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Iron and Steel

Bangs echoed constantly in the small workshop she had built for herself. What had been sparked as a childhood fancy, had become her life’s work.

She smelled of smoke and iron. Fire burned in her veins, and though darkness hung under her eyes, she never seemed tired. Soot and oil stained her clothes and skin. And if one were to kiss her, they would taste copper and ash.

Her hands existed to hold tools, to warp and bend metal into intricate designs. To build life-like automatons for the pleasure of her fellow men. Beings to dance, entertain, work and above all, do as they were told.

Yet the people still whispered in harsh tones as she marched past.

She loves machines more than people. They sneered.

She is as cold and unfeeling as steel. They spat.

I hear she loves them. The braver dared speak. I hear she longs for molten metal instead of the warm embrace of flesh.

Though their words burned and pierced her, marring her flesh with invisible scars. She continued on, working her forge, building and breathing life into her beloved automatons. And yet, even as they gawked and spoke ill of her, they still came to buy her creations. Still they hungered for her next work.

Every time they came, she spoke a warning; “Be kind to them.” She’d plea. “For they are alive as you and me, and their hearts will harden quicker in their cages of metal.” And every time, the people would laugh, disregarding her cries.

So when the creatures rose up, striking down the people in their way, the only one not surprised, was her.

Immediately, the people blamed her, and armed themselves, rushing to strike down the one they decided was responsible.

When the mob arrived, smaller, several of their number picked off by the machines. They found her within her workshop, her beloved forge cold and empty, her walls devoid of her mechanical creations.

She greeted them on her feet, dressed in casual clothes, her tools, gloves and apron no where in sight. She hair hung around her shadowed face, free from its usual binding. The people halted, confused.

“I told you to be kind.” She said, voice low, unnaturally calm. “I told you they were alive, I told you to care for them, as I did.” Her knuckles turned white at her sides. “If you had headed my words this would not be happening. My children would not be forced to commit such horrifying acts.” Finally, she rose her head, and the surrounding mob flinched under the heat of her gaze.  “You have no one to blame but yourselves.”

And from the darkness her creations struck, tearing through the mob, painting the streets and buildings with the blood of those who had wronged them. Screams filled the air as the people were slaughtered by their betters.

“Because I warned you.” She whispered.

Out of the crowd, stepped two machines, tall and strong, once used for labor. They gleamed crimson in the firelight, their eyes piercing lights. They stood in her doorway for only a moment, then carefully closed her door, turning and marching back into the fray.

So in the end, she felt no sorrow as she watched from her window. As her beautiful machines rose and destroyed the people who had denied them their humanity.

8 thoughts on “Iron and Steel”

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