Author : David Henson

Ellen watches as the machine, bigger than Harold, starts vibrating, its red and blue lights blinking slowly. Gradually the vibration becomes a loud grinding sound and the lights a purple blur. When everything stops, Harold swings open the large door, reaches down and picks up two eggs from the floor of the device. “OK Honey, what’s next?”

Ellen looks back at the recipe book that she’s borrowed from the Library of Artifacts. “Two cups of sugar.”

Harold taps the keypad on the side of the replicator. After a few moments, he hands the sugar to Ellen. “I’m sure it’s not nearly as sweet as you.”

“Harold, you do say the nicest things. Next we need flour. Three cups.”

“Flour, you say?”

“That’s right.”

Harold grins at Ellen, then goes through the routine with the replicator. “Here you go.” He turns and hands her a long-stemmed rose.

Ellen feels her cheeks flush. “Harold, what’d I ever do to deserve you?” She chuckles to herself.

“I love how you’ve got your hair today. That swoop.”

“It’s the latest fashion on the Venus colonies.”

“Well, that’s perfect ’cause you’re my Aphrodite.”

“You’re going to turn my head, Harold. Now let’s have that flour, the powdered kind.”

Harold starts to turns back toward the replicator, then faces Ellen again. “Sweetie, I have a question. Why don’t we just replicate the whole cake at once?”

“I thought I’d try my hand at making it from scratch.”

“You’ll start going to the old-time markets next. Give up replicating altogether like the purists.”

Ellen shakes her head. “No, no, not me. I’d never want to give up my replicator.”

Ellen and Harold put the machine through its paces for the next half-hour or so. “That’s it?” Harold starts to hug Ellen.

“No. We’re missing the most important thing.”

“What’s that?”

“An oven to bake the cake in, silly goose.”

“Oven?” Harold turns to the keypad and scratches his head.

“O-v-e-n. The cake needs to bake for 30 minutes. Set the oven to expire. In an hour.”


“Absolutely delicious,” Harold says, patting his lips with a napkin. “Ellen my dear, you can add master chef to your long list of accomplishments.”

The oven begins to beep. As it does, it fades from view, then disappears.

After Harold cleans up, Ellen and he spend the rest of the evening listening to the Rings of Saturn Concerto and sharing a bottle of replicated merlot. Harold hangs on Ellen’s every word as she explains the finer points of how to appreciate classical music and a wine’s bouquet.

Ellen checks the time. “Well,” she says coyly. “I think I’ll go into the bedroom now.”

A big smile takes over Harold’s face. “Wonderful. Those are the words I’ve been … BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…BEEP.” Harold fades from view and disappears.

Ellen goes to the replicator and taps the keypad. After the machine stops groaning and flashing, she opens the door. A tall, rippling man with dark, wavy hair steps out and scoops her up in his arms. “Baby, you still got that Indian Kami Sooter book from the library of old stuff?”

Ellen puts her arms around Pete’s neck. “Oh yeah, Baby. We’re on page 41 tonight.” She closes her eyes and smiles. “Page 41.”