I'll put it here when I can find it. Might be on my thumb drive.
It never pays to be late
Nobody paid attention to the dark stranger that walked into the room and placed a number of red, stainless steel containers in front of each person sitting around the large table. His clothing consisted of a long, black, cloak with a hood pulled up over his head. So engrossed in the power image presentation, they failed to notice anything at all, except what they were focusing on: flickering graphs of profit, of loss, of futures, of dreams bought, sold and hoped for. They failed to notice that beneath the cloak’s hem, the dark stranger had three feet. And the eyes, hidden within the cowl, glittered like two distant red stars.
An ungracefully aging woman, in a bulging, too close fitting business suit, leaned forward. Out of the corner of her vision, she caught a flicker, and had the urge, a thought to ask what she thought was the refreshments boy for wine instead of water, but then, the light flashed and the naked images of youth and sexuality, of Adonis and Venus, burned into her eyes and seared her lustful mind, and distracted her. Yes, that’s what she wanted, above all things, to be young, to be nubile again. The doctor’s presentation was quite good. Her hand accidentally brushed the red container and she thought how thirsty she was.
The lights went up. The presentation was over and the entire table had been stirred.
“You can’t make people want to go through an intensely painful surgery,” said the neatly groomed, square-chinned, doctor. He seemed to glow with integrity in his long, white, lab coat. His presentation had been marvellous, but it was his painfully good looks they now stared at enviously. He ran his hand through his copiously thick hair. “But you can make people want to be beautiful. Look at me.”
A picture of a nearly bald, no chin, protuberant eyed man with an overly large nose, appeared on the screen. In the harshness of the room’s light the man resembled a turkey. All he was missing was the wattle beneath his chin. The elderly woman almost gagged in disgust suddenly self conscious of her own flap of skin beneath her own chin, secreted away behind a scarf. If she hadn’t been so afraid of pain, she would have had it lopped off years ago.
The doctor with his soap opera face smiled at her, making sure he had the woman’s attention when he showed the next screen. The image of the ‘turkey man’ was replaced with his own image. He continued to smile at the female centenarian, who was now gazing at him in gap mouthed disbelief.
“The transformation can be marvellous.”
There was no gasp of disbelief, just a salivating silence, which drooled money.
“Of course, the amount of pain of living like that was considerable, but,” and here his dreamy eyes pooled around the old woman, “I can assure you I have never been without a date.”
There was a sizeable amount of laughter that threatened to edge into the hysterical. The investors could see their millions becoming billions, even trillions. The woman, had to slack her thirst and she drank. Strange, was there a hint of something in the water? Perhaps a lime? Fixating on the delicious doctor, things were becoming most alluring. She took another drink, a growing thirst for the liquid possessing her. A shot of heat flushed through her body and she loosened her scarf.
The gorgeous doctor noticed that the red containers were being emptied and smiled serenely. Leaning back on his third leg, a tripod of support, and waited for the next interaction, which would invariably come.
“Now, what you’re saying to me,” said the Sir Winston Churchill look alike at the head of the table, complete with half-chewed cigar, great stomach girth and bald pate, “is that if I want to look like someone the ladies would not refuse, that this procedure would transform me from a turkey into a prince, painlessly?” He gave a self deprecating laugh. “Or, in my case, a fat man into an A-don-ais?”
Everyone else around the table laughed because he was, literally, the whale, not only in size, but in wealth. Without his money nothing could be done. When he changed direction, everyone changed with him, when he disapproved, everyone disapproved. He set the trend and everyone followed.
“Exactly,” responded the doctor serenely.
“I can get all the ladies I want right now, why do I need to look like that?” spat out Churchill.
“Yes, but do they want you or do they want you’re money?”
The room went silent as the fat man chewed pensively on his cigar trying to decide whether to be offended, furious, or give a positive response – which was rare. Every one waited, eyes flickering back and forth between the two. Finally, at long last he broke his silence.
“They want my money,” he growled meanly. “Continue, doctor. Tell me more about this A-don-ais.” He took the cigar out of his mouth and reached for the red cylinder and drank, which he stared at discerningly, seeing it for the first time, and nodded like a connoisseur who had just imbibed some very expensive vintage. Nice, very nice, he thought. If this wasn’t a scam, the possibilities and profit could be endless.
“I want to be perfectly clear, when I said pain, it was the pain of living ugly, of aging, and not that of the procedure,” said the doctor pausing for effect.
Everyone in the room had shifted simultaneously to the edge of their seats, leaning in. The big man thought of the pictures of his youth he kept squirreled away in a secret drawer. How he would, when nobody was around, pull them out and run his covetous eyes over his once svelte form, trying to imagine what it was once like to have a tight, muscular body, a body he not only took pleasure in, but one that others pleasured. This was too good to be true, and there was one thing that he knew, if it was too good to be true, it often wasn’t. He bit down hard on his cigar, eyes narrowing.
Fantastical images, of nymphs and randy satyrs were cavorting capriciously in the old woman’s mind as the heat surged through her body. She stretched sensuously, feeling so very, very alive, and so suddenly very sexual. The idea she could possible command instead of demand the true amorous attentions of men was engaging beyond her capacity to wait. No more would age waste the natural talent her family genetics had given her, no more would gravity destroy what once she had. True beauty would emerge pert and erect from the pathetic, parchment like cocoon of lost beauty. She starred ravenously at the doctor, pleading for more.
Just then, someone inconsiderately late to the meeting, barrelled into the room. He stopped in mid stride and looked up with a smug, arrogant expression on his face and asked, “Am I late?” He continued over to the table and the empty chair where he sat down after throwing his Red Berry on the table. He felt the fat man glowering at him, and flashed the elderly woman a smile and asked unapologetically:
“What did I miss?”
Momentarily, the doctor looked a bit harried. He hadn’t foreseen this, but then he mastered his emotions, clamping down on them. Fear was the dominion of lesser creatures, but still all the cylinders had already been distributed, and there were no more. There had to be a simple solution to the problem.
“Just the most important discovery of the century,” quipped the elderly woman.
The Red Berry began to vibrate, moving across the shiny black table as though it had a life of its own. The late man reached for it, picked it up, and with thumbs flashing, started to answer the correspondence.
“Don’t wait for me,” he said. “I’m listening.”
The doctor cleared his through, deciding to forge on. It was too late to go back now. He shifted his balance back onto his third leg.
“Now, you will notice that everyone has a red container beside them,” he said instructively. “You have all taken a sip, or two.”
The late man continued to text ignoring the doctor.
“So, how do you feel?”
Everybody, except the oblivious man with thumbs flashing, began to consider themselves introspectively. The elderly woman felt fine, better than fine, she felt younger, sexier than she had in a long time, but she had a strange itch in the centre of her forehead. The fat man felt, strangely enough, lighter, almost bubbly, like he could take on the world and mean it. Everyone else was having similar sensations.
“By now, you have most astutely figured out that the contents of the red containers was not water, but an elixir. Ponce de Leon searched the world for the fountain of youth, and could not find it, but we have, only better. Not only is it the fountain of youth, it is the fountain of true universal beauty.”
The man continued to text, eyes fixed to the tiny screen, unaware of all the change that was happening around him.
“In a few moments the transformation will be complete and your youth as well as your beauty will be restored, even better – and all without an ounce of pain.”
The man grinned at his Red Berry. He had just shorted a stock, gotten out, and made a million. Sure, some little factory on the other side of the world would most likely have to close, but that was the price of business: if you weren’t big enough to swim with the sharks, you got eaten. Looking up he was horrified by what he saw.
The elderly woman was no longer simply overweight, nor was she even slightly pretty. Her flesh had burst the bonds of her clothing and had not only consumed her frame, but the chair which she sat upon. He tried not to look at the little head perched on top of the engorged, repulsive body.
From her perspective, the elderly woman was finding herself feeling youthfully euphoric, liberated. To her, her legs looked slimmer, more athletic -- buff. The flap of skin beneath her chin was gone, her cellulite ridden hips and posterior was taught and firm and round. Her breasts felt – uplifted and pert. She was once again gorgeous, a virtual diva.
The man shifted his horrified gaze to fat man. It was hard to believe that the man could have become uglier, but he had. His pink skin had taken on a green hue and his heavily lidded, pouched eyes, protruded from his skull like hard boiled eggs. While the woman’s flesh was regionally expansive, the fat man’s flesh had the tyrant’s passion to conquer all known space.
The fat man gave a laugh. He felt great, as though he could run a marathon. Never before had he thought such a thing was possible. He reached up and touched his tingling hair follicles, running his fingers through his freshly sprouted locks. Winking at the little blond to his left, he felt renewed.
Seething beneath the fat, bubbling its way to the surface was something embryonic, something full of limbs and bones and hardness. Something was coming to the surface trying to get out. Frozen into a state of paralysis from which he could not escape, the late man wanted to scream, wanted to tell everyone to get out, to run, but he could not. It was like a nightmare where he was running as fast as he could, but the air around adheres to him like molasses, holding him in place, while the thing, the horror that is pursuing is about to catch up, and rend him, to dissect every atom of his being. There was no sense in turning to the others in the board room for help, because they too were bubbling masses of fat.
A song looped through his mind. It was the theme song of a old sitcom, but he couldn’t remember all the words, but what he did remember made him cold: “…up from the ground came a bubblin’ crude.”
Then what was bubbling beneath the seething fat burst to the surface, cutting through the skin leaving the white lipid filled flesh folded on the floor like clothing just discarded, revealing a hard, horny, green exoskeleton. Supporting a glistening thorax and substantial abdomen were three legs. Everyone in the board room were standing, long pincer like arms and clicking mandibles flexing hungrily – everyone standing, except the late man. The doctor smiled at the late man and addressed him: “The concept of beauty, youth and renewal depends on your perspective,” and here the doctor peeled back his own flesh, removing his disguise. He stepped out of his host’s white lab coat, skin and fat, letting them fall to the floor. His own greenish exoskeleton shining beneath the fluorescent lighting. He waved his forelegs about in explanation. “The metamorphosis takes a lot of energy leaving the system rather depleted of essential nutrients, leaving the newly converted rather famished, so, if you don’t mind….we were going to order pizza, but since you are so considerate…”