Christopher’s neck was bruised where they’d held him down while forcibly removing his arms and legs. He’d fought them hard, but it had been pointless; here he was, dumped by the side of the road in an old damp car seat, helpless and homeless.
Tears were rolling down his face and he could do nothing about them.
How could it have come to this? Less than a year ago he’d taken an affordable loan from a company that owned massive driverless trucks. He’d replaced his arms and legs with prosthetics to become a highly paid and highly sought after new-breed trucker with enough strength to load and unload the huge cargos.
Now look at him. Useless. Slumped on a dirty seat in the gutter with the small begging bowl the bailiffs had graciously left in front of him.
A group of people approached and his hopes rose. As they got close he called out. ‘Please. Help me.’
One of the women strolled across and stood over him. ‘What happened?’
‘Couldn’t keep up the payments,’ he said. ‘Will you help?’ He jutted his chin towards the bowl.
Her husband joined her. ‘You didn’t think about this when you put the rest of us out of work, did you?’
‘No. It has to be said. I didn’t care for his type then and I most certainly don’t care for them now.’ He spun the seat around with the tip of his foot and left Christopher facing the wall. ‘C’mon, let’s get out of here.’
So, it had come to this. At first it’d been great – the wages were high and the loan repayments comparatively low. The envy of former co-workers was sweet and the job was a doddle.
He’d spent days on end sitting in his cab as it drove itself from one end of the country to the other. At random intervals the truck would require a button to be pressed to prove he was alert, but his right arm was configured to send a small jolt to his brain to prompt him. And, his left arm would deliver hits of amphetamine to keep him awake whenever he squeezed his thumb and fourth finger together.
It was easy.
Then it began. The trucks were constantly upgraded with ever more sophisticated systems that required upgrade after upgrade to his limbs. He’d increased the loan to buy the upgrades, but it hadn’t been long before he’d fallen behind with the payments.
He stared at the wall wishing he could punch it.
A stray dog with a human skull in its mouth stood nearby, watching. ‘Good boy,’ he said, hoping he hadn’t betrayed his fear. The dog dropped the skull and snarled. He snarled back, tried to rock himself off the seat but failed and felt a surge of the toxic mix of anger and hopelessness.
‘Get out of it,’ shouted a woman from behind him. He tensed, expecting more abuse as a stone hit the ground just in front of the dog.
‘Hi,’ she said over his shoulder.
‘Piss off,’ he shouted.
‘We can help.’
She knelt down, dropping a cheap prosthetic leg next to him. ‘Honestly, we’re here to help you. What happened?’
‘I couldn’t keep up the payments so they repossessed my car, my house and eventually my limbs. Oh, and then they dumped me here. Satisfied?’
‘Come with us, we can fit you up with these,’ she said tapping the leg.
‘I told you. I’ve zero cash. Absolutely zero. Nothing.’
Two men lifted the seat with Christopher still in it and strolled towards a white van parked on the other side of the street.
‘Oi! What do you think you’re doing,’ he shouted.
She talked as she walked alongside. ‘We’re a charity. We rescue the victims of these disgusting corporations. It’s what we do.’
‘Yeah? Forgive me if I don’t believe you.’
As they lifted him into the back of the van, he recognised the arms and legs on the floor.
‘Hey, they’re mine,’ he shouted.
‘Shhh,’ she said. ‘I know. They’re unique, so once repossessed they have no commercial value. They throw them away and at night we sneak in and steal them back.’
He lifted his head to look her in the eyes.
She laughed. ‘Then we find the owner and reunite them. Neat, eh?’
He smiled as she wiped the tears from his face.
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