Why is it made of meat? [Short Story]

I had a lot of questions for James. Questions like “When did you even find the time for this?” or “How did you afford thirty packages of hamburger?” or perhaps most pressingly, “What did you bribe the biology lab with to get away with it?” … Lots of questions. Honestly, I had more of a full-on interrogation planned, but I was afraid that—

Y’know what? I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up.

James Taurus Montgomery is my roommate. He’s a biotech major, and also a huge gamer nerd. The kind who custom-builds his PC with a little action figure diorama inside and scores channels into his desk for LED strips to complete the cyberpunk aesthetic. He’d probably live inside an arcade booth, if he could. The takeaway here is, James is eccentric. Also smart, in that oblique “dangerously clever” sort of way that results in an hour of rearranging furniture and scavenging a dozen household supplies to relocate a power outlet because a cord wouldn’t reach — while somehow forgetting that “extension cords” were invented decades ago and take all of about five seconds to install.

And now that you know what sort of person James is, you’re probably starting to understand why giving him ideas can be downright hazardous. Ideas like, say, building a PC case with an organic flesh-horror motif. Most people, if they were up for that kind of project, would go hard on the resin and the acrylic paints. James is not “most people.” James is also a biotech major — I did mention that, yes? You can see where this is going…

Really, I have to admire his sheer, obsessive dedication to solving problems. Even ones that, by any reasonable stretch of the imagination, weren’t actually problems that needed solving. After all, there’s a wealth of inter-compatible motherboards, chipsets, GPUs, drives, connectors, and so forth already widely available. With a little bit of research, you can cobble together parts from a dozen different manufacturers, plug everything into standardized ports and slots, install the operating system of your choice, and voila, you have a perfectly functional computer. But that’s the extension cord answer, and we’ve already established James is not an extension cord kind of person. James is the kind of person who commits.

The kind of person who decides, if they’re building an organic flesh-horror monstrosity of a gaming device, the internals should be organic as well.

The kind of person who — according to lab access logs — spent every free hour of the last month cloning tissue samples and developing a techno-organic living nightmare that can metabolize Monster energy drinks and Doritos into literal gaming fuel. A nightmare that, by the way, can still somehow run a Microsoft operating system. James is terrifying in many respects, but meat-based custom firmware was apparently a bit much for him to tackle. He’s a biotech major, not a code monkey.

So with that out of the way, let’s return to the current situation: I’d just come back to our dorm after a long day of classes. My pack was spine-snappingly heavy with overpriced textbooks, my brain was microwaved mush from a two-hour lecture on elementary particle physics, and I was a hair’s breadth from losing my continual fight against the forces of fatigue and gravity. And, upon opening the door, I found James sitting at his desk, where a grotesque pulsating meat-pile straight out of The Thing is literally staring back at him — apparently he thought it’d be funny to grow an actual eyeball for webcam functionality. I wasn’t going to ask what its resolution was.

As I said, I had a lot of questions for James. That wasn’t one of them.

In fact, as I dumped my cargo on the carpet and walked over to stand behind him, I could only manage one. Which, if we’re being honest, is really the only question that matters when it comes to computing power, whether based on silicon chips or a writhing abomination of living blasphemy disguised as a gamer rig.

“So,” I asked, “will it run Doom?”

Republished with permission from the author, KieveKRS. Image created using Stable Diffusion.

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