Danny half woke up. He felt a bit cramped, and realized quickly that it was because he was sharing his twin-sized bed with another boy about his size. Struggling awake, he recognized Max sleeping next to him. Danny looked at himself; he was wearing his birthday pajamas; his knees and palms were scratched up, but bandaged.
Max was wearing the dog costume from before, but not the gloves or collar, and the hood was off. Max’s costume had "MAX" written across the front. Danny was about to shake the boy awake when he heard the bedroom door open.
"Good morning boys." It was their mother.
"The two of you were very naughty, running away like that. You might have gotten seriously hurt. I’m very disappointed."
Max was groggily coming awake, belatedly trying to figure out what was going on. As soon as he did, he made a break for it, kicking Danny as he dived over the smaller boy, and running for the door. With a smooth motion, their mother stuck a pin in Max’s head. She didn’t stick it in very far, and Max didn’t look like he was injured. He just stopped moving, entirely, as if the single pin on the side of his head was holding his entire body still.
"Very, very disappointed. What will I do with the two of you?" For a long moment she just looked thoughtfully back and forth between them, Max frozen by the pin, Danny by fear. Finally she brightened and, whistling, began setting to work on Max, ignoring Danny for the time being. She tweaked the costume, especially at the hood and the paws. She pulled the hood over his head, and began stitching into place, replacing the zipper as she went. Danny watched in horror as his friend was sewn into the costume, the room silent except for the sound of her scissors occasionally snipping a loose string.
After much too long, she stepped back from her work. Dan blinked away tears he hadn’t even realized he was crying as his mother handed him a large stuffed puppy. The zipper sat, unused, draped over her arm.
Danny recoiled from the disturbing offer. "Oh, don’t be silly, he’s still your friend. Here." She pulled out her marker and drew a small heart on the animal’s palm, and wrote "Danny" in it. Then she grabbed Danny’s hand and drew a heart on his hand, and wrote "Max" in that one. Danny was too frightened to resist as she touched the two hearts together.
The moment she did, Danny instinctively grabbed Max and clutched him close. He knew he was a little too old to have a stuffed animal, especially one he carried about with him everywhere, but he also knew he couldn’t bear to be separated from his beloved dog. The mark on his hand vanished, and on Max’s paw there was now a little heart-shaped button.
"Well, that will keep Max safe, but what about you?" She unbuttoned his pajamas and pulled down the right sleeve. She took a different magic marker, a yellow one, out of her pocket, and shaded in his chest with it. First a few broad strokes, then some smaller ones, then a few scattered dots, each followed by a careful inspection, though Danny had no idea for what.
Finally, she was satisfied, and button him back up. "There, that should do nicely. Have a nice day, dear." She kissed him on the forehead, and Max on the nose, and walked out.
Danny spent the rest of the day in fear of her, hiding with Max, and wondering what she’d done. He found out that night. As he was drifting off to sleep, he was brought wide awake by a bolt of thunder. He found himself gripped with fear; by the time he ran to his mother’s room, clutching Max, he was crying in fear. He crawled into bed with her, sobbing, and let her gently rock him to sleep, cringing each time there was another peal of thunder.
The next day, at school, things were different too. Danny discovered that a lot of things scared him. He hated that the other kids called him a scardy cat, and made fun of the stuffed dog he kept in his backpack, but what choice did he have? No matter how much he wanted to be brave, he just couldn’t hold back the bursts of terror that filled him any time anything the least bit scary happened. He had to spend recess, depressingly, hanging near the teachers, too afraid to even venture to the far end of the playground.
Certainly, he had no hope of running away.
Stories of Age/Time Transformation