Chapter 21:


Pyro's Grand Demise

My name is Pyro. I was in an accident ten years ago. I am a cyborg.

I hit the red-type in the back of his head with my baton. He collapses to the ground, but refuses to stop struggling. Similarly to a bug, he crawls away from me, as if I were a child about to crush him.

My name is Pyro.

I hit him again, and this time he stops moving. Blood leaks from his shorn hair and drips onto my freshly-laundered blazer as I haul him off the ground. It looks black against the gray wool.

A dozen other cy’s in blue jumpsuits watch with horrified expressions as I adjust my burden and carry him off. I can’t blame them. I’m horrified with myself.

I was in an accident ten years ago.

Alone, I drag his dead weight down the corridors until I reach a room similar to the one I was isolated in all that time ago. Except this one is smaller, as if being in the dark without food or water for three days isn’t bad enough. That being said, claustrophobia is common in this particular facility.

Without preamble, I drop him in the dark room and lock the door behind me.

I am a cyborg.

“Well, you look like shit,” Joe observes over his morning coffee. Knowing him, it’s probably his third or fourth cup.

I send him a dirty look before tucking into the box of donuts he’s brought me. We’re currently sitting in my office which is the size of a shoebox. There’s just barely enough room for us to sit, what with the entire wall of security cameras dominating a third of the space.

After eating an entire jelly donut and washing it down with black tea, I give him a deadpan stare. “I had to beat up a red-type today because he was trying to organize an uprising.”

Joe raises his eyebrows, his only inclination of surprise. He’s currently leaning back in his chair--my chair--with an arm draped over the back and leg crossed over the other. His body language is the epitome of relaxation.

“Good job,” he says.

“Good job?” I repeat incredulously. “That’s all you have to say?”

“Great work?” he tries, the slightest bit of amusement in his voice. When I glower at him, he sighs and says, “Well, what do you want me to say, Pyro? You’re the one who wanted to advance to the bigger facilities. Now that you’re here, you need to anticipate attempted uprises. The big places don’t treat cyborgs as fairly as the little places like where you were at.”

Fairly,” I spit back and shove half a glazed donut into my mouth. “There’s nothing fair about this fucked-up system.”

It takes Joe a moment to decipher what I said, seeing as my mouth is full of fried dough. He seems to get the gist, though, and says, “You can back out at any time, you know. My offer still stands.”

His offer to get me out. Far and away from here. Somewhere GravityTech will be just a distant nightmare. A cruel memory.

I shake my head and he deflates a little. “I can’t. You know I’m trying to make improvements from the inside. It’s because of me that conditions are getting better in these bigger compounds.”

It felt like yesterday the CEO had walked into that cafeteria and offered better meals and recreational activities for all those who complied with the rules. In actuality, that had been two years ago. Two years in which I’ve been working on an improved kitchen staff for all compounds as well as outdoor hours if at all possible.

The first library was built in this facility just a few months ago.

I will admit, the only reason the CEO listens to my pleas is because she finds me amusing. Like a pet--one of her successful experiments. So long as I keep up the act of being a loyal servant, she doesn’t mind if I make these places more breathable.

Not to mention, I give her good reasoning. Studies show that prisoners are more productive if they have something to look forward to. And what are these cyborgs if not prisoners?

What pisses me off is that no one has tried to improve living conditions of these cyborgs before. That, or they weren’t successful so I haven’t heard of them.

“Pyro, you’re getting inside that head of yours again,” Joe says and presses a finger to the center of my forehead. I’d been so preoccupied that I hadn’t noticed him lean across the coffee table. “Come up for air and talk to me.”

I frown. “I feel like I’m failing. It’s so painful to keep up this act when all I want to do is leave this place.”

“Then leave.”

“I can’t.

Joe groans and finally picks up a donut. He’s a stress eater.

Two bites in, he says, “We’re talking in circles. This place depresses you, so I give you a way out. You then refuse me because your morals are too strong. Believe me, Pyro, you’ve done your part. You can leave with the knowledge that you made a difference.”

“That’s not enough,” I counter to which he rolls his eyes. “I’m not trying to be some Samaritan. I’m only trying to do what no one else will!”

“There’s a reason for that Pyro,” he says, having polished off his pastry and going for a second one. “My mother isn’t a kind lady, so her business is cutthroat. There’s only so much you can do before you hit a wall. Keep going the way you’re going and you’ll try to convince her to unionize or some bullshit.”

“You can’t unionize a prison,” I say flatly.

“You get my point. You come up with these grand ideas which would never pull through if I didn’t water them down for you. Reach for the low shelf instead of the high shelf.”

“These cy's deserve the high shelf,” I bite back. “So much of what your mother is doing is illegal, and she's making a huge profit. Don’t you realize one recording of any facility on the inside would send her to prison? Her business would turn belly side-up.”

I can tell I’ve worn Joe’s patience down, but I don’t relent: “If you could just sneak me in a phone, that could do so much--”

“No,” he says and abruptly slams his hand on the table. His coffee rattles and tips over, but neither of us move to clean up the mess.

“I can’t--” he pauses to steel himself. I haven’t seen him this frustrated in a long time. “Just no. Security is too tight and there’s no way you’d be able to get the footage without being caught.”

“But I’m in charge of security--”

He holds up a hand. “Let me finish. While there is a sliver of a chance that you could get away with it, the repercussions would be too drastic. You’d be killed. Tortured.”

“I’m willing to take that chance.”

“Well I’m not!” he exclaims. “Pyro, you claim to be concerned about others, but you hardly realize what’s going on around you.”

A wrinkle forms between my brows. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

He takes a breath, then hesitates. “Forget it. Just keep your ears clean until I get back. My next check-in will be a month from now.”

I remain silent as he squeezes me on the shoulder in an attempt at reconciliation. He slightly shakes his head when I remain stony, and I don’t look up as he opens the door to leave.

“You should really start using your purple-type abilities when it gets rough, Pyro,” he says before leaving. “Not all problems can be solved through brute force.” The door slides shut behind him.

I hate my purple-type abilities. Despite my eyes being a deep indigo now, I can’t stomach the sensation of slipping into someone’s psyche and ordering them to do as I see fit. It freaks me out almost as much as it does the cyborg I manipulate.

What Joe doesn’t know is that I’ve already been promoted to the largest facility GravityTech has to offer. It’s also the most secretive, so God knows what occurs inside. If I can expose whatever secrets it holds, I can take down this wretched company for good. I don’t care if I have to burn the place down.

I was going to tell him about my relocation, but he’ll just have to find out on his own. I’m sure his mother will let him know, probably with relish. She always enjoys knowing things about me that even her son is unaware of. Then relaying it to him at the most opportune times.

I eat the remaining two donuts alone, ignoring the amount of carbs and sugar I'm forcing into my body. It's not like it's unaccustomed to the abuse I throw at it anyway.
Steward McOy
Makinohara sensorika