Author: Hunter Liguore

The doctor’s face grew worried. The mother glanced up between pushes, doubting her decision for a natural birth. The process was longer. More risks.
One cut, one stitch, one minute.
The jingle for Insta-Baby-Byrthing ran through her head, as she pushed and sweated it out. When the baby cried, she held her breath. “Tell me, doctor, is my baby normal?”
The doctor frowned. “I’d hoped for a better outcome.”
The mother squeezed the baby’s plump, fleshy hands and cried. “It’s all my fault.” She felt again for the built-in, mechanical Palm-Pilot, normally entwined with bones and tendons.
The doctor lifted the baby’s vacant hand. “It’s sturdy. An implant might function as good as a natural-born Pilot, but it’ll allow her to function in society.”
“Unlike me,” the mother said. “I wanted to die when I figured out I was different than the other children.”
The doctor gave her a Pilot-implant brochure. “The Pilot-0900 quality—almost like the real thing.”
“Are there risks?” asked the mother. “I’d tried an implant; it malfunctioned and shut down the left side of my brain for two days.”
“I see.” The doctor nodded. “Maybe your child isn’t a candidate.”
She squeezed the baby, lovingly. “You’ve no clue how hard her life will be. She’ll be isolated, forced to communicate only verbally. No Pilot Socials. She won’t find work, since every opportunity is wired to the Pilot. She’ll never get off this planet. She’ll be forced to live at home and resent me for having her—worst of all, wherever she goes, she’ll be taunted as a Flesh-Hand.”
“There’re two options.”
“Doctor, there are no options for a Pilotless baby!”
“You can try adoption,” said the doctor. “Give your baby to a family financially able to accommodate her handicap. There are schools now for the Pilotless.”
“I didn’t know.”
“The other option is to send her to a private commune for special children.”
The mother gasped. “No!”
“She’d learn to cope with her handicap.”
“Handicap. I hate that word. Why not call us techno-cripple for god’s sake!”
“Look. I’m only trying to help. Once the birth certificate is reported with a deformity to the Government-Byrthing-Agency, she’ll be tagged as a hazard to society. It’s really your only option.” The doctor raised his Pilot to finalize the baby’s future.
“No implants, no donor-pilots,” said the mother. “No adoptive families. No communal, or disposal, which you didn’t mention—those black-social-sites that’ll do it in 24-hours. There’s always hope. So long as she has a loving mother that’s all that matters.”
The doctor finalized the baby’s chart. Baby’s hand—deformed. Parent denied customized methods of treatment.
Seconds later, the Government-Byrthing-Agency issued the baby a routing number that would keep her from entering the normal functions of society.
The mother watched it press into her baby’s hand, causing her to cry.
“It’ll be all right.” The mother soothed. She didn’t worry about the number. In time it would fade. Hers had faded years ago.