Machine Man
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Page 19.
Machine Man (serial)

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.


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