By Richard Bleil
Eventually she looks up, but only for a moment before feeling compelled to look back down again. She has no thoughts, utters no phrases, makes no noise; she just…stares.
“How…” she mutters silently to herself. She sits back, staring at the steel rods wires and fiber optic cables. She’s hardly an engineer, but it seems like an incredible machine, beautifully constructed, well organized. The accident that exposed it would have been a blessing for her to see such a marvel, but she certainly didn’t expect to see it in her arm.
There is blood from the flap of skin that was covering the, uh, machinery. She feels the pain, but the shock is so great that it doesn’t even register. The skin is thicker than she expected.
Eventually, the questions begin. Should I go to the hospital? She starts to get up, but sits back down. What would they think if they found out? What would they…do? How did this happen? Is it…is it just her arm, or everything?
She wants to call somebody. She picks up her phone thinking to call her mother, but then she realizes that she was adopted. Her mom wouldn’t know.
She flops the skin back over the wound. A lot of work went into making her arm look…real. She…nobody must know. The last time she needed stitches, they used…glue. Some kind of, she has superglue. She’ll just…and wrap it…
It seems to be healing. It seems like a lifetime ago, but she’s shocked at the healing ability, just like a…is she even human? Cyborg? She seems to remember the term cyborg, some kind of combination of flesh and machine.
She runs her finger through the scabbing and healing wound. It’s already too far to open again without some kind of…
she’ll let it heal. She won’t say anything. It’ll be her secret. But, hers and…whose? Who did this? Somebody knows. Could they be watching? What…who…nobody else must learn.
Nobody must know.
The scar is substantial, but it’s…normal? It looks like it’s, almost…human. She runs her fingers over the reddish brown scar. Was it real? Could she have been hallucinating? Maybe, she can’t even…
It just doesn’t seem real. For months, she kept it wrapped, and if anybody asked she just said it was an accident. She showed the scar to her friends, and explained how…sh…the…the doctors glued it back together. It just seems like something from a nightmare though. Could it have been a nightmare?
But the scar is real…and she never got a hospital bill…she…it can’t be…must be…real.
If her harm is robotic, though, what else…
Maybe it doesn’t matter. She’ll just keep going to work like always, hang out with her friends like always, pretend like it never…it can’t be anyway.
The sleepless nights are getting worse. She has to know. Is it…how extensive. She has no choice.
She has a week off of work, so she can disappear and hide away from people for the experiment. Holding the blade she thinks about what, where she can…
Her liver is on the right side. If she’s human, she can’t risk damaging it if she wants to survive. The skin on her arm was so think, she’ll have to cut deep.
If she cuts on the left side, below the stomach, there are no vital organs there. She has to be careful not to cut an intestine, though. She can cut in deeply…she can…just deep enough…just deep enough to spread the skin and look to see…
She checks the knife again. To lessen the pain, it must be sharp. It needs to be very…it has to be sharp. She turns on the electric knife sharpener, and runs it through again. The sound of screaming from the spinning stones on the blade fills the air as she does it. There, that’s better…she…she’ll…
She draws a deep breath. Okay, this is it. Time to find out. She…okay, first…she takes off her shirt. She looks at her abdomen. She rubs the left side of her skin. She had heard that if she irritates the skin with rubbing it deadens the nerves. It’ll help.
She lifts the blade to her abdomen, and…
She moves it away again. She rubs her skin. She hesitates, she…she puts the point of the blade to her skin…she…she puts her other hand on the handle and…and…with one quick…
But when she tries, she finds her arms won’t cooperate. She cannot seem to use the knife to cut into herself. The blade feels as if it is taken from her hand. Is it possible…how is this…is this possible? Why can’t she…what…could it be…could she…is it programming? is she PROGRAMMED?
Oh, god, is it possible her programming won’t allow her to hurt herself? How…what…
“Do we know how she got the knife?”
“Apparently, one of our interns grabbed the wrong kind of knife to cut the birthday cake for Mr. Thompson.”
“And nobody noticed?!?”
“Another inmate, a Mrs…” he checks the notes, “Johnson apparently saw it which induced a panic response. As she was screaming, the staff moved in to calm her, and we lost track of the knife. Fortunately, we noticed her in time.”
“Yes, and we managed to stop her. It looked like she was trying to stab herself.”
The facilities director sits back. “Ever since she bumped her arm a couple of months ago, she hasn’t been the same.”
“Oh, yes, this was her, wasn’t it? Didn’t she walk around with a towel on that arm for several weeks after that?”
The director sits up as if to have made a decision. “Okay, let’s double her dosage, and put her in protective clothing. Let’s keep a closer eye on her.”