You know how you're always complaining that your swimsuit goes to pieces in chlorine?" asked Crysta on morning.
"Sure. Material just can't handle swimming pools," replied her roommate Rita. "Why?"
"There's a swimsuit company looking for a model. They're claiming theirs are the most comfortable suits ever. Fit like a second skin ... so they say."
"What's this have to do with chlorine?" Rita was an out-of-work model and any job would be worth going for.
"Seems they actually have swimsuit which heals itself somehow. Neat, huh?"
"Yah. Gimmee the paper. I need to find out where and ..." she was interrupted when Crysta slid the neatly clipped article across the table. With hardly time to eat breakfast, Rita grabbed a quick sandwich and headed for her car. She decided to park a few blocks away, in case they held the poor old beast against her. When she arrived, the place looked somewhat disreputable, run-down, not at all what she had in mind. Still, a jobs a job.
A bored looking secretary intercepted her with "Another model?"
"Uh-huh. Where -"
"Upstairs, third level. Marked 'Lab'." She walked the stairs (the elevator was broken anyway. After a few minutes of searching, the "Lab" (written on a piece of paper and taped to the glass) became apparent at the end of a cross-corridor. Rather than the expected horde of competitors, there was only one and she was on her way out.
"Weird. Too weird for me," she shook her head as she breezed past.
Rita knocked on the door and was let in by a worried looking fellow in a white lab coat (well, what else would they wear in labs?). "You here about the modelling job?" he asked breathlessly. "Pay is $500 for the whole day. We might have to go into the evening. You'll get lunch and supper if we go that long."
"Okay. Let's do it."
"You haven't seen our swimsuits. All the others decided our suits weren't - um - suitable." He smiled wanly, clearly expecting her to leave, too.
"I'll take the contract. Where's the photographer?"
"You'll be scanned for a holo-segment on the Internet. When our site is up, that is. It's all built into the stage over there."
Rita wondered somewhat. She'd never heard of anything like a holo-segment but then who could keep up with the changes on the Internet anyway. At her unspoken question, he pointed to a change room. Inside, was a collection of swimsuits: bikinis, strings, tanktops, anything imaginable. After putting each one on and strutting her stuff on the stage, she returned to the change room to find the next one. Each went on very loose and tightened to her body. They even seemed to mold her somewhat enhancing her natural curves.
"How do they do that molding trick?" asked Rita after on stage strut.
"They contain nanites - microscopic robots. The robots rebuild the fabric to fit you."
"But they almost seem to change me, too. That's not possible, is it?"
"They merely strengthen the swimsuit to pull you into shape." The suits would sell millions. She shrugged and returned to the change room only to emerge as suddenly carrying the strangest look black swimsuit.
"A mermaid?" she asked. "No one would buy such a thing."
"Very true. But it's a good marketting ploy. Don't you think?"
"But I'll never get into the thing. The feet are too narrow by half. There's no place for my heels either. The fins will make it impossible to get out to the stage ..."
"When you get it on, call me and I'll have someone help you to the stage. You will fit the costume. The nanites, remember."
Rita hadn't but she decided to try the costume anyway. It was a struggle to get into costume even though the costume started extremely loose. Within a few minutes, it had tightened to her body from neck to toes. A few minutes more and Rita felt a tickling sensation at her hips, back and calves. The tickling proceeded down her calves and into her feet. When it stopped, Rita found herself in a very well fitting mermaid costume. Her call brought a large assistant with a guerney. Soon, she was on the stage again. Reclining seductively like she thought a mermaid might, she put on as much of a modelling show as she could. Finally, her employer was satisfied and she was carted back to the change room. She stripped the hot costume only to make another discovery.
"Damn you and your nanites," Rita screamed. "They didn't change me back!"
The Royal Snail has fouled up everything! The Queen's Royal Ball will be ruined!!!
It's up to you to deliver the invitations as quickly as possible while avoiding all
sorts of critters that try to delay your mission. Can you set the fastest time to get
the deliveries made?