|The Transformation Story Archive||Strange Things and other Changes|
I started at the light. It was still faint, but approaching swiftly down the tunnel. Resignedly, I rolled from the pile of scraps that served as my bed and drew myself to my feet as best I could.
"Hello, Monster," she called.
"Hello, Angel," I replied, then winced and shielded my eyes at the brightness as she turned the final corner.
"Oh dear, you do sound glum. Is something the matter? Something you ate, maybe?"
I sighed. "Could you please cut it out? Just this once?"
"Why, if I didn't know better, I'd think that you were unhappy with your lot. Don't you like it down here?"
I glared at her. She responded by smiling innocently and stretching out her arms and wings, forcing me to turn away from the intensity of the light.
"Please. I've asked you before not to do that."
She smiled sweetly again. "I'm sorry, Monster. Sometimes I forget how painful the brightness can be if you aren't used to it."
I snorted at her.
"Honestly, anyone would think you weren't glad to see me." She paused. "You are glad to see me, aren't you?"
"Do you want an honest answer to that?"
She looked at me sadly. "Well, if you really don't want me here, I suppose I should--"
"No," I interrupted quickly, "that's all right. Please stay."
She walked over and patted me on the head. "In that case, I will. Would you like to give me your news first, or would you rather hear mine?"
I sighed. "I don't have any news. We both know that."
"Isn't there something interesting that you've done in the last week? Anything?"
"Oh, come on, Monster, there must be something. I think you aren't telling me everything."
"All right! I ate a sheep, okay? Somehow a sheep died and fell in the water and got carried all the way down here by the current, rotting all the while, and it passed near my den, and I found it and ate it instead of rats and shit for once. Are you happy now?"
"You've started swearing now, Monster? Dear me. Oh, that reminds me. I brought you a fruit cake."
She produced a foil-wrapped bundle from somewhere and started opening it. I began to drool involuntarily at the smell.
She raised an eyebrow, then took out a knife and two napkins and began slicing the cake.
"You know I can't eat that."
She put her hand to her mouth. "Oh, I was a carnivore, wasn't I? Do you know, I clean forgot. I am so sorry. I hope you won't mind if I have some?"
"Do I have any choice?"
She chuckled and patted my head again. "Always the joker. Now, I think it's my turn. What happened this week? Let me see. Lots of people died. A few people noticed. That nice redhead you were keeping an eye on got herself arrested."
"Oh, you know. Was a bit short of cash and went back on the game. Took a shine to a customer's wallet."
I stared at her. "But why? She was doing okay."
She grinned. "The poor girl found some interesting white powder in her bag. Heaven only knows how it got there, but - well, I guess she wasn't as strong as you thought."
My heart began to sink. "And the others?" I asked listlessly.
"Billy's doing fine, Peter's doing time, Rosemary and Philip are still together - well, strictly speaking, anyway. I wouldn't be too surprised if she finds out about him and the secretary soon, though. Mark killed himself by jumping off a motorway bridge. Caused a huge pile-up, too; thirty injured, nine dead and one on a life-support machine for the next few years. Robert Number One's having a sudden religious crisis and Robert Number Two is in the middle of a bout of self-loathing over his sexuality. Keith is surviving and Janet is being passed over for promotion again."
I sighed sadly, then remembered one more name. "You missed out Gwen."
"Oh, didn't I tell you last time? Dear me, what a memory. She was framed for a rather nasty fraud. The case hasn't gone to trial yet, of course, but I don't think she'll get away with it. Such a shame. Of all the people it could have happened to, it had to be your favourite."
I sat quietly with my head in my hands.
"Poor thing," she said, and patted me again. "Can't cry any more, can you? Still, I probably ought to be off. Busy, busy, busy. Things to do, people to see, lives to wreck. I do enjoy our little chats, though. They break up the monotony, if you know what I mean. Oh, and don't forget - it's your choice not to change back with me."
I lifted my head and answered, going for the bait as I did every week. "Some choice."
"Remember, dear, if you want to help Gwen and the others you need to use the body-switching rite. And if you want the rite to work, you need to pledge to the other side."
"With pleasure. Have a nice day, Monster. Shall I come again next week?"
"Yes," I whispered, then fell to my knees and began praying silently and desperately as she departed and her light faded away.