Author: Lisa Jade
Why is this cell always so damn cold?
Of course, the guards don’t call it a cell. Officially, it’s a ‘holding chamber’- a secure room where I can wait for something – anything – to happen.
I huddle into the thin, grey jacket they gave me, breathing hard into my hands. Right now, I’d take any small kindness; a space heater, a cup of tea. Anything.
But there’s nothing. Just a white square with a bed, a toilet, and a charging port that I’ve so far refused to plug myself into. Two mechanical legs and a robotic eye don’t use all that much energy. Besides, I’m sure that any power I use will just be added onto my debt.
Outside, I hear the guards talking. They refer to me in passing most days, remarking on my small frame and docile nature. She’d best hope she gets purchased soon, they say. She definitely wouldn’t survive military service.
I make a point to smile politely, just in case they’re watching through the camera in the corner of the room. Most cyborgs kick and scream. I hear them in their cells, especially at night. They throw themselves at the cell doors and roar about injustice and human rights – as though they think we’re still considered human.
At first, it had seemed like a mercy. Waking up from a terrible car crash and being told that I’d lost both legs and an eye – but that the government had offered to pay for full robotic replacements. Under the influence of shock and drugs, I’d accepted.
Once the parts were functional, they handed me the bill and five years to pay it off. And if I couldn’t, then the parts would become property of the state; including whatever they were attached to. Just like the other cyborgs, I was given 3 months to be sold to the highest bidder as a modern-day slave. If nobody bought me after that, I’d be passed to the military instead.
Even so, I smile. I smile even when the guards make snide remarks, even when I can’t sleep from my rowdy neighbours. Even when my power dips and my legs give way, or my vision starts to fail. I force myself to keep smiling.
So when my cell door opens and two figures enter, my instinct is to smile.
“Congratulations,” someone tells me, “you’ve finally been purchased. This lovely gentleman is looking for a domestic servant and a little bit of company.”
I look the man up and down, taking in his pristine suit and a gold watch that probably cost more than my old car. His gaze drops to my chest and his face briefly fills with disappointment. Clearly, he’s looking for a very particular kind of company.
Nevertheless, he nods.
“She’ll do. Come on.”
I stand obediently and he turns his back.
“You are to call me Master,” he tells me, “do you understand that?”
With that he heads from the room, beckoning for me to follow. I stare at the back of his head for a moment, stomach burning.
“You should thank me,” the man says, “for buying your debt and getting you out of here. It’s better than being a soldier, at least. You should be grateful.”
“Thank you,” I say, ignoring the sickly taste on my tongue.
“You’ll much prefer my home to this dump. You and I can be alone, there.”
I tighten my hand around the stolen blade, tucking it deeper into my jacket sleeve.
“I can’t wait… Master.”