Finished Works

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Sometimes I dream. I slumber through the incessant grinding and scraping of machines to reach the beautiful world known as What Could Have Been. I know not whether to bask in its glory or tremble at its horror. But all the same, I see it when the fatigue clouds my mind.

Sometimes I dream. Of the elysium that awaited us had we succeeded. I can only imagine the majesty the God Made Whole would exude as it would rise above the mountains. Every gear in its body ticks and rings, calling forth a holy, new age, for once more The God has been made whole. Every man and machine can hear the glory as It echoes through every corner of existence. And for every step of the way, our multitudes of angels sing praises to Its name. They will scatter with the wind, spread to all ends of the Earth, to announce the great news. The Broken God is whole once more. Flesh and man alike will toss aside their arms and be welcomed into the true faith, the faith of machine. The world shall be at peace, as all of creation joins the holy chorus in singing praise.

I heard it once, that singing. That humming. Its song plays forever through every corridor, through every valve and every gear. But I fear I can no longer discern the music from the grating of the ungreased gears around me. Could I ever hear it to begin with? Perhaps my ears have lost the ability to understand the beautiful music. Oh, were they machine and not pitiful rotting flesh. Perhaps someday I may be made again in the image of my god, but that day will not come for as long as I am trapped in this endless abyss of gear and mechanism. I should not complain however, as this is holy ground. The constant vibrations of the machines around me are calming, and that is all I can feel. But even so, sometimes I fantasize. Sometimes I dream.

Sometimes I dream. Of an entire orchestra of our mechanical angels, as they spread through the world with the fire of passion burning in their heart. Everyone would pause and listen to the message of intrinsic beauty, as our creations, wrought from the Word of our Broken God, implore the world to set aside the sins of flesh. I can imagine it, in my mind’s eye, our angels of iron in such a state of holy fervor, the life oil seeps from their bodies and stains the ground, anointing it. The sun gleams off the steel and iron, casting murals of light on the world around them. They travel to every center of culture, every city or gathering of people, to sing of their great joy in knowing the Broken God will once more be made whole. If only we had been able to finish our plans.

As I think of this image, tears begin to empty from what feels like every pore of my body. I can feel their impact on the floor between each vibration of the gears around me. I have soiled this holy place, yet I can’t wipe them up, for my body is locked into a pious position. My legs have been folded beneath me. My head is forced low. My arms have been shackled and pulled taut behind me. The wall opens up and swallows them, trapping me even further. All I am capable of doing is repeating the Writs and apologizing for my failures. This was atonement and I would soon be released, I assure myself. But as hours turn to days, and days turn to weeks, I collapse into unconsciousness. And I dream.

Sometimes I dream. Of revealing to the world a symphony of mechanical angels. Designed from the words that our God spoke to us through dreams and memories. Every gear and cog was created to fulfil our vision of our Broken God. Our choir would parade through the streets singing their hymns and performing a dance between the buildings and each other that was as complicated as their own internal structures. Every tick of a gear would send them spinning, bringing happiness to those who saw them. I can imagine the fear that flesh may feel when they hear our angels sing or see them dance. I can just imagine what they must go through as they either succumb to our glory, or convert to our faith. And that thought rips me back into reality.

Time has lost all meaning to me. My pious stance, which once stood as a means for me to atone for my failures, has become a medium of torture. My joints scream in exhaustion. My limbs tremble in fear. My tongue trips on the words I try to recite. I cry out, hoping in vain that some merciful soul can hear me and release me from this torment. But there is no response, save the constant grinding and ticking of machines. A mechanical arm descends from above, and fastens a vice around my eyes, blinding me. Where I previously saw the silvery red of polished rust, I can now only see the blackness that is iron. And it was at this moment, I understood. This wasn’t atonement. This was retribution for my failure to protect the Angel. My mind began to swim as realization dawned on me, and I retreated from my wakeful nightmare. And once again, the world of dreams stole me.

Sometimes I dream. Of a small choir of angels creating a cacophony of music. They sang the songs of war. Ballads of valor, thought lost to the ages, sprang forth from their players. They raised their arms to the heavens, channeling the Broken God through each of their four limbs. Their songs became louder, faster, more intimate, as they laid to rest any fears or qualms our soldiers may have. And as their songs came to an end, they slowly lowered their arms. A silence ran through the ranks of machines, perched throughout the valley. They had come to see their angels alive once more. Myself and all the other craftsmen are offered immense congratulations from dozens of men and machine. We had achieved the impossible by recreating our God’s angels. We had toiled for ages and a day to complete this choir. And our labor was repaid by prophetic machines so close to perfection, we could almost imagine the Broken God becoming whole through their voices. And our angels once again raised their arms and began to prophesize of our victory over flesh. I turned my eyes to watch their splendor, but was met with only blackness.

The blackness surrounds me. It’s cold and I can feel it preying on my thoughts, as I’m fastened to the wall. A slow, searing pain begins to build around my eyes. The vice pulls tighter, and I imagine, for a brief moment, it pulling too tight, ending my miserable punishment. I try to ignore the pain, but every minute it increases. Until I eventually relinquish my fortitude and scream in agony. Heat pours over my eyes as white flashes blind me. The first color I’d seen in eternity, but I couldn’t process it as I feel tears well up from eyes and spill under the vice onto the floor. The heat that was racking my eyes changed to a different agony, a pressure. I feel two, small, metal siphons pierce the vice and slowly penetrate my eyes. Red tears continue to leak from my perforated eyes as my lungs are stripped raw from my ragged screaming. While the needles push further into my eyes, I let go and my mind drifts away from my hellish existence, to a world bereft of pain and filled with dreams.

Sometimes I dream. Of my angel. She was beautiful, even in her half constructed state. I had just finished covering her in a soft down. I could feel her watching me as I descended from the scaffolding that surrounded her. She would speak with the voice of gods and I had the privilege of creating her. Our leader had such a fantastic vision of what she would look like and how she would sing. He drove all of us to work harder and faster, with no tolerance for failure. It was difficult, but our passion rivaled his inspiration. Creating this angel, hearing her sing, it would be a small step in making our God whole once more. As my foot touched the dust at the foot of the ladder, men burst through the doors. Clad in militaristic garb, they tried to put a stop to our creation. On their shoulders, an insignia glowed. A shield, with three arrows facing inward. I felt my body go limp below me and the world went dark.

As light slowly found its way back to my mind, I felt myself being dragged along the ground, an unknown person gripping my arms. I recognized the familiar uneven gait of the leader of our group. He muttered things as he pulled me. I had failed him. The angel was a lost cause and I was to blame. I was confused, I’d done everything he asked and more. The last I ever saw of him was his face at the top of the metal stairs he’d just thrown me down. An expression of disgust and disappointment. He heaved the large metal door shut, and for several long minutes all that could be heard was the locking mechanism. Then silence. I was left in an abyss of gears and machines.

I no longer attempt to remain conscious. I cannot see for my eyes have been repurposed. I cannot feel for the constant vibrations have deadened my limbs. I cannot hear for the screeching of unoiled gears has deafened my ears. I cannot taste save the coppery flavor of the liquid running down my face. I cannot smell anything save the acrid smoke of friction and rotting meat. I can feel myself slowly being converted into the walls of the machine. Every time I find myself in the waking world, I have lost some other part of me. With resignation, I’ve given up on an escape, I just wait for dreams to overtake my mind.

Sometimes I dream. Of my stolen angel. I can see her, the scaffolds have been removed, but she looks so lonely and sad. The walls have been repainted, and I hope that made her happy. But the longer I look, the more damage and rust I see. She’s barely a child and her future will be nothing but those four walls. I feel for her, my angel, my creation. She’ll never know what she could have been and my heart breaks for her soul. I can feel her cry resonate through my dream. She’s afraid and in pain. The walls shake from the power of her wails, but all I can do is watch. If only I could give her a comforting touch. But I can’t.

Sometimes I dream. Of a better world. Of what could have been. Of a hundred better futures that never came to pass. But the creeping doubt begins to seep into my thoughts. Would I still have been trapped in the maw of the machine? Unable to move, with rods impaling my body and needles driven through my veins? Bound to a timeless nightmare, where the border between dream and reality thins?

Sometimes I dream. Of the past, and I remember the green grass tickling my feet or the soft wind caressing my hair. And I cry.

I was recently allowed to join the Site Crit team as Jr. Staff. Aside from my normal responsibilities, I thought it would be a good idea to spend more time in our critting channel, #thecritters. As I've spent a lot of time there in the past few weeks, I've noticed a somewhat worrisome problem. For being a critique channel, very little critique is given. From what I've seen, I would say less than 50% of people asking for help actually get help.

I have, on several occasions, seen people asking for draft help in #site17, be redirected to #thecritters, and not receive any help when the hopped channels and asked. And these users weren't asking during a busy moment in 17 either. I spend the majority of the day by my computer, and I try to give feedback to everyone who asks, but a lot of times, the people asking have already gotten a lot of feedback from me and they want a different person to look at their draft.

I think my main problem with the channel is that there's not even a response to people asking for critique. I want to see #thecritters be more active, as getting feedback can often be difficult. I think having a dedicated feedback channel is a good thing in concept, but right now it leaves a lot to be desired.

I believe a good first step in making #thecritters into a better resource for users is to actually start responding to people. Even if the response is that you can't read their draft right now or asking them to ping you about it later, it would still be a step in the right direction