Terry and the Techno-Frog
I wasn’t always a pile of bones. I
once was a real person, flesh
and innards and all. I used to sit on the sofa, walk to the store, work at a
desk. Wore shoes, I did, and combed my hair. That was all before I came across
the techno-frog. My curious new pet.
Saw it outside the window at work. Sitting
in a flowerbed in the
dappled shade of a gardenia shrub, metallic green like a big scarab beetle. Big
amber LED eyes aglow. Somebody lost their very expensive toy. Somebody’s gonna
be in lots of trouble, I told myself. How about I go out and retrieve it, post
a notice on the company bulletin board and in the monthly newsletter, lost and
found section. Or . . .
How about I just keep it for myself.
It was about as big as a toad, actually.
That is, about the size of
my fist. When my fist had flesh and muscles and tendons. Hold it in your hand,
this techno-frog, and it vibrated, made a pleasingly soft “brrrrr” sound. Make
eye contact with it, and its eyes dilated and their yellow melted into a lovely
shade of amethyst. How could anyone misplace this delightful little machine? I
slipped it into my insulated lunch bag.
At home, I placed it in a crystal bowl, one
that belonged to my
Gran. Then put the bowl in the center of my coffee table. What a conversation
piece it will be! I imagined friends and neighbors oohing and cooing over it,
as I slapped their greedy hands away. I picked it up, turned it over. Where’s
the little hatch for batteries? Where’s the tiny port for a USB jack? How does
a techno-frog charge?
I held it up to my cheek. It purred. The
vibration sank past my
skin and went deep into my bones. How very soothing. It made me drowsy, so I
stretched out on the sofa, with the techno-frog resting on my chest. I dozed,
Next week was the same old routine: sleep,
work, eat, sleep, work .
. . you get the picture. Except the sleeping was the best part. Such
intricately detailed dreams I had, sleeping with Ophelia. That was the name I
gave my techno-frog. I hear you asking: How could it be male or female, if it’s
a bot? Just felt that way to me, that’s all. You can name yours whatever you
want; I won’t judge.
Co-workers commented on my weight loss. That
was good, at first, as
I was a bit on the heavy side. Seems I was sleeping more and eating less.
Eventually, and not surprisingly, my work suffered, as it was more and more
difficult for me to concentrate on anything. Anything other than getting back
to Ophelia. And sleeping with her on my increasingly bony chest.
She hummed all through the night, little
dynamo that she was. She’d
accrued such a reserve of power, that she could hop out of the crystal bowl,
and bop around my apartment, always just out of my reach. It wore me out to
chase her down, but I loved that game. When I couldn’t play anymore, I’d lay
down and she’d come hop-hop-hopping back to me. Plopping down on my chest as my
Soon, my clothes hung on me like I was a
forsaken scarecrow in the
middle of a neglected cornfield—so I just quit wearing them. That was after I
stopped showing up at work, or answering my text messages, email, or phone.
Communicating with the outside world was just too much trouble; besides, I was
quite comfortable down here on the floor.
Then some nosy someone called for a welfare
check. When the
investigators knocked, of course I told them they could come in. I guess they
couldn’t hear me, as they popped the lock on my door and rushed in like a crush
of sweaty footballers. Ophelia watched from the darkness under the sofa, her
amber eyes flashing an unintelligible Morse code.
I heard the policewoman gasp. Had she spotted
Ophelia, and was
smitten by the exquisite physique of her green metallic body? Was she
hypnotized by my techno-frog’s glorious amber eyes?
I wanted to pat my sternum, to call Ophelia
to me, so I could show her
off to the cop. But my bones refused to move. The policewoman leaned close to
me and whispered, “Dear God.” I wanted
to laugh at that, because as beautiful and perfect as Ophelia is, my
techno-frog is nowhere near being a god. A demigod, perhaps, if a bot can be
such a thing. I couldn’t laugh anyway as my throat and all its baggage had
dwindled away to nothing, leaving just a stack of neck bones.
When the copper stood up and pulled out her
radio to make her
report, Ophelia hopped out from under the sofa, bounced over my rib cage, and
skipped out the open door. On her way to find a new owner, I suppose, a really
juicy one who would last longer.
With an MA in English
Literature, Hillary Lyon founded and for 20 years served as senior editor for
the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Along with her poetry,
her crime, horror, and sci-fi stories have appeared in numerous print and
online publications, as well as in multiple anthologies. She is also an
illustrator for horror/sci-fi, and pulp fiction sites. She’s lived in France,
Brazil, Canada, and several states in the U.S.; she currently resides in