The world had fallen like ash. Buildings had crumbled, highways had been ripped away like loose floorboards. Humans could no longer roam the streets. The sun did not provide the safety it used to for them. Clouds had swallowed it up long ago and when it appeared again it was never the same. The atmosphere was burned by the chemicals it had been fed. Not a single human would dare to roam the streets at night. The shadows were not a shield, but rather a promised death. There are only a few left and they know better than to crawl out from their rabbit holes. I would spend the rest of my life looking for them… only to be disappointed in the end.

Marching down the pristine halls, I am blinded by the white walls. There are no edges, no dents, and not a single scuff of the floor. From where I am this hall looks endless, but in fifteen steps I know I will reach a corner. I make a sharp turn left and keep walking down a hallway identical to the last, save for the pitch black door at the end. My pace slows as I draw near it. My left hand lifts and hits the surface three times. From the inside the latch unlocks and the knob turns. The room is made of solid marble. The only decorations I see as I walk in are a standing mirror to the left of the desk and a chandelier that hangs like icicles from the tall ceiling.

I examine what’s left of me in the mirror. The hard metal shell of someone who’s skin used to glisten in the water. Who’s eyes used to be full of life and emotion. Someone who’s hair used to hang by their shoulders. I don’t recognize the thing staring back at me. I feel my pacemaker quicken and the tips of my metal fingers twitch. I take a quick breath and face the back of the chair on the opposite side of the desk.

It turns and I am faced with a far more intricate and advanced shell. Whoever it was before, he was lucky- he got to keep his eyes. The whites of it’s eyes are bloodshot and the iris is bright green. It folds its metal hands across the table and speaks to me in a computerized voice.

“They’re attempts have neared.”

“Which sector this time?” I ask, disappointed to see the humans giving this another shot.


“This close to Main Base?”

“Human nature.”

I stay silent for a few moments, knowing what is sure to come next. I will be ordered to stay in my quarters until the attack is over. Nothing leaves the compound until they are gone. The humans have never entered one of ours before, but we have raided many of theirs. We plan on keeping it that way.


The door to my room slides effortlessly shut behind me. Standing in the center of the room, I turn off my eye function and hear nothing but the muffled sounds of the air moving past my ear replacements. I used to lose my balance when I did this, but now I stand firmly. I move steadily to the wall to plug myself in. The cord gets inserted on where my right hip bone used to be. I turn on my sleep simulator and put it on a timer for early the next morning.

Patrol scouts enter sector 110 at 05:00. The base is identical to our home base. Same walls, same grounds, easy to replicate as we have done so many times before. Our patrol receives orders to move through an abandoned human sector that was discovered after the attacks yesterday. We march down the gravel road and split down the center, each taking an individual base. We each used to call them houses. Our commanders don’t remember names like those… or they have chosen to forget.

I take a base on the left. It features columns and a wrap-around porch. On the inside, the yellowed walls are splattered with blood and there are wild dogs gnawing on a bone. My slow steps creak from the weight of my metal skeleton. The first room I check is painted blush pink with a sturdy and sleek wooden dining table still standing in the center. Eight chairs are placed around it and a layer of dust prevents the silverware from shimmering. The lightbulbs on the chandelier are cracked and spider webs cling to the elegant arms.

The next room is painted a subtle blue color. A simple couch and loveseat are pressed against the walls facing a television set with a light brown coffee table leaning to one side due to a missing limb. I can’t feel when my feet move from hardwood to the carpet that takes up most of the floor.

I stand in front of the couch, looking directly down at it. I can’t help but wonder what teenagers spent their Friday nights watching movies here, what parents got five minutes to themselves, what pets would curl up to sleep. I can’t help but wonder if they survived. To our knowledge, not many did. I don’t know if I wish they did or hoped they not.

Suddenly, something hard hits my left leg. I turn around and come face to face with a small human. She doesn’t look much older than five or six. Her blonde hair is cut short and her bangs lay in choppy layers over her eyes. Her clothes are tattered and she has a scar down the right side of her face that cuts through her eyelid. Her pale green eyes flash violently at me. A look of fear would be the last way to describe her face.

I know the human can’t hurt me. She is far too small and is only armed with a baseball bat. I can’t help but look at her. I haven’t been this close to a human since I became part of the other side. She holds a strong stance, not budging until she cocks her head at me.

“Aren’t you going to hurt me?” She asks in a high and delicate voice.

My head moves from side to side. I should want to hurt her. I should want to destroy her. Or, better yet, I should want to bring her back to base and have the leaders deal with her. Yet, something tells me I shouldn’t.

She squints at me as she walks around my shell, analyzing my metal parts and poking at the unfamiliar ones. Her stone face melts away into a curious one. After a minute or two she jumps onto the couch.

“You can sit down,” the small human says and I obey.

“What’s your name?” She asks.

“A-1577,” I reply and she looks stunned at how my voice sounds.

“Originally or made?”

It’s an odd question to hear from a human so young. She must’ve been born a long time after the original wars. I wonder how she knows that humans can be made into the mechanical beast I am.

“Made,” I say and she nods understandingly.

“You would have killed me by now if you wanted to, but you haven’t so you won’t. I’m Delilah. What was your name before?”

It takes me a moment to recall the word she is asking for.


It was odd to hear my name spoken. It had been many years since I had even thought of it. It was my name, but it was stripped of my identity.

Delilah held out her hand and I shook it. She opened her mouth to say something, but was cut off by a loud and airy gasp. A woman stood at the entrance to the room. Her pale skin tanned and burned. The woman stood about five feet and eleven inches and her eyes were a deep and sullen brown. The bags under her eyes made her face appear to be melting, but her eyes were wild and very much alive.

“Delilah…come here,” the woman said in a restrained voice that cracked at Delilah’s name.

“Mommy, it’s okay. Austin won’t hurt us. He was made,” Delilah said as she walked towards the woman, swaying with young confidence.

“That won’t matter much, sweetie. You know that.”

“What if it does? What if he’s a good one? What if he knows where daddy is?”

Delilah’s mother shook her head softly and a strand of hair fell gently across her face. I stood watching the two interact. Human interaction is a lost art as far as I’m concerned. She adjusted her posture and fixated her eyes on me, scanning me. For what exactly, I would never know. I still wonder if she found what she was looking for.


I remained silent. Which one?



“Main base?”


“They’re from the same sector,” Delilah says and a tear slides down her mother’s face.

“Have you heard of a David Phillips?”

“David Phillips, assigned to main base. Attained Captain honors on October eighth in the year 2013 after two years of service. Made in…”

“That’s enough.”

Delilah walks close to me again.
“Can you take us to David Phillips?”


“You will take us to David Phillips,” her mother says.

“I must take you as prisoners of war.”

The two stood side by side and held out their hands as if I were to handcuff them.

“Then do it.”


The patrol arrives back at the main base with Delilah and her mother, along with three others that were discovered. We escort them into the facility to be questioned and executed. They sat in a line, tied to the chairs with metal chains. The three other prisoners, adult males, sat next to each other, then Delilah’s mother and Delilah herself.

Our Captain enters with a gun strapped to his hip replacement. It’s eyes linger for a moment longer on the two girls, but appear dead in the faces of the men. It approaches the first man.

“You get a choice. Fight and live or struggle and die.”

The man looks at him with pure disgust.

“We will never fall.”

The Captain unstraps the gun and holds it to the man’s head. It stays there until the fear escapes the eyes of the man and then, within an instant, a bang shatters our eardrums and his skull.

It sidesteps to the next man.

“You get a choice. Fight and live or struggle and die.”

“We will never fall.”

The same action takes course.

Our leader walks to the third man. This one looks younger than the other two and trembles in his seat.

“You get a choice. Fight and live or struggle and die.”

“Let me be made and I will fight.”

The Captain nods to the guards from the patrol standing by the door and they remove the man from his chains and drag his defeated body away.

It then approaches Delilah’s mother and does not say a word. They stare at each other in complete silence. Her eyes longing and his eyes stiff.

“You have a choice…”

“David,” Delilah’s mother says.

“That name is no longer in use on this base. I am D-1…”

“No. Your name is David Phillips and I am your wife and this is our daughter. Her name is Delilah and you and I argued about this for months before she was born and when that day came we just knew that she was a Delilah. The name of the girl meant to survive this war through strength and intellect,” she struggles in her chair as she attempts to stand up. “Your name is David Phillips, my husband, her father, not the shell you were forced to become.”

“My name is D-1577 and I am Captain of this base,” he raises his gun and pulls the trigger in one swift move.

“No!” Delilah screeches. I take a step forward, as if anything I could do could help.

D-1577 stands firmly in front of Delilah. His stature makes her body seem to shrivel up. There green and fiery eyes lock. He reaches out to her and gently dries the tears that were flooding down her face. She yanks her head away.

“You…you… we spent so long looking for you! You were supposed to come home!”

The machine stays silent.

“Do not just stand there! You murdered my mother!” Delilah is wrestling with the chains wrapped around her. “We never even got a goodbye! One day you were just gone with a note scribbled on a napkin. The napkin that mom kept all these years in hopes you would come home. Say something!”

Silence passed, but was every once in awhile disturbed by a sharp cry from Delilah, still struggling to escape the chair. At last, she settled in defeat. The silence returned as if it were the deafening whispers of the dead.

“Goodbye,” and with that it was no longer her cries, but a bang that disturbed the silence.

“Clean this mess up and go back to your quarters,” it barked at me.

I moved the men first with little empathy. The lifted Delilah’s mother, only now occurring to me now that I never learned her name. Lastly, I held Delilah. I looked at her small frame in my arms for as long as I could allow myself. I held her hand until the moment I released her.

“I’m sorry,” I said to her corpse as she burned to ashes with the rest of them. I wonder if she heard me.

I walked away from the execution room and towards the exit. I thought about my first surgery, the second one, and all the ones up until the last when I was fully made. I thought about the war and all the battles I fought in to “earn” those surgeries. I thought about patrolling, finding people only to have them executed. I thought about the little house with it’s soft color scheme. I thought about the couch and table and chandelier. I thought about Delilah’s mother. How I would never know what made her, even for a couple of hours, have enough confidence in me to come to the main base. I thought about all of these things, but I mostly thought about Delilah. The little girl, not broken by war, but rather alive in it.

And with that I dedicated myself to winning the war. Not for the machines, but for the humans and most of all, for the girl who saw the human side of the machine.