Woodford, NSW, Australia
The 1957 Harley Davidson Panhead slid off the road at 140 kph and rammed into a fifty metre tall angophora tree at the side of the slippery back road, leading from Angola Drive to the Pacific Highway. Ben Deevers felt the impact and saw his hands melting as the fuel tank exploded and flames enveloped his body. He felt his skull crack open like a dropped Easter egg, then he mercifully shifted into blackness.
He climbed upwards through the vertigo as voices swam around his head, and visions of people flickered before him. They finally settled into a meaningful fusion of dialogue and images and he saw he was surrounded by doctors and nurses discussing his injuries. The oldest of the group, seeing him awake, smiled and gently spoke to him.
‘Mr Deevers. How are you feeling?’ Ben answered, but his voice was strange; his mouth seemed sewn slightly shut.
‘I haven’t got any pain. I think I had an accident on my Harley.’ Then Dr Lang’s face grew solemn.
‘I’m afraid we have some very bad news. I want you to brace yourself. But first, I feel I should tell you of the extent of your injuries.’ Ben steadied himself for the news. The doctor continued.
‘Your arms and legs are gone I’m afraid. Your central body was completely crushed from your neck to your pelvis, and your back is totally destroyed. As for your head … it … I’m sorry, but it is very badly burnt. You are very lucky your brain was not exposed. Now, having said that, are you ready for the really bad news?’
Ben stalled for a minute to count up the cost. This was the price he paid for his stupidity.
‘Go ahead, doctor. I think I know what’s coming.’
The doctor let out a breath and looked around at the conclave of sombre faces. ‘Mr Deevers …’
Ben shut his eyes and interjected. ‘Doctor … Ben, if you please. After all you’ve done for me.’
The doctor smiled. ‘Very well Ben.’ He paused, then continued. ‘I’m afraid the really bad news you need to hear is that there can be no recovery of ….’
Ben interjected again. ‘No recovery? But … you know if that’s the case … I’ll never be able to ride … that was the only …’
The doctor held up his hands in acknowledgement of Ben’s grief and loss. ‘Yes Ben. The police say your Harley was completely destroyed. And I remember you telling me it was the last of its kind. Now we should talk about you. With all this expense on exotic cars and motor cycles, have you enough for another operation? The massive Wall Street crash of the last few days – it has affected everyone.’
Ben looked worried for the first time. ‘I know doctor. It hasn’t been easy. The underground petrol tank kept things going. I can always get a Harley replicated, but … it isn’t the same. A bit like …’
The doctor rolled his eyes in frustration. ‘Mr Deevers … Ben. What about you? Have you enough? As I told you there have been many modifications and improvements lately. Do you want the original or something new?’
‘No doctor. I can afford it. Give me the latest. Maybe a little less imposing would be better, and a few defects would be okay.’
The doctor looked around jovially to his assemblage and clapped his hands. ‘Well everybody. Roll out number 467. I think that will be suitable. Doctor Emery, will you please see to Ben’s previous hologram and do a head moulding for me? Maybe a very slight bulge on the nose, and a little receding of the temples. Thank you. Well Ben, we should have you out of there soon and into … well … into your old self, really.’
Ben smiled and chatted to the doctor for a while about the modifications. These included some that made him delighted that he had indeed had his accident. The latest humanoid robotic body now included a fully workable sexual system to ensure satisfactory orgasm. Recent developments now ensured other functions had caught up with other organs. This meant that defecation and urinary systems were identical to human structures, making his daily storage duct emptying obsolete, and adding toilet paper to his grocery list. Hair would now grow on his face and head if he wanted.
The doctor also had upgraded taste systems and enabled moderate alcohol intake to actually affect Ben’s android brain which held the vault for his ID. Senses of pain and skin sensation had also been upgraded. This was essential for Ben’s immersion of his ID into a natural, though robotic, working body.
‘Now if you are ready for transfer Ben, we’ll start shutdown and begin transferring your ID tomorrow morning. So good night for now Ben.’ The doctor grinned down at him. Ben beamed back.
‘You know doctor, I’m so glad my late father put so much money into computer robotics, and I’m so lucky a great neurosurgeon like you joined the team.’
The doctor held out his palms and shrugged his shoulders. ‘Well Ben. If you hadn’t crashed your 1971 Ford GTHO and ended up as our first patient, our project would never have gotten off the ground. And Ben …’ The doctor wagged his finger. ‘No more riding one hundred year old motor cycles at dangerous speeds, my boy.’
Ben smiled. ‘Yes – I promise – goodnight doctor.’
Editor’s note: Panhead was originally published on narratorSSS, but as we will no longer be publishing to narratorSSS, it has been republished here for inclusion in narratorAUSTRALIA Volume 5.