Sometimes the people we work for act like they are from another planet. Other times, well, they just are.
Nothing Is Normal
By Sarah Al-saad
I stare with crazed eyes into the mirror to remind myself of what an ordinary human being looks like.
I have a nose. A head that didn’t look like it shrunk in the wash. My eyes were not swelling orbs of black, glistening tissue that seemed to see everything and nothing at once. I also have teeth – nothing worthy of toothpaste commercials, but they were a normal, slightly uneven, set of chompers.
I can tell you exactly when it was that I suddenly became the only observable member of the human race (I say ‘only’ instead of ‘last’ because if I said ‘last’, I might lose what remains of my sanity, and between you and me, that’s not saying much). It was a normal morning – I staggered out of bed approximately twenty minutes after my alarm rang, stubbed my toe in the shower, spilled scalding coffee onto my arm and drank the remains with milk that was toeing the line between expired and toxic, and left for my menial job washing dishes at the local diner. The fact that it still employs people to scrape congealed lasagne off cheap dinner plates and dunk them in a sink full of Tide, rather than getting one of those newfangled machines, should tell you just how squalid my workplace is. But, hell, it pays the bills, and college dropouts certainly can’t be choosers. I was pretty happy in my dead-end job until my boss grew antennae and the chef an extra set of arms.
“I only have one pair of hands, Lou, you demanding sonofabitch!” he used to yell good-naturedly at the waiter (who, I forgot to mention, had recently acquired a Siamese twin from the waist up).
I timidly asked him, at the end of my shift, if he’d noticed that he now had eight limbs. He looked down at the incongruous appendages, shrugged, and said, “Well, that’s handy.”
I also asked my boss about the things poking out of his head, and his response was to reach up, pat them, and say “Yeah, I told my hairdresser I wanted something different.”
“But sir, it’s not your hair,” I pointed out.
“Neither are the extensions on Beyonce, but I bet she doesn’t get any shit about it from her staff, does she?” he shouted, and promptly kicked me out.
Since then, I keep noticing odd little things about the people around me.
Living in a shitty urban neighbourhood has taught me a couple of things; for example, in the old days, a pretty piece of tail you lusted after might really be a guy in drag. Now, though, that pretty piece of tail actually has a tail, and that’s slightly harder to accept than cross-dressers. I haven’t seen anyone who looked ‘normal,’ in about two weeks, and in that time frame I find I’m slowly starting to forget what ‘normal’ even is. The other day, an old lady at a convenience store called the manager because she couldn’t find sunglasses to accommodate her third eye. The manager responded by assuring her that a new shipment of specially made sunglasses was arriving tomorrow, and if she would like a free lottery tickets in compensation.
I can’t decide if everything is fine, or if aliens have invaded and no-one minds. Either way, I really hope my mom’s still out there.
One of the three creatures that had been monitoring Trial #14, formerly Ethan Cooper, leaned back in his seat. His eye fixed on the twitchy little man on the screen, he addressed his colleague.
He’s taken it remarkably well.
His colleague nodded. The simulation’s accuracy could be a factor. Humans tend to adapt to almost any circumstances if enough banalities remain the same, if they’re unaware of being displaced.
The third creature inclined its head slowly. He is faring better than Trial #13 did. Her simulation was much less similar to her Earth life.
There was silence. On the screen, Trial #14 dug his knuckles into his eye sockets. He screamed.
The first creature said: How much longer do you give him?