THE IRON ARM
By: Jasper Gillard
Trigger Warning: Animal abuse
The iron arm sat patiently upon a rusty trash can, surrounded by bright neon lights that reflected off its silver outline. A man with one arm stared at the device, unsure of what mysterious functions iron arm might have. Around them, the alley was desolate. Not a single human dared travel into such a filthy place. They preferred to stick to the gutted street, floating like ants in a large field of weeds. Only the cats were undeterred. They wandered the alley in groups, establishing their dominance. They hissed bitterly at the one-armed man from the moment he stumbled into their domain; but the immersion of the Iron arm captivated him too much to care.
The one-armed man shivered as the sounds of cars echoed above him. They soared along, leaving behind faded sounds that polluted the air. He feared an undercover police car would eventually float down to arrest him for supposedly stealing the arm. The loud sounds caused him to hold onto his stump. With each deep breath, he rubbed the ball of skinwrinkled around his fingertips. His clothes were slowly falling apart, dirty and smelling of old milk. His face bore black marks from fights he couldn’t control. He could still feel the agony from when a baton slammed onto his back, orcing him to sacrifice his watch just so he could realign his spine. The one-armed man’s grubby design suggested that he wasn’t welcome anywhere. He forgot his fear for sadness took control, piloting him into a black hole.
The bright lights emulated off the iron arm, reminding the one-armed man of where he was in the present. He found the strength to walk up to the arm, allowing himself to admire the advanced technology. Its long mechanical structure was brimming with detail. Through the illuminateThe wires twirled around each other, reaching an end that looked like a black hole. The opening looked wide enough for the one-armed man to snugly fit his stump inside. The hand itself had a smooth and bumpy appeal. Its fingers were more polished than his own and slick enough that he could slightly see his reflection. He noticed a small circle where the wrist used to be. The one-armed man gazed closely at the circle, seeing that it could spin all the way around. He chuckled slightly at the thought of himself twirling the wrist. It could be a punchline to a poorly thought-out oke. When thinking of himself wielding the hand, the one-armed man felt the fear return once more. He had no idea what this thing was capable of. He wasn’t sure if the arm could harm him, or worse: a police tracker. He felt the ache from squeezing his stump too much. The bulge had turned bright red as it seethed with crampshimself to let go.
Nothing left to lose.
Though his thoughts warned him of dire consequences, the one-armed man picked up the arm. Breathing heavily, he glided the iron arm towards his stump. When the one-armed man connected the parts together, he felt a sung feeling surge through him, as though he were regaining something that he believed he could never have again. The thought caused the one-armed man to feel the tears cracking through the dam of his eyes. Quickly, the translucent glass shone a lively blue that clouded over the neon lights. He was surprised by the glowing hue, yet somehow filled with curiosity. Suddenly, wires shot out from the rim of the arm and embedded into his stump. They dug through his flesh, slowly making their way through his arm. The one-armed man reacted with a gasp. Then, he felt something; a strange feeling that wasn’t his. He sensed an extraneous presence emerging from its slumber within the boundaries of the iron arm. The consciousness of this presence grew with strength as it got closer towards reaching his brain. The one-armed man frantically ripped the arm from his stump. The wires receded, snapping back into their previous position as he threw the arm onto the pavement. The thing hit the floor with a clang, somehow maintaining its structure. The one-armed man gasped, falling backwards. He lay vacantly on the grubby surface, until he noticed the pool of blood flowing from his stump. Numb with pain, the one-armed man held his stump, his mind was distraught by the previous events. As he lay on his back, he shakily turned his head to face the iron arm that lay a few feet away. Although the device lay immobile, the one-armed man could truly see its unfamiliarity. His thoughts finally convinced him that this advance device would bring his end.
Still staring at the iron arm, the one-armed man managed to pick himself up. He scuttled backwards into the clutches of the enormous streets; his gaze still transfixed on
Days passed before the one-armed man returned to the iron arm’s domain. He was feeling the entire world pressing onto his back, refusing to let him gasp for air. The iron arm remained patiently lying on the floor along with a group of curious cats who surrounded the device. They clawed the arm, tapping their paws with the expectation the arm would glow again. They eventually lost interest, though some opted to stare at the device with hope that something would at least pique their interest. The cats scattered upon the one-armed man’s return, leaving a trail of hisses behind. The one-armed man’s neutral mask started melting away when he saw the iron arm’s perfect form. The device was unmarred from of rust, indents, and scratches. His reflection bounced off the fingers and the blue light in the glass faintly glowed. The one-armed man bit his lip as tears spilled along his cheeks. Everything about the iron arm was more beautiful than he remembered. He gazed at his stump. The tiny scars remained, though not as prominent as the many bruises on his face or the cuts carved into his neck. Half his clothes were missing, showing off his bare chest. His skin was bathed by the colours of the neon lights. The red, yellow, and blue tinges nearly concealing his wounds from his parched image. Together, the one-armed man and the iron arm shone brighter than the desolate world around them.
The one-armed man fell to his knees. His expressionless mask peeled off, revealing the raw, red pain of loss underneath. His tears mingled with the dirt of the ground. His transparent tears receded into black bubbles, creating pools by his knees. The one-armed man finally regained his senses. This new sense of caution led him to resume gazing at the iron arm. Although the arm still lay immobile, he could finally feel its calming presence coating him in a warm blanket of love and protection. The blue light charmed the one-armed man into grabbing the device and shoving his stump back inside the arm. He gritted his teeth as the wires pierced through his flesh, institutionalizing their stay in his body. The presence returned, and he accepted the feeling without a struggle. The last wave of hope had left him numb. The presence of the unfamiliar thing grew until the he crossed the line of no return. If he had a second thought, it would be too late. The man felt a twinge in his mind as the presence solidified itself, channeling its energy into his brain. He felt his mind slowly being blurred as he gladly gave control to it.
After that, everything was quiet.
When he saw the fingers of the iron arm move, the man felt a wave of excitement break through the depths, once again filling him with warmth. He stood up, allowing the arm to practice its movements. He laughed as the mechanical wrist twirled around. When he punched the wall, . He placed his fleshy fingers upon the arm’s cool metal and was surprised to feel a slight twinge. There were small pockets of feeling. Maybe, in time, this iron arm could be just like his organic one; maybe, it could be even better. His happiness turned sour when he heard the hissing beside him. He turned around to find a feline sitting on a trash can, taunting away at the man’s bigger form. For some inexplicable reason, the man’s iron arm swung towards the cat, smashing the creature with such rough force that the cat’s ear came clean off. The animal squealed in pain as the man nonchalantly stared at the bleeding cat. He suddenly gave a faint gasp at his actions, but, after that, the muscles on his face twitched and his expression transformed into a cold manifestation. With iron arm dangling by his side, the man turned away. Stepping into the busy from the tiny alleyway. The man realised; everything seemed smaller than he last remembered.