Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 28
“We can rebuild him. We have the technology!”
“Aaand right off the bat, that’s a reference to the wrong thing.”
“What do you mean? It makes perfect sense!”
“We’re turning the guy into a robo-cop, and you just quoted The Six Million Dollar Man.”
“Yeah, but they’ve given us exactly six million dollars to do it.”
There was a brief pause.
“Do you ever get the feeling that the guys upstairs have a sense of humour? It never feels like it in person but then they pull something like this.”
Arnold K. Marty was finding it harder and harder to pretend that this was all a dream. He twitched and stretched, preparing to get up, and wasn’t too surprised to discover that his arms and legs made robot noises as he did so.
“Okay,” he said, somewhat surprised to discover that he didn’t have a robot voice too. “What did you do?”
“We rebuilt you,” explained a skinny guy in a lab coat whose nametag label said “Phil.” “You are now the most technologically advanced officer on the force!”
“But,” added an equally skinny guy whose nametag said “Apply label here,” “bear in mind that six million dollars is way, way less now than it was in 1973.”
“It was actually something of a shoestring budget,” agreed Phil.
“So, you know, maybe manage your expectations here a little, okay?”
Marty swung his legs off the stainless steel table and stood up. There was a definite amount of robot noise going on as he did so.
“Yeah,” said Phil. “You know how whenever a new games console comes out, it’s really big and chunky, and after a little while they bring out like a ‘slim’ model, and then maybe a sort of ‘super slim’ after that, and everybody’s amazed how clunky the original fat one looks in comparison?”
“You’ve got the fat robot limbs,” said the other guy, undiplomatically.
Phil shot him a look.
“What?” The other guy stared back. “You know that’s what they’re going to call them in a few years.”
“The thing to focus on,” said Phil to Marty, “is that with the miracles of modern science, we have brought you back from the brink of death, and provided you with normal human mobility…and then some!”
That caught Marty’s interest. “Oh?”
“Okay,” said Phil, hands raised in a “get this” gesture. “Get this. You know how regular police officers will have to run after a suspect, but then their legs get tired and they have to stop and rest?”
“Yeah?” Marty was liking the sound of this.
“Well when your legs get tired, you can sit and rest on the fold-up chair legs we installed in your buttocks!”
“We should clarify,” said the other guy, “that the chair legs flip out from a custom-built compartment in your buttocks. They’re not…you know…up there.”
“They’re also kind of short and not all that comfortable, so if there’s a bench nearby you might want to go ahead and use that instead.”
“Great.” Marty was liking the sound of it less now that he had a more accurate grasp of what exactly “it” was. “What else can I do?”
“Well,” said Phil, his enthusiasm returning. “You know how regular police officers have to search databases for suspects and fill out lots of paperwork?”
“Yeah…” Marty had this sneaking suspicion that he might not have been shot quite so many times if he hadn’t been up quite so late the night before filing reports.
“I bet you’ve always wished you had some kind of sci-fi knuckle spike that would let you download files straight to your brain.”
“Not exactly,” admitted Marty, “but that does sound cool.”
“Well now you can type really fast! And that’s the next best thing to a sci-fi knuckle spike!”
“Gee,” said Marty. “Super.”
“Go ahead! Try it out!”
The other guy wheeled over a laptop on a little metal trolley.
Marty gave it a whirl: “I am testosterone my soup her fast typing Speedo.”
“It makes heavy use of predictive text,” explained the other guy, wheeling the laptop trolley away again.
Marty was decidedly underwhelmed. “Please tell me you’re saving the best for last.”
The two cyberneticists looked at one another.
“Okay.” Phil stepped over to the doorway, peeked out into the hall, then quietly pushed the door closed. Strictly speaking, we’re not supposed to show you this yet.”
“The company instructed us to wait until you’d had a little more time to adjust.”
“To adapt to the powers granted to you by this melding of man and machine.”
“But we think you’re ready.”
“Since you do seem to have taken the whole cyborg body thing in stride.”
There fell upon the lab a tense silence of anticipation.
“Well?” asked Marty at last. “What is it?”
“Twist your left nipple seventy degrees anticlockwise,” said Phil, slowly and clearly.
Marty was taken aback by just how slowly and clearly he’d said it. It sounded as though they’d installed some kind of bomb. “My anticlockwise,” he asked, “or your anticlockwise?”
“They’re the same anticlockwise,” said Phil, like Marty was an idiot.
“No, hang on,” put in the other guy. “I get what he means. If you were looking at it from the opposite side, it would be the opposite direction.”
“What opposite side!?”
“What do you even mean?!? Look.” He walked up to Marty and gestured. “That way. Twist it that way.”
Very gently, Marty did as he was instructed.
There was a sharp click, and a mysterious ring popped out of his chest.
“It’s a cup holder. You’ve given me a cup holder.”
“Perfect for stakeouts!” Phil beamed.
Marty sighed, storming noisily out of the room. “I need a drink.”
There fell upon the lab a regular, non-tense silence.
“I don’t think he likes it,” observed the guy with no name tag.
The silence was broken by Marty’s return, a tumbler of scotch perched upon his pectoral.
“Actually,” he said, “this is pretty handy.”
If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:
Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.
You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which was recently accepted by Unbound.