(Trigger warning: body horror)
Your twenty-first birthday is supposed to be a super fun night spent bar hopping with your friends, which is why I believe I deserve some sort of cosmic redo. See before I even had the chance to use my now legal ID, a bunch of aliens from planet who gives a shit, in a galaxy far, far away, invaded Earth and decided to use the human race for their transgenic experiment. Or something like that. The Alien’s gurgle voice boomed out of their spacecrafts and echoed across the world but I was too overwhelmed to really comprehend most of what it was saying.
`I remember looking at the spacecrafts in confusion and awe. Hundreds of thousands of black saucer shaped objects hovered high above of us. It looked as if someone had blown holes in the sky. The bright, twinkling, lights on the bottom of the spaceships made them seem like they were made of glass, and we were all staring through them at the stars. I started to picture what the creatures inside may look like. All I could picture were little green genetic engineers in lab coats with black slit eyes and huge foreheads. My lack of creativity made them seem like they crash landed from a bad 80s movie, which honestly made me feel slightly better about everything. Of course, didn’t last long.
“Phase one.” The voice boomed as an orange gas pumped from the twinkling stars and descended upon us. I remember the chaos that erupted as everyone scrambled to take cover from the orange fog descending from the sky. The screaming was cut short as the orange gas wrapped around me. Excruciating pain exploded in my head and chest. Every breath was agony. Every breath was an eternity. I wanted to die.
“Phase two.” The voice was calm as if it wasn’t the end of the world. Well, of my world not theirs. I tried to scream but no sound came out; agony had its burning fingers wrapped around my neck. My head and neck shifted to the right, seemingly to make-way for something that pushed and scratched under the surface of my shoulder. My vision went black, blinded by the white hot pain as some thing broke through the skin, bone, and muscle of my neck. The pain subsided and my vision cleared. In a panic, I turned and looked to see what monstrosity had emerged from my skin. I turned to see a little baby head on a little baby neck, mirroring my movements. Horrified I started screaming. More horrifyingly, the baby head screamed and began twisting and morphing, growing up before my very eyes. The head looked identical to mine. The only difference between us was that my space head, as I like to call it, had eyes as blank as a canvas. No pupils, no brown irises, no red veins, nothing. Her mouth and tongue moved in a mirror image of mine except for when I spoke, then it slammed shut. Her eyes never blinked.
By then the pain was gone, and I got a glimpse into the nightmare that was about to become my life. See some of us were lucky or unlucky depending on your perspective (for me, it depends on my mood). Within minuets the pain subsided and we were only left permanent, physical, lovecraftian, disfigurements. However, for most of the human race, the pain increased with every passing second until they ultimately succumbed to their death. I remember watching my mother convulsing, eyes rolled in the back of her head as blood pooled out of every orifice in her body. Her arms melting into a thick, disgusting goo as her body desperately tried to morph and coexist with the new alien DNA. Her skin slowly turned purple making the blood darken to an almost black like state. My father violently convulsed and oozed blood like my mother but his physical alteration was different. Instead of melting arms and purple skin, his eyes stretched out of his head like a Looney Tunes nightmare before they exploded.
My parents’ jerky movements stilled. The alien’s gurgled voice continued to echo through the air, its words cold and matter of fact, as if he were describing the weather. My parents’ bodies, still warm, lie dead on our kitchen floor. The alien spoke about how they valued our participation and that our results would greatly aid in their medical advances as our people convulsed and died by the millions. Then they left, as abruptly as they came, promising to return as soon as the experiment was complete. Once they were gone, there was nothing left but a broken world, broken beliefs, and shattered dreams of the perfect twenty first birthday. Now I’m apart of some alien science fair bullshit. Typical.
After that, Earth was so quiet, so devoid of any life, that I truly thought I was the sole survivor of the human race. The fact that these aliens saw humans as nothing more than lab rats that could be poked and prodded and milked of data made me feel small in the presence of the looming stars and vast space. I was nothing more than a specimen to be analyzed than thrown away. Yet I was the last of the human race.
In the weeks after, I tried to make sense of my loss and loneliness as well as the new addition to my body. My space head honestly didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. She was familiar and not just in physical ways. I couldn’t really describe it but she was me but slightly different: not as annoying. I put her hair in space buns and we became Izzy and Cosmic Izzy respectively.
One day as I was going in and out of houses stepping over bodies and collecting supplies, I remembered something I had read seemingly lifetimes ago. Cockroaches. Cockroaches would be the sole survivor in the events of a nuclear apocalypse. Maybe it's true maybe it's not, but it doesn’t really matter. I latched onto that immediately and let me tell you something; even in the absence of societal pressures on women (or societies in general) picturing myself as a two headed cockroach scurrying around on the earth floor scavenging for food did a real number on my self esteem.
I tried to spin it into a more positive, glorious life than the bleak one I was currently living. Ok maybe not living but begrudgingly surviving. Maybe out of all the humans I was the one destined to fulfill some ancient prophecy or complete a galactic quest. Save the universe. Maybe my two headed human alien hybrid ass was the chosen one in some alien star child’s coming of age novel. In it, I would meet a hot alien (who is also the last of his kind, how poetic) with a stupid name like ZarZar or Harold. He would laugh at my jokes and adore my space buns. He would fall in love with me as I save the galaxy and bring honor to my fallen earthlings. It would be called Izzy and Cosmic Izzy Journey to the edge of the Milky Way Book One and I would never die.
I remember my face falling as I pictured the alien brat reading the stupid title and tossing it aside in favor of alien video games. As I stood there, mad at the imaginary alien child for tossing aside my imaginary novel of my imaginary triumph, I saw a girl. A human girl! She stood there, watching me visibly pout, with a mischievous smile and ghost of a laugh on her lips. Her brown eyes flit to my space head and I looked down to see what alien “gift” she had received. Around her waist she had nine magenta tentacles, each comfortably moving almost independent of one another. We sized each other up.
“Damn, her second head is freaking me out. Are her eyes looking through me? Wack.” Those thoughts floated through Cosmic Izzy’s head but in a voice that wasn’t my own. I looked at Cosmic Izzy, her white eyes glowing and then back at the girl.
Her tentacles moved absentmindedly as if they were on the surface floating with the waves of the ocean. Wait, we can read minds? I thought. Good, at least we can do something other than make me feel like a walking freak show. I smiled at the girl. Her mischievous grin grew wider as she clasped her hands behind her back.
“I’m Amita but my friends call me Mimi.” She said sticking out one her tentacles as an invitation for me to shake it. Her hearty, light laugh at seeing both my faces express shock broke the tension in the room.
“I’m Izzy and this is Cosmic Izzy.” I return as I shake her tentacle like a hand. The top of her tentacles had little green spots while bottom part had aqua blue suckers. “I thought I was the only one left.” Amita shook her head.
“No, but there aren’t many survivors as far as we can tell. Theres a few of us crashing at a house a few neighborhoods over if you want to come meet them.” I could feel a smile erupt on both my faces.
“Hell yes. You have no idea how boring it's been with no one else to talk to.”
“Trust me. I’ve been there.” A knowing silence hung in the air. It was only a moment before I began talking, desperately fanning the flames of the conversation.
“So why did you come all the way over here? Are you guys running out of canned food and chips? Toilet paper? There’s a lot of both here if you want we could-” I stopped rambling as Mimi does a little half jump, bowing slightly, arms and tentacles alike stretched wide in a jazz hand formation. I look down to her pointed foot to see she’s wearing hot pink and purple roller-skates.
“You came all the way out here for roller-skates?” I say looking up at her half smiling. Her tentacles return to their natural moving state as her dramatic, open mouth smiles drops to a more natural cheery smile. She leans against the wall crossing her arms and rolls her eyes jokingly.
“I couldn’t find them in my size and I can’t exactly order them online ya know, with the end of the world and all.”
“So the world ends and you deicide that it's the perfect time to pick up rollerskating?”
“Why the hell not?” She smirks as one of her tentacles flicks her hair behind her. “Maybe the aliens will be so impressed they’ll make me their queen.”
“Those are child skates.”
“I have small feet!” She pushes off the wall with her arms and tentacles spread wide, her legs shake like a newborn deer. She shakily glides to the door, almost falling in the short distance. “Oh man this is way harder than it looks.” I laugh and she turns to me. “Do you know how to do this? Can you help me?”
“I don’t know how to roller-skate but I can hold your hands and keep you balanced until you get the hang of it.” I hold her hands and walk backwards as she stares at her feet. Her tentacles move as if treading water. “See? How hard can it be?” She smiles.