For a New Life
The first step was difficult. His head throbbed in pain as he shouted out the command in his mind, shoving the distracting thoughts, the little devils whispering of an imminent failure, aside. The neural platform obeyed, and his artificial leg was raised into the air – only for the metallic ankle to twist unnaturally when the device came down. He collapsed onto the ice-cold floor of the laboratory.
White-robed scientists pulled him up, repeating the familiar lines of instruction that he had heard a thousand times before. He tried again. The foot landed in the correct position, but the knee buckled, and he was forced into a half-kneeling posture. At least his hands were not forced to touch the freezing ground this time, he thought contentedly.
The third try. The fifth try. The twentieth-something try. Mildly, he was aware that the hands helping him up had changed. Not that it mattered. The only things left in his mind were hazy projections of the important switches in his leg. He had to coordinate them and send the order to the device scanning his brainwaves.
The fiftieth try. His concentration was slipping. Images flashed across his eyes – a simple cottage under the crystal-clear blue sky, an aged couple waving at him with tears in the corners of their eyes, a field dotted with mutilated wires and flakes of crimson, and last of all, blinding light from a misplaced grenade, followed by complete darkness.
He blinked. The surroundings were an overwhelming white colour once more. A small window was next to the equipment cabinet, through which he could see a stretch of blue, a vivid shade of blue that had appeared so often in his dreams about home. It was the blue of a peaceful life without war, of good weather heralding a fine harvest, of gazing at the sky while leisurely taking a stroll through the bustling town.
He looked down silently. The synthetic leg with a silver sheen moved upwards, and firmly, he planted it on the ground.