A Good Arm

Author: Moriah Geer-Hardwick

It was a good arm. You’re cognitive its loss will have negative effects. Absently, you work the fingers on your remaining appendage, one after the other. You seem to control a decent amount of movement and function. You ignore the barrage of internal damage reports cascading through your peripherals. There’s no time to process them anyway. A reflex prompt pulses through your chassis, jerking you upright. The command display reads, “Get up.” Tabbed beneath is the notation, “Incoming fire.”

Bullets shred the concrete pillar beside you. Bits of it spatter your nano-tube plating as you scramble away. You move fast, trying to stay low, but a round catches you in the leg. More damage reports. They can wait. You can still move, and right now, that’s all that matters. A tactical subroutine automatically calculates the trajectory of bullets, concluding the shots are originating from an elevated vantage point. Red target markers pop into your optical display, indicating the position of your attacker, on a rooftop across the courtyard. It occurs to you one of the things you miss most about the arm you lost is the very large gun it was holding.

A logic trigger recalls one of the internal damage reports you ignored earlier. This time, you glance through it. Struck by a high-velocity projectile, it states. Catastrophic structural failure, from shoulder to elbow. Severed connectivity from the rest of your frame. The impact knocked you to the ground. Yes, all that was obvious the moment it happened. Wait. Shoulder to the elbow joint were destroyed. Which means, nudges the logic trigger, everything else, including the very large gun, likely remains intact.

A bullet cracks into your left side, spinning you around and slamming you to the ground. Warning tags explode across your primary display, informing you that your lower extremities are currently offline. Yes, you are aware. Flat on your back, you watch, helpless, as your feet, then your legs, are chewed apart by gunfire. You claw at the rubble beneath you, attempting to drag yourself to safety, but before you can make any progress, the shooting stops. Confused, you look up and see squat little building is now obscuring your attacker’s path of fire. Mostly obscuring, you think, looking down at the wreckage that was once your legs.

A tactical subroutine estimates the amount of time it will take the shooter to relocate. You have at most four seconds before it can cross over to the next building and reestablish a line of sight. Quickly, you cast a signal out for the gun. To your surprise, it pings back instantly. You trigger its mobility function and wait. A second later you see it skittering towards you, its spindly legs frantically stabbing at the ground, propelling it forward. You raise your remaining arm, directing it to to the precise point where your attacker will come into view. At full tilt, the gun stutters around to match the angle, then leaps. It glides in a perfect arc towards your hand. At the same time, you see a combat sniper machine land gracefully on the rooftop directly in front of you. Reflexively, your hand goes to clench around the grip of the gun. As it does, a hand/eye sync error blips into your peripherals. Your fingers close a fraction of a second too soon. The gun deflects off of your hand and tumbles away, its spindly legs flailing wildly. “I never had sync errors with my good arm,” is the last information to flash through your central processor before a bullet shatters it into a thousand pieces.

5 Comments

  1. SimonJM

    Oh cruel fate!!!! Just glad the last thing it noted was not an “Abort, error, retry?” dialog … 😉

  2. djl

    Gentle but addictive narrative…really good!

  3. Hari Navarro

    Really enjoyed this one. It dragged me, with its one good arm, from beginning to end. Nicely done.

  4. Jae

    Good slice-of-future-combat piece with a nice little twist.

  5. mikebailey1979

    Ah, I liked this. Thanks for sharing.

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