The Milking Shed
I wake. Keiko is standing by my bed. She wears a prim white lab coat that brushes the floor.
‘Good morning,’ she says brightly, and sweeps the covering from my naked body. She helps me from the bed and ushers me through the door leading to the shower stall. The water is hot and invigorating, but I slump, this wilted rose watching petals of himself washing down the plughole.
Keiko enters the shower stall nude. I feel nothing. I am sixty-three, sixty-four, something like that. I don’t know, are they getting younger? They replace my attendants every few months. Perhaps it’s simply that I’m getting older. She joins me in the shower to wash me. There is much body contact between my wrinkles and her firm young skin, and my body begins to wake.
I want breakfast. Food is what I look forward to these days, but no. We enter the booth. Suspended from the ceiling is the dull black dome of the simulation helmet and I don it eagerly, leaving this sterile box for the pleasant warmth of a grassy meadow. In the real-world Keiko is carefully attaching the sensors to my body parts. As a boy it would turn me on, but now, all I wish for is this moment of peace before the program begins.
I stand in a barn, a row of cows watching me, lowing gently as they await their turn. A milkmaid is squatting low on a milking stool. Clasped between her thighs is a wooden cylinder. She enthusiastically raises and lowers the plunger of the button churn, breasts jiggling from her woefully inadequate top until at last they dance free.
A few moments later we are having sex.
She writhes beneath my prowess, matching the cows bellow for bellow. Time was and they used to put some thought into this stuff. Now it’s wham, bang, and thank you, sir.
But it does not matter how theatrically the milkmaid dances. Nothing doing. They can pump my body full of drugs, they can cram in millions of pleasure sensors per square inch. I’ve had thirty-three years of this shit.
The barn door is suddenly flung back with a bang. The milkmaid screams.
A man is silhouetted in the doorway. He enters the barn, levels his shotgun and fires. I hug the naked girl beneath me, leaning back up just in time to duck as he swings the shotgun wildly. I punch him in the gut, I punch him in the face, then seize the gun and wield it as a club. The milkmaid does not stop writhing.
This man staggers to the wall of the barn and pulls down a rusty bandsaw.
And I know his face. I know his puce skin and I know those temples with those bulging veins. You don’t forget your first time, and this is the husband of my first time. Yes, it was for the good of the species, and yes, he was sterile, but he could not take it, his wife paired off with a fourteen-year-old boy.
He stalks closer, and the saw murmurs with the rumble of summer thunder as it enters the back swing.
The barn dissolves into black. The helmet is pulled from my head.
‘Good job,’ Keiko says. ‘Time for breakfast.’