“Barkeep, another whiskey,” coarsely ran over a coated tongue. The scent of bar and barf could not compete with the stench of alcohol on the cyborg’s being. He was the first of his kind, the best at one time. As with all technology, he was obsolete. It wasn’t necessarily his hardware, but his software. Any further operations would endanger vital life support systems which would make it a futile effort. He was in a state of decline.
Coughing lubricant, he swallowed hard then slid booze down after it. Albeit approaching the recycling center, it had been a long time coming… 164 years. Had it been that long? 143 years ago he competed to be the first “technologically enhanced” male. All of his competition was now cold and spread on the ground. Some of them two or three lifetimes over. The world had shed his generation like a dirty shirt. He was a pill of lint on the lapel of a different humanity. As with all governments, they left him when he was no longer of any use to them. Bigger and better things caught their attention.
His female counterpart was shipped to China for counterintelligence missions. Very few people would have the recollection, or security clearance, to tell him if 37H3L was still alive or dispensing beverages in a Beijing office complex. What would he say after all these years, if he did see her again? Would it be like old times, training underneath the Pentagon? Would it simply be awkward and depressing? That’s a tough call.
All he had were his memories. The data storage center in his brain flicked on the old footage of her doing calisthenics, cyphering, weapons training, hand-to-hand exercises among other activities. She was something else. He knew she had ability, or she would have never won the competition but she was beautiful. He’d sit and watch her work out. It was problematic to do his sets at the same time. A dropped weight, a barbell slip, an unfortunate fall off the treadmill could have sent him home 4F. She was distracting, but that was his problem. He could handle it though.
All of his inner world was rattled by the outer with, “move over, you sorry piece of scrap.” A stiff left arm pushed him off his stool and onto the melted mess on the floor. Surprised, he took a moment to collect himself and rose from the bottom. Four others decided to have a late night drink as well. They weren’t too interested in making friends, either.
“Hey! Stop harassing the other patrons, asshole. Your body still doesn’t react well to buckshot.” The bartender growled at the rowdy cluster of freshly-minted cyborgs, or “mints” for short. “There’s the man responsible for you being here today. That there is 54MU3L, the first of your kind. If you can’t show him one ounce of respect, then you can get the Hell out of my bar!”
A woman spoke up, “is that so? Well, stick around grandpa. We may need someone to throw our bail!” A chorus of laugher punctuated the moment and painted their attitudes the size of murals. The Earth wasn’t for him anymore. He was just along for the ride.
The bartender leaned over to the old man. “Hey, Sam, do you want me to throw these kids out? I could call the department and have them in a detention cell rather quickly.” The eyebrow arched over his face meant he wanted an excuse to avoid property damage.
“No, Jack, I’m just on my way out. I was them once. Age makes you understand the things you try to dismiss. They’ll figure this out sooner or later.” With that the man propped himself up against the door jam and hobbled out into the night.
Winter proved much more than arduous for travel than most thought. Hoverunners ground to a halt and stuck in the thick frozen film provided by Earth’s landscape. In minutes, the owners would amble out of their now flash-frozen vehicles to call a repair service. Sam’s visibility was next to nothing when he came upon a seized up four-way stop. The last thing he saw was the figure of a young girl, standing in the snow and waiting for a ride. Nature was one to trump his machinery as he overcorrected the craft and ramped off the side of the hazard. The runner wrapped itself around a traffic signal and shoved the steering column into his chest. With the variety of fluids pooling in the Winter’s night, it was his curtain call or so he thought.
Little did he realize the technology within him would never leave without him. His appearance, memories, personality, and preferences… his whole identity, was preserved in the grey matter agar stored away in a secret location inside his brain. It was the one thing they never told him about. They knew it would make him an incinerator risk. It was like grief of no other to find himself conscious, trapped on a government hard drive in Washington. The death he so desired would never come to pass.
© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved