Klorg was sporting his new body at the trans-galactic trading convention on the home world this year. His fifty-year molting cycle had come just days after landing on Menos, and he got a good deal at Beedie’s discount body shop. Once his parasitic ganglia had synchronized with the central nervous system it was love at first sensory input, and he hoped the new image would boost his flagging business.
One look at his exotic form and the buyers on Enthor would snatch up his entire inventory, even if the biowares were past their expiration dates and might have been exposed to a mutagenic virus during manufacturing. Enthorians went into a buying frenzy at the mere sight of a novel body. They wouldn’t even check the paperwork. They loved type-three bodies, and Klorg’s new one had some unique features.
Two arms, two legs was the type-three standard, but his unusual height afforded him a splendid view over the crowded ballroom floor. And he was hairless, except for a thick cascade of curls that fell from his head and a small patch between his long legs. But his most striking features by far were the two mammary protuberances adorning his chest.
Klorg’s confidence soared as he moved toward the bar, but when he tried to turn right he turned left and tripped over his own legs.
That’s weird, he thought. In over twenty molting cycles he’d never had a bad synch. Perhaps these long legs would just take some getting used to. But when he spilled his liquid nova on a trade official in a tiny type-three, he knew something was wrong.
Klorg opened his mouth, but instead of an apology he blurted out questions. “Who are you? What’s happened to me? Where am I?” They didn’t even seem like his thoughts.
Embarrassed and confused, Klorg ran from the convention hall, stumbling and bumping strange bodies with his gangly limbs.
Outside he paused to catch his breath. The synch had gone fine, but someone else’s thoughts were inside his head. What have you done to me? I want to go home.
He hailed a public transport and crammed his tall body into the passenger compartment. “Bio-district,” he said. “Beedie’s Body Shop.”
The back alley where Beedie’s operated was off the beaten path. In the storefront window a variety of new bodies were displayed in their stasis pods. Holo-signs beckoned the molting shopper: Type-Eights now available; We do financing!
Klorg bent down and crowded through the door.
Beedie sat behind the counter, his bulbous head resting on the tentacles of his type-two body. “Trader Klorg, I didn’t expect to see you back. I trust the new body is working well.”
Klorg approached the counter. “The body’s defective. Who’s the manufacturer?”
Beedie rubbed the fold of a tentacle against the side of his face. “I didn’t exactly get it from a manufacturer.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s not exactly new.”
Klorg leaned over the countertop. “You sold me a used body? Are you insane? Did the owner die?”
“No, nothing like that. I got it from a trader. It was… you know… harvested.”
Klorg took a shaky breath.
“You wanted a deal,” Beedie said. “Did you really think I’d sell a new body for that price?”
“This… thing,” Klorg said, gesturing with disgust to his tall, thin figure, “has a history?”
“It’s perfectly safe. It’s been mind-wiped.”
Klorg slammed his slender hands on the counter. “Then why am I hearing voices in my head?”
One of Beedie’s tentacles slid beneath the counter. “Calm down, Trader Klorg.”
“Calm down? I’m stuck with this thing for the next fifty years. Where did it come from?”
“All right, fine. It came from Earth.”
“Never heard of it.”
“Neither has anyone else, so don’t worry about it. Nobody’s going to care where it came from.”
“I’m reporting you,” Klorg said.
“I’ve done nothing illegal. I sold you a body. If you’re not happy, maybe you should pay full price next time.”
Klorg paced the length of the counter, tripping over his own legs. “Look what you’ve done to me,” he screamed.
A large, muscled type-five lurched out of the back room. He lowered his broad, flat head, ruffled his armored plates, and balled all four hands into fists.
Klorg looked at the bruiser, then at Beedie.
Beedie shrugged his tentacles. “Our business is finished. Yano will escort you to the door.”
Klorg shook with anger, but there was nothing he could do. He stumbled out of the body shop and wandered across town, one moment horrified by his body, the next horrified by the world around him. I want to go home, but damn it, he was home.
Back at his ship he collapsed into bed, troubled by his thoughts. Beedie had swindled him, and he was trapped in this body with some other being. He cued his sleep period, anxious for unconsciousness to overtake him.
Klorg woke screaming, his alien body slick with perspiration. He stared up at the ceiling. He remembered blue skies and green trees. He remembered white clouds over the rolling waves of a vast ocean.
“Are you still there?” Klorg said.
Of course I’m still here. Where am I going to go?
“Look, I’m sorry about all this. But we’re in here together, so we should try to get along.”
All right, I’m listening.
“I’ll make you deal,” Klorg said, feeling his old self come back to him. “I’ll take you to Earth. We can stay as long as you like, but you have to help me unload my inventory.”
What do you mean?
“Would earthlings be in the market for some multi-form fast growing biowares? They’re only slightly past due, and that mutagenic virus thing was never really proven.”
Biowares? Nobody will know what those are.
“Perfect. Do you have any sales experience?”
“No matter,” Klorg said. “With a body like this, I could sell almost anything, even on Earth.”
Matthew Lowes is an author of weird fiction and games. His stories have been published in a variety of print and online magazines, including Dark Recesses and Anotherealm. Lowes lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where every day he pursues the dreams and ideas that are the inspiration for his fiction.