EP147: Pressure

By Jeff Carlson.
Read by Graydancer (of The Ropecast).
First appeared in Strange Horizons, August 2003.
Closing music: “I Crush Everything” by Jonathan Coulton.

I spent the longest five weeks of my life in that tank and in a deeper pool, healing, testing, practicing. My feet and toes had been augmented much like my hands, my thighs shortened to maximize the available muscle. I was damned quick. Relearning construction techniques with my new fingers was sometimes frustrating, yet my progress was real and those periods of solitary labor became important to me.

At the surface, in the shallows, doctors poked and prodded and put me through redundant tortures. I had been warned that the study of my new body would be extensive and did my best not to fear or hate them, but I’d never imagined such intense scrutiny. During my years as a SEAL, I had been like a bug under a microscope, constantly evaluated and scored. Here I was the microscope, my body the only lens through which they could measure their work. Stenstrom tried to be my buddy, as he had always tried, joking and asking what I’d do with the money, yet his possessiveness was obvious. “We’ll be famous,” he said. “We’ll change the world.”

I wasn’t a slave or a pet, exactly, but I was anxious to get started. To get away from them.

Rated PG. Contains moderate violence.

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