A device with the power to bring the city to its knees has fallen into the hands of a career criminal with revenge on his mind. Can the only thing standing in his way - a compromised detective looking to redeem himself - stop him before it's too late?
Teddy knew that he was slipping. For years he had managed to make a decent living for himself with nothing but his cunning and a tongue sharp enough to pierce even the most cynical heart. But both had been failing him recently, and upon being released from the Hart County Correctional Facility for the fourth time - on this occasion, to his embarrassment, for something as piddling as petty theft - he made an oath to turn his life around right then and there. I’m in my forties for God’s sake, he thought with disgust. It’s high time I did something with my life.
About two weeks into his new life Teddy found his resolve fading. Truth be told, it was the first time he had committed himself to...well, anything, really, and things had not been made easy for him. Even employers that hired high school dropouts were hesitant to take on someone with a record as long as his. As his money dwindled away he found himself having to fight back thoughts of which businesses on his street would be an easy score, and was actually two seconds away from knocking over the newsstand on the corner when he caught sight of the ad in the paper he had been reading to appear inconspicuous. Medical study, it said. $100 for an hour. Teddy knew it was too good to be true - but also realized that if he wanted to eat today the alternative was braining the sweet old man that ran the newsstand and robbing him blind. He noticed that the address on the ad was but a few blocks from his current location and that they would accept only one applicant today - beginning at eight AM. Teddy looked at his watch. 7:49. He dropped the paper and broke into a sprint.
He couldn’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable in the room the woman at the front desk had ushered him into. The only piece of furniture was a stool placed in the center, seemingly as an afterthought. White floor, white walls, harsh fluorescent light that made everything within the room seem pale and ghostly. But the most unsettling part was the cages that lined the wide walls, glinting silver boxes that held a veritable ark of animals. Creatures ranging from rats to chimps rumbled within their pens, looking restless and troubled. It was a feeling Teddy could instantly relate to.
“Ah, good morning, good morning.” Teddy looked up to see a harried older man in a lab coat entering the room, a clipboard in one hand and a small silver device in the other. It looked like some sort of remote control but Teddy wasn’t close enough to get a close look.
“My name is Doctor Farenbaugh.” The man said as he studied the clipboard. “You are...Theodore, correct?”
The doctor smiled. “Yes, Teddy, of course, of course. I assume that you filled out all the necessary paperwork, yes? Personal information, medical history, liability waiver, all that nonsense?”
Teddy nodded, his eyes locked on the device, which was now close enough for him to get a good look. Its front was set with a three digit L.E.D. display placed next to a small dial, beneath which sat a large blue button - out of the front a small black antenna jutted out like that of a car radio.
“Splendid!” He cried. “Well, I see you’ve taken notice of the focus of this little study. To put it simply, we’re going to test it on you. The process should be quick and painless - we’ll have you on your way very shortly.”
Teddy raised an eyebrow. “What does it do, exactly?”
An impish grin played on the man’s lips.
“I’m really not supposed to say.” He confided.
“Aw, c’mon.” Teddy smiled and turned on the charm that had served him so well in past cons. “I can tell that you’re really proud of it. Maybe you could give me a little show before we get started?”
“Well...” The doctor looked over his shoulder. He turned back to Teddy and gave him a conspiratorial smile. “I suppose I can manage a small demonstration.”
The doctor walked over to one of the cages and pulled a small brown rat from within, setting it on the ground at his feet. Teddy leaned forward, curious, as the doctor kneeled down, turned the dial, and pressed the blue button on the panel. Instantly the device released a low hum and then shot out a thin laser that bathed it in a soft blue light. Teddy’s eyes widened and his mouth gaped open when he saw what it was doing to the poor creature - for immediately after being covered in the light the rat began to shrink and was almost instantly reduced to a tiny, wriggling, pink little newborn, curled up at the doctor’s feet. No way. he thought. No fucking way.
“Fascinating, isn’t it?” The doctor said, his voice filled with pride. “This device can affect the age of any creature it’s used on. There’s no limit to the benefits it could provide mankind - with proper testing and implementation, of course.”
Teddy swallowed. “...how does it work?”
“Ah, well...” The doctor stepped to Teddy’s side and held up the device. “As you saw, the blue button activates the device. With the dial you can determine the age you’d like the subject to be - for simplicity’s sake it’s set to months, equivalent to a human’s development at that time.”
Teddy saw that the display had been set to “1”. He licked his lips.
“And if you want to turn them back?”
The doctor grinned, spun the dial, and pressed the button. Within moments the rat grew back to its original size and began to scurry around at a furious pace.
“He seems confused.” Teddy noticed.
“I would be too.” The doctor chuckled. “Early testing suggests that a regressed subject, remarkably enough, maintains his mental capacity after their transformation. Hopefully you’ll be able to tell us for sure.”
“Yeah.” Teddy nodded. “Or maybe you could tell me.”
With hands that had picked a thousand pockets Teddy swiped the device from the doctor, so quickly that he didn’t even realize it had happened until he saw it in his defiant subject’s hands. He stepped back and held his hands up.
“Oh God...” The doctor swallowed. “Please, think about what you’re doing.”
“Already thought about it, doc.” Teddy said, smiling from ear to ear. “Way I figure it, this thing is my ticket to easy street. And since I can’t have some four-eyed do-gooder coming after me...”
Teddy pointed the device at him, spun the dial and pressed the blue button. The doctor cried out as he was enveloped by the light, all too aware of what it would do to him. Teddy’s lips curled into a grin as the years faded away, the gray hair and wrinkles of old age giving way to the virility and zest of a young man in his prime. But the doctor was not allowed to linger at his peak, dragged forcefully out of his adulthood altogether as he approached his teenage years. His clothes grew baggy as muscles deflated and years’ worth of growth spurts were reversed. The sleeves of his lab coat swallowed up his hands and pants that had been threatening to fall finally made good on their promise as the advances of puberty were ripped from his the doctor’s body, leaving him a sweet-faced little boy whose eyes brimmed with tears as he looked up at the bad man who was being so mean to him. In a matter of seconds he had been stripped of every bit of dignity he had ever earned, all the decades he spent earning the respect of his peers and colleagues, of his very stature as a man.
And it wasn’t over yet.
Teddy found himself nearly giddy with excitement over what he was doing to the doctor. For the first time in his life he felt powerful - and he didn’t want it to end. With hungry eyes he watched the doctor tumble through his childhood, with passing seconds becoming too young for middle, elementary, and pre-school. His shoulders grew too small to hold up the lab coat that had hid his shame, and when it fell to the floor Teddy laughed heartily at the doctor’s pudgy naked body and stubby little pee-pee. The doctor turned red and tried to cover up but soon lost the ability to so much as stand, his legs wobbling and then giving out as he fell bottom-first onto the pile of his former clothing. Teddy finally found a shred of mercy and turned off the device, kneeling down as the doctor, seemingly fascinated, despite his predicament, at his newly-gigantic surroundings. When Teddy approached he looked at him and then at the device, whining and reaching for it the way an infant would its mother’s breast.
“Nuh-uh.” Teddy playfully wiggled his finger and tucked the device in his coat pocket. “This is only for big boys. And you’re just an itsy-bitsy baby, aren’t you?”
Though the doctor tried to hold them back there was no stopping the tears, cheeks turning red as he wailed, flailed his arms and drummed his heels like any other frustrated baby would. Teddy chuckled and ruffled his wispy hair. He had turned to leave but suddenly stopped, struck by a thought. He looked and the device and pursed his lips. Let’s see what this thing can really do.
Teddy turned the dial over and over until he got the exact age he wanted. He pointed it at himself, took a deep breath, and pushed the button. Meanwhile his first victim looked up at Teddy with wide eyes and a gaping mouth - though currently trapped in the body of a mewling infant the doctor’s inquisitive mind remained in full function, demanding that the boy pay attention to the transformation going on before him. He couldn’t help but be fascinated at the sight of hair being restored, wrinkles fading away and the seeming inflation of muscle as the thief was restored to the prime of his manhood in a matter of seconds. Once the process was over Teddy blinked and looked down at his hands, grinning from ear to ear as he clenched them into fists and marveled at their restored strength. It was a few seconds into his examination that he caught the doctor staring. He looked over and smirked.
“Not bad, huh?” He boasted. “Don’t be too jealous, little guy. Maybe one day you’ll grow up to be big and strong like me.”
Teddy laughed at his own joke as he pocketed the device and turned on his heel to leave. Things are finally going my way, he thought as he heard the doctor begin to cry anew behind him. And if any cops try and hassle me -
He stopped as a grin slowly crept across his face.
“I think it’s time...” he said to himself as he patted his pocket. “That I paid the boys in blue a little visit.”
“Shit.” Shawn muttered as he slammed his car door shut and jogged through the parking lot. “Shitshitshitshitshit.”
The detective knew that there could hardly be a worse day for him to be running late. He was already in enough hot water with the captain as it was over the ridiculous accusation of evidence tampering some low-life addict had thrown his way, and Shawn knew that the son of a bitch was looking for any excuse he could find to send him packing. As he approached the entrance Shawn was struck by the distinct sound of a crying baby, strong enough to penetrate even the thick double doors that guarded the precinct. Great, he thought. Now on top of everything else I gotta deal with some whiny brat all morning.
With a sigh Shawn braced himself for the high-pitched wail and stepped inside - and was immediately assaulted by the cries of a dozen bawling toddlers. His initial reaction was to cover his ears but he found himself frozen at the sight of where the sound was coming from. A gaggle of baby boys, each maybe a little over a year old, had been herded into the center of the lobby, where the precinct’s handful of female officers struggled to calm them down and keep them under control. Some of the kids seemed oddly at peace, sitting in the middle of the cluster with their thumbs in their mouths and blank expressions on their faces. Others were more defiant, trying their best to waddle away to freedom only to cry out in frustration when an officer would scoop them up and plop them back down with their brethren. In taking in the wider scene Shawn got a better idea of the chaos that had gripped the precinct. Chairs had been turned over and papers strewn about. The phone rang unanswered, seemingly battling the wailing children for supremacy over the airwaves. And, curiously enough, nobody was at their desk.
The detective looked up to see Liana, a patrolwoman of six years, rise from the crowd of toddlers and rush over to him. He swallowed. Ever since she had started working there Shawn had harbored a bit of a crush on Liana but had never found the opportunity to go beyond small talk. So it was a surprise and a considerable delight when she practically threw herself into his chest and started sobbing.
“Shawn...oh God, Shawn.” She cried, visibly shaken. Shawn took her by the shoulders.
“Calm down, Liana. What’s going on here? Where did all these kids come from?”
She took a deep breath and met his eyes.
“It was insane, Shawn.” She murmured. “He came in here and...and he just started shooting...”
Shawn’s eyes widened. “Who started shooting? Is anybody hurt?”
Liana shook her head.
“It wasn’t a gun. I don’t know what it was. But when he shot it the person he was aiming at would be covered in this weird blue light, and then...”
She sniffled and nodded towards the babies.
“That would happen.”
Shawn pulled back, his face furrowed in confusion. He looked over at the kids, noticing for the first time that while some were naked, many were draped in oversized uniforms or the button-down shirts and ties that the detectives preferred. Shoes, caps and pants were strewn across the floor in a seemingly random fashion. He turned back to Liana and stared at her for a moment before his lips curled into a grin.
“You had me going for a second there.” He said. “The uniforms are a nice touch. You should probably take ?em off now - I doubt any of those rugrats are potty trained and the guys’d only get mad if they saw that their uniform had been peed on.”
“It’s completely insane, Shawn, I know, but I’m telling the truth.”
“Uh huh. Go ahead and get the guys from wherever they’re hiding, tell them the joke’s over.”
In an instant Liana’s despair disappeared, replaced by an indignant expression that was only intensified by the dagger stare she shot into Shawn’s eyes. He was a little taken aback and was about to apologize for ruining her fun, but before he could get the words out she took him by the hand and dragged him through the office, back to where they kept the precinct’s surveillance equipment. She took him by the shoulders, pushed him down into a chair, and turned to the monitor. Shawn sighed and rolled his eyes.
“Look, Liana, it’s sweet that you’d go through so much trouble to try and have some fun with me but I’m really not in the mood. I’ve got a million things on my mind and this really isn’t - ”
Liana stopped him short by turning around, raising her hand, and then stepping aside so that he could see the monitor. Shawn noticed that the timestamp indicated that she had started the video at about twenty minutes before he got in. He decided to humor her for a little longer and looked on as the first few seconds of the split-screen video detailed the precinct’s mundane day-to-day activities in four different quadrants. But just as Shawn was about to tell her that he’d didn’t want to play along any more he caught sight of someone strange entering the lobby, a young man with his hands in his pockets and a huge grin on his face. The video showed how he simply stood in the lobby for several seconds until an officer came up to him, presumably to see what he needed. Without saying a word the man whipped out a small silver device, pointed it at the officer, and pressed a button on its front. Instantly a soft blue light shot from its antenna and enveloped the confused flatfoot. Shawn frowned and leaned forward to get a closer look...and went slack-jawed with shock when he saw what was happening to him.
“Jesus fucking Christ.” He muttered.
At first, the changes were subtle...a loss of muscle, the slimming of shoulders, a smattering of acne appearing across his forehead. In fact, it wasn’t until a few seconds into his experience that the officer realized what was happening, tipped off by the sensation of his shirt gathering around his waist and his pants sliding every so slowly down his hips. When he looked down at himself panic set in almost instantly. The officer held his hands up and backed away from the man only to immediately be tripped up by his oversized shoes. He tumbled backwards, his shrinking feet swinging into the air and nearly throwing off the thin black socks that clung loosely to his slimming ankles. The officer kicked free every bit of clothing beneath his waist, scrambled to his feet and tried to run - but before he could even escape the lobby his legs grew too weak to achieve anything more than the weak, unsteady gait of a toddler. Even as the uniform slid off his body the officer still kept going, wobbling along with his hands in the air, at that moment nearly indistinguishable from an actual baby taking its unsteady first steps.
By the time the rest of the staff took notice it was too late. Before a single gun could be drawn the man had zapped every officer in the lobby. Each shrank at the same horrifying pace, disappearing into their uniforms and tumbling out as naked, bawling tots. Seemingly not satisfied, he then charged into the office where unsuspecting detectives and desk jockeys became easy game, shrinking and disappearing behind furniture without getting so much as a look at their attacker. Each quadrant of the screen captured a different angle of the terror, each view more horrifying than the last. In one corner a detective who had propped his feet on the desk was seemingly enveloped by his leather chair, his sharp leather loafers dangling and then falling away - his expensive silk socks followed suit a second later as his thick strong feet were reduced to tiny bite-sized appendages. In another a barrel-chested patrolman deflated before Shawn’s eyes, the muscles to which he had basically dedicated his life to stripped from him in a matter of seconds. Once his transformation was complete the newly-minted tot tried to take a step forward only to trip on the collar of his uniform, causing him to fall forward and give the camera a perfect view of his lily-white bottom.
As he watched Shawn felt the deep weight of guilt develop in his gut, saying to himself that he should have been there, that he could have stopped that lunatic from doing what he did. But as it was all he could do was sit there, detached, watching how one by one his friends and colleagues were reduced from strong, proud men to helpless, wailing little boys.
“That’s enough.” Shawn muttered, turning away from the monitor. “Turn it off.”
Liana did as he asked and stood over him.
“The worst part is that while the guys might look like babies they still seem to be themselves.” She said, quietly. “Like you saw, some are in shock...but the ones we can talk to - with what little they can talk - identified themselves and everything.”
Christ, he thought. What a nightmare.
“I’m sorry.” He said after a moment. “I should have believed you.”
“It’s all right. I probably would have reacted the same way.”
He managed a small smile, then frowned as he was struck with a thought.
“Did he not shoot any of the women? I only saw men being attacked on the video and only...” He winced at what he was about to say. “...boys in the lobby.”
“We were as caught off guard as everybody else.” Liana sighed. “By the time we gathered and drew our weapons he had already pointed the device at a cluster of the officers, telling us to back off before he turned them into newborns. We had to let him go.”
She rolled her eyes. “And on the way out, he said that we should consider ourselves lucky - that the only reason he spared us is ?cause somebody had to take care of the babies and it might as well be the women.”
“Real ladies’ man, that one.”
Despite the situation Liana managed a laugh. Shawn smiled and stood.
“Alright, I think the first thing we need to do is take control of the situation out there. Let’s get a hold of everyone’s families. We can’t look after these guys all day and I’m sure their families would do a better job anyway.” He sighed. “Though God knows I don’t wanna have to explain to them what happened.”
“Okay. Sounds good.” Liana exhaled and met Shawn’s eyes. “I’m really glad you’re here, Shawn.”
For an instant Shawn was able to forget about the situation that had brought them together, allowing himself to focus on how Liana’s eyes were the most perfect shade of sky blue he had ever seen.
“Yeah.” He managed, offering her an embarrassed smile. “I’m glad I’m here too.”
Stories of Age/Time Transformation