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4 years 7 months ago #10011 by tenwaters
tenwaters created the topic: Migrant
I have always liked trains. They remind me of a slower time. A longer trip, gives you time to reflect. I have a lot to reflect upon. For the most part, I have had a pretty good life. Sure the last two years have been hell, but on the whole, I have had a good life. I was born in Bradenton Florida on the tail end of the baby boom. I had a talent for academics, and graduated high school at the head of my class. I went north for college and med school. Yet here I am sitting on a train heading off to high school. I know how I got here, but why is an imponderable.

They say the path to hell is paved with good intensions. I started out with the best intensions. I took the Hippocratic Oath more seriously that most of my fellows. There were three areas of medicine that most fascinated me; trauma, burns, and genetics. Trauma and the emergency room is where a doctor can really make a difference. Then again, a lot of people use the ER as an all night family practice clinic. I did my residency in the U.S. Army first in emergency medicine, and then managed a tour in the burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center.

It was while I was at the burn center that I met Gina, she was a pediatrician. We met because of a most interesting case. She came in with a patient that was burning from the inside out. It was my first encounter with mutant burnout. We lost the young boy. Consoling Gina turned into courting Gina, a year later we married. We both developed an interest in the genetic time bombs, which could cause the devastating changes that our young patient suffered.

We were not obsessed, Gina and I had other interests by the time we left the Army we were a family of four. It is bittersweet to remember. Still the first moments of my children’s lives are the high points of my life. The fear that I can be a danger to them, simply by living in the same city, has kept me away these last two years.

Politics, mutants, and money combined to do me in. After the Army Gina and I took a more academic career path. I received a position at Harvard Medical School and Gina found one at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center we moved to Boston. Life was good, colder than San Antonio, but good.

It was my work in genetics that got me noticed. I created an antigen test for screening for the meta-gene complex that was quick and eighty-five percent effective. The grants starting flowing in, my biggest contributor was the Goodkind foundation. I was so naïve, I thought my work was helping people.

One problem intrigued me there were a number of mutants that had transformations that were far too spontaneous. No previous meta-gene complex just an average kid with a completely non mutant ancestry one day and mutant the next day. It made no sense. I started looking for a causative agent. My first thought was that it might be a virus; I had little luck isolating it. I started pursuing other theories. The more outlandish my proposals the more the grant money flowed my way. I soon had fifty people working for me. We were looking at everything from prions to poltergeist and I found myself in demand as a guest lecturer.

I soon found myself somehow associating with people whose ideas and principles differed vastly from my own. I grew up in Bradenton Florid. Bradenton is the place the circuses over-wintered. Freaks and geeks were the norm, yet suddenly I was surrounded by people that were terrified of those that were different. These were the people that were sponsoring me. I was a normal that was advancing the understanding of how mutation happened. What I was looking for was a way to predict and prevent burnout. What they wanted was a solution for the "mutant menace." Maybe I dammed myself for I still took their money.

I was out west lecturing to a group of colleagues when a package came for me. The box arrived at my room special delivery. It contained an ornately carved onyx house. The house had something carved into its door in some language unknown to me. I received a slight shock as I picked up this well made dust collector to examine it farther. I think I remember a dark purple shadow rise from the tiny house. There seemed to be no other ill effects at the time. I joined a few friends for dinner read a few journal articles watched a bit of TV, caught up on my email and retired for the evening, my life was never the same afterwards.

I awoke in an unfamiliar room sleeping next to strange women. Confused I tried to slip unnoticed from the bed. Enough daylight entered the room to allow me to navigate without incentive. My bladder required attention. The first two doors were closets. When I found the bathroom I was in for another surprise. The face in the mirror was as unfamiliar as my surroundings. The lady in the bedroom awoke and began talking to me in what I latter found out was Chinese.

I looked in the mirror an Asian stranger in boxer shorts that stared back at me. The only clues he gave me were a confused and panicked look on his face and a wedding ring on his finger. I applied cold water to the face hoping to wake myself from this nightmare. It was an inefficient strategy.

The woman in the bedroom was beginning to sound avoided at my silence. I searched the bathroom looking for some clue as to what was going on. The two toothbrushes and male and female toiletries seemed to indicate that the man in the mirror and the women I woke up with were in a permanent relation.

I agonized over what to do next. After what seemed to be an eternity of panicked deliberation I was moved to action. I lifted the toilet seat and took a piss.

The sound of water hitting water gave me short reprieve from the inquisitor on the other side of the door. It was a short reprieve. No sooner than I washed my hands she asked in slightly accented English "honey are you all right?" I answered honestly in the negative and said; "not exactly."

This was only the first in a long series of rude awakenings. After the first few I detected a pattern. If I went to sleep I awoke in a new body. Sleep became my enemy. Worse still I soon found the original owners of the bodies I inhabited were stuck in the previous body I held. I was a monster leaving a trail of chaos and disrupted lives in my wake.

I tried to mitigate the problem avoiding sleep for days at a time. I used drugs, caffeine, methamphetamines, whatsoever I had access to. It only slowed my path of destruction. For some time I sought a solution seeing no president in traditional science I began to study magic because of my condition my studies were a bit eclectic. My progress was slow and frustrating. Each new body added on to my guilt and created new enemies. My many of my victims thought I could solve their problem some feared I might return them to a hell that I had inadvertently lifted them from.

I could do neither despite my best efforts and intensions. I tried isolating myself living like a hermit high in the mountains. For the better part of a winter I slept though the nights. One spring day, much to my horror, I awoke in the middle of a Boy Scout camp. Things went down hill after that, an eleven year old has little say in their choice of domicile. I slowly made my way east, again trying to stay awake and in each body as long as possible. The train pulled into the station in Trenton, New Jersey I stopped my musing long enough to watch the comings and goings of the other passengers.

The train is moving again. I have a bit of time between here and the next stop. My latest body requires a lot of food. It is about time I dig into the cooler that Cindy’s mom gave me for the trip. Turkey sandwiches with mayonnaise on whole wheat and a juice box to wash it down. I have had a lot worse. The Boy Scouts were soon headed home. It was a long bus ride. The other kids sensed I was a little out of it, but I don’t think any of them knew how much. I think the kids name was Jimmy. Jimmy’s parents met the bus and took me home, once more dragging me back into civilianization

Of all the bodies I have inhabited I feel the guiltiest about my current one. Before I came to it I was at my lowest. I woke up freezing on a damp spring day and crawled out from between two damp collapsed cardboard boxes. A hard round object poked me in the side; it was a mostly empty wine bottle. I smelled something awful. It was me. I reached up with my thin grubby hands to scratch my beard. Some of the things that I scratched out of my beard had legs. After a bit of time I found a public restroom. I managed to clean up some. I could not perform this function to my satisfaction but it was more then the previous resident had done in a year. I looked at the blood vessels showing in my nose and felt the general and growing malaise in my body. I knew what I to look forward to. I could drink this body into a stupor and inflict it on someone else or go through withdrawal and still inflict this body on some poor innocent. I decided to take action. I would inflict my curse on no other. I resolved to use the final solution. I managed to panhandle enough change to get me into the subway. At ten twenty-one that morning I threw myself into the path of an oncoming train.

“Well Miss Day if you feel so confident to sleep through my class maybe you could use your mutant powers to solve the problem,” the gray haired woman at the white board demanded.

I looked around. I was alive and feeling remarkably healthy and refreshed. I also had a roomful of eight-graders staring at me. I focused on the task at hand as the teacher handed me the dry erase marker. I walked to the board taking a brief inventory. Caucasian, female, early teen, no DTs, I was getting far too used to waking up in different bodies. The teacher was too cocky for my mood. I looked at the problem on the board. “The lake is approximately 283 meters across,” I said just before I reached the board.

“And how did you come to this conclusion,” asked my tormentor.

“Well I admit I am being a bit lazy. We have two measurements of 100 meters each at right angles. I could of used the Pythagorean Theorem but I remembered that the sine of a forty-five degree angle is 0.7071 so I just multiplied the opposite side times the cosecant,” I explained.

The teacher spent some time questioning me as I got used to my new voice. The rest of the class was toughly confused it was a vey effective disruption. It helped keep my mind off the fact that I had just killed a young girl.

Lunch was a challenge; I spent the class before riffing through Cindy's backpack trying to find who the hell l was. By lunch I had an address and a name on several note books. I found Cindy’s MID. I also found a girl that claimed to be a friend. She revealed a few more things about my late host. Apparently Cindy had a rather bubbly personality those that knew her said I was a bit down in the dumps. I attempted conceal my less than joyful mood. I explained I was just a little bit tired, for some reason this caused a round of giggles, one girl even got milk in her nose. They had all been in my math class. Mrs. Fuller was one of those teachers that control her class with a very heavy handed dose of intimidation. There was that and the fact that this little group had been up late last night having some sort of on line pajama party. Julie (the first girl that identified herself as a longtime friend) asked me why I was crying. I forget what lie I told her.
Somehow I made it to the end of the school day. I also found out from Julie that “my mother” picked me up. This saved me much embarrassment in looking for a bus. Still I had no idea who mom was or what car she drove. The honking, smiling, and waving lady in the silver Cadillac Escalade proved to be a good bet.
We did not go straight home. I was being taken to Miss Shelby my tutor. Tutor in what, math? Mrs. Day (Mom) dropped me off at my tutor for a three hour session. It turned out that Miss Shelby was my magic tutor. Cindy was a mutant mage. Now in my quest to be free of my curse, I had long ago come to the conclusion that I was under a magical curse. I spent all the time I could muster studying the subject. I even learned a few simple enchantments. The opportunity to talk to a registered mage about my problem was a rare opportunity. I waited for Mrs. Day (Mom) to leave.
Miss Shelby was a strikingly beautiful dark haired woman that appeared to be in her mid twenties. Some of the certificates on her wall gave lie to that age estimate. She had a reputation for being one of the most skilled and powerful mages in the Delaware Valley area.
“Cindy you seem uneasy about something,” began Miss Shelby.
“Miss Shelby I have a something bothering me but before I can share it with you I must have your most sacred oath that what I tell you will be kept in the utmost confidence,” I asked.
We spent several minutes discussing just what I required for an oath. Miss Shelby was a bit taken back by the knowledge her young pupil had acquired on sacred oaths. She may have been taken back, but at the same time she was intrigued. I had her by her curiosity, and soon had her most binding oath. She is the only living person I have ever told my whole story to since I have been in this body. She made the oaths I asked of her. She began to regret those oaths soon after my first sentence. I had judged her correctly for Kathryn Shelby code name the Golden Witch was and is an honorable person.
Kathryn Shelby has never sought to be a flashy super hero. To me there's no greater hero. Within the next seventy-two hours she saved my soul. The solution she came up with was not perfect and yet so simple and elegant. The curse was too well hidden, too powerful, and too dangerous to attack directly. A simple plastic helmet loaded with runes and shielding spells managed to keep my mind from wondering. It has its problems, but it has kept me in this body for half a year.
I am not a big baseball fan, but Kathryn is, and the Philadelphia Phillies have a promotion called helmet day. Fortunately for me my savior and mentor attended a game on that day. Together we inscribed a score of spells in mystic runes, on the inside of the piece of souvenir headgear. I am not a big baseball fan, but I have learned to fake it, to explain my fixation on my bright red fashion accessory.
A businessman is spending far too much time glancing at me. It is a strange game. I turn my head in that direction and he looks away. I am still getting used to that, and then there is the whole jailbait thing. This is going to be a long trip.
The last six months have been better strange but better. Mrs. Day (Mom) is a wonderful caring person. I am sure the original Cindy had a great childhood. As a doctor I have had to give far too many parents and patients bad news. There is no way I can tell that sweet woman that her child died. Perhaps it is me being selfish. Never waking up in the same body or being a hermit is a lonely existence. For a year and a half I kept people at a distance. I could only feel guilt at the havoc my appearance caused. With Cindy’s parents I tried to fill the void I created. The love they have shown me has helped to fill a void in my own heart.
Cindy’s Dad is a lawyer oddly enough he specializes in malpractice. He is a busy man that still finds time for his family. Maybe not enough time for his wife, Cindy is an only child.
Being Cindy has been a lot more complicated then just dealing with her parents. I had months of middle school to finish and Cindy had a lot of friends. Julie has been my crutch she talks a mile a minute. She may be a mutant as no respiration seems to be required. If she is around I need not fear an awkward silence. I just shut up and any information I need pops out of her mouth. I am not sure if she was really Cindy’s best friend, but I could not have survived the first two month without her. She did have the annoying habit verbally undressing every boy that came into visual range (as long as they were out of earshot). I still have her number on my speed dial. My phone is ringing.
I am pulling into Newark, and Julie is finally off the phone. I never liked it when people chatted away on their cell phones on public transport. The good thing about a conversation with Julie is that, I hardly disturb anybody, I miss her already.
Well the suite in the next isle is still visually nibbling on the jailbait. I am glad the train is not crowded and I have no one sitting in the next seat. I don’t know how long this will be the case; the next stop is New York City.
I have earned more then my share of enemies. I could not help but create them. My existence creates unpardonable injustices. The most grievous was to the hero in Pittsburg called Steel Maiden. I was in an arthritic little old lady the night before I awoke in the body of the of the Iron Cities premier super hero. I did what I could to keep up her work while in her body. Her endurance was remarkable. I stayed awake for over a week. I woke in jail. The press now calls her Steal Maiden. The criminal currently in her body is still at large.
For awhile, I followed what happened to the people, living in the bodies I previously inhabited. This was partially in self defense. For the most part, my trail has been easy to follow. I have more than once had one of my victims find me and demand that I set them right.
Sadly I cannot even help myself. It is not like I haven’t tried. Lenard and Maggie Smith were two of my victims. They were a young couple in their late twenties. I was in the body of a Miss Doris Finkelstine (a young blond about three years younger then the Smiths) prior to finding myself in Maggie’s body. By the time Maggie caught back up to me I was in Lenard’s body. The three of us tried extreme isolation hoping that by limiting my options we could force the curse to switch me back from Lenard to Maggie. Lenard had a place high in the Rocky Mountains. I spent two weeks alone with Lenard. Nothing happened, other then me getting some regular sleep. Maggie joined us in the third week, nothing happened (well there was that very awkward manage a trios). The couple left before the first winter snow. I stayed there all winter. Last I heard they were still in a lesbian relationship.
Not all of my victims are as pleasant as the Smiths. Some are persistent, violent, and irrational. I can’t blame them, some of those bodies are very painful, and others just got a raw deal. Desperate people do desperate things. Being drugged and kidnapped can be very frustrating especially the kidnaper only harvests another victim.
“New York, Pennsylvania Station,” yelled the conductor!
The train quickly emptied. The suit left. A minute or so latter the tide rolled in again. This time it was a flood tide. The train quickly filled. “Is this seat taken,” a young man asked?
The car was nearly full, “no.” I admitted.
He put his suitcase in the overhead rack and sat down. He sat down. The train started moving before he fully sorted himself out. It was a few minutes later before he addressed me again; “Are you heading off to school?”
“Yes, and you,” I answered.
“Me too, Boston College,” he replied.
“Are you a freshman,” I asked?
I knew exemplars like my current body may appear a little bit more mature then baselines the same age. As Cindy, I tended to dress conservatively, and this tended to add to the affect. The nervous BC freshman in the next seat was drawing some undesirable conclusions. I decided correct his error; “I am a freshman too, I am heading off too some crazy prep school that my parents are shipping me off too. I am a bit nervous is high school hard?”
He was slightly taken back by my remarks; “You, are, in high school?”
“Well, not yet, I don’t start for a few days,” I said in a cheery voice.
“You look a little, you look somewhat, older,” he said.
“You think so?” I said in the same cheery voice.
I think the distance between us opened by almost three inches. I took that moment to give my thanks to God and asked; “Is this your first time in Boston?”
It turned out this was his third. He provided me with half decent conversation and an excellent buffer from additional male attention all the way to Bean Town.
I arrived in Boston gathered up my backpack and suitcase and headed to the main concourse. It had been a couple of years since the last time I had been in the station. The mechanical big board that showed the arriving and departing trains had been replaced by an electronic one. Oddly enough it still made the same clicking noises when the train times updated. Mechanical or electronic the news was still bad I had a four and a half hour layover before the Great Miskatonic Shuttle departed.

No matter how much I changed since the last time I had been here the concessions were still the same. It was time to gather up some reading material and some Bourbon Chicken. Between the food and a magazine I managed to keep myself occupied for about an hour and a half. I spent another fifteen minutes wondering the station. Watching the clock and trying to keep the memories at bay. Then once again I began reliving that first day. I awoke in an unfamiliar room sleeping next to strange women. I was confused, disoriented, yet remarkably refreshed. I untangled myself from the dark haired women beside me and slipped quietly from the bed. There was enough daylight in the room to allow me to navigate the unfamiliar terrain without incident. I was oddly clear headed but, my bladder required attention. The first two doors I attempted to enter were closets. With persistence I finally found the bathroom, there I was in for another surprise. The face in the mirror was as unfamiliar as my surroundings. The thin Asian man in the mirror was a stranger I tried to check the mirror for some kind of trick only to notice my hand was equally at odds with my preconceptions. I quickly did a personal inventory to see what else about my body was amiss. The answer apparently was everything. My panic was interrupted by a voice in the next room calling out in an unfamiliar language.
I am fluent in English, Spanish, French, and German, I know a smattering of Arabic, Greek, Russian, Latin, Hebrew and Japanese. What I know of Chinese is limited to acupuncture charts and restaurant menus. Needless to say I was at a loss to understand a thing that woman was saying. Lamely I responded in English with a perplexed “good morning.”
Much to my relief she responded in kind by saying, “Good morning Zhi you wish to practice English?”

Relieved and yet panic stricken I simply responded, “yes.”

“How are you feeling this morning?” Her response sounded a bit sing song like a well-rehearsed quote from a phrase book.

“I’m not quite myself at the moment,” I muttered.

“Can you speak a little louder, she asked.

“I’m not quite myself at the moment,” I repeated.

“Your English is getting better, she said.

I responded on automatic to the strange complement with a simple, “thank you.” While in my mind I ran through several posable scenarios:

A Dream --- no the pinch test failed to awaken me.
Virtual reality – I preceded to empty my bladder that seemed a bit to realistic.
Telepathic Illusion -- I threw up every block or trick I knew.

I was just calculating Pi to the fourteenth decimal place when the woman on the other side of the door said, “can you hurry up I have to go!”

I popped out of the bathroom door and the nicely packaged stranger took possession of the room.

The bedroom lights were now on and I began a frantic search for clues. A pair of pants by the bedside held a wallet. Within it was a picture ID with a face matching that of the stranger in the mirror. California driver’s license, Zhi Wang age 30 along with a set of keys. While the women was still in the bathroom I gathered up some clothes that seemed to fit and escaped. The house had a garage that held two cars after fumbling with keys and a garage door opener, for what seemed an eternity, I was out on the street and totally lost.

With the help of passing strangers and my limited knowledge of the city I navigated my way back to my hotel in a little under four hours. Fortuitously Mister Wang had more than sufficient funds (in cash) for parking. I went up to my room only to find the maid in my room preparing it for a new guest. “Do you know what happened to the man who was staying here?” I inquired.

“The crazy one?” she asked.

“Doctor Hart?” I asked tentatively.

“If that was his name, he was yelling at the front desk about something being stolen. Security called the police they took him to the nut house. Are you his fiend? The Front desk is holding his things.”

I thanked her and headed down to the lobby. With the police already involved I tried to keep my inquiry discreet this got me nowhere as most of the staff that had witnessed the man in my body freaking out were from an earlier shift. In retrospect I should have just called the hotel.

Retrospect, too many images flood my mind. There are many images I wish I could forget. I return to the recollection of that first move least the more horrible memories overwhelm me.

I regained my composition and began thinking about my first victim Mister Wang. I had first suspected he was responsible for stealing my body. Fear and paranoia had caused me to do some stupid things. Trying to find and confront the person in my body was a waste of time. I realized this and drove back to the Wang residence in hopes of enlisting Mrs. Wang in an effort to get my body out of custody. The ride back took about three quarters of an hour. Knocking on the door proved fruitless Mrs. Wang was not in. After some fumbling with the set of keys, I let myself into the house. After a short search I found a phone and called my wife Gina Hart, (I know this may be a bit confusing [if your confused by this narrative try it from my perspective]).

To say the least my voice sounded different even to me. Different vocal cords, different resonance within the pharynx yields different sound and timber. It took her a while to convince her I was who I claimed to be. She had already been informed of my (body’s) involuntary commitment to a LA sanatorium. We soon fell into an old pattern, we had been professional partners long before we became romantically involved. Years of marriage had actually strengthened our intellectual exchanges. Over the phone it was easy to fall into theorizing about my current problem. It would probably be more awkward face to face. As was our way we did more theorizing on the how it could have been done then the, who and the why. We considered what were known of gadgets, devises, psionic powers, and magical means. The range between the two bodies involved was an additional complication. I failed to mention waking up in the bed of another woman. We made little real progress in understanding what happened so the conversation returned to the more practical and inconvenient problems of my condition. We talked about our love. We talked about the kids. We talked about a dozen household things. We even talked about the bills. I really did not want the conversation to end it was my only link to sanity. We finally came up with a sort of a plan and reluctantly said, “Goodbye honey and I love you”. My timing could not have been worse just as I was saying goodbye Mrs. Wang entered the room.

How do you tell an angry and jealous young woman that you are really a stranger in her husband’s body? Yes, in desperation I tried the truth. It would be an understatement to say it did not go well. For almost an hour Mrs. Wang at attempted to broaden my (nearly nonexistent) Chinese vocabulary while trying to brain me with bric-a-brac. I discovered two things while dodging about the house. Mr. Wang had cheated on her once before (she had not entirely forgiven him) and that she was just about to tell him she was pregnant. A call from the LA sanatorium finally brought some measure of sanity to our insane situation. They had given Mr. Wang a phone call.

A short time later I found myself in the passenger’s seat of Mrs. Wang’s car headed toward the hospital that was holding my body. The trip started with a number of questions from Mrs. Wang as she tried to get a grip on the idea of just who the stranger in her husband’s body really was. Half the trip was spent in awkward silence the other half of the trip was spent in drilling questions and angry accusations from the distort woman. Arriving at the hospital was a welcome relief.

Once at the hospital we had a whole host of other problems. The Wangs were in no way related to me and “Doctor Jonathan Hart” was considered delusional and was under observation. I managed to contact Gina and had her send the hospital permission for me to act on her behalf. An hour and a half of paper work and explanations, make that lying convincingly (if we used the truth we would have been locked up with Zhi), we finally got to see “me”.

I asked Mrs. Wang to go in first to talk to him. I did not believe he would react well to seeing me in his body. Maybe things would have turned out better if I had not drifted off to sleep in the waiting room.

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2 years 9 months ago #49588 by tenwaters
tenwaters replied the topic: Migrant
I awoke to pain, not the blinding hot pain of a fresh injury, but hundreds of annoying aches and bits of stiffness. With great effort I tried to sit up. My attempt to survey my surroundings was frustrated by blurred vision and a slight bit of vertigo. Reluctantly I fell back into the bed to marshal more forces for another attempt. My second attempt was more successful netting a blurry view of the room. I found a pair of glases on the table next to me. Putting them on brought the world into view. The room was not quite a bedroom and not quite a hospital room but something in between. I looked at my hand. It was a rather wrinkled and leathery affair. It took me a few miniutes to figure out I was in some sort of nurseing home. I slowly managed to get up from the bed and began to investigate the room. Efforts were rewarded as I found the rooms private restroom.

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