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I am trying to find the title of a really scary SF short story about a man stationed alone on an outpost on a moon or alien planet. He lives in a small bunker with an alien as his assistant or helper. The alien is mute but becomes increasingly creepy. It is called something like cutie or sweetie.

Any ideas on who the author is or the title of this story?

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    Cutie - wikipedia.org/wiki/Reason_(short_story)
    – Valorum
    Feb 19, 2023 at 7:14
  • @Valorum - that's a pretty close match -- why not make it an answer? The only thing that I think is really not a match, is that there are two men, not one alone.
    – Basya
    Feb 19, 2023 at 11:33
  • @Basya - It's not a very good match.
    – Valorum
    Feb 19, 2023 at 11:37
  • @Valorum - I admit it has been years since I read it, but the AI is getting more and more frightening for a good part of the story, as I remember it...
    – Basya
    Feb 19, 2023 at 11:39
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    "Dumb Martian" by John Wyndham maybe? She wasn't completely mute, but did not talk much. Feb 20, 2023 at 13:56

2 Answers 2

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I'm going to suggest that this is "Lover When You're Near Me" by Richard Matheson (1952 and frequently anthologized) (ISFDB).

In the story, a man is sent to a planet where he oversees Station Four. The natives, Gnees, are telepathic and there is a female of the species "Lover" who works as his housekeeper. She becomes obsessed with him (as she has with all the other human males who worked the solitary shift at Station Four) and increasingly grows creepy in her affection... leading to madness.

Here are some descriptions from Doomsayer's review:

while the woman who serves as Lindell’s housekeeper has a squat, coarse head, “pink and hairless-like the mottled belly of an expecting chihuahua” with a single-nostriled stub for a nose, and lips “thick and monkeylike, outlining a small circle of mouth.” Because of her hideous appearance (he thinks), he impetuously decides to call her “Lover.”

He also quickly realizes that lover is telepathic, which fact pleases him greatly because “[a]t other stations it was either you learn half the language to get a ham sandwich or try and teach ‘em English so I wouldn’t starve. Either way I really had to sweat for my supper until things got settled.” The most obvious initial downside is that he can never escape Lover’s pathetic supplications.

.... Things continue to worsen as he is struck by a recurring nightmare, Lover begins leaving flowers by his bed even after he locks the door, her thoughts continually crawl over his brain like microscopic insects, and then he finds a cogent note left in the logbook: “God help me,” read the note, black and jagged-lettered. “Lover comes through the walls!”

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Some matching elements: Spider Rose by Bruce Sterling, part of the Shaper/Mechanist universe?

  • Spider Rose (a Mechanist woman) lives alone in an armed space habitat orbiting Uranus.

  • She trades with visiting aliens (the Investors) for a trial period with their lizard-like pet, which she names "Fuzzy" (ironically, since it's hairless)

  • Fuzzy metamorphizes into an actual fuzzy creature. It makes cute noises, but doesn't speak, save for one time when it perfectly parrots a sentence. This creeps out Spider Rose, and Fuzzy never does it again.

Spider Rose is subsequently attacked by her Shaper enemies and her habitat is greatly damaged. To survive, she

eats Fuzzy. Fuzzy is actually a very sophisticated genetically engineered organism, and Spider Rose is transformed into a Fuzzy-like creature, which is then reclaimed by the Investors on their return visit.

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