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Page 19.
Machine Man (serial)
CHAPTER FIVE

My lab assistants arrived in the Glass Room around eight. They were holding coffees and talking about something that was apparently very amusing. Then they saw me and froze.

Dr. Neumann? said Kathline. I inferred this from her lip movements. I couldn’t hear her because I was on the other side of the polymer glass and she hadn’t toggled the intercom. I waited for her to realize this. “Dr. Neumann… what’s in the syringe?”

“Morphine.” This came out muffled because I was holding my shirt sleeve in my teeth. But I think she understood. I completed the injection and let my sleeve drop. “For the pain.”

Kathline and Jason shared a glance. Jason leaned toward the microphone. “What pain is that, Dr. Neumann?”

I felt disappointed. These guys were supposed to be amongst the brightest minds of their generation. Yet here I was in the Clamp with a syringe of morphine and they couldn’t figure it out. “I think that will become obvious.”

On one wall of the Glass Room was the Big Red Button. If you flipped up its clear plastic panel and pressed it, everything lost power. The little plaque said EMERGENCIES ONLY, and a while ago somebody had added a hand-written sticker that said, DO! NOT!!! PUSH!, because lab assistants are curious. Jason’s eyes flicked toward the button.

“Please call Medical,” I said. “Right away.”

To his credit, Jason made it look like he was going for the phone. He leaned in that direction, even picked up the handset. Then he dropped it and lunged toward the Big Red Button.

But my button was closer. It was in my hand. The Clamp was powered-up, humming on standby. Its steel plates were positioned about—well, a foot apart. I was sitting on the edge of one. My right leg, the biological one, dangled between them.

It was just as well I took care of all this in advance, because the morphine was already seeping into my neurons, fogging my synapses. If I hadn’t been prepared, Jason might have reached the Big Red Button before I could activate the Clamp and crush my leg to paste. But I was, and he didn’t, and I did.

19.

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Jess (#3888)

Location: CT, USA
Quote: "Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive. "
Posted: 2018 days ago

I HAD to comment on this page, it was great. I especially liked the DO! NOT!!! PUSH! sticker.

Dan Guy (#3896)

Quote: "meat_catch@p0mi.com"
Posted: 2018 days ago

I can't wait to see how he managed to keep his job after this...

Jennifer M. Dambeck (#3061)

Location: NJ, USA
Quote: "Rock on"
Posted: 2018 days ago

OMGosh he did it.

Machine Man subscriber Alex (#237)

Location: London, England
Quote: "We're today's scrambled creatures, locked in tomorrow's double feature (Bowie)"
Posted: 2018 days ago

Ouch!

Machine Man subscriber Electrichead (#3898)

Location: Toronto
Posted: 2018 days ago

Love it!

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 2017 days ago

You know when your in the movie theater, and there's that guy in front of you who is always predicting the ending. It's so obnoxious. I mean he says like 50 different things. Every conceivable outcome. Guessing stuff from "the guy gets the girl" to Aliens take over. There is no way he could be wrong. Then then end of the movie one of the predictions is right, and says to everyone confidently "I CALLED IT! I CALLED IT!"

I wrote this on a blog a couple of weeks ago...

"Maybe he'll even go to the extremes of thinking 'I bet I could build a better arm than I have now' and cut it off. "

...I called it.

-adam

Machine Man subscriber Lowly Worm (#3028)

Location: Loves Park, IL
Quote: "Insert witty quote here."
Posted: 2017 days ago

Is it wrong that as I'm reading and loving this for some reason I'm picturing Max as the Machine Man? I've never done that before with any of his books. Odd.

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 2017 days ago

@Adam

He's cutting off his other leg, not an arm, so you haven't called it. I think the it you called will have to wait a little longer.

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 2017 days ago

I'd hate to be the one to have to clean up after this guy.
That company lawyer should be happy with this development, though. While the first time was an accident, she can plausibly claim that he (subconsciously) did that intentionally as well.

Machine Man subscriber Ian Manka (#3916)

Location: Los Angeles, California (school) | Akron, Ohio (home)
Quote: "Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance."
Posted: 2017 days ago

Fantastic page...

Well done on his last name. Dr. Charlie Neumann. Pronounced "New-man." How clever you are, Max.

It'd be really funny if the lab assistants were so brilliant that they were just shocked to see Charlie had spent the night in Better Future, not considering the other elements around him:

"Aww... he spent the night in the office!?!? I've always wanted to do that!"

Alas, some criticism... the hand-written note. I think if I were writing a note to stick next to a big red button, I'd use the exclamation points differently, increasing in magnitude: "DO! NOT!! TOUCH!!!" But the way you wrote it makes sense too: some lab assistant probably wrote the note immediately after the Big Red Button had been pressed, and in an angry fit, wrote it quickly and didn't think about the dynamics or magnitude of what they were writing.

Also -- the intercom. The assistants had to push a button to talk to Charlie. How did he talk back, being on/in The Clamp and all, and, I would assume, away from the intercom?

the-tine (#472)

Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Quote: "Coming soon to a planet near you."
Posted: 2017 days ago

I was practically shaking with fear when I read this page. Owww.

"But my button was closer [...] Its steel plates were positioned about—well, a foot apart."

Ha-ha. Very subtle pun.

"I was sitting on the edge of one. My right leg, the biological one, dangled between them."

My heart started racing right about there.

"But I was, and he didn’t, and I did."

Once again, killer last line. Go, Max, go!

Jeffers0n (#3865)

Location: Maryland, USA
Posted: 2017 days ago

This page is the best of them all so far. Very well written.

Machine Man subscriber M.I.Minter (#347)

Location: Houston Texas, USA
Quote: "When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
Posted: 2017 days ago

There was a whole show on bionic appendages last night on 20/20 (I think). they have mechanical knees that talk to eachother to make sure they are in sync.
Writing is great Max, especially the last line.
Highfive,
Ian

Machine Man subscriber Yannick (#3858)

Location: Heist, Belgium
Quote: "he reads things"
Posted: 2017 days ago

I'm wondering how he will construct a better arm, with only one arm.

Matt (#1683)

Location: Canada
Quote: "Quote?"
Posted: 2017 days ago

At first I thought he was attaching his bionic leg, then it hit me... "My right leg, the biological one, dangled between them." Oh no he didn't! haha. Brilliant Max, brilliant!

Machine Man subscriber Katie Ellert (#207)

Location: Calgary AB Canada
Quote: "Where's Lola? WHERE'S LOLA?!?!"
Posted: 2017 days ago

Oooooo I saw it coming and was waiting for it, I didn't think it would happen so soon though. Hurray!!
I'm absolutely loving this story so far. Yay!
--Katie

Abgrund (#3357)

Location: Atlantis
Quote: ""Redeem your mind from the hockshops of authority." - Ayn Rand"
Posted: 2017 days ago

Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Machine Man subscriber Joe M. (#3183)

Location: Texas
Quote: "Grooviness is essential"
Posted: 2017 days ago

Hardly a surprise, but well-executed. This gets better every day.

Valadur (#3780)

Posted: 2017 days ago

Honestly I was wondering if Lola might be up for trying this lol. Guess it makes sense he would do his other leg tho. Hard for the organic one to keep up when running lol.

As to the comments, yeah. The firm could easily release him now that he has no grounds to stand on in a lawsuit. "It was an accident" would be good for the first round but its hard to claim twice, esp. considering how excited he is. "Saying I like it better this way" effectively kills the chances for a successful lawsuit. Might be lucky to escape one himself now lol. Better finish the legs fast. (And arms maybe lol.)

Charles Choi (#3917)

Location: NYC
Quote: "Romantics are those who have no choice but to fight for what they believe in."
Posted: 2017 days ago

I didn't see the Neumann-Newman pun. Ha! I instead saw a Neumann-von Neumann machine reference. Will there be more of Charlie?

Abgrund (#3357)

Location: Atlantis
Quote: ""Redeem your mind from the hockshops of authority." - Ayn Rand"
Posted: 2017 days ago

I think there will be less and less of Charlie...

Zwangzug (#3872)

Location: GMT -6
Quote: "It ain't over till it's over"
Posted: 2016 days ago

Heh, I caught (von) Neumann right away and New-man this morning. Nicely done!

Machine Man subscriber Skippy (#3937)

Location: Melbourne
Posted: 2004 days ago

'But I was, and he didn’t, and I did.'

That's why we love you, Max.

Machine Man subscriber Felix (#4236)

Location: NZ
Quote: "I'm naked underneath my clothes"
Posted: 1961 days ago

Loving it! This page was painful to read though.

stanley becker (#5283)

Location: black hole
Quote: "DON"T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!!"
Posted: 1304 days ago

Morphine has a poetic history as in "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree" - then the man from Porlock knocked at his door, and destroyed Coleridge's vision. As a writer, Max, I'm surprised all it did was "dull your synapses"

stanley becker (#5283)

Location: black hole
Quote: "DON"T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!!"
Posted: 1304 days ago

Morphine has a poetic history as in "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree" - then the man from Porlock knocked at his door, and destroyed Coleridge's vision. As a writer, Max, I'm surprised all it did was "dull your synapses"

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