This is Jimmy, full of blood.
The bay was full of dust. Large forms draped in canvas lay beneath the dust, but the dust was, without question, the principal inhabitant of the bay. Without question. No form could conquer the ages that lived in that space, in the dust, and no canvas could vanquish them. The clank of the door behind me burned through centuries of silence. I felt like an intruder, and I felt like I had come home. Like my body, when I forget.
I waited in the silence for a day and a half, by my clock. Didn’t move a millimetre. There was nothing alive in there.
Far above me, it rained.
Finally, I was certain. I stepped into the room, heaved the canvas off of the nearest form, and got to work. The dust blew off of me, as well.
A great black bulk swam in the dust, driving the motes wild with it's hard steel angles. It was a familiar model, full of secrets only I still knew. The access panels only opened from within. I leaped up onto the roof of the tank. The hatch was locked, of course. There was no obvious method of ingress to the untutored eye, or even to the purely biological one. I felt the gentle magnetic tug of the keyhole, and answered its modulating field with one of my own. No living thing would ever pass through this.
As the hatch opened, the only sound it made was the air brushing past it.
The bay was dark. Not just dark, it was, in fact, utterly devoid of any light whatsoever, in the conventional sense. The minute hiss of carbon decay allowed me to see deep in there, in spite of the utter darkness, where other eyes would fail. Inside the tank, though, actually felt dark. This was the part I hated. It was as familiar as flesh when I eased into the seat and tapped the control console.
The power cells on these things lasted forever, of course. Just like the tank, just like the bay, just like the whole musty installation. Just like all of the installations, on all of the worlds. Just like all of the things we and they built.
Without the slightest hum, without even a click, the interior of the tank lit up with a thousand glowing controls and displays. I could feel the lights. I checked a few readings, opened the maintenance panels and climbed out again. The panels swung down and clicked gently against the floor. I would have preferred not to have to turn them on.
A few minutes examination of the innards of the machine proved fruitless. This was not the one. Back up, through the hatch, close the maintenance panels, and turn it off. I slammed the hatch silently shut, heaved the dusty canvas back over the tank, and moved on to the next one.
The bay was large. I was there for days.
I have forgotten so much. I have forgotten what I love.
The eyes of the dead may not blink, but they have been known to wander