Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Antonio geared the big Mercedes down, slowing to a crawl before pulling off onto the loose gravel of the motel parking lot. He pulled around the end of the building to his usual parking spot in front of room one twenty five. His mistress never summoned him, he was going to make this inappropriate reversal of roles well worth the trip.

Pushing open the door he stepped into the room lit only from behind the partially closed bathroom door.

“You’d better not keep me waiting now, bitch!” He closed the door behind him, too late catching the brief flash of motion as something heavy met his head. The floor raced up and darkness took him.

Tenn pulled two chairs into the middle of the room facing each other, then picked up Antonio’s limp body and deposited him roughly in one. He bound him with nylon cord, arms first, then legs, then finally wrapping the cord around Antonio’s neck, looping it up around his face and forehead before securing it to the chair-back. Satisfied with his work, he placed a textured metal briefcase on the floor between them and pulled a paper shopping bag down over the bound man’s head.

Sitting in the chair opposite, he shook a Dunhill from a half empty pack, lit it and inhaled deeply.

Antonio woke slowly at first, then as the awareness of his situation set it, he jerked violently, the cord around his neck pulling tight.

“You son-of-a-bitch…” he started.

Tenn interrupted him by kicking him hard in the shins.

“This is where you shut up. If there’s a future for Antonio, Antonio needs to be quiet. Clear?”

Antonio started to protest, but Tenn’s heavily booted foot against his shin made him think better of it. He nodded instead.

Tenn opened the case on the floor and uncoiled a length of red surgical tubing truncated in a ten gauge needle. Without warning, he jammed the needle into Antonio’s thigh, ignoring the resulting yelp of surprised pain.

He uncoiled a second length, this one green, and carefully but quickly slipped the needle tip into a bulging vein in his own arm.

In the case was a control box with a single push button and a digital counter. Tenn pushed the button, and as the counter ticked off the digits from ten to zero, he sat back in his chair, closed his eyes, and waited.

“I kind of like your hooker friend, and your wife as well.” He spoke slowly, white heat crawling up his arm, across his chest and then radiating out through his body. Antonio shivered, urine soaking through his pants. “You’ll treat them better in future, of course.”

As they sat, Tenn visualized the photographs he’d collected of Antonio. Green eyes, the slicked back, neatly parted hair. Pencil mustache, perfect teeth in a wide, arrogant smile.

Creative visualization would make adjusting to the transition easier; he’d not looked at his own reflection in several months.

Muscle twitched and reconfigured itself as nano-tech coursed between the two men, reading DNA code from one and rearranging in the other. Tenn’s hair changed from blond to dark brown. He’d have to have it cut and styled, but there was time for that. Facial hair grew, beard and mustache together. He’d need to shave.

For hours they sat, Antonio silent, Tenn relaxed, occasionally grunting or breathing heavily as some major change was made.

Sometime before dawn, the briefcase emitted a single chime, and Tenn withdrew the needles and repacked the case.

Everything ached, but he pulled himself to his feet and yanked the paper bag from Antonio’s head.

The man stared, blankly at first, then eyes widening with a new found fear. The face before him was unshaven and tired looking, but still a mirror image of himself.

“I’m going to have so much more fun with your fortune than you ever dreamed of, with your women, with your life.” Seconds later the nanos still circulating in Antonio’s bloodstream began to tear his cells apart. He screamed for only a few agonizing minutes before he was reduced to a pulpy mess on the floor that gradually vapourized into the room.

Antonio Tenn was no longer there to witness, having pulled the rumbling Mercedes back onto the highway, heading at high speed for home.



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