Her limp was much less pronounced than it had been, but she’d had years of physiotherapy to learn to live with it. Even still, a keen observer could detect the slight dip in her hips whenever she took a step, and the way she favored her left leg whenever she stood at rest.

The accident had shattered her pelvis, though describing it like that made it seem as though it had broken into a million pieces, like a ceramic plate tossed onto a kitchen floor in the heat of an argument. Nothing so dramatic, the bone had cracked and separated in three places in a burst of excruciating, paralyzing pain. Once her rescuers had peeled the remains of her subcompact car apart with their pneumatic jaws of life, they had removed her from the wreck with as much care as possible and strapped her to an orange plastic backboard, the kind with fist-sized holes along its edges to allow for easy carry. Rendered immobile, her lower body a universe of screaming pain, her saviors had then slung her to a helicopter for airlift to the George Alphonse Memorial Hospital, where the finest bone surgeons in the state attended to her horrific injuries. It had been the professional opinion of three of the four specialists who oversaw her admission that she would never walk again. It was the fourth doctor, Emil Merin, who had rejected those opinions and recommended her for a controversial and experimental procedure that leveraged the latest advancements in nanotechnology.

She was injected with millions of tiny robots whose preprogrammed routines propelled them to their destinations along the ragged edges of her destroyed pelvis, where they then anchored themselves and began manufacturing the tools needed to re-knit the damaged bone. The only objection to the procedure had come from the question of containing the autonomous machines, both during the operation and after. Emil assured the family and insurance agents that the robots were only good for one thing—the task they had been assigned—and after they completed their work, they would become biologically inert and pass through the body like any other waste product.

Emil was a fantastic salesman, and that made him an excellent liar.

2015.04.10 – 2023.11.01

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