“So, Mr Sampson,” I say, “I believe you had a question for me?”
“Well, yes.” The man pauses, looking at me in an odd way. “How do you do it? Yesterday, when we first met, I could have sworn you were short and fat. And yet today, you are tall and thin. You also seem to have grown a beard.”
“Oh dear,” I say, “And I thought we were going to have an interesting conversation.”
“What I mean,” I say, “Is that surely the question of how I do what I do is much less interesting than the question of what I could do with it? Or indeed why I would want to do it.”
He takes a while to parse this. Jesus, he really isn’t that bright at all. Could be cat food, this one.
“Yes,” he says, “But I really would like to see how you do it. Are you some kind of shape shifter?”
“Nah,” I say, “I just pick a different body each morning to suit the mood I’m in.”
He laughs. It’s an uneasy laugh. “You’re kidding. You mean, you just pick one off the rack, like choosing a shirt to wear?”
“Yeah, sort of,” I say, maintaining a straight face. Oh well, nothing for it. I pick up the remote control, and propel him gently towards the closet. I press a button and the doors glide open. There they all are, a couple of dozen bodies hanging from meat hooks. I press another button, and they begin to revolve slowly around. Sampson is transfixed.
“Take a pick,” I say.
“My God,” he says. “But ...”
“They’re in a state of suspended animation, if that’s what you’re wondering.”
“But don’t the hooks ... hurt?”
Thanks for the cue, dickhead. I press the pause button and reach into my pocket. I plunge the hook into his back, pick him up with it and attach him, screaming and wriggling, to the end of the rack.
“Well, you tell me,” I say, “Do they?”
Jonathan Pinnock was born in Bedfordshire, England, and - despite having so far visited over forty other countries - has failed to relocate any further away than the next-door county of Hertfordshire. He is married with two children, several cats and a 1961 Ami Continental jukebox. His work has won several prizes, shortlistings and longlistings, and he has been published in such diverse publications as Smokebox, Every Day Fiction and Necrotic Tissue. His unimaginatively-titled yet moderately interesting website may be found at http://www.jonathanpinnock.com/.