Crystal's StorySite


Transformers (Sort Of)

by Catherine Linda Michel


Chapter Six


I slept the sleep of the dead, that night. I didn't even dream, or at least, I don't remember dreaming. The very next thing I do remember, after my head hit the pillow, was Jerry shaking me, trying to wake me up. I still felt very stiff and sore, and when I moved in just the wrong way, a shot of pain ran down my right side and threatened to make me scream, but all in all, I didn't feel too bad for a guy who looked like a girl, who got shot!

I tried to shoo Jerry away and go back to sleep, but he persisted and finally I was fully awake. He looked a bit worried or stressed and, when I came to full consciousness, I asked him,

"What's up? Something else go wrong?" Fearing the worst.

"No." He replied. "Or at least not yet, although with the way things have gone for us since we got stuck in these suits, something could go wrong any minute, ya know? No, what's up is that Jim, Penny and Paul want a summit meeting, so to speak, and they want you there if you're able. So what do ya think? Can ya get outta that bed and join us?"

"Damn, Jerry. I'm still getting over being shot, or did ya forget that?"

He sighed and looked unsure of what to say next so I continued.

"But, I will join ya'all as soon as I get a shower or a bath, or something. Would that be okay?"

"Um, Donna, do ya think you could put that on hold until after this meeting? It's really kinda important. Jim and the rest said that if you can make it, they want ya there ASAP."

"Well SHIT! Okay, okay! I'll be there in a minute. Is it alright if I put some clothes on, or do they want me out there naked, or as naked as I can get seeing as how I'm not really naked inside this suit, even though it's probably my real skin for the rest of my life…..I'm rambling, aren't I?"

"Yeah, ya are, sorta. Tell ya what, Donna. I'll go on out and fix ya something to eat and drink while you get dressed. How about that?"

"Okay, Jerry. Thanks bud. You're the best, ya know that?"

"Yeah, I know that. I've been trying to tell you that for years. Looks like it took you damn near dying to finally see my point!" He responded with a chuckle.

I knew he was only kidding around, so I threw my pillow at him and told him to get his egotistic ass outta my bedroom so I could get dressed. He retreated, throwing the pillow back at me. Before I could fire again, he darted out the door. I made my way out of bed in fits and starts, trying not to move in such a way that it would hurt. I struggled into a robe and slowly walked out of the room, headed for the living room. When I got there, I saw that everyone was gathered there, apparently waiting for me. I found an empty chair and slowly sat down, as Jerry brought me a tray with some juice, some eggs, and some toast on it. I thanked him and he just smiled at me and went over to sit on the floor by the couch.

"Okay, everybody, I'm here, as you can see. So what's up?" I began nibbling on the food while Jim took the floor.

"Okay." He started out. "I guess you all know that we're in a whole different situation, considering the events of yesterday. It looks like we're up against some real heavyweights who will stop at almost nothing to get the suits we recovered so we have to make some real plans to disappear, at least for awhile. Paul here knows of a place where we can go, but we'll have to sacrifice a lot. Families, girl and/or boyfriends, jobs, a lot. I know it's a lot to ask you all, but I don't really think we'll be safe at all unless we do this. While Donna was sleeping, Penny and I took the liberty of emptying everyone's bank accounts and we have the money right here. I don't think we even have the time for anyone to call in and quit their jobs. The faster we move, the better the chances that we'll get away before whoever it is, finds us. What do you all think?"

Well, Dad took it pretty well. He knew that his business could go on without him for quite awhile. Mom….well, Mom just sat there soaking it all in without saying a word! I was a bit shocked at that. As for the rest, they began discussing it quietly. Again I was surprised. There was no panic, no consternation, no yelling. Just calm discussion and it all seemed to agree with what Jim had said. Penny spoke up, saying,

"I've already called my family and told them to head for the place that Paul suggested. As far as I know, they're already on their way. They'll pick Claire up on their way. If I call them and tell them otherwise, they'll come here first, drop Claire off and keep on going. If I don't call them, we'll meet them there.

I had finished my food without even really noticing that I was eating, so engrossed was I in this new revelation. It appeared that we were gonna 'blow town' and 'take it on the lam', to quote some old movie dialog! I couldn't believe what I was hearing, but I was even more surprised at the seemingly calm acceptance of our parents! Would they actually leave everything they'd worked for all their lives, just to help protect me and Jerry? It certainly looked that way. Maybe I shouldn't have been so shocked, but I was.

Now I need to digress a bit here and explain something. The suits that Jerry and I were stuck in required some special equipment to put on and take off, you already know that, right? Okay. Now the older suits did require some prep time, but they didn't need any special equipment to don them. I needed to tell you that so you wouldn't misinterpret some parts of the rest of this story.

Jim began speaking again, saying,

"Now I think that, in the interests of safety, Penny and I will have to put on two of the suits. We recovered six suits total, two like the ones that Jerry and Donna are stuck in, and four of the previous models. The older suits can be put on and taken off with a minimum amount of effort and time, so Penny and I will be in no danger of getting stuck in them. That'll leave four suits for backup, but actually only two, since the newer ones require the special equipment. Maybe, depending on how long we'll have to hide, we'll be able to decipher Dr. Fine's notes or even contact him if he recovers, and we'll be able to build equipment so we can use them if we have to. Anyway, as for the remaining two suits that CAN be used, I think it'll have to be up to the rest of you as to who uses them, if they do get used at all."

He paused, but absolutely no one jumped into the conversation, so he continued.

"Paul will go into town and rent a couple of cars or vans or something, for us so we won't have to take cars that would be recognizable. We'll leave our own vehicles somewhere out of town hidden. Hopefully, they'll stay hidden and we can recover them when and if this is all over. I jumped into his soliloquy at that point, however.

"Okay. I can see that this plan is pretty much set, but I gotta say one thing, and I don't wanna hear any arguments. I'm taking 'The Beast"! I'll get it painted or something, but I've put too much time and money into that car to just abandon it. I know that it's easily recognizable, but if I'm gonna do this, that's my price and it's non-negotiable!"

Well, there was a babble of voices at that statement of mine. Most of it centered on the fact that I'd be endangering the rest by taking such an easily identifiable car, but I stood firm. I told them all,

"Hey, I've said all I'm gonna say about it! "The Beast" goes with us, or I go on my own! It's all I have from my life as Donnie and I'll be damned if I'm gonna lose it along with everything else! Any way the rest of you can figure out how to hide it or disguise it, I'll go along with, but it goes with us, or I go alone. Take your pick!"

Well, that statement elicited a lotta comments, as you can imagine. Most of what I heard was definitely not in favor of me taking the "beast" since it was so easily recognizable, but I held firm and re-iterated my intentions.

"Like I said, I am taking the "beast". I don't care what any of you think about it. That car is all I have left of my life as Donnie. This damned suit is now permanently bonded to me, or have you all forgotten that little fact? Even when or if Dr. Fine comes out of his coma, there's no guarantee that he'll be able to help me outta this damned thing, so it's likely that I'm gonna have to live the rest of my damned life looking just like I look right now!"

Okay, I was pissed. Wouldn't you be? 17 years as a guy, and liking being a guy, and now I faced living the rest of my life looking like some centerfold from a men's magazine. Then another thought intruded on my consciousness. DEBBIE!!!! My girlfriend! I was gonna have to disappear for God only knew how long, and Debbie didn't even know what had happened to me! She'd no doubt raise hell to find out, including the cops. Shit! Would she be in danger from the jerks who had tried to kill us? I broke into the babble of conversation in the room and expressed those thoughts.

"Jer! Dude! Everybody! What the hell about our girlfriends? They don't even know what's happened to Jer and me and now we're gonna disappear! And what about those dudes who tried to kill us and shit? Won't they try to find out where we are from Debbie and Cindy?"

Well, that introduced a whole nother dimension into the discussion. Jim and Penny seemed more concerned with the people who were already in on this deal, but my parents and Jerry's caught my concern right away and reflected it. Paul seemed to think that the girls would be okay since the girl's names didn't appear in any paperwork and they had never been seen with Jerry or me since we had gotten stuck in the suits. I knew that Debbie and Cindy would be very worried about us and where we were though and I knew that we hadda tell them something, anything.

"Look, what about this? Mom, you call Debbie and tell her that I hadda go outta town on some kind of emergency. Maybe to help with some sick relative or something like that, and Jerry's Mom can do the same thing with Cindy. At least then they won't be so worried about not hearing from us. I mean, there's no way that either Jerry or I can call them and tell them anything, right? We don't even sound like ourselves anymore, let alone look like ourselves. Can you imagine me going up to Debbie and trying to convince her that I'm her boyfriend? Not only would she think I was lying, she'd think I was nuts!"

Crap! This situation was going from really bad, to absurdly worse! Finally, after a lot of talk about this latest development, Paul spoke up again.

"Look, what I can do is this. I can have a friend of mine who is also a P.I. keep an eye on both of the girls. If any problems DO come up, he can call me and I can arrange for him to pick them up and get them to a safe place. He can probably even arrange something for their families as well. I know that it's not a perfect solution, but it's the best we can do for right now, because we gotta get on the damn road! The longer we stay around here, the better the chances that somebody is gonna put two and two together and find us. Some things we'll be able to solve after we get moving, but we have to leave, damn soon!"

Now I knew that Paul was right, but it didn't help my anxiety levels at all. Okay, I was only 17+, but I really loved Debbie and I know that Jerry was really falling for Cindy, so that meant that we had to do something to at least allay their fears over finding us gone. In the end, we combined several points of all our plans. I won't bother you with all the details, but what we did finally decide to do helped put some of my fears to rest, at least for the moment.

What we did do though, was pack everything we could, and got the hell outta Dodge. Paul arranged for a place for us to leave our vehicles while Jerry and I went for the "beast". I knew that old car could outrun just about anything else on wheels, especially with the modifications I had done on it. I hoped we could find one of those out of the way places that would paint your car for $49.95, or something like that, but failing that, I'd buy some spray paint and disguise the old girl as best as I could.

Well, we headed for the hills and it took us a couple of days of traveling, after Jerry and I showed up in the "beast", to get to our final destination. I'm not gonna go into any details in case somebody is reading this that shouldn't be, ya know? All I will say is that we went so far out into the puckerbrush that it became the boonies and we kept on going! We ended up going down so many gravel and dirt roads that I lost track of where the hell we really were! Paul had proven himself to be a real plus, finding vehicles that would be untraceable, coordinating the convoy and getting the place where we were gonna be staying for the foreseeable future. He'd even arranged for some supplies to be delivered to the cabins, before we even got there! Penny and Jim's families arrived shortly after the rest of us got there and, after introductions, we walked into the cabins. Paul said that he'd called ahead and told whoever it was that there was gonna be a vacationing party of people using the cabins for at least a month, but probably longer, and they wanted privacy, so we were assured of reasonable anonymity, I hoped!

(TOP SHELF BEGINS HERE) From the time we arrived, Mom took over, in her own inimitable way. She simply started issuing orders about what was needed and what needed to be done, and someone went and did it. Nobody questioned her decrees and I found it amusing to watch Jim, Penny and Paul simply knuckle under to Mom's, sometimes-strange sounding, orders. For example: She insisted that we get new curtains for all the windows!

Curtains? For some cabins out in the woods? In the middle of nowhere? Yes, curtains. When asked why curtains, Mom simply said,

"Now, How can I make a home for my family, for goodness knows how long, without some homey touches?" And went on issuing orders for more seemingly silly and useless things. My Mom. To know her is to be confused by her.

In the midst of the damndest crisis any of us had ever known, and probably ever would know, Mom refused to depart from what she considered 'normal'. Dad went about helping Jim, Penny and Paul set up some kind of security perimeter, some distance from the cabins. Jerry and I stayed inside for several days until Jim, Penny and Paul told us it was safe to go outside.

Now, I've called the places where we were gonna be staying, 'cabins', but they were really more like homes, just way out in some woods. They all had electricity, running water, even cable TV hookups with internet connections. Each place had two bedrooms, each bedroom with it's own attached bathroom. When I asked Paul about the seeming opulence of these places, he only said that they were owned by someone who owed him more favors than he could count. He never identified who that person was, or why he was owed so much by him or her, but it must have been someone with a lot of horsepower.

Our first night out there was kinda quiet, even with all the unpacking of what we had brought with us, and with the hiding of the vehicles. Paul and Jim went into the nearest town, wherever that was (they didn't tell us just then) and bought supplies. Food, some clothing, basic kitchen stuff and camping gear. They also brought back four 12-gauge shotguns and several boxes of shells for them. Double ought and slugs. Mom bristled at the weapons and almost refused to let them into the cabin with them, but Penny took her aside and, grudgingly she finally did allow them in, but with a sour look on her face that told me that this little deal wasn't over yet. Not by a long shot! Me? I played Sgt. Shultz from Hogan's Heroes. I saw nothing! I heard nothing!

In the time we spent at those cabins, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out just who the hell those guys at the lab were. Jim and Penny didn't have clue one about them, but they had made calls to some friends in the security business and Paul had word out on the streets with his sources. We had to be careful so that nobody knew exactly who we were, so we used our cell phones to communicate with the 'outside' world, and then, only sparingly. Paul told us that Debbie and Cindy, Jerry's and my girlfriends, were safe and that his 'people' would keep a very close watch on them, ensuring their safety. If anything went wrong, or if his people thought the girls were in danger, they would sprit them away, with their families, to our haven.

Yeah, it was boring out there in the woods. Sure we had TV and the internet, but for several days, we saw no one who wasn't part of our little group. Mom was insisting on going 'shopping', saying there were things she needed that the men couldn't possibly understand. Everyone tried to tell her that it wasn't safe yet to go traipsing off into town where she'd be a stranger, but she wouldn't hear of it. The more time that went by, the more insistent she got, until I couldn't stand it anymore. I approached Paul, saying,

Look, Paul. You gotta get Mom into a town somewhere! This hiding out stuff is bad enough, but to hear her going on and on and on is making me nutso! Listen, I've dealt with her nuttiness for almost 18 years and I know her better than any of you, except my Dad, will ever know her and she will not quit. She'll just get louder and louder until she can be heard in town, for cripes sake! Is there any way you can get her outta here to get what she wants?"

"Well, Donna." Paul responded. "I suppose we could take her over to Jergensville. There's a mall there and she wouldn't be so noticeable as a stranger. Mind you, I don't like it, but I think you're right. She's just going to become a problem if we keep her cooped up here much longer. Tell you what. Why don't you, and Jerry make up a list of things you think you might want or need, and we can get them at the same time? I'd like to take the two of you with us, but you aren't fully recovered from your gunshot wound, and the two of you might be too recognizable or memorable."


"Yeah, you're right about that, Paul. Jerry and I look like friggin' fashion models or something, and people would remember us. Heh. I never thought it would be a hindrance to be good looking. Add to that the fact that I'm still not comfortable with being looked at 'that' way, by men and I can see your points easily. As much as I'd LIKE to get outta here, I know that Jerry and I have to stay hidden, for awhile longer. We can take walks in the woods though, can't we?"

"I guess that'd be okay kid, but if you do that, be very careful okay? If you think you might be seen by someone, or if you hear anyone out there, hightail it back to the cabins and stay put until you can get me, Jim or Penny to check it out. From what you've told me about the suits, I know I don't have to worry about animals attacking you two, and you can move faster than any normal person can, but I don't want anybody getting a good look at you or Jerry."

"Deal, Paul. By the way, I haven't had a chance to thank you for what you're doing. I don't know how we'll ever be able to repay you, but we will, somehow."

"Hey kid, don't worry about it. I run that agency more for my own enjoyment than for a way to make a living. Over the years I've cracked some pretty big time cases for some very important and wealthy folks. Their fees have made me pretty well off. I took this one because it appealed to me on several different levels. First of all, I felt sorry for you and Jerry. None of this is your fault and you are only kids. Second of all, Jim and Penny are more than just acquaintances. Someday I'll tell you about that. Third is simply because this is something way out of the ordinary for me. I won't lie to ya kid. This is exciting for me, but aside from all that, I've come to like you kids and your families."

He paused for a moment, looking at me with a very serious look on his face.

"You've got guts Donna. You and Jerry both, and it's easy to see how you came by them. Your parents are some of the best I've ever met. As weird and 'twilight zoneish' as this whole thing is, your parents have simply backed you two kids to the hilt, without asking and without blame. They obviously love the two of you the way all parents should love their kids. I don't see that very often in my line of work. It's…nice."

Believe it or not, he blushed at that point! Then, without another word, he turned and left the cabin, pausing at the door to look back at me. He winked and gave me the thumbs up gesture that said, to me, 'Keep your head on straight. You're okay, and I'll back you to the hilt.'

Paul was true to his word. That very evening he told Mom that she was gonna get her wish to go shopping. He warned her against saying anything while she was out, that would point back to us, and he also said she was on a budget. We didn't have unlimited funds and we'd have to watch our spending because we had no idea how long we were going to have to hide out. Mom, being Mom, pooh poohed the budget notion, fluttering about the cabin like some crazed butterfly, making lists of stuff she was going to have to get, but Dad, of all people, put the brakes on her, saying,

"Dear. Like it or not, we are under the protection of Paul, Jim and Penny. It's vital that we pay attention to what they tell us about what we can and can't do or say. I know that I almost always bow to your wishes in just about everything, but this time, I have to put my foot down. You cannot spend more than they tell you that you can, and you cannot 'talk' to people about why you're here or about any of us, except in the most oblique of ways. Please honey. Don't fight us on this. It's best for the safety of all of us, especially the kids."

He hugged her tight and whispered some other things to her, but I didn't hear them. When he finished, he gave her a big, romantic kiss. Eeeeeew.

"Mom! Dad! Will you two cut it out? You're embarrassing me! Jeeze! Get a room or something, willya?"

Well? What would you say or do if it was your parents getting all mushy and stuff? Oh, I know that they were in love and like that, but to actually see my parents getting 'that' way….well it was just….wrong or something. Ya know?

Well, they took off the following morning on their shopping 'expedition'. Paul and Penny went with Mom. I got majorly bored about 2 hours later and I suggested to Jerry that we go for a walk or something.

"Cool!" He said. "If you think you're up to it, that sounds good to me. I've been itching to get outta this place and breathe some fresh air! When do ya wanna take off?"

I looked over at Jim who nodded that it was okay and then said,

"Don't go too far from the cabins and stay out of sight if you hear anyone else out there. Remember, we want to remain virtually unknown out here for as long as possible and with you two looking like you do, anyone who sees you will not soon forget you. That Dr. Fine sure did some good work, I gotta say."

"Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before, Jim." I said, testily. "Every time I look at Jerry, or into a freaking mirror, I'm reminded of how handsome or beautiful these suits make us look. I never thought I'd miss my old, plain face, but I'd give damn near anything to see it looking back at me from a mirror! Now can we get outta here or do you have some more 'advice' to give us, Grandma?"

Jim just smiled one of those long suffering, 'Kids! What are ya gonna do with 'em', kinda smiles and waved his hands at us, making a shooing motion.

"Get outta here, the both of you!" He said ruefully. "I try and I try but you kids just don't want to hear me. Oh me, Oh my. Whatever will I do with you two? Be back before supper, okay?"

"DEAL!" Both Jerry and I shouted, and we took off out of that cabin like our butts were on fire.

Running back to our own cabins, we changed clothes, even though we could probably have gone into the woods naked. The suits kept us completely safe from minor scratches and the like, that would bother someone not protected as well as we were in those suits. While changing, I noticed the ugly, puckered, half healed scar from where I'd been shot. It made me angry, but it also scared me. I'd thought that we were pretty much immune from bullets and stuff. The more I thought about it, the madder, and the more scared I got.

As I was thinking about it, I accessed the HUD and scrolled through the various options. There were all sorts of displays and graphs and the like, flashing in my view, but I couldn't make heads nor tails out of most of them. We hadn't gotten as far as testing all of them in the lab. One said; 'Self Diagnostic', and I stopped my scan there for a minute, deciding to look at this one more closely. When I went through the options there, there was one which said; "Activate Repair Mode'. I figured, what the hell, and I accessed it, not knowing what to expect, but not thinking it would harm me.

All of a sudden, I came to attention, like some Army guy of something! I couldn't move! Scared pretty badly, I tried to make the HUD move on to something else, but the display said; "Repair Mode Functioning. Stand by'. I stood there stiffly, figuring that I'd really screwed up this time, but there was no pain. There was only a brief tickling sensation around the wound and then nothing. In a couple of minutes it was all over and I could move again. The display said; "Repairs Completed. Operation Nominal. Power Reserve 75% ', and then it shut off.

I cautiously examined the wound area in a mirror and there was no trace of the wound! Not even so much as a scar! Just smooth, perfect skin! "Wow!" I thought to myself. "Now THIS is cool! Finally there's a benefit from wearing this damn thing. I finished getting dressed and rushed out of the cabin, anxious to tell Jerry of my discovery. He was waiting for me outside, kind of impatient looking and he said.

"Well it's about time! Jeeze, you've only been a female for about a week and already you take as much time as a real woman would, getting ready!"

"Oh shut up you jerk!" I shot back at him. "I'm not a friggin woman and you know it! It's only the suit that makes me look like one, remember, dummy?"

"Oh lighten up, Donnie." He responded, smiling at me. "I know that, you idiot! I'm just trying to make ya smile a bit. You've been a real gloomy Gus for the past couple of days. Look, Donnie, I know things look bad right now, but we've got lotta help, and they know what they're doing. You just wait. I'll betcha that things are gonna get better real soon."

I stood there for a few seconds, trying not to get mad at Jerry. He'd always been a joker, as well as being able to look for the good side of almost any situation. I'd gotten mad at him a hundred times, but only for about 30 seconds or so at any one time. He's just one of those people you can't stay mad at, you know? Finally I said,

"Jerry? Sometimes I feel like beating the hell outta you, ya know? I'll tell you, if we weren't best pals……well, never mind that. I gotta tell you something cool!" and I proceeded to tell him about the wound and the healing that the suit had done. He asked me how I'd accessed it and I told him how. In just a few minutes he had accessed the same displays in his suit.

"Whoa Dude! Now THIS is majorly awesome, Donnie!" He said excitedly. "Man, this is like Wolverine™ or something. We can heal ourselves like he can! We gotta check out what else these things can do."

"Okay, Jerry." I agreed, "But lets take our walk first. I gotta get away from everybody and everything for awhile or I'm gonna go nutso! You have no idea of what it's like to have guys looking at you like they want something from you. This really sucks! It's been a freaking week since I could even pee like a guy, for God's sake, and every guy I walk past ends up looking at my tits or my ass instead of looking at my face! At least out here in the jingweeds I won't have to deal with that for awhile. C'mon. Let's get outta here." And I walked away from the cabins, leaving Jerry standing there.

He caught up with me in just a couple of steps and we headed out into the wooded area that surrounded the cabins. We walked and talked for quite awhile before we came to a small stream. We stopped there for a bit and sat down, even thought we weren't anywhere near tired. Just sitting there with the quiet sounds of the stream seemed to help make some of my troubles a little easier to deal with. I think the biggest benefit from it was not having to deal with anyone else for a change. Just me and my best bud.

Actually, Jerry and I were 'city kids' and had spent very little time in the woods or even out of a town, so not only was this different, it was very soothing and restful. We sat there for an hour or so, idly tossing pebbles and sticks into the stream and watching the trees swaying with the gentle breeze. I thought, 'Man. What I've missed by not getting away from the city.'

Then Jerry said, in a quiet, thoughtful tone of voice,

"Hey Donnie. Can I ask ya something? I mean, just between you and me?"

"Sure, Jerry." I replied, lost in the quiet.

"Okay. Did you and your girl ever….you know? I mean, um, did you ever 'do the deed'?"

"Damn, Jerry!" I responded. "What brought that up? That's kinda personal, ya know?"

"Oh hell dude." He said. "Since when do you and me have secrets between us?"

He leaned back against a small tree and looked at me with a strange expression on his face.

"Okay, Jerry." I sighed resignedly. "To answer your question, no. We never did. I think we both wanted to, but we also knew that it wouldn't be right, you know? I guess we're both just a little old fashioned about stuff like that. Why do you ask?"

"Aw, hell, Donnie. Me and my girl never did it either. I think she wanted to, but we never really had a real chance for it. There was always somebody around, or one of us didn't feel like it right then."

"Yeah Jer. I know what you mean. Thing is, in this damn suit, it doesn't look like I'm gonna get a shot at anything like that in the foreseeable future either!" I sulked.

Jerry moved over closer to me and kinda put his hand on my back, comforting me kinda, and said,

"Hey man. It's gonna be okay. I don't know how or when, but I just know we're gonna get outta this crap, somehow."

I turned toward Jerry and said, somewhat heatedly,

"Oh? And just how the hell do you know that? You got some kinda crystal ball or something that I don't know about? Shit man, At least you look more or less normal. I mean you still look like a guy! I look like my own freaking wet dream, and that's the way everybody else sees me too! How am I ever gonna get together with a girl when I look better than she does?"

Well, I guess the events of the past week had finally gotten to me, because I started to cry! At first it was just a couple of teardrops rolling down my cheeks, but before too long it became a full blown, heavy duty crying fit, wracking sobs and all. Jerry tried to comfort me by patting me on my back, but when that didn't seem to be working, he took me in his arms and I ended up crying my heart out, with my head on his shoulder and his arms wrapped tightly around me.

He was making 'shushing' noises like, 'hush, hush man. It's gonna be okay. Go ahead and let it out. I'm right here and I ain't gonna leave ya, no matter what. I finally seemed to cry myself out and I backed off of his shoulder, embarrassed to be in this position, and wiping the tears from my face. Jerry took my face in his hands, looked into my eyes and then………..he kissed me! Now it wasn't one of those deep, spit swapping soul kisses of anything like that. Actually it was more of a quick touch of our lips and then he drew back, still looking into my eyes. I guess I must have been too shocked to try getting away from him and I just laid there, in his arms for a few seconds.

He kinda sighed and then he tried it again. At first, it was like it wasn't really me he was kissing. I mean, it was me, but it wasn't, in a way. I can't explain it, and, for a moment, it felt kinda nice to be hugged and even kissed. But then, it crashed in on me just who was doing the kissing and I lost it. I pushed away from him, practically in a panic.

"What the hell are you doing man? Holy shit! What the hell are you doing kissing me, you fucking freak! Some goddamn friend you are!"

I jumped to my feet and took a couple of shots with closed fists at him, doing little or no damage and then, I turned around and started running, away from him, that place, that situation, from everything. I hardly slowed down for trees that were anything less than the thickness of my leg, just hitting them with a forearm shot and either breaking them off or ripping them right out of the ground. To this day, I don't know if I was angry or just scared out of my mind.

I could hear Jerry crashing through the underbrush, close behind me. He was shouting something, but I couldn't hear the words. I only knew that I had to get away from him. I didn't even know why I had to. Maybe I thought he was gonna try something else, I don't know. I took a hard left, hoping to elude him. About that time, I ran out of ground. I'd run right off the face of a cliff! I remember falling. I remember watching the cliff face flashing past me. I remember thinking, 'Well, this is really gonna test this suit. I hope it fails and I die. I can't live like this anymore. Then, everything went black.

I hit water, which was probably 50-75 feet below the cliff edge I'd run off and sank into its depths. I couldn't see a damn thing. I just sank down into the depths of the water, not caring if I ever came back to the surface. It was quiet down there, and there was no one pressuring me, no one chasing me. No one trying to get me to do things I didn't want to do. No one trying to get me to accept a situation I hated!

I tried to tear that damn suit off me, but all I succeeded in doing was hitting the bottom of the deep pool of water I'd fallen into. I sank into the muck at the bottom and just sat there. I didn't seem to be having any problems breathing though. I guess that damn suit was living up to its capabilities. I actually considered staying down there until the suit failed, knowing that if I ran out of air, I'd never be able to reach the surface in time and I'd drown.

Then I started thinking about Mom and Dad and about my girlfriend and it began to sink in just how much pain and sorrow it would cause if I died, especially like this. About that time, I felt someone grab hold of me. I looked around wildly and there was Jerry! He motioned to me to start back for the surface and, after a couple of seconds I nodded my okay, and began to swim upward. I was still angry at Jerry, but I couldn't give up my hope that I'd get out of that damned suit, somehow, someday. Jerry was a whole different matter though.

When we finally got out of the water, Jerry moved to my side, as if to make sure I was okay. I stopped him, saying,

"Just stay the hell away from me, okay? Right now I don't even wanna see you, man! I don't know what the hell was going through your idiot mind back there, and I'm not sure I ever wanna know! Just go away and leave me alone, before things get any worse. I know that I probably can't beat you up, but I'll damn sure try if you don't get outta here. I'll find my own way back to the cabins. Just go away."

"Look, Donnie," he began. "I don't know what the hell happened back there either, but I gotta know you're okay. I'm sorry that I did that, GOD I'm sorry! You gotta know I'd never hurt ya, man."

"Just shut the hell up and leave me alone, okay?" I shot back at him. "Right now I don't wanna even see your sorry ass! Just go back to the cabins and leave me alone. I'll be fine, but I gotta be alone for awhile. This shit has gotten just too damn weird and I gotta work some things out in my head. Just go away, please?"

Jerry looked at me and shook his head.

"Okay man. If that's what you really want, but you're okay, right? You aren't hurt or anything?"

"NO!" I shouted back at him. "I'm not hurt, but I AM pissed off and weirded out, and you being here isn't helping me one damned bit. Just leave me alone. I'll be back at the cabins in awhile. If you value our friendship, or what might be left of it after what you did, you'll do as I'm asking you to do."

I turned and walked away from Jerry. Not heading for the cabin area, but away from it. I fully intended to return to them, but I badly needed time alone to work through what I was feeling. I heard Jerry start to say something else, but I just motioned at him to go away. I didn't trust my feelings just then, and I was afraid I'd do something we'd both regret later. I walked off into the trees and underbrush, my thoughts going about a hundred miles an hour.

After about an hour or so, I stopped walking. I was in a small clearing and I found a place where I could sit down on a large boulder. I don't know how long I sat there, but I remember what I thought about. The biggest thing on my mind, other than praying to find a way out of that suit, was; how did I really feel about what Jerry had done? Yes, it had freaked me out. I wasn't gay or anything like it. Just because I looked like a teenage boy's wet dream, didn't mean I felt that way.


Was it unpleasant, that small kiss? Well, it was, and…it wasn't. I mean, it had been a long time since I'd held my girlfriend in my arms, since I'd kissed her, since I'd kissed anyone. Did it feel gay? Yes, it did. Hey I was still a guy and so was Jerry and guys just don't do that sort of thing, right? Oh, they can hug and stuff, but not like that. Not like guys and girls do. Yet……what was I right then? Was I still a guy? Did my outward appearance dictate what I was, sexually? Yes, I moved, sounded, looked and even gestured like a girl. The suit made me do that. Hard as I tried, I couldn't move or sound like a guy. Oh, I could say the words, and the phraseology sounded like a guy would sound, but it came out in the high, soft, sweet voice that the suit imposed on me.

Yet, thinking about it, that kiss also seemed….comforting, somehow. It had felt kinda nice to be held in someone's arms, even if it was another guy. Jesus. Could this get any more confusing for me?

More to come.




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