Karl Engels pulled his concrete-coloured 1998 Honda Civic into the parking lot of Information Technology Solutions. He parked three cars down from his boss’s Audi and sat still as he thought of the day ahead: organise health and safety training for new staff, go over the leave roster for the next six months.
Admin was demanding work.
Karl caught sight of his reflection in the rear-view mirror. Since returning from long service leave last week, his skin had taken on a rather greyish tinge. At first, he thought it was just his tan fading, but over the weekend, the texture had changed too.
His wife frowned at him that morning. ‘Honey, there are letters on your forehead. It looks like a capital ‘E’ and, I think, a ‘P’?’ Curious, Nancy reached out to trace them. ‘They feel hard, like plastic.’ Karl ran his own fingers over his forehead, nodded, and brushed his teeth.
Now, as he made his way toward the squat, grey office building, he wondered if his colleagues would notice too. His deskmate didn’t miss much.
‘Does that say Epson on your forehead? What happened, someone play a sunscreen prank on you?’ Ron chuckled as Karl sat down beside him.
Karl peered into his computer’s blank, reflective screen. An ‘S’, ‘O’ and ‘N’ had appeared during the journey from the carpark. ‘No, but I seem to be turning into a piece of office equipment. Huh.’ Karl stroked his hair, which felt like flipping through a ream of paper, and turned to admire his profile.
‘Ohhhh, I’ve heard of that happening.’ Ron nodded his head. ‘That’s a good brand at least. A cousin of mine turned into a Samsa TV, can you imagine.’ Ron shook his head, swivelled back towards his desk and returned to his logistics report. ‘Good timing though,’ he commented over his shoulder. ‘Our old copier’s just about had it.’
As the day progressed, Karl’s body continued to evolve. Shortly after lunch, his feet became an input paper tray (left foot) and an output tray (right foot), and his upper back a fully operational scanner.
By four o’clock, the transformation was complete. Karl produced his first photocopies without a single paper jam, much to his colleagues’ appreciation and admiration.
After the clapping died down and everyone returned to their desks, Karl inspected his new physique. His left shoulder was emblazoned with the Wi-Fi connectivity symbol – that would be handy. He made a mental note to send Nancy a quick email asking if she could bring dinner to the office.
On their way out later, some of Karl’s colleagues teased him about what he might be in for at the work Christmas party. Karl, being a good-natured chap, took it all in good humour.
He watched them leave and looked down at himself, admiring his sleek, shiny new body. His grey midsection, formerly his stomach, let out a satisfying whir. He had always enjoyed a sense of pride in a hard day’s work, a job well done.