The Eye of the Beholder
by K. Kylyra Ameringer
"Cameron. Excellent," the Director said. He snapped his fingers and instantly three assistants appeared. "Get Cameron into the suit and up on the platform. Let's go!" he said. "We don't have time to waste!"
Cameron was seized and hustled back to a small alcove where she was stripped. She was squeezed into the ill-fitting suit. It was too tight, and felt like it was cutting off her circulation.
"I can't breathe properly," she said to one of the assistants.
"That's the way it's supposed to fit," the assistant told her.
Cameron was pushed down onto a seat, and the razors were strapped on to her feet. The Director appeared before her like magic. He looked at her critically. "Now," he said, "up, up, up, up!" The assistants helped Cameron to slowly stand. She teetered for a moment on the high heels, unused to the additional inches it gave her height. She could clearly see the top of the Director's head, and the slight flaking of dandruff that rested there. "Well," the Director said in a crisp, terse tone, "it can stand. Let's see if it can move."
The assistants helped her up onto the platform, and the Director instructed her in the balance required to handle the shoes. She held her head and shoulders back, her torso slightly arched, and her hips thrust forward. She began to move, tentatively at first, then with more confidence and larger strides. In an hour the Director was no longer yelling. In two, he actually smiled. An assistant approached and whispered in the Director's ear. The Director glanced sharply towards the clock on the wall. "Alright people," he said, "we have exactly two hours before the Event. I want this girl prepped and ready to go. Remember - this is an important one for the Agency."
Cameron was hustled off the platform and taken down to the labs. "What are we doing here?" she asked one of the assistants.
"You're here to be prepped for the Event," was the reply.
She was unceremoniously stripped down again. The lab Tech came in and looked her up and down. "Hmmm," the Tech said, as she slowly circled Cameron. "It's too bad we don't have more time, but I guess we'll do what we can with what we have. This," she said, pointing with her pen, "needs to be strapped in. And bring this up and tighten everything together." The Tech leaned in close to Cameron's face. "I want this, this and this," she said, poking at Cameron's face, "gone. We should emphasize here and here," she told her assistant.
Cameron was led away and appropriately tied up, strapped in, tucked, lifted, pushed, and stuffed according to the lab Tech's wishes. They washed her in chemicals, then dried her, then added more chemicals to various parts of her body. The odors made Cameron's eyes water.
The suit and the shoes were brought out, cleaned and shined. Cameron was forced into them once again. The assistants were just about done with her when a greying, middle aged woman entered the lab. She wore a drab outfit and was unremarkable to look at. She spoke briefly with the lab Tech, then crossed the room to where Cameron sat waiting.
"Hi! You're Cameron, right?" she asked, extending her hand out. Cameron raised her own hand to grasp the woman's in a handshake when a lab assistant interrupted.
"Oh! No, no! Don't want to do that! She's not dry yet!" the lab assistant said.
"Oh, of course!" the woman said, looking slightly lost. "My mistake." She put on a perfunctory smile. "I'm from Admin," she informed Cameron.
"From Admin?" Cameron asked.
"Yes," she replied. "I'm here to brief you for tonight's Event. Now, you'll be surrounded by many people tonight, and you'll meet quite a few of them." The woman was pacing up and down in front of Cameron, wringing her hands slightly. "And through everything that happens, I only want you to remember one thing." She stopped in front of Cameron's chair, and leaned in close. "Tycizosolene," she said.
"Tyciz-what?" Cameron asked.
"Ty-ciz-os-o-lene," the woman said again, pronouncing the word slowly.
"What's Tycizosolene?" Cameron asked.
"A new product," she replied. "Going to revolutionize the world. Absolutely essential. Everyone will need Tycizosolene."
"But...what exactly is Tycizosolene?" Cameron asked.
The Eye of the Beholder by K. Kylyra Ameringer