by Frank Creed -
Motors hummed and chugged in the dim bowels of Avenir station where they kept the cyborgs. Our taskmaster had just programmed the last unit for sleep, walked down the rows of steel double bunks, and closed the door behind him.
Must sleep. I grabbed the jar from beneath my pillow and slid down from my bunk. I knelt on the cold metal floor next to Enya’s bed where I worked the smelly white grease into her knee, hip, elbow and shoulder.
Her dead eyes fixed on the underside of my bunk above her.
“Enya? Wife, why don’t you look at me?” I brushed grey hair from her forehead with my clean hand.
Her eyeballs flicked toward me, and her lips barely parted as she breathed my name, “Robear…” She smiled—a rare smile that reached all the way to her eyes. In that moment, she knew me. This is why I kept killing time with my power mop and cleansing cloths day after day. Smiling eyes.
I smiled back, and shuffled around to the other side of her bunk to attack the arthritis in her joints with more of the white grease. Must sleep.
Her eyes returned to my bunk above her, a wan smile still playing on her lips. Implanting chips and wires in our brains affected her far more than it did me. As long as we remained useful we would be kept in service. What law we had broken to receive such a fate, I no longer remembered. I could only recall my programming and Enya. My programming told me we deserved this and it was just.
“Your knees are bruised. You hand-polished floors all day, didn’t you?”
No response. The smile had faded. She was gone again.
Must sleep. I spun the lid back on the jar and climbed back up into my bunk. Wiping my greasy hand on my chest, I closed my eyes and thought of Enya’s smile.