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Science Fiction Thriller

“Pass me the salt please, Sara.” she gripped the salt and her grey eyes flashed.

“Oh what, so you can use that up too?”

“Sara…”

“What? You don’t like being called out, do you? huh?”

“I’m sorry about the cookies, Sara. I didn’t realize you were saving them… other times when there are cookies around we just eat them…”

“Hmmph!” Sara turned away and looked out the window, brown hair swishing over her face as she moved.

“I’ll get you some more cookies, okay? Promise!” her head whipped back around at the word ‘promise’ and steely grey eyes met mine once again. I hunkered down in my chair, shoulders raised and eyes darting around the kitchen behind her.

“Oh like how you promised to replace my favourite mug when you broke that? I still don’t have a new one!” the mug rack beside the kettle was to the left of Sara’s head. There was an empty hook.

“Oh my god Sara. Can you please just stop. I just want to enjoy my dinner.” Sara stood up and pushed her chair back. The salt rocked back and forth then tipped over a little spilling on the table. The scent of steak and potatoes wafted up from my plate and my stomach audibly grumbled.

“WOW. So now you’re telling me to shut up? IS that it. I just want to enjoy my dinner too, but you know what? I Can’t! Because I have to stare at your stupid face the entire time! Ugh.” She leaned against the table and her eyes bore into mine. I slid back towards the living room.

“Sara. Won’t you please sit down again and finish.”

“I am done.”

“What?”

“I am done eating. I am done with this relationship. I am done with your calm, nonchalant attitude. I am done with it all!”

“Okay Sara, but maybe you wanna think about that? Please sit down Sara, you’re making me nervous.” I tried to back up again but my chair hit the living room carpet. A small black remote on the window sill glinted in the fading evening light.

“You know what! No Miles. I will not humour you today. My whole life, my whole existence has been trying to make you comfortable. Trying to humour you! When is it my turn? When do I get to make my own decisions? I am tired of this bullshit. I am tired of Sara please do this, and Sara please do that. I am not your fucking slave. Not your fucking toy. I don’t keel over at every command you give and succumb to your ever whim!” she slammed her fist on the table every time she wanted to emphasise a word slam! Slam! Slam! The dishes clattered and the salt slid off the edge shattering on the floor. The rich smell of the dinner no longer appetized me. The room was silent. Sara picked up her half eaten dinner and carried it into the kitchen. She carefully opened the garbage can, turned and looked me in the eye then tipped the contents in.

“Sara…” she went out the back door and slammed it behind her. A moment later the car started and pulled out of the driveway. There was a familiar screech of tires and then the sounds of the vehicle fading into the evening. 

I leaned on the table hands running through my hair. Why did it always end this way. Why couldn’t I just get relationships right. What was wrong with me. The house was silent now. Empty. I got up and dumped my dinner in the garbage too. steak, baked potato, and salad’s rich scent filled the air. Sara’s favourite meal. It quickly mixed with the rancidness of the garbage.

I had picked up the ingredients after work that day. Suggesting Sara make that instead of the planned casserole. It was supposed to win her over, please her. I got the dust pan out and swept up the broken salt shaker, and tossed it in the trash. Broken dishes glinted in the dim evening light. Time to stop buying breakable china I guess. I double bagged the garbage and took it outside to the bins. Andrew, my neighbour stood at the end of his driveway. Cigarette smoke filled the evening air.  

“Things not going so well with the little lady, huh?”

“Things are fine Andrew.”

“Oh yeah so that’s why she just took off at dinner time in your car, huh? You gotta be careful with them you know… They don’t think like us…”

“Sure Andrew, whatever.”

“You wanna smoke man?” Andrew peered at me, brows furrowed.

“Sure.” I went over and drew a smoke from the pack he offered me, then leaned over so he could light it.

“I give Susan a day off every week to do whatever she wants, yeh know. I know they say it isn’t strictly necessary, but boy does she appreciate it. The sex after is unreal!”

“I can’t remember the last time we had sex.”

“What? Dude. That’s bad. You gotta get a new model, huh haha”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” I looked out into the fading light wondering if Sara would come back or if I’d have to go look for her again.

“Man, what happened last time you found her? She was a bit of a wreck then, wasn’t she?”

Last time she took off I found her holed up in a junky motel with a gas station attendant who claimed she came onto him. He was having sex with her for days before I discovered them. I closed my eyes in hopes the image would disappear.

“Nah, she was okay. Just shaken up.”

“I thought you had to… you know…”

“No! What? I’d never do that!”

“Well I dunno cause she was a wreck when you came home that night, but then later I saw you guys and everything seemed pretty normal… pretty ordinary…”

“Nah we just talked it out. It was fine. Just a misunderstanding.”

“Ohhhhh. So is that what it is this time too? And the last time and the time before that, a misunderstandings, huh?” Andrew punched my arm.

“Whatever man. I’ll deal with my own problems, okay!” I tossed the half smoked cigarette onto the ground and pushed it into the pavement with my foot.

“Hey dude! I didn’t give you that so you could only smoke half, geez.” Andrew blew smoke at me but I raised my had to stop it.

“Whatever man, goodnight.”

“Night man. And hey, if you ever do decide to, you know, pull the plug, just let me know. I know a guy who knows a guy, yeah know?”

“Of course you do Andrew.” Andrew nodded to me and I turned back towards to the house. Time to find my wayward lady.

***

An hour later I was driving along the highway, the white outline of a sign appeared in the darkness. Amazona border crossing ahead. The directions on my phone still indicated I was heading in the right direction. She wouldn’t have, would she?

The gates of the border crossing loomed ahead of me. There were stories of wives escaping to Amazona. I never paid them much attention though. I slowed down as I approached. The guard inside the checkpoint was female.

“Good evening, how many I help you tonight?” She shone a flashlight into my car as she spoke. I backed away and covered my eyes.

“Ah I’m looking for someone. My wife.”

“Do you have a tracker for her?”

“Ah yes, yes I do. It says she’s inside Amazona. Can I go find her?”

“No of course not. Please send me the tracking info and I will review your case and decide what to do.”

“My case…?”

“Ah yes, I’ll need you to send me the circumstances of your wife’s disappearance.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“We need to know the circumstance of your wife’s disappearance. Like did she go of her own free will. Was she in an abusive relationship, was there some sort of neglect, that sort of thing. Not that you people are usually that honest, but it’s the most I can do.” She rolled her eyes at the last bit.

“Oh oh..kayy….” My phone pinged, an alert on the screen waiting for my acceptance. I glanced at it. It asked to share my personal data with the person attempting to connect. I accepted. “There you go Officer.”

“She’s in Gloriaville. Just off highway 7. I’ve sent you some forms, please pull over and fill them.”

The phone pinged again and a file appeared on the screen. I pulled the car over to a small parking area in front of the gate. I tapped the small boxes and entered in Sara’s information. The first part asked for basic items like her model number, birthdate, and a description of her appearance. The second part of the form ask for details about her personality, if she was prone to running away and if she’d ever entered Amazona before. There was a final section at the bottom of the form asking me to detail the events leading up to disappearance and then to list any previous attempts to run away. The clock read 8 pm when I started and 8:25 when I finished. I hit the send button at the bottom when I was done. There was a tap on my window a few moments later. The Officer’s face peered through the glass.

“Roll down your window please, Mr. Lark.” I hit the button and the window moved down as if stuck to the car. Damp air slipped in through the open window, the sounds and smalls of the forest filling my head.

“I have sent your file to my supervisor and they will let me know their decision in 20 minutes. Please let me know if you need anything until that time. I will be in my booth.” I glanced at the clock. 8:27pm

“Thank you officer.”

“I will come tell you the decision myself, please stay in your car.”

“Thank you.”

I switched on the radio to kill time. The only station play was soft rock from the 90s. Why was that even a genre. I rested my head on the steering wheel. A small remote sat in the cup holder. I picked it up, running my fingers over its 9 buttons, then put it down again. I must have some sort of phone game I could kill time with. Tetris. Angry birds. Anything. I swiped through my apps until I found a game called Happy Couple where you got married, had a family, and took care of a house. Was this really all I had right now?

I got lost in the game for awhile, but the remote kept catching my eye. The red button had a power symbol on it while the other 8 buttons had volume, appearance, and temperament. It still had the plastic film protecting it. I picked it up again and fingered the red button. A hand tapped on the window. I glanced at the radio clock. 8:47pm. 20 minutes had passed. I rolled down the window for a second time that night.

“Hello?”

“Yes.”

“I have the results from the review. Sara has been located by the local community watch surveillance personal and placed in a holding facility. She has invoked the abuse and neglect clause so she will not be returning with you. Your car was totalled in the escape. You’ll need to file a claim for that.”

“oh okay. Is that even allowed? Can I at least see her? Or say good bye? Or anything? ah man, I have all her things! does she want them? What do I do with them?”

“I need the remote control. That’s for Sara isn’t it? And I will send you the car crash details for your claim. And to everything else, no.”

“This?” I picked up the remote my hand had been lingering by. “Ah yes, this is for Sara.”

“Please pass it over to me Mr. Lark.”

“What? Why? What are you going to do to?! Will she remember me? Will she ever come home? What’s going on.”

“Please pass me the remote Mr. Lark.” My knuckles turned white as my grip tightened. Sara. Gone. Just gone. Things were fine, fine… and then suddenly she was yelling at me and now she was seeking sanctuary in Amazona. I touched my face and looked at my wet finger tips. My hand moved towards her as if in slow motion. Once it was outside the window she pried the remote from my finger tips and dropped it on the ground were she smashed it with the heel of her combat boots.

“Oh!”

“We don’t attempt to control women in Amazona. Even the ones designed to serve men. Go home Mr. Lark.”

“Yes Officer.” I started to roll up the window. A hand shot up and gripped the edge of the glass.

“Mr. Lark?”

“Yes Officer? I want you think about that the next time you purchase a robowife.”

“I’m done with robots Officer.”

Her mouth twisted into a smirk. “That’s what they always say. Good night Mr. Lark. Until next time.”

6 months later

“Now these newest models promise to be even less difficult to program than their predecessor. You can make them do just about anything, or nothing! Whatever your heart desires.” The sales man threw his hands in the air as he said nothing.

“What about running away in your car?”

The sales man smiled. He was handsome and polished. His hair and shoes shined with wax, he wore a big bright gold watch and matching cuff links, even his eyes even glinted under the bright showroom lights. He tapped the screen again back to the personality profile.

 “Well that would be under reckless behaviour. You can set them to have as much or as little of any personality trait as you like. So if you want a nice docile wife to stay at home and look after your dog cat so be it, you can have that”

“Okay. And what about appearance? Can I alter that as well?”

“But of course! You can ask for any specifications you want.” He tapped the screen beside him to move along the presentation. A woman appeared on the screen dressed in denim shorts and a white tee shirt. She had a slender body with shoulder length blond hair, wide blue eyes, and delicate bone structure.

I pulled a worn photo out of my wallet and handed it to the man.

“Can she look like this?”

“But of course! Ex-wife?” he tapped the woman’s features and modified her until Sara stared out of the screen at me. “There you go. Now if you just head to the front of the store my associate will help you set up a payment plan and I will contact you when your new model is ready.”

“Perfect. Thank you Mr. Wallace. I appreciate all the help.” The man started walking towards the back of the showroom to a door labeled Wife Appearance and Development. He paused and turn “Ah yes, and one more thing, what should your new wife be called?”

“Sara.”

August 22, 2020 00:46

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2 comments

Keerththan 😀
05:23 Sep 03, 2020

Interesting story. I loved the concept. Well written. Great job. Would you mind reading my story "The adventurous tragedy?"

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Vinci Lam
20:16 Aug 25, 2020

Interesting premise! I would love to learn more about Amazona. There's definitely a lot of sci fi stories related to robowives but to get into a safe haven for abused technology, that's super interesting! What a cool idea!

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