It was bound to happen, really; Geoff just thought of it first and happened to have access to the required chemicals. First there had been the good old fashioned facelift: the skin lifted, nipped, pulled, stapled, stitched into more acceptable configurations. Crude, but effective. Technology had moved on, bringing chemical peels and silicone implants and laser treatments and, God help us, Botox. Fake skin was nothing new either. It had been in use for years in one form or another, standing in for the real thing on the bodies, for example, of burns victims. It wasn't terribly good but it did a turn, so to speak. Geoff was the man who put two and two together. Geoff was the man behind PseuDermis.
It started with a website that was doing the rounds via email. LivingDoll(TM)-- I'm sure you must have seen it. LivingDoll, a company specializing in silicone sex-dolls that could be tailored to your every whim, provided your whims were all size ten, dim- looking and female (LivingDoll only made two varieties of purely male fucktoy, neither of them terribly prepossessing). Blondes, redheads, brunettes, girls with tan-lines, she-males, blue-skinned alienesque bespoke models-- anything you wanted. You could dress them up, you could pierce their ears or nipples, you could apply makeup to or draw tattoos on their skin...
Their skin. Their perfect, perfect skin. Yielding. Velvety. Flawless. In the website's FAQs there was actually quote from someone who wanted a LivingDoll mask. They didn't make them, as it happened. Geoff spotted a niche in the market, and sidled absentmindedly in.
Look up at those big, bright billboards and you'll see that same complexion writ large. Real people can't achieve that without hours of makeup, artful lighting, and later on the benediction of the artist's airbrush. The dolls had it all over, top to toe. No pimples on the nose or stretch-marks on the bum (unless you wanted them, and could pay extra).
Geoff got cooking. This would be the cosmetic to end all cosmetics: no more foundation, concealer, no eggwhite-textured potions dabbed under the eyes, no more Jorene Creme Bleach. Just paper over the cracks.
Of course, there were problems: how to stop the stuff being sloughed off as the subject's own skin regenerated, hair-growth, and so forth. The first prototype worked okay till the test subject took a a long hot soak in the tub and her brand new skin started to lift off, leaving her looking as if she was wearing a pair of PVC jeans left too close to the radiator. It took Geoff just over three years to come up with the ideal formula: an organic polymer that could be grafted directly onto the skin, meshing with its cells. It was velvety-soft, breathable, durable, and could be made in a range of colours and shades. A year after the first clinic opened, having made enough money to keep him comfortably off for several lifetimes, he was bought out by a major cosmetics manufacturer. PseuDermis had gone international.
Geoff's original product had been dodgy enough but in the hands of its new owner it rapidly became a dark and grim force. First there were the shady clinics, located in out-of-the-way places and offering sightseeing-and-lamination deals at knock down prices. The results ranged from disappointing to frankly surreal: the people who came home from a South African clinic looking like badly-hung flock wallpaper, for instance, or the infamous Lilac Woman of Buda-Pest. An attempt by an extreme bod-mod enthusiast to have his entire skin replaced by a transparent membrane was mercifully foiled at the last moment by a Section Eight. Still PseuDermis Ltd.thrived.
The next step was the introduction of DIY home kits. Only the well-to-do could afford the clinics and not everyone wanted the full package-- some just wanted their boobs or their face enhanced, for instance, or a blemish concealed. What the average high-street shopper wanted was a quick fix to cover up whatever bit of themselves they were least happy with, often on a temporary basis. Catching on swiftly, the company rushed to get its Home PseuDio Line onto the shelves despite doubts over safety. Nobody wanted to belive the warnings. Nobody wanted to think that their ideal cosmetic, the answer to their prayers, could possibly hurt them.
The first fatality was a fourth-former named Chanel Nerys Bligh, of 23 Mountpleasant Drive, Margate. She expired due to a combination of skin suffocation and the inhalation of toxic fumes, having bought six of the kits and attempted to apply them all at once. PseuDermis Ltd. expressed sympathy for the dead girl's family, but would not accept any liability; no, there had been no warnings on the packaging as such, but the instructions clearly stated that only one kit should be used at a time, and that adequate ventilation was required. Despite some negative press, sales remained buoyant. Chanel's mum ended her days chained to the security fence outside the London PseuDermis headquarters; she froze to death one unseasonably cold evening in October. Clutched in her hand was a placard made from a broom handle and a faded 8x10 photo of her dead child.
Geoff lost all his money through a series of bad investments; could have been bad luck or poor judgement, but I think that guilt was as much to blame as anything, that subconsciously he wanted to be rid of his pelf. Last time I saw him, he threw up Tequila Sunrise flavored MD 20/20 all over my rug and passed out. Don't think I'll be inviting him round again.
PseuDermis Junior went on sale last Monday. They haven't got approval for their BabySoft line yet, but it can only be a matter of time. Sometimes I hate working in advertising.