Author's Note:First of all, thank you once again to everyone who has been helping me through my crisis. Not just with support but with your kind words and well wishes. Its been helping me out a great deal. The advice has been fantastic too. I'm still just taking things one day at a time right now. I've been lucky enough to finally get some writing and editing done. I just finished Ch.5 the other day and a few minutes ago, I ran this chapter through a proof read/editing process. Please let me know if I missed something. The big news about this chapter though is the new pic, which I'm sure all of you have noticed. That should be the pic for the rest of this story now :)
Brilliant, white light greeted me when I opened my eyes. It was so bright, brighter than any light I’d ever seen. I tried to shield my eyes from it but my hands wouldn’t move. Panicked, I tried to sit up but I couldn’t do that either. What the hell? I started to thrash, shaking the bed I was currently in. There was something wrong, why couldn’t I move? Wait, no, I’m moving right now. Then what was it?. As the brightness started to fade, things started to come into focus. I was really confused and scared at first because I didn’t recognize anything. I was in some kind of room---the walls were white, there was a buzzing ceiling light above me and everything smelled funny. Very sterile. Cleaning product sterile.
More of the room started to come into focus.
I found a window but the blinds were closed shut. There was a chair in the room too. Next to that was a cabinet. I also noticed two doors. One was painted white like the rest of the room---most likely the exit. The other one I was guessing was the bathroom. A hospital room definitely. There was even that stupid, sappy artwork on the wall. I’d only ever been to the hospital one time. When I was eight, Hunter fell off his skateboard and broke his arm. He was in the hospital for a day or two and I came to visit him. I remembered hating it because it smelled.
Apparently, after almost seven years, hospitals around the country still hadn’t improved the whole smell factor.
I tried moving again.
I noticed several things all at once.
One, I was apparently strapped down. That little bit of evidence scared the hell out of me. I struggled and thrashed, hoping maybe I could dislodge one of the straps. It was no such luck though, they were pretty tight. I was terrified.
It, however, wasn’t as scary as the second and third things I noticed.
Both of them came nearly together.
Two, my hair was much longer.
How long had I been here?
I tried to remember how long it took hair to grow? I think I read something about it in Biology last year but I couldn’t remember specifics. It was years though, right? I mean my hair was at my shoulders before. I usually kept it fairly neat and out of my face. It was clearly all over the place now and much longer. Maybe down my back? It looked different too, redder maybe? Not like my mother’s red hair either. It was darker than hers, maybe a combination of my hair before and her hair now. It definitely wasn’t mine though. Well, it was now but it was foreign to me.
But not as foreign as the third thing that scared me.
The weight on my chest.
I was a fool not to notice that.
It could have been bandages of course. I was trying to convince myself of that. Except when I thrashed about, they moved independently. They were slightly heavy and jiggling like strapping two water balloons on my chest. They didn’t belong either. Which started to add credence to my earlier thought of how long I’ve been here?
I mean hair takes a look time to grow, those things on my chest needed a great deal of time to develop. All the evidence pointed at time. Time and something very sinister.
Was I kidnapped?
Was this some kind of demented experiment?
Why wasn’t I panicking more?
Shouldn’t I be screaming and raving like a lunatic?
I mean I was fairly calm for someone who had just woken up strapped to a hospital bed with his gender apparently stolen from him. I say apparently because I still couldn’t feel whether or not I had anything between my legs. To be honest, it was never very big, to begin with. Everything about me was small. My height, my body structure and my sexual organ. I wasn’t embarrassed about that last bit though. I’d been in the locker room enough times to know that they came in all sizes, not that I looked of course. Some of the guys liked to brag. Some of them even liked to show off. Me—like usual---just hid and hoped no one would take notice. Locker rooms were my least favorite place to be.
Second least favorite now.
I really HATED this place.
I struggled against my binds again. Ok, there was definitely no getting out of them. Sighing, I resigned myself to this particular fate. So it was time to take stock of the things that I knew. Ok, I knew I was in the hospital. I knew that my hair was longer and that I had breasts now. I knew I was wearing a flimsy hospital gown and that I was probably here for some time. Now to take stock of the things I didn’t know. I didn’t know the date, I didn’t know the time of day and most important of all, I didn’t know how or why I was here.
Ok, so what did I remember.
Then I remember the lake. We were outside and I was going back in when I thought about how much of a dick it would be to leave her out there. So I was going to the lake to talk her into going back in with me. I had to walk down that hill and I was almost to the bottom of it when the solar storm happened. I clearly remember seeing Debbie at the edge of the lake when there was a flash. Yes, a brilliant, blue light filled up the sky. It blinded me and nothing. I couldn’t remember anything more after that.
So was that it?
Was it the blue light?
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of someone unlocking the door. I tensed up and watched as the door opened. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I didn’t expect the woman who walked into the room. She was a nurse but she wasn’t wearing the usual pink scrubs one might associate with hospital nurses. She was dressed in aqua blue ones and was wearing a mask. She had blonde hair pulled back in a tight bun and nice, kind blue eyes. Albeit, her eyes looked very tired.
“Well look who’s finally awake,” she said as she walked toward me.
There was a tired strain in her voice.
This was clearly a woman who hadn’t had a lot of sleep.
Her movements were stiff too.
“Who are you? Where am I?”
Wow, my voice.
It was different.
Just like the rest of me.
It was light and feminine.
Another bit of evidence to point toward the inevitable conclusion. One that told me if I was to lift this gown right now, I wouldn’t find what I expected to see between my legs. I was a girl. Something like that had to take months to do. But why and how long? It made no sense. Who would profit from such a thing? Well besides maybe Debbie. I shook that thought away immediately. She was hurt, crushed and embarrassed but vindictive and desperate enough to make me what she wanted? No, I don’t think so. No one else was that cruel either. Well, maybe Robby but he was an idiot. Which meant that someone else was involved.
“Well its nice to see some good news in this place for once.”
What did she mean by that?
I needed some answers.
“What’s going on?”
The nurse stopped and looked at me. I think she was choosing her words wisely.
“There’s been...well, something happened…”
“I don’t understand. What does that even mean?”
She sighed. “Why don’t you tell me what you do remember, sweetie, and we’ll go from there.”
I nodded. I didn’t want to do what this strange nurse wanted but at this point, there weren’t a lot of options. So I quickly filled her in on everything that happened, everything that I remembered. I left out Debbie’s confession part though. I did make a promise to her that I wouldn’t tell anyone about it after all. The nurse listened, nodded once or twice then sighed when I finished.
“Just like the others,” she said softly to herself.
What’s going on?
“What the hell is going on!” I snapped, surprising myself.
I’d never snapped at an adult before, let alone swear at one.
She gave me a look.
For a moment, she said nothing.
Then one word:
Ok, so that’s actually two words.
It still didn’t make any sense though.
I probably could have tried asking more but I was pretty sure she was going to still be cryptic. Besides, that could wait. I needed other answers.
“Where are my parents?”
“You tell me.”
“We don’t even know your name, sweetheart.”
I looked around the room. There was a plastic bag on the chair I noticed. My clothes were neatly folded inside. I sighed. Of course, I forgot my wallet when I left.
She smiled or I think she did. The corners of her mouth hidden behind the mask moved up in what I assumed was a smile.
“Such a pretty name” She patted my arm. “Well its a pleasure to finally meet you, Shiloh. My name is Grace, I’ve been tending to this ward since your arrival.”
“And when was that?”
“You don’t know?”
I shook my head.
I just told her everything I knew.
“Well, you came here the night of the Flash. It was pretty crazy. There were a lot of people like you, plenty unconscious, the rest were sick. Everyone was rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off. The ER was swamped. We had no power and more and more patients kept flooding in. We were overwhelmed and there was no more help coming. So many people and not enough of us. No lights, no help, no power, no order. It was crazy, it was...”
She spit all of that out in a frantic babble.
She sighed, apparently collecting her thoughts.
She took a breath before continuing.
“I’m sorry,” she said, a little calmer. “You asked a question and I went nuts. Ok so the Flash, that was a week ago. You’ve been in and out of it for that long. Two days ago, you started thrashing. That’s why you’re secured down. We didn’t have a choice, especially not after you...well after one of the other nurses got hurt.”
She stared at my hands, her eyes lingering there for a second.
She looked scared.
I needed to get her to focus.
I would worry about her apparent fear later.
She still hadn’t answered the one thing I wanted to know: why I’m a girl. Though from what I could tell from her frantic craziness, she didn’t actually know. Which made me wonder. Did I come into the hospital with my gender already changed? If I did, who did it and how did it happen? More importantly than that, I’d been here a week. My parents must be going crazy. Especially because I broke Dad’s rules. Big time. Ashley probably got a tongue lashing...wait, Ashley. Debbie and Jax and Mr. B. and the others. Were they here too?
“Where are the others?”
“The people I was at the observatory with.”
I nodded. “Her and my friends.”
Grace looked confused. “She was the only one here with you. She came with you. It was pure chaos though. There were no lights and lots of screaming. If there were other people with you, they probably went other places. I could look but everything is a mess. The city is still only working on generators. All the phones and computers are still down. There’s rioting and fighting in the streets. It's a war zone out there.”
“Your friend, the soldier,” she said, I nodded. “She was here the first night with you but rioters got pretty close to the hospital. Some of them tried to break in. Security and the few police officers assigned here weren’t enough to take care of it so she volunteered. They stopped the rioters but there was more. We heard an explosion the second night. She and the police officers went to investigate but never returned. She’s either out there or...”
What the hell happened?
A week? I’d been in the hospital for a week. My parents didn’t know where I was, Ashley was gone. I had no idea where the others were and it sounded like the world was in complete chaos. All of it because of the solar storm too? It didn’t make any sense and Grace’s frantic ramblings weren’t making much sense of things either. There was something she wasn’t telling me too. I could tell. She kept looking from me to the door and back again. She also kept fidgeting. She was standing away from me too, at least five feet. It was like she thought I was going to turn into a monster and rip her apart?
I needed more info. But I needed a plan too.
I might have forgotten my wallet but I knew I had my cell. I always brought my cell with me everywhere I went. Not that I really had anyone else to call or text besides family. Dad always made it very clear though that I was to have it on me at all times. I wasn’t certain but I think he had one of those tracker services on our phones. Not that I minded though, he was doing what he thought was safe for his family.
I needed that phone.
I know she said there was no phones and internet but maybe someone had sent me a message?
Dad was the cautious sort.
Being in the military had harbored in him that sense of “Be Prepared For Anything”. So, of course, our family had a plan if something bad happened. Like a natural disaster or God forbid another 9/11. The plan was pretty simple: Dad would send out a text, tell us a location to meet him at and we were to rush home to get our “bag”. The bag was a kit, a pack full of the essential things we might need in a survival situation, filled with clothes and food and that kind of thing. Each one of us had one. Dad had them all in the barn, along with a lot of other things that I was too young to know about. In the case that we couldn’t get home to get our bags, we were to report to the rendezvous point immediately.
If I knew Dad and I did, this was one of those situations.
I just wondered if he got the text out in time.
I had to find out.
I had to have a plan too.
Thankfully one was starting to formulate.
“So now what happens?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” I said, looking about. “You can’t expect me to stay in here, do you. I mean I have a family, they’re probably out there pretty worried about me. I need to get to them, let them know I’m ok.”
“I’m not in charge of any of that.”
Of course not.
“Then who is?”
“Dr. Kramer I guess. He’s the on-call attending after all.”
“Well do you think you can get him, let him know I’m awake and I want to go home.”
“Yeah, you know that place where you live and sleep. The place that is not here. A place where I don’t feel like a prisoner, strapped to a bed?”
She looked sheepish for a moment, confused even.
Then it clicked.
I was still strapped down.
She nodded. I think she finally caught on. She took a very slow, cautious step toward me. What was she afraid of? She hesitated before she started to undo the straps. It was a slow process because she kept pausing after removing each strap. I was finally free though. My wrists and ankles were numb and sore. I rubbed them, trying to get feeling back. I gave her a look to tell her how unhappy I was with my treatment. She actually took several steps back. I wanted to smile but I couldn’t because I was scared that she was scared. There was definitely something she wasn’t telling me.
I was free though.
Well ok semi-free, I was still in the hospital.
Ok now for Part 2 of my plan.
“You think it would be ok if I got out of this gown?”
I pointed to my bag of clothes on the chair. She looked to where I was pointing and nodded. Without saying a word, she walked over and retrieved my bag. She carried it over slowly then dropped it at the foot of my bed, slightly out of my reach. I leaned forward to get it and she took a step back again. I took the bag and opened it quickly. As soon as I did, I smelt something. It was a burnt smell. I slowly started to take my clothes out and groaned.
What the hell.
They were burnt.
My shirt was a ragged, burnt ruin and the ends of my jeans were blackened. My sneakers were a total loss, melted beyond all recognition. Thankfully my hoodie looked to be intact for the most part, the sleeves were slightly singed but otherwise, it appeared to be ok. Trying to be nonchalant about it, I stuck my hand into the pocket where I kept my phone. It was still there but of course, I couldn’t tell if anything happened to it or not.
“Why is everything burnt?” I asked, annoyed.
“We don’t know” she stuttered, taking another step back. “It was like that when you got here.”
I groaned. “Well, what am I supposed to do now?”
“I can get you...you...something from Lost...and….Found.”
She was downright stuttering now.
“Sure, that would great.”
I flashed her what I hoped was an award-winning smile.
She nodded. “I need you to stay in bed though. You haven’t been on your feet in days, you won’t be able to walk properly without help. I’ll bring you something to wear then I’ll help you dress.”
I smiled and nodded.
I watched her leave then waited. As soon as she was gone, I pulled out my cell.
It didn’t look damaged but the screen was cracked.
I cursed but tried turning it on anyway.
Thankfully, it did that much.
It took a few seconds to boot up and when it finally did, I groaned at the battery life. There was about ten percent left, which meant I didn’t have a lot of time to use it. I scrolled through my messages, hoping there was something new waiting for me. There wasn’t though. Damn. I tried making a call next but of course, I got the No Signal sign. There weren't even any bars I noticed, just a No Service message. So Grace was right about that, there really wasn’t any phone. Cursing, I tried the internet. Once again though, I got the No Service message. Shit. The world really had gone to hell. No phone and internet, every teen girl out there must be in full on panic mode.
I laughed at my own joke.
I surprised myself too.
I didn’t usually have a sense of humor. Well, I did but nothing that quick. In fact, it was weird because though I didn’t feel any different, I was different. Not just the whole gender thing either. I’m not sure how to describe it but I felt more alive now. The strangest part was Grace. The whole time she was here, I didn’t try to shy away from her once like I used to do. I talked in a loud, clear voice and looked her directly in the face. Before I would have whispered and talked with my head down. It was like I was more confident now or something. Definitely not the same old Shiloh I was before.
Grace came back into the room, surprising me.
She was carrying a handful of clothes but chuckled when she looked at me, still holding my cell.
“Typical teen girl, the first thing you check is your phone. I’m sure my Suzy did the same, the girl can’t be a moment without it.”
There was sadness in her voice at the mention of her daughter.
Grace---I realized---was a prisoner in this place just like me.
She, however, was trapped by her job.
“I’m sorry,” I said and meant it. “You must miss her.”
“I do and I’m sure she misses me too but she knows the kind of job I have. She knows I help people and it this case, the world needs me more than she does. She’s a smart, resourceful girl, I’m sure she’s fine.”
That last bit though. I knew she was saying it more to herself than me.
A mother’s reassurance that her child was all right.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Mom was thinking the same.
I set my phone aside. “It's dead. Everyone out there must be really freaking out.”
Grace nodded. “Everyone in here as well. We might have lights and food but it's not going to last. We’re lucky to have lights at the moment but things aren’t great. We have generators but they’ll fail eventually. We’ve had to rotate power in the hospital just to give everything an even go with it. In an hour, this wing will go dark so another wing can get the power. It's a lot worse in other places. Like the shelters and triage centers. It's a dangerous place out there now.”
“How long do you think it will be until everything is back under control?”
She shook her head. “I don’t know sweetie. Its been a week already. At least the noise has gone down some. The first few nights, it was horrible. You’re lucky you were barely conscious for it. There was screaming and explosions and gunfire. The rioting has died down a lot.” She sighed, touching my arm gently. “You might be in a rush to go home but I have to warn you, it might not be there anymore.”
“My Dad is a Colonel, I pity the idiot who tries to step foot on our property.”
She took her hand away.
‘He’s in the military?”
I nodded. “Runs the Air Force base. My Mom works for the District Attorney. She’s an ADA. So I really need to get home to them. They’re probably worried sick about me.”
“I’m sure they are.”
Grace fell silent then put the clothes on my bed.
“There wasn’t a large selection,” she said, laying out what she found. “I had to guess your sizes too. You're definitely not my daughter's size and you're taller too.”
Wait, someone was shorter than me?
I looked myself over.
Was I taller?
Was that possible?
“Can you help me stand so I can try dressing?”
Grace looked nervous for a moment, taking that step back again. Then she nodded. I slowly slid to the edge of the bed. Grace reached out and took my arms gently. I took a deep breath and dropped to the floor then I slowly stood. I was surprised how weird everything felt. There was a weight on my chest and my hips felt wrong, wider. I wobbled a bit but I was actually pretty well balanced. Grace held me for a few seconds longer, looking up at me as she did so.
Yeah, I was taller than her.
I’d never been taller than anyone.
Well, maybe some little kids and really short girls.
I was flabbergasted.
“Grace, how tall are you, by any chance?”
She chuckled. “Just five six I think.”
I was at least three to four inches taller than her.
Holy double shit.
That put me at five foot ten.
That was incredible.
It was also pretty impossible.
“I’m taller” I mumbled barely above a whisper.
“What was that, sweetie?”
I spoke louder. “You think you can help me over to the bathroom so I can change my clothes. I don’t like dressing in front of other people.”
She nodded. “Body shy?”
“Something like that.”
“You shouldn’t be so shy, it's wonderful. If I had a body like yours at that age, I would be showing it off to the whole world. You must have to beat them off with a stick.”
“I try to hide it if I can.”
“A real shame.”
She didn’t say anything more after that.
She held my arms as I started toward the bathroom. She was only half helping though. I realized real quick that I was doing much of it on my own. When we reached the bathroom, I suddenly realized I was alone. I turned and saw Grace standing there, I think she was shocked. I was a bit surprised myself. I knew from television medical shows that people in hospitals for long stretches of time shouldn’t be able to walk like I was walking. Yet here I was, walking like a pro.
I didn’t know what to say so instead I just went into the bathroom with my new clothes and shut the door.
I was finally alone.
I started to set the clothes on the toilet when I felt the urge to go. I cursed then begrudgingly used the toilet. If I hadn’t confirmed it before, I did as soon as I lifted the gown to sit. I was definitely, one hundred percent a girl. I tried not to think about it as I peed. First I splashed it about but I got the hang of it quick. It was pretty odd though. It was hard to aim too. I was more embarrassed than anything when half it ended up all over the seat and my legs. I used some toilet paper to dry myself off then flushed. Making a face at all of it, I went to the sink to wash my hands. I was barely paying attention to the task, going through the motions like usual. It was only then that I realized there was a mirror in front of me. Even more, realization dawned on me when I saw that I wasn’t in the mirror anymore.
Ok, I was but it definitely wasn’t me.
Staring back at me was a girl and what a girl she was. I barely recognized myself. Long, dark red hair, pouty lips, thinly arched brows. I saw some of my mother there but my features were a lot softer, younger. I had her eyes though, a vibrant green I’d always been jealous of. Before my eyes were muddy brown like my fathers, the only thing I’d inherited from him. I saw a lot of Charlotte too which was surprising seeing as we were only half-siblings. It would appear that most of my sister’s looks came from my father. Which meant there was a lot of Dad in me now.
I stared at this girl a long time, mesmerized by her.
She was me.
I was her.
Consider my mind blown.
I took the time to peel off the flimsy hospital gown, letting it drop to the floor slowly.
My body was breathtaking.
It definitely did not look like one that belonged to a fourteen-year-old girl. I had a woman’s curves and my breasts, they were not those of a young, teen girl. I was bigger than Marcy. I couldn’t help but smirk at that. I also came to the realization that she probably had strategic help with her boobs. Looking at mine now, there was no way these were enhancers. These were the real deal and they were enormous. Ok so probably not that big but they were bigger than I wanted to admit. I was surprisingly ok with them too.
Shouldn’t I be freaking out?
Why was I so calm?
I diverted my attention away from my chest to get a better look at the rest of me. Turning this way and that, it was very clear my body appeared to be a lot older than fourteen. If I were to guess, it was the body of an eighteen-year-old. Which didn’t really make me any happier? I’m sure some girls would be absolutely thrilled about all of this right now but I wasn’t a girl. Well not in my mind anyway. This body was foreign and strange and not mine. Yet clearly it was. I mean I even had a patch of like colored hair down there, covering my You-Know-What.
Looking there made me blush.
There was a gentle knock on the door.
“Shiloh, sweetheart, are you all right in there?”
“I’m fine, just trying to get this stuff on.”
She chuckled. “Sorry about the sizes, like I said I didn’t know...”
“Its ok,” I said, quickly cutting her off.
I went about dressing.
It was a lot easier than I thought. The first thing I noticed was the lack of underwear. I guess that made sense. Not even guys would wear underwear that belonged to someone else. I did frown at the pants though. They were gray sweatpants with a pink waistband. They also looked a lot smaller than I wanted. Putting them on, they were really tight. Not tight like they wouldn’t fit but tight like they hugged my body in a way I wasn’t used too. Turning this way and that, I hated the way they hugged my curves and drew attention to certain things.
The shirt was even worse.
It was too small.
A pale blue t-shirt with one of the My Little Ponies on it. At first, I thought it was a children’s shirt until I put it on and realized it was supposed to be smaller. It was very restricting across the chest but it kept my breasts in place. There was no more unwanted jiggling. It did, however, show way too much of my stomach. That I didn’t like at all. I tried tugging it down further but it wouldn’t budge. Damn it. Thankfully I brought my hoodie and pulled it quickly over my head. I was surprised at how well it fit now. Before I was always like a little kid in my hoodies, they were after all from Hunter and Freddy. Now though it fit like it should. It was still a bit baggy because it was meant for boys but at least I wasn’t swimming in it anymore.
Last was a pair of flip-flops.
Those were easy enough.
I turned to the mirror once again and frowned.
Even with the hoodie hiding me, there was no way anyone was going to doubt my gender now.
I just looked like a girl wearing some of her brother’s clothes.
I sighed and opened the door.
“Feeling better now?”
I forced a smile.
“Like a new person.”
“I’m glad,” she said, fidgeting. “Now then let’s see if we can’t find your folks. Your father might be easier. I’ll see if I can get someone to check for you. I thought I saw a soldier using a phone earlier. I’ll be back in a bit.”
She left quickly.
If she could find Dad, that would be a start.
I walked back over to my bed and sat down, sticking my hands in my pockets. I pulled out two things, my dying cell, and my wings. Crap, I forgot I had those. Holding them in my hand, I couldn’t help but smile. All of that felt like a world away, happening to a different person. In a way it was. I mean I wasn’t the same old Shiloh anymore that’s for sure. I was probably never going to be that Shiloh again. I just couldn’t help but wonder how my parents were going to react to the new me. Hell, I was still reacting to it. I had no idea how it happened either. That was the scary part. Even with all my questions and the answers I received, not a single one of them could tell me what had happened to me. People just didn’t spontaneously change gender like I did. They also didn’t sit around and not freak about it. That’s what scared me the most about all of this.
I’m not normal.
I groaned, dropping back on the bed.
Resting my head on the pillows, I closed my eyes.
Maybe all of this was a dream.
What if I just went to sleep and woke up and found myself lying on that hill.
It was possible right.
A chirp caused me to jump.
It surprised me, to say the least.
I was holding my cell in my hand still and I knew what that chirp was. Snapping my eyes open, I jumped up into a seated position. That chirp, it was a text. I frantically looked at the phone, hoping it was my Dad or my Mom or hell I’d even take Hunter at this point.
The text though was from Unknown Sender.
It sent a chill down my spine when I read it:
YOU’RE NOT SAFE HERE.
Author’s note: As I’m sure all of you know, comments are life blood to an author. I’m not begging or demanding, but I certainly would appreciate anything you have to say (or ask). It doesn’t have to be long and involved, just give me your reaction to the story. Thanks in advance...EOF
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.