Another Chance (1)

Another Chance

By

Lyra Wix

Jerrell’s furry forehead creased with tension as he maneuvered the tip of the metal joint into the bone protruding from his patient’s upper arm. Once it felt snug inside he touched an indenture on the side of the rod and the muffled sound of a drill whirred to life inside.

With the base rod securely in place, he connected the rest of the skeletal metal arm to the elbow joint. Once it was locked in, the final part of the process called for him to apply the silicone covering and connect the wires that transmitted to and from the nerve endings in the new skin and the small metal box at the base of the patient’s head which would act as a relay between the brain and the prosthetic.

Technology was Jerrell’s passion, as the child of a pair of rebels he grew up during the war and was raised around the robotics that helped them win the war. Afterward, he spent his free time scavenging their bases for the parts he needed to make the devices he used for his patients. 

The skin was one of the most recent amazing finds that helped further his innovations. He had found it during one of his hunts inside the nearby ruins of a breeding facility. He didn’t go in there often even though he knew there were potentially thousands of things that could help his efforts. It was unfortunate but due to the public’s superstitions of it being haunted it was best to scavenge the place secretly. The last thing he needed was for people to know where he got a lot of his tech. It wasn’t easy to help frightened people.

His wariness to being connected with the ruins was in part because of the Ichoan half of his lineage. His kind usually garnered a lot of distrust, which he had to admit was somewhat fair considering what his people had done to this world. This was also one of the reasons he felt a responsibility to help heal it. He had grown up on the side that fought to stop the atrocities and knew that what they had done wasn’t his fault in the least, but he still felt some responsibility to use his talents to heal the survivors as best he could. 

His efforts were already making a massive impact out in the world. Because of him there were more able workers than there had been in years, definitely since before the wars. The rebuilding was finally happening.

He had a new procedure he was about to debut, one that could save hundreds, if not thousands, of the remaining population. It wasn’t really new, it had been used among the rebels to build their army, but it had been largely forgotten about by the general population in the decade since the final war had ended, so he could call it new and nobody would much care.  

He had only tested it once so far, but his next patient of the day would give him another chance to prove it could be viable. The first test was mostly a success, except that the patient didn’t survive long after the procedure was complete. This time he knew how to fix that particular problem.

Jerrell applied the metal band around the patient’s upper arm to protect the open wound and allow a chance for it to heal. One of the miracles of the new skin was that it would adapt itself to the patients DNA, melding with their anatomy so well that eventually even a doctor wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Once finished he told the man, “you’ll be ready to go within the hour, my nurse will be in shortly to answer any questions you may have. Be sure to set up an appointment with them for a few months from now to have the band removed.” The patient flexed his fingers with a huge smile on his face. He used the new limb to wave bye to Jerrel, far too excited to get out any words.

Jerrell smiled back, then stood and made his way out of the room and headed down the hall towards the next patient. At the door he picked up a file off the hook next to the door and walked in, still sporting a huge smile. “Hello Mr. Chambers, are you ready for your new chance at life?” The patient grunted disapprovingly, Jerrell opened the folder in his hand and saw his mistake instantly. “I’m deeply sorry ma’am. I assure you everything you have requested is in place.” Ms. Chambers looked like she had been a soldier in the war, not simply collateral damage. Of her four limbs, the only one still mostly in one piece was her right leg, which didn’t look like it had much time left as it was mostly a rather nasty shade of blue. Her bald head and missing right ear added to the grisly sight of his patient. The radiation from the fallout had done a number on her already war-torn body. Her voice box was damaged, but with some effort she could say a few words when needed.

“Now I have to ask a few questions, have you read, and do you understand, all of the paperwork I sent with you last time you were here?” Ms. Chambers nodded slowly, Jerrell continued. “You are willing to subject yourself to this procedure in the full knowledge that it is irreversible. Your current brain will be damaged during the process. At which time you will be transferred from your body and into the robotic housing you have chosen.” They both looked over to the robotic figure in its chair near the desk. It was a powerfully built, genderless, human form colored a sleek jet black. “Once the transfer is complete, you will be disoriented for a few minutes as your mind gets used to the new body and adapts its appearance to however your subconscious chooses to present yourself, after which you will be good as new and ready to go.”

Ms. Chambers motioned with her head and croaked out, “let’s go.” Jerrell nodded and wheeled her over to the gap between the body and his desk. He opened a drawer and pulled a small bundle of wires with three electrode pads protruding out of one end. He connected the other end to a very old white tablet he had scavenged. He placed one of the electrodes on her right thigh, one on her heart and the other on what remained of the upper part of her left arm.

He opened a nearby cabinet and pulled a metal object out of it that looked as if it had been made from an erector set. It had the vague appearance of a bowl with wires coming off it which he plugged into the bundle and then he placed the contraption over Ms. Chambers head. “I will need to give you a sedative to make sure your body doesn’t reflexively fight the transfer otherwise there could be complications.” She nodded approval. Jerrell opened another drawer and took out a syringe, then inserted it into her neck. “You should momentarily feel relaxed. The procedure will be painless. Once completed you’ll be fully transferred into your new body, memories and all.”

Once he was sure the sedative had started working, he pressed a button on his tablet. The process took thirty seconds, the tablet announced. “Procedure complete.” 

From the battered body in the chair came a faint, slurred whisper. “Oh God no… what have you…” Hearing this, Jerrell hit another spot on his tablet. An electrical charge ran through the mangled body from the electrodes, and after a moment her body sat still and lifeless.

Less than a minute later, the robot came to life. The new Ms. Chambers glanced around, getting her bearings and then held her new hand in front of her face and flexed her fingers much like his earlier patient had. She looked at Jerrell and smiled. “It’s a miracle! I feel like a teenager again!” She hopped down and stretched her arms above her head. “Actually, I feel nothing, no more pain or hunger. I feel immortal!”

Jerrell smiled back. “That you may very well be, if you take care of your new body, normal life expectancies no longer have any hold over you.” She looked ready to dance. “You are free to go, there is nothing more here for you to do. I will see that your old body gets a respectful burial.”

She waved him off as she tried out her new legs doing a small in place run. “Don’t put yourself out like that, just chuck it into a furnace! I’m free now, I have been reborn!” With that Ms Chambers walked out into the world feeling like she had a truly new chance at life.

Jerrel waited till she was fully gone, then let out a cheer of joy and clapped his hands together. He did it! He made it work! The problem he had found was that he had allowed the first subject to realize they were copied, not transferred. The horror of seeing their old body still functioning without them, looking at their new self in horror, broke it’s virtual psyche. With their new powerful brain they were able to rapidly come to terms with what had happened and it caused them to have a fatal crash. The living subject witnessed this, since it took mere seconds for the robot version to run through the implications and shutdown, which made them promptly have a heart attack.

Jerrell looked back to the old war-torn body sitting lifeless in its ancient wheelchair. He wondered for a moment if he was doing the right thing. He knew that once people learned of this new procedure, they would be clamoring for it. Someday they would also learn the truth about it, and some might blame him for the extinction of both the human and Ichoan races, but he liked to think that he was actually advancing both species. He knew in his heart that he was creating the next step in evolution.

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