Steve Pantazis is a Writers of the Future winner. This is his third appearance in Galaxy’s Edge.

 

IT’S ONLY SKIN DEEP, DARLING

by Steve Pantazis

 

“Are you sure about becoming a human?”

“Of course, darling. I’ve been talking about it for months, haven’t I?”

“I know, it’s just that...”

“That we’re here, doing this, and it’s real.”

“Yes. Plus, I didn’t think we would be in an actual dressing room. It’s so...claustrophobic.”

“Lorexa, there’s nothing to worry about. The curator ensured me total privacy, so we can take our time looking at this assortment of fabulous skins.”

“Yes, but...”

“Darling, how long have you known me—three, four-hundred sun cycles? I hired you as my personal assistant right after your pupal stage. I’ve never steered you wrong, have I?”

“Well, there was that one time when you devoured our guests. Granted, they were rude to you.”

“Besides that.”

“Never.”

“Then trust me, darling, I’m making the right decision. Now which skin shade do you like the best?”

“These are all light beige to dark brown. I think teal would look good on you.”

“This is human skin, darling, not Andorellian hide. Humans aren’t teal.”

“Then I think the shade with the tan skin tone is the best choice. It’s the most you.”

“Oh, darling, I think you nailed it! Here, help me try it on.”

“I’m surprised you can fit all your tentacles in this. It seems so...small.”

“Don’t worry, I can squeeze in just fine. There. How’s that?”

“Not bad. Don’t forget about your eye stalks. Humans don’t have those.”

“Ah, yes, wouldn’t want those swaying out there, would we? I’ll just retract them, like this. The other stalks can be tucked away behind the ears. See? This is coming along quite nicely, I have to admit.”

“Zarrissa, I still don’t get why you want to be human. I mean, what about your singing career?”

“Transhuman, darling. I’m not electing for surgery, at least not yet.”

“Okay, transhuman. You’re a famous singer across the entire spiral arm of the galaxy. Why would you risk that?”

“Sweetheart, I’ve explained it a thousand times: I’m a human in a Vendufu body. Ever since I visited Earth, I knew I was born in the wrong body. Can’t you understand that?”

“Not really.”

“Let me put it this way. Remember that song I wrote decades ago about the fifty-eyed anasaka beast who couldn’t take his eyes off his true love?”

“Of course. It was number one in the Kaan and Benu Systems for like forty weeks.”

“Stolen from a Frankie Valli album on Earth.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“Nope. And the one about all the single tetrahedrons?”

“It stayed on the top-ten list twice as long.”

“Beyoncé.”

“Oh, my goodness!”

“Now do you understand? Being human is a calling. I can’t pretend that I want to keep singing about devouring my offspring or feasting on the brains of Jonkian slaves. I don’t want to secrete acid to sign the tentacles of my fans anymore. It’s not me.”

“I’m sure your mate will be furious when he finds out.”

“Which one? I have four mates, darling.”

“Four? I thought you had just Cxinku left, and ate the rest.”

“No, no, sweets. They’re all alive. But don’t you see what I mean? I’m not like other Vendufu women. I can’t eat my mates, even after they fertilize my hatchlings. I want to cuddle in their arms after mating and talk about the future, like buying a house for our brood and growing old together and sailing the methane seas of Gargoros when we retire. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?”

“I think I get it. You don’t want to keep living a lie. It’s not the true you.”

“Exactly!”

“But the public backlash could kill your singing career. It’s not like Vendufu have openly accepted the whole trans-species movement.”

“I know, but there are many among us. Most are too scared to show their tentacles and speak out, but I want to be their voice. I want to change the way Vendufu see us. I want to take that risk. You can understand, darling, can’t you? You wouldn’t leave me, would you?”

“Of course not. I’m yours, always and forever. Well, until you decide to eat me, of course.”

“Oh, Lorexa, that’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. So...what do you think of the new me?”

“Your tail is still sticking out. Other than that, I think you look fabulous in your new skinsuit.”

“Wonderful! I feel so much better that we talked. You’re the best friend a gal could ask for.”

“So...what do we do now?”

“Now, darling, it’s time for the most human of human activities: reality TV.”

 

Copyright © 2017 by Steve Pantazis