Bryan Beal

Cybernetic Reflection

It all seemed like a great idea when I was young. You know the story. Our whole futures were laid out in an endless stream of adventure and why wouldn't we? Back then, it was the dawn of a new era and we were the bleeding edge of human evolution. Or so we thought.

Unlike my friends, I started small. I was a cautious adopter of new tech. I mean, you always heard the horror stories of procedures gone horrifyingly wrong. So far south, the patient was barely recognisable as themselves afterwards. Cautionary tales that I heeded just enough to not leap into the deep end of the pool. What harm could it be to do the legs?

In the old times, back in the days of our tūpuna, our ancestors, this was how people got hooked into covering their entire bodies with tattoos. Start small and get sucked into the vortex of your own needs. You know what I'm getting at. First, it was the legs. When I had saved enough funds, the arms were next to be done. But then, I looked like an abomination with a meat body and cybernetic limbs. You can guess what went next as soon as the exorbitant fees were available. I mean, what young person doesn't need an armour-reinforced torso exoskeleton? It all seemed so logical.

Despite the extra strength and endurance, the cardio-vascular system was finding it hard to keep up. It's a slippery slope that is slick with the oil of our own folly. I'm sure you can relate to that in some way. Or maybe you were smart enough to play this all differently. Maybe you heeded the cautionary tales of walking hybrids with mere shadows of their former selves living in hi-tech shells. If you could call it “living”.

Once you have had the outside changed and altered, the innards are a small step. The heart, lungs and everything else went. I kept the digestive tract, though. Sue me. I like eating.

The ultimate was altering the brain with implants, capable of doing everything you could imagine. Communication that was like telepathy, multi-spectral vision (an awesome party trick with fleshy friends), and more. I was the edge of the mergence of human and machine. Hell, even the bots could not keep up with what we were doing; what we were becoming. Funny, now that I think of it. It was the bots who were making us what we were. There were no human surgeons involved.

I was living the dream. At about eighty percent converted, I was employable both on Terra and off-world. I had the pick of contracts. Total upgrade plans in place and I lacked for nothing. If I needed a new skill? Download the sucker, spend a few days enhancing the “muscle memory”, (not that I had muscles left), and get to using it. I learned the zitar in six days for a lark.

Tomorrow is my one hundred and forty-fifth birthday. I am not angry or even annoyed. Nowadays, the glitches and failures, the need to rebooted different systems inside me, are just a part of life. Most of them function alright, even if they are buggy. The companies that installed them are no more.

I can imagine some technological confessional: “Forgive me, Technician, for I have been silly. It has been fifteen years since my last update.”

You might conclude that I am a sad, old cyborg just waiting for the big switch to permanently flick to “off”. You couldn't be more wrong. I have no regrets. Like some old sod said centuries ago, it isn't what you did that you regret, it's what you never tried.

I may be an ugly museum piece these days, but I still don't need a costume to scare the kids at Halloween. Silver linings, people.

#SciFi #Cyberpunk #ShortStory