Thursday, 13 February 2014
‘What’s in his face?’
‘Shrapnel. Was it really necessary to throw him through the window, Bill?’
‘It was self defence. No. I mean can you read him?’
‘Not until I clean him up.’
He lay still on the gurney. His eyes closed, though he was fully conscious. The voices above him faded for a few moments. When they returned they were accompanied by a burning sensation on his cheek. He sucked his breath in sharply through his teeth. It hurt more than the wounds he had gained during his flight through the glass panel.
‘Oh, you’re awake. Good. Open your eyes, Sam.’
‘Just open your eyes. It’s important.’
When he obeyed, the light pushed sharp pains through his head so he closed them again and placed his hands over his face. It was then he knew his trial had been successful. Under his hands, the face was not his own. The experiment had worked.
‘Remove your hands, Sam, please.’
He opened his eyes slowly this time, taking time to adjust to the harsh laboratory lighting and to learn the muscle control of his new physiognomy.
‘Julie, do your stuff.’ Bill said.
The female appeared above him. She scanned his face and then peered into his eyes. Her cheeks flushed and her eyes softened as they met his. Her lips of damask rose, her mouth open slightly. The choosing of this face had been an unseen advantage. The way she looked at him. So Sam meant something to her.
She looked into his face for a long time and then frowned before she gasped and disappeared from his view.
He had read her too.
Julie Harrison, 26. Level 5 Psych. Reader. Three years on the force. Jogged two kilometres this morning. Will choose a poppy seed muffin and latte in twenty minutes on her scheduled tea break. And then there was Sam. If he could make her thoughts of him real, well… He smiled to himself.
Julie was stuttering in the corner. ‘It’s not Sam. I couldn’t read that man. I don’t know who he is. It’s not him.’
Then she was in his face again. ‘Why do you look like Sam? What have you done with him?’ She paused. ‘And why can’t I read you?’
‘I blocked you.’
‘See.’ She was addressing Bill. ‘I should have known that. I can’t even discern a simple block with this … this…. What are you?’
‘A mystery, an enigma, a paradox.’ His enjoyment of her confusion was interrupted by a thumping at the door and muffled voice from outside.
‘Jules, Jules. Open up. It’s me. Open up.’
Footsteps, the hiss of the piston at the door, and the clear accusation as his doppelgänger entered the room. ‘He’s a shape shifter.’
Bill laughed. ‘Shape shifters don’t exist.’
‘Are you sure?’ Julie said. Then she came back to the gurney and was above him again.
‘Is that true?’
‘Shape shifters don’t exist.’ he said. ‘But I have developed some techniques…’
“Oh, you have, have you? And does that include knocking me senseless and ripping off my face against my will?’ He didn’t need his psych powers to read the anger and confusion on the real Sam’s features, his features.
And he didn’t need his psych powers to read the love and concern on Julie’s face as she took Sam’s head in her hands and pulled her face into his, gluing herself to it with those rosy lips.
Yep, Sam Ogden’s face had been a good choice.