After programming my desired settings, I opened my personal metamorphosis machine and stepped inside. I turned and pressed my back against the cool gelatinous wall. The front of the casket-shaped box began to move toward me. I forced my breathing to stay even as my lips wrapped around the breathing tube and then cool gel formed against the front of my body.
For five minutes I tried, and failed, to push away thoughts of the power going out, or a fuse blowing; of being stuck inside what I liked to call “the coffin” until I starved to death.
As these thoughts rolled through my head I could feel the film forming around my limbs, my torso, my face. Pressure increased against my thighs and stomach as the film squeezed in like a corset.
When five minutes had passed, I heard the muffled whoosh of air entering the vacuum as the front door swung open.
I gulped in lungfuls of air, feeling the resistance of my second skin as it pulled along my ribcage. My eyelids peeled apart slowly. I held them open, careful not to blink until the film had a chance to set. A few quick slices with a scalpel opened all other necessary orifices, then I stepped in front of the mirror and smiled.
I didn’t even recognize myself.
My previously ghost-pale reflection was now a rich, dark olive. Freckles, blemishes and any identifying marks had disappeared. My legs and waist were trimmer, while my butt and breasts appeared to be significantly less affected by gravity.
Now for the finishing touches.
I pulled out a pair of hazel contacts and placed them over my brown irises. I chose a wig of long, straight black hair to crown my bald-looking head. The stubble of my short brown hair poked through the skin in places, tickling my palms as I secured the wig in place. My form-fitting blue pants and matching shirt sported monogrammed silver M’s on the ankles and shoulders. Finally, I slid my feet into a pair of silver running shoes.
After donning my pack and utility belt, I ascended the metal staircase to the horizontal door fixed in the ceiling above. I opened the door and crawled out into a vast, dark basement. It smelled like dust and paper. After closing and locking the door behind me, I quick-walked through the basement, ascended another set of stairs, and finally exited the building through a backdoor.
As I stood in the dark alleyway listening to the whine of the distant freeway traffic, I hesitated. I thought about turning back, about giving up my crazy plan, then I remembered why I had decided to do this.
Full of determination, I marched into the night to test my new skills.