BE AFRAID. Our fair streets are rife with creatures that walk like us, talk like us, they may even THINK like us. But that person right over there might well be an impostor! There's only one way to be sure: RIGOROUS PHYSICAL AND/OR MENTAL EXAMINATION.

It is only through constant vigilance and sharp-eyed scrutiny that the productive member of society will protect their precious bodily fluids from all interlopers and would-be imitators. ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTIONS.

The Thing

This creature from beyond the stars is insidious as it is genetically flexible. Able to call upon the unique traits of any of the species it's absorbed in the past, the Thing can imitate and adapt to the rigors of any life form. Be warned! Man is the warmest place to hide! The Thing knows this, and would capitalize on your flesh in ways most unseemly!

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Signs Your Friend is a Thing:

  • None. They will not act noticeably different than usual, until you are alone together
  • The Thing does its utmost to create a perfect imitation

Test: Every cell of the Thing is the Thing. Every last microscopic bit of tissue will fight to survive. Simply (albeit gruesomely) draw a small amount of blood from the person you suspect to be a Thing, and apply heat to that blood. If the blood SQUEALS AND TRIES TO FLEE, you've got yourself a Thing.

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Result: The Thing, its cover blown, will try to kill / assimilate every last witness in the room. KILL IT WITH FIRE.

Vampires

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As if blood-sucking fiends weren't bad enough, many of them can pass for human with little-to-no effort. The vampire is an addict, hopelessly enslaved to their craving for living blood. True, some have mastered this hunger for years— even decades— but even the most resolute sanguine teetotaler is just one bad night away from sucking you dry.

Take strength, dear friends! There are means to discern their unholy nature. (But be warned: not all tests work for all manner of bloodsucking fiends.)

Signs Your Friend has Recently Become a Vampire:

  • They are never seen in daylight, anymore
  • They appear to have no appetite. For food
  • Their color may be slightly off, or seem cold to the touch
  • They may overreact to ordinary sights and sounds, unaccustomed to the heightened senses they now possess
  • They may gaze intently at your throat, or even the slightest paper cut
  • They refuse to enter your home, uninvited
  • They insist on sleeping in the soil of their homeland

Test: Most vampiric filth will be susceptible to one or more of the following:

  • They can't bear to be in the presence of blessed objects, or stand on holy ground
  • They cast no reflection
  • They now despise garlic
  • They can't cross running water
  • They may be unable to touch silver

Result: Welp, if they react strongly to one or more of these tests, congrats. You've caught yourself a vampire. He or she may decide to engage in a friendly game of cat and mouse; vampires love playing with their food. Alternatively, they may just try to kill you immediately. If you've been incredibly stupid and conducted these tests in their home... you're screwed.

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Exception: Vampires come in any number of breeds and variations on the theme, today. A vampire from one country may be fine with walking in sunlight, yet reel before true faith; another may be fine around crucifixes, but burst into flame at the scarcest hint of sunlight. It's a crapshoot.

Robots

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Artificial constructs are reaching such sophistication that they seem almost indistinguishable from humanity!

These soulless automata will be driven by a singular goal: to obey their programming, whatever dread purpose it may fulfill! While ingeniously crafted, these triumphs of artifice ARE flawed.

Signs Your Friend Was Replaced with a Robot:

  • They are incapable of eating, laughing, crying, or blinking
  • The only dancing they're capable of is, of course, The Robot (with an available software patch for the Electric Slide)
  • They never take breaks, and refer to sleep as 'recharging'
  • They make no attempt to form / maintain relationships in the work place (or anywhere else)
  • If they perspire, they sweat a milky white liquid, and/or bleed lubricant

Test:

  • 'Accidentally' drop a refrigerator magnet near them, and see if it clings to their skin
  • Show them an optical illusion, to note whether they can 'see' anything
  • Posit that "This Sentence Is False", see if smoke emerges from their ears, or their head explodes

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Result: The robot will likely try to kill you if its cover is blown. If you DO suspect someone of being a robot, conduct your test in an industrial site, or other location where heavy machinery can be used to crush / melt / incinerate the subject, if things go south.

Body Snatchers

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Another vile invader from the stars, Pod People will replace men, women, and children... one at a time. These stone-faced duplicates will retain every fact and memory of the victim's life; yet none of the passion, nor personality. They will never laugh, or cry, or smile again. There will be no need to.

Body Snatchers are especially dangerous. There will be virtually no physical evidence of the person replaced, save a small pile of dust, easily swept away.

Signs Your Friend Has Been Replaced With a Pod Person:

  • They will assure you everything is perfectly fine, in a voice that never wavers, without the slightest hint of inflection
  • Any quirks, tics, idiosyncrasies, or little personal details of the person will have vanished
  • Nothing about them will stand out, at all
  • They will lose interest in any and all hobbies... save horticulture
  • They begin to take 'meetings' on a regular basis, despite never mentioning where they're going, or who they're going to meet

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Test:

  • There are no tests to differentiate a Pod Person physically from a human. They will share the original's scars, warts, etc.

Result: There is nothing to worry about. There's no such thing as a Body Snatcher, or a Pod Person. The very idea that someone close to you could be replaced overnight with an emotionless clone, is preposterous. Everything is perfectly fine.

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I hope this piece of fiction has been enjoyable for you. This concludes the article.