Author : Rosalie Kempthorne
The creature was hideous. It was lopsided for one thing, and where its left arm should be there was only a stump. To say nothing of the slimy green tentacles that hung off its shoulder where a right arm was meant to go. Its misshapen face had one good – almost beautiful – eye, but the other was a bulging, white mess, and its chin drooped, green, in the way candle wax does when it melts. Even the clerk was staring at it with dismayed, somewhat helpless eyes.
This was definitely not what she had paid for.
The clerk was clearing his throat nervously. He barely mumbled out the words: “All care, of course, all care but no responsibility. I mean the thing is….”
“You are not serious?!”
Daphne rounded on him. He wanted to see a temper did he? Well, she could show him a temper. “I paid for a new husband! A new husband, you shrivelled up little hackla worm! Do you expect me to marry that?”
Was it her imagination or did the thing look almost hurt? No, it didn’t even look as if it could be sentient. Some heads were going to roll for this. She was a valued customer!
The clerk was starting to say, “Well, look-”
“No, you look. I want a proper husband, a replacement, and I want it asap.”
“It doesn’t work like that-”
“I don’t think it works at all!” She couldn’t quite bring herself around to looking directly at certain parts of it she doubted would be functional.
“The contract you’ve signed, you see,” and he clearly, clearly wished he were anywhere else but here in this room, “the customer bears the responsibility in the rare incidence of failure.” He looked as if he was about to transmit her a copy of the document.
“I know what I signed. But do you call this fit for purpose? Do you think any women in the known galaxy is going to take this on as her husband?”
“Well, I don’t know…. I mean he’s got one very nice eye….”
Silver and emerald. Just like she remembered. Sure, gazing into just that…. But then the other one swivelled to look at her. Digusting.
“I’m very sorry Ma’am but a replacement….”
“I should think so-”
“….would require full payment.”
“I’ll be making a complaint.”
Relieved. Of course he looked relieved, this was about to sail right over his head, off his shoulders, and onto somebody else’s desk. He said “There’s a form. And if you want to order another….”
“Huh! Believe me, I’ll be taking my business elsewhere!” She turned on her heel, tossing her head for dramatic effect.
“Ma’am…..” He was gesturing at the thing.
“Do you really expect me to take that with me?!”
“Well, it’s just…”
The thing turned its head to look at her. In her husband’s dead voice: “Daphne.”
“You see…” the clerk was going to try and explain about the memory implants, the bonding process.
“That’s your problem!” she fired back.
And the thing said “Hello darling, how was your day at work?”