William opened his eyes to an unfamiliar red hue. His entire body sore, he looked around momentarily in complete confusion.
What? Where am I?
A few feet from him, there was a building’s wall, a trashcan, and a bunch of bags. He lay against a wet brick wall covered. In fact, he sat in a pool of water on the cement. It had rained recently.
God, he couldn’t remember what had happened. Had he had too much to drink? No, he had stopped that ever since he’d almost gotten fired from the force. And what the hell was the red hue to everything?
His eyes burned, and he tried to rub his eyes with his hands, but the moment he tried, metal hit glass.
What the hell?
It took a moment to register, but when it did, his heart rate shot up, a beeping noise rang on his ear, and a message, “elevated heart rate detected,” floated prominently on his vision.
“What the fuck?” William screamed, and pushed himself up, his eyes locked onto his arm. His arm was metal. He had a god damned robot arm! He shook, hyperventilated, and the message added “hyperventilation” to the danger list.
What the hell was going on?
Checking for any more changes, he ripped his shirt with his robot arm and then unbuckled his pants. The metal began on his chest, covered his shoulder, and ended at his arm. At least, that’s what he could see. The rest of his body seemed fine, but who knew what else had changed.
But there were the messages.
Using his left hand, he reached to his face and felt around.
No. God, no.
He touched more and felt the deformity. He either wore some sort of integrated goggles, or his eyes were gone.
Trying to move took effort. His body felt twice as heavy, and the pain where metal met skin ached like a new cut. And it even bled like one.
He shambled his way out of the alley, breathing heavily. Some people stared at him in disgust, but they seemed to try to avoid eye contact. Shit, what have they done to me?
Around the corner, he pressed his face to the glass on a building, and finally got a good look at his reflection.
They had removed his eyes and replaced them with small red circles. When he blinked, a metal shutter happened, and his vision said, “screenshot” along with a file number. He was probably not meant to blink anymore.
These monsters had turned him into something worse than them.
Clenching his robot hand, he punched the glass in anger. It didn’t break, but the force was strong enough to stretch all the way to the parts where the metal had been surgically attached to his body.
He screamed in pain, the world spinning around him. This was a nightmare.
“Good morning, sunshine!” Someone called him.
He turned around, trying to find the source of the voice, but only ended up scaring some people walking by.
“Where are you?” he screamed.
“No need to scream,” the voice replied. “We can hear you loud and clear.”
Suddenly, a floating box appeared before him, and he stumbled back onto the glass he’d just punched. In it, a robot looked back at him.
“We’re happy to tell you that we’ve given you state of the art prosthetics.” The robot grinned. “Well, state of the art as in they work extremely well. We took liberties in taking the most visually striking for a person of your kind.”
“What the hell have you done to me?”
The robot rolled his eyes. “I thought you were much smarter than that, William. We’ve been tracking you. You’ve murdered 55 of our kind so far, and that’s only counting those done with your hands. Your ‘followers’ have done their fair share.”
“Fix me, or I will kill you,” William hissed.
A random passerby screamed, and ran away, probably misunderstanding him. At the same time, other people started to take note of him, and a security guard from the building he’d punched had started walking towards him.
“I see you have some trouble, William. You better make a run for it before the cops come for you. You know that the one thing they hate more than a robot is a modder like you.”
Modder. The world made William want to rip the throat off someone. “I ain’t no modder.”
“Oh but you are, William. Look at yourself in the mirror. And that’s only what you can see. To be honest, I think my surgeons made sure you were slightly more like us now. A lot of your insides had to go in order to accommodate components.” The robot laughed. “Good luck, facing your friends, William.” The box closed.
“You there!” the security guard approached them, one arm outstretched, and the other hand hovering over her handgun. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
William turned to her and narrowed his eyes. Well, he felt like it did, but that only seemed to zoom into her face, notes being added to her description around her saying her height, distance, and danger level based on her gun.
“I ain’t no god damned modder!” William shouted, still enraged. But the robot did not reply. “You will pay for this, I swear!”
“Sir, is that a threat?” the security guard unholstered her gun and the threat level blinked a huge warning.
The bullet hit his metal arm, ricocheting off onto the traffic, and hitting a car’s window.
The security guard said something on her radio, but William couldn’t make it out.
She shot again, this time hitting him on the other arm.
Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt as much as the rest of his body already did, but it was a wake-up call. She was not going to give warnings. Things like him did not get second warnings.
She shot again.
Shit, shit, shit!
He turned into the alley he’d woken up in, past the trash can, throwing trash or whatever he could at the woman.
She kept shooting.
Once outside the alley on the other side, he turned right. It was a busy street, but he stood out. People seemed to look at him with weary eyes.
This was a nightmare. He’d been turned from a respectable cop into something that looked like a criminal. The only types of modders who wore outdated crap like this were veterans and criminals that had probably stolen the tech from dead veterans.
At the distance, he could hear the sirens coming to him. For a moment, he contemplated going towards them. He could explain to them who he was. They’d have him on the system. He could explain it was a misunderstanding.
But as he ran, he saw his reflection. He saw how he stood out in the crowd. He realized how they all looked at him.
They would shoot him on sight.
He no longer had privilege.
This was a curse.