It’s a little things that count. Comfort from the melting rains, a holgram to replace that missing arm. Hell you can even feel the fingers tingling.
Bleak Future Fiction
by Sarah Henry
For the Cyberpunk Flash Fiction Contest
My neighbor’s skin was melting. I knew she spent more than her family could afford on those expensive creams meant to negate the effects of the acid rain that fell each April like clockwork. April was the rainy month, and though the weather nets did their best to filter out the harmful chemicals that over time dissolved our skin, they weren’t fail proof, and she went outside, so, her skin melted.
I had lost my right arm that way – up to the elbow. Luckily, my husband and I had chosen not to bring little ones into the world, something not right in bringing babies into a world a couple of beats away from flat lining – so we had a bit more to spend on luxuries. This new toy was last year’s Christmas gift. A ring of metal attached at the stump, and created a hologram with enough power to act as a replacement limb. I could even feel sensation in my now translucent fingertips with this baby.
The only problem was that the batteries operating my arm were hard to come by, unless you felt comfortable asking around in the underground. I was okay with venturing out of the desolate, endless hell of my suburb to downtown Seattle. They had finally finished the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, or the SeaTunnel as we now called it, and expanded it to the outlying communities, so nobody drove anymore.
The roads had fallen into disrepair – acid rain not being great for roads, or skin, it turns out, and were monitored by early models of cyborg police enforcement. Those guys had early on lost their morality filter; something in the wiring had malfunctioned. Fortunately, the same malfunction that made them dangerous also made them stay out of any place inhabited by humans, so as long as you stayed out of their territory, you’d be okay.
Anyway, I knew that I had better get my gear packed up if I wanted to make it downtown and back before nightfall. My arm had been glitching lately, and it only did that when the batteries were about toast. I packed my bag, curled my hair just so, chose my prettiest dress, and headed out.
The ride downtown was uneventful, the shuttle crowded with slack-eyed teens high on household chemicals, and middle-aged housewives like myself running errands to sustain their dissolving households. A fight broke out over an old cell phone battery in the seat across from me. The two boys went crazy, ripping at each others faces. As bits of flesh fell around us, we all politely turned to the side, moving legs and feet in towards the windows. Some things weren’t necessary to gawk at.
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