Meat Puppets

by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

Table of Contents
Part 1 and Part 2
appeared in issue 241.
part 3 of 7

Jonas lives alone and works for the weekend. He’s woken up feeling hung over from his reason to live. While he’s walking off his hangover, the friendliest girl he’s ever met comes to him and starts sharing his life.

We all know that machines don’t have a soul, and there’s some dispute whether even humans have one. But let’s suppose there is and that there is what the hopeless romantics refer to as a “soul mate.” In the future, such a thing might be made by a factory in your own town.


Jonas and his young morphing girlfriend walked out of the apartment building to look for some place to eat. He had told her on the way down that he had to go to work next morning and they could not do this again until next weekend. She seemed okay with it, and they were both in high spirits as they walked along the sidewalk.

Every other establishment on the ground level was a coffee shop or a diner, and most of them were filled with clients. Jonas and his friend decided upon one of the less crowded ones, and ordered pancakes. The pancakes were delicious, they agreed.

Jonas stole looks around the place between bites. He already knew that even the most sophisticated new robots never ate any solid food, and he did get the feeling that there were quite a few of those around him. Many of the women were having yoghurt, but there was one other that was having a bread roll. Incidentally, she was somewhat homely looking.

Jonas looked at his friend again, and discovered that she had changed a little bit since they went out, her nose had thinned ever so much, and her cheekbones had become slightly more prominent. Jonas smiled at her and had another piece of pancake.

They had almost finished the meal when a well dressed woman entered the place and called for attention. “Good morning; men, women, toasters. Don’t let me bother all of you for too long. I am here to collect the HDE unit — would the HDE unit please stand up?”

There was a brief pause, but then a hand was raised. The woman motioned with her hand toward the man with the raised arm, looking just like a teacher in class, and the man asked, “What’s an HDE unit?”

“There is no such thing,” said someone in the corner, “I read about it on the net; it’s an urban legend.”

Everybody looked into the corner, so the guy sitting there continued, “It is supposedly some kind of massive improvement over the TGJ model, that would, if put on the market, render flesh and blood women obsolete overnight. A pile of crap, if you ask me.”

“That’s right,” said the well dressed woman, “aside from the part where you say it’s an urban legend. Maya, will you please point out the HDE unit so we can take it and leave.”

Maya, who was standing right behind her, stepped forth and waved her little device around.

“I’m not getting an accurate reading, it is in here, for sure, but I can’t pinpoint exactly who she is. Must be interference from the iron binding in the concrete.”

Jonas’ girlfriend tugged at his sleeve. He looked at her. She was motioning him to leave.

“We can’t just up and leave, we’ll be singled out by them,” he said.

His girl looked uneasy.

“They are looking for you, aren’t they?” he asked her.

She nodded.

“Okay, we will have to do this by process of elimination then, won’t we,” said the woman out loud, and now got everybody’s undivided attention.

One of the waitresses put town her tray and walked to the woman in the most unthreatening manner, smiled brightly and said, “Are you sure you want to start a commotion? I can offer you a pancake on the house, and then we can solve this thing peacef...”

At this point the woman got a large and heavy looking handgun from her handbag, and blasted the waitress in the face. “One down, around thirty to go,” she said, and panic broke loose.

Jonas and the girl took the opportunity to stand up and leave through the kitchen.

“Well?” asked the woman.

“She has left the building. She is out back now,” said Maya, staring at her device.

“Where?”

Maya pointed.

“Let’s go,” said the woman, and the whole group from the cellar ran through the coffee shop, through the kitchen and out the back.

Jonas and the girl ran through the alleyways, around every corner they could find until they were exhausted. Actually Jonas became exhausted; his girlfriend didn’t seem to mind at all.

“Who are these people?” asked Jonas. “Friends of yours?”

“I haven’t seen them before,” said the girl.

“Maybe they’re just crazy,” he said, breathing heavily, “I think we lost them.”

The girl smiled and nodded.

“Are you a robot?” asked Jonas.

The girl looked surprised. Then she just smiled and nodded. “Yes, I am. I’m happy to be yours.”

Jonas wrinkled his forehead and gave her a lopsided look before he said, “But I didn’t pay for you...”

“I wasn’t for sale,” said the girl, “I stole myself.”

“You can do that?”

She smiled.

“And that’s why you don’t have a name?”

She nodded and said with a sardonic grin, “Just don’t call me Andrea... or Roberta. It is too obvious a joke.”

“Exactly what I was thinking,” said Jonas.

“Well, I can read your mind.”

“Then you know what I’m going to do next,” said Jonas, and they both walked out of the alley together. A dump truck was passing by, and they ran after it and jumped on it. They tagged along for a couple of blocks, then got off and entered the first building they saw, a clothes store.

“Okay... Elfa...”

The girl smiled as she heard her name.

“Since you are mine, Let me get you some clothes,” said Jonas. He looked at her again: “where did you get these anyway?”

Elfa reached into her purse and got out a card.

“I took it off Maya Polatti.” She showed Jonas the card.

“All of it?”

She nodded.

“Everything?”

“Yes. Even the underwear. I guess she is pretty pissed off at me now.”

“I can only imagine; leaving the poor woman naked somewhere,” said Jonas. At least she’s alive. What else do you have in there?”

Elfa handed him the wallet. There were some ID cards in it, and Jonas took them and put the rest back into the wallet. Then he handed the wallet to Elfa.

“We just put this in the lost and found afterwards, okay?”

Elfa nodded. Jonas looked at her; she was shorter than in the morning, her breasts were bigger, her waist leaner and her hips more ample.

“Now, how do we go about buying clothes for a woman who has no shape?”

“I’m sure you will figure something out,” said Elfa, and they walked into the store together.

* * *


Proceed to part 4...

Copyright © 2007 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

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