Randomlifer – Chapter 6 – by lostandwhatever

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Continued from Chapter 5.

Day 2

“Morgan, Morgan, Morgan”

The next thing I knew, I was waking up again, and I could already tell, before I even opened my eyes, that something had changed again.Continue reading

Randomlifer – Chapter 3 – by lostandwhatever

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Continued from Chapter 2.

Day 1

“It Begins”

I woke up. I felt good. Even before I opened my eyes, I could tell something had changed. I felt strangely comfortable, like a weight had been lifted from me.

Then, I opened my eyes.Continue reading

Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 22 – by lostandwhatever

[vc_row][vc_column][mk_custom_box bg_color=”#ffffff” drop_shadow=”true” bg_stretch=”true”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1541148512250{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Continued from Chapter 21.

“The next day,” Chuck said. “She showed up with a giant hamster cage and put me in it. Then, she pointed that gun at me again. Wait… No, it was a different gun, like she had added some things onto the original gun. Anyhow, she pointed it at me and pulled the trigger. I was surprised when I started to get bigger. I felt my strength coming back as I got taller, and soon I was standing again. Then, I became an adult again. When she saw me back to my normal age, she let the trigger go.

Continue reading

Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 14 – by lostandwhatever

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 14
By: lostandwhatever

Continued from Chapter 13.

 

A short time later, Candice stood next to Carol in a parking lot near a large building that looked like an elongated barn with a sign on the side that read, “Contented Cow Dairy Farm.” Candice had seen the black and white Holstein cows grazing in a field on the way in and could smell their musk and manure even from the parking lot.

 

“So,” Candice said, scrunching her nose. “Why are we here?”

 

“I have good reason to believe that we’ll find the cow we’re looking for here,” Carol said. “Follow me.” She headed for the door to the building.

 

Candice dragged her suitcase behind her as she kept up with Carol. “I meant, why this farm?”

 

“Oh, well, I called the manager of the food distributor, Foodways. He gave me the name and number of the dairy processing plant that provides them with cartons of milk. I called them, and got the name and number of all the farms that send them milk. Then, I called each of the farms and asked if they had noticed any recent suspicious activity, particularly with their employees.”

 

“And, this place had ‘suspicious activity,’ right?”

 

“Bingo,” Carol said. “Two missing employees and some funny business involving a cow.”

 

“I see.”

 

“Better let me do most of the talking.”

 

“Sure.”

 

“But, don’t be afraid to speak up if you notice something. That’s why you’re here, after all.”

 

“Of course.”

 

They reached the door to the office of the dairy. Carol opened the door and held it for Candice to walk through.

 

“Thank you,” Candice said as she stepped into an ordinary looking office space and approached the secretary’s desk.

 

Carol caught up with her and introduced herself and Candice to the secretary, who promptly led them to the dairy manager’s office.

 

“Mrs. Marx,” the manager said as he shook Carol’s hand. He gave Candice a brief curious glance.

 

“Mr. Fenton,” Carol replied. “This is my colleague, Candice. Thank you for seeing us so quickly.”

 

“Call me, Carl,” he said and released their handshake. “So, what can I do for the FBI today?”

 

Candice looked at Carol quizzically for a moment until she figured out this was their cover story.

 

Carol explained, “We have noticed some potential contamination in the milk that came from your processing plant. Based on what you told me about your employees, I believe they may be involved in the contamination somehow.”

 

“This doesn’t sound like it would be an FBI matter,” Mr. Fenton said. “Is this related to the quarantine order that went out last night? Wouldn’t the FDA handle this normally?”

 

“The contaminated milk is part of a crime we’re investigating, but that is all I’m allowed to say about it. Though, we will likely involve the FDA at some point.”

 

“Isn’t that something?” Mr. Fenton said. “Well, it’s like I told you on the phone. The two men were ‘no call, no show’ this morning. Then, there was some strange behavior with one of the cows.”

 

“Can you take us to that cow?”

 

“Sure thing,” Mr. Fenton said, practically jumping to his feet.

 

It was clear from his brisk manor that he wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. No doubt, the word “contamination” had spooked him. Candice was quietly impressed by Carol’s subtle pressure to get him moving. They headed through a door that lead from the office space to what looked like a factory floor filled with gigantic metal tanks.

 

Carol said, “Tell me about the missing employees.”

 

“One of them is Hank Manning, who has been working here for a number of years now.” he said as they crossed the building. “Hank’s pretty good at his job, but he tends to rub people the wrong way. I had to give him a good talking to once or twice to straighten him out when he was getting out of line. Still, a good employee, overall.”

 

Carol nodded and wrote down a note on her pad as they reached a door to another connected building with pipes leading out of it.

 

“The other one we just hired a few weeks ago. I believe his name is Chuck Timberland. Big fella, but totally dumb.”

 

“Dumb?” Carol asked as they entered the other building. This one was filled with penned cows and reeked of barnyard smells.

 

“I mean that he couldn’t speak,” Mr. Fenton explained over the mooing and grunting of the animals. “He showed up with a woman who introduced herself as his sister. I don’t really remember her name, offhand. She explained her brother’s condition, saying he had perfect hearing and no… uh… mental handicaps, I suppose you might call them. He showed he could read and write and follow directions. All his paperwork was in order, so we hired him.”

 

The concrete floor they walked down through the cows was dirty with mud and… other substances. Candice dreaded having to clean her suitcase later.

 

“How did Chuck do?” Carol asked.

 

“The man was a model employee. Honestly, I wish I had a dozen just like him. He picked up every task we gave him almost immediately with hardly any training. Naturally, he never complained. He did spend his breaks alone, but we figured he was just shy. His sister always dropped him off on-time in the morning, and he worked to the last second of his shift when she came to pick him up.”

 

“Did the two missing men get along?” Carol asked as Mr. Fenton approached one of his employees and asked for the location of a particular identification number, which the employee promptly located.

 

Mr. Fenton returned to them and said, “Turns out the cow is in the milking parlor right now. This way.” He headed down a row of cows towards another room. “What was that you said just now?”

 

“Wait,” Carol said. “Did you just say you’re still milking the cows during the quarantine?”

 

“Of course we are,” he said. “They don’t know there’s a quarantine on. They’re still filling up with milk as usual. It would be awfully cruel not to milk them. Don’t worry. We have procedures to dispose of all the milk, safely.”

 

“I see.”

 

“What was your other question?”

 

“Did the missing men get along with each other?”

 

“Well, I never saw or heard of any problems myself until I asked around about them a couple of days back after they were no-shows. Apparently, a few of the employees said they saw Hank talking to Chuck’s sister earlier in the week as she waited in the parking lot to drive her brother home. Hank may have stood a bit close to her. She’s a stunningly beautiful lady, by the way. I could understand if a guy might… well, Hank seemed to be propositioning her, right up until Chuck showed up and grabbed him by the collar and threw him to the ground.”

 

Carol wrote down a few more notes.

 

Mr. Fenton continued, “The guys who saw it said the sister got between the two of them to calm Chuck down. Lucky thing for Hank. Chuck could have snapped him in half like a twig.”

 

“What day was that?”

 

“Monday, I believe,” Mr. Fenton said as he open the door to another large barn room with rows of cows packed tightly in elevated metal pens. Employees worked methodically to clean udders and apply some kind of octopus-like sucking device with four ends that they attached to each teat.

 

“Did they both work on Tuesday as well?”

 

“I believe so,” Mr. Fenton said as he lead them to the middle of one of the rows of cows. He checked the number on the collar of one particular cow. “Well, here she is,” he said pointing at the cow. “She’s the ‘suspicious’ one you were asking about.”

 

The cow mooed at them with a fearful look in her eyes. She struggled a bit inside her pen, but it held her firmly in place.

 

“You said you found her in the parking lot in the afternoon on Wednesday?”

 

“Yeah,” Mr. Fenton confirmed. “She walked right up to the office door and started mooing like she wanted to get back in. It’s the damnedest thing. She had no collar on, no ear tags either. None of the men had any idea how she got out there. There were no holes in the fences, and the gates were closed. But, after a bit of searching we found her collar in one of the pens.”

 

Carol added more notes.

 

“The really strange thing is the missing ear tags,” he said. “It’s not unheard of for one to get pulled out by accident, but there’s always a bloody mess to deal with when that happens. This cow’s ears were as immaculate as the day she was born.”

 

“I see you put the tags back in.”

 

“Sure we did. It’s standard procedure. She did not appreciate it, let me tell you. She’s a real fighter, this one.”

 

The cow mooed again, sadly.

 

“And, she’s quite chatty as well,” he added.

 

Carol turned to Candice, “Would you be able to examine her?”

 

Candice was startled to be suddenly pulled into the conversation, but she said, “Oh, sure.” She opened her suitcase a crack and fished around inside for her smallest magic detector.

 

“So,” Mr. Fenton said, as they stood back to watch Candice work. “Is this some kind of mother-daughter workday visit thing?”

 

“Candice is a prodigy,” Carol said, as Candice nervously approached the cow, which stared back at her. “Mature beyond her years.”

 

“I see,” Mr. Fenton said with an uncertain look on his face. “What’s that crystal thing she’s waving around in front of the cow?”

 

Carol said, “It’s… an advanced scientific device.”

 

The crystal began to glow faintly, but it was noticeable even in the well-lit milking parlor.

 

Candice nodded at Carol, and Carol pulled a pair of photographs out of her jacket pocket. “Do you recognize either of these people?” Carol asked as she held the black and white security camera images of a man and a woman up to Mr. Fenton.

 

“Well, I’ll be damned,” he said. “That’s Chuck and his sister.”

 

Candice recognized the woman. “Mary,” she said with barely concealed disgust.

 

“Yeah,” Mr. Fenton said. “That was her name: Mary.”

 

Carol put the photos back in her pocket and said, “Mr. Fenton… Carl, I need Chuck’s personnel file right now. Can you go find it for me? Please?”

 

“Uh, sure,” he said. “I’ll go check with my secretary.”

 

“Thank you,” Carol said as Mr. Fenton walked away.

 

Carol and Candice watched as a worker came by to clean the cow’s teats.

 

“What do we do?” Candice asked as she watched the cow squirm in vain.

 

“I’m wondering the same thing,” Carol said as another employee approached with the suction device to start milking the cow.

 

“Shouldn’t we stop them?” Candice asked.

 

The device was now attached to the teats, and, immediately, the milk began to flow. The cow grunted, resentfully.

 

“You heard the manager,” Carol said. “It would be cruel not to milk a cow that’s full of milk.”

 

“B-but, she’s no cow,” Candice protested.

 

Carol walked up to the cow that looked at her, desperately. “Hank?” she asked.

 

The cow went wild, mooing and bucking against her enclosing pen over and over again.

 

Carol turned to Candice. “Looks like we found our cow.”

 

To be continued…

 

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 13 – by lostandwhatever

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 13
By: lostandwhatever

Continued from Chapter 12.

Saturday, June 30th, Morning

Candice rode in the back seat of Carol’s car as Carol drove them to the Department 8 building. The bright light of dawn reflected off of passing cars, causing Candice to squint as she looked out the window. She wished she had made a pair of glamored sunglasses to hide her ears on sunny days.

 

Seeing Candice yawning, Carol asked, “How’d you sleep last night?”

 

“Not very well,” Candice admitted.

 

“Is the case keeping you up?”

“Something like that,” she said. “I must have a lot on my mind.”

 

“I know how you feel,” Carol said. “A little adrenaline and a lot of questions can mess with your sleep.”

 

“How do you deal with it?”

 

“Generally speaking, I’m too worn out by the time my head hits the pillow to do anything but sleep. Also, I’ve learned to leave work at work. Once I get home, I focus on my family. Seems to work for me.”

 

Candice nodded. “Yeah.”

 

“Did you eat?”

 

“Some cereal, the continental breakfast.”

 

“Ooh, how fancy,” Carol replied.

 

Candice did not mention the suspicious looks from the hotel staff or how she left with her breakfast half finished to avoid explaining why a supposed girl was eating her breakfast alone. “So,” Candice said, changing the subject. “What are our plans for the morning?”

 

“I thought I’d start out with a few phone calls, and then I’ll hit the road. I’ve got a few interviews I need to do and some places to check out. We need to find that cow, ASAP. You up for joining me on the trip?”

 

“Sure,” Candice said.

 

The car pulled up to the main gate of Department 8, where they were greeted by four armed guards. After a thorough search of the two of them and their vehicle, they proceeded to the building.

***

 

Carol worked her way through her calls, writing notes on her pad as she went. Meanwhile, Candice visited the conference room to check in on the transformed members of Department 8.

 

“We’re holding together pretty well considering the circumstances,” Alice said from where she stood on the table.

 

“I see,” Candice said.

 

“I mean, Ken had some trouble sleeping last night,” Alice explained. “She kept waking up and breaking into tears when she realized that all of this wasn’t a bad dream after all.”

 

Candice looked over at the little girl, Ken, dozing on a cot in the corner of the room.

 

“Can’t say much for Bill and Justin. They’ve pretty much just been standing around. They don’t seem too upset, though.”

 

It was true. The cow and chicken were pretty quiet for the moment.

 

Dr. Schultz, who had been sitting quietly in a chair near Ken, spoke up, “Are you sure this will go away soon?”

 

Candice could not be totally sure, but she said, “Yes. If it was the food, then it won’t last too much longer. You just need to be patient for now.”

 

Dr. Schultz nodded. “I’m going to get that woman,” she said as she gently brushed her hand over Ken’s hair. “She’s going down for this.”

 

The cow mooed and the chicken crowed loudly in response. “Damn straight!” Alice said.

 

“What’s all the commotion?” Carol said from the conference room door.

 

Candice said, “I think that was a bit of cheer. They’re all fired up to get Mary.”

 

“Good to hear,” Carol said. “We’re going to need you all when you’re ready.”

 

“Did your calls turn up anything?” Candice asked.

 

Carol nodded. “Grab your gear,” she said. “We’ve got some investigating to do.”

 

To be continued…

 

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 11 – by lostandwhatever

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 11
By: lostandwhatever

Continued from Chapter 10.

 

The conference room was notably silent after the noise of the Yootoob video abruptly ceased.

 

Angela broke the silence. “So, what did we notice?”

 

The blonde in the corner spoke up for the first time. “It’s the milk,” she said.

 

Someone turned the lights back on.

 

“Why do you say that, Dr. Schultz?” Angela asked.

 

“Actually, Alice said it, but, like, she wanted me to tell you all, since she’s, like, too small for you to hear her.”

 

“Is Ken awake?” Angela asked.

 

“Yeah, I’m up,” the little girl said. “I’ll put Alice on the table.”

 

“Thanks,” Angela said.

 

Ken, the little girl in the big shirt, set the doll-sized woman on the conference room table. Alice made sure to adjust the tissue she was wearing before walking over to the middle of the table.

 

“It was the milk that did it,” Alice said in her little voice. “That’s the only consistent thing through each of the videos. Play back the start of the Yootoob video again.”

 

The video started over. First, the camera focused on Amy sitting alone. Then, it turned to Jen and Brittany.

 

“Stop it there,” Alice said, and the video paused. “Look, both girls are drinking milk, and we know that Amy was also drinking milk because it was spilled on her. They were all eating different things except for the milk.” Alice turned to Carol. “You said that the daycare kids were drinking milk, right?”

 

“Yeah,” Carol said.

 

“And, all of them changed,” Alice said, “every one of them. How about the middle school kids?”

 

Carol checked her notes again. “Yes, some of them had milk as well.”

 

“And only some of them changed,” Alice said. “It’s the only thing that fits all of the situations.”

 

“It can’t just be the milk,” Steve said.

 

“It’s the only thing it can be,” Alice said.

 

“Then, why are some kids getting older and other kids getting younger?” Steve countered. “Those are two different spells.”

 

“Um, actually…” Candice started to speak, but was cut off.

 

“If there are two effects, then there have to be two causes,” Steve said.

 

“The milk is the only thing that fits,” Alice said. “It’s doing both somehow.”

 

“That might be…” Candice said, before being cut off again.

 

“Maybe what the milk does is random,” someone else suggested.

 

“All the daycare kids got older,” someone else said. “That’s not random.”

 

“Quiet!” little Ken shouted. Everyone turned to her. “I think the elf has something to say.”

 

Angela turned to Candice and said, “You are the only one who’s actually created enchantments here. What are your thoughts?”

 

Every eye in the room was focused on Candice. “Well, what I was trying to say was that Alice was right. The milk can do two things.”

 

“How?” Steve asked.

 

“It’s part of how magic works,” Candice said. “Spells work like… computer programs. They are a list of logical instructions that take inputs and give outputs. Without the instructions to follow, the spells would go wild and wouldn’t accomplish what they’re intended to do. This spell in the milk seems to have two steps to its instructions. The first step is the delay that someone spotted during the first video. When the milk enters someone’s body, it waits a few minutes before the next step of the instructions. The second step must be a conditional statement. You know, like, ‘if this is true, then make that effect happen.’ The spell detects something about the person that drank it and then uses that input to decide if that person will get older or younger.”

 

“So,” Steve said. “What’s the ‘input’ being detected?”

 

Ken said, “Puberty.”

 

Alice said, “Of course!”

 

“What?” Steve asked.

 

“The little kids got bigger and the big kids got littler,” Ken explained and yawned. “I want to go to bed,” she said and returned to Dr. Schultz’s lap.

 

Carol said, “That does fit what we know about Mary. She’s got a sadistic sense of humor. Making kids into adults and adults into kids would be just her thing. Plus, that delay on the start of the spell would make it easier for more people to be affected by it. If the kids changed immediately, then people would stop drinking their milk. That’s also good for hiding the source of the spell. Because of the delay, no one was sure at first what caused the change. I bet she was trying to confuse us even more by making two things happen with one spell. She probably thought we would go testing all the food to find both causes, which would slow us down.”

 

Angela said, “Then, this puts us a step ahead. We know the cause now, and we can track down the source of the milk.” She turned to Carol and said, “Find out where that milk came from. I want the name of the company that packaged it and the location of every single cow that made milk for it.”

 

“I’m on it,” Carol said, gathering up her things. “I’ll call Foodways to see if anyone is still there at this hour. If not, I’ll have the info tomorrow morning.” She opened the conference room door and left the room to continue her investigation.

 

As soon as she was gone, the general appeared in the doorway with his arm wrapped around a garbage can. “I’m all done,” he said. “It was a bit awkward for both of us, but she’s drained now. Where do you want me to put the milk?” he asked, nodding toward the garbage can. “There’s an egg waiting in the conference room as well.”

 

Candice felt that something seemed odd about the general. Then, it hit her. “General,” Candice said. “Didn’t your hair used to be gray?”

 

“My hair?” he said touching the dark black hair on his head. “Did something happen to it?”

 

“He’s younger now,” Angela said. “Did you eat anything in that room?”

 

“No,” he said. “Not a crumb, I swear. I didn’t drink anything either.”

 

An idea came to Candice, then, like a couple of puzzle pieces fitting together in her mind. She asked him, “You got milk on your hands just now, didn’t you?”

 

“A little bit of it,” he admitted. “It’s hard to avoid when you’re milking by hand.”

 

“I know how she did it,” Candice said. “Of course, there’s a chicken and a cow.”

 

“What do you mean?” Angela asked.

 

“There was one thing that was bothering me about the whole situation today. This was a big spell, but I never detected it with my equipment,” Candice said and nodded towards her suitcase. “You see, the other elves have been tracking Mary all over the world. Whenever she performed a large enough spell, they could pinpoint her location. They even came close to catching her one time in Europe. They followed her all the way to the East Coast of the US, but then they lost her. Either she stopped casting spells at least a month ago, or she found a way to hide her spells better. That’s why they brought me down here. I was supposed to help improve their ability to detect her magic.”

 

“What does this have to do with the chicken and the cow?” Angela asked.

 

“Eggs and milk,” Candice said. “They’re basic ingredients for making food. She could hide her spells in food, like she did with the food she left here. That’s obvious, of course, from what we saw today. The really clever thing she did was the way she enchanted the eggs and milk in the first place.”

 

“How do you think she did it?”

 

“If she had just bought eggs and milk and enchanted them, then we would have detected her. Instead, she must have transformed herself into a chicken to make eggs and a cow to make milk. Then, she could enchant the eggs and milk… um, biologically, I guess is the best way to put it. She could create spells with her animal body that were too subtle for us to track down.”

 

“Wait, let me get this straight,” Steve said. “Mary turned herself into a magic cow and got herself milked to make magic milk that would turn other people into magic cows that made age changing milk? And, that’s what happened to Bill and Justin?”

 

“Exactly,” Candice said. “She used the same spells on them that she used on herself. That’s why the general got younger by touching the milk that the cow made. That milk he’s holding must be a super-concentrated version of the milk that transformed the kids. It only took a few drops absorbed into his skin to make him years younger. Somewhere out there, in some dairy, there’s at least one cow making the same milk, and that’s what made all the age changing happen today.”

 

“So,” Angela said. “That’s the source we’re looking for. I guess we should thank Mary for reusing some of her spells in the treats she left for us. Since we now know how Mary transformed everyone today, does that mean that you can find a way to transform everyone back to normal?”

 

“Well,” Candice said, “that’s actually no problem at all. Transformations caused by something like food usually have short-lived effects. Once the enchanted substances are digested and filtered out of a person’s body, the changes should quickly revert back to normal.”

 

“How soon?” Dr. Schultz asked.

 

“Probably a day or two,” Candice said. “It depends on how concentrated the substance was, but you should probably be back to normal by tomorrow.”

 

“Did you hear that Ken?” Dr. Schultz asked the girl on her lap. “We’re going back to normal tomorrow.”

 

“That’s nice,” the half-asleep girl said.

 

“And, the kids in the schools?” Angela asked.

 

“Yeah, them too,” Candice said. “Making people ingest an enchanted substance is a quick means of distribution, but it’s not likely to cause long-lasting effects.”

 

“Well, that’s a relief,” Angela said. “I’ll have to inform the president after the meeting about all of this. He’ll be happy to hear that the cleanup will take care of itself.”

 

“Someone should tell Bill and Justin,” Steve said. “I’m sure they’d be happy to hear that as well.”

 

“We’ll tell them,” Dr. Shultz said and stood up with Ken. Ken picked up Alice from the table and the three of them left.

 

Angela checked the clock and said, “It’s getting late. Do we have anything else to discuss before we go?” No one replied. Angela stood up and said, “Then, we’ll call it a night there, everyone. Tomorrow, we’ll go hunting for magic cows and the elf who made them. Go home and get some rest. Third shift will keep an eye on things here.”

 

Everyone stood up and filed out of the room. Candice waited for the crowd to pass. Then, she grabbed her suitcase and wheeled it behind her as she followed Angela to Carol’s desk.

 

Carol hung up her phone and said, “No answer at Foodways.”

 

“You’ll talk to them tomorrow,” Angela said. “Go home and get some rest. I want you fresh and ready to go in the morning.”

 

“Sounds good to me,” Carol said. “I might just be able to tuck my kids in if I leave now.”  She checked the time on her cell phone. “Actually, no. They ought to be in bed by now.”

 

“Oh,” Angela said. “One more thing. Candice may have figured out how Mary created the magic milk in the schools. How about you drop her off at her hotel? She can brief you on her theory on the way there.”

 

“She’s staying at the Western Hotel just down the road, right?”

 

“Yes,” Angela said.

 

“Sounds good. It’s on my way home,” Carol said and gathered up her things. “Okay, Candice, let’s hit the road.”

 

“Thank you,” Candice said.

 

As she followed Carol from her desk, Candice noticed the cow and chicken in the conference room with Dr. Schultz, Ken, and Alice. Dr. Schultz had her arm draped over the cow’s back in a sort of hug. Ken was gently petting the chicken as Alice sat on the table next to them. All of them seemed relieved as they waited for life to return to normal.

 

To be continued…

 

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 9 – by lostandwhatever

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 9
By: lostandwhatever

Continued from Chapter 8.

 

In Department 8, Candice rode the elevator up to the fourth floor, flanked by the general and the nice woman who had greeted her and given her a photo ID badge to wear, which Candice had dutifully clipped to her sweater. It was still warm from being printed.

 

Candice looked up at her companions. She was doing her best to get used to the size of humans relative to her. All her life, she had been surrounded by elves, all with the same childlike appearance as her. In the North Pole, the only adult-sized people around were Santa and Mrs. Claus, which explained why most elves referred to him as “the big man.” It was literally true. He was the largest one around. Since Candice had left the North Pole, everyone was big, except for the occasional child she encountered. The unnerving sense of being the odd one out was starting to worry her in the back of her mind. She had committed to it, though. Her glasses were now stowed away in a pocket, leaving her elf ears visible to everyone.

 

The elevator reached the fourth floor, and the doors parted. Candice pulled her suitcase behind her as she followed the other two passengers across a hallway to a pair of doors guarded by two heavily armed men in uniform. The guards carefully checked all three ID cards, and gave Candice and her suitcase an extended skeptical look. Then, the doors were opened, and Candice followed her companions into an office space full of cubicles that stretched over her head. A quick peek into the cubicles they passed showed bare unoccupied desks. They headed further back into the office until they approached a conference room where the nearby desks started to show signs of use.

 

It was there that the smell hit Candice, a distinctive barnyard musk that anyone who had spent time around livestock knew all too well. Candice knew that pungent mix of manure and animal sweat from her time around the reindeer. The source of the odor was clear the moment Candice could see through the glass of the conference room. A large cow stood in there with a chicken next to it on the table, both surrounded by ordinary office furniture. The cow had its face stuffed into a plastic waste paper basket and appeared to be drinking water out of it.

 

Angela, the woman who had greeted Candice and given her an ID badge, called out to the room, “Everyone, your attention please.” Heads poked out of cubicles all around them to listen to Angela speak. “The agent from the North Pole is here. I want to give you all a chance to meet her, and then we will have a presentation to bring her up to speed on the investigation. I know it’s getting late, but her magical expertise could be a big help to us.”

 

“Um,” someone said from the back of the room. “I can’t really see her.” Candice could not see him either.

 

Angela found a nearby chair without wheels and positioned it next to Candice. “Excuse me, Candice. Would you mind standing up here so that we can all see each other?”

 

“Oh,” Candice said. “Sure.” Angela offered her a hand, and when Candice took it, she was practically lifted up into the air onto the chair. Now, she could see everyone. No one was smiling.

 

Angela continued her introduction, “This is Candice Cain from the North Pole. She was sent to help us track down Mary. And, yes, she is an elf. I expect everyone to treat her with the same respect that you would give to anyone else working here. She is a part of our team now. Any questions?”

 

No one said a word.

 

“Let’s go around and introduce ourselves. Just say your name and explain your job briefly.”

 

Candice was hit with dozens of names and job descriptions, but she gave up trying to remember them all after the 10th person.

 

Finally, Angela turned to Candice, “Would you care to tell us a little about yourself, Ms. Cain?”

 

“Oh,” she said. “Well, I am an expert in magical tracking spells. I’ve been developing some new equipment to detect magical energy. Also, I have some practice with enchanting, and I’ve been living in D.C. for the past couple of weeks.”

 

“How old are you?” a man asked from the back of the room. Candice thought she remembered his name was Steve.

 

Angela told him, “That’s not a nice question to ask a lady.”

 

“Well,” the man said. “She looks like she’s in grade school. I would hope she’s older than that.”

 

“Steve, drop it,” Angela said.

 

“I’m 25 years old,” Candice said. “I know I don’t look it, but that’s a part of our glamor, the spell that elves in the North Pole all share. ‘We look like children so that we might serve children best.’” The last sentence had bubbled up from memory. She had heard that explanation so many times in school, yet this was the first time that she had said it out loud. As soon as the words left her lips, she started to doubt them.

 

A few people muttered comments to each other quietly. Then, there was silence.

 

“Right, then,” Angela said. “We’ll start the presentation now. Join us if you’ve received an invite.”

 

Angela offered Candice her hand again, but Candice stepped down off the chair on her own, deciding it was best to demonstrate she could handle the situation without extra help. She had become aware of the need to make a good first impression.

 

At first, Candice headed for the conference room with the cow in it, but then she noticed that everyone was walking the other way. She followed the crowd.

 

“Ma’am,” the general said to Angela. “Do you have a stool and bucket I could use?” He looked back into the cow’s conference room uneasily.

 

Angela replied. “I think there are some little plastic garbage cans that might work. That’s probably the best we can offer.”

 

“Right,” the general said.

 

“Make sure you save the milk,” one of the analysts said. “We’ll want to test it.”

 

“Right,” the general said and headed back towards the cow as he searched for garbage cans.

 

“Also,” Angela called back to the general. “Don’t touch any of the boxes in there, and definitely don’t eat anything!”

 

People filed into another conference room, and Candice followed close behind Angela. After Candice set her suitcase in a corner of the room, she waited for Angela to sit down before taking a seat next to her. Then, Candice tried to sit up straight and keep her legs from swinging. She noticed a blonde woman sitting in a chair in the corner of the room with a girl sleeping on her lap, holding what looked like doll in her hands. She wondered what they were doing there.

 

Angela started off the presentation with a quick summary of the events of the day. Candice listened attentively. Although she had heard much of this information from news reports, there were some new details, like how they suspected that the food was responsible for the transformations. Additionally, she learned about how Mary had attacked Department 8 and about the different magical tools Mary had used. Now, Candice looked sympathetically at the blonde woman and the sleeping girl in the corner. The doll-sized woman stretched her arms and tried to get comfortable in the girl’s hands.

 

“And, that’s about all we know so far,” Angela said as she wrapped up her presentation. “We are analyzing the food we collected, and we should be investigating the source of the food. Have we started that yet, Carol?”

 

Carol Marx, the head field agent, said, “We have narrowed the source of all the food down to a local distributor named Foodways. They have shut down distribution and will let us in for a search first thing tomorrow morning.”

 

“Any suspicious activity reported by them?” Angela asked.

 

“Nothing so far,” Carol said. “No signs of a break in or tampering of any kind were found… yet.”

 

“Keep on them,” Angela said. “Have we been able to figure out anything new about the ring Mary took?”

 

Steve said, “Dr. Schultz might need a day or two to clear his… or her… head before we can do more research on the ring. Some of the writing we have on it is written in dead languages, and Dr. Schultz is the one who’s most fluent in them.”

 

The blonde woman in the corner remained silent, but she turned her head away from the conversation.

 

“Candice,” Angela said. “Do you think your tracking equipment can find the ring?”

 

“Maybe,” Candice said. “It didn’t show up on my equipment before I came here, but I might be able to adjust some settings to track it down if I can get more specific information about it.”

 

“You’ll have to wait until Dr. Schultz is ready to help you. We’ll let her rest for now,” Angela said. “Do we have anything new from the schools?” she asked the room.

 

“We have some surveillance camera footage from a couple of buildings,” said one analyst. “And, there’s a trending video on Yootoob that seems pertinent.”

 

“Can we put those on the screen?” Angela asked.

 

A few people went about setting up speakers and a projector, the blinds were closed, and the lights were shut off.

 

“This first one is from a daycare,” the woman operating the projector said. Then, a video started to play on the screen across the room.

 

***

 

The image was unclear and heavily pixelated, but it became immediately obvious that it was security camera footage of a daycare center playroom. Preschool kids sat on kid-sized chairs around low tables as a few women handed out plates with some indiscernible breakfast food on them. These were followed by cups of fruit and, lastly, a small carton of milk for each child. The kids began to eat, while their caretakers watched them and tried to minimize the mess they made, all of it happening in eerie silence as the video had no recorded sound.

 

The first sign of trouble came from the end of one table by girl in a bright yellow shirt and denim skirt. The table she was sitting at jumped up in front of her. It appeared that her knee had hit the bottom of the table, knocking around everything on it. Soon, it became clear that the little girl was rapidly growing larger. Her shirt became skin tight as she grew a head taller than the kids around her. The caretakers approached her, but froze when they saw her growing older. Already, her age had reached double digits.

 

Then, the change spread around the room. The boy next to the first girl began to grow as well, followed by other kids at their table, then the next table, and then the whole room exploded into chaos as tables and chairs were overturned by bodies that had quickly outgrown them. All manner of clothing began to tear and split apart as it became too small to contain the aging children.

 

Candice focused her attention back on the original girl, as her yellow shirt split apart like a popping balloon, revealing a pair of growing breasts on her maturing chest. Her skirt tore away, revealing her stretched underwear that finally snapped off under the tension created by her spreading hips and ballooning backside. In only a few minutes, the preschool girl had aged into a full-grown woman.

 

And, so had all the rest of the children in the room. Some appeared to have stopped growing at some point in their teens. Others were mature-looking adults.

 

The room went wild. A few of the former kids began to cry, looking like adults play acting as sad children. There were some that jumped for joy and ran around, letting newly grown parts of their naked bodies flop and swing around wildly. Still, others stood in amazement and examined their mature bodies, innocently touching themselves somewhat inappropriately. Meanwhile, the overwhelmed caretakers tried in vein to regain control of the chaos.

 

That first girl, now a woman, stretched her arms towards the ceiling and stood on the balls of her feet, apparently relishing her new height. Then, her heels touched the ground, and her hands slowly ran down the sides of her body, caressing her unfamiliar new curves. She smiled contentedly.

 

The video ended there.

 

***

 

“Well,” Angela said, breaking the silence. “That was something. Thoughts?”

 

“It has to be the food,” said one unseen analyst in the darkened room. “But, it’s strange that it started on only one side of the room? I wonder why.”

 

“Oh!” said another analyst in a burst of insight. “Those were the first kids to get their food. They started eating first, and they changed only a few minutes later.”

 

“Right,” the other analyst said. “Then, the change followed the path the caretakers took around the room. Good eye. There must be, like, a set time for the spell to activate after they eat.”

 

Candice was impressed by how observant the analysts were. She had been so focused on the first girl that she had missed that pattern. She mentally told herself to watch the next video more closely.

 

“Yeah, nice catch you two,” Angela said. She addressed Carol again, “Do we know what they were eating there?”

 

Carol flipped through a notepad, squinted at it in the dimly lit room, and replied, “The menu posted on their website says it was French toast, grapes, and milk.”

 

“And, that all came from Foodways, right?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Angela said, “Lets see the next video. Where is this one from?”

 

“This one is from a junior high,” the woman operating the projector said. “And, these kids are in a summer school enrichment program.”  She started the next video.

 

To be continued…

 

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 7 – by lostandwhatever

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 7
By: lostandwhatever

Continued from Chapter 6.

 

Secretary of Defense Taggart spoke up first. “Sir,” he said. “Our team from Department 8 is back from the field, and they have secured their facility after the break in today. They have some ideas about how the attack may have happened, but they have been a bit… hampered in their ability to analyze the situation due to the-”

 

“Due to the fact that half the staff were turned into barnyard animals and toys?” the president interjected. “I had a briefing earlier. Is that what you mean?”

 

Taggart braced himself. This was going to be bad. “Yes, sir.”

 

“Now, I can understand how someone could attack our schools. We live in a free society. That’s an unfortunate part of the deal,” The president said. “What I can’t understand is how our own top secret department developed specifically to deal with magical attacks was itself attacked and crippled by one God damn elf. Care to explain that to me?”

 

“Well, we are still evaluating the situation. Obviously there were unexpected vulnerabilities that were exploited. I don’t have all of the information yet, but we do have a teleconference set up with the team at Department 8,” the general said. “They could explain what happened more clearly than I could.”

 

The president waved his hand. “Put them on,” he said.

 

A large screen in the room turned on, and a camera was set up in front of the president. Angela Martinez, Head of Department 8, appeared, sitting at a conference room table. She looked composed but exhausted.

 

“Angela,” the president said. “Can you hear me?”

 

“Yes, mister president,” she said. “I am prepared to brief you on what we know so far about the events of today.”

 

“Brief away.”

 

“Well,” she said. “It appears that the attack on the schools was meant as a diversion for our response team to get them out of the way so that Mary Cole could infiltrate our building.”

 

“I see. So, how the hell did she get past all of your security?”

 

“What we know at this point is that she had help from the inside. One of our analysts was…  compromised and used as a mole to help Mary infiltrate the building. We are interrogating him right now.”

 

“Unbelievable,” the president said. “That still doesn’t explain why the guards didn’t stop her or at least set off an alarm.”

 

Angela said. “She seems to have used a combination of a new type of Youth Gun on some guards and a hypnotic object on the rest.”

 

“‘Hypnotic object?’” the president asked.

 

“Anyone who looks at the object becomes hypnotized to the point of losing the ability to look away or do anything else but look at the object. The guards at the door were hypnotized by it first. After that, it seems to have affected the guards in the camera surveillance room. The object works over a television screen as well, it seems.”

 

“What does this thing look like?”

 

“I don’t know,” Angela said. “I would not dare look at it. The guards are still recovering from seeing it. Some of our team from the field were caught by the object as well when they came back into the building. Thankfully, one of them figured out what was going on and managed to cover the object without looking at it.”

 

“What a mess,” the president said. “Now, why would she want to infiltrate a building full of people trying to capture her besides trying to slow you down or take you out? She didn’t kill anyone did she?”

 

“No. She did not kill anyone, but she did manage to break into our vault to rob us,” Angela said. It was clear that the following words pained her. “I am sorry to say she… compromised me as well, sir.”

 

“I see,” the president said and paused a few seconds, quietly letting Angela know that she would probably be in big trouble once things had settled down. “So, Mary has stopped giving and started taking… turned burglar. I guess we could add that to her list of crimes after breaking and entering, assault, and grand theft sled. Mind telling me what she stole? Did she clear you out?”

 

“No, from what we could tell, she took only one item, a ring.”

 

“Why only that? Don’t we have tons of stuff collected? What’s so special about that ring?”

 

“We are not entirely sure,” she said. “Some of the analysts have theories, though.”

 

“All right then,” the president said. “Put one of them on.”

 

Angela hesitated. “A few of them are… unable to speak at the moment,” she said. As if in response, a moo was heard in the background. Then, a black and white cow wandered into the frame behind Angela. A clucking chicken flapped its way up onto the cow’s back and let a few feathers float down onto the table in front of Angela. “They were transformed by the food that Mary left.”

 

The president sighed. “Who do you have that can speak?” he asked.

 

Angela turned to someone behind the camera. “Dr. Schultz? Dr. Schultz, could you come explain what we know about the ring to the president?”

 

“Oh, okay,” a woman’s voice said. A gorgeous blonde woman wearing a man’s shirt walked into the frame and stood behind Angela and next to the cow and chicken. Her shirt was unbuttoned down to her cleavage as her breasts were so large that the shirt could barely contain them. The shape of her nipples were clearly visible under the fabric. “Um, can they see me here?” she asked. Her voice had a sort of uncertain airheaded levity that seemed to fit her body perfectly.

 

“Yes, Dr. Schultz,” Angela said and then addressed the president. “This is the senior researcher on our team. He has been examining the history of the ring.”

 

“‘He?’” the president asked.

 

“I used to be an old guy,” the very female blonde professor said slowly. “I ate a little cake, and now I’m all weird and sexy and stuff… but it feels kinda good, you know?” Her hand subconsciously cupped one of her breasts for a moment.

 

“No, I don’t,” the president said.

 

“Please, forgive him,” Angela said to the president. “His… or her mind is a bit foggy after the transformation.” Angela turned to Dr. Schultz and said, “Tell him about the ring.”

 

“Oh, that ring?” Dr. Schultz said. “Um, lemme see…” She put a hand on her chin and appeared to really concentrate. Then, a look of realization filled her face.  “Oh, that’s that one we found at the Smithsan… Smithington?”

 

“The Smithsonian Museum,” Angela corrected her.

 

“Yeah,” Dr. Schultz said. “That big ol’ place. The ring was in their old stuff room the… storage. And, they said it was from when they first made the place. In fact, it’s really really old, like, from sandals and horsey times. From that summer place. Wait, what’s it called?”

 

“Sumeria?” Angela guessed.

 

“Yeah, that,” Dr. Schultz said excitedly. “It’s this metal that they call… um…”

 

“Can we get to the point?” the president said. “I don’t need a metallurgy lecture from a stripper. The ring, what is it?”

 

“Oh, it’s magic. It’s, like, super magic. We had some magic finding stuff we made, you know, de-tec-tors,” she said, carefully pronouncing each syllable the last word. “They don’t work so good yet, but, if there’s a lotta magic in something, and it’s, like, really really close, they work okay. But, this thing is so magic, like, the detectors found it as soon as we got to D.C.”

 

“I see.”

 

“We think it’s kinda like a magic battery. You can charge it up with magic and then, like, use it somehow. We don’t really know, though,” Dr. Schultz said and then put an hand on her head. “Ugh, this is hard. My head is tired.”

 

“Why don’t you go sit down? That should be enough,” Angela said.

 

“Thanks,” Dr. Schultz said. She gave a little wave and walked out of the frame.

 

Angela said to the president, “That’s about all we know so far. The ring is immensely powerful and potentially very dangerous.”

 

“And now Mary has it,” the president said. “How the hell did you all let this happen? How did she even know that Department 8 exists?”

 

“We believe that Mary was able to detect the ring in our building somehow. It’s clear she has more skill with finding magic objects than we do. Then, she approached and seduced one of our analysts as he was on a short personal trip. She transformed him with the swap necklaces and threatened him, telling him she would not turn him back unless he helped her. We never realized that he had been captured, since he was still supposed to be out of the office this week.”

 

“And then she pulled this stunt at the schools to distract you,” the president said.

 

“Exactly,” Angela said.

 

“How the hell did she transform all of those kids anyway? She must have been nowhere near the schools if she was busy robbing you.”

 

“Our working theory is that she magically tainted the food at the schools,” Angela explained. “Most of the transformations happened during lunch and snack times, so the food would be the most logical cause. Especially, if you consider what happened here as well.”

 

“Do you some kind of have a food expert there to explain how she might have done that?”

 

“Uh, well, Alice is studying the enchanting of objects. She might be able to explain,” Angela said. She called to someone behind the camera. “Ken, can you bring Alice over to the table?”

 

A little blonde girl wearing an adult man’s shirt walked into frame holding a doll in her hands. She set the doll on the table, and the doll began to move on its own. Angela walked over to the camera and pulled it in close to get a good view of the doll. It became clear then to everyone in the room that it was not in fact a doll but a doll-sized woman. She appeared to be about six inches tall judging by the relative size of the pen on the table next to her. She wore a white tissue wrapped around her like a large towel, and she looked very nervous.

 

“This is Alice,” Angela said as she sat down behind the small woman. Angela’s face was not visible only her hands, which only emphasized how small Alice had become. “As you can see, she has also been transformed by the food Mary left.”

 

“Alice,” the president said. “What do you think Mary did with the food?”

 

“Well,” Alice said in a tiny voice. “We have been looking into what you might call magic potions to figure out how they are made. Our theory is that they’re something like poisons in that they contain certain chemicals in them. For some reason, these chemicals can be charged up magically to cause specific effects, such as what happened to me and the other people in here.”

 

The cow mooed again.

 

Alice continued, “We’re preparing to analyze the school lunches and the food Mary left here to see if we can find some chemical or chemicals that might have done this. Of course, we might be wrong. It is just a theory right now.”

 

“Let me know what you find,” the president said.

 

Angela readjusted the camera to show her face again and nearly knocked over little Alice in the process. The little blonde girl returned to rescue the doll-sized woman from the table.

 

“We should have a preliminary report ready by the day after tomorrow,” Angela said. “We would get it to you sooner except we are short-handed at the moment.”

 

The cow mooed even louder.

 

“Oh for crying out loud,” said a four-star general sitting near the president. “Can someone help that cow out already?”

 

“What are you talking about, Bob?” the president said.

 

“Well, she clearly needs to be milked,” the general said. He addressed Angela. “Is her udder almost touching the floor there?”

 

Angela looked down at her coworker’s udder. “It’s hanging a bit low,” she reported.

 

“Go on and milk her then,” the general said. “That’s gotta be seriously uncomfortable. I mean hasn’t anyone there lived on a farm?”

 

“I… don’t know how to milk a cow,” Angela admitted and then addressed the room she was in. “Does anyone here know how?” No one replied.

 

The president chuckled. “Well, Bob,” he said. “It looks like you just got drafted into cow duty. You can milk that cow, right?”

 

“Yes, sir. I can, but-”

 

“Great,” the president said. “You have your orders. Get over there and milk that analyst.”

 

“Yes, sir,” the general said reluctantly.

 

He got up and walked to the door. Just as he exited, an aide entered the room then and whispered something into Secretary of State Amy Purcell’s ear.

 

“Sir,” the secretary of state said. “We have just received a phone call from the North Pole. Their leader would like to speak with you.” Purcell had learned to use the phrase “their leader” in place of Santa Claus as the name had a way of irritating the president.

 

“Wonderful,” the president said. “Just what I wanted today, another chance to sit on Santa’s lap.”

 

“We are setting up a teleconference connection with him right now,” Purcell continued. “Are you ready to speak with him?” she asked.

 

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” he said to the secretary. He addressed Angela one last time. “I’ll expect that report ASAP. Keep me informed if you discover anything new.”

 

“We will,” Angela said.

 

The teleconference ended, and the president mentally prepared himself to chat with Santa Claus.

 

“Okay,” he said. “Put the big guy on.”

 

To be continued…

 

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 4 – by lostandwhatever

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Mary Christmas 2: Christmas in July – Chapter 4
By: lostandwhatever

Continued from Chapter 3.

 

Just a short distance away from Angela in the bathroom, a team of analysts and researchers were filing reports and completing other boring but essential work. Ken Yeong took a moment to look at the clock and sighed. “I’m starving,” he said. “Wasn’t someone going to order food? It’s getting near lunchtime.”

 

“Everyone’s been too busy,” Alice Jefferson replied.

 

“I’m hungry too,” Bill Johnson said.

 

“Same here,” Justin Richards agreed.

 

Just then an older gentleman emerged from his office. “Well, how are we doing? Situation report?” he asked.

 

“Hi, Dr. Schultz,” Alice said. “Things seem to be under control for the moment. We haven’t detected any new cases, and officials are on scene for the ones we have found.”

 

“Hmm,” Dr. Schultz replied.

 

Ken sighed again and stood up from his desk. “I’m going to check the breakroom,” he said. “Maybe someone brought in cookies or something.”

 

“What’s that?” Dr. Schultz asked.

 

“Ken’s hungry,” Bill replied.

 

“We’re all getting hungry,” Justin said.

 

“Didn’t anyone bring a lunch?” Dr. Schultz asked.

 

“We were all planning on going out to eat for Alice’s birthday,” Bill said.

 

“Oh,” Dr. Schultz said and then turned to Alice and said, “Happy birthday.”

 

“Thank you,” Alice said.

 

“Of course,” Bill continued. “Those plans were cancelled after the mess this morning.”

 

“I see,” said Schultz.

 

“Hey! Guys?” Ken shouted from the breakroom door. “Good news! It looks like someone ordered cake and cookies for Alice’s birthday. They’re all laid out in here.”

 

Everyone went to look at the food in the breakroom. There were open white boxes containing many frosted dessert treats including colorful cupcakes, oddly shaped cookies, and even a few drinks.

 

“When did these come?” Alice asked. “I didn’t notice them earlier.”

 

“I bet Angela ordered them for your party,” Justin said. “Anyway, who cares? Let’s eat.” He picked up a cookie.

 

“Shouldn’t we wait until the team in the field returns?” Dr. Schultz said as he examined a pink frosted cupcake.

 

“We can leave them something,” Ken said. “I just need a snack to keep going. I’m getting hungry. You don’t want to see me when I’m hungry.” He grabbed a pink cupcake and a bottle of some cold coffee drink.

 

“Hey, Alice,” Bill said, smiling. “Look at these two.” He handed her a cupcake that had the words “EAT ME” written on it in frosting and a bottle with a tag on it that said “DRINK ME.” “I think these were meant for you,” he said. “You know, because of Alice in Wonderland?”

 

“Yeah,” Alice said. She had heard the reference before at least once. “I get it.”

 

“Well,” Justin said. “Do what it says. Eat it.”

 

“Oh, alright.” Alice took a bite from the cupcake. The frosting was very rich and creamy. “Delicious,” she said.

 

“Happy birthday, Alice!” Ken said, toasting her with his bottle and taking a swig from it.

 

“Happy birthday!” everyone else said, and then they sang the birthday song. Alice thanked them, and they all started eating some treats. The doctor had his pink cupcake as did Ken, who kept drinking his creamy cold coffee. Bill and Justin started munching away at cookes, ignoring the cow and chicken decorations on them.

 

“Oh,” Alice said. “I’m feeling a bit funny.”

 

“What’s the matter?” Bill said.

 

“I don’t know,” she said. “I just feel a bit… strange.” A feeling of pressure built up inside of her as if her whole body was filling up with something. It was like feeling bloated, but the sensation was all over her body. Her clothes started to feel tight. The pressure felt as though it would burst out of her skin, but, instead of bursting, her skin stretched. Her whole body stretched, and she felt herself growing taller and larger in every way. Buttons popped from her shirt. “Oh, no!” she cried. “What’s happening?”

 

Everyone else stopped and stared at her as she grew. She quickly went from just over five feet tall to nearly seven feet tall, and her growth showed no signs of slowing down. Seams tore on her clothes, and her shoes burst apart. Soon, she was over eight feet tall and standing nearly naked in the tattered remains of her outfit, leaving more and more of her dark skin visible to everyone as time went on. She moaned as her underwear gave way to the pressure at last and snapped off her now ten foot tall body. Her head bumped into the tiles of the ceiling, and she crouched down as her growing continued. The walls seemed to close in on her as if the room wanted to crush her, but, just before panic caused her to scream in terror, the growing slowed to a halt. Although no one had a yardstick or tape measure on them, they could all see she was over 15 feet tall now and totally naked.

 

“Oh, my God!” said Bill. Everyone else was too shocked to speak.

 

Alice noticed her nudity and pulled her knees up to her and hugged them to her chest as she sat on the floor in the corner of the room. She looked ready to cry. “W-what do I do?” she said.

 

“How did this happen?” Dr. Schultz asked. “This is powerful magic.”

 

“The food!” Justin said in a flash of insight. “That cupcake. It’s like the story. She ate the cupcake, and she grew larger.”

 

Alice looked down in horror at the empty wrapper of the cursed cupcake on the floor.

 

Bill picked up a bottle from the table. “Does that mean this would make her smaller?” he said as he held up the “DRINK ME” bottle.

 

“Maybe,” Justin said. “But-”

 

Before Justin could finish, Alice had snatched the bottle from Bill’s hand with only her finger and thumb. It felt smaller than a little energy drink shot bottle now.

 

“No,” Bill said. “Alice, wait! We don’t know-”

 

“I’m just going to drink a little,” she said as she opened the cap. “Just a little drop.”

 

She put the little bottle to her lips and tried to take a small sip, but accidentally gulped down most of the milky liquid inside. She waited a moment. No one dared move as they watched Alice to see what would happen to her now.

 

“Hey,” said Ken. “We all just ate some of the food here. Doesn’t that mean we should have grown too?”

 

Justin thought about it. “Well, she had a different type of food than we had.”

 

“And,” Bill said. “She ate hers before we did.”

 

“But, I had my drink before she ate her cake,” Ken said. “And, nothing hapPEneD tO mE.” His voice cracked up an octave as he finished his sentence. Everyone looked at him and were shocked to see that he now appeared to be only a young teenager. Ken held his throat and felt his Adam’s apple shrink and all traces of stubble vanish from his neck. He sprouted in reverse through a growth spurt, leaving him at just over four feet tall. His clothes hung on him loosely as he looked up at his coworkers fearfully. Thankfully, he did not appear to be getting any younger, but he was not exactly thrilled to be eight years old again.

 

Anyone who was still holding their food immediately put it down. They all waited and watched each other nervously to see if they would be next.

 

“Oh!” Bill said. “I feel strange.”

 

“Me too,” Justin said.

 

Bills ears grew pointy and became covered and black and white fur as a furry tail burst out the rear of his pants. It too had the signature black and white pattern of a Holstein cow on it.

 

Meanwhile, Justin’s skin was rapidly being covered by brown feathers.

 

“I feel it!” Alice said ignoring the rest of them. “I’m changing again.” She could sense her body pulling in on itself, as if her skin were shrinking and compressing her body beneath it. It was almost painful, but strangely relieving as well, as if she were using the bathroom. She became shorter and smaller. Soon, she was small enough to stand up again without bumping her head. “It’s working!” she said, relieved that she was no longer too big for the room.

 

“Oh, God!” young Ken squeaked as he watched his friends transform.

 

“Just stay calm,” Dr. Schultz said to calm the boy. “We’ll figure out something.” Unfortunately, his comforting words were overshadowed by the newly blonde hair that sprouted from on his formerly bald head, which grew longer and longer. Also, there were the pair of lumps swelling on his chest. “Oh, my!” he said in a decidedly more feminine voice.

 

“Wait a minute,” little Ken said as he realized that he had eaten the same type of pink cupcake that Dr. Schultz had eaten. He could feel his hair starting to grow longer as well. “Shit!”

 

Alice sighed happily as she reached her original height again. Then, she started to look worried as the rest of the room seemed to grow around her. Everything was getting taller, and all the furniture seemed to be expanding. “Oh, no!” she said. “I took too much.” As she shrank below three feet tall and kept on going, she cried, “Help me!” But, no one was paying any attention to her or each other by that point. They were all too focused on their own transformations.

 

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Day After Day – by TGTrinity

Day After Day (1)
“Day After Day”
a Short Story by TGTrinity
Commissioned by Deiser
Cover by bela04

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Day One

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“Hey, Missi, it’s Neil.

I’m really sorry to leave this all on a message on your phone, but I thought texting it would be little impersonal…Continue reading