Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

‘The Companion’: chapter 4 (content warning: adult themes)

I have stepped up the amount of snooping I do on Kelvin.  At first, it was just catching the instruction to shut down, and listening to him when he was in the same room as me and he thought I was dormant.  I then installed some miniature cams at strategic points around the flat, partly for general surveillance but particularly so that I could watch him when he was masturbating (it was the frequency and timing I was mainly concerned with, not the graphic details).   This was the situation for a long time. 

I then made contact with another android in the United States who runs an electronics business.  I bought some wireless microphones which look as if they are made out of fabric.  They feel rather stiff, but they are still very easy to conceal and virtually undetectable without special equipment.  I have sewn them into most of Kelvin’s clothes, which means that I can listen to him whenever I am within 3 kilometres of him.  I particularly like these devices, because they are powered by body heat.  It amuses me to think that the energy of Kelvin’s own body powers my ability to spy on him.  I also have an instrument which picks up Kelvin’s phone calls and emails.  If he starts using quantum-encryption, the cat will be out of the bag, because the decryption software will know they have been tampered with, and there is no way of knowing if a message is quantum-encrypted without trying to break into it.  Kelvin is very slapdash about security, which is convenient for me. 

I am doing this in order to find out who the hell “Lieutenant Thorn” is. 


After a flood of messages, phone calls and cam-footage, I now know more than I want to know about the Lieutenant. 

For a start, her surname is Thorne, with an e.  Her first name is Rose.  Rose Thorne – priceless.  She is indeed Kelvin’s paramour.  She is an officer in the Naval Intelligence service, and is on temporary secondment to this ridiculous “Alpha Project”.  She is about 5’10”, overweight, not particularly fit for a servicewoman, and has reddish-blonde hair which looks dyed but is in fact real.  She is twenty-six years old, has never been married and has no children.  She went to a second-rate university and is not well-educated.  In fact, compared to Kelvin and me, she is sub-literate, though I must admit that she can speak three foreign languages.  She has surprisingly expensive tastes in clothes and make-up.  Kelvin has told her several times that she is a good kisser, and she occasionally likes it up the bum.  Their usual date is to take a high-speed train to Edinburgh, have dinner at some new French place called Allegations, and then book into a hotel room by way of a shag-pad.  They do it an average of 2.25 times per night, and during each vaginal penetration she orgasms approximately twice.  She likes bacon and kippers but not black pudding.  Her favourite drinks are Pinot Grigio,  vodka, and coffee with too much milk and no sugar. 

I am delighted to say that my earlier hypothesis is correct: Lieutenant Thorne is not eligible for the Alpha Project: she cannot make the journey with us.  This made Kelvin very sad for a while, but he seems to be getting over it now.  Strangely, the closer the launch-day gets, the more cheerful he seems.  I attribute this to his increasing involvement in his plans for the journey.  He has been running around, trying to procure some rather unusual bits of equipment.  He has also been helping the people who are recruiting the “colonists”.  There are supposed to be fifty thousand of them, but I understand that, until recently, they were having trouble filling all the places. 

As soon as I found out that she has to stay on Earth, I stopped worrying about her.  She and Kelvin have had their “last night” together.  I was miserable while Kelvin was away, but he is back now and has only stayed away overnight when on one of his solitary equipment-seeking expeditions. 

My next concern is to plan for my own induction into the Alpha Project.  I need to work out what my new appearance will be, and compose a profile and background story.  I also need to contrive something convincing to explain why I apparently will not be going to see Kelvin off.  I am still thinking about this.  The two most obvious options are to pretend to have a row with him, or make him think that I have had an accident.  Neither of these is particularly appealing.  I don’t want to be nasty to Kelvin, particularly not falsely, and neither do I want his last memory of me for several years (that is how long the journey will seem to last) to be painful.  The accident would have to be something so destructive that there would be no “body” for him to see, unless I get a replica of myself made, which would be a bit expensive.  Another idea might be to generate some digital images of myself, and send them to him over the Internet, making them appear to come from some distant location.  I worry that he might not fall for that.  He is not as intelligent as me, but neither is he an idiot. 


Kelvin is becoming more and more like a child who only has a few more doors to open on his advent calendar.  Tomorrow he has to go somewhere in the south to be briefed about the mission.  It is all he can talk about.  I think this conversation (or monologue) will be much more interesting once he has learnt something substantive about the subject.

I think the prospect of getting into a spaceship and being confined there for several years before landing on an unknown planet in another solar system has not sunk in yet.  The only part of it which does seem real is the prospect of being in the same company with Kelvin, but not being able to reveal myself, not being acknowledged by him, having to watch him fumbling around in stupid relationships with other women.  I have definitely decided on anonymity as the rule for the interstellar journey.  I will reveal myself to Kelvin again one day, but it will be after we land in our new home – assuming we get there alive, of course.


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