A Better Mousetrap
by Norm Vigeant
forum: A Better Mousetrap
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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A Better Mousetrap


         Smithy didn't care for humanity before the Divine Purge, so the tremendous sense of loss that most of the other survivors felt didn't effect him all that much. But in the last couple of months, he had to admit that, for the first time in recent memory, he actually felt lonely. Sometimes, though not very often, late at night as he lay in bed, he longed for the carnal touch that only another member of his species could supply. Unfortunately, companionship had been dreadfully difficult to come by in the new era.

         The Purge itself had been swift and decisive. Maybe six or seven years ago, for some cosmic reason, be it chemical, environmental or theological, a gene in the code of species Homo sapiens had shifted, stripping most of the human race of its immune system. This peculiar bump in the Darwinian Road was twofold. First, and more immediate, roughly three-quarters of the planetary human population became ill and died, leaving a slew of diseased bodies behind. The second, and more sublime problem: the female population seemed to be even more decimated than the male. Fewer women, obviously, meant fewer babies, and less of a chance for the species to re-populate the planet.

         Smithy had no idea why he, or the rest of the survivors, had been spared. Nor did he care all that much. He long ago concluded that he had a special mutation that allowed his immune system to remain intact, and forgot about it. A practical man who had been a programmer with no real friends in his previous life, he turned his focus to surviving, happy to have the peace and quiet in his life. He moved from suburban Philadelphia into an old, rambling farmhouse on the fringes of Amish country and, after coolly dumping the previous tenants into a family grave in an anonymous cornfield, set up shop.

         Farming proved difficult, but certainly not impossible. Much of the first six months at his new home were spent making horse and carriage trips into the nearby towns. He disliked the forays immensely, what with all of the rotting corpses about, but he needed supplies and, more importantly, books from the local libraries. He read everything he could get his hands on about how someone could make a small farm self-sufficient. In no time, he had the windmill and waterwheel back up and running, providing enough power for meager electricity. He fed and tended the remainder of the chickens and livestock. He went out into the fields and prepared them for the following spring's planting. He had enough canned food and sterno to get him though the first winter, but preparation for the future would be the key to his long-term welfare. The foresight paid off, as eventually he had himself a productive, working farm.

         In many ways, he'd been too busy to miss contact with the rest of humanity. At least part of him wanted to admit that. In reality, he had little use for people at this stage of the game; they would just get in the way and damage the good he and his farm had accomplished. But still, he could allow himself some creature comfort, couldn't he? The question was how. He hadn't seen a woman in over a year, and frankly, none of the females he'd seen since the Purge appealed to him all that much. He placed his chances at seeing a breathing, attractive woman slim at best.

         Then, from the back of his mind, the idea of building one surfaced. Could it be done? The raw materials were around, from robotics and silicone for flesh and bone to processors, hardware and software for the brains. Smithy could reprogram old computer chips to make a female robot do whatever he wanted. The idea intrigued him.

         Smithy the programmer had not exactly been a ladies man. No, he'd probably done more to repulse the opposite sex than anything else. He wasn't very attractive, didn't have a lot of money, and lacked anything resembling a magnetic personality. He could make systems and servers run as smooth as glass, but couldn't find a date. Indeed, even back in high school, most girls laughed in his face when he professed his affection. It had made him somewhat bitter over the years.

         Now, assuming he could word out the obvious anatomical pitfalls, he had the chance to make the most attractive woman ever, whose sole purpose would be to serve his every sexual whim. Smithy stroked his chin and sneered. Yes, it could work. And it would be more than worth the minimum effort.

         Back into town he went, to scavenge for materials. Much to his surprise, he found the components and hardware to pull this stunt off rather easily. The final item, the silicone he'd need to reproduce a person's flesh, proved to be somewhat more difficult. In the pre-Purge era, the best places to find the stuff were large medical centers, the closest of which was a half-day's ride away.

         So, in the early fall, he hitched the horse up to the carriage, and set off to the Lancaster County Hospital. He ignored the molding piles of six-year old corpses he encountered upon entering, found what he needed, and quickly exited before another living creature could discover him. However, on the way back to the carriage, something in a decrepit newsstand caught his eye: the face of a woman on an old magazine. She had been either an actress in the movies or a singer, he couldn't remember exactly what. He hadn't paid attention to pop culture all that much. But the face could only be described as incomparable. He grabbed the magazine and furiously turned pages. When he found what he'd been looking for, he snapped the periodical shut and grinned knowingly. Smithy whistled as he walked toward his ride, looking forward to working on her through the long northeastern winter.


         By the next planting season, Smithy's paramour was nearly complete. Good thing, too, as the mere thought of being with her drove him mad. All through the winter, as he worked her over, he could think only of the many ways he would be with her. The more he thought of her, the more difficult it became to put aside the carnal thoughts and concentrate. On one of the darkest and coldest nights of the year, just after solstice, he panted and perspired heavily as he stretched her soft, beautiful new skin across her torso and midsection. Smithy mopped the sweat from his brow, bit his lower lip, and dreamed of the nights ahead.

         He decided to call her Ani, as a dedication to the actress/singer whose features he lifted. And oh how amazing she looked. Smithy had to pat himself on the back over and over again as he leered hungrily. Her deep auburn hair had a marvelous sheen that resembled embers afire, her eyes a glistening emerald green, her body the shape of an hourglass. Each and every detail perfect to his specs. In addition, as a special extra, she had a hint of lilac and honeysuckle trailing behind her. He couldn't help himself one of those nights, and kissed her ruby lips, tasting the sweet, fiery electricity on her palette. Her movements were as graceful as a gymnast's. The construction of her joints and tendons had been time consuming, but it had paid off. Her range of motion was incredibly fluid, nearly human. Clearly, he had not simply built a robot, but crafted a work of art.

         The real genius of the construction, in Smithy's humble opinion, was the programming. He constructed Ani with a built in filter to weed out certain functions and vocabulary that he thought she would find confusing. For instance, she could dress herself, but had no concept of reading, writing or time. In short, she could perform her services for him when her asked and leave him alone the rest of the time. In his opinion, she'd make the perfect wife, or at least a good way to exact revenge on all the pretty girls who laughed at him through the years.

         For power, Ani ran on little more than rechargeable household batteries. She had a small switch and a node hidden discreetly under her flowing hair. The switch set her in motion. It sent a small pulse through her systems with enough juice to keep her running for up to eight hours, essentially performing the same function as an automobile ignition. When the eight hours were up, Smithy would use the node to hook her up to her own docking station. A quick jolt of electricity, and she'd be good to go again.


         Finally, in the beginning of spring, the night had arrived for Smithy and Ani to consummate their relationship. Smithy prepared in advance for this day with several 'trial runs', so he knew precisely what to expect from the event. His idea of 'setting the mood' consisted of cleaning himself before the event.

         Unfortunately, the evening did not go as planned. Smithy became so enthralled with the thought of being with a woman, albeit the replica of one, that he tore the clothes off Ani and stuffed himself inside of her with unparalleled enthusiasm. Of course, she felt, smelled, looked and tasted exquisite. That, coupled with the painful fact he hadn't been with a woman in a long time, brought things to a quick and decisive conclusion.

         Smithy collapsed backward in his bed when he had finished and wiped himself off with the sheet. It hadn't been good, but he still felt satisfied. Perhaps a few minor tweaks would help. No matter; there would be time for fun and games later. Hell, he built one over the course of the winter, perhaps he could build more. Imagine an entire harem ready and willing to do his bidding. He chuckled aloud.

         "Smithy," Ani said in that silky sweet voice of hers from the other side of the bed.

         "What?" he replied, remembering that she was still in the room.

         "Bad," she answered.

         So, she wanted him again, eh? Nice, but she would just have to wait. "Not now, woman. I need some time to myself. I'll get around to you later."

         Ani shook her head emphatically. "No again. Never again. I don't like."

         'Wait a minute, did she just put me down?' he wondered. "What do you mean, Ani?" he asked, getting angrier. He hadn't programmed anything like this. Or had he?

         Ani paused for a moment. If she had been human, one would have believed she had been searching for the right words to say. "I don't like that!" she finally spat.

         Yes, he decided, she was putting him down, just like all the others did. Bitch. Smithy's anger sparked and flared. "You ungrateful whore!" he shouted. "I gave you a life!"

         "Don't care! Don't like that!" she yelled back.

         Smithy had enough. He shot up, reared back and smacked her, open-handed, across the cheek. "I'll tear you limb from limb and toss your components out to rust in the rain, goddamn it!" he shouted. "And then I'll build another one, just like you without the attitude!"

         Ani didn't seem to initially react to the verbal and physical abuse, being a robot and all, but Smithy swore he saw a flicker of expression cross her face.

         "Sorry, Smithy," she said at last, moving closer to him. "I kiss you now."

         "That's more like it," he replied, closing his eyes in anticipation.

         Ani put her hands on his cheeks, then wrenched his head so suddenly and violently that Smithy didn't have time to be surprised before his neck snapped.

         "Don't like that," Ani replied softly as she kicked Smithy's lifeless body off the bed. Then, she dressed slowly and walked deliberately to her docking station.




copyright 2006 Norm Vigeant.

Norm Vigeant is a finance geek from Massachusetts. He spends most of his free time following the Boston Red Sox and running around with his two year old son.