In the future (according to “Into the Grid”), a new form of prejudice has appeared. In this case, it is those who are “pure” human, vs. those that have cybernetic body parts. In this excerpt from chapter 1, we see Connor, an investigative reporter, talking with Trevor at a diner. The waitress has an artificial arm, and she hasn’t been able to afford to see a bio-mechanic.
“Your coffee, sir.”
Connor broke eye contact first. Damned halfie. He looked up to see the girl setting his cup on the table. One of the servos in her cybernetic elbow stuck, and the liquid sloshed in the cup. Connor groaned in disgust.
“I’m sorry, sir. My arm has been acting up. I didn’t mean to…”
“Whatever,” Connor said. He slid the cup toward him. Steam rolled off the surface of the artificial coffee. That was one of the tricks places like this used. Serve it so damned hot that it burns your taste buds and covers the ‘flavor’.
“Let me see,” Trevor said. He produced a small toolkit from somewhere and held his hand out to the halfie. She hesitated, then extended her arm as best she could with the jammed elbow. Seconds later one of the skin panels popped loose and Trevor pulled it away from her arm.
“Right here at the table?” Connor turned away, feeling sick. “What the hell is wrong with you? Take it back to a service bay or something. It’s not like it’s doing that good waiting the tables anyway.”
Trevor worked silently, tools dipping in and out of the girl’s arm. A few minutes later he had the panel back where it belonged. “Try that.”
The halfie flexed her arm a few times. The servo moved smoothly and silently. “Thank you,” she said. “I don’t have anything I can—”
“Don’t worry about it,” his eyes flicked up to her name tag, “Sairi. I’m happy to help.”
Sairi smiled and walked away. Connor glanced at her again before returning his gaze to Trevor. “Neat trick. Should I be impressed?”
“You should be less of an ass, actually. These are people, just like you.”
“No they’re not. Halfies, twitchers, wasters. They are nothing like me.” He waved his hand around the room dismissively.
The story will start to appear on Critique Circle on May 4th. A private queue is already set up with the first two chapters for anyone interested in critiquing along the way.