The Possession of Mmuti Kaan
[Trigger warnings: story concerns bodysnatchers]
Cape Town, South Africa, 2047. The Qatar plague is a dark memory in the history of the Earth, and humans are trying to forget about it. All over Earth, at roughly the same time as a man steps off a train and dies, people keel over in pain. Only Mmuti’s body continues, especially his twitching hands, but there is no heartbeat, no brain activity. His skin, said those who shook his hands, was warm to the touch.
He has long, beautiful hair, and a diplomat’s passport. He does not belong to any one nation and he is hired by Nigeria at the moment. He was on his way to the Nigerian Embassy. He still is.
The first thing he does is buy shaving gel and a razor at a nearby pharmacy. He puts a coin into slot and steps into a bathroom; he steps out bald. The second thing he does is talk to the man in the fast food restaurant. The security camera does not see what Mmuti says. The other man does not open his mouth at first, but points him in the direction of the condiments. The dead man stays.
“Gratis? Yes,” says the other man, confused. He turns and mumbles to himself as Mmuti walks over there. The diplomat rolls up his sleeves, and rubs mustard on his skin.
One hour and a half later, Mr. Kaan shows up outside the Embassy. His skin is still dark and nearly shiny when he presses the button. The exchange is recorded.
“Name, please, sir.” The security guard is bored, and tired. His wife is six months pregnant. He does not notice Mmuti’s strange demeanour.
“You do not have a name for us yet. Mmuti Kaan, though.”
“Show some ID, please, sir.”
He shakes the hands of many before finding his way to the room where he’s meant to be.
Inside the Embassy. Presumably the bottle of mustard was purchased on the way there, before the conversation with the security guard. Mmuti asks his colleagues if he may, producing the bottle and cocking his head.
“I don’t understand.” This is Gregor Ye’mt. His hair is dyed black, and he has one piercing in his left ear: a GPS tracker. Both his canines are gone.
“I’ll just go ahead and you’ll have to tell me if it’s rude then?” Mmuti says. He laughs like he recalls a joke. He squirts some mustard onto his palm, rubs it on his hands and on his neck. Over the course of the next five minutes his skin has swallowed the food.
Gregor makes a classified phone call in another room. When he returns, he fumes. “What are you doing? You cannot represent us like that!”
“No, I represent us. Not you.”
A guard, different from the one before, starts choking. He is carrying a weapon but his hands are not touching it. A faint trail of mustard was reported stretching over the floor between where the dead and the dying man stood, but it evanesced before a picture was taken.
“I am establishing first contact. You do not have a name for us. We regret the death of Mmuti–”
As Mmuti’s mouth spoke – a flash of a smile from Gregor as if this was a joke like the one Mmuti recalled, before Gregor connects the choking guard to the diplomat to the Qatar plague – “Mmuti! If you’re still in there, for the love of God, stop this!”
“The man was, wearing a weapon. We have been practising – please listen. You’re the Ambassador? Yes? We have seen you in the newspapers we read. You don’t–”
At this point the guard dies. Gregor starts choking. Two seconds later, another guard – one who will survive the calamity, whose wife will be worried when she hears this, though she has been told to not get too excited – enters the room. He does not burst in, for that would draw attention. He shoots.
Mmuti throws the mustard bottle hard enough to break a window and his body falls over.