Tommy flexed his hands, looking at how the skin wrinkled and bunched together, his joints felt swollen, tight. He hated being old. All his wrinkled skin, the constant dull aches in his ankles, knees and hips, the slowness of his movements. He picked up his cup of coffee and took a sip, as he put it back down he noticed the tremors. When had they started? He didn’t remember noticing them before, but he hadn’t really had time to acclimatize to this body. That was the problem of grabbing on the go, he should have prepared better, had someone ready. He could feel the original owner of the body in the back of his mind, a bulging presence that was trying to force its way back through. Tommy wasn’t too worried about the old man, people in their prime had never bested him, never mind someone like this, who was already well on their way out. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise him if all the excitement lead to a heart attack.
Tommy stood from the kitchen table and shuffled to the sink, there he rinsed out his coffee cup and filled it with water. He enjoyed his coffee, but this body didn’t. His stomach felt like it was bubbling, burning mass. He sighed and sipped the water, the sooner he was back in his own body the better. He moved back to the table and slowly sat down, at least he was going to be well compensated for this, even if it was a rush job. He glanced at the clock, squinting to read it. He still had about an hours wait. Great. He had already made sure everything was ready twice, now all he had to do was wait. At least with younger bodies you had a chance to do something, go somewhere, by the time he got this walking skeleton down to the end of the driveway he’d just have to start walking back.
Tommy turned off the TV, he had forgotten how bad daytime television was, but at the same time it was oddly comforting. He shook his head, he was starting to sink back into who the person was. Damn. Maybe the old guy had some strength left in him after all. Tommy took a deep breath and started to repeat his full name, after a moment he stopped and smiled. It was an old trick, but they were the best, helped him stay centred, helped him stay himself. That was the danger of taking over a body, if you weren’t careful the mind of the original host could draw you in, force you to fit the patterns the brain was used to and if that happened you could be lost. Tommy thought it was a fate worse than death for both parties. You weren’t really your self, nor were you the other person. You were a shell, a mind at war with itself.
Tommy stood as there was a knock at the door followed by a key sliding into the lock, Christine always let herself in. He moved towards the hallway, as she entered the house he could smell her perfume, strong and overpowering, even to his deadened senses. She swept into the room, followed by the wake of that smell, and gave him a soft hug. “Hey dad, how’re you doing?”
“I’m good sweetheart, how are you?”
“Oh can’t complain really, work has me run off my feet, but then what’s new there?”
Tommy smiled, “You work too hard, you’ll wear yourself out.”
Christine rolled her eyes, “You always say that! I’m fine, great in fact. I love my job and no, I won’t look for another one.”
Tommy nodded, “I know sweetheart, I just worry about you is all.”
“I know Dad.”
“Come into the kitchen, I’ll make you a cup of tea.”
Tommy watched as Christine slowly sipped her tea. The banal conversation was starting to frustrate him, Christine was gossiping about people he had never heard of and had no interest in knowing. Finally Christine dropped the cup, she frowned at her hand, “I’m sorry, that’s so weird. It was like my fingers just let go.”
Tommy smiled at her, “Don’t worry about it love.”
“No, no, I’ll clean it up, I just need a second. I’m feeling a bit tired, maybe I’m coming down with something.”
Tommy shook his head, “No, I don’t think you’re getting sick. I think it’s the poison that was in your tea.”
“What? That’s not funny Dad.”
“Oh I know, I’m not joking and I’m not your father.”
Tommy watched Christine die, it was a quick enough process, but he didn’t want to take any risks. Once she was slumped over the kitchen table he waited for fifteen minutes, then he closed his eyes and relaxed.
Tommy opened his eyes, he was lying on a couch in a bright office. He took a few deep breaths and gave himself a few seconds to adjust. He didn’t bother drinking the coffee that had been left out for him. He knew it was safe but his stomach still clenched at the thought, it would be a few hours before that would go away. Tommy yawned, then stretched. He announced “It’s done” to the room before standing and leaving. The money would be deposited into his account once they had confirmation, they’d probably mark it down as an accident, a confused old bastard mixing up what went where in the kitchen. Tommy looked down at his hands, smooth, soft, clean, he flexed them and smiled, it was good to be back.