Trying to sit still in the waiting room amidst the page-turning, soft coughs, and punctuating whirrs of machinery was driving her directly to insanity. She looked down wistfully at the perfectly manicured nails on her clammy hand.
“Mrs. Adderson?” said the nurse, pleasantly, as her red left pupil dilated noticeably from across the room.
“Doctor Faden will see you now. Right this way.”
“Certainly.” She rose from her seat, hoping her voice didn’t sound as openly nervous to everyone else as it did to her.
Miss Adderson followed the flashy chrome of the nurse’s legs down the hall. Along the way they passed a mother holding her beaming child’s hand, Doctor in tow, showing them both out. All three were smiling pleasantly. She overheard the bright “Mom, LOOK at Me!” squeal that only a four-year-old’s enthusiasm could produce. Looking over her shoulder, she witnessed the everyday marvel of the youngster holding a filing cabinet (easily twice his own size and weight) at waist level, elbow joint whizzing and gleaming in the sunbeam of an open window. His mother did her best to feign anger as she admonished him, and their Doctor was reassuring both of them in bright, cooing tones. She should still hear him going on about “lift strength” and “maintenance” when she reached her room and sat, as beckoned, in the dentist style chair.
Dr. Faden was, as usual, the picture-perfect representation of hospitality and reassurance.
“How are you, Miss Adderson?”
His attention to detail instantly set her at ease. “Better,” she said, smiling wholeheartedly.
“Good, good.” He gently ushered a print-pad in her direction. She could hear two nurses behind her, arranging the spindly arms of the ceiling-hung equipment around the back of her chair.
“What’s this?” she asked quietly.
“A standard release form.” With only the slightest pause, he was able to read the confusion on her face and quickly add: “It just states, in legalese, that BME industries will hire you and pay for the procedure in full, in exchange for your services with the new appendage for two years.”
“Didn’t I sign several of these already?”
“Yes, but signing it in the presence of your Doctor shifts the legal responsibility of the procedure. Essentially, this document makes is so that – legally – it is as if BME Industries is performing the operation directly, with your consent.”
She quickly nodded an “Oh, of course, of course…”, and pressed both thumbs onto the pad. She recognized legal protection when she heard it, and this was to be respected. The print-pad beeped and displayed the SecureU-Sign “Thank you” Logo in typical TrueColor LED form, complete with smiling pink humanoid avatar that appeared on so many retro T-Shirts of late.
Doctor Faden, who could smell a single particle of uncertainty within four kilometers of air, gently crouched to eye level and met her distracted gaze. “Don’t worry, Miss Adderson. In two hours, you’ll be at home, watching television and cooking dinner for your children.”
Her smile was lopsided, but genuine. He really seemed to care about her.
“Of cousre, you and your children will have a lot less to worry about afterwards,” he added with a wink as he busied himself preparing the Isolator.
For the first time this week, she was actually excited about this whole thing. She looked forward to the time she would be spending at BME, effortlessly hoisting tons of steel above her head and getting paid more than any four non-enhanced people she knew. And nobody who ever had such a procedure done had ever complained about it – which was saying a lot, considering the amount of interviews she had read.
She managed to catch a last glimpse of the tan line on her finger before the Isolation Cuff covered it, and allowed herself invigorating stab of anger. She certainly wouldn’t miss seeing that. She wouldn’t soon forget how rough the last few months have been since he left, especially on the kids. Not that he helped a whole lot when he was still around…
Still, she couldn’t help but sink into a far-away, remorseful silence as the buzz saw, guided by Dr. Faden, spun up to a start and precisely cut off her numb and bloodless limb.