Conspiracy Theory

“I didn’t know who she was, but she was definitely not my wife.”

“I can see why you might think about a shrink,” Will said, face carefully blank.

“Look, I wasn’t serious, okay?” Doug said. “I’m not crazy. I’ve been double-checking my sanity for weeks now, ‘Is this illusion, fantasy, psychosis, are you mental?’ The more I study her, the more firmly convinced I become. Something in her nature has fundamentally changed. I’m just not entirely sure what, or how, or why.”

“Well, that’s a good starting point.” Will set two glasses on the bar and poured scotch. “What did you notice first?”

“When you’re married as long as we’ve been, you get a feel. Cecily started listening to different music, more Angry Femme and less Country.”

“That’s hardly compelling evidence, Doug.”

Doug rolled his eyes. “Just wait. She’s wearing different clothes, like a different fashion sense entirely. She started wearing make-up. She’s essentially never done that. Humming, she hasn’t ever walked around humming. She’s got manicured nails—Cecily always said nails were bad for typing.”

“Her eyes are the same ‘bullshit brown’, her hair is the same dishwater blonde, she’s got the same smokin’ little body she’s always had. Nothing at all has changed, except these personality quirks. And they’re small changes that only someone living with her could detect, really.” Doug said.

Will considered Cecily through the picture window, gardening in the back yard. She was still the same as last week, far as he could tell. She always did have a great ass.

“You’re running out of options, Doug. This is a delusion, or Cecily’s having an affair. Mid-life crisis, do women get those?”

Doug scowled. “I’d considered that. But I believe it’s more sinister.”

“Sinister? Should I look up the number for that shrink?” Will laughed. “Conspiracy theories?”

“Laugh it up, fuzzball—evidence.” Doug brandished a business card.

Will turned the card over between his fingers and examined it. “Dwayne Orjado. Senior Service Rep. What the hell is Detroit Robotics?”

“They’ve got a web site.”

The website exuded fancy web technology, too. Splash pages featuring “Custom Domestic Robotics,” and sales-brochure marketing. Enough detail and images to sell that “scam” was unlikely.

“Certainly looks slick,” Will said. “I’ve never heard of these guys, have you? Wouldn’t there be publicity in technology news? The Wall Street Journal?”

Outside, two black vans squealed to a stop and men in dark suits poured out. They grabbed a screaming Cecily and hustled her through the front door and up the stairs. Will and Doug froze before the monitor as an army of corporate security waved stun guns at them.

“I am Dwayne Orjado, with Detroit Robotics. We’ll have to confiscate our faulty domestic robot for repairs,” said the army’s leader.

“What? You can’t have my wife!” Doug exclaimed.

“There’s some mistake. We’re not here for your wife, sir. We’re here for you.”

The maintenance boss fired a taser-like pistol that struck Doug high on the chest, and his systems crashed.

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499 words, Special Challenge Accepted. Inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought prompt (2-44).

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