Fantasy Horror Strange

The Curious Case of Alpha-7 DE11

By Dan Stout
Feb 12, 2019 · 759 words · 3 minutes

From the author: The transcript of a found voicemail, from a customer who is clearly unhappy with his latest batch of golems.

An audio version is available for this chapter. Listen online →



Hello, Joachim. This is Dr. Manderagon. Vincent Manderagon.

I'm calling because I'm having trouble with one of our Golems. Specifically ... ah ... I just had it in front of me ...

<Rustling papers>

Here it is: Serial number Alpha-7 DE11. He's behaving oddly, and I'm worried that it may be starting to spread to the rest of the brood.

I called tech support, but they're just bouncing me back and forth. I know it's the weekend, but you're my sales rep, and I need to get a call back today. Let me give you the situation quickly.

This Golem came with the brood I purchased two months ago--still well within the warranty period. I had them uncrated and left them to acclimate to the island's humidity so that their clay wouldn't crack once they were animated, blah-blah, you know the drill.

Regardless, after 48 hours I animated them with holy words and dead man's blood, and before you know it, they're stomping up and down the corridors, carrying equipment, cleaning up after surgeries, performing just like they should. I was all ready to give you guys a great write-up on Yelp, when I started to notice odd behavior.

I was checking on the progress of my current crop of subjects when I noticed that there was a Golem stooped over a cage. At first I thought he was cleaning, but he actually seemed to be looking at the hybrid inside. I came closer and saw the Golem and the hybrid were making eye contact. At the time, I chalked it up to the markedly human appearance of the hybrid's face-admittedly quite an achievement, which took a number of tries for me to accomplish. I caught the Golem's attention and got it moving, mostly using hand commands as the hybrid started a mewling scream/howl that made quite a racket. The vocal cords on that one were also tricky, but I've been making good progress in that area as well. Promising test subject, but it didn't work out.

So a few days later, I decided to try a new batch of hybrids. I liquidated the old crop and left the Golems to clean up. When I took the fire-hounds out for a run, I passed an open pit where the Golems were disposing of the non-viable human/hyena hybrids, and instead of a pile of refuse, everything was laid out carefully, covered with a light layer of dirt. And here's the crazy part: there were flowers scattered over them. At first I thought that the villagers had snuck onto the grounds of Maderagon Mansion, but security reported no breeches of the perimeter fence. So it must have been done by someone inside the compound.

Do I have your attention yet, Joachim?

The other twelve Golems in the brood appear normal. But this one — this Alpha-7 — seems to almost show emotion. Oh, I know its face is hardened clay, but it manages to convey something with its, I don't know, its body language, I guess.

When I talked to your tech support people they said that when Golem broods are created, the feeder soul is divided into such small portions that emotions shouldn't register in the least with any single Golem. But then I got out the manual--or rather opened the file, since you guys are too cheap to provide a paper manual any more. And I found this gem:

<Clears throat>

"... In rare instances, instead of simply welling up and then dissipating, the energy of the emotion somehow becomes 'trapped' within the physical body of the Golem ... Trapped emotions can become problematic, and should be addressed before contagion occurs."

Now what the hell does that mean? Because I'm wondering if a brood of 13 Golems is one soul divided up, and if one of them starts to feel emotions, is there a ripple effect with the others? If that's the case, Joachim, I'm going to want to have this entire brood replaced, and no, I will NOT be paying the shipping to return them.

<Muted siren>

What the? There's a breech in the hybrid containment area.


... all my work ... Joachim, if your malfunctioning product—

<Siren warbles, then goes silent>

What the hell is going on?


That ... That should be security. Call me asap, Joachim, and let's get this thing resolved.

<More pounding>

Coming! I'm coming you don't need to break down the—

<A crash. Loud, heavy footsteps. Screaming begins.>


End of voicemail.

This story originally appeared in Mad Scientist Journal.

Dan Stout

Noir with a twist of magic and a disco chaser.