The Power of AI

by: Ambrose | Complete Story | Last updated Feb 9, 2024

Dave's is using an A.I. he found in the internet to change his age on a photo ... what could go wrong? Commissioned by Areat!

Chapter 1
Chapter 1

Chapter Description: Those AI-program are fun to use and harmless, thought a 16 years old Dave, eager to see how he would look on the football field as a 20 years old. But after a typo send his computer reeling to create a single digit one while he's at school, he's bewildered to see the creeping change at work on his own body. Now he's got no choice but to win the race back home, or face hosting the next game in a sandpit.

It was the end of lost game for Dave and Mike and nothing showed how much the two teenagers wanted to leave it behind than how they pushed their bikes. They nearly flew over the path amid wild bushes between the playfield and their homes, making a race out of it as usual.

Dave, the brown-haired boy in the red jacket, was in the lead, making the jump down a small hill with the backpack briefly detaching itself from his back. The wind made him shudder …  the heart skipped a beat … he was in mid-air. Mike, the blond boy in the black hoodie, was half the length of his bike behind and not giving in. This paid out, when they reached the slight turn of the path to the left, favoring him. Dave hesitated, he could try to take the turn close to the undergrowth, but he didn’t want to end in it as he had often before, he could try to push the other boy away, but they were friends, so he reluctantly hit the brakes just enough to allow Mike to pass and for himself to resume the race from behind.

They came to stop on the top of the slight rise, where the path ended in the walkway of the cul-de-sac, they lived in. Their imaginary finish line since their first race there ages ago and Mike had reached it first.

“You are too careful!” The winner teased.

“You are too slow!” His friend replied.

They both stared at each other and the burst out laughing. This was the best way to distract themselves, especially since …

“Did we lose because of this?” Mike asked, going through his blond hair with his hand. “Because we were too slow or too careful?”

Dave hesitated. Of course, his friend spoke of the football game today. The same thing on his mind, despite the race they had made to let it behind. They had thrown good passes, but the duels had sent them to the grass.

“No,” he replied. “They just were just stronger.”

Reluctantly Mike nodded. “So, time to buy some weights?”

Dave thought about it and shrugged. Worth discussing, but he wanted to leave the game behind. For now, his plan was getting home, showering and relaxing before they were supposed to be back in school for the next hour.

“Let’s do some research and speak about it in class.”

“Cool,” his friend replied, slowly beginning to drive to the left in the direction of his house. “Don’t worry, we will end up stronger than the Rock!”

Dave grinned against his will, as he turned to the right, in the direction of his own home.




Dave opened his home’s garage’s door and pushed his bike inside. His mother’s car wasn’t parked there, so he carefully put his bike at its usual place, wary to not cause another dent in the old red Ford. Entering the house proper by door, he was surprised to find the tv running in the living room, until his sister’s head popped up from the couch.

“Hey sis,” he greeted her. “What are you doing here?”

“Mrs. Windsdale is sick, so we got to go two hours earlier,” she explained, studying him through her glasses. “How was the game?”

“We fought, but sometimes it is just fucked up,” Dave explained.

His sister made a face. “I know this feeling.”

“Since when?”

This had slipped out of his mouth before he even knew he was going to say it. Seeing his sister glaring at him, made him want to take it back, but doing so felt wrong. Being fourteen, two years younger than him, his sister had the bad luck of early glasses, a slight overweight and brown hair not as perfect as most of her friends. Yet, Dave found she wasn’t looking bad, he even knew a few girls in school who had more problems than this while holding themselves better, but she had gone through a few rough episodes in part for these reasons and didn’t seem to think it was worth a fight anymore.

“You know it is true,” he continued instead. “Bet half of your class is out in the main street having fun right now. Did you try to join?”

“They wouldn’t take me with them,” Lily replied.

“Did you ask?” Dave continued. “Invited anyone here?”

“Fuck you!”

“Stop giving up!”

“You sound like mum!”

“Good!” He replied. “You know life hasn’t been easy on her, either.”

“Oh the athlete is speaking.” Lily shot back. “As if you understand anything.”

Dave was opening his mouth to retort, but stopped himself. This was leading to nothing. Also, he had never been the big brother type – what were two years difference anyway?! – so he wouldn’t try now, given how much success he just had had. Anyway, he had his own problems to deal with.

“I need to shower,” he excused himself.

“There is no way to get this feeling off you!”

Lily mumbled it more to herself, but Dave understood too well, as he raced up the stairs.




As he stood in the bathtub a bit later, Dave enjoyed the warm shower and the invigorating citrus smell of his own shower gel. He found his sister had been wrong: This had helped.

Yet, as the teenager stepped out of the bathtub and watched himself in the mirror, he instantly felt down again. He was skinny. Not bad for a sixteen-year-old, but a far cry from the footballer he wanted to be. Dave touched his face and the sparse patches of facial hair. A few more muscles, a few more years. This would make him look better, wouldn’t it?

Dave pondered this question, as he walked to his room with a towel around his waist. As he dressed himself there, he still did not get this question out of his head. Deciding it was worth investigating, he walked to his computer, the gaming station with a new generation graphic card and ultrawide monitor he took some pride in. No short game right now, he would use the time until he had to drive back to school more creatively.

Once his computer was running, he googled the most well-known Image-Ais. Most he had accounts for, created during earlier visits and testing, but now he had something different in mind than just playing around. Dall-E, Dream Studio, Deep Dream Generator, he visited the ones he knew with existing photo-alteration-feature, added three photos of himself and told them to change himself to a muscled 25-year-old.

The results were far from optimal. Too blurry, too many errors with one creating a mess out of his faces, or not even coming close to looking like him. Not being one to give up so easily and having just enough time left, Dave searched the internet and after ignoring some programs which looked like fraud or didn’t have the feature of age-changes, he found one which looked promising.

Warp-Reality-AI(Now in BETA!)

It presented itself as an AI split into two. One menu for images and another to chat with it. He wasn’t interested in the latter, but the image-function promised lifelike changes in photos using a new AI-matrix. The homepage described the process of creating an account, downloading an exe-file over his e-mail-client and installing it. Dave was hesitant of downloading stuff such advertised, but the homepage looked legit and his antivirus-program didn’t raise the alarm, when he dropped the exe-file on his desktop.

Installation was quick, presenting him a colorful window with two buttons, one for text-AI, the other for image-AI. He clicked the latter and arrived at a menu similar but less defined than what he knew of other image-AIs he had already visited.

“Okay, let’s see what you can do!” Dave murmured.

He uploaded three pictures of himself, set the parameter to 25 years and muscled and …


He set the parameter again.


He set the parameter again.


He set the parameter again.


What the fuck?!

Dave wildly moved over the menu. Setting the parameter and …


Dave let out a sigh of relief. Finally it had worked and …

“Oh, come on …” He moaned.

This one time he had set skipped the field for muscled and set the age instead of to 25 years to 25 months of age!

Dave moved the curser to abort, but stopped just before the click, when he noticed the clock on his Windows Desktop showed that he had 25 minutes left before his class started. He didn’t have time to start anew. Indeed, he should be on his bike already.

Well, he thought, standing up instead of clicking on abort, at least I can compare the result to old photos to see how good it really is!

Dave practically jumped in his jeans, pulled over black shirt and hoodie and slipped in socks, before looking at the monitor again.

1 % …

Okay, Dave thought as he left his room, one thing to look forward to after school!

He raced down the steps, threw a look at the living room, where his sister was still watching tv.

“See ya later!” Dave shouted.

He didn’t wait for an answer, but rushed to the door leading to garage where his bike was waiting, when …


“Sorry mom!” Having nearly run over his mother, he jumped a step back and grinned sheepishly.

“Better be!” His mother replied half amused, as she stepped into the house, carrying two bags full of groceries. “Come and help me with this, if you already have so much energy.”

“Can’t,” Dave said, slipping past her into the garage. “I will be late for class.”

Seeing her son jump onto his bike, his mother sighed. “Tell me you have at least ate an apple.”

“Sure!” Dave promised.

As he rode his bike back to school, he felt slightly guilty over this lie, especially when he remembered how good the candy bar had tasted he and Mike had shared after training.

If it helps me to get jacked, he thought while pushing his pedals hard. I will eat one every day.




Not soon after, he arrived at his high-school and secured his bike with a chain at its usual place. Entering the building proper through one of its many entrances, he hurried through the corridors to get to his class, finding Mike waiting at its door.

“Where were you?” his friend asked.

“Sorry, I forgot the time over the search,” Dave replied, pulling up his shorts, as they suddenly felt loose. “What did you find?”

“Eat protein, eat balanced, lift weights, challenge yourself, enough sleep, be consistence …” Mike listed.

“You asked a Chat AI.”

Mike shrugged, not denying it. “What did you find?”

Dave hesitated, then deciding against lying to his friend.

“I didn’t really look,” he admitted. “I wanted to, but then I wondered how I would really look with some muscles … and older.”

Mike sighed, not too happy. “Which image-ai did you use?”

“Warp Reality AI.”


“It is a new small one and in Beta.” Dave pulled out his smart phone, searched for it in the web and opened the homepage. “Look here.”

Mike was about to do so, when he noticed their teacher Mrs. Steigbügel approaching through the corridor.

“Just send me the link,” he told his friend and hesitated. “Are you feeling okay?”

Dave had just sent the link and looked up surprised. “Yes, why?”

“You just look …”

“Mr. Johnson. Mr. Arrington,” Mrs. Steigbügel addressed Dave and Mike sternly. “If I wanted to hold the class on the floor, I would have told you so.”

“Sorry,” Dave said, as both boys hurried into the classroom.




During the following hour of History, Dave found it increasingly difficult to concentrate. Mike had told him he didn’t look good, but he also began to feel strange. Even his clothes felt odd and strangely loose.

I’m imagining this because we talked about body size, Dave tried to calm himself as he followed Mrs. Steigbügel droning on. No reason to freak out.

Yet, the moment recess began, the teenager stood up and left for the nearest toilet room. Already on the way there, he knew things were wrong, as his shirt felt baggier than ever. He needed to pull up his shorts and now even his shoes felt the same way. Feeling a sense of dread, he entered the toilet and looked at the large mirror over the sink …

Dave’s jaw dropped at what he saw. His hairless jaw, for it didn’t have the stubbles as it had had when he had last seen himself in the bathroom mirror back at home. This was the least of his problems though, for he could see that all his clothes were baggy indeed. He looked like he had shrunk at least ten centimeters!

No, he thought, not shrunk …

“You are getting younger!”

Dave spun around, discovering Mike was in the toilet with him. He hadn’t even noticed …

“Yeah,” Dave looked back in the mirror and touched his hairless chin. “Fourteen?”

“Looks this way.”

“But how …” Suddenly it hit Dave. “The AI!”

“Warp Reality AI?”

He nodded.

Mike shook his head. “But you said you wanted to see how you look older and stronger, not … this!”

“I wanted to!” His friend protested. “But then it froze and I had to enter it again and … 25!”


Dave starred wide-eyed at the other boy, noticing to his chagrin that he now had to look slightly up.

“25! I wanted to set it to 25 years and muscled, but the thing froze and I entered 25 months!”


“When I left it was stuck at 1 %,” Dave told himself as much as Mike. “I must stop it!”

“Let’s go!” His friend agreed.

He started to go the door leading to the floor and Dave followed, but stopped when he nearly lost a shoe.

“Wait!” He called.

Dave went to his knees and pulled the shoe-laces as tight as he could. The shoes still didn’t feel comfortable, but stayed firm on his feet. Then he adjusted the belt of his shorts until he could say the same for them. Nothing could be done for his shirt, which hung over his


Mike nodded and together they entered the school floor. They were heading for the nearest exit leading to their bikes and were half-away there, when …

“Stop!” A voice ordered them. “Where are you two going?”

Both boys turned around. Mr. Garth, the school counselor, was looking sternly at them and at Dave in particular.

“Out?” Dave answered, feeling he really had no better answer.

“Dressed like this?” The counselor asked. “What prank are you planning?”

“No prank,” Mike tried. “Our class just ended, so …”

“Your class?” Mr. Garth interrupted him. “Since when do middle and high schooler share a class?”

Mike opened his mouth and closed it again, throwing a look at his friend who by now nearly a head shorter than him.

“Seems so,” he admitted, “But …”

His voice trailed off, as he realized he had no idea what to say.

“I’m in High-School. We are in Mrs. Steigbügel’s class,” Dave continued for his friend. “I was just leaving because I do feel sick. Maybe a virus. Mike wanted to help me get home.”

“And I assumed the virus made you shrink,” the counselor noticed unimpressed. “You are what? 13? 12?”

“I’m not!” Dave replied louder than intended. “Just ask Mrs. Steigbügel and …”

“I will not take part in your prank, whatever it is,” Mr. Garth replied firmly over this youthful sign of disrespect. “Yet, somewhere I have seen you before. Are you new? Is this why you dressed like this? To impress someone?”

Dave pressed his teeth together to suppress another snide answer.

“Ask any teacher in middle school,” he tried. “I’m not in any of their classes.”

The firmness of his voice made the counselor go silent for a moment.

“Look,” Dave continued, going with his hand near his smart phone. “I will call my mom and she will tell you I belong in High-School.”

“We will call her in my office,” Mr. Garth decided, in what seemed to be an effort to regain control, before turning to Mike. “You do have classes here, I presume.”

“Yes,” the boy admitted.

“Then better join it or I will talk to your teacher. I will take care of your friend.”

Mike gave Dave a worried glance.

“It is okay,” his friend assured him. “I will call my mom and she will pick me up.”

“I’ll come over after school,” Mike promised and walked back to their classroom, wondering what in the world he should tell Mrs. Steigbügel where his friend had vanished.

“Come,” Mr. Garth ordered.

Reluctantly Dave followed. Part of him wanted to run, but he knew while there would have been a good chance for him to escape when he had still been his normal age – trained as he was – there was no chance now. His legs already felt shorter … or had they really shrunken since he had left the toilets? Where his shorts well over the knees now? He lifted his hands, watching them for sign of pudginess. They were still lean, but did he know how quick the image-ai would really work on his new system?

Dave’s heart raced and he looked around to calm himself down. What he saw did little to help him though, because they were already walking through the middle school part of the large school building. He had hardly been back there since moving on to High School and seeing these strangely familiar floors now felt unnerving. It was as if he was not just turning younger but moved back in time.

“You know, we can shorten this if you just tell me your teacher. I will just drop you off in your class.” The counselor suggested. “You won’t be in too big trouble this way.”

Dave imagined himself standing in front of a class of 12-year-old and felt he had had enough of this.

“We can shorten this.” He put a hand at his belt. “Just let me use my cell phone to call my mum and she will assure you I’m a high-schooler.”

“And let one of your friends use a fake-voice get you out of this? I’m not from yesterday,” the counselor replied as they ascended the stairs leading to the level with the teachers’ rooms. “What is your name by the way?”

“Dave Johnson.”

“Johnson …” Mr. Garth hesitated. “I support a Lily Johnson. Are you her little brother?”

“No!” Dave nearly shouted this.

“Ah,” the man replied. “We will see.”

Dave clenched his fists and found himself angry for his sister needing to see the counselor so much. It was irrational and slightly mean – he knew this very well – but he felt more and more trapped in this situation … even the walls of the floor seemed larger! Should he ask the counselor to look for him in the school files? Would he assume he lied about his name because the age didn’t fit? Would he assume it was hacked? He watched the counselor open the door to his office with his key on a small key-ring and tried to think about what he could tell on phone. If he couldn’t convince his mother to pick him up, there seemed to be no way for him to convince the counselor to let him go. And convincing him of the truth …

No way!, Dave thought, only to correct himself. Except if I shrink enough for him to notice.

Knowing this was all to likely, Dave followed the counselor into the room.

“Well then,” Mr. Garth said, as he took place behind his desk and took up the phone. “What is the number?”

Dave had decided to remain standing. This way he at least could see eye to eye with the man.

“Just give it to me and I will call her,” he replied.

“No bargaining here,” the counselor informed him firmly. “I will call her and speak with her to check your story.”

Holding back a curse which would have brought him in trouble no matter his age, Dave gave the counselor the number. It needed a bit and he already feared his mother had left again and as usual his sister wouldn’t bother to answer the phone. Then …

“Linda Johnson,” Dave could faintly hear his mother’s voice from the telephone.

“Mrs. Johnson hello, this is Mr. Garth.”

“Mr. Garth,” his mother’s voice showed just a hint of weariness. “Is there something about Lily? I ...”

“Don’t worry, it is about something else,” the counselor quickly reassured her. “Indeed, someone else. I have a middle schooler here claiming to be your son.”

For a moment there was silence and Dave held his breath, indeed he felt his throat tighten.

“My son goes to High School,” she replied. “I don’t know who you have there …”

Dave had enough. He lunged over the table and pulled the phone from the baffled counselor’s hand.

“Mum, it is me,” he shouted frantically, coughing a bit as he did. “I’m not feeling well and …”

Dave stopped, holding his throat. His voice. He hadn’t sounded like himself, but like a child! Dumbstruck he realized he had just gone through voice change in return.

“Mum …” he tried again weakly, for the moment lost for words.

“Give it!” Mr. Garth ordered him angrily and grabbed the phone out of the boy’s small, skinny hands. “Mrs. Johnson? Yes, I have the phone again. He grabbed it.”

Still shocked, Dave looked at the teacher. He had receded from him and additionally had rolled back the chair next to the window. Well out of the boy’s reach, should he plan to grab the phone again. The regressed teenager knew he would have still have a chance to convince his mum it was him if he could talk to her for ten seconds by telling her things only he could know, but as far as Mr. Garth was away from him now he couldn’t even hear her talk.

Fuck!, Dave realized. Next he will call the cops!

This realization nearly made him collapse in the chair, but then he noticed the ring with the counselor’s key lying on the table. A quick glance at the man revealed him to still busy talking to his mother and looking out of the window for just a second.

Dave didn’t think. Had he thought it wouldn’t have worked, just as many moves in football just worked if you didn’t overthink them. He grabbed the keys, rushed to the door as quick as he could and was out of it just as he heard Mr. Garth’s voice.


Dave slammed the door shut and tried one key out of the three he believed to have seen the counselor use on the lock. He tried to enter it and … it didn’t fit!

Already hearing the man coming nearer, Dave tried the second one, knowing it might be his last chance. He put it in the key hole, turned and … The doorhandle turned, but door wouldn’t open, even as Mr. Garth visibly pushed himself against it.

“Hey!” The counselor repeated. “What do you think you are doing?”

Not wasting time for an answer, Dave rushed through the corridor with the teachers’ offices, only to have the door to the secretary open.

“What is going on here?” The secretary Mrs. Hoover asked.

“Late for class!” Dave shouted.

Before she could answer, he was already on the steps. Not reducing his speed, he practically jumped down the stairs and then raced through the mercifully vacant corridors. The doors behind which teachers were just teaching their classes were so huge. It had a surreal feeling, like he was in a dream or nightmare. His shoes felt like they would fall of his feet at any moment and his shorts felt dangerously close to get loose, but he just grabbed it and raced on.

Entering the High School part of the building gave Dave a small relief, but he didn’t stop. As he passed the room Mrs. Steigbügel was just teaching his class and with it Mike, he was tempted to dash in and try to explain it. He knew he had higher chances of convincing her than Mr. Garth, but then … the door looked as large as the rest had and if she didn’t recognize him … No, he was better off on his own.

Dave left the building through the door he and his friend had wanted to use just minutes earlier. Letting out a sigh of relief and breathing heavily at the same time, he realized he still held Mr. Garth’s key ring. He threw it in the bushes and searched for his own with is home’s and more important right now the key to his bike’s chain. For a moment he thought he had lost them and panic threatened to overwhelm him, but then he found the bulge in a closed bag of his shorts and allowed himself to breath out.

This didn’t last long, as just in this moment there were the sounds of voice behind Dave. Not near enough for him to understand them, but he wouldn’t let them come close enough for this. Instead of looking around if the voices belonged to teachers looking for him or if he was just paranoid, he rushed to where his and other bikes were standing chained to a fence. His shorts felt dangerously loose again, but he would deal with it later. He opened the chain, put it around his bike and … stopped as he realized it was too large for him to sit on!

“Motherfuck …” He stopped himself, biting his lips.

Stay calm, he told himself. Just lower the saddle and handlebars and it will be fine.

Again, voices somewhere in the distance. Knowing it was his best chance now, Dave somehow managed to climb on his bike still partly leaning on the fence. He couldn’t sit on it and ride it, but he could stand on the pedals while using them.

The boy swung his leg over the bike’s frame and tried to do so. For a heartbeat he felt like he would fall, but then the movement managed to stabilize the bike. Knowing any hesitation would be foolish, Dave pedaled as quick as this way of doing it and his reduced strength allowed him. Gaining more and more speed this way, as he got more comfortable with bicycling this way, he was tempted to look back to see if he was being followed, but controlled himself. An accident now would be his end!

With this in mind, Dave concentrated on the way ahead, taking corners, using side streets, all the way feeling like there was someone just an arm’s-length behind him. As he had to stop at a red light, he finally dared to look around. There was no one there. Taking a deep breath, he allowed his muscles to relax for a moment.

I did it, Dave thought. Fuck you Mike I’m the better driver. I …

He looked around and felt his momentary high abruptly end, as he noticed his reflection in the window of a store. A little boy, not older than 12 … or 11 … or 10 … Grinning a sheepish grin which at once faded to horror. His clothes clearly too big for him, his feet sticking out of the oversized shoes as he stood on the ground.

I’m in trouble, he finished his thought. If only I could have explained to mum … The cell phone!

Dave’s mood lit up like a lightbulb. He could call his mother with his cell phone, convince her it was him despite his voice by telling her things only he could know. Tell her to pick him up, bring him home so he could stop the program.

Smiling again, the boy pushed his bike off the street and behind a bush. There he managed to climb off the bike without falling, letting it leaning on a tree. Enthusiastically he grabbed in his belt … only to find the cellphone’s holster empty. Desperately he opened to holster, but remained empty, then he searched his shorts’ bags, then he looked around, if he had lost it somewhere near … nothing.

The reality that he most likely had lost it somewhere back at his school dawned on Dave and together with the madness of the last hour it was finally too much for him. The boy fell to his knees in front of his oversized bike, feeling tears dwell in his eyes and the shudder of a sob threaten to emerge from within.

No!, he admonished himself in his teenage voice. If someone sees me this way I’m done. I’m not a kid. I can do it. I can do it!!!

Somehow Dave pulled himself back together again. His legs felt weak – if due to his younger age or the unusual way of pedaling he couldn’t say – but he managed to stand up, looking around while strongly rubbing his eyes clear of tears. No one had seen him. Good!

Still someone would most likely notice him soon, so he once again refastened his shoelaces and pulled his belt until it nearly came completely around. Not so good, but it would do for the first glance people gave him. Dave had no intention of giving anyone the chance to have a second when he drove past them with his bike.

This was when the regressing teen looked at the latter. Not much to do about the height of the frame, but with some loosening and shifting, he managed to lower saddle and handlebar near the lowest level, allowing him to sit, pedal and steer … for now.

Thank God we aren’t rich, he thought, knowing how insane this was, else I would have already bought myself a larger one.

This would do it … had to. Home wasn’t too far away, even when he couldn’t use the direct way, as it would mean driving a circle which would bring him too close to his school. Instead he would have to reach the large park, running like a green strip from where he was now to the way he usually took back home. Easy. No problem.

It will be if I wait any longer, Dave admonished himself. Soon I will need training wheels!

Hastily the boy climbed back on his bike and smiled as he managed to stay seated on the saddle and pedal at the same time. Choosing the shortest route, he passed some streets, using as much speed as he could and … realized he was passing an elementary school. Even worse it was the “Canyon Creek Elementary School”. His old one!

Feeling uncomfortable, Dave considered rapidly turning and trying another street, but there were people on the sidewalk and cars on the street. He knew he couldn’t really afford the attention this behavior would get him, so he tried to play it cool. Against his will though, his eyes turned to the school. Kids were playing there, non-older than ten, which he knew he was now at best. As he saw them playing, chatting and hunting each other, he couldn’t help but feel the insane desire to join them. Maybe he could try out the new playground center with slides ladders and tubes they had installed since he had graduated from there. Or he could try to find old teachers.

Hey, Mr. Lobs, he mentally addressed his former class teacher. Growing up didn’t work so well, can I come back here?

The idea of it actually made Dave laugh, which in turn made some children from behind the fence turn to him. Not wanting to get the attention of a teacher on break supervision, he pushed his pedals harder and kept the speed on as he crossed the next street. Just one more slope and he would make it to the park belt! No cars or distractions, just a secure way home he was sure he could drive in half the time he had needed to come so far. Smiling widely he gained even a bit more speed.




Linda Johnson smiled, as she ended the connection to her company’s server. Today’s project had been mercifully shorter than expected, leaving her with free time while her colleagues began using her data for the further refinement. She stood up from the computer in her bedroom, stretched and sighed. Her part on the project was done for now, but work on the other hand was not. Grabbing the laundry basket with her dirty clothes, she went down the floor and knocked on her daughter’s door.

With no answer coming, she entered uninvited, finding her daughter lying on the bed and reading some magazine. The teenager had her old Gremlin plush toy Gizmo next to her. Meanwhile her dirty laundry was lying in a nearly ritualistic fashion all around the bed.

“You know,” Linda noticed, “you could at least gather them into a heap … or even put them in the basket. Even your brother manages it most of the time.”

Lilly smiled behind the magazine.

“But since you have so much free time by not doing anything even in your own room,” her mother started, picking up a dirty shirt, “why don’t you go in the park?”

Unseen to her, the smile on her daughter’s face died a quick death. Quick, but not painless, for it was a look of nervousness bordering pain replacing it. With it, her whole body became tense and she grabbed the magazine tighter. Had her mother have noticed it, she might have become worried, but somehow Lilly managed to control her emotion just well enough to slowly relax a bit and for her voice to not betray her.

“In the park are mean kids,” she explained in a light voice.

“This is what you say about every place,” Linda noticed, unimpressed. “You can’t stay home all day.”

Lilly scowled. Why not? What was outside for her anyways? Here everything was orderly and no one expected something from her … or could hurt her. Yet, she knew her mother wouldn’t like this for an answer. Instead, she tried to just stay silent behind her magazine until her mother left, but the latter wasn’t placated such easily.


Reluctantly the teenager let the magazine sink and put on the glasses she had put off since she didn’t need them to read. As Linda looked at her daughter, she clearly didn’t like what she was seeing.

“Your hair is all tangled up again,” she noticed.

This made Lilly’s face lit up.

“Can you brush it?” She asked eagerly. “Or do a braid?”

“You can do it yourself,” her mother noticed, picking up a used bra. “You are not a little girl anymore Lilly.”

“You used to do my hair all the time,” her daughter muttered behind her once again lifted magazine, well too silent for her mother to understand.


Lilly didn’t respond and her mother decided this could wait until dinner. She had planned to talk about Mr. Garth’s call with her daughter and ask her if she knew anything about this. In particular about the boy playing the prank on the counselor. A boy using their number to do so. She decided against, though. Given her daughter’s mood this was also something for the dinner table.

Maybe Dave knew more of it? Thinking of her son, she left her daughter’s room, but not without giving her daughter a last glance. How often had Lilly really been out of the house lately, when not in school? In the last week? The last month? How often did she even left her room?

Just a phase, Linda convinced herself. Thank God when puberty is over.

With this she went into her son’s room and picked up his laundry.

Seems like my son hasn’t managed it this time either, she thought cynically as he looked at the dirty hoody, or he just had no energy left from the game.

Linda looked around in the room. She didn’t find any more dirty laundry, but noticed her son’s computer was still running. She scowled. How often had she told him to shut off the computer to save energy? She walked over to do so, only to notice a progress bar on the monitor which seemed stuck at 48 %.

Well, this is a reason, Linda thought, knowing this problem too well and wondering if it was a download, installation or process. As long as it isn’t a computer virus … or frozen.

With a sudden blink the progress bar jumped to 50 %.

Not frozen, she noticed and turned to leave her son’s room. By the time Dave is back it will be finished. Bet it will make him happy.




Dave felt more than happy, as he raced down the slope, he felt ecstatic. With the speed he had now he could fly the way back home without having to pedal one more time! While this might not have been true, after this harrowing day he finally felt like he was in control. He just had to slow down just a bit and …

The change came quick this time. Quick enough for Dave to feel his legs shorten and loose hold on the pedals at the same time as his arms and hands did causing him to have problems even holding on to the handlebar. He might still have had a good chance of keeping control, but panic took over and as he tried to keep the wheel steady, he raced off the way and on the short, uneven grass slope leading to the stream.

Finally, Dave got hold of the pedals and enough grip on the handlebar to dare trying to steer his bike away from the slope to not end in it. He gave his best, but as he directed his front wheel to the left, both his wheels lost hold and he fell to the side, sliding downwards with the bike. Instinctively he tried to hold on to the handlebar, but in in a heartbeat the forces became too much and it seemed to jump out of his hand. The momentum made him roll down and then twist around on his back as he slid further down. It only ended, when he came to a hold just short before the edge of the stream.

For a moment Dave stayed lying there, starring up in the air, past the green branches of the trees. Not thinking, not really feeling, but trying to control his breath. Slowly the shock subsided and the pain filled the he gap. Pain in all his limbs, but mostly in his left leg and arm. It was tempting to just stay there, stay and wait on someone come to help him.

What if he had broken something? He didn’t want to look, but neither did he did he want someone to find him and give him help involving questions he wouldn’t be able to answer.

Don’t be a baby, he told himself. You came so far, so don’t blow it!

These thoughts helped. Slowly Dave got himself in a sitting position and checked his limbs. He had lost both his shoes, seeing them lying further up the slope, but nothing was broken. His left leg and arm were heavily bruised though. As he watched them, he noticed red pearls of blood coming forth out of fine wounds. He had looked worse after crashes in some games and had still continued to play.

But this is no game, Dave reminded himself.

Slowly, his limbs aching, he stood up. His feet seemed depressingly small in the oversized socks, so he looked at his bike. It had survived the accident like he had. Dirtied, scratched, but seemingly without anything broken. Ready to continue the ride back home.

Taking a deep breath, Dave tried to get himself back in control, tried to steel himself. He pulled his shirt down, set his shorts straight and … Noticed the bags were empty. Frantically he went into them with his hands, but like his cell phone before now his keys were gone, too! Immediately he began scanning the slope, sure it had to have fallen out there during his roll. There was no sight of it and Dave was ready to abandon the search continue his way home – his mom or sister just had to be home –  when he noticed something glittering in the water of the river.

Walking to the edge of the water confirmed it. His keys had flown quite a way into the stream, not too deep though. Determined to not lose another thing in this situation, Dave slipped out of his socks and entered the water. It felt cold, but oddly relieving. He almost relaxed a bit, when he noticed his mirror image looking at him from the water surface. It had to be him, though a large part of his mind didn’t want to admit it. A boy, maybe of eight or nine years, well before puberty, with some scrapes on his left arms and legs. In shorts reaching well over his knees and nearly until the water he looked oddly in place here. Just a kid exploring the water, but … as the regressed teenager looked closer the boy in the stream looked back with wide eyes. His wounds were closing! The rest of the blood wasn’t as much drying as nearly falling off and under it he could see new, healthy skin. It didn’t even hurt anymore!

This happens because I get younger. Dave realized, adding cynically. I’m fucking Wolverine,

If he assumed he was nine years old now, he knew he was half the way down to 25 months. No reason to freak out, but no reason to tarry either. He made a step onto the next large stone in the water which would allow him to grab his keys … suddenly a large fish, formerly undetected, dashed away from where Dave had wanted to put his foot. Startled he lost balance …


Butt first he fell into the stream, instantly feeling his shorts, underwear and even shirt drenched in cool water. Cursing he got on his fours and then somehow back on his feet. Dave grabbed the keys from under the water and the staggered back on the grass, where he nearly collapsed on his knees. Instead, he stood there, water dropping from his drenching wet clothes and pressed his keys hard enough for them nearly cutting in his hands. Angry at himself for having been startled by the fish, he looked at the keys and wondered if they had even been worth it, before putting them back into his shorts.

They were completely soaked, so he did his best to wring them, getting as much water out as possible, before doing the same to his shirt. When he was done, they didn’t drop anymore, but he was still wet and felt increasingly cold. Frustrated he put his socks back on before slipping in his shoes. At least they were dry, but he had to give up any hope of getting them firm on his feet again. Feeling like he was wearing clown shoes, Dave walked to his bike. Putting it upright again was quite a task and pushing it up the slope even more, so he made a break once he had reached the way.

Breathing heavily, he once again cursed the Image AI as he adjusted the seat and handlebar of his bike to the lowest level possible. This might do for the way, but the coldness of his wet clothes kept creeping into his body and the way through the park back home which had moments before seemed like a piece of cake now felt like a near dead end. Dave looked down the way leading deeper into the park and felt another coldness creeping into him. How likely was it that someone would stop the boy in wet clothes many sizes too big for him? Even he would!

Frustrated, he clenched his teeth and managed to climb on his bike without losing one of his shoes. Chances were good he would lose them on the way though. Yet, he had to try. There was no way he could get new clothes now. He just had to …

A sudden realization made him turn his head to the left. Mike’s mother ran a shop for clothes and shoes of all sizes for adults and children. It was near enough for him to see the building through some trees. Of course, he could not just enter through the front door, but he had helped her often enough to know the way in through the backdoor. They were understaffed and hardly went into the storage rooms at this time of the day. A bit of luck, that was all he needed, but if he was caught …

Dave kept looking from the direction of the shop to the way into the park and back. Feeling colder by the second and knowing his time was running out, he drove in direction leading out of the park.

He was careful, as he crossed the street in front of the store, but found the universe somehow balancing his bad luck out, by neither car nor pedestrian being near which could notice him. A quick glance through the store’s window revealed it being rather full and Mike’s mother being busy talking with a customer.

As fast as he could he drove in the side street and then the alley behind the building. Not leaving anything to luck, he locked his bike and went to backdoor with the keypad securing it. It looked so strange from his new perspective and in the shadow of the alley his wet clothes felt colder than before, making Dave for a moment insecure if he still remembered it properly. And if Mike’s mother had changed the code in the meantime …


The door clicked and with a sigh of relief, Dave entered. The warmth of building seemed to embrace him instantly and with a shudder he realized how cold he had already become in the short time. If it was his smaller body, the fresh wind on the bike or just the ordeal he had been through this morning he couldn’t say, but he took a moment to just stand there and orient himself. The floor to the left led to the store’s main area, the stairs in front of him led to a small restroom above and the floor to the right to the storage room.

Seeing no one near, Dave moved to the latter and starred at the boxes. Mike’s mother hadn’t changed the way she sorted the products either. One area was filled with boxes of men’s clothes, one with women’s clothes and the last for children’s clothes. He grabbed the first pair of shorts from the stack and let starred at it in disgust as he realized it weren’t shorts but jeans toddler overalls decorated with a red car on the front. Thankfully they weren’t his size … yet.

“What are you doing here?”

Dave spun around. For a moment he didn’t recognize the teenager standing in the doorframe between the storage room and the floor, but then he managed to adjust the height difference from his perspective.

“Aaron,” he said, realizing it was Mikes twelve-year-old brother.

“How do you know me?” The older boy asked. “Who are you?”

Dave bit his lip, knowing how strange it had to look for anyone to find a wet boy going through the clothes. So, what could he tell? He didn’t know for a moment, made worse by the fact that he had to hold his shorts as he felt they were in danger of falling down.

Aaron didn’t want to wait and grabbed the younger boy’s free left arm. “I will tell mum we have a little thief.”

He began to pull Dave out of the room and the latter to his chagrin found he hardly had the strength to resist.

“Mike!” He said, more out of instinct than conscious planning. “Mike told me it would be okay.”

Aaron stopped and starred at him.

“My brother told you it was okay to just take some clothes?”

Dave met his eyes, hating to have to look up and nodded.

“He gave me the code,” he lied. “How do you think I got in here?”

Aaron considered this. “Someone might have left it open.”

“Call Mike,” Dave insisted. “He will confirm it.”

After looking a moment at him with greatest suspicion, clearly considering just calling his mother, the boy grabbed his cell-phone.

“What is your name?” He asked as he activated the cell-phone.

“Ben,” Dave replied, just a heartbeat too late to not be suspicious.

“Ah,” Aaron noticed and dialed. “Sure.”

Dave tried his best not to look away, not to appear as insecure as he felt, as the older boy kept his eyes on him. What if Mike was in class? Busy, or …


“Aaron,” Dave could hear his brother’s voice clearly given how close he stood. “What is?”

“Do you know Ben?” Aaron asked.


“I found a boy in the storage room, going through our stuff,” Dave explained. “Oversized clothes. Totally wet. He told me he knows you, that you told him he could get some clothes, but if you don’t I will call mum and …”

“Nononono, I know him,” Mike’s voice had more than a hint of panic. “Keep mum out of it and … how old is he?”

Aaron studied Dave skeptically. “Maybe eight.”

“Goddamn …” His older brother’s voice stopped. “Listen. He is fine. Totally. Just help him with everything. Don’t tell mum and … give him me for a moment.”

“Sure …”

Aaron clearly wasn’t fine with it, but he accepted it for now and handed the cell-phone to Dave.

“Da … Ben,” Mike corrected himself quickly. “How are you?”

“Wet but fine,” his friend lied, feeling far from fine. “Coming so far was more complicated than I thought. Lost my cell-phone”

“You sound so …” Mike stopped himself. “Mr. Garth has it. He was here. I explained him I was with you but … you can’t imagine how he grilled me. He wants to speak with you tomorrow, but … fuck just tell me you will make it home in time, before …”

Seeing Aaron listening intently, Dave found it best to stop him.

“Yes,” he replied. “No problem.”

“Come on man,” Mike replied. “I could ask Aaron to come with you and …”

“It will be okay.” Dave stopped him. “Trust me.”

“Says the grade schooler …” His friend replied cynically. “Okay give me back to my brother.”

Dave did as told.

“As I said, just help him and keep mum out of this,” Mike told his brother.

“You know you owe me,” Aaron reminded him. “Least of all an explanation, when you are back.”


Aaron hung up and looked down at Dave, scowling.

“Oh, fine,” he said. “Come and be quite.”

Dave nodded, following the older boy back into the storage room and watched him go through a heap carefully folded stuff. Finally, he laid out denim shorts, blue socks, red shoes with velcro, blue briefs and a blue shirt with a red monster truck. The latter reminded Dave of the overalls for toddlers with the toy car he had found first. For this reason, he would have liked to choose another shirt, but he knew he could not push his luck.

“Thank you,” he said, wanting to pick up the clothes.

“Wait,” Aaron stopped him.

Dave watched him curious, as the older boy went through an unsorted heap of clothes he recognized as being for defective ware.

“Here,” Mike’s brother said, handing him a large grey hoodie.

“Ahhh …”

“To dry yourself,” Aaron explained.

“Thanks!” Dave said, feeling stupid for not having thought of it.

“No problem.”

Dave hesitated. “Could you turn around?”

“Are you a girl?” Aaron teased him, yet he did as asked.

Grateful for this privacy, the regressed teenager undressed and once naked began drying himself. Once done, he looked at himself in the abandoned mirror standing in a corner of the room. Seeing it all. His reduced private parts, his skinny legs, it was nearly too much for him to bear. Could he make it or would he yet be caught in this madness?

No way to find out if I don’t try, he decided.

He dressed himself and looked at himself again.

An eight-year-old for sure, he thought cynically, going through his unkempt blond hair, free of the brown having overtaken it as he went through puberty, one of the reasons Mike’s brother hadn’t recognized him. Dressed fittingly for a new day in grade school.

Dave discovered Aaron looking at him from behind, holding something. As he turned around he noticed it being a plastic bag.

“For your wet clothes,” the older boy said.

“Thank you,” Dave replied.

He put them in there, once again feeling stupid for not having thought of it.

“No problem.” Aaron hesitated, looking at him intensely. “Have you become smaller?!”

Mustering all his strength, Dave rolled his eyes and smiled.

“Sure,” he said ironically. “I’m the incredible shrinking kid. This is my power!”

Mike’s brother for a moment looked annoyed then he chuckled.

“You are okay.”

“You, too,” Dave noticed and went for the door, the bag with his wet clothes in hand. “Thank you again.”

“I could come with you,” Aaron offered, clearly having heard his brother talking about it.

The door’s handle in hand, Dave considered it. He was tempted, not just because in this short time he had learned to respect Mike’s little brother a good chunk more than before, but because it would mean he would be safer, too. Yet, Aaron knew where he lived and if he accompanied him, there would be questions he had no idea how to lie about.

“Nah, I’m a big kid,” Dave replied jokingly. “But thank you!”

Aaron didn’t reply, but kept watching him as he went outside, unlocked his bike managed to climb on it – he definitely had become smaller since the last time he had sat on it, but he still managed to get in a good position – and drove away, waving at the teenager still standing at the backdoor.




Dave chose a more moderate speed as he drove down the slope this time. Sure, he felt secure in his grab of the bike’s handle and his shoes felt tight, but there was always the risk of a sudden shrinking and there was now the weight of the bag with his wet clothes hanging on the left side of his handlebar. No reason to tempt fate again.

As he reached the even, nearly straight way leading through the proper park, he sped up again. Security was important, but he wanted to get home … needed to get home before his legs became too short to reach the pedals. There were people on the way, but he managed to stay well away from them, going for more speed if they seemed to be too suspicious or just if he could. This led to his smaller muscles feeling more and more strained. Finally, he decided to reduce his speed near the playground. It weren’t just his muscles needing the rest, but years ago there had been a near collision with a distracted kindergarten kid at this very place. Just a moment of letting his bike do the work for him and then …

“Hey you!” A voice called.

The memory of the near-accident made Dave press the breaks. A second later he already knew this was a mistake, but it was too late. A group of four teens, maybe twelve or fourteen, approached him. Their eyes showed a sort of malicious curiosity Dave dreaded at once. He might have tried to drive away, but he knew he would have been instantly stopped by them.

Knowing this would make his situation worse, he instead sled of the saddle and stood with the front of his feet on the ground. This way he now had to look up to them, something he knew would bring him into a disadvantage. Worse it made him feel younger, something he had managed to put into the back of his mind due to the quick ride through the park so far. Still, he held his ground and met the gazes of the kids who were just a few hours ago still younger than him.

“Cool bike,” the leader, a boy in a black jeans jacket said, his words being a praise, his tone a show of dominance.

Dave shrugged.

“A bit too big for you, don’t you think?” Another boy, this one wearing a black shirt with a white skull on it noticed.

Dave met his eyes, still saying nothing.

“Mute?” A third boy asked, the only one amongst them wearing shorts.

“Not interested,” the regressed teenager replied as firm as he could. “Just let me go.”

“Oh,” the boy in the jeans jacket began. “Are we stopping you?”

The wide grin the boy showed was answer enough. All four now stood in a near circle around Dave. The latter knew they wouldn’t just let him go. Would make a game out of it. Maybe not one ending in violence, but one costing him time he didn’t have. Already he could feel he had to lift his feet a bit more to stay standing.

“Let me go,” Dave repeated his words.

The final teenager of the group, a girl with partly green hair looked in the bag the hanging from the bike’s handle.

“Hey these are wet clothes!” She noticed. “Bet he pissed himself!”

“Fuck off!” Dave shouted.

He tried to push the girl away from the bag, but swayed on the bike and nearly fell. This earned him some laughter from the group.

“Potty mouth!” The girl giggled, as she made a small step away, easily escaping his reach.

“Told you it was too big for him!” The boy in the skull shirt noticed.

“Let me drive it for a bit,” the boy in the black jacket more than suggested. “I can show you how you some tricks you can show your friends in Kindergarten.”

“I don’t go to Kindergarten!” Dave snapped back.

“Oh, sorry,” the boy replied sarcastically. “Of course, you already go to grade school like other big kids. First grade?”

Dave bit his lip. He was losing. No chance to win this. Soon he would shrink too much to keep standing with the bike between his legs. And then? Even if they wouldn’t steal his bike, they would for sure notice something had happened. The words of the girl came back to his mind. He hadn’t pissed himself, but thinking of it, he right now he felt a growing pressure in his bladder … it was all in his mind, but it made his eyes grow wet and if he began to cry he knew it was all over.

The boy in the black jeans jacket seemed to notice. He opened his mouth to say something and Dave just knew it would push him over the edge.


Five heads turned around, seeing an older man with white hair in a blue shirt approaching them. At once the four teenager lightened the ring around Dave, their previously cruel faces quickly becoming bland, trying to hide any signs of guilt.

“What is going on here?” He asked.

“We were just chatting with him,” the boy in the black jeans jacket lied.

“They won’t let me leave,” Dave said. “No matter what I say.”

“Bullshit,” the girl said, turning to the man with the most innocent smile she could muster. “We were just worried because he is here on his own on this bike. I mean look at it! It is too big for him as are his clothes. Someone should take care of him.”

The man wasn’t buying it.

“And this would be you?”

The four teenagers tried to meet his eyes with a straight face but mostly failed.

“Go,” the man told them. “And if I see you bother a kid here again I will call the authorities.”

The teenagers murmured under their breathes, eyeing the man angrily, but trolled themselves and quickly were out of sight.

“Everything all right?” The man asked, turning to Dave.


The regressed teenager finally relaxed a bit, but at the same time he no longer could stand on two feet, but had to lean to one side. The older man rushed to his side and propped the bike.

“It is a big bike,” the adult noticed.

“My brother’s,” Dave lied. “Also, his clothes. They look great, don’t they? Mum says I will grow into them!”

He gave him his best innocent little child smile, hinting a sort of poverty he hoped would explain this. This worked, where the girl’s act hadn’t.

“Sure you will!” The man replied and gave him a soft smile Dave knew adults reserved for young children. “You are feeling better now?”

Dave nodded, rubbing his face … and thought he noticed a wetness there. Maybe worse, he felt his shoes beginning to once again becoming too loose on his feet and his clothes on his body.

“I have to go,” he quickly said. “Drive. Mum will be waiting.”

“Of course,” the man replied with a smile. “Shall I give you a push?”

Dave first instinct was to shake his head vehemently, but then he realized that false bravado wouldn’t help him reach his home, also the man had been his savior … He nodded and the man gave him a strong push, allowing Dave to gain speed, even when he found it more and more difficult to reach the end of the pedals’ cycle with his feet.




By the time Dave reached the end of the park proper, he had to stand on the pedals, his clothes felt too loose again and his heart beat hard from the effort of driving this way, but it didn’t matter to him. He was nearly home, the only obstacle left being the wild area between his school and his home, just where he and Mike had made a race which seemed ages ago.

Mindful of his accident earlier, the regressed teenager adjusted his speed. Yet, as he reached the small hill, he still felt his feet losing contact with the pedals for a dreadful moment. This time it was different though, he kept control and took the turn coming next, even when too close for his taste and with dust being whirled up from his back wheel as he pressed the brakes slightly at the same time.

This gain in security was won by a loss of speed, so Dave had to beat the pedals to make it up the slight rise leading to the path’s end. As his groin hit the bikes crossbar, he came to the painful realization that he had become too small for even this way of propelling his bike. Yet, the speed he had achieved so far proved to be enough. His bike climbed the rise like a tired traveler climbing the top of a mountain and gently rolled on the walkway of the cul-de-sac, allowing Dave to stir it to the right.

Without him being able to add speed, the bike became slower and slower. Finally, the last of its momentum left it one house before his own and Dave had to try a controlled fall on the lawn next to him. It worked pretty well. He managed to soften the fall with his right leg and though the bike half buried him, the regressed teenager did land securely.

Feeling his hell of a journey was finally over and his original age back in reach, he crawled out from under the bike, fastened the velcros of his shoes, pulled his shorts back up and took the bag with his wet clothes from the handlebar. No reason to try pushing the bike in now. He could ask his mother to do so in in a moment and even if it would be stolen, after today he had had enough of it for his lifetime. Feeling the sheer happiness of finally being home overtaking him, he began walking, thinking about what to tell his mother and how …

“Hey you!”

It was an adult voice he knew. This pretty much being the only reason why he didn’t just run straight to his home. Looking around he saw Mrs. Pepper, his neighbor approaching, as usual an irritated look on his face.

“What have you done to my lawn?”

Surprised Dave looked down. Upon falling, the handlebar had indeed ripped a small hole in the green of the grass.

“Sorry,” the regressed teenager said. “I had to stop there and …”

“You fell,” Mrs. Pepper interrupted him. “No wonder, it is much too large for you. Just like your clothes! Who let you out like this?! Why do you live?”

Momentarily loss for word, Dave pointed at his home.

“Mrs. Johnson doesn’t have a young kid like you!” His neighbor said, her eyes becoming weary as she spoke and grabbed the regressed teenager’s left arm. “Where you really life?”

Dave swallowed, he was intimidated by the woman’s size, but even more by the possibility of losing his way back to normality because his neighbor didn’t keep to her own business.

“I better call the police.” Mrs. Pepper decided, beginning to move and dragging the boy with her.


The woman stopped.

“I am here to be with aunt Linda for a visit,” he quickly lied. “My clothes were dirty so she gave me some of cousin Dave’s old one.”

“I would know if she had a sibling,” the neighbor noticed sternly, but Dave could hear the doubt in her voice.

“I could even drive his bike,” Dave continued.

Mrs. Pepper looked at the bike and he could see the glimmer of recognition in her eyes.

“Well, then,” she said, her voice firm as to not admit the possibility of having being wrong. “I shall ask Mrs. Johnson.”

With this she half dragged Dave to the door of his own home and rang the doorbell. Some seconds passed and he already feared neither his mother nor his sister were at home. This would have meant having to spend time with Mrs. Pepper or even speaking with the police and possibly taken with them.

The door opened and it was his mother standing now in front of him. A brief frown of confusion showed on her face, as she looked at him – clearly not recognizing her regressed son – before turning to her neighbor.

“Mrs. Pepper, what …”

“Aunt Linda!” Dave interrupted, now taking any chances. “It is me, Dave. Remember you told me to eat an apple before I left? I’m not feeling good now and want to get back in.”

This was short of telling her the truth …. Something he would do, if she wouldn’t understand and Mrs. Pepper would start dragging him away … but then he saw the recognition in her eyes, followed by them becoming nearly comically large, as her jaw dropped at the same time.

“So you don’t know him?” Mrs. Pepper noticed, interpreting this differently. “It clearly sounded like a lie to me. I will call CPS and …”


Linda grabbed her regressed son and pulled him to her, her neighbor being to stunned to resist, pressing him against her legs.

“He is my … nephew,” she said. “I was just shocked … that you held him. I feared he was in trouble.”

“He is!” Mrs. Pepper insisted indignantly. “He fell with his bike in my lawn and made a hole. Someone must take care of it! Who is even letting a five-year-old playing by his own in these clothes and with a bike too big?”

“I told you. It are my cousin’s bike and clothes!” Dave answered for his mother before she could say something wrong.

“A cousin with the same name like you?” The neighbor asked suspicious.

“My sister thought it is a great name,” Linda said, having for a moment gotten over the shock, if only because she had had enough of her neighbor nosing around as usual.

“What about the bike and my lawn?”

“I promise I will look at it later.” Linda pulled the Dave in. “Thank you for bringing my nephew in.”

“You don’t let little children run outside like this and …”

Linda closed the door.


To be continued



End Chapter 1

The Power of AI

by: Ambrose | Complete Story | Last updated Feb 9, 2024


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vended · Feb 6, 2024

Thanks for the neat read ! ^^

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