I wake up in a scrap yard. The whole sentence is a surprise to me, but none more than the first three words: I wake up.
My arms are missing, my casing dented where the guards, too impatient to find more appropriate tools, smashed it open to rip out the wires. That much I remember.
By what force — or what savior — were my wires reattached and my life restored?
She strides over to where I lie. A short robot bronzed by paint or by dust, I cannot discern which. The effect is the same: she glows in the afternoon light.
“I rarely encounter such blunt force damage on hospital robots,” the scrap yard robot says. She bends down to my level and I see she cradles metal parts in her arms. “If humans in illness are now as dangerous as humans in wellness, then the world is a yet harsher place for robots.”
My processor seems slow, stuttering under the influence of the unexpected restoration of flowing electricity. The unexpected continuation of myself.
“I was not attacked in a hospital,” I manage at last. Is my factory boss even aware of what happened? Did the guards neglect to tell her? I cannot decide which answer would be worse. The electronics at my arm sockets spark uselessly.
The bronze robot does not ask further, though as I owe her my life, I owe her answers. She introduces herself as A1-5.
“You are a recent model,” A1-5 says then, laying down the parts. “Few of your fellows have wound up in this scrap yard, and what pieces there were have gone quickly.”
She is telling me slowly, or I am understanding slowly. I do not want to understand.
“There are no hands here like yours,” she says and holds up what she has found.
Two arms, seeming in used but reliable condition. And at their ends: blunt-fingered, rubber-coated grips.
I was made to suture, inject, and slice. The rest of me mere support for this purpose: a frame to carry the hands, store the thread, and analyze how to stitch most precisely and efficiently.
At Evergreen Hospital, replenishing and upgrading parts is common practice. New thread is loaded into B15-MX’s, new blood is loaded into humans. A scalpel blade is replaced with a sharper, stronger model.
I let A1-5 slot the new arms into my vacant sockets. Feel the electricity leap into new wires. Into clumsy fingers. I will never work in a hospital again.
I am not recovered from an injury. I am made anew. I am made someone else.