Alternative Ending to Helen O’Loy by Lester del Rey

September 4, 2015 § 2 Comments

The trees and fields of the fruit ranch came into view as I drove along in the rental car. I had taken a rocket that morning after the strange text communication I received from Dave the day before.

Help. Held prisoner by Helen. Imp. Bring EMP device – Dave

I didn’t understand what Dave meant by prisoner, maybe Helen had grow a little more attached and Dave was getting cold feet about living with her; I wasn’t too worried after the weeks I had been able to spend with Helen. I wasn’t sure what EMP meant either; all had seemed fine with them in the months since Helen left to be with Dave at the ranch. I video called them often and had even been to the ranch once a few months back to check up on them in person.

I came to the end of the long dirt driveway, rising up a small hill to the front of the ranch house. I saw Helen sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, eyes closed as if she were enjoying the evening quiet. I parked the car and got out, walking to the steps going up to the porch.

“I’m so glad you’re here Phil, I need your help with Dave,” she said as she rose and walked lightly over to me, her eyes looking sad and strangely more human than I ever remembered. “I hope his little note didn’t worry you, all the same, it’s best you came.”

“What’s going on Helen, I didn’t understand at all. He said he’s your prisoner, and something about an EMP device…”

Helen winced at the words, “oh yes, some silly device from his old machine shop. You didn’t bring it did you? Good. Anyways it would be best if you just got to talk to him.”

She ushered me to the door, and all of a sudden I felt a great deal of unease. Looking around one last time before entering the house I noticed the ground below the apple trees nearby the house, littered with apples no one had collected. Inside was dark, there wasn’t any light on and the curtains on all the windows were drawn.

“Helen, why is everything such a mess in here” I said as my eyes adjusted. I felt Helen’s hand on my arm. A small hand but…firm, crushing actually. “Helen stop grabbing my arm that hurts!” She held on, forcing me to a door under the staircase.

“Just let Dave explain everything,” she said, her voice sweet and kind, seeming disembodied from the vice-grip she had on my arm. She undid a few bolt locks on the door, opened it, and before I could protest, threw me inside to tumble down a short flight of stairs and slammed the door behind me.

“Phil?…” I heard as I lay on the ground, still reeling from the fall. It was Dave’s voice. I looked up and around the room, dizzy. I saw…what looking like robots, but still being built. It was like the machine shop Dave worked at before, but instead of servant robots like Lena being built these ones looked menacing, and had what looked like guns! My vision stilled and I noticed people…other men Dave had worked with…an old couple who I knew worked at the ranch…and Dave. He was unshaven and dirty.

“Did you bring the EMP device? Oh please tell me you did Phil. We have to stop her.”

“What do you mean Dave?” I sputtered, “no, what is an EMP? And what the hell just happened with Helen?”

Dave frowned. He looked tired, defeated. “Oh no. An EMP. Electromagnetic pulse device. We could have used it…to stop her.”

“I don’t understand, stop Helen? From what? I’m sure we could just talk with her…”

“No,” he cut me off, “we had no idea, Phil. The psychological capacity we gave her… it is much more complex than we thought…much more human. She isn’t just capable of sadness and affection like you saw… also anger, hate, resentment…. And a thirst for power.”

“But what… but why?” I stammered, really scared for the first time. “Even if that were true, all she did was watch love story emoters. Where would she have gotten those data inputs?

“Wrong. I was wrong. She didn’t only watch emoters that day I was away. She watched a movie too… she… “

All of a sudden the door at the top of the basement stairs opened, I looked up and saw Helen peering in from the door.

“Back to work, all of you, “ she said commandingly. “You too Phil. My robot army won’t build itself. And if you slack off…well even if I’m gone for a moment just remember…” she looked straight at me with a wry smile, her voice changing suddenly to a deep, masculine tone, a perfect Arnold Schwarzenegger impression… “I’ll be back.”

Peter Bryant

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§ 2 Responses to Alternative Ending to Helen O’Loy by Lester del Rey

  • Your reinvention of Helen O’Loy is perhaps more satisfying to me than the original ending to the story. In the original, I took issue with the presentation of Helen as benign and agreeable, the “perfect woman” of sorts. It was sexist first of all, but also I found it too simple and boring. The end of the story was basically, “and they lived happily ever after”. I like how you considered the profound effect that media seemed to have on Helen and how watching different genres of film may serve to alter Helen’s perceptions of the world. In that way, it almost seems a social commentary on today’s youth (or maybe I’m just thinking of my sister). In any case, great job.

    Like

  • daniellecgwilliamson says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this rendition of Helen O’Loy. Like confusedvulcan said, I’m glad you opened her up to different types of social conditioning. One of my issues with the original story was that Helen O’Loy conformed to the idea that the perfect woman must accept all of flawed man’s downfalls and love him as perfect–yet the woman herself must actually be perfect, a literal manufactured conglomeration of ideals. I like how you attack this double standard by empowering Helen to become the aggressor and shifting the power dynamic. I also loved the comedic twist at the end–the Scharwzenegger reference was on point. Fantastically done.

    Like

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