Concept art by Caleb Brown, ©2014
With a languid stretch, Carnelia rolled on her side, enjoying the warm, sleepy liquidity of her body. He put his arm around her, drawing her close in his sleep. His touch reminded her of their earlier gymnastics. She allowed herself a moment to luxuriate, but even in her sleepy thoughts she felt the beginning of self-recrimination. She’d crossed a line. She’d done what Lizbet and Daign did regularly and shamelessly.
Her client was a lucky lady, and her boyfriend was a handsome, fit man. Trying to get out of the situation without arousing suspicion would have been difficult. She didn’t regret her decision. That was the problem.
Sneaking out of bed was easy. She knew the route to the C-pod. She moved as quietly as possible, hoping not to wake her lover. He’d never know that he’d cheated on his girlfriend. She’d never know either. There would be no consequences for her actions.
As she flipped switches and prepared her client’s C-pod, she caught her reflection in the glass. Blonde, blue-eyed, pale skin and a dusting of freckles. This wasn’t the face she’d wake up to. She would never see this face again.
I’m just like them. Carnelia knew that if she was in her body, she’d be shaking. This body had no reason to feel a fear reaction, so she didn’t. She caressed the palm lock and watched the diodes.
“Samantha, come back to bed.” His voice echoed through the house. “You promised no work when I was over.”
Shit. She pulled the wires for hooking up into the pod, and fastened them into their docks just behind her client’s ears. She didn’t want to face him again. She didn’t want to admit she’d screwed up.
“Samantha!” He sounded cross. It was too poorly lit to see his face, she’d left the lights dim on purpose. “Get out of there this instant!”
If he became more insistent, if he jerked her wires, Carnelia could be in very big trouble. She’d be trapped in this body, Parris would be pissed, and there’d be no telling when she’d get another chance to jump.
“Answer me!” He strode into the C-pod room, a statue given life, all sculpted abs and proud jaw.
Nope. Still not sorry.
The HUD popped up, allowing Carnelia to select her options. It didn’t take long to open the menu…
…his hand was on her shoulder. “Samantha…”
Carnelia opened her eyes and gasped like a swimmer who’d been under a little too long. Her skin was the correct shade again, her fingernails rosy pink at the tips of golden brown fingers. She looked around the C-pod. Stephen was nowhere in sight. Instead, Dr. Yeldez performed standard checks.
“A little close, my dear?” He asked, a skim of disdain floating across his words.
She caught her reflection in the C-pod window. Big, brown eyes, slightly canted at the edges. She saw herself, and shame crashed down on her in a wave. I’m just like the others, now.
“It wasn’t a bad run.” Carnelia said in her defense. “It just got a little close for comfort.”
“Your patterns all check out. You’re free to go.” Dr. Yeldez said briskly.
Carnelia gathered her things and kept her mouth shut. Free to go was as much a lie as the one she’d told. She needed to get out, and fast. She’d seen her brother’s losing fight with drugs, and didn’t think this was much different. In her room, she picked out some clothes for the day. The rest of it would be hers, now that the mission was over.
She looked into her full length mirror, catching another look at her real self. She grinned. She had an idea.
This flash fiction is based around my new novel, Bento Box. It is available for preorder and will be released June 30th, so you don’t have long to wait!