Bill sat in the DMV. People were actively staring at him. To him it was like the wind blowing through the trees, people cursing at each other in cars, and long lines and complications at the DMV.
Bill has the first set of prosthetic eyes and ears. Well, most of his face really. He was in battle in some Middle Eastern country when he had most of his face blown off. Well, most of his face and other non-essential bits blown off. Uncle Sam always needed test subjects for new tech these days. Face implants were mastered by 2020; however nice it is to not be looked at in horror it is better to be able to see and hear clearly. Walking and using hands was great, too.
There were so many conflicts and rewritten borders in the Middle East these days and he had served multiple tours each in a different place that to him it was all “Middle East”. He even considered India part of the Middle East. He had served there as Pakistan and India had their discussion become an armed argument.
Three months of nearly constant surgeries. Nightmares of pain. Bill thought he got a BJ at some point but the drugs for pain clouded his memory. Well, at least that bit was still attached.
He could see and hear again. Better he thought than he could ever see or hear when he had his biological original parts. The solid technology of prosthetic arms and legs were stable and already better than the originals years ago. Even for tender alone time. Talk about a real test of prosthetic hands, pressure sensing and application of force…
The replacement parts were so good, in fact, that he returned to duty for another two tours. Bill’s performance was incredible. So much so, that it became the standard for humans who had lost limbs, eyes, hearing, etc – to go through the process and return to combat.
His second tour as a cyborg he led his own battalion. There was a rumor that troops were being led into explosive zones on purpose to make super soldiers. Nobody proved that, though. It really didn’t need to happen (if it did) as soldiers were losing limbs left and right (ha ha) in the Middle East for decades.
They were the best battalion of soldiers ever created. It was like a battalion of bionic men, but better than the TV series could ever be and minus the wacky music accompaniment. Sorry, no flying allowed. Using the enhanced limbs and prosthetics was natural. In his second tour as a cyborg the battalion basically ended conflict in the Middle East. He left the battalion in good hands. He was tired of combat.
And here he is. At the DMV. Trying to renew his driver’s license. He had been gone for so many years that it had expired and he really didn’t notice.
Except there was a long line. Being a soldier he was up early in the morning and first in line. He lived “we do more in the first hour of the day than most people do all day.”
It didn’t matter. Apparently, he was legally blind. Noted hero of the war (still not sure what to call the war, so the war it was. Hell, if “the war to end all wars” was fine for WWI then this could be “the” war could work for this clusterfuck in the Middle East) he was on paper a handicapped person complete with placard.
So, he was looking to get a waiver. Sit in another line. Get to the desk. Talk to the people behind the counter. Go back to the end of the line.
“Sorry sir. We know who you are, but we’re just not sure what to do about it.”
It is closing time. The early bird… Gets to walk home. Bill chose to find the humorous side of events. He didn’t need a driver’s license. Most people didn’t. They almost all “drove” automated cars. He needed a license because he wanted an automated car with manual driver controls. So, when the threat level was low (like on the highway) he could take over and drive himself. It was an oddly cathartic activity to drive and listen to Metal music. The car would still take control if he got in to trouble so you could even be a bit careless about driving and still be completely safe.
But you needed a driver’s license. Stupid car wouldn’t even let you sit behind the steering wheel without a driver’s license plugged in to it.
So, mildly upset and refusing to get in to a control-less car he began to walk home.
Bill is a fan of horror movies. “World War Z” came to his mind immediately. He is walking in New York City. Some dude fifty feet away is behaving like an animal. Bill did not think much about it at first. There was a fad for about 5 years where people would run around acting like animals to remind us that most of the animals were gone. It was a good cause, but really? No quicker way to look like an idiot in Bill’s mind. It made him very glad to be away at war when that was the high fashion and political statement.
Then the dude acting like an animal bit this other dude. The other guy started seizing up. Bill started to run over to render assistance. Spontaneously, the guy seizing on the ground just got up. Bill slows to a human speed walk. Then the guy that was seizing on the ground started acting like an animal and ripped his significant other out of the car and bit her. Same cycle, next person.
“We need to be very careful. We still are not sure what really one hundred percent sure what happened to Bill Chambers”, said Officer 1.
“They did remove his arms and legs, though, right”, asked Officer 2
Bill could hear the two police officers speaking through the wall. One of the benefits of super hearing.
“Yes, but he has prosthetics that integrate with his brain and there is a concern that whatever happened to him might be contagious. That there might be code that wasn’t cleaned that in proximity could affect our devices.”
“Well, all I have are prosthetic eyes. I can’t rip 341 people apart with my bare hands.”
The door opens. Bill is a little disoriented. There is an IV drip attached to the top part of what remains of his original leg. Perhaps the disorientation isn’t unintentional.
Bill nods his head slowly.
“Do you know why you are in this secure hospital cell?”
“Other than hearing you say I killed 341 people I’m a little hazy on what has happened since I left the DMV.”
“Oh, yes, sorry, I forgot that you have high functioning hearing. I’m not sure how to break this to you.”
Bill just looked at them. It was probably disconcerting because it was very obvious that he did not have eyes – and therefore did not make eye contact.
“Have you ever played any games like Pokemon Go?”
“What? Sure, when I was a kid. Nothing in the past I don’t know, 15 years?”
“We believe that your systems were hacked. Instead of the real-time world that should have been sent to your eyes, a world was sent to you with slight alterations. This encouraged you to believe that people out there were turning in to zombies. Whoever did this to you – they knew you and they knew your obsession with horror movies. Given your training – you acted appropriately to eliminate the zombie threat. In doing so; however, you ended up killing 341 people with extreme prejudice. We understand you believe they were not human – and a dehumanized enemy is one that you can do anything to.” Officer one took a break not knowing what to say next.
Officer 2 decided to take a crack at it. “You understand that you have made the largest news event of the decade. Thousands of cameras. Thousands upon thousands of video captures of you… Ripping people apart. You threw a school bus off a ramp and then ripped the door off and well… There are sixty student that we won’t have to pay to go through college anymore. Never mind the bus driver who was there just in case and the two teachers. The bus was equipped with internal cameras watching for children being left in the vehicle after drop-off. Well, let’s just say that everyone knows exactly what you are capable of now.”
Officer 2 cleared his throat and continued, “We understand that you were not under your own control. We fixed the problem to the best of our ability. It won’t happen again. Well, we think it won’t happen again. At the same time the entire world is terrified of you. We have removed your arms and legs. You are here under ‘supervised medical care’. You can’t be jailed since you were not responsible…. We know you are not a criminal but you can’t ever leave this room.”
“Am I under arrest?”
At this point the two officers looked at each other. Decided that was the best they could do for now and left the room without a word.