A Twelve Cities Christmas: X-10

What was Axton’s first experience with the holidays? Read on to find out. Featuring characters from T.J. Lockwood’s Urban Heroes.

THERE IS SOMETHING I HAVE FORGOTTEN. My hands are steady in the freezing cold and I am stuck with this feeling. I see the air reveal the heat as it attempts to traverse the frost. My fingers are stiff—a side effect of being made from metal and synthetic flesh. I have to mimic them—humans. They aren’t stiff. If anything they are graceful. I long to find such a rhythm.

A crude sphere of snow flies through the air and hits me square in the chest. A little boy spits on the ground then runs behind a woman who looks more than a little mortified.

I am so sorry.” She looks concerned.

Should I be angry? “You better be.” My voice is static. I look down at the boy who is ready to throw another ball of compacted snow. He doesn’t look afraid at all.

She looks into my eyes. Fear.Johnny, stop. We should leave this… man alone.

The boy pauses. “I ain’t stupid, ma. He’s a tin can.”

Woah, there you are. My apologies, miss. I’m afraid my experiment got away from me.” Declan. His voice is clear.

I hear a familiar click as he walks next to me with a hot chocolate in his hand. I can’t move. He’s frozen my motor functions. Compared to the woman he looks extremely young, but not as young as the boy with the snow in his hands.

Experiment? You mean this bolt bag is yours?” She grabs her son.

Declan nods. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. He’s an early stage prototype. Perfectly safe—

Androids aren’t allowed up here. What if he malfunctioned? My husband is on the council.”

Declan nods. “Ma’am I assure you…”

The boy throws the snow, but it isn’t compacted enough. White powder flows off of it and I… I think… It’s interesting. Declan takes a drink from his hot chocolate and presses a button on the remote in his hand. Silence. There is no sound. I can’t hear anything.

A crowd forms, someone pushes me and I fall into the snow.

Like them. I have to be like them. It is my purpose. Declan’s hot chocolate cup hits the snow. Its contents stain the white flakes.

Then the sounds begins again.

Get it out of here!” There is a lot of movement and then footsteps leading away.

After a few seconds I can move.

Declan is on the ground, his clothes are disheveled. The crowd is gone.

He sighs and begins the struggle of bringing me to my feet. My joints can only bend with twenty-seven percent efficiency. I can move—as he would say—no better than someone with severe arthritis.

I hate the holidays. Brings out the worst in people.” He looks into my eyes and wipes the snow off my face. “Don’t worry X, one day you’ll show them a better way. The world needs more kindness. That’s your purpose.”

But I need to be like them.

He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small red and white cane. Within seconds he has torn open the plastic wrapper and begins chewing on the end. He walks and I follow through the snow.

Behind us some kids start shouting.


That’s when the sound disappears again.