September 7, 2016


Each Tuesday (SORRY, FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL YESTERDAY! A BIT SWAMPED!), rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

SF Trope: body transformations/cyber implants/the Borg…

[NOTE: STAR TREK’s Borg still creep me out and while they ended up defeated, compromised and hardly implacable by the end of all the series, I wonder if the writers did that to make themselves feel safer. When they first appeared in ST:TNG, they were anything BUT beatable…and they still creep me out…]

Hajnal Nagy stared at her lab partner. “What do you mean, they ‘creep you out’?”

Voytek Jankowski shook his head. “It doesn’t bother you that Ms. Hawkinson’s substitute is more machine than human?”

Hajnal shook her head. “Why should the ratio of Mr. Yakovlev’s flesh to metal and plastic bother you?”
“Didn’t you ever see the old movie, ‘Terminator’?”

“Duh. I like old movies as much as you do, so yeah, I saw it. But what does a time-traveling robot have to do with our substitute? He looks Human.” She glanced at the man where he was working with another student at the front of the chemistry room. While he certainly did look Human, the left side of his face was augmented by non-flesh implants. He’d told them he’d been in a car accident and they’d rebuilt his eye, ear and replaced the left side of his jaw with plastic bone and teeth. His hand was also partially prosthetic and, he’d added, even though they couldn’t see it, he carried a pacemaker to keep his partially damaged heart beating and had an implanted TENS unit to take care of his pain. He’d finally added that TENS was an acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation unit.

He’d written that on the white board, smiling and saying, “Isn’t this one of those ‘teachable moments’?”

“You didn’t think him talking about ‘teachable moments’  was sort of creepy?”

“Why would that be creepy?” Hajnal asked.

“I want to know what he thought he was teaching us.”

Hajnal rolled her eyes and got back to the work on the page of problems. Voytek said, “But...” Hajnal waved him off half a dozen times before he left in a huff. Once he was gone, she found herself looking up at Mr. Yakovlev. He was leaning on one elbow, pointing to a worksheet and trying to explain something to a student.

She muttered, “Stupid Voytek!” and got back to work. But she couldn’t help it. Her eyes were drawn back to his face. The plastic skin was identical in color to his real skin. The eye had a white sclera, but the iris was silver and the pupil wasn’t exactly round but a vertical oval, almost lizard-like. The fake skin on his hand was also a perfect color match and – she noticed with interest from where she sat – there were hairs on both of his arms. “Stupid Voytek!” she muttered. She turned in her stool so her back was to the front of the room.

She was sitting like that, hunched over the worksheet, when a voice said, “Do you understand orbital notation…” the voice paused, rustled paper, then said, “Ms. Nagy?”

Knowing that she was blushing crimson, she didn’t turn or look up, but hunched farther as she said, “Uh, yes, sir. It seems pretty straight-forward.”

He hummed, “Perhaps you’d like to come up to the front of the room and demonstrate your methodology for the rest of the class. Few of them seem to understand why you do not fill in the 5s1 orbital until after you’ve filled in the 3d5 and 4p3 orbitals.”

Someone from the class called out, “Hajnal gets it!”

Someone else started pounding on the table, “Let Hajnal teach us! Let Hajnal teach us!”

She finally turned around. Now that she was thoroughly embarrassed, she looked up at Mr. Yakovlev as he said, “This is a teachable moment, Ms. Nagy.” He smiled and she noticed then that his teeth, instead of being white, were silver. And as she looked, a tiny red light lit up on each one, while at the same moment, the vertical oval glowed blood red…

Name Origins: Hungary, Poland

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