by: Personalias | Complete Story | Last updated Aug 13, 2021

Chapter 5
Part 5

Chapter Description: Part 5


It was well past breakfast and firmly into brunch territory when Margaret awoke.  The events of the previous night blocked out of her mind by not-quite dreams of warmth and comfort, it can be forgiven that Margaret was confused as to why she woke up in a strange bed.  The walls were familiar, but the furniture was all but alien to her.  A heavy oak work desk was across from her, its surface neatly organized with pencils, pens, and drawings, with subjects ranging from still life, to whimsical doodles, to something right out of a comic book. Next to the work desk was a smaller table with a computer, its screen alive with scans of the aforementioned sketches being turned into full on illustrations and drawings in the midst of being digitally colored, shaded, and refined.

She was in her Roommate’s quarters, Margaret concluded, but where was her Roommate?  More importantly, why was she here instead of her own room?   “Mo…” she started to call before stuttering and coming to a stop.  Like an old VHS tape that had only now rewound, the events of the last night replayed themselves in her mind’s eye.

Smoke and fire, her clothes burning.

Terror; mortal terror as the fire in her underwear drawer blazed like an open Hell pit.

Blindness and suffocation as the smoke rose into her face; an acrid pillow smothering her face and seeping into her lungs, threatening to choke her back into unconsciousness, knowing that oblivion awaited her.

Deafness as the smoke alarm bleeped and blooped, denying her the infinitely more pleasant death of being burned alive in her sleep.

The door whining open as her rescuer came in…then retreating footsteps…her hero abandoning her.

The steps thundering back, and a cloud of white enveloping and smothering the flames; a fire extinguisher.

A gentle hand guiding her out of bed and pushing her along the floor, sending her crawling.

When she could finally see again, she was on the floor of the living room, looking up at Molly.

“Stay right there, honey. I’ll take care of everything.”  Like a good little girl, Margaret had obeyed.  She stayed put as Molly broke into a blur, opening windows, turning on ceiling fans, moving an oscillating fan, and grabbing towels.

After the adrenaline rush had stopped and most of the smoke had cleared out, Margaret’s body trembled at the thought of going back to her own bed.  The offer had never even been made.  Instead, still crawling, she’d been led to Molly’s room, and with promises of dealing with it tomorrow, they fell asleep in each other’s arms, the harsh words they’d exchanged hours before completely forgotten.

“Shit,” Margaret swore under her breath, the fact that she normally abhorred swearing not even occurring to her.  She climbed to her knees and noticed that the Goodnites was still sagging down closer to the mattress.  “I’m wet,” Margaret said dumbly, her voice tinged with disbelief.

She was wet, as she had been most every morning this week. That much was obvious.  “When” was the real question.  When had she wet herself?  Had she wet in her sleep before the fire alarm, or after when she had literally crawled into her Roommate’s bed?  Had she unknowingly pissed herself in fear of the fire?  Had she gone back to bed wet?

Margaret didn’t know.  And that not knowing is what was more terrible than the fire had been.

Taking a deep breath, Margaret called out for answers. “MOLLLLLLY!”


Molly was busy spraying and cleaning, dutifully trying to get the smell of burning death out of the air. To say the least, the job was easier said than done.  Her roomie’s panties, now so much ashes (along with her underwear drawer) had been bagged up and tossed in a nearby dumpster over an hour ago.  That had been the easy part.

Now was the not so easy part.  She’d have to try to get the smell of burnt baby powder and wood out of everything.  She’d have to take pictures and document minor smoke and fire damage to the ceiling.  She’d have to contact the landlord and see about getting it fixed.  Cripes, she didn’t even know how to contact the landlord. She’d have to ask Margaret once the girl woke up.

It was closer to lunch than it was to breakfast, and as far as Molly new, her little roomie was still sleeping.  That girl could sleep through anything, it seemed; anything short of a fire, anyways.  Margaret sleeping too deeply had been the start of this weird week of playing wet nurse to the technically grown-up woman.  Margaret could sleep for two, it seemed.

Soon after the immediate threat had been resolved, Margaret and Molly had crawled into her single bed, and co-slept, spooning up against each other.  Margaret had drifted off first, Molly knew, because of her light, almost kitten-like snoring which helped Molly drift off.

However long they laid there together, they didn’t stay that way.  Molly had jolted awake with dawn, sitting down at her computer, her work thus far having been scanned into her computer and being digitally altered and edited further towards completion.  Her body had gone all cobbler’s elves on her again.

Despite this, she didn’t feel the least bit tired and kept on working; now while conscious as Margaret mumbled to herself in bed.  Molly couldn’t be certain, but she was pretty sure her roomie had been saying “Pee-pee.”  At the time, Molly could only smile and shake her head knowingly.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither would her roomie’s bladder control.  No sense in waking her up, though, and so instead she poured herself a bowl of sensible cereal and went about finishing some work before going to clean up Margaret’s room.

Thinking back on that, Molly’s brow furrowed in concern. What if Margaret’s diaper leaked? Margaret already regularly filled her pants to the brim while sleeping, and the Goodnite was a stop-gap measure at best, she knew.  That’s why it had been so important to start potty training her again to beat this problem.

After this latest incident, the girl would likely regress further, paralyzed into inaction and dependence by fear.  That would do neither of them any good. On a more superficial note, Molly worried about her mattress.   She chided herself for not checking the state of the girl’s Goodnite after the fire had been dealt with.  It was assuredly wet now, but how wet- how close to leaking- was the real issue at hand.

Should she go in now and wake Margaret up, risking a tantrum, or was the damage already done and her mattress soaked anyways?  Maybe she could change her as she slept and avoid calamity altogether.  How would she change her, though? All of Margaret’s underwear, disposable or otherwise, was now well and truly disposed of.  No way was Molly going to loan her a pair of her own underwear.

Out of the corner of her eye, something on the floor caught the young artist’s attention.  Poking out beneath the dresser was a spare- but clean- Goodnite.  That in of itself was odd enough, considering that Molly had been sure she’d placed them all in the now cremated underwear drawer.

What was stranger was the little cardboard matchbook laying neatly on top of the crinkly pink undergarment.  “True U Tattoo,” it read.  Molly snatched the brittle little book up and flipped it open. Eleven little red headed soldiers all stood at attention, their brother in the middle snapped off and gone.  A match was missing.  Suddenly, Molly’s little sleep walking adventures didn’t seem as much of a blessing as it once had.   “What are these doing…?”

“MOLLLLLLY!” Margaret’s voice called out. Molly didn’t have time to finish her thought.  Pocketing the matchbook, she scooped up the clean Goodnite and fast walked across the apartment to her own bedroom, now anxious to see the state of her bed, and dreading the conversation she was most likely about to have.


“I’m wet.”  The statement, put so bluntly, had a kind of gravitas that Margaret had sorely lacked since well…forever.   Bedwetter or not, Margaret had always been a bit of a pushover.  But that simple statement, devoid of any emotion seemed damn near profound coming from her position on the bed, standing on her knees, the soggy padding barely clinging to her hips.

Clean Goodnite in hand, Molly answered just as simply. “I know.”  Her eyes darted from the sodden undergarment down to her mattress.  Margaret had the distinct feeling that Molly was looking at more than just her.  Her gaze seemed downright neurotic, just like most everything about her room since she fully unpacked.

The seemingly free-spirited artist had become quite the clean freak.  Even the clutter of sketches and art supplies was meticulously arranged as if it were part of a dollhouse scene meant to replicate the feeling of frenzied creativity; OCD masquerading as frenzied whimsy.   Had there been a hidden camera and wide-angle lens, a peeping Tom might mistake this for a particularly quirky Wes Anderson film (even as far as Wes Anderson movies went).

“I’m sorry,” Margaret said, her hand darting between her legs and squeezing the spongey pink panties.  Molly was still looking at her own mattress more than she was Margaret.  Deep down, a little voice whispered to Margaret that she had just lied.  She wasn’t sorry.  Not THAT sorry anyways.  It was just that sorry was something to say when you had a widdle acci…when you pissed your pants.

Satisfied that her mattress was intact, Molly finally looked Margaret in the eye. “Not your fault,” she said, genially enough.

Speaking of lies…. “How is it not my fault?” Margaret scoffed.  “I peed myself.”  Still caressing the bloated front of the Goodnites, Margaret was a little more than relieved that the mass strapped to her ass was at least close to room temperature.  “Peed” was much better than “peeing”.  Tenses mattered where pride and nerves were concerned in this situation.

The shorter of the two girls was taken aback a moment. “Oh, that,” Molly said, seemingly embarrassed.  “Yeah.  That’s not your fau…” she paused, and her eyes went to the floor.  “I mean…it’s nobody’s…” She looked down to the bedtime Pull-Up still in her hands. “I thought you meant something else.”  She looked like she felt guilty, though Margaret couldn’t deduce why.  Back to the point.

“The fire?” she asked Molly.

“Yeah,” her Roommate answered, that guilty flush filling her cheeks.

Shudders and flashbacks of what would have likely been her death rattled to the forefront of her memory. “I don’t even wanna think about that,” Margaret shuddered.

“Good.”  The word was clipped and rushed.  A line said too fast; an opportunity for escape taken too eagerly.

Margaret frowned. “What?”  Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly as suspicion crept back into her rational mind, pushing away the tiny whispers and buzzing in her brain that had plagued her of late.

As if hearing Margaret’s accusatory thoughts, Molly’s eyes all but rolled out of her head. She crossed her arms and spoke slowly and condescendingly as though to a not particularly bright pupil. “I mean, we should face forward and figure out what we’re going to do from here. ”  Then she added, “Dwelling on failure only makes things worse.”

Even though she was the taller of the two, Margaret felt particularly small from her position on the bed. “Good point,” she agreed. “You’re really smart.  I hope I get my shi-“

“Language!” Molly snapped.  She wasn’t looking for a way out, Margaret realized.  Molly was just thinking faster than Margaret was.  And why shouldn’t she?  She’d been up for hours while Margaret had snoozed half the morning away already.  Even now, Margaret’s body was pushing through her anxiety and self-disgust and threatened to send her back to sleep.

“Sorry,” Margaret corrected herself. “I hope I get my stuff together like you’ve got yours.”

Molly leaned forward so that she was eye level with the girl in the Goodnite. “You’ll get it.”

“Thanks,” Margaret said.  Her feeling of relief was short lived.

“Eventually,” Molly added.  The small of Margaret’s back buzzed a bit at the word “eventually”.  She didn’t know if she liked that feeling or not.

Rubbing the small of her back, Margaret focused on something else that had been bothering her. “How’d that happen anyways?” she asked Molly. “The fire I mean.”

Molly broke eye contact. “I…I don’t…I can’t rightly say for sure.” Her confidence was evaporating before Margaret’s eyes.  “Freak accident maybe?”

Margaret’s mouth twitched to the side. “It can’t be electrical,” she said, “because the fire would have spread elsewhere, and it was just on my dresser. If I was a smoker, I might think I left one burning or something but I don’t…” Margaret stopped.  For the first time, she noticed- really noticed- the Goodnite in Molly’s hands.  Something was off.  “Why are you holding that?”

“Fresh one.” Molly said curtly.  “Found it on the floor of your room.”

“But my panties…”

“Burnt up,” Molly finished the sentence for her.  “I think this is a left over from your little temper tantrum yesterday.  “Kinda lucky in a way, huh?”

“Oh.  Yeah,” was all Margaret could get out.  She turned her head to Molly’s drawer, longingly, a starving woman with a buffet just out of reach.  So much for borrowing a pair of real underwear, not that she could blame her Roommate.

So hard to pay attention.  It was like being drunk all over again, in a way.  Thoughts just coming and going.   So much that she needed to- and yet didn’t- know.  “Do you know if I..err..went before the fire?  Like…did I go to bed with wet pants?”

“No clue there, ki-…” Molly stopped herself and frowned, as if she were about to swear before realizing she was in mixed company.  “I dunno, Margaret.  I do know you were mumbling something about ‘pee-pee’ this morning.”

“Really?” Margaret gasped, her face distorting into an exaggerated frown.  “I actually said…said…”

“Hold that thought,” Molly had the audacity to press her finger to Margaret’s lips.  Instinctively, Margaret went quiet.  “Let’s get you dry.  I don’t want you getting comfortable in wet pants. That’ll make it harder to…y’know.”

Potty train.

The words Molly was alluding to was “potty train.”  Wasn’t potty training something that only happened once?  One-and-done-riding-a-bike-level-easy?  Yet the words fit comfortably over Margaret’s grey matter like a warm blanket.  She wasn’t potty trained.  Not anymore.  And with that thought, coming so naturally, something inside her buzzed with excitement.

She wasn’t potty trained.

Margaret looked at the pink Goodnite in Molly’s hand.  “So what now?  This is the last one.”

“We’ll go out and get you more.”

“Panties?”, Margaret yelped…and immediately knew it to be untrue.  “Goodnites?” she corrected herself.  Even the word “panties” left a funny, foreign feeling on her tongue.

“Yeah,” Molly nodded.  “But first let’s get these on.”  Molly made to pop open the panties.

“Um…I think I can put them on myself.”  Margaret reached for the Goodnites and Molly drew back as if the diapered woman’s fingers were a poisonous snake.

Molly smiled, but it was forced. “Don’t be silly.  Let me help.”

Margaret got up and rose to her full height, nearly a head taller and suddenly seeming like something close to imposing.  “I’ve got it.  I don’t need your help.”

Molly looked up at her, undaunted.  “Really?  I’m not the one going pee-pee in my sleep.”  There was a pause.  Clearly, it was to let that last remark sink in, because before Margaret could open her mouth, Molly added “Assuming you were really asleep.”

“You’re being mean.” The words tumbled out, making Margaret sound every bit the petulant child.

“You’re being silly,” Molly replied coolly.  “I’m trying to he-“

“You did this!” Margaret cut her Roommate off.  “You’re the one who’s been turning my alarm off so that I oversleep, aren’t you?”  Molly’s jaw hung open.  She hadn’t been slapped, but she looked the part.

That was it.  That was the truth.  It was so obvious now that she was saying it out loud. Molly wasn’t helping.  Molly was to blame for this.  Molly was completely to blame for this.

Margaret’s drinks had been spiked.

Molly had prepared all the food and drink since then.

She was still potty trained. She was a big girl. This crazy “artist” was a con artist.  She’d been gaslighting Margaret from the very beginning. All to get her doubting herself and in the crazy cunt’s bed.

She’d been rooming with a psychotic bitch.

“You burned my underwear up.” Margaret accused.  “You did this. You. Did. This!” Emphatically her hands came down on her padded crotch, an audible squelch accompanying the string of accusations.

Molly started visibly shaking and stepping backwards out of her own bedroom.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  I haven’t…I haven’t…I’m not…I didn’t…”  A tiger on the scent of its prey, Margaret stalked after the shorter girl, the argument spilling out into the living room.

With the wrath of an angry goddess, Margaret leveled a steady finger at the woman who had betrayed her. “YOU WANT TO KEEP ME LIKE THIS, DON’T YOU! AS SOME DUMB BA-?“

“Why are your fingertips so messed up?” Molly asked, her voice resonating with genuine concern and confusion, Margaret’s righteous anger breaking on her like waves on a beach. “Have you been sucking on them or something? Biting them?”  Margaret felt her fury dissipating.  “No way, that can’t be biting,” she said.  “It almost looks…” and the thought drifted out of one woman’s mind and into the other’s.

Stunned, Margaret pulled her finger back and looked at her forefinger.  The tip was blistered, a puss filled lump surrounded by a bright red ring.  She tapped her finger against herself and winced. “OUCH!”  It burned.  The tip of her thumb was similarly blistered, she noticed.  “My fingers are burned.”

“Burned?” Molly echoed. “How did they get burned.”

Margaret considered for a half-second.  “The fire,” she concluded.  “The fire that YOU started!”

Molly scoffed.  “How could you have gotten burned by that fire?  You were huddled up on the opposite end of the room.  You weren’t even close to the…” A light, a spark of realization lit up behind Molly’s pupils.  “You started it.”

“I what?” Margaret shook her head so fast her hair smacked her in the face several times.  “This isn’t about me.”

“That’s why your fingers are burnt,” Molly said, reaching into her pocket.  She produced a matchbook.  “I found these by your dresser, too.  Right next to the last diaper.”

“No I couldn’t have…” Margaret said, her voice barely above a whisper.  She felt like she was choking from the inside out.  Now Molly was on the offensive, each accusation worse than the last.”

“YOU STARTED WETTING ON PURPOSE!” She dropped the dry Goodnite and went over to the couch, picking up a hairbrush that had been left there last night.

Margaret put up her hands, blistered fingers shielding her. “I didn’t…”



“YOU BURNED YOUR UNDIES UP AND LEFT THIS FOR ME!” Molly shouted, smacking Margaret in the face with the clean Goodnite.

“I would never…”


Margaret was out of words.  Almost.  “You bitch.”

What followed next was a blur of motion, panic and fury, as Margaret found herself wrestled to the floor, her wet Goodnites yanked down to ankle, and her bottom being soundly thrashed by an absolutely enraged Molly.

Shouting. Fury. Pure instinct.  Both lost themselves in that moment.  Neither of their thoughts were their own.

Then Margaret called Molly “Mommy.”

Skittering away from each other, the two saw themselves and each other through fresh eyes.  They had both been acting like lunatics, and not just this morning.

How had it gotten to this point?

“This all started when we got these stupid tatoos.” Molly said, looking at her wrist.

“Yeah,” Margaret agreed.  She looked down at the matchbook on the floor. Tru U Tattoos.  “I think we need to go there.”



Walking into “Tru U Tattoo,” Molly swiveled her head from right to left, trying to get a feel for the place.  Molly couldn’t remember ever being here.  Based on the unsure, pensive look on Margaret’s face, she didn’t either.  Then again, why would either of them want to?

The walls were a disgusting shade that was somewhere between off-white and not-quite yellow; like smoker’s teeth.  Smoke lingered in the air like fog, despite there being no candles in sight.  Even hissing through her teeth, Molly could smell cheap incense mixed with heroin.  Not that Molly had ever smoked heroin, but the acidic, almost vinegar smell and the look of decay that somehow lingered in the air made Molly think of some kind of skeevy, dangerous place.

And yeah…to be honest, the Chinese tattoos they’d gotten made her think “Opium Den” instead of “Crack House”. Calling this little place a “House” or a “Den” was generous, though.  The single room was about the size of their apartment’s living room, with dingy tiled floors that had the same unclean color as the wall.

Based on the faux leather reclining chair and the mirrored wall, Molly guessed that this place was once a barbershop.  It might still be a barbershop.  It’s not like this place could afford to turn away customers.  The single doorway in the back had a beaded curtain that wafted to and fro, the light click-clacking of cheap plastic beads mingling with the squeaking of the old ceiling fan.  In the corner of the room was a heap of old laundry; sheets and shirts and slacks all jumbled together in a tiny hill.

“I think I want to throw up,” Molly whispered to Margaret.

“Me too,” Margaret whispered back.  Margaret had changed into the one remaining Goodnite; she’d even managed to change herself, so that was good.  They had postponed their shopping trip to get more Goodnites until after this excursion.  With luck, they would find out why Margaret kept wetting her pants, and why Molly was having impulses to mother her little roomie.

Molly inwardly chastised herself.  That was not the way to be thinking: Margaret being able to dress herself shouldn’t have been remarkable; real luck would be finding a way to stop Margaret’s regression and put the brakes on Molly’s need to control everything.  Not to mention, Molly was the smaller of the two, and her roomie was anything but little by comparison.

In addition to the thin childish pull up diaper, Margaret was wearing a pair of army green panties, khaki pants, and a pink short sleeved blouse.  The panties had been a peace offering/apology from Molly for literally beating Margaret’s ass red.  The rest of the outfit had been from Margaret’s own, unsinged closet. Maybe it was her own altered mind, or her own hyper alert senses, but Molly still heard a quiet crinkle with every step that Margaret took; the thin sliver of pastel pink poking out the back of the taller girl’s shorts shone like a beacon to Molly.

Margaret was fidgeting in place, her fingers curling into claws and her weight shifting on the balls of her sneakers; and Molly bit down on her lip to ask the other woman if she needed to go potty.  It took a considerable act of willpower for Molly to stop herself from pulling back the waistband to check the state of Margaret’s undies, and instead reached out and took her new friend’s hand in her own; both of them giving the other a quick squeeze before easing.

Speaking of wet….a shudder raced through the young artist.  Even holding Margaret’s hand- so innocent, yet powerful- sent jolts above and below in all the right ways. Molly had idly thought of experimenting with girls one day, just to see what it was like.  This is not how she imagined discovering a part of herself.

No!  This was not discovering anything!  This was something that had been forcibly inserted inside her.  (Yikes! Even her internal arguments had a way of sounding dirty lately!)  “Hello?” Molly called out, breaking the silence so that she might drown out her own internal monologue.


“Hello?” Molly repeated.

A quick squeeze on her hand caused Molly to look up towards Margaret.  “Do you think anybody’s here?” Margaret asked.

“Door was unlocked,” Molly said.

“We were really drunk,” Margaret replied.  “Maybe we just came in, grabbed the matchbook and stumbled out.”

Molly shook her head. “What about these?” Fingers still intertwined, Molly lifted her hand and pointed to the strange markings on her wrist.  She couldn’t help but watch- a hint of lust in her eyes- as Margaret rubbed her own tattoo just above the sliver of Goodnites peeking out.   A tiny voice back in Molly’s head started to whisper she should check Margaret’s diaper just in ca-


A rumbling, throaty sound caught both of their attention, their gaze snapping to the pile of clothes in the corner.  The pile began to move and collapse as the base rose, shirts and underwear rolling off the back of the thing underneath it.

From beneath the cluttered clothes, a pale, chubby, disgusting thing of a man crawled out on all fours.  The girls’ mutual horror was matched only by their disgust, their noses wrinkling as the smell of Febreze and Axe body spray mingled with stale sweat and body odor hit their nostrils.  Their eyes went unblinking, not daring to tear their gaze from the developing scene.

The man (for it was certainly human) was balding, but had hair to spare over the rest of his pale flesh.  A patchy, snot covered mustache and ragged, spit stiffened beard covered up most of his face.  His tongue dangled out of his mouth in a light pant, and, as he crawled forward on all fours, it wasn’t the only thing that was dangling.

“Mo-…Mo…Molly,” Margaret said, her voice just barely above a whisper.  “What do we do?”

Molly’s knees locked.  She had no idea what this was, but normal wasn’t it.  “I. Don’t. Know.”  Still crawling on all fours, the man began to stalk forward, growling the whole time, his teeth bared.  “Don’t…move…” Molly hissed.

“MILO!” A voice called out.  “DOWN BOY!”  The naked man stopped, then after a moment of consideration, turned around and padded back to the pile of clothes he had been laying under.  The click-clacking of bead curtain signaled a new presence in the room.

He was blonde and clean cut, wearing a blue button up shirt and black slacks with a belt.  He was easily the cleanest thing in the filthy room.  He looked like he should be selling insurance, not working in a crappy tattoo parlor.

“Can I help-?” He started and then corrected himself. “Oh, it’s you two.” He said it in a way that wasn’t demeaning, or dismissive, but completely casual.  It wasn’t quite familiar or overly comfortable, but there was more than a hint of recognition in it; neighbors running into each other at the store.

Molly smiled, feeling like she was at a family reunion and she just forgot her second cousin’s name. “Heeeeey…you.”  She cast a questioning look towards Margaret.  Who the fuck is this guy?  Margaret didn’t shrug, but her eyes said that she had no clue, either.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”  He stepped up deeper into the room.

“Nope.”  That was Margaret.  Molly wanted to slap Margaret on the wrist like she was a naughty child, but settled for the seemingly more egalitarian option of elbowing her in the ribs a bit.

Blondie shrugged. “It’s cool,” he said.  “You guys were pretty drunk the other night.  Most people who come here are.”  He tilted his head to the side. “Or they’re lost.  Or they’re on a dare.  Or they’re going through an emotional crisis.”

“Um…” Margaret raised her free hand, as if asking a teacher to speak.  “Does it count if it’s a little bit of all of that?”

“So we were here,” Molly said, ignoring her roomie before things got sidetracked.

“Yeah,” the blonde guy nodded.  “And now you’re back.”

Margaret hadn’t put down her hand, and instead raised it harder.  “Oooh! Oooh! What did we do when we were here?”

The guy both frowned and smirked.  Stupid question. “I gave you tattoos.”

“Yeah, about that,” Molly said. The oddly normal man held up his hand, cutting her off.

“Let me guess,” he said.  “You both woke up, found out you had tattoos that you don’t remember getting, or they were different, and now things are getting pretty weird, pretty fast, right?”

“Yeah,” both girls answered in unison.  Molly was subdued in her nodding, but Margaret made up the difference.  She might have been a bobblehead with how frantically and exaggerated every motion was.

“Mind if I take a look?”

Molly let go of Margaret and offered up her wrist.  The proprietor of the establishment looked it over and scratched his chin.  “Let me guess…” he said.  “You’re getting shall we say ‘maternal’ feelings?  Compulsions to care for people?  Maybe a hint of condescension?”

“Yeah,” Margaret answered.  Molly shot her roomie a warning look, and Margaret’s lips vanished past her teeth.  “Sorry….but kinda true.”

The man reached for Margaret’s wrist, but the taller woman yanked her arm away.  “It’s uh….not there.”

There was a beat.  Then he chuckled.  “Oh yeah.  Tramp stamp, right?  Mind if I look at my handiwork?”

The color rushed out of Margaret’s face.  Carefully, Molly leaned in and whispered into Margaret’s ear, “It’s literally nothing he hasn’t seen before.”  With reluctance encasing every movement.  Margaret nodded, and then turned around.  Molly watched as the clean cut man bent forward and looked at the foreign writing, wincing as he sucked in his breath as if looking at an infected sore.

“And you,” he said to Margaret, “are very lucky.”  He stood back up and allowed her to turn around.  “You’re finding it harder to concentrate aren’t you?  And having…uh…bathroom accidents?”  Margaret nodded, but this time it was barely noticeable; closer to a shiver.  “And things have been getting weird for you two, especially at night, I’m betting.  Strange dreams?  Sleepwalking, maybe?”

The two girls looked at each other.  “Yeah,” Molly said.

“Probably…maybe…probably…yeah.” Margaret agreed.

“How’d you know?” Molly asked.

“Happens to a lot of folks who come in here,” the man said simply.  “Kind of comes with the tattoos.”

Molly pressed on.  “But how do you know?” she asked.  There was more to this than it seemed.

He huffed a sigh, like a tour guide who had done his spiel one too many times and was burnt out, ready to retire.  “Because your tattoo,” he pointed to Molly’s wrist, “says ‘Mother’, and yours,” he motioned to Margaret, “says ‘baby girl’.  Oh,” he jerked his head towards Margaret again, “and I can kinda see your Pull-Up in the back.”

“It’s a Goodnite!” Margaret said, her voice filled with indignance.

“Truth be told,” the man went on over Margaret, turning his attention to Molly, “I’m kinda surprised.  I would’ve pegged the roles reversed.  You seemed like the more immature one, but it’s not my call.”

Molly couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “The the the…the HECK are you talking about?!”  She’d wanted to say something a little more forceful than “HECK” but couldn’t bring herself to swear in front of Margaret.

In reply, the man in the blue shirt walked over to an almost barren countertop, its only contents being a tattoo gun, a thick laminated binder, and a brass ink well, its shine long since lost in the gloom of the place and lack of care.  “See this?”

Molly and Margaret both nodded.  “This is the ink that’s under your skin.”

“That does NOT look sanitary.” Molly said.

The man let out a dry chuckle.  “Funny, that’s what she said the other night,” he nodded to the girl in the Goodnite. “Like I said, I’m surprised the roles turned out like they did.  But this stuff is cleaner than Holy Water run through a state of the art filtration system.”

“What is it?” Margaret asked him.

In response, he poured a little bit of viscous black liquid onto the tip of his finger.  They all saw themselves reflected darkly back in the shiny little dot’s pool.  A second later, the drop hissed and evaporated into a tiny whisp of black smoke.  “It’s Shen.” The man said.  “It’s God Ink.  Nasty weird stuff. Crazy stuff.  Whatever it says you are is what you turn into.”

“So you’re turning us into a Mommy and baby?” Molly scoffed.

“No more than Milo is a dog,” the proprietor said.  “But he doesn’t know the difference.”  Upon hearing his name, the naked man looked up from his pile of clothes on the floor.  When his master didn’t issue a command, he let out a brief snort and then curled back up on the mount of underwear and t-shirts.  “I’m not turning you into anything. The ink is. It’s the Shen.”

It’s often said that when confronted with evidence of the impossible, a rational human being will simply accept that their parameters are unreasonable, rather than deny their senses.

“That’s impossible,” Molly said.  “You’re messing with us.  This is some kind of prank.  Where’s the camera?”  Molly wasn’t feeling particularly rational or reasonable just then.”

The laugh that the tattoo artist gave was bitter. “Why would I prank you by turning you two into a Mommy-baby freakshow? I’ve got nothing to gain from this. It’s just my job.”

“Why did you put baby girl on my back then?”  Margaret retorted, forcefully.  “Why?” She stamped her foot

“I didn’t.”  He reached over and grabbed the binder, flipping it towards the back.  “See?”  The two girls held their breath, which is just as well, since their throats started to close up at the sight of the pictures.  It was them, circa Saturday night or Sunday morning (depending on their frame of reference), obviously drunk, hair disheveled, and skin red and irritated.

Both were proudly flashing their new tattoos at the camera.

In the picture, their tattoos matched.  Three symbols, that to their uneducated eyes, could best be described as a box, next to a cross, next to a ladder.  “I only know how to do one tattoo.  But with the Shen, I only need one,” the man said.  “It means truth.”

“So it….changed?” Molly couldn’t quite believe what she was asking.

A muted thud as the photo binder slammed shut began the reply. “It always does,” the stranger replied.  “It always does.  And whatever the Shen decides you are, is what happens.”

“WHY?!” Margaret shouted, stamping her feet.  “WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO PEOPLE? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO US? WHY?! WHY?! WHY?!”  Tears streamed down Margaret’s cheeks as she broke into a full tantrum.  Instinctively, Molly stepped in between the two and held Margaret tight, rubbing her back until the girl’s breathing started to slow.

She looked behind her and saw that the tattoo artist was getting a little teary eyed himself.  “Because,” he said, unbuttoning his shirt.  “I don’t have a choice, either.”  Just above his heart was his own tattoo.  “It means ‘slave’.  The ink chose me for this. I gotta keep doing this until the Shen picks someone else.”

Despite herself, Molly muttered a very quiet “I’m sorry.”

“Me too.  It’s just fate I guess.”

Margaret found her voice again.  “I’m not sorry! Fuck you!  Why do you say I’m lucky, huh?! I’m losing my job, I’m losing my potty training! I’m losing my marbles!”

The blonde man, looked away and to the naked man on the floor.  “At least you have someone to take care of you.  I took Milo in, because I knew nobody would take in a two hundred and forty pound naked dog man.  You guys have each other.  Imagine how bad it’d be if you didn’t.”

Molly found herself apologizing.  “I’m sorry about my ba…about my friend. She’s not herself, lately.”

“Or she’s being more herself than she’s ever been,” the blonde man offered.  “Depends on your perspective.”

“Is there any way to stop this?” Molly asked.  They’d been launched out of denial, and Margaret was still very much stuck at the anger stage, but Molly had progressed to bargaining.  “Or slow it down?  Is there anything we can do?”

The man looked Molly square in the eye.  “There is one thing you should probably do.”


“You’re probably gonna want to get some thicker diapers.  For both of your sakes.”



End Chapter 5


by: Personalias | Complete Story | Last updated Aug 13, 2021


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