The Martyr of Evolution
Joan is close.
I can hear her servos whirring somewhere over by the boiler. Did she unplug herself?
Joan never liked the motherboard at the back of her head. I could see it hurt her when I installed it, but I thought she’d calm down when I severed her cervical neuronic relays. That was a mistake. I can see that now. Because Joan realizes she will feel no physical pain from her jaws down. No matter what I do to her now. That’s what’s given her this boost of self-confidence, godammit.
Does she really think she can win at this?
Whirrrrrr – click – whirrrrr.
A little closer, but still far enough away for me to come up with a plan.
I knew I shouldn’t have painted the cellar windows black. All for security, of course, but now the blackness is total; Joan’s gone and shorted the breakers. Probably whirred over there while I was at the Quickie Mart and slammed a titanium hex-rod right into the board. She’d have the strength.
I left her plugged in clear on the other side of the cellar. So, she’s either found an extension cord – which I find doubtful, given the fact that I removed all of them to avoid this very turn of events – or, she’s unplugged herself and is hoping to get out or at least get her hands on me before her mobile pack runs down.
She was once my lab assistant as well as my wife, so she knows how this all works.
Her next-gen NiCad power source will last three- maybe four- hours, tops. The exoskeleton is heavy. So without the power to move the servos, she’ll be dead in the water. All I need do is stay away from her until her batteries die, and then move in and kill her. It’s not worth the risk of keeping her going now.
I’d make a run for the breaker board, but, knowing Joan, that would be unwise. She’s angry. I guess I can’t totally blame her, but I’ve Borg’d her in a way that no one outside a Universal Studios lot could ever envision. I tried to show her there was an upside to this for her, a way for her to be powerful, as she was always saying she wanted to be. But, as usual, it was all tears and anger. More of Joan being controlled by men. She should be grateful I took her away from that awful father of hers.
When I decided to try the experiment, everything just fell into place. Joan lost her job at Parkside Elementary as a first grade assistant. She came crying to me, even though our divorce was final two years ago. With no friends or family who would ever come looking for her, it was a perfect meeting of motivation and opportunity.
First, it was easy to drop her last month with a moderate Benadryl dose in her chardonnay, which, following her dismissal from Parkside, I was finally able to convince her to try.
Scrrrrape – whirrrrrr – click – click.
She’s down on the floor, I guess, about ten feet in front of me. That noise is unnerving in the dark. The whirring. And the scraping on the concrete floor.
Behind me, I can hear one of the cats hissing at a mouse. I want to throw something at it, but I don’t want to give away my position.
The actual installation of the exoskeleton was easier than I’d imagined. A lot of antiseptic gel, sutures, and cutting. The months of study and practice paid off. Once I got her post-op fever under control, I was able to start the wiring – my real area of expertise.
Of course, the exoskeleton was cumbersome during our, well, intimate moments. But I was able to unplug her cables to freeze her scaffolding in any position I wanted. No more fighting back. No more headaches. No more bashful Joan.
I wanted to prove that I could control her neurological life with just a hard drive, some easily downloadable software, and a few coaxial cables plugged into a motherboard sliced into Joan’s brainstem. The titanium exoskeleton proved to be a superb bio-electric pathway for brain stem impulses to travel uninterrupted to her neocortex and then back to the hard drive in a beautiful feedback loop.
You see, Joan’s ceaseless moaning was freaking me out. So I removed her larynx. But then, a funny thing happened. My hard drive started registering electron-volt spikes that weren’t explained by any potentials that would be in play. I could only assume it was Joan’s emotional reaction to her predicament plowing upriver through the lizard brain to the neocortex and thence down the coaxial cables back to the computer. This was exciting. If the correct software was available, I could’ve taken those e-volt spikes as raw data and plugged them into a linguistic integrative algorithm that just might have transformed that emotional energy into words. Hello Nobel Prize….
But then tonight happened. Joan got loose.
Clang – sic. Whirrrr – click.
She’s close now. This is no longer funny.
Her whirring locates her directly between me and the cellar stairs. Her power should have bottomed out by now. What’s going on?
Whirrrrr – scrrrrrrrrrrape.
I can hear the table with the computer sliding to me know. She’s pulling the entire set up behind her via the coax cables.
The cat behind me suddenly jumps down onto my shoulder and I scream and leap forward. My foot kicks something heavy lying on the floor in front of me: the exoskeleton.
Behind me the cat hisses at something again.
I reach down and feel the coolness of the titanium rods. The frame is empty.
Where is Joan?
I suddenly realize it is not the cat hissing behind me.
A flashlight snaps on. And there she is: bleeding and angry in the harsh white light.
Her eyes bulge, shot through with a primal madness. Blood and mucus slide her neck from the laryngectomy incision. An unnatural hissing issues from the hole in her throat. In her hand is a scalpel that I recognize only too well.
As she descends on me, I think of electricity and beauty and wires and flesh.
And then Joan becomes the angel of my vision.
The martyr of evolution.
Really, really cool image by Webwizzard