The weight of Nick’s body was evaporating, while his feet stayed firmly planted on the leaf-strewn earth. It was really an uncomfortable feeling, like an itch from the inside that spread everywhere.
“It is your essence leaving your corpus,” the visitor explained, again. It seemed bored or irritated.
“I’m feeling lightheaded.”
“It is normal.” It casually reached up and plucked the only brown leaf from an otherwise healthy tree. It examined it closely, turning the leaf back and forth by rolling the stem between its ashen thumb and forefinger. Nick watched, fascinated, as the visitor’s appearance was becoming increasingly human in complexion and substance, while he felt more and more like a store mannequin.
“I’ve never been immortal before,” Nick mused aloud, looking down at his own hands to see color fade from them. “Good to be on the right side of history, eh? The winning team. When your_” It was becoming difficult for him to string words together to form sentences. “When your…species…take over Earth, what happens then? If they’re…killed, what happens…bodies?”
The visitor dropped the dead leaf and turned back to Nick, regarding him with large black eyes that slowly contracted. White formed around their circumference and expanded inward. Brown color poured into irises like coffee. It leaned in and held Nick’s face with cold hands.
“Just let go, Nick,” it said as lips blossomed around a widening mouth and teeth erupted from bloody gums. “I’ll take good care of your vessel.” Nick shuddered.
“M-nik-bok!” A voice shouted. It was loud and ubiquitous but had no echo. The visitor quickly let go of his face and spun around. Out from a cluster of trees another visitor appeared and marched towards them.
The first groaned something unintelligible and stood at attention. The second approached and stopped, standing across from the first. They stared at each other silently and without moving. Nick noticed the feeling of emptiness was fading and he felt like he was returning to normal. Actually, better than normal. The sensation made him grin as he saw the color return to his hands. Then he looked at the bare back of the visitor to see its width atrophy and pallor fade to the grayish color of when Nick and it first met.
“Hello?” Nick finally called, confidence returning with his sense of presence. “Can you stop the mind chat?” They both turned to face him. He was taken aback by how quickly Visitor 1’s appearance returned to its default. They both looked identical now: skinny, pale gray aliens with big heads and black ovoid eyes.
“My leader says it is not time,” Visitor 1 explained, tiny mouth unmoving.
“You are not ready.”
“But I am ready,” Nick argued a little too forcefully. But he wanted to make his point. There was nothing for him here. Life had turned into a lonely monochrome void: a failed marriage, no friends, no interests, and a dead end job that just serviced an insurmountable pile of debt. Just when he was at his lowest, the visitor showed up in his kitchen and offered him immortality, instructing him to go to the woods for Transference. He couldn’t go back now. On the verge of divorce, there was no one left for him to go back to.
“We had a deal! I transfer my body to you, then you and your friends take over Earth. I…my body…lives on forever as one of you. It’s the ultimate middle finger to everyone. Especially Lucy. Meanwhile, you get to walk around and go anywhere you want because you look just like me…” Wait, that didn’t make sense. The logic of what the visitor had said and promised was unraveling. If the visitors were taking over Earth, and eliminating everyone on it, why did any of them have to look like Earthlings? Why didn’t they just get rid of everyone and be done with it?
Visitor 2 stepped forward. “There is a misunderstanding,” it explained.
“M-nik-bok just likes to visit your planet on holiday. M-nik-bok enjoys your Earthly distractions. Your Reuben sandwiches and superhero movies. A disguise is necessary to visit without drawing attention.”
“A disguise?” Tears of betrayal stung Nick’s eyes. “That’s all I’d be? Just so you could be a tourist on Earth? A…a shell?”
Visitor 1 took a step forward. “Yes. Your corpus would be used and you would cease to exist,” the visitor answered. “Since this appears to cause you anxiety, perhaps being just a shell does not agree with you.”
Nick stared at his reflection in its black mirror eyes. Visitor 2 made a slight bow, which Visitor 1 mimicked, and the two turned and walked away. They disappeared into the shadow of a tree canopy. Nick stared ahead numbly. After a moment he saw Visitor 1 (or was it 2?) reappear from the shadows. The visitor had returned! Nick spread his arms wide, ready to be transferred. Then he noticed that the visitor had something silver in its raised hand. And it seemed to be aimed at him.
Nick was whacked in the head by what felt like a two by four. He fell flat on his back, and struggled to get air into his lungs. When his breathing returned he sat up, confused and rubbing his forehead. “What the hell am I doing here?” he said aloud to no one. He had no idea why he was in the woods or how he had gotten there.
His cell phone rang. It was Lucy. For some reason he didn’t feel the urge to sigh or ignore the call. He missed her. He took a moment to take in his surroundings, appreciating how vibrant the verdant trees and azure sky appeared. Even the birds were singing.
He thumbed the bright green answer icon. “Hey, babe,” he said. “Up for a movie tonight? Yeah, I’m fine. Actually I’m better than fine. I feel…renewed. It’s hard to explain. But I miss you. So what do you say? Get some dinner first? I could go for a Reuben, whatever that is.”