Invasion of the Body Switchers
Editor's Note: This short story was inspired by the new fashion concept of the "Normcore body."
Doon brushed aside the magazine impatiently and blew her breath over the translucent security touch-screen menu until a stream of humming lights appeared.
“Computer,” she whispered, a disembodied voice. “Activate communication line to B-Deck, Alpha Block, Delta Hall Reprocessing Room.”
A screen flickered to life, revealing discarded human high fashion bodies twisted and piled in the refuse chamber, runway legs and high cheekbones jutting at random sharp angles under the glowing lights of the mass incinerators. Long lean torsos and toned triceps sagged, lifeless.
The only movement came from a piece of machinery that dumped the last of the human rejects into a heap before screeching to a halt.
“Report, Lieutenant,” commanded Doon. “What is your status? Your standing orders are to commence incineration for fuel boost as soon as possible.”
Feedback crackled through the speakers as Lieutenant Orr shifted the currant of his energy from the machine to the speaker system. “What a waste,” grunted Orr to the intercom. “This carnage. All that work down the tubes, all that perfectly healthy terrestrial fauna destroyed.”
Doon’s voice crackled. “I asked for status, Lieutenant, not commentary.”
Orr growled. “None of these subjects survived trials. If we attempt Switching now, we could instigate extinction in the native populations and dissipation of our selves! This is lunacy.”
Doon’s eyes flickered. “The Normcore subjects will provide a softer landing.” She surveyed the discarded supermodel bodies dismissively. “We’ve manipulated their Fashion system to idealize body characteristics most likely to support the Switch. Those that perished in trials, we’ll burn as fuel for the Switch. It’s a very efficient plan, Lieutenant.”
Doon blew her breath across her copy of Vogue, turning its pages for display over the screen. Headlines trumped the arrival of the “new” body, the switching trend from elite, frenetic fitness to Normcore—Normcore, the ideal body type for Switching.
“Earth’s population has done all the work for us,” Doon crooned. “Centuries of fine-tuning and manipulation, and finally we’ve found the perfect proportions for the Switch. No more incubators. No more captive stock. Wild, earth-made bodies we can wear and exchange and use until we tire of them. It will make us whole. And then, marketed galaxy-wide, it will make us all rich.”
The star craft hummed as Orr silently struggled under the weight of his job.
“Status, Lieutnant.” Doon’s voice had lost its patience. “You’re stalling.”
Orr knew it was too late to rethink, too late to derail, and gave up the ghost. “Initiating incineration. Fuel boost estimated in T minus fifteen clicks.”
“Registered,” Doon replied. “Report to Prime Bridge to assist with the Switching.” Doon blew over the control panel until the computer buzzed in question. “Computer,” she said, “Show me Prime Starscreen View and broadcast the Captain’s address.”
The viewing screen quadrupled in size like a blooming flower, opening in space to reveal the planet on the horizon ahead. Earth hung unsuspecting in its orbit like overripe fruit. The sight of it made her hungry. Soon, Doon would be one of the first to obtain a new earth body.
Out with the old…in with the new.
“Captain,” Doon rasped. “Fuel boost estimated in T minus fifteen clicks.”
The Captain’s voice crackled over the system. “Transmitting message to spacecraft: Attention, all!”
The ship fell quiet, rapt. The Captain’s voice swelled.
“Our exploratory team stands poised to make intergalactic history, invading Earth in the bodies of its own inhabitants. We have countless biologists to thank for this technology, as well as our own shrewd Doon for harnessing the invaluable tool of Fashion in other worlds. Doon, we salute you.”
Doon vibrated pleasurably.
“Now that the terrestrials have embraced Normcore physicality,” the Captain laughed, “Their tissues are soft and healthy enough to cushion our essence in landing and provide a short-term fuel base for Switching.
“With the success of this mission we will set precedent, establishing the commercial viability of Body Switching as the new norm: bodies for Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, Omega Centauri and Triangulum. Youth and immortality may at last be within reach. Beauty may finally transcend species. We shall not die.
“This first Switching commences in T minus fifteen clicks. This is not a drill.”
Now they would change bodies like hats.
Doon concentrated with the rest of the crew in connecting her consciousness to the computer, in letting her energy slide and drip into the others. Her last body was almost gone now, worn through, but she clutched Vogue in her hands and angled the sharp transmitting needle at her crumbling temple.
So easy: it had been so, so easy to get the humans to do what they wanted, to reshape them for harvest in the name of Fashion. Fools: rejecting their own bodies for an idea from the Outside.
The Clock above registered the countdown.
T minus ten…
Doon couldn’t wait to be rid of this failing body, to feel the fleshy softness of earth.
T minus 8…
Finally, a new body! Finally, the tool of fashion on earth harnessed to satisfy the fashions of the ever-hungry Body Switchers.
T minus 5…
Finally, fresh flesh and new frontiers. The starship flashed with bright lights as the sequence initiated.
T minus 1…
The needle plunged into Doon’s brain. Vogue fell from her hands, falling open on the floor to a picture of a soft-bodied earth woman, the one Doon would fill. The pain was excruciating as Doon was ripped out of herself and flung through space.
Invasion of Normcore: commence. New heaven, new earth, new normal.