Author : Ken McGrath
John sat down in a corner of the canteen, spread his newspaper out in front of him and began to unpack his lunch.
‘THE ELECTRIC OLYMPIAN’ screamed the headline plastered across the front page of the red top.
“Hey Johnny, have you seen this?” a voice called loudly. John looked up without really needing to, he already knew the source of that booming, self-important voice. Bob, one of the machine operators, stomped up beside him and jabbed a meaty finger down onto the paper.
“This is sick this is. Have you heard about this?”
John shook his head in response. “I’ve only just opened it now,” he replied quietly, “haven’t had a chance to read it yet.”
“Right well, this guy here, Sancho or Sanchez or something, went over to take part in The Olympics and it turns out he’s part robot. So they’ve going to kick him out. He’s got a damn robot leg or something. It’s crazy. These freaks they think they can still act like normal people even though there’s a bit of a machine grafted onto them. I mean, come on, The Olympics is all about people in their physical peak.”
John looked at the massive gut sticking out over Bob’s belt and wondered if he’d ever been the peak of anything. His gaze drifted back upwards. Bob was still mouthing off.
“Think about it for a second right, this guy thinks he can enter, like a real person, even though he’s got this cyber leg that’ll no doubt help him run faster or for longer without getting tired. All the while our guys, real men, not these half-humans, are expected to take part against that. It’s just not fair.”
John quickly scanned the newspaper. “Says here Bob that this guy’s a jockey. I don’t think having a replacement limb is going to make any difference there, do you?” he asked.
“His damn horse is probably all pumped up on steroids or something, anyway it’s just not right, these part-people going in expecting to be treated like you and me. Next thing you know they’ll have them here in the construction yard. They’ll have some robot-armed freak out there doing all the lifting and carrying and there won’t be any need for machine operators, people like you and me. They’ll do away with the heavy goods drivers. That’s what’ll happen. You see what I mean? Folk like you and me’ll be out of work all ‘cause of these robot-freaks with their add on parts.”
John gave Bob one of those looks that suggested agreement, but in reality didn’t say anything at all. Bob gave him a friendly slap on the back then noticed one of his more vocal work-mates entering the canteen. Without a backward glance Bob snatched up the newspaper and started making his way across the room, calling, “Hey Jeff you seen this filth yet?”
John sat back heavily in the plastic seat and let out a relieved sigh. Automatically his hand crept to his right thigh, to the point where the saw had severed his leg. Beneath the rough denim of his work clothes the pseudo-skin wrapped around a replacement limb had never felt so cold, mechanical and heavy before.