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Man vs Machine

You know the day is going to suck when you come to the kitchen and the espresso machine has scampered off. Seriously: to what length do we have to go in order to get some coffee?

You know the day is going to suck when you come to the kitchen and the espresso machine has scampered off.

Every fucking day it's the same fight.

And yet, this sunday it was probably the worst in the last year or so. All I wanted was a simple cup of coffee. But first, I had to chase down those damn appliances - hiding in the field or in the woods or in the swamp behind the house. Their usual spots in the kitchen empty, the rest of the chains dangling over the counter and what's left was the smell of burnt magnets in the air. I grabbed the gun and the chain from the chair and kicked open the door to the backyard. Now, where were they?

First I checked the shed, gun at the ready, but at a glance, I could see that they weren't there - even at their regular size I'd spot them immediately. But something had been in here, my tools were turned over, the gunmetal boxes dented. I grunted, assessing the damage. I didn't think they got something important. So I left the yard through the gate hanging from the barbwire fence, squatting down at fresh scratch marks in the metal posts. Seemed like they went out in a rush. Damnit, I really do have deep sleep, not having heard the commotion. The earth was dry here, so some bend grass blades were all I got as hints into which direction they run off. I listened, but aside from the creaking of Jim's old windmill, there was absolute silence. I decided to check out the wood first, they usually go there, drawn by god knows what. Maybe the remnants of the old fighter planes that are buried six deep were calling them. When I reached the treeline, I had worked up a little sweat so that the colder air between the trees made me shiver. No cracked branches here and just some birds were warbling in the higher reaches. There was an old ditch running from the back of the woods to the swamp, and a hunch drew me there.

The coffee grinder got me as I scampered down the ditch and lost my footing in a rabbit hole. Taking care not to break the fall with my face in a thorny bush, I twisted around, letting go of the gun for a split second. The sneaky fucker used the moment to jump at me, growling with a mechanic whirring as if it was already trying to grind my bones. God, I hate this noise. I grabbed a stick and whacked it over the glass cylinder, which sent it reeling, then I kicked it at the base, aiming for the switch. It was most vulnerable there, obviously, but I missed by a few inches. Yet it drew back, impressively enlarged by some shitty mechanical parts that it must have found in the shed. It growled again, the beans rattling around, some ground coffee spilling from the nozzle. They weren't cheap beans either, Aldous took a pretty penny for the pound, but by my grannies lacy underwear, they tasted amazing - if I could get to them.I had twisted something in my hip and the pain tore through my body as I bend down for the gun. The grinder sensed my weakness and started forward, but I was actually faster, shooting at it as soon as I grabbed the gun. Rocking in my hand, it ejected a large net that wrapped itself around the appliance. It's movement crippled, it toppled over and into the dry dirt, which I used to jump onto it. -Mother...fucker! I breathed as I clamped the control chip onto its chassis - this made it docile for a while. Getting out of the ditch while dragging an enraged coffee grinder was another challenge, during which I tore my favorite pants, which made my mood even worse. Still: one down, one to go.

Unless the espresso machine had run into town (which, by the lack of sirens, it hadn't), it was in the swamps. The fucking swamps. On a fucking sunday. Gun reloaded and chain ready, I set out again, coming for it like judgement day. The swamps are a lowland of treacherous canals, rivulets, ponds and heaps of old machinery since the army dropped their fucked-up helicopters and jeeps here back in '23. There was always some fog hanging around the place, successfully concealing all the nasty caustic mud holes that invariably ruined the shoes. Pointing my gun at the dark recesses in the rubble piles, I slowly advanced: no good to become victim to a surprise attack here, lest I end up impaled on a rusty exhaust pipe. After a few minutes in silence, I became aware of a low gurgling in the mist and found the Gaggia waiting for me in the remains of a Huey, shielded from the sun by rusty debris. Because I had taken my time with the coffee grinder, it had had time to evolve, incorporating several pieces of machinery like lamps, wheels and - I cursed - my trusty Stiehl chainsaw. Apparently I had not spotted the missing case from the shed. As I came into its vision, it hissed angrily, steam pumping from the milk foam nozzle. I hoped the additional weight would slow it down, but it attacked straight away, flying at me with surprising speed so I could only throw myself to the ground, feeling the heat of the machine as it whirled past, crashing into a jeep behind me with a dull bang. Maybe, if I was quick enough I could take it out right away, but I wasn't - just as I stood up, the machine activated the chainsaw and jumped again. This time, I managed to knock it sideways with the barrel of the gun, buying me precious seconds to ready my chain. My first attempt failed as the machine had fled behind a pile of tires. Was it limping? Maybe it had come in contact with the water, which would slow it down. On the other hand, more cleaning for me later, provided I could catch it.

Swinging the chain, I circled after it, but something blocked the sun - with a menacing whirr, chainsaw extended like a greeting hand, the espresso machine flew from the top of the pile. It missed my neck so closely that I felt the teeth of the chainsaw bite into my flesh, drawing blood. -Fucking hell I muttered - really getting pissed. Reaching out to pick up a large pipe from the ground, I swung as hard as I could, actually managing to hit it, severing the chainsaw which fell down, stopping to buzz. I threw the pipe after the Gaggia, getting it stuck between the wheels. Luckily, sentience doesn't equal intelligence and as the machine tried to move despite the obstacle, I looped the chain around it, then kicked off all the trash it had assembled and slapped the control chip on. It gurgled and steamed like a jungle animal, but ceased to fight at last. My neck felt wet and my hand came away bloody, but I hadn't sustained any real damage - unlike the machine, which was dented on the back and had mud in the water tank.

As I came home, dragging the Gaggia along, my chainsaw in the other hand, Jolene had screwed down the coffee grinder and prepared the sink to clean the espresso machine. She grimaced at my injury and took out the first aid kit.-Happy sunday. Good hunt?I grunted. The things we do for a cup of coffee...