Bryan Beal


Bruce was enjoying the cold touch of the beer bottle on his forehead after a hard day in the bowels of Yumikon Tower. He never went there because of some interest in what happens there. It was just the job. Monitoring power generation levels from the myriad renewable resources the tower used to generate the electricity its citizens needed. He was charged with keeping things at a reasonable level without overloading the generators or the distribution networks the electricity flowed through.

For the most part, the job was mundane; even boring. Last night was neither. Bruce's boss, an overweight fascist called Dwight, spent all night riding him to run the generators a little hotter. That was one thing Bruce would have liked about AI being still on the planet. He was sure an AI would tell Dwight to get stuffed. For some reason, Dwight felt the rules could be broken because Bruce happened to be a human being.

At the end of a long twelve-hour shift, Bruce had well earned a mere beer and the cool that it offered. To top of an absolute turd of a shift, the aircon on their floor was out. They said it would take ten minutes. An hour later, Bruce was still waiting.

A noticeable scratching sound interrupted Bruce's communion with his beer bottle. It was coming from the bathroom, from the sound of it. Bruce got up and walked to the door. When he placed his ear to it, he heard something scratching inside.

“Darl, are you in there?”, he called through the door and got no reply.

Where Darlene was, Bruce had no idea. He was not even sure she was home or at work. To be sure, he knocked soundly on the bathroom door. The response from within was the same. The scratching sound did not even pause or quieten down. Bruce put his ear to the door again and tried to think of what it might be. His cool beer was still in his hand, but forgotten.

Bruce brushed the scanning pad and the door swung in. The sound stopped.

With Darlene about, there were no modern sliding doors in the home. Everything was all retro, something she loved. Bruce instantly saw that the shower was drawn closed. He went over to check it, but the scratching sound restarted from behind him. He turned around and screamed like a frightened child.

“Holy f******-rollering turd poopers!“, Bruce squealed as his voice reached its upper pitch limits.

He kicked at the slithering snake that was coming for him. The snake flew across the bathroom. Underneath was a robotic looking hand that was still scratching at the floor as it moved.

Bruce spun as guffaws of howling laughter exploded from the closed shower. He yanked open the door to find Darlene bent over double, holding herself up on her knees, trying to breathe between bursts of glee. Tears ran down her face. Her eyes glowed a bright blue as she continued howling in mirth.

“Screw you, Darl. I nearly crapped myself!”, Bruce snapped as he sulkily turned and stormed out.

That was the problem when your wife was a cyborg. Nearly all of them were constant pranksters. Darlene was the worst of them, as far as Bruce was concern. He slammed the beer down his throat in seething fury. Darlene knew to give him a few minutes to see the funny side. She knew her boy well. Within a few minutes, Bruce was starting see it and could even smile. Darlene was still getting herself under control. The outbursts were starting to turn into hums of effort as she tried to stifle the laughter.

Bruce just hoped she had it on video. Knowing her, she did.

© 2022, Bryan Kēhua

#Cyberpunk #SciFi #ShortStory