I stood under the hot shower, letting warm water wash away the stress and worries that filled me, at least for a short time. Sure, this was a crappy motel, with a fairly small shower, but the hot water still felt good.
While washing myself, I considered how strange the situation was, and how normal it was all starting to get at the same time. I was a girl, a woman, with a body and parts that I’d never had before a few weeks ago. However, I was starting to get used to it, at least on some level. Dealing with this body twenty-four seven, meant that I was getting a lot of practice in dealing with it, and what it meant to be me.
“I am Pandora,” I said, washing away the rest of the soap and lather. “That is who I am now. That is who I’m going to be for the rest of my life.” Then, I let out a sigh, silently thinking about just how long that could potentially be. “Assuming I don’t get myself killed trying to rescue Theressa.”
With a deep sigh, I climbed out of the shower and began drying myself off. Then, I walked around the small hotel room that I had to myself. Jake had stayed the night in the room next door, which he’d been sharing with Dave. The two of us hadn’t been intimate since the revelation of who I used to be. It seemed that even though he was still helping to protect me and the box, the knowledge that I used to be a boy was a bit too much for him to handle.
Once I was sufficiently dry, got dressed and presentable, which included putting on my makeup. I’d been doing this every morning, so it was starting to become something of a habit. When I thought about that, I couldn’t help but chuckling, even though it was a little bitterly. There were times when I couldn’t even recognize myself as the person I’d once been, and not only when looking in the mirror.
“How long?” I quietly asked myself. “How long will it take before I forget what it was like being Byron? How long before I even forget that I was ever him?”
Just a few minutes after I finished putting on the final touches, someone began knocking on the door. I immediately reached for my gun, which I’d gotten into the habit of keeping close at hand.
“Pan, it’s me,” Jake called through the door.
“I’m not decent,” I called back.
“Are you ever?” he responded.
I unlocked the door and opened it, though I didn’t relax until I was sure that it was only Jake and Dave. Once the two came in, carrying the mirror, I closed the door behind them and locked it. Only then did I put the gun down. I might be a little paranoid, but since people really were after me, I thought it was understandable.
“Time for our daily status,” Jake said, setting the mirror up on top of the dresser. “I want to get more details on their security.”
“Good idea,” I said, thinking about the various details that we’d been trying to take note of over the last couple days.
Since we knew where Theressa was being held, we’d been able to pick up some useful information just from online. It was amazing what you could get from publicly available information, such as a satellite view from Google Earth, or pictures of the inside of the house, from a real estate website that had advertised the place just a year ago. However, there was still a lot of information that wasn’t available that way, such as how many guards there were, and the mirror could answer some of those.
“Mirror mirror on the wall,” I said as I touched the frame.
“Man, that is awesome,” Dave commented with a grin. “Once we’re done with this, you’ll have to let me play with the mirror a bit.”
“You just want to peep in on your neighbor Jessica,” Jake responded with a chuckle. “While she’s getting dressed.”
Dave just shrugged, not bothering to deny it. Instead, he joked, “Can you think of a better use for something like that?”
“One or two,” I added in a deadpan tone, which got Dave to turn bright red.
The truth was, before this had all happened, if I’d found that mirror, I probably would have used it to sneak peeks at girls too. As it was, I could now look at a hot girl whenever I wanted, not that it did much good, beyond helping me put on my makeup.
Once again, the mirror showed Theressa in the reflection, and she didn’t look happy. She had something in her hand that looked like it might be a knife, or some kind of prison shank, but when the door started to open, she quickly hit it out of sight. I felt a surge of pride at the knowledge that she wasn’t just playing damsel in distress. She was working on her own plan to get out of there. Or at least, that was what I assumed the shank meant.
Since I had a very limited amount of time with the mirror, I quickly zoomed out, pulling away from Theressa so that I could see outside of her room. Then I moved the image as much as I could, trying to get a better look inside the house, determining where she was in the house, and how many guards there were. Unfortunately, the image cut off far too soon, and the reflection returned to that of a normal mirror.
“We got a little bit more,” Jake said.
“I saw six guards in the house,” Dave said in a serious tone. “And we already know that there are a couple outside.”
“Unfortunately,” Jake said with a deep scowl. “We don’t have the resources or numbers for a full on assault.”
“As an avid gamer,” Dave said with a grin, “I like to know exactly what I have to work with, so I can plan accordingly. So, besides my own little stash that I brought, how much do we have in the way of ammo and weapons?”
Dave and Jake sat down and began writing down a list of everything we had, which wasn’t really as impressive as I’d first thought. There had been a lot of weapons stored at Cliff’s cabin, but most of it had been left behind when we ran.
While the boys discussed our assets and resources, I looked over the mirror, wishing it would work more than once a day. I ran my hand along the frame, musing, “Mirror mirror on the wall…” Of course, it didn’t do anything. I’d already used up its charge for today.
Suddenly, Jake yelled out, “PAN!”
“What?” I started to ask, only to realize that I was not only holding the mirror, but was in the middle of putting it onto the box.
The box was sitting on the motel bed, with the lid open and the bottom part of the mirror already in it. As soon as I realized what I was doing, I tried pulling the mirror out, but the box held tightly onto it and pulled it down into the swirling mists and shadows. In mere seconds, the mirror was gone for good.
“What are you doing?” Jake demanded, looking shocked and angry at the same time.
“I…don’t know,” I gasped, horrified by what I’d just done. I’d just put the mirror into the box, which meant that we couldn’t use it to rescue Theressa anymore. “No…”
“Why did you do that?” Jake demanded.
“I don’t know,” I repeated in stunned confusion. “I didn’t mean to…I…” Then I paused and glared at the box, realizing what had happened. “The box made me… I didn’t even realize I was doing it until it was too late…”
Dave stared at me with a look of surprise. “Wait… You mean that box can control you?”
“Apparently,” I responded, giving the box an angry glare. “This is the first time it’s done anything like this to me…”
“We already knew it wanted the mirror,” Jake said with a grim expression. “And you said that you felt a compulsion…”
Of course, I had felt a compulsion to put the mirror into the box, and that was why Jake had kept the mirror in his motel room during the night, and why I hadn’t been left along with it. However, this had been taking that compulsion to the next level, and I hadn’t even realized that I’d been doing it.
“DAMN,” I cursed, not bothering to fight back the tears that were starting to form. “I knew we had to deal with Kraesse and his people, but I didn’t think that we’d have to fight the box too…”
“There goes our intel,” Dave said with an exasperated sigh.
“We still know where they’re at,” Jake pointed out. “And we’ve still seen a lot of their security. As long as they don’t move Theressa to another location, we’re still good to go. At least for now.”
I nodded at that, relieved that we hadn’t suddenly lost our chance to rescue Theressa, but I was still pretty upset. I glared at the box, which was still sitting on the bed, feeling like it had betrayed me.
“You’d better hope that nothing happens to Theressa because of this,” I whispered to the box in a sharp tone. “Because if something does happen, you can forget about my ever doing anything for you again.”
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