by A.F. Runyon
It looked like Phillip and it talked like Phillip. It made love and did the dishes just like Phillip. When it played with the kids, it laughed, joked, and reprimanded just like Phillip. After a time, I began to forget the funeral and that horrible night when I lost the real Phillip. He had been so young, and there was no way that any loving god would have cursed our family to be without him. That’s why we had enlisted in the program in the first place.
We had gone over our finances and taken out the necessary loan before going into the Yamashita Cybernetics Lab to get the small neural recorders placed in our frontal lobes. The recorder would act as a sponge of perceptions and reactions throughout our daily lives, and if one of us should ever die in some untimely manner, a full-scale replica could be made with the information uploaded into it. It just so happened that it was Phillip who went first.
It was a simple thing that took him. He was leaving the office for some coffee and a muffin, and then a perfectly ordinary young woman in a hurry to reach some appointment or other had smashed into him at 40 miles per hour, and then he was gone.
I had never dreamed that he could be replaced, but the technicians assured me that in time, I would barely even remember anything had happened to my husband. For the most part, they were right. My new Phillip was stronger, healthier, calmer, and much more adept at balancing our budget then the real Phillip had ever been.
There were times in the next few years when I was actually grateful for the accident. It’s strange, but I had developed resentment against all the frailties my husband had possessed. This Phillip never argued with me or refused to watch the kids while I went on a girls’ night out.
But there was one thing.
In the early years of our relationship, Phillip and I had been very experimental in many of our forays into lovemaking. There had been dirty movies and even a little blindfolding and tying up. Now don’t get me wrong; I have never been fetishist or ever had some secret longing for submission, but there were always times when I thought how nice it would be to make things a little more interesting in the bedroom.
Eventually, it just so happened that I had been glancing through a particularly titillating erotic novel that was making the rounds through my book club. At work, everyone was constantly discussing their favorite details, and despite my half-hearted jokes about how ridiculous and stupid the book was, it had managed to fire off a spark in my libido.
At home, I began flipping through the online manual I had downloaded after the acquisition of my new Phillip. I had never really taken the time to review it carefully, but I spotted a certain section headed “Unlocking Fantasy.” As I read on, I learned that by simply entering a certain security code, it would be entirely possible for me to explore certain repressed desires and fantasies with my Phillip replica.
Here I will confess a sickness that the few who have had the experience of living with a replacement ever discuss because its shame is so great. I have described how easy it is to persist in the delusion that the departed has never died and thereby sublimate the grief and loss of death. However, there is a colder aspect that few would dare explain for fear of judgement from those minds unfamiliar with the bizarre psychological mechanics of such a wonderful and sad resurrection.
On a very conscious and unrelenting level of thought, everyone who has lived with a replica knows they are dealing with a façade, a mannequin of flesh which in truth is but a parody of a life that once existed. The guilt of subsequent betrayal and the ease with which one has given in to fantasy festers in the survivor’s mind, and this self-loathing can quickly sour into bitterness and petty resentment.
The easiest target on which to vent this wretched anger is the object of salvation itself. You may begin to hate the replacement, and this hatred exhibits itself in the most selfish and grotesque of ways. It is so easy to simply objectify, control, and use this alien that the darkest of emotions can surface.
That night, I sent the kids to stay with my mother and went about crafting a romantic dinner. I bought several bottles of good wine and began sipping away with excitement as I waited for Phillip II to come home from work, where he had just received a promotion.
As he entered smiling (as he always did now), he asked where the kids were. I gave him a long wet kiss and informed him that this was a couple’s night. He grinned gingerly and took his place at the table to carb up for the upcoming extravaganza of adult delights I had planned carefully throughout the week.
I snuck off to the bedroom and logged on to my Phillip II account, where I quickly entered the security code and initiated Level One Fantasy Retrieval on my sexy replica. Within an hour, I was more than impressed with the results of my endeavor. I drank more wine as he massaged and performed every manner of delight on my body, but I was still thinking that a just a little bit more might be in order.
Once more I typed away at the account and began Level Two Fantasy Retrieval. The next hour was as intense a sexual experience had we had ever had. Phillip II was a sexual athlete of remarkable stamina and prowess. We roleplayed and indulged in other activities I will not mention, but by this time I was stone drunk and thinking of even more. That was when I initiated Level Three.
Within the next hour, he was tied to the bed with his own belts as I carried out every whim of my desire. Somehow the words “fantasy retrieval” emerged, repeating over and over in my mind as the experience grew more intense. I had slapped him and laughed at the surprised expression on its face. At this point he had ceased to be human, and was no more than an object that I was using as my toy.
Play grew rougher and more invasive. I remember biting him viciously on the chest as he cried out for me to stop, but his fake pain meant nothing to me. His false skin was bleeding warm replicated blood as he struggled against his bonds; my nails raked across his neck and shoulders mercilessly. I realized then that my laughter had become tears and my playful slaps became furious blows across his face. Desire and longing had become rage and hatred.
“You’re not Phillip!” I shouted as my nails tore across his cheek and cut into his eye. “You can never be Phillip! You’re a fraud! You’re furniture! You’re nothing but an appliance pretending to be my husband! Phillip was perfect and alive! You’re just a shadow of my husband! He was human just like me, and you’re just a copy!”
Blood—everywhere there was blood as he screamed for me to stop, and only then did I see that he had loosened his tightly-wrapped leather bonds. In one great pull, he tore free, flinging me across the room with tremendous inhuman strength. When I smashed against the wall, my lungs collapsed as my ribs snapped like thin twigs beneath the force of impact. As I fell, my head struck the corner of the dresser. My neck cracked to the side as blackness overtook my senses. I was dead.
In a moment, I will finish this entry and prepare to go pick up the kids from daycare. It occurs to me that I owe my entire contented existence to Nancy I’s negligent disregard of a warning in what I can only describe as Phillip’s owner’s manual, a line on the Fantasy Retrieval chapter written in large red letters that Nancy I completely ignored in her blind, drunken blur of selfish desire.
Warning: Although the replica has been programmed with numerous default safety protocols that prohibit said replica from harming any human or animal, the Owner must realize that by initiating Third Level Fantasy Retrieval, the failure of all such safety protocols is a strong possibility. Proceed with caution.
If not for her oversight, then Phillip and I would not be as we are now: happy, in love, and perfect together, forever. Thank you, Nancy I. Thank you so very much.
Copyright © 2015 A.F. Runyon