• 06 Feb - 12 Feb, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

This one isn't MacDougal, apparently, how'll he find out? Anyway, there's nothing he can do with a warning but worry."

"Mr Lasko, he has a right to know. If you won't tell him I'll email it to you until you read one of them with the wrong body and then he'll know anyway."

"That's low," we said. We shook his head.

"He has the right. It wasn't specified in the contract but it should have been and when this settles down I'm bringing it up with legal matter."

"Fine. Fine, I'll tell him."

"Thank you. Is there anything else you need from me?" Briony asked.

We shook his head. Briony hugged us again and left.

All my questions had been incidentally answered over the course of that conversation, but I was still annoyed that he hadn't offered to let me ask any. If someone was going through Myron and his maskers to get MacDougal, or was even just out to get Myron, I was in the line of fire.

But he stayed on top of my body with perfect unchallengeable control until it was my day off. We went on the Dennis Mueller Show. We worked with a choir providing backing vocals for a couple songs in his next album. We talked to his agent about scoring a kid's movie. We did a series of concerts, a different venue every night, in groups of four and five, and took home girls and once a boy to ravish in pairs or singly. He sent my body home from the tour the night before he was due to leave me in control.

My first month as Myron Lasko elapsed and he let me have my break. I woke up in control of my limbs, a sensation so nonexistent that I spent a good few minutes wondering why Myron was staring at the curtains unfocusedly not moving a muscle until I realised he'd abandoned me. Released me, anyway, he was probably still supervising. Could he re-divide his attention when he was letting one of the bodies do as its owner liked? What did he use the extra to do, think of song lyrics even faster? Come to think of it, what happened to his attention when some of us were asleep? We weren't all on the same schedule; the bodies slept at this or that hour, while Myron was awake twenty four hours a day.

Experimentally, I tried singing. I had his voice, and that counted for a lot - I even had a month from inside of his body to know what it felt like to sing right - but I didn't have his talent and I didn't have his focus. It came out as though Myron were attempting to portray the Act One version of a character that began unable to sing and would have to produce a stunning solo in the Act Three. Embarrassing. Awkward.

I went to the kitchen for cereal; on my day it was my job to feed my body. I brought my phone, from where it was tucked away in a sticky-note-labelled box in the closet, and answered math questions to get onto my various accounts through Thespyan. To my lack of surprise, no one had wondered very hard at my absence. The backlog of messages and mail I had to address once I shooed away spam and notifications about people's pictures of their cats came to three. One from my sister, one from my landlady, one from a board game friend. Huh, I hadn't known she cared... enough to badger me about leaving them short for the co-op game she got for her birthday.

I'd been waiting so much for this day but, just as I'd surmised when I'd decided to put the mask on in the first place, I actually mostly wanted to be Myron Lasko. But his days could be numbered.

I checked the news. It didn't cover the death. The person wearing the mask wasn't a public figure and Myron was still alive, plus maybe they didn't want a lot of reporters swarming around while they tried to solve it and the rest of us could still be in danger. I could appreciate that.

I looked up my stupid long contract. There was nothing about anyone's rights and obligations changing if an assassin had it in for the face I was wearing. I wasn't allowed to give out his email address to anyone except my emergency contact; I wasn't allowed to do extreme sports; I wasn't allowed to comment publicly on his life... my bailout options didn't say anything about the murderers.

I got the nearest yellow legal pad, the kind he wrote lyrics on. I wrote, I have some questions, Myron, for tomorrow. I could have just said them aloud but I didn't know if he was paying attention. He gave no indication that he was; that would have been out of the scope of the contract. The handwriting came out a weird blend of mine and his. I was the one writing it but I'd been "practicing" his; as far as muscle memory was concerned, I'd been using his style for weeks now.

1. Who is MacDougal?

2. Where are the police on the murder now? News doesn't say anything.

3. If this keeps happening or looks like it's going to, can I bail? Contract doesn't say.

I felt like I should have been able to think of more to ask but that was all I had.

I added and I want to have a conversation about this, not get two sentences and wait another month to ask for clarification.

I taped the page to his bathroom mirror so he'd see it in the morning if he wasn't looking while I wrote it, and answered all my emails. My sister was going to a fancy party and that was exciting and could I reschedule my day off to go with her, she's sure she can get an extra ticket through her friend - no can do, Gina, already taking day off right now, need more notice to adjust timing. I'd told her that I was on a demanding work schedule, but hadn't mentioned the job and she hadn't asked. Landlady wanted to know, had asked weeks ago, if I was going to pay my rent - nope, I'd already rescued the essential items and she was free to junk the rest and keep my security deposit. Board game friend was pissed that she didn't have enough board game guests to play Crowd Mode of her new game, how could I, didn't RSVP, she knew full well I never had anything important to do... that one I ignored.

I was allowed to take off the mask entirely, on my day off. I just had to put it back before going to bed. It had been a long time since I'd seen my own face.

I kept the clothes there, so I wouldn't be wearing his clothes in my own build, grabbed a blanket in case any other Myrons walked in. Passed the mirror on his closet door on my way to sit down on the bed in "my" bedroom. Gave myself - still Myron - a good looking-over. He was just really unfairly lucky on every axis except for the part where someone was attempting murder.

I reached behind his ears and pulled off the mask.

In a cold rush, like taking off a clammy wetsuit on a winter day, my skin, my own skin, was exposed to the air again. My hair had grown - Myron's had too, he was permanently enjoying a frozen biological moment from when he'd been bled to make his first mask but that didn't freeze his hair; we'd had a haircut a week ago, a manicure on Tuesday. Mine was long enough to brush my shoulders now, not startling for a month of growth but startling to see all at once. I looked pale - hadn't gotten any sun in my own skin. I blinked at the mirror, worried for one hypocritical moment about Myron looking through my eyes to see my own form in my own self, remembered that Myron was in the mask I now held in my hands. He knew I'd gotten undressed and taken the mask off, but the mask was both what let him know that and what let me look like him, and both came off at the same time.

I was alone.

I sat on the bed, pulled the blanket around me for warmth. Imagined, vaguely, pursuing something other than being Myron Lasko. I could go to medical transcriptionist training, which Gina had once evangelised to me. I could be a flight attendant and squeeze in tiny chunks of tourism on foreign shores between flights. I could try to get more student loans, go to music school, and see if this month had taught me enough to succeed at what I'd given up on aged fifteen.

It didn't appeal. If I'd ever been good at working towards things, I didn't have the skill to reach for it now. And doing anything else would be work, and being Myron was effortless glamour and success and art, held in my arms as long as I was willing to share them. Not everybody would be suited to being Myron but I was, I thought. It was a way to be. Worthwhile. My input to the work wasn't creative in nature, but he could get more of it done with me. Briony wasn't exactly composing concept albums and nobody would have thought she wasn't helping Myron create. I was like Briony, except having more fun than she probably did, and I was good with that.

It was nice to have a day to spare, though, just to make sure that I was a participant in

my life.

My phone rang. I let it.

It stopped, and then rang again. And again.

I picked it up. "Hel…"

Myron's voice: "Put it back on." He sounded breathless, strained.


"Put - put it – the mask."

I picked up the mask, planted my nose in its nose, transformed back into Myron Lasko.

We said, "This is the only

one left."

He let me talk, which I only thought to try because a moment ago I'd been the only person in the room. "The only one left? Did every other body get…?”

Myron took over. "It was the matinee in Greenville. Maniac opened fire on the stage, I don't know how he got the gun past security, we fired everyone who was on duty during the first killing so if there was a man on the inside - one survived long enough to call you."

He paused. I tried and found I could speak. "You can - without your original?"

"My original body's been dead for years. Motorcycle accident, haven't touched one since."

"…you've been just a bunch of masks for years?"

"Yeah. Works fine. And now I'm a clause-fourteening you, till I can find more maskers."

I tried to reach for my phone; our arm stuttered, and finally he allowed it. I looked at the contract again to find clause 14. "I didn't realise," I said, "when I first read this, that it meant you don't need your original body. I guess it does. And now I - don't get days off any more?"

"You don't get to take the mask off any more and if I catch you trying I'll stop you because if you do I will die, the one who called you died in the ambulance thirty seconds ago. You can still sometimes do things, like you're doing now."

"Thousands of people will have seen a bunch of you get shot at a concert, you're not going to find more maskers soon."

"The cops are working on it. Once they catch the guy, there are always people who want to be me," he said. "We just hole up in the house; we don't let anybody in, till they have their man."

The doorbell rang.

We didn't move.

"It could be Briony," I said, meaning the doorbell, but, "she couldn't have gotten here from the concert in that time," Myron said, meaning the murderer.