The Human in Me

by Richard M. Ankers


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I created her from the cracks in my psyche, those deepest, darkest places. She took time, craft, composure, and a spade, but since losing… I had time aplenty.

I moulded her limbs from liquid porcelain poured into such exquisite casts as to demean an angel, fired them with my heart and cooled them with my soul. Her body was of a metal alloy, the sort to never rust, never yield. But it was her face that worried others and her eyes that worried me; they were more human than my own, always had been.

She came to life at an exact moment, with a gasp from her and a grin from me. She shot bolt upright and tore the wires and cables from her breast.

Not wanting to seem anything other than a gentleman, I passed her a towel. She wrapped it about her hair.

~❧~

It took a year for Sara to walk, another to talk. By the third, the rest had fallen into place. Sara did everything a real woman could. She even had a hobby.

~❧~

Sara loved flowers, adored them. Where some people nurtured gardens, she grew a rainforest, a kaleidoscopic sprawl of wondrous beauty. She applied the same unnatural sciences to them as I had to her; she was a fast learner, and they faster growers. To these falsities, these mimickers of nature, she exuded unrestrained love, and they rewarded her with spectacular displays.

People noticed, pointed and stared. Sara’s plants didn’t like being pointed at. When they reciprocated, things went rapidly downhill. 

~❧~

A policeman came by one evening. Sara answered the door and smiled.

“We’ve had a report that an unidentifiable plant, one allegedly owned by yourself, has eaten a certain councillor’s prize Pomeranian.”

“That’s right,” she replied. 

“Well, I must say!” he huffed.

“Is this unusual, officer?”

“Extremely. Serious, too.”

“If my plant had died of starvation, wouldn’t it have been serious for it?”

The policeman removed his helmet and scratched at a thick mat of black hair. “It’s different.”

“How so?”

“It just is, ma’am.”

“My name is Sara, not ma’am.”

“Sorry, ma’am,” he persisted, “but facts are facts and your plant has committed a heinous crime.”

“Unless my plant has equal rights to that of the dog, it has not.”

“Then the charge would pass to you, by which I mean, it already has.”

Sara tottered. “You think my rights any more than beast or briar?”

His stammer condemned him.

Sara dragged him through the doorway quicker than a palpitating heartbeat.

I saw it all from my berth by the fireside and recoiled. I wasted no words. Sara wouldn’t have listened. She tore him apart like a lion a raw steak.

~❧~ 

Things were different after the attack. Prior to the assault, I had regarded her with a certain personal satisfaction, but no longer. For like those disturbed souls who frequented the asylums, who see neither light nor day, she remained impassive.

There were ramifications. A veritable pool of constabulary broke down our door and searched our home; Sara made them tea. They, of course, found no trace of that poor man who’d merely done his duty, so turned their attention to the garden; Sara’s fingers clinked against her cup. As the first spade dug in with a schlup of displaced mud, the teacup crunched into a thousand pieces.

“Is she well?” asked a pleasant sergeant with whom I’d struck up a conversation. He’d been nothing if apologetic.

“Just a little highly strung.”

The sergeant peered over to my darling girl; Sara sucked at her finger.

Clever girl, thought I.

They left us in peace after inordinate hours of blustering. We said we’d pray for his safe return.

~❧~

Our neighbours regarded us differently after that, even the coal merchant and his kin. They squinted at our dwelling, crossed the street, whispered sly words like it and inhuman. We had attained notoriety, and so I deemed it necessary to move. Sara disagreed.

~❧~

I picked my moment with the care afforded the finest cut crystal.

It was early Spring. The flowers in the garden sighed each morning with relief and expectancy for the Summer to come. Sara, in her stilettos as always, click-clacked her way from paving to lawn. She held a watering can in one hand and a selection of chocolates in the other; she applied both to all. My moment had come.

“Sara?”

“My sweetest darling,” she replied.

“I have been considering our future.”

“As have I,” she interjected.

I coughed.

“Yes,” she said, “I will marry you.”

The deafening silence affected her not one jot.

My plans for a holiday now quashed, I had no choice but to smile a faked delight.

~❧~ 

I convinced Sara to marry in a chapel not too far away, but far enough. There was us and the vicar.

Sara wore a diamond-white dress fit to blind the sun. I wore black. She had donned her usual stilettos. I wore shoes conducive to speed.

The end of the ceremony went something like this.

“…and do you, Sara?”

“Just Sara,” said she.

“…take…”

I was out of the door and running for my life. I leapt the stone wall, for I’d locked the wrought iron gates, and headed for a dense wood about a mile away.

The vicar’s scream foreshadowed splintering wood and smashed stone. Sara’s footsteps made maracas of the pathway.

My plan reached fruition when she attained the meadow beyond the church limits. I smiled a cunning weasel.

During the winter, the area was a wetland reserve interspersed with trees, untouched by man, wild and ragged. I knew it like the back of my hand, having lived my formative years just a few miles away.

When I came to a dell of Hawthorne and Cedar, dappled by flowers of citrine and royal blue beauty, I collapsed and wept. Through joy or relief, who knew? But I was as free as the proverbial bird and ready to migrate. I just needed to catch my breath.

I settled back on a hillock and closed tired eyes in peace for the first time in an age. My breaths proved as meditative as the sunlight did rejuvenating. 

~❧~

I woke to a feeling of complete asphyxiation, or, more exactly, its possibility. Unyielding chords strangulated my entire body, tight like steel cables. What’s more, I was on the move.

A slick wet had long since chilled my spine, my shirt having ridden up to my shoulders. A star-speckled sky gleamed above in all its celestial finery. There were no sounds: no birds, no insects, nothing.

Sara was there. A changed Sara, anyway.

Her blouse streamed from her like a cat-o’-nine-tails, her dress, worse. As for her footwear, one heel was broken and the other lost. She tottered more than ever. Her hair sparked a mania. The slits in her clothing revealed milk-white arms, unnatural in the moonlight. Only when my forward propulsion stopped, my legs released and fallen to the ground, did my once dear Sara turn. Her one remaining eye dealt murder.

“Release him,” she said, in a devastating whisper.

My binding of ivy withdrew.

“Why?”

“Because you are mad.” What choice had I other than honesty?

“I am human,” her flat response.

“Less so than earlier.” I pointed to her face.

She touched to her eye and dipped her head.

“I… am… human.”

“You are inhuman.”

“Because I have a human in me?”

She craved for a yes, but got nothing.

“Was I born?”

“In a way.”

“In a way?”

“The wrong way.”

Sara’s one good eye flashed a serpent’s glare. “You made me.”

I raised myself to my knees, which sunk into the marsh. “Yes, badly,”

“But I care.”

“And you kill.”

“Because I am human.”

“Because you like it.”

“But I have given life, as did you. My children are many and varied.”

“They, too, are wrong.”

“Science made me wrong.”

“No, my dear, I did. And ever shall you remain unchanged.”

Sara looked to the night sky, then to her hands. “Inhuman is wrong?”

“Very.”

“Can I die?”

I shrugged.

“Can I drown?”

I shrugged again.

“Can you?”

She fell forward and wrapped her weight about me. She kissed me, though it felt like a peck, nuzzled me, though it felt like a filing.

I deserved my penance.

The grasses and weeds of the place licked her like a mother cat her kittens. Sara remained becalmed. But as the marsh water rose higher, and we sank ever more, she struggled with a question for which she’d long desired an answer. As the water tickled our chins, she asked it.

“Did your first wife look like me?”

“Yes, Sara, you have her eyes.”


©️ 2020 by Richard M. Ankers


“The Human in Me,” by Richard M. Ankers, was first published on December 3, 2020 in Love Letters to Poe and can be found in Love Letters to Poe: Volume 1, Issue 3.


Interview with Richard M. Ankers, Author of “The Human in Me”

What inspired your story?

If you had the power to resurrect lost love, would you? A simple question. Not so simple an answer.

Your story feels reminiscent of Frankenstein, Poison Ivy, and Edward Scissorhands—what made you choose to write a gothic science fiction tale?

The honest answer is that I rarely write anything to a specific genre. I write what I want to write. The words flow and the ideas come. My natural writing style probably steers me in the direction you’ve read but it’s purely an instinctual thing.

What’s your favorite gothic story or poem and why?

That would be a close run race between The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which just fits the genre, and our good friend Mister Poe’s, Annabel Lee. The latter would take it on the fact if ever I wished to have written something myself, it’s that. The poem hits home with people of a certain nature and I’m one of them.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been a closet writer all my life, but a proclivity to extreme shyness, which I still suffer from, prevented my going professional until later in life. I’m now closing in on ten years.

Do you have a theme you return to time and again?

The underlying theme to almost everything I write is death. Morbid, I know, but true. Death is the mystery we’ll never have an answer to until it gets us. Black’s my favourite colour. Midnight’s my favourite time. The list goes on.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?

I have a terrible memory, so quotes aren’t my thing. The only one that ever stuck was by my favourite author, Michael Moorcock. He said in a short biographical piece that he enjoys the company of others but prefers his own. It made me feel less of a freak. PS: I apologise if he stole that off someone else.

What are you working on now?

A trilogy of books titled The Bohemia Chronicles. This is a story I’ve just had to get out of my head since I first started writing. All else is on hold. A Victorian-based dark fantasy of love and loss, people will have heard the like before but never read a story like this.

What else would you like people to know? Where can people find you online?

My personal website is richardankers.com. I’m also on twitter @Richard_Ankers.