Metamorpho-sis Part 1 of 3 (1st Song of the Kylie Warren Saga)

Metamorpho-sis (1st song of the Kylie Warren Saga)

by Jennifer Sue

Part 1 of 3

I've been so wrapped up in my warm cocoon
Something's happening, things are changing soon
I'm pushing the edge, feeling it crack
And once I get out, there's no turning back
Watching the butterfly go towards the sun
I wonder what I will become
Metamorphosis
Whatever this is
Whatever I'm going through
(Hillary Duff - Metamorphosis)

*****
“Damn, how could you screw that up!”

“Don’t be such a damn sissy!”

“Get up and shake it off!”

“Don’t be such a damn crybaby!”

“Why can’t you be more like your brother?”

Kyle woke up crying, but fortunately doing so silently. Every night, the same nightmare. Of course, that was because every day was a living nightmare for the four year old. He’d learned to cry silently. If his tears woke his older brother, DJ, he’d get belittled as a crybaby. Then at breakfast DJ would complain that Kyle’s crying had woken him during the night, which would earn Kyle a scolding from his father.

*****
Kyle was a bubbly gurgling infant who grew into a smiling laughing toddler. That all changed shortly after his third birthday. Like many toddlers, Kyle loved his stuffed Calico cat, Puddy, and carried it nearly everywhere. His father thought three was far too old for a boy to be hanging on to a dumb stuffed animal and it made Kyle look like a sissy. Finally, his manly frustration blew and he snatched Puddy from Kyle’s hands and literally tore it apart as the toddler screamed. The devastated boy refused to respond to his father for a week. But the worst was that Kyle stopped smiling and laughing. Contentment and joy vanished from his life.

*****

Dave Warren stood six feet four inches and weighed in at a solid 240 pounds. In highschool he had been a strong side linebacker, earning a scholarship to a State college. While he hadn’t made it to the pros, he had earned a teaching degree in Phys-Ed. Now he had a comfy job as a Phys-Ed teacher and was an assistant coach on the junior varsity football squad. He wanted his sons to be just like him, a macho sports fanatic.

Laura Warren was three years younger than Dave. She’d been a wallflower when in school and had worked in a mini-market. A slender five feet four inches she was a full foot shorter than Dave. They met when Dave came home for Christmas Vacation during his senior year of college. She was swept off her feet and idolized the big man. They married in June after he graduated. Dave Jr. was born in mid-September. Kyle was born 23 months later.

DJ seemed to be everything Dave Sr. expected. Taking after his father physically and mentally, sports came naturally to the stocky boy, but more importantly, he enjoyed them. Since the cut-off date for school enrollment was September 1, DJ was one of the oldest boys in his school year.

Kyle was the exact opposite of DJ, both physically and in attitude. Taking after his mother, Kyle was slender and small. Since his birthday was mid-August, he was one of the youngest boys in his school year and only one year behind DJ. Kyle’s memories were of being yelled at for crying... when a passed football hit him in the stomach knocking him on his butt... when a baseball bounced out of his kiddie glove hit him in the face... when he tripped over a passed soccer ball falling flat on his face... on... and on... and on... The upshot was that since Kyle was not allowed to cry, the only way he could stifle his tears was to stifle all emotions. The four year old boy stopped crying, but then he’d already stopped laughing and smiling a year before.

When Dave wasn’t ‘training’ the boys, they’d sit beside him on the couch while he screamed at some sporting event on ESPN. Fortunately, DJ , who eagerly joined into the revelry, sat between his dad and Kyle allowing the younger timid boy to inconspicuously cower. Kyle was never given a chance to voice his feeling about sports nor to explore other interests. All he could do was sullenly follow in DJ’s footsteps.

The minimum age for joining the spring T-ball league was four. The minimum age for joining the August youth soccer league was four. The minimum age for joining the Pee-Wee football league was five. Dave had the boys signed up as soon as they were eligible. Dave wasn’t much different from the coaches. The most important thing was winning. Playing rough and slightly dirty was the name of every game. Dave trained the boys to be the toughest bastard amongst whoever they played with... to dish out more than they took... and to never cry. DJ eagerly did it all... late hits... tripping... elbowing... cleating... stomping... and loved doing it. Kyle had no choice but to do it too... and hated it.

To say Kyle was confused and frustrated was an understatement. Dave’s words and actions let him know that he couldn’t cry or behave like a ‘sissy’. The young lad didn’t even know what a sissy was but knew his dad hated them and that he had no choice but to ‘suck it up’. Not being able to show how he felt, Kyle developed a hard dour expression to hide his inner emotional turmoil. The tormented boy began to hate his dad and coaches for what they wanted him to do. Being unable to express that hatred, it didn’t take long for the unvented anger to build and twist until he developed a malicious delight in hurting anyone who was a gung-ho sports nut... even his teammates. No one suspected the radical transformation of the timid boy to a diminutive super aggressive toughie was a misdirected attempt to get back at his dad and coaches. Even the much bigger DJ suffered on the field drubbings from his scrawny little brother. The kids Kyle mashed were simply unfortunate surrogates.

*****

By the time Kyle began kindergarten he detested all things macho. Walking into school on his first day he glowered at everyone. The girls were totally put off by his gruff demeanor. The boys who had met him on a playing field had learned the hard way he seemed to enjoy hurting others and was seemingly impervious to pain. They warily avoided him and the other boys warily followed their example. As the days passed, the fact that he never smiled and rarely spoke intimidated his classmates. Needless to say, Kyle didn’t make any friends... and that’s how he wanted it. He’d seen his brother with friends. Having friends meant you had to get emotionally involved and Kyle felt he couldn’t afford to open himself up to becoming emotional as it might break his ability not to cry. On the other hand, DJ was a gregarious jock, not just one of the guys, but one of the natural leaders of his peers and teammates.

Kyle had learned to read as his brother did and quickly discovered that reading took him to other places and worlds... away from sports and violence. By the time he started Kindergarten he was reading on a second grade level and was a better reader than DJ.

At the parent-teacher conference his teacher praised Kyle’s intelligence but expressed great concern about his utter isolation from his classmates as well as his reticence and constant sullen demeanor. This revelation opened Laura’s eyes. She couldn’t remember the last time Kyle had smiled much less laughed. That evening she kept a close eye on her youngest, sadly recognizing that his morose behavior was, unfortunately, his normal state.

At supper Dave asked how the boys were doing in school. Both boys had grown anxious as their mother said nothing about how the conferences had gone. All she said was that both boys were doing well. Everyone knew there were issues she would speak about to Dave later. Conversation the rest of the evening was quite stilted.

When the boys went upstairs to get ready for bed both were afraid they were in trouble so they hesitated at the top of the steps to listen as their mother spoke to their father about the teacher’s concerns. When they realized who was in trouble, DJ smirked and gently shoved his brother. “I’m in the clear, goodnight squirt.” With that he headed off to bed while Kyle stayed and listened.

“Hell, if I was the not only the best player on every team but the best in every league I played in and if I was as tough Kyle, I wouldn’t want anything to do with the kids in my class either! As for not smiling, hell, he’s just so driven to be the best he doesn’t have time to smile,” Dave bragged.

Laura fell silent, she knew Dave was wrong but didn’t know how to express her concerns and fears. Dave simply didn’t understand the seriousness of Kyle’s malaise and she was too accustomed to yielding most decisions to her husband. She felt incompetent to stand up to him.

Kyle fought back the tears threatening to fill his eyes as he slipped away from his listening post. As he snuggled under his sheets he angrily thought that he didn’t want to be the best kid in sports. The problem was he no longer had any idea what he might like. All he could ever remember was sports... and he hated sports. He determined not to let himself be drawn into caring about anything as it only caused pain. Kyle renewed his vow to not cry again... even inside his head... it hurt too much.

*****

After that, on the sports field, Kyle refused to talk to his teammates, merely grunting or nodding his head to anything directed towards him that required a response. As for the coaches, he only spoke when they directly asked him a question and even then his reply was curt. On the playing field, even though he was usually the smallest player, his grim silent countenance and fearless aggression instilled fear not only into his opponents, but his teammates as well. When the coaches took the team for an after game treat, he’d shake his head in refusal but Dave and DJ always insisted they join their teammates. As the kids tucked into their treats, Kyle would silently stand off to one side with arms defiantly folded, unseeingly staring off into space. Dave simply wrote it off to post game anxiety.

In school his classmates actively avoided Kyle. If anyone tried to get close, he’d scowl which was more than enough to keep them away. As he progressed through his kindergarten year he easily grasped every lesson and always did all assignments and any homework, but never volunteered to answer questions. When called upon, he’d answer, but always gave the shortest response possible. He seemed to hate everything, including himself. Laura maintained an open line of communication with Kyle’s teacher and by the end of the year, Kyle was spending an hour each week in the guidance counselor’s office as they tried to break through the stone wall to find out why he behaved as he did. They never got anywhere with him as more often than not he remained silent. When he did answer, he never offered more than a two word answer.

DJ spent hours playing video games and Dave tried getting his younger son involved in the video mayhem but Kyle hated them too. Violence, blood, gore... Dave always got the newest systems and hottest games... finally demanding Kyle play them. Just as with sports, Kyle was reluctantly pushed to excel at them... it was a ‘manly’ pursuit. As with sports, the morbid lad yielded to his father’s demands and grew to hate video games as much as he did ESPN. Again his anger fueled his ability to excel at the detested games.

For his part, DJ excelled at every sport and every video game. None of his buddies or teammates could offer any serious competition, yet Kyle continually bested him in every sport and every video game. Naturally DJ grew frustrated with his recalcitrant scrawny little brother but realized the quiet boy forced him to be better than he might be without the competition. The fact that Kyle not only never mentioned that he was better than DJ, but never disputed the older boy’s bragging, kept DJ’s angst from getting out of control.

Dave was so proud that his sons were the best at every sport and game he didn’t really note that Kyle did better than DJ. The swaggering father never noticed that Kyle never smiled or grew excited over being the best. Dave was lucky to get a mono-syllable grunting response to his frequent urging and questions.

*****

During the next few years things only changed a little. An addition to the house added a weight training room in the basement and a new master suite. DJ moved into the former master bedroom leaving Kyle alone in the smallest bedroom. Kyle always did his chores without being told and kept his Spartan bedroom spotlessly clean. DJ had to be nagged to do his chores and his bedroom was cluttered with posters, sports paraphernalia, trophies, toys and models.

Still made to watch sports on TV with his dad and brother, Kyle fought the urge to beat them senseless while they flipped out screaming at the screen. Slowly, he developed the ability to stare at the TV screen while not seeing or hearing anything, almost as if he achieved some sort of zen state. A casual glance by his dad or brother would reveal Kyle watching the game in his normal impassive yet intent manner. Eventually his ability to enter his zen zone became easier. Along with the ease of slipping into a meditative state, his mind began to drift, finally progressing to another plane where it seemed as if he was floating inside a white cloud that was peaceful, quiet and relaxing. As soon as someone touched him he snapped back to consciousness. As the months passed, he developed the ability to slip into the zen state in mere moments.

Whenever Laura tried to engage Kyle in conversations asking him about school and such the morose boy sullenly responded with shrugs and one word replies. Always compliant to school rules, doing every assignment, academically the best student in his grade, he almost seemed a model student. But he had no friends, never spoke to classmates and was politely taciturn to adults. The school teachers and counselors gave up trying to reach inside Kyle’s mind but always kept a wary eye on him.

By the time Kyle started seventh grade, he overheard a conversation between his parents, learning that his dad was finally becoming concerned about his antisocial behavior but nothing changed. As in most years, DJ and Kyle were on the same teams. When the junior varsity football team stopped for pizza after a victory, Kyle still never mingled with the other kids, but then he never spoke to them during practices and games. When teammates had sleep-overs, DJ was always invited but never Kyle. Kyle never went to anyone’s home to play and never invited anyone to come to his home. DJ visited his buddies and his buddies visited him. Kyle always stayed in his room when DJ’s buddies came over. Kyle still had no friends which suited him just find as he detested them for liking sports.

Kyle’s dark moods grew deeper because he was lonely and filled with anger. Dave’s expectations for his sons’ athleticism certainly did not diminish now that they had both moved up to the JV football team he helped coach. Although Kyle was still small for twelve, he was now playing with and against boys up to age fourteen, many, like DJ, had begun puberty. Their increased musculature and growth far outclassed him. Still, Kyle resentfully persisted in competing and much to everyone’s amazement, often obviously giving 200 percent. The scrawny lad was the only twelve year old to make the first squad. All his age-mates were relegated to playing third string. Too small to play on the line, his smaller size and agility made him an ideal receiver. The many bumps and bruises Kyle took during practice and play were borne in stony silence. As the season progressed, his minimal interaction with others decreased even more than before.

By the end of the season, thanks to the outstanding playing of the brothers, the team made the playoffs. DJ and Dave were over the top with excitement while Kyle spent as much time as he could alone in his bedroom reading. Kyle’s dreams were all nightmares where he was stabbing and slashing people just as they do in the video games... terrifying him that one day he might loose control and really hurt someone. His warped world hit it’s zenith in the championship game.

Unbelievably, despite being far outsized by their top notch opponents, Kyle made seven first downs and scored three touchdowns. Kyle was the only offensive player on his team to gain any significant yardage. Their opponents couldn’t believe the perpetually scowling mute runt was able to do what he did and take the many violent hits they’d poured on him without the slightest whimper or even a grunt. Despite being continually bruised and injured, Kyle stoically shrugged it off and continued playing. With five minutes left in the game, their opponents scored another touchdown putting them up by eight. With three minutes left and eighty five yards from the goal it was third down and 18 for Kyle’s team. Although Kyle was heavily covered he ran a long pattern, shaking off his guards with his agile ducking and weaving. Leaping higher than he stood to snag the pass from DJ, he cleanly caught it and easily ran into the end zone for another touchdown.

As he slowed one of his frustrated pursuers made a diving tackle from the rear, slamming shoulder first into Kyle’s lower legs. Kyle violently somersaulted backwards over the guy that hit him, slamming into the ground. The pain was searing but the rugged lad bit his lip to keep from screaming in pain. With his vast experience of bearing pain and toughing it out he cleared his mind, not even wanting to think that his ribs were cracked and his ankle broken. The ref called the late hit and came over to see if Kyle was alright. As normal Dave was on the sidelines yelling at Kyle to get up and ‘walk it off’.

Taking a deep breath he waved off the ref and stood. Waves of pain washed over him and he bit down even harder on his lip until he drew blood. The hot salty taste of blood in his mouth helped him steel his resolve. Stoically he limped over to the bench while they set up for the extra point. No one even came over to check his ankle. Anger and hatred flooded his being, forcing the pain down. Reaching down he re-laced his shoe tightly about his swelling ankle, tying it as tight as he could. Disgust filled him at the ‘win at all cost’ mind set clearly evident on the playing field. The throbbing intense pain of his ankle and ribs began to recede as anger fueled adrenalin flooded his body. As he began to unclench his lips, blood began to flood his mouth. Quickly he clamped back down to staunch the flow, yet simultaneously bizarrely savored the hot salty flood.

While Kyle was lost in his world of hurt, the other team unsuccessfully tried to run out the clock. With 25 seconds left possession of the ball switched. In two plays it was third and goal with time for one last play. The coach ordered Kyle back in. The pain of standing was just as intense as earlier but seemed more tolerable. The play called for Kyle to run a pattern into the end zone. DJ, the quarter back, would fake a pass to him before running it in.

(Before anyone cites this as being impossible, it is possible to function on a broken ankle. For those of you who have never pushed through pain, you should know the secret is to master the pain and not let it master you. It’s somewhat akin to eating the bear or it’ll eat you. Once you isolate the waves of pain from the rest of your brain you can direct the adrenalin boost to keep yourself going. You can even begin to thrive on pain... not to the point where you seek it out, but enough to pump yourself up to keep going. At age 42, as a plant supervisor I walked about the building for 2 hours on a broken ankle, at the end of the shift I drove myself 5 miles to the hospital and then walked into the emergency room. The doctors couldn’t believe I walked into emergency room on my shattered ankle. I’ve learned to embrace pain...nine operations in 30 years on the same knee, 3 before micro-surgery... culminated in a total knee replacement at age 49. Then there is the 5 herniated disks in my back. Needless to say I’ve developed a strong masochistic streak ‘proving’ my masculinity. I’ve developed the philosophy that pain is good... as long as I hurt I know I’m alive. Enough digression...)

As Kyle ran the pattern into the end zone his nerves screamed but he was so pumped up with hatred he once again managed to shake off his pursuers. As he looked for the fake he saw the front line had cracked and DJ had been nearly sacked and had back-pedaled to the 25 yard line. There was no way he could make the needed run. DJ saw Kyle was open and managed to get the ball off as he was taken down. As the football came sailing toward Kyle he knew it was too high so he jumped up to successfully snatch it... a very stupid move on his part... but pain and adrenalin can make you do dumb things.

The air time allowed the opposing team’s guard to reach him... catching him in mid-air, hitting him low on the already damaged leg. The tackler shot beneath him as Kyle once more somersaulted, landing on his ankle with an audible crunch. His head banged the ground with such force it ripped his helmet off. Somehow Kyle kept the ball as he slammed into the ground. Everything went white for a moment and it took his breath away. The injured boy was gasping for air as his cracked ribs had snapped and blood from his now bitten through lips splattered outward with each explosive gasping exhale. As Kyle’s vision cleared he saw the guy who had tackled him was on his knees a few feet away puking. Kyle realized he’d scored and won the game but couldn’t understand how losing could make a guy ill. Then in a detached manner he noted his foot was facing in an impossible direction and broken white shards of bone were sticking through his blood soaked sock. He could see blood spraying out of the stump of his leg above the nearly severed foot. Vaguely he could hear players and refs calling for paramedics and an ambulance. Two other guys began puking while many players looked quite queasy and turned away. With bizarre clarity Kyle realized his days of playing sports were over! Defiantly he held the football aloft to show he still maintained possession.

Those who weren’t sickened looked at him as if he was crazy. Then for the first time in nearly eight years he began to laugh. It was a horrific, manic laugh, splattering blood with every pain wracked breath. The medics forced him to lie down and began applying pressure to his femoral artery. The crazed laughter sputtered to a gurgling silence as he passed out.
*****
The doctor’s who worked on Kyle were stunned when they saw the x-rays, CAT scans and MRIs. They showed the multiple massive trauma the boy had suffered during the game. They also revealed many previous serious injuries. Three times during the surgery his heart stopped. After they’d done all they could to save Kyle’s life, they notified the County Children’s Services Department.

Melissa Waters was stunned as she reviewed the files. The school records alone should have triggered an investigation years ago. Never had she seen so much documentation, virtually all of it indicating severe mental issues that had never been aggressively addressed. No one had ever even suggested possible abuse. Comments from virtually every teacher and staff person in the school had been entered into Kyle’s school record. Each listed the boy’s taciturn demeanor, solitude and isolation from his classmates and the dread he engendered in those same children. The fact that he never smiled or laughed was also duly noted, as was his near ever-present glowering demeanor. She assumed the reason he hadn’t been referred for psychological help was that he always did his assignments, had perfect grades, never broke any rules and never had a conflict with anyone.

The medical report on the morose lad’s physical condition was equally shocking. Upon arrival at the hospital his survival was in serious doubt. The records showed he’d lost over half his blood from his nearly severed foot and lower lip. Then there were the 3 broken ribs, one of which had caused a lung to collapse and five cracked ribs. Then there was the concussion and dozens of bruises, many of which had obviously occurred before the last life-threatening injury. The X-rays, CAT scans and MRIs showed the boy had over a hundred healed and partially healed breaks and cracks in every major bone in his small body. Yet the boy had never been treated for any of them!

Now that his previous injuries had been discovered, coupled with his current life threatening injuries, the doctors had decided to keep him in a sedated coma for at least ten days to give his battered body time to recover.

After analyzing several videos of the fateful game as well as a few from previous games, Melissa was quite unsettled. The recordings revealed the stubborn boy repeatedly getting violently slammed only to silently rise back to his feet to return to play. Clearly the smallest boy on the field, he unflinchingly faced down opponents nearly twice his size. It was also quite clear the boy’s father vehemently urged the boy on and had also done the same to his older son, but at least no profanity laced his language. While the films plainly showed DJ joining their teammates in raucous emotional cheering or booing, it also plainly showed Kyle’s grim countenance and unemotional demeanor as he plodded silently through the game. Between his time on the field, he sat unmoving at one end of the bench, simply staring at nothing. It also showed the late hit on the second last touchdown, revealing that the taciturn lad had been seriously injured, most likely breaking his ankle and possibly some ribs. Yet Kyle blew off the concerned ref and climbed to his feet to limp grimly to the sidelines to re-lace his shoe. Even she could see he’d been seriously hurt, yet he clearly made no sound nor asked for any help. She found it unbelievable Kyle had responded to the order to retake the field without a word of protest. The impact he’d suffered in that final touchdown and his horrific injuries sickened her, yet he managed to not only maintain possession of the football, but defiantly held the football aloft. The most disturbing image was Kyle’s hideous laughter after he looked down at his mangled foot... the only sound he’d made during the entire game.

Melissa interviewed his schoolmates, teammates and teachers. None showed surprise at Kyle’s on or off the field behavior as they had come to accept his weirdness. As a county social worker and psychologist, she’d never seen and certainly never studied anyone like Kyle.

Several times over the previous days she’d checked in on the comatose boy. Conversations with Laura revealed the worried mother’s long concern with Kyle and that she’d been unable to convince Dave that the boy needed serious psychological help. Poorly educated, Laura was at a loss about how to help her son. It was clear from the records she’d approached the school counselors hoping for guidance to get the help he needed. Laura’s tearful declaration the unconscious battered boy looked at peace for the first time in years said much.

Conversations with Dave were equally revealing. It was obvious that the father was deeply concerned about his son's health. But at the same time he remained focused on having Kyle's recovery and rehab prepare him to return to sports to become an even more outstanding player. When questioned about Kyle's grim attitude, Dave shrugged it off as being extreme concentration that enabled the small lad to compete with larger opponents.

Interviewing DJ revealed that he was quite aware that his brother's deep sadness was caused by Kyle's dislike of sports. DJ also revealed that outside of sports, Kyle never played with DJ or anyone else, nor did he play with any typical boy toys such as cars and trucks.

What Melissa found most disturbing was that both parents and DJ unhesitatingly answered "None" when she asked with what kind of toys Kyle did play. Further questioning revealed that Kyle only watched TV when made to do so, much preferring to be alone and read voraciously. This she believed as the librarian of the elementary school noted Kyle had read virtually every book in the 30,000 volume library.

Melissa reviewed her findings with appropriate co-workers and superiors, showing them the brutal game films. All were deeply concerned about Kyle's mental state and discussed if it would be better to remove him from his family. They decided to meet with Kyle's parents to lay out what they had discovered. Their reaction would help determine if Kyle would remain with them.

Dave and Laura were deeply concerned and rightfully nervous when they were asked to meet with Melissa and the head of County Children's Services the day before Kyle was scheduled to be eased out of the medically induced coma.

Melissa presented her findings and concerns and even showed edited films of Kyle on the football field, including his reaction to having his foot almost torn off. Laura was in tears and Dave ashen faced by the end of the presentation. It was clear Dave had never realized Kyle desperately needed counseling and that Laura had meekly yielded to Dave's bullish sports at all costs attitude.

"Kyle needs help," Melissa declared. "His mental state is obviously warped. The only way we'll allow him to remain with you is if your entire family undergoes counseling and follows the recommendations of a psychologist. As the agent in charge of Kyle's case, I will personally monitor the sessions and your home life until I'm satisfied you understand what Kyle needs to get better and that you, to the best of your abilities, provide it for him."

"We hadn't realized Kyle was so...," Dave began but couldn't find the words.

"Unhappy and depressed," Laura sniffled. "And I did know. I just didn't know what to do and you wouldn't listen."

"I'm sorry, Laura," Dave apologized.

"Apologize to Kyle," Laura declared as she fought back tears. "We abused Kyle."

"But I never hit him," Dave defended.

"That's the reason you're here instead of in court," Melissa jumped in with barely concealed anger. "Kyle has been mentally abused. If I thought you did it intentionally, you'd have been arrested by now."

"I never treated Kyle any differently than I did DJ and he's all right," Dave replied with a bit of confusion. "Isn't he?"

"Other than pushing him too hard about sports I think DJ is okay," Melissa answered. "The problem is that Kyle is not like DJ. From what I've been able to gather, the only thing Kyle does when he has free time is to read. He has no friends and doesn't seem to want any. I've found no evidence that he even plays. The only activities in which he engages is sports and that seems to be because you don't give him a choice. If he enjoyed sports, he'd smile. But his school records indicate he hasn't smiled in years. While he's obviously quite intelligent, he rarely speaks and even then only as little as he can get away with. Obviously he's unhappy and depressed. At this point, he may not even know what he might like to do."

"So what can we do to help him," Dave asked.

"We need to talk to him when he wakes up," Melissa explained. "As you know the doctors have said Kyle's recovery from his physical injuries will take months, possibly years. It'll be months until his ankle will be well enough to even attempt to walk on it. It'll take months of tough physical therapy before the doctors can say for sure how much permanent damage, if any, was done to his ankle. If he's anywhere as depressed as he was, this may be enough to make him suicidal. Dave, when he wakes up and is coherent, it will be extremely important that he knows you accept him as he is and you must unequivocally tell him if he wants to give up sports, it's okay. In order for him to believe you, you'll have to believe it and do nothing to contradict that. Only when he believes you, will he be able to move forward."

"We'll do it," Laura said with utter determination. "Dave, if you ever tell either boy to 'shake it off' again, I'll file for divorce."

Dave was plainly shocked. Laura had never stood up to him. "I'll do my best, but it's so much a part of me, I'll probably slip up."

"I won't be a hard ass," Laura softened. "I do love you, but the kids come first. If you slip up, take it back and tell them you were wrong. If I point out you're being too tough, accept it and don't get angry. Together we can do this. For Kyle's sake, we must do it."

"Okay," Dave conceded. "I love you too and agree the kids come first. Just be patient with me."

"That's where family counseling will help," Melissa stated. "It'll help you see how to treat the boys and give them the strength to voice their feelings without fear of getting in trouble. I'll schedule a counseling session for you and DJ first thing tomorrow. You'll be done with the session and able to be with Kyle when he begins to wake up."

Overnight they began to slowly back the dosage of the coma inducing drug Kyle was receiving, cutting it off completely by dawn. If he had recovered enough, he should wake up sometime in the early afternoon. Laura, Dave and DJ kept a vigil by his bed as he slowly returned to the land of the living. The family counseling session with Dr. Alterson that morning had been productive and things looked hopeful.

*****

When Kyle passed out on the playing field he almost immediately found himself in the white cloud-like silent, peaceful and relaxing place he went to when he entered his self-induced zen mode. The mental pain and anxiety left him and he relaxed and let his battered mind wonder. After what seemed hours it hit him that he hadn't sent himself here like he normally did. He'd just popped in. This disturbed him until he remembered his injuries. Suddenly he wondered if he was dead! The need to find out became overpowering. When he tried to will himself to wake up he couldn't. This scared him but he quickly fought down the growing terror. Once he had himself fully under control he took a deep breath and concentrated on his body.

Slowly the white cloud seemed to part and he found himself floating high in the sky looking down on the football field almost like an overhead view from a blimp. Apparently only a few real time moments had passed. He saw a crowd of people gathered in the end zone. A paramedic SUV and an ambulance were parked nearby. Willing himself closer he descended towards the field until he hovered above the goalpost. He saw the paramedics working frantically on a small player from his team. His parents and DJ stood nearby, his dad was hugging his mom who was crying. A loud 'whooping' noise grew closer and people were clearing the center of the field as a lifeline evac helicopter came in for a landing. The emergency crew leapt out with their equipment and a gurney to rush to the end zone and the fallen player. Dropping closer to the action, he recognized the boy they were frantically working to save.

It really didn't surprise him to see his bloody body being frantically worked upon. As they secured various body parts he could see there was an intubation tube through his mouth, a neck brace and an inflatable cast about his shattered ankle to hold the foot and leg in place to prevent further damage. As the local paramedics prepared to hand him over to the lifeline squad, he overheard the conversation.

"His foot is almost ripped off his leg. We have the serious bleeding stopped for now but it could restart. We think he has several broken ribs and his right lung has collapsed. He's bitten clean through both lips and probably has a concussion. We can't find a pulse at his wrists and at his neck it's weak. We also can't get a blood pressure reading as he's simply lost too much blood."

As they loaded his body onto the gurney and strapped him down, Kyle began to wonder how he was able to hover and watch. He raised a hand to his face and saw a ghost-like transparent hand and arm. Looking down he saw his entire naked body. Being naked in public embarrassed him and as he thought about it, a jogging suit and sneakers winked onto his body. Startled, he smiled as he realized he had some control over his disembodied body.

With a mere thought, he drifted over to hover right in front of his family. They peered right through him watching the medics prepare their son for transport, not seeing he was right in front of them. For the first time in years, a genuine smile filled his face. Then he quickly grew dour again. It was his dad's fault he'd been unable to smile. Angrily he swung at his dad's face. Much to his dismay, his fist simply passed right through the jaw. Obviously his dad hadn’t felt the intended blow but Kyle had felt a weird tingling as his fist had swept through his father.

One of the paramedics who had been treating him came over to speak with his parents. The man walked right into Kyle and stood there. Kyle felt the same weird tingling as he’d felt when his fist briefly contacted his father. Only this time since the contact was longer, the tingling quickly modulated until Kyle could sense feelings of great concern and anguish. Growing scared that he could see nothing, he poked his head through the man's chest, then pushed his arms out and popped free and the tingling instantly stopped. Laughing, he thought it was hysterical he could be inside a living person. Kyle moved through his dad, than his mom and finally DJ. The tingling was present in each as was the sensations of great concern and anguish. Then the message the paramedic was telling his dad came through.

"I won't lie to you. He's in critical condition. He's lost a lot of blood. In addition to his nearly severed foot he has broken ribs, a collapsed lung, bit through his lips and most likely has a severe concussion. They're going to air lift him to St. Mary's Trauma Center. The staff is aware of his injuries and is waiting for him."

It was then that Kyle realized the tingling sensations he’d felt were the actual emotions of the people he’d touched!

The noise of the helicopter reving up drew his attention. As he watched, the chopper lifted of and began to fly off. Suddenly, Kyle felt himself being yanked away in the direction of the chopper. As he flew across the football field he passed right through the spectator stands to pop out on the other side while rising steadily into the sky. Startled, he found his ghostly body flying through the air about a thousand feet behind the chopper although there was no wind or sensation of movement.

Assuming he somehow was tied to his body, Kyle willed himself to catch the helicopter. In moments he hovered effortlessly outside the window of the flying helicopter able to see the paramedics and flight surgeon inside working on his body. They had managed to get an IV started in an effort to replenish his bodily fluids. Sticking his head through the window he heard their conversations as they worked on him. Realizing he could do nothing to help, he pulled his head out and floated up to the rotors. Tentatively he raised a hand into their path only to find they harmlessly passed through. Giggling, he stood atop the chopper and let the whirling blades chop through him, not feeling a thing. From his bizarre perch he watched the passing scenery taking in the tremendous view the altitude of the flight revealed.

All too soon they arrived at the hospital. As the chopper settled to the landing pad on the roof, Kyle stopped his descent to hover about a hundred feet above for a bird’s-eye view of the drama. As soon as the turbine shut down, a crew rushed out from a small building to the chopper. With efficiency that startled him, they carefully removed the gurney with his strapped on body. With the flight med crew, they rushed into a waiting elevator.

Deciding to follow, Kyle slipped through the closed elevator doors to float above his body and attending medical staff. As the elevator began to drop, Kyle began to drop with them, then decided to stop. Popping through the roof of the elevator, he found himself in the almost pitch black shaft with steel cables zipping through his astral body. Strangely, he could see everything clearly but the image was skewed to look like TV night vision shots.

Curiosity got the better of him and he went to the top to examine the elevator mechanism. When the lift stopped, he looked down the shaft to see the elevator was three floors down. With a sigh he decided he'd better follow his body. After all, if he had a flight range of a thousand feet, he could come back later to check out the elevator.

Diving down, he swooped through the roof of the elevator and out the doors to see his body disappearing through a door. Instead of using the door, he decided to zip through the wall into the room. They had already transferred his body to a table and the nurses were cutting off his uniform and padding. As they carefully unwrapped his shattered ankle he zoomed in for a closer look at his sundered flesh and bone. It was a real mess.

A nurse came in with several pints of blood as others added IVs to his good leg. In moments blood was flowing into him through the two new IVs as well as the original. After stabilizing him, they rolled him out for a full body MRI, cat scan and x-rays. Kyle followed and checked out the equipment and controls as they were running the tests. The pounding of the MRI was incessant and had to be bone jarring. Fortunately in his out of body state he couldn’t feel it The images of his battered body on the MRI monitors were interesting.

When the tests were done his body was wheeled into an operating room. Several doctors and numerous nurses surrounded him as they began to work. The first team sliced open his chest to repair the broken ribs and seal the punctures in his collapsed lung before re-inflating it. The second team began to work on his ankle, carefully cleaning the massive wound and picking out shards of bone before setting to work repairing the damage.

Watching them work on his body made him feel uneasy but he realized the medical team was more than qualified for the task of repairing his battered body. Kyle decided to go off exploring.

As he flowed through the wall, he stopped and looked into the space between the walls and moved along the interior. Although no light existed in the narrow space, he could clearly see the metallic studs and the numerous wires and pipes. It was quite easy to see the oxygen and suction pipes as well as the plumbing. Being inquisitive, he decided to follow the computer cables to their source. The computer system was centered about a large mainframe system that Kyle found fascinating.

While watching the system’s operators work, his feet drifted into one of mainframe modules. Instantly he felt a sharp tingling sweep through him. Instinctively he jerked his feet out. This tingling was quite different that what he'd felt when he’d touched people. Slowly he stuck a hand inside the unit and again felt the tingling. As he grew accustomed to the sensation, he could feel the weird flow of myriad zeros and ones. Recalling the Disney movie PIXEL PERFECT, he wondered if he could enter the data stream?

For a long time he monitored the electronic flux as he sought out a pattern in the information flow. Three times while he was exploring he suddenly felt as if he was on the first drop of a big roller coaster but each time the sensation passed after a few moments. He simply wrote it off to being a side effect of his explorations not realizing his heart had stopped. Eventually Kyle thought he began to sense a pattern in the electronic flow. Cautiously he sought to connect to the data flow. Suddenly the electronic flux built and streamed into his head, slamming into his astral brain like a suddenly turned on fire hose. All his senses went white with overload. Fortunately, the impact caused his astral body to jerk away, which broke the connection. Quickly his senses returned and he saw the operators, who were different from the ones who'd been in the room when he'd began his exploration, scrambling about cursing that the mainframe had crashed. He'd been inside the system for sixteen hours!

Realizing he'd caused the crash he, Kyle instinctively fled back to his body. To his amazement, he simply winked out of the computer room and winked back in hovering above his body in ICU recovery. That alone confused him as he did not know where ICU was located.

Looking down at his physical body Kyle saw he was hooked to a ventilator, had two IV's and all sorts of wires attached to his head and chest. A suction tube emerged from the right side of his chest and a drain tube emerged from his skull. His body was also securely strapped down. His shattered leg was realigned but stainless steel rods and pins emerged at all sorts of angles to hold everything in place.

Wondering about his condition, Kyle floated over to the nurse's station. He saw the patient files hanging by the main desk and located his. How could he read the file if it was closed? Then he remembered he'd simply popped from the computer room to here when he willed it. Taking a deep astral breath he willed himself to see the first page of his file and there it was right in front of his eyes. His astral body had literally entered the file! Quickly he scanned the page, then went onto the succeeding pages simply by willing himself one page deeper each time.

When he was done Kyle went back to his body, stunned by what he'd read. Looking down at his battered body he felt like crying. Three times his heart had stopped during the fourteen hour surgery and his brain was battered and functioning erratically. The multitude of previous injuries was also noted. The overall status of his body was listed as extremely critical and he was in a drug induced coma to keep him still and allow his brain and body to recuperate.

Briefly Kyle reached inside his head and cautiously touched his brain. As he reached the base of his brain he found a few synapses were blinking randomly. In the base he discovered his autonomic system seemed to be sluggishly functioning. Slowly he inserted his astral senses into his physical senses. Pain seemed to emanate from everywhere but the meds successfully blunted the severity. Weakened and damaged connections in his chest effected his ability to breath. The foot that had been nearly severed was barely discernable as the nerves had been severed and surgically re-attached.

Withdrawing from his physical body he realized he might not make it. A weary doctor came into the alcove and began checking the read-outs of the monitors.

"I don't want to sound negative," the attending nurse said. "But how is he still with us?"

"I honestly don't know," the doctor sighed. "He's a tough little guy. He lost over half his blood and those injuries... brain, lung, leg... but he hung on. If his brain doesn't crash in the next 24 hours, he may make it, but it doesn't look good."

Kyle realized his body was dying. If his brain quit, would his astral self still exist? He knew he was tied to his body. But would he become a ghost? Not wanting to find out, he decided to see if he could patch his brain together but he had no idea how to even start. Maybe if he willed his body to heal as he had willed himself to read his multi-page file, maybe his astral self would simply do the task.

With his mind made up, Kyle resolved to give it his best shot. Resolving to try to repair his breathing first, he slipped a hand into his brain and began concentrating. Immediately his senses swept into his brain stem and located the areas that controlled breathing. From there he followed nerve routes through the spinal cord and into his chest to the lungs and diaphragm muscles. Weak connections were noted and signals sent out to all parts of his body to marshal it’s self repair mechanisms to gather and bring the needed raw material to make the repairs. As soon as that began, his senses moved on to breaks in the nerves. Again orders were issued to marshal what was needed to bridge and repair the gaps in the broken nerves.

By the time the repairs were well underway, Kyle was exhausted. Wearily he broke off contact with his body. As he looked around the ICU he noted he'd been inside his body for four hours. He could see a positive difference in his respiration and oxygen levels on the monitors. Now that he’d exited his physical body the weariness had also lifted. Apparently his astral body did not need sleep as he'd been floating around for twenty five hours.

Feeling the need for a break, he decided to see if the mainframe had been restored. Instantaneously he popped into the computer room. The system was up and running and the staff was running diagnostics to try to determine what had caused the crash. Curiosity overcame his reluctance and he dipped his hand into the terminal running the diagnostics. The patterns he'd noted earlier were present but were more focused and slower. Eventually he was able to 'read' the information. This time he slipped a tendril of his astral consciousness into a single stream of data and piggy backed himself onto it. Part of him was able to 'feel' the data while another part 'watched' it flow through the electronics. Swirling through the data stream he began to make sense of it and was soon able to hop from one stream to another without causing any disruption. Soon he was able to simply jump anywhere he wanted. As he traveled about the complex system, he learned how it operated and what each data stream meant. What had seemed like blistering speeds when he first entered now seemed a casual walking pace. The system speed hadn't changed, but his ability to sense them had drastically improved. With a bit of practice he was able to follow a dozen data streams at once. Finding the hook-up to the internet, he gently eased a mental tendril inside the system, found the connection to the internet and went surfing

Again, fatigue overtook him. Wearily he disengaged from the mainframe and floated out into the computer room. Looking at the clock he saw he was inside for twelve hours! Apparently time as he'd known it in the physical world was perceived quite differently in his astral existence.

Popping back to his body he found he was still in ICU but was now in a room. His mother sat by the bed looking at his sedated body. She looked worn and tired. The ventilator had been removed and he seemed to breathing easily. Popping out to the nursing station to view his file, he discovered he was now in an ICU ward rather than ICU recovery, yet he had popped to his file. Slipping into the closed file he read the updates. The doctors were mystified by the sudden recovery of his respiratory system. However, they were still quite concerned about lingering blunt force trauma to his brain.

Smiling, Kyle returned to his body to examine the repairs he'd instituted. All seemed back to normal with the breaks in the nerves completely healed. Popping back to his brain, he began to search through his cerebrum from injuries. He was stunned to see so much damage, some of it obviously old and scarred. As he'd done for his respiratory nerves, he marshaled his repair systems to bring in the supplies needed to repair or rebuild the damage. Following his astral instructions, dead cells and scar tissue were attacked and eroded to be flushed away to his kidneys. Then he tweaked adjoining cells to divide and create replacements. In the bruised areas he sent in repair units to reduce and eliminate the swelling and revitalize the damage. Damaged and weak synapses were repaired or replaced throughout his brain. The dendrites and axons were cleaned and made more robust, increasing their efficiency.

Fatigue finally forced him to emerge. It was 5am, he'd been inside his brain for six hours. This time he decided to check out the other patients in ICU. With a smile on his face he floated through the wall into the adjoining room.

The smile quickly faded as he saw a wizened old man hooked on all manner of life support. To his surprise he saw a ghostly figure hovering in one upper corner and recognized him as the old man.

The old man asked with a trembling voice. "Did you finally come for me?"

"What... no," Kyle answered. "I'm Kyle. I'm in the room next door. We're still alive but I discovered we can move through walls and stuff."

"I don't want to do anything but die," the old man sighed. "But they're keeping my body alive with all those blasted machines. I thought you might be an angel coming for me."

"Sorry," Kyle replied. "Do you really want to die?"

"Yes," was the answer. "My wife passed years ago and our ungrateful children never came to her funeral. I'm old, alone and tired. I just want to join her."

"Maybe I can help," Kyle stated. "I'll see if I can turn off the oxygen supply."

"I tried," the old man sniffed. "My fingers slip right through the valve."

"Yeah, but I've been messing with the electronics," Kyle declared. "I might be able to shut if off that way."

"Please, I'd be much obliged," the old man said.

Kyle reached into the ventilator and after a bit of exploration found the right circuits and switched off the oxygen. "There, that should do it."

The old man's face lit up. "I can feel it! I'm dying!" With that he floated to Kyle and hugged him.

Even though their arms passed into each other, they could feel their astral essence mingle as a similar weird tingle to that he’d felt when he’d touched his family and the paramedic but much stronger.

"Thank you," the old man said as tears of joy filled his ghostly eyes.

Just then a tiny white light appeared in the center of the room and began to grow until it was about five feet in diameter. "That's for me," the old man said. "I can see my wife waiting for me! Thank you again, Kyle. I'll tell God to help you get better." With that he flew into the hole. Once he passed through, the white hole diminished to a pencil point, then winked out.

The monitors began to beep, sounding multiple alarms. Kyle reached back inside the ventilator and restarted the oxygen. A nurse burst into the room followed by the duty doctor. They checked the monitors and everything was flat-lined. A brief exam confirmed the old man was dead.

Kyle felt really weird and somehow different. Unsettled, he returned to his room to think about whether or not he'd done the right thing. Quite quickly he decided it had to be okay as God had accepted the man.

As he thought about the man... James Wilson... how did he know his name... strange visions filled his mind.

He dove into a ditch by the roadside breaking through the half inch thick ice into the muddy water beneath to dodge the machine gun bullets that stuttered into his squad. A body fell atop him, his best friend with a small bloodless hole in his forehead and unseeing eyes, Bastogne, December 1944. Next came confused and horrific memories of death and destruction from D-day, June 6, 1944 when the then young man had parachuted into France with the 101st Airborne.

Receiving a diploma from Penn State, the first in his family to even finish high school as his proud parents looked on. Memories of graduating in 1949 thanks to the GI Bill. Standing nervously by an altar in a church filled with people as a beautiful young bride came down the aisle towards him. Memories from when the old man got married in 1951.

On and on, the good, bad and the ugly memories flowed like a crazy kaleidoscope. The life experiences and knowledge the old man had accumulated during his eighty five years on earth spun their way into Kyle's mind and became his memories too.

Apparently their hug and mingling of astral essence had opened a pathway for instantaneous memory transfer. Kyle still remained Kyle, but as all experiences change a person, this influx, a lifetime of experience, would alter Kyle as he assimilated the knowledge.

*****

Over the next few days, Kyle developed a routine of exploring the hospital and learning more about the workings of the complex computer system. The old man's knowledge greatly assisted his learning. He even popped into a few PCs and easily mastered them. Each day he did two sessions of self-exploration and healing on his physical body. Experimenting on his ribs, he learned how to speed up bone mending. Then he used his abilities to rebuild his ankle bones, restoring the blood vessels and veins, growing ligaments and hooking them in place, and rebuilding lost and shredded muscle. Only when those processes were well underway did he work on repairing the nerves.

The attending doctors were amazed by his seemingly miraculous recovery and could not explain the rapid healing. Still, they decided to err on the side of caution and keep Kyle’s body in the drug-induced coma for the full ten day period.

Apprehensive about encountering another dying astral person, Kyle avoided renewing any exploration of the ICU. After a brief visit to the ECU he decided to avoid that area too. There was simply too much hurt, agony, impatience and anger.

With his repeated trips to the computer system, Kyle quickly improved the ability to 'read' the information he found on computers and web sites just as easily as reading a book. With the ability to move and read at the speed of the systems, he became his own search engine, able to find whatever he went looking for if it was on a computer connected to the web. With this came the ability to sort and cross reference the information he found to determine if it was good or garbage. If he desired, he could 'file' the information he gathered in his brain like a memory.

Since he literally surfed atop the web feeds, when the feed he was on hit a firewall, he could simply 'step' over the deterrent and continue on his way. Also, once he'd been to a site, he didn't have to stay with the web. He could simply pop to or from his destination system to other known sites or rejoin the web at any point.

As long as he kept his main astral essence near his body, the tentacles he sent out were able to span the globe. This created an issue that briefly stymied him, information in foreign languages. When he searched to find a way to translate the sites, he discovered the Rosetta Stone software language site. Accessing the company site, he was able to almost instantly learn Spanish, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Arabic as well as many other languages. Kyle had the ability to 'pop' back to the Rosetta Stone site to learn any available language that might crop up in his surfing. Similar sites in other languages also opened up to his quest for knowledge.

*****

On the eighth day of his drug induced coma he was out roaming the halls when he saw the trauma team scramble to the roof elevators. Curious, he followed them to the roof landing pad. Anxiously they stayed in the protection of the building looking for the lifeline helicopter. Kyle heard the whooshing rotors before they did and floated outside to watch the approach.

To his amazement, he saw a terrified astral girl about his age desperately clinging to one landing strut. As the chopper hovered above the pad preparing to descend, Kyle jumped to the strut beside girl, startling her. She screamed and jerked away, falling off the strut. Kyle instinctually reached out and grabbed her hand. Even though their astral hands blended he pulled her back onto the strut. Instantly he could feel their astral essence mingle. The girl's eyes grew wide as their emotions mingled. Sensing he wanted to help her, she desperately hugged him, further mingling themselves. While the intermingle with the old man had lasted only a few seconds, the contact with the girl lasted over a minute. As she read Kyle's thoughts she understood she was an astral spirit and her critically injured body was inside the chopper.

Jennifer Sue hadn't understood why she and her mother were floating above the terrible car crash. But right before her eyes the sky opened in a bright light and her mother was swept in and the hole closed. Terrified she hovered above the wreck as people gathered and sirens approached. She was horrified to watch them cover her mother with a sheet as they cut her battered body from the wreckage. Now the girl realized her mother had died and gone to heaven while her physical body was severely injured. This led her to wonder how badly she was injured.

As they were still in astral contact, Kyle stopped her from checking her corporeal body. When she saw the images he’d seen of his injuries, she agreed she’d be better off not seeing her battered body. Suddenly Kyle and Jennifer Sue gasped. They both felt as if they were going down the first drop of a high roller coaster. Kyle’s experience with the old man told both of them that despite the medic’s best efforts, the stomach dropping sensation meant Jennifer was dying.

Both saw the pinpoint of bright light pop into existence and begin growing. Jennifer Sue smiled and thanked Kyle for helping her understand. Then she leaped into the light and rejoined her waiting mother.

Kyle felt really weird and more than a bit disoriented. Suddenly he shuddered as he made the connection. The stomach dropping sensation occurred in an astral person when their heart stopped! The three times he’d felt that sensation when first exploring the main frame computer corresponded to the tree times his heart stopped during his emergency surgery! Slowly he drifted off to one side as the chopper landed. The trauma team rushed out from the elevator building and opened the evac chopper’s door to find the heli team desperately trying to revive the battered girl. Knowing it was already too late, Kyle sighed and returned to his body.

Once in his room he hovered above his body as the girl’s memories and knowledge implanted itself into his psyche.

Smiling as she walked down the aisle daintily sprinkling flowers. The full petticoat of her flower girl dress swirled about her lace tight clad legs. Made of soft, lush light pink velvet finished with simple, elegant trim. An exquisite lace collar, lace on the sleeves, and a row of tiny pink buttons accentuated the utter girlishness. The princess waistline dropped to a flattering V in front and with a sash tied into a big bow in back... age 4.

Smiling and curtseying to the applause as she completed a ballet solo performance at the end of year recital when she six. Giggling the night away during her seventh birthday party/sleep-over with four of her best girlfriends.

Just as with the old man, the good, bad and the ugly memories flowed like a crazy kaleidoscope. The life experiences and knowledge the girl had accumulated during her 12 years on earth spun their way into Kyle's mind and became his memories too.

Kyle’s mind felt like it was about to burst as he sought to make sense of the myriad divergent memories. The old man’s memories had not been too difficult to assimilate. As a man, his emotions, feelings and thoughts were influenced and directed by society's expectation of appropriate manly behavior. While Kyle didn’t like macho posturing and attitudes, at least he was familiar with them. Jennifer Sue’s memories, feelings and emotions were quite different. Kyle, like James, seldom liked dressing up while Jennifer Sue loved putting on pretty clothes. Kyle and James only cared about how their clothes felt when they were uncomfortable while Jennifer Sue liked soft silky fabrics and ruffles and lace. Kyle and James were taught not to cry as it showed weakness. Jennifer Sue was told it was all right to cry when she was upset or sad. Kyle had completely shut down smiling and laughter. For James, the last years of his life had taken all happiness and laughter out of his life leaving sorrow and despair. Jennifer Sue loved to giggle, felt free to act silly and loved being a happy girly girl.

Taking an overall look at James Wilson’s life, Kyle saw a long trek with a few peaks of happiness and contentment separated by wide valleys of sadness and complacent acceptance with deep canyons of despair. Looking at his own unhappy life Kyle saw no peaks, only a deep chasm of despair. Jennifer Sue’s life was the exact opposite. Until the last hours, her life had featured many happy peaks with narrow shallow valleys of sadness and no canyons of despair. Of the three lives that were now his, Jennifer Sue’s was without question best.

Lost in deep contemplation, Kyle barely noted the coming and going of doctors, nurses and family in his hospital room. From James he learned that war was NOT a fun thing, it was horrible and disgusting. It was quite literally kill or be killed. Not only had he seen his best buddies killed and maimed, he’d killed and maimed German soldiers. He'd also witnessed the unmitigated horror of the Nazi concentration camps. The horrid experiences forever changed the man, permanently disillusioning him. Even at what should have been high points of his life, the mind-numbing atrocities he'd experienced during the war tainted his joy. While he regretted his war experiences, James readily acknowledged it was a necessary fight and was proud he'd done his part, sacrificing himself to insure others had better lives.

The dichotomy of James' emotions and feelings about the war really confused Kyle. The stupefying memories of seeing the emaciated bodies of the Jews when the concentration camps were liberated was now etched clearly in his mind. The adrenalin fueled fear during combat, the wild elation of repeatedly thrusting a hand held bayonet into the body of German soldier as they rolled about in the snow in the forests outside Bastogne, followed by remorse and self-loathing as he recalled the terror in the dying eyes of the man he'd killed. All were part and parcel of who James had become.

Kyle would forever more respect soldiers and their sacrifices. Fortunately, the memories and emotions Kyle had absorbed from James were easily accessible yet compartmentalized away from his own personality although they would tinge his thoughts and ideas.

Turning to give Jennifer Sue's life a closer look he found happiness and contentment. The love and protectiveness she felt while holding a neighbor's newborn baby. The sheer joy of ballet dancing. The contented role play when playing with baby dolls or Barbies. The companionship of friends. The hugs and kisses from loved ones. Even simply going to school had been a pleasurable experience for her. Then there were the sensuous delights of wearing soft, silky clothes. The tickling of delicate lace. The scrumptious swirl of skirts about her legs. The delectable sensations of silky tights encasing her lithe legs like a second skin. The saucy bounce of a beribboned ponytail. On and on went the multitude of pleasures that filled Jennifer Sue's life.

Kyle could almost feel the pleasure of wearing tights and satin panties, the tickle of lace and the sheer joy of being a cute girl. It was most disconcerting yet highly appealing. His dull, morose life was a waste when compared to Jennifer Sue. Yet she was gone and he remained.

The idea of returning to his former existence was absolutely repulsive. Assimilating James' and Jennifer Sue's memories had opened his mind providing instant contrasts to his unhappy nasty existence. His life so far had been far less happy than James at the same age. There was no way he wanted to live through the horrors of war as James went on to experience. A girl's life seemed a much better alternative. But he was a boy. He'd have to become a sissy to just partially experience what a girl enjoyed. But his dad detested sissies. Then again, that was simply another reason he should become one! The dilemma was mind boggling but Kyle knew he could no longer live as he had before the injuries. The sad, despondent, quiet and morose boy had died on the football field.

After hours of reflection, he decided to do some literal web surfing to see if he could find more information on sissies. Jumping back to the computer center, he gently eased a mental tendril inside the system, found the connection to the internet and went surfing.

Some of the sites were quite disturbing and pornographic. Others were interesting, with hundreds of fictional stories about sissies. From these he learned about transvestites, transgender and sex-changes. Never had he suspected a person could change gender. Being transgender seemed appealing. Further surfing revealed several serious sites that explained what it meant to be transgendered and what treatments were available up to and including SRS. The more he studied and learned, the more he was drawn to it. As he dug into James' memories, he found quite a few buried memories about Christine Jorgensen and what he called drag queens. Kyle found James opinion of them was quite low but that was not unexpected.

After absorbing relevant information from the various web sites, Kyle withdrew and popped back to his body to think. From his medical charts he knew he'd suffered a nasty concussion and the doctors feared there might be brain damage. If Kyle played this right, when they allowed him to wake up, he could feign a drastic personality change by tapping into Jennifer Sue's persona. With her girly outlook on life, he could take the COGIATI, Combined Gender Identity And Transsexuality Inventory, a unique test designed specifically to help determine if a person is Male-to-Female gender dysphoric.

For the first time he could remember, Kyle found hope for his future. Just as he reached the decision to be transgendered, he felt his astral self being reeled back to his body. It was time to wake up from his ten day coma.

*****



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