Marionettes, Inc.

“Marionettes, Inc.” from The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

Braling and Smith are very good friends, but haven’t spent a lot of time together since Braling got married. Braling’s wife is very dependent, and doesn’t let him do anything. That is just the beginning of their bad relationship, they only got married because she was going to go to the police and accuse him of rape if he didn’t.

10 years later and Braling feels trapped and so unhappy as he can’t do anything or go anywhere, just stuck at home with his needy wife.

Braling shows Smith how he has finally managed to escape his home. There is another Braling at home with his wife.

What?!

A month ago he went to a company called Marionettes, Inc. They charge from $7000 to $15000 for a humanoid plastic model.

Changed to $5,000 for Alfred Hitchcock’s Presents.

Braling has always wanted to go to Rio, and now he has his chance to do it.

Smith leaves, reading the business card and thinking about doing it himself as his wife loves him too much-it’s driving him crazy. He goes to his bankbook in preparation to write a check but discovers that $10,000 is missing!

He looks at his wife and realizes-she is a marionette. She is gone.

Meanwhile, with Smith heading home, Braling puts the marionette away in his box-but the marionette doesn’t like it.

He hates being put away, he resents that Braling gets to go to Rio, and he has fallen in love with Braling’s wife.

I think you see where this is going…

For more Ray Bradbury, go to Punishment Without Crime

For more on The Illustrated Man, go to The Veldt

For more short stories, go to A Case of Identity