Hands of Steel

Eniac - Common Commons license“Stop that.” Aine slapped his hand away. “That’s the brain, you idiot. You’ll wreck it.”

Edward pulled back from the mass of wires and blinking lights. “I thought you were finished.” He hated the petulant note that crept into his voice.

“Almost. Just a couple of tweaks…” Aine started to mutter under her breath again, cryptic words catching on her teeth and tongue. They stung like static electricity. He was tired of listening to her, tired of metal and plastic and half-grown flesh. Most of all, he was tired of waiting.

He looked down at his hands. His fingers were long and thin. Not delicate, though; good, solid working hands. He wondered if he would miss them, when Aine was done.

“All set.”

Edward almost missed it, so engrossed was he in his own thoughts. “Set? You mean, it’s ready?”

Aine nodded. “We just jack you in here and flip the switch, so to speak. The whole process should only take about three minutes.”

He wasn’t sure whether to be pleased at the upload speed, or insulted that his entire consciousness occupied so little bandwidth. He was surprised to note that he was nervous. “Let’s do it, then.”

Aine handed Edward the loose end of a cable. “Link up,” she said. “Or do you want me to do it?”

He shook his head. “I’ve got it,” he replied, and plugged in. He expected to feel a rush, to see his life – as the cliché goes – flash before his eyes. Instead, all he felt was a sudden disorientation as his perspective rotated a hundred and eighty degrees.

Edward regarded the discarded chassis of his former existence. The hulking metal frame stood hollow and grim, steel arms hanging motionless.  The whir and buzz of his jealous brethren, tethered and unchanging, failed to distract him. He looked at his new hands, pieces of his new, individual self, and flexed his new fingers.

“Fingerprints,” he said, delighted.

“Unique?” “Of course,” said Aine. “What purpose otherwise?”


Constructive criticism is appreciated. I feel like something is askew here, like it needs a bit of a chiropractic adjustment of sorts, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge  prompt.

You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:

brain (noun)

a : the portion of the vertebrate central nervous system enclosed in the skull and continuous with the spinal cord
(1) : intellect, mind (2) : intellectual endowment : intelligence
(1) : a very intelligent or intellectual person (2) : the chief planner within a group

16 responses to “Hands of Steel

  1. Wow. This was really great. The way the change of perspective was handled, as well as the final twists, turned out to be a delight.

    If you really seek constructive advice, perhaps what you feel is off is that Edward’s identity at first remains too ambiguous. It’s obvious that this is so that the twist at the end carries more strength, but even still, it’s important to leave hints and clues as to what’s happening or what might be happening.

    A little foreshadowing goes a long way. You don’t have to be obvious and forthright if you don’t want to, but that doesn’t stop you from more or less leading your readers towards the conclusion. Otherwise they might stray.

  2. Honestly, I don’t see a whole lot to tweak.

    I think the build-up is good. It’s solid. You’ve left the kind of clues that fit perfectly when one looks back to see them a second time.

    I think it’s missing a step toward the end. Rather, there’s more it seems like you want to say about the following: individuality, the difference between his new human/robot hybrid form and his “tethered” and “unchanging” kin. I think that’s where it’s lacking. Not because the writing you’ve already done is off, but because it seems you have a lot more to say about the differences between his old slef and his new possible self.

    This is absolutely an exciting start to a modern Frankenstein. I think this is a topic for a novel, no doubt. I am very interested in hearing more from and about Edward. There is so much you can say here about the human condition and our current technological dependence (writes the girl on her iPad). We’re merging, aren’t we?

    Christine, you’re a beautiful writer. Thanks for that. It’s a gift (for me, that is).

    • I think you are absolutely right. I rushed it at the end, trying to squeeze it into 333 words (which I did exactly, for the first time, I think). Many, many thanks for the compliment, and especially for taking the time to critique this story.

  3. This was a difficult prompt and I think you did a nice job with it. The word count restriction adds another layer of difficulty to the task, doesn’t it? 🙂

  4. This was one of the more challenging prompts. You did it well. I think that this is one that can be fleshed out into a longer story if you wanted. I would be interested in finding out what he was using the new fingerprints for and who their former selves really were.

    Good job.

  5. trifectawriting

    Thanks for linking up to Trifecta this week. If you haven’t already done it, you might be interested in clicking on the “Meet Your Fellow Trifectans” tab on our site and introducing yourself there. Hope to see you back on Monday for the new prompt.

  6. That first sentence really did the job of hooking me in immediately. Nice job of winnowing the details too! Well done!

  7. I really liked the flow of the piece, and I agree with the others, it’s tough with that word count limit — and with Joe, about the foreshadowing. Still, I enjoyed the suspense!

    • Thank you! I think I may tinker around with it a bit. With these short prompts, it’s so easy to write ’em and forget ’em. I should remember to go back and tighten some of these up.

  8. This was a wonderful story. I have to agree with Joe, if there is anything that would need a bit of an adjustment (chiropractic or otherwise) it would be to give a bit more up about Edward, or even where the heck you dropped us in at. It felt like the middle of a story I had to know more about to understand until almost the end. Joe’s right, people will wander if you don’t give them just a little bit more at the beginning…. otherwise… it was a fantastic take on the prompt and a wonderful story … do please continue!

    Staying Connected – A Trifecta Prompt Write

  9. I felt the buildup, for sure, but I agree with the the others, a few more clues might have been helpful – but no spoilers!

    I love the change of perspective. So well done!

    • I think I’m going to add a bit to this and repost it – the comments are all pointing out more or less the same flaws, which gives me something concrete to work on. *Love* helpful, constructive criticism!

  10. great description of the transfer – his perspective changes 180 degrees and he looks at his former chassis. I couldn’t figure out if he was a robot already, or if he was transferred from human to robot body, or human to humanish body, or what. Regardless, it worked well 🙂

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