A single tear emits from a haggard eye as the strained finger misses its mark. As the tip graced the panel instead of the heavily worn button, a squealing of struggling machinery wailed in the dusty rafters of the warehouse.
The sound that followed could be mistaken for a bomb going off.
Emergency stop. The machine powers down, and all is quiet for a moment, save for a low chorus of labored breathing and groans.
A door opens and slams shut, and a purposeful rhythm of footsteps approaches.
"Damn it. God damn it. Again?"
A phone receiver is lifted, and four buttons are pressed.
"Maintenance to line two. Maintenance, to line two."
A tall man with a stark white hard hat taps his foot impatiently as two men approach leisurely with a squeaky cart. A trembling hand reaches for the tall man, and he leans just out of its reach with a scowl.
"Take your fuckin' time, why don't you? Do you know how much the backlog is? We need to run." His face turning red as he seethed.
"Relax. We're here, aren't we? Needed to make sure we had the right tools. What happened?"
"Missed a cut. Crashed the machine. Do you think maybe the legs could use a bit of work?"
The haggard eyes watched them converse as if they were invisible.
Lights clicked on and they examined the legs.
"Please… help me…"
The mechanics sighed in annoyance.
"The tendons are severing. It's a wonder it's still standing… but we can do it. Y'know, if you don't want the down time, you could always fix it right."
"Let me go… please…"
"Nonsense. You know how hard it is to find ones like this? They're expensive. Besides, this one's still good."
"You're the boss." They shrugged,
The muffled screams were covered by the sounds of searing flesh and sizzling metal. The maintenance team worked quickly, fusing flesh and steel to ensure the limbs wouldn't be able to give out again. The bright arcs shed light on the broken equipment, withered skeletal structure patched with metal rods and plates. The kept fusing all the way up the thigh, connecting it to an already heavily modded lower back.
"Should be good now. Baby it this time, will ya?" One of the maintenance guys said as they wheeled the squeaky cart away.
"I've been babying it." The boss said, and turned the machine back on. The line roared to life, illuminating the barely conscious, wild-eyed operator.
The boss looked at it for a second, went to walk away, then stopped himself. He cleared his throat and leaned in close. The operator flinched against the harness that kept him attached to the control box. His finger trembled, aimed at the worn button once more.
"If you don't run this line, who's going to pay off your credit debt? Hmm? And smile, will ya? It's Friday."
submitted by /u/A_Hawaiian_Shirt