Author : George R. Shirer

The saleswoman had gray hair piled atop her head in a beehive. Her lips were painted a garish shade of red. Tremaine thought the color would have looked more appropriate on a whore. The pantsuit she wore was black polysilk; her boots were made of vat-grown human skin.

Rich, Tremaine decided, but lacking taste.

She flashed a garish smile. “Before we begin, Mister Tremaine, I’d like to know what’s brought you to us? According to your social profile you’ve been involved in several long-term relationships.”

“Which proved unsatisfactory,” sniffed Tremaine. “I want something, madame, that I haven’t been able to find on my own. So, an associate suggested I try you people.”

“And what is this quality you’re looking for?”


The old woman’s eyes brightened. Her smile was shark-like.

“Easily accomplished. You do realize that this solution is only temporary? Your purchase will only last for a maximum of three years.”

“I do,” sniffed Tremaine. “May I ask where you get your raw material?”

“A girl’s home outside Newcastle. If you’d like, I can show you our paperwork. We won’t be offended and our clients’ trust and satisfaction are of paramount importance to us.”

“That won’t be necessary, madame. When can we begin?”

She handed him a pad and a stylus. “Simply select the traits you want from the menu and we’ll generate a number of simulations that you can choose from.”

“And she’ll be loyal?”

“As a dog,” said the saleswoman. “Behaviors are hardwired into the brain and there are failsafes that activate in case of a breach.”


“If your purchase should ever break your trust, Mr. Tremaine, her brain will shut down.”

“She’ll die?”

“Painlessly,” assured the saleswoman. “And if that happens we’ll replace her with another model at our own expense.”

Tremaine pursed his lips, considered the options on the pad.

“Can you make her love me?”

The woman shrugged. “Truly. Madly. Deliriously.”


“Of course,” the saleswoman added, smiling her shark’s smile, “love costs.”

Tremaine snorted and started making his selections. “So I’ve been told.”

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