“Oh.” Frank was startled back to the present.“Yeah, jeeze, I’ve been on hold for like twenty minutes.” His voice was edged with anger.
“I do apologize for that sir. We are experiencing heavier than usual traffic volume following the holiday.” Tabatha’s voice remained upbeat, if not downright perky. “I’ll be happy to assist you now. Can you tell me the nature of your call?”
Frank glared across the room at the Christmas present he had bought for himself. She blankly stared back at him.
“Well, yeah.” Now that it came down to it he found it hard to talk to the woman on the other end of the line. Why couldn’t he have gotten a man? “I’m not happy with this item I purchased from you, and I’d like to return it for a full refund.”
“I see, sir. Can you give me your purchase ID?”
“It’s in the upper right hand corner of the invoice.”
“Oh, sure.” He fumbled with the phone as he sorted through the paperwork. “Yeah, here it is. ZB104-2271953.”
There was some quick keyboarding on the other end of the line.
“Yes sir. I see you purchased Anna Marie, from our line of Eternal Bliss Instant Brides. Is there a problem sir?”
“Well, yeah!” He kept his voice just below a shout. “I don’t want her. She’s creepy. And she stinks!”
“I’m sorry you are disappointed with your purchase, sir. I’m afraid all our reanimated brides are non-returnable items. Failure to rehydrate is the only acceptable reason for a return. Did she rehydrate?”
Frank shuddered at the memory. He had been so excited when the package arrived, could hardly believe there was a real woman in a bag no bigger than a loaf of bread. Like they say, the Human body is something like 90% water. The instructions said to place Anna Marie in a bathtub full of warm water, wait twenty-four hours for complete re-hydration, carefully assist her from the tub, gently pat dry, and then wait twelve hours before use to allow all of her systems to properly stabilize. He’d gotten a boner just drawing the tub.
Then, around midnight, he’d woken up to the most god awful smell. At first he went to the front door, but stepping outside made it clear the smell was coming from inside the house. His nose led him to the bathroom. When he looked in the tub he almost lost it. The ‘loaf of bread’ lay at the bottom of the tub, completely submerged, and had expanded into a grotesque approximation of a woman, about three feet long, curled in a fetal position, shriveled skin, and with dead looking eyes staring up from under the water. It was all he could do to keep from hurling. He’d bolted from the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
“Well, yeah.” He hated to admit it, but she had rehydrate properly. When he looked again in the morning he saw a drop-dead beautiful woman laying in the tub. She now floated, her face, breasts, and thighs just breaking the surface. But she still had that vacant stare and the stench had not gone away. “She rehydrated.”
“I’m glad to hear that, sir. As indicated before, if the reanimated bride properly rehydrated we cannot accept it as a return.”
“But she stinks!” Now he did shout.
Tabatha remained cheerful in the face of his distress. “I am sorry sir. The catalog did discuss that particular limitation…”
“It said there was a slight odor the user could easily mask!” He rubbed the back of his neck in frustration. “I sprayed her with about a half a can of Lysol, and it hasn’t helped much.”
“The odor will dissipate over time, sir. You can speed the process with frequent showers, and we recommend Fabreeze. It also helps to keep the windows open.”
“It’s 38 degrees outside. I can’t open the windows!”
“You can place your bride outside while you wait for the smell to dissipate…”
“In the cold?”
“She’s already dead, sir. I assure you, the cold won’t hurt her.”
That reminded him of something else he hadn’t considered when he’d made the purchase.
“Uh, so what does she eat?”
“Oh, no worries there sir. All of our reanimated products have been modified to turn off the appetite. She doesn’t eat or drink anything. She’s completely safe.” He could almost see Tabatha smirking at the other end of the line.
He looked at Anna Marie sitting there naked, dripping water on his couch. God, what a mistake. Still, he had to admit, she was beautiful, if slightly gray.
“Her color’s awful.” This, almost to himself.
“I can recommend our Eternal Bliss body make up and perfume kit, sir. It comes highly recommend by others who have bought this product. It’s just $59.99.”
Frank dropped his head in resignation as he reached to get his credit card from his wallet.
He could kick himself for not just settling for the blow up doll.
© 2014 by J.M. Strother, all rights reserved. Photo © 2014 by J.M. Strother, all rights reserved.