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Half Breeds- Part One

I remember my grandmother. Sitting on those hard, wooden kitchen chairs... or was it a bench? I can’t remember.

Her hair was long and black. She never smiled. Later someone would say it was just an “injun thing.”

She’d work in the kitchen. She was always in the kitchen, cooking meals for the procession of men who walked through. Some of them uncles, some of them uncle’s friends. Some of them... who knows?

She’d always talk. Sometimes one of the guys would want to put some music on.

“Stop that noise,” she’d say.

Later, when no one else was around, she’d whisper to me. Tell me that the voices on the radio were dark magic. It wasn’t natural. Voices floating disembodied through the ether... ghost voices.

I think my grandmother may have been crazy.

I open my eyes. Christ. It’s bright.

Slowly, things start to make sense.

How long have I been floating like this?

“Welcome home, son,” says the smiling face that shoves his way in. I’ve never seen this man before. I’m sure of this. Things are starting to come back to me.

I sit up. Fire rips through my body for a fraction of a second. What the hell is that noise? Everything’s so bright.

The Man in the White Coat taps his stylus. The light fades. Wait, it’s not the lights.

It’s my eyes.

I reach up to touch them. I can’t. No arm.

Numb. Shouldn’t be numb. Didn’t I just feel pain?

I should feel a missing arm. I should feel something.

The room temperature rises a half degree. Centigrade.

I recognize the uniform now. Smiley Face has stars and bars. I should salute, but I’ve got no arm.

I laugh.

“Is this a glitch?” asks Smiley Face, concerned.

The Man in the White Coat scrolls through menus and taps again. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles.

He’s sorry. Something shifts inside me. What was I laughing about again? I can’t remember.

REBOOT AVpse058712311101011
WAKING SUBROUTINE DELTA 8-5.

I wake in another cold sweat. The parts of me that can still sweat It takes me .00375 seconds to adjust to waking mode. Sedative chemicals flood through my nervous system to alleviate my panic. In 1.275 seconds, I’m fully awake, standing, and have swept the room using 7 UV and 4 infrared bands of light.

Ever since my last hack, I’ve been dreaming again. Now I remember why they turned them off.

I’m alone, of course. I don’t keep much human company these days.

I stick to the ones who are like me.

Half-breeds.

There are pretty much two approaches to body replacement in the military: enhancement and cosmetic.

Cosmetic’s for officers. They want to return to their lives as intact as possible. Every part is carefully crafted to mimic human anatomic response and appearance.

Enhancement's for grunts like me. Patch ‘em up. Improve ‘em for battle response. Fuck image, just get ‘em back in the field.

The Bastards In Charge never thought about how we’d readjust. They never thought they’d have to. They were preparing for the Apocalypse. Now that they’re gone, we’re still here.

I walk to the window and throw open the curtains. More habit than anything, really. I can see through curtains and walls.

5.8 meters below me, the city is starting its waking subroutine. I wonder why they programmed my surveillance and analysis in metric? The normals don’t use it. Everything’s feet and miles for them.

By 07:30:26 I’m on the move. Stepping out into the good old barrio. El-Lay.

Cumbias and narcocorridos blast out of every swap meet stall and mariscos roach coach. It’s a hot summer (it’s already 30.21 C) and the radio waves dance through thermal columns like bullets through plastic.

Radio and thermal imaging are supposed to be discreet systems. What can I say? I’m experimental.

The first wave of enhancement replacement devices were total shit. Buggy as hell, half of the time they’d pick up stray electrical signals and they were prone to malware. Every now and again, I’ll see one of those poor bastards lurching down an alleyway, looking for a wall socket for cheap kicks.

By the time my mods came around, they had worked out most of the problems, except (of course) the Big One. Camouflage. There’s still no way most of us can blend in with the civilian population.

I’m not complaining. At least I don’t have treads, for chrissakes.

Still, most give me a pretty wide berth. Moms push the strollers a little faster when I’m coming down the street. After the Saint Paddy’s Day Massacre, who can really blame them?

By 07:55:43, I’m at work. The Alameda Strip doesn’t open till 11:00, but bouncing’s only part of my job.

Emmanuel is shooting his usual crap game of pool. He clears the place out at 04:00 every morning, then stays through. Could work all day, too. Tried to hack his deep system routines last year on the cheap and he lost his circadian patterns. He’s too crazy to work regular hours, though.

Scares the customers.

“Que Paso?” he mumbles, chipping his shot. “Damn.” His fingers tighten around his cue. Titanium handled. Management told him to bring his own or start paying for all the ones he snapped.

“Nada,” I say as I walk past. We bump fists. Sounds like a sledgehammer hitting pipe.

“Old man’s been looking for you,” he whispers.

“So what else is new?”

I make my way back to the office, past the VIP rooms. Lucia’s walking out with a trash bag full of takeout wrappers and cups.

“What’s the weather?” I ask.

“Cloudy with a 60% chance of shit-storms.”

I open the door. Chevy and Juanito are counting the nights receipts. The Old Man is sitting behind the desk with a new girl in his lap. Thin, no tattoos, faint trace of hash in her breath. Must be her first day.

“You rang?” Old Man loves him some Addams Family.

“Sit down. Ay, go get me some horchata from that Chinese place next door.” He pats her on the butt to show her the way out.

“She seems nice,” I say as she stumbles out the door.

“She will be, after a few modifications. She’ll be a real money maker. Ay, you know this guy?”

The Old Man shoves a memory card across the desk. I access it.

At first, I’m not sure if I’m still dreaming. But there he is in all his digital glory. He’s not wearing his uniform, but I’d know that face anywhere.

First, he welcomed me home. Then, he turned me into a walking arms race. And here he is, all this time later in my place of employment. If he’s looking for me, chances are that he wants someone (or a whole lot of someones) killed.

“Yeah,” I toss the card back. “It’s my parole officer.”

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Details

I like the way you mention the little measurements to get the reader into the MC's head and show how he's not totally human.

I would elaborate a little on the grandmother. I think you moved on too quickly - since you open the story with her, it seems that she should be more important, and I would add more details about memories or images of the grandmother before jumping to the story's present time.

Other than that, I like it. Looking forward to part 2.

I really like the little

I really like the little details about the world that you throw into the narrative. The early enhancements that made an electrical outlet a chance for a high. The way the protagonist himself messed with his own radio and thermal imaging enhancements. The reference to a St. Patrick's Day massacre, and how annoying it is to have to think in metric when civilians aren't. They give your world a lived-in feeling right from the start without derailing the flow of the story.

And linking the plight of the cyborg to such a loaded word like 'half-breed' has a lot of potential.

Looking forward to part two.

A very nice start!

This hits a lot of the right sort of buttons for me. Dystopian future, tough urban environs, hard-boiled protagonist, and a potential for a great deal of violence.

The protagonist probably ought to have a name, though. When Emmanuel asks "Que paso," you can probably throw the protagonist's out then. Additionally, you might be emphasizing the protagonist's penchant for precise metric measurement a little too much - distracts from the story a bit. Last thing - when the protagonist wakes up in a cold sweat, I was still under the impression he was in the hospital (or wherever the Smiley Face guy was). You might make it a little more clear that he's woken up in his own apartment.

I definitely look forward to reading more from this story. Great jeorb!