Aphelion Issue 281, Volume 27
March 2023
Long Fiction and Serials
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Flash Fiction
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by Mark Govier

‘There’s nothing the anti-synth lobby can do now,’ says my father happily, ‘with that stupid law removed last month everything’s allowed to open tonight. Want to go Downtown and see what sort of synth-pets are out there, Sally?’
‘Is that really true?’ I say.

‘Close your mouth when you’re eating…’

I swallow, then continue. ‘But, how come I didn’t know?’

‘Because you never keep up with the news, do you?’

‘But, what I was wondering about was how-come they setup pet-synths shops up so fast?’

My father, a serious news-fiend, shakes his head once more.

‘Because there were research labs hidden all over the place… The big companies had all been working on this for decades…’

My father pops an Awareness Enhancer, gives me a Child-Dose, and off we go.

Downtown is so super-super packed tonight. Everywhere it’s the same, the parent with their child.

‘Oh look,’ I say, pointing to a pet-synth shop called Synthpets-4U.

‘Last month, it was an office furniture shop’ says my father know-it-all-ingly.

Sales-Waiters wearing Imprint Smiles stand at the Entry Zone.

‘Look at that one,’ whispers my father, nudging me.

‘What?’ I garble, full of excitement.

‘The Sales-Waiter on the left, their Imprint, see? It’s at a really bad angle.’

I struggle to stop laughing, and am about to point.

My father shakes his head sternly. ‘They might get sacked if the CCTV sees us,’ he whispers.

The shop’s first display is lots of synth-mice-possums in invisible plastic cases. They look amazing. They’re big, with different coloured fur and eyes and everything.

A Sales-Waiter comes over. ‘They’re not simply coloured, they’re also smart’ she says, opening a case, ‘just look at Harry here. Come on Harry…’

The green and yellow striped synth-mouse-possum with red eyes jumps on the back of the Sales-Waiter’s hand, runs up her arm, sits on her left shoulder.

‘Show our guests what you can do Harry.’

The mouse-possum stands right up on its back legs, bows, looks directly into my eyes.

‘Put out your hand’ says the Sales-Waiter to me.

Harry runs onto my hand, runs up my left arm, stands on my left shoulder, puts its snout next to my left ear, whispers its name not once, but twice. Then it says ‘please buy me’.

‘Right Harry, time to go back’ said the Sales-Waiter putting out both hands.

Harry jumps into the waiting hands, winks at me, goes back to his case.

My father is smiling. ‘Are they direct clones, or individuals’ he asks the Sales-Waiter.

‘A bit of both Sir. It’s true the line is bred from clones of clones of mouse-possums, but there’s a real difference with each.’

‘In what way’ asks my father, not that I really understand, or really care.

‘When they’re processed, carefully chosen individual identity samples are added. We guarantee each Harry is different, personality wise to any other synth-mouse-possum… And let me tell you both, this line of synth’s can live up to 10 years.’

My father looks down at me. ‘Synthpets-4U is a huge store Sally… They’ve got synth dog-cats and synth-talking-deer and…’

‘I don’t care’ I blurt out, ‘I only want Harry, I only want Harry, I only want Harry.’

The Sales Waiter and my father both smile at my antics.

‘There’s a 10% surcharge, due to Harry being a display’ says the Sales-Waiter.

My father nods, pays, and out we go with Harry on my shoulder, and I couldn’t be more proud.


2017 Mark Govier

E-Mail: Mark Govier

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