Pruitt’s Dilemma

by Chaz Siu


One morning, Pruitt woke up and his legs were gone.

He wouldn’t have noticed right away if it weren’t for the steady rasp of the oversize Himalayan in the apartment, purring noisily as she lapped at the thin red trickle leaking from the shoddily repaired stumps.

He stood up on his hands and looked in the mirror, tried to think of any reasonable explanation. “Appears to be a cutting device,” he said aloud.

Made no sense to him.

Pruitt stared at the phone for several minutes, wondering if he should hit the panic button, call the emergency line, get a medtech here to help him.

But panic simply wasn’t in his lexicon. “It’s time to get dressed,” he said, noting the time. “Work starts in a half hour.”

Pruitt sealed the leaking wound, but without legs, it took him far longer than usual to latch the form-fitting clean room vest onto his body, a necessity in the chip facility he worked at.

He dialed in on the way to work. The vidphone came to life. “You’re 17 minutes late, Pruitt. Why are you not on the line?”

Just his luck. Unlike Pruitt’s prior bosses, this one always seemed to have time rounding precision a decimal beyond everyone who worked for him.

“Sir, my legs are missing,” Pruitt replied.

He saw his boss wave stubby pink fingers at him from the tiny screen. “Show me.”

Pruitt did so, extending one of his cauterized stumps close to the vidphone camera.

More silence, then, “Take your head off, Pruitt.”

Not sure he’d heard right, Pruitt replied, “Sir?”

“The scrap metal bandits got you,” said the boss, “so take your head off, you goofy robot. We’ll have the techs examine your standby alarm sensors when you get in, see if they’re defective. It’s how those thieves get to all the cheap sweatshop models like you. While you’re sleeping, so to speak.”

Pruitt 8674 did as instructed, his optic sensors watching the red lubricant stream from the base of his neck onto his metal frame until he powered down.


Copyright © 2008 by Chaz Siu

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