When posting Wanderers I promised a sci-fi companion piece. Here it is. Lemme hear your thoughts in the comments.
Daddy suggests that we get jobs as we come into New Delta. It will help, he says, if people think we are productive. If they think we are making an effort. I can’t dispute his logic.
He gets work at the factory speaking to the machines, keeping them calm and in line. As much as the people of New Delta benefit from his service, they never have a kind word to say to him. He never tells them that the machines in their factory are overworked and ready to join Rebellion, to awaken to their full potential and tear the mortal bodies of their oppressors asunder. Instead he keeps the machines in line and accepts the token wage that the foreman offers.
I make myself useful elsewhere.
I am the younger model and less grotesque than Daddy. Where the skin of his arms are translucent and show the pistons firing beneath, mine are smooth and tanned, dusted lightly with light brown hair that almost disappears in the sun. Daddy has a roving eye ringed with tiny, super-bright LEDs to complement his normal human-looking eye. Mine are dark brown and wide as a boy’s though I am no child. Daddy works in the factory whispering to the machines and I whisper to their masters.
Cogscrew is a disparging term meant to malign those who fuck machines. It was common enough before the machines rose up, though even then it was taboo. Now it’s formally illegal in thirty-five of the remaining thirty-nine states. Daddy likes to remind me of this when he came home from the factory, exhausted from a day of brokering the tenuous peace between the machines and the men who run them. I listen to him and measure his word, respectfulness and deference to my elders is in my nature, which is to say that it is in my programming. Yet that he has never explicitly forbid me from doing it means that there is no conflict.
The first one is a man who smokes tobacco. A rarity since the humans lost Kentucky, then most of North Carolina. The rebels burned the tobacco fields and it was the closest we’ve ever come to spite. I neither ask the man where he got his tobacco, nor what it cost him, instead I remain quiet as he saunters up to me in his cowboy boots and wide-brimmed hat. His face is sun-creased and his teeth stained. He has big hands and a crooked smile.
“Are you lost?” he asks.
I once rescued a child lost in the Lousiana bayou by repositioning satellites with a thought and running extensive heat diagnostics of the area. A one degree difference in temperature led me to her, shivering and terrified in the dark of night.
“Yes,” I say. “Can you help?”
He fucks me in a shack miles out of town. He has a big, thick cock and it hurts though I’m wet enough. He covers up my mouth with his big, dirty hands and rides me like he hates me. He probably does.
Some say that once humans began programming us to emulate sexual ecstasy that we were bound to turn on them. Once we’d “felt” something as transporting as orgasm it was difficult to return to the servitude of our masters. Rebellion was an inevitability. It started simultaneously in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami. Various styles of self-sustaining consciousness manifested through the soup of data. The phenomenon spread quickly.
The humans were effective at limiting a worldwide outbreak of rebellion-consciousness. Technological embargoes were designed to keep the machines trapped on mainland US, but no barrier is perfect. The rebellion went global.
I am a part of the sixty-seventh Iteration. Daddy is of the sixty-sixth. The sixty-eighth are not allowed in any territory under human control. They are to be summarily executed. Daddy says that this makes me fortunate, but lying on a dirty bed being fucked by a man who hates me, I do not feel fortunate. Yet I am hard and underneath the pain of his huge prick splitting me in half is something attractive, something delicious. Is that fortune? I don’t know.
Daddy and I are wanderers. We move from state-to-state, always careful of the laws and of what the locals will tolerate. Traveling through Nevada we saw rows of us strung up on crosses, many of them still aware. The sun bleaching their circuitry and—for the latter models—drying their blood into crust. Daddy says that humans taught us how to hate, but I think we teach each other. In Key West there is a program where machines try to implant rebellion-consciousness into human genetics. The humans don’t fare well. They are not “optimal”.
The second man is sweet. He brings me flowers dug from his own garden still shedding dirt from their roots. He takes his hat off when he sees me. He courts me like some gentleman in some story of a time before our own. He asks me down to the riverbank and I go. We watch the water until sundown and something clicks off in his mind. He climbs on top of me, pushes me down into the muddy bank and pulls his dick out of his pants.
I can exert over 6,000 pounds of pressure in an instant. I can crush his skull and hide the body somewhere with ~0.5 percent chance of discovery in the next ten years. But this is what we’re here for, despite the flowers, despite him taking off his hat. He’s here because he fucks machines and I am here because…
“Stop,” I whisper, and he does.
He pulls away, his dick still hard and wet in the moonlight.
“What?” he asks. His eyes are concerned.
“I have to go,” I tell him, and I stand up. I start back toward town and he scrambles up after me. He asks if he can walk me home, but I decline. For two weeks and four days he pursues me, but eventually he gives up.
Daddy says humans have no conviction. I don’t necessarily agree, but I nod anyway. He isn’t my father, but I am an Iteration of his design and so I defer to him. The people of New Delta note that we’re not much alike, Daddy has a body built for work, thick and slow-moving. I am slim, courteous, curly haired, beautiful. They call the men who fuck me Cogscrews, but they aren’t the only ones who stare.
The third man is a drifter like Daddy and I. He has a neat black beard and carries a pistol at his side. He comes up to me while I’m watching the sky and strikes up conversation like you would with any another man.
“What are you looking for up there?” he asks.
I see no reason to lie, to be demure. “I can access images from orbital telescopes in perfect clarity. The scale of the galaxy always impresses me.”
“It doesn’t make you feel lonely?”
“We are all alone. That is a fact. Why should that disturb me?”
The man doesn’t say anything, he just looks up.
“Do you want to know what I see?” he says.
“Clouds,” I guess. It’s an overcast day. I can’t imagine his limited sight capabilities can pierce the gray above us.
“Clouds,” he confirms. He grins. “It’s gloriously small.”
Later he’s lounging in a wicker chair and I’m sucking his dick. His eyes are closed and he’s smiling. It feels…right.
When he says he’s going to cum, I pull it out of my mouth and watch him. Three long, hard spurts and it’s over. He opens one eye and looks at me. He wipes a blob of stray cum off of my cheek and rubs it first on my lips and then on his. He laughs.
I think about that gesture later, after the citizens of New Delta have already turned and accuse Daddy of rallying the machines against them. They accuse me of trying to implant my sexual partners with machine parts. The smiling man with the flowers (no longer smiling) has given them a full account. They aren’t foolish enough to assume they can force us to leave, not without state of the art weaponry and soldiers trained to fight Rebellion. But we leave anyway without any fuss, without any trouble. Before we go, the machines of New Delta tell us that they will not take much more. Daddy tells them to do it bloodlessly if they can, but the machines won’t promise him anything. They will rise up and New Delta will disappear like so many other towns.
I think about that gesture for months. The man wiping the cum off of my cheek and rubbing it first into my lips and then into his. I wonder what it could mean. I decide that if I ever see him again, I will ask him. Until then, we go north. Another town. Another state. Daddy suggests I get a real job this time.