By William Kitcher
The videophone in the hotel room buzzed and Manning answered it. There was the grinning face of the idiot front desk clerk. “Yes?”
“Your sex machine is here,” said the clerk.
“Don’t call her that!” barked Manning. “She’s a...” He checked the photo on his tablet. “She’s an SW-3000.”
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry, sir. No disrespect intended. Shall I send her up?”
“Yes,” he said, and hung up.
Why was everyone like this, he thought. Why was there such disregard for common decency? Had things changed in the eight months he’d been gone or had he just never noticed it before?
Manning had recently returned from a project in the Arctic, researching the effects of oil drilling on the thawing of the permafrost. He’d been by himself the whole time, not trusting anyone he knew to be competent enough to work with him. He’d been lonely at times but that just helped him to focus on the work and get it done two months early, activating a bonus. He was airlifted to Churchill, then took a flight to the Soo, and on to Toronto. He planned to spend a couple of days there before he returned to San Diego, where the moral laws were stricter.
Checking in at the hotel earlier that day, the idiot clerk had immediately offered him “company, at a good rate, guaranteed beauty and satisfaction and realism.” Manning thought that was too crude. He passed on the proposition, went to his room, took a shower, and dressed in his best clothes.
He went to a restaurant, ate by himself, then went to an upscale bar where he thought he might find someone suitable.
The women were stuck-up, he thought, and he returned to the hotel, where he went to the bar for a couple of drinks as the night was still early. He attempted to talk to a couple of women but they, too, rebuffed him.
The front desk clerk had seen Manning return early, and approached him at the bar. He put a business card in front of Manning. It had a web address, phone number, and a simple logo which meant nothing to Manning.
“No pressure, Mr. Manning, sir. Just a suggestion. I noticed you didn’t do so well here.”
“Is that any of your business?”
“No sir, it’s not. I’m just saying. It’s an option. They’re not like us, but it’s pretty realistic. From personal experience—”
“Leave me alone!”
“Yes, sir.” The clerk left, sporting a leering imbecilic grin.
Manning picked up the card, twiddled it in his fingers, then took out his tablet.
Now, he sat on the bed and waited for the 3000. This wasn’t so bad, he thought. Besides, no one else would know. Except for that grinning monkey.
There was a knock and Manning opened the door. In glided the 3000. She was more beautiful than her photo, and so life-like.
“Well, hiya, Robbie,” she said.
“Robbie. Robot. That’s what we call ya.”
“I’m not a robot. I’m an android.”
“Whatever.” She took her coat off, threw it on the bed, and sat beside it.
“How do we do this?” he asked. “I’ve never been with a human.”
“Cash only,” she said. “Up front.”
“Sure. No problem.” Manning took his wallet out of his back pocket. “A thousand, right?”
Manning took a thousand out and held it out to her. She put her hand out. He came closer and put the money in her hand.
From under the coat, she pulled out a hatchet and swung it at the side of his head. It caught him flush on his ear and buried into the main processor. He hit the floor. She turned him over, and smashed into his other ear. Then she hammered twice into the back of his neck, severing the connection from his head to his body. Liquid gurgled out. He lay still.
She put her coat on, put the thousand in a pocket, and picked up Manning’s wallet. She put another thousand in her pocket.
She went to the door, opened it, and handed the wallet to the clerk.
He grinned at her. “One at a time, yes?”
“With a little profit thrown in.” She kissed him and went to the elevator.
The clerk threw Manning off the balcony, put three hundred on the bed, and called Housekeeping
About the Author
Bill’s stories, plays, and comedy sketches (and one poem!) have been published, produced, and/or broadcast in Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Czechia, England, Guernsey, Holland, India, Ireland, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, and the U.S.
His stories have appeared in Fiery Scribe Review, Ariel Chart, New Contrast, The Prague Review, Shotgun Honey, Once Upon A Crocodile, Pigeon Review, Yellow Mama, Slippage Lit, AntipodeanSF, and many other journals.
His novel, “Farewell And Goodbye, My Maltese Sleep”, will be published in October 2023 by Close To The Bone Publishing.
About the Illustrator
Michael D. Davis
Michael D. Davis was born in the late nineteen hundreds.
His origins rumored to be an egg, a mad scientist’s laboratory, or a manger, was, in reality, more mundane having been born and raised in a small town located somewhere in Iowa.
Descended from criminals, farmers, lunatics, oddballs, kooks, crackpots, and strangely the bigfoot Michael somehow turned out to be a semi-normal child. (Depending on who you asked.)
Grown up, he’s considered an eccentric by the locals as he goes around town in a top hat, tie, and hand painted shoes.
Michael started drawing cartoons when he was ten, and his skill has improved with his humor, which isn’t saying much. He is for the most part self-taught, only ever crediting the help of one great high school art teacher.
His art has been shown at his local library for multiple years only during October due to its odd macabre nature.