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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Phil's been living a life without change. What will become of him?

Submitted: June 19, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 19, 2015



The ever-growing city of Los Angeles, California was enveloped in a cloak of light in comparison to the black of the sky. From his kitchen, he felt like a single grain of sand used to build a sandcastle. Every night Phil came to the counter next to the window in the kitchen and sat down to look over the corporate towers and business buildings surrounding his apartment building. He found the view to be so picturesque and gorgeous that he sometimes found himself lost in thought. With nobody around anymore after she left him, he was alone to make a living for him and him alone. Jane had left him after thinking that their relationship wasn’t going anywhere; he forced himself to agree and understand her words, fully aware that he didn't feel the same. He still reminisced about the times he and his girlfriend had outside on the hill, lying together and stargazing. Those were his fondest memories, the memories he would hold until death. The unforgettable kind. 

The grandfather clock settled next to his kitchen cabinets struck ten, Phil’s curfew. The knell of the clock was a sound he loved hearing. Dreams were where he knew he could be free with others surrounding him. He also had work tomorrow.

Phil worked at the front desk at Geartech, a company working towards a world revolutionized by machinery. Technology to the company was a reliable and safe way to simplify someone’s life; the intense impact it was having on society was growing, and Geartech was determined to keep it that way.

Daily shifts were difficult. The company was open at all hours of the day, seven days a week, and Phil was the only person they had to man the chair before the front doors. It wasn’t the best job, but it surely wasn’t the worst. He did the same thing each day, and he was barely satisfied. Others were in much more awful jobs, and he knew that. Phil got into some more comfortable clothes before sliding into bed, exhausted from the day’s work.


He really needed a car. Taxis were becoming more and more unpopular with the sudden increase of manufactured cars. He sometimes had to walk to work because he couldn’t find one. He was lucky today, however, and it felt as if the taxi had come to him. He didn’t talk much with the driver per usual and walked into Geartech after they had arrived.

The walls of the building were concrete but were painted a silvery, metallic color. The chairs were similar, wooden but painted with a copper paint. It all looked incredibly fake. His desk was a navy blue color, shaped into a futuristic, modern shape. It could’ve been mistaken for a piece of fine art. He stopped into the employee lounge and got his cup of coffee with extra cream before taking his seat.

The day went by in slow, prolonged increments with the occasional guest looking to speak with a staff member. All Phil did was direct them towards the correct room, a job so dull a butter knife would have been sharper. At four in the afternoon, the last of the company members had left and Phil was free to leave. When he went to throw away his cup, he noticed something odd.

A small blotch of metallic paint was on his hands. It didn’t look fake like the paint on the walls, so he felt it with his other hand. It was cold, unlike the rest of his body. The texture was gritty and rough. He regarded this as just some of the wet paint that hadn’t dried, just to calm himself down. He didn't consider any other possibilities.

Phil went home that night unconcerned, but an unease never left him. He didn't know the power of machines, nor did he know the responsibilities of one. The thought had never crossed his mind.


It had spread.

It covered the whole back of his hand and had snuck around to the edges of his palm. Phil scratched at it and it didn't dissolve or discolor the skin at all. Nothing was removed when he ran it under warm or cold water, and scrubbing it with soap only numbed the area. The clock struck six, marking the time he was to leave for work. 

“What do I do, what do I do,” he said, pacing back and forth in his living room. “I could wear gloves. Gloves would cover it up.” He ran over to the door to the apartment and grabbed his gloves from the side table. They just about covered the sheen of metal. “Feels a bit weird, but it'll have to do,” he mumbled. Talking to himself was a habit Phil had a hard time quitting. There was still some that had traveled up his arm, but the long-sleeved shirt he was wearing had covered it up.

He left and got a taxi to Geartech, and got his cup of coffee.

“Hey Phil, you okay?” Nissa asked. She was one of the kinder co-workers at the company. “What are those gloves for?”

“I wasn’t feeling well. I’m pretty cold, too,” he replied. He wasn’t lying. His hands felt like ice cubes. He worried what would happen when it spread to the rest of his body. 

“Well, you can always take a day off. You're one of the best workers here even if it may not feel like it!” she said, smiling. He wasn't in the mood for smiles. He went through his day with a grin on his face when in reality he felt like a rusted bolt, lost and forgotten by a mechanic. He felt lost in the maze of his thoughts. He felt cold.

Like metal.

When four came along, he darted out the door and sped home. He couldn't wait for a taxi. He was losing time.

He slammed the door behind him once inside and called everyone he loved. He reminded them about how much he cared for them and all the good times he had with them. He didn't tell them about the metallic skin. They wouldn't believe him. Nobody would.

He got into the shower and noticed dots. 

Thousands and thousands of metallic dots.

All of them were cold. All gritty and rough. All over his body. He must have spent hours staring and poking at them.

He knew what would come of this. If the pattern continued, and the dots spread as quickly as the ones on his hands did, then he knew what was to happen. He felt scared for the first time in his life, so he ran to the first thing that would calm him.

He sprinted over to the kitchen counter and looked out the window. He really had spent forever in the shower, as the stars were out and the city was glowing.

One star shined brighter than the rest, asking for Phil’s attention. He closed his eyes and wished for her back. 

He didn't sleep that night as the dots spread. Gears grew, buttons appeared, wires and sparks stuck out through his shiny exterior, and engines roared throughout his body. His face still resembled his past self, shaming him for what he had done. He kept the light on in his room as the metal consumed him, leaving no traces of the man named Phil. The man who went to work every morning, who always made his coffee, who always left at four, and who always looked out to the stars. He looked to the stars for hope. He saw them as all a different being, each special with their own qualities. They were constantly-

The stars were constantly changing.

Phil hadn’t.

Phil’s life was repetitive, a working entity repeating the same actions over and over with no real purpose. He followed a strict routine, one that should never be broken in his eyes. He never broke it. He wasn't a man anymore.

He was a machine.

He was now a working motor with the simple task of doing the same actions again and again, achieving nothing. He never experienced change. He didn't think to. He found the meaning of his life in his repetition, the very same meaning of a machine.

The robot struggled to move its legs towards the door, moving at a steady pace. It made its way down the apartment complex before walking to a nearby park. 

The walk was peaceful to the machine, as it could rest his parts before beginning to move again. The chilling breeze did not faze it, but it blew through its chest, whistling into the air. It felt rejuvenated, so it continued to walk along the sidewalk.

It began slowing down considerably but didn’t stop. The gazes of passing people made the robot slow down even further. The air was quiet, much too quiet. The crowds looked in awe, following the cranking creature through the city. It started to feel a screeching gear in one of it’s legs, slowing the robot to a turtle’s speed. The silence was broken by her scream. 

Jane dropped her purse at the sight of it, her jaw dropping to the ground.

“Phil! Phil, what.. What the hell’s wrong with you?” she floundered, putting all of the emotion she had kept inside herself for those two years they had been apart. The robot collapsed, no movement to be detected.

No fuel.

No energy.

No life.

Jane ran to its side, holding it in her arms. 

“Please, please don’t leave me like this! Please..” her voice faded to a whisper, a voice the machine found familiar. Tears began to roll down her cheeks, falling down onto the robot’s body. He recognized the tears. They were gentle.

They were Jane’s tears.

The metal didn't take over Phil’s entire body. One vital piece was left alone, with no damage done to it.

His heart.

With the tears falling onto the gears in his chest, one slipped onto his heart. Phil’s eyes opened with life. The cogs began to turn once again, and the copper surrounding the man started to glow. Skin began to replace the metal. Starting with his lower body and working its way up, Phil was not a machine anymore.

He was a man.

When the last bit of skin returned to his face, Phil breathed a large sigh of relief. His breath was slight, but it wasn’t unnoticeable.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered, pulling him closer.

“I am too,” wiping away her tears. His change had come.

© Copyright 2018 Hanorbi. All rights reserved.

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