This Fascist Kills Machines

The first one I did was the television.

It was just after Audrey died; maybe two, three weeks after. I was sitting at the end of the couch, where I always sat. I still hadn’t broken the habit of looking over at the green chair; that was where she’d be when we were watching TV together. Every twenty minutes or so I would look over, and she wouldn’t be there, and it would make my chest hurt and my skin go cold, the way it did when I first found her body. Now, of course, I’ve learned not to look over at the chair; but I suppose it’s a moot point, because the television is gone.

I’d been taking some things out of the hall closet and putting them in a box to give to Goodwill, and one of them was Terry’s baseball bat from Little League. The box was sitting next to me on the couch while I watched TV; if the bat hadn’t been so close I probably never would have done it. I don’t even remember what was on, only that it was loud and stupid and making all these easy smirking jokes and it didn’t seem to care about how I felt when I looked over at the green chair, about what had been done to me. It just kept on being noisy and cracking wise and acting like my wife wasn’t dead. I grabbed the bat and lurched up off the couch, swinging it clumsily, spastically, my momentum carrying me forward, and without even realizing what I was doing, I had caved in the screen of the television. It died in less than a second, with a big empty burst of sound and a blue flash, leaving only a slight ozone smell. I looked at it for a minute or two, understanding for the first time what I had done and what I must do next. Once I understood, the rest was easy. The bat was still in my hand, so I put it to work. There was nothing left of the television soon enough; there was nothing left of it to mock me.

***

If I was still seeing Dr. Grieg, he would undoubtedly tell me I’m delusional. That’s why I’m not seeing him anymore. It took me 36 years to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life, and I’m not going to spend any more time than I have to around people who are going to try and talk me out of it now that I know. It was listening to other people instead of paying attention to the truth that was all around me that cost me so much time in the first place.

I don’t need to hear all the objections to know what they are. They would tell me that machines aren’t alive. To which I say: not after I get through with them, they aren’t. They would tell me that machines can’t feel pain. To which I answer: spoken like someone who’s never wrapped the cord around the neck of a hair dryer and squeezed the life out of it, who’s never taken a BLueberry in his hands and crushed it like an insect, like someone who’s never forced syrup down a car’s throat and watched it gurgle its life away, choking wetly on its own cries for help. They would tell me I can’t possibly kill them all. To which I reply: I don’t have to kill them all. Just as many as I can. They would tell me that I’m being reckless and dangerous. To which I respond: maybe I was, once. Maybe when I rammed a railroad spike into the garbage disposal, fed sheet metal to the Skil saw, and almost electrocuted myself stabbing the DVD player to death with a screwdriver; maybe then, I wasn’t careful. But I am now. Every day, I’m more careful.

Most of all, they’d tell me my rage was misplaced. They’d tell me that machines didn’t kill my father, my son, my wife ­ or at least not on purpose. They’d invoke that word ‘accident’ that they use to explain everything they don’t understand. They’d say that Dad was just mechanical failure, the sort of thing you have to expect with a pacemaker. They’d say that Terry was a car crash, no different than thousands of others that happen every year. And they’d say that Audrey was a suicide, and that she just happened to pick a radio in the bathtub instead of pills or a razor. Well, they can say what they like. I’m tired of believing comfortable lies. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. And you don’t fool me three times.

***

No one really suspects anything so far. I tend to hunt my own, or go after ones I know aren’t being watched and probably won’t be missed. I haven’t touched any of the machines at work except the soda machine, and I got away with it clean when­ they said it was ‘vandalism’ and blamed it some of the kids who work the night crew. The way I feel after I’ve done it — invincible, like I’ve mastered death; I think I could go on forever. If it weren’t for this confession, I think I’d never be caught.

And I won’t be. The computer comes next. It knows; I hear the clicking and clacking as it processes, and I can feel its fear as it reads what I’m typing right now. In a few minutes, its time will come, and it can sense it. There’s a pair of lined gloves and a butcher knife right next to me on the desk; I’ll slide it into the machine’s CD drive and go from there. The house is silent, with all the other machines gone; the computer must be lonely. Under my fingers, the keyboard flutters like chilled skin. I can hear the coolant fan spinning nervously, the processors chirping frantically. I can hear the electricity humming in front of my face, beneath my hands, and it seems to get louder: a cry for help. I know what they’d say; I know what they’d tell me. But they’d tell also me the machine is not afraid, and I’d say: listen.

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