I'm Half Machine, Not Half Monster
Earlier this year, when I underwent highly experimental surgery to reconstruct my body after a near fatal car wreck, I got a big surprise just as the anesthetic was kicking in: I heard voices around the operating table say they'd be replacing half of me with new cybernetic parts. It was a dream-I'd-never-had come true! As I went under, I reveled at the thought of all the superhuman feats I'd soon be able to perform.
Oh, but how naÃ¯ve I was. The reality is I'm a freak to all humanity. With my new cyborg sensory inputs, I can constantly feel the scrutiny of others. It's as if, despite their own inferior senses, they can somehow see through my human appearance to the computerized pneumatic system that lies, gently breathing, beneath. When I shake hands with people, they have an unmistakable look of terror in their eyes, and not merely because I'm still learning the strength of my new bionic grip and just shattered their fingers.
Dogs growl at me, children run away, adults turn their heads. It's enough to make me want to destroy their weak, fragile shells.
Sorry, that's the machine talking. I may be 52.7 percent robot now, but the human half is still the same old Joe Garden. The one who likes hanging out and laughing. And thanks to the cortical processors that have replaced the right side of my brain, I'm 14 percent funnier than I used to be!
Unfortunately, my friends treat me differently now. They used to call me when they wanted to kill a six-pack and watch a horror flick. These days they only call when they want to watch a man lift cars over his head, or break two-by-fours with his titanium forehead. I'm always happy to comply, because I'm programmed to be, but once the fleeting joy has been processed by my mecha-synapses, my human side is left with only sadness.
It's been hell on my romantic life, too. Try going on a date and telling a woman that you're literally only half a man. Many are interested in knowing if I have any "special attachments," which I do, but it's an awfully dehumanizing thing to be asked about 20 minutes into a date. When I do get someone home for a little romance, chances are I'll accidentally crush her ribs because I've forgotten my humanoid physique conceals 750 pounds of metal.
Good luck getting a second date after that!
I can't even enjoy a good meal anymore, as my diet has been reduced to a barely edible gray paste optimized to ensure the 47.3 percent of me that's still human continues cheating death. The rest of me, meanwhile, is fueled by a microreactor constantly at risk of a core meltdown. There are days I don't even feel like getting out of my electro-amniotic stasis chamber.
See my left arm, though? Totally fine. Nothing unusual about it at all. If you have a hard time accepting me, start with that arm and work your way from there.
Now look at my right arm. Does it contain hair-trigger reflexes that could suddenly cause me to throw you the length of a football field before the human half of my brain realizes what has happened? Yes, it does. But guess what? It's part of who I am now.
I'm not some heartless automaton. My name is Joe. Joe 384998450766X Garden, and if you prick me, I will secrete a red, highly oxygenated nutrient-rich fluid, just like you would. I might also leak plutonium.
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