A story in English: LIPSTICK
TUESDAY. I infiltrated among them according to the procedure. I think they didn’t notice. Everything’s going on natural, so damn exasperatedly natural. For the moment, I try to display less. The metamorphosis is perfect, but I need time to get used to my new look. And assimilating their communication code still bothers me.
MONDAY. I began to sell the lipstick. It sells well. Like any product from outside. In the afternoon, the first conversation. Excitement! They were fine, I was excellent. They were terrible thirsty, I was excellent thirsty. They wanted badly to go to a movie, I wanted excellent. They said, „tomorrow it would rain good and hard.” I made them quiet saying that it would rain just excellent.
WEDNESDAY. In the morning, I met one of them. „How are you?” I asked. „I’m fine,” he said. I gave him a lipstick. He flushed his lips. I asked him again: „How are you?” „Excellent,” he answered. Excellent! It has to be.
Later, we played bowls. He launched the first ball. „Good,” I said.
„Excellent,” he riposted. Then I launched a ball. „Excellent!” he cried.
„Excellent,” I confirmed.
After that, he called for another ball. I called for another ball, too.
„You keep the score,” he said. „Oh, no, you launch,” I contradicted him.
„We’d better play chess,” he changed his mind. „Let’s launch chess,” I agreed.
FRIDAY. We were sitting at a table, on the beerhouse terrace. One of them came near and greeted me with his colored lips: „Excellent launching!” I pointed him the chair. „How are you?” I pried. „Excellent! I launch beers,” he answered. „Let’s launch two more excellent beers,” I urged him. He turned to the waiter and ordered: „Excellent! Two launches here!” And the answer came as usual: „Laaaaunch!” In the meantime we talked about mayonnaise. When we split up, he wished me „an excellentation mayonnaise of launchings.”
SUNDAY. The lipstick stock decreased dramatically. I cancelled the booth. I’m wearing some lipstick with me and that’s enough. It seems they have begun manufacturing it, too. I don’t know how. I’ve seen someone at the market selling it. He cried out loud, as they always did: „Liiipstick! Liiipstiiiick! The lipstick of excellent talking! Whoever uses it can communicate launched to anyone! To all the world! To all the worlds!”
The business is flourishing. Really flourishing. You can tell that by their intensely colored lips.
In the evening, in my room, I remove carefully the makeup, so that my thoughts would not jumble.
MONDAY. Streets full of posters representing a man with colored lips offering the lipstick to an imaginary creature that belongs probably to another civilization. It looks a little bit like the tharsians. Science symposium. Scientists, a lot. They were talking about flight, I was talking about mushrooms. They – about other civilizations, me – about mushrooms. They – about lipstick-contact, me – about mushrooms. They – about… Me – about… They… Me… I left them talking about mushrooms.
WEDNESDAY. This morning, the concierge – a middle-aged woman, excessively flushed, whispered in private that „fishing the globe’s chair excellent marsh.” She was perfectly right. I gave her a lipstick and we became friends.
THURSDAY. Today we have talked about snow.
SATURDAY. Dust; long conversations.
SUNDAY. I’ve rested. I deserved to.
MONDAY. Uncle. Nephew.
FRIDAY. The first Institute of Coloristics has been inaugurated. They’ve already received applications for master’s degree in parallel chromatics, integrated metacoloristics, color psychophysiology, protocoloristics, dialectal and historical mitochromatism. They work hard to revise the school books.
MONDAY. A day among the soldiers. Regulations, discipline, tidiness, conformity, civism, heroism, duty, honesty, honor. Each soldier has a lipstick in the knapsack.
TUESDAY. The youngsters – the future adults – everlasting fans of the new, embraced the color as a permanent fashion: they paint their hair, eyelids, lips and march peacefully, waving the lipstick, shouting: „Make lipstick, not guns!”
WEDNESDAY. The pictures of the Parapsycholympics Games’ new flag have been published: on a transparent colorless background, the lipstick…
THURSDAY. They have finished painting the buildings. Now they’re all the same.
FRIDAY. At daybreak, a huge crowd heads for the new planet’s monument. On this so-called roof, the gigantic lipstick statue, surrounded by a quivering halo, sends its iridescent rays and colors everything: the trees, the dust, the air… A small copy is handled by some officiants. Their helpers are throwing lipsticks, while the crowd sings The Lipstick’s Odes. Some needy men, with colorless lips, are struggling in the dust for a piece of lipstick. They’re being contemplated with sympathy and encouraged. The lucky ones are immediately painting their lips, eyelids and ears, gratefully. Excellent! Excellent!
SATURDAY. Electoral campaign. Political platforms, drilling platforms, platforms… Flat, flat, flat… No shape. Just color. Mono. They’ve had the elections postponed.
SUNDAY. I’ve found this letter in my mailbox: „I launch you excellent. The solar mushroom in front of the mirobolant. Let the parapsychobitant dust launch the snow. Lipstick! Lipstick! Lipstick!” Their language is sensibly improved; it almost doesn’t exist anymore.
Everything worked out as planned.
Lipstick. How wonderful does this word sound!
The ship is waiting for me…
Night time. The sun had set long ago. Instead of it, in the starry sky above, the ship appears as a lipstick spreading the color. I showed up at the oval gate and their cheering filled me with joy. Some envoys stood out from the crowd and spoke: „Excellent! Launch the mirobolant! Parapsychobit our life!
Lipstick! Lipstick! Excellent!” We had an excellent time. Excellent!
Finally! Done. Mission accomplished. Now I can regain my own look.
I enter the ship. Feels like I’m already home. I plug in the MIM circuit and the Excellentissime’ features arise first into the CUBE, as an image, then they materialize.
He has colored lips. Violently colored, but it suits Him. The color suits Him.
I go nearer and touch his mantle as a token of Humbleness and Submission. He touches me settling down the privileged contact. We are communicating. I can feel His eagerness. What else could be these vibrations that make me anxious too?
I relate him every detail of my mission. He seems puzzled. And his aggressive thought-wave flooded into my brain: „Wshaakingkaa…” My turn to be puzzled. He points to the lipstick. I lay on more lipstick, carry on the report and end it apotheotically: „The parapsychobitant lipstick mirobolizes!”.
„Excellent!” the appraisal came, and I let out a sigh of relief. He’s pleased. Another wave, a soothing one, penetrates me: „Gnrl.”
I thank him, modestly.
Before the Excellentissime’ features dematerialize, I receive gratefully this appeal: „Launch! Launch! Launch!”
The hologram vanishes too, and my benefactor materializes onto his ship.
Alone. Alone, again.
I remove my makeup, as usual.
A few lipsticks lie on the floor, in a corner.
The perfect gun. More than just perfect.
The contacts, the setting, the screen…
Entire constellations, with their civilizations, are waiting for me.
(translated from Romanian by Adriana Moșoiu)
Published in Romanian: Jurnalul SF /14/1993; Dependent SF /3/1996; Dealul melcilor /1/1998; Cronica Română /12.05.2001; Madia Mangalena, Ed. Institutul European, 1999 & Eagle Publishing House, 2011; Povestiri fantastice, Millennium Press, 2010 & Texarom/Millennium Books, 2012 (ebook).
Published in English (in USA): Megaera /fall 2003; Megaera Anthology vol.1, july 2005; Anotherealm /oct/2003, finalist of „Invasion” contest.
Published in Danish: Science Fiction /4/2004, titled LEUNIS.