Some folks say that machines are amazing. We say that machines are a curse. The creature looked like an alligator made of clockwork parts. Instead of a maw, it had a three-foot-long beak sharp enough to cut most metals duller than diamond. It had no sense of sight, smell, feel, or taste, but had sonar dishes on the back next to solar panels, that were used for hearing anything within a half-mile radius. They had a tail covered in sharp barbs, so approaching from behind was a no. When the creature's beak is closed, it can pound through substances like a woodpecker. Experiments had proven the beast was made of a rare substance harder than diamond, that was found within meteorites. And the bastard just broke out of containment. I was a hunter, a person specifically contracted to take out creatures like this one. Didn't make it easy, and I lost my arm fighting one of these seven years ago. I had a new prosthetic one, with a cool machete-like blade concealed within. I knew some lesser-known facts about the hydraulic gators, like how their central processing unit was an organic mass inside their mouth. A weak spot. But they mostly kept their beaks shut, blocking access to the one reliable way of killing them. I slid open the door to the lab. A scientist hurried up to me. "Are you the hunter?" I nodded. "Where is it?" The scientist shook his head. "Third or second basement. We've reported seven deaths so far." I stared at him. "How much do you folks know about this?" The scientist looked at the floor. "Not much. We figured if it escapes, we can rely on-" I stepped forward, and got in his face. "Me? I took half an hour to get here. You were being lazy. There could have been no deaths if folks were informed about the damn thing." He winced. "Sorry. I'll-" I slammed my fist on the desk. "You're going to damn well get fired is what's going to happen. All the scientists. Now get on the intercom and tell the men to drop their guns and get to shelter as quietly as possible." The scientist looked down, and grabbed the intercom mic. Pressing a button, he said, "drop your weapons, and quietly get to shelter. The hunter said you should." I nodded grimly. "Where are the stairs?" The scientist flinched, and pointed to an unmarked door. I left him in the lobby, and flew down the stairs. When I reached the second floor, I took a deep breath. Old blood. About twenty minutes. It had moved on from here. I jogged another floor down, and took another whiff. Twenty-second old blood. This was the spot. Praying that the doors in the facility were silent, I pushed one open. Not an ounce of noise. Perfect. I equipped a small pocket flashlight and soundlessly flipped the switch. The light illuminated eight corpses. I counted a scientist, six security officers, and an administrator. They all had identical holes in their chest or stomach, about half a foot around. Almost as though a sharp beak impaled them. I cautiously advanced down the hallway, and found two more corpses, both security officers. One had a hole punched in his neck. Eurgh. It was as I passed by one of the offices that I saw it. It was two inches from me. I heard the near-inaudible beeps and whistles of its processing unit. And it was soaked in blood. Fresh blood, old blood. I could smell the blood from a security dog I hadn't seen. Have I told you I have a keen sense of smell? I casually picked up a toe from some unknown victim, and tossed it near one of the desks. The hydraulic gator whipped around, and one or those barbs caught me in the leg. I winced in pain, but made no sound. I saw it stalk towards the desk, when a flashlight shone on the wall. It flashed rapidly three times, then three longer flashes, followed by three quick ones again. Morse code. SOS. I glanced at the desk I had thrown the toe at, and saw a horrified face underneath it. Damnit, I had thrown the toe next to a survivor's hiding spot. And the gator was getting close. I slowly advanced behind it. The gator stopped for a moment, and I took my opportunity. I reached down, and picked the ****ing thing up. The gator didn't feel it. I had done it quietly. My heart started to erupt. I walked away as quietly as I could, to not alert the death machine in my arms. I felt the hydraulic gator attempted to resume walking, not noticing that its legs were just waving in the air. My heart started doing beethoven songs. I reached the door leading to the stairs, and quietly opened it with my foot. Then began the trek upwards, carrying a 170-pound machine without making any noise. Somehow, I pulled it off, and as I entered the lobby, I quickly mouthed, "it's not dead", to the scientist. He cringed harder than any man I'd ever seen, and I nodded at a map. The scientist got my message, and pointed at a room on the first basement. I glared at him. Going up was hard, but going down meant I had to control my momentum. I turned, and stepped back into the stairwell. One step out of thirty. Two steps. Three. Four. Ten. Twenty. Twenty-nine. I took the final step, and entered the first basement. Setting the gator quietly on the floor, I sneaked over to the containment unit marked A-0092. I pressed the button to the side of the door. The door opened with a loud shrieking noise. I whipped around to see the hydraulic gator tearing towards me. Leaping into the air with a shriek, it angled itself directly with my heart. I tossed myself to the side and kicked the gator as it flew past me. I whistled, and ran into the containment unit. It followed, roaring at me. I slid underneath it, and started mashing the button to close the door to its containment as I stepped out. It flew at me again, and I knew it would escape if I didn't do something. So I took a calculated risk, and grabbed the beast for the second time as it flew out. Right before the hatch of the containment unit closed, I shoved the hydraulic gator back inside. The hatch clanged shut with finality. I felt weak. Looking at my leg, I saw blood drizzling from the wound the gator's barbs had made. I walked away weakly. Some folks say machines are amazing. We say machines are a curse.

Story is told by superceilingfan