Author : Travis Gregg

“Goddamit Steve, will you hold the ladder?” Darius yelled down. He’d been burdened with Steve for three weeks now and things were getting worse. Reluctantly, almost begrudgingly, Steve sauntered over and put his hands on the ladder. Darius sighed. The owner, a man Darius used to think of as a friend, had tasked Darius with training his son. The owner felt like it was important for his son to learn the basics of the business he’d ostensibly run one day but so far it had been like pulling teeth.

Darius looked around the brightly lit basement of the community center and sighed. The folding chairs were arranged in a circle, about twenty in total, most of them full. He chose a chair near the exit, not sure if he’d stay or not. He knew that at the meetings it was common for new people to tell their story but he wasn’t sure if he was up for it or not. When it came time to share it turned out he had some things to say.

“The job had been a simple one,” he started, “just rerunning some new thermal feed lines along the roof line of a three-story warehouse downtown. I’d been doing this for years but it only takes a small mistake.”

Several of the old timers nodded at this. Almost everyone here was a product of some sort of accident.

“On the way down I hit a ledge snapping my arm in three places. It’s funny, a hundred years ago an injury like that would have meant amputation. My father probably would have gotten rods and pins, but these days it’s back to amputation. Guess things come around full circle.”

He took my jacket off so he could show off his artificial limb.

“My new arm is all titanium and carbon fiber, fully integrated into my nervous system. It’s got neural feedback, grip strength ten times what I had before, and will still be functional after I’m long dead. I’m probably the first of several people who’ll use it now that I think about it.”

“I was unconscious when the paramedics got there,” he continued. “They gave me the once over and since my arm was so mangled they went ahead and started prepping the replacement. Pretty standard procedure for them, most things doctors do these days is remove and replace. What the paramedics missed was the artificial liver, hips, and spine I got when I was younger.”

A couple of the others nod at this, knowing where his story was headed. That’s why they were at the meeting after all.

Darius continued, mostly for himself than the others. “When you cross the line you have to give consent but they’d missed it with me. The new arm put me well over the 35% artificial which, when they realized, prompted the local rep to reclassify my citizenship status. They don’t call it second class citizenship but that’s what it is. We can’t vote, can’t hold office; they don’t want people who can live to be a thousand in office. I felt the same way when I was a normie. Things change though when you’re on the other side. I’ll probably go for a complete redo now, no point in not.”

His story finished he sat down and half listened as the meeting continued. He’d never really thought about getting a complete redo but the idea had just tumbled out while he was sharing. When he was a citizen the idea of the gear heads becoming the majority bothered him deeply but the unenhanced becoming the minority was almost a mathematical certainty. Some of the mods they were doing these days would extend life hundreds of years, maybe indefinitely.

Up until that point there had been a dichotomy within Darius. He’d only started changing his thinking to his new situation but in telling his story his view shifted. He was an enhanced, not a gear head, and they weren’t citizens, they were normies.

Looking around at his brothers and sisters he smiled. We’ll have our day when there isn’t anyone left but the enhanced, one way or another.