I spent the whole week working on a piece of flash fiction that I eventually sent to the cleaner's. I spent yesterday and today putting this together. I much prefer it.
“Run that by me again,” Nathan asked, slipping out of his environment suit. His supervisor had turned away to enter a code into a hidden wall panel.
“Like I said,” Ray began, stepping forward as a hatch opened to his left, “We’re at a pivotal point. This next meeting could end the whole war. You and me, we’ve been selected to help put the event together.”
The younger man couldn’t help but laugh. “How the hell is one event going to stop the war? We lost New Fellport, and after the massacre at Horsehead Ridge, I don’t think anyone’s going to want to talk, on either side.”
“The Zando Alliance lost a lot of sons at Horsehead,” he explained, reaching into the hatch, “They’ll want to talk.”
“Right, so where do I come in?”
“You’ve gotta put this on,” he said, holding up a metal mask. It was a dark gray thing with a solid nose and a visor where the eyes were meant to be. Three black slits, each one an inch in both length and width easily, sat underneath the nose.
Nathan squinted at it. “What is that?”
Smiling, Ray turned the mask over in his hands, “This thing feeds directly into the speech centres of the brain. You’ll be able to process a range of Zandolese accents, dialects, and languages, and then when you speak it’ll translate your words into the appropriate language that they speak. Cool, no?”
Eagerness trembled inside the younger man, but he remained sceptical. “There’s a catch.”
“Well, yeah,” his boss admitted, turning over the object some more, “Certain words don’t translate well into some Zandolese dialects. Like, try to avoid saying things like ‘courtesy’ to a South Ovan or anything fruit-related to someone from the Kakak Desert. Also, the mask might remove your face,” he added, quickly.
“It might what?!”
“Nothing. Now put it on.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Nathan said, backing away with his hands up, “That thing could remove my face, you just said that!”
“No I didn’t,” Ray lied, his eyes shifting around.
“Yes you did! You said it right now!”
“Oh, come on, it’s just your face.”
“It’s my face!”
“Well, there’s only a small chance it could happen.”
“I don’t know, seventy percent?”
“That isn’t small!”
“It’s not a hundred!”
“I don’t want to lose my face!”
“Come on!” his superior griped, “People are counting on us! You could be the guy who ends this thing! Think about it! No more hallucinogen bombs! No more gravity storms on Mars! All the blood and the squalor and the misery, all gone, thanks to you!”
Nathan did not budge. “You believe in that so much, you put it on!”
“No way, are you crazy?” he said with a scoff, “Besides, it’s sculpted to fit your face.”
The younger man’s body froze. “It is?”
He nodded, approaching him, “All those times you had to stick you face in the scanner to get in the compound? They weren’t just checking your I.D.” His superior held the mask out at him. “We’ve got to, son. For the future.”
Nathan gulped and stared down at the barbs on the sides of the mask. “So I don’t have a say in this at all.”
With a shrug, Ray lifted Nathan’s new face in his hands. “You got off light. Ever cleaned a Zandolese toilet?”
See you next time,
EDIT: May 20, 2012. Edits!