HAYWIRE | Teen Ink


May 15, 2021
By Myst, Bella Vista, Arkansas
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Myst, Bella Vista, Arkansas
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Author's note:

I'm an independent writer that always finds a way of writing stories about life and/or death, often in unique ways. HAYWIRE is a sci-fi horror, the first of hopefully many thrillers I wish to write.

The author's comments:

as it is a short story, it's only "one" chapter.

Jax flipped the coin he had in his hand. He watched it go up in the air, watching the neon lights that lit up the city streets glint off the nickel-plated relic of the past. Such a thing was an oddity in the year 2043, after the United States and countless other countries eliminated the need for change of any type. Everything was paid for in Standard, often just written as $tnd, and taxes were always rounded up for ease of use.

The quarter fell back into the palm of Jax’s hand, face up. He looked at the coin for a second, and put it back into the back pocket of his black jeans. He stopped leaning against the cement wall next to the window, and stood up. Jax looked around the small old apartment, which he wasn’t alone in. Vance was crashed on the couch with his arm over his eyes, while the two others in the room, Rime and DJ, were minding their own business flipping through TV channels or scrolling through the net. Vance was a bigger guy, very gruff and pessimistic at times, but nonetheless part of the group. Rime was the group’s techie, always tinkering or looking at the latest hardware. As for DJ, he was the resident partier or comedian. Although his tendency to jack around gave off the wrong vibe sometimes, he was rather intelligent underneath all the dopamine chasing he did.

“Anything new, Rime?” Jax asked.

“Notta.  Though there were some rumors about mysterious murders floating around the net, but I don’t buy ‘em.” He responded, still fixated on his browsing.

“Ya mean the ones about the bot?” DJ piped up.

“Those are the ones.” Rime said

“Y’all care to fill me in?” Jax responded.

Rime told Jax about the string of murders at the hospitals, supposedly done by a crazy medical droid that had gained artificial intelligence. The rumor was brought about because the wounds that were inflicted on the victims were supposedly too surgical to be the work of a human. Net users coined the term “Doc Death” as the nickname for the supposed killer. However to Jax,  it was all a bunch of jibber jabber.

“Can’t y’all shut up? I’m trying to sleep here.” Vance said.

“Maybe if you didn’t stay out all night at Exotica, you wouldn’t look like a Doc Death victim on our couch.” DJ retorted.

“Screw you, I know you know it was worth it,  Mr. Partyman” Vance jokingly said back.

Jax plopped down on the chair next to the couches, so they were all in a sort of semi-circle, and started to scroll through the net himself. It didn’t take long though for him to find something that caught his eye.

“Rime. flip over to channel two.” Jax said.

“What for?” He responded.

“Just do it, man.”

Rime flipped over to channel two, which was the news station. Although most of it was the boring political bull and $tnd prices, It was different tonight. The reporter on screen was a young woman, in her early twenties or so. Apparently the supposed “Doc Death'' wasn't a single person or bot at all. They were all separate instances of medical droids malfunctioning, apparently attempting surgery when it most definitely wasn’t needed. Jax didn’t know what to think of it all, but he and his pals were mostly glad it wasn’t AI. Even in 2043, artificial intelligence wasn’t something that had been invented yet. Or at least Jax hoped. 

“Well...damn. What a mood killer…” DJ said, not noticing the irony of what he said. “Anyone down for drinks tonight?” he added.

“We all know you are, DJ.” Jax said. “But sure, why not?”

“I’m down.” Rime said back.

“So am I.” Vance yawned.

“Are you sure you’re good to go, Vance?” Jax asked his friend.

“I’m good, don’t worry about me. I think I got enough sleep even if I was interrupted by a certain someone.” He stared daggers at DJ.

“Alright then, no time like the present, huh?”


Jax, along with the others, walked out into the night on Proph Ave. The group walked down the neon lit street, away from the old, run-down apartment building they lived in. The rent was cheap, and they all shared the space, so it was a good deal. Jax admired the new age buildings around them, a lot of them being very futuristic in a way. But said buildings also stuck out like a sore thumb, especially against the older constructions. All the streets were now basically sidewalks, save for the occasional car, thanks to the miracle of flying personal vehicles. However, people still littered the street. The Red Eagle, which they were all headed to, was only a couple of blocks down the road, so it didn’t take long for them to arrive. The bird above the door told them they were in the right place.

 “Ladies first.” DJ said as he opened the door and waved for them to go in.

“If that’s the case, then by all means ma’am.” Vance said as he pushed him through the door. The rest followed suit.

Once inside they were greeted by the sweet sound of live jazz. Jax wondered how live it really was, since the band was composed of just droids. But it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. The Red Eagle was a unique bar located in Lower Bay, a district of New Calradia. It was styled to look vintage, with hanging lights giving off a slight orange glow to the room. Not too dark, but just dim enough to set a relaxing mood. Jax walked over to their usual table, a booth to the left of the actual bar and not too close to the music. They all sat down in their usual places.

“Thank god for the weekends, huh?” Jax said.

“Yeah no kidding, beats delivering pizzas from Zonie’s.” DJ added.

Vance looked at DJ. “You still work there?”

“Yeah why wouldn’t I? I’m happy doing it and we all bring in enough to keep up with the rent, so I’m happy.”

“Just thought you’d be doing something different by now.”

“I thought you knew I still worked there, but here we are,” DJ chuckled and took a brief pause. “Been a while since we’ve come here, all together. Like a small family.”

“Bro, we came here last week.” Rime says.

“That sounds like a while to me. Especially with everything that’s been happening in New Calradia.” DJ said.

Jax understood what he meant. From a corrupt new mayor, to new advancements being made, to what seemed to be murderous robots? It was a lot, even down in the Lower Bay, where all sorts of wild stuff happened. But hey, Jax thought, I’ll be fine if I just avoid the hospital. He wondered about the robots themselves. Was it just a coverup? Could Doc Death be more than a myth or rumor? His train of thought was interrupted when a familiar face approached the table.

“Can I get you boys anything?”

It was Tracy. She worked at the Red Eagle for as long as they had been there, but she seemed happy to work as a waitress.

“Trace, surprised you haven't been replaced by a bot yet.” Jax said.

“Well a robot doesn’t give much in the way of customer service, does it? Speaking of which, what the hell do y’all want? I’m guessing the usual.”

“Got me there. And yes please.” Jax told her.

“Trace, you better watch the language. Hate to see our favorite waitress get fired over some bad words.” DJ said to Tracy.

“I don’t think Mr. Flammang cares. This isn’t grade school, you’re in a bar for christ’s sake. Now back to the topic of drinks, I’ll be right back with those.”

Jax watched her walk away from the table and looked back at his mates. Rime had pulled out his phone and was scrolling through who knows what, and DJ and Vance are talking about the latest news. According to Vance, more med droids were “malfunctioning”, but the NCPD didn’t believe that to be the case anymore. Jax couldn’t help but join the conversation.

“So what are they saying?”

“They’re saying that these cases are too connected to just be some droids malfunctioning,  and that it has to be the work of a killer. Take it with a grain of salt though.” Vance says.

“Uh-huh. Gotcha.” Jax nods.

“Ugh, excuse me I gotta use the bathroom. I’ll be right back.” Vance adds. 

Jax watched Vance get up and move his way through the booth, and in what felt like slow motion, Jax watched Vance trip over. He went falling down face first, where his head met the end of a table and crumbled to the floor. Jax stood up immediately, followed by Rime and DJ, who rushed to the aid of their friend. Several screams were heard from the room, from other patrons who witnessed the event. They turned Vance over, only to find a bloody gash in his forehead, that he was out cold, and he wasn’t breathing normally.


Jax could tell he was panicked, but then again, they all were. The injury looked serious, and Vance wasn’t waking up, even if he was just unconscious. Vance had to have suffered massive trauma to his head, and was bleeding profusely. 

It didn’t take long for the ambulance to arrive, maybe a couple minutes at most. Vance was loaded up into the back of the van by the paramedics, and Jax got in with him, telling the others to follow them to the hospital. The ambulance took off into the air, once again thanks to advancements in technology. When they arrived at the hospital, Vance was immediately rushed to the ER. Jax had been told to stay behind, so he took a seat in the waiting room, until Rime and DJ got back.

When they did arrive shortly after, Jax told them that Vance was going to be ok, but probably needed to spend the night, just to be safe. It seemed no amount of new technology could beat time and the healing process.

“Jesus. At least he’ll be ok. Everything happened so quickly, y’know?” DJ said.

“Don’t worry man. Look, I’ll stay the night with him, alright?” Jax reassured him.

“Alright, Alright.” DJ sighed. “Just be careful, ok? I don’t like Doc Death still supposedly running around.”

Jax also sighed. He had forgotten all about it on the way to the hospital, but now that he was reminded, he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t a bit on edge about the whole situation. But he knew he’d be fine. And so would Vance.

Time passed both quickly and slowly to Jax. It didn’t take long for him to pass out in the chair he was sitting in, it had been a long night and morning would come soon enough.


Vance awoke to the feeling of metal pressing against his throat, almost digging in. He slowly opened his eyes to what he thought was a doctor. When his eyes focused and adjusted to the low light of the room, he saw that this doctor was covered in blood. Some of it looked fresh, and the rest looked old. But that wasn’t what made his eyes go wide. It’s what the doctor said to him:

“Shhhhhhhhh. It’ll all be over soon, don’t worry…and by the end of it...they’ll just think it was a bot gone haywire…” The doctor gave a psychotic grin.

The last thing Vance felt was his neck being slit by a scalpel. With surgical precision.

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