Well, it might not be October and it’s long past Halloween, but it’s finally here. A while ago I had this idea for this story based on an idea from Chris Brosnahan where you write a series of stories based on phobias. This immediately sprang to mind but being me i procrastinated. Enjoy.
Paul pressed return and the 3D printer sprang into life, squirting its liquid plastic onto the rotating base. Layer by layer the shape was built in a slightly off-white colour until the machine came to a humming stand still and there stood a perfectly formed model of a house.
Paul retrieved the house from behind the clear plastic screen and walked across the grey carpeted floor to the centre of the office. There stood the model of the latest commission from Harrison & Associates, a whole estate of towering, sleek blocks with the more luxurious detached houses on the hillside. Paul placed his house on a gently sloping hill, to the right. There it was, finished. Tomorrow, the clients would be in to view the work. All completed on time and on schedule. Nothing could hold this back now.
Giving a yawn, Paul made his way back to his terminal and shut down the machine. He grabbed his jacket, tattered brown briefcase – he kept it for sentimental reasons – and turned to leave. He was almost at the door when his printer sprang into life.
What the hell?
Paul went to the printer to switch it off but it wasn’t on. Some sort of power surge? Better leave the plug alone. He watched fascinated as a shape began to form on the base. A shape like a skull but not quite a skull. A slightly twisted head with gaping jaws and blank disc eyes. Something wrong with the machine? The printer hummed softly, came to a stop and waited. Paul removed the item. Yep. Definitely a skull of sorts. Well, he would report it to the technicians tomorrow. They’ll sort it. Probably some sort of ghost in the machine.
Paul placed the skull on his desk, an interesting curiosity, and turned to leave. The machine sprang into life again. Slowly, a long cord was formed, seemingly continuous. But no. It was made of a series of interlocking parts with bulbous lumps protruding on one side. At one end formed a spherical shape and at the other what reminded him of a tail. The machine stopped and waited.
Paul pulled back the screen, removed the item. It was like something out of his old school books. A spine. But with a difference. The ball shape on the end had a distinct letter on it.A.
Holding the spine in his left hand, Paul picked up the skull and examined the base. There was a slot there with a small letter A on it. He took the spine, pushed the ball into the slot until there was a solid click. He now had a skull and long spine. A science project? Sent to the wrong place? But how did that happen? Paul would have to speak to speak to the geeks to find out. He turned his attention to the printer expecting more. It sprang to life.
Bit by bit, Paul took the different pieces and slotted them together. B into B, C to C and so on until he was into triple letters and the model stood seven feet off the floor. Whoever had created it was a genius, of sorts, for it wasn’t quite right. Besides the head being twisted, the arms seemed too thick for the size and the legs were like tree trunks on over large feet. And were those toes more like talons than the gentle curve of nails? The thing was missing the hands. How odd. If Paul had made the thing he would have started at the skull and worked systematically downwards, but these parts had come in a random order so at first Paul had not been sure what he had. But now, here it stood, awaiting the final pieces.
The printer sprang into life, the machine’s hum grew louder as the turntable turned below the gradually forming shape. Surely, that was too big for a hand and where were the fingers? They seemed too long and thin to be the right shape. The machine hummed, the shape formed until the printer rattled and whined, small at first but growing in intensity, until the whole printer shook making the desk move. This was not normal. The printer fell silent. Not a hum. The shape was finished.
Paul took the piece over to the body and studied the left wrist. That was strange. No slot. He peered at the right wrist. A single slot. With a lot of effort, the hand clicked into place. If you call it a hand. It had a huge palm, almost the size of a pitta, with long elongated fingers, shaped more like serrated blades. Paul ran his index finger along one drawing blood. Damn. What an odd thing. An art installation, may be?
Paul stood back a little to admire the work. The twisted skull, the thick arms, the tree trunk legs, the giant feet, the single hand. It was then it moved. A single swift movement with its completed arm. An arc in the air that removed Paul’s head from his shoulders.
The thing made its way to Paul’s terminal and brought it to life with a touch. A few deft key strokes with its fingers, it entered an ip address and pressed return.