Chapter Description: The former prisoners barely escaped the goons of the company which as a test of their drug changed their gender and age against their will. Now they and their allies meet the person who helped them escape in time. Free at last, they need to decide the best way to maintain their safety and what is left of their lives.
Final Tester(Part 4)
Andrea stopped the car on the described spot of the shopping mall’s parking lot, just as she had been instructed to. As the engine came to rest, she had to fight not to collapse over the steering wheel. The car of her contact wasn’t there, neither he himself. James’s car was stopping not far off and she could see him wake Julie who was asleep in the passenger seat. They would come to her to seek answers. Answers she no longer felt she had. She felt like she was betraying them.
It had seemed so easy when she had planned it. Break them out, make a run, hide and negotiate a deal with the company. But now, after spending just one night on the road, she felt like she couldn’t do it anymore. She was afraid and sure the company was already searching for them. What were their chances?
Knowing she had to face it eventually, Andrea stepped out of the car. She saw James and Julie stretching and beginning to approach her. Suddenly she could hear a door behind her being closed. Feeling slightly paranoid, she turned around and noticed someone walking to her. It was a young man around 22, with pitch black, stylish gelled hair and a black Metallica-shirt. Fear grabbed her heart. Had they already found her? Had they tracked her despite them leaving their cell-phones behind in their old cars?
“Hello Andrea,” the young man greeted her.
So, he knew her, but there was something in his voice …
He smiled. “I thought some camouflage was needed.”
Andrea starred at him. He had to have some drug bunkered somewhere to pull such a thing off. Relieve flooded her at the realization that at least one was prepared.
“I didn’t want to pull you into this,” she explained.
He kept his smile. “Hey, we are partners!”
Andrea almost cried from relief.
“Dr. Wilson?” James asked unbelieving as he came nearer.
The man who was now younger than the guard nodded. “The same. Is everyone all right?”
“The kids are sleeping,” Julie explained.
“Young bodies need sleep,” Sam noticed.
“Thanks for warning us,” James replied.
Sam shrugged. “How is the plan?”
“We hide and blackmail the company for getting the serum to turn Ken and Julie back to their original ages,” Andrea revealed. “If not, I go to the press, consequences be damned. Maybe I can even bring them to release the drug and …”
“You can’t be serious!” Julie exclaimed. “So many suffered because of it already.”
“It is done. No more experiments,” Andrea replied, remembering when she had made and broken such a promise to another tester already. “Its release will save innumerable people.”
“This is easy for you to say,” Julie replied icily. “What did you give for your precious drug?”
For a moment there was uncomfortable silence.
“Andrea,” Sam shook his head, “you will get the first, but never the second. The iron is too hot. In a few years … maybe.”
“I suggest I run the negotiations,” Sam explained. “I know who is sympathetic to … your plight. Just go into hiding somewhere and wait.”
“Okay,” James agreed. “We need to talk about it with Ken and Steven, too. But first breakfast. I guess we are all starved by now. Let me get you all something from McDonald’s. Then we go shopping. I know we better not appear on any safety cam, but we need safety seats for the kids if we don’t want to be stopped by the police. Supplies for the trip …”
“And a jeans,” Julie informed him. Feeling her back becoming cold already through the crack in her pants.
“What do you want?” James asked the doctors.
“Coffee and a Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit ,” Sam explained. “Thanks.”
Andrea shook her head.
“Let us ask the three what they want,” he suggested and took Julie’s hand.
As they walked away, Andrea noticed the rip in the back of the other woman’s jeans. She certainly didn’t look as bad as she had when she had been picked off … abducted from the street though. Why couldn’t she see? Why couldn’t the rest see?
“You were doing the right thing,” Sam told her. “Both in creating the cure and in saving these people, but we can’t do more.”
Andrea looked at him, then at James’s car. The former guard was already leaving for the shopping center and Julie pulled one child to the bushes, probably so it could relieve itself. These two didn’t really need them to take care of themselves or the other victims. Still, things were moving. She looked at her passenger seat, where the backpack with the vials containing versions of the serum rested and finally at Sam. In the end he had risked his life for her, making her feel ashamed for her previous suspicions that he was only caring about his money. She should just listen to him and yet …
“I have to try,” Andrea told him. “I just have.”
Sam sighed. “What will we do?”
“I. This is my project.”
“We are partners,” he noticed.
“The best,” Andrea replied. “But … there is something I must give.”
Sam looked at her a long time, then he nodded, knowing her better than to argue.
“If you ever need help …”
“I have your number.”
Andrea gave him the biggest embrace and felt like it would last a long, long time, then she climbed back into her car and drove away.
Ken awoke to the sound of a door being shut. Through the window of the car, he could see James and Julie stretching and instinctively did the same, letting out a loud yawn. By extending his limps, Ken suddenly became aware of the thickness of his underwear. Pulling down his short a bit revealed what he vaguely remembered, but had hoped to be a mad dream. The cartoon image of the Cookie Monster greeted him. He was wearing a diaper. A soaked one by the way it was swollen, though it didn’t feel too wet except in the parts he sat on.
Feeling the sting of shame, Ken wanted to get out of the car to remove it, but as he turned around, he noticed clear green eyes watching him. Cassie was awake, probably due to him stretching.
“I dreamed of horses,” she proclaimed.
“Uh … fine?” Ken replied, not knowing what else to say.
“Not you,” a tired voice said with a yawn.
Looking around Ken could see a boy with short brown hair sitting at the door and looking at them. He seemed to be younger than Cassie, but his eyes were that of an adult … suddenly he remembered.
“Hi Steven,” he greeted him, less than enthusiastic of having his former guard around … especially since even now he was bigger than him. “Seems we are in it together.”
The other boy made a disgusted face.
“I’m not together with two hobos, one who got his dick cut off and his mind made into stew and the other wearing a diaper,” he replied. “Still wanting a fix?”
Ken hadn’t even thought of getting one until this very moment. The desire was over him and for a moment he felt his little body shake as the ghost of the addiction overcame him.
“You are mean to the baby!” Cassie accused Steven angrily. She had not understood the words, but having noticed the effect on Ken.
“Not a baby!” Ken told both of them.
He tried to get out of the seatbelt and of the car, but the button seemed too hard for his little fingers to press, so he wriggled out of the belt, ending up on all fours on the seat and exposing the swollen butt of his diaper.
“You really pissed yourself!” Steven noticed and laughed. “They should drop you two at an orphanage!”
Tears dwelled in Ken’s eyes. He felt embarrassed. He felt small, as everything around him was so big, even the bully in front of him. Only the anger he felt for the latter prevented him from starting to bawl.
“So? And you …” Ken noticed something. “You fit right in in a Kindergarten. Maybe we should drop you off there. The caretakers there will teach you manners. Maybe this time you will even be a real cop, like your big hero on your shirt.”
Just for a moment insecure, Steven looked down on his shirt. It was of course Chase from Paw Patrol. The German Shepherd pup with the police uniform smiled at the boy as if to encourage him that he could really do it. Enraged he glared at Ken. Fearing the larger boy would jump on him, the latter believed to feel his diaper getting slightly warmer. Before this happened, his opponent’s eyes suddenly went down and Ken realized Steven was looking at his notebook.
“No!” Ken protested, grabbing the book containing his written down memories, some he might need its help to remember.
It was to no avail, as the much stronger boy simply pulled the book out of his hands and opened it.
“Oh, what have we here?” He mocked. “No one ever loved me, so I became a hobo and sucked dicks.”
Ken jumped at him, but Steven easily fended him off with one hand.
“Give it back!” Cassie shouted. “I will tell!”
Steven was unimpressed and flipped through the book.
“Trash, trash, trash. Just like you both!” He exclaimed. “I will do you a favor.”
With this he grabbed a page, clearing intending to tear it out.
“Nooooo!” Ken wailed.
He heard the weakness in his voice and felt the tears spilling from his eyes, hating himself for both.
Suddenly the door behind Steven opened. “What is going on here?”
The three kids looked up at James standing in the door.
Steven lowered the book, closed it and threw it to Ken who grabbed it eagerly.
“He pissed his diaper,” he just noticed. “Someone needs to change him.”
Ken held his notebook close to his chest. He didn’t remember if he forgot something about his past – quite the irony – but he felt having the one part of his old life was important.
“Steven was mean to the baby!” Cassie snitched.
James gave his former colleague a stern look. Julie behind even glared at him, making the boy decided it was better to remain silent and sit down.
“I will go get us a breakfast,” James explained. “Anything you want?”
“Sweets and chocolate and limo and …” Cassie began excited.
“A healthy breakfast, I understand,” James stopped her with a smile.
“Beer,” Steven said. “Something to shoot me off, so I survive this.”
“I will not try to explain an officer stopping us why you smell of alcohol,” his former colleague replied dryly. “A coke with a Bacon & Egg McMuffin?”
Reluctantly the former man nodded. Ken had hoped James would just agree. Having him sleep off in a drunken state would make the miles pass much quicker.
“I need underwear,” Ken told James, as the man looked to him, trying very hard not to turn red.
“Diapers,” Steven commented.
Ken glared at him.
“When we had breakfast,” James promised. “Same for you?”
The toddler nodded.
With this James stepped aside to exchange some whispered words with Julie, before walking in the direction of the shopping center. She looked after him, causing Steven to notice the rip in her jeans.
“Look at this,” the boy commented. “Have you missed this sort of clothes or are you preparing to earn money on the way?”
Ken cringed and even Cassie, who didn’t understand what Steven had said, understood enough about body-language to realize that the other boy was in trouble. Julie didn’t turn around immediately, but her hands became fists. When she finally did turn around, her face was oddly calm, but her eyes were icy blue flames locked on Steven. She walked to the open door and the boy tried to crawl backwards. Ken blocked him and saw with complete satisfaction how the former guard’s eyes widened as Julie grabbed him and pulled him out of the car.
“Be good,” she told the remaining two children and pushed the door close.
Ken sat on his butt. He knew he should be happy that Steven would get his just dessert, but he already felt his satisfaction waning and being replaced by fear of what lay ahead. He could feel the wetness of his diaper and its swelling forced him to spread his legs apart. That he hadn’t pooped was a small relieve which only showed how low his standards had become. He might have to grow up again the normal way, with the only comfort being that at least he would eventually be bigger than Steven who couldn’t do this anymore. They might also still be caught and turned into newborns or even killed. It was a scary world and everything now seemed so big, strange and outside of his control … What if he ended up on the street again?
“Don’t be afraid little baby,” Cassie told him, having sensed his state of mind.
She embraced him, just as he wanted to protest that he wasn’t a baby, but the warmth of her touch overcame him. He might not be a baby and she not a little girl, but for now the comfort of her embrace was all he needed.
Julie went in the direction of the bushes, pulling Steven along, despite his protests.
“Crazy bitch!” He shouted.
She stopped in front of a rather isolated bench and turned to him, towering over him.
“Crazy bitch?” She asked unimpressed. “I’m not the one attacking someone he entirely depends on. No, you brat are the one who is out of his mind. But I know just the thing to help you.”
Before he could protest, she pulled down his sweatpants along his undies, sat down on the bench and pulled him over her knee.
Steven kicked and flailed. “Nononono!”
Unimpressed with the boy’s defense, Julie brought the palm of her right hand down on his bare bottom the first time. It felt good. Even better the second time and the third and fourth … Steven screamed, but there was no one near to hear and Julie didn’t care even if. She only punished a bad boy.
“I have been abducted,” smack, “experimented with,” smack, “and turned into a man!” Smack. “I can forgive James,” smack. “I am even with the two doctors.” Smack. “But I won’t take any insults from a brat,” smack, “who has done what he could to make me feel even more miserable,” smack, “when he still has been a man.” Smack. “You are no man anymore,” smack, “and I will not allow you to make anyone else miserable anymore, neither me, nor the two others whose life you helped to ruin!”
She gave his now red bottom a final smack and then made him stand. His sweatpants and underpants still down, he glared at her, even while tears still ran down his face.
“Make another stunt like you did in the car and I bet even James will throw you out,” she informed him. “We just leave you on the street. Trust me, it is hard there for a little boy like you. Best you can hope for is a cop finding you and drops you off at an orphanage. If you tell anyone the truth, they wouldn’t believe you. Even if they would, don’t you think the company wouldn’t deny it? Do you think they would give you the serum to turn you back? You would have to either grow up back the normal way or they get you and … well you know what they do with such as you, do you.”
He kept glaring, but Julie could see fear in his eyes. Good! Fear was a start and the fact, that he would never age a single day anymore … better to let this carrot dangle in front of his face for now.
“Will you behave?”
Slowly, reluctantly, Steven nodded. As if he only now realized he was still partly naked, he pulled up his Bob-the-Builder-underwear and then his sweatpants.
“Good,” Julie commented. “Now back into the car and no peeps from you.”
With this she led him back to the car, noticing with satisfaction how he had to slow down due to his sore bottom.
“Ken,” she called, before Steven could enter the car. “Could you come a moment?”
The toddler climbed out of the car, looking weary at Steven as he passed him. Julie led him to the back of the car and then knelt down in front of him.
“I will put the diaper off now, okay?” She asked.
Reluctantly Ken nodded.
She pulled down his shorts and then undid the tapes. The diaper was really soaked, but she held it, so it didn’t fall down. As good as she could, she fixed the tapes as she had seen them sometimes in the trash cans. Ken wanted to pull up his shorts, put she stopped him.
“One moment,” she told him.
With this Julie stood up and threw the diaper into the nearest trash can. Then she grabbed a package of tissues from the side-door, took one out and knelt beside Ken again.
“We need to clean it a bit,” she told him.
“Let me do it!”
Julie looked at him. His cheeks were red. Standing half naked on the parking lot was clearly not easy, despite their relatively hidden spot.
“Sure!” She handed him the tissue. “I keep watch no one comes.”
He nodded as she stood up and was quickly done, pulling up his shorts as fast as he could. As he threw the dirty tissue in the trashcan, Julie watched him, trying very hard to remember he was the man she had first met … well he had been a woman then, but it was close by. Babying him would make him upset, also she felt relieved he was mentally an adult again. Yet, he would need new underwear and probably wouldn’t like the sort, but better they took care of this with a full stomach.
Ken walked to the open door of the backseat and hesitated. “Can I sit in the front?”
Julie shrugged. “Sure, take the driver’s seat until James is back.”
Ken gave her a relieved smile and climbed into it. Taking place in the front seat, she threw a look in the backseat through the rearview mirror. True to his word, Steven remained silent, also with his arms crossed in front of his Paw-Patrol-shirt. Julie then watched Ken touch the steering wheel in what seemed like awe. It was ridiculously oversized for him, but she understood him and knew there wasn’t anything ridiculous at all. Having had some hours behind a steering wheel herself, she knew the promise of freedom and power over their own path it represented. They hadn’t had this for a long time, so seeing him now at least dream of it in a mix of toddler imagination and adult understanding of freedom was touching.
A bit later James came back with two milkshakes, one coke and three cups of coffee. The former for the kids and the latter for the adults, along with the ordered food. Sam joined them and it was only then, that Julie realized that Andrea had left. She decided not to mention it, neither did the others. Rather they all enjoyed the make-shift breakfast in and around the car, using the moment of peace to discuss the path ahead. They would part ways, with James bringing them to a place he knew from his childhood and Sam negotiating for their safety meanwhile. Once he felt it was safe, he would call them over an unregistered cell-phone he handed them. The road seemed clear. There was just one thing left open …
“You really have no idea where your colleague has gone to?” Julie asked Sam again.
With one eye she watched Ken eating the rest of his Bacon & Egg McMuffin, dropping just another bit on his shirt. At least he had managed not to spill his milkshake.
The doctor shook his head. “The government. A rival company. I found it better not to ask …”
“She really believes she could save millions.”
“No.” Sam sipped his coffee. “She knows she could save billions given time.”
With nothing more to discuss and them all feeling a sense of urgency as the parking lot slowly filled with the cars of people out for an early morning shopping, they said goodbye. Sam went over to his car and Julie watched him driving of the parking lot, silently wishing him luck.
“Next on the plan is a little shopping tour,” James, as always practical, declared. “But I think I’m not the only one who needs to visit the toilet first.”
With this all could agree.
Cassie jumped of the backseat, ready to go where the grown-ups would lead them, when Julie stopped them, just as James gathered the trash of their breakfast and carried it over to the trash can.
“When we are in the shopping center …” She hesitated a moment. “When we are anywhere else under strangers from now on, I want you to call me aunt. James is my boyfriend. Understood?”
Ken nodded. Steven made a face, but didn’t protest. Only Cassie scowled.
Aunt? Julie wasn’t her aunt, she was … The girl realized that she didn’t know.
As the adults led her over the parking lot the big double Ms which would have normally filled her with excitement, Cassie investigated the big hole in her head she until now had had no idea existed. It terrified her. Monsters could live in such darkness, but at the same time she could not turn her thoughts away. She remembered she had been at a school. She at first had believed it to be a kindergarten, but now she realized it had to have been a school, because the teachers had shown her so many things she had to read and asked so many questions she had to answer. In a kindergarten this wasn’t the case. She felt pretty sure of it. But why had she been there?
They entered the McDonalds and were led to the toilets. Without really thinking – the thinking part of her mind was too deep in the darkness – Cassie followed James, Ken and Steven, until Julie stopped her, with a hand on her shoulder.
“Hey,” the soft voice of the grown-up began. “We must go in there.”
Suddenly thrown back into the present, Cassie looked up. On the door behind which the three had vanished, she saw the symbol of a person and under it letters she couldn’t read. The little girl found she didn’t need to though. Men. It was the bathroom for men and this was the sign for men. She looked to the other door and saw the sign for women, with what had to be the letters. No, it were letters, for she could suddenly read them.
Like a flash something in her mind lit up, illuminating parts of the darkness.
“I … I am a boy!” The boy in the girl’s body looked up at Julie, whose eyes widened. “I’m Brad.”
Brad stumbled and would have fallen if not for the woman holding him. Looking down on himself, the dress decorated with flowers, which had a moment before seemed so beautiful, suddenly looked so stupid, so … girlish. Memories floated his mind, of his life before. Of playing with friends … games for boys and definitely nothing with horses or dolls. Vaguely he remembered going to grammar school. Even vaguer he remembered visiting a ballet with his parents. His parents … Another flash lightened the darkness inside his head. He would have given the world to not see what had been hidden there, but now he saw ... remembered.
“My parents …” He starred up at the woman he knew wasn’t his aunt. “My parents are dead!”
With this the boy in the girl’s body collapsed completely and would have fallen to the ground if not for Julie catching him. The adult picked up the sobbing child and carried it into the women’s bathroom and there into a stall, after making sure the rest were clear. She sat on the seat of a john and nestled him close to her, letting him cry.
After what seemed a long while the sobbing stopped and finally the tears. Sitting on Julie’s lap, Brad looked at his flower dress, he let his legs dangle and noticed the pink sandals. He looked up at the woman.
“What has happened to me?”
“Some evil scientists captured us – you, me and Ken – and experimented on us,” Julie explained. “They made us younger and also turned me into a boy and you and Ken into girls. They then turned Ken back, but made him even younger before we could stop them. One scientist … one nice scientist turned me back into a girl and aged me a bit, do you remember?”
Slowly Brad nodded. Most of his recent memories were hard to make sense of, but he remembered them escaping and Julie suddenly changing. James had said she would change into a princess and he had wished to be one too … he had promised him a crown.
“Will I change back, too?” Brad asked. “Into a boy?”
Julie looked at him a long time, then she shook her head.
“One of the scientists messed up,” she revealed. “You will always be a girl … and not age.”
Brad looked away from her and into the air. He didn’t want to be a girl, he didn’t want to stay little … but there was something more horrible, a fear preying on him from the hole in his head.
“I don’t want to be alone!” Brad began to cry again.
“I will always be there for you,” Julie promised and embraced him again. “And James, too.”
Slowly the boy in the body of a little girl calmed down and suddenly noticed a certain pressure.
“I have to pee,” he told Julie.
“Can you do so alone?”
Brad nodded and slipped of her lap so she could stand up and leave the stall, closing the door.
Looking at the john, Brad sighed. He was vaguely aware having done so before as a girl, but now it seemed strange. Still, when his mommy and any stupid girl could do it, how hard could it be? He pulled the lit up and his briefs down, then he lifted his dress and climbed on it. Looking down he only saw a slit and suddenly very much missed his penis. Still, when the urine came, it worked fine enough.
Once done, he cleaned his slit as he would have his normal part and jumped off the john. As he pulled up his briefs, he noticed that they were indeed pink panties with the image of Cinderella on it. Brad hesitated, not really wanting them and imagining how his friends in grammar school would react on this. As he did so, he had the sudden realization, that they must be big by now, maybe in High School! Also realizing no one would see it under his dress, he pulled it up completely, before flushing the toilet.
As Brad went out of the stall, he walked slow suddenly very aware of the lack of a very important part between his legs. Walking as a girl and in a dress felt strange, he felt more vulnerable and not just because everything seemed larger than he remembered. Then he noticed Julie standing at the sinks. Approaching her, he became very aware of the signs marking her as a woman. The height, the breasts, the features of her face … he suddenly felt adoration and maybe a bit of envy, even when he knew he shouldn’t.
“Ready to wash hands?” Julie asked, when noticing him.
Brad nodded, pulling a small stepstool near to comfortably reach the sink. As he did, he looked straight in the mirror ahead of him and felt shocked at the sight of the little girl with brown hair and green eyes looking back. As he didn’t move, Julie activated the tap and the boy in the little girl’s body automatically moved his hands under them. As he did so, he noticed how clean they were. Small, but clean. Having washed them, he looked into his face, noticing for the first time the tear marks under the reddened eyes. Quickly he activated the tape again and washed his face, dried it and looked again. Now it was clean, too.
Brad looked up to Julie who smiled.
“Brad,” she looked around, but there was still no one else in the room. “Is it okay when we call you your girl’s name, when other people are around?”
Brad bit his lips. He didn’t feel so, even when he understood that they were undercover … kinda like in a cop-show. He looked back at the mirror, just to be sure his face was still clean. He couldn’t say why it was so important, his parents had always much more wanted him to be clean than he did, but he suddenly felt it was. Maybe more than being a boy? It was a stupid idea, but … he smiled and the girl in the mirror smiled, too. He was the girl. The girl was pretty. Julie was with the girl. He was with Julie. He wasn’t alone.
Brad looked back at the adult. “Undercover?”
“Very brave,” Julie commented. “Come.”
Brad felt oddly proud, as he followed the grown-up out of the room. He hopped a bit, feeling so very light. The lack of his penis suddenly didn’t bother him so much anymore. As they left the bathroom, James, Steven and Ken were already waiting for them. Brad smiled. He liked James and Ken, too, despite him being just a baby right now. He didn’t like Steven, who pouted again. Had he been a girl? Was this why he was angry? He knew it wasn’t the time to ask, but at least he knew he could always tell the grown-ups if he was mean. Especially to the baby. They were almost a family. At least when undercover. This realization made him feel warm inside.
Brad looked around at the door of the bathroom they had just come out of. He no longer could read the letters, his time in Grammar School suddenly a vague concept when it had been clear before, but he could understand the sign for Women and this made him feel smart. Smiling he turned to Julie who returned the smile.
“Ready for shopping?” Julie asked.
The little girl giggled and took the grown-ups large hand with her clean little one.
“Yes, auntie Julie,” Cassie replied.
A good while later, James pushed a shopping cart over the parking lot. In the cart were three children safety seats, along with a pack of Huggies Pull Ups – which Ken had reluctantly agreed to wear at least during the trip – plus wipes, a lot of food, drinks and other stuff for the voyage ahead of them. Once they arrived at their car, James at once began installing the three safety seats on the backseats of the car, while Julie packed in the rest of the purchase, helped by Cassie.
Ken used the time to grab a Pull Ups, vanish to the side of the car, step out of his pants and step into the padded underwear. He pulled it up, instantly feeling the thick structure between his legs. Yet, it felt soft, definitely softer than the shorts had without underwear. Despite adult modesty telling him to quickly dress into his shorts again, he took a second to inspect the Pull Ups. It was mostly blue and had Mickey Mouse on the front. The latter was seemingly dancing to some music, indicated by the colorful notes around him. Childish, but better than diapers. Ken looked up and noticed Steven watching him wordlessly from his place at the front seat. The other boy didn’t say a word and Ken smiled, before getting in his shorts again.
Better a toddler than him!, the regressed adult thought.
Ken suddenly felt a tag at his shoulder. Looking around he noticed Cassie smiling at him.
“Tag,” she said smiling. “You’re it!”
Ken didn’t want to play such a childish game, but then he remembered his thought from before and smiled at her, lunging forward and making her shrieking of laughter.
A bit later, Julie watched James installing the last seat. Steven was still sulking on the passenger seat, while Ken and Cassie were chasing each other over a small piece of grass around the three boxes of the safety seats they had stapled there as a fort. Their laughter had nothing adult, but no hint of worries either.
A bit after that it was all done and they all sat in the car. The three children had been safely placed in the seats and stripped in their harness, so that they now more laid than sat. The adults had taken place in the front.
Julie looked in the rearview mirror. In the right safety seat Steven still sulked, looking out of the window. In the left safety seat Ken had begun sucking his thumb, only to stop once he noticed it and look at his hand in disgust. In the safety seat in the middle Cassie practically beamed, proudly wearing the plastic princess crown with a red diamond James had bought for her.
Julie wondered if it was good idea to let the boy in the girl’s body have such. Would it bury him further? There had been little of a boy in the child during the shopping. Still, James had promised it and the little girl had practically torn it out of his hand once he had bought it. Also, there would probably be enough time to deal with this later.
“Ready?” James asked.
Julie nodded. “More than ever.”
He started the engine. “Do you know how to drive a car?”
“No,” she revealed. “I started taking lessons, but then I began speeding, fearing I was followed by a mysterious black car with veiled windows. My driving instructor kicked me out after this.”
“Well, given there could always be cars following us now, how about I give you some instructions once we arrive?”
Julie looked at her former guard. Despite being 19 now she was older in years … though these were lost years. Lost and better left behind. Brad seemingly had. Maybe so should she.
“Sounds great,” she answered.
With this she looked ahead on the road and for the first time in many years felt trust in the future.
To be continued …