The Arm Does Not OperateĀ 

“Error. Error. The arm does not operate.”

“What do you mean the arm does not operate?”

“I’m sorry Doctor,” the machine whirred. “The arm does not operate.”

“It needs to operate Karen. We have a delicate surgery to perform.”

“I’m sorry Doctor,” Karen said again, “the arm does not operate. Would you like me to transfer the patient?”

“No, no, there isn’t time,” he sighed. “I’ll just do the surgery myself. Karen initiate manual override.”


“Doctor wait. This is a very delicate surgery. Are you sure you want to do this without the machine’s help?” A nurse asked.

The Doctor spun around to face the boy. “Are you insinuating something son?”

“N-n-no sir.”

“Good. Now,” he looked at the nurses standing in the back control room. They were wearing dark blue uniforms, indicative of the hospital that they were in, and looking at him. A few were passing hurried glances between him and the patient lying on the table in room behind them. A tinted glass panel separated the machine control room from the operating room. One could see out, but it was impossible to see in.

“I need all of you in there with me. When I ask for something, do it. Don’t question. Time is of the essence people. Get washed up and let’s go.”

It was a matter of minutes before the crew was around the patient on the table donning old fashioned surgical gloves and masks. The Doctor started calling out orders, the nurses complied without hesitation. Slowly the Doctor removed the hair from the man’s head and peeled back his skin. His skull was pink upon first glance, but was promptly split open. With the machinery not working, the Doctor had to guess where his target was, but he remembered it being somewhere in the middle of the back, probably somewhere between the parietal lobe and the occipital lobe.

Botching the operating was not an option. The man could suffer severe brain trauma if not death, not to mention he would lose his job and potentially his life if he didn’t find the chip.

He cleared away the skull halves and looked at the human brain. It was a wonder. Such a small and delicate organ had complete control over a man. One misstep, one twitch, and it would be all over. It would be so easy to both the operation, he thought. Tell them I did my best but that he didn’t make it. The operation was just too much. All I’d have to do was put these tweezers a little too deep in the occipital lobe…

No, he thought. I could never kill a man over a computer chip.

He began moving the brain around, looking carefully for the small metallic object that had been planted there.

“Error,” Karen said, “the arm does not operate.”

He ignored her and focused on the surgery.

“Error. The arm does not operate.”

“Error. The arm does not operate.”

“We get it,” one of the nurses shouted.

“Error. The arm does not operate. Error. The arm does not operate. Error-” the machine droned on.

“Shut up!” The nurses’s voice increased in volume. “Just shut up already!” He detached himself from holding the skin back from the man’s skull and threw his arms up on the tinted glass. He stared at Karen’s “eye”, sitting above the tinted window.

“Get back here!” The Doctor shouted. “Ignore the machine. We have to get this surgery done.”

The man walked back and retook his position.

The Doctor carefully continued his prodding. He pushed brain matter back and around, searching for a metal glint. And then there, there it was! He reached in and set his tweezers around the chip.

Gentle, he thought. He tugged, but the chip didn’t move. Once again he tried, and once again the chip failed to budge.

“What’s wrong Doctor?”

“It won’t move.” He thought quickly. Removing the chip by force could potentially cause brain damage and bleeding, but the chip was the top priority.

“Error. The arm does not operate.” Karen droned on in the background.

Her words quickly infiltrated the Doctor’s thoughts. Pull out…error…chip is the top priority…the arm does not operate…potential brain damage…error…the arm does not operate…the arm does not operate…the arm does not operate…

“Karen, what is the code number for your error?”

“Error. The arm does not operate.” Karen replied.

The nurses looked up at the camera.

The Doctor yanked the chip out of the man’s brain, causing it to bleed and tear. At that moment, the nurses collapsed to the floor and the Doctor fell to his knees. He felt as if he was choking.

“Karen,” he rasped, “help us.”

“Error,” Karen replied, “the arm does not operate.”

“Karen. Emergency protocol.”

“Error. The arm does not operate.”

“Karen…” the Doctor slipped into unconsciousness.