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The Machine

11 mp3 sur 72,4 Mo : 57'07''

Type Sortie Acquisition
- 06/03/2013 25/01/2017
This High   02:26 
Downward   08:34 
An Open Door   04:34 
Home   03:03 
Losing Touch   07:28 
Hard At Work   01:46 
No Return   05:49 
One Last Glimpse   02:45 
Disconnection   10:00 
Years   01:53 
The Coldness   08:49 


This High 02:26
"[Narrator] From this high up, it was hard to feel any sort of connection with the world below. People were motes of dust in the streetlights, swirling through the darkened lanes and alleyways without any sense of order or purpose. I pressed my head against the Plexiglas. I felt as if I was floating 207 stories high.

[Mr Wilkins] ""Hello there.""
[Narrator] I stepped away from the window.
""Uh, hello, Mr. Wilkins!""
There were rumors - company myths, almost - that he was 110 years old. From this close, he looked every bit of it.
[Mr Wilkins] ""What a pleasure to finally meet you!""
[Narrator] ""You've been waiting to meet me?""
He shook my hand. It was cold and leathery.
[Mr Wilkins] ""Well, we have noticed you down there. Now, if you'd care to sign this, I think the matter will be done with.""
[Narrator] I signed the promotional document without reading the fine print. I was ecstatic. Chances like this didn't come around often at Machine Co. Mr. Wilkins yanked the form out from under my grasp almost before I had made the last stroke of my signature.
[Mr Wilkins] ""We will start work on Level 87 tomorrow...""
[Narrator] 87? I was that high already.
[Mr Wilkins] ""...and report to Sublevel 19 before you leave."" "

Downward 08:34
[Narrator] Sublevel 19 was nothing like the other floors at Machine Co. There were no alabaster work benches, no spotless white carpets. Here, it was dank, dark, and that noise...a humming, throbbing sound like a sickly heartbeat hiding behind the whir of a great machine. A large metal cage loomed out of the darkness, backlit by an iridescent blue monitor on which a cursor blinked idly. A metal panel slid out of an aperture in the cage near the monitor, and suddenly the cursor came to life. It read: "Insert hand here." Curious, I lay my hand on the panel, palm down, and immediately the panel retracted, taking me with it. I coudn't budge my hand; it seemed stuck fast to the panel. What happened next was a blur, dreamlike images. It felt like I was watching this happen to someone else. My hand being severed by a flash of light. The hand removed by a mechanical claw. A replacement hand attached. On the outside, it looked human, but in the moment before it was attached to my wrist, I saw that inside were metal rods for bones, tiny cogs and levers for tendon and muscle: a machine hand.

An Open Door 04:34
[Narrator] On the shuttle home, I couldn't help but stare at my new hand. I kept flexing my fingers and twisting it back and forth. It felt fine. There wasn't even a scar. Already, the episode in the bowels of Machine Co. seemed like just a bad dream.

Home 03:03
"[Narrator] At home, Jane responded to the news of my promotion with caution.

[Jane] ""Does this mean I'm going to see less of you?""
[Narrator] ""Look, I need to work hard to get ahead. It won't always be this way.""
[Jane] ""I barely see you as it is. You come in at night, eat, shower, and go to bed.""
[Narrator] ""Okay, so I'm running short of time here and there.""
[Jane] ""You're not making time! That's the point.""
[Narrator] ""I promise it won't be like that, Jane. I'll make time!""

I leaned forward and slid my hand across the table. Almost reluctantly, she placed hers in mind. I felt nothing as her fingertips ran across my palm. It was almost as if she was touching someone else's hand. I realized it was the hand I had placed inside the cage on Sublevel 19.

I snatched my hand back from Jane and touched my fingers with the other hand. The machine hand was cold, like the temperature of a metal bench top, or the bonnet of a car after it had been sitting in the cool of a garage.

[Jane] ""What's wrong?""

[Narrator] I forced a smile and hid my hand under the table.
""Nothing."" "

Losing Touch 07:28
[Narrator] On level 87, demands on my time increased. I had meetings with people who used to boss me around. I regularly caught a later shuttle home. My new hand never regained feeling. I found that it typed faster than my old one, at least. Eventually, I adjusted to typing with just the machine hand. I tried not to touch Jane with my new hand. It didn't feel right. I bought an expensive guitar I'd always wanted to play. My hand did not seem well-equipped for playing it. The guitar quickly became a six-stringed ornament.

Hard At Work 01:46
"""You have 1 new message.""

[Jane] ""Hey, it's me. Um, I just thought I'd let you know, my dad came 'round and fixed the side gate. I know you said you'd do it, but, um...well, anyway. I'll talk to you later, I suppose.""
""Deleted. You have no new messages.""

[Narrator] When I was elevated to a job on Level 119, I once again found myself in the office of Mr. Wilkins up on Level 207. I don't remember applying for the position. One day I was hard at work, and the next I was being told I was on the way up, that my application was successful. Mr. Wilkins went through his routine mechanically, like an automaton. Once again, I signed the promotional document, and once again, I was told to report to Sublevel 19."

No Return 05:49
[Narrator] I found it difficult to approach the cage, and for a moment, I considered backing out. Almost without my consent, it seemed the new hand reached behind me and pushed on the doorframe, propelling me across the floor toward the terminal. It read: "Lie on panel feet first." I dreaded lying on it, thinking of what it might do to me, and I think in some ways I realized that there would be no turning back. Ironically, I was afraid that should I not proceed, someone else in the company would take my place. All of my hard work would go to waste and I would be stuck on Level 87. So I laid down on the panel. It slid forward, the light flashed, and I heard the claw. I received an improvement to my legs.

One Last Glimpse 02:45
[Narrator] I began to forget things. Not about work, of course; my knowledge and skill in doing my job only improved after the changes. I forgot Jane's birthday and her cat's name. I couldn't remember whether she liked chocolate or walks in the park. I didn't care either. I was only home a few hours a day to sleep. It barely registered with me that she was there most of the time, and that made it difficult for me to recognize that at some point, she had left.

Years 01:53
"[Narrator] I should have been very happy the day I was promoted to Level 201 and became part of the elite, but it only registered minimally. I seemed incapable of emotions such as triumph, joy, and satisfaction of late.

[Mr Wilkins] ""How quickly time passes. It seems like just yesterday you were here for your first promotion.""
[Narrator] I had no recollection of the passage of time. ""Mr. Wilkins, how long has it been?""
[Mr Wilkins] ""Our records tell us you have been with the company 24 years.""
[Narrator] I was shocked. Had it really been that long? Mr. Wilkins seemed oblivious as he produced the latest promotional document and allowed me to sign.
[Mr Wilkins] ""Excellent. Now if you'll report to Sublevel 19, the transaction will be complete.""
[Narrator] A feather of emotion scratched at the wall I had so carefully constructed around my inner feelings. It was fear. ""Why would I go there? Surely my modifications are complete. I mean, there's nothing else to be done to me, is there?""
[Mr Wilkins] ""There are more modifications that can be done. Good day.""
[Narrator] In the elevator, I pressed the button for the ground floor. I decided I would leave. Leave the building. Leave the company. I was not returning again to Sublevel 19. "

The Coldness 08:49
"[Narrator] At ground level, the elevator doors opened. I saw people walking past on the street, saw a traffic light change from green to yellow to red. I stepped forward - but I didn't. I stayed rooted in the same spot. My machine body had taken over. My hand reached out and pressed the button for Sublevel 19.

Down there, the place throbbed like a heartbeat. I might have thought it was my own heartbeat hammering in my ears, but for the fact I didn't have a heart anymore. The terminal lay before me. I didn't want to go there, didn't want to go near it. I wanted to walk straight back out of there and get in the elevator, but I had no choice anymore. My legs carried me forward. The terminal read: ""Lie on panel head first."" I was walking forward, powerless to stop. There were things in my memory I tried desperately to reach, seemingly random images of people I didn't know. They were like feathers in the wind, dancing just out of my grasp, and then they were gone. I reached the cage, lay on the thin sheet of metal, and let my head rest against the shiny surface. I felt the coldness of it on my cheek.

[Overlapping voices]

But I don't remember anything after that. "