The Business Trip

by Mary Lamphere

After another demanding day, he entered the hotel suite that was nearly as big as his house. Luxurious accommodations did not make up for having to be here.

Tucking the room key in his jacket pocket and setting the briefcase on the floor, he closed the door and then pressed against it. This back was killing him. He pushed flat, groaning, and slid to the floor. Slipping off his shoes, he stretched and removed his socks. He tucked them neatly inside each shoe.

He climbed to a stand, ignoring the light switch as he hobbled into the room. Placing his coat over the back of the desk chair, he loosened his tie. Why people wore these things boggled his mind. If the bosses didn’t wear them, too, he’d think it was just a fancy leash. He smiled at the thought, but his face was tired and unconvincing. I guess even bosses have someone yanking them, he thought. He hated business trips. But he knew he was lucky to have a job at all given the current economy.

He turned on the TV, reducing the volume. He never listened but he enjoyed the light that pulsed and danced in the dark room. He was starting to relax now. Sighing, he removed his belt and tossed it into the open suitcase sprawled across the bed. In the strobe of VH1, he stepped out of his slacks and hung them in the closet. He removed the underpants, which he thought to be a ridiculous accessory, but they had come with the uniform, so he obliged. He folded the tidy-whities and placed them on the bed. He only had one set of clothing so he had to take care of it. He considered pouring himself a drink but instead placed the bottle of vodka on the floor.

After he had put his shirt neatly on a hanger in the closet, he grasped the nape of his neck with both hands. Using one to hold and one to unzip, he pulled the toggle up the back of the head, over and through the center of the face, straight down to the navel. The two sides of the human suit parted and sagged around him as he stripped his arms loose and shrugged it to the ground where he stepped out of it.

His left foot stuck and he had to shake it out, hopping around on one limb. He was tempted to leave the stupid thing in a heap on the floor, but these humans wrinkle. He picked it up gently, out of necessity not respect, and laid it smoothly on the bedspread, allowing the legs to dangle over the edge. He might be taller tomorrow because of it, but he really didn’t care.

He’d been assigned to many different planets with a variety of skins and suits, but never had one been as sensitive as this human container.

It always took a while to lose the form, but after a few minutes, his protoplasm shuddered, he dimpled and went soft, then fell to the floor with a grand displacing of air. Pffft was the sound he made as he returned to his natural shape. He spread and stretched and gurgled contentedly. It was nice to be back.

The comfort of his familiar form gave him renewed dedication. He could do this. He would stay and finish this job. Besides, he thought, Earth had its perks. He stretched and rolled over the plush carpet. It was like getting a whole body massage. Moving from one side of the room to another was nearly orgasmic. He wound himself around the bottle he’d set on the floor and leeched liquor through the glass. He could feel the silky liquid fill his mass. He would have to see about taking a bottle of this magic elixir home.

His form constricted and broadened, gasping in delight as he made his way to the bathroom.  The threshold pinched, but once he was over, the cool tile was a relief after the titillating shag. He pressed his matter up the side of the glossy tub and tumbled over in a wave. Rippling to a halt, he checked to make the sure the drain was still depressed before allowing himself another shudder of complete relaxation. The ceramic bowl held him with restraint, unlike the floors. It was just too difficult to pull himself together in the morning if he was allowed to disperse all night. He didn’t sleep so much as functionally shut down and several times he had initiated wakening to find himself, well, everywhere.  The bathroom mirror reflected the scatter of light and color bouncing off the hotel room walls. In the show of illumination, he terminated his daily routine.

His morning formation was very different from his evening agenda. He was lucky enough this day to be shaken by shared plumbing at the generous hour of 7 a.m. Once he was alert, he was on for the day. In the flashing light of the television in the still darkened rooms, he made his way up and over the edge of the tub. The audible splat as he hit the tile reminded him of his liquid state. The gravity here was dangerous, always pulling. He missed the buoyancy of home. Don’t go there… he warned himself.

A quick trip across the ragged threshold had him on the carpet again. Somehow what he enjoyed so desperately at the end of each day felt perverse at the start. He crossed swiftly to the foot of the bed, ignoring the sensations as best he could.

Concentrating deeply, he forced his exoplasm into action and used the rigidity to grow taller. When he was within range of the human suit, he lurched onto the bed, wriggled inside and began filling it from the feet up. The skin did a good job of holding him while his protoplasm hardened into legs, then torso, then arms. He shimmied into the outer appendage flaps, filling each finger carefully and then began zipping. This last part was tedious work. If he didn’t get it just right, his seam would show. Once all in, he wiggled, settling any pockets. He burped, signally a job well done.

He dressed his skin, relieved that the pants still fit. Shoes, belt, tie, check. He slid into the jacket, grabbed his briefcase and headed out. He actually looked forward to one more of the local amenities… coffee, they called it. Morning vodka, he thought.

Flexing his fingers as he placed one leg in front of the other, he realized this wasn’t so bad. Business was business, but Earth was a trip.