|THE MACHINES by Zahid Zaman|
Jenny was a six-year-old girl, but no ordinary girl.
I’m responsible for the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children.
Tears, hot and blinding, rolled down her cheeks. She heard the footsteps of the machine walk over to her hiding place, which was just a hole in the ground.
It lifted the heavy concrete slab.
The fighters had not returned yet.
Jenny was hunkered down in a small hole, dressed in dirty rags that had seen better days a few years ago. It was like a premonition.
They are here.
The buzzer at the front of what was known as the Catacombs buzzed into life.
No, don’t open the door!
Just then dogs started barking.
“Machines!” screamed a fighter at the guard post. Jenny knew what would happen next; it was as if she had been here a hundred times before, or seen it played through in her nightmares.
The machines opened fire, pushing their way past the guard post and the three now dead fighters who had guarded it.
Jenny ducked into her small hole and heaved a heavy concrete slab over her head. She tried to block out the noise, the noise of the machines’ laser weapons.
She never knew how long she hid in the hole listening to the gunfire and death screams of the soldiers and the civilians. It could have been minutes or hours but it seemed to go on forever.
Jenny didn’t dare breathe or move an inch during the ordeal.
Eventually…Eventually the firing stopped.
They’re dead…all dead…
Jenny started to whimper, her mind in a state of total despair. Then her blood froze as she heard movement above. The heavy slab was slowly lifted upwards.
“Survivor!” shouted a strong male voice. “A little girl!” The fighter put his gun down and picked Jenny up from her hole.
“She can’t be much older than six,” said another man to her right.
“She’s the only survivor from this outpost. Everyone else is dead,” replied the first voice. Jenny peered around her as she was held in the first man’s arms.
Two Weeks Later
Jenny had settled into the new colony well. Her adoptive colony as she liked to call it was far better than her old one.
This colony is better defended, there’s more fighters, food, and more children my age to play with here.
Late one night, she had the nightmare again, the nightmare that seemed to be the bane of her life.
This colony is doomed. They know it’s here. I don’t know how they know, but they know and it’s just a matter of time before the machines attack again.
The next day Jenny saw a piece of dirty metal lying in one corner in a room. She bent down and picked it up.
Soon…They will attack soon. Must prepare.
Jenny spent the next few days digging a hole in the ground. “What you doing that for?” asked a boy who was about the same age as her.
“I can’t tell you,” is all she said and no more even after the boy badgered her for answers for a long time.
There. I’ve done it. It’s taken me a few days but now I have a hiding place for when the machines attack.
And then the next day, like clockwork or like the night follows the day, it happened.
There will be more this time as this base is more heavily defended.
Eventually…eventually the firing stopped and she knew everyone apart from her in the base was dead.
She was whimpering again. Much later, maybe hours, maybe days.
“Hey, we got a survivor!” shouted a male voice. “A little girl! God be praised!”
Jenny settled into her new colony again.
These people are so nice. Why do they have to die?
Something unexpected happened, a voice in her mind spoke back to her.
They are biological waste; we will rid the world of all biological waste.
Jenny, Age 4
Jenny was in Hope City, the place of her birth. Her mum was cradling her in her arms and there was the screaming and firing.
Eventually…Eventually the firing stopped.
A half man half machine figure peered down at her. Its red eyes glaring into the very pit of her soul.
“Subject acquired,” said the half man half machine.
Jenny remembered very little of what followed. But what she did remember was painful.
Bright lights…Strange drilling noises, the smell of blood.
Back In The Present
That night Jenny dreamt. I have gone from colony to colony. Wherever I go, the machines follow.
It’s as if they are following me.
She had a moment of pure inspiration.
It’s me! The machines are homing on me. I must tell them! I must warn the others!
A Few Days Later
I’ve managed to learn how to talk to the voice; I know it is the voice of the machines that I hear in my head.
Tonight is the big night. I have told the voice this is the biggest base I’ve seen. I have told the voice there are well over 500 fighters and their families here. Tonight, they are going to attack with everything they have.
The dogs are barking!
Just then Jenny heard the laser weapons. A sound that could send chills down the spine of the most hardened fighter.
Jenny heard the four guards at the base entrance shot dead.
Keep coming, boys.
Before long the entire underground base was swarming with the machines.
She heard the confusion of the voice in her head that she had started to hear a few days ago.
Jenny heard the heavy footsteps of one of the machines walk towards her hole in the ground. She heard the heavy stone slab lifted. The machine gave her quizzical look.
There must be about a hundred machines in this base now.
The machine’s quizzical look turned to panic as it noticed the suicide belt covering Jennie’s mid-section.
“You thought you had outsmarted us. You used me as a tracking beacon. Now it’s our turn,”
Jenny pressed the button on her belt and the base, which had been rigged with hundreds of rounds of explosives, exploded, collapsing the base and taking all the machines with it.