|Precious Metal by Jacqueline Brocker|
Hector’s life as a cyborg, after an accident that left him with a mechanical arm and metal jaw, shouldn’t affect his sex life—but his partner, Kay, can’t bring himself to be intimate with a man who’s half-machine. Hector needs to find a way to convince Kay that LanceCorp didn’t replace the most important part of him—his heart. (M/M)
LanceCorp called a meeting, invited the families and loved ones for an explanation. They were ushered into the meeting room with hushed reverence, but the LanceCorp rep, with her blonde pageboy cut and pink lips, looked on them with kind firmness.
There would be no arguing with LanceCorp.
They were shown pictures of the scene of the accident. They saw the lashed metal wires and the melted metal, but nothing of the blood and bone and innards that must have been there. No doubt those had been edited out.
Two people died. Seven others survived, but no one intact, whole as they’d been before. Kay, on a visit to the bathroom, overheard two young doctors talking, saying it would have been easier if the limbs had just been severed, but it was the crush that was the real mess… Then the woman and man saw Kay, and looked at their shoes before hurrying off.
“When can we see them?” a father asked.
The rep looked at him patiently. “LanceCorp is looking after them. We take full responsibility for the accident. All medical expenses will be covered.”
“They can’t work now,” a wife said through her teeth. ”What are you going to do about that?”
A benign smile. ”We are remaking them.”
The word hung over them like an ominous cloud. Kay exchanged a glance with the child next to him, a girl of about nine, before looking at the LanceCorp rep.
They weren’t given any more information until the next meeting. The rep made a point of transparency, the families were being shown everything; the animations of what the cybernetics would do, the images of new limbs and features, the bio surgery that would replace noses and eyes and lips. If tooth replacement was required, they’d be substituted with chrome, and facial reconstruction would use the same metal as the rest of the body. They had not quite succeeded in making a sheet of skin to go over the entirety of new limbs—that was the next phase in research they were told. There would be something over the face, but it wouldn’t be perfect—the black metal would still show beneath.
They saw everything, Kay noted, but the people they wanted to see. Messages were relayed. Kay wrote silly screeds about how work was going, and Hector sent back terse notes that always ended with, “I miss you.”
Around the fourth week mark, they were talked through the rehabilitation process, and shown videos. Hector didn’t appear, but there were gasps and a quiet sobbing from Isaac, who’d come as often as Kay, when his daughter Sandra was shown with two new, mechanical arms.
Nine-year old Sherrie, Marc’s daughter, asked, “Why don’t they look more… human?”
“They aren’t any less human than they were before the accident. Yes, their bodies have been altered and remade, but you mustn’t treat them like machines.” The rep smiled as if fondly remembering something. “They talk about you all so often. They are really looking forward to seeing you.”
There were smiles around him, but Kay, and Sherrie, were still frowning.
Kay said, “But why—”
“Their contract with LanceCorp is for many years to come. This will make them the best possible workers, and protect them from future accidents, though those are unlikely. We are thinking for the future.”