by Chris Swindell
Emily was lonely. She slept alone in a bed that was almost insultingly made for two. So, after saving up for a few months, she bought a Bed Person.
The Bed Person wasn’t for sex. Emily already had a Sex Person for that. But she didn’t really like it. It was good at sex, sure. But the way it seemed to stare into her with its blank face while it thrust away made her uncomfortable. And after it was done it never stayed to snuggle. It just took a shower and plugged itself back into its recharging port.
The Bed Person was specifically designed for snuggling. It was built to hold its owner through the night. That’s what all the ads said, anyway.
Like most Persons, the Bed Person was a mostly featureless life-sized human figure. But where the Cook Person was armored with a flexible stainless steel carapace, and the Sex Person was sheathed in a muscular skin-suit, the Bed Person was softly upholstered, a man-shaped pillow.
Emily’s Bed Person was burgundy, a color that reminded her of falling asleep in the movie theater with Sam, her first boyfriend. As she got older, a lot of things reminded Emily of Sam.
Her first night with the Bed Person was awkward. It wasn’t like a real person at all. Its soft arms had no heat of their own. Its chest had no beat, no rhythm. There was no tickle of breath at the base of her neck where it rested its empty red face.
But eventually Emily got used to the Bed Person’s embrace. A real person can adapt to anything, after all. And as the years went by, her Bed Person became her favorite Person. The Sex Person eventually lost its appeal and sat unused in its port. The Cook Person made meals, but they were indifferently eaten and mostly the same anyway. The Cleaning Person did its job unnoticed, and the Entertainment Persons danced and pantomimed in an otherwise empty living room.
Emily spent most of her free time under the sheets, bound up in the arms of the Bed Person. Its deep red skin was worn and patched and stained in spots. Newer models had come and gone. But Emily, no longer a young woman, refused to replace her obsolete Person.
When the Care Persons finally came to take Emily to the Home, her only request was that she be allowed to take the Bed Person with her. And a few years later, as she slipped away in a humid white room far from any other human being, she took comfort in the fact that she was dying in the arms of the only person or Person she had ever truly loved.
After Emily’s remains were disposed of, the Bed Person was deemed salvageable by the Home. It was re-upholstered and given a software upgrade. It became a residential Bed Person, snuggling the Home’s patients on a rotating schedule.
And insofar as it could think at all, the Bed Person never thought of Emily again.
About the Author
Chris Swindell is a cunningly designed puppet operated by five precocious ducklings. None of them know your mom. Honest.
More by the Author
Chris' publication list looks like this:
“Stolen Minutes.” The Harrow 11.07 (2008). Web.
“Skintight.” Space Squid Issue 9 (2010). Page 7. Web/Print.
“The Last Goodnight.” Space Squid (2013). Web.
“The Soft Invasion.” Bizarro Central (2014). Web.
World's Shortest Author Interview
Please describe fifty words or less.
NO. And get your hand off my thigh. I’m not that kind of girl.
What is your favorite imaginary color?
Furple. It’s like the color purple, but kinda furry and really … just, like, super angry. Seriously, furple is not happy about the way its life has turned out.
About the Artist
Our very own D Chang is a designer and game writer from Austin, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in Avast, Ye Airships! and the Cryptopolis science fiction anthology. He does most of the Space Squid cover designs.