It Builds Character, They Said, or A Study in Steel

Considering this year is only four months old, I can’t say I’ve had much chance to get to know anyone new, much less anyone interesting. I don’t have a new partner, certainly not a new child, and definitely not a friendly barista because a) I’m too broke for fancy ass lattes and b) everyone in this rotten city is rude as all hell and I don’t even want to know what happened there.

Sooo it looks like we have to do fiction. How about something with robots. Do you like robots? I like robots.

——-

The clock above the giant white double doors struck seven and exactly one second later Dr. Cassian entered the surgical ward. Jay had been expecting her, as he did every day. Today her black hair was tied back tightly and the automatic scanner on his utility belt indicated increased heart rate as she came towards him with long strides, her work computer tucked firmly under one arm, green medical scrubs crinkled around her boxy frame as if she had put them on in a hurry. “Morning, Jay,” she said, her tone trying for nonchalance and failing.

“Good morning, Dr. Cassian. You are stressed.”

Jay was not easily fooled, he was an excellent observer. She didn’t even know why she kept trying. The faked nonchalance made room for sarcasm. “Tell me something I don’t know. Full scan.”

Jay nodded obediently, tapping on the flat screen of his report card. “You are fit to work, however I must remind you of the importance of sleep.”

“Yeah, then I’ll remind you we’re understaffed.” She cocked her dark head to the side, indicating he should follow her. Dr. Cassian walked over to the medical dispenser machine, inserting her work ID and pressing buttons on the small screen at the side. “Anything from the night shift?”

“No unusual occurrences. Patient Vallius Sbornak in room 203 complained about pain in his new hip. He was given non-morphine based medication. He did not seem happy about that.”

Dr. Cassian sighed. She had had a feeling this patient would try to get high during his stay here, there was always at least one. She half listened to Jay rattling off details about her other patients, all of them doing very well, as she was becoming more and more annoyed with the medical dispenser; the machine kept refusing her order.

“Your schedule for today has been sent to your personal computer. Would you like to go over it?”

“Yeah, sure,” she said absently, still punching in numbers. Was there something wrong with her ID card? “Work, you stupid thing,” she murmured.

Jay watched her for a few polite seconds while continuing with his report, observing the features of her sun-tanned face growing ever crosser, the bone structure beneath suggesting Easter European ancestry. “You have already reached the tolerance limit for jumpstart this week, Dr. Cassian.”

“What? That’s not even possible!”, she exclaimed, her thin dark eyebrows raised so high they nearly vanished into her hairline.

“I can send the report to your computer,” Jay offered helpfully.

“No, thanks.” Dr. Cassian massaged the bridge of her long nose. “What about a boost shot?”

“Not with your family history of cardiac arrest.”

“Condensed caffeine?”

“I’m afraid not.”

“Coffee? Is coffee still okay? Please tell me coffee is okay.”

“Coffee is perfectly fine.”

It was going to be a long day and it would feel even longer without enhancers, but coffee was better than nothing. “Great, in that case get me the biggest cup they have in the cafeteria and have them send it to my position, I’m going to do my rounds now. See you later, Jay.”

Jay opened another window on his report card and tapped in her order. “I suggest I write you down for a day off tomorrow.”

“Understaffed!”, she shouted over her shoulder.

“I have forwarded the suggestion to management. The average waiting time for a reply on a non-urgent issue is currently set at six hours.”

Sometimes she felt like yelling at him. How could he keep his manner so calm even as he was deciding things over her head? He was infuriating sometimes. Dr. Cassian took a deep breath. She shouldn’t take it out on him. He meant well. At least she assumed that he did. After all, that was what he was here for. It was probably for the best that he didn’t look human, or else she wouldn’t have been able to hold back. Yelling at humans was easy. Yelling at robotic hospital assistants was futile at best, and his svelte metal frame and rectangular digital eyes were a good reminder of this. It saved her energy and by god, she needed that energy today.

She booted her work computer and went over her schedule. Oh yes. It was going to be a very long day.

Jay meanwhile was greeting head nurse Royce, coming in uncharacteristically late. He made the mistake of commenting on it.

“Don’t you give me any of that, J3. Full scan,” Dr. Cassian heard her say before she rounded the corner.

——

Yeah, I’m really not one for description. Any thoughts?

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