Here is a guest blog post from horror author and FIEND, I mean FRIEND, Emerian Rich!
New book from HorrorAddicts.net Press: Kill Switch!!!
As technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we’ve created? What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future?
Join us as we walk the line between progressive convenience and the nightmares these advancements can breed. From faulty medical nanos and AI gone berserk to ghost-attracting audio-tech and one very ambitious Mow-Bot, we bring you tech horror that will keep you up at night. Will you reach the Kill Switch in time?
A sneak peek inside…
by TIM O’NEAL
“Just sign the liability waiver and we’ll get started. This should be a quick painless procedure.” Dr. Charles E. Windygate depressed the plunger, dispensing morphine into his patient’s IV on top of the local anesthesia already administered to his burned lower extremities.
“I trust you. Let’s get this done.” The patient, Larry Dougherty, scribbled his signature and handed the clipboard back without glancing at the print. A simple gold wedding band gleamed on his ring finger. Well-defined muscles rippled in his arms, chest, and torso, but his legs were an oozing blackened mess.
Moments later, Larry gave a loopy grin. “Gosh, I feel better already, Doc.” A fireman by trade, Larry had raced into a burning house to save a toddler trapped on an upper floor. Just as he’d reached the girl, the wooden floor had given way. As they’d fallen, Dougherty had clutched her to his chest, using his body to cushion the impact. When he’d awoken in the hospital, he’d learned his squad had dragged them out. The kid was completely unharmed, but third-degree burns covered his own legs.
Word traveled fast in a hospital and so Dr. Windygate had quickly learned about the fireman’s traumatic burns. Immediately after the man was admitted, Windygate had popped in to ask if he wanted to participate in an experimental wound debridement procedure. Given the chance to stop the immense pain and perhaps save his charred legs, Dougherty had readily accepted.
Sterile white fluorescent light blazed down, harshly illuminating the operating theater. It gleamed off the stainless-steel tables and counters, sparkled off the tile walls, and glinted off sharp, clean, surgical instruments. The hospital smelled of disinfectant and gauzy bandages. Floor polish tickled the nose like an alcohol-soaked cotton ball.
Dr. Windygate ignored the two young medical students standing by to assist—a tall Latina and a rather short, geeky male. He didn’t know their names. He didn’t care. They were only present to comply with hospital research policy, but this was his project, dammit! He’d spent a decade developing this technology on his own. He would not share the glory with just anyone, let alone two upstart medical students. If they cared about their careers in medicine, they’d stay well away and keep their mouths shut.
Dr. Windygate’s hands shook with excitement as he accepted the clipboard from Mr. Dougherty. If this new procedure was successful, he would make medical history, cementing his name in medical texts alongside Linus Pauling, Louis Pasteur, and Edward Jenner. He smirked, adjusting his tiny spectacles. He could almost taste the fame. To conceal his anticipation, he coughed twice and headed to the tiny surgical sink.
“You all set, my good man?” he called, lathering his hands.
“Ready when you are, Doc.”
“There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Nope, nothing at all.” Returning to the bedside, Windygate snapped on sterile blue latex gloves.
“Do anything. I don’t care. Just fix my legs.”
Windygate shrugged away a dribble of nervous perspiration. “Yes, of course. I went to Oxford Medical. I’ve been practicing for twenty years. I’m perfectly relaxed, well-rested, and prepared for this. You’ve absolutely nothing to fear.”
Dougherty’s brow furrowed. He chuckled uneasily. “You trying to convince me or yourself, Doc?”
Windygate inhaled a deep breath, swelling his body like a balloon. “I’m just excited. It’s not every day I get to test out a new surgical technique, is it?” Grinning, he toyed with a scalpel. It gleamed and flashed.
The fireman frowned, considering. “Wait. New? How new?”
“Actually…you’ll be the first human subject. The waiver gave your consent to test this new wound debridement procedure. You still okay with that?”
“I guess,” Dougherty said slowly. “It has been tested though, right? On animals or something?”
“Oh goodness, yes.” Windygate nodded. “Thoroughly tried and tested in the veterinary setting with startling successes. Works in both theory and practice. I perfected it myself. I can assure you, it’s completely safe.”
“Let’s get on with it.”
“I’ll be using new robot technology to debride those burns and accelerate the healing.”
Dougherty propped himself on his elbows. “Robots? Really! Why didn’t you say so? What could be more precise than robots? Seems today’s new technology makes everything safer.”
Windygate gently pressed him back down. “Yes, quite. But, as with any new technology, it still requires a spot of testing. Hence, you.”
He turned to his instrument tray and picked up a squat clear plastic container filled with several hundred, small, white, beads. Twisting the lid, he broke the seal and retrieved a handful of the tiny smooth spheres. Carefully, he extended his cupped gloved hand.
“Take a look, but do be careful, they cost a thousand dollars apiece. My research grant paid for them and I do hope to re-use them.”
Dougherty leaned over, craning his neck. “Huh. They’re tiny. Don’t look scary at all! What are they?”
“I call them: Remote-controlled Electronic Maggots. REMs for short.”
“Maggots, ugh!” Dougherty recoiled, making a face.
“Nominally only, for how they break down the dead tissue like maggots. But never you worry, they’re entirely controlled by this remote. See?”
Windygate plucked a gray rectangular object about the size of a cell phone from his instrument tray. Its hard rubber face had six smooth, raised buttons—four blue directional arrows, one red square, and one green circle. He passed it to Dougherty.
“A remote control, eh? Like something my boys might drive their toy cars with.” He handed it back.
“Yes, but in case you have any residual worries, my REMs have two built-in failsafe mechanisms,” Windygate bragged. “The red button kills their power, immediately stopping them. Second, they work by sensing inflammatory biomarkers near the wound. If they’re not in contact with necrotic skin, they won’t move. Prevents them from damaging any healthy tissue. See, here on my glove, it doesn’t move at all. There’s nothing for it to do. But, when I put it on your leg, it activates.”
DAN SHAURETTE & EMERIAN RICH
H.E. ROULO, TIM O’NEAL, JERRY J. DAVIS, EMERIAN RICH, BILL DAVIDSON, DANA HAMMER, NACHING T. KASSA, GARRETT ROWLAN, DAPHNE STRASERT, PHILLIP T. STEVENS, LAUREL ANNE HILL, CHANTAL BOUDREAU, GARTH VON BUCHHOLZ