Written by OrdDiff
Smoke filled the room. The man at the desk leaned back in his black suit, the lights purposely hiding his face. He had a cigar in one bronzed hand, the powerful bionic handling the plant matter with perfect precision.
“Knew a kid like you once,” he said, “yeah?”
The person he was speaking to could not have been more than twenty. Outside in the harsh chemical rain, loaded up with tattoos and hiding the obvious bulge of a gun under his gang colours, he was the king of the world. In the darkness of the professional’s office, he was a scared kid in an ill-fitting jacket. “Yeah?” he asked, unsure of his words.
The suit swung his legs up over the desk. Any fool could see he was trying to intimidate the youngster. Any fool could see it was working. “He wanted an edge. Thought he could pay for it.” The man coughed haggardly before taking another drag. “Can you pay for it?” he accused in his gravelly voice.
The boy stiffened and nodded, eager to show his strength. “Yes, I-”
“No!” The man interrupted him with a slam on the old wooden desk. “No, you cannot.”
In one fluid motion, the man rose from his chair, letting it clatter to the ground. “You have the money?” he asked. The kid was using all of his nerves to not flee, and simply nodded. “Then what you want is possible. The question is, can you pay for it?”
The kid tried to figure out what the man meant. “I, yeah, I got the G’s right here.” he replied with a mixture of unease and confusion. As he reached into his pocket to pull out the aforementioned cash, a motion from the man’s bronze hand stopped him.
“Let me tell you about that kid.
“He was like you. He was young, free and tough. But he wasn’t quite tough enough, was he? You’re never tough enough. You drive the fuckers from your corner, they send an aug to get it back. You set up your protection, and you get outbid by an aug. You can already keep up with the metal bastards, so you start thinking.
“What if I had what they had? What if my skin could stop bullets? What if my fists were made of steel? What if I had milspec sensors for eyes?
“I’ll tell you what if. That moment when you wake up, that split-second when you ain’t a man. The instant where your brain doesn’t recognise the lump of metal on your arm. The entire fucking second your eyes need to resynch.” To punctuate his point on the impressionable youth, he flexed his bionic hand. The sound of tiny motors whirring filled the silent office.
“I knew a kid like you once. Young and free, outside the law, needing every boost he can get. He thought he made himself better.”
A mental impulse shifted the lights, revealing the scarred, weary aug standing behind the rotting desk. His skin was drawn back around the kevlar mesh reinforcing his features, his hair had fallen out around the input sockets feeding directly into his brain. Lidless metal eyes sunk into his skull.
“He hasn’t blinked since.”
A dark glimpse into a possible future, “Bronze Regrets” was written as a Half-Hour Challenge under the theme of Guessing & Second Guessing. This is OrdDiff’s first time being featured in Inkblots but we hope to share more of his fantastic work soon!