Invasion of the Body Swappers!
By ANTIcarrot © 2006



Grant struggled occasionally against the inhuman creatures, heedless that they both weighed twice as much as he did and that his hands were cuffed behind his back. Even if he did get away he wouldnít get far. They had four legs and could run fast enough to keep up with his car. Thatís how heíd been caught in the first place. And this was all ignoring the fact that he was two miles underground, deep as Hell itself, and in the heart of the alien complex.

He was in their power now. On their territory, helpless to defend himself or prevent what was about to happen, whatever that was exactly. Though if there was one solitary thing to take comfort in, one tiny flicker of a candle in all this darkness, it was that he would soon be finding out what happened to everyone in Rougeville. To find out what had become of Clara, his wife, and Benny, Susan, and Rachel, their three children. And that no matter what they may end up doing to his body, his soul would soon be joining them in heaven.

If indeed there was such a place. After the horrors of the last week Grant was beginning to doubt. What God would allow such things to happen? He glanced down at the hands restraining his arms; hands with clawed fingers and unnaturally hot skin. What god would allow such monsters to exist?

As if aware of his attention, the one of that side turned its hairy face up to look at him and grinned showing a hideous array of sharp teeth. Then it ran its repulsively long tongue over deformed lips and giggled. Grant flinched, as much from the sound as the creatureís appearance? How could something so alien produce a sound so innocent?

Horrors!

They had stopped only once more at a massive steel door, one that would not look out of place on an atomic bunker. As one guard stepped forward to unlock it, Grant had looked up to read the sign. MIND STORAGE VAULT TWELVE-C. Remembering what he had seen at the conversion room, primal instincts warred inside his mind, the desire to see what might be all that was left of his family fighting the dread that there were some things a man was never meant to know. He baulked and had tried to run.

The escape attempt was only marginally more successful than the others. He got five steps before one of the guards caught him and spun him against the wall. Before he could react, the hairy body pinned him in place, repulsively muscled arms reaching round to paw at his backside while the grotesque lips and tongue kissed and licked at his neck in a nauseating imitation of affection. It was over as soon as the first guard opened the door, then he was dragged through and into the chasm beyond.

The lights followed them, switching on and off and they moved past. It limited his vision, making it difficult for him to see more than a few yards ahead or behind, and making it impossible to see how big the room was. All he knew was that however large this room was, there were at least another thirty-five just like it. Possible even another thirty-five complexes, just like this one. The thought made him shiver.

From what he had been able to make out the room was arrayed like a warehouse, with row after row stretching off into the darkness. Except that instead of machine parts, food, clothing, toilet paper or any number of things modern America produced, these rows were filled with glass tanks, massive ones, each larger than a telephone booth, and each filled with dark blue liquid. Some of the tanks seemed empty. This had wires and tubes hanging down the inside of the front panel. In other tanks the tubes were absent, or at least not visible. Dark shapes lurked in these tanks, shapes that had become eerily familiar to Grant ever since he had entered this complex.

Eventually, they approached another group of lights, this one with a lone alien standing in the middle. An alien with white, orange and grey splodges over her body, like some kind of demented cow. Grantís body tightened as he recognised her as the leader from the conversion room, and so did the guards hands around his arms.

"Ah good evening Mr Samson," it began, oddly enough, with a west coast accent. Then it tilted its malformed head slightly and seemed to reconsider its words. "Or maybe itís good morning by now. As you might have noticed, itís really quite hard to keep track of time down here. Over the past few hours Iíve also been tearing my hair out, so to speak, trying to find you. Somehow I think if you knew half the trouble youíve caused us, you wouldnít be nearly as upset as you are now."

Grant ignored what she said.

"Whereís my family?" He asked in a flat, dangerous tone. "Whereís my wife? Where are my children?"

To his anger, the creature slowly shook its head, and the corners of its mouth pulled up in what might have been a smile on another face.

"It really is quite remarkable you know? The human mindís capacity for self deception."

"Where are they?!" Grant suddenly yelled as he strained forward. For a moment he felt the guardís grip slip slightly, and he didnít care a bit that his hands would be useless in any kind of fight. He still had his teeth, and right at that moment there would be nothing heíd like more than to sink them into that monsterís neck. Then claws dug into to his arms as the grips on his arm tightened, and the guards yanked him back again. His helplessness frightened him, frustrated him, and made him angry, but not nearly as angry as the sight of the alien leader throwing its head back and laughing out load.

"God damn it! Where is my family! What have you done to them?!"

He struggled against the guards and for once they had to struggle against him before the leaderís voice drew his attention again.

"Youíre going to kick yourself in a minute you know. You have absolutely no idea how amusing this all this. Though I would advise you to be careful what you ask. I know you wonít like the answer!"

"Tell me!"

"Very well." It turned to his guards. "Chain him."

Instantly they hauled him over to one side of the isle and quickly did something to his handcuffs before stepping away again. Grant instinctively tried to move away from them in turn Ė and found that he could, only to be brought up short a couple of yards away. Theyíd chained him up! Chained him up like a dog!

"If I could have your attention please?" Grant belligerently turned to face the leader. "Thank you. You asked first of all what happened to your wife."

The leader reached over and threw a switch by a tank. Immediately a powerful light lit up the tank to reveal, nothing. He blinked before noticing a name stencilled in black against clear glass near the top. CLARA SAMPSON. Grant opened his mouth to shout at the leader to explain, but then paused uncertain. This time there was no mistaking the smug expression it wore. Moving swiftly it turned on lights in three other tanks, each one empty, and each with the name of one of his children. Anger began to once again replace the confusion.

"Where have you taken them?!"

"Taken them, Mr Samson? Thatís exactly the problem. We havenít taken them anywhere. We havenít taken them at all! We havenít touched your family."

"Then why the hell are their names up there?"

"WellÖ" The alien considered. "Not taken yet anyway."

"Donít you dare touch them!" Grant yelled.

"Really Mr Samson, or would it make you feel better if I called you Grant? Really Grant, if I were you, I think Iíd be far more worried about my own situation." It threw another switch, and this time light flooded over his shoulders. "Turn around."

"Why?" he asked, suspicious and hesitant.

"Itíll answer all your questions. Turn around."

Grant waited for a moment for the alien to add something else, but it remained silent. When nothing further was forthcoming he slowly turned around to see another illuminated tank behind him. This one wasnít empty enough, an alien similar to the others floated within, connected up via tubes and wires to the machinery that lines the tankís edges. He stared for long enough to see its chest rise and fall slowly, and realised it was alive somehow despite the fluid that must fill its lungs. Then his eyes flickered to the top of the tank. He stared for a moment, not understanding, and then for another moment, not believing.

"What is this?"

Clawed hands with the wrong body temperature gripped his arms again and he felt warm breath tickle his ear as he heard the leaderís voice again.

"You were right about us turning your kind into ours. The problem is though itís a fairly slow process, which left us with a bit of a problem. If we just turned one family per night, or even one town per night into aliens, their neighbours would notice. As would the changed people themselves I imagine."

"No," Grant said weakly.

"Yes," the leader said.

"But Iím human!" He protested feebly as his eyes dropped to the alienís chest. "Iím male!"

"Were human. Were male."

"You changed them."

"We wonít be changing your family for another five days." The leader leaned even closer. "Youíre welcome to stop us if you like."

"How am I supposed to do that?" He turned and shouted. "How the hell am I supposed to do that?!" For a moment he glanced at the cord that bound him. It was fused directly to the well. "Thereís not even a knot in this rope!"

"You still donít get it, do you Mr Samson. Youíre not tied up. Youíre floating in a tank of water. Youíre not human any more. Youíre one of us now. We transferred your mind from your original body to one of ours over a month ago. We then hooked your new brain up to a robot body that precisely matched your old one. You see through its eyes, you hear through its ears, you feel through its synthetic skin. Itís how we stopped you from noticing. Itís how we stop everyone from noticing. Itís how we keep our big secret Ė until weíre ready of course.

"Thatís why you started thinking everyone had changed. Thatís why everything stopped seeming normal. Thatís why everyone started to seem slightly stupid to you. Not because they had changed but because your mind was housed in a better brain than it had been before. And no offence to your species, and at the risk of sounding pretentious my race is slightly less prone to mental imbalances than your own, and weíre significantly more intelligent too. But donít worry, as I said, your wife and children will have caught up to you in less than a week, once we convert them too."

"You leave them alone!"

The leader laughed again.

"As I said Mr Samson, youíre more than welcome to try and stop us! All you have to do is crawl out of that tank, walk out of here, make your way to your house, and convince your family youíre who you say they are. I honestly would be quite curious to see how they would react."

"Iím not playing your sick mind games!"

"In case youíre wondering Mr Samson, the technique for pulling your consciousness out of the robot form is to simply want to. All you need to do is accept your new body and will yourself to Ďwake upí, as it were. Getting the fluid out of your lungs can be a bit unpleasant, but you did it once when you were born and Iím sure you can manage it again." The leader stopped and looked at him carefully. "But I see you need to think about it. Iíll leave the light on for as long as you want it. Please turn it off when youíve finished. You wonít be need it at that point."

The leader and guards turned and began to walk away. As they left the ceiling lights turned on and off to follow them. After a short time the only sources of light were lights in the five tanks. Grant suddenly became aware of the complete and utter silence in the huge cavern, and the completely impenetrable darkness beyond the small island of light the tanks provided. His heart began to thunder in his chest harder than when heíd been captured.

"Hey! Wait! When are you going to untie me!?"

"Iíve already told you, youíre not tied up Mr Samson!"

"What about food and water!"

"Your body is being fed and watered!" The leader called back from the end of the row. From Grantís perspective it was like a light at the end of a tunnel, a light that was slowly receding. Just before leader, guards, and lights disappeared from view, the leader called back one last time.

"Face it Mr Samson, the only way youíre getting out of this, and the only way you stand a chance of keeping your family human, is accepting fully and completely, that youíre a chakat."

 


A note of explanation:

In large part this was inspired by Night Of The Living Duckies, by Laura ĎLongtailí Blacksin, with a healthy dose of Transformations, by Bernard ĎGoldfurí Doove. It came about with the realisation that to an average square-jawed all american hero from a 1950s film, a liberal bisexual tree-hugging hippie chakat is a worse threat to Ma, Pa, America, and Apple Pie than any B-Movie monster you care to name.

Itís also a fun exercise to portray chakats as from a new point of view. The title is of course a parody of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Rougeville is pronounced in the French way and translates roughly as Red (neck) Town.

Finally, this work was inspired by Forest Tales, by Bernard Doove.

Well, I was hardly likely to put that at the start now, was I?

 


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