The room beyond the door was simply a windowless trapezoid with the same grey walls that reminded him of finished cement, the same somewhat padded floor. To one side was a toilet with a sink next to it, a roll of toilet paper suspended under the latter, and a narrow full-length mirror next to that apparently set into the wall; there was, literally, nothing else in the room.
He took a deep breath, faced the mirror directly, and made himself actually look.
There was a hint there of his own facial features, but feminized and refined. He was certain he was taller, though probably not by much. The frightened eyes looking back at him were a soft dove-grey, ringed by long dense dark brown lashes and lined in much the same, with red and brown tones shaded over the lids; his lips, fuller than they had been, were tinted the same dark red as his clothes and nails, though he tasted nothing when he ran his tongue nervously along them—caught a glimpse of very even, very white teeth. Beige-brown skin was absolutely flawless, completely smooth and even in texture and colour, no variations in tone, no trace of dark under his eyes or even a hint of wrinkles at the corners, not a blemish or the slightest suggestion of four decades of exposure to sun and wind and a couple of decades of shaving. Absolutely straight hair, the dark brown of black coffee, fell in a long soft shining fall to something like waist-level.
The cropped top fit like another skin down to the base of his ribs, high around the back of his neck but dropping to a rapidly-narrowing V ending just low enough to allow a glimpse of skin between… his breasts. Warily, he ran a hand over one, cupped his hand around it to squeeze it. It was an extraordinary sensation, having all that mass there, and so sensitive. He scratched lightly over one nipple through the fabric with a red nail—which was longer than he was accustomed to, but not ridiculously so—and gasped at the shiver it sent along his nerves. The same thing happened on the other side then he circled it.
He turned in place, eyeing the roundness of his bottom, curving inward to his waist, giving him a distinctly hourglass shape; he ran his hand over his backside, found it neither hard with muscle nor soft with fat, but nicely firm between. The pants sat a bit lower on his hips than he was used to, but then, he wasn’t used to having hips that were wider than his waist to support that, either. The pants hugged his legs down to just above his ankles, leaving the glassy cuffs about as visible as they seemed likely to be.
Holy crap, a model would kill to look like that. Real women don’t look like that. Not without hours of specialized clothing, professional make-up, the right lighting, and some airbrushing, and god knows what as far as diet and implants and surgery. Heh, I learned something from some of Theo’s shows.
Except she didn’t say anything about real women, human women. And she’s right about feeling healthy. No glasses but I can see better than I could with them, and despite everything, I just feel healthy.
All right, that was him, from coffee-brown hair and wide grey eyes to long legs and delicate bare feet and everything between. It might be him forever, but at the very least, it was him for an indefinite period of time, and he might as well get used to it. Of the things he found most frightening at the moment, the pure fact of looking different wasn’t even in the top five—although the means of it happening was, and so were the possible consequences.
The clothes weren’t really hiding all that much. Fumbling, partly from sheer shakiness and partly from the unfamiliar nails and partly because he wasn’t used to clothes that fit like this, he tugged and wriggled the pants down to pool around his ankles, took a deep breath and, before he could chicken out, squirmed until he got the top over his head.
If I wasn’t me, I would so want to get me into bed but I’d be so sure I was completely out of my league… I look like god’s gift to men, and very seriously fuckable. Actually, that’s rather worrying…
Nipples and areolae were noticeably darker than the skin around them, making them all the more obvious.
Flat belly smoothed and rounded by a layer of softness, leading down to a narrow triangle of curly dark-chocolate hair, where something very important was missing.
He closed his eyes, and made himself keep breathing. He’d known already, it wasn’t a surprise. Freaking out wasn’t going to help.
He ran a tentative finger across the dark fur, and his skin picked it up, sent him a tickly-light sensation. He spread his legs apart just enough to reach, and stroked that finger along what lurked there… which was an outer pair of highly sensitive labia that had once been his scrotum, and a warm wet area he didn’t have the nerve to check out any closer.
This was insane, but it was real. He was actually, completely, one hundred percent a woman. In body, at least. He still felt distinctly like a man in a woman’s body, but would that continue? There was something to be said for being a ridiculously gorgeous woman instead of a skinny geek no one looked twice at…
On the other hand, there was even more to be said for life without impossible semi-visible restraints, and without ominous comments about what they’d turn out to be and about experiments if they resisted too much.
He needed to pee, despite how much the thought made him quail. But he was going to have to deal with this sooner or later; he could hardly put off all use of the bathroom indefinitely.
He sat down, trying to puzzle out a different set of muscles.
Abruptly, he found the right ones, and his bladder released. Experimentally, he tried flexing those same muscles, and found that they could cut it off mid-stream. They tightened somewhere else at the same time, somewhere a bit farther back, and that created an oddly pleasant, if subtle, sensation.
Oh my god, those are vaginal muscles.
He shivered, made himself relax completely so he could finish peeing… but he just couldn’t resist, when he was done, constricting and releasing those muscles a few more times.
He’d be lying to himself if he tried to pretend it didn’t feel good, in an unfamiliar and deeply unsettling sort of way.
What would it feel like to flex like that around something?
He banished that thought hastily. As much as he wanted to be pragmatic and deal with this situation as sensibly as the insanity allowed, he was still male to himself, and still only attracted to girls, and he absolutely did not want so much as a single experience of sex with another male.
Wiping between his legs was a nerve-wracking moment, but he knew he needed to.
He picked up the red clothing, and wriggled back into it.
Okay, it covered everything essential and then some, but it fit so closely it really didn’t leave much to the imagination, and the skin it bared only added to the teasing effect.
There was no furniture, so he chose the corner farthest from door and toilet and simply sat on the floor. Instinctively, he pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, huddled in on himself as tightly as he could, which was tighter than he should have been able to despite some extra padding interfering.
He and six people he’d grown up with had been kidnapped, with no warning. That was an overwhelmingly terrifying thing in itself. He was certain that once it really sank in, he was going to curl up in a corner crying and wouldn’t be able to stop.
They were being told they weren’t human and never had been, that this change was a step on a road to becoming whatever they actually were. That they were inferior to humans had been very clearly implied, but that sounded like blatant prejudice and could probably be dismissed other than what it meant for how they were going to be treated. Not human… this was the first mention of it in four and a half decades alive, but it was hard to doubt the reality of what had happened to his body, and having something latent inside made as much sense as having something imposed from outside. Maybe more, because he was pretty sure he should be finding the change, in itself, a lot harder to cope with and much higher on the current priority list.
There must be some details that their captors couldn’t anticipate, though, judging from the reference to one or more of them being useful or interesting, and the bit about waiting to see what they were. Like capturing and raising caterpillars, which were hard to identify, to see what kind of butterflies they turned into?
Wizards? Seriously? And that was a very different concept of a medium than anything he’d ever encountered. Those explanations of what they were had been just too short, there had to be much more to it than that. Just like there had to be much more to this whole fae thing.
Roughly thirty-six square kilometres in a bubble of reality. How much land was that? A square six kilometres on a side… he could walk nearly that far in an hour, on clear sidewalks and on a good day, but that was only straight-line distance, not area. He’d researched conversions for mapping games, if he could just remember. A square kilometre was just shy of two hundred and fifty acres, and an acre was originally the amount of land that could be ploughed in a day with a team of oxen, which meant there was quite a substantial amount of space here. Despite that, they had nowhere to run to, even if they had some way to escape the structure they were in and the half-visible bands that could restrain or hurt them.
And those things were insane all in themselves.
It wasn’t as though anyone was likely to miss him anytime soon, or as though it was going to make any major difference in their lives when they did.
His gamers would notice next Friday; his landlord would when the rent wasn’t paid, and his current employer would notice when JC failed to arrive for work the next evening. Niko would notice, of course, and probably worry, but JC’s absence was hardly going to be devastating.
Niko. You’ve been asking me about odd things happening since the blackout. Is this odd enough for you? Or do you know more about this than you were letting on, and I wasn’t listening very well?
There were Theo and Des and Erica… but Theo was here in the same nightmare. That could very plausibly be Des in yellow, the features were close enough, the skin tone a bit off but no more than JC’s own was. If Zach and Suzi were here too, then who were the remaining two? Was one of them Erica? Give her over a head more height without altering her weight and make the colouring more dramatic, and you’d more or less have the one in deep green, skin warm tan and hair an amazing bronzy-brown with highlights that looked almost green but might just be picking up her clothes. Zach was probably the “macho one” who had given their captors a hard time, but who was the “blonde bitch” who presumably had become the golden-blonde with skin so porcelain-pale it had a pink tint, build almost as curvy as Erica’s, her clothes ultramarine-blue? He contemplated that, and finally decided she must be Alison, the seventh of the classmates who’d been at the blackout-barbecue, and who would almost certainly not have been easy to subdue.
Other than that short list of people, no one would pay any attention at all to a JC-less planet. Even his family had stopped expecting to hear from him, since there was really nothing he had in common with them other than genes.
That wasn’t true for his friends, though. Taking even one out of the world would leave a gaping hole, let alone all six.
They weren’t going to get far disobeying, that was depressingly clear. They were going to have to do as they were told. At least working in gardens and on housework and cooking sounded no worse than many jobs he’d had, and they could hope fervently that sexual services weren’t on the list.
Which didn’t mean that he intended to spend the rest of his life here and helpless. It just meant playing along and gathering as much info as he could. Things like this didn’t happen in the reality he knew, but they could happen in a game. Treating it as live-action role-play and aiming for the safety and eventual freedom of himself and his party, that at least gave him some sort of course of action.
His party of seven. Des, Erica, Theo, Zach, Suzi, Alison, and himself. All people he’d gone to school with from kindergarten on up, had lived in the same area with all his life. Trapped together in a nightmare, in which he was deathly sure they had only each other to lean on.
He curled up, head pillowed on one arm. Terrified as he was, he was also exhausted, and his mind would be clearer tomorrow if he could manage to catnap a little now.
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