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
“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
“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
“I’m not a robot. I’m an
“Whatever.” She took her coat
off, threw it on the bed, and sat
“How do we do this?” he asked.
“I’ve never been with a human.”
“Cash only,” she said. “Up
“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
He grinned at her. “One at a time,
“With a little profit thrown in.”
She kissed him and went to the
The clerk threw Manning off the balcony,
put three hundred on the
bed, and called Housekeeping.
comedy sketches have been published and/or produced in Canada, the U.S., Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Holland, India, Ireland, and the U.K. Recent stories were
published in Yellow Mama, Slippage Lit, 34 Orchard, Ripples In Space, and
Across The Margin, and he has stories forthcoming in The Literatus, Revolute,
Great Ape, Schlock!, The Bookends Review, Inklette, and Antipodean SF.