The Illustrated Man rolled onto his back so the moon illuminated the plains of his stomach. His breathing was slow and deep in his sleep. I couldn’t help but gaze into the pictures on his skin. Mesmerized, I watched the colors swirl together as the art came to life…

Life was so relaxing these days. Terry sipped at her wine as the chair gently rocked her back and forth. Her new toy was amazing. She couldn’t believe it took her until the year 2,500 to get one, ten years after they were invented. She watched as it cleaned her house, not allowing one speck of dust to go unnoticed. She liked to call it Renaldo. He was the perfect man, with tanned skin, a muscular build, and, of course, a Spanish accent. A dream. Best of all, he was artificial and answered her every whim. Living life alone for so long she was thrilled to have a companion. Most times she forgot that he wasn’t a man at all. Feelings for Renaldo developed within her. Even though he couldn’t return feelings, she liked to pretend he could.

Today Terry wanted to actually go shopping the old fashioned way and go to one of the few malls left in existence. Usually she’d simply slide her card and have the things she needed teleported, but she wanted to walk around some. Of course Renaldo went with her, carrying her bags.

As Terry stepped off the elevator she tripped and scraped her bare knee. Little beads of blood began to form. Renaldo was at her side in seconds but when he saw the droplets he looked puzzled.

“What is it Renaldo?” Terry asked.

“What is that strange liquid?” he asked perplexed.

“Why that’s blood, when people get hurt they bleed,” she explained.

The next morning Terry didn’t wake up to her usual Java Coffee or Dunkin Donuts. That was unusual, Renaldo was programmed to perform that task each morning. She looked in the kitchen and living area,and he wasn’t there. Finally she found him in the bathroom.

“Renaldo what are you doing?” she asked surprised as he scraped a razor over his skin like surface.

“Trying to bleed,” he replied. He tore and tore at his arms until sinews of metal muscle were visible.

“You can’t bleed Renaldo; human’s bleed, not you.”

“I am human.”

“No,” Terry tried to explain. “You’re a robot and robots cannot bleed.”

“NO!” he shouted. What looked like anger contorted his face. “YOU LIE!”

Terry was frightened. Anger was an emotion, How could Renaldo be angry?

“Renaldo, shut down.” He was supposed to shut off, but nothing happened. He just looked even more intimidating. He kept on shouting at her and scraping the blade over his fake skin.

“YOU LIE! ITS YOUR FAULT!” he shouted and shouted.

Suddenly he advanced towards her. A single scream escaped her mouth and then he had her in his impossibly strong grip, crushing her. By the time Renaldo calmed, blood soaked his entire body. He looked down at himself.

“See,” he said. “I bleed.”

Note from Jennie Gendreau:

Inspired by a twisted, and, fantastic book, “The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury …. this short story is meant to be my own version of the stories he has in his book. The book is made up of eighteen futuristic stories, all connected by “The Illustrated Man.” His tattoos come to life and reveal to whoever will watch them-unfortunate events that are destined to happen in the future. I won’t give it all away, but if you liked my work then you’ll love this book from which I got my inspiration.

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