The Autumn Marriage

Joe Bob Gramercy

Sometimes a kept secret ends up hurting the keeper. But more often, it hurts the one kept in the dark.

"Second chances are overrated," She had said to him when he proposed.

"No, first chances are," he answered. "Young people never know what they have. They throw things away without thought, then regret. To get the chance when you're old is as good if not better."

And that was why at 48 she had married a man almost twenty years her senior. That one thought struck her as profound because its truth made her feel good. Mind you, she would probably have said yes eventually. After the accident she would remember that night when something other than his own predicament occupied his thoughts, and when something other than the apparent fact that second chances in her life were overrated occupied hers.

It had nothing to do with sex, or so she told herself at first. It was more for companionship, in the way of the stuffed toys in the basement. She had raised the possibility of them getting the toy in June, one year after the accident made it necessary for Roger to have most of his body removed. After that he receded into sullen silence. She had not expected that they would have discussed it openly, but the silence irritated her nonetheless. It irritated her because she could see his point: he would be replaced in his obligation by something better at the task that he could ever have been. And it irritated her because she was going to do it no matter what he wanted her to do.

The Hanson Sex-Partner Kit (Young Stallion model) arrived by delivery drone early in August. For private island customers the normal discreet presentation was unnecessary, so the drone's hovering, spherical robot told her in copious detail about the product and showed her how to set it up--albeit in a low voice on her instruction. She made sure that the delivery would be at eleven in the morning when Roger listened to Debussy on his headphones. The drone explained that she could grow a functioning, fully self-contained penis of any size she wanted, and just the penis, using the nutrition pump to keep it healthy. She could also grow a headless torso with knees and elbows, an option that many women preferred (knees and elbows aided thrust). She could also grow a headless body or a brainless full man. Brainers were, of course, illegal--bio-ethics and all that.

So there were many stages at which she could have said, this far and no more, particularly where she was told that the protein could be made to copy a digital mask based on a living person, creating a near-exact duplicate of a favorite celebrity or loved one. If adultery was not what she wanted, then why couldn't she use that option to make a twin of her crippled husband? But she chose the standard mold that came with the toy, and chose it to grow into a full brainless soy-man, a young pretty one with an unmaimed body, covered with tan skin and lots of hair on his head and a very large penis. (Of course, the "brainlessness" referred only to the medulla oblongata--the rest of his brain was, like his body, a functioning soy copy of a real one except for the nutrition pump in his stomach, and the fact that his waste came out in the form of edible yellow pellets that were a nutritious and convincing meat substitute, according to the delivery drone's robot.)

Setting up the kit was meant to be easy, even foolproof: it came with a case to mold the protein as it grew. She started it downstairs in the living-room, which was the most deserted, desolate room in the house. The four hours it took she passed in the garden, trying to escape the feelings of anxiety and guilt and eagerness that wanted to control her. She digged in the man-made topsoil that covered most of their man-made island and tried not to look at her watch.

In the weeks following she became obsessed with sex, or with the masturbatory variant of sexual activity that covered her behavior with the flesh-colored, muscular, spasming, ejaculator of seedless vegetable-based semen that she kept in the basement. Her time with Roger was more or less the same, never hurried, never cursory--she saw to that. They would have breakfast together in his room, her sitting at the foot of his bed with a tray on her lap as she had every morning since the accident. Sometimes they would discuss the news as it was being shown on the big wall-monitor beside the bed, or they would discuss the garden and the flowers she had planted or intended to order, seeing that he was still the keeper of the purse, a role that he could handle capably still, and thus of which she had no desire to deprive him. But then she would go downstairs and leave him to his music, with his headphones on. Sometimes she would be already naked at the foot of the stairs. The soy toy, with its perfect body and unwavering phallus became the center of her imagination.

"I'm going to get a Secure-bot," He said matter-of-factly at breakfast one morning early in September.


"I think we can afford it and it would be, well, fun. Not to mention we're out here by ourselves, Karen--one octogenarian talking head and his fifty year-old wife. I realize it's unlikely that anyone would come all the way out here to hurt us, but we're vulnerable. I don't like being vulnerable."

"What kind?" She was wondering what to do now, and whether he knew.

"One of the hover-kinds, basic, no fancy gimmicks or anything. A stun gun and a saw. Zoom zoom, they fly around and kill things. The one they showed me on the monitor could cut a fly into four pieces in mid-flight... that's how precise it is. If we ever have flies I'll show you."

The drone robot arrived the next day. It came in two parts, which she was to screw together--and then she was to get out of the way. Roger wanted her to do it where he could see.

She was concerned about the sex toy. Of course, she could've switched it off--but once it was off, that was that--it was just synthetic meat. How would she explain the sudden increase of soy in their diet? She had paid for it with her own money, but she never used that money to buy food. Besides, she didn't want to get rid of it--and yet she was terrified that Roger would find out.

Still, she sat on the floor at the side of his bed and assembled the drone where he could see. It was shaped like a discus when its two circular halves were screwed together. The slot between the two halves was for the razor saws. It was light enough that if you dropped it, it would flutter to the ground.

"Okay, let it be. It only has a few seconds before it initiates, and then it will have to get pictures of both of us."

The robot began to whir and almost instantly to whine, and then the sound of its motors quickly rose to a scream above the level of human hearing. It rose to about a foot below the ceiling and scanned the room. It saw a human female and saved her picture in its initiation files. And then it saw a moving, warm object on the bed. It scanned the database of its manufacturers back in Portland, Oregon. It ran through every species of animal on Earth and drew a blank. The anomaly on the bed had a head like a human's, and so the Secure-bot scanned the human databases as well, including those for body injuries and amputations, including the extremely rare full-body removal. It still found nothing that had no limbs and no torso below the shoulders and yet also had tubes and wires attaching it to what it understood was a computer. This possibility was something neglected by its programmers at Secure-bot Inc.

It was about to send the picture to the Universal Database for it to be looked at and identified by a human, when Roger said: "Initiation finished." With the sending of the picture aborted, the Secure-bot simply registered Roger as a part of the computer, an object.

"Setting?" Asked the robot.

The manual flashed up on the screen of the monitor.

"Two." Said Roger, reading from the screen. "Target: humans and humanoid."

"All residents logged?"


"Are you sure?"


"Option to disregard property damage in any action to stop intruder?"

"Disregard." Said Roger.

"Final check, are all residents logged?"


To his wife he sounded tense and excited, eager to see his new toy work. Did he know? Right then he looked at her and she was certain that he knew.

"Find and kill." He said.

The robot quickly, silently, left the room.

She followed after it to clean up the damage. She felt a kind of attachment for her robot, because it had a face. She was the sort of woman who attached personalities to things with faces. She kept her dolls and stuffed animals in a closet in the basement, simply because she was unable to throw them away.

She hoped that if the toy had emotions, it felt no fear.

The basement door, made of titanium, had been cut through easily. She threw it open expecting to see her lover on the floor, bleeding his nourishing soy blood. Instead, the toy knocked her down and sprinted over her, up the stairs. The Secure-bot followed at a distance of about ten feet, checking Portland about yet another peculiarity: a headless runner.

On the floor of the basement lay the toy's severed head, cut off above the chip that told the soy sex-partners how to do what they did so well. She sighed. And then Roger was screaming. She sprinted up the stairs and arrived in Roger's bedroom as the Portland people decided that, yes, any running intruder, with head or no, was a legitimate target. The headless man had just reached Roger as the Secure-bot began to shred them both.

She was screaming as she tried to pull the soy man away from her husband. The robot, sensing the lone human in the house as being physically close to the intruder, worked even faster to annihilate him, disregarding any and all objects in their immediate vicinity. She screamed as the blood, soy and human, hit her face in warm gouts, pelted her clothing and skin in forceful, slashing, flashing, jets, and pieces of male flesh thumped against her as the robot did its work.

Joe Bob Gramercy ( is a struggling writer who is also a struggling web designer/entrepreneur on the side. This is his first published piece of fiction after roughly 12 years of writing stories, poems, and articles.

InterText Copyright © 1991-2003 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 13, Number 1 of InterText. This story Copyright © 2003 Joe Bob Gramercy.