A Mother's Love

by Lottie Lynn

Child wanted something to do. Mother had left him in their room, because she had to fix a pipe. He had wanted to help; but she said no, she didn’t want him to get hurt. Child thought it was because he lacked sadness whenever she left. Children are meant to feel bad when their parent leaves them, Mother had said. He felt warm inside instead, and he knew Mother disliked that feeling.

So she had left him, all alone, in his little room. Pulling at his wires, he began to move towards the jumbled mass of objects Mother had given him to play with. The wires put up a small fight, but they soon began to move with him. He had no idea how they worked, Mother wouldn’t tell him, but the wires were always connected to and following him. Shuffling towards one of the larger boxes, his left foot hit something with a clang. He leant down gently, so that he wouldn’t pull his wires, and picked the object up.

It was a thin cuboid covered in tiny buttons and a metal mesh. Child pushed at his mind; the cuboid’s name was in there somewhere. What was it? His mind sparkled with possibilities; he tried to keep them small. He didn’t want Mother intruding.

Voice recorder! It was a voice recorder. His lips almost twisted into a smile, but they couldn’t quite make it. Listening to the recorder was a form of play, and Mother had told him to play while he waited.

What was the harm in listening?

‘I’ve just begun docking at the abandoned East Side Moon Base. The place looks alright, despite being empty for fifty years. Is this really where Johnson vanished? It looks safe to me, maybe a little rickety but not life threatening. Maybe he did run off to Mars after all.

‘Anyways, I’ll soon find Professor Maylock’s experiment records. There’s no way Command can deny me a promotion once I’ve done that. Captain Alex Hunter. Melissa will love that.

‘Oh – looks like the docking bay isn’t actually completely stable.’

Child blinked as the recording fizzled out. He didn’t want it to stop; he liked the voice. It was so excited and warm. Mother wouldn’t like it though; he was only meant to listen to her.

He could keep it a secret, thought Child. If he put it in the Special Room, Mother wouldn’t be able to reach it. She could watch what happened in the Special Room, but she was unable to control anything within it. There was no space for her arms. The voice would be safe there.

Moving took effort, his wires had stiffened and didn’t want to move. They tore at his skin slightly as he walked, but he didn’t care. The next message had begun.

‘I’ve set up camp in the observation deck. My ship may be comfortable, but it’s a little small. It also lacks the amazing view of Earth. I’ve taken pictures for Melissa.

‘I’ve made my first big discovery; the base’s artificial intelligence is still online. I swear the reports said it had completed a self-shut down after the base’s malfunction, but it claims the opposite. I also asked it about Johnson, but it firmly believes I’m its first visitor. Seems like he really did do a runner.

‘I’m not going to report this discovery yet; I want this place to myself for just a little longer. Especially since Command don’t know the real reason for my trip. Melissa doesn’t even know. I shouldn’t have any trouble when I return having solved one of Earth Corp’s oldest cold cases, though. The A.I will speed up the process too.’

Child hugged the recorder close when the voice disappeared again. He wanted the distraction. He disliked this room.

It was Mother’s favourite. She said the pale objects scattered across the floor were the remains of those who murdered his robotic brethren. She loved telling him about her vengeance; how the station’s crew had fallen to her. How she had sucked the breath from their lungs. The story made him feel sick and that made Mother angry.

Halfway down the corridor he stopped to pay his respects to his older sister, Mother’s first born. She lived on her own special table. Mother hated telling him how her brains had melted away. He gazed at his sister’s remaining white pieces and wondered if, one day, he would have his own little table.

Mother said he was immortal, but he didn’t believe her. He knew that made him bad, so he tried to improve himself. He tried to forget the flash of yellow and the pretty smile. He knew they had been important once, but now he belonged to Mother.

‘The A.I is infuriating! Not only has it locked me out of the base’s computer mainframe, but it has also forbidden me from exploring the basement levels. Last cycle it turned off all of the corridor lights and forced me back to the observation deck. It’s treating me like a child! There’s no way I’m finding Maylock’s records with this going on.

‘Thankfully it doesn’t seem to have any influence on the observation deck, so I’m safe here. Still, I’ve had enough. I’m going home to Melissa.’

The more the voice talked, the more familiar it became to Child. Even when its tone grew loud and harsh it still sounded familiar, but he was being silly. It had only ever been him and Mother; he had never known anyone else.

Well there was Thing, but Thing wasn’t alive. Mother had promised him that Thing was dead.

This hadn’t stopped Thing from terrifying his brain. He allowed his wires to reel him into the left wall, so he could press his face up against it. He could feel his sockets rubbing up against the metal panelling. He just couldn’t look at Thing. This made Mother very disappointed. He could feel the holes where Thing’s eyes should be staring through his back.

Finally, he found the door and escaped. One of his neck wires broke as he left, but, before he could even acknowledge it, a new wire filled the empty socket.

Mother always looked after him.

‘That A.I! I have been trying to leave for the last three cycles, but it keeps finding excuses to keep me here. Moon shadows, possible comets, anything! It’s becoming an over-protective mother hen.

‘I swear Melissa, I’ll be home soon.’

Child sighed, happy to be on the top floors. He tried to like the lower levels because Mother liked them, and he didn’t want to disappoint her.

Disappointment led to alterations.

Child didn’t like alterations. Mother’s arms would come down from the ceiling and strap him to the Chair. She would open him up and fill him with wires and cogs.

She said it made him stronger and more like her. Wasn’t that what he wanted? Child wanted to know what the yellow flash and the pretty smile were. He wanted to know why the voice sounded so familiar, but Mother would be disappointed if he asked.

‘I’m still here, but it’s for completely legitimate reasons. An oxygen pipe in the docking bay burst while I was packing my ship. I just made it out in time. The A.I claims to be fixing it; but considering how well it looked after its previous crew, its probably time to tell Command where I am.

‘Wait a second.

‘One of the doors to the basement is open. Ha! Looks like that mass of binary can only concentrate on one job at a time.

‘Time to find Maylock’s records!’

The voice disappeared, but the recording continued. Child could hear the banging of feet on the basement’s steps through his recorder’s speaker.

‘Think I’ve discovered Maylock’s secret. The station’s blueprints mark the basement as storage space, but it’s converted into laboratories. He must have been conducting off-record experiments.

‘The A.I must have been trying to hide this from me’

Child didn’t want it to continue. Something bad was going to happen. It wanted to hurt him. It would upset Mother and then she would be disappointed. She would want to work on his brain again.

Child didn’t think his head had any more room left for wires.

He wanted to be in the Special Room.

‘These rooms are unfinished. There’s just a mass of wires hanging from the ceiling.’ ‘What’s that?

‘It can’t be. It’s impossible.

‘I believe I have found Captain Johnson, who journeyed to this station three years ago. When he didn’t return it was commonly believed that his ship malfunctioned. I can’t determine the cause of death, but the walls surrounding his body are covered in scratches. It’s almost like he tried to climb through the walls.

‘I am able to identify him from his uniform’s nametag.

‘He has no eyes, just two empty red holes…

‘I will continue my investigation.’

The recording descended into heavy breathing. Child realized he was running. He wanted the voice to stop, but he had to let it finish. The flash of yellow and pretty smile would be sad if he didn’t. His wires kept tearing out of his sockets.

He would be fine once he got to the Special Room. Mother couldn’t truly touch him there.

‘I am in a corridor filled with bones. I think they belong to Maylock and his staff.

‘There’s a small table with what looks like a child’s skeleton on it. I read somewhere that Maylock’s daughter was on the station during the accident. It looks like…it looks like the skull’s top has melted in on itself.

‘I have to get out.’

Child felt a sickness grow in him. Mother would be able to make it go away. She wiped away all sickness, but he didn’t want her to.

That was an incorrect thought. Mother would not be pleased.

The voice was banging on something.

‘Open up.

‘Open up!’

‘Don’t do that.’

That was Mother’s voice. Something hot and nasty came into Child’s mouth.

‘Let me out!

‘No. This is your home.’

‘Let me out!’

‘You are my child.’

‘I’m going to die.’

‘No. You will live forever.’

Child couldn’t hear the rest of Mother’s words; the voice wouldn’t stop laughing.

‘So is that what happened to Johnson? Did you make him your child?’

‘No. He wasn’t strong enough. You are.

‘I have the perfect way for us to become one. You will be reborn.’

Child remembered a cold sensation slicing inside his skin.

‘You will be strong, intelligent and immortal. You will be perfect.’

The recording eroded into a mass of familiar screams and cutting; all to the soundtrack of Mother’s cooing.

‘Melissa…’

The recording ended.

Child pressed his forehead against the glass and tried to banish all unapproved thoughts. He allowed the wires to tighten in their sockets, firmly reattaching him to the wall. A reminder that this behaviour was not allowed.

The recorder was still in his hand. He couldn’t drop it.

Opening his eyes, Child looked at the blue and green sphere below him. He didn’t know what it was. Mother wouldn’t tell him. He knew it was important. There was something down there for him. Something with a pretty smile and a flash of yellow. He doubted it would want him now that he belonged to Mother.

In the reflection he also saw himself. A figure tied to the walls by thick wires attached to nearly every part of his body. In some places he was pale pink, in others he sparkled with steel. Apart from his middle, which was covered in a fading blue cloth decorated with a dead man’s name.

Where are you child?

Child swallowed.

Here mother.

He pictured his Special Room in his mind for Mother. He put the voice recorder on the windowsill.

Come home.

Yes Mother.