Staring up at me now from the hand of the woman in front of me, something that looks like a metallic bug with several sparkling eyes – an alien insect. This bug is, in fact, an enormous gold ring, exquisitely sculpted, studded with a bouquet of glowing diamonds, shining like a B-movie space ship.

A breeze of fear passes over me; I think of bolting – afraid that to linger might result in abduction; a tractor beam might spit from one of those diamond eyes and suck me in. There, inside that ring, experiments will be conducted, implants deposited into my orifices.

Is she showing that thing off? Something about her stance tells me that, yes, she is, and my job is to 1) notice the ring and 2) be immensely impressed by it – with her! I am inconsequential, merely a shapeless bystander caught in the line of fire. I could be anybody. My name is Audience.

But it gets worse, because of the ensemble the ring comes with: Fastened to it is a hand, trying hard to look younger than its years, the fingertips of which are polished with an equally gaudy manicure job.

I think of Burt Reynolds’s face-lift – cosmetic things done voluntarily that leave a Frankenstein effect.

Maybe she’s the alien, not the ring, wearing plastic human skin as a cover-up. Then I think: No, maybe I’m the alien!

But how did I get here?


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