The monotone voice sounded over the loudspeaker. She opened her eyes, but there was nothing to see, just a grey haze. This didn’t alarm her. If anything, she responded to this strange loss of vision with curiosity; not fear. In fact, she was trying to remember if she had always been blind, or not.
“I can’t see.” Her voice was soft, but direct. There was a sterile quality to it. It was the kind of voice that would give you goosebumps — it was just so flat and even, similar to an automated customer service operator. Her comment was phrased like a clinical observation, not an inquiry.
The voice didn’t bother to respond. Number 9 got the impression that this was all standard procedure. She was on her back, upon what felt like a table. Feeling some of her strength had returned, she attempted to sit up. Instinctively, she tried to use her arms for leverage. That’s when she realized, both her arms were missing. The good news was that she was seeing blurry shapes now. At least her eyes were starting to function properly…
Time passed relatively quickly. She was finally able to take a visual inventory of her physical condition. Essentially, she was just a torso, with four stumps where her limbs should have been, respectively. Of course it could have been much worse, her head could be missing too. Instead of struggling, or trying to make sense of the gruesome situation, Number 9 did what came naturally to her — what she had been trained to do. She waited patiently for instruction.
The lab door opened, and an older gentleman, dressed in a white coat, looked her over. Wordlessly, he touched her stumps. She remained quiet. She wasn’t sure who he was, but he seemed familiar.
“Number 9. Did you complete the mission?” He sounded upset, despite his best efforts to conceal his agitation. Nine wasn’t sure if the old man was upset because he cared for her, or if he was annoyed because he was the one responsible for fixing her.
Empathy was not one of her strong suits. It would be impossible for her to fulfill her duties if she had not been fully stripped of emotions… whatever those duties were. Nine was having trouble accessing her memory; everything except for the answer to his question was totally blank.
“No… there were complications.” As soon as she responded, she knew that she had done something to break protocol.
“I didn’t ask for details. Obviously you… Number 8 failed. But don’t think that just because you’re freshly out of the box, you’re not accountable for her… your actions. There will be consequences. Once your limbs have been attached, we expect better results. This is your last chance Number 9. We’re not making any more of you. ” He snapped at her.
To be continued…
- The mundane confessions of an ordinary wonder.
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