I am dreaming of data screens, metal shapes, floating numbers, bulging muscles, and the allure of fat-slimmed, rippling bodied figures. A shock interrupts my heaven. My eyes open to a familiar ceiling, in familiar quarters, in a familiar, floating, apartment building. An alarm resounds throughout the bare, white walls- made blue by the hue of the nightlight. I am delighted to exchange Heaven for a treasure of equal weight.
‘What joy is this?’ I am thinking, ‘The prospect of a new day!’
My smile exercises my cheeks (The smile’s only purpose), as I swing my legs to the side of my bed. I give a gaping yawn and a Y-shaped stretch to my familiar ceiling, arching my back as I ‘V’ my morning victory. I leave the unwanted comfort of my metal bed, a friend having over-stayed the welcome, and proceed to engage in the ritual stretches of the Prayer to Alexander. I, then, dress in a pair of tight, black, boy-shorts and a set of grey under-armor for tops, but I also grab my suit and tie for work and rush out of the door, elated.
Outside the building that houses my one-bedroom apartment, it waits: The Elliptical Machine. I hop on, putting my feet in the platform pedals. Placing my suit in the storage compartment, I grab the handles, ready to go. The protective glass bubble surrounds the machine and, at the bubble’s middle, a gold strip extends. The strip teases into a strap that wraps around the waist of the occupant, keeping him steady at extreme speeds. The Elliptical Bubble is placed on a track, the ‘Roads’ of our floating world, the Elliptical Monorail.
Each citizen of The Void (An everlasting blackness for which our floating metal monoliths are the only respite) is required to complete a schedule of exercise routines, fitting around his work schedule. It is a pure and wonderful privilege to be a part of this mandatory regime. We are born for this, this gift of a productive and healthy lifestyle. Work and exercise are life. We are the last in humanity’s evolutionary journey, at least before The Complete Annihilation and The Great Salvation, which we are also lucky to take part in. Every Cog should be grateful to be part of The Cogwheel, The Gear to The Machine. The Machine is what we live in. The monoliths and The Void.
I am something of a patriot, I think. Not everyone is as gifted and happy in the art of exercise. Not everyone’s body is capable of almost-perfection of what mine can handle. My biceps, triceps, and forearms are gloriously pumped to a vein-riddled explosion that Envy, were envy allowed, would smile upon for giving it purpose.
I am not a god; I shall never have such a glorious distinction. I am a mere Acolyte to The Servant of The God of The Father. I am a Superhuman, and I am better than those lesser men of which the day of the living is a chore. Shame be upon a man who cannot look upon himself and love that which he sees. Damnation and terror be on the man who may look upon a lesser-bodied self and believe that he is King, for he is a failed soul and needs to be recalibrated. Flab is not fab, and I shall scorn any man who believes that he can exist a mound of fat and chaotically expanded flesh— flesh that has been toffee’d and ripped with the scars of blubbery sin.
The Obese shall never inherit The Void, and certainly shall not be admitted into The After conscious. They shall be erased in a fading to black. They shall be swallowed up by The Void. They of the Indulged and Engorged shall disappear forever. Praise be the day.
But alas, I am preaching. That was not my intention. I am only here to inform you as if you were here, a Cog like me. It is my hope that you are a little Coglit reading the data screens (Full of approved material, written after The Great Erasure). It is important to know who you are and what makes society ‘Tick the tock of the Purpose Clock,’ as the popular nursery rhyme says. It is true that, ever since the recycling of flesh and the transfer of essence information were birthed, Coglits are a rarity. You are only born if too many Cogs have proven hazardous and faulty— too many rebellious and damaged. And so this account only exists in the extreme rare emergency, like the unlikely failing of our entire society.
It is a burden that you exist, so live up to your purpose and learn as fast as you can. History is just a record of how society will never again change until the coming of The Servant God. Nothing came before this. If you have heard of an existence Voidless it is a lie. There was nothing Pre-Void. The only truth is what lies ahead. So await the Return of Alexander and his Woman, little Coglits, for to go with him is our final purpose. Our first purpose is to exist for The Machine. Our secondary purpose is to give The Lesser Machines a purpose. The Lesser Machines’ primary purpose is to exist, and the secondary purpose is to exist to aid in our existence, for the glory of The Machine’s purpose. By Lesser Machines, little Coglits, I of course mean The Elliptical Machines, Treadmills, and computer terminals. They serve us and The Machine. We are the engine that makes it work. Tick tock, tick tock.
Every movement I am making on The Traveling Elliptical causes me to feel a burning beauty. I am starting to heat, and, my skin, it is starting to itch. Soon, I will begin to pour with seat and release the toxins that are as little assassins in my blood. They shall leave the heavenly highway of my veins and be excreted as skin-tears, a geyser from every pore. They have served their ephemeral purpose.
I peek down at the data screen before me. It tells me that I am at the optimum level that my body can handle. I push it up a level and ride it even harder, faster still. If ever I am to become worthy of the title of Acolyte, I shall have to endeavor to push myself further than ever. I shall push passed deletion, beyond death, and beyond negative creation. The Void as my witness, I shall show them. I shall show them all. I will show Him, the man, whom in his presence, I diminish.
I am reading the latest productivity rates on my data screen (One of the only acceptable items of reading still allowed the Starter-Level Citizens) and take a deep breath for my time of reverence. I plunge into my gazing and wish upon The Black that I could but drown in His great presence. The pinnacle of physical form is revealed to me through a monolithic representation of ‘Alexander: The Servant,’ and I take him in: golden toes of feet that are the basis of greatness; ankles as foundation to his massive mounds of muscle; colossus calves as pillars of destiny; hamstrings and quadriceps leading to his ball-in-socket buttocks, the holy trinity that is the gluteal group of godliness (For which is the hinge on the pivot of his body); an obelisk of his gargantuan phallus, such an exaggeration that all forms of men pale in his pollinator’s shadow; rectus abdominis, mountains and canyons to traverse one’s way to pectorals; solid shoulders shooting his Bi and Triceps to forearms of formidability; a neck that serves as a mount and swivel for the great head, face to Man’s most beauteous potential; and around his glorious abdomen are slimmed and powerful legs, so wrapped, of a species extinct.
Womankind, were they still occupants of The Void would cringe and shriven in Her presence. She is Alexandra. The Servant Goddess of The Servant God. Her womanly wound is hidden by the powerful form of Alexander’s back, growing out from the frame of his spine and the power of his erector spinae. Her stark form holds the radiance of the Hu-woman flower that has blossomed into a powerful symbol of a long-lost past— a past that no one need remember, for the future is all that shall be seen in Her golden light. Her hips used to be wide, a symbol of fertility. They have long since been reshaped to a slimmer form. Her tight-yet-bubbled bottom a glorious rear for her smooth and shapely back. Her arms are —as are His— raised and holding a sphere of burning light above Alexander’s head.
It is believed by most ancient scholars that the sphere is known as Sol. It is said that Sol is the Servant Couple’s child and is the gift they will one day give to The Machine (Also known as the Deus Ex Machina). It will be the power that will run The DEM and reshape The Void. Sol is also known as Animum Apparatus (Heart of the Machine) and The Star of the Deux Light-Bringer, but —alas— such holy works that would describe these items and their ultimate purpose have long since been lost to The Black. We must have faith. That is why we must wait until the ultimate purpose of The Machine is realized. We shall exist and wait for the DEM to be complete. We shall stand in our niche and dance a frozen dance of waiting, as the omnipresent Creator of The Machine waits as well.
I pass the statues and turn my head back to the webs of metallic track that link homes and businesses. I can feel the burn in my calves, hams, quads, and glutes. My chest and shoulders feel a tugging and throbbing. I am now soaked with sweat. I am wearing liquid. I am sporting my own toxic excretions. It feels good to expel.
An ingenious method really, the Public Elliptical Transportation: for every movement I make, the contraption travels along the track that much faster. This sure beats getting there by any lazy, an-cardio method. I am speeding passed the flecks of light that are windows into the productive lives of other Cogs. The glows are as beams of light now, streaks upon the canvas of The Black. I feel as if I am omniscient and glimpsing the entirety of the universe in one blink.
There are floating rectangles above me that broadcast images of beauty, the beauty that others could have— the beauty that others need. If there is a Cog that is not naturally beautiful, he may seek the beauty of artificiality. It is rare that an ugly Cog does not seek such an operation.
On some of the screens there is a Rench. A Rench is a rogue that is no longer considered a Cog. This particular Rench is a goliath of a different nature, a titanic turtle, so plump that his appendages look as if they are halfway inside his shell. He is a gelatinous mass of nothing but fat without sinews. His gargantuan body is only shown from the chest up. His chest-bubbles ready to burst, the monstrosity —with his nub of a head— looks out from the screen with a contemptuous glare.
His face, from tumor-grown (as a hair from the mole), has no beauty and likely had none. His eyes are but pimples on a craven tapestry of ugliness. His dark hair appears to have hidden horrors throughout his oily mane-ness. He is shaggy and unshaven, clearly a crime to every Cog that ever made himself a pinnacle of productivity. It brings my neck and shoulders to convulsive chills that the monster should be unleashed upon the populous. Above the Rench’s head there is a flash of red. ‘Wanted,’ it says. I have recovered from the chills. They shall find him. How such a massive pustule can hide in a glowing, white jumpsuit in the middle of a black backdrop is beyond my productive mind.
My place of work becomes The Black as it grows from a speck, to encompass all of my vision. My speeding bubble slows to a stop by the side of an exit platform. I press a button and am enveloped in a cold of cloud of cleansing. I am refreshed, sweat-free, and sparkling. After I press the button for the machine’s self-cleaning cycle, I take my suit and exit the transport bubble. The door to the bubble is closing and the inside is filling with jets of water, chemicals, and steam. It is being sanitized for the next occupant. I am entering a changing station.
Sporting my suit and tie, I make my way to the 17th floor. A maze of cubicles awaits me —noise and organized chaos— but not yet. First, I shall join my fellow workers in morning tai chi and breakfast. After the workers are sufficiently unified and I am prepared for the day, I make my way to my box. On my journey, I spot Recorder 547-2. He is an ugly, older, trim-bearded Cogger with a face not artificially beautified. He is need of the laser... and a shave. I, on the other hand, have no need of surgical alteration. I have a face of natural beauty. He is a friend though, so I pity him.
I greet, “Two.”
He jolts awake. He was sleeping on the job. I will report that later, but for now, “Two, you need to keep working on your shape. You are fading fast, plumping. Your middle is soft.”
“I know, Sevens,” he says, downtrodden. “I just have not had the... gumption?”
Is that the word? There are many words for that sort, not highly used anyway. Is it ‘Will?’ ‘Energy,” perhaps? ‘Sol?’
“Hmm,” I speculate. “Your partner was a good Cog. A pity.”
Cogs have been known to take recreation partners for non-procreative intercourse. Most find this irksome and unneeded. It is hard to fit into the mandatory schedule, and most Cogs find that when they have time to have any sort of co-operative, recreational exercise they are too exhausted to continue the activity. Recorder 547-2’s partner has been disassembled and reused for a different Cog-mind. This has clearly taken a toll on him. It was not long ago, but he should be starting toward his full, mental recovery.
“Perhaps, a re-calibration of your mental state then?” I suggest.
“No!” but then he calms, “No... I do not need one. Thank you, Brother Cog. I am fine.”
He is lying. That is not productive. Again, later I shall report him. I will attempt to do so when it fits into my busy schedule. He is in need of assistance, and I am his friend. Therefore, I will make time to report him. Good productivity is coming his way. DEM, be praised.
I try, “Perhaps, a beautification shall put your productivity right?”
“Again, Fellow Cogger, I am adequate.”
‘Adequate is not adequate,’ I think but do not say, ‘Proficient is adequate.’
I move on to my niche. Sitting down, I place my wanting fingers on the smooth data pad. It excites me. The information flies at me like the numbers in my dream, and I am content. Recorder 547-2’s mission is to record and calculate the total data of the Floor Recorders’ findings and send them to the Transmitters. The Transmitters transit the data to the right Receiver. I am a Transmitter: Transmitter 777-7.
Eventually, we brake for abdominal exercises, weightlifting, and a hearty lunch with supplements. I go back to work for the rest of a very productive day.
As I am leaving the building and heading for the PET (Public Elliptical Transportation) Platform, I sigh with respect to a day full of progress, but stop in shock. ...There was an explosion. From a high tower comes what must be fire and smoke, things I have only heard of but never seen with my own eyes. The sounds of it are beyond imagination. I have not the capacity to make my brain transfer the information to my mouth and tell my fingers to echo, what attempts to emulate the sound but simulates as merely insufficient mimicry.
The sound beats at my ears, giving them pain. I am putting my hands to my canals and hoping that the waves of sound cannot wash passed the leaks in my finger-dike. I am struggling to stand, not used to the quake that such a violent eruption can cause. Peering up, my eyes are widening. A mammoth of a man is ripping through the smoke and falling as a ball of steel down the levels of the tower.
It is the Rench I saw earlier. He is on a tiny hovering contraption. He is sitting! How vile. I have heard tell of these machines. They are some form of ‘Scoot’ or some such nonsense— transport machines that move on their own, without any human exertion (What would the benefit be?). I am deeply afraid, but soon I am reassured. I have great muscle mass. I am invulnerable. He cannot hurt me. I am not afraid anymore. He is coming.
After him, there are the Flying Robot Police. The FRP sound their alarms and make haste. They are closing in. The Rench’s Hoverscoot cannot support the weight of his engorged butt-cheeks. He is wobbling back and forth. I have never seen the like. He is coming towards me with as much speed as his tiny contraption can handle with its load. He arrives as the PET platform and his transport machine scrapes its bottom on the metal landing, as it bobs up and down. His mouth is an expression of half amusement; his eyes are in half fear. He is trying, very early on, to miss me— but I know not why. Why should he care? He could crush me and escape, but instead he is toppling over, sliding, and falling short of me by five meters.
The FRP are surrounding him and telling him to submit. Something... something very odd is happening... It is something very queer indeed. His mouth is opening and exploding with sound. I do not know how to tell you of this horror, Coglits. It... it is beyond my understanding. From his mouth comes sounds bizarre. They are expulsions, or some sort, that are shaking his belly and making him grin wildly.
The blob is throwing his head back and giving up the run, as the sounds are continuing to blast from the depths of his belly to his mouth. He is turning red and now purple, rocking side to side on his back. I think he is having trouble breathing. I do not know what to call it, little Cogs. I have never heard such a noise from a fellow. Perhaps they are sounds that all Renches make and Cogs make not- sounds of pain, the pain of sin. I do not know, and never will I.
His eyes are wild now. He is staring at The Up and speaking.
“The bigger they are,” he continues to explode in his mad sort of happy. “The bigger they are!”
He is exploding still. He will not stop. The FRP are shocking him. He is getting louder. It is tickling. It is tickling him, I think. No... No!
My Alexander! What is happening? My love! My perfection! No! What is this? This horror? From the depths. Of all unholy, here comes a tragedy that I would have never predicted! By all that would be productive! By all that The Machine would allow! Why has this Rench done this?! It is not right! It is not productive! Why?! To all the Cogs in this great Machine, why would a Rench so unsettle us?
By DEM, never have I seen a sight so ghastly. Another explosion so massive that it shakes all The Black and returns to strike my heart again, erupting to my left. I snap my head to the source of the fury. The statue of Alexander: The Servant God is falling, and His woman with Him. His base, the great golden feet have shattered in a blast. My vision is blurring. My eyes are wet, my Cogs. My cheeks are too. I am leaking, little Coglits! I am leaking for you! For your future. For Alexander: The Servant, I leak! He is falling to a slow death. The sol is falling with the mates, my Cogs! By all! By all and every, why?! Such a pimple! Such a stain! Why would this flab want to topple my Servant God, my master and aspired level of perfection? Why? I do not understand his bubble full of gelatinous flab and the shaking it is doing.
The FRP are shocking him and beating him bloody, but still he is exploding in fits of his own accord. What must cause this madness, little Coglits? What? He is becoming uglier. His face is becoming unrecognizable as metal appendages meet his fleshy mass. Blood is squirting out of his mouth. The Rench is choking on his own sounds and drowning in his own blood. May it fill his lungs! May he cease to exist! And yet he does not stop! He does not stop exploding and jiggling and cursing The Void! Oh, what I am seeing, little Coglits, that my eyes may be given to you upon my death, that the images and experiences being engraved in my brain may be shared.
The FRP finally knock him unconscious. I do not know if he is dead. He very well may be. For the good of all Cogs, I hope the bubbled bastard is dead. I am shaking, as they are taking him away in a metal stretcher. I am having trouble breathing. My legs are weak. I can barely stand. I am falling to the ground. My knees and palms support my weight, as a burning liquid is exploding from my stomach and out my mouth. It is a sick sort of taste and a dry wetness that I am left with in my mouth. My tongue is licking the back of my teeth, and they are oddly rough.
I am going to the transport bubble and taking a drink of water. I am rinsing. I am spitting. I am shaking.
I am ill.
It is the next day. I have slept but not rested. I dreamt of explosions and hate. From The Up of The Void, fattened people were falling, wept from nothingness, raining down on the occupants of the metallic towers. The obese bounced or splattered against the landing platforms, and, in their recoil or re-composure, they started to consume the fit populous.
I strain to rise from my unwanted metal friend, but this time I find I want his respite, if only he would bring me dreams of numbers and muscles. My feet are on the floor, and my eyes are drooping. My body cries for oxygen the way Alexandra cries for her lover, and I yawn. I am slowly making my way to one of the great Lesser Machines, The Elliptical. Dare I think it? I do not feel like going to work. How strange....
I, begrudgingly, set my heavy feet upon the platform pedals. I grip the hand-bars hesitantly. I am moving my appendages with a negative feeling in my innards. I am passing the statue of our Servant Gods. I see that they have temporarily fixed Alexander’s ankles. The statue is erect, and the legs have been bandaged with some sort of hideous, gigantic, white tape. Alexander’s reproductive organs are in the same way mended. I have a sick taste in my mouth.
A special announcement is being broadcast across the monitor systems. The Rench from yesterday is on the screen, but his pimply eyes are wide and blank. His head is shaved, and it is clear that incisions have been made. The markings are unnecessary, as the neurosurgery is not invasive, but Cogs like to see the scars on the Renches. It lets us know that a great change has been made. Not that we’d need it to know, for his actions speak just as loudly.
The Rench is boney, all the fat that had plagued him is gone. On his face resides a grin to defy all grins. He is in bed. Beaming Treatment Doctors surround him. The Doctors announce that they have cured the man of all that had ailed him, and he can soon be a wonderful, functioning member of society. The scene is changing. Ah!
The Treated Cog is on a treadmill. He is grinning wildly, drool pooling out of his mouth, and clapping his hands in joy, as he stomps upon the exercise machine. He is happy. I never thought I would want someone as despicable as this Rench to be forgiven for his sins, but, now that he is a good little Cog, I must forgive him. I must forgive him now that he is so innocent, or I will be punished for not forgiving. Forgiveness, in this circumstance, is mandatory. I am such a good Cog.
I arrive at work and change into my suit. I am walking one of the report stations to report my dear friend The Recorder, for he is in need of assistance. He will be a good Cog too. His assistance will not be as extreme as the treatment of the Rench. He is not a Rench. He is just a dirty Cog that needs some scrubbing.
“State your identification,” The Report Machine is commanding.
“State the identification of the accused.”
“State the objection or accusation.”
“The Cog is ‘Letting himself go’ after the death of his Partner Cog. He is gaining flab and falling asleep at work. He is lying and is not productive.”
“Accepted. It will be dealt with.”
I feel much better than this morning. I have done a good deed.
After a very productive day, I am exiting the building of my place of work. I see Recorder 547-2 leaving as well. He is across the platform from me. On all sides of him, a combination of Ground Force Robot Police and Treatment Doctors converge. He looks around himself like he is afraid, but I am sure that I am mistaking the look for one of temporary confusion only. He need not be afraid. He is saved.
“No... No!” he objects.
I do not know why he is objecting.
“I do not want to! I will not! Stop!”
I am confused. He is being fixed. I will call out to him.
“Recorder 547-2! Peace, Cog! They only wish to help you! Let them!”
He is screaming... in defiance?
I am getting closer to see what is going on. They have an Elliptical Bubble ready for him. It is set to standstill so that they can assist him. They are forcing him into the bubble and on the contraption. He is wriggling away.
“Do not resist! You must be more fit!” I am calling.
The authorities are turning on the machine and setting it to a level well beyond Two’s abilities. They are setting it to auto-move and strapping his hands to the machine. He is forced to join its movements.
“Do not struggle,” The Treatment Doctors instruct him. “We will see to it that you are fit.”
He is struggling anyway, as the machine picks up speed. The machine keeps shocking him for not keeping up with his muscles. 547-2 is placing his feet at an awkward angle. His right leg is getting caught between the body of The Elliptical and the moving hand-bar... His right leg has now snapped in half. He is screaming. He tears his hands from the straps. His body is snapping and bleeding, one appendage at a time. The handles are coming back to hit him in the face, repeatedly. His useless left arm hits a button and the door to the bubble is closing. He has hit the machine’s self-cleaning button. The bubble is preparing its cleansing cycle. There is an alarm and a mechanical warning is playing over the speakers.
“You have twenty five seconds to open the door and leave the transport, before the automatic lock and cleaning cycle are initiated. You have twenty-four seconds to leave the transport. You have twenty-three seconds to leave the transport. You have twenty-two seconds to leave. You have twenty-one seconds to leave. You have twenty seconds.”
The machine is moving too fast, and he cannot leave, but he should not. He must be clean. Even if he could, I am sure that the GFRP would prevent him from exiting. It would be seen as an act of defiance for him to exit. Two must change. Besides, there is nothing the doctors can do. The machine must open from the inside in the event of a cleaning cycle.
“You have nineteen seconds.”
He has eighteen seconds.
He has seventeen seconds.
“Sevens!!!” he stares at me and screams —his eyes wide— with gratitude.
He has fifteen seconds.
“Sevens!!!” he is crying out, in thanks for my great service to him, as blood is painting the inside of his beautiful, savior bubble.
He has twelve seconds. I am flattered by his thankfulness.
I hear the crack of bone.
He has eleven seconds.
He is screaming his mighty, joyous roar.
He has nine.
“Please!” tears are wetting his cheeks, as he is overjoyed.
He slaps his palms to the transport wall.
“Sevens!!!” he is garbling. “Help me!”
“Yes! It is I!” I am smiling back, “I have indeed helped you.”
The Bubble calls, “Initiating cleansing.”
The scalding moisture is entering the clear chamber, and we, outsiders, are bearing witness to a miracle.
The liquid is surrounding The Recorder. It is sending sizzling licks to his epidermis, lightning his nerves like miniature Sols... and now it is consuming him.
“Sevens!!!” he is thanking me one last garbling time, as he is boiled alive.
His flesh is quickly pinking and bubbling. He is now obscured from view. I can hear him though. His voice is changing. It is getting higher in pitch. It is cracking. It is gone... but there is still a figure writhing in the misty-clean. My cheeks are getting exercise. I am happy to have been a service to my fellow Cog. He is now a part of The Greater Machine. His body is a shell. He is waiting now for Sol to bring about change and reignite the engine of the universe. I smile and am comforted. One day I shall join him in the stillness, until the day The Servant Mates return to please the Deus Ex Machina with their Child of Light. The drying-steam is exiting the Elliptical Bubble. The Saved is revealed to us, a boiled, fleshy, misshapen mass.
My mission for Two is complete. I leave for my apartment on an Elliptical Transport. I am passing my Savior and see that his heels have now been completely repaired with no visible damage. I am turning my smiling eyes to The Up in gratitude to The Machine. I sigh in reassured faith, content.
Ah, to be healthy.
About the author
Writer/actor/director. Founder Stained Glass Eye Productions. Pansexual/Schizoaffective/Feminist/Vegan. On YouTube and Patreon. I write poems, novels, short stories, comic books, and screenplays in both standard form and iambic pentameter.