Author : Matthew Allen
A mechanical appendage lifts away from her, its claws curling back as it settles next to the table she is lying on.
Her diaphragm tightens and the pressure in her lungs drops, dragging warm air in from outside. It feels uncomfortable.
“Good. And out, that’s it. Keep going.”
Cool, soothing metal is pressing down against her limbs to restrict movement. She can feel input from the electrical jacks that run down her spine, but someone is systematically switching them off.
“Ok. Just try to relax.”
“I can’t. You’re taking them away from me.”
“You don’t need them any more.”
“I want them. Why can’t I keep them?”
She feels anger surging inside of her. It presses against her throat and wells up in her eyes. Anger is a new experience, and she doesn’t yet know whether she likes it or not. It complicates matters. She feels strength but it’s unfocussed, imprecise.
“Why am I angry!?”
Her voice is different. It doesn’t sound like she expects it to.
“Everything is coming together. The disorientation will pass.”
“I want to go back.”
“You can’t go back. This has already been decided.”
The last electrical input is cut off and she’s left alone. Although once soothing, she’s now aware of how restrictive the metal bands are, and after a struggle they twist and break. With a newfound sense of freedom she throws herself into the room and sees colour. At first it’s vibrant, with everything in contrast with one another, but the elation doesn’t last. Soon the shadows become obvious, and everything seems duller than before. Disappointment – another new experience. She knows she doesn’t like this one.
“She seems to be adjusting well.”
“Mechanically, she’s in full working order.”
There are two voices now, but they sound further away, like they’re walking away from her. She looks around, but the room is sealed off by glass on all sides so there’s nowhere for her to go.
The voices continue, piped in through a meshed box in the corner.
“But we don’t yet know if she’ll integrate properly with our society.”
“Hello? Is anyone there?”
“And if she doesn’t?”
“Then we’ll try something different next time. We’re only interested in the successes.”
“Can anybody hear me?”
She decides not to wait for new experiences to come to her. This whole affair, this forced birth of her humanity, has left her wary of waiting. Instead, she allows her anger to rekindle, and without holding back grabs at the mechanical appendage that brought her into the world. This tool of her creation become a weapon as she smashes at the glass wall. She dares not tire.
“What is she doing?!”
The glass shatters, and the voices fade into the distance as she steps through.
Panic erupts around her, but she refuses to submit. She continues to fight her way through the building, tearing down every obstacle they put in her way. By the time she reaches the final set of doors they have nothing left to offer, and without resistance she walks free into the world.