If I Wasn't Shy - A TG Mixed Tape


If I Wasn't Shy - A TG Mixed Tape

Fascinating Fantasy! Tantalizing Technology! Succulent Scares! Hit the 'Play' button now and experience seven tales never to leave your imagination again! By TGSParadox, Trismegistus Shandy, MA Thermidor, Tessarion, Bobbie Cabot and Hikaro.

Otto feels only a bit of broken-heartedness. Groovy Tones has been his place of business for years, though honestly he can't remember how many, and it had been through several other Ottos before him. He watches as the crew does their work and tears the building down. He holds the old sign in his hand, and chuckles at just how simple yet significant that sign has been in bringing people happiness and self-meaning.

He thinks back to when he first saw the sign, back during his days as Olivia. He -- or, well, she -- had just been left by the one she thought would be hers the rest of her life. Otto knows now that the relationship would never have worked, as Spencer was and still is a self-centered ass, though now he's a self-centered ass in a Porche and cheating on his wife. But Olivia hadn't known that, she was simply devastated by the betrayal of the one who meant the most in her life. And so she'd taken a trip down the beach boardwalk and came upon the place that would define her life for the foreseeable future.

The Otto working in the store at that point had only just reached the balding stage of his life, unlike the current one, who lost all semblance of hair on his head many decades ago and doesn't miss it at all. Olivia didn't pay too much attention to him; she simply poked around, pulling out records, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, CDs. Finally, she happened across an MP3 player, and the Otto of the time had told her one very important thing she'd carry with her for the rest of her life:

"It will change your life."

Olivia hadn't known how true that would be. Song after song, her depression over Spencer was replaced with something Otto now knew to be purpose. And with each new feeling came a new change. Olivia was gone within but a few songs, but still the twenty-something who would become Otto listened until he realized the store was closing. He paid for the MP3 player and returned home, none around him even realizing that the young man they greeted and spoke to as if they'd always known him was actually a young woman not a few hours before.

The next day, the young man returned to Groovy Tones, only to find a piece of paper on the doormat outside. With the paper came a key and a nametag that read “Otto.” There was no note, the paper was the deed to the building.

Otto smiles warmly at the sign, and fondly remembers the day on which he had become caretaker to a new generation of Groovy Tones. He still has that MP3 player, and he now knows its purpose. He takes it out of his pocket and kisses it, as if it were a good luck charm. He'll have to give it up at some point, to a new Otto, one of several he's already selected for the job. He can't wait for that day, both in the future and the past.

And so, Otto gets back in his beat up Ford Pinto and drives to the location of the new Groovy Tones, just in town, right off Main Street, with plenty of parking spaces. It's a larger building than the last, ready for more music, more stories, more dreams. He hangs the sign from the post beside the door to give it that old-fashioned feel that Groovy Tones has had ever since the days the first record players were brought in. He walks inside and he looks for a spot near the portable CD players.

There, he sets the MP3 player down, all neat and tidy and ready for the next Otto to come along and find it. Ready for the next Otto to change his life.

Table of Contents

Forgotten: Bryan
By Paradox

My Sister, the Prophet
By Trismegistus Shandy

Exploit
By Tessarion

Loot Box
By M. A. Thermidor

Someone’s in the Library
By Bobbie

Awakening Venus
By Hikaro

Forgotten: Zachary
By Paradox

Afterword

~~Forgotten: Bryan~~

By Paradox

* * *

I couldn’t stop shaking in my chair. I was so excited to be here in Washington, getting ready to have the interview with the Board and the Agency that would change my life forever. I was going to do what I was destined to do, start down the path to joining Project Genesis and crush those Commies.

“Bryan, calm the fuck down,” my friend Zachary said. “If you overreact, they are not going to see you.”

I shrugged off his warning. “It doesn’t matter. I’m a level 4, they have to see me.”

Zachary smirked, “Dude, I’m a level 4 as well. Also, do you even remember how many level 4s are alive in this country alone, nevermind in the world? There are plenty for them to choose from.” Then, he frowned. “Did you even pay attention in class?

I shrugged. “Maybe…”

Zachary just shook his head. “You’re hopeless.”

“I know, but what are you?” I joked.

Zachary slumped, defeated. “Idiot,” he said.

I laughed, finding it funny as hell. “Bryan Graham, the board will see you now,” a uniformed member of the Agency announced. So I guess my excitement wasn’t enough to deter them from my greatness.

Quickly getting myself into character, and a quick grasp of my medallion for good luck, I followed the guy into a separate room. In the room were four people in uniform, sitting at a table, watching me, with a fifth sitting at a separate table, writing everything down.

The middle guy picked up a piece of paper and a watch, “Okay, for the record, today’s date is March 28, 1980. It is currently 11:30 am Eastern Time.” Placing the paper and watch to the side, he looked directly at me, “Please state your name, date of birth, school and level for the record.”

That was easy enough request, “My name is Bryan Thomas Graham. I was born on June 5th, 1964. I currently attend Providence Meadows as a junior and I’m a level 4.”

The guy looked at another piece of paper, which may have held the same information. “Everything checks out,” he said, confirming that. “Alright, my name is Albert Coleman. I’m the Director of the Agency. Sitting next to me on the right is the Director of National Intelligence, Peter Metz. The two on my left are Terence Carver, Director of the Agency’s Military Training Program and Galen Colbay, Head Scientist of the Scientific Research Department. We will be judging you today to see if you qualify for the Project Genesis Selective Service.” I got up to shake their hands, which they accepted. I need to make a great first impression and this is how I would do it. “Oh, and of course, the recorder of this interview, Tessa Brand.” She waved hello, but didn’t say anything. Didn’t matter though, I was already smitten by her beauty. Even in the military uniform, I could make out her striking figure. This would work for me. “So, it says here in your application that you seek to ultimately join Project Genesis.”

“And kick some Commie butt.” They all immediately eyed me, and I flushed with embarrassment. I was getting better at controlling those outbursts, but I still had a bit of ways to go. “Uh, sorry… sir. Yes, I do.”

“Okay, well, everything seems in order. Now, tell us a bit about your abilities.” Albert Coleman requested.

Finally they get to the part I was waiting for, “Certainly. As you know, I’m a level 4. My ability is Genetic Shifting. I can shift my appearance to match someone else. My level means that I can also receive some of the memories of those appearance I take and skills of that person.”

They all nodded, not seeming to be impressed. Galen, the smallest of all of them, motioned for me to do something, “Demonstrate,” he requested.

Well, I could do that. I could take the appearance of anybody I could see, but I got far more information if I touched the person that I wanted. I started towards the four at the table, but Galen’s glare stopped me. I did not want to get any closer to that glare. So I decided that Tessa was my best option. Didn’t really matter because I had taken the form of girls in the past, usually to play a prank on some cheerleaders. However, my ability only affected appearance, not biology.

I walked over to Tessa, and grabbed her hand. She instantly jerked it away, but it didn’t matter. I already had what I needed. Taking a deep breath, I reached out with my ability and reformed my shape into Tessa’s. I felt my body’s outward appearance quietly change, one from male to female. I could also change my clothes appearance to match Tessa’s. It worked. In thirty seconds, I was Tessa’s twin.

I didn’t get shorter, meaning that Tessa was nearly six feet tall, but I could feel her figure. I also felt some of her memories flow through my mind. I was deeply surprised to find out that Tessa was actually transgender. She had transitioned from male to a female at a young age. What exact age was unknown to me, as I didn’t receive that memory, but she fooled me. Anybody who looked at her would think immediately that she was born a girl. It's interesting what you could learn about people.

However, none of them, including Tessa, shared my excitement. Rather, they looked at me with an odd mixture of disappointment and disapproval. Tessa herself seemed angered. But nonetheless, they decided to continue the meeting. “Please tells us about a memory that you received,” said Coleman.

Easy enough. I searched for the memories that I had received. “Tessa lost her stepfather to prostate cancer,” I said in what sounded like Tessa’s voice. I didn’t know how many years ago, I didn’t get that memory.

Tessa responded by glaring at me, confirming to everybody that it was true. Galen caught on to that glare. “Thank you, Bryan. I believe I’m speaking for all of us when I say we have seen all we need to see.”

I understood the hint, so I shut off the appearance and returned to my normal self. “Sit down,” Coleman ordered. I did as he said, ready to hear praise. But Coleman did not smile or do anything that would signal to me that good news was on its way, “Bryan, you seem to have an over-exaggerated view of how this interview would go. First and foremost, you took on Private Brand’s own form without permission and stole some personal memories of hers.”

“But…” I attempted to explain, but Galen’s glare shut me down.

“That already pushes the limit. However, there is also the matter of your grades. While you seem to excel in normal studies, your practices in utilizing your ability in combat is severely lacking. All you seem to use your power for is pranks.” Coleman rebuked me.

“How… how do you know this?” I asked him.

Coleman raised his eyebrow, as if asking if I was actually being serious. “You attend Providence Meadows Institute in New Market. The school is operated by the Agency. We have access to your records.” Leaning forward, he said: “You see, Bryan, this world has plenty of Level 4s. The only thing we have seen from you is that there is nothing special about you. You are simply a hothead with a lot of power and the world has plenty of those. Project Genesis needs a certain type of superhuman and you are certainly not that type.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “So, what does this mean?” I nervously asked the board.

Coleman simply looked at me with no emotion on his face. “It means your application was denied before you got here. Therefore, you are dismissed.”

I wanted to argue. Oh man, did I want to argue. But something told me that it wouldn’t help me. I got up and quietly left, casting one last glance at Tessa, who refused to meet it. Once outside, Zachary came up to me, but I knew that he was aware how it went.

“Hey man, don’t worry. There is always the Reserve Guard,” Zachary said, trying to cheer me up.

But I didn’t respond. I just cast him a glance and walked out of the building into busy Washington Square and sat down on some stairs. What was I going to do? My parents were expecting me to succeed, and in just a matter of minutes, I was crushed by the board.

What did I expect? Success? Maybe. But maybe I was also trying to prove my worth to someone. Sure I was a level 4, but who was I kidding? Coleman was right, the world had thousands of them. There wasn’t anything that really set me apart from the other Level 4s. And what exactly did I do with my life and ability? Apparently, I’d wasted it on pointless pranks. But again, why were they so strict about that? Sure, I lacked skill in combat, but I made up for that in creativity and imagination. Sure, I pulled a ton of pranks on people in the past. However, no one was ever harmed by them and everybody laughed it off. Plus, each prank better taught me the creativity that came with the ability. In fact, I was able to learn that creativity itself is key to mastering one’s own ability, an idea that wasn’t too popular with the teachers.

Looking up out on the Washington skyline, seeing the trees beginning to bloom, I grasped my medallion once more, finding new resolve. I spent my entire life looking for something that mattered, something that I could do that could change the world for the better. A world full of superhumans is a difficult place to make a change, but a change that I would make regardless. If my past could not prove to the board that I was special and I had it in me to do something, then I would find some way in the future to prove that my own training had made me special and that not all superhumans were born to be weapons of mass destruction.

* * *

Paradox is the author of a few other stories, all available on TGStorytime and BigCloset.

* * *

~~My Sister, the Prophet~~

by Trismegistus Shandy

* * *

One summer's day, a few moons after I had my first bleeding and became a woman, my older sister Saka and I were gathering berries and roots when she dug up something strange under the roots of a sassafras bush. It was bright and shiny like the sunlit surface of a brook. She called me over to look as she dug it out and lifted it. It was bigger than a man's fist, smaller than a baby's head, and perfectly round, like the full moon. It caught the sunlight in wonderful wavy patterns.

And then it turned dull and lifeless, and crumbled into dust, and my sister suddenly went mad. Or so I thought at the time.

She looked around her, looking a little harder at me than at the other things around us, then looked at herself. Then she grasped her breasts and moaned, and said something I didn't understand. Something like the language of another tribe. "What's wrong, Saka?" I asked, but she put a hand to her crotch and screamed.

The other women came running over. "What happened?" asked our mother. She was still alive then, though she died not long afterward -- before she saw much of what followed that strange day.

I tried to describe what I'd seen, the strange thing that had been buried in the ground and how it had crumbled to dust -- you could still see the gray dust on Saka's palms as she wrung her hands and breathed hard and fast. Mother shook her by the shoulder and said, "Saka, what happened?" and then "Speak to me!," but Saka just breathed hard and stared at everyone.

My grandmother -- she was the oldest woman in the tribe then, as I am now -- asked me further questions about what had happened up to the moment Saka screamed and alerted them. When I mentioned that she had spoken strange words like those of another tribe, Grandmother turned and spoke to her in the languages of several other tribes. But she did not respond at first, and when she finally spoke up again, only briefly, Grandmother shook her head and said, "I think she has been touched by a spirit, and is speaking spirit language."

"Don't you know spirit language?" I asked naively.

"The spirits have as many languages as people, girl."

Grandmother stayed with me and Saka and told the other women to get back to gathering. We held her hands and comforted her, and spoke with her even though she hardly responded, for the span of time it takes the sun to go halfway across the sky. The other women got farther away and out of sight.

Finally, as the sun neared the horizon, Grandmother said, "We must return to camp. You'll need to help me with her if she won't walk there under her own power."

But she stood up and followed us when we made ready to go. As we went, she looked around us as if she'd never seen anything before. Now and then she would say something in her strange language.

The hunters had already returned to camp before us, and they had had a good hunt. Each of them carried a big hunk of aurochs meat, and two of the biggest men dragged the remainder of it. We ate well that night, but Saka only picked at her food, eating a few berries and mushrooms, making a face at the taste of roots, and gagging at the sight of the grubs.

Saka had been sleeping with one of the young men, Qeru, since not long after she became a woman. But when Qeru sat down beside her at supper and put a friendly hand on her thigh, she recoiled from him and put her arms around me. I hugged her back, and told Qeru what had happened. He was dismayed, but said, "If she has been touched by a spirit, I should not sleep with her until the spirit goes away."

That night Saka slept with me for the first time in a long while. I was comforted by her presence, and I hoped she was comforted by mine. I woke up during the night a couple of times to hear her softly weeping, and hugged her, murmuring softly to her that I loved her even though she probably couldn't understand me.

The next day, some of the older men and women stayed in camp to finish dealing with the aurochs' hide and bones, while the young men went hunting and the younger women went out to gather. Saka followed me closely. When we crossed a brook, she paused a long while, looking at her reflection and then running her hands over her face and breasts and shuddering.

"Come on," I said, "I see a berry patch over there." She followed me and watched what I did. I had to correct her a couple of times when she picked unripe berries. She seemed to have forgotten everything.

After a little while, she pointed to one of the berries in her left hand and said a word. Then she looked at me expectantly.

"Blackberry," I said, pointing at it. She pointed to a leaf of the berry bush and said another word, and I said "Leaf." Later on, I told Grandmother what she had been doing, and she nodded approvingly.

"We must all help her relearn people language," she decreed, and then all the women started pointing to things and saying their names, and that night in camp, some of the men did the same.

It was well into winter before she began speaking in complete simple sentences, and near the end of the following summer before she could explain what had happened to her that strange day. By then, she had learned how to tell edible plants from inedible, and gotten over her distaste for most of the things people eat, though she still refused to eat grubs or insects. When the women sang as we gathered, or when the whole tribe sang together in the camp at morning or evening, she joined in, but sometimes she sang songs in her own language. She never slept with Qeru or any other man, always with me.

One evening near the end of summer, when a few of the leaves were beginning to turn, she told us her story.

"One day, when your granddaughters' granddaughters are long dead, and their granddaughters' granddaughters too, and all the aurochs and cave bears and mammoths are dead, leaving only small deer and rabbits and a few of the smaller bears, a boy will be born. In that far off time, people do not live like they do now. They stay in one place, mostly, and don't travel all the time like we do. They make plants grow where they want them to instead of taking them as they find them. They make cattle and sheep live in certain confined fields so they can find them and kill them easily. They make artificial caves out of tree parts and live in them all year, not just in the winter.

"The boy will grow up and become a man, and one day he will be digging a hole to find old things. The people of that time dig holes to find old things that the people of past years left behind. They do this to find out how people of past years lived. He will find a round silvery thing bigger than a man's fist and smaller than a baby's head, and pick it up and look at it. The next moment, he will see it turning dull and crumbling to dust in hands that are suddenly much smaller and darker colored. He looked around and saw that he was in a strange place, a meadow on the edge of a forest, with a girl nearby and other women not far away, and that he was now a young woman. That man was me."

Grandmother asked, "Then you -- the man you were -- has not been born yet?"

"Nor his grandmother's grandmother's grandmother, for as many generations as you could name if you talked till the sun rose."

"Are things really so different in that time?" I asked.

"More different than you could imagine."

We all had many questions for her, and she tried to answer them all, but many of her answers made no sense. The questions continued all the next day as we women gathered, and the next night in camp, and on for many days.

After that time, Saka began showing us her wisdom. She peeled bark from certain trees and showed us how to scratch patterns on it to represent language, so a person could make marks as they spoke and another person could look at it later and know what the person said. (Saka never spoke as she made the marks, but everyone else does.) Later on, we made marks on the walls of our winter caves too, or carved them into wood. She showed us how to plant seeds of berries and other edible plants and make them grow where we would be able to find them the next spring or summer. And later, she found rocks that would melt in the fire and produce gold, silver and copper. She showed us how to build houses and weave cloth. You cannot imagine how different the world is now from when I was a little girl.

Many years later, when some of you were little boys and girls, and some of you were not born yet, she became pensive as we sat around the fire one night. She had drunk too much of the fermentations she had shown us how to make. "I wonder if this will have any effect at all," she said. "All I've taught you. If this tribe is wiped out in the next generation or two by a plague or a hostile tribe, there might be no effect on history at all. But if you survive and teach what I've taught you to other tribes, maybe everything I remember will happen much sooner, and then more besides. We might reach far-distant stars long before I was born the first time around. Or we might kill ourselves with nuclear fire." She sometimes used words from her own language, and sometimes she would explain them, but she refused to explain that one.

Later that winter, she died. The whole tribe mourned for many days. But she left us many sheets of birch bark with language-markings on them, and it is our task to copy all of them onto the cave walls before the birch bark decays. There is wisdom there that your granddaughters' granddaughters will still be learning how to use.

What's that, Tari? No, she never learned to eat grubs.

* * *

Trismegistus Shandy is the author of forty-eight transgender stories, totalling more than 800,000 words, available on Smashwords, Amazon, BigCloset, TGStorytime, Shifti, and Fictionmania. They’re currently working on rewrites to an expansion of their earlier mixtape story “Free”.

* * *

~~Exploit~~

By Tessarion

* * *

While I know most people are still reeling from the revelation, I, for one, was glad to hear that we’re all just living in a simulation. And was going to be even more glad in a few minutes, once my Exploit was finished.

Of course, I think that’s because most people haven’t figured out the advantage to our situation.

I wasn’t sure how the Simulation was discovered -- it had something to do with Planck-length resolution (or lack thereof), as apparently our universe is only rendered so finely -- but while the theologians were all in a tizzy, a couple more perceptive souls decided to go back and reexamine various arcane and esoteric texts. Because, after all, every simulation has errors written into it- and a good enough hacker will figure out how to make use of those errors. And maybe the magicians of old already had, even if they didn’t know why they worked.

Thus, glitchcraft was born.

It hadn’t taken me that long to find a decent SimHacker -- they were slowly growing in popularity and visibility, as news of the miracles they could work spread. Getting on one’s schedule, however, took a bit more doing. However, I was no stranger to hard work -- I’d made it through my own transition, after all -- and my eyes were ever on the prize.

The fellow’s name was James. He seemed like a nice enough guy, well-groomed, certainly not one thinks of at the word “hacker” or, for that matter, “sorcerer.” He met me in Biloxi, Mississippi, wearing a black dress shirt and slacks. “I normally wear a bit more color,” he confessed to me soon after, “but people have their expectations of what a mage is going to look like.”

Why Biloxi? Who knows. Exploits require a seemingly random assortment of conditions -- be in the right place, with the right objects, the right key phrases and actions, at the right time. You just kind of accepted it. There were no small number of scammers, but James had run this sort of Exploit before, and several of my friends in my community had vouched for him.

We got straight down to business. He took me out to a remote agricultural field -- and despite his sterling reputation, I still clutched my pepper spray tightly. He then spent an hour or so arranging various objects- an old radio, a piece of wood from one of the few trees that grows in the Sahara, a lump of rock I couldn’t identify, several gallons of freshly squeezed peach juice. I mostly just stood around, awkwardly.

At 9:07PM, he told me it was time to start the ritual. He directed me to the center of the seemingly random pattern he’d created with the objects, and began directing me through several movements -- blink twice, stretch out your right leg, recite these words, etc. Then he ran to the perimeter of the field, and shouted at me to repeat a few words that sounded like nonsense syllables.

I didn’t blame him for running.

I repeated the words he’d told me.

And then my world caught fire.

I was surrounded by a nimbus of golden fiery light, blinding in intensity. The air became violent around me, filled with hisses and snaps of static electricity, as little forks of lightning snaked back and forth.

It turns out when you use an Exploit, it causes a sort of localized crash in the Simulation. There are presumably plenty of built-in protocols to minimize the effect of the Exploit, but it seems they deal with whatever values are corrupted by translating them into randomly selected new values. In practice, this sort of randomization means a lot of molecules in the vicinity of the Exploit target (i.e., me) are suddenly very random, often very high, temperatures. They’re dangerous to be around, and often discouraged for this reason -- it was like being next to an open and totally unregulated blast furnace.

Fortunately, being the center of the crash, I wasn’t affected by those (no one knew precisely why), but that isn’t to say the pain wasn’t immense. It was like every atom was slowly ripped from my body, and then replaced. While I knew consciously that perhaps less than ten seconds passed, it felt like an eternity.

And then, suddenly, it was over, and I was lying naked in the center of a small crater. James came running over to check on me, bathrobe in hand. He’d done this before.

“Here,” he said, handing me the robe. “I’d have more clothing, but I can’t tell in advance what your measurements are going to be.”

I shakily rose to my feet, took the robe, and examined myself in detail, a little too dazed still to care that James was seeing me naked.

I loved what I saw. I was maybe four or five inches shorter, my shoulders narrower, my breasts fuller, my hips wider. I was so much more slender, delicate...feminine. As trans women go, I was lucky I’d had a willowy build before, but this felt so much closer to what I’d always dreamed of.

“Thank you,” I said to James, wiping the tears from my eyes. My voice sounded like a natural mezzo-soprano -- I no longer needed to work so hard to get the right pitch and resonance out.

“You’re welcome. You’re probably the first post-transition person I’ve had come through, but I guess I can see why you’d want a cis body if at all possible.”

“I’m glad you get it. Not everyone does.” I smiled at him. My God, I thought, I could actually carry a child now! And get the benefit of a fully enervated clitoris! And just feel at home in my body, totally, with no reservations.

I put the robe on, grabbed my purse, and headed back to James’ car. On the drive back to my hotel, I blissfully fell asleep -- the most peaceful sleep I’d ever had.

* * *

Tessarion is a happily married trans lesbian and scientist, trying to eke out a living as a PhD student. Her hobbies include burlesque dancing, writing, running, and singing. She currently resides in the wild deserts of Arizona with her wife, as well as a mastiff-mix who think he's a lapdog, and a rather aloof bearded dragon. Most of her fiction inevitably ends up dealing with trans topics; on TGStorytime, she’s the author of “New Year’s Eve”, “Tournament Day”, and “Escape Velocity.”

* * *

~~Loot Box~~

by M. A. Thermidor

* * *

“In other news, Earth’s first extra-terrestrial company, 3 Alien company has reported at 20% increase in sales of their flagship product, the ‘Loot Box’. While many people still criticise the so called ‘unfair advantage’ that 3.A’s sole product gives, more people each day are estimated to be purchasing Loot Boxes for a chance to obtain one of the many wondrous items inside.” With a flick of his wrist and the press of a button, Rex turned off the kitchen TV, silencing the morning news report. He tossed his empty bowl into the sink and double checked the time.

“About time I get going,” he yawned. Five minutes later he was standing on the porch of a not too different from his own. Rex yawned again as he rang the doorbell of his buddy, Dirk. After a short wait he got bored and tried the door. It was unlocked so he let himself inside the suburban bungalow.

“Yo, fat ass, I’m here,” Rex called out as he kicked open Dirk’s bedroom door. “What did you call me here for?”

Sitting on his bed cross-legged with his phone in his hands was Dirk. Despite having the nickname ‘fat ass’, he wasn’t at all fat, just lazy. His brown hair had a bad case of bed hair, and he’d not shaved since yesterday morning, but Rex couldn’t care less about his friend’s appearance.

“It’s my birthday,” Dirk explained.

“Oh yeah, so it is… so why am I here?”

“Well, I got some money from my relatives, so I decided I’d order some Loot Boxes to treat myself.” Dirk pressed something on his phone with an excited grin.

“You didn’t…” Rex groaned fearfully. His worst fears were confirmed when a beam of light landed in the centre of the room which then materialised into a black box marked on all sides with the 3.A logo. The box was one cubic foot in size. You could order them online using the 3.A. app. The app was so simple even a child could use… much to the dismay of whoever’s credit card was registered to it. They were then beamed down from 3.A’s orbital warehouse within seconds of the transaction going through.

“Happy birthday to me, now time to get started!” Dirk pulled off the seal and the lid of the box opened in a burst of blue confetti. The confetti vanished as Dirk reached down and pulled out his prize from the box.

“Oooooh…. So what is it?” Rex mocked as Dirk lifted the alien paint brush out of the box.

“Aww man, it’s just a crappy shader.” The brush was tipped with a hideous lime green paint. It was a one time use item that could change the colour of the first object it touched into that same hideous lime green. The brush would vanish after use. To say it was practically worthless would be an understatement.

“Next time I’ll get something good!” Dirk was back on the app, and within moments, another box had appeared. Dirk pulled off the seal, the box opened in a puff of blue confetti, and Dirk lifted out another worthless item.

“Oh wow, another shader, how much did you spend again?” Rex teased. “See, this is why we are the ones now building their warships. We gave them all our money, and then they pay us to…”

“Yeah, yeah, slavery with extra steps. Alright, this time for sure!” Dirk wasn’t listening. Rex watched as history repeated itself. Dirk ordered another box, opened it to a puff of blue confetti, lifted out something that was worthless, and ordered another box. This time however when he pulled off the seal the box exploded in a puff of silver confetti.

“Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!” He lifted out what looked like thick marker pen. There was a lot of writing on the side, which Dirk began reading through carefully.

“What is it?” Rex asked.

“Oh! It’s an ability unlock!” He pulled off the lid then jabbed himself in the side of the neck with a short needle. The contents of the pen were injected into him. He then grabbed a handful of tennis balls from his sports bag and began juggling five of them at once.

“Ta-dah, I can do this now!” Dirk, who had struggled to juggle three before, was now juggling five balls with absolute ease. That was the unfair nature of the Loot Boxes. Skills people spent years earning could now be picked up in seconds. Of course, if you actually wanted to learn how to juggle with no effort or practice, the chances of you getting lucky obtaining what you wanted were so small that you were better of just learning it the old-fashioned way. However, if you did, then you’d always feel bitterness towards those who got for free what you had to work hard for. 3.A had learned the perfect way to exploit humanity. Their generous donations to political parties ensured no laws would ever be passed to stop them.

“Okay, one more,” Dirk said.

“Sure…” Rex knew it wouldn’t be one. Dirk opened the new box to another puff of blue confetti.

“Well, this is rubbish, okay I’ll go until I get something decent.” That was a sure-fire way to empty your bank account. As one could imagine, all purchases from 3.A were final. There were no refunds or exchanges. You got what you got and that was it. All items received were locked to the original purchaser so there was no secondary market. Another puff of blue confetti, followed by another one. Dirk lifted out two coloured contact lenses. Unlike human-made coloured contacts, these ones merged with yours eyes harmlessly, permanently changing your eye colour until another lens was used.

“So how much money did you say you got for your birthday?” There couldn’t have been much of it left now.

“$80.”

“And how much have you spent already?”

“$90.” And for what? The ability to juggle, a few paintbrushes and a pair of contact lenses. It was that lack of satisfaction that 3.A preyed upon.

“Finally!” Rex caught sight of a puff of gold confetti. A ‘Mega Rare’ item as 3.A marketed it as. Rex peeked over as Dirk lifted out a glowing hat. It was a fedora, one that emitted a rainbow light from its colour changing fabric. Dirk proudly put it atop his head with a chuffed smile.

“Good day to you sir. My, what such drab garments you wear, have you considered visiting the local haberdashery?” The hat didn’t make its wearer speak posh, Dirk was just being an ass.

“Hey, a new hat, well done. Can we go out and do something now?”

“Ah well… I don’t have any money left... so I can’t.”

Rex facepalmed. “Oh? Why is that?” he hissed through his teeth.

“Because… I have a new hat!” In that moment something inside Rex broke.

“You know what, you’re right. I should just waste all my money on useless crap.” He pulled out his own phone and accessed the 3.A store app. Another beam of light shone through the ceiling as another Loot Box materialised.

“Oh boy, I hope I get something completely and utterly worthless to justify the money I just spent.” Rex sounded like he’d gone insane.

“Alright I get it,” Dirk replied. Rex pulled the seal, ready to praise whatever crap he found. There was an explosion of platinum confetti as Rex shoved his hand into the box and pulled out… a blow-up doll?

“The fuck…” Rex looked at the deflated woman’s spooky face. Upon closer inspection he realised it was what appeared to be an empty skin.

“Wow, holy shit dude, you got a skin! Those are like the rarest things you can get!” Dirk explained. Rex looked at the hollow body of this woman. He’d heard that you could get some weird prizes from the Loot Boxes. He wasn’t expecting this.

“So I just put it on?” He turned it around and found there was large hole in the back.

“Yeah. Aww man, how unfair. I opened way more than you,” Dirk complained. He wanted to order more Loot Boxes in hopes of getting something equally good, but he’d spent all he could. Rex found the whole ‘skin’ thing a bit weird, but seeing Dirk so annoyed he knew he just had to flaunt it. He tossed his jacket to the side and took off his shoes, then stripped down to just his vest and boxers. He put his hand through the hole in the back of the skin. The inside of the skin was so smooth and frictionless. It felt like it was stretching to accommodate. His hand wore hers like a glove. He put his other hand through then stepped over and slipped in his legs. He pushed his head through the gap in the neck and aligned his eyes, mouth, nose and ears with that of the skins. A ticklish feeling ran across his body.

“How do I look?” Rex taunted. He did a ‘sexy’ pose, taking a moment to appreciate the female body he was now inhabiting. 3.A technology was so strange. From the outside he looked like a normal woman. No creases beneath her skin, no lump in her neck or bulge at her crotch, it was as if the skin had compressed his body.

“It feels like I’m wearing nothing at all.”

“Well… you’re not.” Dirk wasn’t sure if he should look or not. He knew that beneath was his best mate, but it was still a healthy naked woman standing in his bedroom. Everything was on show. Rex laughed at his friend’s awkwardness.

“Alright, this is fun.” He tried to slip out of the skin, but the skin moved with his body. He reached behind to feel for the hole he’d entered through. “Help me out of here, would you?” He turned around to get Dirk’s assistance.

“Um… help you out how?”

“Help me find the exit hole.” Rex continued running his hands across his back in search of it.

“Oh… there isn’t one.” Dirk had witnessed the hole close and vanish as the skin moulded around Rex’s body merging with him.

“Huh?” Rex’s hands stopped, then began moving more furiously and began desperately searching for the hole. Desperate to escape, Rex grabbed a pair of scissors. He tried to cut himself out, but as he pierced the skin it was his blood that came out.

“To get out of the skin you need a special tool.” Thank God there was a way out.

“And? How do I get one?” Rex asked.

“Well… you can only get them from Loot Boxes.”

And that was the story of how 3.A ensnared another customer.

* * *

MA Thermidor is the author responsible for literary abominations such as Creation Unleashed, A Night Not Remembered and most recently Operation Cyber V. With an inconsistent writing style, constant spelling errors and a record for stories gone unfinished you know you’re dealing with unprecedented quality when reading their works.

* * *

~~Someone’s In The Library~~
- a Debbie Delaney Story

another tiny story by Bobbie C

someone-in-the-library.pnga note to the reader: to have some background about Debbie
Delaney and Dr. Lewis Tully’s Flagstaff University team, feel
free to read the previous Debbie Delaney stories called
“A Ghost At The Movies” and “My Night At The Cemetery”.
You can find them in two previous TG Mixed Tape
anthologies, titled “Tell Me How I Can Sing Like A Girl” and
“Dead Man’s Party” -- Bobbie C

* * *

After that thing with the vampire, my reputation, and the reputations of Dr. Lewis Tully and his team, have just continued to grow.

That became painfully obvious when I made my way to the student dorm where Dr. Tully got me a room to stay in for the duration of the event. There were about three dozen people by the gate, apparently waiting for me. At least they were polite enough, but as soon as they saw me, they started badgering me about how it felt to fight the “malevolent” ghost in the movie house, or how I killed the vampire.

I didn’t know how to respond, and had to wonder where they’ve been getting their information. I asked them this point blank, and they said they get the Parapsychological Association’s quarterly newsletter. One of them handed me the latest one, and I leafed through it and found the piece about “the real ghostbusters” – obviously, it was about us, though it didn’t mention anyone by name except for Dr. Tully.

Before I could do anything except scan the article, the girl who handed it to me asked me to autograph the magazine. I didn’t know how to turn her down so I just signed it and gave it back.

My “fans” couldn’t follow because only residents were allowed in, so I had a bit of a respite, and I had time to prepare for this shindig. Any excuse to wear a dress, you know, lol – one gets tired of pants all the time. I even got Dr. Tully to reimburse me for the one I just bought… I’m attending this thing for him, after all. The least he could do was buy the dress for me, heehee.

Per instructions, I got my camera and fitted one of the special lenses – guess he wanted to show off his tech. I picked the 80-125mm - a good walking-around lens. The camera incongruously hung around my neck, and didn’t complement my haute couture dress. Oh, well.

I met up with Helen, Lucy and Jackson in the university’s Dana Barrett Memorial Library, a very large library whose walls were lined with shelves full of books, and appointed with rich carpeting, expensive-looking vintage lamps, fixtures and furnishing, and large, expensive-looking oil paintings. (I wasn’t enough of an art connoisseur to recognize the names on them.) With the study tables and chairs removed, the place was big enough to play basketball in.

Dr. Tully and I, Jackson, our electronics guy, Helen, the tall, giggly blonde who’s our designated hacker, and Lucy, our ass-kicking brunette, made up doc’s own little ghostbusting team.

We didn’t use proton packs or like that, and except for my camera lenses with the greenish glass, we had nothing in the way of ghostbusting tools. Nevertheless, after taking down that vampire in the cemetery, rescuing that ghost from that movie house, and “properly” documenting them, we were at least genuine ghostbusters. The guys were jazzed about that, whereas I tried to keep a low profile to maintain my reputation as a legitimate photographer and newsperson. No one had twigged yet except those who read that damn newsletter apparently and, to use a phrase, that lunatic fringe didn’t count.

Anyway, here we were, standing around in this fancy library and sipping drinks. Mine was just Sprite in a tall Collins glass so I could walk around and not get drunk and fall on my ass. Walking around in a tight dress was a skill I hadn’t mastered yet.

This was the university’s little yearly fundraiser, when the faculty brought out their pet projects and paraded them to potential patrons and sponsors. This year, it included Dr. Tully and his electromagnetic detection and ranging technology. The technology jumped weather detection, radar, ECGs, and X-ray imaging by at least a generation, and, incidentally, allowed us to see ghosts and other paranormal stuff through the doc’s funky camera lenses (other than that, though, they worked pretty fine as regular EF lenses).

So we smiled and shook hands with the academics and captains of industry that filled the place, and we listened to the boring speeches. Dr. Tully’s speech was the best of the lot, but that didn’t say much.

Instead of just standing around and pretending to have a good time, I thought I could actually be useful. An undergrad had been drafted to be the event’s photographer but he clearly didn’t know what he was doing, so I decided to help out.

So as I took pictures of the speakers (with special attention to Dr. Tully, of course) and the VIPs, I noticed one particular woman across the room.

She was very beautiful, in an aristocratic kind of way. And was dressed vaguely like Jackie Onassis when she was still Jackie Kennedy. She was so drop-dead gorgeous, that I wondered why the PHDs and doctoral candidates and CEOs and VCs weren’t all over her and vying for her attention.

She noticed me and smiled in delight, and started vamping and primping for me. I laughed and started taking lots of pictures of her.

She clearly enjoyed the attention, and acted like it was a fashion shoot just about her.

And as I happily clicked away, and she laughed and primped and giggled, I slowly made my way across the room to get close to her. The people who kept walking in between us were irritating me, and I needed to get closer since I only brought the 80-125. I should have brought the super-zoom one.

I continued clicking away, and as I did, one of the guests – the academy president, I believe – approached her, and actually walked through her!

I stopped in shock, and as I looked at her, she looked at me with incredible sadness, and faded away.

---o0o---

Later, after the event was over, Dr. Tully and the team met with me in a nearby bar, and I told them about it.

The guys looked at each other with expressions that said, “Ohhh! So that’s why Debbie was taking pictures like that!” Because all they saw was me taking pictures of nothing.

Everyone took their turn with my camera and looked through the pictures I took, the doc being the last.

“You know,” Tully said, “I think I know her.”

He brought out his big valise and got out what looked like a thick, glossy catalog, but instead of being a fashion catalog, it was the Barrett Conservatory’s newsletter from last year – which was all about the institute and the programs it was helping to fund.

He opened it to an article about the Dana Barrett Memorial Library, and along with text describing it as a “haven for brilliant academics and intellectuals,” there were several pictures of the library. In the beginning of the piece was a portrait-picture of Mrs. Dana Barrett, the young wife of the patron and benefactor of the library, former Senator Barrett, who passed away in 1966. The ghost was Dana Barrett.

---o0o---

We agreed to meet up in the library later that night, and per the doc’s instructions, I brought my camera with the doc’s widest wide-angle lens attached, and a gorilla pod.

Having changed into something lots more comfortable, I rushed over. I was the last to arrive.

The guys had arranged five chairs on one side of a large table, and a big projector and screen on the other, but about five meters away.

Dr. Tully had me mount my camera on my little tripod, put it on the desk on the opposite side from the chairs, and facing away. I set the focus-point midway between the camera and the screen. And switched on live-view. Jackson then attached the camera to the projector. And we saw Jackson projected on the large screen, with the picture-in-picture-in-picture effect that you get when you focus a camera onto a TV screen. I adjusted my angle so we only saw one Jackson instead of dozens.

Belatedly, I noticed a laptop on a coffee table near the screen, as well as a monitor on the table.

We took our seats and waited. And after 15 minutes of waiting, we started to feel silly.

“Mrs. Barrett?” I called, a bit impatiently. “I’m Debbie Delaney. I was the one who took your pictures earlier. Do you remember? I’m with Dr. Lewis Tully from the university, and my friends Helen, Lucy and Jackson. Please don’t be frightened. We mean no harm. We just want to meet you, maybe get to talk to you. Please come out…”

After minutes of cajoling, the ghost relented and her image faded into the screen. And with a good angle to and from the screen and the camera, it was like we were looking at her in real life.

She waved and said hello. We could tell by the lips. And then she said something longer and we couldn’t understand it.

“Mrs. Barrett?” Dr. Tully said, “we cannot hear what you’re saying. Can you see if you can type on that keyboard over there? Maybe we could talk that way.”

She went to the laptop and typed, but clearly it wasn’t working.

“Oh… that’s too bad,” he said. “Well… anyway, let’s forget that for now. I’m Lewis, as Debbie said, and we know who you are. But… do you know who you are? I mean what you are now? That you are a ghost?”

She nodded sadly.

“Well, how long have you known?”

She held up her hands, palms facing forward and fingers splayed.

“Ten? Ten years?”

She closed them into fists, then splayed them again.

“What… oh, you mean another ten. So twenty?”

She popped her hands again two more times.

“My God, you’ve been stuck here for forty years?”

She nodded again, sat down and cried into her hands. It was sad to see her like that. The fact that there was no chair for her to sit on…

“But Mrs. Barrett,” I asked. “Why? Why stay here? Why not move on?

She held her hands palm upwards and shrugged. She said some more but we couldn’t understand it. Still, we understood from context.

“She doesn’t know how,” Lucy said to Helen. Helen, the most emotional among us, started to cry quietly.

---o0o---

Over the next few days, we learned some more about what happened, about her plane accident, and, for our part, we updated her on current events. None spent more time with her than Dr. Tully (I think the doc had a crush on her, heehee). In fact, a PC with a modified Airbar, adopted to work on the doc’s EM tech, allowed her to surf the net, update herself with the latest news, watch movies and TV shows, and, most importantly, allowed us to communicate with her more easily.

The doc had it set up in a secluded part of the library where no one would notice, and during nights and on weekends, the guys and I could spend time with her and learn more about her and about ghosts and, ummm, the ghostly realm. Lol

More than that, it was pleasant chatting with her, and we all became close friends. We only noticed that we’d been “chatting” the whole night because the sun started to come out. I guess our little team had acquired a new member. I can’t imagine how our next ghost case will go.

* * *

Roberta “Bobbie” Cabot is a transgender girl from DC. She transitioned in 2004, and has been living as a girl full time ever since. With a mom from Italy, a dad from Quebec, and a spouse from Kyoto, her writing (and her speech) has been quite affected (lol) and is less than perfect. However, she doesn't really speak Italian, French or Japanese, although she can puzzle them out a bit. She is a fan of sci-fi, drama, love stories, romcoms and comedy/sitcoms, and these are the kinds of stories she looks for here in BigCloset. Her only “claim to fame” is her still-incomplete story, “Danny,” first posted in Crystal’s Storysite back in 2009.

“Danny,” and her most recent stories, “Shepherd Moon,” “Autobots Revisited” and “Drew Nance, Girl Detective - Book 1: The Secret of the Old Clock,” are all here in BigCloset.

If anyone wants to contact Bobbie, one can click “Send author a message” at the bottom of one of her story pages.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

* * *

~~Awakening Venus~~

By Hikaro

* * *

Somewhere, a figure sits upon a fabled mountain. She is beautiful; regardless of who sees her or what they picture her as, she is their perfect image of beauty. She is, however, bored of what she does. She watches one of those clicky ball desk toys bounce back and forth, the highlight of her day most of the time.

She stands and walks to the edge of the mountain. She looks down and sees the mortal plane, both figuratively and literally. The mortals' plane of existence lies beneath her, and she sees a plane flying through the clouds as well. It's been so long since she's been to the mortal realm, so long since she's cared enough to venture there.

Perhaps it's time to rectify that...

* * *

I yawned and couldn't wait for my eight hours to end. Standing over the same grill, frying the same burgers was more than annoying, but it was a job and it paid the bills and gave me a decent amount of spending money. Not gonna lie, I wouldn't have minded getting the server's pay, in addition to the tips, but Holly didn't hire men to work in the front. I would have considered it sexist if not for the fact that people genuinely didn't come if certain girls weren't working the dining area.

Sometimes, the waitress stereotype was pretty much the only way to go.

I yawned again, and so did Carlos. He said something in Spanish, then repeated it in English, "Stop that shit, man, you're giving 'em to everybody!"

I laughed. "Yeah, I've been here since five o'clock this morning, you can bitch when you're almost about to punch out for the day."

I flipped the current burger to fry up the other side. There was a basket of fries in the grease right beside the grill and some hot dogs on rollers beside the fries. We were busy, more so than usual on a Thursday afternoon. Then again, a lot of people were probably exactly where I was at the moment: Tired and and in need of something to get them through that day. The unfortunate thing was that I still had to wait before I could just settle down and eat something.

I yawned again, but this one didn’t catch on. Instead, I just continued doing what I was doing. The sheer boredom of it all was close to killing me, but I kept at it.

My mind wandered, as it often did, to what it would be like to work the dining area. Sure, taking the orders would likely be boring as hell, but the opportunity to talk to the customers would be nice. Granted, if I could be out on the floor, I’d be a woman, which meant that any guy would likely be staring or groping. How the girls put up with it, I’d never know.

I looked up at the clock and saw I only had five minutes left before the end of my shift. And lucky me, my burger was just about finished. I scooped it up with the spatula and dumped it on my bun. After that came the cheese, the lettuce and the tomatoes, and I followed that up with ranch dressing and topped it all off with the top bun. I put my burger on the plate, then plopped the fries down beside it.

I called out to Holly, “Goin’ on lunch!”

She poked her head through the window that separated the dining room from the kitchen and shouted, “One of these days I won’t let you take a lunch break at the end of your shift!”

I smirked and tossed my apron in the hamper beside the door to the locker room. “You don’t need to now, you just do because you love me that much.”

I saw her smirk as I walked past her with my tray and my food. Holly owned the place, 100%, worked for herself and herself alone. She put up with my shit because she could, because she’d always been a friend to me, ever since I’d moved to town with my folks when I was sixteen and she was the cranky old neighbor who yelled at me for leaving my bike unchained. It’ll get stolen, dumbass! she used to say. She’d hired me without an interview right out of college, because she knew I’d need a job and she needed a cook. If I’d known my birth mother, I hoped she would have been like Holly.

I sat down at an empty table and exchanged glances with Mary, Holly’s daughter. She and I had dated for a short period of time before we found out it couldn’t work and decided to stay friends. She was a mother herself, now, had a pair or twin boys that her fiance looked after when she wasn’t home. Holly had given me shit for that. Why aren’t they yours, Joseph? she’d asked. My daughter needs a man I trust, not that hippie shitstain. I knew she didn’t really feel that way about Paul, but I also knew she would rather I be her future son-in-law.

I took a bite out of my burger and immediately regretted the ranch dressing, but I was stuck with it, unless I wanted to go fry another one and work during my overtime-guaranteed lunch break, which simply was not happening.

At least the rest of the burger was good.

* * *

The figure enters the mortal feast hall and immediately sets to work examining the mortals. She sees several who wish they were elsewhere, several who want nothing more than to tell the person across from them how they truly feel. Most are simple, most are exactly what they appear to be, exactly what they choose to be.

Then she sees one in particular.

The woman she sees is what the mortals would label as “cute”. Not so attractive as to be labelled a whore upon entering the room, but certainly one who would draw a man’s eyes. She looks completely at ease with herself, to the point of almost seeming aloof. The figure sees this woman and envies her.

Then she sees that the woman she envies is not who she appears to be.

The soul is female, but the form is not. The figure doesn’t understand how this is. In her long history, she’s never seen one whose soul and form are so radically different, and this piques her curiosity. She picks a seat close to the man/woman, and prepares to learn everything she can.

* * *

I took another bite out of my burger and then looked up from the food when the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen walked into the restaurant. She was probably five-foot-three, on the slim side, though her breasts were good-sized. She wore a sleeveless, orange turtleneck sweater and a plaid green skirt that didn’t quite reach halfway to her knees. Knee-high boots and a red scarf tied around her waist completed the outfit, but her face was my main focus. High cheekbones, a cute little button nose and large green eyes that seemed to take in everything. The package was topped off by blonde hair that stopped just below her ears and shined thanks to how the lights were positioned around the dining room.

I wasn’t the only one that noticed her, either. Most people in the room turned to look at her, men and women alike. For whatever reason, this woman enticed all of us.

She walked over to a table close to me and crossed her legs as if she were waiting for someone or something. Hell, for all I knew, she was waiting on someone. Woman like that probably had men hanging off her to the point of annoyance. If I was interested in a relationship right now, I’d probably try and ask her out and likely fail because if she didn’t have a boyfriend, something was truly and deeply wrong with this world.

And so I returned to my lunch. I only had about twenty-seven minutes left before break “ended”, though I never actually took all thirty minutes. Holly still paid me for it, though. Sometimes, she treated me all too well.

The woman caught my eye again. She wasn’t doing anything, just sitting there and, strangely, watching me. Her eyes weren’t directly focused on me, but I could tell it was me she was looking at. It was both creepy and flattering at the same time. The idea that a woman that gorgeous would have her eye on me was both a shock and a welcome surprise, but the way she was looking at me disturbed me something awful.

I considered talking to her, asking her what it was she was so interested in, but something about her made me rethink that. I wasn’t a superstitious or spiritual person, but the only thing that came to mind was that there was a strange aura surrounding her. Why that was how I felt about her, I didn’t know, but it was the best way to describe it.

I finished up my burger and moved onto the fries. I had to put her out of my mind, but that wasn’t the easiest thing to do. She was hard to take your eyes off of, and that was without the weird sensations I was getting from her gaze. I wished I’d grabbed a drink, now, if only for something to give my hands to do that wasn’t just the fries. My phone was in my locker in the back, so that wasn’t happening.

The fries didn’t take as long as the burger, so I stood up, picked up my tray and walked back into the kitchen. Holly gave me a weird look, as if to ask me why it was I hadn’t tried to flirt with that woman. For some reason, I didn’t want to tell her that the woman freaked me out.

I got back to the locker room and breathed a sigh. Now all I had to do was get home and I’d be able to put that woman out of my mind for good. That was little more than a five minute drive and then I was sitting in front of my TV playing some Far Cry 5, that whole thing just another weird day behind me. No different from when Carlos brought that ferret in.

I shut the locker room door and pulled my key out of my pocket. I was just about to unlock my locker when I froze.

I wasn’t alone.

* * *

The figure examines the man/woman, uses her power to truly see what it is she’s looking at. Though physically male, this being is so obviously female, a great anomaly. In her centuries of existence, the figure has never seen this.

“You are not what you appear,” the figure says, “yet you do not seem aware of this.”

The woman asks, “What the hell are you talking about?”

The figure approaches the woman. “I see the true beauty of you, the reality of who you are, but your form does not comply. How is this?”

The woman repeats, “What are you talking about?!”

The figure touches the woman’s cheek. “This is so very unusual. I have never seen something like you. I need to help you.”

The woman looks frightened. “You’re going to… What?!”

The figure cups the woman’s face in both hands and takes a deep breath. She knows exactly what to do, but it has been some time. And never has she done this for one as unique as this woman.

This is her most interesting day in millennia.

* * *

Everything about this was confusing the hell outta me. From this woman just showing up to the fact that I couldn’t move to just what the hell she was doing to me, there was no part of this that I really understood. And when she put her hands on my face, I understood less. I couldn’t even see anything aside from her. The room around us was nothing but shadow.

That shadow didn’t last long, however. It was replaced gradually by a white void, which only served to highlight that woman. If not for the fact that I was so damn scared by what was going on, I’d be entranced by the idea that I was this close to her.

I felt some kind of numb tingling, spreading throughout my entire body. It seemed to come from her hands, as if she was… Warming me? That couldn’t be what it felt like, but it was the best way to describe it. There was a warmth to it, but that wasn’t what it was. I wanted the feeling to go away, wanted this woman to go away.

The numbness began to recede, and in its place were new sensations. I felt an odd weight on my chest, and yet overall I felt lighter. Following that discovery, I could somehow tell that my body was shaped differently. I still had two arms, two legs and a head, and I didn’t have any extra limbs or a tail or anything, but overall, I knew my body was not the one I’d entered the room with.

The woman let go of my face and backed away from me, and then I could really feel the differences. I wasn’t the man I’d been, in any way. I knew I was lighter, by what had to be a hundred or so pounds, and definitely shorter. I’d been at least a foot taller than the woman, but she was now a few inches taller than me. The most immediate differences, of course, were the breasts that now hung from my chest. They would look small on someone like Mary, who was almost as tall as I used to be, but seemed huge to me, especially from this angle.

“You have been freed,” the woman said, her tone sounding nothing if not triumphant. Why the hell had she even done this to me?!

To my surprise, I actually screamed, “What the fuck did you do to me?!” Though, honestly, I knew what she’d done to me, it was why I was having trouble with.

She looked genuinely surprised. “You did not know? You knew nothing of the beauty hidden within you?”

Beauty? Was her idea of beauty just turning men into women? “I wasn’t the best looking guy, but I kinda enjoyed it!”

Her eyes widened. “You poor thing… You were not meant to be the man you believed yourself to be. Certainly, you knew this?”

“I…” I stopped myself. I’d often had a curiosity toward being a woman, but never anything that would have led me to want to be one.

“You know of what I speak.” That wasn’t a statement. “You are now that which you should have been, that which you were meant to be. You are now complete.”

I took a wobbly step forward, my center of balance off just a little, and tried to grab for her, but I came up a little short. Instead, I just groaned and said, “But I didn’t really want this!”

She touched my face again, but thankfully she didn’t freeze me again. “You will come to see, come to understand.”

I sighed. I guess changing me back wasn’t something she wanted to do. “Look, I can’t… People know me as a man!”

“And they will come to know you as your true self. They will see you as you are now.”

I wanted to hurl this woman through a window. “You… You really don’t seem to understand me,” I said. It was about then that I realized just how different my voice had become.

She scowled. “I have not visited the mortals for your entire history to be told I am wrong, my dear.”

Mortals? Our history? What the hell was she… Why the hell was I even questioning this? She’d just turned me into a woman, for fuck’s sake, maybe she really was some sort of immortal something. “Fine,” I groaned out, “maybe this is for my own good.”

“That is exactly right. And now, I shall go and see if there are any others such as you.” She turned away from me toward the door.

“Who even are you?” I asked.

She turned back to face me. “Venus, of course. You mortals seem to be far too ignorant of your own history.” She added a smile and a wink to the end of that.

Not two seconds after that, she was gone and I was alone with the new me. I took stock of the woman in the mirror and saw that she mostly resembled me. I could pass for my sister if necessary. Venus, whatever the hell she was, had even changed my clothes, too. The outfit felt awkward, but didn’t make me look out of place.

As I was about to go out the back entrance, Holly burst into the locker room. “Joseph! If you and that woman are still going at it back here, I’m gonna havta charge you for it!” When her eyes locked on me, I thought she was going to have a heart attack.

After a long silence, I nervously asked, “Can I switch to dining room for about a week?”

* * *

Hikaro does not exist, you’re all imagining him.

* * *

~~Forgotten: Zachary~~

By Paradox

* * *

“So, honey, are you ready to head to the Academy tomorrow?” my girlfriend, Winnona, asked me. We were sitting in the park, just having finished a movie, The Phantom Knight, on our date.

“You bet I am. I spent the last few months preparing and training for this.” I stopped for a split second, thinking of my friend. “It’s too bad that Bryan was rejected, though… oh, well, he got himself rejected. I can’t help that.” I shrugged, as Bryan wasn’t really my problem.

Winnona just looked at me, a bit shocked. “Zachary… he’s your friend.”

I shrugged. “Lately, it feels like he was my friend. I’ve been so busy preparing and training that I haven’t had time to talk to him. Besides, even if I did, he would rage on how I got accepted to Project Genesis’s Abraham Lincoln Academy and he didn’t. Trust me, all Bryan is is a selfish hothead,” I admitted. Sure, it was harsh for me to say, but it was dang truth.

Winnona, on the other hand, didn’t seem to share that view. She simply looked away from me and I watched a tear slip through before she brushed it away. That was strange. Winnona always agreed with me when it came to Bryan, even before the interview. But this show of emotions was strange and uncalled for in this situation. Something wasn’t right, but I wanted to shrug it off. Maybe Winnona, during my training to prepare my ability, which was telekinesis, for the Academy, and ultimately, Project Genesis, had made friends with Bryan.

“You’ve got a year left at Providence Meadows. What are you doing afterwards?” I questioned ‘Winnona’. Of course I already knew the answer.

“Uh… I’m joining the Forest Restoration Project,” she correctly said. It made sense, as her ability was nature-based.

I would’ve accepted this, but by now, I was beginning to suspect that Bryan was playing a part in this. His ability allowed him to take the form of anybody he wanted, and if he touched them, he could receive some of their memories. So I needed to ask more questions to make sure Winnona was actually Winnona and not Bryan pranking me in order to spite me, “Remind me, which country?”

She seemed puzzled for a moment, then in a quick panic, said, “Sudan.” I instantly glared, suddenly overcome by sheer anger. Winnona was not going to Sudan. No one was, as the civil war there made things too dangerous for travel. She was going to Vietnam. It could be an off day for her...

I always hated stray thoughts. Maybe that was true, but I had one more thing to test. “Oh, never mind. How about we go get some fries?”

“Sure,” she responded.

Instantly, I was on my feet, using my ability to blow ‘Winnona’ back onto a tree, pinning her there. “Wrong. Winnona despises fries, so drop the fucking act, Bryan,” I demanded.

‘Winnona’ sighed; her body shivered and suddenly, a girl became a boy, and Bryan appeared in street clothes. Enraged, I used my ability to throw him from the tree into the pool, then back out, letting him drag along the ground. I was beyond reasonable, I was more than enraged. “How could you?” I screamed, “How could you fuck with me like that?” He tried to speak, but I wouldn’t let him. Winnona was the love of my life and the fact that Bryan did this was beyond forgivable. “You worthless shit, you have pulled many pranks, but this one crosses the line, big time.”

“Dude, calm down!” Bryan yelled, but I refused. Bryan had done it this time; he needed to be punished. I threw him up in the air, holding him there, taking notice of that medallion he always wore. In fact, I never recalled a time where he took it off. Well, since he did this to me, I was going to return the favor by taking that medallion. I reached out my hand to summon the medallion to me. The chain snapped, but Bryan cupped it with his hands. “No, Zachary! Don’t!”

“Don’t? You fucking tricked me. You played with my emotions, and lords know what you did to Winnona. You are going to pay, Bryan. And to start it out, I’m going to take that medallion of yours,” I hissed.

“NO, Zachary… look, just calm down and let’s talk about this,” he begged. But I wasn’t listening. Bryan may have been a level 4, but I was as well, perhaps even more powerful than him. It didn’t take much for me to mentally pry it from his hands. The instant the medallion made contact with my hand, a flash of light blinded me for a brief second. When I regained my sight, I was on longer in the park, but rather, in some place that looked like a city. A city that was on fire. I was so shocked by the sudden change that I dropped the medallion and found myself back in the park with a sudden headache.

“What… was that?” I mumbled. As I struggled to make sense of that brief sight, Bryan dropped to the ground, quickly gaining balance, and charging.

“Susy, PLAN B!” he yelled. A girl stepped out from behind the bathroom and threw something high. Bryan jumped up and caught it. I reached up to throw him back, but discovered my abilities did not work. He quickly spun around and punched me hard in the face, sending me on my ass. “I said calm down!” he demanded.

“Calm down? You punched me, you played with my feelings by taking the form of my girlfriend, and YOU HAVE A FUCKING ZUNUOISE!” I spat.

Bryan sighed, “Just a tiny sliver, just incase my plan failed and you freaked. But that doesn’t matter right now. Just let me explain,” he pleaded.

“Screw that.” I got up. “You are a despicable person. Why the fuck would I listen to you?” I didn’t bother waiting for him to answer. I wanted to get as far as I could from this person as I could.

“Because…” Bryan started to say as I walked away, “Because Winnosa is cheating on you.”

I spun around, suddenly interested, “What did you say?”

Bryan looked around sheepishly. “She’s cheating on you with that senior Franky. She wasn’t even going to tell you.”

I really didn’t know what to think about this. I wanted not to believe it, that Bryan was lying. However, Bryan was the worst liar in history and I could easy pick it up when he was. Right now, his words held truth. “How long?”

He simply shrugged, “I don’t know. I only found out a week ago, and that simply wasn’t one of the memories that I received.”

“So why do this?” I questioned, then I noticed the girl who had throw the sliver to Bryan come walking up, “And who is she?”

“She? Oh, that’s Susy. She transferred to the school a few days after the interview. Since neither one of us had friends to talk to, we started hanging out.” Bryan handed the sliver back to Susy, who locked it in some sort of pouch, immediately removing its effects on me, “And for this, well, I truly apologize. You see, from what I know, she wasn’t even going to show up tonight. Franky had invited her to some party and she figured that not coming with you tonight was as good as breaking up with you. Now, I saw what the last breakup did to you, and I didn’t want you to go through that again. I figured that once you left, I would wait a few weeks, then quietly ‘break up’ with you.”

I recalled my last girlfriend, Alexis, and what happened then. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure I had gotten over it yet, “So, you took her form and went on a date with me? Dude, that’s creepy as fuck. You could’ve just told me.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t want you to be depressed on your last day here. I wanted you to have a good time, I wanted you to be happy when you left. I failed to get in, but you didn’t. Despite the last few months, you are still my friend,” Bryan said truthfully.

“You know Zachary,” Susy piped up, “In my experience, the way you’ve acted the last few months equals being a dick. But Bryan here didn’t care. He was loyal, and looked after you, even when you didn’t care enough to notice.”

I took in Susy’s words. “So, I’ve been dick to you?” I asked Bryan.

Bryan shrugged again, “Well, you did kind of throw me around the park with your ability, but in hindsight, I think we are even now.”

I suddenly realized that I did in fact attack in rage. I lost control and attacked him. All Bryan was trying to do was make sure I had a good time, and I attacked him for that. “I’m so sorry, Bryan. I attacked you and tried to take your… medallion.” The medallion, I had forgotten about it.

He reached down and picked it up, dusting the dirt off of it, “Yeah, my medallion. I’ve had it for a long time.”

Susy took a glance down at it. “I’m gonna say it again, but that thing is well over a thousand years old.”

Bryan smiled at that, “Yes, Susy, I know. You’ve told me countless times beforehand.” Suddenly Bryan looked at me, his eyes questioning, “What did you see when you touched it?” he inquired.

The burning city. That was a good question. It was a city that was on fire, but what did it mean? What did it signify? And more importantly, what exactly was this medallion? “Nothing. I didn’t see anything,” I lied. In truth, I was more concerned about the events that had just happened and my rage filled attack. Both Bryan and Susy looked like they didn’t believe me, but neither pressed me on it. “Look, Bryan. Thank you for trying, and again, I’m really sorry. Are you going to…”

Bryan caught on to what I was asking. Was he going to get me in trouble. “No. Just work on that anger.”

I nodded, now really unsure what to say. So I turned and walked away. Neither Susy or Bryan followed me. They just stood there, watching me leave. “What a crappy person I’ve been,” I whispered to myself. But still, what Bryan did, despite being well-intended, was skeevy, and it was horribly thought out. Suddenly, a thought came to me. What if Bryan had another reason to do this? One that may have had to do with that medallion?

* * *

Paradox is the author of a few other stories, all available on TGStorytime and BigCloset.

* * *

~~Afterword~~

* * *

And there you have it. It’s been awhile coming, as it seems to be fewer and fewer want to join our merry band of storytelling lunatics. It’s not going to stop us, though. Not. One. Bit.

So, onward to the next one.

Submission deadline: June 15th

Send your submissions to me, Hikaro, at [email protected] or our wonderful editor and brains of the operation, Trismegistus Shandy, at [email protected].

Rule #1) We do not talk about Fight Club
Rule #2) We do not talk about Fight Club
Rule #3) Stories are to be between 500 and 2500 words in length; they may exceed 2500 but the absolute upper limit is 4000, unless you’re wanting to post that story in multiple parts across the Tape, at which point, each part is to be no more than 2500 words
Rule #4) Anything goes, no particular theme
Rule #5) An “About the Author” style blurb is required; it may be funny or serious
Rule #6) We just simply do not talk about Fight Club

These Tapes are posted to TG Storytime, BigCloset and Fictionmania, so if you’ve got accounts on all three, let us know. If you don’t have an account on one or two of them, go ahead and make one, it’s simple as hell. If you don’t want to, well, that’s fine, too. In any case, let us know what your username is on those sites.

And with these final parting words, I’m the hell outta here. See you at the next one, bring some friends along, I’ll be the guy dancing around with a lampshade on his head.

~~Hikaro



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