Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

0
Free copy left
You can read our best books
S.P. Johnson Jr. would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Beating Heart of Machine

By S.P. Johnson Jr. All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Scifi

1

Hemaut hated the quarterly inspection, watching someone disassemble, clean and reassemble his heart, occasionally with a new set of screws or gaskets. All the while Hemaut would be tethered to the wall of the city. Tubes that coiled from the rivet-studded walls joined with tubes that dangled from his chest. These Umbilical tendrils made Hemaut an infant and the city his mother. All-loving, all-providing, all-dependable Machine. She keeps her citizens safe from demise. As long as they checked in every couple of months to get their organs cleaned, that is.

The process had become more bearable ever since Wenn had gotten her license. She seemed to handle Hemaut's dismantled body with more care than the other med-mechs, although she might have been more careful only because she knew Hemaut and knew she was going to have to see him more than four times a year. Or she might actually show that much respect to everyone. More likely, everyone else didn't care whether or not their aortic valve got knocked around a bit during routine maintenance. After all, they were only prosthetics, and if the med-mechs damaged one, they'd simply go get another from a store room in the back.

An elderly woman waited beside Hemaut. She was the only other patient in the medical maintenance house. Her lungs rattled around in a sanitation chamber while the attending med-mech scrubbed at her couplings with a wire brush. The lungs crashed against the chamber a few times, but their owner simply read her book, unconcerned at the possible damage. Hemaut shuddered. Wenn once told him that the older you get, the more comfortable you are with your prosthetics. If not for Wenn's occupation and field of study, Hemaut would have dismissed her assurances entirely. How would someone as young as her know anything about how it feels to be old? Even with her years of experience as a student med-mech, Hemaut didn't fully trust Wennn on the subject of how likable a prosthetic was. He liked his heart well enough while it was in its proper place, hanging on the carabiner clipped to the steel ring on his suspenders. He also didn't mind setting it aside in its priming solution while he hooked into Machine for the night. It was only when someone else was handling his heart, taking it apart to it's smallest bolts and gears, that he ever felt uneasy about his prosthetic.

“You're all set,” Wenn said, closing off the valves on Hemaut's external arteries, and with deft precision, attaching them to his heart. 

Hemaut smiled appreciatively while he hung his heart on its clip and secured his arteries behind the protective leather suspenders.

Wenn wiped a spot of blood from the heart. “Will we be seeing you tonight in the archive?”

“Not tonight,” Hemaut said. “I've got to meet with Old Man.”

“Still?”

“He's helping me with my project,” Hemaut said, searching Wenn's eyes for some signal of disapproval.

“I thought you said you were asking him for ideas,” Wenn said, turning her head a little and squinting one eye. “Is he helping you further?”

“Just with the idea,” Hemaut admitted with a small shrug. “I know he's taking his time with it, but we both agree it has to be an idea worth having.”

“It had better be good. You've only got two months to finish a project you've known about for four years. Reinventing a reinvention is not an easy task.”

“I think it's going to be a concept,” Hemaut confessed.

Wenn grimaced. “Even worse. The Directors haven't supported any philosophical entries in over two-hundred years. I don't want to line up with all of the other nay-sayers, but maybe you should consider some kind of back-up entry. The last thing you want is to stand in front of all of Machine and those Directors – who have no sense of humor, I should add – and give a presentation that sounds like it was made up at the last second.” 

“In that case,” said Hemaut, “I would be better off with a well-considered concept than to waste time and energy on a project that really is done up at the last minute.”

“Maybe if you pick something that hasn't had a lot of attention paid to it in a long time,” Wenn said, frowning thoughtfully.  “You might have an easier time of it that way. Of course, you'll have to come up with an explanation for why you picked something so obscure and why you thought that needed your attention. But that's still better than what you've got now.” She began nodding as if she had doubted her own words, but was now seeing some sense in them. “You know, even if you have just the plans, you can sometimes get an extension to build a working model. Especially if your reinvention will call for a lot of expensive materials. A graduate from a couple of classes before ours did that with an improved efficiency valve pump.” 

“And a graduate from the next class made a new improvement that rendered the previous valve obsolete,” Hemaut reminded her.

“That's how it goes,” Wenn said with a sympathetic smile. “Every improvement is just a rung in the ladder for the next class to climb. And don't start in on all of that lasting legacy business.”

“I won't.” Hemaut pulled out his pocket watch and sucked air between his teeth. “No time. Old Man won't help me if I'm late.” He threw a hand up behind him as he dodged through the door of the medical maintenance house. “See you tomorrow. Maybe.”

“At least see if you can learn Old Man's real name!” Wenn shouted just before the door clicked neatly closed behind him.

Hemaut smiled. He did know Old Man's name, but felt like it was private information for the secluded, secretive elder. Only those in his confidence could call him Ollivan. 



Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

internathunal: I was held captive by your sense of style. I would love to see more from you. I enjoyed this immensely.

Pablo Rojas: Love the story, at the end it is a western story, simple, yet giving hints and pieces of the situation that is happening all over ravencroft´s universe. easy to read and always keeping with the main stream story I want to keep reading about, Olafson´s adventures.

ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...

annie08c: I really like this story, I can relate to it a lot and with how she feels, the boyfriend and the events that happened but I'm a little bit younger. It was really good plot, really liked how you stuck to the topic and you had a new title for every chapter making me guess what's going to happen. Ma...

ericaporamoralcine: La trama es muy interesante y original y eso ya dice muchísimo cuando todos tratan de triunfar con ideas ya trilladas.No puedo opinar en detalle sobre la gramática, porque a pesar de entender el inglés a la perfección, la falta de uso en cuanto a lectura y diálogo hacen que me maneje bastante mal...

Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...

Prime Rabel: Love the writing and explaining the whole world was simply magnificent. The writer kept the pace up and was eager to finish this novel although it ended so soon. Would be waiting and love to read its next part. Thumbs up to the writer for such a great peace and taking me back to medieval times of...

jessiealexandrap: Truly loving the novel, each chapter presents itself greater than the one beforehand. I truly love the novel and give definate question to why it's not published of yet. The novel truly deserves great attention and all should read the beautiful story.

JenniferParks: This story is very progressive. I like the main characters so far ( i am on chapter 5) and i am hoping to read more chapters. The writing, style, plot and everything is so far so good, i can really understand and read the story very well.The story really sticks to its themes and its target audi...

More Recommendations

CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...

PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...

jessiehs: This was absolutely amazing. I loved how it went back and forth between perspectives. I actually cried at the end I was so happy. This was amazing. I can't even think of another word to describe it. Thank you for writing his.