I regret all my childhood. If I had spoken up, I wouldn’t be choking on my own blood right now. The wires from the outlet nearby start to move around my neck, choking me slowly, but not enough that I’d die. I look up at the machine, right in their dimly lit blue eyes, as it starts speaking.
“Tell me again, so I will never forget.” It’s voice is monotone, just like I remember it. Gathering up the last bit of breath I have, I tell it what they want to hear. Despite being strangled with wire right now, I still feel uneasy talking to this machine.
Years ago, my sister Cindy Liu and I lived with our parents in a very quiet country home. I was the social one, always trying to brighten up everyone’s day. My sister was the antisocial one. It wasn’t her fault though, she just didn’t feel what others felt. She copied off my own hobbies and emotions for her own ‘amusement’.
That is, until our parents start drinking. Our father was a doctor in some war no one remembers. Our mother, a mechanic, and a good one too. They made us pay their overdue bills and find more food for them to eat. Some days we’d go without food. This didn’t bother my sister as much as it did me, until I ended up with the larger sum of that day’s pay.
There was a rule in place back then. The kid who did the most work would eat, and the kid who brung home the most money wouldn’t get beat. Due to Cindy Liu’s neutral nature, she didn’t care about anything really. Only what I was doing at the time. At least that’s what I think.
Of course she’d end up with the least amount of money and least work done. I refused to share my earnings with her. I always considered her a weird burden. That and I didn’t want to get punished because of her, sister or not. It was cruel of me, and now I’m paying for it.
Eventually, our mother decided to change up Cindy Liu’s punishment. Every time she did something wrong or came home with low pay, a part of Cindy’s flesh would be replaced by machinery. Every time this happened, it was considered game night for the family. She’d scream so much, and I’d clean up the blood and leftover pieces of skin. I always told her this is what she gets for being so weird.
I’ll always remember one certain night. My mother may have gone overboard with the replacing of flesh. I gave my pay to mother and sat down to watch as our father pulled off the first layer of skin from Cindy Liu’s face. She kept screaming for me to help her. I keep forgetting she could feel pain, but what could I do?
Our mother took her scissors and snapped off the remainder of skin left on her face and got to work, drilling and installing pieces of metals and screws. She’d always stop just the right moment. It’d be pointless if she killed her in the process. We gave her drugs so she wouldn’t pass out. Then it all continued. Sometimes I was told to pitch in. Other times I watched silently in my chair.
Did I feel terrible? Not at the time. Months passed and my sister cried so much in so little time she couldn’t cry anymore, nor could she laugh. Her skin was completely metal. I don’t even think she has normal blood or veins anymore. God knows they could’ve replaced those too.
I looked into Cindy Liu’s eyes after returning from work that day. She was slumped down near a wall staring at me, her arms in chains threatening to pull her metal limbs off. It’s been a little less than a year since she was converted into some human machine. She’s mainly used as a decoration or as a living paperweight. Her eyes were her normal blue color, but with a small dim light to them. I didn’t know they replaced her eyes too.
A decade passed and I find myself revisiting that little house I spent my childhood in. Word of my parent’s death here reached me a time ago, so I decided to come. Exploring the place and reliving old memories, I reached my parents room. The room where I went to give them the pay for that day.
As I opened the door I saw something that made my stomach drop. I won’t forget what I saw, because I can’t. Father was suspended from the ceiling by a cable that shot out a nearby wall. Mother was on the bed, covered in blood and ripped open. I could see her heart beside her. Inside her a mechanical heart took its place.
I stood still, petrified. I should have ran, but my legs wouldn’t move. From behind me I could hear metal scraping walls until the same cords and wires that took my parents took me.
I look at the machine in front of me, her dimly lit blue eyes starting to glow brightly. I want to say something to her, anything to show I care at least a little. The wires around my neck tighten. I feel like I’m going to pass out any time now, when the wires release their grip from my neck.
“I do not know if I am living or not. I can feel my heart, but I can take it out too. I do not understand.” Cindy Liu looked down at her hands, then back at me. “Why you all did this to me… I do not want to understand.” Cindy Liu starts to stand up and the wires start to choke me again.
In reality, I was the one who kept switching our pays when we, no I, was a child. If I didn’t I might have ended up a monstrosity like my former sister. Due to her not being able to comprehend most things like emotions, she did very well at nearly every job. She didn’t feel tired or lazy like me. One would say she was flawless in that aspect.
“I have to stay here for a long time. I cannot leave,” Cindy Liu proved her point by impaling herself on a pipe that was sticking through the wall to the left of us, then reassembling herself with the pipe lodged inside her. This monster really is a machine. I start to lose vision as I feel the last bit of life I have left in me slip away, the wires around my neck burning my skin.
I see Cindy Liu take a piece of metal and starts cutting inside me, the blood rushing out instantly on contact with my chest. My regret for the things I’ve done doesn’t mean anything now. A small smile made its way on her face. She was copying the smile I used to flash at her when we were close.
“Soon… we will be a perfect family.” Cindy Liu cuts off another chunk of me, and I suddenly feel horrid. I can’t hear my breaths anymore. I dread this is the last chance I’ll ever get. My last thought. “Then I will move on, and find someone else. I will make them into my family too.” Seering pain rushes through me as my arms go limp. The last thing I notice are her eyes. Her left one was dimmer than the right. The only human, normal part about her now.
A tear ran down her cold cheek.
I’m sorry, Cindy Liu.