Virtually Twisted (Original)


Jim Rumsfield was a regular teenage boy, or so he thought. When he unexpectedly undergoes a twist his world is turned upside down.

Author’s Note: This is my earliest completed tg transformation story and quite frankly it really shows it. Please don’t hold that against me. This story is part of Morpheus’s Twisted Universe which can be found at fictionmania and bigcloset. Other entries by Elrod W and Trismegistus Shandy are worth checking out as well. The original post date was April 02, 2011. I actually started a rewrite a year or two back, but have never gotten around to finishing it.

I was sitting in class, on the last day of school at Clearville High, bored out of my mind. My fourth period teacher, Mr. Beekman insisted that every day of school was important even the last one. So there I was listening to a boring science lesson on the last day of school, instead of goofing off like I had in every other class.

I think I must have dosed off for a little bit because a short while later I woke up to the sound of the school bell. I immediately jumped out of my seat, but was stopped by Mr. Beekman, “Mr. Rumsfeld,” he exclaimed with his nasally voice, “In your eagerness you seem to have forgotten that class ends when I dismiss it, not at the sound of the bell.” With an annoyed sigh I sat back down.

“Alright class as I was about to say before Mr. Rumsfeld interrupted me,” Beekman continued, “Those of you that will be taking my AP Chemistry class next year remember there’s a twenty-five dollar lab fee that’s due by the first day of school. Class Dismissed. Enjoy your summer and don’t get into any trouble.”

I was one of the first out of class, every extra second in that place was one second less of my summer. I sped down the hallway, weaving in and out of the crowds. As I made made my way to the end of the Hall, I nearly ran into Megan Hails.

“Oh, hey Jim,” she said smiling. Megan was a pretty hot tomboy. Megan and I grew up together and had been friends as long as either of us could remember. When we’d gotten older I’d found myself rather attracted to her and I even asked her out a few times, but she didn’t seem interested in being anything more than friends. Which was pretty hard sometimes because I really had a thing for her.

“Hey, did you hear about that new Game Palace in the mall?” I said suddenly remembering I had been meaning to mention it to her.

“A Game Palace in the mall?” she said thoughtfully, “Awesome!” she suddenly grinned, “There’s one where my grandma lives.”

I grinned in return, “Yeah, there’s one in Clinton it’s pretty freaking awesome.” then I added, “You want to go check it out? They’re supposed to have a huge grand opening Friday”

“Sure,” she replied.

“Alright, I’ll pick you up Friday around noon,” I said.

“Sounds like a plan,” she said then added “I gotta go, see you later.”

“Alright,” I said, “later.”

Then I watched her fade from sight as she walked away.

I arrived home after a short drive from school. The house was empty, my mom hadn’t made it home yet. She worked some pretty crappy hours being a manager at her job so it wasn’t that surprising that she wasn’t home. So I climbed up the stairs leading away from the landing and I plopped down on the couch and flicked the television on with the remote.

I watched tv for a quite a while watching some documentary on a ziprock band who had made it big and squandered it all on drugs and prostitutes. It was mildly interesting and it gave me something to do until my mom got home.

After a few hours I realized the time so I threw a couple frozen meals in the oven for dinner. I sat down again and I watched a repeat of a sitcom I liked. It was pretty funny.

A short while later a voice called from the landing, “Jim, I’m home.”

I hopped off the couch and made my way down the landing where I found my mom, Kate, setting down her bags. “Hey mom, how was work?”

“I’m just glad to be home,” she said, “I’ve been doing employee evaluations all day.”

My mom worked as a Manager at a department store in the Mall called Haglund’s. She hated it, but managed to bring in a decent sized paycheck every month. Not bad, considering she started out as a lowly grunt and worked her way up the ladder in only eight years.

“Dinner should almost be done,” I said changing the subject, “I put in a couple of those Lasagna dinners you bought the other day they should be done in a few minutes.

Mom looked a little relieved, “Good, I’m famished.”

After dinner was over I looked to mom and asked her, “Want to watch a movie or something?”

“Maybe after the news,” she replied, “I want to see what the weather is going to do tomorrow.” So we went into the front room and mom switched on the tv.

“-is 570 MBC, News,” the tv blared, “This is Katey Charles with today’s News. In Los Angeles, a suspect has been arrested in relation to the Echo Park killings, the police have not released the suspects name, but he is believed to be a 24-year-old male Twisted, find out more after these words from our sponsors.”

Mom muted the television as she growled, “Those damn Twisted! Those freaks need to be locked up so they can’t hurt anyone else. What’s this world coming to when decent people can’t even trust-”

That’s where I started tuning her out. I really wasn’t in the mood to listen to another one of my Mom’s rants. I used to think the twisted where just as horrible as mom always said, but my views had become rather conflicted on the subject as of late. Megan’s dad was a pretty good guy, for a lawyer, and he seemed to think they were decent people. On, the other hand there were the twisted we heard about on the news, the ones that did horrible things, but maybe they were as much the victims as the people they harmed.

“Your father was-” my mother started to say snapping me out of my reverie, “You know what? I’m feeling tired. I think I’ll go to bed.” she said then sprang off the couch and hurried up the stairs.

“Mom wait! What about my father?” she didn’t seem to hear me. I think it’s needless to say I was rather perplexed at this point so I followed her up the stairs. When I had nearly reached her bedroom door she slammed it shut. I reached for the doorknob and found it was locked. “Mom, what were you going to say!”

“Mom!” I called out again. Still she didn’t reply. I pounded on the door a few more times, then I gave up.

My mom had done some bizarre things, but this one took the cake. What had she been about to say? Every time I’d ever asked my mother about my Father, she would quickly change the subject or act like she hadn’t heard me. What was it about my father that she didn’t want me to know? What had she come so close to telling me and what did it have to do with the twisted?

With an exasperated sigh, I made my way to my bedroom. Closing the door behind me, I went directly to the chair I had sitting in the corner and turned it over. I pulled loose the bottom, taped inside was my mother’s old sophomore high school year book. I’d found it hidden in the back of her closet a few years ago. Loosening the tape on the bottom of the chair, I opened the book.

I flipped to page thirty-two there listed in the second column was a boy named Harry Turow. A heart was drawn around his picture and underneath was written “Harry and Kate 4ever”. The boy’s physical resemblance to me was striking, which made me wonder: was he my father? If so what had happened to him?

I was born during my mother’s junior year of high school. I learned by asking Megan’s dad that his family had moved away the summer before I was born. Had he and his family moved away because they’d learned my mother was pregnant? Or had they moved away for some other reason not knowing of my conception?

I sat there for a moment staring at the photo of the boy, who might have been my father. I closed the year book replacing it in it’s place under the seat of the chair and popping the bottom back in. I righted the chair then I laid on my bed and thought about the boy in the yearbook photo.

When I finally fell asleep I dreamed about the boy who might be my father. In the dream the boy stood with a man holding a knife to his throat. The man pointed to a scar above his left eyebrow with his free hand and laughed. I begged the man to let go of the boy, but he refused.

“You don’t get it,” he said with a laugh, “This boy aint nothing. He’s not your father don’t you see?” the man raved.

The man’s arm began to shake uncontrollably. Blood dripped from the boy’s throat. I called out to the man demanding that he stop. The man grinned, then with one swift jerk he slit the boys throat.

“He’s not your father, Jim.” the man cackled, “I am.”

“Nnnnnnnoooooooooooo!” I screamed out ready to hurl myself at the man, but soon realized that I was no longer facing the man, I was in the comfort of my own room. After a few seconds I became fully conscious and realized I’d been dreaming.

“What a weird dream,” I mumbled as I stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. I did my business then went to wash my hands. After I was done, I went into my mother’s room only to find it empty. She must have had an early shift. That wasn’t too uncommon, her work shifts seemed to hop all over the place. It was just one of the hazards of working retail, or so she said.

I made my way downstairs and had a couple bowls of cereal. After that, I headed back upstairs and took a shower. Once out, I went back into my room and switched on my Gamestation and began playing Last Illusion XX. It wasn’t long before I got caught up in the game and lost track of time.

It was almost noon before I remembered that I was going to pick up Megan to go to the Mall. I quickly saved my game then shut down the console. I raced out of the house almost forgetting to grab my keys on the way out. I hopped into my car and within a few minutes I pulled up in front of Megan’s house.

I was about to get out when the door to Megan’s house swung open. Out came Megan, followed by a really hot looking blond girl I didn’t recognize.

“Hey Jim,” Megan said as she approached my car, “Is it okay if my cousin Allison, comes along?”

“Sure,” I replied. Megan look at her cousin and seemed to scowl for a minute, but quickly covered it up.

“Well, hop on in, girls,” I said reaching across to open the passenger side door.

Allison got in the front, leaving the back for Megan. Megan didn’t say much as she got into the back seat, but I could tell she was rather annoyed with her cousin.

“Hey, I’m Jim Rumsfeld,” I said holding my hand out.

She took it and giggled, and with a rather vacant expression on her face she said”You’re friend is cute, Megan. I’d wonder why you weren’t dating him if I didn’t already know you were gay.”

I choked at that “You think I’m cute?”

“Yeah,” she giggled, “I’d totally date you if I didn’t have a boyfriend.”

Then it suddenly clicked what she’d said about Megan. I seemed to have trouble thinking straight around cute girls. “You’re gay?” I said looking back at Megan.

Megan sighed, “Thank you so much Allison,” she said with a sneer, “I wasn’t really ready to drop that particular ball, just yet. Were you planning on telling any other of my secrets today?”

The previously vacant expression on Allison’s face took on a more menacing cast as she said “No, but there are still plenty of hours left in the day.”

Things were getting a little on the heated side so I decided to step in,”Ladies, I think things have gotten off to a rocky start. Perhaps we should all forget what was said and just have a fun time.”

The vacant expression returned to Allison’s face, “Oh, we’re just teasing each other,” she said giggling again, “Aren’t we Megan?”

I looked back at Megan, “Yeah, sure” she said gritting her teeth, “Just teasing.”

The drive to the mall was pretty awkward, but luckily the mall was only a few minutes drive away. Once there, I found a parking spot and we piled out of the car. Allison went her separate way upon learning our intended destination was a gaming store.

Once we parted company with Allison I let out a sigh of relief. It was a lot less awkward with just me and Megan. There seemed to be some kind of rivalry with Megan and her cousin.

“So,” I said ,”You like girls.”

“Yeah,” she said, “I only came to realize it a little while ago. Remember, last month when I visited my uncle? Well…” she trailed off for a moment. “Allison had a slumber party with a few of her friends while I was there. Long story short, I-I” she stuttered a bit, “I found myself strongly attracted to one girl and without knowing what I was doing I sort of kissed her.”

I found myself thinking of Megan kissing another girl, and found the idea very provocative to say the least, but for the sake of Megan’s feelings I kept those thoughts to myself.

“Is that why things between you and your cousin seems so tense?” I asked.

Megan sighed, “Yeah, her friend that I kissed won’t talk to Allison, and she blames me.”

We continued talking as we made our way to the Game Palace, eventually our conversation shifted towards video games, and we had soon made our way to the store. The place was packed, and for good reason, they had the largest selection of games I had ever seen. We moved to the center of the store where they had an exclusive demo of the upcoming Demon Can Die game.

“Awesome,” I exclaimed, “I can’t wait till it comes out.”

Megan didn’t agree, “Oh, come on the only game of the series that was half-way decent was the first. I seriously doubt the fifth game will be better than the other sequels.”

I was about to retort when something caught my eye, “Holy freaking crap,” I said running to a display, “They have Death Stalker I’ve been looking everywhere for this,” I said grabbing it off the shelf, “and it’s only twenty-five bucks,” I added.

“Look,” Megan called out waving me toward an area where a crowd was gathering. At the front of the crowd there was some guy demonstrating the capabilities of some new virtual reality system, called Virtual World, that he claimed was supposed to make the gaming experience feel completely real , it even enabled people to feel the wind blowing on their skin inside the game or so he said. There was what appeared to be a big screen tv and something about the size of a motorcycle helmet sitting on a table under a big cloth behind him. He continued on for a few minutes, then he called for a volunteer to test it out.

I raised my hand just as everyone else did, “Pick me,” I called out. The man scanned the crowd for a few seconds then his eyes passed over me, and seemed to settle there, “You with the blue shirt there,” he said pointing at me.

In disbelief I made my up to the front of the crowd where the man was waiting.

“Young man, what is your name?” the man asked enthusiastically.

I replied haltingly giving him my name.

The man smiled a huge grin spreading across his face, “Tell me Jim, have you ever used a VR system?”

“No, but a friend of mine used the virtual attachment for the Playnetwork system,” I said then added, “He thought it sucked.”

The man laughed, “I’ve heard a number of gamers say much the same thing, but the Virtual World system is a much more advanced device than anything that has come before. As I’m sure you’ll agree once you’ve tried it out for yourself.”

“The Virtual World system uses diodes that are built into a head mounted sound and display system. It does not operate by catching your motions, like older vr systems, but instead senses what you want your avatar to do, and in turn feeds sensory information back to your brain.

“That sounds awesome!” I said feeling the excitement building inside me, “When do I get to try it out?”

The man laughed, “Well folks looks like our eager beaver is ready to try it out. What say you?”

The crowd was unanimous they wanted to see what the system could do.

“Alright,” the man said and with a dramatic flick of his wrists the man drew clear the cloth sitting atop the table. Underneath was some kind of helmet with a darkened visor over where the eyes would go. The man grabbed the helmet and placed it atop my head. He adjusted some knobs on the side as he did so I felt some metallic points touch the skin on my forehead and the back of my neck.

“Do you feel metal touching your forehead and neck?” he asked, and after I replied in the affirmative he in turn asked if I was feeling any discomfort. When I replied in the negative he flipped the visor down over my eyes.

“Now,” I heard his muffled voice speak, “As our friend, Jim, experiences the full splendor of the Virtual World System, this television monitor will display a limited visual interpretation of what Jim will be experiencing. So that you may catch a glimpse of the detail and awesomeness of the Virtual World Console.”

Suddenly, a flash of blue light appeared before my eyes and some kind of menu appeared in front of me. The man started to give me instructions. I chose to ignore him. I reached out with my hand and noticed that instead of a my own hand I could see something resembling what a crash test dummy might have.

“Must be some kind of default avatar,” I thought to myself. “As you might have noticed…” I heard the man start to say, but I chose to ignore him again. Instead I reached my hand out again and touched the menu option that seemed to indicate gameplay. There was another bright flash this time it was a green one and I found another menu before me.

I heard the man speak again, it was some dumb joke about me getting ahead of myself. I simply stopped listening to him at that point. I looked at the menu and noted what appeared to be several game demos. One had a picture of a really hot looking woman with light blue skin, almost catlike ears and a small set of horns in a futuristic setting, another had a bearded wizard with lightening shooting out of a staff, and the last had an Tarzan-like character in a rainforest.

I debated for a minute then reached out my hand and chose the science fiction setting. I’d always had a thing for science fiction, plus the alien, or whatever she was supposed to be, looked pretty hot. There was another bright flash, this time it was white then my vision cleared and I found myself inside what may or may not have been a spaceship. I marveled at the detail and how it looked real. It wasn’t until I drew near a bulkhead that I noticed a few details that didn’t look quite right. I drew my hand up the wall feeling it with my hands. I could feel it like it were real.

I studied the wall and the surrounding area for a few minutes, and then I took a look at my hand realizing for the first time that all was not quite right. It was blue like that of the woman in the image, but what struck most about it was that it had six digits rather than the usual five. The nails were short and well-manicured, the fingers themselves were long and delicate like those of a woman.

It was then that my hands went to my chest and noticed something very different from the usual. There protruding from my chest were what appeared to be a set of large breasts poking out from a rather revealing halter top. I grabbed hold of one and felt it jiggle on my chest. “Wow,” I said aloud, “That’s definitely weird.”

I started to feel tingly like static electricity was building around me and there was pressure that was somehow building up inside me. I wasn’t sure if it was the game or something else, but…

“Stop right there,” a voice said behind me, interrupting my thoughts. I found myself facing a character in the game in some kind of combat armor pointing some kind of ray gun at me. “Crap,” I said, hearing both the voice of the female character I was playing and my own.

Still feeling the pressure inside of me I looked down at my hip noticing the gun I had holstered there. I began to reach for it, but then stopped short when everything seemed to explode and a incredible jolt of pain shot through my body like I’d been struck by lightning. Massive forces rippled through me and for a moment it seemed as if the entirety of my existence began to waiver as if I would simply cease to exist. Dark swept over me and I lost consciousness.

When I came awake, a bright light blinded me, I tried to bring up my hand to shade my eyes, but nothing happened. I wasn’t able to move. It was as if some very strong person was holding me down. I opened my mouth to talk, but there was no sound.

I would have panicked then if not for Megan. “Jim, you’re going to be alright don’t worry,” she said not sounding particularly convinced herself. Nevertheless, her voice acted like a soothing melody calming my nerves and keeping me from the grips of hysteria. It struck me then what a good friend she’d been to me, it was too bad she was a lesbian I think she could have grown to be much more than a friend.

I tried to move my hand again, and much to my relief I felt my fingers twitch. I worked at it a bit longer and was able to bring my hand over my eyes, but in so doing my hand brushed against something. Something that shouldn’t be there. After a bit of a struggle, I was able to force my head up and found a pair of naked blue breasts poking out from my chest.

I simply stared at them for a minute. Was I still in the game? I looked around. Megan was there next to me and a crowd of people had gathered around me. No, I couldn’t be in the game, but then how was it that I looked as I did? Suddenly feeling very self conscious of my naked form, I used one arm to cover my breasts and another to cover my new privates.

“What is it?” A boy to the right of me said.

“It kind of looks like that character from the game. That hot looking alien chick. How is that possible?” said a voice from behind.

“I’ll tell you how it’s possible,” said a girl standing right in front of me. “That creature is a twisted freak.”

The second I heard those words escape from the girl’s lips I new she spoke the truth. I was twisted, I was a freak. I lay there stunned unable to understand how this could be possible. Then realization struck me, my mother must had known. That’s why she’d always been so secretive about my father. He must have been twisted too, but then…

My thoughts were interrupted by the girl “Your kind aren’t welcome here,” she said this time her voice filled with venom. Then she practically screamed. “Get out before you expose us all to the Antarctic Flu.”

I was so taken aback that I did not reply I simply stared up at the girl not knowing what to say. The girls lips curled up into a snarl and she acted as if she were about to speak, but before she could Megan stepped in front of me and hurled her fist into the unsuspecting girl’s face.

“Shut up, you stupid bitch,” she said as the girl fell to the floor clutching her nose. The crowd nearly erupted into chaos, and would have done so if not for the arrival of the mall cops. They cut right through the crowd and went straight for Megan, handcuffing her arms behind her back.

“Get up, you freak of nature,” the tallest of the three mall cops said angrily.

Still a little weak, I forced myself up and in so doing I felt my hair brush against my shoulders and my back. I reached back about to touch it, but then catching the look of undisguised hatred in the tall mall cop’s eyes I turned around putting my arms behind my back so he could cuff me. I looked back as we were leaving noticing the burn marks on the ground where I had been laying. It must have been a result of my twist. The damage to the floor was quite extensive. It was a wonder no one had been hurt. “Get moving,” the mall cop,who had cuffed me said kicking my bare rear with his shoe. I stumbled forward, barely able to stand let alone walk.

The mall cops marched me and Megan nearly halfway across the mall. They made no attempt to cover me up. When Megan asked for something so I could cover myself, she was told to keep moving. As I walked barefoot and naked through the mall I felt everyone’s eyes on me. It was the single most humiliating experience of my entire life. Tears cascaded down my face a few escaped far enough to splatter upon my breasts.

When we finally reached the security offices, Megan and I had our handcuffs removed and then they shoved us into a security cell. I narrowly avoided landing on my new breasts, as I twisted to the side.

I continued to weep, I simply couldn’t help it. I don’t know how long I lay there, but I remember Megan coming over next to me and wrapping her arm around me. She didn’t speak, but simply made her presence known.

As strange as it might seem under the circumstances, I think I must have cried myself to sleep because the next thing I remember was hearing voices speaking somewhere nearby.

“… story short Jim went through a twist and that’s why we’re in here,”said a voice I think it was Megan.

“That’s the only reason you’re in here?” the voice of a man asked, it might have been Megan’s dad Jonathan Hails.

“Well…” Megan’s voice said trailing off, “I might have hit another girl in the face, but she totally deserved it.”

“Oh god,” I said sitting up interrupting their conversation, “It really happened. I’m a girl now,” I said looking down at my breasts. “I even sound like a girl,” I said noticing my very feminine voice for the first time.

Megan started motioning towards my chest and I realized with a start that she was trying to tell me to cover my breasts. “Sorry,” I said my cheeks burning, “I never even suspected I was twisted. Suddenly, growing a pair of…” I said trailing off l looking embarrassed at Mr. Hails and then at Megan, “Well you know… breasts wasn’t exactly something I expected to happen.”

Mr. Hails cleared his voice nervously, “That’s quite alright Jim,” he said his face bright red from embarrassment. Then he quickly changed the subject, “I think it would be a good idea to contact your mother. She works somewhere here in this mall doesn’t she?”

“Yeah, she works over at Haglund’s,” I replied.

“I think It might be a good idea for me to go find her,” he mumbled then started toward the door.

“Mr. Hails?” I asked.


“Could you maybe get me some clothes,” I said.

“Yes, yes. I think that would be a good idea,” he replied then swiftly left leaving me and Megan alone.

We both sat there awkwardly staring at one another for several minutes before Megan finally spoke, “So…” she said trailing off, “You’re about the last person I expected to be twisted.”

“Yeah I think my dad must have been twisted. Mom was always secretive about him.” I replied. “Your dad didn’t seem too fazed when you told him I was twisted.”

Megan pursed her lips, “You heard that?” she paused for a moment as if considering something, “Dad’s twisted, and everybody says mom was too. Most of their relatives are twisted, so it’s something we’re pretty used too.

“Wait both your parents are twisted that means you’re twisted.” I said.

“Yeah,” she shrugged, “I haven’t really been through my twist, yet.”

“Are twists usually this extreme?” I asked reaching up to touch the new ears and horns that were now protruding from the top of my head.

“No, not always. Some are, but some people end up looking more or less the same after their twist.”

I groaned “Why couldn’t I have been one of those.”

“Trust me it could be worse. A lot of people get weird compulsions and sometimes they make them do weird and even bad things. Like that guy they think killed all those people in California.”

“How do we know I don’t have some kind of compulsion?” I asked.

Megan pursed her lips and started to speak, but was interrupted as the door swung open behind me. I turned my head to see who was entering, it was my mom.

Mom looked down at me with a look of contempt on her face, “Twisted freak,” she muttered.

“Megan, where’s Jim, and what is this thing doing here?” she asked spitting out the last part.

“Well, um didn’t my dad tell you what happened?” Megan replied nervously.

Mom sighed, “No, he only told me there was some kind of incident and he seemed rather intent on buying some clothes,” she said casting her eyes once more towards me then mumbled, “Probably for this freak.”

Megan looked at me then back at my mother, “Well I, um Jim I mean h-”

“Oh for crying out loud,” I cried out, “I’m Jim. I appear to have undergone a twist. By the way mom thanks for telling me I’m twisted.”

Mom simply stared at me for a moment seemingly flabbergasted. Then suddenly she lifted her arm and slapped me, “How dare you,” she screamed, “I worked so hard to keep the truth from you. Hoping you would never end up like your freak father. Just look at you, you’re an even bigger freak than he is.” she spat.

It was my turn to be flabbergasted as I stared up at mom. Tears began well up in my eyes. “Mom,” I started, but found myself unable to continue.

Megan stepped in “You thought if you kept the truth from Jim, that he wouldn’t be twisted. That’s screwed up lady.”

“Shut up,” mom snarled. “this is none of your business.”

Tears still streaming down my face I finally was able to speak, “Her business or not, she has a point.”

“I can’t tolerate the presence of a twisted in my home,” she said suddenly, “You have until Wednesday to remove you’re belongings from my home,” she finished.

“What?” I said, “Where will I go? What will I do?”

“I don’t care,” she said flatly then turn her back and exited the room after waiting a moment for the guard to open the door.

Where before my tears had been a light drizzle now they gushed out as if they were a rapid torrent. Megan came over beside me placing her arm on my bare shoulder,”Oh god, Jim. That was horrible.” she said.

I didn’t respond I just buried my face in her shoulder.

I was still crying when Allison arrived about ten minutes later with a bag of clothes.

“Oh god,” she said, “Is that really you Jim?”

I didn’t respond, I couldn’t bring myself to speak. “Yes, it’s Jim.” Megan replied for me.

“Something has happened,” Allison said suddenly, “Why is she crying?” she asked. Her use of the female pronoun was not lost on me.

This time I answered, “I am crying because I just had my heart cut out,” I said, “My own mother wants nothing to do with me because I’m a freak!”

“What?” Allison’s responded her voice full of shock, “What happened?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said sniffing, “Are those for me?” I asked indicating the bag of clothes.

“Um yeah,” Allison said holding the bag out to me.

I grabbed it nearly tearing it out of Allison’s hands. In the top of the bag I discovered a package of bikini panties. I hesitated a moment then I split the bag open fetching a white pair then pulling them up my legs. I couldn’t help, but notice how different they felt from my usual boxer briefs especially with the lack of my usual equipment.

I peered back inside the bag and found a red polo shirt with a black collar. I slipped it eagerly over my head glad to finally cover my breasts. The shirt was a bit tight,especially over my breasts, but it would suffice. I was about to move on to the next item when I realized my hair was caught inside my shirt. I pulled the hair out and held it out in front of my face, noticing it’s purple color for the first time.

Brushing my hair behind my back I reached into the bag and pulled out a pair of black short shorts with a drawstring. I held them before me fighting the urge to throw them back into the bag. They were completely and undeniably feminine and despite my very feminine body, I wasn’t sure I could bring myself to wear them in public. Casting all doubt aside I forced them up my legs. They were a little loose so I pulled the drawstrings tight then tied them into a bow knot.

And finally I pulled out a pair of flip flops. I pulled off the packaging they were attached too and slipped them on.

I looked down at myself taking stock of how everything looked. The short shorts showed off a lot more leg than I would have liked though I had to admit I had a nice looking set of legs.

“Seriously,” I said, “short shorts?”

Allison shrugged, “They were cheap.” she said defensively.

“They look good on you,” Megan said suddenly.

I wasn’t quite sure why, but her comment was oddly comforting, “You really think so?” I asked.

Allison looked from me then back to Megan, “You definitely have the bod for it.”

I felt a tingle of excitement at Allison’s comment. “Oh, god,” I said, “I am so hot.”

“I think you might have some mental changes,” Megan said a hint of a smile on her face. When she caught the questioning look on my face she added, “It’s not that uncommon of an occurrence with a twist.”

I opened my mouth about to speak, but suddenly sensed motion from behind and I turned to find Mr. Hails standing in front of the now open door. “It took some doing, but I managed to convince them not to press any charges.” he said then looked about, “Jim I expected to find your mother here.”

“She was here,” I said finding myself fighting back tears, “She left. She won’t have anything to do with me, like this.” I said motioning down at my transformed body.

Mr. Hails stared at me for a moment then spoke, “I would have thought a mother’s love would see past such things.”

“Apparently not,” I said my lips trembling.

“I’m sure she’ll come to her senses,” he said, “Until then you can stay with Megan and me.

“Thank you,” I muttered.

“Come on,” Megan said putting her hand on my shoulder, “Let’s get out of here.”

A bit of a melancholy smile touched my lips, “Gladly,” I said, “I never want to set foot in this mall again.”

When we stepped out of the security offices I could feel the eyes of nearly every person in sight fall on me. I cast my gaze about noting the hateful glares on just about every face. I even noted a few lustful glances. For some weird reason I found myself liking the lewd looks I was given, but I still had a hard time with the hateful ones.

I noticed a boy of about thirteen staring at my chest, I looked and noticed my nipples were poking out through the fabric of my shirt. Blushing furiously I folded my arms across my chest. The walk out the Mall wasn’t as humiliating as my naked march to the security offices, but it was a close second. Before I’d been so shocked about my sudden change that I hadn’t really paid as much attention to the denizens of the mall. This time I noted every hateful glare, every obscene jester, and all the other looks I was getting.

We followed Mr. Hails to the North side of the Mall and had nearly made it out when I found myself face to face with the girl from before. The one who Megan had hit in the face. She was sporting a huge black eye, and her nose looked swollen.

“FREAK!” she screamed, “I don’t know how you got out, but I’m…”

“Shut up, and get out of my way,” I said.

“No,” she said, “I won’t let you get away.”

“You thought being hit by my friend here was painful.” I growled motioning back at Megan. “What I will do to you will make what she did pale in comparison.” I said with a nasty grin on my face.

The girl paled noticeably and stepped out of the way. “Freak,” she muttered halfheartedly under her breath as we walked away. From there we made our way out of the Mall’s double doors and into Mr. Hails car. I was startled to realize it was already dark.

“Thanks for coming to get us dad,” Megan said after buckling herself in.

Mr. Hails smiled,”You should really thank your cousin. She was the one that called me.”

Megan glanced at her cousin then after a brief moments hesitation she said, “Thanks Allison.”

“How’d you find out what happened to us anyway?” Megan asked.

Allison shrugged, “I started to wonder when I couldn’t find you guys. So I started to askFall around. I learned that someone had been carried off by the mall cops. I figured it had been you so I called uncle John.”

“Oh,” Megan replied, “That makes sense.”

Silence followed Megan’s comment and a few minutes later we reach the Hails home.

After Mr. Hails let us in. I realized I kind of had to pee, “Um, can I use your bathroom.” I said asking Megan.

“Yeah,” she said giving me a weird look, “Go ahead.”

I made my up the stairs, then once I had reached the bathroom I locked the door behind me.

I flipped open the toilet seat, and pulled my short shorts down ready to take a wiz in the usual fashion,only to be reminded once again that I no longer had my male parts. So I flipped the seat back down, and plopped down. It took me a moment, but after a few second and a little bit of pushing I managed to evacuate my bladder. Once, I was done I realized I was still a bit wet down there so I tore off a small chunk of toilet paper and I dried ‘it’ off.

Once done I pulled my shorts back up and began washing my hands. Even such a simple act reminded me of my change, my hands were long and slender and the additional finger made them look just a little too large for my arms. I glanced at the mirror and felt my jaw drop. The girl in the mirror was nothing short of breathtaking, despite the oddities. The girls breasts were quite nice. They were the perfect size, large, but not monstrously huge and oh so firm. Her angelic blue face was a framed by a mane of violet hair that ran almost all the way down her entire back. Atop her head growing out of her parietal bone was a set of horns that matched her ice-blue skin. Just to the side of each horn was a pair of blue-colored feline-like ears, but the most striking feature of all was here eyes. They were the same violet as her hair, but amazingly the iris seemed to constantly shift shades, almost giving it the appearance of some tumultuous violet fire.

“Wow,” I muttered staring at the girls eyes, until I realized I’d been thinking of my own reflection as if it belonged to another person. “No,” I said, “That’s me now.” I reached up to touch my ears each in turn. The were hairless matching the color of my skin it felt strange feeling something where it should not have been. Next, I reached out to touch my horns. The feeling reminded me of the way it felt to touch my teeth, but very different in other respects. I looked back at my reflection, “Damn,” I muttered feeling a bit turned on, “I’m totally fuckable.”

I continued staring at my reflection. I was a bit weirded out by the arousal I felt not only because I was getting off by my own reflection, but because the very same arousal I was feeling felt familiar yet alien to what I was accustomed too. It was an all-over sensation whereas when I was a guy it had been more concentrated. I couldn’t believe…

There came a pounding at the door, “Jim are you alright?” it was Megan, “You seem to be taking a long time.

“Yeah,” I said clearing my throat, “Yes, I’m fine I’ll be out in a minute.” I said then finished washing my hands and wiped them off then swung open the door.

I found myself eye to eye with Megan, “What were you doing in there?” she asked suspiciously.

“Nothing,” I said, “I was just looking at myself in the mirror.”

“Right,” she said obviously straining to keep a straight face.

“You know,” I said quickly changing the subject, “I think I’d like to have a chat with you guys. I think I need to know more about being twisted.”

“That might be a good idea,” she replied. “Here let’s go back downstairs.”

Once back on the main floor, we found both Allison and Mr. Hails lounging on the furniture.

“So,” Megan said the first to speak, “Jim wants to know about the twisted.”

“Why would you think we know more than anyone else.” Allison said with a nervous giggle.

Mr. Hails looked to me then to Megan then back to myself, “I think under the circumstances that Jim should be told the truth.”

“Dad, I’ve already told her that we were twisted,” Megan replied. I winced at her use of the female pronoun.

“Well in that case. What would you like to know Jim?” he said.

“Well,” I said, “I really don’t know much I know it was passed on by the survivors of the Antarctic Flu to their children and grandchildren. I know some guy from Canada, John Kinkaide I think his name was, brought it back after exploring in Antarctica.”

Mr. Hails nodded his head, “That’s correct though I might add that those who survived the Antartic Flu did not show any signs of being twisted. They’re descendants however did.”

“Oh,” I said, “I didn’t know that.”

Mr Hails sighed, “The schools don’t really seem to teach much anything where the twisted are concerned, except of course to fear and hate us.”

“Yeah,” I said, “People don’t really like th… us,” I said correcting myself.

“So,” I said suddenly, “How is it even possible really? It’s always seemed to defy all logic.

“Well yes,” Megan piped in suddenly, “but I’ll let dad tell you.” she said after catching a look from her father.

“I don’t really understand the scientific principles that well, but I’ll try to explain. The twisted are unique in that we can tap into some kind of quantum field. When a person undergoes a twist it’s usually triggered by a new experience, or an emotional response. It also the first time a twisted taps into the quantum field. For reasons I don’t understand the field changes us in strange and unexpected ways. The changes can include not only physical transformation as you have experienced, but also changes in personality. Many times the twisted gain compulsions to make them behave in way they otherwise wouldn’t and we almost always gain a trick.”

“A trick?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Allison said, “It’s kind of like having a super power.”

“You mean like flying or something?” I asked.

“Our abilities come from tapping into the quantum field and aren’t always so grand,” Mr. Hails said, “but some people do gain the ability to fly. We always refer to them as tricks so as not to draw any more ire from the public’s eye.”

“So what’s your trick?” I asked Mr. Hails.

“I can shrink or grow to a quarter my regular size and back,” he replied.

“That’s awesome!” I said, “Can I see?”

Mr. Hails grimaced, “Maybe later. I was thinking you might want to try out for yourself and see if you have a trick.”

“Yeah, but how?” I asked.

“It varies from person to person, but it for me it involves a good deal of concentration,” Mr Hails replied.

“Ok,” I said, “here goes nothing.”

I closed my eyes and begun to breathe in and out and cleared my mind. I felt a kind of tingling sensation similar to when I had undergone my twist, but nothing seemed to happen. I opened my eyes again and brought my hand up to my face as I did so my hand brushed against one of my breasts and I felt my chest jiggle a bit and found myself wishing my breasts wouldn’t jiggle so much.

That’s when it happened, my clothes seemed to twist and contort and change upon my body. It lasted only second, but the changes were almost immediately apparent. I looked down at my chest, instead of wearing the red polo as I had been before I found myself wearing a red t-shirt with with the lower portion cut-off. It left a good portion of my abdomen exposed. I touched one of my breasts and I noted it felt significantly less jiggly so I peaked under my shirt and noticed I appeared to be wearing a matching red bra.

“That was awesome,” Allison said suddenly, “I wish I had a trick that let me change what I was wearing.”

Megan seemed to stare at my chest for a moment, “Did you mean that to happen?”

“No,” I said, “I felt this tingling then I remember wishing my chest wouldn’t jiggle.”

“That doesn’t seemed to make much sense. Why would you be wearing that instead of a bra or something?” Allison added.

“I am wearing a bra,” I replied feeling my cheeks burn.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that you’ve gained the ability to change your clothes. I would guess that it’s limited by the amount of clothing you are wearing.” Megan said.

“Why couldn’t my trick have been something cool?” I said with a groan.

“It’s still possible you might have another trick,” Mr. Hails added, “It’s not too unusual for a twisted to have two tricks..”

I looked down at myself again, “God I looks so hot. I can’t hardly believe this is me.”

I looked over at Megan and realized she was staring at my breasts. I felt a bit of a thrill at that, like I had before at the mall. It must have had something to do with my twist. I had a hard time not looking at Megan, she was very attractive after all, but for some reason she seemed even prettier than usual.

“Well,” Mr. Hails said apparently oblivious of the looks Megan and I were giving each other, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m feeling rather hungry.”

“Yeah, starving,” I said looking toward Mr. Hails then back at Megan, only to find that she was no longer looking my way.

“How’s pizza sound?” Mr. Hails asked.

After receiving an enthusiastic reply from Allison, Megan and myself, Mr. Hails called up Pizza Master and placed an order.

A short while later our pizza arrived and we sat down to eat. Throughout the meal I kept finding myself staring at Megan and she in turn would cast her own glances at me.

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Allison said suddenly slamming her slice of pizza into her plate. “Would you two just get a room already!”

Megan’s jaw dropped and her eyes immediately darted to glance at her father.

“Megan,” Mr. Hails said, “Your cousin is right you and Jim have been giving each other googly eyes all night. Is there something you need to tell me?”

Megan sighed and her eyes briefly met my own, “You were probably going to find out eventually anyway.” she hesitated for a moment then said flatly, “I’m a lesbian.”

“I can’t say I’m too surprised from the way you’ve been looking at Jim. I guess the question is how long have you known?”

“Since I visited Allison’s house in Spiral,” she said.

Mr. Hails raised an eyebrow and gave Megan a questioning look, “Is there something you and Allison need to tell me?”

“What?” asked confusion evident upon her face then realization seemed to strike and she said, “No no no… That’s not what it sounds like. Ew definitely no.” she said glancing at her cousin, “Allison had a slumber party and I might have kissed another girl.”

“Megan, you could have told me,” he said, “You know that I would never think less of you for being gay.”

“Yeah, I know dad. It’s just that I’m just coming to grips with it myself. I always has a clear-cut image of how my life would turn out. I never pictured my life any other way.”

Mr Hails smiled, “Sometimes when life takes you off the beaten path, you make your own way.”

“Look at me,” said a bit embarrassment evident in her voice, “Here I am whining about being a lesbian while Jim has had his hole life turned upside down.”

“It’s okay, Megan. I think I’m a lesbian too.” I replied.

Megan laughed and I think it must have been the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.

After we finished our meal, Mr. Hails excused himself, and Megan, Allison and I hung around and just talked. We kind of lost track of time and before we knew it it was getting pretty late so we headed to bed. Megan offered me a pair of pajamas, I turned her down upon seeing Allison in her night gown. I chose to morph my clothes into a rather form-fitting black nightgown. It wasn’t until after I had morphed into the nightie that I felt a bit of unease at wearing such a feminine garment, but then I thought about how hot I must look wearing it and suddenly it didn’t seem so strange.

“Aw shit,” I said, “You were right, Megan, I did get some mental changes. I don’t even know myself anymore.”

Megan smiled sympathetically and put her hand on my shoulder, “I’ve known all my life that I would one day go through a twist. You didn’t have that advantage. I know that none of this was expected, but maybe you can take comfort in knowing that no matter what happens I will be there for you.”

I felt my eyes mist up a bit, but I managed to keep myself from crying again, “Thanks Megan. I don’t know what I would have done had you guys not taken me in.” I replied reaching up to where Megan’s hand was touching my shoulder.

I don’t know quite how it happened, but I found myself feeling some very strong emotions for Megan. Suddenly I was face to face with Megan, our lips drew close to one another. Our lips brushed, and I could feel butterflies fluttering in my stomach.

Before we could truly kiss we were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing their throat. It was Allison, who I had forgotten was in the room with us.

“Oh, god Megan. You are such a lesbian whore. Jim just barely got turned into a girl and already you’re trying to stick your tongue down his throat,” she said.

Before Megan could retort I cut in, “It was as much me as Megan,” I said.

“I think we should just all go to bed and forget this even happened,” Megan said.

I felt a bit of disappointment at Megan’s suggestion, but I nodded my head in agreement nonetheless.

“Come on,” Megan said, “Let’s get you situated for the night.”

As a moderately successful trial lawyer Megan’s dad made a pretty good living, enough to afford a rather large five bedroom house. Two of those rooms served as bedrooms for Megan and her father, the third functioned as a guest room, the fourth as a computer room, and the fifth as a home office for Megan’s dad. Since, Allison was already occupying the guest room I was given the computer room. It had an old, but rather comfortable looking sofa sitting opposite the computer. Megan walked over to it and pulled the back of the couch forward then pushed it back and laid it down flat to make it into a bed.

I couldn’t take my eyes off Megan, she was so beautiful even in her big frumpy pajamas.

“Dad says it’s called a Klik Klak,” Megan explained, “There’s sheets and blankets in the closet.”

“Thanks,” I said my eyes drifting to her breasts.

“Well, good night,” she said seeming to blush a bit.

As she turned to leave I grabbed hold of her hand “Megan wait,” I said, “I don’t want to forget what happened.”

Then I kissed her. I had kissed girls before, but this was different this was so much better. Her lips were so soft and warm again my own. She broke the kiss then looked me in the eyes, and before I knew it I found her lips locked against mine again. We kissed for what seemed like hours,and I found myself wishing it would never end.

When we finally broke apart, we simply stood there staring at one another. It was Megan that finally spoke, “I can’t believe we just did that.”

“Me neither,” I replied sporting a huge grin.

We stood there for several minutes just holding each other. Then finally she kissed me lightly on the lips and said, “I better head to bed.”

“You’re probably right,” I said releasing my arms from around her back.

Megan smiled as she turned away, “Goodnight.” she said.

“Goodnight,” I replied closing the door behind her.

I collapsed on the bed, the memory of her lips touching mine still very clear in my mind.

I didn’t sleep too well that night. My body was still very foreign and I just couldn’t get comfortable. Every time I changed positions my new breasts or my hips, not to mention the ears and horns atop my head, seemed to get in the way. I finally resolved myself to lying on my back and after quite a while I drifted off to sleep.

I don’t remember much about my dreams but I seem to remember a lot of angry people screaming at me. I think my mom might have been there too. The rest was a big blur, but I do remember waking up in the middle of the night feeling really freaked out.

In the morning, I woke up to find myself in a strange place. The memories of the previous day were temporarily forgotten in the cloud of my drowsiness. I reached up to rub my eyes, and in so doing my hand brushed against something sticking out of my chest. I looked down and I freaked. I screamed like the girl that I now was.

I don’t know how long I kept it up, but after a stinging blow to my face I came to my senses and found Allison and Megan standing over me. All my memories from the previous day came flooding down on me like a wave. “Oh, god,” I muttered. “It really happened.”

I let myself drown in my self pity and anguish for a few moments then I pushed it aside, “Who slapped me?” I asked rubbing my jaw.

“That would be me,” Allison volunteered a bit guiltily.

“Thanks, I needed it.” I replied.

“Don’t mention it,” she replied giving me a quizzical look.

“Jim are you alright?” Megan put in.

“Fine, just woke up and sort of freaked.” I replied, “What with the new hardware and all.”

“Just don’t do that again, ok?” Megan said relief evident on her face, “It scared me.”

“It scared me, too,” I said a wry grin beginning to form on my face.

“Well, since you’re up,” Allison put in, “Uncle John is making chocolate ebleskivers for breakfast.”

“They’re Danish pancakes,” she added after catching my blank look.

“Sounds great,” I said, “I’ll be right down.”

After excusing herself Allison left the room, and I was once again left alone with Megan.

“You look nice,” I said giving her a peck on the lips.

“You look miraculous,” Megan replied, “I could never look that good when I first woke up.”

“Really?” I said feeling pleased by her complement.

“Definitely,” she said returning my kiss.

“Hey are you two coming or not,” said poking her head from around the side of the door.

“Yeah, we’ll be down in a second,” Megan replied a bit irritably.

“Well, I guess we better go,” I said wryly.

“I guess so,” Megan replied. And with that we both made our way downstairs.

The ebleskivers were done cooking by the time Megan and I had made our way downstairs. They looked a lot like a cream puff, but tasted more like a cross between a popover and a pancake and they were covered in powdered sugar. We had bacon and orange juice to complement the meal.

After breakfast we took turns showering when my turn came I found much to my distress that Allison had taken it upon herself to brief me on a few feminine hygiene basics. After a one of the most awkward conversations I had ever had with a casual acquaintance. I hopped in the shower. First I soaped my body using Megan’s body soap she said I could use. When I got down near my vulva I stopped.

I traced my hand over the very foreign body part. Feeling first along the slit then outward. I moved onto my breasts. They seemed massive when I looked down at them, but I knew from looking at the mirror, that they weren’t nearly as huge as they seemed. I cupped them with my hands gently caressing them. They felt so foreign, but the way they felt when I caressed them was unbelievable.

Once, I had finished with my breasts I continued to wash myself. I cleaned my vulva the way Allison had instructed me then I moved on to my hair. It was pretty wet by then so I just poured some shampoo into my hand and began lathering it into my hair. It took quite a bit more shampoo than I was used to, and it took a lot more work to get the suds out. Once done I repeated the process and then I was just about to turn off the water when I spotted the bottle of conditioner.

I’d never used the stuff before, but for some reason I felt a strong urge to use it. So I reached for it. I followed the instructions and I was soon out of the shower. I dried myself off and worked to dry my hair the best I could.

Then I reached for the clothes I had been given. First I put on the pair of panties from the package Allison had gotten me the day earlier. Then I reached for the jeans I had been given. They were definitely of a feminine cut, but looked to be pretty old. They must have belonged to Megan’s mom before she had passed away. Then I grabbed the shirt it was a bright pink t-shirt that had been given to Megan by a well meaning elderly relative. Megan, who detested the color pink, had never worn it.

I looked down at myself, not even remotely satisfied. So I morphed the clothing. I morphed the shirt into a violet tank top with spaghetti straps, to match my hair, and the jeans I morphed into a pair of form fitting black low-rise jeans. The excess material I used to form a builtin bra in my shirt and a pair of socks that matched my top.

Once dressed I yanked my hair irritably out of my shirt then, I opened the door and stepped out into the hallway. I found myself facing Allison. She took one look at me and let out an annoyed sigh. “You didn’t comb your hair did you?” she said irritably.

Before I could reply she directed me back into the bathroom and pushed me in front of the mirror. Pulling a comb out of drawer she proceeded to comb my hair starting at the tips and working her way up.

“Did you use conditioner?” she asked.

When I replied in the affirmative she spoke, “Good, just remember to always use it. It helps keep long hair from tangling. Shampoo takes all the moisture out of your hair, conditioner adds it back. Combing after showering helps prevent tangling, too. Make sure you use a wide-tooth comb and not a brush.”

“All right, professor,” I replied sarcastically, “Thank you for the lecture. Can I go now?”

“Yes, just remember what I said,” she said.

“Okay,” I mumbled then left Allison standing alone in the bathroom.

I walked down the hall and made my way down the stairs and found Megan sitting on the loveseat in the front room. “I think your cousin takes things a bit overboard.” I stated.

“Why what did she do now?” Megan asked.

I explained what had just occurred and Megan started to laugh, “Her personality changed a lot after her twist. She can be a huge pain sometimes.”

I sat down beside Megan and grabbed her hand, “Why is she visiting if you and her don’t get along?” I asked. “I’m sorry that’s none of my business.” I added.

“That’s okay,” she replied, “After everything I’ve witnessed happening to you, I don’t think there’s anything I couldn’t share with you. She’s here because her parents are on some sort of cruise and they had no one else to dump her off on.”

“Parents, at least she still has hers,” I muttered bitterly.

Megan gripped my hand more tightly, “I’m sorry if what I said upset you.”

“No,” I said, “That’s all right. I’m just been sensitive since my twist.”

Megan smiled sympathetically, “You have a right to be. I know I’d be upset as hell. I think you’re handling it pretty well.”

“Thanks,” I said, “I need to talk to mom, make her understand…” I muttered, “It’s not something I can control. It’s just who I am. I thought she’d know that.”

Megan jumped up, pulling me up with her, “Let’s go,” she said.

“What?” I balked, “No we can’t!”

“Look Jim, you need to confront her. You need to know for sure if she’s really wants nothing to do with you. She’s had all night to think about it maybe she regrets what she did.”

I shook my head, “You don’t know her like I do. She’s so damn stubborn she’ll never admit she was wrong. Not even over something like this.”

Megan sighed, “Then at least go and try and get some of your stuff. You need clothes, and with your trick you should be able to salvage your old boy clothes.”

I’m not sure what made me do it, but I finally relented, “Fine, I said, “but we’re leaving if things get too hairy.”

“Agreed,” she said.

We left after grabbing a roll of plastic garbage bags. The ride to my mother’s house was the longest of my life. Logic told me that it was only a few minutes, but it seemed like much longer. By the time, we reached the house, I was so nervous, that I almost told Megan to turn the car around, but after a reconsidering I forced myself to get out of the car and walk to the door. I was surprised to find my car sitting in the driveway. Mom must have had somebody bring it home with the extra keys.

Upon reaching the door, I hesitated for a moment, then I grabbed Megan’s hand for support and rung the bell. A few moments passed by then the door swung open. Much to my surprise, it was not my mother who answered the door, it was my aunt Lily who I hadn’t seen for a number of years.

“You! What do you want?” she sneered.

I bit my lips then clenched my teeth, “I’ve come for my belongings.” I said defiantly.

Aunt Lily laughed mockingly, “You have a lot of nerve. After, what you’ve done.”

“What I’ve done! You think I wanted to get turned into this!” I said grabbing hold of my breasts.

I forced my anger down, then said “Look, just let me talk to mom. Then I’ll leave if she don’t like what I have to say. I promise.”

Lily hesitated for a moment, then the choice was taken away from her as mom appeared at the door.

“What the hell do you want?” she said angrily.

“I’m just trying to understand. I’m still Jim beneath all this,” I said motioning at my breasts. “I just want you to say it’ll be all right. I want you to say you still love me.”

“Love you?” she spat, “I can’t love that and you…” she trailed off tears beginning to form, “You are not Jim. He’s dead.”

“But Mom,” I said nearly in tears myself.

“NO!” she screamed, “Go away! Go somewhere you’re wanted. Go live with your freak father.”

“My father? I don’t even know who he is!” I yelled back at her.

“Liar!” she growled, “I found my yearbook taped inside your chair!” she said storming off.

I followed her and confronted her inside the house. “All these years,” I said, “You could have told me. At least then I would have been prepared. I would have know that I was twisted!” I screamed.

“I had to hide it,” she snarled, “I was trying to keep you from ending up like your father.”

“What kind of sense does that make,” I said throwing my arms out, “It obviously didn’t work.”

“Because you asked too many questions,” she said poking her finger into one of my breasts. “Look at you, you’re an even bigger freak than he is.”

Frustrated I tried changing tactics. “That boy in the yearbook, Harry Turow, is my father.” I said making it a statement of fact, “Where is he now? Why did he leave?”

Mother laughed bitterly, “He left after he had his twist. Had I known he was twisted I never would have let him touch me. You never would have been born.”

I gritted my teeth, “But where is he now?” I asked again.

“How the hell should I know?” she spat.

Sighing, I spoke, “Is there any chance that you will ever want me” I wasn’t even able to finish before mother interrupted me.

“No!” she said vehemently, “I don’t want anything to do with you! Get out of my house!”

Suddenly I found Megan’s hand within my own again. I hadn’t even realized she had followed me when I had gone running after mother. I squeezed her hand and she in turn did likewise.

“Fine,” I said forcing the tears back, “Just let me gather some of my things and I’ll leave. You’ll never see me again if I can help it.”

My mother didn’t answer. So I took her silence as an affirmative. With Megan in tow, I went to my room. Megan pulled out the garbage bags, and we began throwing my clothes in them. I was a boy, so I didn’t have a lot of clothes about a weeks worth and a set of dress clothes for special occasions so my closet and drawers where empty in a matter of minutes. I grabbed a few other things, my stamp collection, all my money, and all my gaming stuff and I was ready to go. As I was about to leave I grabbed my extra set of keys that were sitting on my dresser as an afterthought.

We met no resistance as we left. Mom just stared at us, and Aunt Lily let out quite a few curses at me, but she made no attempt to block our departure. Once out the door I headed straight for Megan’s car. Just as I as reaching for the door, I looked back and noticed something hanging out of the trash can from under the lid. Without saying a word I walked over to the dumpster and flipped the lid open. Inside I found a binder labeled”Jim’s baby book”. With tears running down my face I grabbed the book and went straight for Megan’s car.

Megan put her hand on my shoulder once we were inside the car. “I’m sorry, ” she said, “I shouldn’t have pushed you to come.”

“It’s okay,” I muttered, “I needed that.”

Megan smiled sadly putting her hand on my shoulder then she started up her car and we were on our way.

We had our first glimmer of what was to come a few blocks away from Megan’s house. It happened at a stop light. The car beside us was an old Jeep, it belonged to a classmate of ours, Jeff Goldwin.

Without even thinking about it I waved a friendly hello. He returned my gesture, though in a much less cordial way. He flipped me off.

“Fucking twisted bitch,” he spat “If I had my way you’d be lying in a ditch somewhere.”

“Your kind aren’t welcome here. Go live with the rest of the freaks in Spiral,” a pedestrian called out as they walked across the crosswalk in front of us.

A few moments later the light turned green and Megan stomped down on the accelerator and in short order we had reach her home.

“Well,” I said, “That wasn’t very pleasant. First mom, then Jeff and that pedestrian. Is this whole town going to turn against me?”

Megan grimaced, “I won’t lie. It’s a very distinct possibility.”

It was my turn to grimace, as I said “I was afraid you’d say that.” then I added, “No use fretting I suppose, what will come will come.

“I’m sure everything will turn alright,” she said not sounding particularly convinced herself.

I smiled wistfully, “Let’s hope so.”

We sat there silently for a moment until finally I broke the silence, “Wanna help me with these bags,” I said reaching into the back of the car.

“Yeah,” she replied reaching into the back seat then we hopped out of the car and made our way inside.

Much later on that day after a great deal of emotional turmoil on my part, Megan decided that it would be a good idea for a diversion. She put a movie on and practically dragged me in front of the TV. The movie was one of Megan and mine’s favorite Science Fiction movies. The diversion worked pretty well, soon I had forgotten all about my problems.

Part way into the movie I took hold of Megan’s hand. Megan gazed at me then my hand. Smiling she gave my hand a gentle squeeze.

“You two are such nerds,” Allison said from the doorway, “I can’t believe you watch this stuff.”

“Allison,” Megan said with a sigh after pausing the movie, “You used to watch this type of stuff all the time before your twist.”

“Thank god for my twist then!” she exclaimed, “Because this show sucks.”

“Then why don’t you go somewhere else, so we can hear the movie,” I spat out.

“Fine I will,” she said and stomped off angrily.

“What was that about?” I asked Megan.

Megan shrugged her shoulders, “How should I know?” as she pressed the play button on the remote and resumed the movie. About ten minutes later, we were interrupted once again, this time it was the doorbell.

Pausing the movie again, Megan hopped off the couch and ran to the door. When she opened the door, Mrs. Belmont one of Megan’s neighbors and one of the town’s biggest gossips, stepped inside.

“So it’s true,” she said a look of disgust on her face, “You are harboring that thing,” she said emphasizing the word thing.

“Mrs. Belmont,” Megan said gritting her teeth, “I don’t really care what you think of Jim. I happen to like the company.”

Mrs. Belmont sneered, “Young lady I’d be careful who you associate with. People might get the wrong idea.”

I inwardly cringed at that comment, not necessarily because I found it insulting, which I did, but because I knew that Megan wouldn’t react well to such a statement. When she got mad, she had a tendency to do wild and impulsive things. I don’t think I was quite prepared for her reaction, although that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it.

Megan didn’t say anything immediately, she turned her back on Mrs. Belmont and then she practically flung herself at me. She kissed me passionately as if she and I were the only two people present. She pulled away leaving me wanting more.

Then she came to face, Mrs. Belmont and said, “I think that gives people the right idea don’t you?”

Mrs. Belmont was seething, “Little whore,” she spat, “Now I see it’s not from some misguided sense of charity that you and your father have taken this freak in,” she said then stomped off angrily slamming the door behind her.

Megan laughed, “That was awesome did you see the look on her face!?”

It was then that I noticed Mr. Hails standing in the doorway that lead from the adjoining room. Megan must have noticed me staring because her gaze shifted toward him. He didn’t look very happy. “Megan, that was foolish. Nothing good will come of this.”

“What was I supposed to do?” she retorted.

He shook his head, “Anything, except that!” he growled.

They went on like that for quite a while, finally Megan stormed off leaving me alone with Mr. Hails.

“I’m sorry you had to hear that,” he muttered.

I smiled a bit awkwardly, “That’s okay I know how stubborn Megan can be.” I hesitated for a moment then I added, “This is all my fault. Mrs. Belmont came here because of me.”

“No, don’t ever think that,” Mr. Hails said, “Don’t blame yourself for the prejudices of the world.”

“I know, but you, Megan and even Allison have all been tangled up in this. I don’t want your lives ruined for my sake.” I said casting my eyes to the ground.

Mr. Hails came and sat beside me, “Jim I’ve known you all your life, you’ve been friends with Megan since she was barely able to walk. You’ve been like a son to me. I could never stand idly by and let you stand alone against people that would do you harm.” he said then added, “It is only a matter of time before Megan undergoes her twist if you hadn’t gone through your twist we would have had to deal with the same problems further on down the road.”

“Thanks Mr. Hails,” I said, “It’s nice to know I have someone I can turn to.”

Mr. Hails smiled, “Don’t mention it.” he said an odd look passing across his face.

A little while later I wandered upstairs and found Megan lying on her bed. I sat down beside her and clutched my knee.

“God, you’re beautiful,” Megan said suddenly.

I smiled, I couldn’t help it I loved being told I was gorgeous. “Thanks, you’re not so bad looking yourself.” I replied.

She sat up and we shared a brief kiss. We sat there a moment staring at one another and then suddenly she spoke, “Jim, I want you to consider something.”

I smiled, “What?”

“I think you need to chose a new name, a female one.” she said.

I didn’t really know what to say in response to that. The tattered remains of my masculinity screamed at such an idea. It would be like giving in, proclaiming to the world that I was no longer a man. It was ridiculous considering the conditions of my twist, but a part of me felt that if I chose another name I would lose something of myself, something irreplaceable.

On the other hand, perhaps that part of me was already lost. Could I be masculine in a body that oozed femininity? Could I be a man if had a pair of boobs? Then my thinking became more concrete, I was whoever I made myself be regardless of what gender. Gender was such a small superficial part of who was. What really mattered was the type of person I chose to be.

“You’re right,” I said finally, “It’s silly of me to go around calling myself Jim, when the name obviously doesn’t fit me very well anymore.

She beamed, “Great! Have you thought of any names?”

I shook my head, “Megan, you know I haven’t, but I’m guessing you have.”

She smiled, “I’ve thought of a few,” she admitted a bit guiltily.

I sighed, “Well, let’s hear them then.”

Megan began listing off a few names and none of them really appealed to me they were all average or just a little strange for my tastes. I was just about to tell her to forget the whole thing, but after she listed a few more one seemed to grab at me.

“That last one, say it again,” I said.

A hint of a smile touched her lips, “Calista.”

“Calista,” I said trying it out, “Calista Rumsfeld.” I paused then said, “Calista Turow.” using the last name of my supposed father.

Megan smiled, “I think we found a match.”

I pursed my lips hesitating knowing that I chose this name I’d likely be using it the rest of my life. “Calista,” I repeated. Then finally said, “Calista it is.”

Megan seemed quite thrilled about the whole thing. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it, but knew it was probably for the better. She kissed me and said, “Calista you look even more beautiful then your new name.”

It was kind of a cheesy line, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for a pretty girl. We kissed again and then she drug me out of the bedroom to tell everyone the “great news”.

Upon hearing my new moniker Allison, mumbled something about it being “about time” and almost immediately began calling my Callie. Mr. Hails’ upon learning the news said that my new name suited me.

I had thought that Megan perhaps in er excitement had forgotten of her previoush argument with her father, but apparently she hadn’t, “Dad,” she said, “I’m sorry about before. You were right I shouldn’t have provoked Mrs. Belmont like that.”

Mr. Hails smiled, “I was wrong to get mad at you. What will happen would likely happen even without Mrs. Belmont leading the charge.” They hugged each other and everything was alright between them.

After a few minutes Megan and I went back upstairs and with short order I was setting up my Gamestation and we were playing video games and having a blast.

About an hour later Mr. Hails received the call. Someone, we were never really sure,called up and started making threats. I don’t know what exactly was said, but upon hearing the commotion Megan, Allison and I ran down the stairs to see what was going on. When we got into the kitchen we found Mr. Hails, his face had turned scarlet red and he was yelling at the person at the top of his lungs moments later he slammed the handset back onto the base station.

“Dad,” Megan said in a worried tone, “Who was that? What did they want?”

He sighed and shook his head, “I don’t know, their name didn’t show up on the caller id. They were calling because of J- Calista, they made some threats.”

Mr. Hails rubbed his forehead, “Girls,” he said looking from Allison, Megan and finally to me, “I want you to pack your bags. I have a feeling we won’t be staying in Clearville much longer.”

We went to go pack our things, most of my stuff was in the bags we had brought from my mother’s so in short order I was done and helping Megan, pack her stuff. Allison joined us a few minutes later, her bags for the most part already packed. It didn’t take much longer for us to pack the rest of Megan’s things.

“Calista,” Megan said suddenly just as we were finishing up, “I’m scared.”

It still felt weird being called that, but I thought so long as I had Megan in my life I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hugged her from behind my breasts digging into her back and my arms wrapping around her waist, “I am too.”

Allison rolled her eyes, “Can you two go five minutes without touching each other?”

“No, I don’t think so,” I replied.

Allison rolled her eyes again and stomped off.

Megan turned inside my arms, facing me she wrapped arms around my back, “Thank goodness she’s gone.”

We kissed deeply and passionately our tongues exploring each others mouths. We finally broke for air and we just held each other. It was nice, having someone to hold. I know it sounds girly, but I felt safe with Megan, she made me feel that no matter what was wrong with world, everything would be alright. Eventually we made or way to the bed, we didn’t fool around or anything. We just lay together cuddling. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep holding Megan in my arms.

The next morning I awoke to find myself intertwined with Megan. She wasn’t awake yet, so I just let her sleep all the while I watched her. I watched her chest rise and fall, the way the sun danced across her face. It was beautiful. Later Megan started to stir. She slowly opened her eyes and smiled. “Hey there,” she said with a bit of a yawn.

“Morning sleepyhead,” I said a bit of smile touching my lips.

She touched my face, “It’s hard to believe just a few days ago, you were a boy.”

“It seems like a lifetime,” I agreed, “At least if I’m stuck like this I get a really hot girlfriend out of it.”

Megan smiled mischievously and kissed me again, “I think I got the hotter girlfriend.”

“Oh yeah,” I said looking down at myself, “I think you might be right. I am one delectable little morsel.”

Megan laughed, “Come on, we ought to get up before Allison and Dad get up. Dad will freak if he finds out we slept in the same bed.”

I reluctantly agreed and we made our way downstairs. Megan seemed quite relieved when there was no one to greet us. It looked like we were the first up. We sat around for a while, just sitting close to each other and talking in whispered tones.

“Well, you two are up early.”Mr. Hails said from the stairs.

Megan smiled and squeezed my hand, “We had a good night.”

Mr. Hails gave her a strange look and looked as if he were going to say something then shook his head as if thinking better of it. “Did you happen to bring the paper in?” he said finally.

Megan shrugged her shoulders, “No, I forgot all about it.”

Without another word Mr. Hails made his way to the door,stepped out onto the doorstep and out of sight to presumably get the paper. A few minutes passed and he didn’t return. A few minutes more and Mr. Hails came back inside without the paper. His face was red, like it had been last night, and he was shaking with rage. He looked like we wanted to tear someone to pieces with his bare hands.

Megan and I exchanged glanced the Megan spoke up, “Dad what’s wrong?” concern was evident in her voice.

“Goddamned hate-mongering vandals!” he muttered.

I was taken aback I’d never once heard Mr. Hails curse. He had always been very polite and well spoken. I jumped off the couch, and Megan soon followed. We both sprang for the door.

When the door swung open my voice caught in my throat. I was unprepared for what I was seeing. I’d seen vandalism, but this was much more than the kind of vandalism I was accustomed too. When I thought of vandalism I though of teens flinging TP or graffiti. Although both were represented here this went far behind simple teenage vandalism.

There was spray paint all over the place even on the lawn with hateful phrases like “get out freak lovers”, “Die twisted freak” and a few I didn’t care to repeat. TP was strewn about all over. The mailbox and all of the lawn ornaments had been smashed to bits and both the cars had numerous dent in them, as if someone had taken a baseball bat to them. This had been an act of hate, pure and simple.

We stood outside gaping, until Mr. Hail called us back in. I couldn’t understand it I hadn’t done anything to harm anyone. Yet, all this hatred was directed towards me and the Hails simply for something I had no control over, something I could not reverse.

When we were back inside, Mr Hails closed the door behind us. “I’m putting a call into the underground. I’ve witnessed what can happen in these situations and I don’t care for any of you experience it.”

“The underground? What underground?” I said confused.

Mr. Hails paused for a moment, then spoke up, “Do you remember in your history classes if they ever mentioned the Underground railroad?”

I nodded, “Yeah, it some kind of network that supposed to have helped escaped slaves flee to freedom in the north before the Civil War.”

Mr. Hails nodded, “Yes, correct. The underground I’m referring to helps twisted who are being persecuted escape to Spiral and other safe locations. We work in much the same way as the Underground Railroad did. That’s why I came to Clearville all those years ago. My career as a lawyer helped me clear up sticky legal matters that the underground needed taken care of.”

I gasped, “It all makes sense now. It didn’t make sense that you would live here if you knew Megan would someday undergo her twist, and you’d have to leave. Now it does.”

“Actually, I never intended to start a family when I came here. I met Megan’s mother through my involvement in the underground after coming to Clearville.” he admitted.

Mr. Hails looked me in the eyes, “There’s more to tell. I’ve been holding back the truth from you for some time. I helped Harry Turow flee town almost eighteen years ago after he underwent his twist. I’ve suspected he was your father for years. I encouraged Helen, my wife, to place Megan in the same playgroup with you when you were both very young so I could watch you.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was about to speak, but Megan beat me to it, “Dad! You’ve known all these time, you didn’t tell Ji-” she paused, “You didn’t tell Calista and you used me to keep tabs on him.”

Mr. Hails rubbed his forehead, “I had no way of confirming my suspicions. You two hit it off so well that knew I’d be able to keep an eye on Calista here.”

I spoke up, “You said you helped my father escape.” Mr. Hails nodded and I continued, “Does he even know I was born?”

Mr. Hails shook his head, “No, I lost contact with him after we had him safely out of town.”

I hesitated with the next question, the one I had been seeking the answer to as long as I could remember. “Where is he?” I asked finally.

Mr. Hails pursed his lips, “My contacts in the underground tell me he’s in Spiral. He settled there a few years ago and started a family.”

I didn’t know what to think. All these years, I’d had no idea who my father had been. I’d never been able to get a straight answer out of my mother about anything concerning my father. All this time, Mr. Hails had known or at least suspected the answers I had wanted so much. He could have told me, but he didn’t.

I felt conflicted. He had been hiding this from me for my hole life. Yet he had been watching me, and trying to keep me safe for just as long. I turned to look at Megan I could see the conflict in her face, she must have been thinking similar thoughts.

I bit my lip, “You could have told me.” I said tears streaming down my face.

Mr. Hails sighed, “Maybe I should have, but I was afraid how you might react to such a revelation. Your mother had a strong hatred for our kind and I wasn’t sure you’d believe me. In telling you I risked exposing not only myself but my family. That is a risk I could never take.”

I felt suddenly very angry, “All this time. You knew and you didn’t tell me. I could have know I was twisted.” I said.

Megan started yelling at her father, I don’t think either of them noticed when I left. At the time I had no concrete plan, I just had to get away. I slipped out the back door, once outside I made my into the front yard and just kept walking. I walked without knowing where I was going and I really didn’t care.

As I walked I thought. I was not in a particularly clear state of mind and began thinking some pretty dark thoughts. I wondered if anyone really wanted me or cared about me. My friendship with Megan had been built on a lie, and I thought she might be better off if we had never met. Mr. Hails had lied to me and I didn’t feel I could trust him. The entire town had turned against me, including my mother. I stopped at a corner grabbing hold of a sign post with one of my hands then fell to my knees and wept.

So caught up in my own grief, I didn’t notice when someone came up behind me until that someone spoke, “Twisted freak.” a male voice spat. My head snapped up and I found Jeff Goldwin standing over me with a look of utter contempt on his face.

“Jeff,” I muttered, “Just leave me alone.”

Jeff’s face twisted into an angry sneer, “You stupid bitch!” he said hitting me across the face.

I fell backward my head hit hitting the curb. I stared up at him, too shocked even to speak. He moved closer to me then with a menacing glint in his eyes he brought his right foot up and kicked me in the face. He kicked me again and I fell over the curb.

Something inside me snapped. All the pent-up frustrations that had built up since I had undergone my twist exploded out of me. I felt suddenly on edge. When he brought his foot down to kick me again I grabbed hold of his foot and with more strength than I knew I had, I sent him reeling into the street behind me

I scrambled to my feet and watched as he picked himself up, “Stupid bitch,” he spat and started toward me again. When he got close enough, he swung his arm and I just reacted. Before his arm could had extended I knocked it aside and I hit him in the face with all the force I could muster.

He stumbled backwards and nearly fell backward, one of his hands coming up to cup his nose. A look of complete shock passed across his face. When his hand fell away I saw that he was bleeding. I don’t know who was more shocked him or me.

As a boy I had always been a little small, and I never could have taken on Jeff. Let alone after having transformed into a girl. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have gone down without a fight. I didn’t even have an athletic body,as a girl. I never should have been able to hit him that hard. Yet, I had. It was my twist it had to be.

Jeff, was coming at me again and I twisted out of the way. “Oh, you are in for a world of pain.” he jeered.

He made another swing at me and I blocked it. I hit him and sent him sprawling. He fell and I heard a sickening thud, as his neck hit the curb. I looked down at him, his neck looked fine. I knelt down beside him and tried to find his pulse. Admittedly I didn’t know what I was doing, but when I failed to find a pulse I panicked and I felt my heart jump into my throat. Oh god, I thought, I’ve killed him.

I panicked. I ran and kept on running.

After my confrontation with Jeff, I ran for quite a long time, until I collapsed from exhaustion. When I’d come to, I found myself in the park. It was dark by then and I didn’t remember what had happened. The events from earlier came flooding back to me, and I wept.

I finally stopped crying, and forced myself to confront my feelings on the matter and I knew what to do. My mind was set.

I couldn’t believe how well I could see, my twist must have given me the ability to see in the dark. I stood up then headed out of the park. I made my way back to Megan’s house, it wasn’t my final destination, it was just a stopover. Within moment I had reached the house and noted all the lights were off. When I got closer I noticed Mr. Hail’s and Megan’s cars were gone, they were probably out looking for me.

I snuck into the back yard, and then the back door. It was locked. Fortunately I knew were they hid a spare key so after a few moments I was able to get inside. I made my way upstairs and into the computer room that I had slept in that first night.

Quietly, I closed the door behind me and then I grabbed a piece of paper from the computer desk. I wept as I wrote, it was probably the most difficult thing I had ever done. It was a rather short note, but I told Megan how I felt for her and I wished I could stay with her, but I had to leave town and I couldn’t let her or her family come with me. I hinted that I would be going to the bus station. It was a lie, and I hated deceiving her, but I knew she would try to stop me from leaving and I couldn’t allow it.

Once done, I wiped my tears away and I went back into the hallway and slipped the note under Megan’s bedroom door. Then I went back to the computer room and I grabbed a bag of my clothes that Megan and I had retrieved from my mother’s home. Then I made sure I grabbed my money and keys. Then within moments I was back outside and headed away.

I snuck through town it was much harder going with the bag of clothes, but I needed them. Twice a car passed by. Fearing it was Mr. Hails or Megan I hid, once behind a bush the second time behind a car that was parked on the street. Finally, I reached my destination. My mothers house. I let out a sigh of relief when I noted her car was gone. I used my keys to open my trunk placing the bag of clothes inside. I slammed the trunk shut and opened up my car door and I hopped inside.

Technically the car’s title was in my mother’s name, but it was my money that had paid for it. I had not spent a single penny of my paychecks from my summer job last year to pay for it. I wondered if mom would report it stolen. I was likely already wanted for murder, so theft was the least of my worries. Although, it would make my trip a bit more complicated if the police were looking for a stolen car.

I shrugged there was nothing I could do about it in any case. I started my car, back it out of the driveway and began my trip to Spiral. My gas tank was almost full, so I didn’t need to stop for gas,. Which was a blessing I had very limited funds and I didn’t know if it was enough. It would have to be.

I drove through town, towards the town’s only interstate on-ramp. I told myself that I wouldn’t miss the place, but I knew in my heart that despite everything that had happened, Clearville would always be home. I turned down fifth avenue and the on-ramp was in sight. Within moments I was on the open road, headed towards my future.

I had been driving for some time, when realized I had no idea how to get to Spiral. I knew was headed in the right general direction, but that would only get me so far. So I took the next off-ramp and pulled into a gas station. I hopped out of my car, and was about to go inside when I looked down at myself. My blue skin really stood out, and I really didn’t want to draw that much attention.

I opened up my trunk and pulled out a few pieces of clothes. I morphed a few pieces of clothing into a light-weight hooded jacket and a pair of gloves to cover my hands. Then I pulled out an old hat that had been sitting in my trunk for some time and put it on. I pulled the hood of the jacket over my head and almost went into the store, but then I thought I might want to buy some gas.

I moved my car over to a pump and filled it up. Then once I was done, I replaced the gas cap and went inside. The place was empty save for the attendant I turned my back to him so couldn’t immediately see my face. I looked around for a few minutes and found a roadmap, and I grabbed some food and water realizing suddenly that I was very hungry.

I moved to the checkout counter. The attendant was reading a book, and he didn’t immediately see my face. When he looked up and saw my face he froze. I could tell he wasn’t sure what to think of me. He even looked a little scared.

“Relax,” I said, “Believe it or not, I’m not here to do you any harm. I just want to pay for this stuff and be on my way.”

“Y-yeah of course,” he said nervously as he grabbed my items and began to ring them up.

“I have gas on pump four,” I added.

He added my gas to the price, and I paid for everything with my cash. My purchases at the gas station had taken a sizable chunk out of my money I didn’t know how much longer it would last but I determined to make it to Spiral. I would get there by whatever means necessary. After a few minutes looking at my new map I headed back out and was soon on my way again.

It was early afternoon and I had driven through the night, and I was getting pretty drowsy. I didn’t have the money for a hotel so took an off-ramp and after a few minutes of driving I found a copse of trees a short distance off the road. I pulled up behind them then I reclined my seat and drifted off to sleep.

It was dark when I awoke. I was feeling pretty stiff from sleeping in my car, so I got out and stretched a bit. After that I ate some of the food I had gotten from the gas station then I hopped back into my car. I pulled out behind the copse of tree and decided it might be a good idea to fill up my gas tank. So I started driving down the road I had taken to get to the copse of trees and eventually found a gas station. This one unlike the last was not empty there were several cars in front and another at a pump.

I pulled in, then I donned the jacket and gloves again. This time I morphed a scrunchy out of my clothes and put my hair into a ponytail. I put my hat on, but I noted with considerable annoyance that it wasn’t very comfortable with my ponytail so I morphed a hole in the back to more easily fit my ponytail. Then I flipped the hood of my jacket over my head.

Once, I was properly attired. I got out of my car and began pumping gas. When I was done and I went inside. This time I spotted almost immediately. Everyone inside just stood there and stared at me. I grabbed some food off the shelves and a couple big bottles of water. As I was walked to the counter to ring up I was stopped by a tall athletic looking man who was probably a foot and a half taller than I was..

“Hey girly,” he sneered, “This place is for normal people, not freaks like you.”

I looked up at him, “You really don’t want to mess with me.” I said, “You might get hurt.”

He laughed, “Oh, yeah. You here that Jack I might get hurt.”

A scrawny looking guy started laughing too, “Oh yeah, I’m so scared.”

I started toward the counter again, but was again stopped by the tall buffoon, “He grabbed hold of my wrists and I dropped all my things. “Oh come one now I’m only just playing,” he said a menacing look on his face, “Why don’t you and I go out back and I can show you a good time.”

The idea was so repulsive to me that I could feel bile rising in my throat. Like it had happened with Jeff Goldwin, something inside of snapped and I felt on edge. I grappled with him and was able to free my wrists. He swiped at me, and I knocked his arm aside as easily as I had with Jeff Goldwin.

“Stupid little bitch,” he spat as he swung his fist at me.

I dodged out of the way and I hit him in the chest. He staggered back a bit, but he took the blow better than Jeff had. He did seem quite surprised by my unusual show of strength, but that didn’t stop him from making another swing at me. I hit him hard enough that time that he went down and stayed down.

Everyone in the place looked as if they wanted to bolt, even the tall guy’s friend Jack. “I warned him,” I said coolly, but the truth was I wanted to bolt myself. After what had happened with Jeff I really hadn’t wanted to fight anyone again. I couldn’t help myself I just reacted.

I held my calm facade, as I gathered up the water bottles and the food off the ground and walked over to the counter. I paid for everything using nearly all the cash I had left then walked out the gas station got into my car and drove off.

I drove all night and spent another afternoon sleeping in my car, then I stopped at a gas station this time with no incident. I used the little money I had to purchase a few gallons of gas. It didn’t come close to filling the tank, but I thought maybe it would be enough to get me to Spiral. As it turned out it wasn’t quite enough.

It was after noon the following day and Spiral was only twenty miles away when the engine in my car stalled. I was in the leftmost lane when it happened. It became very hard to steer, but I was able to maneuver the car to the side of the road before it stopped completely. I immediately knew what the problem was I had run out of gas.

I had no money, so I had two options I could hitchhike, or walk. Being pretty close to Spiral I tried hitchhiking, but after an hour it became pretty obvious no one was going to stop for me. I started walking occasionally sticking out my thumb hoping someone would stop for me. No one ever did.

I walked for about 5 hours when it started to rain. I tried morphing my clothes to give me some more protection, but my trick didn’t seem to be able to produce water-proof clothes. So within a few minutes I was thoroughly drenched. The rain continued and I made much slower progress. I was exhausted and it was a struggle to put one foot after another. After about two hours of struggling in the rain, I somehow managed to reach Spiral. It was dark by then I wasn’t really sure of the exact time, but it had to be after eight.

I had a renewed spurt of energy and I made my way into town. I stopped in at a small convenience store. I knew my father lived somewhere in town, but I had no idea where. I hoped the store would have a phone book so that I could look up his address.

The store was empty save for a boy about my age who seemed to work there. “Miss,” he said, “Are you alright?”

I must have looked a mess dripping wet as I was. I looked him in the eyes, they were the strangest bright orange. He was twisted, I realized, he was like me. I couldn’t help but smile, “I wasn’t, but I think I’ll be much better now.”

The boy gave me a weird look, and acted as if he wasn’t sure what to say. He didn’t have to say anything I spoke first, “Do you have a phone book?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think we do,” he said, “I’ll be right back.” He said disappearing behind a set of doors.

He returned a few minutes later phone book in hand. He handed it to me and I thanked him. I flipped it open and went straight to the T’s, Turow wasn’t listed.

“Dammit,” I cursed. I was so close and his name wasn’t listed in the stupid phonebook. How would I find him now?

“You wouldn’t happen to know a Harry Turow would you?” I asked the boy not really expecting him to know.

“Yeah,” the boy replied, “My little brother is friends with his kids.”

My heart skipped a beat, “Do you know were he lives?” I asked.

The boy grinned nervously, “Yeah, he lives over on Newmont Way.”

“How far is that?” I asked.

“Just a few blocks north of here,” he said then added, “I don’t know the exact address. It’s like two-forty or two-fifty something it’s the only blue house for a few blocks.”

“Thanks,” I said smiling and started for the door.

“Hey miss,” the boy called after me, “Are you sure you’re alright?”

I laughed, “Yes, I think I am.” I said then I burst out the door and started for my Father’s house.

I found Newmont Way a few blocks down just as the boy had said. I followed the street until I found a slate blue-house with the address 247 on the front. It had to be the one, there weren’t any blue houses nearby. I walked up to the doorstep and I hesitated. What would I say? Would he even be willing to hear me out?

Finally I forced myself to ring the doorbell. A woman came to the door. She looked about my mother’s age, she had long brown hair and kind green eyes that almost immediately registered concern. Was this woman my father’s wife?

“Is this the home of Harry Turow?” I asked pursing my lips.

“Yes,” she said then added, “Are you alright, dear?”

“Yes, thank god!” I said then on impulse hugged the woman.

I realized I was wet and quickly broke away. “Sorry,” I said with nervous laugh, “I didn’t mean to get you all wet.”

The woman smiled sadly, “You poor thing. Come inside and I’ll draw a nice warm bath.”

“Can I speak with Harry, first?” I asked. “It’s important.”

She frowned, “He’s not home at the moment, but I expect him home soon. Come inside and we’ll get you out of those clothes and into a nice hot bath. You can speak with him once he gets home.”

I reluctantly agreed, and allowed her to lead me into the bathroom. She ran the water, then helped me undress. I was pretty self-conscious about being naked in front of the woman, but I knew that women felt differently about this sort of thing than men did. So I let her help me.

I stepped inside the bath water, and it felt pretty good. I closed my eyes and just sat there for a moment. When I opened my eyes again the woman was gone along with my wet clothes. I lay there in the warm water until the woman returned with a set of clothes. She got a towel out for me and told me I could use anything I needed. She left again and I started to wash myself using the available soap and shampoo.

Once done I started to drain the water and got out drying myself on the towel. I got dressed, once again pulled the hair out from inside my shirt. I examined the clothes I was wearing, they fit fairly well, I could have morphed them to fit better, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that to another person’s clothes without permission so I left them as they were.

I left the bathroom, and found the woman in a kitchen. She was heating up some food in a microwave. “I though you might be hungry.” she said.

“Thank you so much.” I said.

She smiled kindly, “You don’t have anywhere to go do you?”

I shook my head, tears welling up in my eyes. She wiped the tears from my eyes “Well don’t you fret, you can stay here for the night. Then tomorrow we’ll figure everything out.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“My name is Linda by the way,” she said get up to get the food out of the microwave and placed the dish in front of me.

“I’m Calista,” I replied grabbing the fork she offered and started to eat. I don’t know exactly what the dish was, but it was some sort of potato casserole with hamburger in it. It was pretty good.

She smiled, “Well Calista, you must have come a long way.”

I had a fork full of food in my mouth, and wasn’t able to speak so I nodded my head instead. Which was just as well I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell her too much without her husband present.

I scarfed down the casserole pretty quickly and she offered me another serving. Still famished I hungrily agreed. Linda looked as if she wanted to ask me something, but she seemed to hesitated each time she opened her mouth to speak. I continued to stuff my face hoping she wouldn’t ask any more questions.

“Linda honey,” a man’s voice said in that not so far distance.

Linda left the kitchen and I could soon hear her speaking with the man. “I dropped Amanda at the her cousins and Brandon and Cory are staying at the Pearson’s house. We have the house all to ourselves.” he said.

“Harry,” I heard Linda speak, “We have a guest.”

“A guest?” he asked.

There was a moments hesitation, “A teenage girl. I think she might be a runaway. She’s been asking for you.”

A runaway, I guess that did describe me though I hadn’t thought about it until then,”Do you know what she wants?” Harry replied.

“No,” Linda replied, “She was sopping wet when she got her. I haven’t done much more than get in her a warm bath and feed her. Why don’t you go talk with her she’s in the kitchen.”

I heard footsteps and in short order a man appeared in the kitchen. He was about average height, had brown hair and green eyes. What caught me almost immediately was his strong resemblance to myself, or more accurately his resemblance to me before my twist.

“Hello,” he said then sat down across from me and smiled, “My name is Harry. What’s yours?”

My heart raced. I had wanted for so long to meet my father here he was sitting right across from me and I had no idea what to say. Suddenly I noticed his hands six-digits just like mine. It was an odd coincidence and I’m sure it was no doubt a result of his twist.

Finally I managed to speak, “Calista.” I said then continued, “Are you Harry Turow from Clearville.”

He gave me an odd look, “Yes, I am. Do I know you?”

I pursed my lips, “No,” I said, “When you were in High School you dated Kate Rumsfield.” I made it a statement of fact.

He looked back to the doorway where I noticed for the first time Linda was standing and exchanged glances with her. “What’s this about?” he asked a look of consternation on his face.

“I’m your son.” I suddenly blurted out. Then realizing my mistake I added, “I mean I’m your daughter.”

Harry’s face seemed to drain of all color, “You are Kate Rumsfield’s child.” he said.

I nodded tears streaming down my face, “Yeah.”

He let out a long sigh, “When were you born?”

Still weeping I told him my birth date. He didn’t reply for almost a minute, “It’s very possible.” he said finally.

Linda came over beside him, sat down and took his hands. “I’m sorry.” he said finally. “Had I known. I would have done something I would have been there.”

“It’s not your fault.” I said, “My mother hates the twisted,” I added, “She thought if she hid the truth of my birth from me that it would somehow keep me from becoming twisted like you.”

“So, you came here looking for your father after you went through your twist,” Linda said.

I nodded, “I didn’t have any choice. Mom wants nothing to do with me.” I told them my story. How I used to be a boy, about my trick pretty much everything except killing Jeff. I wasn’t sure how they would react to that.

When I was finished Linda was the first to speak, “You poor thing. You’ve been through so much.”

I nodded, I wasn’t really sure what else to say.

We talked for quite a while after that. We talked mostly about my life, but after a while it turned to theirs. We talked about Harry’s life after he had left Clearville. How he had involved himself with the underground and had met Linda and come to Spiral to start a family. How he had started up his own business and become a successful entrepreneur coming to own several restaurants in town.

“I think it might be a good idea to get some sleep, we can talk more in the morning.” Harry said finally.

We all agreed, then they showed me into one of the bedrooms. They told me the room belonged to my three-year old half-sister, Amanda. They said, that they’d figure out some more permanent sleeping arrangements later.

The room looked every-bit like it belonged to a three-year old girl. The paint on the wall was pink and the decor had a strong princess motif. After they left I lay down in the bed and fell asleep almost immediately.

The next morning I woke up and felt absolutely terrible. My feet were throbbing from all the walking I’d done yesterday. My stomach hurt, and I felt like I could throw up. My breasts felt larger for some reason and the were really tender.

I got out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom. The one I had bathed in the previous night. I pulled down my pants and was about to pee. I was bleeding from my Vagina. I hadn’t paid too much to the girl stuff in sexed class, but I knew this was a common symptom of a period.

I cleaned myself up a bit, and left to find Linda. She was in the kitchen cooking some breakfast, my father was sitting at the table reading the newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee. When I entered the room they both stopped what they were doing and looked at me.

I looked to Linda, then to Harry, then back to Linda. As embarrassed as I was to ask Linda for help with my period. I was even more embarrassed to speak about it in front of Harry. I hesitated then finally spoke, “Linda could you help me?”

“Sure,” she said smiling, “What is it?”

I looked to Harry and grinned nervously then looked back at Linda, “Um, could you join me in the bathroom?” I said then walked off. Leaving them both with perplexed looks on their faces.

I went back into the bathroom and waited for Linda. I didn’t have long to wait, Linda appeared within moments, “Calista what’s wrong?” she said.

“I think I’m having my first period,” I blurted out.

Linda let out a sigh of relief, “Thank goodness. I thought it was something much worse.”

She helped me clean myself up then she took the clothes I was wearing to go wash them. I quickly showered then got out. Linda returned shortly with a sanitary pad for me to wear and the freshly washed clothes I had showed up in last night.

She showed me how to wear the pad under my panties and told me were they were in case I needed another one. Then she left to let me finished getting ready by myself I combed my hair before I did anything else. Then I put on my bra. It felt a little tight so I used my trick to make it feel a little looser. I put on the pants I had been wearing before, I changed their color to black then I put on my shirt once again morphing into the purple tank top with spaghetti straps then I sort of merged my bra into my shirt.

I stepped out of the bathroom and made my way back to the kitchen where I found Linda and Harry waiting.

Harry looked up from his newspaper, “Everything alright?”

“Yeah, Fine” I muttered not feeling particularly fine.

Linda offered me some eggs and bacon, but I turned them down. I don’t know if I would be able to keep any food down, I settled for a piece of toast with a little margarine on it.

“I think it might be a good idea to get you an appointment at the Spiral Clinic.” Harry said after finishing he eggs.

“What’s the Spiral Clinic?” I asked.

Harry smiled, “It’s a specialized clinic for the twisted. Many of us have unusual medical needs that most normal doctors can’t fill. I thought due to your unique physiology it might be a good idea to have a doctor look at you.”

I sighed the idea of going to the doctor wasn’t particularly appealing, but logic told me it was the smart thing to do, so I said,”You’re probably right.”

Harry nodded, “I’ll call and see if I can make an appointment.”

Harry made a quick call into the Spiral Clinic and due to a last minute cancellation was able to get me an appointment later that day. I didn’t expect to get in so soon, but figured it was probably better to get it done with sooner rather than later.

It felt pretty weird being around my father after all this time, which was complicated by the fact that none of us knew quite what to say to one another. We all sat around looking at one another. I could tell both Linda and Harry wanted to say something, but it was as if they couldn’t figure out how to ask what ever it was on their minds. I felt more or less the same way.

Finally it was Harry that broke the silence, “I have half a mind to call and speak with Kate. I just can’t understand how she could keep this from me.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond to this, when I did reply I immediately regretted speaking, “I know the phone number.” I volunteered.

It was about the last thing I wanted him to do, but there was no way I could back out if he decided to call. If word had gotten out that is was me that had killed Jeff Goldwin, mom would be sure to tell Harry. She loved to gloat, and she would revel in telling this particular piece of information. It would, in her mind, prove that she was justified in ridding herself of me. I could barely live with myself as it was. I don’t know if I could go on if I lost my father after having just found him.

Harry let out a long sigh, “If I could speak with Kate. It would feel so much better about this hole thing.”

I nodded my head, and reluctantly agreed to give him the number. I waited nervously, sitting across from him as he dialed the number.

“Hello,” he said into the phone “Am I talking to Kate?” he said as he stood up and moved to talk in the other room. I couldn’t hear what he said, but I was sure mom wasn’t being particularly pleasant.

It wasn’t long before Harry returned. He came back into the room and sat beside me. He sat there for a moment staring at me and slowly he shook his head, “I’m sorry Calista, I should have believed you when you told me you were my daughter. I don’t care to repeat what Kate said on the phone, but it was sufficient for me to believe her when she said you were my child”

I realized then that I was crying. God, I thought, I’m such a crybaby since my twist. “I can’t fault you.” I said, “I think I would have done the same thing were I our situation reversed.”

He wiped away my tears away, and spoke “I know this has been difficult for you, I found it quite difficult after my twist, but I had my family. You’ve lost everything you ever knew, I hope you can find a new home with Linda and I. I can’t promise you that you won’t feel heartache or pain because you are different, but I can promise that so long as I am able I will always be a part of your life.

I bit my lip as fresh tears rolled down my face. I think I knew then that I had finally found a place that I could call home.

I wasn’t very surprised to learn that Harry had decided to stay home from work that day. As owner of his own businesses he was able to make his own hours. I was grateful because it allowed me to get to know him and in large part I think he had stayed home for that very reason.

It was Harry that brought up the subject of my car, “You said you left your car out on the freeway.”

I nodded, “I suppose my mother didn’t say anything about it when you spoke with her on the phone.”

“Actually she said to keep it, She was tired of that damn lawyer pestering her,” he said, “I assume she was referring to that Hails fellow.”

I nodded again. It had to be Mr Hails, but what had he said to her? “I bet it was him.” I said.

“Well why don’t you and I go retrieve your car.” Harry suggested.

I agreed and Harry retrieved a gas can and we stopped to fill it we were on our way. One the way we talked, mostly about Mr. Hails, after I described him Harry remembered meeting him when he had left Clearville, but had never learned his name. He asked me about Megan, and how long I had been friends with her. I told him all about Megan, and how I feared I would never see her again. I told him I think I would even miss Allison.

We drove almost thirty miles going the away from Spiral then after finding an off-ramp we got back on headed back toward Spiral. After another ten miles we found my car exactly where I had left it. We emptied the gas can into my car’s tank and had it running in a matter of a minutes. I got into my car and followed Harry back to Spiral.

When we arrived back at the house, there was a car parked in front of it that hadn’t been there when we had left.

“That’s Sally’s car,” Harry noted. When he caught my blank stare he added, “Linda’s sister. She was watching Amanda for the night.”

Amanda, the little girl whose room I had slept in the previous night, my half-sister. I felt a bit nervous as I stepped into the house. A little girl with blonde pig-tails and a pink princess dress hurled herself at Harry. “Daddy!” she squealed in delight.

I stood to the side watching as father and daughter interacted. “How’s my little princess?” he asked a big grin on her face.

Amanda went on a long rant detailing her night with her cousin Emily. Harry listened patiently and occasionally laughed at his daughter. I had to admit she was cute as hell.

Finally after hearing out Amanda, Harry turned to me then back to Amanda, “Princess,” he said, “I’d like you to meet someone. This is Calista. She’s your half-sister.”

Amanda looked at me wide-eyed, then back at her father “What’s a halfthithter ?”

“It means your mommy isn’t Calista’s mommy, but I’m her daddy just like I’m yours.”

Amanda seemed to understand. I bent down to kneel at her level, and she gave me a great big hug. I hugged her back.

“Kawista wanna see my room?” she said.

I smiled at her and took her hand, “Sure let’s go have a look.”

She led me up to her room. Even though I had slept her in her room the previous night I let her think this was the first time I had seen it. I didn’t really want to spoil it for her. She showed me all her princess toys and her princess castle which she seemed particularly fond of and last she showed me her tea table. She had a ring of stuffed animal sitting around it and a plastic tea set sitting in the middle.

I half expected her to invite me to sit for a imaginary cup of tea, but once she was done she bounced back out of her room and I followed suit albeit with no bouncing.

I followed her back into the living room where Linda was chatting away with a woman I presumed to be her sister, Sally. She held a little girl in her lap, the girl was fast asleep. Introductions were made, and as I had guessed the woman was indeed Linda’s sister.

Sally seemed nice, but I barely had a chance to talk to her she left less than ten minutes after I had met her. Then it was just Linda, Harry, Amanda and me. Amanda sat down next to me, holding my hand and continued an endless stream of questions about me, I answered them as best I could, but when she asked me about my ‘mommy’ it hit a little close to home and I started crying. Linda came over beside me and whispered something into Amanda’s ear. Amanda looked up to her mother then back to me, then quickly scampered off.

“Sorry,” I said, “I don’t know what came over me.”

Linda sat down beside me, “Is there anything you want to talk about?”

I laughed bitterly, “It’s this damn period.” I replied then realized Harry was still in the room. I turned to look at him, he looked a bit surprised and uncomfortable as well. I turned back to Linda, “God, I hate this. At least when I had Megan around I felt like maybe being a girl wasn’t so bad.”

Linda put her hand on my shoulder reassuringly , “Being a girl isn’t so bad. There are some advantages you may not see them now, but you’ll come to see soon.”

“I hope you’re right,” I said tears still streaming down my face.

It wasn’t much later when the twins arrived home. They came running up the stairs to greet their parents. Amanda reappeared then climbed up beside me and almost immediately fell asleep. A woman stepped through the door followed by a boy about the age of the twins. Linda sat up and went to talk to the woman. In short order, the woman and her son were gone. Then, Harry introduced the twins and I to each other.

“Brandon, Cory,” he said, “This is Calista. She’s your half-sister.”

I couldn’t yet tell the twins apart, but the one in the red shirt spoke, “Half-sister? How come we never met her?”

Harry then explained that when he had still lived in Clearville and before he’d undergone his twist, he met a girl who he had strong feelings for. That he and her had lost contact with one another after he had left Clearville. He explained how the girl had had a child that he had been unaware of. Then he told them how I had come to them last night and finding out that I was his daughter.

The twins both looked at me then back to each other. I could tell the twins didn’t know quite what to think of me. My introduction to Amanda had been much easier, but Amanda was three years old and accepted anything so long as she could understand it. I tried to talk with them each time trying out different subjects, but each time I was met with blank stares and silence. Try as I might I couldn’t win them over.

Before I knew it, it was time for me to leave for my appointment at the Spiral Clinic. Harry and I left, leaving Linda to watch over the kids. A short drive later and we had reached the clinic. After a short wait I went in with the doctor and Harry followed.

The doctor was a middle aged man who had green hair otherwise he looked completely normal, he
held out his hand for us to shake, “I’m Dr. Clark. So had our twist have we?”

I nodded, “Yeah, it came as a real surprise.”

The doctor nodded, “So I take it you weren’t aware you were twisted.” I nodded again and explained how I had come to Spiral after having run away from home.

The doctor asked me about my medical history. I told him everything I knew, though I was hardly ever sick so I didn’t have much to tell at least nothing I could remember. He asked me if I’d had a period since my twist.

“Yeah, I’m having one right now. My first actually.” I said feeling a bit embarrassed.

“Your first period?” the Dr. Clark said incredulously, “A girl your age should have had her first period years ago.”

I blushed furiously, “Well, I was a boy before my twist.”

The doctor merely nodded and continued asking questions. He asked me all kinds of questions some seemed a little personal, but I could see how he might need to know the answers. He asked me if I’d exhibited any tricks.

“Yeah,” I said, “I can can morph my clothes and change them into a different outfit.”

The doctor smiled, “I could see that being very useful.”

He took my blood pressure, heart rate, tested my reflexes, and few other things. All of which he said were excellent although he did note that my reflexes were much better than average. He did a physical examination of my ears, horns and my hands. He noted my extra digits on each hand, and muttered something about polydactyl digits. Then he asked Harry to leave and I was told to undress.

I felt a little uncomfortable undressing, but I figured he was a doctor and was accustomed to seeing people naked. So I pulled my shoes and socks off then stripped off the rest of my clothes.

Dr. Clark asked me to lay on an examination table with a top that flipped down like a tanning bed. He told me to hold perfectly still then lower the lid of bed over me. The bed hummed weirdly and emitted a eerie purple light. After about five minutes, the doctor raised the bed and told me I could get dressed then turned his attention to a computer screen.

Shortly after I was dressed. The doctor let Harry back in and he discussed with us the details of my

“Well you are one healthy young woman.” He said, “You’re completely female. You could more than likely become pregnant if you wanted to. There were a few abnormalities. First, you have a thin layer of anomalous tissue surrounding the Epimysium, a fibrous tissue that covers your muscles.”

“So I have something wrapped around my muscles and you have no idea what it is?” I replied.

The doctor nodded, “More or less. I believe it has something to do with your twist. I don’t believe its anything to worry about in any case. Have you experienced any strange physical anomalies?”

I thought for a moment, then my flashed by to my fight with Jeff Goldwin, and the fight with that guy at the gas station. “Well, I seem to have these spurts of strength.”

“What do you mean by spurts of strength?” Dr Clark asked.

I skipped over the fight with Jeff and describe the fight with the guy at the gas station and how I had
been able to beat him.

“Interesting,” the doctor muttered, “I would guess the anomalous tissue surrounding your Epimysium is more than likely the source of these spurts of strength. I would like to consult with Dr. Foster, one of our experts on tricks, before you go in to speak with her. ”

I raised my eyebrows, “I’m seeing another doctor?”

Dr. Clark nodded, “It’s normal procedure for an individual who has undergone his or her twist to see three doctors. One does a physical exam, another is a specialist on tricks, the other is a psychiatrist that helps to determine the patients mental state.”

“The second abnormality has to do with your eyes,” he said, “I’ve never seen anything quite like them, the way the color shifts like that, but judging from your scan I think it’s likely you can see in the dark.”

I thought back to the night I had fled Clearville, I had been able to see quite well in the dark. I hadn’t thought of it much since then. “Your ears seem to be pretty close to the normal human range, despite their resemblance to cat ears.” he continued, “Your hearing is likely slightly more sensitive than it was before, but only just barely.

“Oh, there is one more thing.” He added, “I think under your circumstances it would be advisable to have a paternity test done.”

“A paternity test?” I asked, “How accurate will that be with the extent of my changes?”

Dr. Clark smiled, “More accurate than you might think. When a person undergoes a twist much of their genetic structure is changed, but many of the genetic markers that we look for in a paternity test remain unchanged.”

Harry interjected then, “You know you don’t have to do this if you’re not comfortable.”

I nodded, “I know, but I want to. This will remove any doubt.”

Harry nodded, “What exactly does this entail?”

The doctor shrugged, “I swab the inside of your mouths and then the samples are sent into the lab for comparison.”

“Alright,” Harry said, “Let’s get this over with.”

The doctor walked over to a cupboard and produced two little packets. He tore the first open and produced what looked like a single tipped Q-tip and then swabbed the inside of my cheek. Then he placed the swab inside a plastic bag. Then he did the same to Harry.

We waited in the the exam room for a few minutes then the doctor returned. When the doctor returned Harry left to go back and wait in the lobby. Then the doctor asked me to follow him and I found myself in another exam room with a really hot looking blonde female doctor who looked to be in her thirties. “Hi, I’m Dr. Foster, but you can call me Janet. I hear you have a trick, and you might have another” she smiling.

I nodded, “Yeah.”

She smiled again, “Would you like to show me?”

I agreed, then I closed my eyes and cleared my mind, when I felt the familiar tingling sensation. I willed my clothes to change. My clothes shifted on my body, my shirt shifted into a white t-shirt and the built in bra shifted into a real bra then my pants shifted into a black skirt my socks stretched out to become white knee highs and my shoes shifted into a pair of black low heels.

The doctor seemed impressed, “That’s one trick I’d love to have.” then she continued, “It says here you were a boy before your twist. I think judging from your choice in clothes you’ve had some mental changes as well.”

I nodded, “Yeah, it’s weird. I feel like I don’t even know myself.”

Janet smiled and nodded in understanding, “Yeah, my personality changed quite a bit when I went through my twist.”

“So how did this trick manifest itself?” Janet asked me.

I told her how Mr. Hails had wanted me to try seeing if I had a trick and how I had discovered that I could change my clothes.

She nodded, “And how exactly do you feel when you use your trick?”

I shrugged, “I feel sort of tingly allover almost like I did when I went through my twist, but not quite as intense.” I said.

“Dr. Clark believes you may have a second trick, and that it may have something to do with some unusual tissue that surrounds your muscles. Why don’t you tell me about this second trick?” she said.

I repeated the story of my fight with the big doofus at the gas station, once again omitting my encounter with Jeff Goldwin. “I think Dr. Clark suspicions are correct.” she said after I finished my story, “I’d like to run some tests and see if we can’t find something out.”

She guided me over to an exam table she attached some sensors to my skin and ran some scans. She had me use my trick to change my clothes several times. By the time I was done I was wearing a short purple dress that was the same shade of purple as my hair, and a pair of tall black boots that went up almost to my knee. I learned later they were called wedge boots. Then she had me concentrate like I did when I used my trick, and as usual I felt the tingling. Then she had me think of of the man from the gas station. Nothing seemed to happen.

She tried a number of other things until finally she found something that seemed to elicit a response. She had me think back to the incident with the big fellow and think about how I felt when he first approached me. I had been afraid. She told me to focus on that fear and imagine as if it were happening again. Almost immediately I could tell something was different I felt on edge like something bad was going to happen and I needed to prepare for it.

“I’m reading some interesting activity,” Janet said, “How do you feel?”

I breathed deeply, “Weird and on edge.”

She walked over to a closet and pulled out some kind of dummy. Then she had me get up and start pounding on the dummy. I knocked the dummy around as if it were a rag-doll. After a few minutes of that, she had me lift the exam table. I easily lifted it then gently set it back down.

“Very interesting,” Janet said finally, “How do you feel now?”

“I still feel a bit on edge,” I said, “but it’s starting to fade.”

The doctor examined her display for a moment, then she turned back to me, “I’d say this ability to call on strength as you did, is in fact a second trick as Dr. Clark suspected, but its also a physical characteristic of your new body. Without the unusual tissue surrounding your muscles I don’t think you’d be able to call on your strength. When you use your trick you call on the quantum field it then in turn produces an electrical field inside your body that activates the tissue, and somehow acts to temporarily enhance your strength.”

Janet sighed, “The main issue here is going to be control. If you can’t control your trick you could potentially cause unintended harm to others or perhaps even yourself. I would talk to the psychiatrist first and get her opinion, but it might be a good idea for you to try yoga or perhaps even martial arts. Yoga could help you learn control over your emotions, so that you won’t unintentionally use your strength. Many martial arts have a meditative aspect to them which could help you as well.”

I winced a bit when she mentioned me causing unintended harm. Thankfully she didn’t seem to notice. I nodded to everything she said indicating agreement.

She smiled again, “Well, I think I’m done with you, for now. I would like to see you again in a couple weeks. If you want to follow me, I can show you to Dr. Manfield’s office.”

I nodded, then stood up and followed her out of the room, down a couple hallways, and to a room with a closed door. Janet knocked on it and a middle aged woman appeared at the door, they exchanged greeting and Janet introduced me to Dr Manfield.

Dr. Manfield invited me in, but before she offered me a seat she said, “I’d like to start you off with a personality test. She pulled out a seat in the corner where a computer sat atop a small desk. “If you’d please sit here and answer all the questions as truthfully as you can. There are no right or wrong answers.”

Once, I sat down and started answering the questions on the computer the doctor disappeared from the room. The test was pretty long and had all kinds of weird questions that seemed pretty silly, but I answered them all the best I could until finally I was done. I sat there a few minutes waiting for the doctor return. After about five minutes she returned, then I waited a little bit longer as she studied the results of the test.

When she was done looking at the results, she smiled from across the room at me. “I don’t have anything to compare these results to, but I’m assuming you’ve experienced some changes in personality judging from your choice of clothing.”

I nodded, “Yeah.”

Dr. Mansfield scribbled something down on a notebook then she asked me another question, “I’d like you to describe some of the changes you’ve noticed in your personality.”

I told her how I liked to look hot, and how I liked to get attention because of it. I explained how I’d been much more emotional since my twist.

She nodded, “How long has it been since your twist.”

“I had my twist last Friday,” I said.

She asked me a bunch of questions, mostly about the details of my twist, how I felt about being female, and how I was dealing with the sudden changes. I told her the details of my twist and everything that had happened to me up to coming to Spiral. As I had the other times, I left out the part about Jeff Goldwin. I was still afraid what might happen if anyone found out I had killed him. I was afraid that Dr Mansfield, as trained psychiatrist,might be able to tell I was holding something back, but she gave no indication one way or the other.

She asked about my tricks and I told her everything I knew about how they worked. She agreed with Dr. Fosters recommendation that I try out yoga or martial arts. She thought martial arts might be the better choice, due to the nature of my trick. She even recommended a martial arts studio in town where I could receive one-on-one training.

We talked for a bit longer. Mostly about my feelings of rejection, first from my mother then the people of Clearville. Then we spoke about how I had been manipulated by Mr. Hails and how it made me feel. I cried quite a bit during this final part of the appointment. When the doctor was finally done questioning me she gave me a few kind words and few words of encouragement.

She looked down at her noted for a moment, “I’d like to speak with a parent.” she said then looked down at her noted, “It says here your father is Harry Turow.” she seemed pretty surprised by that. I got the feeling she new him, but she didn’t immediately say anything to confirm or deny my suspicions.

“Is he here?”she asked.

I nodded. She excused herself for a moment then returned with Harry.

“Harry,” I’d like to talk with you a minute about your daughter.

Harry gave her an odd look, “Is there something wrong?”

Dr. Mansfield shook her head, “No. Generally when I speak with a patient who has undergone their twist I like to speak with the parent so they can better help their child adjust to their changes. Although I must say I was surprised to learn that Calista was your child.”

Harry smiled ironically, “Yeah so was I.”

Dr. Mansfield, “I am a bit concerned about Calista. She’s had a great deal of emotional trauma since undergoing her twist. She has a strong resentment towards her mother and I believe she has numerous issues that need to be worked out.”

Harry nodded and sighed, “She has been through quite a bit.”

Dr Mansfield nodded, “I think she will benefit from the stable environment that I think you and your wife can provide.”

“As long as there is still a breath in my body I will do my best to make that happen,” Harry said.

Dr. Mansfield continued, “I am also concerned about Calista’s trick.”

“Her trick?” Harry asked, “You mean shifting her clothes? Is there some element of her trick I’m not aware of?”

Dr. Mansfield sighed, “I was referring to Calista’s second trick. Her ability to call upon tremendous spurts of strength for short periods of time.”

Harry bit his lip, “Is it that serious?”

“Yes and no. I think that if Calista doesn’t learn to control her trick, it could cause trouble for her. From the way she has described this trick, she just reacts to her fear when she feels she is in danger. If she were to get a false sense of danger she could mistakenly cause harm to another individual. One of our trick specialists recommended martial arts as a possibility to help her to learn control over her emotions. I happen to agree with her recommendation.” Dr. Mansfield said.

Harry sighed, “Martial arts, huh? I suppose that might help. I’ve heard certain types of martial arts practice meditation.”

Dr. Mansfield nodded and told him the dojo in town that she had recommended to me earlier. After a few more minutes of discussion most of which was more or less a recap, Harry and I were on our way out of the clinic after having made some follow up appointments with both Dr. Foster and Dr. Mansfield.

After a quiet dinner, Harry, the family, and I sat down in the front room. It had been a pretty awkward meal. Neither Brandon or Cory were very comfortable around me, and their unease had effused itself upon the enter family. It wasn’t until Harry suggested a family game night that the twins began to relax. Both enthusiastically agreed and in short order we were all joined in playing on the family’s Gamestation.

There weren’t enough controllers so we had to take turns. When Amanda’s turn came up we let her win. The twins on the other hand were another matter, they were quite competitive and seemed to dominate the game. So when it came my turn again, I decided to show them how a real gamer played. They were pretty good for kids their age, but I’d been gaming before either had been born and was able to defeat them pretty easily.

They got even more competitive after that and the next time it became our turn together I let them win by just a little bit. Gradually they opened up to me and we started joking with one another. By the time we were done playing, I think I had managed to win them over.

After a while Harry and Linda declared that it was time for bed. Linda guided the twins to their bedroom and Harry carried Amanda to her bedroom. Linda returned first, apparently Harry was reading Amanda a bedtime story and it would be sometime before he was done.

Linda smiled apologetically, “We really don’t have a place for you tonight. I hope the couch will be alright.”

“The couch is fine. I’ve slept in worse places.” I replied thinking back to the day I had passed out in the park.

Linda grabbed me a sheet to drape over the couch and a blanket. She whispered a goodnight and left me alone with my thoughts. I thought of Jeff Goldwin. Logic told me that I had killed him in self-defense and that it had been accident, but no matter how hard I tried to convince myself I couldn’t shake the feeling that it could have been avoided. The truth was I had killed a person and no matter how I tried to justify it I was still a murderer. I wept, sobbing silently so as not to wake anyone. I hated myself for killing Jeff, for leaving Megan and for being a freak. I could hardly live with myself.

I continued weeping in self pity my thoughts eventually leading to Megan. God I missed her so much. I wanted nothing so much as to be with her. It hurt so bad being away from her, but I knew also that she was much safer without me being around. I took some solace in that fact, it was the only thing that kept me going. I lay there for some time before I finally drifted off to sleep.

I was first up the following morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t fall back asleep. I stumbled into the bathroom and relieved myself. After I washed up I decided to take a shower, but first I would need some clothes. After a trip outside to my car to grab some of my old boy clothes, I was back in the bathroom preparing for a shower.

Once, finished I morphed some of my old boy clothes into girl clothes. I started out by morphing a pair of shorts into a bra and matching pair of panties. Then I morphed a pair of jeans into a short black denim skirt and tight white sleeveless top with a neckline the exposed just a little bit of cleavage. I morphed a pair of socks into a pair of white knee highs and morphed my shoes from the previous day to match the ensemble.

Once done I headed back into the front room and switched the tv on, being careful to keep the volume down so not to wake anyone. It wasn’t long before Linda and Harry woke. We gave our good mornings then Harry left to go take a shower, and I helped Linda make breakfast. Harry returned shortly then we sat down to eat breakfast.

Harry smiled as we sat down to breakfast, “Calista, I’ve been thinking we should take you out today. I know with your trick that you don’t really need new clothes, but Linda and I were talking last night and she made me understand there are some things you might need as a girl.”

I stared back at him with a blank look. It was Linda that elaborated however, “Well I thought we could take you to the salon and get your hair cut for starters.” she said.

I reached up touching my hair, “Is it uneven?” I asked suddenly very concerned about how my hair looked.

“It just needs touched up a little,” Linda replied, “I thought you might want to stop by the mall as well.”

“Alright,” I said almost immediately regretting I had agreed to go.

Pretty soon Amanda, and the twins stumbled out of bed and ate breakfast. Soon afterward everyone save me and Harry took turns taking showers. Amanda being the last took a bath with Linda by her side. Once everything was said and done, we hung about the front room for a while then we all hopped into the families van. After dropping the twins off at a friends house, and Amanda at her cousins Linda, Harry and I were headed for the salon.

I followed Linda into the Salon with Harry taking up the rear. Once inside, Linda walked up to the counter and talked to the lady there. While Harry took a seat in a small waiting area, I was ushered onto a salon chair with Linda following closely behind.

A moderately attractive woman in her mid-twenties came up beside me, “Oh, wow,” she exclaimed, “You look unbelievable!”

I was a bit taken aback. I wasn’t exactly sure if her comment was meant as a compliment or an insult, but her next comment seemed to clarify “Very exotic. I think you look awesome.”

“Umm. Thanks?” I replied.

The woman smiled, “I’m Sally, I’ll be cutting your hair today.”

I gave her my name and she continued, “So I’m guessing this is your first haircut after your twist.”

I grimaced then nodded. “Well do you have anything in mind?” she said draping one of those cloths over me and then clipped it to me neck.

I hesitated not really sure what I really wanted. The part of me that was still male wanted her to cut it all off, but my feminine side was slowly becoming dominant and the idea of cutting my hair off seemed rather drastic. Especially since I wouldn’t look nearly as sexy. I was however getting sick of my long ass hair so I made a compromise between my two feuding selves. “This long hair is driving me nuts, I’d like it shorter.” I paused then said, “Maybe shoulder length.”

Sally looked rather distressed at this for some reason, but it was Linda who spoke first, “Calista it will take a long time to grow your hair out that long again. Are you sure you want to cut it that short?”

I nodded, “Do it.”

The hairdresser turned to Linda as if seeking her permission. They had a brief whispered conversation, Linda wandered off and then with a shrug, Sally began cutting my hair. I watched in the mirror as she began to clip long strands of hair away. Once she got my hair to the length I wanted she started trimming it to make it more even. When she was done she let me look in the mirror. It looked nice, but it just didn’t seem to fit me. It needed something.

“How do you like it?” Sally asked.

I grimaced, “It looks good, but it seems to be missing something.”

I motioned Linda over and she agree with my assessment, and suggested streaking my hair. It was something I had never even considered, but I knew the moment she suggested it that it was what I wanted. I grimaced inwardly I really didn’t want to spend much more time in the salon, but I also new that the feminine me would never be satisfied with my hair as it was. So with some trepidation I agreed.

I passed off to another lady who introduced herself as Wendy. I really didn’t spend much attention to the process, but it involved a weird looking comb that had a metal stick protruding from it, some aluminum foil, some hair clips and some colored goop. Wendy accidentally poked my ears a few times, but it didn’t hurt real bad so I didn’t say anything. When Wendy was finished, she had me look in the mirror. I couldn’t believe how different I looked. My hair was done up in small strands of my normal purple, pink and black. My hair had been styled with kind of choppy ends to give it a bit of a wild look. I looked hot as hell.

Wendy removed the cloth around me and I got out of the chair. I went with Linda to the counter and she paid. I couldn’t believe the price and felt guilty that she would spend so much on a such a simple thing as my hair. Linda however didn’t seem at all perturbed by the price. Once she paid, Harry got up from were he had been waiting and we were soon headed to the mall.

After we had arrived we strolled inside. I noticed almost immediately a huge difference in the attitude of the people towards me. While I did get a lot of looks my way, none of those who looked at me showed any hate or malice. A great many looked upon me with lust in their eyes, some of the girls gave me jealous glares, but there was no real malice in their eyes

Harry and I followed Linda through the mall, and after walking a short distance we stopped at a department store. I was beginning to feel a bit apprehensive, I was starting to get a good idea of what Linda was up to. My suspicions were confirmed when she led us straight to the makeup counter.

“Linda what are we doing here?” I asked feeling very uncomfortable.

Linda looked at me a bit apprehensively, “I thought you might like to try it out.”

A somewhat pretty middle-aged woman, with a name badge that said Candace, approached us from the other side of the counter, “Can I help you find anything?”

“I dunno, maybe,” I said with a gulp. I know it seemed silly especially since my experience at the hair salon, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of wearing cosmetics.

My apprehension was soon pushed aside when the Candace spoke. “My you are a very exotic beauty.”

She had pushed the right buttons. I blushed, “Thanks,” I said.

Linda smiled and said, “She just underwent her twist, she doesn’t know anything about cosmetics.”

Candace smiled sympathetically, “You poor thing. Come close here so I can take a look at you.”

I stepped forward a bit apprehensively and let the woman look at me. She grabbed hold of my chin and lightly traced her hands across my cheek. “You have beautiful skin. Which is fortunate, with your unusual skin color you’d be hard pressed to find foundation that would match your skin.” she said removing her hands from my face.

I had no idea what foundation was or why I would need it, but I nodded nonetheless. At that point, I was hanging on every word Candace said. Damn my twist. As my interest started to fade again, she managed to draw me back in. She recommended some eye makeup to draw attention to my “beautiful eyes”.

It didn’t take too long for her to convince me to consent to a makeover. She had only to complement my looks and I would do just about anything to enhance that beauty. She started by applying some make up around my eyes, first with a brush then with a little pencil. When she was done with that she got out of one of those metal things that curl eyelashes. Once she had used the curler on my eyes, she applied mascara with a brush.

When she was done with everything she gave me a mirror to look at myself. I had to admit, the eye makeup really accentuated my eyes. She had used some light colored purple eyeshadow above my eyes. The makeup wasn’t very dark, and had been only lightly applied. Nevertheless it had done its job and drawn attention to my eyes.

Candace smiled, “Now doesn’t that look nice?”

I nodded and smiled in return.

Candace then suggested applying some blush. I agreed, and she brushed some purplish power onto my cheeks. Finally, I allowed Candace to apply some lip stain and gloss to my lips and she was at last done. I looked myself over in the mirror again and was blown away.

I looked so feminine I couldn’t hardly believe it was me. Before, I had been beautiful, with the cosmetics and the new hairdo I looked even more so. After listening to a few beauty tips from Candace, Linda picked out some cosmetics for me and paid for them. Like at the Salon, I couldn’t believe how much they had cost. I felt guilty all over again.

As we made our way out of the store I happened to cast my gaze behind me. I thought I caught site of a familiar face. Within a word to Harry or Linda, I turned around and made my way through the crowd. I walked only a short distance, when I caught sight of a girl with familiar looking blonde tresses. I got closer then I called out her name, “Allison.”

The girl with the blond hair turned and I knew instantly that I had been right. It was Allison. Shock and recognition registered on Allison’s face. “Callie?” she said, “What are you doing here?”

I stood there a moment not really sure what to say. I had never expected to to find Allison here in Spiral, certainly not so soon after I had fled Clearville. I knew she lived here in Spiral, but it had never really occurred to me that we might one day meet again. “I couldn’t continue to endanger Megan. Spiral was the most obvious place for me to go. ” I said finally.

Allison rolled her eyes, “Whatever.”

It was the kind of reaction I had come to expect from Allison, but despite that her response still managed to make me feel guilty. “Is Megan here, in town?” I asked.

Allison shrugged, “And if she is?”

I frowned, “Allison, please. I need to know.”

Allison rolled her eyes again, “Yes she’s here in town. You didn’t really expect after what happened that Uncle John and Megan would be able to stay in that God-awful town do you?”

It really hadn’t thought about it. I had just assumed that with me gone, things would have gotten better. Apparently that wasn’t the case. “Where is she?” I asked.

Allison sighed, “Just chill out. She’s at my parents house. ”

I hesitated then. I was afraid what the answer to my next question was going to be. Would Megan welcome me back into her life, after I had left her. I had to know in no matter what the answer might be. I forced myself to speak, “How is she?”

Allison grimaced, “Oh, god she’s so annoying. The little tramp keeps going on and on about you. Even after I gave her a makeover and she went through her twist. She’s still going on about you.” She said.

“Wait,” I said, “She went through her twist?”

Allison nodded, “Yeah, she’s obsessed with fashion and make up now. She looks a little different too. Speaking of makeovers what’s the deal with the hair and makeup?”

I shook my head, “Never mind that now. Can you take me there?”

“Take you where?” a voice said from behind nearly scaring me half to death. I turned around to face the owner of the voice, it was Harry.

“Harry, this is Allison.” I said motioning toward Allison, “Allison this is my father Harry.” I added motioning back at Harry.

“The same Allison that’s a cousin to that Megan girl?” Harry asked.

I nodded, “She says Megan’s here in town.”

Harry pursed his lips, “Go to her.” he said, “Don’t let her slip away.”

“Thanks,” I said then I turned back to Allison, “Will you take me to her?”

Allison glared at me, “Oh, god you don’t give up. Fine, I’ll take you to her.” she said then without another word she turned back around and started heading the opposite way she had been walking. I followed her out the mall and to a little convertible parked near the entrance to the mall.

Allison let me in the car and we drove clear across town. On the way I tried to engage Allison in conversation, but she didn’t seem very interested. Her responses were often sarcastic snide comments, so I gave up talking to her. When we finally arrived we were in what looked to be a more wealthy part of town in the hills.

I sat there in the car seat as Allison turned off the car. What would I say? I had abandoned Megan, and I didn’t if she would forgive me. How would she react when she saw me? Would it be with arms wide open or would she reject me? I didn’t know, Megan had always been prone to impulsive acts. She was just as likely to kiss me as attack me.

“Ugh,” Allison growled, “Would you just get out of the damn car already?”

I looked to Allison and noted that she was standing beside the drivers side of the car. In my reverie I hadn’t even noticed that she had gotten out of the car. I got out of the car, and followed Allison to the door. She opened the door and I followed her inside.

“Allison honey, I didn’t expect you home this soon.” A man said who was sitting on a nearby sofa.

“Yeah well, I was expecting to run into Calista here.” Allison said with a sigh and pointed her thumb back at me.

A figure appeared in the doorway of the adjoining room. It took me a minute for the face to register, but when it did I realized it was Megan. Her twist had subtly changed her face, and it had taken me a moment to recognize her. Add to the fact that she was wearing makeup, a skirt and a pair of high heeled shoes, which was so unlike the Megan I had known so long, it was no wonder I hadn’t initially recognized her.

Megan simply stood there staring at me for a moment, then she muttered my name and walked over to face me. Then she did something that really surprised me, though it wasn’t really out of character for Megan. It was just the sort of impulsive thing that Megan would do. She balled her hand into a fist and punched me across the face. I staggered back a bit and I could feel my trick starting to surface. I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. It didn’t work that well, but I managed to not hit anything.

Megan grabbed hold of the collar of my shirt, and I feared she was going to hit me again. Instead, she kissed me. The kiss was passionate and filled with anger, but was also filled with deep desire. We broke away and then I kissed her back.

“Idiot,” Megan growled after we had broken our second kiss, “What were you thinking?”

I looked at her as shame washed over me. I had been telling myself I had left to protect Megan, but that was a lie. I had left for my own selfish reason I had left because I was afraid. “After what happened with Jeff I couldn’t stay. I was afraid.”

Megan looked at me blankly then realization seemed to dawn in her eyes, “That was you? I don’t get it why would beating up Jeff Goldwin make you want to run away?”

I stared at her confused what was she talking about? “Jeff’s dead Megan. I killed him.”

Megan shook her head, “What? No, he’s alive and annoying as ever.”

I couldn’t believe it all this time I had thought I’d killed Jeff and much to my surprise, and he was still alive. “Oh, thank god!” I exclaimed.

“You really thought you killed Jeff?” Megan asked.

I nodded a feeble expression on my face, “It’s this second trick I have.” I said. “I have a hard time controlling it.” Megan looked confused so I explained about my second trick and how it worked.

“Jeff claimed he was attacked by a gang of thugs,” Megan said, “I guess his male pride wouldn’t let him admit he got beat up by girl.”

“I guess so,
” I agreed. Then I added, “Megan I should never have left. It was stupid.”
“Yes, it was.” she said and she kissed me again.

More than a month later, I was applying makeup in front of the mirror in my newly finished bedroom. Previously it had been part of the unfinished basement, but after I had stayed a few days with my new family, it had become quickly evident I needed my own room. So a portion of the basement had emptied out then walls had been put up and then the new room was painted, carpeted and gradually furnished.

I was getting ready in preparation for my date with Megan. It was her turn to drive and she wasn’t due for another half-hour, but I wanted to be ready when she arrived. Megan had forgiven me just a few nights ago, though I still hadn’t managed to forgive myself for abandoning her. After everything that had happened, I had been feeling undeserving of Megan. When I had tried to break things off with her, Megan had told me to stop being stupid and kiss her. So, I had dedicated myself to making sure Megan would never suffer heartache on my account again.

Then there was my life with my new family. My new life with them had been wonderful, especially when it came to Amanda. I don’t know how I could ever gotten through my dark times without her bright and shiny disposition. She was constantly giving me new reasons to laugh, and I loved her to death. She was the little sister I never knew I wanted, but now that I had her I wouldn’t trade her in for all the world.

The twins and I didn’t get along so well sometimes. Sometimes they treated me as if I didn’t really belong there. Part of it was my age, and another was my gender. Despite the fact I was a boy before my twist they didn’t know how to behave around me. Despite all my attempts we were never able to really bridge the gap between us. The only time we came close to doing so was when we were gaming against each other.

Harry, was starting to become the father I had always wanted. He and I had begun to bond and I was even considering starting to call him dad. The paternity test had come back positive, and proved without a doubt that Harry was in fact my father. Harry had even seemed relieved when the results of the test had come in his favor. Had they come back negative I don’t know where I would have gone or what I would have done.

I was growing close to Linda as well. She had stepped into the role of the surrogate mother and helped through some pretty hard times. She had even helped me embrace my femininity and become more confident in myself. At first I had resisted some of her efforts, but had quickly come to realize I liked my new found feminine self. After that I had come to accept her and now welcomed any advice she had to give.

Then there was my martial arts training, I had started the week following my reunion with Megan and I really believed it was helping. I was starting to enjoy the time I spent at the dojo. I struggled about with the meditative parts of my training, but it was time well spent if it meant controlling my trick.

All in all I couldn’t complain with my new life. I looked myself over in the mirror again. It had taken me quite a lot of practice and a little help from Linda, but I had learned how to correctly apply cosmetics. I’d tried a number of different combinations, but the one I favored was very similar to the combination the lady at the makeup counter had tried on me. The main difference was that I used pink blush which closely matched the color of pink in my hair.

Once I was done I picked out a silver necklace from my jewelry box. It had an amethyst gemstone set in a silver pendant. I undid the clasp then I reattached the clasp once the the necklace was around my neck. The necklace had been the first I had bought with my own money. It had taken some doing, but I managed to convince Harry to give me a job at one of his restaurants. It came in handy for buying jewelry, cosmetics and purses since my trick didn’t seem to extend to any of the three. Of course, that didn’t account for all my spending I was still an avid gamer and I needed money for my dates with Megan.

I looked over myself again, and smiled. I looked hot as hell, and I knew Megan would agree. I started out my bedroom and began my way up the stairs. It was then that the bell rang. In all likelihood it was Megan. Eagerly, I made my way the rest of the way up the stairs and reached the door. As I had guessed it was indeed Megan.

She kissed me deeply on the lips and I thought then that maybe I could spend the rest of my life with Megan. I returned her kiss then I followed her out the door and we left on our way to what could be a very bright future.

The End

Comments, no matter the length, are very much appreciated. If you liked this story please take a minute to leave a review or even just to tell me you liked it. Criticism is welcome so long as it is constructive and I will gladly answer any personal messages or emails you want to send my way.

As my other stories this is a work of fiction and as such any resemblance to real life individuals, events or locations is purely unintentional. Only my own site, Fictionmania, Bigcloset Topshelf, & tgstorytime.com have permission to host this story and my previous works unless I state otherwise.

Incompatible: Birth of a Spellbinder


The world is not without irony, as evident by my life. I was born Thurston Olaf Steenberg and grew up hating the Spellbinders and all that they stood for. It was only by becoming what I hated most that I was able to transcend my humble beginnings and do good in the world. The following is the story of my origins. It is not the story of my birth, but of my rebirth. It the story of how I became Aryanna Morgana Le Fey.

Author’s Note: This story is something of an experiment. I wanted to write a story in first person, but I didn’t want to be confined to a single narrator. So, after some input from the good folks on the Fictionmania Message Board, I decided to write the story as if it were a journal. The story is compilation of the protagonist’s journal entries. It contains several entries from the journals of his mother who plays a large part in the story.

There is a brief part of the story that bears some resemblance to the movie ‘Die Hard’. This is intentional and was meant as a tribute to both the film and the book. For some reason I found the idea immensely amusing and decide to go with it.

I’d like to thank both Holly H. Hart and for djkauf for the wonderful job they did editing the story.

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Freydag 9. Harpa

I’ve been writing in this journal for a few months at my mother’s request and I’m finding it harder and harder to find something to write about. Of course, today is an exception since it’s Independence Day.

When I saw those great scarlet bursts of energy hurl upward and coalesce into a single great conflagration in the sky, I couldn’t help but stare upward and wonder if there was there any limit to the power of the Spellbinders. The fires in the sky then merged to form into the figure of a dancing couple who twirled around in the sky and shared a kiss before shimmering with a vast array of colors and then faded into oblivion.

The whole display was disgusting. It isn’t so much the fireworks themselves that I hated but the arrogance of those putting on the display, the Spellbinders. For centuries, they have subjugated men for the simple fact that we do not share their ability to use magic. They see men as little more than mindless grunts who are incapable of doing even the simplest tasks without supervision. There have been great strides made by the civil rights movement in the last thirty years, but it’s still the Spellbinders who dominate politics and the corporate world.

Not all Spellbinders are bad, a few have even been involved in the men’s civil rights movement, but the vast majority of the Spellbinders are power hungry manipulators who only care to line their pockets with more money and grab more power for themselves. It doesn’t help that the Spellbinders are granted long life spans far beyond that of men and women with lesser amounts of magic, allowing those in power to stay in power centuries at a time.

More burst of light hurled into the night sky and I couldn’t help but continue to stare in disgust at the display. Today is the day our nation celebrates its independence from the Nordic Empire and the formation of the Free Federalist States of Nyrland. What a farce. The only people who are truly free are women. Men, can never hope for the freedoms that most women take for granted. Still disgusted, I turned my back on the display and never looked back.

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Manadag 19. Harpa

I know it has been a while since my last entry, but considering the week I’ve had I think it’s understandable. This entry is going to cover a whole week and is probably the most significant journal entry to date. Yeah, it has been that kind of week.

It all began on last Manadag, and as usual the building was empty except for me. Of course that was to be expected since I was the night watchman. Though, I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before. Just as I always did, I started my shift by making rounds. I checked all the doors and windows on the main level, then gradually made my way up each of the five floors of the office building until I reached the top. About halfway through the top floor, I noticed that one of the offices had the light on. That wasn’t right, everyone was supposed to have signed out and left the building. Maybe one of the bosses had decided to burn the midnight oil. It happened sometimes, but building security procedures required they notify the current night watchman. Not wanting to piss anyone off by walking in on them I brought my hand up to knock on the door. Just before my knuckle was about to strike on the hardwood I heard a voice speak and I froze.

“So, this is what it’s come to,” a man’s voice said with resignation.

“You had to have known this was coming.” a woman’s voice said coldly.

The first voice sighed warily, “You’ve betrayed the cause.”

The woman grunted, “It was never my cause. It was simply a means to an end.”

“The others will know what you’ve done, Jeanne,” the man said angrily.

The woman laughed, “Will they? The only one that was ever suspicious of me was you and you won’t be alive much longer.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I stood there aghast, frozen with indecision. A life of frustration and anger coalesced in that moment. I have been oppressed and cast down by women of this world and I just couldn’t stand by while another man’s life was in jeopardy.

I slammed the door open and locked eyes with the would-be killer. “Hey bitch.” I said with all the bravado I could muster, “You’re not going to kill anyone on my watch.”

The woman scowled at me then brought her hands up and focused her will on me. Suddenly, I found it very hard to move and I struggled against the binding spell that she had laid on me. I felt a strange pressure begin to build up inside of me. Then without any apparent reason, I was suddenly able to move again. I immediately started in towards the would-be assassin. She brought up her arms and shouted something with a vicious snarl. The spell hit me right in the chest and I felt my knees strain against some unseen force. Then a strangely warm tingly feeling seemed to spread inside my chest and the pressure from the spell was suddenly gone.

“What in the name of Hel?” the woman cursed. Then she gathered up more energy and hurled a huge blast of sickly green light at me.

The spell was much more powerful than the last two and I fell to my knees against the sudden onslaught. The green light blinded me and I felt a strange sensation crawl across my skin. Darkness closed in the corners of my eyes and I felt death’s chilling touch upon my skin. Just when I thought all was lost, that strangely tingling warmth from before spread across my entire body. The warmth pushed out against my skin and struck against the nauseous green light, with a blinding flash of pure white light, the pain was gone and I could move again.

I looked about the room, the woman lay on the floor either unconscious or dead and the man stood in the corner with a look of pure terror on his face. Feeling extremely weak, I forced myself to my feet. I staggered towards the inert form of my attacker, growing weaker by the moment, and lost my balance. Darkness closed over me and I remembered muttering the phrase “Friggin’ crap,” before drifting into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

On Eirdag, I woke to a really annoying buzzing sound somewhere to my right. I opened my eyes and cast them in the direction of the sound to discover its source. The device had two rods sticking out from it, an electrical current which fluctuated in a representation of my heartbeat ran between the two rods, below the rods there was a bell housed in the device’s casing. It was a typical heart monitor.

Apparently, I was in the hospital. It seemed odd that I should awaken there of all places, but with a flash, all my memories from the previous night came back in one great torrential flood of images. I struggled in my bed and tried to get up, but I was so weak that I was unable to do so.

“Thurston, thank the Norns. You’re awake,” a voice said from the left. I turned my head and found my mother, Brigit Steenberg, standing in the doorway “How do you feel?”

My mother is an Enchantress, a moderately powerful-magic user, who looks to be in her mid-twenties, rather than her actual sixty-two years. “Like I was run down by a herd of Horsemen.” I said groaning.

Mom smiled, but in a fragile worried sort of way “It’s a miracle you’re even alive.” she said, “From the sound of it you were hit with some incredibly powerful magic.

I grunted, “That’s what I figured. The woman that attacked me. Is she…?” I asked choking on my words at the very thought that the woman might be dead.

She nodded having apparently understood, “Dead.”

I grimaced; that didn’t bode particularly well, “And the man?”

“The detective was pretty vague on the details,” she said “She mentioned that there had been a man involved, but not much else.”

I let out a sigh, “I don’t understand what happened. I don’t understand how I was able to withstand her attacks.”

“You withstood the attacks because you were drawing on a reservoir of magic within yourself,” a new voice said from the door. My eyes darted back to my left to look upon the newcomer. A middle-aged woman with dark brown hair, wearing a doctor’s lab coat with a stethoscope around her neck, stood in the doorway looking down at me. “I’m Dr. Poganski,” she said with a sour look on her face.

“Hello, doctor,” I said, “If what you say is true that would mean I’m a magic user,” I said, feeling a bit of excitement at the idea. If I did have the magic perhaps I could make something of myself. Perhaps I could disprove all the misconceptions the world had about men.

The doctor nodded almost mechanically, “Yes, that’s exactly what it means.”

Mother gasped “But that’s-”

“Impossible,” Dr. Poganski finished, her voice flat, “It is common medical knowledge. The chemical composition of a man’s body is supposed to prohibit magic and yet somehow you have seemingly done the impossible, Mr. Steenberg. Unfortunately, the magic seems to be having an adverse effect on your health.”

“What do you mean?” I asked suddenly feeling extremely worried.

“There’s no use hiding it from you,” the doctor said with clinical detachment, “Your body is treating the magic as a foreign material and is rejecting it just as it would a failed organ transplant. The magic in turn is behaving like a caged animal attacking everything within its reach.”

I bit my lip, “What you’re saying is, this is going to kill me?”

The doctor nodded, “In all likelihood, yes.”

I shook my head dejectedly, “When you said I had the magic. I thought that this would be my chance to make something of myself. To prove that I wasn’t another worthless man.” I spat out the last two words in sarcastic rage.

Mom smiled sadly and put her hand on top of mine, “Is there nothing we can do?”

The doctor shook her head, “Your son’s situation is unprecedented and is beyond my abilities as a healer.”

Mom gritted her teeth with sudden determination, “If you can’t help my son. I’ll find someone who can.” she said. Then, without warning she disappeared with a great gust of wind.

A few minutes after Mother’s sudden and dramatic disappearance, the doctor departed and I was left alone. Still very weak, I almost immediately fell asleep. I don’t think I was asleep very long when I was awakened. It wasn’t as much a sound that woke me, as a presence. I opened my eyes, and much to my surprise I found a hand perched above my chest holding a nasty looking dagger.

My first instinct was to roll to my side and grapple with the person holding the knife. I tried to do just that, but I quickly realized that I was far too weak to lift my hands, let alone fight off my attacker. A great sense of dread filled me as I realized that there was nothing I could do to fend off my would-be killer. Desperately, I racked my mind trying to think of something I could do.

Then almost without thinking about it, I reached deep inside myself and touched the wellspring of magic that resided inside me. Just as I tapped into that reservoir of power, the knife came hurtling down towards me. After a brief moment of hurried uncertainty I wrenched that power loose and the blade stopped a few centimeters shy of my chest. Clumsily, I sent the magic outward hoping to hurl the blade further away from myself. At first, I didn’t think I had succeeded, but the blade soon tumbled out of the assassins hands and clattered across the floor with several dull thumps. Without hesitation, my attacker reached inside a black jacket and procured a rather wicked looking blade from within.

A heavy weight fell upon my legs as I realized the attacker was kneeling over me atop the bed, the blade poised to strike at my heart. I brought my magic to bear against the new blade, attempted to divert it as it came crashing down towards my chest. I was only partially successful; the blade completed its arc and planted itself inside my shoulder. The use of the magic must have drained what little energy I had because it was about then that I lost consciousness.

+ - + - + - +

NOTE: The following is an excerpt from my mother’s journal. It details the events that took place after her disappearance from the hospital.

Eirdag, 6-13

Frigg preserve me for what I have done. I just hope that Thurston can forgive me. When the doctor said that there was nothing that could be done for my son, I panicked. I turned to the only person I knew that might be able to make a difference.

I don’t know if I can properly describe just how nervous I was waiting outside my ancestor’s office. The woman terrifies me. Hours seemed to fly by as I waited outside the door, but I know it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes.

Finally, the door opened and I was directed inside by her assistant. “Brigit,” Athilda Le Fey said without turning to face me, “What do you want?”

My heart skipped a beat in surprise, my ancestor had remembered my name, “Revered ancestor, I’ve come to seek your help.” I said.

Athilda sighed, “I do not have all day, child. Speak and be done with it.”

I twitched nervously, “Esteemed Lady, it’s my son. He’s awakened.” I received only silence from Athilda. It dawned on me that she probably didn’t comprehend what I was trying to say so I added, “He’s awakened magically. It’s killing him.”

For the first time, Athilda turned to look me in the eyes, “You are certain?”

I gulped and nodded, I opened my mouth to speak, but was cut short by Athilda who had moved from across the room to stand before me with her hand held out. “Take me now.”

Without another word I took my ancestor’s hand, I drew on my magic and released a great surge of wind magic.

Nearly twenty minutes later we arrived in the hospital to find a cloaked assassin perched on Thurston’s chest holding a blood soaked blade poised over his heart.

Athilda reacted so swiftly with her magic that I didn’t even realize she had acted until the would-be assassin lay sprawled on the floor. My ancestor walked over to where the assassin lay. Then with only a small grunt of effort, she knelt down beside the woman. I could feel Athilda extend her awareness around the woman’s body, and then she turned and locked eyes with me, “Dead.”

I gulped, “You killed her?”

Athilda looked up at me irritably, “Don’t be foolish, child. The assassin called upon her magic and stopped her own heart when she realized she would not be able to complete her mission.”

I think I might have lost it then, if it hadn’t been for Athilda. “Brigit,” she said calmly, “Go find someone and instruct them to contact the local constabulary.”

I nodded my head and ran out the door to do as Athilda instructed only to return once I had completed the task I had been given.

It didn’t take long for the police to arrive. When they did I was shocked by the vehemence of Athilda’s reaction. “Incompetents,” Athilda growled suddenly and whirled on a pretty red-haired detective who was nearby conferring with a colleague.

“Excuse me?” the detective said, clenching her hand into a fist so tightly that her knuckles turned white.

My ancestor narrowed her eyes, and focused hard on the other woman, “Why was this child not put under guard after the first attack?”

The detective narrowed her eyes in turn and met Athilda’s gaze “Look lady,” she said in a patronizing manner and folded her arms across her chest, “We had no reason to believe his life was in any danger.”

Athilda’s eyes burned with a fiery rage, “You dare to condescend to me? Do you have any idea who I am, child?”

The detective grimaced, “I don’t really care. Now just stand back and let us do our job.”

Athilda gritted her teeth, “As the head of House Le Fey, I declare this a matter of interest to the Seidskati and am placing this child under my protection. Begone from my presence and pray that we never meet again.”

The detective’s face paled noticeably upon hearing Athilda’s pronouncement, “Yes, Lady Le Fey.”

She turned her back to the detective and continued her examination of my son. He had a nasty stab wound in his right shoulder. Athilda placed her hand upon it, and I felt a surge of magical power as she extended her senses into the wound. I watched as the severed ends of Thurston’s muscle drew together and fused to one another as if they had never been cut. Then with another small release of power, she closed the stab wound and I watched in amazement as the tissue mended. Save for slightly pinkish color of the new skin, there was nothing to suggest that my son had ever been stabbed.

There were stories about my ancestor’s extraordinary healing talents, but I had always believed they were exaggerated. To heal a wound that quickly was nothing short of amazing. It would take a talented healer hours to close such a wound and Athilda had done it in a matter of minutes.

“Brigit,” Athilda said quietly, “Come, there is something we must discuss.”

Hesitantly, I came over beside her, “Yes? What is it?”

Athilda sighed warily and shook her head, “Your son has indeed awoken magically. It is possible to save him, but it will change him irrevocably.”

I pursed my lips, “What do you mean?”

Athilda closed her eyes warily, “A man’s body will not accept the presence of the magic. It is seen as a foreign force that must be expunged. Left unchecked, the body will destroy itself in its attempts to eradicate the magic. The only way to prevent this is to transform the body so that it will accept the magic’s presence.”

I stared up at my ancestor blankly, “Transform it? Into what?”

Athilda looked down at me and smiled sadly, “We must transform your son into woman.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I-is that even possible?”

Athilda nodded, “It is extremely difficult, but it is possible. I believe with your help I can begin the process.”

“My help? What good would I be? I’m just an Enchantress I could never hope to match your power,” I said.

Athilda shook her head, “Power does not matter in this instance. In order to transform a person in such a way, it normally requires their willing cooperation. Since, young Thurston is unconscious; we do not have the luxury of asking him.”

I gasped, “Then how are we to transform him?”

Athilda smirked, “You are Thurston’s mother; you share both a physical and emotional bond with him. Through that bond, I believe I can bring about the changes. Though I must warn you there is a strong chance that he will not survive.”

I shook my head, “If there’s even a small chance we can save him, I’m willing to try anything…”�

“Very well,” Athilda said extending her hand out to me, “Let us begin.”

I bit my lip, and hesitated only a moment before joining hands with my ancestor and prayed to the Goddesses in Asgard that Thurston would find it in his heart to forgive me.

+ - + - + - +

NOTE: The following is the continuation of my own journal entry which was written on the eighteenth day of Harpa.

On Vordag, A songbird chattering in the window was the first sound I heard as I came awake. I was rather foggy on the details, but I could remember being stabbed. With just a little more effort than normal, I sat up and looked about the room that I found myself within. The room was huge, I could probably have fit my entire apartment in it and still have room to spare. The décor, and the bedding on which I appeared to be resting, were of extremely high quality, and they bespoke of great wealth and opulence.

Once again I looked about the room, and caught a flash of myself in a beautiful antique mirror mounted on the wall. I almost didn’t take notice as my eyes quickly darted across the room, but something seemed off about my reflection. I turned my full attention upon the mirror and gasped at what I saw. I could swear I looked younger, I didn’t look a day over thirty and I could easily pass for twenty-five, but it wasn’t just the apparent youth that was different. I looked more slender than I had just a few days ago, my head was completely bald, and to top it off my face looked a bit rounder, one might even say softer.

Remembering my stab wound, I brought my hand up to my shoulder, and found nothing, not even a scar. I cast my gaze on the mirror again, and felt a deep unease at the reflection that looked back on me. I sensed something was wrong and it set me on edge. Once more I looked about the room, and realized that I was not alone. My mother lay sprawled on a small loveseat in the corner, fast asleep.

Not wishing to wake her, I silently crept out of bed and made my way to the opposite side of the room where the door was. Quietly, I turned the knob and poked my head out the door. I found myself looking down a long hallway spaced with doors. On either end of the hall there was a set of stairs leading down. I briefly considered leaving the room and exploring the hallway further, but caution quickly overrode my desire for exploration and I returned to the room and closed the door behind me. My mother stirred on the loveseat and came awake. She looked about for a moment, and then her eyes fell upon me.

“Thor,” she said using an old nickname of mine, “You should be in bed.

“I feel fine,” I said, “Where are we?”

Mother sat up and brushed her hair away from her face, “The estate of Athilda Le Fey,” she mumbled sleepily.

I couldn’t believe my ears. My mother had just told me that I had awoken in the home in one of the most powerful and well known Spellbinders in history. I know I’m a descendant of House Le Fey, but the Steenbergs were considered a very minor branch of the house and gained no prestige from their relation to the Le Feys or so I had always been told.

There was a momentary silence then I spoke, “Why am I here?”

“To save your life,” Mother said finally, “When I disappeared from the hospital, I came here seeking Athilda’s help. She brought you here to be able to better treat you.”

A Spellbinder had agreed to help me? The idea seems ludicrous. No Spellbinder would willingly help a man who had developed magical abilities. They would see him as a threat to their powers. “Why would she help me?” I replied suspiciously.

Mom shook her head wearily, “I don’t know Thor. She hasn’t told me much and I haven’t asked.”

I knew my mother was hiding something, I could see it in the way she kept biting her lip and twirling her hair with her finger. “What aren’t you telling me?” I said quietly.

My mother sighed warily, “She has found a way to keep the magic from killing you.”

I felt a sense of elation at my mother’s pronouncement, “I’ll live?”

“Yes.” My mother looked up nervously at me, “I really don’t understand the finer points myself, but in essence your body is incompatible with the magic.”

My elation quickly turned to dread as I asked the next question, “I thought you said I would live.”

Mother pursed her lips, “I did. In order for you to live, Athilda had to find a way for the magic and your body to coexist.”

I looked at my mother, I’m sure, my befuddlement was evident on my face, “Mom, what are you trying to say?”

She looked at me as tears started to form out of the corner of her eyes, “I’m sorry, Thor.” she wept, “I had to do it. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing you.”

I simply looked at my mother; I simply could not comprehend what she was trying to say. There was a brief moment of silence as my mother wept and then finally she spoke, “To save you we had to make it so your body would accept the presence of the magic, but we couldn’t do it all at once. The process had to be gradual or it might kill you.”

I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I finally came to realize just what my mother was trying to say. “You’re changing me into one of them.” I said quietly letting the words sink in. I felt dread fill the pit of my stomach. I turned my back on my mother and without another word I exited the room leaving my mother alone to weep.

At that point, I really wasn’t sure where I was going, but after wandering through the oversized house for a few moments I soon found myself exiting the building and entering into a garden area. The garden was massive and featured a wide variety of flowers, shrubs, trees and even fountains and statues. I wandered through the garden for a moment then found a stone bench in a secluded spot and sat down to think.

Just a short while after sitting down, I felt a small thump on the bench. I looked about and found a woman sitting on the bench beside me. I examined the woman in hopes of ascertaining her identity. She looked to be in her seventies. She was tall, standing at about six feet, her pale white hair fell far past her waist, and she almost seemed to radiate power. I sighed deeply, and I narrowed my eyes as I realized just who she was, “Oh Frigg. You’re her aren’t you?” I said angrily, “What do you want with me?”

Athilda Le Fey’s green eyes flashed with anger, but when she spoke she did so calmly and her voice did not betray the anger and irritation that I could sense lingered just below the surface. “I want to help you, child.” When she spoke she spoke with an odd accent, one that was probably the product of a life spanning numerous centuries and having spoken languages that hadn’t been spoken in hundreds of years.

I gritted my teeth then spat out angrily, “Bullshit! I might be another stupid man in your eyes, but I know when I’m being used.”

Instead of showing her anger as I expected, she almost seemed amused, “I understand your anger and to tell you the truth I do have my own reasons for helping you, but I do genuinely wish you well.”

I looked the Spellbinder in the eyes, “You say that you want to help, but what do you stand to gain from helping me?”

Athilda sighed, “At the present time, I do not believe it prudent to reveal my intentions. You have my word that I mean you no harm and have only the most honorable of reasons for helping you.”

I scowled, “You can excuse me if I’m somewhat skeptical concerning your intentions.” I said sarcastically. “The fact that you won’t tell me a damn thing tells me you are untrustworthy.”

Athilda narrowed her eyes and her voice had turned ice-cold, “I am afraid that you must put your trust in me for the time being. Two attempts have been made upon your life. Had I not arrived in the place of healing when I had, you would be dead.”

Damn it, she was right. Without Athilda to protect me, I didn’t stand a chance. “What do the police have to say about all this?” I asked.

Athilda sighed, “The police are not an issue. As a Seidskati of the Council of Seidkona, I have declared this a matter of interest for the Council.”

I stared at Athilda aghast. It was unusual for the Council to interfere in ‘earthly’ matters. It was unprecedented for the Council to declare an event a matter of interest. Pending review by the rest of the Seidskati, it would give Athilda the power to call off the police and investigate the matter with the backing and resources of the Council.

“Norns,” I muttered, “You can’t seriously think the Council will take an interest in a couple of death attempts against a man do you? It would be another thing if I were a woman and a member of the Council.”

Athilda’s expression shifted to one of amusement, “That will not be an issue much longer, as I’m sure you have surmised.”

I bowed my head, “So it’s true then,” I said, “I’m going to change into…” for a long moment I was unable to make myself say the words, “one of you.” I said finally.

Athilda nodded and I shook my head tiredly, “It wasn’t your choice to make,” I said angrily. “You should have let me decide.”

Athilda pursed her lips, “You are right, child,” she said, “I should have, but the attack from the assassin had left your body weak, and I was afraid you would not awake in time to seek your permission.”

I shook my head, “My whole life I’ve resented the Spellbinders,” I said quietly. “Now I find that I’m about to become one. I don’t know that I can live with that.”

Athilda pursed her lips, “A Spellbinder’s power can be used for good just as it can be for harm. It is your choice what kind of Spellbinder you will be.”

There were several moments of awkward silence before I finally spoke, “Maybe I could do some good as a Spellbinder if I live long enough,” I said. “I’ve nearly died twice already. Whoever sent that assassin to attack me isn’t likely to give up.”

Athilda stood up and looked down upon me, “As long as I am alive you will never fall victim to an assassin. I intend to bring light to the darkness and find those responsible. Now come, child. You are still very weak. You need to rest.” she said holding her hand extended toward me.

I looked up at my ancestor angrily, ready to refuse her, but realized that she was right. Reluctantly, I took her hand, stood and began to follow her back into the house

+ - + - + - +

Shortly after having returned me to the room I had awoken in, Athilda left me alone with my mother. Mother still acted pretty upset about our earlier confrontation. I didn’t want to talk about it and Mother knew better than to try to speak with me when I was this upset. We sat there in awkward silence for the better part of an hour. It took an outside disruption to finally break the silence.

The door swung open and Athilda appeared in the doorway followed by a rather attractive red-haired woman dressed in professional attire who looked to be in her late twenties. “Mr. Steenburg,” the woman said, “I’m detective Dahlstrom with the New Copenhagen police department. I’m here to speak to you regarding the recent attempts on your life.”

My eyebrows shot up in surprise, “I thought the police weren’t going to be involved.” I said giving Athilda a pointed look.

Athilda shook her head, “It appears the council wishes the police to remain involved.”

Detective Dahlstrom smiled, “Shall we get started?”

Mom and Athilda shuffled out of the room and I was left alone with the detective. I’ll just give a short recap. The detective asked for a description of the events, and anything unusual I might remember. I told her everything I could remember. I was a bit hesitant at first, but the detective revealed she already knew I could use magic. She asked me a bunch of questions regarding the suspect I answered as best I could and I provided a description.

I could sense the interview was almost over when the detective said something I hadn’t expected, “I don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, but I’d tread softly were I you. This is much more than it seems on the surface.”

I shook me head in confusion, “What do you mean?”

She sighed, “Look I probably shouldn’t even tell you this. But the body of the woman that attacked you has gone missing, as well as nearly all the evidence related to this case. Whoever those two women were, someone very powerful doesn’t want us to know their identities.”

“Shit,” I muttered, “What about the man I saved?”

The detective shook her head dejectedly, “He’s disappeared as well. I have reason to believe he was involved with a radical masculinist group known as the Sons of Odin. Does that mean anything to you?”

I shook my head, “Sorry, no.”

Detective Dahlstrom seemed suddenly very tired, “Well, Mr. Steenburg I think that just about wraps everything up. Here’s my card; please call me if you can think of anything that might be helpful.”

I promised to call should I think of anything. Then the detective departed and shortly thereafter my mother returned. It wasn’t long after the detective had left that I started feeling dizzy and was forced to lie down. Mother helped me into bed and sat down beside me. “The magic is surfacing again,” she said with a sad smile, “It won’t be long before we see more changes.”

My stomach felt as if it had been set afire, “Goddesses,” I screamed, “Eir preserve.”

Over the next several hours, intense pain spread through my entire body, so much so that if I even so much as moved a finger it sent a stab throughout my entire body. I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth again the agony, and waited for it to go away. It didn’t subside, at least not for a long while. I could literally feel my skin shift, and my bones crunch and I wanted to cry out but had I done so, it would have only aggravated my pain. So I lay there and let the searing hot agony course across my body without letting out so much as a peep and without any movement whatsoever.

My throat and face burned for quite a while. So did my chest and hips. The pain continued to sear through my body for what felt like hours, and then I felt a sudden sharp pain within my testicles and the pain faded and was finally gone.

Weakly, I turned my head and looked to my mother who gave me a look that managed to convey both sympathy and worry in the same glance. I tried to lift my legs to get out of bed, but I discovered that my legs just didn’t want to move nor did my arms for that matter. “I-I can’t move,” I said my voice coming out with a pronounced crack as if I were undergoing puberty again.

Mother smiled, that damn infuriating smile of hers that she used whenever she was worried, “Athilda said something like this might happen.”�

I grunted angrily, “She damn well didn’t tell me!”

Mother sighed warily, “I have a feeling there is much Athilda hasn’t told either of us.”

I licked my lips, “Can you get a mirror or something? I’d like to see what I look like now.”

Mom cocked her eyebrows, “I can do you one better.”

When I caught that look from my mother, I knew almost immediately what she intended, but before I could let out any sort of protests it was already too late. She lifted her hands and called upon her magical energy and sent a great gust of wind right at me. I half expect to get smacked against the wall behind me, but instead I felt myself being gently lifted from the bed. Although, Mom was an Enchantress, she was insanely powerful when it came to wind magic. Unfortunately, wind magic was notoriously difficult to control. She must have been practicing. Slowly, I drifted towards the mirror on the other side of the room. Once I was sufficiently close, Mom twisted her hands and righted me so that I hovered in the air fully erect in front of the mirror.

The first thing I noticed, were the two small breasts that were poking out from inside my shirt. They were small, but there was no denying what they were. Breasts! I had breasts!. I lingered over the sight of them for a moment, and then continued my examination. I had shrunk considerably, and guessed I now measured closer to five-nine rather than my usual six-two. It was hard to tell from the baggy pants that just barely clung to me, but I appeared to have the faintest outline of feminine hips. My shoulders had narrowed considerably, and my arms hands and wrists were much thinner.

Finally, I looked at my face, but I wasn’t really sure I could call it my face anymore. My jaw had softened considerably, my nose was much smaller and I looked even younger than I had before. Despite the changes, I still looked predominately male though just barely, my eyes had shifted from steel-blue to a very soft green; I had grown nearly eight inches worth of hair that was now dark auburn like my mother’s, rather than my usual brown.

“Shit,” I said my voice cracking as it had before, “Mom could you maybe remove my clothes, and I don’t know; turn your back or something?”

Mother raised her hands and with sent a burst of wind at me which tore the clothes off me. I looked at my now naked body in the mirror and confirmed that I had breasts and my hips were indeed somewhat feminine. I noted that my testicles were missing, but I still had a penis, though it was significantly smaller than it had been before. I had a sneaking suspicion concerning what had happened to my scrotum, but there was no way for me to confirm it without having someone else look at it.

I know it might have seemed silly to some people, but I felt funny having my mother looking at my private bits. (I was a grown man for goodness’ sake!) Nevertheless, the need to know overrode my embarrassment. “Mom, I need you to look at me and tell me something.”

Mom turned to me and I could see that faint lines of strain had begun to form around her eyes. I knew next to nothing about magic, but I did know that often times the more delicate workings of magic was often more difficult to use and created more strain upon the user than one might think. Wind magic by its very nature was wild and unpredictable. Using it to lift someone gently up and hold them in the air went against its chaotic essence and could conceivably create an incredible strain on the user. Mother closed her eyes wearily, “Let me set you down.”

Mother rotated me back onto my back and I slowly drifted back to the bed and landed softly atop it. “Impressive,” a voice said from the doorway.

It was Athilda, “Few Spellbinders are capable of such control, let alone an Enchantress. You have a remarkable talent for Wind magic.”

“Th-thank you, Revered Ancestor,” Mom said nervously.

“Well, it appears our young Thurston has undergone some more changes,” Athilda said.

“You think?” I said sarcastically. “It would have been nice to know that this would paralyze me.

Briefly, grim amusement flashed across Athilda’s face, “Worry not, your paralysis is only temporary.”

I grimaced, “Well gee, that’s such a relief.” I said sarcastically, “Mom could you please take a look between my legs and tell me what you see. I’d really like to get this over with.”

Mother sighed warily as she grabbed hold of my legs and pulled them apart. She gently pushed my limp penis out of the way and gasped, “That’s weird,” said quietly, “You have something resembling a vulva, but it’s not quite fully formed. ”

I sighed warily, “Damn, just as I suspected.” I said quietly, “Do you think you could cover me up now?”

Mother shook her head warily and lifted her hands to call upon the magic, but before she could do so Athilda stepped forward, and a gust of wind pulled me up off the bed again, swept the bedding from atop the bed then placed me gently back down before placing the bedding on top of me.

Mother looked to the ancient woman thankfully, “I thought you said that most Spellbinders don’t have much control over wind magic.”

Athilda looked at my mother with both amusement and irritation evident upon her face, “Most do not. I do.” Then the Spellbinder turned her back and left the room.

+ - + - + - +

I remained paralyzed for over three days before the next round of changes took place. It was one of the most excruciatingly unbearable three days of my life. I can’t say I fully understand the sort of despair a quadriplegic must endure after finding out they are paralyzed for life, but for those three days I came as close as I could without ever becoming a quadriplegic myself. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I would soon regain use of my limbs. Of course, that was little consolation considering that regaining use of my limbs also meant I would have to deal with having a female body.

It was very early in the morning, on Sunnudag, when I awoke and felt the pain begin to spread throughout my body again. The pain was just as excruciating as my previous transformation and I gritted my teeth in silent agony. Just as before, the pain lasted several hours and ended with an intense pain in my crotch. I lay there in bed a moment and attempted to move my arm in front of my face. Much to my relief, my arm responded to my summons, but it took a great deal more effort than it normally would have and my muscles felt oddly tight.

I wiggled my toes and then my legs and received similar results. I slid to the side of the bed and tested my feet on the ground. My legs felt a little weak, but I thought I’d be able to make it across the room. So I slid the rest of the way off the bed and nearly fell on my ass. It was only by bracing myself against the bed that I managed to stay on my feet. Stubbornly, I moved away from the bed and half-walked, half-crawled to the opposite wall. Using the wall as leverage, I hit the button on the wall to turn the light on, and then I made my way to the mirror that was across from the foot of my bed.

My age had further regressed and I now looked to be in my early twenties. I looked to be roughly five-foot-seven and was actually somewhat pretty, but a slightly squared jaw kept me from being truly beautiful and gave me a slightly masculine appearance. My dark auburn hair was now close to sixteen-inches long and granted me a wild and unkempt appearance due to its lack of styling. All in all, it was odd realizing that the girl in the mirror was me.

I moved my hands up to the collar of the pajama shirt I was wearing and unbuttoned it, a task made more difficult by my weakened state. Once done, I wiggled out of my shirt then I worked my way out of my pants. I nearly fell over a few times while I undressed, but was just barely able to maintain my balance. Once, undressed I looked at my naked body and noted the changes. My breasts were now much larger and my hips had widened considerably, but both were still on the small side. All that remained of my penis was the head which just barely poked out from the skin. I have never actually seen my vulva, but based on my mother’s description I think that it was considerably more developed than it had been before.

I stared at my reflection for a few more moments, then slowly put my pajamas back on. Once finished, I realized I really had to take a leak. I opened the door to ‘my’ room and looked down the hall. I was fairly sure one of the rooms down the hall had to be a bathroom, but I had no idea which one. Most of the time I had spent in Athilda’s estate I had either been bedridden or unconscious. While paralyzed I had been forced to either use a bedpan (with Mom’s assistance much to my annoyance), or wet the bed.

I staggered down the hall and tested several doors before I found the bathroom. Like the rest of Athilda’s estate the bathroom was huge and extravagant. I hobbled over to the toilet and with a grunt of effort flipped the lid open. I pulled my pants down and looked down at my shrunken penis, and realized that it would be next to impossible to aim. I leaned over the toilet and positioned my hips so that my tiny penis aimed straight down into the toilet then I let loose. Nothing happened. I let in a deep breath and pushed harder. A small stream of urine escaped my penis, and then stopped. Try as I might I couldn’t urinate any faster. So I stood there for nearly ten minutes and urinated in brief bursts of yellow pee.

I nearly collapsed as I staggered over to the sink to wash my hands, which spoke volumes for how exhausted I had become. I made my way from the bathroom and nearly made it back to the room before finally crumpling to the floor in front of the door.

+ - + - + - +

I woke to the sound of hushed voices. I opened my eyes and found that once again, I was lying in bed in the same room as before. “Damn,” I muttered under my breath; noticing that my voice now sounded entirely female.

Athilda was the first to speak, “Are you a fool, child?” she said angrily.

“Apparently,” I replied irritably. “How long have I been out?” I said changing the subject.

Mom grimaced, “We found you at around six this morning. It’s almost four now.”

“Damn,” I muttered again, “I wish these changes would just finish already. I hate this damn waiting.”

Athilda sighed, “You do not have long to wait, child. The final changes will soon come upon you.”

I scowled up at her, “Then why the Hel did it take so long for these latest changes?”

Athilda returned my scowl with an angry glare, “Your body was not yet ready for the changes. Had you undergone them sooner it would have been your death, child.”

“Death or breasts,” I grumbled irritably, “I don’t know which is preferable.”

Athilda’s eyes flashed with irritation, but instead of responding to my comment she merely said, “Rest, child.” Then she turned to Mother. “See that she does not leave the bed.” Without another word Athilda left the room.

“Damn it,” I grumbled, “I haven’t finished changing and she’s already using female pronouns.”

Mom didn’t say anything; she merely looked at me and started giggling.

+ - + - + - +

I think I really tested my mother’s patience the rest of the day and the following morning. I knew that I was weak, but felt that I should be allowed to at least get out of bed to use the bathroom. My mother didn’t agree. Because of my shrunken penis I was unable to use the bedpan facing upward so I had to turn around and pee straight into the cavity of the bedpan. Thankfully, I was able to convince my mother that I didn’t need assistance to use the damn thing. I wasn’t entirely pleasant to be around and I took most of my frustration and anger out on my mother. I don’t know how late it was when I finally drifted off to sleep, but I doubt it was much later than ten.

Well, I’m just about caught up. It’s now Manadag and I only went through my final changes a few hours ago. I must have been exhausted because I didn’t wake until late morning. My mother was sitting beside my bed reading a magazine. When I asked her for the time, she told me it was almost ten. She stepped outside the room for a few minutes and returned saying that breakfast was being sent up. After breakfast mom, handed me some of my belongings out of a large black bag in the corner. Among the items she gave me, I found my journal and a number of books. She explained that she had gone to my apartment to retrieve some of my belongings.

It was shortly after noon when I felt the first burst of pain sear across my body. It wasn’t long before my entire body felt as if it were on fire. As before, I close my eyes and gritted my teeth against the pain. Several hours later, the pain faded as it had before with a sharp pain in my groin.

With a sigh of relief, I opened my eyes and sat up. I felt a little weak, but the effort was much easier than it had been before. The oddly tight feeling that had accompanied every movement was gone. I slid off the side of the bed, and noted for the first time that mother was absent from the room. I walked over to mirror and was stunned by the girl I saw in the mirror. She was nothing short of breathtaking.

When I say breathtaking, I don’t mean the girl in the mirror was hot or sexy. I mean I’m beautiful in a way that gowabeyond sex appeal. The image in the mirror was what I imagine what the Light Elves must look like. My jaw dropped, and I simply stood there transfixed by my own reflection. My face had lost all its hard edges and was now a soft oval shape. My hair had grown another eight inches or so and was now roughly two-feet long. I was even shorter than before, though only by a few inches or so. I looked to be in my late teens and had the kind of figure that most women would kill for. I brought my hand up to touch my cheek, my skin felt so smooth and soft against my fingertips. Of course, the skin on my now long and delicate fingers was just as soft.

When I was finally able to peel my eyes away from my reflection; I slowly stripped out of my clothes and looked upon my completely female body. My breasts had grown quite a lot since my last set of changes and they seemed massive, but as I looked at my reflection I realized they were not nearly as huge as they felt, and they complemented my hourglass figure perfectly. There was no trace of my penis and my vulva now looked complete and fully formed.

“Thor?” a voice said from the doorway.

I swirled around to gaze upon my mother and Athilda. “By Freya,” Mother said with a gasp, “You’re beautiful.”

I didn’t immediately reply. I looked to Athilda and was caught off guard by her reaction. The ancient woman simply stared at me aghast, almost as if she had seen a ghost. Mom must have seen something in my eyes because she turned back to look upon our ancestor. We all stood there staring at one another, until Athilda finally broke the silence.

“A ghost made flesh,” she whispered and move to stand before me, “As if she had not been dead these last four-hundred years.”

I looked up at the ancient woman and spoke, “Who?”

Athilda eyes hardened and all trace of shock disappeared from her face, “Worry not upon it, child.” she said angrily, and turned to leave.

Before she made it very far, I grabbed hold of one her wrists and spoke, “Athilda.” I said with gritted teeth, “Who?”

My ancestor broke my hold on her wrist then whirled on me and brought her hands up almost as if she intended to attack. Shocked by her sudden movement, I took a few steps back, stumbled and fell on my ass. I brought my hands up to protect my face and waited for Athilda’s attack. It never came. I realized suddenly my hands were shaking. Slowly, I lowered them and folded them across my chest in an attempt to stay their trembling.

I looked up to Athilda and noted that much of the anger that had marked Athilda’s face had faded, “My daughter. You resemble my daughter,” she said quietly then turned her back, and left the room.

+ - + - + - +

Eirdag 20. Harpa

Compared to the events of the last week, today was relatively calm. Though that’s not to say it was uneventful. Mom and I had been left alone to fend for ourselves after my confrontation with Athilda. My body is still very foreign and I can’t even move or sit without being reminded of my new proportions. The clothes I am wearing, a thin white blouse that does little to conceal my breasts and a pair of slacks, are ill-fitting and uncomfortable, hough I’m not sure I could have been comfortable even I were wearing clothes that fit. I guess I can take comfort from the fact that I am finally through with the changes. Around noon, I was alone in the garden when I heard a scuffling sound and found Athilda standing nearby.

“Thurston,” she said closing the distance between us and came to sit on the bench beside me, “There are some matters upon which we need to speak.”

I folded my arms across my chest, “Gosh, you really think so?” I said sarcastically.

Irritation flashed across her face, but was soon replaced by a rather stoic expression, “The Seidskati has issued a summons concerning my declaration of interest. We shall meet a week hence.”

I shook my head, “What does that got to do with me?”

Athilda’s eyes flashed with irritation, “Everything, child. Twice, you have nearly died by the hands of an assassin. The knife that the second assassin used had runes etched upon the blade and hilt. Only a Spellbinder of great power could have placed those runes upon it.”

I grimaced, “So, you think both incidences are linked?”

Athilda spoke coolly, “In all likelihood.”

“Shit,” I muttered.

Athilda grimaced, “Such language does not befit a future member of the council.”

I grunted angrily, “What makes you think I want to become a member of the council? I didn’t ask for any of this.”

“It is not a choice for you to make, child.” Athilda raged, “It is too dangerous for a Spellbinder to be unlearned in the Ways of the Seidh. If you do not learn how to use your abilities you could inadvertently cause great harm to others or even level whole cities.”

“What if I refuse?” I glared back at her.

Athilda sighed warily, “Refusal is not unprecedented, but it has never ended favorably for the initiate. We have important matters to discuss, child. You waste our time debating that which need not be debated.”

I shook my head stubbornly, “Like what?”

Athilda’s irritation flashed across her face, “Assuming that you do not refuse initiation, and find yourself brought before the council against your will, you need to groom and dress yourself in preparation to appear before the Seidskati.”

I looked at Athilda flatly, “In other words you want me to get a haircut and some clothes.” I said with a sigh, “I won’t lie to you, this hair is driving me nuts, and it might be nice to have some clothing that actually fits.”

Athilda smiled, it was the first time I had ever seen her do so, “Very well,” she spoke, “It is much too dangerous for you to leave the estates. I shall have the necessary laborers brought to you.” Then once more turned her back and walked away.

“Damn,” I said to no one in particular. I still can’t escape the feeling that I had sold my soul for a haircut and a couple of sets of clothes.

+ - + - + - +

Much later, I scowled up at the woman as she finished up my haircut. Athilda had steadfastly refused to let me get my hair cut any shorter than its current length. The hairstylist had of course sided with Athilda and I was stuck with the damned long hair. My hair is now only a few inches shorter than it had been, and that’s due mostly to its previously jagged ends. The hairstylist finished up and produced a mirror for me to look at my reflection.

I reluctantly have to admit my hair looks infinitely better with the styling. Very little hair has been trimmed from my face, but with the use of various hair products my wild hair had been tamed and made to look wavy with a styling wand augmented by the hair stylist’s innate magical abilities. To finish it off my hair was parted to either side of my face out of the way of my eyes. The new hairstyle suits my face perfectly and it serves to further enhance my already beautiful features.

Athilda paid the hairstylist an extortionate price then ushered her out the door and it was on to the seamstress. I stripped out of my clothes and was completely naked since I didn’t have any undergarments. The seamstress took my measurements, even going so far as to measure my feet. Then she too was paid a large sum then ushered out of the room and presumably out of the house.

Once everything was completed I dressed myself and attempted once again to get answers from my ancestor. “Athilda,” I said quietly, “Assuming I go before the Seidskati. Am I to tell them that I used to be a man?”

The elderly woman looked upon me with an appraising look, “Of course, child. It would be foolish to endeavor to deceive the council. There are those who could detect your lie with no more effort than it takes to breathe.”

“So what? I tell them I was a man and they’ll welcome me with open arms?” I replied.

Athilda shook her head, “Nay, child. They will debate and argue as they do in all things then they will vote upon it. ”

I swallowed hard, “And if they vote against me?”

“I know not,” Athilda replied, “Such a matter has never been presented before the Seidskati.”

“Well, that’s reassuring,” I muttered sarcastically.

Athilda looked down at me, amusement evident upon her face, “Worry not, child. No harm shall come to you so long as there is a breath left in my body.”

I opened my mouth to say some sarcastic remark, but realized that Athilda was being sincere, “Thanks,” I said quietly, “That really is reassuring.”

There was a moment of awkward silence. Then much to my annoyance, Athilda turned her back and walked away.

“Wait, Athilda!” I called after her, but my ancestor didn’t so much as glance back at me. “Damn,” I muttered, “That woman has got to be the most infuriating person I have ever met.”

+ - + - + - +

Today, I met Athilda’s assistant and I’m still having a hard time getting her out of my thoughts. She first made her presence known with a light tap on the door. I knew almost immediate that it was not Athilda or my mother. Neither would bother knocking. A small voice inside of me warned that the person on the other side of the door might wish to harm me, but common sense overrode my concerns. I was in the home of one of the most powerful Spellbinders in the world, it was doubtful that anyone could intrude upon Athilda’s domain. “Come in,” I said finally.

An extremely attractive blonde woman, a few inches taller than me stepped inside the room. She smiled hesitantly and held a bag out to me. “Hi,” she said cautiously, “Athilda said to bring these up here. I guess they’re for you.”

I took the bag and opened it, inside there were several brassieres and panties. “Um… thanks,” I said blushing a bit.

The woman smiled sweetly, “I’m Penelope, by the way. I’m Athilda’s assistant.”

I was a bit hesitant to reveal my true identity to this person. So I racked my brain as I tried to think of a female name for myself. Ari-” I started to say then stopped myself thinking better of it, “Aryanna” I said finally, “I guess Athilda’s told you all about me.”

Penelope sighed, “Not really, she doesn’t really tell me much of anything. Mostly I just file things and take messages.”

I grimaced, “That I can understand. My ancestor isn’t the most talkative of people.”

Penelope smiled, “Oh, so you’re a descendant. You know you look kind of familiar…” she trailed off with a thoughtful expression on her face. “By the Norns!” she said suddenly, “The painting!”

I bit my lip, “What painting?”

Instead of answering me she grabbed hold of my hand and dragged me out of the room, through a hallway, down a flight of stairs and did not halt despite my many protests. Finally we stopped in another long hallway lined with row after row of portraits. “See,” Penelope said, indicating a portrait near the very end of the hall.

I drew in a breath as I looked upon the face in the picture. The girl in the portrait could have been my twin. There was only one major difference that was readily apparent, the woman in the portrait had black hair whereas my new female body had auburn hair.

“No wonder Athilda was so taken aback when she first saw me,” I muttered. “Do you know what her name was?” I asked Penelope.

Athilda’s assistance shook her head, “No, all the other painting have nameplates. This one doesn’t.”

“She was Athilda’s daughter.” I said quietly, “Something happened between them that Athilda doesn’t want anyone to know about.”

“She looks sad,” Penelope said quietly.

“Yes,” I replied thoughtfully, “Yes, she does.”

We eventually made our way back to ‘my’ room. I wanted to try on my new undergarments, but when I asked Penelope to step out of the room so I could have some privacy. She started giggling and told me I didn’t have anything she “hadn’t seen before.” Penelope began unbuttoning my blouse despite my protestations and within a few moments she had me completely naked.

Penelope bit her lip and stared at my chest, “Oh,” she said, “I think I know why you were so shy about undressing in front of me.”

I looked down at my chest and realized just what she meant, “Oh, Norns,” I said, “I’m sorry. It’s just that the last time I was undressed by a woman. We…” I said trailing off, “well, I’m sure you know what I mean.”

Penelope smiled mischievously, “It’s okay, the last time I undressed a woman we had sex too.”

My jaw dropped and Penelope started to laugh, “You’re too cute.” she said. “I’m sure Athilda’s wondering where I am by now. I’ll leave you to dress alone.”

“I hope to see you again soon.” she said then she drew close to me and kissed me on the lips. I was so taken aback that I simply stood there staring after her naked as the day I was born.

+ - + - + - +

Vordag 21. Harpa

Today, a full dozen sets of clothes arrived inside four bags. The first contained various undergarments and sleep wear; the second contained various sets of shoes and a pair of slippers; the remaining two contained various skirts dresses and assorted outfits. Apparently, the seamstress had a shoemaker on staff, which probably explained why she had measured my feet. All of the clothes were of an extremely feminine variety, which was too be expected since pants and many of the type of clothes favored by men were out of style for women. Groaning inwardly I selected a skirt, a matching blouse, a pair of shoes and the appropriate undergarments and made my way to the bathroom to take a shower.

I had been avoiding the shower since I had completed my transformation two days prior, but I was starting to smell rather ripe and I didn’t think I could bear waiting much longer. With only a moment’s hesitation I removed my clothes and slipped into the shower. I adjusted the slider for the heat control then pressed the switch and warm water came pouring down from the shower head set into the ceiling.

For a brief moment I was able to forget about my worries as the soothing warm water poured down over my body, but the water splashing against my breasts felt very odd and proved to be too strong a reminder of just how foreign my body now was. With a sigh, I reached up and grabbed a bottle of body wash that was hanging from a hook on the ceiling and began to soap up my chest. Eager to get out of the shower, I hurriedly soaped up the rest of my body and was almost finished when I reached my vulva.

I pursed my lips, and looked down. I was about to squirt more soap into my hands, but curiosity got the better of me. Setting the bottle aside, I began to feel around my vulva with my hands. It felt rather sensitive, and I felt a slight tingling of pleasure as my finger passed across its surface. My thoughts turned to Penelope and the kiss we had shared and I could feel my nipples harden. She was beautiful and I hadn’t been able to get her out of my head since we’d met, the day before. I continued to massage my vulva, and my finger traced over my orifice and finally I put my finger inside and felt tingles of orgasmic pleasure run up my spine.

I gasped and experimentally stuck my finger inside my vagina again. This time the sensation was much more pleasurable and my thoughts of Penelope became much more provocative, and I imagined myself making love to her, first as a man then as a woman. I started cumming and I continued to masturbate in the shower for what seemed liked hours.

“Thor,” a voice said from the other side of the shower curtain, “Are you alright? You’ve been in here a while.”

All thoughts of Penelope flew out of my head like a great gush of wind as I replied to my mother, “Yeah, Mom. I’m fine.”

The shower curtain flew open and my mother looked down to my private area and gasped. I quickly extricated my finger from inside my vulva and grunted, “Mom, I’m a grown ma-,” I said then caught myself, “woman.” I said testing out the sound of the word, “Is it too much to ask for a little privacy when I take a shower?”

“Thor, you’ve been in the shower for over an hour. I thought something might be wrong.” she said, “I didn’t expect to find you playing with yourself,” she said a bit of smile touching her lips.

“Mom!” I protested.

“It’s alright dear,” she said, “We all do it.”

I shuddered and threw the curtain closed again, “Too much information.” I grumbled.

Mom laughed. Goddesses my mother could be so evil, “I’ll be outside. When you’re out of the shower, I think you and I need to have a talk.”

“Mom,” I grumbled, “Dad and I had the sex talk a long time ago.”

Mom started giggling again, “I hadn’t intended to talk about sex. We need to talk about your hygiene, your new body has a few more…” she paused as if to think, then said, “requirements than your old one.”

“Just great,” I mumbled sarcastically, “Give me a few minutes.”

I soaped between my legs again, and then I washed my hair which took forever since there was so damn much of it. Once I completed rinsing out my hair, I shut the shower off and grabbed a fresh towel in the stack beside the shower. I dried myself off, then wrapped the towel over my chest, and opened the door to find my mother waiting outside.

“Let’s talk,” I said motioning for my mother to come inside.

I won’t recount the details, but it was probably one of the strangest conversations I’d ever had with my mother. My mind was still having trouble accepting my female body, and the conversation with mother was oddly disturbing to my tattered male ego. When we finished our discussion (which included a demonstration on proper hair care) Mother was gracious enough to dry my hair using wind magic, a smattering of fire magic and strangely enough earth magic. Since, I’m stuck with this damnable long hair; it might be good for me to learn that particular trick.

Mother and I parted ways and I was finally able to dress myself. The bra came first (which was a lot more difficult to put on that I would have thought), then the panties, next I slipped on the plain black skirt and finally I pulled on the white blouse. The clothes are the first I have worn in over a week that actually fit. They also happen to be a constant reminder of my new femininity. Especially the skirt, which feels almost as if I’m not wearing anything at all.

Of course, that proved to be the least of my worries. Athilda has taken it upon herself to tutor me in the ways of woman, or more specifically the ways of a woman of the council. I spent all day learning how to behave before the council and what sort of things to say or not to say. Athilda behaved as if I had already agreed to appear before the council. I didn’t do anything to contradict her, but I had yet to come to a decision on the subject. I thought it better to keep my options open. If Athilda knew I was still undecided she might take action to ensure my compliance.

Penelope appeared halfway into my ‘lesson’ to ask Athilda some inane question concerning business matters. Initially, Penelope didn’t seem to notice me, but our eyes met and she winked at me. She finished up her discussion with Athilda. “Aryanna,” she said smiling, “It’s nice to see you again.”

I briefly cast my gaze toward my ancestor to gauge her reaction. Athilda’s eyebrows rose ever so slightly, but she gave no other indication that she found Penelope’s comment surprising. I turned back to Penelope and smiled nervously, “Nice to see you as well,” I managed, “Thank you for your help.”

There was a mischievous twinkle in Penelope’s eyes as she spoke, “Oh, believe me it was my pleasure.”

The encounter with Penelope was over almost as soon as it had began, we soon exchange polite goodbyes and I soon found myself under Athilda’s inquiring gaze, “What?” I asked as if nothing were amiss.

“Aryanna?” my ancestor asked.

I folded my arms across my chest defensively, “I wasn’t sure she could be trusted,” I muttered, “So I gave her a fake name.”

Athilda gave me another one of those appraising looks and smiled, “A wise choice, child. Penelope is an able assistant, but there is much I have not made her privy to.”

Neither one of us said much more concerning the matter and I thought the matter forgotten as I continued my lesson with Athilda. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As we finished up the lesson, Athilda mentioned that we would continue the next day. Then we parted ways and I was left to my own devices.

I met the maid today, which wouldn’t otherwise be very noteworthy. I mean all these super-rich Spellbinder’s have maids. It was the fact that the maid called me ‘Lady Aryanna’ that set the event firmly in my mind. Initially, I thought it had been Penelope that had told the maid about me, but it proved to be Athilda who had done so. Apparently she told the maid that I would be staying indefinitely and that I would require her services.

I suppose I should have expected this from Athilda. Damn, that woman pisses me off. To top things off, Mom has started calling me Aryanna as well. Damn it, can’t I hold on to at least a small part of my masculinity?

+ - + - + - +

Laurdag 24. Harpa

My journal is missing. I’ve resorting to writing everything in a spiral notebook until I can find it. The maid was in here earlier I wonder if she saw it. I’ll ask her the next time I see her.

Oh, Goddesses! I can’t get Penelope out my head. She’s absolutely amazing. Before she started work for Athilda she came and visited me. We kissed and I could hardly keep my hands off her. I’ve never been so strongly attracted to anyone in my life.

I’ve had a hard time concentrating all day. My lessons with Athilda went horribly. She looked as if she wanted to strangle me. She finally gave up trying to teach me for the day.

Damn, I’m so horny. I wonder if something is wrong with me. This can’t be normal. I’ve been playing with myself almost all day. I can’t believe how good it feels to masturbate as a woman.

+ - + - + - +

Vordag 28. Harpa

Holy shit, I’m lucky to be alive.

Yesterday, Mother and I left Athilda’s estates to appear before the Seidskati. (I still can’t believe I caved in to Athilda) Athilda claimed that she would meet us there and I really didn’t think much on it. We rode in one of those old wind cars I’ve only ever heard about and never seen. It requires that the driver channel wind magic in order to power the vehicle. I heard that some wind mages back in the day managed to make small fortunes by busing people around in the things. Mother drove and her formidable skills with wind magic proved to be more than adequate to the task.

About ten minutes after we left, everything went wrong. The car came to a sudden screeching halt. “Was that you?” I said turning to look my mother in the eyes.

Mother shook her head, “No, it’s like we slammed into a brick wall.”

“Damn it,” I swore,”� I have a bad feeling about this.”

Mother cursed, “Norns preserve us.”

I tried to open the door, but it wouldn’t so much as budge. The roof of the car peeled back and the most terrifying creature I had ever seen appeared in the opening. It was vaguely man-shaped, but that was where the resemblance ended. Its skin was pitch-black, it had razor-sharp teeth that protruded about an inch from its mouth, its eyes glowed-red with malice and did I mention the smell? I have never smelled anything so foul in my entire life. Image the stench of rotten meat and magnify that by about a hundred and you might come close.

The creature lunged for me but it stopped midair then suddenly went flying backwards out of the car and into a nearby building, collapsing a wall in the process. I turned to look at Mother, “Thanks.”

Mom shook her head, “That wasn’t me.” she muttered.

“No,” a nearby voice said. “It was me.”

My heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I heard the voice. Fortunately, it turned out to be Athilda who seemed to materialize in the seat beside me a moment later. I learned later that she had been there the whole time.

With a flicker of her hands all the doors in the car suddenly swung open. “Hurry,” she said, “We haven’t much time. More will soon be upon us.”

“What the Hel was that thing?” I asked as we scrambled out of the car.

Athilda shook her head, “A Dokká¡lfur,” she said, “Speak later.”

I nodded and started running. Mother and Athilda were close on my tail. We ran for nearly two city blocks, before the dark elves caught up to us from behind.

“Brigit,” Athilda called, “Get Aryanna away now.”

“I can’t,” mother called back; “Something is preventing me from casting a travel spell.”

Athilda gritted her teeth, “Then run, child.”

“No way,” I said cutting in, “We’ll stand and fight beside you.”

“Run, child,” Athilda commanded, “You are not ready to repel such an onslaught.”

Mother and I still hesitated.

“Go,” Athilda commanded and turned to face the horde of beastly dark elves.

As much as I hated to admit it Athilda was right. Running went against all my instincts, but to butcher an old phrase common sense proved to be the better part of valor. If I stayed I’d prove to be a distraction to Athilda. Yes, I had tremendous power, but I’d yet to consciously control that power. Each time I’ve used my power, it had been done out of mindless desperation. I might be able to defend myself, but I doubt I could do so without harming either my mother or Athilda.

As I ran, I looked back and watched in amazement as Athilda waved her hand and dozens of Dokká¡lfur, collapsed to the ground dead. Hundreds came at her and were repelled by her Spirit-shield, and hundreds died as she unleashed earth, fire, wind and water magic against her attackers.

I was so mesmerized by Athilda’s display of power that I almost didn’t notice when a group of dark elves appeared right in front of me. I caught myself before I tumbled into them, but it was pretty close. The nearest dark elf smiled menacingly with a mouth of crooked and jagged teeth, and advanced upon me. My magic must have sensed that I was in danger because I could feel it beginning to surface. “Crap,” I muttered, “Mom, get down now!”

Mother leapt to the ground just as a torrent of raw magical energy came gushing out of every pore in my body and collided with the creatures of darkness before me. I watched in shocked awe as the magic took on a mind of its own. It soon overwhelmed the dark elves and tore them apart leaving nothing behind as it the creatures had never been there. The magic overwhelmed each and every one of them, until there was only one left. Somehow the final Dokká¡lfur managed to avoid the same fate as its companions. My magic died down, and I fell to my knees in a near exhausted state.

The final elf let out the most horrid screeching howl I had ever heard and charged straight at me. I tried to bring my magic to bear, but nothing happened. When the creature was within a few feet of me, a white clad figure appeared out of nowhere and intercepted it.

Darkness closed in my senses and I collapsed into an exhausted heap before falling into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

I came awake with a start fully expecting to find a horde of Dark Vattir hunched over me ready to tear my throat out. What I found was a stark contrast to what I had feared. I lay atop a padded bench in what appeared to be a rather large foyer. I cast my eyes to either side and took stock of my situation. Mom lay sprawled unconscious on a bench similar to my own and I initially believed the room to be empty save for my mother and myself. After my eyes swept the room one more time, I noted the presence of four women, two on each end of the foyer, standing at a guard position.

Warily, I stood and walked towards my mother’s bench. Quietly, I sat down beside her, and gently shook her shoulder. Mom came awake with a start and I nearly fell off the bench so surprised was I by her reaction. “Hel,” mother muttered, “Aryanna don’t do that.” I grimaced at her use of the female name.

“What happened?” I asked, “Where are we?”

Mother yawned loudly, “We’re in the dingha. As for what happened it might be better if you tell me what you remember.”

I briefly told mom what I remembered and from that she was able to fill me in.

“Your rescuer was a Lejosá¡lfur,” mother said quietly, “After he killed that single dark elf, another Light Elf appeared, this one a woman. She joined forces with Athilda and together they obliterated the remaining Dark Elves.”

“Light Elves and Dark Elves,” I muttered, “This has gotten a lot bigger than I think even Athilda expected.”

Mom sighed, “Goddess, no one has even seen a Dokká¡lfur in hundreds of years and we get attacked by a whole horde of them. What do you think it means?”

I shook my head, “I don’t know, but I think it all has to do with that whatever I stumbled upon that night my magic awakened.” I sighed then looked about suddenly aware of the absence of my ancestor, “Where is Athilda?”

“She speaks before the council,” mother said.

“Without me?” I asked a touch of anger entering into my voice.

Mother shook her head and rolled her eyes, “Relax, Athilda can’t have you accepted as an initiate without you actually being there.”

I sighed and was about to speak when a door on the far end of the foyer swung open and a woman who looked to be in her early forties appeared. She looked right at me, scowled, and then started walking toward us. “Are you the Scion of house Le Fey who has come seeking admittance into the Order of the Seidkona?” she asked, glaring down at me.

I stood and looked her right in the eyes, smiled with false cheer and replied, “Why yes, Spellbinder, I am.”

She looked from me then back to my mother, scowled again and said, “Come this way. You stay, Enchantress.”

Mother glared at the woman but stayed put as I followed her to the other side of the foyer and through the door which she had exited. I found myself within a large circular room with Athilda standing in the center looking up. A raised platform circled the entire room and seated around the platform were about twenty robed women. “The Seidskati,” I muttered feeling suddenly very uncomfortable as the door swung shut behind me. I briefly looked back and noted two figures standing near the doorway.

Athilda’s eye suddenly met my own and I walked across the room to stand beside her. I looked up at all the women and was startled by the relative youth of some of the Seidskati members. A full dozen of the women looked to be middle-aged, one woman looked like she could have been in her late thirties or early forties; the rest looked to be roughly Athilda’s age and perhaps a bit younger. Of course, they were all Spellbinders, so they had to be centuries old.

“Young one,”� an elderly woman said, “Do you seek admittance into the Council of the Seidkona?”

I look defiantly up at the woman, “If you’re asking if I want to be a Spellbinder then my answer is yes.”

“The circumstances of your awakening are most… unusual. Your induction must be discussed.” she said, frowning down at me.

“Why?” I retorted back angrily, “Is it because I was born a man?”

The woman frowned down at me, “Silence child. I have no patience for such irrelevance.”

I glared back at the woman, but didn’t reply. “Are you a fool?” Athilda whispered furiously.

I said nothing, merely glared at my ancestor angrily.

“Such defiance,” a woman said lifting the hood from her face. Norns, it was Agnes Bernauer, “Save for her hair she is the spitting image of your daughter, Athilda. Truly, Lilith would be proud to call this one her descendant.”

Another Spellbinder stood and removed her hood. Holy Goddesses it was Elizabeth Bathory, “I don’t know what you stand to gain by bringing this thing before us, Athilda, but I find no reason to accept this abomination into our ranks.”

“Don’t be a fool, Elizabeth,” Athilda retorted, “To deny Aryanna admittance would be to deny our own history. One of those who helped found this order was born a man.”

Elizabeth narrowed her eyes, “Lies, Athilda. Are you so desperate to force this creature upon us that you need to rewrite our history in order to do so?”

“Fool, you are barely more than half a millennium old and you dare question me? I was a child when the order was established. I have lived to see it grow from a few dozen to hundreds of thousands.” Athilda said angrily.

Ol’ Lizzy was seething with anger, “Who then? Sister Le Fey. Which of the founders was born a man?”

Athilda smiled sardonically, “My mother of course. Morgana Le Fey.”

The entire room fell silent. Morgana Le Fey was probably the most well-known Spellbinders of all time. She had defeated some of history’s most notorious villains including Ambrosius Aurelianus and Myrddin Wyllt. To claim that Morgana had been born a man was sure to give rise to heated debate and it did. The entire room erupted into chaos as nearly everyone save for me and Athilda started yelling at once.

One of the figures standing by the door joined Athilda and me in the center of the room. I gasped as she drew close. I had barely even noticed her when I had first entered the room. To tell the truth, I have no idea how I could have so casually walked by her without taking more notice. She was absolutely the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on. She wasn’t human, of course. She was one of the Light Elves who had come to our rescue earlier that same day. When I first saw myself in the mirror after my transformation, I had imagined that I looked like a Light Elf. There was no comparison, my beauty paled in comparison to hers.

She smiled then cast her eyes above at the bickering Spellbinders and she looked upon me and her eyes displayed a sadness that made me want to weep. “Peace,” she spoke softly. Her voice was barely more than a whisper, but somehow it permeated the entire room. Everyone fell silent and all eyes turned to focus upon the Elven Lady.

“Friends,” she said, “Athilda Le Fey speaks sooth. I was witness to the rebirth of Morgana Le Fey.”

For a moment, the Lejosá¡lfur’s proclamation was met only with silence. Elizabeth was the first to speak, “High Lady,” she said angrily, “This matter does not concern the Alfur.”

The Elven Lady smiled sadly, but when she spoke she sounded angry, “Fool. Seek not to contend with me. Thou art but a child in thy understanding of the Seidh. It was the Lejosá¡lfur that granted thy forebears the power of the Seidh and should we see fit we would take thy power away. Choose thy words wisely, Seidkona.”

Lizzy glared angrily, but remained silent. Agnes Bernauer smiled triumphantly and spoke, “Sisters, I call for a vote upon the matter.”

The whole process was long and drawn out, due mostly to the excessive pomp and protocol that the Seidskati seem to love, but when all was said and done, seventeen Spellbinders plus Athilda voted in favor of my admittance as an initiate. Only Elizabeth and two others voted against me. One of the women looked oddly familiar, but I couldn’t quite place her.

As the Council disbanded and I found myself surrounded by several congratulatory senior Spellbinders. I thanked them politely then looked about to find the Elven Lady who seemed to have vanished. I spotted her as she was about to leave, and excused myself to chase after the Lejosá¡lfur.

I caught up to her, just in time. “Lady,” I called after her.

The Elven woman turned to face me and smiled, “Well met, Scion of House Le Fey.”

I felt my nipples harden as I locked gazed with the Fae Lady. Goddesses she was beautiful. I felt a brief urge to tear her clothes off and have sex with her there and then, but I forced such thoughts out of my mind, “High Lady, I wanted to thank you.”

Irritation passed across the Elf’s face and she laughed, “Thank the Matriarch of thy House. It was to her that I owed my debt.” and once more she turned to leave.

“Wait,” I said.

“What seekest thou, mortal?” she asked.

I don’t know why it was so important, but for some reason I felt I needed to know. If only I had kept my damn mouth shut, “What’s your name?”

She smiled, “To what ends wouldst thou be willing to go for such knowledge, mortal?”

I shrugged, “I guess I would owe you a favor.” Okay that was stupid I admit it. What can I say? I’m used to dealing with mortal women. To be fair I’ve used it as a pick up line in the past with a small measure of success.

The Elven Lady was almost giddy with glee, “Very well, mortal. I accept thy terms. My name is Hervor.”

My jaw dropped and I watched in stunned disbelief as the Queen of the Elves walked away followed by an Elven man dressed in white.

“That was ill-advised,” Athilda said seemingly from out of nowhere. “A debt owed to the Fae is not something to be taken lightly.”

I shook my head, “It’s just a favor.”

Athilda smiled sadly, “A favor that will come back to haunt you.”

+ - + - + - +

I kid you not, for the next couple of hours, Athilda simply stood and talked. Of course, it didn’t help that just about every Spellbinder present just had to talk with her and me by extension. I really don’t care to repeat any of the conversations, mostly because absolutely none of it appealed to me. I was like an outsider who had been given membership in an exclusive club. I didn’t have anything in common with any of these people. Fortunately, most of the people seemed content to jabber away with Athilda and leave me alone after a brief exchange.

Most but not all. The one exception happened to be a woman by the name of Janice Claymore. She seemed friendly enough, but I really had no idea what to say to her. Mostly I just answered questions about my life and tried not to sound too stupid. She didn’t go outright and say it, but I got the feeling her intentions had more to do with forming an alliance with House Le Fey than any real interest in me. I mostly just played stupid and did my best not to give her any definite answers.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity Athilda stated it was time to leave. I gladly followed her out of the circular room and found my mother waiting impatiently in the lobby.

“What took so long?” she asked warily.

“Athilda had to stay and chat,” I said more than a little irritated.

Athilda sighed warily and gave me a irritated look in return, “I had to keep up appearance, child. Tradition is very important.”

I sighed warily, “Oh boy, I’m so looking forward to future meetings.”

Mother smiled, “So that means they’ve admitted you.”

I sighed warily, “Yeah, whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen.” I grimaced then added, “Let’s just get out of here.”

We exited from the doors opposite the Council Room and almost immediately found ourselves bombarded with a sight far more horrible than the Dokká¡lfur from before. Reporters, almost immediately converged on us and started asking all kinds of questions. Although, Athilda seemed to be their main focus, a few reporters did seem interested in what Mother and I had to say. Fortunately, Athilda acted swiftly. She took both of our hands and called upon wind magic to whisk us back to her estates.

And that was more or less my day. I was so tired when we got back that I just collapsed in bed. I didn’t even spend any time masturbating, which is saying something considering how horny I’ve been lately.

+ - + - + - +

Freydag 29. Harpa

My face has been all over the news since it became known out that I had been accepted as an initiate before the Seidskati. Especially considering the special circumstances behind my acceptance. It’s very unusual for such a matter to come before the Seidskati. Usually it was only required that three Spellbinders vote on my admittance.

Oh, and guess what? Apparently, there’s a difference between an initiate and an apprentice. Although an initiate has been accepted into the Council they have yet to be accepted by a mistress. An apprentice is an initiate who has been accepted by a mistress. No big worry on that front. I know a mistress who happens to be looking for an apprentice. I bet you’ll never guess who. Yep, it’s Athilda. Surprised? No? Me neither. I still don’t trust the woman. She has to have some ulterior motive for helping me.

Apparently, it’s customary for Spellbinder accepting a new apprentice to host a big to-do, called a Naming Ceremony. In which, Athilda will name me as her apprentice and grant me the use of the Le Fey name. Why can’t these people do anything small? Athilda is having a special gown made for me for the occasion and both Mother and Penelope seem to think it’s going to be wonderful. I just can’t wait until I’m a full blown Spellbinder and I can get out from under Athilda’s wing. Maybe then I might be able to do some good with my powers and the influence that the Le Fey name will likely grant me.

Of course the people on the news were making all sorts of speculation on the subject. Some seemed to think that another descendant of House Le Fey would take me on as an apprentice. Some even speculated that Athilda herself would take me on as an apprentice. The most startling thing was the lies they were telling about my female identity. Apparently, I’m the illegitimate daughter of Thurston Steenberg. Yeah, you read that right I’m my own daughter. ‘Arianna’s’ mother is one Alicia Meyer.

I have to give whoever came up with my ‘life’ story credit. I actually did date Alicia Meyer for a little while back when I was in High School and it is entirely possible she could have had my child. Her family moved away after we’d been dating for a few months and I never saw her again. The news cast went on to say that Alicia died giving birth and that her parents put ‘me’ up for adoption. The rest was some gibberish about my years spent languishing in an orphanage and some crap about Athilda hunting me down when my magic started to surface.

And of course there was no mention whatsoever of the attack from the Dokká¡lfur. I guess Athilda was keeping that under wraps just as she was keeping my true identity secret. Angrily, I flicked the ancient teleprojector off, then went to find my ancestor.

I found her in her office. “The lies have to stop,” I said stomping into the room.

Athilda sighed warily, “Aryanna.”

“Don’t call me that!” I spat, “That’s not my name!”

“Thurston,” she said calmly, “To what are you referring?”

I shook my head and grimaced, “Don’t pretend like you don’t know. It has been all over the news. All about the tragic life of Aryanna Meyer.”

Athilda sighed, “What would you have me do, child? It is not as if I have a choice.”

“By all the names of Freya why not?” I said, “I won’t have you suppress the truth. The Spellbinders have been doing that for too long.”

“It was the Seidskati’s decision. I was overruled in this matter,” Athilda said quietly.

I shook my head, “Athilda their story isn’t going to hold up under any scrutiny. Once someone figures out that I don’t have a daughter the whole thing will fall apart at the seams.”

Athilda sighed, “The story will stand up to the scrutiny.”

“What kind of dream land are you living in that makes you think that people won’t see through that fairy tale?” I said seething with anger.

Athilda looked me in the eyes and said quite simply, “Worry not over the details. This is not the first time the Council has had to fabricate an identity.”

“Fuck, you people have some nerve.” I spat and walked off.

+ - + - + - +

On a much more mundane note. I’ve figured out why I’ve been so sexually aroused as of late. My period started today. Weird, that’s a phrase I never thought I’d ever have to say… er write. I’m by no means an expert on the subject, but apparently I’ve been suffering from PMS the last little while. According to Mom, PMS can start up to eleven days before my period and will last until I start menstruating. Mother mentioned I might have been easily aroused and I sort of put two and two together. She listed a bunch of other symptoms and now that I think about it I do remember having some of them. Mom says I’ve been moody, but I don’t see it. I can’t believe women go through this shit every month. Whatever, I guess I’ll have to learn to live with it.

A small side note. My journal is still missing. Where in the name of Hel could it be?

+ - + - + - +

Laurdag 1. Skerpla

Oh, Goddesses I can’t believe it. The whole world knows I was born a man. Before I get ahead of myself let me explain what happened.

Penelope had paid me a visit when the door suddenly flew open. “Thurston,” Mom said from the doorway using my real name for the first time in days. “You’ll never believe what’s on the news.”

Penelope and I exchanged glances then followed mother through the house and into the large where Athilda kept the teleprojector. “For those of you just joining us. A rather odd bit of news has surfaced concerning the recently initiated Spellbinder by the name of Aryanna of House Le Fey.” The ghostly image of a female reporter said over the teleprojector.

I felt a cold shiver creep up my spine. This couldn’t be good. “According to a source close to the Billionaire Spellbinder Athilda Le Fey, the young woman, known by Athilda’s household staff as Lady Aryanna, was in fact born Thurston Steenberg, a man who went missing earlier this month.”

“Shit,” I muttered, “How the hell did they find out?” After the words left my mouth I realized Penelope was in the room and quickly turned to gauge her reaction.

She simply stared at me a look of surprise on her face. I wanted to say something to her, but the reporter continued and my focus once more returned to the teleprojector. “…from a diary that she claims was written by Thurston himself.”

“Frigg,” I swore, “That’s what happened to my journal.”

“I think Athilda needs to see this.” mother said suddenly.

“Fine,” I grumbled still feeling angry with my ancestor.

“Is it true?” Penelope said after Mother left.

I bit my lips and looked her in the eyes, “Yeah, it’s true.”

Penelope smiled a bit awkwardly, “This certainly does explain some things.”

“I wanted to tell you, but…” I started to say but was cut short by Penelope.

“Don’t.” She said quietly, “We barely know each other. I would have done the same were our situations reversed.”

“Goddesses,” I muttered, “Where have you been all my life?” I said then I kissed her passionately on the lips. We briefly broke for air then Penelope returned my kiss. Had Athilda and my mother not chosen that moment to appear I’m not sure I could have kept myself from tearing Penelope’s clothes off. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing they appeared when they did.

“Holy Hel; If I didn’t know better I’d swear you were pair of hormonal teenagers,” mother said as she entered the room.

“It’s the only time we’ve ever been caught kissing,” I said defensively.

Mother laughed, “Oh, please. You two are about as subtle as a train wreck.”

“As much as I’ve enjoyed this conversation,” Athilda said dryly, “There are more important matters that need to be discussed.”

I folded my arms across my chest, “What exactly is there to discuss? You and your Council will likely find a way to suppress the truth anyway.”

Athilda’s eyes gleamed with what I could have sworn was a small flash of mischief, “The Seidskati would most likely attempt to do so, but I cannot be responsible for the actions of an initiate who has yet to be accepted by a mistress.”

I looked up at Athilda shocked that my ancestor would ever make such a statement, “So what I just march on out the gates and tell the first person I see that the news stories are true?”

Athilda shook her head, “I couldn’t stop you should you choose to do so. There are a number of reporters waiting outside the gates. It would be most unfortunate if you were to speak with one of them,” she said with an exaggerated sigh then walked off.

Mother was strongly opposed to it, but I eventually decided that I would rather have the world know the truth than live a lie. Penelope would only say that she would support me no matter what I chose to do. So, I made my way outside started toward the outside gate. As I approached the gate, the reporters on the other side started talking all at once in a horrendous mish-mash of indistinguishable gibberish. When I finally got close enough I spoke, “I’m here to address the rumors concerning my identity.”

The reporters were silent for a moment then they all started talking again. I waited several moments for silence then continued, “The allegations that I am Thurston Olaf Steenberg are all true.”

The reporters went into a frenzy after my pronouncement. They asked all sorts of questions, but I ignored every one of them. When their questions died down again; I continued detailing how I had transformed covering only the transformation itself and how it was initiated and not the events surrounding them. When I finished I thanked the reporters for their time and turned to leave. They shouted after me, but I ignored them and made my way back into the house.

+ - + - + - +

Manadag 3. Skerpla

My period is finally over! I feel as if storm clouds have parted above my head. Things are looking up. Of course, that could be because of what me and Penelope and I did today. I won’t go into the details, but damn sex as a woman is so much better than as a man. Penelope is a wildcat in the sack. I admit I was a bit clumsy at first, but after she showed me the ropes I think I did pretty well.

On a more depressing note there’s been a media frenzy over my ‘bizarre behavior’ at the gates of Athilda’s estates the other day. Opinion varies, but the one thing just about everyone seems to agree on is that I wasn’t born a man as I claimed. Most of the news stations claim I’m either mentally unstable or simply lying. The Seidskati has yet to speak on the subject, but I highly doubt they’ll confirm my pronouncement. At least I know I was telling the truth.

+ - + - + - +

NOTE: Due to reasons that will soon become very obvious I have very little recollection of the following events. For this reason I have included another entry from my mother’s journal to help give the reader a greater grasp of the events.

Freydag 8-7

Goddesses, they have my child. I feel so helpless lying here doing nothing. I need to be doing something. It’s painful to even think about it.

It all started at the Naming Ceremony which took place earlier today in a large public meeting hall that was a short way from Athilda’s estates. Aryanna was wearing the most beautiful white gown that made her look like a Princess out of some Fairy Tale. Athilda and Aryanna greeted guests while Penelope and I were relegated to sit at a table and wait.

Finally, after sitting around for nearly an hour, Athilda walked into the center of the room followed closely by Aryanna. “Thurston Olaf Steenburg,” my ancestor said with a faint smile. There were hushed murmurs throughout the room. Athilda placed her hand upon my son’s cheek and smiled warmly, “Descendant, four generations removed, great-grandchild of my beloved daughter Lilith,” There were more murmurs throughout the crowd. I think Aryanna’s jaw must have fallen to the floor. Of course, mine couldn’t be far off. I had no idea Athilda was my great-grandmother. I had always believed my relation to her was much more distant.

“Child, you have sought admittance into the Council and have been found worthy of the Seidkona. You show great promise. Thus have I chosen to take you on as my apprentice.” she said taking hold of a large strand of my daughter’s hair and holding it in front of her face. Athilda smiled, then a bright flash seemed to encompass Aryanna’s face. I couldn’t really tell from this far away, but I knew that the strand would have turned a metallic gray.

“By this mark the world shall know you as my apprentice.” she said. “On this occasion I believe it fitting to also bestow upon you a new name. After careful deliberation, I have chosen to so name you Aryanna Morgana Le Fey. Aryanna a name of your own choosing and Morgana after the founder of our House.” More muttering rippled throughout the crowd.

Athilda was silent for only a moment before she turned to the crowd and spoke, “I would like to thank you all for coming. As thanks, House Le Fey would like to invite you to stay for refreshments and live entertainment.” Aryanna followed Athilda out from the center of the room to be seated at the table with Penelope and me.

“Well played, Athilda,” a woman’s voice said nearby. “With just a few short words you’ve managed to legitimize Aryanna’s claims about being born a woman and named her a potential heir.”

Athilda smiled, but I could tell she was irritated, “Olivia,” she said, “For only having been recently accepted into the Seidskati, you seem to understand the game better than most.”

Olivia smiled, “My mother was a great tutor.”

“Most unfortunate, the death of your mother,” Athilda replied, “You stood to gain much from her passing.”

Olivia smile briefly transformed into an angry scowl, “It seems others benefited more from my mother’s passing than I,” she said, then stalked off.

“Norns,” Aryanna said suddenly, “Why didn’t I see it before?”

“Aryanna,” I said, “Who is that woman?”

“She’s a member of the Seidskati. She was one of three women who voted against me.” She shook her head then turned to our ancestor, “Athilda,” she said, “Would you say Olivia bears a strong resemblance to her mother?”

“Yes, child,” Athilda said, “Why do you ask?”

Aryanna grimaced, “The woman that attacked me at the office building bears a striking resemblance to Olivia over there.”

“Brigit,” Athilda said suddenly turning to face me, “Get Aryanna and Penelope out of here now! I doubt Olivia would have risked revealing herself if she didn’t have something planned.”

“What about you?” I said feeling a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Athilda shook her head, “I will provide a distraction should it prove necessary.”

The whole thing made me feel uneasy, but I did as Athilda said and led Penelope and Aryanna out of the assembly hall. Had I listened to that sense of unease I think things would have turned out much better. At the very least a life could have been saved. When we stood to leave, I felt as if everyone’s eyes were on us. I tried to act casual as I led Thor and Penelope towards the doors, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that everyone knew what we intended, which was absolutely ridiculous. Olivia and perhaps a few cohorts were the only ones we needed to worry about.

Once we were outside the Hall I called upon my magic and started laying the weave for a travel spell, but the spell quickly unraveled and I realized that a spell-net had been laid to prevent anyone from escaping by magical means. I cursed under my breath and stopped for a moment to think. “We’ll have to find another means to escape.” I said, “I can’t cast a travel spell.”

I looked about and noted a service door. I used a powerful gust of wind magic to blow it open then I led them through several more sets of service doors and an access corridor before finding an emergency exit. I knew that opening the door would trigger the alarm, but at that point I really didn’t care. The safety of Aryanna was paramount. I could not let that scheming bitch get a hold of my child. As the door swung open, I knew we had fallen right into a trap. I tried to close the door but a hand grasped it on the other side and prevented it from closing. I reached into myself ready to summon my magic, but a hand waved a gun in my face destroying any hopes of escape. The door swung wide open and four rather large men appeared in the doorway each of them holding a gun.

The leader, a tall dark-haired man who under normal circumstances I would have found to be quite handsome, motioned for us to file out the door. Not seeing any other choice I complied, and Aryanna and Penelope soon followed. “We have the freak and two stragglers,” the leader said into a handheld radio.

“Take the freak. Kill the others.” a woman’s voice said over the radio.

The leader brought his gun to bear and pointed it right at my heart. Before he could pull the trigger, I summoned my magic and hurled my fist at his jaw. I supplemented the blow with earth magic. It did its job, and the leader fell to the ground unconscious. I turned on the nearest attacker, but before I could call forth another spell I felt something slam into my shoulder and chest and I crumpled to the ground.

I heard Aryanna scream Penelope’s name before I fell into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

“Brigit,” a voice said through the haze.

I opened my eyes and noted the woman standing above me. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her. “Brigit,” the woman said again and suddenly reality reasserted itself and my memories came back to me in a rapid succession of violent flashes, “Holy Hel,” I said to the woman who I now knew to be Athilda, “They have Aryanna.”

“I know, child,” Athilda said angrily.

“I have to get up, I have to…” I started to say but was cut short.

Athilda shook her head, “You have been badly injured. I have healed much of the damage, but you have lost much blood. You must rest. Help will arrive soon.”

I tried to sit up, but realized how weak I really was, “What about Penelope?”

Athilda sighed, “I do not know.”

“Norns,” I said angrily, “Make those bastards pay.”

“I intend to, child.” Athilda said then stood and disappeared with a surge of magic and a gust of wind.

+ - + - + - +

Laurdag 8. Skerpla

Where do I even start? I find myself for a loss of words and yet I feel that I need to write something, anything, if only to help myself understand yesterday’s events. I feel so angry and why the Hel shouldn’t I? My life has been permanently and irrevocably changed. I can’t even be sure if my thoughts are even mine anymore. Maybe putting these thoughts to paper will help me put my anger and despair aside. It has helped in the past.

Apparently, it all started at my Naming Ceremony, but I don’t really remember what happened. The doctor said there’s a good chance I never will. Blunt trauma to the head can do that to a person. It’s just as well; I don’t really think I want to remember.

I don’t care to go over the details, but according to mother, Athilda managed to both confirm my identity and name me as a potential heir. Apparently Athilda is my great-great-grandmother. Oh, and I guess my name is now officially Aryanna Morgana Le Fey. After, some sort of confrontation with Olivia de Clisson, (more about her in a while), Athilda became suspicious enough to have Mother, Penelope and me make a break for it.

That’s when we were confronted by four goons. Mom didn’t fare to well, she was shot repeatedly, but Athilda managed to get to her in time. After Mom was shot I was abducted by the four goons and Penelope came along for the ride. The first thing I do remember was the pain in my head. It felt as if a pair of dwarves had taken to using it as an anvil. I opened my eyes and found myself in near as I could tell a dimly lit basement. I could hear dripping water and I felt a cumbersome weight on my wrists and ankles.

Slowly, I sat up and was reminded again of the weight on my wrists and ankles. I examined them and noted that both my legs and arms had been shackled to the floor. I looked around and noted a circle had been drawn around me with all sorts of archaic Norse runes that glowed with a soft blue light.

“Freya preserve me,” I muttered. I didn’t have any recollection of how I had gotten in this predicament, but I did know what the circle was for. It was a circle of imprisonment, usually used to prevent a rogue magic-user from using her powers. They had recently been featured in one of those big Kings- burgh Blockbusters.

“Ah,” a woman’s voice said from behind. “Finally.”

I heard footsteps and a woman that looked vaguely familiar stepped into sight, “I apologize if my friends were too rough. They don’t follow orders very well.”

I looked up at the woman suspiciously, “Who the Hel are you?”

The woman smiled, “Poor dear,” she sighed, “Did the bump on your head leave you a bit confused?”

“Look lady,” I said, “I don’t know what you want from me, but if you think chaining me up in a circle of imprisonment is going to get my cooperation you’ve got another thing coming.”

The woman’s smile turned malicious, “You are nothing more than a pawn, freak. At first I was content to see you dead, but when I found out Athilda intended to name you her apprentice I couldn’t resist fitting you into my plans. Any apprentice would have sufficed, but your part in the death of my mother has guaranteed your place here.” she raged.

I grimaced, “I knew you looked familiar. Goddesses; you look just like her. You were there at the Seidskati meeting too. You voted against my induction.”

My captor smiled, “Very good,” she said with mock praise, “Do you remember our little introduction earlier today?”

I shook my head, “Lady, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The woman almost sounded motherly as she spoke, “Pity, I’m Olivia de Clisson.” she said then her expression turned dark, “The woman you murdered was my mother, Jeanne de Clisson. Do you remember now?”

I shook my head, “Fuck off,” I said and spat in her face.

Olivia grimaced and wiped my spit from her face, “Disgusting freak, didn’t your whore mother ever teach you any manners?”

I glared up at my captor, but didn’t say a word.

“Reginald,” Olivia said suddenly, “Prepare our guest. I have some things to take care of.”

I heard footsteps from behind and then there was darkness as the pain in my head exploded.

+ - + - + - +

I don’t have any recollection of ever actually coming awake. One moment everything was dark, the next I was standing at the entrance in the Office building I worked had at. It didn’t occur to me that I no longer worked there. I was in my male body again, but I didn’t stop to question it. Everything was as it should be or so I believed. I looked down at my feet and noted that I wasn’t wearing any shoes, which did seem odd, but for the life of me I couldn’t fathom why they would be missing. I shrugged my shoulders and moved to the elevators. I had no idea why, but I sensed that I needed to get to the top floor. Something important was happening there. Something that I had to put a stop to.

Once inside the elevator, I noted the large line of switches for each floor. It seemed odd that there should be so many. A small voice in the back of my head told me there should be only five switches since the office building I worked in only had five floors, but that was ludicrous. Obviously, there were many more than five floors. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many switches. With some trepidation, I flicked the switch for the top floor. The doors briefly closed then instantly slammed back open. Before me was the top floor.

I stepped out of the elevator and found myself face to face with a rather unpleasant looking man who was straddling a rather large automatic weapon. The man swore something in what sounded like German, and leveled his gun at me face. “Arms up,” he said with a heavy accent and lifted a two-way radio to his mouth. He muttered the name “Anton” into the handset then started to say something in German.

I saw my opportunity and took it. While the German’s attention was on the radio, I balled my hand into a fist and decked him in the face. The German collapsed to the ground and I grabbed his gun and radio. Then I dragged him into the closest office. I looked for something to tie him up, but there was nothing inside the office. So I tore his shirt off, and tore it into to strips and used it to tie him up. I didn’t know if it would hold, but it was better than nothing. When I finished up, I dragged him behind the desk so that he would at least be partially hidden.

I was struck then by the wrongness of the whole situation. I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was enacting the plot of an action movie. I shrugged it off then made my way to the door, as my hand reached for the door knob I was struck by sudden idea. I pulled the German’s radio out from my pocket where I had placed it and spoke into it, “Hey Anton,” I said, “You still there?”

“Who is this?” A man’s voice said over the radio.

I scowled down at the radio and said, “I’m the guy that just took down one of your goons.”

I could almost see the man scowl as he spoke, “Why should I care? Just one less thug to share the ransom with. You are just one against many. I hardly think you can take us all down.”

I growled, “I wouldn’t be too sure of that.”

Anton laughed, “Such confidence! You Nyrander Cowboys. You all think you’re John Wayne.”

Briefly, I considered saying something about being partial to Roy Rogers, but the comment seemed a bit inappropriate. Who the Hel was Roy Rogers anyway? “You’re next,” I said instead then switched off the radio.

I know I had just given myself away, but I needed to know what I was up against. Anton had given me two pieces of information. First, his numbers were so great that he saw me as little threat; second, he was holding someone or something ransom in exchange for money. I stood there for a moment unsure of my next move. I wanted Anton to know that I was coming for him, but I knew he would be looking for me. I looked about the room and my eyes locked on the air duct in the top corner of the room and almost immediately discarded the idea. I was simply too big to fit into the hole. Then I looked down at my hourglass figure and laughed at the notion. How could I have thought I was too big to fit through such a hole? I could easily squeeze into such an opening.

I moved across the room grabbed a chair by the desk as I went. I placed the chair under the vent then I forced the vent grating open and crawled up into the hole. As I was climbing into the air duct I scrapped my breasts against the side. It hurt like a mother, and the strangest thought popped into my head. Why was I suddenly a woman? Hadn’t I been a man just a few moments ago? I shook my head against the absurdity. People just didn’t just change from male to female at the blink of an eye. Of course, I had been a woman before.

Once, I had completed crawling into the vent, I did my best to close the grate behind me. Then, as quietly as I could, I crawled through the vents and made my way to where I instinctively knew Anton was waiting. I didn’t question how I knew where Anton was, I simply knew.

I stopped just past an intersection of ducts and peered down into the room below. Sure enough, a man with black hair and a neatly trimmed beard was holding a gun to a woman’s throat while another man was tinkering around with what looked to be a safe. Somehow I knew the man with the beard was Anton. I wasn’t sure who she was, but the woman he held looked oddly familiar. I couldn’t place her, but I had a feeling she was why I was there.

Without hesitation I kicked the vent grate open and I leapt down into the room. I landed on my feet and brought my gun to bear against Anton. “Let her go,” I growled.

Anton laughed, “Why would I do such a thing? Drop your gun or the girl gets a bullet in the head.”

I hesitated for a moment then dropped the automatic to the ground. Anton removed his gun from the woman’s throat and pointed it right at me. “You’re far too trusting.” he said then his finger squeezed the trigger and a bullet slammed into my shoulder.

I collapsed to the ground and waited for Anton to take the killing shot. He came over and stood over me with the gun and was about to pull the trigger when everything froze.

“Aryanna,” a voice said suddenly. It was the woman, “This isn’t real.”

I sighed weakly, “Penelope?”

“Yes,” she said, “This is all an illusion. Olivia has invaded your mind. She’s trying to make you her slave.”

Whatever shroud had clouded my thoughts and memories lifted and I realized that Penelope was right. Suddenly, the pain in my shoulder was gone. I looked up at Anton, who stood frozen in place above me. I stood and hurled my fist into his chest. Anton’s body flew against the wall and shattered into a thousand pieces.

I picked up the gun I had dropped and aimed it at the man tinkering with the safe. Bullets slammed into him and he shattered just as Anton had. Olivia de Clisson took his place. Olivia eyes turned to Penelope, “Fool! Your betrayal will cost you dearly.” She raised her hand, and bolts of energy shot out from it. Penelope screamed and vanished amidst a great torrent of energy.

Olivia turned to me, “I would have you now if it weren’t for that fool’s interference.”

I smiled grimly, “Sorry Bitch, this is my mind.” I said focusing my will on Olivia.

A whirlpool of energy opened up behind her as I moved toward her. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

I gave her a toothy grin, “Why taking out the trash of course.” Olivia took a step backwards and fell right into the whirlpool I had formed. She let out a scream and disappeared into the whirlpool which closed up behind her.

I took one last look around then I closed my eyes and willed myself to return to the real world.

+ - + - + - +

When I came awake it was to a world of excruciating pain, specifically in my head. The pain in my head had gotten much worse and I felt as if it were ready for liftoff. Remembering, where I was I did my best not to reveal that I was awake. Slowly I turned my head to get a better view of the room around me.

Penelope stood in the corner a shield of pure spirit magic surrounded her as she was pummeled by an onslaught of magic attacks loose on her by Olivia de Clisson. Penelope had hinted in the past that she was a mage, but never would I have dream that she was a Spirit Mage. Spirit magic is a rare and highly sought after power. Sadly, it’s also completely useless for anything but defense and healing spells. As a Spellbinder Olivia was infinitely more powerful, sooner or later she would get through Penelope’s shield and then it would be the end.

“Your task was completed. I would have released your sister and you would have been free. Why when I was so close did you betray me?” Olivia spat.

Penelope didn’t answer. I could tell that the strain of prolonged use of her shield was getting to her. So, Penelope had been working for Olivia and had betrayed her. I didn’t know what to think of that. I thought I might have been falling in love with her, but could I be sure her feelings for me were ever genuine? Penelope had saved me; I at least owed her a chance to explain herself.

Before I could even think to do anything Olivia broke through Penelope’s shield and unleashed a massive fireball at her chest. “NOOOOO!” I screamed and called forth my magic. Pure, unfocused energy unleashed itself as it tore into everything in its path. I didn’t care; I wanted Olivia dead for all the pain she had caused. Olivia was caught unaware and was thrown against a wall and her body fell limply to the ground against the onslaught of my magic. I didn’t stop, even after Olivia was struck down, I wanted to destroy everything. Power rippled through the building and the roof started to fall inward and the walls buckled.

“Aryanna, don’t,” a voice said softly and I felt a hand touch my ankle. I looked down and saw Penelope. I relinquished my hold upon my magic and fell to my knees. Somehow Penelope was still alive though only just barely. Astonishingly she had managed to crawl all the way across the room toward me.

“Penelope,” I muttered taking hold of her hand as tears cascaded down my face.

Her face was barely recognizable as it was covered with blisters and burnt flesh. Somehow she managed to smile, “I’m sorry,” she muttered, “She had my sister; I had to. You have to understand.”

“Penelope,” I pleaded, “Don’t talk. You can’t you’re too weak, you’ll…”

Penelope coughed, “I’ll die? It’s too late for that now. I couldn’t live with myself knowing I had betrayed you. Please find my sister. Olivia has her locked up in the basement somewhere. Please, she’s the only family I have. Make sure she’s safe.”

I nodded, “I’ll find her,” I said, “I’ll take care of her I promise.”

She smiled again, “I’m so sorry. I…” she started to say but never finished. The light faded from her eyes, and I stared into the empty abyss that had taken its place. I wept and time seemed to come to a halt as I mourned the passing of the woman who had betrayed me.

+ - + - + - +

I don’t know how long I sat there clutching Penelope’s lifeless body, but I think it must have been many hours. “Aryanna,” a voice said softly.

I ignored the voice willing it to go away, but the voice persisted and I finally responded, “Please leave me be.” I said.

“Aryanna,” the voice repeated again, “You have to let go.”

My mind came into focus and I looked up to find Athilda standing over me. I was startled to realize it was dark. Had I been there that long? Slowly, I released my hold on Penelope and stood. I looked about the rubble around me. I stood within the ruins of what was once a vast and lavish mansion. Only a few walls still stood. Had I caused such destruction? It seemed impossible that I could unleash such power.

I bit my lip, “How did you find me?”

Athilda smiled sadly, “I knew Olivia had to have taken you to one of her properties. I went from property to property until I found you.”

I shook my head and laughed warily, “That’s it? Somehow I expected you to have some miraculous means of tracking me.” I said then paused for a moment. “Oh, Goddesses,” I muttered, remembering my promise to Penelope. I rushed to the remains of what looked to be a stairwell and started throwing the rubble aside.

“Aryanna,” Athilda said coming beside me, “What are you doing?”

I sunk to my knees and started weeping, “They had her sister, Athilda. She made me promise that I’d find her.”

“Step aside,” Athilda said calmly.

I stood to comply and stepped out of the way. Athilda called forth her magic and lifted up the debris to reveal a stairwell beneath. I practically leapt down the stairs heedless of any danger, real or imagined. I rushed down a hallway and down several more sets of stairs before coming to a halt before a big steel door. I pounded on it, but there was no reply.

Athilda appeared from around a corner, and motioned for me to move out of the way. I complied and Athilda torched the hinges and lock, she swung the door open and we walked inside. Huddled in the corner was a girl who looked to be about eight years old. It occurred to me that I didn’t even know the girls name. Slowly I walked over to where the girl lay. “Hello,” I said, “My name is Aryanna. I’ve come to take you someplace safe.”

The girl looked me in the eyes, “My sister’s coming for me. She said she would.”

I smiled down at her trying my best not to burst into tears, “What’s your name.”

The girl looked at me and then to Athilda, but didn’t say a word. I felt my eyes mist up a bit, “Penelope sent me to come find you. She and I are good friends. The woman in the doorway is Athilda, she’s a friend too.”

The girl looked up to me stubbornly, “Penelope said she would come.”

I felt tears fall down my cheeks, “I’m sorry, honey.” I said, “She couldn’t make it.”

The girl hesitated for a moment more then she took my hand and said, “My name is Marion.” Then the three of us left the basement together. Shortly before we reached the surface, I picked Marion up and made sure to block her view of her sister’s remains. I don’t think Penelope would have wanted her sister to see her that way.

Two figures met us as we walked away from the ruins of the Olivia’s estates. I was shocked to realize that it was Elizabeth Bathory and Agnes Bernauer. They were two I would have never expected to see together. “Well, Athilda,” Elizabeth sneered, “Is it as you feared?”

Athilda shook her head warily and sighed, “It is. I was able to probe Olivia’s mind before she passed to the other side. The Clisson’s planned to overthrow the Council.”

Agnes grimaced and frowned, “Did you learn anything else?”

Athilda shook her head, “The probe weakened her. I was not able to gain any more information before she passed.”

Agnes sighed, “This does not bode well, old friend. Couldn’t you have healed her?”

Athilda frowned, “She was too far gone.”

Elizabeth almost looked relieved, “A pity,” she said and looked from Agnes to Athilda then turned away and disappeared into the night.

Agnes shook her head and smiled warily, “There’s more you’re not telling us isn’t there?” she said.

Athilda sighed, “Yes.”

Agnes frowned, “I would have thought that after all these years of cooperation between our houses that you would be more willing to trust me.”

Athilda shook her head, “It is not an issue of whether or not I could trust Agnes Bernauer. It is whether or not I am actually speaking with her.”

Agnes’ eyebrows shot up, “Is it truly that serious?” she asked.

Athilda sighed warily, “I am afraid so.”

Agnes smiled glumly, “We must devise a way to verify our identities.”

“It would be wise.” Athilda replied.

Agnes shook her head, “If you were anyone else I would think you were being overly cautious. The resources of House Bernauer at your disposal should you wish to use them.”

Athilda smiled sadly, “I respectfully decline. I am unsure that I can trust those within my own house let alone the members of another house.”

Agnes bit her lip, “I understand. ” she said then suddenly seemed to take noticed of me, “My goodness your apprentice looks as if she is on the verge of collapse. I’ll take care of things here. Take care of your apprentice, Athilda, I have a feeling we will be seeing great things from her.”

“I-uh,” I started to say but realized I was still holding Marion in my arms, “There are some things that need to be taken care of within the rubble.”

Agnes gave me an odd look and I gestured to the child in my arms. Agnes reached over to the child and stroked her cheek. Marion fell asleep instantly, “The child sleeps. What would you have me do?”

I bit my lips, “There are some remains in the rubble. They belong to this girl’s older sister…” I said trailing off as tears dripped down my cheeks.

Agnes smiled reassuringly, “Say no more. I will see to it that the girl’s remains are treated with respect.”

I nodded and mouthed the words “Thank you.”

Athilda reached out for me to take her hand and I did so without hesitation, “Farewell, Agnes.”Athilda said. Then she called upon her magic, and Athilda, and I, and the sleeping child I held in my arms disappeared.

That was hard to write. I’m still crying my eyes out. I think maybe I’ll finish up later today.

+ - + - + - +

After we returned to Athilda’s estates, we put Marion to bed. I wanted to speak with my mother, though Athilda tried to convince me to get some rest, but I refused. After some argument Athilda finally relented.

Athilda led me down through the house and the hallway that led to my room, but rather than entering my room she led me to the door to my mother’s room.

The door cracked open and I could hear a voice speak “Hello?” It was Mother.

“Mom?” I called back then slammed the door the rest of way open and ran into the bedroom to find my mother lying atop a bed that was virtually identical to the one in my own room.

“Thank the Norns you’re safe, ” she said looking so weak and helpless laying there.

I felt fresh tears stream down my face as I knelt down beside the bed to embrace my mother, “Sif preserve.” I muttered “What happened to you?”

Mom shook her head, “I was shot when they took you. If Athilda hadn’t found me when she had, I’d probably be dead.”

I shook my head and looked up at Athilda, “Why is she like this? Didn’t you heal her?”

Athilda shook her head, “She was weak. Had I healed her completely the shock to her body would have been so great it may very well have killed her.”

I bowed my head, “I guess there’s still a lot I have to learn.”

We spoke for quite a while after that mostly going over the details of what happened after I was abducted and Penelope’s death. After a lengthy and tear-filled discussion. I finally asked the question that had been at the back of my mind since my rescue. “What’s really going on, Athilda?”

Athilda grimaced, “What do you wish to know, child?”

I folded my arms across my chest and said simply, “Everything you learned from Olivia.”

Athilda seemed to age right before my eyes. She had always looked old, but now that age seemed to weigh her, “You know not what you ask.”

I eyed my ancestor angrily, “I’m sick of this bullshit. I think I deserve to know after everything I’ve been through.”

Athilda sighed warily, “Very well. When I finally found you, I noticed Olivia lying in the rubble not far from you. Leaving you alone with your grief, I decided to attempt a probe of Olivia’s mind. What I learned was worse than I could have ever imagined. Everything that has happened has been leading up to a single event. One which I hoped I would never live to see, Ragnarok.”

Cold shivers went down my spine as I looked at my ancestor aghast, “The Doom of the Gods?”

Athilda nodded, “Olivia and her mother were agents of the Jotun as were the Dark Elves who attacked us.”

“Olivia was trying to rearrange my brain.” I muttered, “No doubt she wanted me as an agent within your household.”

Athilda smiled sadly and shook her head, “She already had an agent within House Le Fey. No, I’m afraid her intentions were much more malevolent. She wanted an assassin.”

I looked at my ancestor blankly, “An assassin?” I asked, “I can’t even control my own power. How could I ever be used as an assassin?”

Athilda grimaced, “Do not discount yourself so quickly. In the short time since your power has awakened you have managed to defeat two powerful Seidkona. Think upon it, child. Imagine an assassin who does not know that she is an assassin. One who has been conditioned to attack when a certain stipulation has been met. One who is completely trusted by the victim.”

“Norns,” Mother spoke up suddenly, “If Olivia had succeeded you would have been a walking time bomb.”

Athilda nodded, “Indeed. Jeanne de Clisson was the mastermind. After her death, Olivia took her mother’s place. Only she underestimated you. Motivated by revenge she attempted to work you into her plans, but she didn’t account for Penelope’s interference and it cost her dearly.”

“This is beginning to make sense.” I said, “What about the man? The one I rescued the night my powers awakened?”

Athilda sighed, “The de Clissons have been collaborating with a group of extremists known as the Sons of Odin. From your description of the encounter I would guess the man distrusted Jeanne and believed she had betrayed his group.”

I nodded, “What are we to do about Ragnarok?”

Athilda gave me a pointed look, “There is not much we can do but fight, child.”

I sighed and shook my head, “I don’t like the idea of an absolute end to everything. I’ll gladly fight if it means preventing Ragnarok.”

Athilda looked at my wide-eyed, “Ragnarok cannot be stopped child. It is foreordained.”

I gritted my teeth, “Bullshit,” I growled, “Nothing is predestined. We each chose our fate. Goddesses or Jotun be damned.”

Mother and Athilda stared at me aghast, “Thor,” mother said, “you can’t expect to go against the Vattar.” Mom said after a brief silence.

“You know not the power these beings hold. I have seen it firsthand. We are as insects to them,” Athilda said.

I clenched my fists and said calmly, “Something must be done.”

Athilda smiled sadly, “Your thoughts are clouded by the day’s events. You need to rest, child.”

I tried to tell Athilda that I felt fine, but in the end both my ancestor and my mother outvoted me and I was soon relegated to my room.

I found that I was much more tired than I had believed and I was lying down when a voice spoke, “Did you mean it?”

I was so startled by the sudden question that I nearly fell out of bed. I looked about and found a woman sitting on the edge of the bed opposite me. She spoke with a calm and reassuring voice and despite her sudden appearance I found a sense of ease and well-being come over me, “Goddesses,” I muttered, “Who are you?”

The woman smiled as if amused, “Goddess, actually.”

I gave the woman a blank stare and she started to laugh.

“You mortals,” she said between chuckles, “You never seem to realize that nothing is quite as it seems.”

I had the strangest feeling as if I knew this woman and it suddenly dawned on me why as a cold shiver ran up my spine, “Goddess Frigg,” I muttered then slipped off my bed and fell to my knees.

The woman sighed deeply, “Get up!”

I did as directed and stood to look the Goddess in the eyes. On first glance she appeared as an extraordinarily beautiful woman, but upon further examination other details began to stand out. The light seemed to dance in her eyes and she almost seemed to glow as she sat there. “I’m s-sorry,” I said, “I didn’t know. Forgive me Allmother.”

Frigg rolled her eyes and spoke, “Oh, for crying out loud.” she muttered, “Just sit down and shut up for a minute.”

Startled by the Goddess’s abruptness I quickly complied.

“Did you mean it when you said you wished to stop Ragnarok?” she asked, tracing her hand across my cheek.”

For a moment I merely looked at the Goddess. Fearful of the wrath my answer might bring me and feeling that it would be foolish to lie to a Goddess I said simply, “Yes.”

The Goddess almost seemed to purr, “Good,” she said with a smile so bright that it made me want to fall to my knees and sing praises to her, “I thought you’d prove useful, otherwise I wouldn’t have entrusted the magic to you.”

I stared at the Goddess, aghast, “Y-you?” I muttered.

She nodded and continued, “Despite what you might have read in the Eddas or the Codices, Ragnarok can be stopped. Prophecy tells of a possible outcome. It is never absolutely certain. Ragnarok at this moment is the most likely outcome, but I look to change that.”

“W-why?” I muttered.

The Goddess laughed again, “Why?” she said her voice dripping with glee, “Why do you think, mortal? I do not wish to die anymore than you do!”

I trembled before the Goddess. “I’m sorry,” I muttered, “I didn’t mean to…” I said only to be cut short by a scowl from the Goddess.

“Stop apologizing and listen. If I intended that any harm come to you, you would already be dead.” She said with a disdainful flick of her wrist.

I nodded my acquiescence and the Goddess continued, “At the moment you are our greatest hope of putting a stop to Ragnarok, but should we play the game correctly, there will be another who could very well save our existence.”

I dumbly nodded my head and listened as the Goddess continued, “You have indebted yourself to the Lejosá¡lfur Queen. When she comes to you, and she will, no matter what that debt might entail, you must agree to her terms. You must fulfill that debt.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I found the Goddess’s pronouncement so odd that I forgot myself, “What could she possibly ask of me that would be so important? All I did was ask her her name!” I said, and almost instantly feared the Goddess would bring her wrath down upon me for daring to question her.

Instead she laughed, “The Elves do not see things as you mortals do. To them a debt is not equal to the deed that incurred it. They could ask you to tell a story or to murder your best friend and either would fulfill the debt.”

I shook my head, “I should never have been so stupid.”

The Goddess laughed, “Don’t be so hard on yourself, mortal. That single act is the gateway upon which Ragnarok may be halted.”

I opened my mouth to speak, but it was then I thought I heard a small clatter somewhere outside the room. I turned my head to look and found nothing. When I looked back she was gone.

I remained awake for hours wondering if I had really spoken with the Goddess or not. Perhaps I was delusional. Maybe I was still inside my mind fighting against Olivia’s incursion. I wondered too, that if my conversation with the Goddess had been real what the implications might be. What sort of debt once fulfilled would help stop Ragnarok? It seemed inconceivable that anything I did could have such a drastic effect upon the outcome of future events.

I don’t how late I remained awake, but I finally drifted off in the early morning as exhaustion overtook me.

I think that more or less brings everything up to speed. The more I write my story the more I feel as if I’m writing a fiction novel rather than a record of my life. Had I not experienced these events for myself I doubt I would believe they had actually happened.

+ - + - + - +

Sunadag 9. Skerpla

Today, I finally explained to Marion what had become of her sister. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I couldn’t bear telling the poor girl all the gruesome details, nor would I tell her that Penelope had betrayed me in exchange for her sister’s safety. I merely told the girl that her sister had died in an attempt to save me. I had feared the girl might try to blame me, but it soon became clear she felt no anger towards me. In the end, the girl and I had both broke into uncontrollable tears.

Penelope was the girl’s only relative. I don’t know what will become of Marion, but I I will do everything in my power to assure that she finds a good home.

+ - + - + - +

Freydag 14. Skerpla

Well, it has been a rather tough week, with Penelope’s funeral, but at least it’s finally over. It was a small ceremony with just Athilda, Mom, Marion and me. Each of us left our gifts with Penelope’s body. Then Athilda led us in prayer-song and Penelope’s remains were lowered into the ground and set on fire.

I won’t go into further detail. I’m about ready to burst into tears.

On a more positive note. I’ve finally begun learning to use my magic. The day after Penelope’s funeral, Athilda decided it was time. Anxious to put Penelope’s death behind me I wholeheartedly agreed. It’s not at all what I imagined. For starters, I haven’t actually done any magic with Athilda. Mostly I’ve done some form of meditation or another to help me “silence my thoughts.” as Athilda seems so fond of saying.

Marion seems to be doing well for having just lost her sister. Mom seems to have taken a shine to the girl and the two are all but inseparable. For the time being, the State has granted Athilda temporary guardianship of the girl.

Damn, Athilda is calling! She probably wants to continue our lessons.



Manadag 2. Heyannir

After a lengthy court battle, Athilda’s lawyers finally managed to get my old journal back. After the maid took it, I thought I’d never get it back. I looked through it and I can’t believe it has been more than five years since my change. It is so hard to believe that so much time has passed. It seems just yesterday that I became Athilda’s apprentice. It is only a matter of days now until I’m to undergo the trials. Then I’ll be a member of the Council.

Athilda allowed me my first night out in months. I took the opportunity to get wasted, which probably was a bad idea. Curiosity got the better of me and I brought a man home with me. I can’t say the experience was altogether unpleasant, but it just felt wrong. I guess I’m no longer a ‘virgin’ since my male lover was kind enough to pop my cherry.

I better get going. Athilda insists I continue my lessons despite her belief that I’m ready to take the trials. It’s no big deal. I’m still learning things; the woman is a veritable wellspring of knowledge. I guess I’ll be off then.

+ - + - + - +

Eirdag 3. Heyannir

I’ve been up all night with Athilda. I can’t believe she didn’t tell me she was sick. After everything we’ve been through together she’s still keeping secrets from me. Apparently, she’s been fighting Leukemia for the last three years. When I went to find her for my lesson yesterday I found her collapsed on the ground. I’ve offered to heal her, but she won’t let me or anyone else touch her. She insists that her time is nearly up and that no amount of healing magic will save her.

She’s still full of surprises. She notified me today she intends to name me her heir. I told her there were others better qualified to run House Le Fey, but she insists they’re all “arrogant fools”. I even tried telling her I was too young to take her seat on the Seidskati, but she insists I’m the right choice. I should have seen this coming. I really don’t want anything to do with those old crones. A couple of them seem nice, but for the most part I find them all detestable.

Mom and Marion are watching Athilda while I get some rest. I guess I should be thankful, but I feel as if I should be there. I’ve spent more time with Athilda than either of them.

Marion seems to be blossoming into a beautiful young woman. I’m sure she’s already beating off the boys with a stick. She looks so much like her sister it makes me want to weep every time I look at her. My only regret with the girl is that I’ve been unable to spend much time with her since Mother adopted her. Perhaps after I’m named a Seidkona I’ll finally have some time to take her on that trip I promised.


Comments, no matter the length, are very much appreciated. If you liked this story please take a minute to leave a review or even just to tell me you liked it. Criticism is welcome so long as it is constructive and I will gladly answer any personal messages or emails you want to send my way.

As my other stories this is a work of fiction and as such any resemblance to real life individuals, events or locations is purely unintentional. Only my own site, Fictionmania, Bigcloset Topshelf, & tgstorytime.com have permission to host this story and my previous works unless I state otherwise.

Transfigured: Ascension of a Spellbinder


As I seek to find a means to halt Ragnarok I find allies in the unlikeliest of places. New enemies present themselves and I learn of the cruel experiments performed by the mad Doctor Mengele. He claims he can grant men the ability to use magic, but at what cost?



Author's Note

This is a revised version of the story, neither version is perfect since some readers complained about the narrative styles, but this one is still my preferred version. I’m only posting the revised version here, but the original is still available on Bigcloset Topshelf. Thanks go out to Beyogi, Maggie Finson, The Rev. Anam Chara, and the late Holly H Hart for all the help editing and beta reading the story.


+ - + - + - +

Before we met, Derek Hines lived a more or less quiet life as a desk jockey in a small office building in his hometown of Epegard. He had no aspirations for power or greed, all he ever wished was to stand on an equal footing with women. He would soon get his wish, but not in the way he had ever intended.

As days went, this one was altogether average for Derek. He had almost finished up his work, when Linnea, his boss, stepped into his small basement office. He had come to loathe the sight of the woman, and from his descriptions of her I don’t blame him. Linnea was an extremely attractive woman who greeted Derek with an all too familiar malevolent smile. “Derek,” she said with pouting lips and traced a well-manicured finger across Derek’s desk.

Linnea seemed to enjoy dumping outrageous piles of work on Derek’s desk and he knew with a sinking feeling that she was about to do it again. In spite of his hatred of the woman, he was no less affected by her feminine wiles. Though she was quick to utilize her looks to get her way, she had proven just as formidable wherever her looks were not suited to the task. She had destroyed the careers of countless rivals by backstabbing her way to her current position. “It looks like the Nanette is going to need that analysis report by Manadag. I have far too much work on my plate. Do you think you get that done for me?”

Derek flashed her a nervous smiled, “S-sure thing, Linn. I’ll get right on it.”

“Thanks, Derek,” she said. “You’re the best.”

“No weekend for you,” a voice familiar to Derek said a few moments later.

“Ayele,” Derek replied irritably. “I really don’t have time right now.”

As his attention returned back to his work, a small paper flyer appeared atop the paper he had been working on. “Check this out, man.”

Derek briefly glanced at the flyer, tossed it casually aside then turned back to his work. Ayele let out a grunt of protest, “Come on man. You’re the one always going on about men’s rights. I thought maybe you’d be interested.”

Ayele, like Derek, was of African descent and cut an imposing figure, standing nearly six and a half feet tall. Derek asked, “What on Midgard are you talking about?”

Ayele rolled his eyes, “The flyer man, the Sons of Odin are having a rally tonight.”

Derek scowled up at Ayele, “Another men’s rights group? No thanks. They’re all alike. Full of nothing but angry rhetoric and empty promises.”

“You’re hopeless, man. You say you want equal rights, but you ain’t never gonna do anything about it.” He shook his head, turned his back and left Derek alone with his thoughts.

Absently, Derek picked up the flyer and read through it. Eventually he went back to work, but as the day wore on he kept hearing Ayele’s words echo in his head.

+ - + - + - +

“Power, it’s what it all amounts too,” the speaker bellowed. “The Spellbinders have it and we don’t. To gain an equal footing we must use any means to accomplish our goals. We must turn the people against the ruling class and ignite the fires of violence against all who would stand in our way.”

Naturally, Derek wasn’t fooled. Like me, he believed that violence is not the path to equality, but to hatred and, sadly, more violence. He had come to the rally against his better judgment and now found himself wishing he had stayed away. This group seemed more interested in spewing out hate-filled venom than they did in making a difference. There had to be a better way. If men reduced themselves to that level, how were they any better than the Spellbinders believed them to be? How could they gain equality by proving their oppressors right?

Having heard enough, Derek turned his back and started working his way away from the crowd. Just as he had nearly gained the exit to the pavilion, the man on stage called out. “Brother! Why are you leaving? Don’t you wish to cast off the shackles of oppression?”

Filled with righteous indignation, Derek swirled around and found the crowd facing him. “Hatred and violence won’t solve our problem, brother,” he said between clenched teeth, putting particular emphasis on the last word and stepped out of the pavilion and into the night.

Wary after listening to the hate-filled ramblings of the man on stage, Derek was ready to return to his home in Epegard. He made his way through the parking lot, then stopped just a few steamcars short of his battered old NMC Vision. Two men were waiting at the car and they didn’t look particularly friendly.

He recognized immediately that they were there for him, and he quickly ducked behind a nearby Ford Pygmy, but his efforts were in vain, as they had spotted him. He soon found himself surrounded on either side. The shorter of the two, a burly man with a goatee, drew close and grabbed the collar of Derek’s shirt, “Well, well, look what we have here, Vili.” There was a malicious glint in his eyes. “Someone has decided to leave the party early.”

The other man, obviously Vili, came up beside Derek and palmed the top of Derek’s head with his hand, “You think the boss’ll like this one, Jakob?”

Jakob, the shorter man, grinned, “Why yes, Vili. I think he will.”

When Jakob’s hands loosened from around Derek’s collar, he chose then to make a break for it. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain in the back of his head and then there was only darkness.

+ - + - + - +

Death and destruction rained all around him as he watched those under his command die at the hands of the enemy. Firing his assault rifle wildly into the air around him, he hoped that he could at least take another one those bitch fire mages down with him. When a huge fire erupted in front of him, he had just enough time to leap out of the way as it consumed the area he had just vacated.

He fired more rounds and used up the remainder of his ammunition as the fiery onslaught continued. Throwing his rifle to the ground, he drew the combat knife from its sheath at his waist and tossed it deftly at the nearest target. There was a cold sense of satisfaction as the blade struck his target in the throat. She fell to the ground with dull lifeless eyes.

Cold chills ran down his spine as an inhuman howl rang through the clearing. He whirled around just as a huge fireball came careening toward him…

+ - + - + - +

With a start, Nicholas Flint came awake. Like Derek, his day was getting off to a very average start. You see, Flint had the same dream every night. Each night he relived the battle at Tyr’s Dike. The battle was in his past, and he had no desire to relive it. Nevertheless, every night he did just that. The images just as vivid and horrifying as ever.

He alone had survived of his entire platoon. All his men had died at the hands of three fire mages. He once confided in me that a single Spellbinder would have been sufficient to suppress the mages and he had requested the use of one. Command had felt that it was an unnecessary use of resources and had denied his request. The results had been catastrophic for both his men and himself, the only survivor. After the fireball hit him, he was severely wounded and left for dead.

Over a week after the confrontation he woke in an army hospital, nearly healed of all injury. His left knee had been so badly damaged, the army healers had not been able to completely repair the tissue., so he would walk with a severe limp for years to come. Despite the death-toll on his platoon, the mission had proved successful, and the battle had succeeded in taking down the leader of the resistance in their surprise attack.

After Flint was healed he had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, a largely honorary rank, and awarded all sorts of medals and paraded around as a hero in front of the entire nation.

Later, he learned from other soldiers of the horrors they had witnessed in battle. The enemy had not been fighting for power or greed. They had been fighting because their people were starving, and the Spellbinders ruling over them had sat idly by and done nothing.

After everything he had done, the Army turned its back on him. Because of the damage to Flint’s leg he was no longer able to serve and was discharged from the service. He had given up years of life to his country in a cause that he no longer believe in. Bitter, angry and penniless, he wandered from place to place and from job to job, never staying very long and never making friends.

It wasn’t until he met Jonas Talman that he began to believe in something again. In him he had found a new sense of purpose. Talman was a revolutionary who believed that the only way for men to have freedom was to take it by force. After what he had seen, he was quick to agree, and eagerly joined the Sons of Odin.

When he first joined the resistance they had still been a very small group, and Flint quickly became one of Talman’s top lieutenants. As the Sons of Odin grew in number, Talman made alliances with powerful figures in the government and even managed to persuade some of them to join the cause.

It wasn’t until the De Clissons entered the picture that Flint began to have doubts. Jeanne had seemed receptive to helping them, but she had been in a position of power for centuries and he suspected she had ulterior motives for helping the resistance.

It took years to find any evidence of her duplicity, and it very nearly cost Flint his life. He had been working as a low level manager for a business firm owned by a powerful Spellbinder family as a means to gain information for the resistance when he discovered a discrepancy in the firm’s accounting. They had been funneling funds to an offshore bank, to an account that belonged to, you guessed it, Jeanne de Clisson.

When Flint confronted her she would have killed him if it hadn’t been for the interference of a security guard. Yes, that was me. I had blundered into the little meeting and it was then that my magic awakened, and by sheer dumb luck I was able to defeat Jeanne de Clisson.

Flint managed to escape police imprisonment and made his way back to Talman. He confronted his him with the information he had found and was shocked when Talman chose to continue the alliance with House de Clisson.

Before her death, Jeanne had concocted a scheme to place assassins within all the major Spellbinder houses in order to cripple the Seidskati. Olivia, obsessed with revenge, kidnapped me in order to enact her mother’s plans. Again, against all odds, I managed to overcome Olivia.

Controversy arose, House de Clisson fell out of favor among the Seidskati, and the alliance with the Spellbinder’s house fell to pieces.

Sighing warily, and wincing against the pain in his bad knee, Flint walked across the room to his small wardrobe and quickly dressed himself. He threw open the door to his room, pause briefly in the doorway and left in search of Talman with a determined stride in his steps.

+ - + - + - +

“Dammit, Jonas,” Flint spat angrily. “We don’t need Mengele. What good will come from an alliance with that creature?”

Talman smiled reassuringly, “Nick, Mengele promises to grant men the ability to use magic. Isn’t that a worthy cause? Can you image the momentum the resistance would gain if word got out that we had magic users in our midst? How long do you think the Seidskati could continue to deny us an equal footing after that?”

Flint shook his head, “Mengele has been trying to perfect that formula of his for over fifty years. You can’t honestly believe that he’ll succeed.”

Talman smiled again. “Trust me, Nick. Mengele will prove to be a boon to our cause. After he’s succeeded in perfecting the formula, men will flock to us in droves and victory will be assured.”

“I guess I’ll just have to trust in you,” Flint said, restraining himself from voicing any more concerns. He didn’t trust Mengele, but clearly Talman knew more than he did. Maybe Mengele could deliver.

Talman nodded, “I need you to watch over things here for a few days. I have some business to take care of in Fairfield. We’ll talk more when I get back. I’ll be leaving after speaking with Mengele.”

“Very well,” Flint said to his fellow revolutionary letting the matter drop.

+ - + - + - +

“Finally,” a voice said out of the fog as Derek sat up with a loud groan. He found himself within a holding cell, an older man standing over him.

“Easy there,” said the man in a voice that I do not doubt Derek felt reassuring. He had a mane of wild white hair and a long unkempt beard which granted him the appearance of a beggar. “You’re not in any immediate danger.” He smiled down at the younger man and something about the old man made Derek think he could be trusted.

His head was throbbing painfully. As Derek ran his hand through his short-cropped black hair he felt a sharp twinge of pain as his hand passed over the back of his head, “Where am I?” he mumbled warily.

The oldster grinned, “Well, I ain’t too sure about that. I reckon we’re somewhere outside of Epegard.”

“What is this place?” Derek asked.

The oldster frowned and stroked the end of his beard, “Norns if I know! You’d need to ask one of them sumbitch Sons of Odin who locked us up.”

“The Sons of Odin,” Derek breathed warily. “Those two thugs who attacked me after the rally.” Scrambling to his feet he turned to face the oldster. “What do they want with us?”

The old man shrugged, “Who knows? They ain’t said anything. Say, what’s your name?”

“Derek Hines. Yours?”

The old codger gave Derek a toothy grin. “The name is Cletus Montgomery. Most folk just call me Monty. I would say it’s nice to meet you, but these ain’t the most ideal of circumstances are they?”

“No,” Derek agreed.

Derek didn’t particularly feel up to talking. Perhaps Monty sensed this as he soon fell silent. Suddenly feeling very restless, Derek looked about the room, examining his surroundings more closely. The cell had a single barred door and was set within a slightly larger room with a solid steel door leading outside. The only source of light was a single electritorch which didn’t shed nearly as much light as he would have liked. Doubting he would find any means of escape, a deep and pervading hopelessness settled over him. Nevertheless, he tested the cell bars and door, but neither showed any sign of weakness.

Finally giving up, he sank dejectedly to the floor and waited for something, anything, to happen. Hours dragged by and the two prisoners passed time by sharing tales of their pasts. As Derek later related to me, Monty proved to be a far more adept story teller and regaled Derek with tales of his youth spent in North Bannock, and his many travels across the country. He knew how to weave a good story, but Derek doubted that much, if any of his story, was the truth.

After a few hours, a man appeared and gave them each a tray of food. He didn’t say anything and Derek couldn’t get a response out of him, even after issuing a number of insults. He did note the guard waiting outside the door as the man left. Hours crawled by, and as they turned into days, Derek and Monty were joined by three more men, none of whom knew any more than they did.

Finally, something did happen. A man with an odd-looking handgun tucked into his belt appeared from beyond the steel door. He gave them all a slimy smile as he looked them over, “Traitors to the cause, each and every one of you.” His smile shifted into a look of distaste. “That’s why you’ve all been brought here.”

He pulled the handgun from his belt, took aim and pulled the trigger. Something hit Derek right in the shoulder and he had just enough time to recognize the object as a tranquilizer dart before collapsing into a heap and losing consciousness.

+ - + - + - +

“This one shows promise,” said a raspy voice out of the darkness.

Derek resisted the urge to open his eyes and look about. Instead, he kept himself complete immobile, not wishing for his captors to know he was awake. “What about the others, doctor?” asked a booming male voice.

The raspy-voice chortled, “We doubt they will survive the procedure, but even in death they should provide us with useful data.”

“Very well, doctor. Rolph will be outside should you need anything,” the booming voice said. Derek heard footsteps and the sound of a door opening and closing.

A few moments passed then the doctor spoke, “He is gone. You can stop pretending to be asleep.”

He snapped his eyes open and was momentarily blinded by bright light. Once his eyes adjusted to the brightness he was assaulted with the strangest sight he had ever laid his eyes upon. A bizarre amalgamation of man and woman stood before Derek. He looked as if someone had split a man and a woman in half from the head down then joined a half from each into a single person. The male side looked scarred, contorted and twisted out of shape, while the female side was the model of feminine beauty.

The man-woman laughed a wheezing pathetic sort of laugh, and Derek couldn’t escape the feeling that this person wasn’t entirely sane. “You see the results of our experimentation. We are called Doctor Josef Mengele.”

The creature stepped closer to where Derek lay and he noticed than that his female side was shorter than the male side which caused him to walk with a sort of strange hobbling motion. “Good,” Dr. Mengele spoke, smiling blissfully. “Rolph remembered the restraints this time.”

Tilting his head, Derek noted the straps about his wrists. He tried to move his legs, but it seemed they too were strapped to the table atop which he lay. “Exactly what do you intend to do with me?”

The doctor grinned down at Derek with a mad glee, “Fifty years ago we thought we had perfected a formula to grant men the ability to use magic. So anxious were we to see the results of our formula, we tested it on ourselves. We did gain some small use of the magic, but the formula had unforeseen results.” the doctors growled angrily. “We were transformed into this creature you see before you. Neither female nor male, but somehow both.”

Derek gulped nervously and watched as the doctor continued on his mad tirade, “For fifty years we have tried to perfect our formula. Sometime we think we are so close that we can taste it upon the tip of our tongue.”

Derek struggled in his bindings, but to no avail, they were too tight. Chortling madly the doctor picked a syringe up from a nearby table, “Try as you might, you won’t get free.”

He plunged the syringe into Derek’s arm, and once more he drifted into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

A familiar cold hard anger flooded through Flint as he looked over the scene before him. Mengele had gone too far. Flint would not let that creature experiment on innocent civilians. Pulling his P426 from its holster Flint grabbed the doctor by the cuff of his collar. “What do you think you’re doing, Mengele?” Flint growled between clenched teeth.

Mengele threw his head back and started laughing like the madman that Flint new him to be, “We need to test our new formula.”

Trembling with rage, Flint barely managed to keep himself from pulling the trigger, “You’ve got lots of nerve. Talman would never approve of this.”

Mengele smiled, “Talman provided us with the test subjects.”

Throwing Mengele to the floor, Flint aimed his pistol at the Doctor’s head, “Release the captives, now!”

“They have already been injected with the formula,” the doctor shrieked. “We must observe them.”

“Sir,” Rolph interjected. “He’s telling the truth. This has all been done with Talman’s approval.”

Flint re-holstered his gun and turned to Rolph, who had been guarding the room under Talman’s orders, and scowled. “I hope for your sake you’re telling the truth,” he said, then turned his back and swept out of the room without another word to either Mengele or Rolph.

+ - + - + - +

I could feel the earth magic trickle down my arm and into my fist as she stared down at me angrily. Claramae and I didn’t care for one another. She didn’t particularly like taking orders from someone more than one-hundred years her junior. Since Athilda had fallen ill I had gradually taken on more responsibility as her heir. Whatever I tried to do as acting head of House le Fey was met with stark resistance by my cousins. They saw me as a young interloper who had somehow managed to charm Athilda into naming me heir. I really didn’t want any of it, but I didn’t have much choice. I needed every resource I could use if I were to prevent Ragnarok from becoming a reality.

She swung her fist at me, but I was too fast. I quickly brought my hands up and sent a huge gust of wind magic at the older woman, who soared nearly fifteen feet before landing gracelessly on her ass. Few Spellbinders were as powerful or as skilled with wind magic as I was, and I found it an effective means of defending myself.

Calmly I walked over to where my underling now lay in a rather awkward heap and stared down at her. “When I tell you to do something, Clara, you do it. You got it?” I said coldly.

Her lip twitched angrily, “Yes, Revered Lady.”

“Good,” I said calmly. “Get back in place. You will follow Agent Jensen’s orders explicitly. You got that?”

She scowled up at me as she scrambled to her feet, “Yes,” she said between clenched teeth, then ran off to do as I had ordered.

Claramae’s issue in this particular instance had to do with taking order’s from a man. I found him to be a competent professional, but Claramae saw him as just another worthless man. Agent Alf Jensen had been given command of the Task Force Against Domestic Terrorism for purely political reasons. Most domestic terrorists were affiliates with extremist men’s rights groups, and the Central Investigation Bureau felt that to avoid any backlash or accusations of sexual discrimination, it would be best to put a man in charge.

Of course, I had been named a ‘consultant’ for similar reasons. Obviously I was no man, but as the only known Spellbinder to have been born a man it made sense for me to be involved, or at least the bureaucrats of the CIB thought so. My actual involvement was considerably more than a mere consultant, but it looked better on paper to call me one.

Sighing wearily, I walked over to the edge of the overhang and looked down.. About twenty feet below was a well concealed compound which, if my source was correct, was a major base of operations for the Sons of Odin. Hopefully, we’d even find Jonas Talman, their mysterious leader within it.

I stood silently over the cliff, then, once the signal for attack was given I called upon my wind magic and drifted down the face of the cliff toward the compound.

+ - + - + - +

“Wake up,” came the raspy voice of Doctor Mengele. Derek’s eyes fluttered open and found the Doctor standing over him, an anxious look on his ghastly face. “They’re attacking the compound,” he said with barely contained rage. “We are so close, and they attack now!”

The doctor loosened the straps on his wrists and Derek looked at him uncertainly, “What’s going on?”

“Did you not hear us!?” he growled at Derek angrily. “The Seidskati have found us. You’ve been injected with the revised formula. We must escape, or all our work will be for naught.”

Extricating his hands and legs from the straps, Derek hopped off the table and advanced on the doctor, “They’ve coming for you, not me.”

The doctor chortled and spoke with an insane gleam in his eyes, “You think they will take kindly to a man who can use magic? Better if you come with us. We can monitor your progress and assure there aren’t any unforeseen side effects.”

Nodding as if what the doctor said was perfectly reasonable Derek moved as if to follow Mengele. “You’re right,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.”

As the doctor turned to leave, Derek quickly grabbed a tray from a nearby table, swept the instruments off it and slammed it into the back of Mengele’s head, or at least tried too. The doctor ducked just in time to dodge Derek’s attack. Then, with incredible strength Derek did not know the doctor possessed, he forced the tray from his grip. Before Derek could even think to defend himself the doctor raised the tray and once again Derek fell into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

Flint nearly fell to the floor as his bad knee buckled under the pressure. For several moments the building shook and trembled as if it were being torn apart. Instinctively, Nick knew magic was at work, and that could mean only one thing, the Sons of Odin were under attack. Soon the sound of gunfire erupted from outside the compound and his fears were confirmed. Barely able to stand, let alone run, he took off down the hall, passing several men in the hallways and ordered all of them to follow.

Quickly he guided the men to the nearest weapons cache, located in the main meeting hall, where they quickly armed ourselves. Another explosive jolt rocked the compound, and Flint nearly fell to the floor as his knee groaned in protest. Gritting his teeth he waited out the blast. Before he could open his mouth to issue orders, a figure stepped into the hall to face the revolutionary and his men.

+ - + - + - +

“Hold your fire!” Flint bellowed as his men raised their weapons.

Gritting his teeth against the pain Flint limped toward where I stood and came to stand across from me.

“You,” I muttered as my eyes widening in recognition. “You’re Talman?”

Flint smiled, “No. The name’s Nick Flint. I would say it’s a pleasure to see you again, but I hardly think these are pleasurable circumstances.”

I grimaced and shook my head, “I always wondered what became of you.”

“You saved my life. That’s not something I’m likely to forget. If you surrender, I promise no harm will come to you,” he said, likely knowing full well that his men didn’t stand a chance against a powerful Spellbinder like myself.

Smiling ruefully I shook my head, “You know I can’t do that.”

“Had to ask. May your journey to Valhalla be swift and assured.” He turned his back to me and walked back to where his men waited. “Men! Open Fire!” Flint called out.

Bright flashes of light appeared as a barrage of bullets flew my way. I raised my arms and called forth a shield of spirit magic, watching calmly as the bullets bounced harmlessly off the soft blue barrier. Having no desire to kill Nicholas nor his men, I reached deep within myself and wove a web of wind, water and spirit magic and sent it hurtling throughout the room. A swirling green mass appeared above them and quickly consumed Flint and his men. When all was said and done a full dozen men lay on the ground unconscious, with only minor injuries.

At the moment I had bigger fish fry so I left the sleeping forms of the combatants and continued my search for Jonas Talman.

+ - + - + - +

When the last of the opposing forces had been squelched I moved through the ranks of the CIB towards Agent Jensen.

“Any sign of Talman?” I asked as I approached.

He shook his head, “We’re still sorting through this mess, but I have a feeling Talman has managed to slip away again,” he said warily. “We did find something we haven’t run across before. We’ve found evidence to suggest Talman was conducting experiments.”

“What sort of experiments?” I asked.

Jensen hesitated for a second. “It’s better if you see for yourself,” he said. Then led me through the scene and to an area where an ambulance had been parked. He excused the agent guarding it, then swung the door open. Inside was the inert figure of an old man. I hopped into the ambulance and knelt next to the unconscious figure. Placing my hand on his cheek I sent a trickle of spirit magic into his body and watched as he came awake.

“Where am I?” he said in a raspy voice.

“You’re safe now,” I said reassuringly. “What’s your name?”

The old man looked very much the worse for the wear as he struggled to speak, “Cletus Montgomery. The doctor… ”

I moved closer to the old man and began to weave a spell of healing as I reached into the deepest recesses of his body. My magic came up against a barrier. I was so taken aback that I jumped back from the old man, falling down on my ass. Magic! The old man’s body had instinctively summoned a magic barrier against my perceived intrusion.

“Dammit,” I muttered angrily, preparing myself for another attempt. The old man lightly touched my hand. “Doctor Mengele,” he said with a gasp. I tried to silence him but he shook his head stubbornly, “You must…” He gave one final gasp and a moment later he was gone.

+ - + - + - +

“Good, you are awake,” the doctor cackled as Derek’s eyes fluttered open.

Derek tried to move, but found his movements hindered by the shackles that were now around his wrists and ankles. “We are most disappointed in you,” the doctor said frowning down at Derek. “We trusted you, and you attacked us.”

Derek remained silent, staring defiantly up at the doctor as he continued to speak, “You have started to awaken.”

“Awaken how?” Derek demanded.

The doctor cackled. “You will see,” he said then turned away and left Derek alone in the darkness.

Feelings of despair and hopelessness overtook him. Although the circumstances were much different I’ve been in a situation similar to Derek’s, and it’s not a pleasant experience, let me tell you. As Derek sat there alone he had plenty of time to think and memories of his past came flooding into his mind unbidden…

+ - + - + - +

Red fluid seeped through young Derek’s clenched fingers as he tried in vain to keep the blood from pouring out of his father’s chest. He had watched helplessly as the three armed men had walked into the small meat market and demanded all of the store’s cash from his father.

“Derek, run!” his father called out as the bullets had started to fly. Derek dove to the floor.

The robbers ignored him completely as they tore the money-cabinet open with a crowbar and quickly made their escape with all of his father’s hard-earned money.

Fearful that the thieves might return and decide to kill him, Derek crawled across the blood soaked floor and came to rest beside his father. Zeik Hines’ chest rose and fell, and for a few fleeting moments Derek felt hope rise that his father would survive. Unfortunately, as his father’s breathing grew steadily weaker and blood continued to flow from his body, Derek’s worst fears were realized as his father took one final breath and passed into the next life.

+ - + - + - +

“I need you,” I said, sitting down and slapping Nicholas’ folder onto the table in front of me.

Nicholas smirked, “I don’t really think this is right place for that, darlin’.”

I grimaced, I had walked right into that one. I flipped open the folder and began to read from it, “Colonel Nicholas Flint of the One Hundred and Second Infantry, twice decorated. I need someone with your unique skill set. Are you interested?”

Nicholas glanced at the concealment shroud on the other side of the room and gave me an appraising look, “In case you haven’t worked it for yourself, I’m likely to go to prison for a long time.”

I smiled, “There are ways around that.”

Nicholas glanced back at the shroud. “You can speak freely,” I told him. “They can’t hear us.”

Nicholas looked me over suspiciously, “You’re the one responsible for getting me locked up. Why would I want to help you?”

I sighed, “I saved your life, remember? This is much bigger than either of us. If you knew what I know, you’d realize that there is much more at stake than men’s rights.”

He gave me an amused look, “Oh yeah? Like what?”

I wasn’t getting through to him. Clearly he was not going to buy what I had to sell. I’d just have to change that. Reaching across the table I gripped either side of his face, “Hey wha-” he started to say, but suddenly stopped mid-sentence as his eyes clouded over and he fell into a trance.

A few moments later his hands came up and broke my grip on my face, “Odin’s bones!” he said his eyes wide. “It can’t be true.”

I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “What I have shown you is the truth. It’s up to you whether you chose to accept my offer. Freedom, in exchange for your assistance.”

I stood up and was about to leave when Nicholas called after me. “Wait! Assistance with what?” he asked.

I grinned wickedly, “I think you already know the answer to that. Should you choose to accept, tell your interrogator that you will only speak with me,” I reached for the door and left Nicholas sitting in stunned disbelief.

+ - + - + - +

Derek stared down at his finger tips, aghast at the change that had been wrought upon them. A few moments ago his right hand had burst into sudden and excruciating pain. His finger tips felt as if they had been run through a meat grinder. In the dim light he brought his hand up to his face so that he could get a better look at it and watched in morbid horror as the tips of his fingers shrank, changing from their usual chocolate brown to a much lighter tan color. Slowly the changes crept up his fingers, stopping just short of his knuckles.

He was changing, that much was obvious, but into what? His fingers were now longer, resembling fingers that might belong to a woman. Chilled by the thought, Derek worried that he might end up resembling the doctor. Perhaps he would not be stuck between forms as the doctor had. Perhaps he would change into a complete woman, but that held little more appeal to him than being stuck like the doctor.

Derek’s thoughts were interrupted as a loud clang sounded in the near distance. He heard the distinct sound of the doctor’s characteristic shuffling walk. “How is our specimen?” Mengele asked with what seemed to be genuine interest as he drew closer.

“I’d be much better if you set me free,” Derek replied testily.

The doctor chortled, “We cannot do that! We are granting you a great gift. Think of it! You shall have the power to use magic.”

Derek grimaced, “Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want to end up like you. Just look at what your formula has done to me!” He raised his hand so that the doctor could see his transformed fingers.

The doctor took one look and started to shriek, “The formula shouldn’t be doing this! Our revisions should have seen to that! We’ve failed!”

“Perhaps not all is lost,” a new voice said out of the darkness. “If the subject completes the transformation you could use the revised formula to complete your own transformation, my love.”

A weird sort of wistfulness seemed to pass across the doctor’s face, “Of course,” the doctor grinned. “Then we can be together again.”

The doctor’s reply was met only with silence, “Our lady is very wise,” he said happily. He pulled a needle from his coat and jabbed it into his prisoner’s arm and once more Derek drifted into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

Flint was back in his cell and drifting off to sleep when a voice spoke out of nowhere, “Well,” a woman’s voice purred. “What have we here?”

Flint’s eyes shot open and he looked over to find a leggy brunette standing on the opposite side of the cell. As she did with me, the Goddess seemed to have a calming effect on the revolutionary. “Do you truly believe calling yourself a son of Odin sets you apart from other men?” she continued, her arms crossed over her chest. “And here I thought that all men were sons of my dear departed husband.”

Flint couldn’t believe his ears. Had she just claimed that she was the wife of Odin? But that would mean … “By Odin’s Bones!” Flint fell to his knees.

Rolling her eyes, Frigg’s voice seemed to grow very cold, “You’re almost as bad as Aryanna. Get up and stop invoking the name of my dead husband.”

Slowly, Flint stood and regarded the Asynja warily. “What would you have of me?”

The goddess threw her head back with a laugh. “Now that’s more like it! You were approached by my dear servant, Aryanna. It would please me to no end if you were to join her in our cause.”

Flint stared at Frigg suspiciously, “To stop Ragnarok?” He folded his arms across his chest and glared at her stubbornly. “Isn’t the world supposed to be transformed into a paradise after everything is said and done? Why would I want to stop that? What’s in it for me?”

The Goddess Frigg’s eyes glinted with amusement, “My, you are a bold one! Very well, mortal, I’ll make a bargain with you. Should you agree to help, and you are successful in halting Ragnarok, I will see to it that the playing field between the sexes is leveled.”

“You’ll give us the ability to use magic?” he asked growing more suspicious of the Goddess Frigg.

Frigg shook her head and smiled with a hint of mischievousness in her eyes, “Impossible, unless you would like a nice set of breasts on your chest and a pair of lips between those legs. No, there are other means by which men can gain power.”

Flint wanted desperately to believe the goddess, but the deal sounded too good to be true. Frigg could have granted men whatever power she was offering centuries ago. Why was she offering now? Why hadn’t she done something sooner?

Frigg glanced at Flint and threw her head back and started laughing again. “You need more time to decide.” She came over and placed her hand on his cheek. Her hand slithered down his body and stopped at his bad knee. “A gift, as a sign of good faith.”

A pleasantly warm sensation passed through his knee, then shot throughout the rest of his body. The pain that had been a constant part of his life for over six years was gone. “My knee!” he muttered in disbelief. “You’ve healed it!”

She nodded, “Until the coming of the great battle with the Jotun, you will not age.” Without any warning whatsoever, Frigg vanished as if she had never even been there. As soon as she disappeared Flint called to the guard and asked that he be allowed to speak with me.

+ - + - + - +

Nicholas Flint looked up as I stepped through the door. “I knew you’d come around,” I said with a smile as I sat down across from him.

He shook his head, “Are you free to speak?”

I nodded, “Of course.”

Nicholas hesitated for a moment then spoke, “Ragnarok. I can hardly believe it might actually be coming. What exactly can we do about it?”

I sighed and looked him in the eyes, “We can fight. I have reason to believe that Ragnarok can be halted.”

“It appears we have a mutual acquaintance,” he said. A look of determination passed across his face then faded almost as quickly.

A smiled touched the corner of my lips, “Oh yeah? Who would that be?”

Nicholas hesitated again. “Frigg,” he muttered in a whispered tone.

I was a bit surprised that the Frigg would have bothered talking to the revolutionist. She hadn’t contacted me since our first encounter, and I was beginning to wonder if the steps I was taking to halt Ragnarok were enough. Since becoming a full Spellbinder I had done everything I could think of, but I had been assailed with doubts from the very first day. Perhaps this was a sign that I was headed in the right direction.

“I’m assuming she managed to convince you of the importance of the cause?” I said, concealing my surprise as best I could.

Nicholas shook his head. “I’m not sold, but I’m willing to listen.”

That wasn’t completely unexpected “First, I need some information. Tell me about Mengele.”

Nicholas scowled. “I never liked having that freak around. I tried to convince Talman that we didn’t need the doctor, but Talman insisted.”

“You call Mengele a freak. Is that because of the experiments?” I asked.

Nicholas shook his head and sighed, “Fifty years ago, Mengele developed a formula that he thought would give men the ability to use magic. He tested it on himself. The results aren’t pretty. He’s half-male and half-female.”

“Like some sort of hermaphrodite?” I asked.

He shook his head, “No, one side of his body is male, though it’s twisted and deformed, while the other side looks like a beautiful woman.

I bit my lip, “That explains a few things. Do know where I can find him?”

Flint shook his head and I sighed warily, “What about Talman, where can I find him?”

Nicholas sighed, “I wouldn’t tell you even if I knew.”

“There will be someone in to interrogate you shortly,” I said standing to leave. “I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you what will happen should you refuse to answer them.”

“Wait!” He called after me, “Where are you going?”

I gave him a knowing look, “To find Mengele, of course.”

+ - + - + - +

“Lady,” the white-clad Elf said with a slight tilt of his head, “I am called Heime.”

Good goddesses! Heime was gorgeous. I couldn’t keep my eyes of him. I tried to not let it show as I spoke, “We have met before, haven’t we?”

Heime smiled, “Indeed, ’twas I who did vanquish the Dokklfur that had come upon thee six years ago. It was most unfortunate that our first meeting was so fleeting. Thou art truly beautiful, and I find myself unable to take mine eyes away from thy countenance.”

I found myself blushing at the Lejolfar’s words. It seemed odd that I would suddenly find myself attracted to a man when I had never had such feelings before. Then I thought back to my meeting with the Elf Queen and remembered I壇 had to restrain myself from tearing her clothes off. Maybe it wasn’t me, maybe it was him. I shrugged off my strange attraction and attempted to excuse myself. “It really was a pleasure to see you again, but I really must be going.”

“I am afraid, my Lady, that it is most urgent we speak,” the Elf said apologetically. “My mother, the Queen, has sent me in regards to thy debt.”

I sighed, “It really isn’t a very good time. Can we speak later?”

The Elf shook his head and smiled sadly, “It is most urgent that the debt be fulfilled now.”

I sighed, remembering the importance Frigg had placed on fulfilling the debt, “Very well, exactly what do I need to do?”

The Elf smiled apologetically as he detailed just exactly what his mother wished me to do. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was not at all what I would have ever expected.

“Very well.” with a nervous lump in my throat I took the Elf’s hand and summoned forth a travel spell.

+ - + - + - +

Derek gasped in pure agony as the pain crept up his arm and produced further changes. This time the pain lasted for well over an hour, and by the time it had ceased his entire right arm and part of his shoulder had undergone changes. His new arm was extremely stiff and sore and it was damn well impossible to get it to move.

As I mentioned earlier, the room was poorly lit, and Derek had a difficult time seeing the full details of his changes, but he saw enough to dread any future changes. His arm was far shorter and had lost all the muscle mass he had worked so hard to build. The skin color, as he had noted earlier, was a creamy chocolate-tan color, much more reminiscent of his mother’s skin tone than his own. His mother was half-Japanese, and had always favored her Japanese ancestry over the African side of her family. He had always favored his African ancestry, showing almost no sign of having any Asian heritage, but apparently the formula was changing that.

Due to the shackles on his wrists, he couldn’t take his shirt off, but from what he could tell, his shoulder looked oddly disproportionate under his shirt.

Derek half-expect the doctor to reappear to examine this new set of changes, but the doctor did not show. At one point a shadowy figure that might have been the doctor appeared to slide a tray of food in front of Derek, but he never knew for sure. Derek’s right arm was next to useless, so he was forced to eat using his left arm.

Derek wasn’t entirely sure how long he sat there in the darkness, but he soon drifted off to sleep, once again finding himself reliving his past.

+ - + - + - +

Derek was nineteen now, and the memory of his father’s death still hung over him like a storm cloud. At first he had wanted revenge for his loss, but as time drew on he had come to see that the men that had killed his father as being a small part of a much bigger problem. The Spellbinders controlled everything. Men had little chance of succeeding in a world ruled under their tyrannical fists. Desperate men performed desperate acts.

For these reason, Derek had come to join in the protests at the nation’s Capitol. He had spent nearly all of his savings just to get there and he soon found himself surrounded by like-minded men. He shivered in the cold and held up his sign in protest with the rest. The protesters and the police had remained at a peaceful standoff. That all changed with the arrival of the Men’s Liberation Front, a masculinist group that had been gaining nationwide attention for it’s radical views on men’s rights.

Members of the men’s group began taunting the police, but for a short while it didn’t look as if anything would come of it. Then one of the revolutionists pulled out a gun and all Jotun broke loose. The man was quickly gunned down by the police and the once peaceful protests turned suddenly violent. Derek made a break for it and managed to evade being arrested.

The rioting that broke out lasted for days afterward, and only ended after martial law was declared and the military became directly involved. As a result of the riots, the Men’s Liberation Front suffered intense scrutiny from the government and was eventually disbanded after several government raids that put a stop to the majority of their activity.

+ - + - + - +

The Dvergir stumbled about drunkenly down the street and I had no problem following him. It was several blocks before he came to a halt and I chose then to make my presence known. “Brokk,” I said out of the shadows.

Brokk stumbled to his knees. “Who there?” he asked with a pronounced slur.

I stepped into sight and smiled down at the diminutive creature, who resembled a very short human. His nose gave him away. It was much too large for his face and resembled a turnip. “You!” he grunted and drew a small battleaxe from his belt.

I summoned a bit of wind magic and sent the blade tumbling out of his hands. “Now, now, Brokk,” I said with a cheerful smile, “Let’s play nice.”

Brokk let out a loud belch and scowled up at me. “Lass,” he growled. “Leave me be. I’m in no mood fer yer questions, now.”

I sent earth magic down my arm and used the extra strength my magic granted me to force the Dwarf off his feet and up against the wall of the nearby building. “I have no time for this, Brokk. I need answers now. I need to know where I can find someone by the name of Doctor Mengele.”

The dwarf laughed, “You gonna have to make it worth me while I thinks.”

Sighing wearily I released the dwarf and let his feet sink back down to the ground. “What exactly will it cost me this time?” I asked.

The dwarf smiled, “Word ‘mong my cousins is Ragnarok’s a-comin’,” he grunted, “and that Frigg’s gone and chosen you to keep it from happenin’.”

I didn’t know how the dwarf had learned this, but it didn’t particularly surprise me. The dwarves were renowned for their information gathering skills. “I figure you be needin’ to raise yerself an army.”

This could actually work to my advantage. “You want to make me weapons, Brokk? Assuming I needed those weapons, exactly how much would that cost me?”

The dwarf stroked his chin, “Aye, I wants to make you weapons. As fer the price, yer ancestor owns a piece of property that the Conclave would be mighty interested in having. If we were to receive said property we might be inclined to make you them weapons.”

I had no idea what property of the Dvergar Conclave would be interested in, but the only reason the dwarves would want any property would be to mine it. “Uh-huh…” I folded my arms across my chest. “Where exactly is this property?”

The dwarf belched again, “Alfheim.”

“Alfheim?” I asked. “Athilda owns land in the home of the Light Elves? That’s crazy. How in Hel could she own property there of all places?”

The dwarf shrugged, “Give us the land and I will tell you what you want ter know.”

“You know I will have to speak with Athilda about this, don’t you?”

The dwarf laughed again, “I figer’d that’d be the case.”

Sighing warily I shook my head. “I’ll be back,” I said, then called forth a travel spell and vanished with a great torrent of wind.

+ - + - + - +

Derek snorted loudly and came awake as his shoulder suddenly erupted with pain. The pain spread across his chest and up his neck, and he started screaming as the pain became too much to bear. He couldn’t see the changes, but could track their progress as he felt the pain move across his body.

That’s when the doctor chose to reappear and Derek screamed in agony as a particularly sharp stab of pain shot through his nipple. Mengele came over to Derek as he lay on the ground convulsing in agony. “Painful, isn’t it?” He sounded almost sympathetic.

The pain was so overwhelming that Derek couldn’t have answered had he wanted too. “Let us see.” Mengele said and tore open Derek’s shirt.

Much to his horror Derek saw the changes that had started to come over his right nipple. It had become severely swollen and a small mound was slowly growing into something that was quickly coming to resemble a breast. That wasn’t the only change taking place, a trail of mismatched skin was crawling up his chest toward his neck, and another down toward his waist.

The doctor smiled down at the younger man, produced a syringe from his jacket and chortled, “We need blood.” Once he had gotten it he disappeared, while Derek continued to writhe in agony and watch in horror at the changes which were coming over his body.

+ - + - + - +

“How is she today?” I asked my mother as I approached. After Penelope’s death, Athilda had hired my mother as her assistant. Now that I was acting head of House le Fey, Mom was technically now my assistant, but the majority of her time was spent nursing our ailing ancestor.

Mom smiled sadly, “It’s been one of Athilda’s better days, but it’s been a tough week for her. “What about you?” she asked in a worried tone. “You’ve been working too hard. You need to get some rest. I’m sure the Goddess will understand if you take a day off.”

I shook my head, “I can’t afford to take a day off.”

“Marion’s been asking about you. She wants to see you,” Mom said with a bit of smile.

My mother knew just what to say. She knew I wouldn’t say no to spending time with Marion. “Okay, I’ll try to find some time for her, but I need to speak with Athilda,” I said, changing the subject. “Where can I find her?”

Mom smiled, “Where else? The gardens.”

I kissed my mother on the forehead. “Of course, I should have guessed. Even at this hour she can’t keep away. We’ll talk later.”

I left my mother and walked through the house and out a door that led to the gardens. I found my ancestor almost immediately, knelt down on her knees trimming away at a small shrub.

“Aryanna,” she said without even looking my way. “Has your mother sent you in her place to chastise me?”

“No,” I said folding my arms across my chest. “But you really should be in bed. It’s nearly one in the morning. The rest would do you good.”

Athilda threw her head back and laughed, “I am dying, child. Rest will do me little good.”

Athilda and I had had this argument before and I chose not to press the matter further. “I need your permission to sell a piece of land.”

Athilda turned to look me in the eyes, “You are the Head of our house, child. You have no need to ask anything of me.”

“Acting Head,” I reminded her. “And this isn’t any piece of land. Brokk says it’s in Alfheim.”

Athilda scowled up at me, “I should have known. You’ve been consorting with that Dwarf again.”

I shook my head, “Brokk has information I need, and he’s agreed to make me weapons should I give him the land.”

“That land was a gift from the Lejoá¡lfar Queen. She would not be happy if you gave it to the Conclave.” Athilda said.

I shook my head, “I don’t really care if the Queen is happy or not,” I said with far more anger than I intended.

Athilda gave me an appraising look, “Your debt to the Elf Queen,” she whispered. “When did she-”

I cut her off, “Yesterday, and I’d rather not talk about it.”

Athilda gave me a sympathetic look. “Give the dwarf what he wants.”

I smiled, “Thank you, Athilda. Please get some rest,” I said as I turned to leave, then turned back.

“Lilith would have been proud of you,” Athilda said suddenly, and I stopped in my tracks.

I turned back to look at my ancestor. “You never talk about Lilith,” I whispered quietly.

Athilda nodded, “I’ve been a fool. She thought the Seidskati were too old and set in their ways. She felt the Council should have been disbanded. It’s taken me almost five centuries, but I’ve come to believe she was right.”

I opened my mouth to speak, but Athilda continued. “She was such a contentious child. She and I, we were always arguing. One day, I’d had enough, I told her to leave and never come back. We never spoke again.”

I stared at my ancestor, aghast. She had never told me what had happened between her and my great-grandmother. “Athilda,” I whispered quietly. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Because you deserve to know.”

I nodded, “Thanks.”

Athilda sighed, “Trust no one. There remains at least one traitor within the Seidskati.”

I nodded, “Elizabeth.”

Athilda shook her head, “I know your dislike for Elizabeth is strong, child, but that is little reason to believe she is a traitor.”

I shook my head, “Who else could it be?”

Athilda turned to look me in the eyes, “Many within the council might have had the opportunity.”

I shook my head, “Whatever the case, I have some ideas on how I might get the traitor to reveal herself.”

“Very well. Go then, child,” she said with a bit of her usual irritation showing through. I nodded, summoned some magic, and disappeared with a great gust of wind.

+ - + - + - +

Flint hated confined spaces and all this time spent cooped up in the cell was starting to get to him. He had stubbornly refused to tell his interrogators anything. It didn’t feel right betraying Talman after everything he had done for him. Still, he couldn’t escape the feeling of unease that had come over him since learning of Aryanna’s belief that Ragnarok was coming. If what she had shown him was true, maybe the revolution wasn’t as important as he had believed.

But could he betray Talman? Despite his doubts, the man had been like a brother to him. He didn’t feel right just casting that friendship aside like an old rag, nor could he ignore Aryanna’s convictions concerning Ragnarok. Shaking his head in frustration, Derek began to pace back in forth across his cell, trying to figure out what he would do.

Hours later he still hadn’t come to a decision, but was distracted when for a brief moment he thought he heard a clinking sound. He immediately dismissed it, thinking perhaps he had imagined the sound. Soon enough, he heard it again and he knew immediately that the sound was not a figment of his tired mind. It seemed to be coming from below. What could it possibly be? Flint was in the basement of the CIB facility which had a solid concrete floor. It seemed unlikely that there would be any sound coming from below. He briefly considered calling out to the guard, but immediately dismissed the idea. His instincts told him that that would be a bad idea.

The clinking continued for over an hour and gradually grew louder until a small hole appeared in the floor. Flint caught a glimpse of something metallic working itself around the hole. The cavity widened considerably, the clinking ceased and a small head poked out from the hole.

Flint recognized the creature almost immediately. His grandfather had told him all about them in his youth, but they were so rare in Nyrland that he had never thought he’d ever lay eyes on one. The creature stared at the revolutionary for a moment, then opened its mouth, “You Flint?”

He nodded, “You’re a Kobold.”

The Kobold grunted, scowling up at Flint. “You think?” it asked sarcastically. “I never would have guessed. You want outta here or not?”

He nodded. The Kobold threw a pickaxe at Nick from inside its hole. “If you want out you’re gonna help me make a hole big enough to fit your huge ass.”

The Kobold was obviously irritated, and Flint didn’t want to aggravate it further, as they were said to be incredibly dangerous when angry, despite their short stature. “Won’t the guards be able to hear us?” he asked picking up the pickaxe.

The Kobold shook its head irritably, “Humans! The guards hear what I want them to hear. Shut up and start digging, or I might just decide to leave you here.”

Nick quickly did as the Kobold suggested and began working his way to freedom.

+ - + - + - +

It took me a while to find Brokk again, but when I finally did, it was not surprisingly, in a bar that catered exclusively to Dvergar. The pair of burly Dwarves at the door didn’t seem to want to let me in, but after I unleashed a torrent of water on the duo they gracefully allowed me inside. I strode into the establishment, ignoring the angry glances cast my way and sat down at a table across from Brokk.

“You again,” the Dwarf chugged down a large glass of amber lager. “You come to a decision?”

I nodded, “The property is yours, assuming you provide me with my weapons and the information I’m seeking.”

Brokk laughed. “Who you think you talkin’ to? The good doctor can be found in Epegard not far from the compound you and them CIB raided. Rumor has it he’s skulking ’bout an old apple distillery.”

I nodded, “You know, if this information proves false the deal is off.”

The dwarf grunted. “Course. I ain’t stupid.”

“It was a pleasure doing business,” I said then walked out of the bar and disappeared into the night.

+ - + - + - +

“This is the last time I ever do a goddess a favor,” the Kobold grumbled as Flint slipped into the hole. He found himself in a tunnel that ran as ran as the eye see in either direction. Flint had to crane his neck a bit as the tunnel wasn’t quite tall enough for him to stand at full-height.

The revolutionary looked down at the tiny Vattir in surprise, “Frigg sent you?”

“Yeah, and it’s been a huge pain in the ass so far.” the Kobold responded. “You humans are always getting yourselves into trouble. Why I should get you out of your own mess is beyond me.”

“Thanks for the help,” Flint said. “You have a name?”

The Kobold glanced at the man then grimaced, “Crystal.”

“You’re female?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes? Is that a problem?” she asked.

Nick shook his head, “No, of course not.”

“Come on then,” she said motioning the revolutionary forward. “I haven’t got all day.”

+ - + - + - +

Two swirling whirlwinds appeared suddenly out from the darkness, fading away just as quickly. From within the swirling masses, Agnes Bernauer and Elizabeth Bathory emerged. “Lizzy” was the first to approach, and as usual she wore a look of contempt and loathing on her face. Agnes on the other hand, seemed genuinely pleased to see me.

“What is so important that it couldn’t wait until morning?” Elizabeth growled angrily.

“I’ve tracked a scientist by the name of Dr. Mengele to these premises. The doctor has created a formula that purportedly will grant men the ability to use magic.” I said grimacing up at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth looked me over suspiciously, “I would think you all of people would find that idea appealing.”

I shook my head, “Mengele’s experimentation has lead to the death of at least four men. I will not let anymore innocents die at the hands of that madman.”

Agnes smiled. “I agree. Well done, Aryanna. I knew you showed potential.”

“Thanks.” I said smiling back at her. “What do you think? Should we try the direct approach or something a bit more subtle?”

Elizabeth scowled, “Direct. The sooner we get this over with the better.”

Agnes nodded, “Direct.”

As one, we stood and marched on the abandoned apple distillery. I calmed my senses and let my magic flood through my entire body. When I got close enough to the doors, I sent a huge gust of wind at them. They buckled inward and collapsed to the ground with a loud clang.

We met no resistance as we made our way through the old distillery in search of Mengele. We went from room to room and had nearly searched the entire building when we came upon a big steel door. Before I could summon my magic, Elizabeth blasted the door open with a fiery torrent and the three of us walked through the now open doorway.

Inside was an inert figure the like of which I had never seen. One half of the person’s body was the figure of a man of African descent and the other was that of a beautiful woman who appeared to be of mixed African and Asian descent. I moved across the room and knelt next to the unconscious figure who was chained against the wall. I placed my hand on his female cheek and sent a trickle of spirit magic into the poor soul’s body and watched as he came awake.

Derek would later claim that he thought he was looking on the face of a Valkyrie as he woke to find me staring down at him. “Am I dead?” he asked softly.

In spite of his appearance I couldn’t help but smile. “No,” I said sympathetically, “you’re in an abandoned apple distillery in Epegard.”

“Are you a Valkyrie?” he asked with something akin to adoration in his voice.

Again I smiled. “No, my name is Aryanna le Fey.” I didn’t know why, but I felt a small bit of pleasure at being compared to such a heavenly being. “The woman on my right is Elizabeth Bathory,” I continued, motioning toward a stern-faced Elizabeth. “And this is Agnes Bernauer on my left,” I added motioning toward my other companion.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Derek,” He croaked out.

“Nice to meet you Derek. I’m looking for someone named Dr. Mengele. Do you know where I can find him?”

Derek shook his head, “I don’t know where he is. He’ll probably be back soon. He hasn’t taken any blood in a while.”

I restrained a grimace as I reached over to the shackle on his right wrist. There was a brief flash of light as I summoned some earth and fire magic, then the shackle dissolved into amorphous goo. I did the same for the shackle on his left wrist, then the ones about his ankles. I offered Derek my hand and helped him stand.

Derek stumbled and nearly collapsed again, but I summoned a bit of magic to grant me strength and helped him to remain erect. I caught a glimpse of something sliding out of Derek’s pant leg and he bent down to pick it up, nearly falling as he struggled to pick up the object. I caught site of it and felt bile rise in my throat as I realized what Derek was holding in his hands.

“Frigg and Hel,” he muttered, then dropped his testicles from his hands and bent over to loose the contents of his stomach at my feet. I almost did the same, but managed to keep myself from vomiting, if only just barely.

There was a sudden and familiar chill in the room as a swirling whirlwind appeared and dissipated. “My Lady,” spoke a raspy voice. “Who have you brought to see us?”

Agnes Bernauer reacted almost instantly, sending a huge blast of white fire at Elizabeth Bathory. The older Spellbinder crumbled to the floor. Agnes rounded on me, sending a great blast of lightning at me. Fortunately, I managed to raise a Spirit Shield in time, as lightning crackled harmlessly around my soft blue barrier.

I was shocked by Agnes sudden attack. I never would have suspected that Agnes had been the traitor. Elizabeth had seemed the most likely candidate, and I had fully expected her to attack me when Mengele appeared.

Agnes grimaced and her face changed. I watched in amazement as the Agnes’ hair shifted and contorted, becoming longer, and changing color from gray to pure white. As her skin became completely black and her nose flattened against her face, her head became rounder and her teeth began to protrude from her mouth, becoming razor sharp. “How did you know?” The Dark Elf Sorceress that had been Agnes Bernauer shrieked at me.

I grunted against her continued onslaught, “I didn’t, but I’ve suspected for a long time that the de Clissons were working with someone else within the Seidskati. I always thought it was Elizabeth who was the traitor. I never would have guessed that a Dark Elf had been masquerading as Agnes.”

The creature shrieked and unleashed more lightning against me. It was almost too much for me to bear, and I fell to my knees against the strain of this new onslaught. The Dark Elf laughed and it took all the power I could muster just to keep my shield up.

+ - + - + - +

“Where exactly are we going?” Flint asked Crystal.

The Kobold grunted in annoyance, but otherwise ignored the revolutionary’s question. He was just about to demand an answer from the diminutive Vattir when she stopped suddenly, pronouncing, “We’re here.”

“We’re where?” Flint asked in obvious befuddlement.

The Kobold looked up and he followed her gaze. Directly above him was a small hole just barely large enough for him to fit through. “Well, don’t just stand there,” Crystal said irritably. “Start climbing.”

Because the ceiling of the tunnel was so low Flint was able to reach up into the hole and pull himself up the other side. Once through he gazed uncertainly back down through the cavity. “Coming?” he asked the Kobold.

She shook her head, “I did what the Goddess wanted. The rest is up to you. You might find this helpful,” she said, tossing up a small bundle wrapped in a cloth to him.

Flint unwrapped the cloth from the bundle and found a small .22 caliber pistol wrapped inside. “Thanks, but what would I possibly need this for?” the revolutionary called down the hole, but received no answer from the Kobold. He examined his surroundings and recognized them almost immediately. He wasn’t sure why the Goddess would bring him here of all places, but he had a feeling that something important was about to go down. Taking one last look around, Flint raised the small pistol and made his way to the nearest doorway.

+ - + - + - +

“Norns preserve!” I yelled against the Dokká¡lfur’s onslaught. Goddesses, she was powerful! All my power was being used to hold my shield, and soon even that wouldn’t be enough.

Just when I thought the Dark Elf would finally break through my defenses, the onslaught of lightning suddenly stopped. Ready to take advantage of the sudden reprieve I drew on my magic and sent a blast of wind and fire at the now defenseless Dokká¡lfur. I quickly realized, however, that my attack had been completely unnecessary. The Dark Elf had slumped to the floor with a bullet in her head.

I whirled around and found Nick Flint standing behind me holding a smoking gun in his hand. “How in the world did you get here?” I asked as I stood on shaky knees.

Nicholas flashed me a cocky grin, “A little Kobold showed me the way.”

I wasn’t entire sure what he meant by that remark, but I shook my head and walked over to where Elizabeth lay and knelt down beside her. I summoned my magic and felt for signs of life. When I found she was alive, I touched her cheek and let a small trickle of magic escape my fingers. With a start, the elderly Spellbinder came awake. “Agnes,” she muttered.

“That wasn’t Agnes,” I muttered. “It was a Dokká¡lfur Sorceress.”

Elizabeth sat up suddenly and gave me a bewildered look, “Why on earth would a Dark Elf want to take Agnes’ place?”

I looked about the room at Derek, who lay in an exhausted heap on the floor. “Perhaps we should discuss this at a later time.”

Elizabeth nodded, “I owe you my life.”

I shook my head, “Actually, I had very little to do with it. Nicholas arrived just in time to save both our lives.”

Elizabeth glanced back at Nicholas and nodded, “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Nicholas said, looking a bit uncomfortable under the ancient Spellbinder’s gaze.

Elizabeth turned back to look at me, “I’ll clean things up here. I think it best if the CIB were not made aware of your involvement.”

I nodded in agreement then cast my gaze around, remembering Mengele. He was nowhere to be seen. “Dammit,” I muttered. “The doctor has escaped.”

+ - + - + - +

Flint and I locked eyes, and I suppressed a shudder as I briefly caught a glimpse of the horrors he had witnessed. “What have you decided?” I asked, showing no sign that what I had seen disturbed me.

We were standing inside what had formerly been Athilda’s office, but now served as what I had come to call the ‘Ragnarok Room.’ Maps, books and various diagrams, all pertaining to Ragnarok, were strewn all about the place. Flint’s cold eyes seemed to soften a bit and he looked suddenly very tired. “I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I believe you. I truly do.”

I walked across the room and produced a bottle of Akvavit from within a cupboard. “Care for a drink?”

Nick nodded, “Please.”

I poured us each a glass and handed one to Flint. The revolutionary downed it almost immediately. “Haven’t had a good drink in days,” he muttered, giving me an appreciative look.

I smiled and downed my own glass. “I know how you feel,” I said, frowning into the empty glass. “As much as I hate being acting head of House le Fey, the position does have it’s advantages.”

Flint pursed his lips, “Like the occasional glass of a fine spirit?”

I nodded, “Yes. Of course. But we aren’t here to talk about Spirits, are we?”

“No,” Flint said putting his glass down on my desk. “I suppose not. You’re probably wondering why I haven’t given you an answer. I’ve been muddling it over in my head and no matter how I look at it, I keep coming to the same conclusion.”

I smiled, “What would that be?”

Nick sighed, “As hard as it is for me to admit, I think I was taken in by Talman. I believe he knows that Ragnarok is coming, and has chosen what he believes to be the winning side.”

I shook my head, “You think he is knowingly serving the Jotun?”

Flint nodded. “From what you’ve told me, the de Clissons were willfully serving the Jotun, as was that Dark Elf I killed. I think it unlikely that Talman would unknowingly ally himself with two different servants of the Jotun without becoming suspicious. He’s too smart for that.”

“Knowingly or unknowingly he is aiding the enemy,” I said with a sad smile.

Flint grimaced miserably, “The Jotun will see the world destroyed should the Goddesses lose the final battle. Jonas must have some reason to believe the Jotun will spare him if he has allied himself with the giants, and I’ve helped him, blithely unaware of his duplicity.” He picked up the empty glass and staring longingly into it. “That’s why you’ll need me. I know Talman, I know how he thinks and I know what his next move will be.”

“So I take you’ve made your decision,” I said a triumphant smile creeping onto my face.

Flint nodded, “I guess I have.”

“I think that’s reason enough for another drink,” I said pouring us each another shot of Akvavit.

+ - + - + - +

Derek woke in what was to him a foreign place. He was laying atop a bed in a guest room within Athilda’s estates. “Where am I?” he muttered under his breath as he looked about the lavish room. The last thing he could remember was the battle with the Dark Elf.

“You’re awake!” said a high-pitched voice excitedly. The voice belonged to a girl who looked to be in her early teen years.

“Who are you?” Derek asked taken aback, surprised by the girl’s sudden appearance.

The girl smiled and held out her hand, “I’m Marion Valemont. I guess you could say I’m Aryanna’s adopted sister.”

Derek took the girl’s hand and smiled, “Derek Hines. I guess that means I’m in the Le Fey estates.”

The girl nodded enthusiastically. “Aryanna and Mom had some really important stuff to talk about with that ornery Bathory lady, so they asked me to watch you. They should be back soon.”

“Do you have any idea how I got here?” Derek asked the girl.

She shook her head, “Nope.”

Sighing bitterly, Derek reached across the bed to remove the blanket that had been lying atop him. As he did so, he noted that his transformation had not progressed any further since his last bout of changes. He ran quickly across the room and looked himself over in the mirror. Like the doctor, one half of his body was male and the other was female. Unlike Mengele, his male side didn’t look the least bit deformed.

“Sif preserve!” Derek muttered. “Am I going to be stuck like this forever?”

Marion came over to stand next to him. She glanced up at him with a curious expression on her face. Derek didn’t respond, not sure of what to say. He opened his mouth to speak, but no words escaped his lips as looked down at the girl. How could he explain his predicament to this child? He held no obligation toward her, and there was no need to tell what had been done to him, but for some reason he felt a strong desire to tell Marion all about his changes.

He stared at the girl awkwardly, and was saved from speaking as the door opened and I appeared from the other side of it. Derek seemed nervous as our eyes met and, strangely enough, I felt a bit of a nervous twinge myself.

“Derek,” I said smiling at him. “How are you doing?”

He shook his head, “As good as can be expected.”

I gave him a sympathetic smile then I looked about remembering that the girl was still present. “Marion would you please leave us?”

She groaned and pouted, but quickly complied, storming angrily out of the room. As soon as she had vacated it, my attention returned to Derek and I spoke, “I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I think I might be able to reverse your changes.”

Derek smiled enthusiastically, “That’s great news!” he exclaimed practically jumping with glee, “How soon can you do it?

I hesitated for a moment, “I don’t know if it will even work. I’ve never done anything like it before. There’s something else I want you to consider. I might be able to reverse the changes, but there’s at least as good a chance that I might complete them.”

Derek looked back at me with a look of utter confusion on his face. “Why would I want to be a woman?”

Again, I hesitated, “While you were unconscious, I probed your mind. Please, don’t be angry,” I added quickly noting the shocked look that had appeared on his face. “Let me explain.” I raised my hand as Derek opened his mouth to speak. He looked uncomfortable and I could understand why. A person’s thoughts were private. To have someone else look upon them was deeply unsettling.

“When I was first made Athilda’s apprentice, I was kidnapped and my mind was invaded,” I continued smiling apologetically as I did so. “My kidnapper intended to make me into an assassin by altering my mind. I had to be sure they hadn’t tried to do the same with you. When I looked into your mind I found a strong sense of right and wrong, and an even stronger desire to be accepted as an equal to women in our society. I could use someone like you.”

Derek looked as if he were at a loss for words and he stared at me awkwardly as if trying to think of something to say. “Use me for what?” he finally managed to mutter.

Once again I hesitated, “Ragnarok is coming. I intend to keep it from becoming a reality.”

He gave me an incredulous look and glared at me as if wondering whether I were sane. “That’s …” he muttered trailing off.

“Crazy?” I said with a smile. “I know how it sounds.”

Once more he stared at me in awkward silence. “I don’t know what to think. I need some time to think,” he finally managed to say.

I nodded in understanding, “Take all the time you need,” I said, turning away leaving him alone with his thoughts.

+ - + - + - +

Derek was, once again alone in the same guest room he had awakened in when a woman suddenly appeared before him. “Norns,” he muttered in astonishment. “Where the Frigg did you come from?”

“Mortals!” she said with a scowl on her face. “I don’t know why you insist on using my name as if it were a foul curse word.”

“You’re Goddess Frigg?” he muttered in amazement. “That’s it! I’ve lost it completely. I’m seeing things.”

Frigg rolled her eyes, “You’re not hallucinating,” she replied testily.

Derek hesitated, then looked her over from head to foot. He wanted to say something, but only managed a slight nod.

This small gesture appeared to be enough for the goddess as she smiled at him from across the room, “Much better. What have you decided regarding Aryanna’s offer?”

He couldn’t quite explain why, but for whatever reason he became convinced he really was speaking with Frigg and not some figment of his imagination. “I don’t know,” he said shaking his head in frustration. “If what she says is true then I would want to help stop Ragnarok. Can she really do it? Can she really finish the changes?”

Frigg smiled sadly, “Yes, but she could kill you if she’s not careful.”

Derek shook his head, “And Ragnarok? Can it be stopped.”

The goddess pursed her lips, “There is a chance. The future is not set.”

“You think I should accept her offer?” he asked, looking at the goddess with a sense of dread.

She smiled sadly, “What I think doesn’t matter, mortal. The choice must be yours.”

“That’s it?” he asked her incredulously. “Surely, you can give me something that will help me decide!”

Frigg seemed momentarily taken aback, then suddenly threw her head back and started to laugh, a deep and hearty laugh. She smiled down at him, “She needs you. Even now she feels drawn to you, but does not yet understand why.”

Derek’s heart skipped a beat and he hesitated for a moment as his heart and mind waged war with one another. He had been drawn to me since our meeting, but neither could he stand the thought of being stuck as a woman for the rest of his life. He stared up at the goddess as if pleading for her to make the decision for her. A sigh escaped his lips as came to acceptance passed through him. “Then I suppose I’ll ask her to complete the changes,” he muttered, feeling dread mingled with relief as he locked his eyes with those of the goddess.

Frigg gifted Derek with an approving smile, “There is no need for her to invoke the changes when I can do so without risk to your life,” She walked across the room to stand before Derek and gently stroked his cheek.

Suddenly, a very familiar yet considerably less severe pain coursed throughout Derek’s body. This time the changes came on much more quickly, and he gasped as a very strange sensation passed over his crotch. It burned where his penis had remained stubbornly attached above a partial formed vagina. He quickly tore open his pants and watched as his penis suddenly shot inward and formed a complete vulva.

“Be patient with her,” the goddess whispered. He looked over where she had been standing and found she was gone. He quickly tore off his remaining clothes and watched as the changes rippled across his body. He struggled against the pain as he walked across the room where a mirror was mounted on the wall. He watched as the changes shifted across his face, neck, torso, and lower body.

The breast on the right side of his chest seemed to grow just a bit larger, then the area around the left nipple almost seemed to inflate and there were two breasts on his chest. The changes to his face completed first, and he found himself captivated by the sight of the woman in the mirror. His eyes were now slightly slanted, though his facial features were still predominantly African. There was an ever so slight resemblance to his mother, but he was much more attractive than his mother had ever been. Strangely enough, his hair had grown nearly a foot in length with the new set of changes. Gradually, the changes were completed across the rest of his body and the pain faded away.

The woman in the mirror had a captivating figure to match her face and Derek could hardly believe that he was looking upon his own reflection. There were a few features in his face that stuck out as familiar, but for the most part there was very little resemblance to his previous self. He looked at his reflection and felt his stomach lurch at that the thought that he would have to live as a woman for the rest of his life. Had he really made the right choice?

+ - + - + - +

After dressing himself in the set of ill-fitting clothes that he found within the closet, Derek left the privacy of the guest room and left in search of me. He found me in the hallway as I was conversing with my mother. I caught sight of him almost immediately felt my jaw drop as I noted his now fully female form. “Derek? How did you?…”

“I, uh, had a little help,” he muttered awkwardly, and I found myself mesmerized by the sight of the beautiful woman that stood before me. “Frigg,” I muttered finding myself at a loss for words.

I don’t know what made him do it, but suddenly I found his lips locked with my own. Shocked by the sudden contact, I quickly broke away and stared at the new woman in shock.

“I … I’m sorry,” he muttered apologetically. “I don’t know …”

I stepped back from Derek with a sinking feeling in my heart. “Please don’t. I… just can’t.”

“Lady Aryanna!” A voice called from behind.

“Yes what is it, Meredith?” I quickly replied, eager to seize upon the interruption.

The young woman bowed her head, “It is Lady Athilda. She seeks your presence.”

“We will speak later,” I said, casting Derek an awkward glance before turning to follow Meredith down the hallway.

“Don’t take it personally. She just hasn’t been the same since the death of Marion’s sister,” I heard my mother mutter, and felt my cheeks burn at the thought of the kiss Derek and I had shared.

+ - + - + - +

“About time, cousin!” Claramae said with a scowl as I stepped into the room. I looked about the room and noted several more of my ‘cousins’ gathered around Athilda’s bed within the room.

“Hold your tongue, child,” Athilda said, scowling up at my cousin.

I came over and knelt by Athilda’s bedside. My ancestor looked dreadful, the dark circles under her eyes were much more prevalent than usual, and she looked thinner than ever. “Leave us,” Athilda said. “I need to speak with Aryanna alone.”

Claramae grimaced, but left the room without a word and the others soon followed suit. Mother, who had appeared in the doorway, turned away and closed the door so that Athilda and I could have some privacy. “Athilda, what’s going on?” I asked.

Athilda smiled sadly, “Twilight is nearly upon me, child. It is almost time.”

I sighed feeling the sting of tears beginning to form in my eyes, “Athilda, don’t talk like that.”

Athilda grimaced up at me, “Just listen, child. When I pass there will be no one to guide you. You must persevere. The fate of the world depends upon you.”

Tears streamed unbidden down my face as I muttered, “I don’t know what I’ll do without you.”

Athilda smiled sagely, “I have faith in you. Of all my descendants you and your mother are the only ones I would trust with my legacy.”

A small sob escaped my lips as I spoke, “Athilda, I cannot hope to fill your shoes.”

Athilda shook her head and smiled up at me with tears in her eyes. “Then do not fill them. Choose your own path. Make me proud.”

I couldn’t bring myself to speak. I merely nodded and gripped Athilda’s hand.

“Invite the others back in. It is time to start the death watch,” Athilda said quietly. More tears fell from my eyes as I went to do as she had bid me.

+ - + - + - +

It was nearly two in the morning the next day when Derek got up from bed. So many thoughts were coursing through his mind that he found he could not sleep. So he wandered the halls of Athilda’s estates trying to make sense of everything that had happened. He found that whenever he needed to work out a problem, walking seemed to help. A change of scenery often led to his greatest moments of inspiration.

As he walked, his thoughts turned to me. He felt a strong attraction toward me and he couldn’t understand why he felt such strong feelings toward someone he had only just barely met. My rejection of him had stung much more deeply than he cared to admit. He felt grateful to me for rescuing him, but found himself inexplicably drawn to me for reasons that seemed to go beyond the physical. Even without my presence, the urge to embrace me was undiminished, and he could not understand why. He knew I held no obligation toward him. We had only just met, but it didn’t stop him from feeling the way he did.

As he wandered through the hallways he stopped just short of a dimly lit room whose door was open. Who could be up at this hour? Curiosity got the better of him and he poked his head inside the doorway. A sickly looking elderly woman lay atop a bed. He knew instantly who this woman must be, even though he had never seen her before. It was Athilda, the ailing head of House le Fey. Adjacent to the bed sprawled atop an armchair. I was asleep, or at least I wanted him to think I was.

“Child,” a voice said suddenly, and Derek nearly jumped out of his skin. He looked in the direction of the voice and found Athilda le Fey staring right at him.

“You are the one Aryanna rescued, are you not?” The old woman spoke with a weak voice that still managed to convey great strength.

Derek merely nodded and stared at the Spellbinder, his mouth agape.

Athilda smiled sadly, “Come here, child. I would speak with you.”

Derek nodded dumbly and stepped quietly into the room, being careful to not wake me. Hesitatingly, he stepped towards the ancient woman’s bed then he knelt down beside her.

“You’ve chosen a difficult path,” Athilda said quietly.

“Because of Ragnarok?” Derek asked.

Athilda nodded, “Aryanna will need all the help she can get. Most importantly, she will need you.”

He cast his eyes down to the floor, “I don’t know about that,” he said quietly. “Goddesses, I can’t get her out of my head, and she wants nothing to do with me.”

Athilda laughed weakly, “Patience, child.” There was a one final gasp from the Spellbinder, then as suddenly as if someone had flicked a switch she was gone. Almost immediately, I jumped from my position on the armchair, all pretense of being sleep forgotten as I clutching at my ancestor’s lifeless body. As I wept, Derek wept along with me.

+ - + - + - +

It had been nearly a week since I had rescued Derek and he had remained within the estates at a loss for what to do or where to go. He had no way of proving his identity, and no sense of purpose beyond his strange attraction to me. I had been of no help whatsoever. I held the only means by which Derek might have any sort future within my hands, but had shown no inclination to do anything about it. Derek had not attended Athilda’s funeral, but it had been a beautiful service nonetheless.

Just a day after Athilda’s death Derek had discovered the gardens, and had since secluded himself within them. He would later confide in me that he found himself at peace there. The gardens only served to remind me of Athilda, and what her loss meant to me.

“Mind if I join you?” I said to Derek as I drew close. His head snapped up with a startled look on his face. Clearly, he had not expected to see me.

“Go ahead, I was beginning to think you had forgotten about me,” he muttered bitterly.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been a very welcoming host. I’ve all but ignored you since Athilda’s death and I feel terrible about it,” I said, sitting down on the bench beside him.

Derek shook his head, “I can understand that Athilda’s death was hard for you, but that doesn’t mean you can just ignore me. ”

“You’re right. I have no excuse. I can’t let my personal life get in the way of my duties now that I’m the head of House le Fey,” I grimaced at the thought that I had become something I had once hated.

Derek nodded but didn’t otherwise respond. “You’re likely wondering about your future,” I said quietly. “I’d like to take you on as my apprentice if you’re willing.”

Derek look me in the eyes and I felt my heart melt at the sight of his beautiful female face. “I …I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” he muttered. “Ever since I first laid eyes on you I’ve wanted nothing so much as to be with you, but …”

I cut him short as I drew so close that I could feel his lips brush against my own. “I have something to confess,” I said. “I overheard you speaking with Athilda the night she died. I’ve been torn with guilt ever since. Ever since I laid eyes on you, I’ve felt a connection, but until you kissed me I didn’t understand it. I think I must have been in denial.”

“Goddesses,” he muttered. “No wonder you’ve been so withdrawn.”

“So…” I muttered, “Will you accept my offer.”

Derek bit his lip doubtfully. “What about you and me?”

“I’m willing to give it a try, but my last relationship ended badly. I want to take things slow,” I said, looking him in the eyes apprehensively.

Derek smiled back at me, and I found that I could no longer keep myself from kissing him.


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I wish that I was Jessie’s Girl


An unusual song somehow finds a way onto a Jogger’s playlist and it changes ‘her’ life forever.


Author’s Note: This story features a parody of the Rick Springfield song ‘Jessie’s Girl’ which ironically enough is a tune I dislike with a passion. I heard this song in the store one day and the idea popped into my head. This story was originally featured as the intro piece to The Music Celebrates With Me


I wish that I was Jessie’s girl

The music blared in my ear and I glanced down at my phone. That wasn’t right. I tried pausing the playlist, but the music just wouldn’t stop. Even the skip button wasn’t doing a damn bit of good.

Yeah, I know she’s been a good friend of mine
But lately something’s changed, that’s so hard to define
Jessie’s already got a girl, but soon she will be mine

“What the fuck?” I stopped in my tracks fiddling with my phone and tried to turn it off, but even that wouldn’t work. I gave up and reached up to yank the earbuds out of my ears, but even though I was pulling as hard as I could they wouldn’t pop free.

Something odd was going on, the only damn thing the phone would tell me was that the song was part of a playlist called “The Mixed Tape.”

And you know I have a hot bod
One she’ll never be able to resist, I just know it
Pretty soon we’ll be making love, all day and night

You know, I thought to myself, it’s really not that bad. I grinned and took off running again. What was I so worried about anyway? It was just a stupid little song. Was my chest bouncing? That didn’t seem right.

You know I wish that I was Jessie’s girl
I wish that I was Jessie’s girl
Why can’t I be a woman for her?

Next time, I went for a jog, I really needed to wear a sports bra. What could I have been thinking? I thought about going back home, but I was really just getting into the groove of things. A good work out was like a good dance, if I quit and went back now I’d screw up my rhythm.

I’ll play for as long as it takes
I’m sick of sitting around and biding my time
When I’m done with her, she’ll only want to be with me
I’m gonna tell her that I love her and I’ll have her forever

I slowed and smiled as I approached Jessie’s place. I had a thing for her, but we were just friends. Maybe that would change. I undid my ponytail glanced down at my chest and smiled. I wished I was a little more presentable, but my heart told me that this was the time. I swallowed hard and with slow furtive steps I found myself at her doorstep. I reached up to knock and…

And you know I have a great bod
One she’ll never be able to resist, I just know it
Pretty soon we’ll be making love, all day and night.

“Jessie!” I grinned pulling my earbuds free as the door swung open. She looked like she was ready to go out for a jog herself, but that didn’t stop me. “So listen, I was thinking that we could go out sometime.”


The End

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As my other stories this is a work of fiction and as such any resemblance to real life individuals, events or locations is purely unintentional. Only my own site, Fictionmania, Bigcloset Topshelf, & tgstorytime.com have permission to host this story and my previous works unless I state otherwise.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 1


Author's Note

Although this is marked as revised it may be more accurate to call this a rewrite, as very little of the original text has been retained. The original plot is more or less intact, but be aware that certain portions of the story may not turn out quite the way you remember.
I would also like to take a minute to thank Morpheus for creating the Twisted Universe, and Xtrim who was kind enough to do the final grammar edits.

Part 1 – School Days

“En garde!” The dark knight raised his blade, his polished black armor gleamed in the torchlight.
I scowled and drew my weapon. “Step aside, knave!”
His muted laughs came through the helmet muffled, and he lunged at me. I barely brought my weapon up in time. “Let her go!”
“Never!” he screamed and lunged at me again.
I leapt aside and plunged my blade deep into his side. When I jerked it free, I paused, watching the dark knight collapse to the ground at my feet. I used the tip of my boot to flip his face cage open, gasped and took several steps back. “Megan?!”
“Mr. Rumsfield,” she said with a dry monotone voice very different from her real voice.
“Mr. Rumsfield,” she repeated, and the world evaporated around me. My eyes snapped open and with an audible groan I looked up at Mr. Beekman who was hovering over me, lips creased in a frown and arms folded across his chest.
“James, this may be the last day of school, but it is still my classroom. This is not nap time, if you can’t stay awake during class I suggest you get to bed a little earlier. I bet, this girl Megan, who’s name you’ve been calling out, would agree.”
The classroom erupted with laughter and my cheeks burned as he turned away. He continued his lecture and yammered on about photosynthesis. ‘God!’ I thought to myself slumping my head against the desktop. ‘When will it ever end?!’
I think I must have dozed off again because the next thing I knew the school bell rang. I jumped out of my seat, but stopped when Mr. Beekman call out my name.
“Mr. Rumsfield,” he said. “In your eagerness you seem to have forgotten that class ends when I dismiss it, not at the sound of the bell.”
I scowled at the ornery bastard and plopped back down in my seat. Fucking hell, I hated school!
“All right class as I was about to say before Mr. Rumsfield tried to leave prematurely,” Beekman continued, “For those of you that will attend my AP Chemistry class next year, remember there’s a twenty-five dollar lab fee that’s due by the first day of school. Class Dismissed.”
I was one of the first out of class, every extra second in that place was one second less of my summer. I sped down the hallway, weaving in and out of the crowds.
“Jim, my man!” Jeff Goldwin, a classmate and a friend approached. He raised his fist, and we bumped fists.
“Hey, I’d like to chat man, but I’m trying to catch Megs before she leaves,” I said, glancing around hoping to catch sight of her.
“Damn, man you really need to hit that,” he said with a playful slug in the shoulder. “Well I guess we’ll talk later. Hey you going to the Game Palace opening in the mall on Thursday?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “Why do you think I’m looking for her? Hey, uh I guess we’ll talk later, okay?”
“Okay, whatever,” he muttered shaking his head and rolling his eyes before I turned away and took off down the hall.
“Hey you wanna hang this summer?” He called out.
“Yeah sure,” I called over my shoulder. “Call me!”
I had almost reached the hallway leading from her last class when I ran into her. As you might have guessed she was both the girl I’d been dreaming about and the one for whom I’d been looking.
“Oh, hey Jim,” she smiled at me and I felt my knees turn to jelly. I started into her bright green eyes and my heart skipped a beat.
She cocked her head and met my gaze. She was wearing her hair out for a change. Most of the time she wore it in a ponytail, but I kind of preferred it the way it was. It framed her heart-shaped face and made her look closer to her actual age.
She pursed her pouty lips and flicked a strand of fire-red hair away from her large nose. It was the only flaw on her face and probably the only reason she wasn’t considered one of the hottest girls in the school. Personally, I think it added to her charm, but maybe I was biased.
Megan was my best friend, and we’d been inseparable for about as long as either one of us could remember. When we got older, I developed a bit of a crush on her and when I asked her out, she turned me down flat. She said she wanted to stay friends, but sometimes I got the impression she was holding something back. It sucked, but I would take her whichever way I could get.
“Hey, did you hear about that new Game Palace in the mall?” I asked glancing down at her chest and turned away hoping she hadn’t noticed.
Megan, like almost any other girl under the sun, hated it when she caught a guy ogling her boobs, but sometimes I couldn’t help myself. She had to be among one of the top five most well-endowed girls in the school. What straight guy couldn’t resist sneaking glances at those luscious melons? It wasn’t just her breasts either, Megan had a lot of soft, round… interesting curves.
“A Game Palace in the mall?” she said before her face broke out into a dazzling smile. “Awesome! There’s one where my grandma lives.”
“Yeah, there’s one in Clinton it’s pretty freaking awesome.” I grinned back at her and added, “You want to go check it out? They’re supposed to have a huge grand opening tomorrow.”
“Sure,” she replied.
“All right, I’ll pick you up around noon,” I said.
“Sounds like a plan,” she said then added “I gotta go, see you later.”
“Later,” I called after her as she disappeared around the bend.
I watched her disappear down the hallway and let out a long sigh. We were perfect for each other. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t see it. I shook my head and made my way out of the school. Maybe someday she would understand.

I arrived home after a short drive from school. The house was empty. It appeared Mom hadn’t made it home yet. I’d long stopped trying to keep up with her schedule. She kept crappy hours working retail. I climbed up the stairs, plopped down on the couch and flicked the television on with a gesture of my hand.
I watched a documentary on a ziprock band who’d made it big and squandered it all on drugs and prostitutes. It was interesting, and it gave me something to do until my mom got home. I’d always thought the band kind of sucked so I got a good laugh out of it.
After a few hours I realized the time, so I threw a couple frozen meals in the oven for dinner. I sat down again, and I watched a repeat of a sitcom I liked. I must have seen the episode almost a dozen times already, but since it was one of my favorites, I laughed my ass off like I’d never seen it before.
A short while later a voice called from the landing. “Jim, I’m home.”
I hopped off the couch and made my way down the stairs where I found my mom, Kate, setting down her bags. “Hey, how was work?”
“I’m just glad to be home,” she said. “I’ve been doing employee evaluations all day.”
She worked as a Manager at a department store in the Mall called Haglund’s. She hated it, but brought in a decent sized paycheck every month. Not bad, considering she started out as a grunt and worked her way up the ladder in only eight years.
“Dinner’s almost done,” I said, changing the subject, “I put in a couple of those Lasagna dinners you bought the other day, they should be done in a few minutes”.
Mom looked a little relieved, “Good, I’m famished.”
After we finished dinner I looked to mom and asked her, “Want to watch a movie or something?”
“Yeah that sounds great, but let me get caught on the news first,” she replied, “I want to see what the weather will do tomorrow.”
“-is 570 MBC, News,” the TV blared after Mom switched it back on and changed channels. “This is Katey Charles with today’s News. In Los Angeles, police have arrested a suspect in relation to the Echo Park killings, the police have not released the suspects name, but he is believed to be a 24-year-old male twisted, find out more after these words from our sponsors.”
Mom muted the television as she growled, “Those damn Twisted! Those freaks need to be locked up so they can’t hurt anyone else. What’s this world coming to when decent people can’t even trust–”
That’s where I tuned her out. I used to think the twisted were as horrible as she always said, but I’d begun to doubt some things she told me. Megan’s dad seemed like a good guy, despite being a lawyer, and he seemed to think they were no worse than anyone else. On the other hand, there were twisted like the Echo Park Killer that did horrible things, but I wondered if they were as much victims as the people they harmed.
Maybe they were freaks like Mom said, I couldn’t decide. It was creepy and weird and it must suck to change with no reason or prompting into a different person. I’m told, not all twisted were altered to such a large extent, but I imagined that it would be freaky even when the changes were minor. Were they all dangerous like Mom said, or just a select few?
“Your father–” I heard my mother say, and I turned to stare at her with my mouth hanging open. “What about my father?”
“You know what? I’m feeling tired. I’m going to bed,” she added looking back at me with wide eyes before springing from the couch and bolting up the stairs.
“Mom wait! What did you say about my dad?!” I called after her desperate to learn anything about my old man. I chased her up the stairs, but when I had reached her bedroom door, she slammed it in my face. I tried the doorknob, and she’d already locked it. So, I pounded on the door. “Mom, what were you going to say!”
“Mom!” I called out again. Still, she didn’t reply.
I slammed on the door a few more times, then with a shake of my head and a wary sigh I gave up. Sometimes I wondered if she didn’t have a few loose screws. Most of the time she seemed fine, but then she pulled this kind of shit. Then there was her temper… I shuddered and backed away. I didn’t want to get an ear full from her.
My mom had done some bizarre things, but this one took the cake. What had she been about to say? Every time I’d ever asked my mother about my father, she would change the subject or act like she hadn’t heard me at all. What was it about him she didn’t want me to know? What had she come so close to telling me and what did it have to do with the twisted?
God! I just wanted to know who he was! What the hell was the freaking big deal?
“Dammit!” I spun away and found my way to my bedroom. Closing the door behind me, I went to the chair sitting in the corner and turned it over. I popped off the bottom which I’d secured with tape. Inside, where I’d left it, I found my mother’s old sophomore high school yearbook. I’d found it hidden in the back of her closet a few years ago. I pulled the masking tape free, holding it in place, and flipped the book open.
When I first discovered it, the book opened to page thirty-two as if she had opened it to that page many times. I’d looked through the book on multiple occasions, but that page was the one I always returned to, because of what it contained. Listed in the second column was a boy named Harry Turow. Someone, my mother I guess, had drawn a heart around his picture and underneath in my mother’s scrawl were the words “Harry and Kate 4ever”. The boy’s physical resemblance to me was striking, but that didn’t mean he was my father. A picture wasn’t a whole hell of a lot for me to go off, but it was the only lead I had. What the hell had happened to him?
I was born during my mother’s junior year of high school. I learned by asking people around town the Turow family moved away the summer before my birth. Did their departure have something to do with my conception or did they moved away unaware that my mother had been pregnant?
I’d tried searching the web for any information on him, but none of the Harry Turrow’s I’d found had been the right age.
Staring at the photo of the boy I tried to imagine what he must have been like or what he might look like now if still alive.
I closed the book replacing it under the seat and popped the bottom back in. I righted the chair then I collapsed onto my bed and let myself drift off to sleep with images of the boy who might have been my father floating through my head.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 2


Part 2 – The Stuff of Nightmares

“No!” I screamed running after the man in the hooded cloak.
He first appeared hovering over my bed like some ghostly specter. I sat upright, and he bolted with a flurry of motion. I threw my covers off and leapt to my feet in pursuit. The world shifted and turned and the surrounding walls disappeared, replaced by an empty field. My clothes had even changed, I realized, as I continued after the man. I was wearing a plain tee, a pair of jeans and sneakers instead of my pajamas, but it didn’t matter, I had to catch the man. I didn’t know why, but it seemed important.
The world spun, and we were inside the school. I followed him around the corner of a hallway and then the world turned again and we were back in the field.
The black knight from my day dream appeared, swinging his sword at me in a downward arc. I jumped back dodging his attack and lurched into motion fleeing before he attacked again. His armor clanked behind me as he leapt into pursuit. Once or twice I glanced over my shoulder, each time he was right on my heels.
How could he keep up with all that armor weighing him down? Soon I caught sight of the man again and I put on more speed, hoping to catch up with him. Why did he run?
The knight was giggling behind me. She called out, using Megan’s voice, taunting me. She called me a loser and said that I was repulsive. I remained focused on the man. I didn’t know why.
We ran, I chasing after the man, and the knight after me and the world shifting and turning around us. Flash after successive flash came, and I found myself in a variety of familiar locations, the mall, the park near my grandmother’s house and even the hospital where I’d been born. When the world shifted again, we’d returned to my room.
I stopped in the doorway peering inside.
A boy slept under the covers, he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and he was more or less my size. The boy turned, and I recognized him as Harry from my mother’s yearbook. He sat up in bed and as he did so the shadowy man pulled a knife from inside his jacket. The boy stared at him and a smile formed on his face before the dark figure grabbed him by the throat and pulled him close.
The knight appeared in the doorway and lifted his visor. Megan’s face peered out, she grinned at me her face stretching into inhuman proportions. She didn’t intervene, but instead watched as the shadow man pointed at me then grabbed the boy in the bed by the cuff of his shirt. All three laughed in perfect unison, and I stepped forward grabbed the man by the arm
“Let him go!” I screamed.
“No!” They both refused and shook their heads in perfect sync.
“You don’t get it!” the man yelled pressing his knife up to the boy’s throat.
“Don’t you see?” the boy asked. “I’m not your father!”
They both shook and trembled and blood dripped down the boy’s throat as the blade cut into his skin.
“He’s not your father, Jim.” The man cackled and pulled his hood down and pointed at Megan. “She is!”
“Nnnnnnnoooooooooooo!” I screamed out ready to hurl myself at the man, but stopped myself when he bent and contorted. His muscles shifted and shrunk and a pair of breasts bulged out of his chest. Megan’s face beamed back at me and she unzipped her jacket.
She brought the knife up to her mouth and licked one side of the blade clean. “You still think I’m sexy, right?”
“Jesus fucking Christ!” I sat up in my bed. My head jerked about, looking for any signs of the man, the boy, or Megan. None of them were present and I let out a long drawn-out sigh as I became aware that it had all been a dream.
“Shit, that was weird,” I mumbled as I stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. I did my business then hopped into the shower. Though mom was probably gone for the day, I checked in on her, just in case. Her bedroom door was open, and she’d made her bed, a sure sign she’d left. She’d had an early shift which wasn’t too uncommon, her work shifts seemed to hop all over the place. It was just one of the many hazards of working retail, or so she kept telling me.
I hovered inside her bedroom door and considered going through her room for some clues of my father’s identity, but soon discarded the idea. I’d already looked through her things more times than I could count and the only clue about my father’s identity I’d ever found was the yearbook.
Last Illusion XXV was calling me from the front room. I bought the game last week and had only played it for a few hours so far which was odd because it was one of my favorite game franchises. After a quick breakfast of Plucky Trinkets I made my way to the front room and switched on my Gamestation. It didn’t take me long to get pulled into the game play and I lost track of time.

It was almost noon before I remembered that I’d planned to pick up Megan for our run to the mall. I saved my game, then shut down the console. Racing out of the house I almost forgot my keys, but remembered to grab them at the last minute. In a few minutes, I pulled up in front of Megan’s house and was about to get out when the front door swung open. I guess she must have seen me pull around. Out sprang Megan accompanied by a blonde girl I’d never seen before.
“Hey Jim,” Megan said as she approached my car, “Is it okay if my cousin Allison, comes along?”
“Sure,” I replied and reached across to push the door open. “Hop on in girls.”
A tall girl with a model’s build stepped into sight and I felt my jaw drop as she ducked inside the car, taking the front seat. Her resemblance to Megan was startling they could have been sisters. She had the same green eyes, but had a fairer complexion. Her nose was about average-size, but her lips weren’t quite as generous.
Allison was quite the looker, I hadn’t seen many faces as pretty as hers outside of a magazine cover. My eyes lingering on her breasts, which were a lot smaller than her cousin’s and I swallowed hard. The scent of raspberries filled the air and glanced at Megan as she climbed into the back seat. I don’t know if it was some sort of perfume or her shampoo, but Megan hated that sort of stuff, so I had no doubt the scent was emanating from the new girl.
Megan didn’t say much as she climbed inside, but judging from the way she was frowning at her cousin I knew something was up. I’d been looking forward to spending some alone time with Megan, so I was a little bummed that she’d brought someone else along. Allison was easy on the eyes, but I’d never been partial to blondes. I tried not to let my disappointment show on my face.
“Hey, I’m Jim,” I said holding my hand out to Allison.
She took it and giggled, and with a rather vacant expression on her face she said “Your friend is cute, Megan. I’d wonder why you weren’t dating him if I didn’t already know you were gay.”
I choked at that “You think I’m cute?”
“Yeah,” she giggled, “I’d totally date you if I didn’t have a boyfriend.”
Then it clicked what she’d said about Megan. I seemed to have trouble thinking straight around cute girls, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. What straight teenage guy didn’t?
“You’re gay?” I glanced back at Megan mouth hanging open eyes as wide as saucers.
“Thank you so much Allison,” she said with a sneer, “I wasn’t ready to drop that particular ball, just yet. Were you planning on telling any other of my secrets today?”
The vacant expression on Allison’s face took on a more menacing cast as she said “No, but there are still plenty of hours left in the day. Who knows? Something might occur to me later on.”
The two girls glared at one another, Megan folded her arms across her chest and scowled. I glanced back and forth between the two of them and grimaced running a hand through my thick mop of hair.
“Ladies, I don’t know what the hell just happened, but why don’t we forget what was said and try to have a good time,” I said putting both hands on the steering wheel and looking back at my friend in the rear-view mirror.
“Oh, we’re teasing each other. Aren’t we Megan?” Allison said with another giggle, the menace fading from her face, replaced by the vacant mask she’d been wearing before.
I looked back at Megan. “Megs?”
“Yeah, sure,” she said gritting her teeth, “Just teasing.”
The drive to the mall was awkward as hell, but it only lasted a few minutes. Once I had the car parked we all piled out and while I couldn’t speak for the others, I was eager to relieve some tension. Upon entering the mall Allison looked around and shrugged. “Eh, not bad, but I’ve seen better. I’ll look around you two can go to your game thingie and we can meet back here later.”
She didn’t wait for a response before turning her back and stepped into the nearest store. I let out a sigh more than a little glad to see her go. Allison was pretty, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like looking at her, but it was a lot less awkward when it was me and Megan. I’d sooner not have the other girl around if they spent the entire time making jabs at each other.
“Soooo,” I said slipping both hands in my pockets and glancing at Megan. “You like girls.”
“Yeah, I think I was in denial about it for a long time. Remember, last month when I visited my uncle? Well…” she trailed off for a moment. “Allison had a slumber party with a few of her friends and long story short, I-I sort of kissed one.”
I stopped in my tracks and let myself picture Megan kissing another girl. I had enough sense not to give voice to some interesting images that her comment invoked. Still, I was sure my night time fantasies would take a few more interesting twists because of this new information.
“Is that why things between you and your cousin seem so tense?” I asked clearing my throat and doing my best not to keep my mind off it.
Megan sighed, “Yeah, sort of, but… that’s the way she is. She’s offish most of the time anyway, but since the kiss, her friend won’t even talk to her and Allison blames me.”
“That’s rough,” I agreed and eyed my friend as she continued forward.
Megan didn’t say a word, and I stopped in my tracks, my heart sinking with the realization I’d never get the chance to win over the girl of my dreams. I would soon get my chance, but in a way I never imagined. If I had known, I would have run for the hills, but one way or the other, it would have happened anyway.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 3


Part 3 – It Begins

We continued in silence as we made our way to the Game Palace, and within moments the store was in sight. Megan’s face stretched into a smile. We exchanged glances and picked up the pace nearly running into the store. When we made it there, there was almost no space to move around, it was so packed. For good reason, they had the largest selection of games I had ever seen. We moved to the center of the store where they had an exclusive demo of the upcoming Demon Can Die game.
“Awesome,” I exclaimed, “I can’t wait till it comes out.”
Megan didn’t agree, “Oh come on, the only game of the series that was half-way decent was the first. I seriously doubt the fifth game will be better than the other sequels.”
I was about to retort when something caught my eye. “Holy freaking crap,” I said running up to a display. “They have Death Stalker I’ve been looking everywhere for this, and it’s only twenty-five bucks!”
“Jim, my man!” Jeff Goldwin’s voice called from the other side of the store and I turned to greet him with a fist bump as he approached.
“Hey Meg,” he greeted Megan holding his fist out to her. She rolled her eyes and shook her head as she stared at his hand with a frown. Megan had never liked Jeff, but I’d never been able to figure out why.
“Look,” Megan called out waving us toward the center of the store where a crowd had gathered.
A tall man, with a smile that seemed too forced, was standing in the crowd’s center next to a large display. There was a stylized banner with the words ‘Virtual World’ hanging from the ceiling above his head.
“Gather ’round, gather ’round,” he called motioning for everyone in the shop to move closer.
Megan, Jeff and I didn’t have to be told twice and the three of us moved in closer. Which wasn’t close at all. The throng of people around him was already thick, so we didn’t get the best view. Jeff and I were both close to the same height and we could see pretty much everything, but Megan was short, even for a girl, and I doubted she could say the same. She stood on her tip-toes, leaning back and forth, no doubt trying to get a better look.
“Well, I think we have a big enough crowd now.” The man beamed, running a hand over his hair as he scanned the crowd. “My name is Alex and I’m here today to give you kids an exclusive sneak peek at an upcoming new gaming system that will revolutionize the world of gaming as we know it. We’ve all seen virtual reality systems that mimic our movements, but Virtual World does so much more than that. With our system you’ll be able to experience the wind blowing against your cheek or the touch of a hand on your shoulder.”
On either side of him there was a large holo display and a table with a cloth over it which concealed a ball or sphere.
“For this demonstration I’ll need a volunteer, any takers?” he asked his face stretching into a toothy grin as he surveyed the crowd.
Every hand in the store, save those belonging to the staff, shot up, and the man grinned.
“Pick me,” I called out. Similar sentiments were repeated by my friends and others. Alex eyes scanned back and forth across the crowd, passing me by several times. I thought for sure he’d pick someone else, but then his eyes settled on me and when I met his gaze, a slow smile forming on my face.
“You near the back with the blue shirt there,” he said pointing his finger at me. The crowd parted and in disbelief I made my way to its center where Alex was waiting.
“Young man, what is your name?” he asked.
“J-Jim,” I replied, meeting his gaze, my whole body quivering from anticipation.
“Tell me Jim, have you ever used a VR system?”
“No, but a friend of mine used the virtual attachment for the PlayNet,” I said. “He thought it sucked.”
The man laughed. “I’ve heard a number of gamers say much the same thing, but the Virtual World system is no mere attachment. This is a much more advanced device than anything that has come before. As I’m sure you’ll agree once you’ve tried it out for yourself.”
“The Virtual World system uses diodes built into a head mounted sound and display system. It does not operate by catching your motions, like older VR systems, but instead senses what you want your avatar to do, and feeds sensory information back to your brain.
“That sounds awesome!” I said, the excitement building inside me. I could hardly contain myself. “When do I get to try it out?”
The man laughed. “Well folks looks like our eager beaver is ready to get this ball rolling. What say you?”
The crowd cheered, and I resisted the urge to cover my ears. My ears hurt a little from all the sound.
“All right,” Alex said holding his hand up to silence the group. It took a few seconds, but they quieted down. With a dramatic flick of his wrists he pulled the cloth cover the table free. Underneath was a racing helmet with a blacked-out visor with several knobs on the side.
“Ready Jim?”
I nodded, my stomach seized up as he fit the helmet over my head. Darkness engulfed my senses as it fit into place. I don’t know why, but for reasons that escaped me at the time the whole business was making me just a little uneasy. I had the strongest urge to rip the helmet off my head and run as fast and as far away as my legs would take me. If only I had listened.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 4


Part 4 – Chance of a Lifetime

“Now,” Alex’s muffled voice said from the other side of the helmet. “We adjust these knobs and we should be ready to go.”
Something cold and metallic touch the skin on my forehead and the back of my neck. I couldn’t say for certain, but I figured they must have been the mechanisms that fed sensory feedback from the game into my mind.
“Do you feel anything touching your skin?” he asked, and after I replied in the affirmative he asked if I was experiencing any discomfort. When I replied in the negative, he flipped the visor down over my eyes.
“As our friend, Jim, experiences the full splendor of the Virtual World System, this monitor will display a limited visual interpretation of his experience. So you may have an inkling of the awe and splendor of the Virtual World Console,” Alex spoke. “Please keep in mind that this, in no way, comes close to what Jim will be experiencing.”
It was dark under the helmet until a blue streak of light flashed across my eyes and exploded with dozens of green and blue squares each of which expanded until they filled my entire range of vision. Black text appeared on screen creating dead-spots where there was no light and I realized that I was looking at a menu. I reached out to touch one option, but stopped when I saw my hand. It didn’t look like flesh, but rather mechanical. Its fingers were segmented and reminded me of something that might have belonged on a crash test dummy.
‘Must be some kind of default avatar,’ I thought to myself.
“As you might have noticed…” Alex said in the distance but I ignored him. I didn’t wait for any prompts from him, but instead I reached my hand out again and touched the menu option that seemed to show game-play. There was another bright flash accompanied by a burst of red and gold tiles which displayed another menu.
Alex made another dumb joke about me getting ahead of myself. I rolled my eyes, chose to ignore him and focused my attention on the menu displayed in front of me. The first thing I saw were several selections for what appeared to be game demos. One had a picture of a very attractive woman wearing a tight form-fitting jumpsuit with light blue skin, almost cat-like ears and a small set of horns in a futuristic setting, another had a bearded wizard with lightning shooting out of a staff, and the last had a Tarzan-esque character in a rainforest.
I debated for a minute, but reached out my hand and chose the science fiction setting. I’d always had a thing for sci-fi, plus the alien, or whatever she was, looked hot. Another bright flash filling my vision, and this time the screen was populated with white and gray tiles. When my sight cleared, I found myself inside what I guessed must have been a spaceship. I marveled at the detail and how it looked real. It wasn’t until I drew near a bulkhead that I realized a few details didn’t look right. I drew my hand up the wall touching it with my hands and snatched it away when in surprise when cold steel contacted my fingers.
I studied the wall and the surrounding area for a few minutes, and I looked at my hand. It was blue like the woman from the preview image, but what struck most about it was that it had six digits rather than the usual five. The nails were short and well-manicured, the fingers themselves were longer, more slender and looked like they belonged to a woman.
My hands drifted to my chest and discovered something I should have expected. I had boobs, or I guess my virtual avatar did, but damn they felt real enough. I grabbed a hold of one and it jiggled on my chest. “Wow,” I heard myself say aloud. “That’s weird.”
This pronouncement brought about a fit of laughter from the crowd, but I ignored it, a little put off by the sound of my avatar’s voice speaking in perfect unison with my own.
“Stop right there,” a new voice said behind me and I spun around to face the intruder.
An NPC, a non-playable character, stood opposite me wearing segmented combat armor that looked almost organic, but what had my attention was the large and dangerous looking gun in his hands. Based on the rounded-glass like protrusion along the weapons front, I was willing to bet it didn’t shoot bullets, but if all my years of gaming had taught me anything it would do major damage to the character I was playing.
“Crap,” I said, ready to spring into action, but stopped when Alex protested.
“Woah,” Alex protested. “Why don’t we back up? While I’m very excited to let you experience the game play of The Rise of the Anthecron, there are amazing features that the audience has yet to see.”
Several loud groans followed this pronouncement, and I was prepared to keep on going, but the game seemed to have taken on a mind of its own. The screen flashed again, this time with orange and green tiles and I found myself in yet another menu, but this one had floating bits of text that instead of hanging motionless circled around me. It surprised me, at first, but then I realized Alex must have had an override which enabled him to take control of the demonstration. I’m not sure why he hadn’t used it earlier, but I guessed I would have to play along if I wanted another chance at playing the game.
“This, is the character customization menu,” Alex said. “You can play with Kalena, the captivating default character or if you like a more customized design, you can choose something more in line with your own personal tastes. Keep in mind that this is a demo version and that the game is still in active development so some features aren’t yet available.”
“Our friend, Jim has done a good job of navigating the system so far, but for the sake of this demonstration I’ll be taking the reigns. Although the character customization menu isn’t finished, there are still a wide range of options. I’m told that in the final version you’ll even be able to scan your own image and play as yourself. As this is a demo that feature has yet to be implemented,” he spoke.
“There are so many options available that with some tweaking you could make a reasonable representation of yourself, but that’s rather boring isn’t it? Now we could play with this for hours, but I’m just going to walk you through some basics. First option, is the species of the character.”
Alex switched between several options, first a human, then some big hulking creature and back to Kalena’s race. He moved on to gender, for a moment my form switched to a male one before reverting to the female form. He tinkered with the settings and various parts of my digital body grew and shrunk as he experimented with the menu sections. When done he started on clothing. There seemed to be a lot of options available many of which seemed to include every form of dress imaginable including silly options like those dorky tropical flower shirts, and even parachute pants, but most of the stuff were futuristic clothes and combat gear.
It was while he was navigating the clothing menu my stomach seized up and I panted for breath. It started with a tingling sensation, like static, that started in my scalp but spread through my whole body. I doubled over, a strange pressure building inside me. My initial reaction was to pull the helmet off my head, but when I reached up an incredible jolt of pain shot through my body as if lightning had struck me. Massive forces rippled through me as if the universe itself were pulling at me. For a moment it seemed that the entirety of my existence began to waiver and I would cease to exist. The darkness came and there was nothing.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 5


Author's Note

This particular part of the story sparked the most debate of anything I’ve ever written. Looking back, I believe much of the criticism was warranted, but this time around I hope I’ve managed make this so called ‘naked march’ more plausible. Before leaping to conclusions please be assured there will be repercussions at the end of story that I hope will satisfy any of the remaining naysayers.

Part 5 – The Naked March

Bright light blinded me as I came awake. I tried to bring my hand up to block it out, but my arm refused to move. I opened my mouth to talk, but even my voice would not cooperate. My initial impression was that someone very large and very strong was holding me down, but when my eyes adjusted to the light, I realized that my original impression had been wrong. I tried to move again, but my muscles refused to budge. I panicked, but then Megan’s hand touched my shoulder.
“Jim, you will be all right; don’t worry,” she said and while there was a slight quiver in her voice, her words kept me from giving into my hysteria. “Just breath, I’ve heard of this happening before and most people regain use of their muscles within a few minutes.”
It struck me then what a good friend she’d been. Too bad she was a lesbian I think we might have grown to be much more than friends.
I saw the crowd for the first time and remembered that I was still in the gaming store. What the hell happened? What about the game? Who removed the helmet? Why was I on the floor? Why couldn’t I move? Whatever happened my mind didn’t seem to have been affected. At the moment I had plenty of questions, but no damn answers.
A third attempt to move my hand proved more effective, and it twitched if only just a little. It wasn’t much, but I took it as a good sign. I breathed a sigh of relief and I worked at it longer. With my fourth try I was able to lift my arm and touch my face, but as I did, my fingers brushed against something on my chest that shouldn’t have been there. My heart hammering in my chest, I found the strength to sit up, glanced down and found a pair of naked lumps sticking out from a blue chest… my chest.
I stared at those two masses in confusion before realizing that I was looking at a pair of breasts. I glanced around at the crowd and saw their eyes burrowing into me. My brain still struggled to process the changes to my body and for a moment became convinced I was still in the game, but that didn’t seem right. As far as I knew the real world and the game weren’t able to interact, but why the hell did I have blue skin like Kalena and why was I naked? My cheeks burned, and I used one arm to cover those inexplicable breast and another to cover my new and female privates.
“Holy hell!” I cursed and tasted bile in my throat as the only possible explanation came. I was Twisted, I curled up into a ball, a wave of nausea washing over me as my knees pressed into my chest. I gripped the side of my head as the tears came.
“What is it?” A boy to the right of me said I glanced at him and realized with a sinking feeling in my stomach it was Jeff.
“It kind of looks like that character from the game. That hot looking alien chick. How is that possible?” a voice said somewhere behind me.
“I’ll tell you how it’s possible,” said a girl standing right in front of me. “That thing is a twisted freak.”
“Oh, god!” I screamed and sobbed.
I was a freak a damn twisted freak!
Though I made the connection, I didn’t want to accept it. Mom knew, I realized, which is why she’d always been so secretive about my father. I must have inherited it from him, but then…
“Your kind aren’t welcome here,” the girl screamed, and I fell backward when she approached with fists clenched at her side. “Get out before you expose us all to the Kincaide Virus!”
“Hey,” a boy said stepping out from among the crowd. “She has as much right to be here as the rest of us.”
“You’re twisted too, aren’t you? Freak!” she screamed glowering at the boy.
The boy stared back at her fists clenched at his side, but the rest of the crowd moved in. Everyone screamed at once and the girl pounced on me her nails tearing into my new soft skin. I tried to raise my hands in defense, but I was still so weak and she threw them aside with almost no effort. Megan stepped in before it got too bad and punched the girl across the nose. She spun away and fell to the ground clutching at the face.
“Get the hell off Jim, you stupid fucking bitch,” Megan said looming over the other girl the threat of more violence reflected in her eyes.
The scene erupted into a full blown brawl. I tried to crawl away, but the girl grabbed me by one of my ankles and dragged me back into the fray. “Leave me alone!” I screamed and kicked at her with my free foot. She didn’t relent, but another brawler appeared to come to my aid. Things were getting bad, but I think if the trio of mall cops hadn’t picked that moment to show up it would have gotten a lot worse.
They cut right through the crowd and went straight for Megan, handcuffing her arms behind her back. Most of the brawlers scattered, but a few remained to watch including the girl who Megan had punched in the face. She had a triumphant grin on her face as she pointed an accusing finger at me. “The freak started it!”
One of the mall cops, the tallest of the three glared down at me. “Get up!” he demanded.
I wobbled, but with what little strength I had available I managed to climb to my feet unaided. Once standing, my hair brushed against my shoulder and reached up to touch it. I looked down at my chest and new tears welled up out as I sucked in my breath fighting back another wave of panic.
One guard, I didn’t see which, grabbed my wrists and forced my hands behind my back. I didn’t resist and felt the cold steel of his cuffs lock in place around my wrists. He shoved me and I jerked forward. I kept walking, but glanced back before the game store was out of sight and through my tear soaked eyes I noted the burn marks on the ground where I’d been standing. I didn’t understand much about the processes involved, but I sensed it was a result of my twist. The damage to the floor was extensive, and I was surprised and more than a little grateful, no one had been hurt.
I glanced back catching sight of Jeff, and met his gaze pleading for help, but he didn’t budge an inch. When I gave up and turned my head away, he spoke.
“Freak!” Jeff’s voice called after me as one guard pushed me forward.

The trip across the mall was the most memorable one of my life which would surprise no one under the circumstances. Every step I took, it reminded me of everything I had lost and it took all the willpower I had just to keep moving. My breasts jiggled, but there was a noticeable absence of movement between my legs. The guards never attempted to cover me up, so every eye was on me as I walked barefoot and unclothed through the very public areas of the mall. I looked down, watching my blue six-toed feet move across the cold ceramic tiles of the mall walkway.
“You know, my father’s a lawyer,” Megan spoke part way through our little jaunt. “One call from him and you’re gonna wish you’d let us go.”
I glanced toward her and the guard that was leading her along. He didn’t say a word, but rolled his eyes and pushed her forward. She was right, forcing someone butt-ass naked through a public mall was a lawsuit waiting to happen, but all I could think about was my shame and humiliation. The outrage would come later.
I looked around and almost wished I hadn’t. The eyes of the onlookers burrowed into me and though I closed my eyes, the damage had already been done. I could still feel their eyes on me and I wanted nothing more than to hide, or crawl into a ditch or do anything that would let me escape those terrible eyes! Tears splattered against my breasts and I shook. I couldn’t bear it any longer I had to get away.
I tried to run, but I’d never realized just how hard it was to move without use of my hands until I’d had them cuffed behind my back. The impact of my breasts against the cold tiles sent shock waves of pain through my chest. I grunted, gasping for breath as a hand forced me up from the ground. Before recovered, those hands pushed me and I stumbled barely able to keep from falling back over. I cursed myself, realizing how stupid my escape attempt had been, but I wasn’t in my best mind at that the time.
I hoped Megan wasn’t just spewing out empty threats. If her dad sued the mall, I imagined he would take them for a pretty penny if the courts sided with me.
When we reached the security offices, Megan, and I had our handcuffs removed and then they shoved us into a holding cell. It sent me flailing to the ground, but this time, I twisted to my side and avoided falling on my breasts again. Megan helped me back up to my feet, and I collapsed into her arms sobbing. The flood of emotions became too much, and she wrapped her arms around me providing the only comfort she could. She didn’t speak, but made her presence known. It was enough.

Virtually Twisted (Revised) | Pt 6


Part 6 – Secrets

I don’t know how long they kept us in the holding cell. What happened had so thoroughly shocked and shaken me I couldn’t bring myself to do anything but weep into Megan’s shoulder. I was so out of it I didn’t even realize I was still naked until Megan moved.
My eyes snapped open and glanced at Megan. She looked toward the door and I craned my neck to follow her gaze. Jonathon Hails, Megan’s dad, stood in the doorway with a frown on his face and arms folded across his face.
“Megan, please tell me what’s going on? I was in the middle of a meeting with an important client when your cousin called.”
My cheeks burning, I glanced at Mr. Hails. I pulled away from Megan and did my best to cover myself up, but in my state it was almost impossible to hide everything. It seemed pretty stupid, but I didn’t think Mr. Hails would appreciate a naked girl straddling his lesbian daughter. That is… assuming he was aware she was gay.
“Megan!” he repeated her name.
“Uh, well… the thing is Jim, well he sort of went through a twist,” she winced scratching at the back of her head as she shrunk away from him.
“This.” He threw a hand out at me his eyes growing wide before he coughed and turned away. “This… is Jim?!”
Megan glanced at me, brought a hand up to her mouth and turned away. She pointed at my chest and when I looked down, I realized I’d let my arms fall to my side leaving my bare breasts exposed.
“Sorry,” I said my cheeks burning as I was cupping the naked lumps. “I never even suspected I was twisted. Suddenly, growing a pair of… well… boobs wasn’t exactly something I expected to happen.”
“Yes, well, twists are seldom predictable,” Mr. Hails replied. He averted his eyes and if the scarlet shade of his cheeks was any sign, he was very uncomfortable. I couldn’t say I didn’t blame him, but it was nothing compared to what I felt. Hell, being naked and blue with your best friend and her father present was plenty freaking weird, but when you added the breasts to the equation, it was damn intolerable.
“Megan, the guards mentioned a brawl. You didn’t cause it did you?” he asked grimacing as he rubbed a hand against the back of his neck.
“Well…” Megan’s voice said trailing off, “I might have hit another girl in the face, but she deserved it.”
“We’ll talk more about this later. You’re just lucky I got here when I did or we’d be having this conversation at the police station. Being a lawyer has its advantages. One need only threaten to sue someone and they become far more accommodating. Jim, we’ll need to contact your mother she works here in the mall doesn’t she?”
“Oh shit, Mom,” I cursed then glanced down at my chest and bit my lip. Mom hated the twisted with a passion that bordered on fanaticism. I didn’t have any idea what that meant for me, but just contemplating it made me want to curl up into a ball. She was my Mom and even though she was flawed and a little unhinged, I still loved her.
“Yeah, she works over at Haglund’s.” I looked up at him and bit my lip.
“She will need to be apprised of this, ahem, new development,” he replied fidgeting with his tie.
“Mr. Hails?” I asked.
“She won’t take the news well. I, uh, think I need to be the one who tells her.”
He nodded and turned away.
“Oh, and do you think you could get me some clothes?” I added glancing down at my naked body and my cheeks flushed anew.
“Yes, I’ll get Allison to find you something,” he nodded again, he moved to the door, and stopped waiting to be let back out again.
“There will be hell to pay for this. I’ll make sure,” he said reaching for the door when it popped open. He disappeared through the opening leaving Megan and I alone again.
“So, this is weird? Isn’t it?” Megan pursed her lips and glanced at the door after her Dad left.
“Yeah,” I let out a long sigh and glanced down at my hands. “That’s an understatement. I never expected this, none of it. God this is so freaking wrong!”
“You’re not the only one who’s surprised. I never expected you would be twisted. Not the way you’re Mom is always ranting about them… about us.”
“You’re twisted?” That was a surprise. I would have wondered why she never told me, but I already had a good idea. There was a lot of prejudice against twisted people and with Mom being the way she was I don’t blame her for keeping it from me.
“Dad’s twisted, and everybody says my mom was too. Most of my relatives are, so it’s something we’re used to. I guess I am too, or I will be. Whatever. I try not to think about it. It’s freaky realizing I could wake up one day and be a different person.” She sighed.
I had a good idea about what the twist had done but there had to be more to it. If the comments from the people in the Game Palace were right, then I looked like Kalena from the game. I’d only had a brief look at her image, but I remembered her face looked more or less human. Besides the color of her skin her weirdest features were her six-fingered hands, her horns and her ears.
I glanced at Megan then down at my bare breasts. Aside from being blue, they had all the same features as any other girl’s breasts I’d seen and I knew Megan had seen her own set hundreds of times by now. It felt strange being around her naked like this.
I slipped one arm over both protrusions, ensuring I covered them then I flexed my free hand and watched each of my six-fingers move in response. I’d been so focused on the other aspects of my transformation and the shock of it all, I hadn’t noticed such an obvious change. Reaching up to touch my head I felt for what I knew must have been there. Sure enough my fingers found purchase on something hard that ended with a point, a horn. Next, I felt around touching one of my ears. The flesh, felt soft and pliable, like my old ear lobes just in the wrong shape and in the wrong place. When I slid my hand to the side of my head, where my ears should have been, there was only hair and skin.
Dammit all to hell.

“Are twists usually this extreme?” I asked, reaching up to pinch the tip of one of my horns.
“No. Even most of the people who go through a major transformation look more or less like a regular human, but there are stories. My dad told me about this guy that got transformed into this massive dog-like creature and Allison knows this kid with compound eyes like an insect. Some people don’t transform at all, they get these odd compulsions or have their personalities change.”
I groaned. “Why couldn’t I have been one of those!”
“Trust me it can be worse. Some of the compulsions people get make them do crazy and for some even bad things. Like that guy that’s been killing people in California.”
“How do we know I don’t have some kind of compulsion?” I asked, dreading the mere thought.
“We don’t. Only time–” she stopped and turned as the door swung open.
Mom was standing in the entryway and the moment she saw me her eyes narrowed. She clenched her jaw and turned to Megan with that half-crazed expression she got whenever she talked about the Twisted. “Megan, what the hell is that freak doing here? Where’s my son?”
I winced, my stomach sinking.
“Oh, um, well you see the thing about that is–” Megan looked like she wanted to bolt and I couldn’t blame her I was fighting down the same urge.
“Cut to the chase would you? I don’t have all damn day!” Mom yelled still glaring at me.
I swallowed hard, fresh tears running down my cheek as I stared up at Mom. Megan looked back and forth between Mom and I. My lips trembled and I wanted to crawl into a hole. ‘Just do it, it’ll be like ripping off a band-aid. Tell her.’
“M-mom,” I said. My mother flinched away as if I’d slapped her. Her face grew darker and I saw the contempt and hatred in her eyes. She must have figured it out for herself, but I had to speak the next few words as much for my own benefit as hers. “It’s me, Mom, Jim, your son. I guess I’m twisted.”
Her eyes were so wide I thought they might pop out and roll around on the floor. Several times she opened her mouth and a part of me hoped that she’d tell me everything would be all right, but when she spoke my worst fears were confirmed.
“I don’t have a son. I never had one! All this time I’ve been fooling myself. You’re a freak like your father!” she yelled trembling as she loomed over me. “I tried so hard to keep the truth for you, but it didn’t do a damn bit of good!”
“Mom–” I said, and it came out as a high-pitched squeal. I wanted to say more, but the hatred displayed on Mom’s face was too much for me to take and I crumpled under that gaze.
“You know, that’s screwed up, don’t you? Jim can’t help being twisted. Did you think you’d keep him from twisting just by hiding the truth from him?” Megan asked glaring up at my mother.
“Shut the hell up, you stupid little twisted-loving brat. This is none of your damn business,” she howled turning her horrible gaze on Megan.
I swallowed hard steeling myself against whatever horrible thing my mother might say next. It took every ounce of resolve I had just to form the next few words and it got harder to speak with each new syllable. “Maybe not, but she has a point.”
Mom’s fire chilled to ice, and she looked me over with an air of indifference. “I can’t allow a twisted freak to live in my home. You’ll need to find somewhere else to live.”
“You’re not serious! What am I supposed to do? Where the hell will I go?”
“I don’t give a damn,” she said then burst out of the room leaving me there to stare at the door in complete shock.
I had this image of my mother running a dagger through my heart and clutched at my breasts as if her words had done exactly that. My fingernail dug into my skin, and though blood dribbled down my chest, I didn’t care. Nothing mattered, I’d never felt so alone in all my life.
I sobbed, and the tears gushed out of me like water bursting from a dam. “God Jim! That was horrible.” Megan threw her arms around me, but I couldn’t answer even if I wanted to. I buried my face in her shoulder and let the anger and grief come bursting out of me.