Steel, Part Five

Posted: July 14, 2009 in Fiction, Steel

Today I went back and edited a bit of the beginning of the story. Part of my reason for doing this is because I doubt that what you are reading will be the final incarnation of this story. The more I write of it, the more I love Wade and Iris and Sally. I want them to become more real, and that means I have to pour that reality into them. Another reason for this bit of editing I’m doing is because not everyone reads things online. I printed out the cleaned up (but not significantly altered) story so far to give to a friend. Holding the few pages I had written was like being struck by lightning. I had created that. I’m trying to get used to the idea that someone wants to read what I wrote, and this moment was huge for me.

Now that she recognized the fact, she could hear the intruding thoughts in his voice. He did what he did to save people. A tear rolled down her cheek in the office. “Stay with me,” she said, and as Sally hit the ground again, the robot turned and jumped in the direction of the chase. The course Sally had plotted kept the machine comparatively low to the ground. The earlier jumps had been high enough to travel in straight lines, even through the metropolis; the odd trio now needed to catch a vehicle that might change direction long before gravity brought Sally down to alter course again. The automaton raced in a saw-toothed pattern across the city, mostly missing the actual traffic, but one poor soul had the misfortune of having his pickup truck bed in Sally’s pre-calculated landing spot. The hydraulic rams that the machine used for legs fired downward to push off the asphalt once again and stomped the back end of the truck flat into the ground. The nose of the truck popped up like a trained seal as the frame folded in half, and by the time tires returned to ground, Sally was gone again.

Iris let the artificial intelligence inside the robot carry out the pursuit, and her mind’s eye drifted toward Wade’s vital sign monitor. His heart rate had slowed, and his blood pressure had dropped some. Where were you hit, she thought. The artificial telepathy provided by the mutual link to Sally told her all she wanted to know, and nothing she wanted to be true. Wade’s hand had been cored out by the enemy’s assault weapon. His left hand was now useless. The second shot had dug its way into his shoulder while still another round had punched into his ribcage and out his back, gifting him with a punctured and collapsed lung. A fourth had missed him, but then had ricocheted inside the armored shell and grazed his head. Wade’s left thigh had stopped a fifth and sixth.

This information was not fed so cleanly into Iris’ mind. Instead, she could phantoms of each of Wade’s assorted wounds. She began to weep openly now. Why wouldn’t he let her take him to the hospital? He had her answer. There wasn’t anyone else to stop these men. Wade’s life wasn’t the only one in danger. He was the only one for whom the hazard was acceptable or expected. Damn you, she thought. What about me, she raged. Did he think he could just go get himself killed and she’d be okay with that? Iris sobbed openly now, the only sound in the empty house. The video feed in her head faded out suddenly, and she could see Wade standing in front of her in a grey fog. He drifted toward her, reached out and embraced her with arms so strong as to be irresistible. “I’ll come home. I promise.” He said. “Just don’t let these guys hurt anyone else. Please.” He lifted her chin with his hand, and locked her with his viridian gaze. He tilted his head down and kissed her softly, his mouth so warm against hers that she involuntarily reached and brushed her lips in the real world. As her hand touched her face, he vanished.

She cried out at the sudden restoration of her perception as broadcast by Sally. Tears still trickled down her face, but her sadness had been fully engulfed by righteous fury. “You bastards,” she said aloud to no one. “Hell hath no fury.” Iris’ focus returned fully to Sally’s progress. Sally had just rounded a corner onto a no-longer busy avenue. Cars had pulled off to the sides of the road haphazardly, but even a cursory glance revealed that not all of them had made it out of the way in time. At least one car had actually been sheared in half by the speeding garbage truck, and multiple others had ruined fenders and crumpled side panels to mark the passage of the crooks. Sally’s audio pickups could now discern the rapid thumping of helicopter blades, and Iris had to mute the sound from the newscaster once more. The steady crash of metallic feet pounding the cement became a tattoo of shockwaves as Iris urged the grit covered titan on.

I did my ‘homework’ for The Artist’s Way today. I suppose I really did it for me, but I think you get the idea. It felt pretty good, and some of the imagery that wound up emerging leaked its way into this segment of the story. There’s starting to be enough that I had to go back and check a detail for continuity’ sake, which blew my mind for a brief moment. I hope you enjoy, I hope you comment, and I hope you share this with someone.

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