Science Fiction

1
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 38
2
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 37
3
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 36
4
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 35
5
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 34
6
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 33
7
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 32
8
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 31
9
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 30
10
Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 29

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 38

Part 38 – Epilogue

“–In what experts are calling a landmark victory for Twisted rights.” The female reporter’s voice blared from the television as video footage played on-screen of Mr. Hails and me descending the steps of the courthouse.

I muted the volume, a smile spreading across my face as I watched the news report. I shook my head still unable to believe that it was real, or that I was the focal point. Star Capital Realty and Development Corporation, the company that owns the Clearville Mall offered to settle out of court, in exchange for my silence, but Mr. Hails and I agreed that I needed to share my story.

On the surface my case had been a simple lawsuit claiming damages against Star Capital, but Mr. Hails seemed to think there would be more far-reaching implications. Such a victory could pave the way for civil cases like Loving v. Virginia or Brown v. The Board of Education.

Though painful, relating my memories of what happened in the mall in a courtroom for everyone to hear, the tears I shed on the stand helped drive my point home. All of Star Capital’s money and their slick lawyers didn’t stand a chance.

The judge awarded us more money in damages with which I might have otherwise know what to do, but with which I already began to make plans. The cost of higher-education wouldn’t be getting cheaper any time soon, and if the future I envisioned would ever come to pass I would need some of that money to fund it.

At first, Mr. Hails wanted to take on my case pro bono. He insisted that the notoriety alone would be a major career booster, but I persuaded him to take a portion of the judgement. He relented and suffice it to say that I wouldn’t be the only one who would be paying for her college expenses with all the money.

With everything that had transpired, I did a lot of self-exploration and made some decisions about my career path. I wanted to help people and… well, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad. Not Carrie, but the man who took me in and protected me when my own mother wanted nothing to do with me. As you guessed that would be Mr. Hails or John as I was calling him these days.

My mind turned to Jeff Goldwin and those jackasses at the convenience store. One of the first things I asked Megan about after our reunion had been about Jeff. As I already surmised I was premature in assuming I killed him. He tried to pin the whole thing on me, but someone in the park filmed the entire confrontation on their smartphone. Mr. Hails used it as leverage to get the charges against me dropped.

As far as ‘Jet’ and his friends in the convenience store, they didn’t come forward until after the lawsuit against Star Capital and only because they saw my face on the news. Again, video footage saved my ass, this time from the convenience store security cameras. Like Jeff, Jet and his friends had been the ones to face the music. Unfortunately, the worst charges that were levied against them had been disorderly conduct. I would take any victory I could get, even the small ones.

Though I escaped both unscathed, Mr. Hails saved me from the legal repercussions of their actions. It was a sad truth that the victims in situations like mine tended to be ones who faced criminal charges. Namely because no one would stand up for them. Maybe I was meant to help others in the same way Mr. Hails helped me.

I glanced at my reflection, a smile touching my pink gloss-stained lips as the girl in the mirror peered back at me. It took some time, but I put to rest the war between my male and female halves. My masculine half surrendered to my inner girl, and I embraced her with no reservations.

I don’t think any of that would have happened without the help of Dr. Mansfield. Our regular counseling sessions helped me realize that aside from my desire to be pretty and a few weird compulsions I was still pretty much the same old me. I still liked video games, I still ogled girls, and I was as big of a nerd as ever. The only difference being, most people didn’t see past my looks. For some that meant they saw a freak, but for most people in Spiral it meant another pretty face albeit one who looked a little more exotic.

The other big change in my life, was twist-related as well and that too I embraced. As I guessed I would, I took the dive into martial arts. I enrolled in lessons just two short weeks after walking past that studio in the mall and didn’t look back. My sensei told me he’d never seen anyone progress as quickly as me, but that would surprise no one who knew what caused my twist.

Since learning of my interest in martial arts, there had been no other surprises. I hoped that doing a little research of The Rise of the Anthecron the game which triggered my twist, might offer some clues, but I gleaned nothing helpful. Even the character bio for Kalena had been a bust. If there was anything new to discover about my twist, I would have to uncover it on my own. The version of the game I played was a demo and had yet to see a final release. When it did, I would be sure to get a copy. Who knows? I might enjoy it if nothing else.

My attitude towards my twist had changed in recent months and I was beginning to see that despite all the hardship it caused me, it was the best thing to have ever happened to me. I found my father… won over the girl of my dreams and my future seemed brighter than ever. College always seemed like wishful thinking when I lived in Clearville. Now, it had become a very likely prospect.

Armed with my ambitions I started applying myself in school and went from an average student to one of the top in my class. I made new friends and found a family, some of whom were blood and some not, that supported and lifted me up. As devastated as my mother’s rejection left me, she’d never been very supportive. My new family had their difficulties, but when it counted they were always there for each other. I couldn’t say the same for my mother.

Even the twins seemed to have accepted me. I overheard them discussing me with one of their little friends and although they still thought I was an ‘icky girl’ I was ‘kinda nice’ too. Not exactly a glowing recommendation, but an improvement from the accusatory glares they used to level at me. Amanda, was a highlight and while she could be needy and temperamental, she made even my worst days worth living. Drew, seemed pleased to have me around and included me in all the family activities. Our dynamic isn’t what you would expect of a stepfather and stepdaughter. He treated me like a younger kid sister, which was just fine by me.

As for Carrie… The paternity test had been a closer match than anyone had anticipated. Dr. Clark had seemed surprised, but I made perfect sense to me. I looked just like her, after all. Nevertheless, it was reassuring to have confirmation, even if Carrie insisted it wasn’t necessary.

Liz and David had become something of a fixture in my life. Though their visits were less frequent than I’d like, I looked forward to the times they visited. I’d even started learning sign language so I could communicate with my grandfather.

I gazed into the vanity mirror one last time, giving my makeup a quick once-over, and smiled. Though I’d been reticent to give cosmetics a go, because of the price, I had to admit that the results were well worth it. There weren’t a lot of places that sold makeup to match my blue skin tone, but I managed to find a place that custom made it. I lived in Spiral after all.

I moved away from the mirror and grappled with the remote, flicking off the TV mounted on the opposite wall, a recent addition, and tossed it onto my bed. I stopped by the dresser, retrieving an envelope with the address to a certain convenience store scrolled across the front it and my purse. Sliding the former into the latter, I slipped out of my bedroom and down the hallway.

I found Carrie and Drew lounging on the couch in the living room. She was wearing her scrubs from the clinic and he was still sporting the t-shirt and jeans he usually wore out to the job site. I stepped into view, spinning around on the balls of my feet.”Well? How do I look?”

Carrie rose to her feet and rested her hands on my shoulders. “A slam dunk as always.”

I nodded, glancing down at my outfit pleased by her compliment. It was less revealing than my usual fare, but I didn’t want to out-do Megan by too wide of a margin. She was still very much a t-shirt and jeans sort of girl and I always felt so overdressed when Megan and I were out together. I sported a pink halter top and black knee-length-skirt and matching pair of heels.

“Do me a favor, and try not to stay out past ten-thirty, okay?” She asked.

I nodded, biting my lip. Though she made the same request every time I was out with Megan, I was more than happy to accommodate her. “Okay… Mom.”

She froze, her gaze never leaving me. It was the first time I’d called her by anything other than her first name and, I managed to catch her off guard for a change. Eventually, her mouth cracked into a smile, and she turned away wiping a tear from her face.

Before either of us could speak, the doorbell rang, and I tore down the stairs tripping over myself to get to the front door. Somehow I made it without face-planting into the hardwood steps and swung the door open to reveal Megan standing on the other side.

My heart fluttered at the mere sight of her and I stopped momentarily short of breath. Megan was my everything, we’d been through so much together and I couldn’t imagine life without her. Our relationship had raised a few eyebrows because of our age, but I didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought. The way my heart yearned for her whenever I was apart from her was more than just a simple crush.

Our relationship had evolved a lot since my flight from Clearville. It had been a little bumpy at first, due largely to the aforementioned flight, but we’d had a long talk and cleared the air. Megan still thought me a bit dense for fleeing town, but she had come to accept my reasons. She told me all about their own flight from Clearville and the sense of abandonment she’d experienced when I left.

What must it have been like all those years thinking that she was the only twisted person her age in our little town only to discover that not only was there another, but that person also happened to be her best friend? Then I had left, abandoning her just days before she’d undergone her own twist. Was it any wonder she slapped me when we met back up in the mall?

After my mother’s rejection, I understood all too well what Megan had gone through. It tore my insides up just thinking about the pain I’d caused her. I promised myself, and Megan too, that I would never abandon her again. Looking at her now, I found myself reaffirming that vow.

For a change Megan had switched things up. She wore a red button-down shirt, with half the buttons unclasped to reveal her rather generous cleavage, and instead of jeans she wore a pair of tight-fitting black dress pants. Without a doubt it was the most revealing thing she’d ever worn and yet still managed to fit into her tomboy sense of style.

Her cosmetics changed as often as I morphed my clothing and at times it seemed at odds with the way she dressed, but I’d gotten used to it. On that day she’d gone with something relatively conservative, blush, mascara, a little eyeliner and scarlet red lipsticks. The previous day she’d gone with a rainbow effect around her eyes and lips. Needless to say when the two of us were together we stood out in a crowd.

Megan’s twist had been a result of an aborted attempt at a makeover by Allison. She’d experienced a shift in appearance to more closely resemble her cousin and compulsion to wear cosmetics. Aside from that she was more or less the same old Megan which was just fine by me.

If it was possible, the rift between the two girls had widened even further. I didn’t see much of Allison these days, and though I understood much of her behavior was a result of her twist I couldn’t say I was disappointed by her absence. I only prayed that she one day found a way to make peace with herself.

I bit my lip then leaned in to peck her on the cheek. “You look nice.”

“You too,” she beamed back at me. “So what do you have planned tonight?”

I slipped outside, and closed the door behind me, my smile stretching into a grin. “Oh, I have some ideas.”

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 37

Part 37 – Reunited

Though the girl that stood before me looked far different from the one I remembered, it was Megan. The nose I knew so well, the one which used to be a tad too large for her face had shrunk down to a more dainty and proportionate size. Her eyes were the same brilliant green and her lips just as generous. Her hair was another matter, she was now sporting long blonde locks. I couldn’t say whether it was a dye job or part of her twist, but either way it made her a near twin to her cousin.

Megan was the biggest tomboy in our class, and I hadn’t seen her wear the slightest bit of makeup the entire time we were friends. Today however, it was plastered all over her face. Many people would have thought her drop dead gorgeous, but it was her old face that I’d crushed on all those years.

Her fashion sense, at least, hadn’t changed. She was wearing a plain white t-shirt, jeans and a denim jacket.

Had I not known her better, I might have assumed that it was Allison I was looking at, but Megan was shorter and curvier and she was far less graceful in her movements. She stared at me all doe eyed for a moment. I even saw a tear glistening in her eyes, but then she swung her arm out slapping me across the face.

“IDIOT!” She screamed her feature’s twisting and contorting into an angry scowl.

I probably deserved that.

I was so flustered that I backed right into a mall directory. Carrie called after me, but I held a hand up warning her off.

I glanced back at her panting and with wide eyes. Her features softened, and she moved closer. I put my arms up, not to attack, but defend myself in case she struck again. She reached out, but when I swung my arm out to block her, she forced it aside and grabbed the collar of my dress.

Certain that another attack was incoming, you can imagine my surprise when she pulled me toward her and locked her lips around mine. My face was still throbbing from her blow, but I melted into her arms, nonetheless. When we broke for air, I stood there panting and staring back at her with eyes still wide. I slipped a hand up the side of my face, rubbing my fingers over my jaw and cheek.

Megan frowned, stepping back and folded her arms. “What the hell were you thinking?! Do you know how worried we’ve been! We didn’t have any idea what happened to you! I thought, I lost you!”

Unwilling to look her in the eyes, I lowered my gaze and adopted a pose almost identical to hers. “I thought if I left, it would take some heat off you guys.”

“You’re an idiot,” she repeated and pulled close slipping her arms around me. She put her head on my shoulders and I felt warm tears splatter on my shoulder. “Never do anything like that again, okay?”

“Megan?” A familiar voice spoke before I could respond.

We turned in unison to find Mr. Hails standing a few feet away. The toothy grin on his face told me all I needed to know. I craned my neck around at Carrie, my suspicions confirmed when I caught a knowing smirk on the corner of her lips. Our encounter was not a coincidence. Twice now, Carrie had pulled the wool over my eyes. One of these days, I told myself I would get her back.

I peered at the pair of them, arching an eyebrow. I might have expected more concern from Carrie, given that Megan just attacked me, but perhaps our kiss was enough to dispel any uneasiness, Pursing my lips before jerking forward, I threw my arms out and wrapping them around Mr. Hails.

“It’s good to see you!” I beamed. “Both of you!”

Mr. Hails stood stiff for a second, but then he relaxed and returned my hug. I pulled away looking up at him and glanced back over my shoulder at Carrie. All those years of looking for my father and I did not realize, until that moment, that I couldn’t have wished for a better dad than the one that now stood before me. Though we shared no blood ties, he had been there for me when no other adult would and had stood by me when my mother kicked me to the curb.

I was grateful to have found Carrie, but as we got to know each other and our relationship evolved she was coming to fill the role of a mother more than she ever would a father.

I cleared my throat and took a step back. As much as I wanted to tell Mr. Hails how I felt, it was neither the time nor place. Someday soon, I would make my feelings known, but for now the hug would have to do.

I stepped back, moving back toward Carrie. When I reached her, I held a hand out to her. “Megan,” I said. “This is my father… Carrie Christianson.”

“Shit,” Megan blurted out. “That’s why you could never find her! She twisted into a girl just like you! That’s so rad!”

She stopped, her eyes scanning each of our faces before shaking her head and smiling. “I mean, um, nice to meet you!”

Megan dropped to her knees and peered at Carrie’s legs. Confused, at first, I followed her gaze and caught sight of Amanda peeking out from behind them.

“Who’s this?” Megan asked, a smile spreading across her heart-shaped face and her eyes lighting up.

“This is Amanda,” Carrie answered bending over to retrieve my younger sibling. “She’s my youngest.”

Megan and Carrie, with Amanda in her arms, rose to their feet, and the former smiled at my youngest sibling. “Hi, I’m Megan, I’m Calista’s friend.”

Amanda buried her head in Carrie’s shoulder. “You’re mean!”

I smirked, watching Megan out of the corner of my eyes wondering how she would address the situation. Amanda saw her slap me, and it was nice to see at least someone had come to my defense even if I deserved the slap.

“I’m sorry, did I upset you? Your sister scared me, I promise I won’t do it again, okay?”

Megan looked up at her eyeing her with her big brown eyes and scowled at Megan. Though she didn’t seem convinced, she nodded. “Okay.”

“As much as I hate to break this up,” Mr. Hails said stepping forward, his hands fingering the cuff links on either of his wrists. “I’m afraid I have a job interview in less than thirty minutes.”

Megan arched an eyebrow, peering back and forth between her father and Carrie. “I thought it was after the movie?”

He smirked and then shrugged. Megan rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest. “So we’re not going to the movie?”

“I’m not,” he said making eye contact with Carrie and nodding.

Understanding dawned on her face and Megan peered back at me a smile touching her lips before she turned back to her father. “Uh, yeah, so I guess I’ll see you tonight.”

Mr. Hails nodded at Carrie, then he turned to me still smiling. “We’ll catch up later.”

I nodded, and he turned away. He’d only taken perhaps half a dozen steps when without even realizing what I was doing I ran after him. I threw my arms around him, and he jerked to a stop glancing back at me with a startled look on his face.

“Mr. Hails…” I froze as I looked up into his eyes. “I-I just wanted to say, thank you… for everything.”

“Of course.” He peered back, surprised reflected in his eyes.

“And… good luck, with the interview, I mean. You’re a shoo-in.”

Mr. Hails sauntered away, and a second later a weight pressed into my side. I glanced toward it just in time to witness Megan slip her arms around my waist and smile. I peered into her eyes and leaned in to peck her on the lips.

Of all the ways I’d expected my day to turn out, this hadn’t even made the list, but that was not a bad thing. Not at all.

We rejoined Carrie and made our way to the theater seating ourselves within the nearly empty auditorium. When the lights turned dark and Megan’s head came to rest on my shoulders, I let out a contented sigh. I’d come a long way to get where I was, and for a while things looked bad. I’d found my father and reunited with the girl I loved even if she looked a little different. What could be better?

As the opening credits rolled across the screen, I took Megan’s hand and squeezed it. I had no idea what the future held, but it had never looked so bright.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 36

Part 36 – Mall Meet Up

“Mommy!” Amanda proclaimed tugging on Carrie’s sleeve. “Look!”

I glanced down at about the same time as Carrie and our gazes followed toward my younger sibling’s outstretched finger. Amanda’s eyes were fixed on a rack of frilly pink dresses, off to the side and about a dozen feet away. There was an almost rapturous expression as she stared at them and she began to hop up and down a grin stretching across her face.

“Ooooh, pretty!”

Carrie knelt down beside Amanda and smiled. “Oh, those are nice aren’t they, princess? Remember, Mommy bought you a brand new dress a few weeks ago. Maybe if you’re a good girl, Mommy will buy you another one for your birthday next month.”

The little girl’s features wrinkled and for a moment I thought she might throw a fit. She locked eyes with her mother, and her face softened. She nodded and a big grin spread across her face. “Okay, Mommy!”

I concealed a smile and shook my head. I didn’t realize how temperamental, a girl her age could be until I’d started spending time around my younger sibling. Her behavior, however, was far from predictable. What might invoke a temper one day, she would shrug off the next.

We continued on and I clamped my mouth shut, looking about the store. I didn’t need any clothes. Although I’d already morphed my way through most of my old boy clothes, I could shift into pretty much any outfit I thought of with enough material at hand. Even without my current wardrobe, I could make do with discards from my new family, or even buy the cheap stuff from the clearance rack for pennies and morph them into whatever I wanted. That being said, I hadn’t expected myself to be drawn to the women’s section.

I’d paid little attention to women’s apparel as a boy. One outfit seemed pretty much the same as another. The only ones that stood out were the ones that displayed a bit of flesh or that clung tight to a girl’s body leaving very little to the imagination. When I’d flipped through the wracks, I could barely contain my glee. Ideas for new outfit combinations already coursing through my mind.

I glanced down at myself, contemplating shifting from the pink and white floral sundress I was wearing into something more revealing, but discarded the idea. This was family time, and as much as I was tempted to try out more interesting outfit combinations that sprang to mind when sifting through the racks, those sorts of experiments would have to wait until we were back home.

I didn’t need a reason to come, just browsing the clothing racks alone had been worth the trip, but that was not the reason for our visit. The adjacent movie theater was our ultimate destination, but we needed to kill time before our show.

With Drew at work and the twins at a friend’s house, it was just the three of us girls. That was fine by me. As touched as I was by Drew’s surprise, he didn’t seem the type to appreciate a shopping trip to the mall and subsequent ‘chick flick’ and the twins were a handful even under the best of circumstances. Throw them out in a wide open space like the mall and there was no telling what sort of chaos they might visit upon us.

I smirked at the thought, imagining the towheaded duo enacting a sword-fight with pool noodles or running around the store screaming at the top of their lungs towels draped over their shoulders pretending they were super-heroes. Had I ever been that big of a dork?

It had been a few days since Drew surprised me with my new bedroom furniture and though things still seemed awkward, I felt less like an intruder in his life. Even the twins seemed to have warmed to having me around. Though they still kept their distance, I hadn’t caught them glaring at me in a while. That, at least, was progress.

The mall had just opened and because it was a weekday and most of the stores weren’t open yet, it was rather quiet. I cast my eyes about as we exited the store, my eyes lingering first on a Haglund’s and then settling on a Game Palace. Both were common enough chains, and I would have been a fool not to expect to see them again. That being said, I didn’t expect the reaction it would invoke within me.

Thoughts of my mother and my twist came to me unbidden, and I paused a single tear rolling down my cheek a sob escaping my lips before I could silence it. Carrie turned about and came rushing back toward me.

“Calista? You okay?” She asked reaching out to touch me, but I stepped back and waved her off.

“I’m fine,” I said my voice quivering. Carrie put her hands on her hips and frowned, not looking at all convinced, but nodded and kept her distance.

A weight settled into my leg and I peered down in time to see Amanda enfold her arms around it and stare back up at me with unblinking eyes. I cleared my throat, wipe the tears from my eyes and a sheepish smile touched my lips. I bent down wrapping my arms around my younger sibling before peering back up at Carrie. “F-fine,” I said exhaling slowly. “Seeing some of these stores just dredged up bad memories.”

Carrie nodded, and I turned my attention back to Amanda, extricating her arms from around my legs before hefting her up and standing with my younger sibling in my arms. I groaned from the strain of her weight, surprised at how heavy she seemed. I lost a lot of my strength during my twist, but the strain of lifting her helped drive that point home.

“It’s okay, I protect you,” Amanda said throwing her arms around my neck a soft moan escaping her lips.

I didn’t speak, but hugged her close fighting back tears. Though the proclamation was just a tad silly, it came from her heart and it tugged at the old heartstrings.

My lips began to tremble, and Carrie glanced at me out of the corner of her eye. I pressed my lips together and looked away unwilling to make eye contact. Carrie didn’t speak, perhaps decided that I needed the quiet.

I peered about, glancing from storefront to storefront. None of them caught my eye until we’d strode another ten yards. I stopped, Amanda’s small form still held tight in my arms and stared across the mall and into a small entryway tucked into a little out of the way corner. I might have overlooked it altogether had I not glimpsed movement out of the corner of my eyes.

A man in his late thirties or early forties was leading a class in martial arts exercises. A kid back in Clearville who’d been a huge Judo enthusiast had shown his moves off a time or two. While, it impressed me it hadn’t quite drawn my eye the way it was now. It appealed to me beyond the simple adolescent fascination in which I’d viewed it before. The thought of taking such classes and learning martial arts had real appeal now.

I clenched my peepers shut and looked away. Sucking in deep breaths, I opened my eyes, and forced myself to look away from the martial arts studio. There was no doubt in my mind that this new interest was yet another aspect of my twist. I knew precious little about the game I was playing when I underwent my transformation, but the character customization screen would seem to be the root of my trick and my obsession with looking sexy. What if I’d picked up more ticks from the game than I realized?

We continued on and I didn’t once glance back though I wanted nothing more in the world than to do just that. I bit my lower lip, feeling a flash of pain. That helped distract me and kept me from losing my resolve. I let out a long sigh when out of sight of the studio, but it was already too late. Sooner or later, I knew, I would try it and I would be hooked.

I might have spent the rest of the day ruminating, and brooding over my sudden interest in martial arts if I hadn’t caught sight of a familiar blonde head of hair a few yards away. I stopped. Allison?

I slipped Amanda’s arms from around my neck and placed her on the ground. My heart pounding in my ear, I moved forward deaf to Carrie and Amanda’s cries. When I got close enough, my fingers stretched out to grasp the girl’s shoulders, but before they found purchase she spun around and I got the shock of my life.

“Megan?!”

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 35

Part 35 – The Unexpected

I stepped out of the salon, glancing over my shoulder and catching sight of my reflection in the glass storefront. A smile touched my lips, and I studied it again, nodding in satisfaction at what I saw.

My hair was no longer solid purple, but streaked with black and pink and styled in what Sally called a ‘messy bob’. It was everything I could have hoped for and so much more. I had conflicting feelings about it, to be honest. Yes, I looked sexy as hell, but I only liked the way I looked because of my twist. It wasn’t me… or, at least, it wasn’t before my twist. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and that scared me more than anything.

The smile faded, and I turned away from the reflection, my lips creasing into a frown. The door creaked open behind me, but I didn’t turn to face the newcomer. I knew without looking it was Carrie. Eager to escape and make sense of my warring thoughts I slipped out when she was paying.

Though, I liked how I looked, I hadn’t realized that it would take so goddamned long. I enjoyed all the pampering at first, but all that time spent sitting in one place, holding still left me feeling stir crazy. I wanted to do something. Almost anything would have been better.

“You look nice,” Carrie said and at last I turned to meet her no longer frowning.

“Thanks,” I replied staring down at my chest. “I’m still a little weirded out, looking like this, and having these compulsions.”

I looked up in time to see Carrie drawing closer. She reached out, enfolding me in her arms and stood there holding me. After a moment, she pulled her hands away and reached up, cupping my face and looking me in the eyes. “I know what you’re going through. It was the same for me. I can’t promise you it’ll be easy, but I can promise I’ll be there every step of the way. Being twisted… or even a girl isn’t the end of the world, even if it seems that way sometimes.”

I nodded, and a single tear rolled down my cheek. She wiped it away and smiled motioning toward the parking lot. “Come on, let’s go home.”

Without another word, we moved to the car and though we didn’t speak for the rest of the ride back, I didn’t mind. Here or there when she stopped the car at a light or crosswalk, Carrie would glance at me, as if worried I’d disappeared when she wasn’t looking, only to offer a reassuring smile and return her attention to the road.

When we reached the house, Carrie let us inside and once we’d climb the stairs, I looked about frowning as I realized the house seemed quiet. A little too quiet.

“Drew!” Carrie called, sighing and dropping her keys on a tray mounted to a wall along at the top of the stairwell and slipped her purse inside a coat closet around the corner.

“Back here!” A voice answered from down the hallway.

“What’s he doing back there?!” she asked peering at me out of the corner of her eyes. When she turned away, I could swear I saw a smile touch the corner of her lips. I furrowed my brows and opened my mouth to speak, but she was already moving down the hallway.

She paused just long enough to motion with her hands for me to follow before disappearing around the bend. I trailed her, heart thumping in my ears, and biting my lip. I had an inkling that not all was as it should be, but as the gears and cogs turned in my head I couldn’t, for the life of me, puzzle out what it might be.

A few feet down the hallway, she was waiting for me, a gentle smile touching her face. “He’s waiting in your room, why don’t we see what he wants?”

That was when all the pieces fell into place and realized what Carrie and Drew were up too. She placed a hand on my back, and another on my shoulder guiding me forward. Though my heart still pounded in my chest and my hands trembled, I didn’t resist.

When the door opened into the spare bedroom, I stopped standing in the doorway, mouth hanging agape and eyes wide like saucers.

A tall white full-size platform bed with a double row of pull-out drawers had replaced the airbed. A matching dresser and a vanity that was a shade or so off but a close approximation of the other pieces of furniture occupied the opposite wall. I peered at the latter, realizing that it looked familiar and stepped toward it to get a better view.

“You like it?” A voice asked, and I spun around to find Drew standing in the closet a tool belt, with a full complement of hand tools, strapped about his waist and his hair matted with sweat.

The closet too had changed, before it had been bare aside from a few boxes left inside. Now, it housed a column of shelves and drawers down the center, two rods on the left, and another on the right. It looked pretty well put together, but I guess that was to be expected since he worked as a foreman for his family’s construction company.

“Still needs some work,” Drew continued thumbing his hammer oblivious that I hadn’t answered him. “Sometime further down the line we can pull out the carpet and slap a coat or two of paint on the wall, but at least for now you’ll be comfortable.”

I glanced down, forcing myself to keep a blank expression on my face as I peered at the dull-green carpet. It was one of the ugliest shade’s I’d ever seen, but I was happy to live with it if it meant a safe place to sleep. I gave the room one final glance, swinging around on the balls of my feet. The bed and dresser looked like they were constructed from pre-fabricated materials and, if the faint scuff marks were any sign, were used. Not surprising, furniture wasn’t cheap, and I’d showed up with no warning.

The vanity, was another matter. At first glance, it seemed to be made of more durable materials, but I’d doubt I know for sure without stripping off the pain. My eyes lingered on it the longest, realizing why it looked so familiar. It was the same one which had graced Carrie’s old bedroom in her parent’s home.

I smiled, turning my attention back to Drew, and rushed toward me step-father, warm drops staining my cheeks. He grunted and stiffened when I threw my arms around him, but soon his arms enfolded me. I whispered ‘thank you,’ over and over into his chest.

“This was all Drew’s doing,” Carrie pronounced after I’d pulled away from the hug, my cheeks already starting to turn a little violet. “He wanted to surprise you while we were away, but it took a little longer than he expected, and…”

“That’s why you took me to the hair salon,” I finished for her with a nod.

“Well, I had a little help from the boys. The new hair looks great. I like it.” Drew grinned at me, and after catching a side-long glance from Carrie added, “I would be remiss if I did not take heed of my blushing bride’s new do. You look fabs, honey.”

Carrie rolled her eyes and kissed him on the cheek. “You’re a dork, Andrew Christianson, but I love you.”

He smiled back and pecked her back on the lips. “You two hungry? Amanda and the twins aren’t due back for a few hours. It may stretch the limits of my abilities, but I think I can handle cooking for just the three of us.”

Drew slipped through the door, and Carrie rolled her eyes before motioning for me to follow. Disappearing through the door a moment later, but I lingered. I looked around the room, one final time, a smile touching the corner of my lips, before I too exited the room closing the door behind me.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 34

Part 34 – Salon Magic

“Wow, you look unbelievable!” The woman explained after they ushered me to one of the barber chairs.

I craned my neck around peering up at her with eyes widened and a single eyebrow raised. She had a wicked grin stretched across her face and a set of wide innocent eyes that made her appear surprised. She was pretty, even with the long scar that intersected her jawline on the left side.

I froze, though I saw no malice or ill-intent in her eyes, I wasn’t sure if she intended her exclamation as in insult or a compliment. Her next comment however, put the matter to rest.

“Very exotic. You got a whole sexy-space Smurf vibe going. I think It’s killer.”

“Ummm, thanks?” I replied, the tone of my voice making it sound more a question than a statement.

“Name’s Sally,” she beamed down at me.

“Calista,” I replied glancing back at her with wide eyes.

“You just go through your twist?” she asked reaching for a pair of scissors on the counter.

I nodded. “How can you tell?”

She shrugged. “We cater mainly to twisted here. You see enough of them come and go, you can spot the newbies a mile away.”

“Well, since this is your first post-twist haircut you have anything special in mind?” She asked lifting the scissors in front of her face and cutting at the open air with them.

“Uh, hadn’t given it much thought. This was a kind of spur-of-the-moment sort of thing,” I replied as she pulled out a hair-styling cape and draped it over me.

A part of me, my masculine side, wanted nothing more than for her to shave it all off, but my feminine side, bolstered by my compulsions, had already become my dominant half. I doubt it would surprise anyone which side won out, least of all myself.

To my feminine self, such a change in hairstyle wasn’t just drastic it was unthinkable. That being said, long hair was a pain in the ass, and I was getting sick of dealing with it. For my inner-girl a shorter-hairstyle would not be out of the question which helped bring balance to my warring halves.

I wasn’t well-schooled in anything girl, so the name of the particular style I had in mind escaped me. There was, however, a simple solution to my dilemma. I brought my hand up about halfway down my neck and held it out flat. “Uh, how about something this long?”

Sally furrowed her brows, dropped the hand holding the scissors and reached out to grasp a strand of my hair with her free hand. “You mean a bob? Honey, you have such beautiful hair, you want me to lob it all off?”

“Callie, you sure about this? It could take years to grow it out that long again,” Carrie chimed in from the seat beside me.

I bit my lip, glancing back and forth between the two women catching their doubtful looks before gritting my teeth and nodding “Yeah, do it.”

The hairdresser, frowned putting both hands on her hips and peering at Carrie, no doubt hoping the other woman would override me, but my father only nodded. Sally sighed and shook her head.

“Such a waste,” she muttered under her breath before raising the scissors and lobbing off a big strand.

My stomach roiled at the sight of my locks fluttering to the ground. Asking to have my hair cut shorter was one thing, witnessing it was another. My feminine pride was screaming out in anguish, but it was already too late. I clenched my eyes shut, feeling my whole body tremble as I listened to the scissors hacking their way through my hair. I felt each strand slide down my body before dropping to the ground.

‘You’ll look sexy as hell,’ I told myself over and over in my head. It seemed to help, slowly, I released the breath I didn’t even realize I’d been holding, but I couldn’t bring myself to open my eyes. Not yet…

Minutes ticked by, and it seemed as if hours passed before Sally announced that she’d finished. When I opened my eyes, I found myself looking at my reflection. I was not disappointed. The change was drastic, but it looked great.

“You like it?” Sally asked peering at me over my shoulder.

“Yeah,” I said studying my reflection and running my hand through my hair. I bit my lip, I don’t know what it was… but something seemed missing.

“Carrie, what do you think?” I asked turning to the chair beside me, only to lock gazes with a little girl about half my age.

My eyes scanned the room, looking for Carrie and I found her seated at a row of chairs parked near the front of the shop which I’d missed when we entered. As soon as we made eye contact, she hopped to her feet and made a beeline toward me. I don’t know if she’d seen something in my face or if she’d just heard me say her name and had been a little slow making her way to me.

When she reached us, I inspected her new do and pursed my lips. She didn’t seem to have done much with her hair, it was a little shorter, but that was the only change I could spot. Then again, her hairstyle suited her, why mess with a good thing?

She reached out, snatching a piece of my hair and rubbing it between her index-finger and thumb. “It’s cute,” she said peering at Sally out of the corner of her eyes. “But it could use a little color. Why don’t we streak it?”

The moment those words left Carrie’s lips, I knew it was what I wanted. I had no experience with this stuff and very little idea what any of the terms being bandied about meant, but when she said ‘streak it’ the conclusion my mind jumped to seemed obvious. I may have been oblivious to the terminology, but, in this case, it seemed like a no-brainer. That being said, it didn’t hurt to get confirmation. If I was wrong, I didn’t want to get into anything I might regret.

So, I looked about hoping and leveled my gaze on a girl about half my age with gold streaks running through her hair.

“You mean like her, right?” I asked nodding toward the girl and watching with a blank expression as they each turned to follow my gaze.

“Yes,” Carrie said regarding me with a smirk, cocking her head, and folding her arms across her chest. “But… maybe something a little more involved than a few blonde streaks.”

I nodded, my mind racing as I considered the possibilities. Already, a picture had formed in my head and though I had no doubts Carrie had something specific in mind, I wasn’t going to let that deter me.

“Yeah,” I said nodding in agreement, a smirk every bit a match for Carrie’s stretching across my face. “About that…”

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 33

Part 33 – Feminine Possibilities

“So…” I said turning to Carrie. “Did Dr. Mansfield have anything interesting to tell you?”

I’d been debating on whether I should even bring it up since Carrie had left to talk to the doctor. Even after we met back up and made our way to her car, I was still undecided. I was dying of curiosity and that’s what had pushed me to ask.

I reached for the seatbelt heart pounding my ears as I awaited her answer. She started the engine and glanced over at me a smile touching the corner of her lips. “Nothing too Earth-shattering. She’s worried about you.”

I nodded glancing down at my hands, which were by then resting in my lap, and closed my eyes. “She wants me to get counseling.”

“Might not be a bad idea,” Carrie replied.

“Yeah,” I said opening my eyes and turning to smile back at Carrie. “I suppose… she’s right.”

I clamped my lips shut and said no more on the subject. Carrie furrowed her brows, opened her mouth as if to speak and then shook her head as if reconsidering.

She put the car into gear and for several moments neither of us spoke. Carrie broke the silence. “I’ve been thinking, maybe you might enjoy a trip to the hair salon.”

My head jerked sideways, wondering perhaps I’d heard wrong, but she didn’t say a word. My hair was a little unruly, and could use a little trimming and more than a little taming. I hadn’t given any thought to getting it cut or even styled. All at once, a smile crept onto my face and I considered how sexy I might look if my hair were–

I shook my head and refused to finish the thought still a little creeped out that my mind had been twisted in such a manner. Still, I couldn’t resist the opportunity Carrie was giving me. She was testing the waters, seeing if I would be open to the possibility. After all, until recently I’d been a boy. While many men frequented hair salons, few saw it as an excuse to pamper themselves in the way so many women did. I know I hadn’t.

“That would be nice,” I answered after a moment of silence.

Carrie peered at me out of the corner of her eyes, and a smile touched her lips. She didn’t speak, instead she took the next right, cursed under her breath when the driver ahead of her slammed on his breaks, forcing her to do the same, and after following the road another three blocks pulled into a parking lot.

After she’d parked, and we’d vacated the car, I stopped in my tracks a pit forming in my stomach as I caught sight of a store with the words “Envy Us Beauty Parlor” emblazoned in bright pink script across its front. I emitted an audible groan at the pun, but followed Carrie inside.

I’d been in a hair salon or two, but as I peered about, I knew this was no garden-variety beauty parlor. The right and back wall were solid-black and the left wall was solid-pink. The right side housed a row of barber-chairs with bubble-gum-pink padding and each sat opposite a mirror and a small stand, the back wall was home to a row of sinks with matching padded arm-chairs and the left housed a single table about eighteen inches wide that spanned almost the entire length of the wall divided into five different stations by five three-tiered shelves, each station featured a matching set of black chairs, and light built into the tabletop.

Located front and center, just a few feet from the door and in front of us. A pink and black stand housing an old-fashioned register stood before us and a smiling young woman only a year or two older than me, with sky-blue hair and a forked tail that quivered about in the air behind her, nodded in greeting as we stepped through the double glass doors.

More than a dozen different people, all I assumed were women moved about the room or seated along one of the walls giving or receiving beauty treatments.

“Hi, welcome to Envy Us Beauty Parlor I’m Brandy, how can I help you?” The girl’s smile widened and her lips split open to reveal a pair of fangs.

Even a few weeks ago, her appearance would have surprised me, first by her tail and then for the teeth, but after undergoing my twist, transformed into a hyper-sexualized Smurf-demon and encountered a few others with twists as severe as or, in the case of Dr. Mansfield, worse than my own I didn’t even blink. Besides, she was cute and her smile appeared genuine.

“Hi, do you do walk-ins?” Carrie asked.

“Uh, not usually, but we’re having a bit of a slow day, so it shouldn’t be a problem unless you want a mani or a pedi.”

I arched an eyebrow, peering again at the denizens of the salon. She considered that a slow day?

“So, what’ll it be?” Brandy glanced back and forth between the two of us.

Carrie put her hands on her hips, grinned and glanced back at me. “Whaddya say Callie? Feeling adventurous?”

I froze surprised both by the new nickname and Carrie’s playful demeanor. Good God, what had I gotten myself into?

Swallowing hard, I nodded and bit my lip. “What do you have in mind?”

“Well let’s start with a wash and a haircut and see where the wind takes us.” Carrie’s reply again surprised me.

I hadn’t seen this side of her before and I was treading on uncertain ground. This time I didn’t say a word and when I thought of something to say, I was already getting my hair washed.

Brandy brought us up to a pair of women in their mid to late twenties. I was given into Alicia’s care, a tall slender girl with a pretty smile and shock of neon-pink hair that went down almost to the back of her knees and Carrie was assigned to Matty a flat-faced woman with scarlet streaks running through her short-cropped blonde hair. Whether their colored locks resulted from a twist or just a dye job, I couldn’t say and I didn’t ask. It didn’t seem important.

They guided Carrie and I to the back wall and seated with our backs to the sinks. When Alicia reclined my chair, I closed my eyes and let her get to work without comment. She talked as she worked asking my about myself, and about my twist. I suppose that at some point my mother must have washed my hair when I was little, but I didn’t remember it. The experience of letting another person wash my hair was new to me.

I wasn’t prepared for how relaxing the experience could be. It was an experience I wouldn’t mind going through again. I just hoped I had the chance.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 32

Part 32 – Creature Comforts

The creature within the room smiled displaying a double row of razor sharp teeth as it closed the door behind me. It was short, about half my height, and moved with an uneven shuffle. It’s body was a patchwork of green skin and tufts of purple hair. A collection of skin and bones, it looked more like an artist’s crude rendition of a gremlin or a goblin than a living-breathing being. I thought for sure it would jump out an attack me, but it merely stood there looking upon me with it’s grotesque wide-toothed grin.

“I’m Dr. Mansfield,” the creature spoke, it’s voice was soft almost melodious and I peered at it my mouth agape. It’s voice seemed an odd match to its grotesque visage and sank my teeth into my bottom lip. I took in it’s features, the slightly widened hips and the pair of disheveled lumps on it’s chest and realized that I was looking at a woman.

“Uh, Calista,” I replied, rubbing the back of my neck.

The doctor slammed the door shut behind me and hobbled toward a desk bathed in the shadows toward the back of the room. “I apologize, but I’m afraid that my eyes are quite sensitive to bright lights. I hope the dark doesn’t make you uncomfortable.”

I shook my head, watching the doctor jerk behind the desk, and disappear from sight. It lurched back into my sight a moment later, scratching and clawing its way up the desk and onto what looked to be a cross between a standard rolling office chair and an infant’s high chair.

When she was positioned atop it, she waved me toward her with both hands and pointed toward a seat on the opposite side of the desk. I complied, still feeling a little nervous around this odd little creature, but bolstered by my faith in Carrie. She worked with these people, I don’t think she would let me anywhere near them if she thought they were dangerous. Though the doctor’s appearance was grotesque, she was just the victim of a particularly unfortunate twist.

As if sensing my fears, she smiled, this time without showing her teeth and laughed. “I promise I don’t bite… much.”

I peered back at her, eyes wide before a smile touched the corners of my lips and I let loose a low throaty chuckle. Though it wasn’t terribly funny, it did much to release the tension and I was more than a little glad about that. At least, she seemed to have a sense of humor about her situation, which was more than I could say had I ended up looking like her.

“I’m going to be upfront with you, most of the therapists here rely on computer tests for this part of your exam, but truth be told I’m a little old-fashioned and prefer to interview you face to face. There are a lot of facial and vocal cues that most people make without realizing it and I can learn far more from that than any computer test. Truth be told, the holoscreens hurt my eyes. Since, I’m going to be asking you about yourself, I only think it’s fair you know a little about me.”

I didn’t speak, instead nodded and studied her face. She regarded me with a blank expression. She didn’t speak at first. Instead, she thrummed her clawed digits on the desktop. Finally, she exhaled and began to speak, her voice a little more than a soft murmur. “I’m sure you’ve surmised that I’m twisted, like yourself. I was born in the South and was raised in a time when the twisted weren’t as well publicized and most people believed us to be little more than an urban legend.”

I blinked, caught off guard by this admission. She must have been among one of the earliest generations of twisted. Her appearance was so strange, that I couldn’t begin to guess her age, but for her to have been alive during that time she wasn’t exactly a spring chicken.

I leaned forward already eager to hear more. “My father and mother were both survivors of the Antarctic Flu outbreak. At the time, nobody understood what caused people to undergo twists, and I grew up a more or less ordinary life unaware of the fate that awaited. It happened about midway into my teen years, my younger sister was terrified of the goblin she claimed lived in her closet. We didn’t get along particularly well and I thought it’d be funny to play a little prank on her. I waited inside her closet one night prepared to jump out when my father did his nightly check for the goblin. Unfortunately, that night when he did so, he found me… looking like this. I had underwent my twist,” She motioned down at herself and let out a long sigh.

“I fled, terrified of what I had become, and even more afraid of what my family would think. I never returned. I learned to fend for myself, living in abandoned homes, and dark alleyways. Anyplace where I could remain hidden. I discovered a unique power within myself, I could for short periods of time, make myself invisible. I made use of my trick to feed and clothe myself by stealing whatever I needed. I wandered from town to town, and state to state. I had little contact with other people, but the times I went out to retrieve what I needed to survive I began to hear murmurings of the twisted, and a place where some of them began to gather.”

“Spiral!” I blurted out, biting my tongue when I realized I’d interrupted her, but she only nodded and continued with the story.

“Although I was still only in my late teens, I had already grown quite cynical. Even now, I’m not sure what convinced me to come to Spiral, but when I did, I discovered that the stories were true. Unfortunately, even the other twisted were afraid of me. A few showed me kindness, however, and a family whose son whose twist was nearly as severe as my own took me in. For the first time in years I had found a home.”

“My new adoptive family encouraged me to go back to school and so I did. I completed my high school education and that might have been the end of my schooling had it not been for something quite unexpected.”

She paused a slow smile spreading across her face. “I hadn’t thought of my family in years. They seemed part of another life, and I did not believe I had any hopes of ever seeing them again. Why give myself false hope? So you can imagine my surprise when one day, I encountered my father. He recognized me at once and I fled from him fearing what he would do having found the creature that had ambushed him within his daughter’s closet. At first, my fears seemed confirmed as he chased after me, but then he called my name.”

I fought down my fear and confronted him. It seems my family had puzzled out that the goblin in my sister’s closet and I their oldest daughter were one and the same. In retrospect it seemed obvious. Their arrival in Spiral however was a coincidence. It seemed… that my sister had also undergone her twist. Though not severe, by most standards the change was significant enough to drive my family from our hometown. Like me, they had heard of Spiral and fled here hoping for sanctuary. They had not expected to find me there, and had all but given hope of seeing me again.”

“Reunited with my family, they encouraged me to interact with other twisted and I met many with stories similar to my own. No longer content to live in the shadows, I decided to do something with my life. I thought, perhaps, I could help others like myself and so I did…” She grinned clasping both hands atop the desk. “I won’t bore you with the rest of the details. Suffice it to say that I had to work hard to get my degree and get where I am now. I have been counseling twisted ever since.”

I eyed Dr. Mansfield and studied her knotted features. Her story had been interesting enough to keep my attention and the parallels to my own were obvious, but as she gazed back at me I wondered why she had felt the need to tell it to me.

“Now, why don’t you tell me about yourself?” The question hung on the open air and I paused realization dawning on me. She’d told me her life story to put me at ease. Probably in the hope that I would be more open to telling her about myself. Well, I shrugged, if that was her intent I guess she was about to get her way.

The moment I started talking I could hear her scribbling something on a notepad, but I didn’t let that stop me. I started giving her a little bit of my background, telling her about being raised by a single mother and my friendship with Megan. Before long I jumped headlong into the story telling her everything starting with my twist and ending with my arrival in Spiral. It was no easier to share than the last time, but I did keep myself from breaking down in tears.

Again, I refrained from mentioning Jeff and my confrontation with the jackasses in the convenience store. I worried, that as a trained therapist, she’d pick up on the omission, but if she did she said nothing about it.

The doctor leaned back in her chair and I stopped waiting for her to say something. When she did there was a slight quiver to her voice. “I am sorry for what you’ve been through. I can’t promise you it will get any easier, even among the twisted you will stand out in a crowd, but now, at least, it sounds as if you have the beginning of a support system.”

Next, she questioned me on specifics of my story, mostly about my feelings of rejection first from my mother then the people of Clearville, and my emotional state during those events.

She cleared her throat, and leaned forward. “Unfortunately, we don’t have as much time as I’d like. I fully encourage you to seek counseling. The sort of trauma you’ve experience has a way of coming back to you years later if you don’t address it.”

I nodded, but didn’t otherwise reply. She continued speaking a few reassuring words and reiterating the value of psychological counseling before moving on to other things. She started by asking me, what changes I might have noticed in my personality and behavior. I told her everything I could think of which wasn’t much. Mostly I told her about how I liked to wear feminine and revealing apparel, and how I’d been more emotional since my twist. She nodded and jotted in her notepad.

She asked about my trick and how it worked. Personally, I didn’t see how that could be relevant to my emotional state, but the doctor didn’t give me any indication how nor did she illuminate me as to why she’d asked the question.

She followed that up by reciting a number of different words and asking me to say the first thing that came to my mind. That went on for several moments, and she again paused to write something down.

Next, she asked me a series of questions, and state on a scale of one to ten how much I agreed with them. Most seemed harmless enough, but there were a few that gave me pause. I never would have expected her to ask me if I liked intending people harm or that I thought people were out to get me.

When we finished she scurried down the side of her chair and came to stand beside me, smiling and placing a hand on my wrist. Though her appearance was still grotesque I was no longer disconcerted by it. She truly wanted to help people and I could see no reason to fault her just because she happened to resemble a creature out of someone’s nightmares.

“Please do consider counseling, the sort of things you have been through can be detrimental to your mental health. I only work at the clinic here ten hours a week, but I do specialize in situations like your own. I have an office a few blocks away. The front desk can give you the address and phone number.”

I nodded and smiled back to her. “I’ll, uh, talk it over with Carrie.”

“Carrie,” she repeated, rubbing her chin. Though she hadn’t said much when I mentioned my father’s identity. I got the sense that she had been quite surprised. Of course, she must know Carrie if they both worked at the clinic, but there was something more to it.

She pulled her hand away, and started to move away before turning back and regarded me both arms folded across her chest. “Would you mind asking Carrie to come speak with me?”

“Is, there, uh, something wrong?” I asked rising to my feet.

“No… Often times when I speak with a patient, I find it beneficial to consult with their parents. Not only can I make my recommendations to them, it’s helpful to coach them in how they might best help their children adjust to their new situation.”

I nodded, regarded her one final time, and left the room. I had dreaded the psychiatric evaluation the most, but it had been by far the most rewarding of the three. Yes, I had been forced to once again lay myself bare, but after speaking with her for the first time since my twist I felt a little more like my old self.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 31

Part 31 – One-Trick Pony

As it so happened, the trick specialist wasn’t at all what I expected. At the very least, it was one of the more interesting visits.

“Come in, come in,” a woman ushered me into the room and I stopped mid-stride unable to bring myself to look away.

The woman that stood on the other side of the door was gorgeous, her long blonde hair cascaded down her shoulders in ringlets and I looked into her bright blue eyes in shock. She looked like she belonged posing in the centerfold of a dirty magazine, and I couldn’t bring myself to accept my imagination hadn’t conjured her up.

I bit my lip and stepped inside the room. The woman smiled and lurched forward hands reaching up to push the door closed behind me. She smiled as I turned to face her. “Hello, I’m Dr. Foster, but you can call me Janet.”

I glanced back over my shoulder, wishing that Carrie hadn’t left, but unwilling to give voice to her absence. The nurse has told us that the trick specialist had wanted to visit with me alone, and I had grudgingly agreed. I should have insisted she come along, but hadn’t wanted to rock the boat.

Janet’s bounteous chest, loomed less than a foot from my face and I stared at it with eyes wide.

“I-I’m Calista,” I said averting my eyes, my cheeks flushed.

“Please have a seat,” she held her hand out motioning at a pair of seats along the far wall.

I complied, seating myself and peered back at her. She grabbed the other chair, positioning it opposite me and sat down, crossing her legs and folding her hands across her lap.

She peered at me, a slow smile touching her lips and she glanced down at a tablet clutched in her perfectly manicured hands. “I’ve been reading your file. It says here you’ve already discovered a trick. Can I see it?”

I nodded, but didn’t speak. Instead, I clenched my eyes shut and concentrated on my outfit. For the third time that day, I shifted my clothes, the fabric slithering and crawling across my skin. When I opened my eyes again, I glanced down at myself, and smirked. I was wearing a simple strapless black minidress.

When I looked back up and met her gaze, she folded her arms across her chest and studied me her eyebrows furrowed. “Well, color me jealous. A trick like that would come in handy. I’d never have to go clothes shopping again.”

She pursed her lips, again, glancing down at the tablet. “It says here you were a boy before your twist. That must have come as a shock.” She grinned, cleared her throat and again peered at the tablet. “I’d say from your choice of outfit, there were a few mental changes as well.”

I nodded, and she slipped the tablet on the counter, letting out a long breath of air. “Could you tell me how your trick first manifested itself?”

I frowned and told her how Mr. Hails had encouraged me to see if I had a trick and in doing what he suggested I discovered it. She listened and nodded when I had finished.

“Tell me how you feel when you use your trick?”

I shrugged. “Well, my skin tingles, like it did when I underwent my twist, only not as intense.”

“I’m interested in this anomalous tissue Dr. Clark has discovered. I think it might have something to do with your trick. Tell me, can you use your trick on other people? Could you say… turn my blouse into a v-neck?” She asked arching an eyebrow.

I shook my head. “I can–” I started say, but stopped thinking back to the gas station. “Well, I can’t change what a person is wearing, but I can– Let me just show you.”

I reached out, clasping hold of her hand and to my surprise she didn’t jerk back or try to draw it away. Again, I clenched my eyes shut, trying for something simple. Some of the fabric from my dress wiggled across my skin, down my arm and onto her wrist. I pulled back and slid my eyelids open to reveal my handiwork. A simple black lace wristlet, about half an inch wide had appeared on her wrist.

When I looked down at myself, my outfit remained more or less unchanged. I saw no difference, but I knew the fabric from the bracelet must have come from somewhere.

She blinked, lifted her arm, and turned her wrist back and forth examine the result. When she glanced back up at me she arched an eyebrow.. The doctor remained silent for what felt an eternity then let out a long sigh and smiled. “I think I understand. You can’t change what I’m wearing, but you can shift clothing onto me, is that correct?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I… found that out the hard way.”

She pressed her lips together, but did not comment. Instead, she ran her hands through her hair strummed her fingers across the armrest. We sat there for several moments, looking back at one another before she spoke up. “This mystery tissue around your muscles may be related to your trick. It might be why you can’t change other people’s clothing. I’d like to run a more specialized scan if that’s okay with you.”

I paused a moment, not keen on yet another scan, but sucked in my breath and nodded. Though I didn’t understand why the doctor seemed so intent on unraveling this mystery, it seemed best to play along. I suspected that if I ever got into legal trouble over what had happened in Clearville or the gas stop, it would be nice to point to this and show how harmless my trick was.

She guided me over to an exam table where she attached an array of sensors to my skin. She initiated the scan using her tablet and asked me to shift my clothes once every several minutes. When all was said and done I was wearing a purple minidress with a plunging neckline that was the same shade of purple as my hair, and a pair of tall black boots that went up almost to my knee, which I learned later were called wedge boots. She had me concentrate, like I did when I used my trick, and, as I expected, my skin tingled.

After a few seconds, she had me stop and one by one removed the sensors from my skin. She didn’t speak for the longest time, instead moving across the room and set the sensors down on the counter. She kept her back to me, then turned back and studied me both of her arms folded over her chest. “Well, the scan detected a lot of interesting activity. When you use your trick, you call on the quantum field which seems to interact with the anomalous tissue around your musculature. That is why, you can only shift clothing that’s touching your skin.”

“Uh, that’s good?” I said making it more a question than a statement.

The doctor smiled, but didn’t reply, instead she rubbed her chin and glanced back down at her tablet. After another few moments of silence she spoke. “Well, I don’t think there’s anything more we can do here today, and Dr. Mansfield is waiting.”

I nodded and let her lead me out of the room. We traveled halfway down the corridor where we paused and she knocked on a door indistinguishable from the rest. She knocked on the door, and a loud thud sounded from within the room. A moment later, the door slammed open and the rooms occupant stood in the doorway. I swallowed… hard upon seeing the creature and stepped inside the room.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 30

Part 30 – Doctor’s Visit

At first the visit with Dr. Clark was pretty routine. He checked my blood pressure, heart rate, and he stopped long enough to comment on my reflexes, which he said were quite exceptional. When he got to examining my more unusual features, things got a little less routine.

His fingers traced my scalp, first passing over my horns and then my cat ears. When he finished, he didn’t speak, but turned away, and returned with an otoscope, and several attachments clenched in his other hand.

I’d gone through the whole process before, but as he stuck the cone down into my ear canal I shuddered and sank my teeth into my bottom lip. It felt… odd. The sensations were pretty much similar, but my new ear drums were more sensitive.

The doctor sighed and pulled the scope back out. “Just as I suspected, your ear canal is much deeper than normal.”

He popped the cone off, replacing it with a much longer one in his hand and tried again. I grimaced as he slid it inside my ear, and sighed when he pulled it free and declared that my ear canals, though “a bit unusual” appeared to be clear.

He glanced at my hands, and reached toward one of them, but paused a few inches away. “May I?”

I hesitated, glancing down at his outstretched digits, and nodded. He gripped my hand gently, fingers tracing along all six fingers, and then he released his grip nodding and muttering something about polydactyl digits.

He scooted away on his stool, replacing the otoscope on the counter and turned to regard me, a lopsided smile stretching across his face. “For all appearances, you’re healthy. I see nothing to be concerned about, but we’ll do a body scan just to be sure. Since you’re experiencing a period, it’s likely you’re a fully functional female, but the scan should put any doubts to rest.”

His smile creased into a frown and he leaned forward looking me in the eyes. “You will need to disrobe. I can leave if it makes you more comfortable and–” he paused glancing at the ‘tanning bed’. “You can climb inside the scanner while I’m gone and I can–”

“Or,” Carrie added interjecting before the doctor finished. “I can run the scan for you. That is if you don’t mind me operating clinic equipment when I’m off the clock.”

The doctor nodded. “I think we can make an exception just this once. Whatever makes you comfortable,” he smiled and again meeting my gaze.

I bit my lip, I didn’t much enjoy getting undressed, but I recognized why it was necessary. My cheeks were burning as I cleared my throat and turned to regard my father. “I – I want Carrie.”

He smiled, muttered a word of encouragement and disappeared from the room leaving me alone with Carrie. We hemmed and hawed for a few moments, before she turned her back to me, and I slipped out of my clothes. I left my clothes and my shoes in a heap on the exam table and moved toward the scanner.

As soon as I opened the hatch, the insides flared to life, not as bright as a real tanning bed, but enough that my eyes watered. I climbed inside, clenching my eyes shut to guard them from the illumination. Once settled I called for Carrie and a moment later I heard the clatter of the top closing over me. I risked opening my eyes in time to see the light to shift from white to an eerie purple. The scanner hummed, and I clenched my eyes shut again as the light intensified.

A few moments later, I climbed out staggering forward spots appearing in my eyes. I blinked and rubbed them, and as my vision returned to me, I locked gazes with Carrie. Her eyes bore holes into me. I glanced down at my naked chest, my cheeks flushing, and lurched forward snatching at the heap of clothes and throwing them on. When I called up my trick, I let out a long sigh of relief as the clothes weaved back into place.

I bit my lip and turned back to Carrie, she smiled, and disappeared through the door returning a moment later with Dr. Clark in tow. He took a seat back at the stool, retrieved his tablet and pulled up the results from the body scan.

“Well,” he said after a few moments staring at the screen. “Everything looks good, and as we suspected you are female. There are some abnormalities, but it seems to result from your unique physiology.”

“Abnormalities?” I blinked and glanced down at my hands. “Yeah, you can say that again.”

I felt Carrie’s hand on my shoulder, but didn’t glance back at her. Instead, I focused all my attention on the doctor as he replied.

“Yes, you have several cosmetic differences from most, but I was referring to your internal biology. For most vertebrates, there is a thin layer of fibrous tissue around our muscles called epimysium. You appear to have another thin layer of anomalous tissue surrounding it. It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose from what I can see. Have you exhibited any unusual abilities since your twist?”

Both of their eyes bore into me, and I shrugged. Aside from my trick, I didn’t seem to be able to do anything unusual. “I can’t shoot bolts of lightning or anything like that if that what you mean. All I seem to be able to do is change my clothing.”

I bit my lip, thinking of how I’d used my trick to stave of Jet in the gas station. I considered telling the doctor about it, but I didn’t see how it could be relevant.

“What do you mean change your clothing?” The doctor asked, both eyebrows disappearing into his bangs.

“It’s easier if I just show you.” I sighed, closed my eyes and willing my outfit to change and change it did. The fabric crawled and twisted across my skin, splitting and reweaving together. When I opened my eyes again, I glanced down at myself and nodded in satisfaction. My top and skirt had merged into a simple, floral sundress that only displayed a little less cleavage than my previous getup.

“Fascinating,” the doctor mused without another word. He glanced back down at his tablet, jotting down a few more notes before he glanced back up at me.

“We may have to run a few tests, but there may be a tie between your trick and the anomalous tissue.” He cleared his throat then eyed me again. “I’ll consult with Dr. Foster, your trick specialist, on the subject, she might have some insight on the matter.”

“The other abnormality has to do with your eyes,” he said peering into each of them. “To be honest, the way they shift colors is quite unique. I haven’t seen anything quite like it. The scan suggests you may have better-than-average night vision. Have you noticed anything?”

I thought back, remembering my flight from Clearville and realized how I’d gotten around in the dark. I had thought little about it, but now that it was staring me in the face, it shocked me I hadn’t noticed it before. “T-that sounds right.”

“What about my hearing?” I asked fingering one of my ears.

“Despite the resemblance to cat ears, I’m afraid that you’re hearing is nowhere near as sensitive as that of a feline. Your range is excellent, but well within the standard range for humans. That being said it is on the outer limit of that range, you’ll hear things most people will not.”

“Now, if you don’t have any–”

“Can you do a paternity test!?” I blurted out the question before he could finish.

“Well,” he blinked, cleared his throat and glanced at Carrie. “If there is some question as to your parentage we could arrange something. Mind, I can’t guarantee there will be a full match. A twist as extreme as yours would’ve changed much of your underlying genetic structure, but enough may remain to get a partial match. Then again, the results may not be conclusive at all. It’s hard to say.”

Carrie squeezed my shoulder and smiled down at me. “You have nothing to prove to me.”

I nodded, glancing at the doctor out of the corner of my eyes. “I just don’t want there to be any doubts.”

Carrie shook her head and pulled away. “All right then, let’s get it over with.”

The doctor walked over to a cupboard and produced two little packets. He tore the first open and removed a single-sided cotton swab and swabbed the inside of my cheek. He placed it inside a plastic bag and repeated everything for Carrie.

“We should get the results in a few weeks, until then, if there’s nothing further I’ll make my exit. The nurse will show you to the trick specialist.”

The doctor slipped out the door before either of us could say another word. Carrie smiled and squeezed my shoulder one final time. A moment later the nurse popped her head in the door, and before I knew it was being ushered toward my next torture session.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 29

Part 29 – The Clinic

I squirmed in my seat, glancing around at all the people around me and sucked in my breath. Though I stood out more than the others, I was not the only twisted in the room. Aside from myself, the most noteworthy was a girl perhaps thirteen or fourteen. She looked more or less human save for the bunny ears that jutted out from the side of her head, and a pair of prominent buck teeth. She held a carrot in her hands and kept looking around the place with wide eyes and jerking movements of her head.

There was a boy about my age with orange eyes, and clawed hands, a woman in her forties with teal hair that grew out of her head in thick yarn-like strands and another person who was so androgynous I couldn’t tell whether they were male or female or even pin down their age.

Carrie sat beside me, reading a magazine, but glanced at me and on occasion offered a smile.

It had been a few days since meeting my family and while it was gratifying to find acceptance; it had been more than a little chaotic. Clearing out their spare bedroom alone took the better part of a day, and as yet, I would be sleeping on an airbed. I didn’t yet have any furniture. I still had my sack of clothing and could morph into any outfit I desired.

Carrie was supportive, and we spent hours everyday talking and getting to know each other. We had a lot of catching up to do.

Drew had taken Amanda and the twins out for ice cream. As much as I enjoyed her company, I was glad that my half-sister hadn’t come along. I was nervous enough without her tugging on my arm every five minutes.

Okay, that came off as a bit harsh. Truth be told, I couldn’t get enough of her. Amanda wanted to be with me every spare moment and was delighted when I showed off my abilities. If I let her, she would spend hours coming up with new outfit combinations for me to morph. It would almost be worth it to see the smile on her little face. I must admit, I liked it much more than I let on.

The same could not be said for the twins. They didn’t know what to make of me, nor I them. Though polite, they were shy around me and seemed to live in their own little world. Though determined to break through their shell, I’d yet to puzzle out how.

Despite my difficulty with the twins, it was Drew who I was the least comfortable. He was polite, friendly even, but of all the family if seemed as if I was intruding into his life the most. His wife was my father, something which was downright weird to begin with, and I kept feeling as if I needed to apologize to the guy. Here I was living in his house, eating his food, and all because he married a lady who’d once been a dude and gotten some girl pregnant.

He had said nothing to indicate he didn’t want me around. He had been every bit as accommodating as Carrie and it only made me feel guilty.

I put that out of my mind, released a long breath of air and pressed my lips together. When Carrie told me about the Spiral Clinic, I understood why she wanted me to visit, and I agreed to come without much convincing.

I’d only been waiting a few minutes, but I was already antsy. At first, I didn’t know why, but then it came to me. I feared what the doctors might tell me. What if they decided I was dangerous, or that Carrie wasn’t my father? What would I do then? Who would I turn to? Where the hell would I go?

I don’t believe it showed on my face, but a hand squeezed mine and I looked over to see Carrie smiling. “Hey, it’ll be fine, there’s nothing to worry about. I work here, I know these people.”

I swallowed and nodded. Carrie was a licensed nurse and worked at the clinic part time.

“W-would you come in with me?”

Carrie blinked, smiled and then nodded. “Yeah, of course.”

I opened my mouth, but a voice called my name before I formed the words. When I looked up a single tear rolled down my cheek, my cheeks flushed, and I rose to my feet sensing the eyes of everyone in the room on me.

Carrie took my hand, I smiled, and we walked into the office… together.

“Thanks, Sharyn.” Carrie smiled and the other woman squeezed her shoulder, waved goodbye to me and disappeared from the room.

Carrie and her friend had spent the last few moments chatting with me. What surprised me was that she hadn’t even batted an eyelash when Carrie walked in. As she talked with us it became clear that my father told her all about me. Oh sure, she asked plenty of questions, but she’d already known about my parentage and how I’d turned up on my grandparents doorstep.

It warmed my heart just a little to realize that Carrie hadn’t even tried to conceal my parentage, her ‘shame’ at having fathered an illegitimate child or even that she’d been born male. I let out a long breath of air and all the tension drained out of me.

I looked about the room, surprised at just how ordinary everything looked. There were the usual cupboards and counter with the sink, the row of implements arrayed atop the countertop, two chairs on one side of the room, an examination bed and the standard rolling stool. The only thing that seemed even a little out of place was a long cylindrical table that resembled a tanning bed which rested on the opposite side of the room. I turned to Carrie with raised eyebrows the question in my eyes. Either she didn’t pick up on my unspoken question or ignored it.
I opened my mouth to speak, but before I could utter a single word a knock at the door silenced me and a slender middle-aged man wearing a lab coat appeared inside the room. The newcomer smiled and then nodded to Carrie. He ran a hand through a shock of graying green hair before turning to meet my gaze.

“You must be Calista. It surprised me to learn Carrie had a teenager. I thought her children were much younger,” he said with another smile. “My name’s Dr. Clark.”

He turned turned away. I glanced at Carrie, and bit my lip. It was clear she hadn’t apprised the doctor of the situation. I held my breath thinking perhaps she might hide the truth, but again she surprised me.

“Actually, Irving.” Carrie paused pursing her lips. “I only found out about Calista a few days ago. She was conceived before my twist…”

Dr. Clark jerked around turning back to stare at her with his mouth agape. Carrie froze meeting his gaze, before she let out a long sigh.

“When I was a boy…” She finished grimacing as she watched the doctor eyes grow even wider.

“Well,” he said clearing his throat. “That must have been quite a shock.”

He turned to me, snatching up a tablet from the desk and grimaced. “I assume that’s why we don’t have any information on you in the system.”

I nodded and pressed lips together before glancing up and locking eyes with him.

He settled onto a rolling stool with a tired groan. “Why don’t we get started by you telling me about your medical history and we can go from there, all right?”

I told him everything I knew, and he nodded. I’d never been seriously ill or had any surgeries. About the worst thing that had ever happened to me had been that I sprained my wrist when I was seven. Beyond that, the only issue I had to contend with health-wise was the occasional bout of hay fever.

He then asked about the circumstances of my twist and that too I shared. I told him nothing of the events that followed, and he did not press me for details. A matter, for which I was grateful.

“We can see about getting your medical records transferred later, but I don’t believe it sounds as if there’s anything serious in your medical history. We don’t, as yet, have a baseline for any comparisons, but I think the standard procedure with a recently twisted individual, like yourself, still stands. A physical examination to determine the extent of your transformation and ensure that you don’t have any unique medical needs, a psychological examination to ensure that you haven’t developed any harmful compulsions or personality traits, and a consultation with one of our trick specialists,” he said a smile creasing his thin lips.

A psychological examination? I blinked caught off guard. I guess my surprise must have shown on my face because the doctor spoke up. “Please don’t think you’re being singled out or that there’s cause for concern. It’s all very routine. I went through the same process myself when I was your age as does every patient who comes through these doors.”

I nodded and sank my teeth into my lips realizing that there was something I should tell him. “Doc, as far as the physical examination goes, I guess now is as good as any to tell you…” I trailed off flushing. “I-um, I’m having my period. My first, actually.”

He froze, looking back at me eyes wide, nodded, glanced at Carrie then fixed his gaze back on me. “You were a boy before your twist too?”

I blinked, my mind going over our conversation, realizing that not once had I mentioned I’d been a boy before my twist. I nodded, certain that my cheeks were burning bright violet.

He smiled and glanced down at his tablet, pecking at the display. “Well, father and son both undergoing gender changes, this is a first for me.”

He set the tablet down on the desk behind him without even looking back. He motioned toward the exam table. “If you’d like to hop up on the table there, we can get started.”

I nodded, my heart hammering in my chest, once again. All my doubts coming to bear again. Again, I wondered what if he told me I wasn’t Carrie’s child? What if our resemblance was just some weird coincidence? Where the hell would I go then?

I swallowed, forced back all my doubts and climbed onto the table as he suggested. I was being stupid, I told myself. Carrie was my father, I had all the proof I needed. I looked just like her for hell sakes!

I held my breath, and the doctor approached removing the stethoscope from around his neck. Try as I might I could not dispel my fears. I released my breath as the doctor neared. Misgivings or not there was nothing to do but have at it and hope I’d made the right choice.

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