Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 12 | Android Companionship

I read in an article online that by 2050, human-on-robot sex will be more common than human-on-human sex. So when I enroll in the Android Companionship Trial, I convince myself that I’m only doing it for the advancement of science.

Not because I’m desperate and alone.

“So how does it work?” my girlfriend, Ally, asks me as I complete the 50-question questionnaire. “Do you have to fuck it a specific number of times a day to get accurate data? Do they film you?”

“No, it’s a little more discreet than that.”

“So it’s a sex doll that can move?”

“They say it’ll look just as human as you and me.”

Ally shrugs and pops a stick of chewing gum in her mouth. “This sounds too much like a porno plot.” She snickers. “Mmm mmm, fucking a robot.”

“They prefer the term ‘android,'” I correct her.

“Hmm, robots have preferred pronouns now too.” She kicks her legs off the couch and sits up. “Babe, if you’re that desperate for some peen, I’ll hook you up with one of the assholes at my job. It’ll be all sex, no strings. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to date these guys.”

“It’s because the dating pool has pee in it that I’m signing up for this!” Thirty-five years with not so much as a broken engagement has taught me all I need to know about the crop of men available to me.

Why not try an artificial one instead?

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 12 | Android Companionship”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 11 | A Face Most Unfamiliar

It’s one thing to dream about others dying. I’ve seen it many times.

First there was my grandmother. Then my father.

I finally convinced my mother to quit drinking the night before New Year’s Eve, when I recounted the mental images of her mangled car on the side of the highway.

But to dream of my own death was a nightmare I prayed would never come.

I gulp down water from the glass on my nightstand. His face is still clear in my mind—the man who will kill me. I worry how long I am cursed to see it before my dream comes true. With my dad’s heart attack, I was left with little to no time to react before he collapsed. With Grandma, everyone knew it was her time. Dementia had been eating away at her brain for 15 years. Only I had the assurance that it would end. And with Mama, the flashing road construction sign that read, “HAPPY NEW YEAR! STAY ALIVE! DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!” gave the date and time away.

However, in this dream, my only clue is my pink nightie, which I wear now. Instinctively, I want to take it off, but I’ve had these premonitions long enough to know that simply changing your clothes does not alter your fate.

If whatever deity that cursed me with this unrequested gift wanted me dead, they will ensure that it happens.

But then I was able to save my mother, so maybe there is hope.

Like any dream, the memory of what is about to happen fades the longer I am awake. I remember the pink nightie. I remember him standing over my bed, his steel blue eyes captivating me. I never once suspected he had ill intentions. He dragged the covers down the length of my body and let them drop to the floor. I pressed my knees together, but deep down, I wanted him. And when he climbed on top of me, I was ready to let him take full advantage, make love to me deep down, until he wrapped his hands around my neck and I woke up gasping for air.

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 11 | A Face Most Unfamiliar”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 10 | Divine Drought

We pray for rain. For three days, we go without food and water. We spend the nights on the floor of the sanctuary, and the dust of the ground clings to our knees.

We don’t fast by choice. Circumstances led to this. With the city shut down, grocery stores were looted. We have no power for miles and no running water. The church garden struggles to feed the remnants of our congregation. Pastor John dug up the corn crop last Tuesday. It was brown like smoking tobacco. The tomatoes and cucumbers blossomed and then died before becoming edible vegetables. The soil is arid like sand.

“Do you think this is the end of the world?” Jessie whispers.

“Shhhh!” Mother Jones is in the front pew with the pastor and the elders. We can see the wrinkled cellulite skin of her thighs underneath her rolled-up skirt. She prefers to pray in silence so she can concentrate on what she wants to petition to the Lord, and she’s easily distracted and fumbles over her words when other people are talking. She must hate Sister Teresa right now. She circles the sanctuary, shouting her prayer aloud.

“We ask you to send the rain, God!” she screams, her South Georgian accent coming out strong. “Shower down on us as you did the manna for the children of Israel.”

“Does she have to be so loud?” I say.

“She wants to make sure God hears her.”

“The whole continent can hear her.” We both snicker into the cushion of the pew, and again Mother Jones hushes us.

My stomach rumbles, and I lick my lips thinking about what I can eat—like sweet apples to quench my thirst and my hunger, the crisp pop of them when I sink my teeth into the skin and the juice inside drains down my chin. The sour Granny Smith, the succulent Fuji, the classic Red Delicious.

“I’m so hungry I could eat a cow,” Jessie says.

“Just put me in a pool full of apple juice and ham sandwiches.”

“Eww, then the bread would get soggy!”

We laugh out loud. Mama reaches over and slaps my hand, and we fold our arms and bow our heads and mumble incoherently like the men in the pews behind us and Pastor John standing at the podium. Speaking in tongues, they call it. I wonder if it’s because their tongues roll like a Native war cry.

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 10 | Divine Drought”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 9 | Sleepless

I’ve been watching the morning news since 4 AM. It comes on earlier and earlier these days. I can’t imagine there would be much breaking news to report between 11:35 PM and 4 AM that it can’t wait until 8. Who besides me is up watching it? But then I remember Orlando, and I turn up the volume.

Donald Trump will be in town. They interview a girl in a sleeping bag just outside the gates of the special events center. 

“I’ve been waiting here since 9 last night!”  she says in a heavy Southern drawl. She wants to make sure she gets in and gets a good seat. All this for a man whose only policies I can remember involve banning a billion people and building a wall to ban a million more.

Hell, I’ll be up, I might as well go. Maybe he’s not as bad as he seems. Maybe he actually has good ideas. Maybe there’s a logical reason why people like him so much, and it’s not the reason I fear. But then I remember where I live. The last time I stepped out because I couldn’t sleep, I found myself on the outskirts of town, driving behind a black pickup with a Confederate flag in the rear window. Going to see Trump is the closest I’ll get to attending a Klan rally. They’ll take one look at my afro and know I don’t belong.

Sean walks in buttoning his uniform and sighs when he sees me on the couch. For once, I wish he’d be happy that I’m up before him. I could’ve cooked him breakfast or fixed him a fresh pot of coffee. But who am I kidding? He’s known since our first date sophomore year in college that I don’t cook. I’m one of the few people who are actually skilled at burning coffee.

“Please tell me you haven’t been here all night,” he says.

“Just all morning.” I smile, but he doesn’t laugh.

“Sweetie.” He sits on the arm of the couch, and my eyes drift down to the gun holstered on his hip. I wonder, will he have to shoot anyone today? Someone who doesn’t listen or cooperate, like me. Will he pull the trigger to silence my defiant mouth?

“We sent Matthew to your sister’s so you could finally get some sleep. Please tell me you don’t still hear the man downstairs.”

I don’t understand why he can’t just go downstairs and check that apartment. He’s a cop for God’s sake. The man downstairs is beating his wife. Her screams should be probable cause enough. I hear her struggle with him every night—the lamp crashing to the floor, the shaking of our bed when he slams her against the wall. I hear him curse her. He is always drunk. He comes home from the bar and demands she get on her knee. Some nights I think she wakes to his unprovoked blows, as there is silence and then suddenly her screams.

Their bedroom is directly below ours.

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 9 | Sleepless”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 8 | An Undeserving World

They are still undeserving.

Sixty years later, I return bearing gifts. Again, I land in Mexico, but this time I cross the border into the fabled “land of the free.”

“This gift is a cure to the disease that has ravaged your planet,” I tell all who will listen.

Immediately I am detained and put on a bus destined for the capital.

But it is not to present me officially to their head of state.

“Let that liberal president figure out what to do with you then,” the men in uniform sneer.

“Will you not accept my gift?”

“Ha! Go back to your shithole country!”

Photo by Laker on Pexels.com

I quickly learn that I have become a pawn in their political games.

But what of the people onboard with me? The innocent? The sick? The lonely in search of their families?

“Ha, go back to your country,” the soldier’s voice echoes in my head.

After three days on a bus to nowhere with no working air conditioning, packed like spoons with aliens by a different definition with no access to a clean bathroom, who haven’t washed for days, who sit now in their own excrement in a foreign land, not knowing the language to understand that this country of promise, of opportunity, has not accepted them, or my gift, I contact my people back home.

“They are still undeserving, but these I will bring back with me.”

With their blood, I connect them with their loved ones and beam all aboard my ship. And to them alone I offer my gift.

“Come home to a place where there is no sickness or disease or division or hatred based on race. All are one, and all are welcome.”

We leave as the world below dies slowly. They will not realize the salvation they’ve lost until it is too late.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

This hour’s episode is brought to you by The Twilight Zone episode “The Gift.”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 7 | The Woman Who Will Finally Reap

After Mr. Schwimmer retired, the firm delegated me the task of representing his last client, a Mr. Simon Polk, who died five years ago.

“It’s really an easy case,” one of the partners, Mr. Colby, said. “You simply have to check on the robot. Make sure she’s taking care of it.”

She’s taking care of it alright. I learned that on my first visit. I sat with the robot in the study, and she served us both hot chocolate.

“Thank you,” I said when she offered me the cup and saucer.

“It’s cold, you miserable cow!” the robot spat, throwing the glass back at her. I was taken aback by how much it sounded like a man of a formidable age.

“It’s Uncle Simon,” she told me after I followed her back to the kitchen and helped her to rub out the stains in her dress.

“He loaded his consciousness into it just before he died,” she said as she stared ahead at nothing. “It was his dying wish to torment me for the rest of my days.”

I gave my report to the partners. “The robot’s taken care of, but who’s taking care of her?” I asked.

“That’s not our concern,” said Mr. Colby. “What has she to complain about? As long as she stays in that house, everything is hers.”

Everything but her life, I feared. I decided then and there that I would free her.

“That’s kind of you,” she said on my second visit as the robot worked in the basement, “but there’s nothing left for me to reap. I’m old. I’m dried up.”

“You’re not,” I said, and then I kissed her. She was stiff at first, but then I saw a flash in her eyes, and it was the confirmation I needed that I could bring her back to the land of the living.

We just needed to get rid of the robot.

“I tried pushing him down the stairs. Now he just walks with a cane.”

“Then we will try something more permanent,” I said. Leaving the property wasn’t an option. She would lose her inheritance. Even if I covered for her, the robot could call someone else from the firm. So then how would one kill a robot?

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 7 | The Woman Who Will Finally Reap”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 6 | Princess Horror Story

It never ends well in movies, but Solanda’s knuckles rap on the door and nudge it open. She pokes her head inside.


No answer. There’s something deathly quiet about this neighborhood. Gated community, grandiose homes that can fit six of her studio apartments inside, but not a sound. As a writer of horror, she notices such things.

The guard wasn’t at the entrance when she pulled up and keyed the code her boss had given her into the pad. The wrought iron gate swung back, beckoning her inside, and when it closed behind her, there was a hollow metal echo that made it seem permanent, sealing her inside and cutting her off from the rest of the world forever.

Hmm, an idea for a new book, perhaps? She hasn’t gotten many lately.

She drove down the street, gawking at the size of the houses—most of them at least three stories high—the spacious, immaculate lawns a color green she’d never seen in her life, not even in photoshopped images. At every house, the grass was cut in the same diagonal pattern. She wondered if the neighbors all used the same landscaper.

Stepford mowers, she brainstorms, would that even sell?

Only one thing is missing: trees. Not even a stump in sight. And with the absence of trees, there is no steady swish of leaves rustling in the breeze. In fact, there is no breeze at all. Everything is still as if time itself were frozen.

A stranger wanders into a quiet neighborhood. Too quiet. No sign of human life. The solitude drives her to the brink of insanity…

No. Unoriginal. She’s seen Twilight Zone episodes with a similar premise.

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 6 | Princess Horror Story”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 5 | Woman in the Mirror

You’re not crazy if you talk to yourself.

Only if you answer back.

And tonight I answer back.

I’ve barricaded myself in the bathroom as my husband beats on the door, demanding to be let in. I burn the memory of my reflection into my brain, for fear that once the door opens, I will be unrecognizable.

“After this, things will change,” the woman in the mirror promises. “All you have to do is say the word.”


Photo by Ismael Sanchez on Pexels.com

In an instant, my husband bursts through, and I am outside of my body watching myself catch his fist in the air, side-step him, and duck, letting his weight drive him into the side of the bathtub head first, and with a crack and a thud, all is silent.

I am in the back of the police car now. And the female officer says, “No one will blame you for what happened. We just need you to answer some questions, and then you’ll be free to go.”

I stare past her at myself, at the woman from the mirror who now inhabits my body. “Yes, after this, things will be different,” she says to me in the rearview with a cold smile and black eyes.

What once filled me with hope now fills me with dread as I worry what I might have released upon the world.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

This story was inspired by The Twilight Zone episode “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room” and has a much more sinister ending.

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 4 | The Christmas Wish

“What is Christmas really about?” I ask my students as they stuff themselves into their coats and gloves in anticipation of the afternoon bell marking the start of winter break.

“Presents!” they shout in unison.

Every year I ask this question. Every year the response is the same.

I want to shake my head and say, “No, you’re wrong.” But it will only lead to angry complaints from parents, my swift firing with enough time to find a replacement before the children return in January, and my eventual exile from ever teaching in a Florida elementary school again. All because I suggested that a person more significant, and definitely less imaginary, than Santa Claus could be the true reason why we celebrate this increasingly commercialized winter holiday.

Instead, as the bell rings, I tell them over their shrieks and scurrying feet as they stampede for the door. “Remember to show love and kindness to others this holiday season. And most important of all, it is more blessed to give than to receive!”

I fear I may be admonished for using the word “blessed.” Funny how our politicians pick and choose what they want to be religious about. But I doubt the students have heard anything. They’re too excited to be out of school, to play in the snow, to bake cookies and decorate trees, to write their Christmas wishlists to Santa and be on their best behavior so they get everything they want.

As for me, it’s another Christmas alone with my naked tree and unanswered prayers that God will send a man I can make Christmas memories with.

I suppose I’m no better than my students.

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 4 | The Christmas Wish”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 3 | Death in Death Valley

Photo by Ali Karimiboroujeni on Pexels.com

I’m not imagining the man in black. He’s wearing a long coat and wide-brim hat—entirely too hot for a walk in Death Valley.

When Brian tells me there’s nothing there, at risk of looking crazy, I approach the man that only I can see. His face is hidden in shadow.

He tells me his name is Death.

“Will you kill me, Mr. Death?”

He shakes his head. “I only deliver souls.”

“Then who?” But before he can answer, I feel Brian’s fingers around my neck.

The man lifts his hat, and I see the face of my father.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

This story was originally written in response to a Morning Inspiration prompt, but it reminds me too much of one of my favorite The Twilight Zone episodes, “The Hitchhiker,” not to include it in this year’s marathon! I told you there would be reruns. 😉