Page 38
Machine Man

My legs stopped at a busy intersection somewhere south of downtown. I didn’t know where, exactly. All I knew was they had been running for ten minutes and I had been hanging on, begging them not to kill me. Like all my legs, the Contours had been subjected to some pretty rigorous quality assurance in the lab, but some things you couldn’t simulate. One of those things, apparently, was that mortal terror interfered with the legs’ ability to interpret mental instructions. At least, I hope that’s what it was. The alternative was that they were wilful.

I had gotten a lot of alarmed looks over the last ten minutes, and some screaming and fleeing, but now, as I stood swaying and sweating on the street corner, passers-by barely glanced at me. A man put his hand on his wife’s shoulder to guide her around me; that was all. I realized that with my tie hanging over my shoulder like a tongue, my shirt dripping with sweat, my pants almost shredded and my jacket gray with concrete dust, I looked like a hobo. And I started to laugh, because that was a very normal thing to be, and my legs had stopped and I was still alive, and that had been the most out-of-control freaking ten minutes of my life.


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