“Limp, the body… did not shiver in the chill, oily breeze that blew eternally through the main cavern. The body hung head down, attached to the underside of the palette by the sole of its right foot. It had been drained of blood through a precise incision made from ear to ear under the lantern jaw.” ~ Harlan Ellison
In “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” Ellison offers a glimpse into a terrifying (and likely) future that has always left me more than a little spooked.
The events that take place in the short story are woven in a way that could touch every member of society. The theist might fear the wrath of A.M., a sentient machine with godlike traits. The technologically savvy would probably shake at the thought of science pointing towards a future of mechanical ruthlessness. Those led by law and logic could put themselves in the place of any of the last five people in A.M.’s world, and dread learning that when existing under less than favorable conditions people tend to lose their humanity.
Ellison’s story is horrifying because it has the power to convey what it might be like to exist under the eternal torment of a Maker that knows no kindness.
The plot is pushed forward by fear, desperation and misery. Even the title is haunting... It arouses a visceral reaction that makes the reader want to shout in order to release some of the tension eating at the narrator’s guts. And the author wastes no time with preambles. His introduction puts the reader face-to-face with a “body hung head down…” and “drained of blood”; with a world of chaos; with a place where people exist upside down while their humanity is bled one gush of pain at a time.
The ending is the most haunting part; A.M., once humanity’s dream, turns into a nightmare. It uses manmade intelligence to become godly. It unmakes and recreates human beings, and forces them to endure a hell of eternally rotting existence… which is made worse by the fact that the place of torment was indirectly crated by humanity’s own hands.
Fly over to Incipient Wings’ “Haunted Humpday, my Wicked Luvs. See who else is haunting dreams and feeding nightmares… Just so you know, some people engorge their nightmares with white chocolate ;-)
|Islets of Aspergers Type IV, detail by Choi Xooang|