her, but then it was as if he figured something out: “Hey, didn’t you just come here a minute ago with a guy?” he asked her.

“No. What do you mean?” asked Maya.

“You were showing this guy around the facilities, and I told him a little bit about this place... you must remember...”

Carmilla got out her gun and aimed it at one of the tanks. Maya saw her, and yelled, “Don’t do that...”

But Carmilla shot the tank anyway, hitting the android inside squarely in the face. The entire glass part of the container broke into a million pieces and green, translucent slime flowed over the three of them.

Maya looked angrily at Carmilla. Anton just stood there. Carmilla stared at the body, hanging from the top part of the container by her head, which was firmly attached by wires.

“Why did you do that?” asked Maya.

“I didn’t know that would happen!” yelled Carmilla.

“She’s not even half grown yet,” said Anton, looking at the female form hanging beside him. It was beginning to sag. They all looked at it, and in just a few seconds the flesh began to slip off the bones at ever-increasing speed, until the whole thing just flowed off, skin, muscles and intestines, landing on the bottom part of the container with a wet thud. Maya, Carmilla and Anton got some more gunk on them.

“I’m outta here!” said Carmilla and stormed away.

Maya turned to Anton and asked him where her double had gone, and he pointed her in the right direction, still staring at the skeleton with the pile of simulated biological material under it. He shook his head.

Maya got to Carmilla, and told her where to go. It wasn’t far; she was halfway to the door anyway when Maya got a hold of her. Carmilla had a strange look on her face that Maya didn’t like, so she took care not to excite her. After all, she had a gun and had shown she could use it at random.

When Carmilla came through the door, she stood there for a couple of seconds, just taking in the view: two guys unloading canisters from an electric mover. The canisters were filled with green liquid and androids floating in it. Four naked women stood around stupidly, dripping in slime, while the fifth was having her crown removed by a man and a woman wearing lab coats. A couple of guys in raincoats emerged from another door and walked towards the slimy girls.

Carmilla raised her gun and started firing. On full automatic, the gun emptied its magazine in just under three seconds. One of the guys in the raincoats got hit; three of the four androids got hit, one twice; and the woman in the lab coat caught a round. All four of the canisters being unloaded were broken, spreading slime all over.

Carmilla changed the magazine, and began walking into the room, while Maya stood in the doorway and stared at the destruction in awe. The two men in raincoats ran back to where they came; the android that got hit twice fell down with the blood pulsating from her chest; the other two were beginning to look odd.

The woman in the lab-coat looked at the blood she got on her hand when she held her wound, and the guy with her held his arms around her and spoke to her. The guys unloading the canisters were hiding behind the mover, one trying to get through to the police on his phone, the other contacting the front desk. The four canned androids lay in some rather unnatural positions under the canister tops.

“Hi, I’m looking for a couple of people, maybe you could point me to where they went?” she said in a calm voice as she walked toward the people in lab coats, now sitting on the floor. They both pointed at the door through which the guys in the raincoats had fled.

“Thank you!” said Carmilla, and turned to go there. She shot one of the wounded androids as a parting gesture, and then hurried to the door. Maya watched as she disappeared, then took a look at the scene again, before running after her.

Carmilla ignored the cleaning room and walked straight into the storage area. She stopped when she saw all the androids and just stood there for a moment, looking at them. It was a rather surreal feeling to be there, surrounded by so many sleepwalking nudes. The clinical whiteness and brightness of the room only made the feeling more acute.

She was just looking around when someone touched her shoulder. She was startled, and looked to see who it was. It was just an android. It stared at her, its arm outstretched on Carmilla’s shoulder. Carmilla stared back.

The android blinked. Carmilla calmly put her gun against the android’s forehead and fired. She got some blood on her glasses, and was wiping it off when Maya appeared.

Carmilla looked at Maya but hardly saw her. It seemed that she had smeared a thin layer of slime on her glasses, so she took them off and walked into the group. The androids were like zombies, roaming about, staring blankly forward. Some of them watched Carmilla move through. She tried to ignore them.

Then she spotted a couple of figures ahead that appeared to be wearing clothes. She didn’t see them very clearly, being without her glasses, but it seemed logical that the only people wearing clothes in a large group of naked ones would be the ones she was looking for, so she aimed her gun at them and fired.

She got three androids in the head, and the puffs of red spread over the nearby ones. Jonas could hear the bullets whiz by, and both he and Elfa looked in the direction of the gunfire: they spotted Carmilla, and ran.

Carmilla cursed. She had forgotten to switch the gun back to semi-auto. She fixed it and ran after them. She saw them as they found the door outside, and stopped so she could shoot them. She took good aim, and fired — right into the head of an android that happened to walk into her line of fire. She fired again, and hit the door. Jonas and Elfa exited the hall, and Carmilla ran after them, pushing the androids out of her way. More and more of them were stopping in their tracks to stare at her.

Maya followed closely behind and called after Carmilla. Carmilla reached the door, opened it and fired some rounds through it into the throng behind her. She just missed Maya, but two of the androids weren’t so lucky. Androids were hard to miss in the factory.

“What are you thinking?” yelled Maya after Carmilla. “Have you gone insane?”

Carmilla didn’t answer; she just strolled into the next room. There were some people there, using some strange looking machinery to tend to about half a dozen androids. A couple of androids were standing by the coffee machine and appeared to be talking together.

A man stepped up to Carmilla and asked her who she was. She just hissed and pointed her gun at him. He stepped back and held out his hands. Carmilla stormed through the room after Jonas and Elfa, but still took the time to take a swing at one of the technicians. The poor girl fell on one of the machines, taking it down with her, and Carmilla kicked her where she sat.

Maya forced a smile, but quickly lost it. She just walked to the nearest seat and sat there, covering her face with her hands.

* * *

Proceed to part 7...

Copyright © 2007 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

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