The Mechanical Man 9 – If the end isn’t good, it isn’t the end
Doctor Fredriksen, who the entire time had been very understanding and kind, had popped into the recovery room for a chat when Andrew had awoken and began to feel like himself again.
”How do you feel, my friend?”
”Quite all right, thank you.”
”Some. Have experienced worse.”
”I understand very well. You might still experience some pain now and then, but it should fade away. And I doubt it ever will be as severe as you have had up til now.”
The doctor made a pause and smiled. Looked closely at Andrews’ face and then glanced at his chest and arm.
”Looking good! I could see from the scars after the abscesses, that you really must have suffered.”
Then he leaned forward, gently put his hand on Andrews left arm, and said in a low voice.
”I’m really glad you made this decision to go through a removal. Sometimes these fads stay too long and take on way too large importance. In this case, I would say it has become an evil obsession. Now, dear Andrew, please take good care of yourself and don’t ever mind what others may have to say. You will have a wonderful and exciting future.”
Then he had risen and left Andrew with a slight bow followed with a smile. Andrew got a tear in his eye due to the kindness he had been shown.
Shortly afterwards the robot came in with a cup of coffee and a couple of sandwiches. He told him an uber would fetch him in an hour. Andrew thanked the robot for everything and realized he was hungry.
Of course, it was the same driver. Always the same.
”Oh, good day to you sir! No goldy-plates any longer? Going home?”
”Yes, please. To home sweet home.”
”Still no virus here.”
”Healthy as a newborn baby.”
”Okay. That sounds good.” Andrew had no idea what the driver was talking about.
”Yes! Good goody good good go…”
Then a faint squeak… and the uber stopped against a light pole. Shaken, but not damaged, Andrew stared at the driver. He just sat behind the wheel with a stiff smile and dead eyes.
Andrew walked the rest of the way home. Then, sitting in his favourite corner of the sofa he poured himself a stiff whiskey. And then another.
Andrew Millbourne had recovered fast after the surgery. Though he still had some of the implants left, most of them had been successfully removed. He had been told that the remaining pieces had been too dangerous to remove since they were too integrated with his nervous system. There was a couple of nobs on his chest, which were connected to his pneumonic capacity, how well the blood could retain oxygen, and therefore increase his endurance and speed while running, climbing and performing other physical activities.
He had also a number of smaller nobs left on the fingers, the back of his hand and up along the forearm. They were mostly of technical nature like the thin bracelet around his wrist with which he easily could connect to the web and thus send voice mails and also use as a telephone. The tiny dots on the fingers were antennas, and together with his small hand-unit, these devices could also be used as GPS and as an ordinary compass.
During the years that followed he worked hard and improved both his skills and his knowledge of various topics. He had already known for quite some time, that he was no mere than tolerated on Technos. After the surgery, it had become even worse. He was still appreciated for his accomplishments at work, and there were still some he considered to be friends. Even though they seemed to be a bit more reserved towards him than before.
He still occasionally visited a pub or a cinema, and he still once in a while picked up some girl who then managed to get close up to him, but as soon as she saw his scar-covered chest and arm with hardly any implants, she would run away as quick as a weasel. Either in disgust or in mere disappointment. Girls had heard so much about his golden ribcage and marvelous arm. Some felt sorry for him and tried to pamper him in a way as if he would have been disabled, but those girls he sent away immediately. He realized more and more they hanged out with him of curiosity only, not because they were attracted to him.
Instead, he buried himself in hard work. He buried himself in studies. ’No one can ever learn too much’, was his motto. He buried himself in health activities. He ran the five-miles track in the woods every morning, went to the gym four times a week and swam for at least half an hour afterwards. And every evening he did yoga, ending it with meditation.
After the surgery, he had noticed his body did not want meat anymore. The mere look upon a piece of rare steak, made him queasy. It was impossible to explain why, he just could not eat it.
There were other things he also began noticing after the surgery. He wondered whether the doctor had added something or if he had had them all the time but never noticed due to the pain and suffering.
All his senses had increased immensely. Not only eyesight. His hearing was at least ten times better than earlier, which also meant he heard things that were not meant for him, and also some he really did not want to hear. Smell and taste were more intense, and also the skin sensibility, especially his fingertips. He had no real words for what it all felt like, other than amazing, and sometimes annoying.
He personally went back to the clinic in order to meet Doctor Fredriksen and ask about this. When trying to book an appointment online, it was impossible. Doctor Fredriksen did not seem to exist. ’Aha,’ Andrew had thought. He was just an extra when needed, that would explain why he was not shown in the register.
There was another woman behind the counter this time. A young blond with very tasteful implants around her right eye and along the left side of the cheekbone.
”I’m so sorry. We don’t have a doctor Fredriksen here. We have never had!”
”An elderly man who helps out with surgery when needed?”
”No. If we have had such a person, it would have been really helpful, but unfortunately, we haven’t.”
”No, I’m so sorry.”
”But he quite recently took away my implants.”
”Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss. Hope you can have new ones soon.”
”But the doctor…”
”You must be mistaken. We have no doctor Fredriksen here. Goodbye, sir, and welcome back to get new implants when those scars are healed.”
Then she turned to the next person in line and Andrew walked away.
Andrew Millbourne is a stoic person. He endures. He calmly awaits the day when he can step out from this world. Ten years, he signed up for, in a contract that could not be broken, and slowly those years pass, until the day he finally is entering the space station after leaving everything behind. His work, his belongings, his life on the planet Technos.
On his way through the space station towards the ticket counter, he suddenly sees someone he recognizes with warmth. Doctor Fredriksen who he hadn’t seen since the surgery more than eight years earlier. But in a jiffy, the doctor is gone, and Andrew thinks he must have been mistaken. Was probably only a look alike. The short appearance awakes memories though.
The doctor had said something about him going to have an interesting and exciting life. So far, he has had neither, but what if? He has no idea what he is going to do for the rest of his life. Going back to his parents is not exactly thrilling, but he does not know what else to do. At least as a first landing place, saying hello, and such.
He had earlier bought a ticket online to one of the new Super Jet Cruisers, that would only take him a week of travel. He was just going to sign in for the flight when he suddenly senses that someone is watching him. He tries to pretend like nothing and keeps on walking towards the ticket counter. He gets a bit uneasy, though, and stumbles slightly.
”Can I help you?” a soft female voice says.
He turns around and sees the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen.
Long afterwards, when walking through the hot desert, thinking of this, he can’t clearly say what happened that day. Vaguely he remember they talked, they had coffee at the cafeteria, Toffee-tasted with whipped cream, and then she had taken him with her. But what he does remember very clearly, is what happened on their way out to her space ship.
With the coffee warming his belly, her heavy perfume making him slightly dizzy, and the excitement over not having to meet his parents again – Andrew suddenly sees the doctor. This time he is sure.
The Doctor is leaning against a safari car some 15-20 meters away. He is smiling and gives Andrew a thumbs up. Then he takes his cowboy hat off, sweeps it in a large circle while he bows deeply. Then another thumbs up, another big smile – and then he is gone. Vanished as if he had become thin air!
Andrew reaches the water bottle to Kaila. They have just landed and a vast, arid, hot desert stretches out in front of them. Far away three dots are moving towards them and he can hear a faint mumble, silent talk and then a peal of laughter.
”Who are they?” he asks and turns to Kaila. But she isn’t there any longer. Both she and her space ship are gone. Behind where the space ship stood, he now can see – far away – a city that seems to be very dark, like under a huge storm cloud or a total Solar Eclipse – or both. In the background he can spot a very high dark tower.
There is something very odd and very familiar about this, and he shivers as if suddenly cold tears run down his spine.
The parts in order, can also be found in the menu.