Everyone told him that studying would make him smarter. They said that it would help him understand concepts he could not yet grasp.
So he studied. He studied very hard.
He studied the twitching limbs and curling fingers. He studied the way the bodies curled inwards, away from the gleaming metal. He studied the way blood ran so similar to their tears.
He observed like in science class. He repeated his experiments, over and over. And when he still could not understand, he began to broaden his observations.
He started listening. To the screaming and the begging, the crying and the desperate pleas. But nothing, not a stir.
He watched as they slowly awoke, their looks running from confusion to horror at the sight of blood and rotting corpses – the failed experiments – that littered the room. Faces were, he realized, very strong indicators of emotions. They twisted and contorted in an acrobat of expression. But stronger still, he found, were the eyes. They showed their fear, their pain, and for some, in the end, their resignation. He kept those ones in a jar, but they had lost their emotions once he had removed them from the body. He could not understand why.
He also touched. Touched their shivering limbs, their quaking bodies, their warm blood, their cold corpses. But it gave him none of the answers he sought. He learned only that they became quick to shy away from him when he approached, wriggling like bugs trapped in a spider’s web. Their chains would shake, clinking, but they were unable to flee as his hands drained them of their lives.
Finally he tasted. First their blood, for it was the same colour as his own, and he knew that all humans were made of the same materials. But it was metallic and nothing more. Then he tasted their tears, for they always cried when they felt strong emotions. They were salty, and it reminded him of the ocean’s devastation. But these people were small and weak and very soon they stopped crying and stopped moving at all.
A monster, they called him, but he could not understand. For he and they were all the same. Blood and limbs and beating hearts. So why did they spend their lives smiling and crying, while he wandered the days never needing to shift his expression and never able to create tears? It was something that puzzled him greatly.
He still, he figured, had much to learn. And studying, he hoped, would provide him with the answer.