The Downing Building
New Hebron, California
For Amy, when the void evaporate a cityscape did not appear around her but rather a bedroom. She narrowed her eyes and glanced around as the room materialized around her. It looked familiar, but until it completed its manifestation, she did not know why.
Against the north wall rested a twin bed, made up with a set of well-worn Kim Possible sheets and matching bedspread, a cheap pre-fabricated chest of drawers sat opposite it and a misshapen beanbag chair rested against the wall near the door. Star Wars, Linkin Park The Strokes and about a half a dozen different cartoon posters adorned the walls. She knew them all well; the items had once adorned her childhood bedroom.
Given the choice Amy would have gone with much more feminine decor, but she’d been lucky to convince her parents just to let her have the Kim Possible bed set. When she still lived at home, she often imagined what her room might have looked like if allowed to decorate it as she pleased.
She’d always wanted lavender walls, and she imagined that she would have thrown up a few posters from her favorite pop artists. The rest wouldn’t have been too different, she’d never been much for ponies, princesses or the like. It would have been just feminine enough to show it belonged to a girl. Instead, she had woken up to a lie every single day of her young life.
The door creaked, and a figure stepped inside the room. At first his form was nothing more than a shadow, but as the man moved toward the agent, his features took form. It was her father, Mark van den Broeke.
She swallowed and looked up at him though above average her father was not so tall as to turn heads. This version of her father’s hair brushed against the seven-foot high ceiling, but that was not the only difference. Her father spent most of his free-time guzzling beer after beer. As a result his physique was soft and doughy, but the version of Mark van den Broeke that stepped into the room, had the body of an athlete.
“Just what the hell, do you think you’re doin’?” He threw his hands out toward her. He spoke with a slight slur as he so often did when he was drunk. Amelia stepped back remembering all the beatings she’d undergone at his hands. “Get out of that shit, right now you fuckin’ queer.”
Amy glanced down at herself and swallowed hard. Though her body had not changed from the one she’d worn since being pulled into Sapphira and Chemosh’s mental arena, she could not say the same for her clothing. She was wearing her sister’s prom dress, she had tried out many times in secret when she’d still been living at home. Though it had never been her style, it had always fascinated her, because of what it represented.
She balled her fists, at her side and glared up at her father between gritted teeth. She screamed out in defiance, but it was a futile effort. Hands reached out and grabbed her and he threw her against the wall. She threw out her hands and feet, clawing and kicking at her father, but her father’s arms just seemed to multiply, one latched around each of her wrists and ankles.
Another pair of arms, reached for the straps of the dress, pulling so hard he tore the fabric. “No son of mine is gonna wear a goddamned dress.”
As he pulled the dress away from her chest, her breasts seemed to deflate fading away as the garment came free. She screamed, but her father was too strong. With each centimeter he pulled it down her body, the more masculine her physique seemed to become.
“No!” Amy screamed out between gritted teeth. She knew what would happen if the dress came free and she could not allow it. That was when she remembered what Ashtar had said to her. She’d been so swept up in what she’d been seeing she had almost given herself over to the illusion.
She gritted her teeth, ignored the gigantic form of her father and screamed out for Sapphira. There was a flash. She was in the streets of New Hebron where Clara Stern had been murder. She could see the other exemplar, surrounded by dozens of misshapen figures, each more grotesque than the last. One wore her own face, and another wore Hailey’s, but the rest were strangers to the agent.
She opened her mouth to speak, but there was another flash and she was back in the room with her father. Amelia was no longer pinned against the wall, but stood on the other side of the room a few feet away. The agent glanced down at her chest, pulled the prom dress back up and let out a sign of relief as her breasts re-materialize under the surface of the fabric.
She gritted her teeth and concentrated on what she was wearing. The prom dress disappeared, and in its place materialized the same outfit she was wearing in the real world, black slacks, a blue blouse and her AEGIS jacket. A smile touched the corner of Amelia’s lips as she reached into her windbreaker and produced her pistol from within its holster.
Her father approached, his arms stretching out to unnatural proportions, reaching across the room toward her. Though the gun was a projection of her mind, it felt real enough. So, she opened fire. The bullet impacted him in the chest, and he let out a high-pitched screech. Her father lurched forward. Amy gritted her teeth, let out a scream of her own and unloaded the clip.
Her father, stood there peering down at the bloody mass on his chest, and glanced back up at Amy. He teetered on his feet, then fell face first to the ground. The agent moved toward the door but stopped dead in her tracks when another figure stepped into the doorway.
Amy, paused glanced at her gun and slipped it backed into the holster. Her mother hadn’t been there for her, but she couldn’t bring herself to attack her mother even an illusionary version of her. It was a realization that might have given her pause if Maggie van den Broeke hadn’t been smiling at her with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth.
This time, Amy did not draw her weapon, but focused her will elsewhere. She already wasted enough time confronting her own demons. It was time to face a few of Sapphira’s.