Word Count: 1009
Writing: 52 minutes
Editing: 13 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
The two men stood outside the rusted building and read the bright, flesh colored words.
“You sure about this? You’re wife’s gonna go ape-shit when she sees it,” said the taller, broader of the two.
“She’s gonna love it, trust me.” The smaller man’s words were relaxed from the bottle of clear alcohol in the car. He wasn’t slurring though, not too drunk to make a wrong decision.
“What’re you gonna get?”
“Not sure,” he paused and breathed in deeply, nervous. “Let’s go take a look,” he said smiling.
The door opened and an electronic bell jingled somewhere toward the back.
“Why don’t you have any yet? You always talked about getting one.” The walls were lined with mechanical body parts made to look like human limbs, and strange metallic designs that shined intense blues, greens, and reds. Neither man had ever stepped foot inside one of the body shops, but they’d heard stories.
The shops had gotten popular about twenty years earlier—when the men were just teenage boys—and as the years went by people who’d gotten body work done not only became accepted, but the norm. It was the final frontier of improvement after all. Since the beginning of our quest for intelligence, the main goal has been to improve humanity. Improve us.
Originally the body shops had a bad reputation for doing nothing but butchering humans. It was in the early days when things weren’t as easy as getting some ink and the occasional bit of minor surgery. Or so they’d heard. Accidents are unavoidable when innovating, unfortunately, these ones cost people limbs, or worse, life.
“To be honest,” he paused, deciding whether to be honest or not, “Those things creep out. I decided I’d like to keep my body just the way it is. If I need to be stronger, I’ll lift a weight. If I need to be smarter, I’ll read a book. If I want my fucking cock to grow ten inches, well then,” the taller man smiled. It was the same smile little boys get when they talk about farts and say bad words. “I’ll just have to pray to the cock god’s every night and hope they reward me.” The men both laughed.
A small skinny man walked around the corner.
“What’s up fellas?” His body was covered in gleaming tattoos from his bald head, down his bare skinny chest, disappearing beneath his pants, and re-appearing on his toes. Both men tried not to stare but found their eyes silently studying the bright mapping of lines across the skinny man’s chest.
“Do you guys talk?” The guy asked genuinely, “I don’t want to be an ass if you’re mutes. We can just get you some voice ink and then go from there if you want more improvement.”
“No,” the smaller man’s voice was dry and he paused to clear his throat. “No, sorry. It’s just that, your ink, it’s…” the alcohol was taking its toll on the small man’s mind and he was happy when the skinny inker interrupted him.
“Yeah, it’s pretty fuckin’ goldishock. Listen, guys, I don’t mean to be a dick but are you here for anything or just taking a look around. Cause if you’re just looking I’ve got other shit I can be doing.”
“Yeah, goldishock, that’s the word I was looking for,” he didn’t know what the word meant but he’d heard his teenage nephew say it regularly and assumed it was a good thing. The taller man rolled his eyes. He’d thought about stopping his friend, but he knew by now, the small man would do whatever he pleased. When his mind was set, it was set, and today it was set on improvement. Set on body work. “Anyway, I want to get some ink. I’m just not sure what, do you have any favorites?” The taller man could see the annoyance in the skinny inker’s eyes. The colorful man thought they were just a couple of goons wasting his time for possibly nothing at all.
“What do you like man? Help me out. Do you want something for like, your mood, maybe more energy, or do you want to go full mod? Extra strength? Wanna run a little faster?” The inker’s eyes cut to the smaller man’s crotch, “Need a little extra for the ladies?” The small man chuckled,
“No man, I’m good in that department.” He paused and looked up at his friend, “What do you think?” This time it was the tall man’s turn to chuckle.
“I don’t know buddy. Why don’t you just get a cute little emotional uplifter on your lower back?” He smiled down at his friend and saw a shimmer in the man’s eyes. It was determination, rebellion, it was his friend and he was going to go all the way with this one.
“Full mod,” said the small man with a stern face as he turned to look at the inker.
“Alright, alright! Fuckin’ goldishock! I had you all wrong brother. Let’s get you in the back and I’ll show you what we got. We’re gonna take this right here,” he paused and grabbed the small man’s arm, “and make it way better.” The small man smiled and the nerves came back into his face as he realized what was happening.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine, I’ll be out in the car, call me if you need something.”
“You’re not even gonna know what hit you when I get done,” said the smaller man before disappearing behind the corner with the skinny inker.
The taller man looked around the shop and thought it did look like a human butchery. Maybe one run on an alien planet where human was a delicacy. Each of the shining symbols could be menu descriptions and pricing for the according limbs. The taller man grew cold at the thought and after a shiver made its way down his spine, he turned and headed for the car; wishing his friend the best of luck with the skinny alien butcher.