NOTE TO MYSELF: I'm alive . . . at least, I think I am . . .
Jill is gone.
I am surrounded by darkness. I can't tell if I'm rising or falling, standing still -- nothing.
I can't even tell if I've changed again.
In the moments before I was yanked out of Jill's bedroom, I had somehow been rejuvenated from a 36-year-old man to a 16-year-old boy. Was I still that boy? Or had I returned to my normal age? Nothing would be known until I somehow escaped the cloud vortex that seemed to follow me.
Wait! Something seems to be happening. Something is flashing in the darkness ahead of me.
It's getting closer. They seem to be glass or mirror panes. Millions and millions of them. I can see images in them, but I can't make them out. They are flying fast me to quickly. I reach out a hand to try and touch one as is whizzes past.
A jolt hits my arm numbing it immediately. The pain is unbearable. I'm sure I'm screaming -- at least my mouth is open -- but I hear no sound.
I have the distinct impression of tumbling around and around. This is different from my previous trip through the vortex. Something else is happening. I am bouncing and glancing off different panes. Each impact sends another lance of agony through me.
It's for sure now. I am tumbling head over head. I am on a collision course with a pane. There's no way I'll miss hitting this one head on.
NOTE TO MYSELF: I'm alive . . . at least, I think I am . . .
My head is spinning and I'm nauseous. I'm wet. It seems to be raining on me.
I open my eyes. Not rain -- a shower -- I'm in a shower. I reach up and twist the spigot. The bathroom doesn't look familiar. I wonder if I will?
Grabbing a towel from the floor I cross to a mirror over the sink and run at the accumulated steam on the glass.
It's me all right, but still not the right me. I'm still 16. Or am I? As I look at my reflection in the steam-covered glass I appear to be changing. Older . . . I'm getting older again.
I know this face -- it's one I wore back in my college days. I dropped the towel and look at myself. Yep, definitely 19 or 20. I know. I never looked that good before or since. My late teens and early 20s saw me at the peak of my conditioning and looks.
Not a bad face or body when I look at it now. I flex my muscles in the mirror and am pleased with the results. I pat my flatter stomach -- no middle-age spread yet. My hair is still full and bushy. All in all, I'm feeling pretty good.
I still have no idea of where I am, but I look good. Right now, I'll settle for that.
There is a knock on the door. A voice -- it sounds like a young woman's -- calls, "Peter, are you almost through. I want to shower before we go to classes."
"Classes?" I puzzle as I rewrap the towel around my waist and open the door. A young woman in a terry cloth robe darts into the bathroom and shuts the door.
"I didn't think you were ever coming out," she says as she critically inspects her face in the mirror. She turns and smiles at me. Not knowing what else to do, I smile back. She's unfamiliar; I can't quite place her anywhere in my life. Without a sign or warning, she undoes the belt of her robes and drops it to her feet. My surprise must have been registered on my face because she looked at me quizzically for a moment and said, "You look like you've never seen me naked before."
With that she turns on the shower and crossed to the toilet.
"Men!" she exclaimed. "Can't you put the lid down when you're finished? All you'd have to do is spend a day or two as a woman, and all your bad habits would be broken."
With no more aplomb, this woman -- this stranger -- sits down on the commode, pulls her knees together and leans forward. A moment later, I hear the muffled sound of her urine being emptied. "Ah, that's better," she sighed, reaching forward for tissue to wipe herself.
Now I'm a married man -- a married man with children -- I must have seen this ritual hundreds of times, but at this instance, I was absolutely speechless. As she rose and entered the shower stall, She blew me a provocative kiss and wiggled her fanny in a provocative manner.
"Want to come over and wash my back?" she cooed.
"Nhhhhh, nhhhh," I stammered as I stumbled backwards. I looked above my head -- the vortex was gone. Was I stuck here? Who was this woman? Where was I?
"Peeeeter . . ." she whined. "Come on over and rub my back . . ."
I looked at the girl -- then I looked at the door. Back to the girl -- then back at the door.
The door won.
Pulling the door shut behind me, I left the girl. I seemed to be in an apartment. There was some mail on the table. Some was addressed to me. Some to a girl named Sally Rayburn.
Sally Rayburn? Who the hell is Sally Rayburn? I looked at the address. Dallas.
"Well, at least I'm home." I thought.
The postmark on the letters has 1997 in the date. So how could I be 19 again and in 1997? I wander into what appears to be the bedroom. It obviously a room shared by a man and woman. On the dresser is a wallet. I open it -- the drivers license has my name and picture on it.
What's going on?
I dig a little further and come across a student I.D. card also bearing my likeness. It appears I'm enrolled in a community college here in town.
The woman -- Sally I guess -- comes in and starts to pull underclothes from a drawer.
"Come on, slow poke, we'll be late for classes." she says.
"Classes? What classes?" I keep thinking.
A little searching in a couple of drawers finds some underwear, a tee shirt and some jeans. Well, at least that much about me hasn't changed. Sally is yelling at me to hurry. I follow her out the door and she stops me with one hand planted firmly on my chest.
"Aren't your forgetting something?" she asks sarcastically? When she sees my puzzled expression, she adds, "Books????"
I duck back in the apartment and notice several books and notepads that must be mine. Sally takes the keys from my hand and says that she'll drive -- it's obvious that I'm distracted. We go down to the street and Sally heads for an 85 Civic parked with two wheels on the curb. She's talking away, but I'm having trouble paying attention. Eventually she turns up the radio and I'm finally left to try and puzzle out what's happened to me.
A quick look overhead reveals that my personal vortex seems to left me, so I guess I'm stuck here for the nonce. I'm still puzzling what's going on when Sally takes a two-wheeled turn into the campus of Queentree Community College. She pulls up in front of a building and stops the car.
"I'll meet you at the snack bar for lunch, okay?" she asks.
"Sure," I mumble, not having even the slightest idea where the snack bar. Several people wave to me and call my name, two guys even fall in along side of me talking about a class. I decide the best thing to do is follow them to where ever I'm supposed to be.
I entered a large lecture hall. By the look of my textbook, this is some kind of computer class for something called the web. Not being a computer person myself, I couldn't understand why I was in this class. A bell rings and this older looking guy comes in. It was the biggest shock of my life.
It was me!
Sure enough, the man at the front of the room was me. Not the me I am now, but the me I was. I mean the me I was before the accident. But not the me he is -- I mean we look alike but he's not me.
This is so confusing.
And get this! The man's name is Peter Heidegger, too!
He calls the roll and when he gets to my name there's not even a flicker of surprise or recognition on his part. I feel all the breath go out of me. I've got to get out of here. I need air. I hastily rise and make my way to the back of the lecture hall. I don't think the other me even noticed me leave. I find a men's room and stumble inside. I turn on the spigot and splash cold water across my face. As I look up into the mirror I notice that instead of a reflection, I see the familiar patterns of the vortex. I reach out and touch it with my fingers.
It feels like sticking your hand out of a car window when you're traveling fast only much worse. Before I could even react, the vortex pulls me and I feel myself being drug into the mirror. This -- what ever it is that's happening to me -- is starting to become a definite pain in the ass. The sensation of falling is becoming more and more pronounced. I see a flick of light in front of me. It's growing larger.
I fall with a heavy thud to a floor. Slowly, still disoriented, I stand. I look myself over. In my hand I'm holding an undershirt. Beyond that, I seem to be naked. I'm starting to think I'm in a clothing optional universe.
I take a look about. Wherever I am, it's totally unfamiliar. It's a child's room -- a little girl's by the look of it. Everything is white furniture and lace. A doll's house and other girlish toys dominate the room.
I hear a voice -- a woman's voice call out. "Are you all right honey? Did you fall?" I'm starting to panic. Wherever I am, I doubt I belong naked in a little girl's room. I hastily pull the undershirt over my head. It's not much, but it's something.
There are three doors in the room, but I'm not sure where to go. The closet seems like a good idea, so I duck inside. It's rather large walk-in closet, in fact. It's dominated by the clothing I so often have bought for my little girls. I close the door and come face to face with myself. I'm still 19 from the image in the mirror, or am I?
As I look at myself I notice that something is happening. My face is starting to change I'm getting younger again. This time I see the years began to fall away.
But even as I seem to be getting younger, I notice other, more disturbing changes. My hair seems to be getting longer. I look like a shaggy Beatle in an undershirt for a moment. I'm definitely getting younger again. I look 16 but it's different from my appearance when I was with Jill.
I watched as my hair continues to grow down to meet my jaw line, which I noticed looks not only more youthful but also softer as well. My skin looks different, smoother. I go to brush the lengthening hair out of my face and I freeze as I notice my hand. It looks different, more delicate and my fingers too long. A panic starts to rise in me as I realize that I'm not just getting young I'm also changing.
I looked back at my reflection. My hair is now almost to my shoulders. I'm down to age 15 or 14 when I feel the same strange pulling and sliding sensation all over my body. I'm much smaller than I was at 14 before. The undershirt which barely reached my waist a few minutes ago now completely covers my crotch. I can't seem to comprehend what's happening to me.
I hear the woman calling out -- she seems closer -- I'm panicking. Not because I'm afraid of getting caught, but because I'm beginning to suspect what's happening to me. Feeling a pulling at my waist, I pull the T-shirt up and stared in shock and disbelief. My shape is definitely broader -- AND ROUNDER! Body fat seems to be collected in hips and butt giving a distinctively pear shape to my overall body. But even as I seem to be growing more and more feminine, I am also growing younger as well. I seem to be just over the cusp of puberty.
I lift up my shirt and look at my diminishing manhood. I tried to grasped at it in a vain attempt to stop the shrinking, but in only moments it disappears into the few remaining hairs that lightly cover my genital region. I felt rather than saw something growing inside of me. It started where my penis used to be and moved inside towards my belly. I was then able to see my belly distend a little as the uterus formed, giving me the little pooch that I'd always found so sexy on women.
"I'm a girl!!!" I said aloud, my voice already a girlish squeak.
I pulled the T-shirt off completely and looked at the still changing image in the mirror. I was now well under five feet tall and still shrinking. My body had long since lost any semblance of adulthood. The only body hair I had left was the still growing mop on my head. I looked down a few inches to my hairless chest, my nipples and aureoles had changed both shape and color. You couldn't call them breasts at this point, but they were clearly not the common nub of a male nipple. Beneath them I could see a small but distinct yet gentle swelling.
I realized that this ride had not come to a stop. I was still getting younger.
My new form was already on the retreat. I watched as my body slimmed and tightened, I know I should have felt good about looking less like a woman and more like a man but I didn't. All I felt was panic as I shriveled into prepubescence. I now had the complete lineless curves of a child. I looked disconsolately at my pubis and accepted the fact that -- at least to all outward appearances -- I was a girl. My hair continued to grow, but not as fast. When it reached just below my shoulders, it stopped. My face had rounded as my nose became smaller and a spray of small freckles appears across the bridge.
I continued shrinking as my face and body became more and more childlike. A small round child's belly formed at my mid-section. My fingers were short and stubby. I was under four feet tall when I suddenly stopped changing.
I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Within moments, the room had gone from normal size to a room intended for giants. The child's clothes that hung on hangers all around me were mostly now well out of my reach. The doorknob felt huge in my hand when I touched it. What was worse was it appeared just above my eye level. With luck, I might be 40 inches tall and weighed 40 to 45 pounds.
What was going on, I wondered to myself. What kind of crazy place had I come to where a grown man could be turned into a child and a girl?
I picked up my discarded undershirt and pulled it back over my head. The shirt's hem brushed the ground around my feet. I looked in the mirror and the face staring back at me was little girl's. I didn't have a chance to do much more thinking because at that moment the door to the closet was flung open and a giant woman looked down at me.
"What are you doing in the closet, honey?" she asked. "You have to get dressed or you'll be late for dancing class."
I gasped audibly when I recognized the woman. It was mom! My mom!
She left the closet door open and went to a dresser and removed a small black leotard and a matching pair of tights. Handing it to me, she motioned for me to put it on. When I didn't move, she sighed and stretched apart the top and motioned me to step into it. With a jerk, she pulled me into the leotard. I made a note to myself that, if and when, I ever made it home, I would be a lot more gentle when I was helping my kids dress. This woman was trying to be gentle, but I felt like I was being yanked through a catapult!
While I made some halfhearted attempts to adjust myself inside this uncomfortable clothing, the woman retrieved a hair brush from the top of the dresser and proceeded to brush and pull back my hair. She twisted it into the semblance of a ponytail and fastened it back with a elastic hair band. She gave me a small affectionate smack on the fanny and strode out of the room.
"Penny!" my mother called. "Penny! Come eat your breakfast, or you'll be late."
"Don't forget your slippers," she added.
At the foot of the little white bed was a pair of delicate ballet slippers. Almost unconsciously, I picked them up. I stepped out into the hallway. The house was not familiar -- at least it wasn't the house I grew up in. Yet the woman was my mom. She looked a lot younger -- like in her late 20s -- instead of the woman my kids call Grandma.
On the wall of the staircase going downstairs were a number of pictures. One showed my parents holding small girl -- ME! By the way, negotiating stairs as a child is a difficult endeavor. No wonder so many small children tend to sit down and slide down the stairs on their rumps. It's certainly a lot easier!
I looked around the downstairs -- again nothing was familiar. By the front door was a door mat with "The Heideggers" woven into it. The woman -- I mean, my mother -- called me into the kitchen. Lifting me into a chair at the table, she set a bowl of cereal before me and poured milk over it. My small legs dangled more than a foot off the floor. Mom slid the chair forward until my back rested against the back of the kitchen chair. Now my feet hung just over the edge of the chair.
At another place setting at the table were the remains of an adult's breakfast -- my father's I suppose. Next to the coffee cup was a newspaper -- the Dallas Morning Herald. I snuck a look at the date . . . August 1, 1997. But that was today's date! How could that be?
My name was Heidegger -- my father and mother were the same people I grew up with back in the 60s and 70s -- yet here they were . . . young again and I was nothing but a child . . . and a girl child at that!
I finished my cereal (the bowl looked more like a bucket to my childlike eyes) and lowered myself back to the floor by sliding off the chair.
"I'll be ready in a minute," my mother called.
I went into the living room to explore. I still felt I was in the "Land of the Giants" since even the most normal and mundane objects looked and felt huge to me. On one of the end tables was a picture of me. I was dressed in a small uniform -- a school uniform I suppose. On the back of the picture in my mother's clear handwriting was "Penny Heidegger, First Grade, 1997.
First Grade! That would make me . . . doing some quick math . . . six years old! For crying out loud, I'm barely out of kindergarten! Mom entered the room and picked up her purse.
"Let's go, baby," she said, opening the front door. I stand on the small concrete stoop as mom closes the door and locks it. In the driveway is a Ford Taurus. I cross to the passenger side, but mom motions me to her side. She opens the back door. As I reach her side, she effortlessly lifts me and sets me in the rear seat. With practice hands she buckled me in.
I can't see over the front seat, but if I lean forward slightly, I can look out the side window. Mom pulls into the street and pretty soon we're riding through one of the numerous subdivisions that surround Dallas. We pass place that looks familiar -- its a little pitch and putt place that my wife and I used to frequent when we were younger. Seeing it makes me realize that I'm only a couple of miles from my home -- my real home -- that is if my real home exists here.
I starting to wonder if there are multiple me's floating around in this mixed up mess that my life has become because of that damned accelerator.
Mom enters a strip mall and pulls into a parking space. She lets herself out and opens my door. The storefront has "Elinor's School of Dance" written in block letters on the glass. We enter the front door and my eyes are greeted by the sight of 12 little girls all dressed in black leotards doing pirouettes in front of mirrors.
"My God," I groan inwardly. "I'm in ballet class!"
"Come on, Penny. You're late," the adult I take to be the teacher calls to me. "Go over to the bar and do your stretches."
In a few minutes I'm lined up with 11 other little girls doing some kind of ballerina squats. For the next hour I was put through more contortions than I thought possible. And to think that all over the world, thousands of little girls were going through the exact same torture as I was!
During the break, I slipped away quietly from the other little girls. I needed to think. I had no idea about what was happening to me. My life had already been twisted and turned around more than I could even begin to imagine. I rubbed my tiny hands across my face. Peter was still in there, but I had to look close to find him. I shook my head. There was nothing to distinguish me from any other little girl in the world.
I couldn't imagine what my mother would say if I went to her and tried to explain that I wasn't her daughter, but her son and that I was really 36 and not a little child. I sighed a little girl sigh. I saw a phone on the teacher's desk. I dialed my office, but the person on the other line claimed to be a dry cleaner. I noticed a phone book on the teacher's desk and looked for my company. It wasn't there.
I opened it to Heideggers. I search until I found a listing for Peter and Brenda Heidegger. With no one looking, I dialed the number from the book. The phone rang and a woman answered . . . Brenda!
"Hello," I heard my wife say.
"Hello," she repeated.
"Brenda . . .?" I said softly.
"Who is this?" my wife demanded.
It was then that I looked in the mirror lining the wall next to me. I could see the maelstrom forming. I looked about to see if any one else could see it, but no one was paying any attention. The swirling was larger. In fact, it now dwarfed my diminished body. With a look over my shoulder I stepped toward the mirror. I could still hear Brenda's voice calling out from the phone. I stepped into the mirror. Where ever I was going it couldn't be any worse than being a grown man in a little girl's body.
NOTE TO MYSELF: I'm alive . . . at least, I think I am . . .
Now I'm really starting to get pissed!
Again, it the feeling of being stuck inside the drum of a dryer in a Laundromat. I tumble end over end -- but this time it ends with a splat and splash as I hit a wall of water. I sputter and splash as I try and find the bottom with my feet while rubbing water out of my eyes. I can feel wet hair plastered across my back. This is my first indication that I might have just exchanged locations and not circumstances. Looking around, I see I'm in what appears to be a rock quarry. I know this place! I swam here as a boy. I swim to the edge of a rock ledge and haul myself out.
It only takes a glance at my crotch to remind me that Penny is still part of my life. What ever is happening, I always seem to arrive either nude or partially clothed. In this case, I'm naked again. I hear voices -- boys voices on the rocks above me.
"He went this way, I tell you," I hear one boy's voice say.
"You sure," says another boy.
"Sure I'm sure. Look! You can see his footprints."
I look down and see that I have left a series of footprints on the dry rock after climbing out of the water. But a closer inspection seems to show that each footprint is a little bigger than the one preceding it.
I look at myself -- sure enough I'm growing again. I stare at my reflection in the waters. I still seem to be female, but I look less so. My hair is getting shorter and I feel the twisting sensation in my groin. In a moment, I've rejoined the ranks of manhood, if still somewhat diminished. I continue to grow. I seem to be at least 8 or 9 now. The last of my girlish hair is gone, but my growth seems to be slowing and then it stops.
I'm still a kid -- a little older than I was as Penny, but still a kid. There's not even the slightest hint of peachfuzz on my denuded crotch nor any other sign of body hair. I test my voice . . . it's still high, but at least I'm male.
Suddenly I feel at huge blow to my back. The force of the impact sends me spinning into the water. I feel and hear two other larger splashes on either side of me, and as I rise to try and get my breath, hands grab my head and push me under.
"Oh, God," I think. "I'm going to drown."
Finally, I'm allowed up for air. Choking and coughing I swim feebly to the ledge. I'm joined in a minute by two other boys -- both as naked as me -- who are laughing and slapping my back.
"Di'ja think you could hide from us, Peter?" the one boy asks.
"Yeah, Peter," the other agrees. "Jack spotted you sneaking toward this pool 10 minutes ago."
The one called Jack snickered and added, "Yeah you bastard, Mike and me are gonna hide your clothes, too."
I ignored both boys as I tried to get my breath back. At least I was Peter again. The two boys were arguing.
"Well I still like Will Smith in Independence Day better. It was way cool when he blowed up that alien ship with a nuk-cleer bomb," Mike said.
"Yeah, but that guy that hopped in the bug's mouth in Men in Black was better. And they had cooler guns, too."
"Men in Black," I thought to myself. I'm still in 1997 but now I'm a little boy.
"Is my name Peter . . . Peter Heidegger?" I asked Mike and Jack.
They stared at me like I had two heads. I repeated my question. And still got no answer. What year is this? Is this Dallas? Where do I live? What's my parents name? I shot off question after question, but my words only seemed to amuse them.
"Get this dork," Jack said to Mike. "He thinks he's being a smart ass."
Mike gets up and grabs a bundle of clothes. He yells to me to get dressed, they want to go to the Kwik Mart for drinks. I hear to two boys running through the brush. I crook the wadded clothes under my arm and start to leave. I suddenly feel the call of nature and stop for a moment to relieve myself and to celebrate my regained manhood by proudly writing my name with my urine.
I look one more time down into the water. The boy's face looks up at me. No more than 10 or 11 I think. Just as I turn to go, a motion in the water catches my eye. It's the vortex again. I turn to run, but the wobbly vertigo has returned in earnest and I fall backward . . .
Continued in Part 3