Author : Dave Rigby
Steve sat in the beige waiting room idly flipping through channels on the tv, not stopping on any for more than the few seconds of allotted free viewing so as to not incur an automatic charge. At home he had a pretty decent entertainment package with no overrun fees but he couldn’t afford the roaming package so any entertainment here would cost him. He went to run his fingers through his hair but stopped when the stump of his right elbow came in to view. Phantom limb syndrome had been tough when he first lost the arm, it was ten times worse when the prosthetic was removed, but he knew at least that meant that it was still transmitting from wherever it was.
At last his name was called. Entering the room he knew straight away that he wouldn’t be leaving with his arm today. The cardboard box waiting on the table was all too familiar.
“Sorry Steve” Andy the technician emerged from an adjoining room “We won’t be able to get it fixed today. The knuckles are shot and we don’t have enough spares for your model”
“When?” asked Steve glumly.
“Tuesday at the earliest. You can manage without for a few days or you can take the loaner. Your choice”
It wasn’t a choice really.
“I’ll take the loaner”
“Ok cool. You know the drill, take a seat, prep your ports and get ready to sync.” The technician picked up the box and slid out the loaner. It was at least 3 generations older than Steve’s current arm. It hadn’t looked realistic when it was new but now the imitation skin had taken on a yellow colour in-between the assortment of stains and scratches it had acquired through years of service. It was a basic arm, no networking, no display, not even realistic fingernails. On the hand the rubbery skin was stretched and thin so you could almost see through to the aging gears and servos below. Steve had brought gloves just in case “Have you given any more thought to upgrading? I can keep repairing your arm but it’s not going to last forever”
“Can’t afford to upgrade” said Steve as he slid his stylus out of a slot on his arm and ran it around his stump. Tiny latches released and the port caps opened all the way around. He moved the stylus behind his left earlobe in preparation for the re-synch.
Andy moved the arm in to place then slid back a panel on the back of the wrist to reveal the sync and power controls.
“Ok here we go, powering on, ready to sync. Hit it”
Steve braced himself and hit the button behind his ear. His phantom arm disappeared as his mind severed its connection. A moment of almost pleasant release and lightness came and went then was replaced by sickening feelings of pain and loss from his shocked nerves and memories of the accident. He almost cried out, and then it was over. The new arm felt heavy and cumbersome but it would do.
“A quick check and then you can go. Make a fist for me” After a moment of concentration Steve did it. “Good. Now move each finger one at a time” Steve did that too, much faster this time. “OK great, now finally play me some Rachmaninoff” Steve showed Andy his middle finger instead. Andy chuckled. “I guess that will do. You’re good to go. Call if you have any problems and I’ll see you Tuesday”
“See you Tuesday” Steve said as he pulled his gloves on.
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