The room was a mausoleum of iron and glass. Floor to ceiling windows and harsh fluorescent lighting. A long metal table stretched from end to end and around it were The Executives. Leering eyes and serpentine tongues. Giant grinning faces on fat, squishy bodies. They laughed and grumbled and shook hands.
The leader looked about his mates and bared his purple teeth in a smile. His pin-stripe suit hung loose on his bony frame. He stood from his chair, raised a glass and bellowed, “The merger is done! Rejoice!” The Executives shouted, split liquid and burbled congratulations. The air grew thick with belch gas and stomach bubbles.
“For your efforts, I’ve arranged for a gift. A songbird of untold beauty. An angel ensnared for your pleasure.”
The Executives hurrahed and pounded the table, their thundering fists like African drums. They had seen her before, the one called Chameleon. Their drumming condensed into rhythm and time. Tub-du-thub-thub. Tub-du-thub.
The leader pressed a skeletal finger to his lips and quieted the crowd. The rhythm maintained but at a whisper. One by one the lights blew out. All was darkness, panting breath and Tub-du-thub-thub. Tub-du-thub.
When Chameleon walked into the dimly lit room, the crowd groaned and grumbled. Their collective heart rates jumped twenty points. Her body was slim, taut, and athletic. Jet-black hair framed her face, shiny and smooth. Legs like slits, she jumped to the table. The Executive’s faces mushed and melded together.
Her body swayed like a serpent to the pounding hands. Each limb flowed independent and free. Moving to the motion of the rising rhythm. The tempo quickened and so did she. Heat from their bodies made the room feel damp. Beads of sweat popped on her forehead. If they looked at her eyes, they would have seen fire. They were looking everywhere else.
As the moment increased, a voice belched a name. Chameleon thought it was Brittany but it didn’t matter. An image of a plastic woman popped into her brain. She saw his thoughts, dirty and slimy, and felt her body begin to change. Her chest became larger, her ass became fatter, her hair faded from raven to blonde. A bellow of approval rose from the burbling crowd. The drumming increased in intensity.
Another name rang out from the darkness, and Chameleon morphed again. Shorter and thinner with pixie brown hair. Her head whipped around as the words flew out faster. Her body grew sore from the change. Jessica, Rachel, Angel and Crystal. Beth, Francesca and Sky. The occasional teenager. The occasional mom. The occasional grandmother in heat.
All of their shouting rang out in a sing-song, dancing with the thundering beat. The smacks bounced off the walls and pressed together. The table shook with the beating. In the back of her brain, she could hear her voice singing. Notes trickled from her throat like a rambling river. She latched onto her music as her body twisted and changed. Always happened when the party grew angry. A signal for the performance to fade.
But the crowd began singing the names in her tempo, perverting her melody. Her heart pace quickened when they didn’t calm down. The names flew out faster and faster. Chameleon’s mind grew from frantic to panic. Her body felt ready to break.
She looked across the faces and bodies and limbs and tried to find someone who’d listen. An angel amongst a pack of leaches and jackals. Her heart grew tired and her head became faint. The room spun in circles. Then a voice shouted from the back of the room.
The Tub-du-thub thumping stopped with a start. The Executives turned to the stranger. He was barely visible in the glow of the outside city. His body was slim and strong. The leader demanded his identity. Screamed with a ragged, prickly tongue.
The stranger’s gaze never left Chameleon’s face. She knew it was him in an instant. At the sound of his voice, everything else vanished. The volume turned down to one. She nodded to the stranger and mouthed, “Okay.”
The Executives turned and saw her body expand. Muscles bulged out from under her skin. Her face grew taut and tight and an eerie red glow surrounded her. Wings sprouted out from the back of her body, blowing papers and notebooks from the top of the desk. The leader began to shriek. Each flap blew out a gust of wind. Her eyes smoldered with molten lava.
And then she belted a song.
With the note came a column of fire. The Executives screamed and ran for the door. Their bodies collided as the flame torched their bodies. Gurgling screams. Crackling flesh. Skin charred away from their faces.
The leader went to strangle the stranger but he was already ten feet in the air. His leathery black wings smacked the leader’s face, knocking him backwards. His legs were already on fire. Bubbling and popping, the Executives exploded and split. The leader writhed in agony.
One final note and the room exploded in flame. Sarah and the stranger smashed through the windows and fled. They flew into the moonlight, wings wrapped around the other in a quiet embrace, and watched the building crackle and burn. The sound of faraway sirens cut through the air.
Chameleon nestled her head in the thicket of his chest. He kissed her temple. And when the night wind blew for the final time that evening, it took the couple with it. Their escape sounded like autumn breeze through red-brown trees. She’d never have to hide again. Never again have to be Chameleon. And their hearts beat in sync with the fading rhythm.
Bill Tucker writes words for a number of sites and publications. He currently blogs for The Austinot and Entertainment Weekly while his fiction has appeared at Revolt Daily, Confettifall and Solarcide. Give the fella a follow @BillTuckerTSP