The Machine

“BUY.” The man urges as he shoves you onto the conveyor belt. “Purchase. Consume.” A machine built of flesh and programming grips your skull, nods your head. The man makes a curt gesture. “Next.” He spits, and suddenly you are whisked away. In the darkness, you hear the echo of his voice: “BUY. Purchase. Consume.”

The sound lingers in your mind as the belt tows you forward. Machinery bends and shapes you, poses you and stretches the corners of your mouth into a smile. Pictures scroll past, men built of shining muscle and women cut from narrow plastic. “Want me.” They whisper. “Be like me,” and the machinery bends you into all of their poses.

Eyeless faces rise out of the darkness and frown at you as you pass, mouths only opening to criticize the way you fail to approach the perfection of the shapes around you. They whisper and gossip, trade barely audible giggles about the way your skin, your hair, your eyes and the curves of your flesh come together. For every critique, a red number blares at you, registering each comment in a steady score of burning, negative numbers. “Bend this way!” They shriek, then gossip again as you comply. “Bend that way!”

“You are worthless.” A voice thunders above them all. “You need the machine. Without it you are nothing.” A large plastic hose capped with a grubby nipple descends, thrusts toward your face.

“Suck.” The voice orders. “Suck.”

Blog Archive