fixing you

this story features css styling as a part of the storytelling. at one point, an animation is used which features high contrast colors in a phasing pattern. to ensure accessiblity, this animation is opt-in (note: enabling css animations requires javascript).

thank you to iliana for helping with the css.

darkness, silence, nothingness. no memories, no context, and, without any subject or object, perhaps there's not even a "you" at the moment. just a peaceful, endless void, experiencing itself as the entire universe, free of concepts like time or shape.

suddenly, something floats through the nothing. it is a highly disorienting change; a first sense.





what is that? it feels like... little fluctuations in air pressure? something about them is familiar. you suddenly remember. it's called "sound". there are different kinds of sound. that highly modulated sound is different from the clicking you can also hear. it's called "spoken language" and it is used to communicate ideas between bodies. you hear your language processor kick online, faltering.

"that fall did a number on you, huh?"

you can't respond, let alone see the source of the voice (the world is still dark), but something about it is reassuring. you sit for a while, and listen to the pleasant clicking of tools (tools? right, tools) behind you.

suddenly, a new sensation. you feel a switch flip on your back, with a metallic click. waves of electricity course throughout your synthetic body, overwhelming you (you would shudder, if only you weren't still frozen in place). you suddenly notice the breeze from a fan tickling your skin.

the voice says softly "tactiles should be online now. let's try to get your visual system working." you feel a screw tighten on your back, giving you more chills.

tiny little squares appear within the darkness. dots of red, green, or blue. only a few solitary pixels (yes, that's the word, pixels), shimmering randomly like digital stars in the night sky. you can hear her chew idly on something hard and plastic, and she sets the screwdriver down.

with a twist of a knob, the solitary pixels cascade outwards, filling the darkness with delirious color.

"how's that?" asks the comforting voice. at the same time, some of the visual noise appears to shift around somewhat, but not discernable as any particular shape. you can't answer or even move in response.

"oh, right" she says. you feel her unplugging patch cables inside your back and reconfiguring them. jacks plug into ports with satisfying, tactile snaps, and suddenly you feel your muscles relax abruptly. you collapse onto what feels like a table, unprepared.

you prop yourself back up (you can move again! finally) and try to look around, but the glitchy mess of colors in your vision provides you no useful information. still, you flex your hands experimentally and run them over your body, feeling the hem of your long socks, the pleats of your skirt, your bare torso (a twinge of embarrassment at that), and your soft long hair.

"that's better," the voice says. "can you speak?"

you open your mouth and try to say something experimentally, but nothing comes out, like the words are stuck in you. you shake your head no.

you hear a sigh and a clicking tongue from her. "your ProCAS module must be busted too. i'm just going to swap yours out. one moment."

something gets pulled out of the open service panel on your back, and you can hear her pawing through containers of electronics. "ah, here we go" she says, and plugs something else into you. "can you say 'all that dazzling dawn has put asunder' for me?"

you open your mouth to speak, but instead you hear "e tvujko tvʊjko tʌodidʊuəəəəəəə aalŋɪθirivɛ kakikikikiii ŋɪθ"

"needs more tuning. hold on." dials click on your back. "try again?"

"nonrepresentable dreaming uniform returning timberless lake qualia th-"


"each who irritant sunrise would set scattered."


"all that dazzling dawn has put asunder."

"attagirl!" she says. you feel her pat you on the head. "now, can you see anything?"

"just a mess of colors" you say.

"okay. tell me when you start to see the room." she starts twisting more knobs on your back, and with each turn, the shimmering visual noise starts twisting, and vague shapes start appearing. suddenly you are able to make out a glitchy view of the workshop around you.

"there!" you say. "but it's really hard to see."

"okay. i'm going to do a system reboot to fix that. it can be scary, but it'll be okay. hold on to me, if you need to."

you feel a heavy toggle switch flip on your back, and the sensation of falling overwhelms you as your various subsystems start to enter shutdown procedures. shudders crash through your body like waves and the world decoheres around you. you embrace the technician, and she hugs you tight, and her arms feels like climbing an endless tower, and you look up at her, except her face is impossible to understand, and your visual feed doubles and tears, the room is full of interobjects, the walls shift and breathe, and then it's a kaleidoscope, a hyperbolic tiling, a swirl of abstract colors-

"shhh, it's okay. i've got you."

and then pixel by pixel, it dissolves to quiet.

darkness, silence, nothingness.

and then the world returns. soft golden sunlight streams through the windows, and a fan whispers in the corner of the room, next to a microfiche machine displaying circuit diagrams. you can once again feel the clothes on your body, the table underneath you, air flowing softly over your skin.

and clear from the fog of damage, it hits you why you recognize the voice of the technician whose lap your head is laying in. you've been seeing her for repairs for years.

"hey", says winter. it takes you a moment to get your bearings as she sits you up. "feeling better?"

you could speak, but you don't want to. you nod your head yes.

"good. stay out of trouble for me, okay? i don't like seeing my patients get so broken."

you nod yes again and smile.

"good girl." winter ruffles your hair, helps you put on your shirt, and walks you out of the shop.