A Short Story

       The distant sound of the alarm clock cut through the silence of the morning air. The buzzing grew louder and louder as the seconds ticked by. Charles tossed and turned under his comforter, lost somewhere deep within a dream.

       The rays of sunshine penetrated the cracks in between the blinds and illuminated the bedroom. A beam of light danced across his face, taunting and teasing him as he slept. Charles felt the warmth from the light caressing him awake.

       He rose from his slumber, still wiping sleep from his unopened eyes. He let out a lengthy yawn and peered over at the clock on the wall. 6:45 am. It was time to get up and go through the motions of another day.

       Charles walked over to the bathroom and flicked the light switch on. The fluorescent bulbs hummed to life as he peered into the cracked mirror before him. He reached into the black case that was plugged into the nearest outlet by the medicine cabinet.

       Charles let out a deep sigh.

       When is this going to end?

       He opened the case and examined the facial mask before him that lay upon the velvet felt inside the case. He carefully lifted the mask and placed it upon his metal face. Each magnet surrounding the inside outline of the mask clicked into place upon his forehead, cheeks, nose, and jawline. The mask made a series of electronic and mechanical sounds as it powered on and adjusted to his metallic facial outline.

       Charles double tapped his right temple and verified the status and parameters of his facial mask. They all looked to be within normal operating conditions except for one warning. The battery percentage icon flashed yellow inside his left pupil, battery percent at 43%.

       Charles shook his head and lifted the black charging case to his field of vision. He noticed the charging port looked to be minimally damaged and would need to be repaired.

       Why does this always happen at the worst times?

       Charles grabbed the quick charge power supply he had for emergencies like this and headed towards the front door. He knew that once the battery fully died his face would be stuck, frozen in place with the last expression he was portraying to the people around him. The last time this happened he remembered being stuck with a smile for almost half of the day. Good thing he didn’t have to feel the muscles tense up all day he thought.

       Charles was one of many humans who had suffered catastrophic injuries after the Revolution of 2049. Technology had advanced far along enough that these humans were able to lead normal lives, for the most part. Limbs and other body parts were replaced by mechanical and robotic components. These in turn were covered by synthetic skinned prosthetics that helped portray “normalcy”. 

       Charles came to enjoy having this synthetic facial mask attached over the metal and electronic parts that had come to live where flesh and bone once were. He appreciated the fact that the mask learned what expressions were appropriate to use as time went by. This helped him better fit into a society that he never felt was right for him.

       Beneath that smile lived a broken heart filled with regret, filled with sorrow…but the world would never know.


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