Jen Murphy

It was dark, but in this darkness there are strange flashes and blips of light. Sometimes they are brief and hardly noticeable and other times they flashed and shown themselves like fireworks. Not only was there light, there were sounds that came along with them. There are voices and the muffled sound of what I can only figure was machinery of sorts, perhaps power tools being used someplace. As these events came and went I dismissed them as normal. Why? When one is sleeping do they question why dreams come and go? I never did, so when the lights and sounds came and went, I figured them to be normal. And the only explanation I could think of was that I was sleeping. My alarm is going to go off soon and I am going to have to leave the warm shelter of my bed. It is an every day occurrence that I just can’t seem to get used to. First it is dark and warm and the closer and closer it gets to dawn the more activity there is. There are people talking as they get up and head to work and the steady drone of increasing traffic is almost hypnotic. That’s what I thought I was hearing.

I keep my eyes closed and attempt to fall back asleep. This task is almost impossible when I know I have to wake up any minute. The more I tried to fall back asleep the more I thought of what I’d make of my morning. I’d pull the covers off then sit on the bed for a good ten minutes to wait for reality to hit. Then I would drudge my way to the shower in another attempt to shock my brain into the fact that I was awake and finally breakfast. After eating I can consider my day officially started. But what of today, what was on the agenda today? I couldn’t remember. I am usually good about remembering what has to be done, but not today. I must have been really tired last night, and have forgotten. Good thing that alarm hasn’t gone off yet. At least that would give me a few more minutes to gather my thoughts. There must be somebody outside doing construction. I hear an awful drilling noise that does not last too long. I don’t like construction this early in the morning. Only a moment passes and it starts up again, this time it sounds different. That is no ordinary drill. It is something that one would hear in a dental office. Maybe I should just give in and open my eyes. But I am so comfortable and want to squeeze every last minute of relaxation in as I can. I’m hardly relaxed though with this much mental debate.

The drill begins its shrill scream again. This time it is closer than I had previously thought. It sounds like it is right next to me. The pitch is so high and so close to my ear that it gives me a headache. I want it to stop. The thought of the dental office came to mind again. Perhaps that is where I am. I’m not in my warm bed, but in a dentist’s chair. That is why I can’t remember anything. I am getting work done by a dentist. As I think again, I can’t remember having an appointment. It was a rational thought worth having at least. But I dismiss it. The scream of the drill is piercing, and this time it is not easing up. I can almost feel it. I can imagine it entering my temple, piercing my skull and invading my brain. The irrational thought of a science fiction book came to my mind but I’ve never heard anything this horrible so close to me. Perhaps only if I would open my eyes this would make perfect sense. I am not that weak hearted yet I feel the tinge of fear. What if this object is actually real? Of course it couldn’t be. Maybe I have fallen back asleep successfully and am having a nightmare. Great, nightmares only mean I am going to be more fatigued when I actually wake up. After what seems like an eternity the drilling noise moves further away from my head and stops. I am relieved. Quiet serenity has taken a hold of me once again.

“…going well...successful…other side…” What did this mean? I thought too soon on peace and quiet. The voices have come back. I do not hear all of what they have to say and I get a distinct feeling that they are not talking to me. Now why wouldn’t the voices in my own head talk to me? I’m the one who created them. All I can do now is hear what they have to say.

“…as well as expected… recovery…new model…” Listen to voices that I have created? Now perhaps I have a hangover. Yes, that would explain the voices. It could even explain the drill. No. It could not explain either of them. I have not gotten drunk since I was a teenager. I prefer to keep a sharp mind.

“Eyes…need to see…” Yes, something I can agree with. All I need to do is open my eyes.

“…work of art…even kept the real ones…” Why am I having so much trouble opening my eyes?

“Added…state of the art…will have…” Open!

“More than human…” What is wrong with my eyes? With every last ounce of will power I focus on my eyes. Nothing.

“...neural activity…monitoring…” What is going on? I want to wake up! Maybe I am experiencing a form of sleep paralysis.

…fused…seamless…” I have never had sleep paralysis before. “…thinking will be human…”Could that be what this is? But the voices, the weird flashes, the drill. “Slight….modifications…of course…” No the paralysis would not explain it either. I am afraid and mentally begin to panic. I still have the slight hope of my alarm going off and waking me up. Then this would all be over.

“…able…see…tomorrow.” Why am I not able to see now?

“…finest point…tissue dive…” Point? I hear that horrible screaming drill start up again. This time it is on the other side of my head. I might be imagining it again but I think I feel pressure and the heat from the friction on my temple. It pushes further and I want to cry out. But if I can’t even open my eyes, what makes me think I can scream. The drill stops once again. I think I hear footsteps. Could the voices have substance after all?

“…tomorrow…aware…” When is this tomorrow I keep hearing of? How can there be a tomorrow if I don’t know the here and now?

“…needs rest….” I think this one sounds like a woman’s voice. “…call it a day…” Yes. It is definitely a woman speaking. “…goodnight….Mr. Sauer.” This seemed directed at my ear. Goodnight?

“…still…using…name…” A man is here too? I think I catch the slight hint of a chuckle. “…I guess…known…by no other…” No other? Is he talking to the woman or me? “…dinner…” The sound of the voices and the footsteps are fading away. Come back!

As the last sounds of their footsteps die down. I think that I am alone. A silence creeps over me but I still hear strange buzzes and beeps occasionally off in the distance. I do not want to be alone. I want tomorrow to come when they said I would see. I’m afraid. This is a new fear for me. It is fear of the unknown. Sauer? Were they talking about me? Am I Mr. Sauer? After long minutes of contemplation I come to a realization. Yes! That is my name. I am Jan Sauer. Why did that take me so long to think of? Knowing my name still doesn’t answer any of my questions. It might be a good start though. Jan….Jan…what did you do last night? Did I end up in a hospital? Could I have gotten in some sort of weird accident? I’m a careful driver. Maybe I hit my head on something. That could account for memory loss. I don’t remember hitting my head. My head? This all has something to do with my head! Perhaps I have a head trauma and that would explain all the problems. Having a head injury could also affect my vision. It could be why I see the strange flashes of light. That idea makes the most sense so far. It is far from comforting though. Right now I can do nothing more than try to relax and get some rest. I accept the blackness, strange sounds and let the hours pass.

I hear footsteps coming closer. I think a door opened. The talking begins again with what I am only to assume is the same man and woman who were with me previously. So that morning they spoke of has come. Today I hope to have my answers. I lay perfectly still as they approach. Now that I think of it I have no choice but to hold still. I was so worried about my eyes that I failed to notice that the rest of my body just did not feel right. I actually could not feel anything at all.

“Nervous…” the woman speaks. “…activation…his mentality…” what is she talking about. All I really want to do is see. “…we’ll go slowly. That is the best way…” I hear much more of these sentences than last night. Slowly will not answer my questions, please let me see.

I hear a new noise, an electrical noise like a computer booting up. The man’s voice “…monitor on.” So it was a computer. At least I can trust my hearing. “…his eyesight first.” Yes, I want to see! “…then remove the apparatus.” The what? Please let me worry about one thing at a time. “Okay,” the woman is speaking. “Here goes.” What I felt next could only be described as searing pain. I feel like my eyes are on fire. It starts small in the back and then it works its way around my entire eye. Why can’t I scream? What is she doing to me? Then it begins. Bright flashes become more constant. With the flashing lights comes pain. “Neural activity functioning.” I would tell you that if I could. White light floods my eyes for what seems like forever and then all goes black. The pain lessens when the blackness comes. Was I watching a television? The blackness slowly starts to fade and I begin to see a dim picture in front of me. I make out a shape. I think it is the woman. She is hovering close to me. “May I have the light?” Light only hurts my eyes! “Thank you.” Her request is answered. I see a vague hand-like shape moving towards my eye with a piercing light. She brings it uncomfortably close and then I feel something new. A warm sensation I could only guess was her fingers. “…such beautiful eyes.” She probes around my right eye and then brings the light to the left.

“Yes.” The man speaks to her. Though her light is bright I can make out a second shape standing over me. “We were lucky his were in such wonderful condition.” Of course they should be. I take care of myself. “You ready to turn them up to full?” Turn them up to full? What do you mean? You sound like you’re talking about some volume controls on a radio.

“Oh yes. He’ll be able to see us then.” I’m afraid to see now. I would rather go back into the dark. The images before me grow sharper and brighter. And stranger yet, I feel like I am looking at a computer screen. This new picture before me of the man and the woman was now clear, they look like doctors. The strange thing was there were words floating in the air. These words were like some sort of animated text. They flashed on and off. The words were telling me what I was looking at and other meanings I could not comprehend. I turn my eyes towards the woman. She is staring down at me with a look of wonder. The words tell me that she is a human female. Her brown eyes stare into mine. “Can you see me?” Yes I can see you. “You will need to give me some sort of indication that you can see me and understand me. Can you blink your eyes for me?” Blink my eyes? She is asking a simple task. At least I thought it was simple. My eyes do not close. I can do nothing but stare into her smiling face. Why is she smiling? “It might be tough, but your will power seems strong.”

“His brain is functioning normally.” The human man has a curly moustache. I haven’t seen one of those in a long while. “Since he started becoming aware last night his neural activity is quite strong.”

I have always had will power. But my eyelids will not obey. “Please try to blink your eyes. Can you feel your eyes?” She ever so gently uses the tip of one of her warm fingers to touch the top of my right eye lid. “If you can feel my finger on your eye it might help you.” It does help me. The warmth of her finger helps me feel my lid. I try one more time and think of nothing more than to blink my eyes. The world slowly goes dark. The man and woman disappear. “Very good!” She sounds very pleased. “Can you please open them for me? I know it’s hard, but please try”. I then hold the same thought as before and slowly open my eyes again. They have never felt so heavy. “Wonderful! Your progress is astounding!” She smiles at me and places a warm hand on my cheek. I feel like a child being praised by his mother. All I did was open my eyes. “Today is going to be better than expected.” She turns to the man.

He too is smiling and nods. “Yes, yes. His reaction is the best we have had yet.” He too comes awfully close to my eyes with his face and his blue eyes search mine. “Mr. Sauer — that is your name…” I figured that out last night. “— can you please do that again for us?” He wants me to open and close my eyes again for him. I manage to find the strength to do so. They both keep smiling down at me. I thought I would be pleased to see and that some of my confusion would be solved. Nothing has answered any of my questions yet. The woman turns her eyes to a monitor above my head. The man steps away.
“He’s ready to try breathing on his own today.” What? What do you mean breathing on my own? Am I not breathing? My brain begins to race. I knew at that moment that something was wrong. I was not breathing. There was no life giving air coming into my body. How could I not notice something like this? “Oh dear…neural activity increasing.” Yes of course it was increasing. I just realized that I have not been breathing! How is it I am staring up at the both of you? I’m not breathing! Am I near death? No. I can’t be near death. “…it is to be expected after all. This is a very traumatic experience. I just don’t know…” her gentle eyes come back to me “…how much he is aware of.” If you would only give me the answers! “I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

The man comes back over to me. He has surgical gloves on his hands. He reaches for my face and his hand stops near my mouth. I focus, only then can I almost feel my mouth. There is something inside of it. I think this is the very reason I was unable to speak. “Tube and electrodes secure. Charge up.” No please don’t. I have a feeling this is not going to feel good. I was right. There is a high pitched charging sound and I feel a sharp sense of pain move throughout my head and torso. It shakes my body and I hear the rattling of metal. I must have shaken whatever I was laying on. My eyes go white for a moment with the sense of the shock. I thought I saw the word ‘overload’ flash before my eyes for a split second. As soon as this convulsion ends he begins to pull this object out of my mouth. It seems to be a long breathing tube with strange metal attachments. I have never seen anything like it before. As he pulls it slowly out of my throat I feel like I want to vomit. But nothing happens.

I wonder when my last meal was. As my airway clears and the tube comes fully out I hear myself involuntarily take a deep breath. I feel the cool air shock my lungs. Like everything else I have experienced, it is quite painful. The pain is nothing compared to the rush the air gives me. I am breathing! The sweet air is revitalizing and I can’t get enough of it. The man now has a stethoscope and places it on my chest. “It’s a success!”

“Yes, I can see that.” The woman grins. “For the first time this fusion harmony is working right the first try.”

“That’s because we’ve had seven other models to work with these past few years. We knew that one day it’d work perfectly.” The man now places his hand on my chest. I can feel that it is warm, even through his glove. What does he mean models? What is the fusion the woman is talking of? His hand on my chest…I can feel his hand on my chest. I couldn’t feel my chest last night. I concentrate on the feeling of the warmth his hand gives me. I realize that whatever else I can feel of my body is freezing. I must tell them that I am cold. I take a deep breath.

“…d..” No, that wasn’t right at all. Come on Jan.

“Oh!” The lady’s attention is focused on me. She places her hand back on my cheek. “Please, speak if you can.”

“It’s too soon.” The man removes his hand and goes to look at a monitor.

“Nonsense, he has something to say. Don’t you?”

I force myself to take a deep steadying breath. I think my lips might be trembling. “…I’m…” this is harder than opening my eyes “…c…..old.”

She lets her hand slide up my cheek and I feel her run her fingers through my hair. “I’m sorry, Mr. Sauer. It is going to take some time for your circulation to return.”

I take a second steadying breath. “W….hat?” I blink my eyes again. “Wh…at….ha…pened?”

“You don’t remember?”

I am getting frustrated and strangely tired. I want to shake my head instead of speaking to her. That is out of the question. My head must be secured to the table for no movement comes. “….no.” I let out a long sigh. I’m still trying to think of why I was not breathing.

“Poor man.” She runs her fingers though my hair again. “Such lovely hair you have.” Although her action is a soothing attempt, I do not care about my hair. I want to know what happened. “Ah, yes. I know this might shock you but I must tell you...” she pauses “…you are here because you shot yourself in the head. You committed suicide, Mr. Sauer.”

As those words left her mouth I inhaled sharply and squeezed my eyes tightly shut. Suicide! I had killed myself? The memory flooded back to me swiftly. My own gun pointed at my head. I remember the look in my own eyes as I looked into the mirror before pulling the trigger. I had the look of a man in complete despair. My normally piercing blue eyes were swollen and bloodshot, from either lack of sleep or crying. My blonde hair disheveled and my face extraordinarily pale. I did not normally look like that. I recall the brief crack of the gun as my shaking finger pulled the trigger. My world then went black. This new revelation shocked me, but I knew it was truth. I feel a flood of fire fill my eyes and my new vision blurred. Hot tears begin to stream out of the corner of my eyes.

“You can still cry?” The lady sounds surprised. She picks up a tissue and dabs my eyes gently. “That is a good thing.” What do you mean a good thing? This seems like a normal reaction to such a horrible memory. If I wanted to remember something like that I wouldn’t have killed myself. I killed myself to escape…yes, that was it. I wanted to get away from the pain. I do not yet remember the pain I had so desperately wanted to be free from though. As she pulls the tissue away from my bleary eyes I noticed it looks a lot more like a polishing cloth. If I committed suicide I should be dead. Not lying here.

“D….d…id I…f…ail?” I slowly open my eyes again. She had a pitiful, yet more serious look on her face.

“No, Mr. Sauer. That is why you are here.”

“I…I’m….a….alive.” It feels so strange to speak.

“Yes. You can…be considered alive.” I could not read the expression on her face as she said this.

“W..where…am..I” I don’t think I really wanted to know.

“Ziggurat Industries.” The man broke in this time.

I knew the name of Ziggurat Industries. Most people did. They are the leading company in cybernetic technology. But why in the world would I be here? I should be in a quiet grave. My eyes scan both of their faces. I think they sense what I want to ask.
“You were an organ donor.”

“Y… Wh..hat d…does….” What did I do to deserve to be cheated out of death? The cool air still burns my lungs, but I will not deny it still feels good. I try not to enjoy this simple pleasure. This is something I robbed myself of and I should be dead.
The lady won’t turn her face from mine. “Mr. Sauer, did you actually read the fine print when you made that commitment? It says that upon your death your body becomes public property and can be used to how we see fit. When you died your body was in usable condition…aside from the clean gun shot to your head. This presented an opportunity and we took it.”

What was she talking about? Yes I signed up for organ donation. That is supposed to help those in need. At least I thought it was. What kind of opportunity did I present? My shot was successful. I killed myself. Aren’t there people in hospitals in need of perfectly good organs?

The lady’s gentle smile returned and her hand left my cheek. I think she took a hold of my right hand for I felt that weird warmth and some pressure. “You have become the property of Ziggurat Industries.” Property? I’m my own person. “You will be used on jobs as we see fit.” Used? I do not want to be used by anyone but I am hardly in a position to argue. I remember that I all ready had a job though.

“I…I’m…w..ith” Why does she look amused?

“No. Not any more you aren’t. You are now under our charge. We are going to rehabilitate you.”

The hot tears come again. My mind is numb. Ever so slowly things begin to make more and more sense. I had killed myself. My lifeless body was appropriated and given to Ziggurat Industries. I don’t want it to be this way. I don’t want to know what kind of rehabilitation I need. I can’t be a walking corpse. I’m breathing; I can feel her touch on my fingers. What of the rest of me? I have no other sensations aside from my chest, head and hand. “S…s…till …cold.” I think my hand is shaking since I feel her give me a gentle squeeze.

“We’re going to sit you up now.” The man seems more eager to move on. He is next to me pushing some buttons. I do not want to move or sit up. Whatever has happened is horrible. I don’t want to see what has become of me.

I hear a buzzing noise and feel slight vibration. My eyes, as tired as they are, dart frantically to get an idea of where I am. The surface on which I am laying is being elevated. Not all of it. The upper half is moving up and my position becomes that of sitting in a recliner. I look around. The strange words keep flashing before my eyes as I take in the scene. I am in a room with pale blue walls and no windows. It is not a large room, about ten by ten. There is an exceptional amount of electrical equipment along one of the walls. So many devices, many look like they are for monitoring. Wires run from the machines and along the floor. If I am not mistaken, the words which flash before my eyes tell me the voltage and if they are safe. The wires creep up towards my bed if you can even call it that. It is more of a cold metal chair. I notice that a thin blanket covers my legs. The strange wires run under it. My God, Are those going into me? Why can’t I feel them? My breath increases. I notice my head still hurts.

“Are you okay, Mr. Sauer?” The man has a small handheld device and moves it up and down my body. I think it might be a scanner. Okay? How can you ask me such a thing?

“…no…” My word is weak.

“Understandable.” The woman says. “You’ve been through so much in just a short time.” She is still holding my hand. I notice there are even small wires running up into my right arm. I now feel strange painful pulses through it. Every moment seems to bring a new sense of pain. “You must know before we move on...” she sounds hesitant “…you committed suicide two years ago.” No! It can’t be! “It took us that long to create the most up to date, durable body.” I was dead for two years? Create a body? Now I am terrified.

“…no…” I inhale. “…b..body to….f…feel.” I concentrate with all my will and still feel nothing except my head, chest, and arm. All of which were in pain. “…w…what…have you done……”

“To feel what we have given you would be a technological wonder. You will have to learn to work with what you have.” All I want to do now is lay back down and fall into a deep sleep. One I will not wake up from. I do not want to hear any more of what these people have to say. “Now I must show you what we’ve done. You are going to have to get used to it.” Please don’t let me see it. The woman lets go of my hand, the only slight comfort I had felt at the moment and goes down to the end of the table. I want to turn my head away but it does not move. She takes a hold of the bottom of the blanket and slowly pulls it off. I would have fainted if I could. No sight of flesh met my eyes. Instead I saw two horrible metal contraptions. They were disfigured in my eyes. Solid metal fused with wires and pistons. I could tell that they originated from my torso but I could not see the connection from my position. Were these my legs? They looked frighteningly powerful. I don’t want to believe it. A
whimper escapes my throat. “They are the best we’ve ever done you know.” She still has that smile, but it fades a bit. “Oh…I’m sorry. I forget that this is all a shock to you.” Forget? How could that sweet smile be so insensitive? My legs are gone! “But none the less, I am proud of my work.” She traces a finger along my lower leg. I don’t feel it. This looks like it gives her satisfaction. I think I get it though. She feels sorry for me but thoroughly enjoyed working on me like one works on a beloved hobby. The task was to animate my corpse and she succeeded. “Now your brain is functioning as it should be. It’s reacting to the synthetic additions as it would normal tissue. All we need to do is remove one neural block, and your bonds of course.” My eyes search the metal contraptions and notice both of them are secured to the chair. “Once that is complete you will be able to move.”

“P……” She looks a bit shocked that I am not sharing her excitement.

“Come now, Mr. Sauer, you must make the best of what you have. You’re being given a second chance.” A second chance that I am not interested in. “We’re going to remove the last neural block so your brain can send messages to your limbs.” The thought of me jumping off the chair and strangling both of them came to mind, yet faded quickly. The sound and sensation I had next was similar to that brief sound I heard and felt when I fired my gun. My head jerks and slams against the back of the chair with incredible force. I thought it might have been secured like my legs, but I was wrong. I manage to scream as pain rips through my skull. It was at that moment my world went dark.

As the voices return and the pain slightly recedes I realize I must have blacked out. The words slowly came back on as my eyes opened. A cold sweat has formed on my face. The woman was stroking my hair again.

“You have such nice soft hair, and beautiful eyes. They are very expressive.” Why does it matter? Expressive eyes will not make up for what you have done to me. “You are a very handsome man.” How can this even be an issue? “The worst of it is over. The next step is exciting.” No. “You can move now if you wish. Please try to move your left arm.”

I could not feel my left arm. I am able to slowly turn my head to look at it. I have a headache and my neck hurts with the movement. At least I can move. I soon understand why I could not feel my arm, they have taken that too. It is the same size and mostly the same shape as my flesh arm, but this one was metal. It was attached to my body at my shoulder. Another tear leaks from my eye. The thought of it being a part of me is so hard to take in. But no matter what I think, nothing is going to change. This is what fate has forced upon me.

“Mr. Sauer, your arm please…” The man speaks to me. I find no reason not to comply with his wishes although my mood is dropping by the minute. My thought to raise my arm is halfhearted, yet to my surprise it responds. I did not feel it happen, it just did. “Good! Please bend it.” I don’t like getting praise for this action. I have done nothing noteworthy. I am an electronic toy they are enjoying. My arm bends for them. It is not an entirely silent action. I sound like a machine. A mild drill like whirr can be heard with my simple movements. I think it has potential to drive me insane. “Excellent.”

“I can’t stress to you how well you are taking this.” She is too excitable. How else should I take this? Kicking and screaming would not be appropriate. Besides, that would require a lot of energy and effort. Without warning the section of the bed with my metal legs on it lowers and causes a bend at what one could call knees. Now what? Did I appear too relaxed? I notice that all the little wires have been removed. They must have done it when I passed out. “You are fully functional, Mr. Sauer. I want to see you stand.” I turn my eyes to him, if they were so expressive why could he not tell that I just wanted to recline again? “I know I’m asking quite a bit, but it has to be done.” So he does read me. He is just not interested in granting my request. I hear that mechanical sound again as my new body responds to my thoughts of standing. My legs obey me and I feel my torso pulled strongly out of the chair. The two do not react well together and I almost fall over. My legs seem to outweigh the rest of me and I remain standing. As soon as I regain my composure and balance I notice that I am taller than both the man and the woman. I stare down at myself. My feet are strange looking and bend at a weird angle. I give the initial impression that I am standing on my tip-toes. The man and woman don’t seem to care. Their eyes roam my body and they take in what they have created. I feel embarrassed.

“What…is going… to become of me?” The words are easier to speak.

“The people need protecting, and since you have the skill and know how…that is what you shall be doing for now. You are a combat cyborg, a model Ziggurat 8. You will be commissioned where needed.” The man finishes looking me over.

“Do…I have a choice?” I knew that I didn’t. Once my body became the property of Ziggurat I no longer had a life to call my own. Cybernetic creations do not have free will. I looked at the woman. The expression on her face confirmed my answer. “I…”

“Try taking a step.” She did her best to change the subject. I think of taking a step. That mechanical sound starts up. My leg lifts and moves forward. Surprising, I do not hear the pistons slide as my leg bends, only the sound of the electronics firing up. The disturbing sound of the weight of my foot being set back on the floor made me nervous. It was a hard, heavy, powerful sound. They designed me for combat. If I were not durable they wouldn’t let me back into the field. I could not feel what I was doing in the least below my waist, which was now an entirely metal lower torso but things did happen as they should. “Excellent, Mr. Sauer, you are doing very well.” I make up my mind to anticipate the next request and take a few sturdy steps towards the wall. I wish I did not feel so unbalanced. I knew that even with my one arm still of flesh and blood I would not be able to support myself if I fell. “You are quick to learn.” I always had been.

I decide to take a short journey around the room. I see a mirror on the far wall and I go towards it. I must know what people will see. With heavy steps I walk slowly for it. Before I reach it I get the first look at myself. I am an odd, somewhat frightening sight. Half man, half machine. My movements look strange, yet even stranger they don’t look forced. I stare at my face. It is almost as pale and pained as I remember it the moment I pulled the trigger. My eyes are the same piercing blue so many have told me they loved, especially her. My hair is still my own. Golden, straight and I notice somebody has brushed it and kept it clean. The woman must have done it since she cared so much about the appearance of her…work. The spot where my faithful gun shot had been was completely scar free although there were two small, swollen, fresh wounds near each of my temples. That is where I heard the drill. Where my flesh meets metal is almost seamless. But I still give the impression of a robot. I know I am not entirely a robot, my mind is still thinking human thoughts. Actually I do not know how much of my mind I could really consider human after synthetics.

“We’re going to leave you to your thoughts for a while. Keep up the good work.” The woman smiles at the doctor, obviously proud. He nods at her and they both give me one last look and start to walk for the door. The woman pauses. “Oh…when you are done, you can go ahead and sit back down there.” She points to that awful metal chair. “It’ll offer you a place to rest. Sleep if you can. Tomorrow we shall go beyond the simple basics of today and you will have a more…pleasant place to stay. If you want it…”she points at a small closet in the corner “…there is a blanket you can use in there. Although I doubt you will need it. Goodnight, Mr. Sauer” They leave and I am now alone.

I walk around in heavy circles for the rest of the day to pass time. I should run for the door, but where would I have to go? There is no life waiting for me out there. My thoughts are clear now, even through my headache. I liked it better the other way around. I liked being in the dark knowing that any moment my alarm was going to go off and wake me from this terrible dream. I knew that would not happen to me again, at least not for a very long time. I close my eyes and the words that haunt my vision disappear. It is then that I realize that I am tired. I am so very tired. The mechanical parts don’t feel the fatigue like my own flesh does. I open my eyes and find myself facing the mirror once more. So, Jan Sauer, you are a combat cyborg. Can you even call yourself by that name any more? That is a life you shall no longer lead. I take one last look at myself and then walk over to the closet, open it and take the blanket. It is soft and smells clean. The lady is right, I probably do not even need it but it is a human action. I sit back in the chair and wrap the cover around my torso and arms. I leave my legs exposed. Yet, after a few moments of staring at the protruding metal I decide to cover them after all. I don’t want to look at them. I do not know if I will ever be content to accept them as my own. Maybe time will change my mind and things will work for the better. My optimism fades quickly. I am no longer a human, I am a cyborg. I no longer have rights of my own. I am now nothing more than a piece of property built to be used. My fatigue is tugging at me more and more. I give in and close my eyes and am surprised to find that human sleep can still take over my body.