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Machine Man
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Page 17.
Machine Man (serial)

“Oh,” Lola said. “I see.”

She walked in a circle around my prototype leg three times. She stopped beside the Clamp, the big pre-fab die stamp that had crushed my old leg, although she didn’t know that. The Clamp was gleaming clean. You didn’t leave machinery of that caliber idle just because some idiot managed to lose a limb in it. It was expensive as all get-out.

“It looks heavy.”

“It’s about 180 pounds,” I admitted. “It tends to dent the floor.”

“How do you lift it?”

“I don’t. It walks by itself.”

Lola looked at me.

“The foot rotates. It’s essentially an orbital wheel, on a shifting multi-dimensional axis.” I wanted to tell her its top speed, but didn’t, because she’d think I was boasting.

“And what’s this?” She pointed at a squat black box, which protruded from one side.

“Oh. The processor. I’m not really happy with the positioning on that. It’s a little vulnerable.”

“What does it do?”

“You know. Basic monitoring and control. GPS. Data storage. Wi-fi.”

“Your leg has wi-fi?”

“It has to. Otherwise it couldn’t interface with the online path-finding API.”

Lola’s eyes rose to mine.

“You shouldn’t need to keep telling your leg where to step. You should tell it where you want to go and let it calculate how to get you there. That’s basic encapsulation.”

Lola looked back at the leg. I don’t think she really understood encapsulation. But she was impressed with my leg. She knelt on the floor before it. The leg was under a lab spotlight, looking a little like a steel vase. It bulged at the bottom, because the foot was the size of a backpack, and tapered to a slimmer thigh. My lab assistants had performed excellent work in metals fab this week. I had never seen them so motivated.

Lola reached out and touched the leg. I cleared my throat. “What do you think?”

Her fingers ran down the metal. “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

It was a moment before I could speak. “Thanks,” I said.

17.

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