If it's Acme, it's a gasser!
Chapter Description: James and Mr. Ming are looking through the attic of their club to get rid of some of the clutter...
The potty chair hovered in front of James. James stood there, stuck in place, unable to move like a deer caught in the glare of a car’s oncoming headlights.
Mr. Ming, his old mentor, spoke softly behind him “whatever you do, don’t make any sudden movements.”
James did not indicate hearing Mr. Ming. As far as he was concerned, the only things that existed in his universe at the moment were himself and the potty chair. He had heard of the strange things that went on in the club, of inanimate objects that came to life and did strange things to its members…
While Mr. Ming had been the club’s mentor for a few centuries, he had only heard of the club’s rumors and never experienced firsthand what was going on right now. He had asked James to inspect some of the older artifacts and furniture that went back to the very beginnings of the club for sale at auction.
The pair had entered the storage area in the large attic of the club with the expectation that they could pick and choose some of the more viable bits and pieces. While they rummaged through the clutter, James’ hand brushed up against the potty chair and it registered his presence.
Fortunately for James, the potty chair hadn’t seen service for at least a century and was lonely. Its built-in enchantment had scanned James and determined that while he was several decades past potty training, a compromise could be arranged. This made the chair very happy, indeed.
James looked at the hovering potty chair. It resembled a friendly owl carved out of oak with bright green glass beads for eyes surrounded by two yellow circles. He wondered how children of the past could use such a thing without being creeped out by the intense dead stare that they seemed to give.
The owl lifted its wooden lid making the old iron hinges on it creak from their decades of non-use and lack of maintenance. Under the lid, a large white porcelain bowl with a small chip on its rim presented itself. The potty chair was ready to receive whatever offering of human waste James had to give. It wasn’t picky, urine or feces or even the rare upchuck would do just fine.
James came to a decision and grabbed the chair. Putting it down on the floor, he pulled down his pants and squatted uncomfortably on top of the porcelain bowl which was no more than one foot above the floor. Letting his bladder go and emptying it took several minutes due to benign hyperplasia, but he got the job done.
As he stood up, pulling up his pants, the contents of the bowl dissipated instantly. The potty chair had received his gift and was using it to power up the rest of the magic incantation that had sat dormant since the creation of the potty chair itself.
The owl eyes on the chair began to glow brightly, filling up the attic with an eerily green eldritch light. Both men continued to stare at the chair to see what would happen next.
As the chip from the side of the potty chair’s bowl reformed, the rest of the chair took on a sheen that made it look brand new. (As new as an Edwardian-era potty chair could look anyway.)
The chair sidled up to James and rubbed against his leg, giving a happy hoot sound. It diminished in size to an intricately carved wooden owl and flew up to James's shoulder, perching itself there. Its green glass eyes took on a dim glow as it rotated its head 180 degrees around its neck, made a cracking noise, and rotated itself back.
“It would appear that you have a new friend,” noted Mr. Ming. “I doubt that it’ll want to part from you anytime soon. How did you know what it wanted?”
“It’s a potty chair. It’s been lying around disused for who knows how long, I just went with what I felt it was asking of me.”
“Well, let's hope we don’t find any more oddities like that up here. Give me a hand moving that dresser, will you?”
The two looked over a few items in the attic, gathered them together in a medium-sized pile for transport to the charity, and adjourned for lunch.
After lunch, the pair went to Mr. Ming’s study. The comfortable room was adorned with ancient tapestries, overstuffed leather chairs with a divan took up center stage, a large desk cluttered with papers and books took up the back, and the walls were lined with bookshelves crammed with hundreds of books, mostly leather-bound and not a one less than several decades old.
James took a chair, rested his feet on a green leather ottoman, and waited for Mr. Ming to finish his tea preparation. Once Mr. Ming was seated and both had their tea, the conversation began in earnest. The owl on James’ shoulder looked on with seeming interest as to what they might say.
“I’ll look through my literature and find out if there’s any mention of an animate potty chair,” Mr. Ming offered up after a few minutes of conversation. “I do hope it was during one of the more documented eras of the club.”
“Indeed, that would be what I feel would shed some light on the matter,” said James getting up “I’ll be right back, it would appear that lunch has hastened my digestion process.” He hastily left the room and went to the adjoining restroom.
Once there, as he was unbuttoning his trousers, the owl made a hooting sound, flew off his shoulder, and reformed as a potty chair in front of him.
“I wish you were larger, it’s very hard on these old bones to squat so low to the floor,” muttered James to the potty. In a flash, the potty chair increased its height to accommodate him. Nonplussed, He sat down and emptied his bladder and bowels.
“That’s odd, I didn’t have any problem passing my waste,” thought James as he washed his hands “I usually take upwards of 30 minutes to do my toilet routine and here it only took but 10.” The potty ingested his offering and reformed as an owl perched on his shoulder giving a happy little hoot.
James reentered Mr. Ming’s study and found him looking at a large leather-bound book with vellum pages decorated with ornate scrawling.
“Ah, James! Good to see that you made it back. I do hope that everything came out all right?” Joked Mr. Ming.
“Yes, quite,” said James flatly. Toilet humor was beneath him at his age.
“There are quite a few items of interest in this tome. I think I may have found a reference to your owlish potty chair.”
“It would appear that it was made sometime around the early 1800s to make potty training appealing to one of the mansion’s denizens at the time,” he paused for effect “On this day, the young master did indeed take a liking to the game of sitting on Mister Owl. He was quite taken with the elimination of his wastes into its shiny bowl and vowed to never go in his short pants ever again.”
“How nice. Is there anything about why it’s magical or animate?”
“I’m getting there. Yes, here we are,” Mr. Ming was warming to his research “The owlish potty chair was made from enchanted oak wood by a local craftsman named Lord Acme who it was proclaimed had a magic touch for these sorts of things. The chair uses human detritus to power itself and can be enjoyed by the whole family.”
“Is there anything else? Warnings or cautions, perhaps?”
“Yes, there is a caveat at the bottom of the page. If the owl falls into disuse, it will wait until it finds a proper subject that it can service. Good health shall follow that person for the rest of their days.”
“Well, I can’t complain about that. I must say that my recent activities concerning the matter have been the best I’ve had for several years.”
“Wait! Here’s another note, it’s scrawled a bit hastily, almost childish compared to the rest of the flowing script on the page,” Mr. Ming pulled out a magnifying glass to help him decipher the text “Hmm, a few misspellings here and there, the grammar is a bit off, it says not to overfeed it or the person’s health will be too good. I wonder what that means?”
The owl on James’ shoulder was quite happy to have feasted after decades of famine. It wanted more and was feeling ravenous. It consulted its internal spell runes and found out how to induce urination and defecation in times of sickness and decided that it wouldn’t hurt to use that now and get what it needed.
James felt the owl’s influence immediately. “I’ll be right back,” he said hastily as he ran to the bathroom. Mr. Ming was absorbed in his reading of the book and didn’t notice until he came back.
“After reading the entry and deciphering its few scant paragraphs I deduce that if you overuse the potty, it might have a significant effect on your health. What it is, I can’t figure out, but it does mention that the potty chair is to be stored in the attic until they can find out what the problem was. I’ll have to consult the family’s history to see if there’s more regarding it.” said Mr. Ming as he closed the book.
“Oh, I think I know why they put it there.” said James “We need to find out how to get it off my shoulder as soon as possible. I don’t know how much more of its health effects that I can experience before it becomes a real problem.”
Mr. Ming looked up and looked at James with a wondered expression. “My word! You look like you’re in your sixties, old man. I could have sworn you were at least 80, earlier!”
“Indeed, I am. However, the healthy effects that the book mentions are that each time I eliminate in this thing, I grow younger. I suspect that it can induce bowel and bladder movements and each time it does so, it takes a few years off. I also suspect that it’s quite hungry after being unused for so long.”
The owl swiveled its head at James and then Mr. Ming launched itself into the air and hovered there while giving off an octarine light. While the two men were bathed in its yellow-greenish glow, their clothes vanished from their bodies.
“Time to go!” said James
“I’m with you!” agreed Mr. Ming.
The two bolted for the door and found that their movements were greatly slowed. Time seemed to pass slower and slower as they ran for the door. In mid-step, James’ body took on a younger, fresher appearance. He looked to be in his forties as his right foot touched the ground and his left leg lifted and went to pass his right leg, propelling him forward.
Mr. Ming aside from having his clothes disappear didn’t seem to be suffering from the same effect as James. Time ran slowly for him as well, but he didn’t become younger as James rapidly was.
James’ left foot hit the ground slowly, he was now in his twenties and had a few more steps to go before he could make it out the door. He grabbed the doorknob and turned it.
Mr. Ming slowly moved his leather-bound book through the air and swatted at the owl. It took an eon to connect, but it did so with a solid thunk. The owl flew into his bookshelves and bounced off, momentarily stunned.
Time resumed its normal course as James opened the door and ran into the hall followed by Mr. Ming. James was a young boy of 12 when he ran into the hall buck naked. Mr. Ming closed the door rapidly with a slam.
“To the attic!” yelled James in a high-pitched voice. He pointed dramatically to the stairwell and Mr. Ming couldn’t help but notice that his body had gone from mature to pubescent. Fine hairs covered his face and there were even finer, wispier ones on his pubic area. A small, tight ball sack held two marble-sized testes and a little boy’s penis hung above it.
James took the stairs in twos and would have marveled at the fact that was able to do it after decades of slow plodding brought on by the deterioration of age, but his mind was in survival mode, and getting to the attic was the only significant thought on his mind. Mr. Ming trailed behind but was able to keep up with the young boy despite his advanced age.
Almost at the top of the stairs leading into the attic, the two heard a loud crash as the owl broke through the glass window pane on the door that they had used to enter the stairwell. It was was still very hungry and made a beeline for its source of nourishment at the top.
James and Mr. Ming entered the attic. Mr. Ming went to the pile of furniture that the two had gathered earlier and grabbed an old sewn leather briefcase. The owl came through the door and hovered above James menacingly. It began to glow with its ghastly light again and time began to slow down for a second time.
“NNNOOOO!” Yelled James in slow motion as the owl’s magic began to work on him again. Mr. Ming opened up the briefcase and trapped the owl inside. Time resumed once more and James stood there, naked, sweating, flabbergasted, and all of 8 years of age.
“The briefcase was made to trap the owl in case of emergencies. I read that in the notes in the book and remembered that we’d put it in the pile earlier.”
“Well, that’s all fine and good, but look at what it did to me! I can’t be much older than a young schoolboy!” Squeaked James with his now childish voice “And why didn’t it affect you? You aren’t the least bit younger from the experience!”
“Calm down, James. First things first. There should be some old clothes in the wardrobes in the back. We’ll get something to wear and find out more about your predicament afterward.
Mr. Ming wore an early twenties navy blue wide double-breasted business suit with a red and blue striped tie. His tasteful pocket square was a light blue and complimented his shirt’s sleeve cuffs that were pinned by gold-colored cuff links. A two-toned pair of wingtip shoes completed his ensemble and he would have looked right at home smoking a cigar. Fortunately, he abhorred the nasty, miserable things and wouldn’t be caught dead with one in his hands.
James, on the other hand, while well dressed, wasn’t as fortunate in his clothing finds. He wore a dark red schoolboy suit, yellow tie, white short-sleeved shirt, beige khaki shorts, knee-high socks, and loafers.
“This stinks! This is the only thing that fit me in all those wardrobes and I hate it immensely” groused James.
“Now James, there was a little Lord Fauntleroy outfit complete with curled wig. So considering what you have on now, you’ve come out quite lucky.”
“I don’t know about that, Mr. Ming. At this age, I had problems with incontinence due to an underdeveloped bladder and have to wear those pre-fold diapers and rubber covers that we found in the old chest. They’re a bit tight on me, I do wish they were a bit roomier.”
“There’s something about that chest. I think I saw a page mentioning it briefly as I scanned the book for the potty chair. Just a moment…” Mr. Ming picked up the leather-bound book and leafed through it.
“Ah! Here we are! A nondescript chest for the young master that was made by Mr. Acme…”
“The same Acme that made the potty chair?” asked a horrified James.
“Quite. The chest enchants the diapers put there to keep a young person’s skin clean and dry. Hmm. The caveat says...Good Heavens! Take the diaper off immediately! Do it now!”
James pulled down his shorts and diaper cover to knee level and started working the diaper pin to unclasp it.
“It seems stuck! Dash it all! I can’t get it…” James immediately went from age 8 to age 5 as the diaper worked its magic.
His formerly tight clothing now hung loosely on his frame making him look like a young child wearing his older brother’s school uniform and pretending to be of school age.
“Never mind,” James re-pinned the diaper to fit his smaller waist and pulled up the diaper cover and shorts. “I take it, the diapers weren’t meant to be worn by anyone past the age of 5?”
“Sadly, yes. It would appear that Acme fellow while talented, had a few problems with his final products. I shall have to read up on his life and times when I get the chance.”
After more reading, Mr. Ming found out that the reason that he didn’t get any younger under the potty chair’s spell was that he hadn’t offered any bodily wastes to it.
He related the information to James and a way to break the contract with the potty chair. A small séance with Lord Acme took care of the problem.
“What a character!” marveled James “Even back then, using a slogan like ‘If it’s Acme, it’s a big deal!’ was very forward of him.”
“Well, we got you off the contract for the potty chair. Unfortunately, you’ll have to grow up all over again.”
“We’ll also have to find a replacement for these most excellent diapers. It’s quite the pity as they never need changing and are quite comfortable as well.”
“I looked into that. Lord Acme gave me a location to find his notes on the matter and I believe that I can tweak the incantation to allow you to wear them at all ages. You won’t be stuck at age 5.”
“I certainly enjoy wearing them, what have we to lose? Let’s try that and to verify it, you can be the first test subject of the new incantation,” suggested young James with no hint of sarcasm in his voice whatsoever.
The new incantation was written out, modified to remove the age restriction and a fitment glyph was added to the chest. This allowed a person of any size to comfortably wear the chest’s diapers.
“Well, that worked quite well,” enthused a diapered Mr. Ming. “I can see why you like wearing them, they are quite comfortable and are keeping me cool with this inclement weather we’re having. I believe I’ll be wearing them from now on.”
After studying Lord Acme’s notes further, Mr. Ming went up to the attic to fetch a rattle. He handed it to James and instructed him to shake it.
“What will this do for me, exactly?” James said as he eyed the rattle with a suspicious eye.
“You only have to shake it three times and call out a number. That will be the age you grow into. The notes state that the rattle was given to one of the children of the manor to allow them to experiment with different ages and see which one they liked. I think that this time, Lord Acme had a winner on his hands!”
James played with the rattle and tried various ages. He didn’t like being a teenager, it had too many hormonal changes and left him moody. As a twenty-something, he felt more in control but felt that he would be ignored due to his age equating with a lack of experience. He settled for 31 as a good age, not too old with a bit of experience and respect without the decrepitude of age tripping him up.
He still wore the most excellent diapers as they were comfy and he didn’t have to take bathroom breaks when he used them.
At night, James used the rattle to return to age 2. He slept the happy sleep of an unencumbered baby and woke up refreshed each day to face life’s challenges.
(To be continued?)