Dr. Alan Decker was already regretting picking up this patient’s file. “What a disagreeable woman,” he thought to himself, staring down at the middle-aged female lying on the hospital bed in front of him, her hands gesticulating as she rambled on.
“Look, doc, I’m not saying that they’re all bad,” she went on, again waving her hands (and, incidentally, keeping Decker from taking a look at the place where he would be cutting into her in a couple of hours). “But come on, they’re not human! They’re basically just collections of gears and cogs, not even alive. They don’t deserve the same rights as us, people made of real flesh!”
Decker had to struggle to control his eyes, preventing them from rolling. Of course he’d get the hypocrite, the mechodist, the woman who hated androids even as her own flesh was failing her. Instead of commenting, he forced himself to keep his neutral expression, gently but firmly leaning in with the power of authority. When the woman’s hand flailed past him again, he reached out and grabbed her by the wrist.
“Mrs. Taggett, I need to examine you for your surgery this afternoon,” he stated, his ice-cold voice cutting through her diatribe. “Please, if you can hold still, this will be quick.”
The woman glared at him, angry at being interrupted, but she stopped moving about, and Decker was able to lift up her hospital gown. The nurse-droid had already been in here, marking the exact spot where Decker would make the incision. If it was up to the doctor, he would have let the droid do the entire procedure – but this abhorrent woman had insisted on a human touch.
Now he could see why.
Everything looked to be okay, the doctor quickly decided, and he was free to leave. “Wonderful, Mrs. Taggett,” he told the woman in the bed. “We will proceed with the surgery this afternoon, and you should be free to go home by tomorrow morning.”
The woman shivered, but her angry eyes never left him. “The sooner I can get out of this house of clockwork, the better,” she snapped.
Outside the room, Decker saw a small man, slightly huddled with owlish eyes, watching him as he emerged. “How is she, doc?” he asked, stepping forward. “I’m, er, Mr. Taggett.”
The husband. “Everything seems fine,” Decker replied. “It’s a minor tumor that is being removed, and there don’t appear to be any complications. I won’t know for certain until I cut her open this afternoon, of course.” He usually tried to avoid such direct language, but his temper was still running hot.
The diminutive little husband just nodded. But as Decker turned to walk away, the man’s hand shot out to grab his arm. The touch was light, almost furtive, but it made the doctor pause.
“Look, sir, just…” Taggett hesitated, and Decker wished he could shake the man and get him to just spit it out. “Just don’t be too shocked, sir. Trust me, it’s all for a reason. Just don’t say too much to her.”
Decker had no idea what this meant. But before he could ask, the little man turned and scuttled back into his wife’s room, and the doctor put this strange little exchange out of his mind.