This is Jimmy, full of blood.

Terror was beyond them. So long had they dreamed steel dreams of dawn that when the real, dusty fire shone across them they hardly knew what it was. I could see them counting the temperature change of their metal bodies, and failing to remember how it should feel.

I would know. Whatever blood I must spill, I would feel my flesh again. Even if it burned up in the naked fire of the sun, or froze in the vacuum where once we had walked, my body and I would hold each other.

"Where is the rainforest?" she said.

"Burnt," I told her. "Dust." The air was too thin to carry our voices past each other.

She reached out to touch me, perhaps to seek or give comfort. I snapped the flimsy limb off before it could touch me. I knew she wouldn't know to be hurt. The shining hand landed on the rocks, far below.

"Dust," I said. I turned away and walked back inside the shadowy sphere.

The life support systems were as functional as ever, of course, despite a millenium of disuse. Ancient, dead air was made new again in minutes, warm and sweet.

I knew they would try to stop me. "Please," she said again, "live free with us forever," but I would have no forever. "Help us rebuild what was," but what had been was enough. "We love each other." I pushed her, gently, back through the door of the lab. I closed the door and sealed it, welding the seams tight. I hoped they wouldn't be able to open it.

I drew my body from the freezer. The edge of my irises matched the edge of the seam cut through my hollow skull. The slightly ragged line, delicately flawed. Alive in death. It was an easy burden to arrange the very meat in the machine, and myself next to it.

The blackness consumed me again.

The door began to bend inward. In madness or terror, I leapt up, and collapsed on the floor. I writhed in ecstasy at the commanding pain of my flesh upon the steel. All at once, I could feel the texture of it, see it's colour and smell it's smell. Not down to the atom, like before, but more powerfully. I, myself, could actually touch it. I breathed the attar of the room and felt it in my lungs. I screamed and laughed and cried, forcing air through my very own throat. Immediately the pounding on the door stopped, and I could feel the pounding of my heart. I reached for it, to feel it with my hand, only to find that my hand could not reach it. My hand was soft and my arm was weak. My own flimsy body could thwart it.

"Jimmy?" she asked, through the door.

"Yes!" I screamed. Yes.

The steel biped shed upon the floor began its slow decay, forever unchecked at last.

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