Prompt: Body-swapping technology develops to allow rich to buy poor people’s bodies that are in better shape. You make a living by flipping bodies, getting them in shape to sell onto the next rich person. It ends when you are tricked into transferring into a body that you can’t flip.
Mr. Black will love this, I thought as I turned around in the flipper, flexing his back muscles, curling his biceps. Only took six months to get the BMI down and body fat below ten percent. The flipping imprint, three narrow circles intertwined, on the inside of his wrist glowed soft blue, and soon it would glow red, then yellow, then blue again, but with Black inside, not me. I walked away from the mirror, grabbed the flipper’s phone from the table, and called Mr. Black.
“Everything’s all ready, when can we make the switch?”
“Today, if you like. Can you come now?”
I nodded, shouldered the phone as I gathered fitted pants and a black button down from the closet. “Yeah, yeah I can. I’ll be there in ten.” I hung up and tossed the phone onto the bed, put socks and polished shoes on, then took the Mercedes keys from the hook in the hallway and opened the front door of the apartment suite.
Mr. Black’s house, though more like a mansion, was behind a black steel gate I had to be allowed through. I left the car parked a way’s away, something I’d like to keep after the switch, and walked the winding gravel path to the granite stairs that lead up into an entryway that could double as a ball room. A twinkling, glass chandelier hung overhead, and two sets of snaking massive stairs lead up to the second story of the house. A set of double doors off to the right opened and Mr. Black walked out, his forehead reminding me of melting wax, and his deep-seated beady eyes always seemed to be glaring.
I shook his clammy hand.
“You ready?” I asked.
“Of course, of course,” he nodded, raised his hand towards another room near the stairs. “Right this way, to the study.”
He shuffled ahead to the dark mahogany doors, then with a grunt, pushed them open. Beyond was a smaller room with shelving from floor to ceiling, spilling with thick books, and a golden trimmed oriental carpet covered the ground. When I stepped inside, he closed the door. There were two low, wing-backed chairs facing a large desk. A decanter with amber liquid, and a black phone sat atop. Behind was a large window overlooking Mr. Black’s sprawling backyard.
“Would you like a drink?” he asked, walking around me.
I shook my head. “Booze throws off the switch.
“So you ready?”
“Yes, yes.” He opened a cabinet, pulled free a rubber-banded envelope, and handed it to me. “It’s all there, you can count if you want.”
“Not needed,” I glanced at the shelves, the floor, the books, “I know you’re good for it, with a place like this.”
“Okay, so how do we do it?”
“First you give me your dominant hand. Left handed? Okay, don’t meet many of those. Place your wrist against mine — the one with the imprint — and close your eyes. I’ll do the same. There’s power in the ink, it just does the rest, like magic, really. Once it happens, you’ll be in here, and I’ll be back in my own, back home. You’ll be left to deal with your old body, but we already agreed to that. Okay… deep breathe in, deep breathe out… One, two, and three!”
Not a good damn thing.
I didn’t feel the tug of being flipped, didn’t feel the pull of switching, of wrenching free of the flipper and thrown back to my body back home, didn’t hear the sound of the whirring, or feel the warmth radiating between us.
“Did it work?” Black asked.
“No, but this happens sometimes on the first go. Let’s try again. Breathe in, then out… One, two, three!”
Again, nothing but clammy flesh on warm skin. I opened my eyes. Black’s were still closed, though he was frowning. “Is everything okay?” he asked through pursed lips.
“Yeah, yeah, everything’s fine. Let’s try this one more time.”
What the fuck!
I pulled my wrist away from his, he opened his eyes, and I handed him back his money. “Sorry ’bout this, something’s funky with this flipper, don’t know what.” I turned to leave, but he grabbed my hand and dug his feet into the carpet.
“No, wait, I have to have this body… I can’t stay in this one anymore… The cancer, in my lungs, constant pain—”
I wrenched my hand free from him. “I can’t do it, buddy. It won’t work. I just tried three damn times. Maybe in a month, if I can get it fixed, then we’ll talk but until then—”
“I don’t have a damn month!” he screamed, shaking his fist. “I can’t live like this anymore! You— you promised me that body and now you’re taking our deal back?”
“Look Black, I gave you your money back. No harm, no foul. Deal’s off.” I turned and strode towards the door. Have to get out, have to leave this place before— ah, shit… door’s locked.
“Can you unlock this, Black?” I asked as I faced him and something overwhelming and sharp enveloped my body. My legs crumbled underneath me. I rapped my chin on the floor, felt the crack of my teeth, and something warm was pouring out from me. I groped the flipper’s body. Not piss, not shit… Ah, blood, goddamn blood. I tried to roll over, but my arms were too weak now. I breathed heavily into the carpet, heard footsteps come over and felt something on my arm. I rolled onto my back, blood pumping out from my chest. Mr. Black knelt down, eyes red-rimmed and teary.
“Now maybe it’ll work,” he said, taking my imprinted wrist and placing it to his. He closed his eyes, breathed in, then out. Nothing.
“To— told you, buddy… Not, not gonna work… No— now this flipper’s gonna die and I’ll be, I’ll be back in my body and you’ll be left with a corpse.” I grinned, tasted copper.
The world went dark. It went cold. His wrist was on mine when I closed my eyes, and it was still there when I opened them, kneeling over the flipper’s body.
Oh fuck, oh fuck no!
I dropped the wrist like it was red hot, straightened slower than I was use to, heard my knees crack, and shuffled to the window behind the desk. I looked into the reflection. Touched Black’s face, his melting forehead, the sunken cheeks… fuck, fuck, fuck. I checked my wrists. No imprints. I lifted his shirt — none — unbuckled his pants — nothing but shriveled gonads… There was no imprint, he wasn’t a flipper, he was me and I was him and I coughed into my palm and looked into my hand and saw blood— the cancer… about a month to live. I walked around the desk, peered down at the corpse on the ground. Mr. Black was inside, or, maybe— I ran to the phone on the desk, picked it up, dialed my home number.
“Hello?” I said on the other end.
“Hello? Who is this?” I asked, in the study.
“Mr. Black, who’s this?”
Read my previous prompt, “The Place Made From Coral and Sand.”
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