The Angel On Her Wing - 4 - Much Ado About Everything

Printer-friendly version
The Angel On Her Wing


THE ANGEL ON HER WING


War Changes Everyone.
Strange changes begin to haunt Brian as he settles into life as a prisoner of war.
Chapter Four - Much Ado About Everything

Brian shuffled slowly through to the ablutions block as he stifled a yawn. It was early in the morning of his second month in the camp. The block was shared between six huts and connected to each by a long common corridor. In the chill of November, it was a welcome alternative to going outside in the middle of the night.

Stretching, he rolled his head from side to side to work a kink from his neck. The bunks were not completely uncomfortable but he never slept particularly well. Hanging his Red Cross towel on a nail, he began to strip out of his clothing. The chill was more effective than the bitter German coffee at waking him and he quickly slipped into the shower room and turned on the faucet. Once the water had risen above room temperature he stepped in and began to wash.

Brian leaned against the wall for a moment and allowed the water to rain down over his head. The early mornings were hard on him but he always preferred to shower first so that he could be alone. He had always been particularly shy when it came to nudity; he had hated sharing the communal showers at school where he had often been the smallest and weakest. Now, that discomfort was joined by not only the fear that the others might learn of what he lacked but also by what that loss had done to him in the months since his accident. Brian had begun to notice changes happening to his body after only a couple of weeks. Now, after two months in captivity, he could barely conceal them anymore.

Never a boy particularly blessed by muscles or body hair, he had now found that both had set sail for warmer climes. The wiry muscle that he had possessed had smoothed out leaving his skinny frame to now appear more frail than it once had. This was made markedly worse by the little fat still remaining on his body sticking stubbornly to his buttocks, hips, and chest. In all, the Brian Campbell that he now resembled seemed somehow younger and more juvenile, his soft skinny body feeling further and further from the masculine ideal that he was told he should represent.

What confounded him the greatest, was that the changes themselves didn’t seem to upset him as much as he believed they should. It was concerning of course; any change was, but the truth of the matter was that he felt more calm and serene than he had before in his entire life. What really made him nervous was what people would think of him and how they would treat him if they knew the full truth.

It reminded him of when the German pilot Bergmann had sat with him and revealed the truth of his injuries to him. It had only been a few months, but it felt like a lifetime ago to Brian. The man had felt bad for him; that he had suffered somehow a fate worse than death in his eyes. It was as though he was now somehow less and that was something to be pitied.

The sound of the shower block door creaking open roused Brian from his thoughts. He jumped at the sound, hurriedly turning to face the wall as he began scrubbing his body.

“Morning,” yawned a wild-haired Andrew as he stumbled stark naked into the bathroom. Slinging his towel over the waist-high wall, the pilot collected his wash kit and stepped into the shower.

“Sleep alright?” he called cheerily.

“Ah, yes thank you,” Brian replied hesitantly, trying to keep his back turned to the man.

“First time I’ve seen you in here,” Matheson observed as he turned on the faucet. “You’re a bloody early riser old boy.”

“I don’t like the hot water running out” Brian offered weakly without looking over at the man.

“Not my place to say this,” Matheson said looking over at the other officer as he slowly soaped his hair, “but you seem very shy around everyone; is this the same deal some schoolboy worry?”

Brian felt a jolt of fear, “No, no, it’s nothing.”

“I don’t think so.” Matheson disagreed, “No, the way you behave is exactly how I did back in my school days: You make yourself invisible and hope to go unnoticed. You don’t feel like one of the normal guys so you just try to exist.”

“Believe it or not,” the Navy pilot admitted. “I was one of the small lads back in school, I got treated pretty badly.”

Brian turned his head to look at the Navy pilot incredulously. Andrew Matheson was a broad man who stood nearly six feet four inches tall. He had a physique that would make any rugby player insanely jealous, even after their less-than-stellar diet. Nothing Brian could see lent any credence to the man’s story. Brian realised he was staring at the naked man in the showers and looked away quickly to hide his violent blush.

Matheson chuckled at Brian’s surprise. “Oh I know it’s pretty hard to believe if you look at me now but I hit a bit of a late growth spurt and it all went away. I shot up like a beanstalk as my old mum would say,” he laughed as he turned off the shower and reached for his towel.

“Don’t worry old chap, It will hit you soon enough. What are you? Nineteen, maybe Twenty? Give it a couple of years and you’ll be fighting off the ladies,” he chuckled warmly as he patted Brian on the shoulder.

Brian flinched at the touch and bit his lip. So far, nobody knew about the truth of his situation. A great part of him wanted to remain that way, to hide this from the world and hope it went away. Another more desperate part needed someone to know; someone that could share it and help him handle the reality within which he now resided. Working his jaw, he made a decision.

“No Andy, I won’t,” he admitted with a sigh, “ and I never will.”

“Ah that’s not true Bri,” Matheson replied as he towelled his hair, “You absolutely will. It just takes some chaps a bit longer, that’s all.”

Brian turned off the water but kept his body turned away from the man he might call a friend. “I can’t Andrew, no hair, no muscles, no growth spurt: I will never become the man you think I will because I physically can’t. If anything, my body is trying to go the other way.”

Matheson shook his head and wrapped the towel around his waist before he sat down on a slatted wooden bench and unfolded his wash roll. “Every man does Brian.”

“No,” Brian interjected with more force than he intended. He glanced at Matheson before lowering his voice to barely above a whisper. “I haven’t told anyone this; it’s incredibly embarrassing,” he added trailing off. Brian shook his head, wrapped his towel around his waist, and pulled on his shirt before turning to face his friend. “Andrew, I don’t have any balls; they’re gone.”

Matheson was silent for a moment, a look of surprise and confusion painted on his face. Brian slowly walked over and sat at the far end of the bench from his friend and looked over at the man. “When I went down in France, there was an accident with my parachute harness. It, well… they had to operate and they couldn’t save them. I… I can’t be what you said I’ll be; no amount of time will make a man out of me.”

Brian looked away from his friend and hung his head. “You are right though; I will change and I already am. It just won’t be the way you think,” he said quietly, shaking with silent tears.

Matheson put his wash roll down and moved over until he could put his arm around the shoulder of his sobbing comrade. “It’s alright,” he offered quietly. “Nobody’s going to think any less of you Brian. Accidents happen; A lot of rubbish has happened in this war. It doesn’t make you any less of a man to have suffered an injury in combat. I’ve seen chaps loose legs or arms and be burned beyond recognition. Others lose their faces, their sight and so many other things; those are injuries that will change your life. I don't mean to diminish what happened to you but you’re still here and you have every chance of a full and happy life.” He chuckled darkly, “our present circumstances excepted of course.”

Brian sighed and shook his head. “That’s just it Andy,” he whispered. “I never really felt like I ever belonged for my entire life. I was waiting for puberty to kick in and make me like my brothers and classmates. I was waiting for something magical to happen where I would suddenly feel like I belonged in this world, that it was right and normal. Now, I sit here wondering what I even am. If it won’t ever make a man of me, what even am I?”

Andrew Matheson was quiet for a moment. The revelations of the past few moments had made him regard the young officer in an entirely new light. Brian was right; he wasn’t much of a man; barely more than a boy in truth. He could pat him on the shoulder and tell him it would be all be alright but that wouldn’t change the facts.

Brian was fine-featured, smaller, and more slight than anyone else in the camp. He had heard comments from some of the less evolved types but had always dismissed it as typical schoolyard rubbish. He couldn’t imagine what was going through the poor boy’s head. He couldn’t change his path, but he would be there for Brian.

“This war has done some terrible things to people, Bri. Families have been torn apart and lives lost. Give yourself time and you’ll find out who you are. You will be alright, I promise. You might not find who you are inside these walls, hell, we’re all just in a holding pattern. We survive from day to day just so we might dream of being home again. Promise me one thing: Promise me you won’t hold this sort of thing back from me and the guys in the hut, alright? I don’t give a monkeys about anyone else but you’re one of us and we look after our mates.”

Brian nodded weakly without looking up. “Thank you,” he replied weakly, “I’m sorry.”

“Ah, don’t be,” Matheson shrugged and smiled reassuringly. “I’d have felt awful telling me too.”

* * *

Brian had found it difficult to interact normally with Andrew after their talk that morning in the ablutions block. The man now knew his deepest, darkest secret and his most private feelings on the matter. Despite his poor ability to articulate those feelings, he had still revealed far more than he was comfortable with. While he followed Matheson’s advice and allowed himself to be more open with the others in the hut, he still kept the truth of his humiliation from them. These men treated him like an equal for the first time in his life and he had no desire to ruin that.

The changes he had noticed over the past few months didn’t slow in their progress, but his attitude to them did. He wasn’t sure if it was Matheson’s awareness or his new attitude but he began to accept them as a fact of his body. This reality became his new normal, and it was far easier to process that way.

Their incarceration was a holding pattern from the real world. Here in the camp, this was simply how he was and it seemed somehow disconnected from his life back at home. Unlike his time in school, he had friends who didn’t judge him. They saw him for who he was, and they had his back. He knew that for the first time in his life, no matter what had happened, they were going to get through this together.

Wing Commander Berkeley had organised several escape attempts in the run-up to December. They had a varying level of success with some men getting further than others. Unfortunately for them, none made it further than the nearest villages. It seemed as though the Germans almost expected it; their own little private war within the confines of the camp fence. They attempted to escape and the Germans punished them when they were caught. Brian supposed it at least kept everyone entertained.

Matheson had become their de facto leader within the hut with the other men all deferring to him on their involvement with camp politics. Berkeley was nominally in charge of the contingent of allied prisoners; a throwback to their military lives on the outside. The other men all had their individual skills and specialties that contributed to the group collective. While Berkeley was their leader, Brian was positive that Matheson had his own plans to depart their current residence. He would see his friend plotting and observing the Germans while they worked and he could see the cogs turning inside his mind.

Hut Twelve eventually began to plot more openly amongst themselves. Arthur Hamley the Navigator was an astronomer and spent many an evening attempting to fix their position within Germany by the stars, a process hampered somewhat by their lack of good maps. Eventually, he had them narrowed down to the southeastern corner of the country with reasonable certainty once Down had managed to steal maps. He had discovered the grizzly and somewhat intimidating Irishman Hamley was a friendly honest man with an interest in American Jazz music, a wife, and two young children back in England.

The American’s contribution had been exactly that; thievery. Mike had proved quite capable of relieving the German guards of personal effects without their awareness. He rarely returned to the hut without extra cigarettes or currency that the group stashed away for a later date. For all his flash bravado, the Yank, Mike Down, was a simple Texas boy and was quietly intelligent in his own way. He had a street savvy and practical adaptability that made up for his lack of formal education; the man was a born survivor and a talented addition to their group.

Maddox spoke reasonable German as did Matheson and the two practised regularly together. They eventually started to include Brian as his lessons with the Dutch Captain progressed to a point of competent conversation. The group knew that any escape attempt would rely entirely on their actions outside the wire, not simply those leaving it. Knowing how to speak the language, and speak it like a native might save their lives.

Matheson and Maddox were both stereotypical Royal Navy airmen: Public school, First Fifteen rugby players; true old boys. Matheson was the most educated of the group, holding a bachelor's degree in ancient history. He had been planning to continue with his education when war broke out and instead joined the Navy. His education was something the men seemed to enjoy mocking him about but the tall, dark-haired Navy pilot was forever jovial about the subject. Brian could see that the man’s passion lay in creativity, not destruction. This war would truly be the undoing of them all.

Andrew was the closest friend Brian had made in the camp during his time there and possibly one of the few he had ever had. It surprised him to realise that he did indeed consider the man to be a friend; it was not a mantle he had needed to use often in the past. Matheson treated him like a human being and not like the runt he knew he probably appeared to be in the eyes of most. It had taken him time, but with Matheson’s help, Brian had become more of a member of the hut than a guest. He finally felt capable of opening up to the others and joining in with their jokes and camaraderie. The men treated him as an equal and even defended him when they could. The wire and the Jerries aside, Brian Campbell felt more at home now than he ever had even in England.

* * *

Brian approached the guard standing beside the main gate of the camp. The man seemed relaxed, his rifle slung easily over his shoulder and his hands in the pockets of his greatcoat. From his brief interactions over the past few months, he knew he spoke some English.

“Entschuldigung?”

The man turned to him and raised an eyebrow, “What you want?”

“I would like to… uh, can I see the doctor? Artz Muller, Bitte?”

The guard looked him up and down, “You do not seem sick.”

“I uh, it’s… an ongoing thing, Doctor Muller asked me to come and see him.”

The man seemed to consider this before shrugging and gesturing for Brian to follow him.

“Against the fence please.” The man indicated, “I search you.”

Brian complied and placed his hands against the wire of the fence while the man casually patted the pockets of his uniform down. He knew the searches were to prevent them from sneaking things in and out of the camp, but It was all Brian could do to not flinch to the man’s touch. Once he was done, the guard escorted him through the double main gates and out into the administration area of the camp.

Brian wasn’t looking forward to seeing the German Doctor again but he realised that he had to understand more about what was happening to him. He had only seen Muller twice since his arrival back at the end of July and he was afraid of what the man would see when he examined him. Both visits had been at the start of his incarceration and before he had changed significantly. The truth was, he was terrified to find out what it all meant.

Doctor Muller walked into the examination room and smiled at Brian. “How are we doing today Herr Campbell?”

“I’m ok, no pain Doctor.”

“Excellent,” Muller grinned as he sat down at his desk. “What can I do for you?”

Brian gripped the edge of the examination table tightly and licked his dry lips. “I ah…I’ve noticed some slight changes in my body since we last spoke.”

Muller furrowed his brow, “We did mention that you would struggle to maintain muscle mass with your situation, is this what you are describing?”

Brian shook his head and blushed. “Well, a little, but It’s more than that. My… nipples have been hurting too.”

Muller stood and crossed the room towards Brian and raised his eyebrows. “Well then, enough of the embarrassment. I am here to help ok? Take off your shirt and let me have a look.”

Brian unbuttoned his shirt and removed it before reluctantly shrugging out of his undershirt. He kept his gaze fixed on the far wall, he followed the Doctor’s instructions while he examined his torso. Brian knew what he looked like, and while he had almost adjusted to his new self, he was still extremely embarrassed to be seen by someone else.

“This is unusual,” Muller murmured as he palpated the puffy skin around Brian’s left nipple. “What does this feel like?”

“Ow,” Brian jumped slightly, flinching away from Muller’s touch. “That really hurt.”

Muller’s eyebrows raised. “Most unusual, but also not…. Very strange.”

“What do you mean?”

Muller glanced at Brian and looked mildly perplexed. “If I did not know better, I would think you were a young girl entering puberty. What you are feeling, the irritation is development of your… well, breasts.”

“Breasts?”

Muller nodded. “I realise this is embarrassing, but I would like you to take off your trousers too. I will be as quick as possible then you can dress and we shall talk about this further, ok herr Campbell?”

Brian was in a daze as he stripped out of his remaining clothes. He had breasts, breasts that were growing. The very concept seemed alien to him but it certainly matched what he had denied to himself for some time. The human mind is capable of ignoring anything it wants if it ‘s sufficiently motivated.

Muller was true to his word and made the examination as painless as possible. Brian was still deeply humiliated by the experience as the man measured and prodded him in great detail. Eventually satisfied, he was allowed to redress as the Doctor retreated to his desk to write furiously in a notebook.

Once he was done, Muller beckoned Brian over to the chair beside his desk and bade him sit.

“Well, you have made my day far more interesting, Herr Campbell.” Muller smiled disarmingly. “I will start with the most important first; you are not in ill health. As far as I can tell you are perfectly healthy.”

“But?”

Muller looked mildly uncertain for a moment. “Herr Campbell. I realise saying words like ‘breasts’ and ‘puberty’ can be alarming, but the human body is a complex system and we still do not fully understand it.”

Muller grimaced and looked uncomfortable, “Many books and subject matter experts in the field of sexology in Germany are no longer… welcome in our society. This makes deeper investigation much harder, and as a prisoner of war, I am limited in what resources I can utilise to treat you.”

“What is happening to me?”

Muller seemed to consider the question for a moment before he answered. “What I think… and please, bear in mind that I am hypothesising here Herr Campbell, is that the lack of testosterone in your body after your accident has exposed a comorbid condition; that is, something occurring at the same time but not related.”

“I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by the Sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld in 1931 before… all that book business. His studies showed that the male sex hormone was quite strong. That it could and did overpower the female equivalent. What I believe has occurred in your case, considering your condition when you arrived is that its absence has allowed a higher-than-normal level of oestrogen in your body to flourish.”

“So, I'm a girl?”

Muller shook his head. “I do not believe so, but perhaps you have a higher than-normal level of oestrogen, I cannot say why. What I can say is that your body has begun to behave more akin to that of a pubescent girl; your breast tissue is developing, body fat is predominantly around the hip, buttocks and chest and your skin is far softer. It is quite fascinating really.”

“I don’t really care to be fascinating Doctor Muller,” Brian frowned. “I’d rather be normal.”

Muller sighed and removed his glasses. He looked at Brian with a mixture of compassion and concern in his tired eyes. “You may find your normal has to shift somewhat young man. I will do what I can for you, I promise you that much.”

Comments are the lifeblood of authors. Please leave a comment with your thoughts/feelings and I'll answer! Let me know what you think!

up
144 users have voted.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos! Click the "Thumbs Up!" button above to leave a Kudos

Comments

Not fun

OTOH, it may be a blessing in disguise with him being able to do a really good job disguising himself as a young German (a really Aryan looking one too) girl for any escape. The trick still is to look as masculine as possible until the actual escape attempt in order to throw them off the scent.

AFAIK, having such a high level of estrogen (oestrogen for you Brits) is rare from merely getting castrated. Castrati as far as I know don't really get much in the way of significant breast development so I can understand the fascination of the doctor. It sounds like to me that Brian may very well be intersexed, maybe even Klinefelters or maybe even a Pseudohermaphrodite but who knows? Being the latter would be dangerous of course with no vaginal opening.

Anyway, as bad as being a POW is, this is a pretty decent situation of them. Part of it is being relatively early in the war when the Germans can provide more for their prisoners since they are nominally winning it at this point until they launched Barbarosa of course and then it was the beginning of the end.

I sense the time to make their escape attempt would be in the next year or so as by then he would be pretty developed I would imagine, German lessons can 'take' and the usual gathering of supplies completed.

In the mean time it is important to hide his condition from the rest of the camp.

:)

Kit's picture

So the intention is that Brian is some form of Intersex. I don't go into it, and I leave it open-ended. This is still early in our understanding of that sort of thing so I wanted to leave it vague.

Regarding the situation for the POWs... yeah, its early early war, and they're officers. This is pre the HUGE overpopulation of camps once the big bombing campaigns started too.

As for the rest? you'll need to read to find out :D

I like Turtles.

Really enjoying……

D. Eden's picture

The new version of this story. Of course, I enjoyed the original as well!

D. Eden

Dum Vivimus, Vivamus

Original

Me too. It's been over a decade though so I'd completely forgotten Angel's High, a really good story in its own right imho.

Time

Kit's picture

I had forgotten for a long time too, I decided it deserved to be finished... but it also deserved to be BETTER. I think it's doing it justice.

I like Turtles.

:D

Kit's picture

I felt it needed more meat. The original was destined to be a novella... 17000-40000 words. This one spiraled past that so I went back and rewrote a lot of the earlier material to make it more detailed and involved to really flesh it out properly. Adding the Doctor and that 'explanation' to cover a lot of what happens felt important.

I like Turtles.

More Meat?

Accel World 2.png

I thought he lost his?

At any rate, the changes kicked in and now for how the Germans will deal with it. Poor Brian :(
This is gonna be a whole lot rougher than just your standard changing slowly over time deal.

Sephrena

"your normal has to shift somewhat young man"

Well, that's an understatement of the first order. The question is "how much". Looking forward to more of this entertaining tale.