Russel must confront his cyborg sons tardiness
Russel Teder walks into his seventeen year old son’s room and unplugs his son’s work body. Four o clock Monday morning and Russel is set on talking with his son before he leaves for work. Placing the body on the floor, he grabs a rag and begins to wipe the dirt and liquid stains off the carbon fiber arms. He notices an open panel on the back of the body with loose wires hanging out. “It’s going to be one of those days,” he tells himself as he grabs some tools of a nearby desk. A message flashes on the Smartwall beside him.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP SO EARLY DAD?
“I just came in to make sure you were ready that’s all. Well Tommy, are you?”
GIVE ME A LITTLE WHILE LONGER I’M HERE WITH MOM SHE SAYS HI.
Russel lets out a disapproving Growl. His ex wife’s memories fill his head adding more unwanted emotions to the Monday morning.
“Yeah? You tell your mom how you’ve been fooling around with your work body?”
DAD, I’M TWEAKING IT THAT’S ALL. GIVING IT A LITTLE TASTE.
“Son I know you know how serious this responsibility is I don’t to see you do anything to jeopardize it.”
I’M NOT. LOOK I’M GONNA DOWNLOAD SOON I JUST GOTTA SAY BY TO MOM. CAN YOU GIVE ME A MINUTE?
“All right but make it quick I wanna talk to you before you go to work.”
Russel finishes closing everything up on his son’s body. He sits in a chair across from it, staring at the now lifeless thing waiting for the lights to come on and, for it to become his son. A sense of nostalgic warmth emerges in his brain every time he looks at the body. He had a work body similar to the one his son would soon posses before he retired, except back then you weren’t allowed to take it home. You uploaded from the Smartwall in your house to the body in the storage room at the mine. “Tweaking it” as his son calls it was illegal and never allowed back then. You weren’t even guaranteed you’d have the body you had the day before, much less the same model. Once, he uploaded into his house for his lunch break; when he downloaded back to the mine, he found himself in a three-year-old fossil the guys called the mummy. Now with the new work laws in place the Willburks Mining Corporation is forced to allow them to be taken home. With the strict rule that they be back at their scheduled time no exception. That’s what Russel wants to talk to his son about; he’d been late to the mine yesterday. Russel’s old buddy ran the attendance department so he told Russel that because of his past outstanding contributions to the corp. they would overlook it this time. Next time, next time it would be the door.
The lights blast on, on Tommy’s work body as he downloads himself back into it. His dad is sitting on a chair opposite him, looking like a prison guard watching over a troublesome inmate. He is in his original human-lion-wolf hybrid body, which generally means he has something serious to say. Tommy turns a 360° on his waist, 'looks like pop finished putting me back together,' Tommy thinks to himself. He runs a diagnostic just to be safe. Results come back 100%. His room’s smartwalls start to display a very vivid forest scene. Russel snickers and wags his tail.
“Turn it off Tommy, you know this is serious.” the forest scene fades back to the default outer space scene. Before Russel can continue, Tommy interrupts.
“Listen dad, I know what this is about: I got caught up at Jenny’s house. I’m sorry. Look, I didn't do it on purpose and I promise you it won’t happen again.”
“When were you gonna tell me, Thomas? Huh, after they fired you? You know how hard it is for a kid your age to get in with a corporation like this. Impossible! I put my name on the line so you don’t have to start out making minimum wage, and you don’t even tell me you were late. What is going on?” the last part comes out more like a command than a question, half growled through Russel’s lion face.
“I’m sorry dad, I didn’t want you to get anal on me. I figured I’d talk to a manager tomorrow and sort it all out. I just got back together with Jenny, and I wanted to see her. That’s all. It won’t happen again dad, cross my heart.”
“This isn’t a time for jokes.” Russel interrupts. His yellow eyes follow his son’s expressionless face. Were it not for the bright LED lights that make two diagonal lines in the shape of an “X” on his son’s face, it’d be featureless. “You know what I mean, dad.” His son continues. “I’m doing all I can.”
“Thomas, this job is a big responsibility. You stay in ten more years and your set for life.”
“Whose life? Dad.” Russel sees no expressions on his sons scarlet red face. However, his voice is another matter. Russel hears the hurt in his son’s last sentence. He feels the honesty in his tone. Something is wrong and it sounds like it’s been bothering his son for a long time.
“What is it son? What’s going on?” this time the last part comes out more like a plea than a question with the undertone of a whine.
“Dad. I feel like I’m wasting my life working. While my friends are going on without me. I have to hear about what they do instead of being there. And for what? To be able to retire in ten years? To what? I miss my friends and, I miss Jenny. I don’t want to end up like you and mom.” Russel looks at the floor while his mind lets an obvious truth become part of both of their realities. Russel knows his son has a point. He doubts his son fully understands the whole disastrous burden that was his marriage. Despite the fact that Russel did have to spend thirteen hours a day at the mine per shift, there was more that led to the sinking of that titanic than one iceberg.
“Son, I didn’t really see it like that,” says Russel “I mean I knew the hours were gonna be tough. I just didn’t see them affecting you like this. I’m sorry. I guess I was hoping you’d adapt to ‘em.” Russel grabs the rag he used to clean his son. He stands up and walks over to his son. Wiping off bits of fur that have fallen of his body and unto his son’s he says. “Listen, Tommy, I can talk to some people down at the mine. You won’t get the same benefits as the rest of the crew. But I think I can get them to cut down your hours. That is if you want to continue working. I have enough saved up for the two off us for awhile yet. I don’t want you to think you need to work right now. Son, I just want you to be ok when you get to be my age. From the sound of it, you’re going to be better. It’s up to you son. Follow your heart.”
“This isn’t a time for jokes.” Tommy says as seriously as he can imitate his father’s deep crisp voice. His mind overflows with joy as the burden that was presiding over him for the past year so unexpectedly dematerializes. His dad wraps his arms around him placing wolf and lion fur over his body.
“You know what I mean son,” Russel says. “You know what I mean.”