The Body Snatchers are coming. They are already here.
By Cam Dang
‘Eenians hah kuming.’
Time is running out, but the man still can’t understand me.
I’m not furious, not anymore. He’s not the first. The first was a little girl on a tram. It was years ago, but I still remember the way her eyes watered up as she clung onto her mother’s dress. She wailed yet couldn’t peel her eyes away from me. All I did was smile at her. Well, I got the body to smile at her, but the lips must have pulled themselves back into a snarl. I tried to get the eyes to cast warmth, but they must have bulged at her instead. And when I opened the mouth to compliment her lovely dress, that was the end of it. The girl was hysterical. Her mother was clearly embarrassed if not just as frightened. Everyone else on the tram was watching, excited – their uneventful day finally had something to muse about.
‘Eenians hah kuming. Deea thaek hoo voodiez. Eenian eenbaasan.’ I try once again, this time pointing a finger up towards the sky and thumbing my chest with one fist.
‘Sorry, buddy, I really can’t understand you,’ the man says. He has been patient. I can tell he’s trying, and I am genuinely touched. I want to thank him, but he has already got to his feet and said goodbye. ‘Goovaai,’ I say. A car has just pulled over. He gets in the front passenger seat and leans over to kiss the woman behind the wheel. She holds his face with two hands and kisses him back.
I raise the hands and hold the face, but I feel nothing. Of course I feel nothing. This body isn’t mine.
Another train has stopped, brakes squealing, horn blasting. Commuters in black suits and dresses emerge from the underpass like spiders crawling out of a dead person’s mouth. They stream past me, heels clacking, phones clicking. ‘Pneeaz, nookap, eenians hah kuming. Deea thaek hoo voodiez.’ I repeat and repeat to the crowd, to anyone who might listen. Some glance at me and quickly look away. Everyone’s too busy, too weary, too frustrated. I don’t hate them for avoiding me. In fact, I love every single one of them the way I used to love this body I’m in.
The body I’m in belongs to a male human. He’s a computer engineer, well, was. These days he does nothing except wondering the streets aimlessly. When I first saw him, I fell in love with the sky in his eyes and the sun in his smile. He reminded me of home.
I never thought I’d be here, but here I am, banished for eternity. Periodically they round up prisoners with life sentence and shoot them to places like Earth. Like garbage, we’re dumped, forgotten, left to rot. So we do what any living thing is born to do: survive. The only way for us to survive on Earth is to become human. And the only way we know how to become humans is, well, by stealing their bodies.
The thing about stealing is that what you’ve stolen can never truly be yours. We have to force ourselves in, almost like a big woman holding her breath inside a two sizes too small cocktail dress. The bodies resent our presence. The tongues refuse to speak properly. The hands are uncooperative. Our incompatibility renders the faces contorted, movements restricted, thoughts scrambled, speech slurred. The body I’m in used to be beautiful. These days I can barely look at it without wanting to cry.
For centuries we’ve roamed the Earth in stolen flesh, pitied by most, understood by none except our own race. We watch the world from the prison in which we have locked ourselves, waiting for the day skin flakes away and organs fail.
That’s when we look for new bodies to steal.
‘Deea kuming. Eebeewaan kuming.’
For the last three months everyone (and by everyone I mean those like me) has been buzzing. Some are excited. Others are worried. ‘Whuh eef deea vaaneesh ush sumvheere helsh?’
What if they banish us somewhere else?
My homeland has recently been invaded. War is tearing it apart. News came from a fresh batch of prisoners dumped on Earth last spring, and from what they’ve gathered, we are losing, fast. It won’t be long until those up there receive the same treatment they’ve bestowed upon us.
That’ll be a lot of outcasts, if you ask me.
All human bodies will be taken over. There’s a possibility of us, the real prisoners, being banished somewhere else, or worse, put out for good, to make space, to save bodies for the worthies. I wouldn’t put it past our governors. But I’m not worried about being put out. I don’t care if I’ll die. I’m just upset with the thought of being kicked out of my prison. As incompatible as we are in these bodies, I don’t want things to change.
Yet soon, everyone on Earth will speak, act, and look just as I do. The odd and the strange will become the norm. There will be nothing around me but ordinary weirdness.
So here I am, at train stations, in shopping centres, on busy streets, watching people, missing them, trying to hold on to soon-to-be history of mankind.
Time is running out.