Doomsmen by Josh Sippie
We got married at a freakshow. We wanted it that way. There were more fish tanks than windows. Wherever you took photos, a bug-eyed carp photo-bombed you. The arcade had giant underwear stapled to the wall, formerly on sale at the Old Navy in the land above the beanstalk. And if you don’t watch where you’re walking, you end up in the transistifier deluxe, this wacky “dare you to try it” machine that turns you into how you used to be in the good ol’ days. It’s painted right along the side of its giant-toaster-like exterior: “Be your best self, step right up!”
I didn’t want to try it, but my ordained minister, Thad, who used to also be my beer pong partner in a past life, did. He asked if I had any LSD to make it even better, but I, like most grooms, didn’t bring LSD to my own wedding. He settled on the cocaine he got off some electrician he found on Meet-Up.
The transistifier deluxe fired up like a microwave with a metal fork in it. I thought Thad was fried. But he wasn’t. He came out looking pretty ordinary aside from the reptilian scales that now lined his arms. Before my best man could get out of the transistifier deluxe, Thad had sprouted a forked tongue and his pupils turned to snake slits. I got the general idea, but didn’t understand at what point in his life he’d been a lizard.
“Do you think it can change me back?” He asked, flexing in the reflective sheen of the deluxe.
I pointed to the small, painted “please read” just below where he flexed.
No takebacks, it said. Followed by, Why would you want to, this is your best you, right? I’m never wrong.
My best man, Mike, stepped out of the machine, preluded by a puff of smoke, like he was walking out of a dragon’s mouth. He had fur, spots, fanged teeth.
“Shit,” he said. He looked in the metallic reflection and then at Thad. “Oh, nice. Dude, you look great in green.”
“Do I really?” Thad looked at himself again. The line to the machine was populated only by my groomsmen and their friends, my close-but-no-cigar men. Curiosity is strong, but there are stronger forces out there, so I tracked down my wife at the wheelless skatepark and we ran the halfpipes, then continued to the ten-story slide that looked kind of like an industrial trash chute. Half way down the slide, I saw a gray figure shoot up into the sky, screeching.
It descended and hovered alongside as I descended. “Check it out!”
Nathan had turned into a bat. He flexed.
“Dude, you gotta try it that transy thing,” he said.
I finished the rest of the slide. My wife had beat me to the bottom and laughed with her bridesmaids. I assumed they were laughing about something that involved the fact that every one of my groomsmen had irrevocably altered their DNA tonight.
“Have you seen your friends?” My wife asked.
I knew what she meant. I smiled back at her.
“Come with me,” I told her. She cocked her head, but slipped her arm in mine and we walked to the transistifier deluxe. By now, it was empty. No one except my groomsmen wanted to run the risk of becoming an anthropomorphic goose.
“Do you trust me?” I asked her.
We stepped into the machine. The inside wasn’t as daunting as the outside. It felt like an abandoned waiting room with two broken chairs. The fog surrounded us, the fizzy bang-bang sounded, and as the door opened and let us out, I looked at her, and she looked at me, and we shrugged.
I turned around. What used to be Danny approached, now with a snout and severe, fanged underbite. He had a tail that whipped back and forth, helpful for keeping flies off his ass in the ruthless heat of the savannah.
“That sucks man,” he said. “You look like shit. Anyway, the guys and I are leaving. We gotta hit the town with our urges and hungers and stuff.”
I didn’t ask questions. Instead, my wife and I explored a bank vault that had been transformed into a house of mirrors.
Josh Sippie is the Director of Publishing Guidance at Gotham Writers. His writing can be found at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Writer Magazine, Brevity, Hobart, and more. When not writing, he can be found wondering why he isn't writing.