Author : Jason Frank
We weren’t supposed to take our suits off, not ever. We were supposed to find the survey team that disappeared. We found out what happened to them, all right, and then we took our suits off, just like they did. I’m writing this with my suit off (I had to put my gloves back on because this keypad was made with suited fingers in mind).
When we got here, we didn’t find the other team, just their suits. We did find some incredible things running around, however. They were at the extreme end of alien anatomy but were no less beautiful for it. They weren’t aggressive or dangerous; we didn’t think they killed the team. We chased dead ends for a week before we realized they were the team. They didn’t disappear, they just stopped reporting in.
We spent days debating our next move. Did they take their suits off because they were changing, or did they change because they took their suits off? Hector settled the debate by taking his suit off (he was always a bit of a romantic). He started changing right away. We wanted to document it, get some objective proof, but he was against that, firmly against that. He said it was an invasion of his privacy. Then he said it didn’t hurt, that it felt great. Then he didn’t say anything and flew way with the same rippling layers of flamboyant flesh that the other team had embraced.
After that, it was like dominoes. One by one everyone took their suits off. One by one everyone became one of those shimmering, impossible beings. I kept my suit on. I kept filing boring, misleading reports. The responses from base were stilted, stern. They were suspicious of me. They probably assumed that I had lost it, that I was one of those people that goes on a mission and wipes out her whole team over some strongly held yet deeply frightening misconceptions about the nature of reality.
The communiqués from base got so bad that I realized I was boned no matter what happened. I figured I should just take my suit off. Everyone else seemed to be having a great old time flying around and sometimes engaging in complicated maneuvers I assumed to be copulation of some sort.
Then, I did it. I took my suit off (when in Rome… right?). I took my suit off and, embarrassingly enough, shouted “I am ready to transcend!” I was more than a little drunk (I hid some whiskey in my suit before takeoff). The booze made tired so I laid down for a minute to relax. I thought I’d wake up all changed. I didn’t.
Hours passed, days passed and nothing happened. I didn’t change. I didn’t start to change. I felt the same. Why not me? My feelings became as complex as the physical shapes of my former colleagues. Was it some deficiency of the imagination? I have always been a practical person. Do I lack some gene tied to evolution, some physical ability to become more than I am?
I’m going to go hide someplace and think things through. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you are on the team sent to find my team. Well, I just made your job a lot easier. Why don’t you return the favor by leaving me be (I don’t want to be a science project). If, however, you have your suit off and nothing’s happening, come out and find me. Your unchanged personness will lead you right to me, I’m sure of that.
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows