This is where we offer some longer fiction for those lazy weekend days.
Some things are built with love. ST/1/KIL was built with hate. She was built with hate, and absolute precision, by a very old man who had been, in his time, the best goddamn mechanic in the country. She was built to an exacting specification in the back lot behind a run-down truck dealership smack in the middle of Bible Belt USA. When she was finished her creator broke her down and crated the parts, sending the crates one-by-one to various accommodation addresses across England.
When the final crate left his hands, the man took a photograph out of his wallet and kissed it.
“They gonna suffer too my boy,” he mumbled.
Then he went and sat in the last remaining truck where he put the muzzle of his Colt 45 in his mouth and pulled the trigger. It was six months before anybody even thought to look for him.
In the meantime, an even older man drove a vintage Volkswagen campervan the length and breadth of England collecting crated parts. It took him the best part of a year to amass them all, but he was in no hurry. Better to potter along looking aimless and harmless than to attract the notice of the authorities. If you are planning a murder, it’s a very bad idea to draw attention to yourself.
When he had collected the final piece of the jigsaw it was time to contact the assembler. A carefully nondescript message was sent to an address in Spain and when the recipient flew into London, there was a hire car and a map awaiting him. The assembler drove carefully through the green countryside, stopping punctiliously at checkpoints and presenting his travel documents for examination. He arrived at his destination crumpled and travel worn and his host fed him and showed him a comfortable bed.
The next morning the Spaniard began opening packing cases. It took him three months to open all the crates and reassemble the American’s master work. When he was done, he kissed his fingertips.
That was the last thing he did in this life, as his host slid a knife through his ribs into his heart.
“Loose ends, amigo. Loose ends…”
When he had tumbled the body into a pre-dug grave and filled it in, the killer made a very short phone call.
In the dead of the night a helicopter landed in a broad meadow a mile or so from the house. It took just seconds to upload one item of cargo and the ‘copter was gone long before anyone even realised it had landed. Once the aircraft was safely in the sky, the old man took himself back to his comfortable home where he sat beside the fire and poured himself a special drink. He raised his glass in an ironic toast.
“You are avenged my darling daughter. Wait for me at the pearly gates, I’m on my way.”
He tossed off the drink in one gulp.
The next morning when his housekeeper arrived she found him in his favourite fireside chair, with a faint smile on his face, quite dead.
In London, the precious cargo was delivered to a specialist dealer in Soho. The man examined the goods then smiled unpleasantly.
“She really is a work of art. Now we just wait for the client.”
It was actually more than half a year before the American ambassador walked into the premises. After the normal courtesies, the dealer led the way to a back room, where three androids stood. Deactivated. The ambassador smiled thinly. He pointed to one.
“Not that. Activate the other two.”
One droid was rolled out on its trolley and the trader activated the other two. One was a lush-bodied six-foot blonde with a slightly trailer trash look, the other was smaller and slighter and somehow a pale reflection of its larger sister.
The ambassador spoke to the smaller doll first.
She cast down her eyes with proper modesty.
“Strip!” he ordered and the doll slowly disrobed. She was perfectly formed and pink skinned and the ambassador nodded just once.
The doll stood stock still.
The American turned his eyes on the taller doll.
“Name?” he barked.
“Bella, sir.” The voice was husky, throaty, sexy, and distinctively southern, sounding for all the world as if Scarlett O’Hara had stepped down from the silver screen to tempt a man to his fate. There was no modest casting down of the eyes here. The doll looked at the burly ambassador and dropped him the ghost of a wink.
He felt himself reacting, even though he knew ‘she’ was no more than some circuitry and a great many plastic components.
“Strip,” he snapped and Bella obliged him. She drew her clothes off slowly and with every evidence of a sensuality there was no way she could actually possess. When she was naked under his gaze she pulled back her shoulders making her large breasts stand out even further from her narrow ribcage. As he watched, her nipples hardened and extended. He exhaled swiftly and opened his fly with shaking hands.
“Mouth!” he ordered harshly.
The doll moved towards him with undulating grace, before dropping to her knees in front of him and doing precisely as he ordered. He fisted his hands in her hair as he ground his crotch into her face. When he achieved his orgasm he pushed her away roughly.
Reassembling his clothing, he turned to the trader.
“Stocks. Whip,” he grated.
When Bella was fixed firmly in the wooden whipping frame, the ambassador smiled and laid the whip across her firm rounded buttocks with a will. He was grimly pleased to see the red welts form on what looked like unblemished skin. After six strokes, the dealer grasped his wrist.
“Enough, I think. You have tested the merchandise past what would have been allowed for anyone else.”
It took the red-faced American some several minutes to collect his scattered wits. When his breathing had evened out enough for him to speak collectedly he spoke in a gravelly whisper.
“Fifty years. Minimum.”
The ambassador snorted. “Yeah right. And I suppose she eats and drinks too…”
“Doesn’t eat. That will come in the next model. But she does drink. Needs liquid for lubrication. In various areas. No alcohol though.”
The red-faced man cleared his threat. “Okay. How much?”
The American swallowed. “Dollars?”
For a moment the two men glared at each other, then the dealer motioned his men to cut the doll down and disassemble the whipping frame. The crew worked in silence, and the owner of the shop examined his expensively manicured fingernails. The American broke first.
“I don’t have the authority to spend that much.”
“Then you’d better get authorisation. That’s the price. Including your boss’ discount as a valued customer.”
“Okay. I hafta make some calls. How long do I have?”
“I can give you twenty-four hours.”
“I’ll be in touch.”
The ambassador strode out of the room, leaving the dealer to grin and rub his hands together. He turned to his workforce.
“Is there any damage?”
“No. I don’t understand what this one is made of. She should have been damaged badly the way he hefted that whip.”
“She’s a special order. No expense spared.”
The foreman shrugged. “And all for the enjoyment of one spotty teenager…”
“Yeah. But remember he’s a teenager who will one day become the most powerful man in the western world.”
The foreman looked puzzled.
“When his grandfather dies, won’t there be an election? I thought that lot over there elected the big guy.”
His boss lifted a bored shoulder.
“Used to, but not any more. It’s hereditary now. Like our king, only with actual power.”
It took a month, but the deal was eventually done, and when the only scion of the First Family arrived in England to continue his education (in the only country in the world where it was deemed safe for him to live without at least a dozen secret service operatives in attendance), Bella was part of his household.
Five thousand miles away in California, the richest man in the world rolled his wheelchair to a vantage point from where he could both see and hear the ocean. He was painfully thin, and it was obvious to even the most casual observer that he was sick unto death.
He sat lost in a reverie for a long time, unmoving until a graceful and beautiful woman walked out onto the terrace. He turned his head to give her an effortful smile.
“It begins, my darling, our revenge will be devastating.”
She crossed to the railings on silent feet and only the way the bones stood out in her hands as she grasped the wrought iron gave a clue to her internal tension.
“Do you promise me?”
“Oh yes. The family whose arrogance brought about the suicide of our only child will pay in full. Starting with the President, his blustering blowhard of a son, and his grandson.”
She held his gaze for a long moment.
“If we are not betrayed.”
“I have no worry of that. The lines leading back to us have all been severed. Those who built the weapon chose to meet their own deaths, secure in the knowledge that the First Family would feel the pain of loss such as they have inflicted on so many other families.”
“And will you live to see our vengeance, my love?”
He smiled a twisted smile.
“I can but hope…”
Back among the dreaming spires, Earl proved to be the antithesis of his blustering and aggressive father and grandfather. He was a quiet, studious young man whose preferred mode of operation included politeness to everyone. His Oxford home was comfortable and unpretentious, and staffed only with androids. A lot of his fellow students used the house as a sort of an impromptu cafeteria cum clubhouse, and Earl smiled on their excesses without actually joining in.
There was very little the young American wasn’t willing to share, except Bella. Some of the better-off among his fellow students also had sex dolls, which they passed randomly from hand to hand. At first, these young men were inclined to be contemptuous of Earl’s refusal to share his doll. But then a few of them saw her, and as one guy put it: “Hey, if you had a Rolls Royce would you want to share with a guy who had a Chevrolet Spark?”
As time went on Bella became more of a companion and sexual partner than a toy. It began when Earl discovered just how much intelligence lurked under the blonde curls, and began talking about what he was reading as he lay in bed with his head pillowed on her ample breasts. She listened intently, before making a suggestion in her slow southern drawl.
“If you didn’t deactivate me during the day I could read it myself, then I’d know what y’all are talking about.”
“You could indeed. And I think that would be a big help to me.”
Thus it was that Bella remained ‘awake’ at all times. She learned a great deal about English literature, and an even larger amount about the young man who owned her. Being programmed to crave approval, the android toned down the tartiness and started to dress in a much more genteel manner. It took a while for Earl to notice the change, and when he did he wasn’t sure how to react.
So he said nothing, until one afternoon when he returned home to find his bedmate studiously cleaning his walking boots. It seemed odd to him that a doll programmed for sex should be capable of caring for his other needs as well. He coughed, and she jumped.
“Hey” he said gently “isn’t that somebody else’s job?”
She flinched, and looked at him with what would have been fear in her eyes if she had been human. He put that thought to one side and smiled reassuringly.
“It’s okay, honey. I was just asking.”
She ducked her head as if still expecting reproof.
“The valet is supposed to do it, but it don’t do a proper job. Needs direction but nobody don’t have the authority to make it do its work properly.”
Earl looked at her thoughtfully. “You saying I need a housekeeper?”
“I guess. Though I know it ain’t my place to say.”
He picked up one of her muddy little hands in his big, clean ones.
“You want the job?”
“Master will have his joke,” she said woodenly.
“Look at me Bella” his voice was firm and commanding.
She raised her eyes to his face, to see him looking as angry as she had ever known him to be. She shrank under his fulminating gaze and he sighed before speaking quite crossly.
“When have I ever treated you in a way that gives you the idea I am a cruel man?”
He stopped sounding angry.
“Please don’t call me Master. I hate it. My name is Earl. Please use it. And please will you manage my household for me?”
The sincerity in his voice penetrated the circuits of her brain and she essayed a smile.
“I would love to keep house for you, Earl. But how can it be?”
“Easy. I just tell the rest of them to take their orders from you. My mother’s household is run by a droid and it goes like clockwork.”
And that was pretty much how it fell out. By the end of his first year of study Earl depended on Bella for intellectual stimulation, physical gratification, and a comfortable lifestyle.
As was expected of him, he returned to the States for a month in the summer, electing to leave his household up and running with Bella at the helm, rather than mothballing the house and deactivating the droids as his compatriots did. When he returned on a rainy August afternoon, he found the house clean and welcoming, and if he hadn’t known full well what Bella was he would have sworn she was pleased to see him.
Later that night, having reacquainted himself with the delights of her splendid body, he lay back against a bank of pillows and grinned.
“Did you miss me?”
She frowned at him.
“I’m a construct honey. I’m not capable of emotion.”
“That wasn’t what I asked you.’
“Then I don’t know the answer. I do know that my circuitry runs smoother when you’re about. And I also know that it shouldn’t be the case. Will that do?”
Sensing that somehow he was causing actual distress to a creature that should be unable to feel distress, Earl backed off.
“Sorry honey. Just joking about. Because I missed you.”
He grinned and drifted into sleep, leaving his mechanical lover to stare into the darkness and wonder why her logic circuits were malfunctioning.
Bella became such an integral part of Earl’s life that there were times when he wondered how he was going to manage when his life in England was over. On his second summer vacation he broached the subject with his grandmother, who looked at him fondly.
“You can keep her boy. In fact I’d advise you so to do. I’ve seen the cold fish your grandfather has chosen for you to marry.”
“It doesn’t seem right to me…”
His grandmother shrugged. “You are an idealist like my own grandpapa. Just don’t let your father or grandfather notice that.”
He grinned wryly and took the tiny indomitable woman in his arms.
“I know Grandmama, believe me, I do know.”
It was while he was away that a very well-manicured gentleman in a Crombie and a pork-pie hat accosted Bella in the park as she walked a neighbour’s poodle.
“I am here,” he said threateningly, “to remind you that you have just one purpose, and that you can be broken down into your component parts quite quickly should you prove a failure.”
Bella stopped walking and turned a pair of cold blue orbs on the red-faced blusterer.
“A clean sweep is required,” she said in a voice wholly devoid of inflection,” and the place and time have been selected”.
He backed away from the emptiness he saw in her eyes and all but ran from her presence. She carried on walking as if nothing had happened.
That night, as she sat knitting a jumper for Earl, Bella thought about her creators and what they had made her for. She wondered at the obsessive hatred that drove some humans, and something solidified inside her breast. Her hands fell still as she began to make her own plan for the time when she was taken to the States to join her owner’s family.
The third year of Earl’s course passed as swiftly as the blink of an eye, and before he knew it the young American obtained his degree. Nobody from America was either interested in, or permitted to attend, graduation so he dressed Bella in a conservative grey suit and had her along to watch him receive his scroll. In a funny sort of a way it felt right to him that the one entity who had nurtured him and watched over him as he learned and grew up should be there, smiling with apparent pride, as he was named Bachelor of Arts.
Packing up the household was accomplished with minimal fuss, and most of the droids were deactivated and boxed for transportation. When Bella would have arranged a crate for herself, Earl put his foot down.
“No. I need you beside me to organise a smooth journey. Besides which I find I dislike the idea of you in a wooden box.”
She opened her mouth to protest, but he silenced her with a finger across her lips.
“We’re flying in Air Force One so there are no practical problems. You travel as my secretary. And that’s my last word.”
She shrugged, attempting, he thought, to distract him with the unrestrained movement of her magnificent chest, but he was not to be deflected from his purpose.
“I’ll have your word, miss.”
And that is how a being conceived and constructed in the USA, and shipped out of the country in tiny pieces, returned to the land of her ‘birth’ on an executive jet dressed in expensively modest clothing, and in sole charge of the disposition of the belongings of the only male child of the First Family. You can be sure that the irony was not lost on certain people who observed her from afar.
An apartment had been set aside in the White House, and Bella set about putting it to rights, while Earl visited with his mother. He returned in a very disturbed state of mind.
“It seems” he said thinly “that I am to meet my intended bride tonight. And, by all accounts, I’m not going to much like her.”
Bella eyed him narrowly.
“Were you expecting to?”
“So man up and smile. If she’s truly impossible we’ll find a way out for you.”
He grinned at her.
“I love you Bella” he said facetiously and ambled off to get his shower.
She stood for a very long time gazing sightlessly at her own hands before making a tiny sound as if something inside her broke.
That evening, as Earl was being scrupulously courteous and charming to the plain, lumpy daughter of one of the richest men in the world, Bella sat at her desk and wrote a long letter explaining her own genesis and the purpose behind her very existence. When she was done, she sealed the letter with a wax wafer and slumped in her chair. For the first time since the day she was activated, she wished she could cry, but of course she couldn’t. Instead she felt the weight of dull misery pressing against her chest as a physical pain.
It was only with a great effort that she could greet her returning owner with tolerable composure. Fortunately, he had so much to share with her that he didn’t notice how unusually quiet she was.
“The girl is plain and overweight, and it was obvious that all the men in the room, except me, held her in contempt for her lack of physical attractiveness. Even my mother and grandmother looked down their patrician noses at her, and the poor thing seemed almost pathetically grateful that I treated her with civility.”
“Poor thing indeed. But not as bad as you feared.”
“No. Not bad at all. Just a bit pathetic. And reminding me just what my family is like.” He shuddered.
Bella petted his head and he turned into her embrace.
The next morning Earl went to meet with his bankers and trustees to hear an accounting of their stewardship of his personal billions. Bella watched him go, then straightened her shoulders, dressed with careful modesty, and trod the corridors of number 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the door of the Presidential office. She was admitted immediately and the old man behind the desk actually stood up to greet her.
“I have come to report on your grandson’s time in England.”
“Good. I’ll have his father brought here. Unless there is anything he should not hear.”
“No. His life was pretty well exemplary.”
“Good. But we’ll have a report anyway.”
In a very short time, the big thickset bully who had fathered Earl strode into the office.
“Yes” he snapped, and his own father just stared at him. For a moment he met the old man’s icy gaze with his hot brown orbs, then he bunched his shoulders and looked down.
“Better. You are here to listen to an accounting of your son’s time in England. Speak robot.”
Bella spoke for some minutes before reaching into the folder she carried.
“Here is a list of the Master’s social contacts.” She put the paper down on the desk and both men leaned over it. Closing her eyes, Bella put a finger into her mouth and pressed one tooth very hard.
The explosion was surprisingly muted, but it had the desired effect. Two headless things and a bundle of wires and components were all that met the eyes of the security guards who ran into the room with their guns at the ready.
“Oh fuck” the oldest guard said as the other two looked grey-faced at the carnage in the Oval Office.
It was very much later that same day when the twenty-two-year-old who was now the most powerful man in the western world firmly waved his entourage away and strode into his bedchamber.
On his pillow there was a folded sheet of paper sealed with gold wax. He picked it up and looked at the elegant calligraphy, recognising the work of the wide-nibbed pen he had bought on a whim at Waterstones in Oxford and presented to Bella. He turned the paper over and over in suddenly shaking hands, before breaking the seal and looking at the words.
‘My dear and only love,’ he read, ‘I will dare to call you that just once in this world before I leave you…’
© jane jago 2017