Former fireman Adam Thale struggles with his new age and gender in the aftermath of an infection with the age-regression-virus. Can a therapy help?
Chapter Description: Former fireman Adam Thale struggles with his new age and gender in the aftermath of an infection with the age-regression-virus. Can a therapy help?
Fireman Adam Thale sat in the living room of Fire Station 13. He had done his duties in inspection and repair, so he spent the free time by playing cards with his colleagues and friends.
“Still planning to keep your pants?” Adam asked, going over his deck.
Michael grinned over his own deck. “Planning to keep your panties?”
This caused shouts of laughter from their comrades all around them.
“Prepare to have your best part rubbed off by the pole!” Michael said, presenting his deck. Full House.
“Prepare to ride home with a blank ass!” Adam replied and presented his own. Straight Flush.
The crowd around the erupted. There was laughter, bets and swearing. Both friends grinned. They had the best time.
Yet, the moment the siren sang its song this ended at once and they became the professionals they knew they were. Donning their clothes, one by one they slid down the pole, leading to their engines. Finally, it was Adam’s turn and for the first time in his career he hesitated. A fear, he couldn’t define, had grabbed his heart.
“Adam!” Michael shouted from under him. “Apartment fire, we have to move!”
Taking all his willpower, Adam jumped, grabbed the pole and began sliding down. After a few seconds, he realized something was wrong: It didn’t stop! He looked down. Michael had vanished, as had everything below him. He slid down endlessly into nothingness. Terrified, he tried to hold on to the poles, but strong muscles, trained every day, suddenly had become weak. Slowly he lost his grip and finally he fell.
So very deep.
Adam woke up, feeling groggy, confused and with the looming, hangover-induced-headache just waiting to erupt. On some level, even before he completely regained conscious, he was fully aware that this – nightmare included – would be the best part of the day. This quickly proved true, when he felt the coldness and even worse dampness between his legs.
Not eager to do anything, but even less wanting to lie there, Adam decided to deal with it. He rose in his bed and quickly put his legs over the edge The swift movement nearly made his head explode. Worse: As he sat there, breathing heavily and rubbing his temples, he noticed his feet … his tiny toddler feet hanging well over the carpet. All the time since he had been infected with the Age-Regression-Virus and he still woke up, hoping it was all a bad dream. The feeling of dread, the realization it wasn’t so brought him, somedays lasted until he got back into bed.
It was going to be one of these days.
Adam let himself fall to the ground as quick as he could. The world swirled a bit, but he ignored it. Waking up this way more often than he could count, had made him gotten used to it. At last it was better than concentrating on the things he would never get used to. He wasn't an alcoholic. He only drank a bit more than he had before the change had happened. If his body couldn't live up to it, Adam didn't mind. A failing liver would put him out of his misery.
Slowly he walked to the bathroom, careful not to trip over the empty and half-full beer bottles or the boxes from the food delivery services standing around. He tried to ignore the coldness around his groin and butt, but there was little on his way to really distract him of his fate. The furniture was still from before and as such gigantic to him. Stores sold special furniture for his size of course, but buying such would mean giving his new body one more victory. Right now, he felt already too close to being defeated.
Adam stopped in front of a photo. It showed him amongst his team in the Fire Station 13. A big, muscular blond man in his early thirties, smiling at the camera along his comrades and friends. While looking up at this photo, Adam wondered.
Could it really have been just three years?
But of course, it had been. Shortly after this photo had been taken, he had gotten the virus and lost everything he had cared for. First and foremost, his job, which had been his life. He had not just worked as a fireman, he had been a fireman. Heart and soul. Then he had had to leave the city. Theoretically he could have stayed, but meeting someone he knew, or even his friends from his old team, with his new body would have been more than he could have handled. No, there had been no other way.
Slowly he walked on, waddled to be exact, though this was more due to his reluctance to feel the thing he wore, than to its thickness. In the bathroom Adam stopped in front of a large mirror. He hadn't wanted to buy it – he didn't own any other except for the small one on the sink to see his face – but his shrink had insisted. Positive self-image or something like this bullshit.
This is not me, Adam thought, starring into the mirror, not me!
Looking at him through the mirror, was an angry looking toddler with blond hair. Around two, as the doctors had told him, but this wasn't the worst part. Reluctantly he removed his plain blue pajama. The night-time-protection he wore was plain white. Special production for AR-virus-victims like him. The regular ones were cheaper and he was fully aware, that they came from the same mother company, but he would rather die than to wear the motives they came with. He didn’t wear training pants. He didn’t need them. Slowly he removed the wet protection.
Between his legs was a slit. Even after three years it still hurt. The onset of the virus had been bad, but he had tried to gloss over his fear with jokes. Once, his body had already been in its twenties, he had joked with a colleague of his that he would have to change into the junior division soon. At this time his penis had already been a bit too small, but he had thought it was simply that his body parts weren't shrinking at the same speed. His doctor had tried to warn him, what was most likely to come, but Adam had only really understood, dared to understand, when he woke up one morning with his balls having vanished inside his body.
Even with the years having passed since them, the sight of his new body still made Adam sick. Indeed, right now he felt something in his throat which made him run to the toilet and hang his head over it just in time to not spill anything on the ground. Pathetic, he felt so pathetic and weak.
Vowing to get rid of the mirror soon, Adam began his morning routine. After shower and brushing his teeth, he stood in front of the sink on his large step-stool. Something wired deep into his mind and too dear for him to let go, made him look for the shaving foam and the razor blade for a moment, but of course both were in the cupboard. He hadn't gotten rid of them as his shrink and common sense had suggested, neither of his old clothes. It wasn't that there was any hope that the doctors would find a cure to the AR-Virus, but a part of himself he wouldn't give up. And the razor blade ... Adam looked in the small mirror. No stubbles in his soft face. Worse, its feminine features were only enchanted by his even slightly longer hair.
It was good he kept the razor blade close by.
Sighing, Adam went back to the living room and ate an apple for breakfast. He hadn’t really felt hungry, but this way he wouldn’t have to lie to his shrink about eating. Also, it would help masking his breath if he was stopped. The apple tasted sour, but somehow this was the best part about it.
The drive to the shrink felt good. Not that Adam looked forward to the hour, but behind the wheel of the car he still felt like himself. In control. It was maybe the only part of his life he still enjoyed. There had been modifications of course. The safety seat he sat in resting on the normal driver seat, the long controls … Still it was a small price.
Sometimes Adam imagined this would be the best way to end it all. Not by driving in another car – he didn't want to hurt someone else – and not by just driving against a pillar – there was always the possibility he might survive – but by driving into a lake or river, letting the water slowly fill his lungs, while he still held the wheel. Maybe as he passed out, he still could hold on to the illusion, that he was in his old … his real body.
Adam fought this idea down, though not as hard as he had even a year ago. Instead he concentrated on finding a parking place near his shrink's office. Once he had done so, he hopped out of his car and turned to make sure the electric lock worked.
“Mommy, what is the little girl doing?”
Adam turned around as if someone had hit him. It was a girl, maybe five or six, pointing at him while holding her mother's hand. The woman at once understood the situation and gave him an embarrassed look.
“I'm sorry,” she told him, before speaking to her daughter while dragging her away. “It is all right. It is really a big girl.”
Adam had to suppress a scream.
Feeling already that coming was a mistake, Adam climbed the stairs to the therapist's office. They seemed so high, but at last he didn’t wear the thick undergarment which would had made it even worse. Back in the beginning, he had worn the padded underwear even outside, having had two too many humiliating accidents without them. This was when he still left the apartment more often.
“Mr. Thale,” the receptionist greeted him “You can go in. Dr. Courier is expecting you already.”
Adam gave the woman a friendly nod and walked to the room he already had spent many hours in. Vaguely he remembered that he had actually felt bad, when the last one had been canceled. Maybe because this was the only regular human contact left.
This doesn't mean that it helps, Adam reminded himself, not at all.
“Hello Dr. Courier,” he greeted him when entering.
“Hello Mr. Thale,” the middle-aged man replied, looking up from behind his desk. “I hope you don't mind if Mrs. Blaub stays here again.”
Adam looked at the woman in her late twenties, wearing her blond hair in a pony-tail. She made a training and had taken part in some sessions already.
“It is all right,” Adam decided, climbing on his chair. “Hello.”
“Hello,” the woman greeted him with a smile.
“How was your week?” Dr. Courier asked. “Have you tried to go outside, as we talked about last time?”
“No,” Adam admitted. “I wanted to, but I always forget not to take breakfast and then I can't go out. Besides, there isn't really much for me outside.”
“I see,” Dr. Courier replied in a neutral tone. “Mr. Thale, let us begin the session. I want you to relax and ...”
A little over one week later, Adam was done. He had skipped the last therapy session without thinking much about it. Neither had he drunk too much lately, or driven anywhere. His life seemed stale to him. Spent. Time to move on.
Adam went out of the apartment, closing the door without caring to lock it. Then he went down the stairs, out on the street. It was a big world. He had never felt it this strong before. He had never felt such small and lost. Still he had a destination and knew once he reached it everything would be better.
On his way down the streets few people even looked at him, the toddler in the blue jacket, black shirt and jeans, going all by himself. Strange how the people accepted the formerly unbelievable. Of course, his determined posture was proof enough of his real age and if there was someone hard to convince Adam still had his age-regression-virus-victim-ID.
He passed two girls around 9 chatting with each other. They giggled. Did they laugh about him? Adam scowled. His therapist had already told him, this way of thinking would keep him unhappy, but he couldn't help it. Hearing people laugh, made him feel tense. He himself couldn't even remember when he had laughed the last time.
Adam reached the central bus stop. Two boys around 13, hanging out there. Were they victims of the AR-virus, too? Seemed unlikely, even impossible. The virus only stopped under puberty and they already had a certain leanness in their faces. He felt he was envious of them. How far had he fallen.
His bus arrived and Adam and stepped in, buying a ticket without issues. While climbing on one of the seats in the back, he mused how long it had been since he had used one. It wasn't just that he loved driving, using the bus combined everything he hated. It was designed for people being of adult size. He was around other people. He was driven around without control. He remembered once thinking that the only use a bus had for him was jumping in front of it, but he was past this now.
The bus moved on, through his part of the city, then others, then into the suburbs and finally into the outskirts of the city. When it neared his destination, Adam stood up and walked to the door, having to grab the pole not to fall. Once the bus reached stopped, the doors didn't open immediately.
“Are you sure you want to go out here?” The driver asked from the front.
Adam felt anger flashing in him. The man's voice sounded worried, but he needed no one to hold his hand, carry him or watch out for him.
“It is all right,” he shouted back, hoping he sounded normal.
The door opened and Adam stepped out. He didn't turn around, when the bus didn't drive away at once, but looked around. It was a rural, lonely area with a lot of woods, but he knew his way from a map. With the sound of the bus driving away behind him, Adam followed a smaller road.
It had become darker. The shadows practically swallowed him as he followed the way. Memories of old stories came to his mind. Of evil men in the woods. Of wolves. Of witches hunting for children to bake. The latter was silly, but the underwood around him was so thick and the light such receding, that he couldn't quite fight this idea down.
I must only show the witch my id-card, Adam thought, there are no stories of witches eating adults.
Strangely this thought helped.
Still, he was relieved, when the trees became sparser just before his destination. The bridge was old, with low, broad stone parapets. A car was parked on the other side, but Adam ignored it. With some difficulty he managed to climb on one of the parapets in the middle, sitting down on it with his legs dangling over the river. It was a deep river, broad and quick. Adam could hear it gurgling from his position. It sounded hungry.
There was another sound. A car-door being opened and closed, but Adam barely registered it. Instead he let his legs swing a bit before he removed his shoes and placed them besides him. Then he opened his breast-pocked, took his purse and removed his AR-virus-victim-id-card. His face, his real, male, adult face looked back at him. What it would say on the smooth one he wore now? Both felt meaningless to Adam right now. Without really knowing why, he threw the card into the river.
It sank quickly – pulled under by the current – and Adam felt like a part of himself was pulled with it. His face, his birthdate, numbers and letters, his knowledge, his life. All vanishing in the hungry water never to be seen again.
Adam felt relieved and at the same time more insecure than before. It was like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders and now he was floating around without knowing where to. Which weight? Why had he even come here? What now? It was all so confusing!
“You threw the id away?” A voice to his left said.
Adam turned around to see a woman standing beside him, leaning her upper body on the parapet. Her open hair and white blazer seemed strange, especially here. He needed a moment to recognize her as Miss Blaub.
“A good throw!” She praised.
Adam smiled, but he was still confused. Maybe his therapist could help.
His tongue felt like it didn't want to obey him, but the woman smiled, obviously having understood.
“Dr. Courier was so happy with your progress, that he gave me the job,” the woman explained. “I'm so proud to be your therapist now.”
Adam felt even more confused. Had they talked about this? Why was she even here? Why was he?
“I'm Mrs. Drawer by the way,” she continued. “I'm sorry for not telling you my real name at once, but now we are done pretending. Aren't we?”
Not really knowing what she meant, but not wanting to let her know, Adam nodded.
“How do you feel?”
Adam hesitated a moment. He didn't want to, but if she was his therapist now, he had to tell the truth.
“Me was scarred of da witch in da woods!” He revealed.
She gave him a reassuring smile.
“But you still came all the way, just as we agreed to,” Mrs. Drawer noticed. “You are a very brave girl!”
His smile on this praise quickly turned into a scowl. Something was wrong with this.
“I'm no ...”
“You don't have to be afraid anymore,” she said, picking him up and holding him close to her chest. “It is all right now.”
Adam wasn't sure what she meant, but being held this way made him feel good. How long was it that he had even been touched by someone else? Such he didn't protest, when she carried him to the car, only when he noticed something still lying on the parapet.
“My shoes and my … my ...” he couldn't find the word.
“Your purse?” Mrs. Drawer helped.
“You won't need to worry about money anymore,” she explained smiling. “Nor do you need these old shoes. You will get many new ones. Much prettier ones.”
With this Mrs. Drawer put him in the car, making him stand on the backseat.
“Speaking of. Time to get you out of these clothes. They look funny.”
Adam wasn't sure how they looked anymore, but his therapist had to know, so he let her first remove his jacket, then his shirt, trousers and socks, only moving back when Mrs. Drawer went for his underpants. He didn't get far as something stopped him
“Now, now,” the woman said, smiling as she knelt down. “Would you hesitate to let any other doctor see you naked? There is nothing I don't know already.”
Her words made sense, still she had to hold Adam gently but firmly as she pulled down his underpants and removed them.
“See? No problem!” Mrs. Drawer said, picking up his clothes. “Now wait here. I will be back in five seconds.”
This let Adam confused. It wasn't that he stood stark naked on the backseat of a strange car – he felt less confused about that than he knew he should have – but the word … the number Mrs. Drawer had used. Five. How much was that?
Vaguely Adam was aware that it had to do with his fingers, so he looked on his right hand. There was nothing to solve the mystery of the number, but seeing his thumb he felt an instinct and without even thinking he put it in his mouth. This was better. Much better at last than thinking about such complicated things as numbers.
Feeling more relaxed with his tongue going over his thumb, Adam looked around. What had prevented him before from retreating turned out to be a safety-seat for toddlers, installed in the middle of the backseat. He knew he had sat in something similar recently. Frowning he concentrated, but couldn't put his finger on it. Before he had a chance of figuring it out, he heard Mrs. Drawer shutting the trunk and coming back.
Adam saw what the woman had brought and immediately protested.
Mrs. Drawer smiled.
“You know you can't hold it when you sleep,” she reminded him. “It is a long drive and you didn't have your nap yet.”
Adam was confused again. This was true, wasn't it? Before he could figure it out, the adult had lifted one of his legs, putting the leg through one of the holes.
“It is even one where you do have to lie down to have it put on,” Mrs. Drawer continued. “Isn't this nice?”
Adam had to prop himself on the seat-back, when his therapist lifted his other leg and put his other foot through it. Then she pulled it up. The feeling between his legs was strange as they were slightly pushed apart, but it wasn't uncomfortable as he had feared. Maybe because there was something missing.
What is missing there?, Adam wondered. It had to be important, but he couldn't quite remember anymore.
Adam touched his front, but under the image of the smiling animal he felt nothing. This was strange, too. Had he ever worn diapers with images? What was this animal anyway? Long neck, yellow fur with black stripes. He looked at Mrs. Drawer.
“Gi ga gi...” he managed to bring out.
“Giraffe!” His therapist helped him.
Adam nodded smiling. Of course. It was great she understood him.
“Look at this!” She said, showing him the extended shirt.
The shirt was his size, but pink, with frills at the shoulders. At breast was the image of a beautiful princess.
“Do you know who this is?” His therapist asked.
“Sweeping Weauty!” Adam exclaimed.
A part of himself told him that this was bad, but his curiosity won and he extended his hand to touch the face. The part had been wrong. She was so beautiful!
“Right!” Mrs. Drawers said. “You have so much in common. You both sleep a lot. And when you wake up you feel better. She is also called Briar Rose. Briar would have been a nice name, too, but I think your parents gave you an even better new name.”
“Me have name,” he protested. “I ... I ...”
“Eve,” Mrs. Drawer said gently. “Your name is Eve, don't you remember?”
He looked startled at her a moment. This wasn't his name! Was it? Somehow it rang a bell, a bell which vibrations ran through his whole body. There was another name, had been at last. Or had he dreamed while he had slept like Sleeping Beauty?
Eve. Eve. Eve.
Slowly Eve nodded.
“Clever girl!” Mrs Drawer praised her, giving her the widest of smiles. “Arms up!”
Eve obeyed and the shirt was pushed over her. For a moment the woman looked over her.
“You look perfect,” she said.
Without waiting on a word, Mrs. Drawer lifted Eve up and put her in the safety-seat, safely strapping her in. Eve didn't know what to make out of it, but Mrs. Drawer seemed to know and she could trust her. The woman was her therapist after all … Eve realized she no longer knew what this meant, but it had to be something like a doctor. You had to trust a doctor! Also Mrs. Drawer was an adult and such sure of what she was doing, unlike Eve right now.
“Mouth up!” Mrs. Drawer ordered.
Eve obeyed without hesitation and something soft being pushed into her mouth. It felt like soft plastic. Instinctively she sucked on it and found the feeling even better than using her thumb.
“Now that is a happy girl!” Mrs. Drawer said. “Did I find the right pacy?”
Eve smiled around her pacifier.
“Time to get you to your parents.”
With this Mrs. Drawers took place in the driver seat, starting the engine. Eve threw a look at the back mirror, noticing a little girl looking at her. Her golden hair was too short, but she wore a beautiful pink shirt with a princess on it and even sucked a pink pacifier. Eve would have liked to be this girl, for she looked happy.
“A road-trip just with us girls,” Mrs. Drawers noticed. “Let's see if I find the right music.”
The woman pushed some buttons on the radio and a soft melody started.
“Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb ...”
Eve smiled, wishing she had a little lamb, too. Its fur would be so soft … her diaper felt soft, too and made her feel protected. She vaguely remembered being upset about having to wear one, but no longer knew why. Remembering was hard work and when a sunbeam fell through the window while the big world rushed past, Eve even forgot this, too, giggling around her pacy at the feeling of the sun on her face. She didn't notice Mrs. Drawer watching her in the back mirror with a big smile, but instead thought of her parents and how great it would be to be with them again.
Thinking happy thoughts, the little toddler fell asleep.
To be continued …