Will we still have fashion shoots in our spacefaring future? This week's flash fiction challenge features an astronaut who looks more ready for the runway than liftoff. So why is she pairing a spacesuit with such dramatic eyeshadow? Come up with a short story and post it in the comments.
Pardo was surprised to find a human already in her office. This one was fresh off the shuttle, still wearing its pressure suit, as if superstitious about removing it. The mirrored helmet made determining the creature's sex impossible, but Pardo was never good at distinguishing between the human sexes; if the fleshy critter didn't have an enormous beard or obvious mammaries, she found them more or less the same. She'd never met a dimorphic species with so little difference between the genders' mode of dress. It was almost as though the entire human race was engaged in some complex shell game with their sex organs.
"You're not on the schedule," Pardo told the human. "If this matter isn't resolved by 0900, you will have to leave. My assistant will put you at the end of the queue."
"I was told you could help me," a tinny voice rang from the speaker on its pressure suit.
Pardo locked her thick thumbs and leaned back. "And why is that?"
The human unlatched its massive gloves, revealing those delicate hands that were the envy of the galaxy. It then untwisted the bolts around the neck of the helmet until it could pull the glass orb off its head. Pardo wiped at her own ocular spots. The human was a bride. Its face was coated in a thick, dramatic makeup and spotted with crystals. Its hair, far from the usual greasy, unruly mess of human hair, was clean and pulled back, not a strand out of place. It was an expensive cosmetics job, meant to survive at least a month even in the most humid conditions so that the bride would arrive looking fresh and gaudy for its owner.
"You want out of your contract," Pardo growled. Humans did this sort of thing all the time. Some wealthy patron would pay a five, sometimes ten-year contract for a human bride. The human got its debts paid, got to see the stars. But humans were flaky, tended to chafe under even the most luxurious servitude. So a lot of them ran.
The human licked its lips. Humans were called "universal adapters" in the galaxy, thanks to those articulate fingers and tongues. It disgusted Pardo to think that humans spoke with one of their sex organs. Leave something to the imagination. "I want you to buy out my contract," it said.
Well, at least this one wasn't a runner. "Why would I do that?" Pardo asked.
The human looked down at its hands, massaging them and eliciting distressing pops from the joints. Pardo wondered if it was sick. Finally, the human looked up at her. "Jusha Rettitta holds my contract."
Now that was interesting. Pardo wouldn't mind swindling her out of a human bride. "And you'd work for me instead?" she asked.
The human reached its hand out, dancing its nimble fingers down Pardo's arm. "I'm trained for soft arts," it said. "I can work in the brothels or I could be yours…privately."
Pardo looked down at the human's fingers and smiled. She always did need a human to do the intricate wiring in the munitions factory. The ones she hired kept losing their hands.