Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Featured Writer

“Goddamn it, this is the seventh time this week that this goddamn machine has stolen money from me,” Joe screamed, feebly punching the mechanical purveyor of carbonated beverages, “the goddamn thing has more of my money than I do.”

“Then stop putting your money in it. Now come on, we’ve got to go, she‘s coming back tomorrow, so we only have a little time. We have to get to the lab,” Jess scolded. They made their way down a long corridor and across the cavernous testing area to the lab proper, a corner of a warehouse walled off on two sides with green parachute material.

Pushing aside the flimsy material, Joe entered on the silent wheels of his chair, his partner and fiancé Jessica marching swiftly behind. The rest of Dr. Stewart’s grad students were already there, and jumped up as they entered.

“Good, everybody’s here. What was the doc thinking, leaving us in charge while she is away at the symposium. Well, when the cats away…” Steve Bloch remarked as he reached out to wring Joe’s hand. “Ready for a joy ride buddy?” They shared a wolfish grin.

“Alright people, let’s fire him up.” Christopher and Christine (Chris and Chris) Carlysle, fraternal twins, formerly identical twins, raced to a pair of terminals while Jess smeared saline paste over Joes skin.

“Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages,” Steve bellowed in his best ring master voice. “Allow me to present Skeletor,” with a grand flourish, he pulled a canvass from the large cloaked object dominating the small lab.

“I don’t believe it,” Jessica exclaimed. “When did you manage to finish it?”

“Joe and I spent the better part of last week on it since she’s been gone. Joe worked on biofeedback loops, and I finished this end up about an hour ago. What do you think?”

All stared in hushed silence. “It’s …beautiful.” The Chris’s whispered in unison.

Before them, in gleaming black stood Skeletor; a bio-mechanical hydraulic exo-skeleton. At nine feet tall and four wide, the skeleton was composed primarily of nano plastic woven of industrial diamond dust. A recently formulated ultra strong material commonly employed as ballistic armour and heat shielding for ship to shore spacecraft.

“Okay Joe, ready to try it on?”

“You don’t know how ready,” he said, slamming his fists down on his useless legs.

It took all four of the students to get Joe into the skeleton, the process made more difficult by the slick but necessary saline gel that covered Joe’s body. It was used to facilitate the neural mechanical interface.

A strap bristling with wires was secured to his forehead, and similar attachments were tightened around his arms and legs as he slipped his hands into thick gloves. All of these devices were lined with metal contacts similar to dull needle points to receive his mental input.

“Joe, how does it feel?” Jess asked

“The contacts are annoying but not unbearable.” He took a few tentative steps. “Balance is good, gyros are working.” He crouched down, and leapt five feet into the air. The others cheered. “Well, so far so good, let’s try a little test of strength.”

Joe raised his mechanical arms above his head, and shook them at the ceiling. “Vengeance is mine,” he screamed and sprinted to the heavy warehouse doors. He easily ripped them off their hinges and tossed them aside. He stooped below the lintel, and disappeared down the hall, howling obscenities all the way.

The remaining four stood in shocked silence.


Steve, still stunned, turned to Jessica, “What is it?”

“He’s going after the Coke machine.”

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