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Transference – Chapter 2 – The Aftermath – 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 1.

Julie gradually became of aware of the world around her again. She could hear two people talking. There were hazy glimpses of light through her half-closed eyes. She realized she was laying down, and she discovered she had no idea where she was or what had happened to her.

Julie heard her voice say, “I think she’s waking up.” There was a strange tone to her voice, though, and it seemed strangely distant. Was there something wrong with her ears?

“Julie?” a man said. “Can you hear me?” It was Mark’s voice. He sounded normal. She tried to open her eyes, but the bright light of the room made her squint.

“Shut off that light,” Julie’s voice said. “You’re blinding her.” There was something else strange about her voice, Julie realized. She had not opened her mouth yet.

She tried to ask what was going on, but what came out of her mouth was a high pitched moan, like a baby preparing to cry.

The bright light was shut off, and Julie opened her eyes to see Mark’s face hoving above her. He seemed absolutely gigantic now. There was a gigantic woman standing behind him. She thought she recognized the woman, only there was something backwards about her.

“Julie?” the woman said. “Can you understand us? Raise your right arm if you understand what we’re saying.”

Julie lifted her right arm, and, in that moment, she realized two important facts simultaneously. One fact was the reason why the woman standing behind Mark looked familiar but backwards. Julie was looking at her own face on the woman, which she was most used to seeing reflected back in a mirror. The other fact was that the arm she had just lifted looked short and pudgy, like a baby’s arm.

“See,” the woman in Julie’s body said. “Julie is in there. I’m Katie.”

Julie started to cry. She wanted to shout, “No!” But, her baby mouth slurred the word into “Nah ha ha haw” as she began to sob. Her eyes filled with tears, and her ears filled with the piercing wail that came out of her baby mouth. Even with her eyes blurred and her ears deafened by her own cries, she could sense what she had become. Her baby legs kicked at the world in vein as her baby fists pouned the mat behind her with only the faintest of thumps. She could feel how weak and small she had become. She wanted to break something or hurt someone, but she could feel just how utterly helpless and powerless she was now. All she could do was throw a massive tantrum at the world and everyone in it and sob until she hyperventilated.

Meanwhile, Katie in Julie’s body took a step back from the crying baby and said, “What happened to us? Why are we in the wrong bodies?”

Mark stepped back as well and replied, hallowly, “I don’t know.” He seemed utterly defeated by the whole situation.

Katie said, “It must be a consequence of the overload.”

Mark said nothing. He just watched and listened to the baby cry.

Katie tried to figure it out herself. “During the transference, our minds merged together. Our thinking synchronized. In that state, maybe the overload transferred too much. We swapped our memories. No… more than that. We swapped our consciousnesses.”

“That’s… impossible,” Mark said, not taking his eyes off the baby. “Mind swapping? That’s… science fiction.”

“I am Katie,” she said from within Julie’s body. “You saw Julie raise her arm. She understood me.”

“No,” he said.

“Yes,” she said. “Do you have a better explanation? This is new science we’re working with here. You may not have expected this result, but how else can you explain it?”

He stared at the baby and stubbornly refused to accept what was happening.

“Dad!” Katie shouted. “Listen to me!”

He turned to face her. “Tell me what we were doing this morning,” he demanded. “What do you remember?”

“I-I don’t know what you mean?” Katie said. “All I can remember is lying in a crib and crying. No, wait. I also remember you lifting me out of the crib and trying to calm me down. I remember you and Julie talking about something. I didn’t understand what you were saying, then. The next thing I remember is you carrying me to the basement and setting me in the right chamber. After that, I remember all the changes. The piano. Reading. Fixing the machine. There was the overload, and then I woke up in the left chamber in this body. That’s what I remember from today.”

“That’s all?”

“I remember breastfeeding from Mom last week. I remember you changing my diaper and bathing me and feeding me over and over. It’s all so simple and repetitive now. Oh, I remember the dog that licked my head last week in the park. Do you remember that?”

Mark nodded. “I do.”

“Now, suddenly, I know how to speak, how to read, how to walk and talk and do math and fix complex scientific equipment. I know so many things that I’ve never learned. I know about her, even. I know her social security number and her phone number. I know how to unlock her phone. She uses her thumbprint. Luckily, I have her thumbs. I know she lives at 110 Oak Street in apartment 2B. I don’t even know what her place looks like, but I know that’s her address. I know her license plate number. I know how to drive her car. I’ve never even been in the front seat of a car before, but I know all about how it works.”

She pause and Mark said nothing.

“I know how to fix the machine,” Katie said.

“You do?”

“We just need to rebuild it, and fix the programming to detect more errors with the signal pads. We can make it work, but we need to order new parts.”

“That could take days… weeks even,” Mark said.

“Yes,” Katie said. “But, what else are we going to do?”

They both paused to listen to Julie cry on the changing table.

“What about your mother?” he asked. “What about you? We can’t tell her about this. She has no idea what we were doing. If she knew I put our own daughter in danger…”

“Julie can pretend to be me,” Katie said. “She’s doing a good job of it already. I can pretend to be her. We go on pretending that nothing happened, fix the machine quietly, and then put us back in our original bodies.”

“Right,” Mark said, slowly starting to nod. “Right. That could work.”

“It will work,” Katie said. She paused. “But, I do have one thing I need to say… a request.”

Mark looked at her. “What is it?”

“When we transfer back into our own bodies, I want to keep the knowledge I have now.”

“Julie,” he said and then quickly corrected himself, “I mean, Katie, you’re not supposed to know all of this. We never meant for you to learn so much so fast.”

“Please,” Katie said. “You can’t take this away from me now. Ever since I could speak, I’ve felt like a new person. I remember the baby I was, but I’m so much more than that now. To take away what I have, what I know now, would be like killing who I’ve become.”

“What, then?” he asked. “You’ll go back to that body with the mind you have now? Be a baby with an adult mind?”

She smiled and nodded. “Yes,” she said. “Think about it. I’ll start life out with the knowledge of an adult. I’ll be years ahead of any other baby. That was the idea behind the transference machine in the first place, to educate people. Well, it’s worked. Don’t take that from me.” She hugged him, and he recoiled from her slightly. “I’ll be the proof you need to show that the technology works, the baby genius. Who could doubt you then?”

He sighed and hugged her back. “Fine,” he said. “We’ll keep it quiet until we can swap you two back.”

“And, I’ll keep my mind as it is?”

“Yes,” he said. “You’re right.”

“Really?”

He nodded, and she kissed his cheek. “Thanks, Dad! You’re the best.”

He blushed and said, “You had better stop calling me that if we want to hide what happened.”

“Oh, right,” she said. “Actually, I had better get going. I’ve got to make some equipment orders and Mom will be home soon. I mean, your wife will be home soon.” She looked down at her legs. “Where are my pants?”

“Um,” he said. “I think you were changing clothes before the experiment. They might be in the bathroom.”

“Really?” she said. There was an edge of suspicion in her voice.

“You were worried about the metal in the zipper and buttons interfering with the machine, I think.”

She nodded. “Right,” she said. “That makes sense. I’ll go look for them.” She left the baby’s room.

Mark walked up to the baby on the changing table and put a hand on her head. When the crying died down, the baby looked up at him. He saw the worry and fear in the baby’s tear-soaked eyes.

“Julie?” he said.

The baby raised her right arm, and stared at him silently. The intensity of her eyes was enough to confirm the truth. It was her.

“We’re going to fix this,” he said, lifting his hand away from her. “But, you’ll need to be patient as we repair the machine. You’ll need to pretend to be Katie for a while.”

The baby lowered her arm and shook her head.

“We don’t have a choice,” he said. “There’s no other way.”

The baby tried to speak, but only managed to babble out a few unintelligible words and drool on her chin.

Katie returned to the baby’s room, wearing Julie’s jeans in Julie’s body. “Found them,” she declared. “They were on the floor in your bedroom. I wonder how they got there.”

Mark and the baby were silent.

“Whatever,” Katie said. “I’m going now. I’ll send you a text when I get to her apartment, so you don’t have to worry if I made it back.”

“I can drive you.”

“No,” she said. “I know I can handle it.” She leaned in and gave him a quick kiss on the lips.

Everyone was silent for a moment after that.

Katie looked confused. “Why did I do that?”

“I’m your father,” Mark said, awkwardly. “A girl can kiss her dad. There’s nothing strange about that.”

Katie nodded. “Right,” she said. “Makes sense. Okay, I’m leaving. Bye, Dad… I mean, Dr. Smith. I’ll text you soon. We’ll sort this all out in no time. Don’t worry.” She waved and left the room.

Mark leaned against the wall, and Julie began to cry again, softly. They were both worried.

To be continued in Chapter 3 – The Mess

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