A Proud Little Machine A man uses a high tech bedroom toy to foil a home invasion.

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Feb 28, 2015 No Comments ›› admin

FICTION
By Lynn Woolley

Editor’s note:  A high-tech sex toy from another galaxy lands on earth and turns out to have all kinds of uses. This story was written in the late seventies or early eighties. It was accepted by “Shadows Of…” but the magazine went defunct before it could be published. For this posting, I updated several sequences.

It was a cold evening in December when Tom Jennings brought home the strange little machine – and even he didn’t know exactly what it was supposed to do. Tom worked on a space dock, unloading and sorting imports from other words, and occasionally, he was given to the practice of bringing home some unusual item from who-knows-where. He had become known as a collector, and it was well known that his collection had become quite a nice one.

On this particular night, he presented his wife, Marianne, with a contraption that had arrived from a distant planet in Galaxy NGC 598.

She stared at it rather warily, and finally asked: “What in the world is it?”

“The guy that sold it to me called it a ‘SensAround.’ I couldn’t resist it. It was the only one shipped in, and I picked it up for six hundred chips.

As they pondered the machine, it seemed to look back. It did, in fact, have what seemed like two eyes. They were adjustable orbs on foot-long appendages, extending from a global base, flat on the bottom so as to sit comfortably on a table. What looked like an on-off button was mounted next to an apparent timing mechanism. Opposite the controls was some writing, in a language understood only in NGC 598.

The Proud Little Machine wasn’t in the movie, but It Came From Outer Space!

Marianne groaned. “For six hundred chips, I hope he told you what it’s for.”

“Well, he explained it as a ‘sensation converter’ – but I’m not sure exactly what he meant by that. He wasn’t too proficient in English. But he showed me how it works.”

Marianne watched as Tom took the two extenders in his hands and moved them around. He pointed one right at Marianne, and the other at himself.

“Now, if I set the timer and turn on the power it’ll – well, it’ll do whatever it does.”

She reached down and pushed his hand away from the controls. “I’m not so sure about this,” she said. “If we don’t know what it is, how do we know it’s safe?”

Tom chuckled, “Oh, honey, it got through customs, and it’s just a toy. It was made for fun. Besides, I’ve got the timer set for the shortest possible period. Whatever happens will only last for about ten seconds.”

He placed his index finger on the switch. Marianne swallowed, hard. Tom hit the button quickly, as if to do the deed before he could change his mind. The machine began to hum and there was a faint glow emerging from the two glass-like eyes. Tom and Marianne were being bathed in some sort of ray.

“I feel different,” she said.

Tom had a puzzled look on his face. “So do I, but I can’t place the feeling.”

Presently, the ten seconds was up and the Jenningses were back to normal. Marianne was scoffing at the purchase. “I can’t believe it. Another piece of space junk. You bring it home, not knowing what it’s supposed to do. You use the bleeping thing, and we don’t even know what it did.”

And so the SensAround was placed on a shelf with about two-dozen other odds and ends that Tom had acquired over the years.

The little machine was forgotten until some weeks later, when Tom arrived home from work and announced that he had seen the trader who’d sold it to him.

“I got him to explain a little more in detail,” he told her. “What it does is, it makes a person feel what someone else feels and vice versa. You know — like a sensation reversal system.”

“I understand,” she said not looking him and not understanding. “Did he offer to give you your money back?”

“Wait,” he said. “I’ll put it to the test. I’ve come down with a light touch of the flu. I’ve got a runny nose, and a slight bit of temperature. Let’s see if the SensAround can make you feel my symptoms.”

He pulled the little contraption down from the shelf and dusted it off. One eye, he aimed at Marianne; the other at himself. He estimated thirty seconds on the timer, and turned on the switch. The machine hummed and the eyes emitted their faint glow.

Tom smiled. “It worked. I feel a hundred percent better. How about you, honey? Feel any flu symptoms?”

And she did indeed. “So I do.” She was pressing her right hand to her forehead, but was detecting no temperature.

“The temperature is still in my body,” Tom said. “It’s just that with the SensAround working, you’re the one who feels it.”

But Marianne, not thrilled with most of Tom’s findings at the space dock, was not ready to admit that every home should have a SensAround. “So the thing works,” she muttered. “So what is it good for? I don’t want your old flu symptoms.”

Tom was beginning to get some very precise ideas on what the little machine might be used for, but he only grinned and softy said, “Don’t worry, honey, the thirty seconds are up. I’m already starting to feel bad again.” Then, he replaced the SensAround back in its place.

The third time the SensAround was put into action was a week later when Tom was over his flu, and came home from work like the proverbial cat that ate the canary. He rushed through his evening meal, and watched the usual programs on holovision, and then —

With Marianne getting ready for bed, Tom walked into the space-junk room and looked up at the SensAround. It looked back at him from the shelf, and silently, the two contemplated the conspiracy.

Marianne was already sleeping lightly, her long brown hair forming a soft cushion between head and pillow. Her perfect features were dazzling in the radiant glow of moonlight that streamed in through the small bedroom window. How beautiful she is, Tom thought, as he aimed one orb toward her. His heart was beating rapidly as he set the timer as near as he could to fifteen minutes, stepped in front of the other extender, and switched on the SensAround.

The steady humming caused Marianne to awaken from her light sleep, but the sensation exchange was already taking place.

Tom looked good, standing there in his underwear. Having just awakened, her heart had not yet recovered to its normal pulse rate – but she felt the hard, steady pounding of Tom’s heart and the sweatiness of his palms. She was excited. She wanted him! Now!

She glanced at the little device sitting so innocently on the vanity, and with an understanding gleam in her eyes, shifted her gaze to her husband.

For Tom, the excitement suddenly vanished. He felt as though he had just been awakened in the night by the buzzing of a com device. He felt the urge to pull the covers over his head and drift back to sleep. But, no – Tom hadn’t been asleep at all.

Tom’s feelings were Marianne’s, but his will was still his own. He lay down next to her, realizing full well that she now felt all the excitement and the tingling that he had experienced as he planned the evening. Still thirteen minutes to go. He was shaking off the feeling of sleepiness as he pressed her sweet lips against his. The soft whisper of  “I love you, Tom!” served as her response to the kiss.

When the fifteen minutes had expired, their sensations returned each to the other, and they spent the rest of the night holding each other under the watchful orbs of a proud little machine.

But as fate and a slightly ticked off woman would have it, the SensAround found itself replaced on the shelf – the apparent victim of a forced early retirement. Marianne laid down the law: the Jennings bedroom is no place for extra-terrestrial scientific know-how, and none of Tom’s arguments did him any good. He resigned himself to the idea that the machine would become just another trophy in his space-junk room. The retirement turned out to be short lived, though, and within weeks, the SensAround was used for a fourth time.

It was late at light when the Jenningses were awakened by noises emanating from another section of the house.

Tom donned a housecoat, reached for the lightray he kept by the bed, and began to check room by room. Finding nothing, he opened the back door, played the beam around the yard for a moment and then stepped outside. That’s when he heard Marianne scream.

He froze for a heartbeat, and then ran toward her expecting the worst. He found her unharmed, still in the bedroom, but in the grip of a would-be burglar who had disabled the security system and had broken in under the mistaken impression that the Jenningses were away. He never bothered to explain that to Tom since he was holding a laser-blaster to Marianne’s head, and Tom was in no position to argue.

He spoke softly in a low husky voice. “Your wife’s pretty. You wouldn’t want her to get hurt.”

Tom’s heart was in his throat. “N-No, I don’t want her hurt. What do you want?”

The man relaxed his grip on Marianne, but she said nothing.

He said, “Your collection – where is it?”

“You must hang around the docks…”

“Shut up! Just show me the collection.”

“I-I have a room for it. It’s this way.”

Tom moved slowly toward the space-junk room, and the man followed, Marianne still held tightly in his grip. Presently, they were in the room, surrounded by Tom’s memorabilia of a thousand shipments from alien worlds.

The man showed Tom his blaster again, and commanded, “Show me the pieces that are worth the most chips.”

Tom fumbled with a few of the items, wishing there was some unworldly item he could use against the intruder. He showed the man a metal-cutter from Andromeda, worth a lot of chips because of a diamond cutting edge; he showed him a golden pendant from the mines on Mercury; and he showed him – the SensAround.

Carefully, Tom removed the little device from the shelf, noticing that the timer was still set for fifteen minutes.

“What’s that thing with the eyes?” demanded the intruder.

Tom began to stutter. For some reason, he felt the urge to protect the little machine, to prevent it from being stolen. And so he lied: “Th-this little machine? W-Why it doesn’t do much of anything. I picked it up for practically n-nothing…”

The man cut him off. “Liar!” He squeezed Marianne and she turned red in the face form the pressure. “That switch – turn it on.”

Tom was shaking, but he saw his opportunity. As he reached for the switch, he shifted the SensAround slightly so that one orb pointed at the intruder; the other aimed at Tom.

The humming began. The intruder considered the faint glow being emitted from the machine’s eyes. Tom began to walk slowly toward the man; his tenseness evaporated and he was feeling more in control – as if he possessed a laser-blaster.

The intruder raised the weapon, not at Marianne, but at Tom. “One more step and…”

Tom took the step.

The intruder fired, and a thin beam struck Tom on his right thigh. Tom never flinched but the intruder yelped in pain.

Surprise caused the man to drop the blaster, and now, he tossed Marianne aside and lunged at Tom, landing a severe blow to Tom’s midsection. As Tom picked himself up from the floor, he grinned as the burly man recoiled in pain from the force of his own blow.

The SensAround was working overtime. Tom could feel some of the confusion that the intruder experienced, and Tom began to worry that his newfound confidence might also be reversed. Tom was struggling to maintain control through an intellectual understanding of what was happening, rather than let feelings and emotions influence his actions.

Not being familiar with the SensAround, the intruder could not battle it mentally. He opted for a quick escape with as much booty as he could carry.

Suddenly, Marianne’s voice returned. “Tom! Do something! He’s getting away and he’s got the SensAround!”

But Tom calmly walked to the kitchen sink and drew some water. “I’ll stop him all right,” he declared. “Watch this.”

Tom took a towel and placed it over his face, reared his head back, and poured water over the towel with a coffee cup. It was awkward, but he did it a couple of times. It was a procedure he’d read about in spy thrillers. He got some water into his nose, and it was most uncomfortable – or so he’d read. But he didn’t feel it. All he felt was what the intruder should have been feeling – a sense of urgency as he fled the neighborhood.

Marianne used the com device to call the police, and then panicked and pulled the towel from Tom’s face.

The police found the intruder two blocks away from the Jennings residence, semi-conscious, confused, and gasping for breath.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Tom was realizing that his stomach was very sore, and his right thigh was in need of medication. He was sorry the fifteen minutes were up, because he ached all over – but he was very happy that his little machine had been recovered.

And so, the SensAround was soon safely back in place, never to use used again.

Well – hardly ever.

There did, at last, come a night that Tom, mischievous and full of anticipation was ready to work another conspiracy with the little machine, of which he’d become quite fond.

“You’ve never let me down, partner,” he whispered to it as he made the adjustments and heard the familiar humming begin.

And there she was. Beautiful, alluring, desirable Marianne.

He pointed one orb at her, the other toward himself. He waited for the machine to perform its function. He knew that in a moment’s time, Marianne would feel the desire and the excitement that he knew so well.

Of course, she would chastise him for it later, but for tonight, it would be worth it.

She was awake as he lay down beside her, her expression providing evidence that the SensAround had worked its magic. Now she was experiencing all of Tom’s sensations, and he was beginning to feel hers.

“I have hated that thing ever since you brought it home,” said Marianne. “But tonight is different. Tonight, I couldn’t be happier that we have it.”

Tom tried to smile as she embraced him.

“Honey, please!” he said. “Is it okay if we just hold each other tonight? I seem to have a splitting headache.”

Marianne had a wry smile on her face as they snuggled beneath the covers.

THE END

© 2015 by Lynn Woolley. All rights reserved.

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