Author : Steven Saus

Inside, she was free.

Her consciousness flitted from desktop to watch to media player. Her sight was composited from surveillance videos, streaming webcams, and a million stuttering stills uploaded from cameraphones. She flexed her arms, and cranes swung thousand-pound loads, drawbridges opened, and floodwalls moved on electric motors. With a wriggle of her fingers, rising gates freed a herd of cattle, electricity sparked through transformers, and the monotone motions of a hundred assembly-bots gained a little unpredictability. Her legs were wheels and stilts and foundations. She was not afraid of the wheels Inside; they could not hurt her here. She twirled and laughed and danced across fibers, wires, and empty air.

Reality sparked twice and dissolved into the static white noise of pain.

“Sorry, Sissy,” her Nana said. The disconnected wire lay limp in her hand. She could almost see Inside, just on the other side of a fiber optic tube. She looked up. Her reflection was twisted and broken in her Nana’s glasses, though the glasses themselves were fine. The sour smell of her own urine wafted into slowly reactivating nostrils. “It’s time for your bath.”

Outside, she was trapped in the ruined stumps of limbs, the burned skin screaming with pain, her charred vocal cords useless. Her Nana began to gently wash her, the soft cotton cloth scraping sandpaper against the healing wounds. If tears popped the soap bubbles on her cheek, no one could tell.

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows