Outside a saturnine sun hung, trying and failing to penetrate the grey cloak of the great beast before him. Inside, an equally gloomy man looked out into the infinitude of the same monster. in his mind's eye he crouched in an incomprehensibly vast darkness, with only the merest pin-prick of light shining, horizons away. So entrenched in this black expanse, so near to the bottom of it all was the man a million lifetimes, travelling at light speed, would little increase the brightness ahead. Pulled back to sense by a sudden wind he once again observed the achingly familiar, yet increasingly surreal world beyond. People out there walked around out there, blind. Blind to anything going on beyond their own nose. But wait. He looked closer. He saw feet, or were they wheels. running on tracks. He saw holes in their backs to place a key, where they had been wound up and set loose on the world. Every now and then one of the things would shout or yawn and a glimpse could be caught of their inner workings. A flicking light, a gleaming wire. These were not people at all but cogs, levers and pipes constituting a great machine. The nature of their existance was lost to them. he pitied them for a second but the feeling passed when it dawned on him that they were no more aware of their "plight", as he called it, than a car's steering wheel is aware of its role. Some were programmed to be lawyers, some doctors and others set on the road to poverty. All had a place and a job to do. Deviation from this would result in sever ramification including dirty looks of disapproval and outrage from the rest of civilised society. These were sentient being he could see, of that there was no doubt. They were sentient in fact, to the point that those not on tracks, not wound up, could not at first tell them apart. All that would be would be required to blow there cover would be to stand slightly closer. Instead of gurgling from the pit of their stomachs a clicking, grinding, clunking sound of metal would emanate. Staring at the gaping wound of life as he was, he found himself back in that crushing oblivion. In this barren place there was nothing, only his thoughts and the atom of light existed. Maybe the light was hope, the hope that one da he might reach it and come to a place where he belonged. Maybe it was peace which, if he could find a way to traverse the unfathomable distance required, he would find. For not even a proton's equivelant of time he thought it might be God, whoever or whatever that could be. With that tinniest of thoughts his eyes closed and when they open again to his surprise, he was still in that deep pit. Were his eyes playing tricks and his mind deceiving? No, the hope, the peace, the light of God had expanded, almost indecipherably, but expanded nonetheless. Closed eyes again and awakening to the world. he saw with clear eyes, bright lik the diamond light of the deep. Th picture though, was no prettier. If anything the grease marks left by humanity were thicker, the blood in the streets more congealed. He watched torrents caused by a billion past slaughters flow unstoppably past, drowning the inhabitants of what was once pure, turning it into a scarred and broken landscape. When some of the creatures passed close enough he could no longer see pupils and iris where eyes should be, rather the imprint of infinite advertisements repeated a billion tims in wildly effervescent colours telling them to shop here, go there, eat this, watch that, love him, hate her. Over and over until they knew nothing else and started to believe these thoughts came from their own heads, the apathetic dispostion preventing any resistance. Heart of man no longer thumping, heart of woman no longer beating; flesh and muscle replaced by plastic and steel, ticking beneath titanium ribs, warm and love substituted for cold and indiference. There were some, he witnessed, that did not make a metallic echo with every step. Some who felt the wind as cold and the rain as wet. Even these brought him little joy. Though their eyes occasionally sparked with hope it was soon dowsed with overwhelming melancholy by the knowledge at how greatly the electrified humanoids outnumbered them. Surorunded by platinum smiles they at once shrink and hide, while calling.