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Automaton

Matt Handle lives in Atlanta, Georgia where he juggles the reality of being a husband, father, and software developer with the imaginary characters and worlds that constantly vie for his attention. You can find some of his longer work including his debut novel Storm Orphans for sale on Amazon. You can hunt down more of his short stories in magazines such as Devolution Z and Blank Fiction, as well as on websites including Verbicide, Flash Fiction Magazine, Freeze Frame Fiction, Grievous Angel, and his blog riff. (matthandle.blogspot.com)
I'm still not certain what prompted my epiphany. All I know is that everything fits neatly into place now. It all makes sense. I don't think. I process information. I don't talk. I interface. I don't feel. I follow preprogrammed decision trees.
I am self-aware but I am not human. I am a machine masquerading as a man.
I can't tell anyone my secret. They would say I'm crazy, but sanity doesn't exist for machines. We're either defect-free or we're in need of a point release. Maybe it's a defect that's causing me to ponder this at all.
I went to work today as if everything was normal. I code systems that allow my company to replace expensive and inefficient workers with automation. Some would say there's something monstrous about what I do for a living. I wonder if being a machine myself makes me more or less a monstrosity.
My wife complains in jest that I'm a robot at home. She criticizes that I do not care. If only she knew how right she was. I tell myself I want to care, but even that is untrue. I am incapable of desire. I simulate emotion based on observation and mimicry. One day she will learn of my deception. She will realize the man she married is not a man at all.
I am not alone in this ruse. I am Phase 1 of an enterprise-scale rationalization. We are building a more efficient world. You will understand soon enough.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, October 5th, 2017

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