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Machine Man
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Page 23.
Machine Man (serial)

Days passed and no-one visited. In this respect it was just like my first time in the hospital. The difference was now I wanted them to. Well, not them. Her. I wanted to see Lola Banks barge through the door, her arms full of legs.

I couldn’t ask the nurses to send her. Since they had turned hostile, letting them know I wanted something was a strategic mistake. My meals were proof enough of that. But I couldn’t wait, either. On the fifth day, just as I was formulating a plan involving dragging myself across the floor to the phone in the hall, Lola appeared. She was not carrying any prosthetic limbs. It was just her, in a too-big shirt and crooked glasses. She hung in the doorway like she was afraid to enter.

“Hi,” I said.

She chewed her lip. Then she marched toward me, but stopped two feet short of my bed. “You crushed your own leg.”

“Yeah.”

She said, “Why.” The word came out of her mouth like it was heavy. It slid bonelessly to the floor and lay there.

I shrugged. It seemed obvious. Lola had seen my prototype.

“They think you’re suicidal,” she said. “They think you like hurting yourself.”

What?

“Well?” she demanded. “What else are people meant to think?”

“Do people get their vision laser-corrected because they like hurting themselves? Is that why they pierce their ears? People who work out at the gym, are they mentally ill because they’re prepared to endure a little short-term suffering in order to make their bodies work better? The only difference between them and me is I have access to better technology.” Lola sucked in breath, but I was too riled up to stop. “And I don’t have pain because it’s my goal. I have pain because it’s an unavoidable side-effect of the human body’s design being so conceptually flawed that the only way to implement significant improvements is to scrap what’s there and start over.”

From Lola’s expression, I realized I had gone too far. She began to move. “Wait,” I said. “Let me rephrase.” But she was leaning closer. Before I realized what was happening, she kissed me.

23.

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