Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

‘The Companion’: chapter 9 (content warning: 4-letter words)

Violet has gone.  She has taken some of her stuff, but not all of it, which I think is selfish and lazy.  I have no idea where she went.  Unfortunately, I have very little to absorb me for the next few days.  I have settled my affairs, resigned from my job, and emptied my bank account.  I had nobody I wanted to say goodbye to, apart from Rose, with whom I have already exchanged goodbyes, and Violet, who left without a word.  I have disposed of all my possessions except those I will be including in the sale of my flat or travelling with (and most of those have already been despatched).  Today I woke at 8am, went back to sleep for two hours, got out of my sleeping-bag, got dressed, did not shave, did not have breakfast, and sat and stared at the wall for a while.  I then packed the remainder of Violet’s possessions into bin liners and took them to the dump.  There were a few mementoes that I decided to keep.  One of them is Violet’s registration certificate (in effect, my “android licence”).  Another is the box of tampons.  She did not take any of the tampons with her (I counted how many were missing from the box when I found them).  That makes me even more mystified.  I cannot work out why she would not take with her something that she had an inexplicable reason for needing in the first place.  I am now walking round the neighbourhood, trying to decide where not to have lunch. 

I am now technically committing a criminal offence.  Failure to report the disappearance or abnormal behaviour of an android is against the law.  The registered owner of an android is required at all times to know the android’s exact location.  I don’t even know which continent she is in. 

She did not even write me a note.  The first indication I had that she had gone for good was when I accidentally trod on her keys in the hallway.  She must have locked the door and then put them through the letterbox.  It occurred to me when I realised that there was no note to wonder how many samples I had of Violet’s handwriting (which was, while neat and businesslike, also endearingly feminine).  I went into the spare bedroom and looked for the box that we both used to use for greetings cards and letters to each other that we did not want to throw away.  It had gone.  I am hoping that Violet took it, and that she did not destroy it.  I then went through the wastepaper baskets, and found a crumpled shopping-list that Violet had written.  It reads as follows.


3 October 2135


Shopping List


Goat’s cheese





Fresh mint

Ground almonds


Cotton wool pads

Nail varnish remover (the expensive stuff)


Toilet paper for Kelvin’s arse

Mouthwash for Kelvin’s foul breath problem

Extra large tissues for when Kelvin wanks off


Red wine

Beer for Kelvin to make into wee wee


I smoothed it out and put it in my wallet.


Goodbye for now, Kelvin.  I hope you don’t think that you have got rid of me.  Here are your keys back.   I wonder what our house will look like, when are finally living together, as man and wife.

I can still hear him.  I am sitting in a café in Hyde Park, well within the 3 kilometre range of the listening devices.  He is playing a low-tempo jazz record to an accompaniment of clinking bottles and glasses, which is usually a sign of an emotional crisis.  I started writing him an email (I don’t need a keyboard to do this: I can compose them inside my head and then send them).  I got halfway through, realised that I could not decide whether I was being sad, angry, or factual, and just deleted it.   I can just about hear him padding from room to room.  He will have had a couple of whiskies or vodkas to start him on his way.  He will have a bottle of something fizzy when he is in the bath, in about half an hour, then a bottle of red with the Indian takeaway or pizza he will order for dinner (if he has any), and then he will sit opening cans of beer until he either passes out, or realises he is de-hydrated (in which case he will have two large tumblers of water and three mugs of sugary tea). 

He will have the worst hangover he can remember in the morning, without me to metabolise the alcohol and give him saline.  I am tempted to come back in the morning, just to listen to him again, but I have places I need to be.

My name, for the foreseeable future, is Pamela Collins.  My background story is that I am a multi-lingual electrical engineer from Shrewsbury.  I am 24 years old.  I got a 2:1 from Loughborough University.  I can speak and write Russian, Spanish and French; I can speak Mandarin, and I have a basic knowledge of spoken Japanese.  I am not musical.  My favourite book is “The Lord of the Rings”, which is the only thing I’ve ever read other than textbooks.  I can’t cook.  My favourite meal is instant noodles, crisps and Lambrini. I have no dress sense and I never wear heels, but I am extremely good at handicrafts, including needlework, but these are skills that I only use on behalf of other people.  I hardly ever wear make-up: not because I’m a lesbian but because I’m boring.  Kelvin will not remember interviewing me, and will not be able to find any-one else who remembers interviewing me.  This will be attributed to my uninteresting personality and appearance.  If it weren’t for my practical skills, I would never have been selected.

            I have been very careful about changing my appearance.  I must be quite unrecognisable.

            I used to be 5 feet 7 inches tall, and had a curvy figure with E-cup breasts.  My hair was a dark treacle colour, very thick, slightly wavy, and usually down to my shoulders (though I often wore it up).  My skin was unfashionably pale, and my belly and my thighs unfashionably large (which was just the way Kelvin wanted me).  My eyebrows were dark and thin but not plucked out of existence as current fashion would dictate.  My fingers were long, slender, strong, and my nails always impeccably manicured. My ears were pierced, but I had no tattoos.  My legs were completely smooth, but I had lush, dark pubic hair and hairy armpits. My labia were prominent and a certain shade of pinkish-red, about which Kelvin gave very exacting instructions. 

I wonder how many women in history have run surveillance on and then left the man who decided what colour their cunt would be.

Pamela Collins is 5 feet 10 inches tall with gangly arms and legs, a flattish chest, and a body like a biscuit-barrel.  She has mousy, pale brown, curly hair which is given to greasiness.  Her eyebrows and eyelashes and pale and almost invisible.  Her skin is pale and freckly with lividly pink cheeks.  She ought to wear that special face-cream that goes opaque-white if the wearer blushes, but she has never heard of it, and would not fork out for it even if she had.  She has mild eczema on her hands and feet, and her nails are bitten.  If anybody got the chance to see, he or she would find that she shaves her pubice and her armpits.  Her vulva is an almost featureless slit which Kelvin would never bother to click on if he saw it on a website. 

I am going to report as early as possible at the airfield from which the plane takes off to take us to the launch-site.  I will then engage every-one I can find in conversation in a low, monotonous voice with a West Midlands accent, and watch them run away.  Kelvin will walk straight past me but, unless he has thrown all his clothes away and bought a complete new wardrobe, I will know he is about to arrive as soon his car gets within 3 kilometres of me.


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