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Monday, June 8, 2015

"Replacements" by Lisa Tuttle

First appeared in Dennis Etchison’s MetaHorror. Reprinted by Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Stephen Jones, Ramsey Campbell, Joyce Carol Oates, Otto Penzler, Paul Tremblay, John Langan, Jeff and Ann Vandermeer. Read online.

Stuart Holder spies a helpless if disgusting alien creature lying on the side of the street. His first instinct is to destroy it. He does. Then he spies another but refrains this time.

Meanwhile, his wife brings one home. She wants to keep it as a pet. He does not but wants to discuss it before making any decisions. It's too late, however. It is helpless and she wants to care for it. Stuart finds himself replaced by the creature into his wife's bed.

Stuart learns his own secretary has a similar creature to which/whom she is bound by a golden chain. As she refuses to give up the creature, she finds employment at another press. He is thrust out of his marriage and apartment. He feels attracted to another woman but sees she has a similar gold chain and creature. Stuart walks to his old apartment spies a toddler-like creature in the window. His ex-wife pulls the creature inside, closing the curtain.

In Greek mythology, Cronus ate his own children (to prevent the prophecy of his overthrow). Some men may feel this need to destroy the next generation. Lacing the Greek myth was probably a fear of mortality. And no doubt, some men find babies as women do. But for most, likely, it is a simple indifference. The kids show no human personality except crying and need. Women admit to a special attraction to (even a preference for) infants that most men do not share. Such men might feel temporarily displaced in their wives' affections as their relations change. From the outside, it may look like vampiric relationship: an "ill-proportioned" helpless creature who has nothing but need, drinking the blood of its caretaker.

Stuart is ironically named: "steward" or going back to the Old English, house. He is not able to steward, care for his house, or hold on to his family.

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