Bargaining

Story #2: The Fixers Series

I look over at Gus. He’s a mess. His hair, the little bit of it that he has, is dishevelled and his eyes are red and swollen. His tie hangs loose around his neck, and his white lab coat is on inside out.

“What time did you leave last night?” I ask him, trying not to sound judgemental.

“Huh?” I startle him out of his disorganized thoughts and he jumps a little. “Oh, uh, I’m not sure. Two or so, I guess.”

I nod slowly calculating my next move. He should go home, but the suggestion will offend him.

“Do you want me to take over the Dylan file? I’m done with mine.” It’s the least I can do; I had created the back log by wiping the history from our time mover – a secret I am still keeping.

Gus looks up from the his computer screen and eyes me suspiciously. But then a relief showers over him and I smile gently as he steps away from the desk.

“Coffee?” He offers.

I smile and nod. I consider telling him to fix his coat, but I let it be. By 8:30, Gus is passed out in the lounge – I never did get my coffee.

At 9:05 the front doors swing open, violently thrashing through the air. A woman storms up to the desk, waving a gun. Behind her, I can see Ed, our security guard, lying flat on the pavement outside. I try to decide what the smart move is, but then I realize I’m only telling myself to think; I’m not thinking. I’m panicking.

“You! You in charge?”

I try to tell her that I’m not but no sound is released when I open my mouth. I’m still staring at Ed.

“Hey! You!” she hollers again, this time the gun is pointed right at me. “Are you a fixer?”

“Yes,” I manage, forcing myself to look into her eyes now.

She’s tall and lean, with long brown hair, some of which is tucked into a wide brimmed black hat. She’s hiding behind dark sunglasses, leather gloves, a trench coat and high heels. I try to take a mental photo of her, for Ed.

“What’s your name?” she asks, leaning in to intimidate me further. It’s unnecessary; I’m terrified.

“S-Sasha. Sasha Green.” My voice is barely more than a whimper, and my heart is speeding up. In her glasses I see my own reflection, and I’m humiliated by the small warped image of myself I see.

“Well, Sasha Green. I have a job for you. An urgent one.”

She slams a medical ID bracelet down on my desk. “Fix it.”

“I can’t do that. It’s – we – there’s a system and laws and -”

“Fix it.”

Realizing there’s nothing I can do to reason with this woman, I pick up the bracelet and scan the barcode into my computer. June O’Donnell: 37 years old, Chief Financial Officer at Cane Inc., Recovered: Extensive brain damage (chipped).

Recovered? Fixers have already taken care of this. I scroll down to see the photo. It’s the woman in front of me, holding me at gun point.

I look up at her, unsure of what to say. She must read my confusion immediately, and removes her sunglasses. Her eyes are watering, welling up with tears, and sparking. A mechanical reaction to water. She’s been chipped alright, made cyborg too. It’s a relatively new technology: to recover lost or irreversible bodily damage metal parts are melded into the patient’s fibres. For damage to the brain that extensive, a chip can be used to replace any of the broken functions. Most often, it’s memory loss. The chip will store new memories for you, and false old memories can be implanted at the patient’s request. It changes who you are, but at least it fills the holes. The holes can drive some people mad. But this woman, June, seems to have gone mad just the same.

I’m watching her, trying to assess her state of mind, and what it is she wants from me, when she lashes out. She slams her hand down on my desk with as much force as she can, and it’s a lot. The gloved hand must be cyborg too. I leap back, and a scramble comes from down the hall.

No. Gus.

“Who’s here?!” She hollers out towards the noise, and Gus exposes himself. June cries out and shoots a bullet in the wall behind me. For a second, I think it hits me, and I’m paralyzed. But when the sting doesn’t come, I exhale.

“I’ve called for help so you’d better get moving!” he yells out confidently. I admire it, but it also worries me. I have no idea what she is capable of when threatened. And cyborg’s are not exactly frangible.

“Help?! You want help? I want help.” She doubles over, and more sparks fly from her face. “Fix me, please.”

“You’ve been recovered, it says so right here,” I say, still completely confused.

“You call this fixed?” she tears off a glove to reveal a cold metal hand. “This is not fixed. It’s broken. I was meant to die on that table and Cane Inc. paid you to bring me back! Against my will!”

My heart stops. I look over at Gus and a veil of embarrassment washes over him. Could he have really cut a deal like that? His expression tells me yes. I’m mortified. I guess I’m not the only one who makes mistakes around here.

“The chip,” he whispers finally, “it’s a new technology. It needed to be tested and”

“And,” she moans, imploring him to admit his mistake.

“And we were told…” he stops, drops his head.

June looks back at me, more sympathetic than violent now.

“Fix it,” she whispers.

I nod slowly, and glance at Gus. He’s on the floor now, crumbled by guilt.

I grab her file, and walk over to the machine.

“September 1st,” she says.

I nod again, and set the date. I don’t know exactly how I plan to stop this from happening, but I will. I’m a fixer, and I fix things.

Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©

Click here to read Story #1: An Easy Fix

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One thought on “Bargaining

  1. Pingback: An Easy Fix | Beyond the Threshold

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