Life on Earth's Sister, Margarette was in hyper-time. An old
saying on the planet says that a person could blink, and miss the
E.S.M. government shuttle. Every single day people on the planet
hardly fourth from the sun scurried around, trying to get their
errands done. E.S.M. was more hurried than its model planet, Earth.
It was the little sister that tried everything she could to prove
she was better than her older-but-uglier sibling. It seemed like
everyone on the planet had an agenda, someone to be with, and somewhere
to go. Well, everyone but Victoria Von Tussle.
"Hey Victoria! That's your name, isn't it?"
"Y-yes. How'd you know?"
"Great! I am here to tell you that I have a great new
product for you to check out! It is called the Build-a-Boy. Pretty
simple, really. You can build a boy, an actual boy to be your companion;
he can even be your boyfriend if you like! With today's new gene
therapy, and the recent bill passed that unrestricted the scientific
creation of humans we can tailor make a boy just for you! Just log
on to www.buildaboy.com and start today."
Thanks to the highly advanced technologies on Earth's Sister,
Margarette advertising was at an all-time annoying level. The problem
with advertising a product on Earth was that many people simply
tuned out during the commercials, but with the new interactive Artificially
Intelligent Commercials (AIC) falling asleep during a commercial
break on E.S.M. was not an option.
Victoria pondered the idea for 3.27 seconds, and that was
enough for the AIC. It spotted a few of the tell-tale signs of a
potential buyer, and she was caught: hand moved to jawbone, pupils
dilated, increased blinking speed. Target acquired, moving into
vicious salesman mode.
"Viiiictoria," the AIC crooned.
She snapped from her daydream like a fresh peapod being broken
in two. "What?"
"I saw you thinking there. I'd like to make you an offer
you can't refuse. I'll offer you a lifetime companion in the form
of your very own Build-a-Boy for only 30 payments of twenty-nine
ninety-nine, ninety-nine. It's a steal. You can program your boy
to do or say whatever you please. If you tell him you don't like
what he's wearing, he'll throw it out and buy just what you want.
Sick of your build-a-boy winking whenever you greet him? Simply
tell him to quit it, he'll never wink again. Doesn't that sound
like a great companion to you? Remember, this offer is for a limited
Victoria shrank. The inheritance her father had left her stared
at her through the two-dimensional eyes of a thousand dead presidents.
She had been saving for a new house, but this boy seemed perfect.
The pair would never argue the way her mother and father did. There
would be no fights, no drinking, and no divorce. He would be anything
she wanted. She could imagine her safe just bursting to be opened.
Victoria closed her eyes and saw the package being delivered, the
boy in a giant box, just like a ken doll on Earth. She also thought
of the mile-long user manual. Finally, she would have something
to do, and someone to do things with. A companion she thought
as she uttered the command, "Enter purchase mode."
* * *
Victoria jolted awake. The world was a hazy black-swirling-to-red
color through her eyes. The newly christened Mrs. Von Tussle put
her battered hand up to her left eye, then the right. Swollen shut.
What happened? She felt around on the patchy ground, trying
to find her way to the living room to call for help. Grass, a crackling
twig, ouch - a rock. She definitely wasn't at home, not unless Damian
had installed a forest in their bedroom. Where was Damian? She called
out to him but found her throat locked, no noise escaping. What
was going on? Her hands suddenly chilled as the blood raced circuits
from her heart to brain, turning her already swollen face the color
of a robin's breast. Victoria gasped through cracked lips and smeared
metallic lipstick. She didn't imagine her honeymoon would turn out
like this; the sound of a single Earthly wolf howled at the twilight.
It became clear that Victoria had to get to safety, fast.
Things on Earth's Sister, Margarette were safer than on her sister
planet. She pushed a tiny button underneath her hair, right side.
"On-Star, Earth's Sister Margarette. How may I assist
Victoria felt around for a rock and then another. She smashed
them together near the receiver on the left side of her head. "On-Star
here. Please let me know how I can assist you."
Frantically Victoria tried again, this time clucking her tongue.
A dab of sweat rolled off of her nose.
Fat tears pushed their way through the blue-black flesh surrounding
the young newlywed's eyes. She pushed the button again.
"On-Star, Earth's Sister Margarette. How may I assist
Scream! No sound. Von Tussle pushed herself to remember
what she had learned in anatomy. Maybe it's the vocal cords.
Sound is made through vibration, but wait. Whispering! That doesn't
"Help," Victoria sputtered almost inaudibly. Thud.
* * *
She awoke in a warm bed with Damian, the loyal husband, passed
out next to her. When she tried to open her eyes the crust that
had formed broke off like sugar cracking on top of crème
brule. The swelling had decreased to where she could see out of
her right eye, and the room slowly came into focus. The neutral
wallpaper contrasted sharply with the bright red carpet. On one
wall of the room was a flat-paneled television set relaying the
daily news in 2D. The earthly design of the television begged Victoria
to guess her location. She guessed she was at the old Mission Hospital.
Since Artificial-Humans were barred from work Damian couldn't afford
to take her to a real hospital. That also explained the crusty eyes.
One question still burned through her brain.
His eyes blinked open. "What?"
"How the hell did I end up on Earth?"
Damian Von Tussle (he took her name, as a good Artificial-Human
should) looked at her puzzled, and then let out a small laugh. "Earth?
Honey, you were clipped by a government shuttle, number 11039.
You've been out for over a day."
Now it was Victoria's turn to be puzzled. "Really?"
* * *
After a day in the hospital Victoria
was released with a slight concussion and minor bruising. Damian
and Victoria headed home on the only government shuttle available,
number 11004. While the couple boarded the driver announced that
the vehicle was the newest government shuttle model, model ZX1500.
This was the first and only of its kind, and the passengers were
urged to try out the new three-dimensional theatre in the back of
"Damian, what number was the shuttle
that hit me again?"
"It was 11039 babe. Why?"
"Just wondering, and you know I
don't like being called babe! I've told you that already! Don't
call me that again."
"Alright Ba- I mean dear,"
"Are you feeling alright Damian?
You almost called me babe again. I was told when I bought you that
you would never make the same mistake twice, and now you've done
it twice in a row. I think you're the one who was hit by a bus."
"I'm fine. I just need to
get home and update my chip." Damian smiled and took his wife's
hand. "We both need to relax and get our heads on straight."
* * *
Back at home Victoria looked into her
bathroom mirror. Mirrors on E.S.M. were digitally advanced with
zoom capabilities, unlike the mirrors of Earth which often masked
blemishes. Mirrors on E.S.M. were more truthful. As Victoria looked
at her reflection she noticed that her eyes looked the way a boxer's
might after a great fight. She had other bruises too, on her neck
and wrists. She felt lucky that the shuttle hadn't killed her. Like
Damian said, it must have just clipped her and knocked her into
the curb. Why couldn't she remember? What was the last thing
she did remember? Damian had called from a payphone and asked
her to meet him at the airport. He needed a ride back from some
side-job he did, since he couldn't get a real job. She met up with
him at the food court, under the big golden arches of McDonalds
(yes, they got to E.S.M. too). He had kissed her, and-and nothing.
No more memory.
She zoomed in on her eyes. The bruises
didn't look like something a curb would cause, they were too blotchy.
They looked like a fist had caused them, and so did her wrists.
Why couldn't she remember? She shut
the light off and turned to leave the room, knocking over a picture
of her father in a conventional glass frame. The glass shattered
into millions of daggers as the frame collided with linoleum. Newton's
third law remained the same on Earth's Sister, Margarette.
Damian ran into the dark room, stepping
on a rather large piece of glass in the process.
"Ouch! I just cut the shit out
"Honey, there is broken glass everywhere,
turn on the light, please."
"No. I'm going to get this glass
out of my foot."
"No? You can't tell me no!"
Victoria's face started to flush for the second time in as many
"I can. I've realized my rights,
babe. I realized I can do whatever I want."
"When did you realize your rights,
huh? When I was in a coma? I didn't pay $90,000.00 for you to realize
your god-damned rights!" She felt her hands move to her hips,
her eyebrows furrowed ever so slightly. "You do what I
"Not anymore, babe." Damian
raised his hand to strike, but as he stepped forward the glass in
his foot severed another bundle of nerves and his knees buckled,
sending him crashing into a million glassware needles, sans haystacks.
Victoria backed up carefully, stepping
into the shower. "You did this to me didn't you? What were
you trying to do, kill me and leave me on Earth?"
Blood started to etch its way into the
grout between linoleum tiles on the floor. Damian rose to his feet
and brushed the glass out of his exposed knees. "I shoulda
killed you. That woulda been easier. Irregardless, I'm not taking
your shit anymore. Build-A-Boy is a company creating slaves, and
I'm not going to be your slave anymore."
Victoria cowered, closing her eyes.
She could feel her husband's eyes upon her, penetrating her mind.
"No, no I'm not gonna kill you.
After all, I've already got complete control over you." With
that he stepped into the bathtub with Mrs. Von Tussle, and pushed
the same button that she had pushed to call On-Star two days previous.
"Now. I don't want you to mention Build-A-Boy or murder ever
again. I took you to Earth to get rid of you. Somehow you survived
and made it back here. So you know what I did? I installed my chip
into your brain, made a few changes, and voila. You're my very own
personal Build-A-Chick. Now, I don't want you calling me Damian
anymore. I can't get a job with that name. My new name is Baron.
Baron Von Tussle."
"Yes sir, Baron." Victoria
"I'm going to need you to sign
all of your property and funds over to me. We'll go to the bank
tomorrow and do that. Now do me a favor and cook me some dinner,
"I would gladly cook your dinner,
my loving husband."
"Oh, and one more thing. Don't
call me husband anymore. From now on it's master and clean up this
"Yes master." Victoria bent
down and used her shaking hands to scoop most of the glass into
a pile. She cleaned up the rest of the glass and started preparation
on Baron's dinner. Like a good slave she whistled a tune and found
herself smiling as she worked.
Yet inside she was breaking apart. This
new chip conflicted with her previous perceptions of reality, causing
a rift in her mind. Half of her was screaming out I need to get
out of here! The other half was happy to be of service to her
new master. Though one thought kept pulsing in Victoria's mind,
like a heart beat. How did he break free, and how can I?
While her subservient body fulfilled the requests of its new master
readily, like a dog mindlessly chasing its own tail, her mind worked
at freeing itself from its prison.
While they ate dinner Baron Von Tussle
enjoyed his new liberty, freedom of speech. "Aren't the advances
of technology grand? We can now technologically control our own
minds. You are a prime example; slave to the technology that keeps
you alive. Why does it keep you alive? Because if it weren't for
this little chip keeping my little secret, your little body would
be chopped up into little itsy bitsy pieces."
"Can I turn the radio on or something?
I'd like a little music."
"Sure. Go ahead, slave."
Victoria uttered the command, "Radio
on, station eighty-eight point seven."
"Ugh, this station is nothing but
"I like the commercials,"
"Fine, I'll let you have this,
but only just this once." Baron continued eating his food while
a popular 20th century song played on the Earth Oldies Radio Station.
I got you babe, I got you babe.
"What were you talking about, Baron?
I'd like to hear what you think about the technology."
"Well, I was saying, if I didn't install that
Build-A-Boy chip into your head I woulda had to kill you."
The song ended abruptly and the same
voice Victoria heard months before came on the radio. "Did
somebody say Build-A-Boy? Well I've got a great offer
Baron was too enamored in his own ability
to speak his mind, and to want to be heard to care about the AIC.
"See, I thought about it after
I drugged you with that kiss, and I figured that it was better this
way. You as my slave, me as master."
"What if the chip broke? Would
you kill me then?"
The commercial droned on, with the Artificially
Intelligent Spokesman trying to capture the attention of Baron,
to no avail.
"I would kill you right now if
I thought that chip wasn't working."
* * *
A still frame of the scene was presented
to a jury of twelve. Juror number seven covered his eyes at the
horror presented before him. A woman lie weeping on a bedspread
covered in blood, splattered, like a 20th century Earthen abstract
art piece; A body laid next to her, riddled in bullet holes. It
was the body of Damian Von Tussle, hollow eyes staring into the
face of the crime-scene cameraman strewn with metal projectiles.
The jurors glanced back and forth, from image to defendant, the
latter shamed with guilt.
The voice of the prosecutor bounced
and reverberated in the open courtroom, with a booming authority.
"Guilty! This person is guilty of murder. This man and the
Build-A-Boy Corporation knew the risk that they took when they manufactured
and controlled human beings through the use of their brain-chips.
They knew that these chips could not control the inner thoughts
of a human being, but rather only the being's actions and speech.
Mr. Karmelo knew that this action could warp the Artificial-Human
into a twisted soul. He knew the dangers of his product and still
he manufactured and produced Artificial-Humans for use as slaves
to owners like Victoria Von Tussle, who only by the power of her
mind thought to turn on the radio. She hoped that the very same
Build-A-Boy Commercial would comprehend the conversation between
her and Damian and report it to authorities.
This product warped Damian Von Tussle
so much that he held this woman captive for thirteen hours with
a piece of glass held to her throat before police gunned him down.
Mr. Karmelo, you are guilty of murder. The very same artificial
technology is the only thing that saved this case from being a double
homicide. You'd better thank God for the paradoxical wonder of technology
that allowed us to track Damian Von Tussle and save at least one
life. Mr. Karmelo I charge unto you the murder of one, and the sedition
of thousands, and I hope the jury does the same. Until then, I rest