Chapter Description: The final chapter. Physical regression manifests.
I tried to get to sleep, but I just kept thinking about what I had done, or almost done. I tossed and turned. My heart beat wildly and my head felt like it would burst as the raging storm outside seemed to mirror my feelings. I finally managed to sleep for a little while, then I awoke the next morning. Susan entered and calmly drew the shades open.
"Morning John. Did you sleep well last night?" She knew I hadn’t, but asked anyway.
"Not at all. My head was spinning and everything just seemed so...dark." I sat up in bed, my head still a little swimmy.
"Don’t go pushing yourself. Here, I made this for you. It’ll help that swimmy headed feeling." She gave me a glass of clear liquid. I thought it was water at first, but upon tasting it, I found that it was a little syrupy and had a sweet and somewhat salty flavor. It wasn’t the most pleasant tasting, but what medicine is? I drank it down to please her.
"So you know a little alchemy too?" I winked at her. "You’re something else."
She laughed a little. "You’d be surprised at what I know." That would be the understatement of the year. My head did begin to feel better though. I managed to get out of bed. "You get dressed, I’ll go fix some breakfast." Susan had some of my clothes on the back of a chair. At least I thought they were my clothes. They fit loosely. My T-shirt simply hung off me. The cuff of my jeans nearly covered my feet as they touched the floor even when I pulled them up as high as I could. I had to tighten my belt at the last available notch to keep them from sliding off. My shoes just barely fit when I laced them up as tight as they’d go.
"Susan?!" I yelled from across the hall. "Are you sure these are my things?!"
"They are some of the ones you left here last weekend. I had them cleaned and pressed. Why? Did they shrink or something?" She entered the room out of curiosity.
"Far from it. If anything is shrinking around here, it looks like it’s me!" Susan came over to me to get a better look. I looked..up? I had to look up to her face! No longer were we even eye to eye! Until that time, I figured I must have dreamt the night before. Now I knew that something was definatly wrong. It was a big shock to my system.
"John?!" She tried to pull my pants up as if to make them fit better. Then she looked at my face and paused. "John. You’re not just smaller..." She guided me over to a full-length mirror as I saw to my own horror that I was indeed shorter than her now as we stood together. Not only that, but my face was missing my usual morning hair. Instead there was just peach fuzz. I had what looked like a zit or two around my nose. I looked just like I did in my senior year! I was getting younger!
"Susan, what’s happening to me?! This only happened in my dream!" I even went so far as to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t still dreaming. "This is crazy! I can’t be getting younger! It’s impossible!"
"I would never have thought it possible myself, but here you are. There’s no mistaking it." She seemed to be rather calm about the whole thing. "You’re a rare case John. A rare case indeed."
"A rare case? What do you mean?"
"I suppose I had better tell you now. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to. I didn’t want you to hate me or be afraid of me." She sounded like she was on trial or something.
"Afraid? Of you? What, are you some kind of witch or something?" I said. She didn’t seem to like that comment, but it was a rather obvious statement.
"No, I’m not a witch, but let me explain. First off, you should know that I’m a mind reader. While I can’t read everyone’s mind, I can certainly read the minds of those close to me. I’ve known that you have been miserable for the past few years and I knew of your dreams before you told me about them. I just pretended not to know for obvious reasons." Things were beginning to make a creepy sort of sense. I just stood shocked and listened. "I not only knew of your dreams, but I had tried to help you with them before we had that session at the hospital. I can only do so much from long distances. I saw the monster you were facing and decided to help you with it."
"Help me? How exactly did you help me?" I finally managed to ask. It was all a little hard to swallow.
Susan looked me deep in the eyes and without saying a word, I heard that voice again. “Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become?”
I jumped back a bit and looked at her with frightened eyes. "You? That voice I kept hearing was you? Why didn’t you tell me?!"
"Like I said, I was afraid. I figured that if I just played along and helped you secretly, you could overcome this problem. Of course, I had to step things up a bit at the hospital. For that to work, the subject has to be willing to let me into their mind."
"So then what do you mean by ’Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become?’ Can you tell me that now?" I felt that knowing that would solve most of my problems.
"I’m sorry. It’s something you’ll have to figure out. If I told you, you’d never get better. All I can tell you is that you’ll have to make a choice." Susan explained.
"A choice? What kind of choice?!" I was getting upset again.
"I can’t tell you! The answers can’t be found so easily. I put that suggestion into your head to help you figure it out. The whole meaning of your dream is something you’ll have to discover."
"Okay then, explain to my why I’m shrinking. Can you at least tell me that, or do I have to figure that one out too?!" All these "answers" weren’t answering anything.
"Let’s just say that your mind is a powerful one. Most people cannot even begin to understand the power of the human mind. In your dream, your regression was a way to escape or relax, or so you thought. The darkness also played a part in that. You remember that each time you faced the monster, things seemed to get larger and more threatening?" I nodded in agreement. "Well, that darkness was using your pleasant regression against you. You would regress in order to escape into a more pleasant environment each time you faced the darkness. When you began to see that even your dreams weren’t safe, your mind actually began to regress you physically, here. So, in a way, it’s your own mind. When I noticed that you had gotten smaller at the hospital, I realized that something had to be done to rid you of this darkness. It seems that by locking it away, it has tried forcing itself on you more in the waking world. As such, your mind is responding by regressing you to an earlier, more pleasant stage in life."
For some reason, I saw it a different way. "You caused all this didn’t you? Didn’t you?!" I was looking for someone to blame. "You amplified my mind’s power and now it’s causing me to grow younger!"
"No, John! I swear! I had no idea this would happen! You’ve got to believe me when I tell you I was only trying to help!" Susan said pleading.
"I wouldn’t be like this if you hadn’t messed with me!" I realized that I was talking, but it felt like something else had taken over. "You! This is all YOUR fault! Get away from me!" I grabbed my things and bolted out the door while Susan followed behind.
"John! You can’t leave now! It’s too dangerous!" She yelled from the front door. I was already in my car.
"It’s dangerous for me to be staying here! Keep out of my mind and stay away from me!" I had to adjust the seat in order to reach the foot pedals. I realized that I might get pulled over by some cop thinking I was under age, but I didn’t care. I sped out of Susan’s driveway and headed to my apartment as fast as I could. I tripped over my own shoes as I ran up the stairs. I just picked them up, ran in, and slammed the door locking it behind me.
Did she really cause this, or did I? Would I keep getting younger or would I stop now that I’m away from her? I seemed to have gotten even younger on the way over. Something in my mind was telling me that it was due to her influence. I flung myself onto the bed and wept. Susan was my best friend, and now she was my worst enemy. I had felt so calm with her. So at peace. Now all that was shattered. I didn’t know what to do. First off, I had to get some thing that fit better. I got a box of my old clothes from my closet. I had kept a few of my old school clothes when I first left home. They were a tight fit back then, but now they were loose. I looked in the mirror. Now I looked like I was about 14 years old! At least I seemed to stop shrinking.
My mind wondered. I wanted to go do something. My young body didn’t want to hang around in some dingy apartment room, but I couldn’t drive now. I’d get pulled over for sure now. I looked out my window and saw some kids playing basketball in the vacant lot. It looked like it would be a lot of fun, so I decided to join them. Besides, it would take my mind off things. The kids in the lot were younger than me, about 10 or 11 years old, but that was okay. Heh, I’d just school them a bit on the game of basketball. They didn’t mind a bigger kid playing with them. In fact, both teams immediately wanted me on their side. I chose one and the game started. My mind was free as all I thought about was basketball. I nimbly weaved in and out around the opposing team and made several easy baskets. My team was cheering, but the other team was jealous.
"It’s no fair!" said one kid, "He’s bigger than we are! It’s easier for him to make baskets!" I just ignored them and kept playing. Soon, my team started to complain that I wasn’t giving them a fair turn with the ball. Angrily, I bounced the ball high into the air.
"Fine! Take it!" The ball landed on one of the kids and he began crying. It was an accident, but none of the kids saw it that way.
"You big bully! You made my brother cry!" said the kid’s brother. Then he came over and pushed me a little. He was a lot smaller than me, but he had a lot of guts. I just felt that old familiar feeling coming back. I tried to fight it by walking away, but then I heard him say, "What’s the matter? Chicken?!" That was it. I felt the darkness take over as I knocked the kid to the ground. I landed punch after punch into him.
"Nobody calls me a chicken! Nobody!" My body went numb as we continued to fight. We locked hands and I was rolled onto my back. I was about to turn the tables when I noticed that his weight seemed to be increasing on my chest. "Ugh! Get off me!" I yelled and noticed that my voice was cracking. He kept at it, getting heavier all the time and his punches began to be gaining power. "I said GET OFF!" I finally yelled in a childish voice as I managed to roll him off me. I stood up and saw that I was now eye to eye with my opponent. The kids just gasped and stared.
"Looks like you brought him down to our size!" one of them yelled. I was still fuming and attempted to go at it again, this time he was able to block all my blows and land many of his own. I tried to stand up only to realize that I was standing up. Even so, now I had to look up at my challenger. My clothes once again became very loose.
"He’s shrinking!" The kids stood back in awe as they watched my body diminish. I had to hold my pants up as they surrounded me in a circle. I was becoming scared of the older kids.
"Not all that tough now are ya? Let’s get him! Teach him to beat up on smaller kids!" came a voice from the crowd of, now giant, 10 year olds.
"No way man. I’m not fighting some little kid. I’ll get in trouble." said my enemy showing more honor than I had. I felt ashamed and shrank even more.
"He looks like he’s not even older than my 6 year old brother!" This statement grabbed my attention as I suddenly remembered my situation. I let my pants fall to the ground as my shirt now covered me up more than adequately. "HAHA! He’s going to need diapers if he keeps gettin’ smaller!" I gathered my clothing and ran back up the stairs followed by the laughter of the kids. I went up to my apartment. Not knowing what else to do, I called Susan. She couldn’t be the cause of my regression. I had just figured it out!
"Th-uthan?" I had a lisp! "Th-uthan! I need hewp!" I couldn’t believe my voice.
"Who is this...? John?" She could feel it was me. "Oh my god! I knew I should have followed you!"
"Hewp me pwease! I’m getting widdle!" I said in a panicked child’s voice.
"Stay there! I’ll be right over!" Susan hung up the phone and I just sat on the floor and wept heavily until she arrived. She was shocked to see how young I had gotten.
"It’s getting worse! You can’t be anymore than 5 years old now!" I just sat there crying. "It’s going to be okay John. I have an idea." Susan took me by the hand and led me out to her car. I couldn’t believe how big she was. I was buckled up in the back seat and was taken to a store where she bought something that would fit me while I waited in the car. She also bought a few other things that she wouldn’t let me see. Then she stopped by her house and dressed me in Osh Kosh overalls and blue T-shirt. I felt so small and helpless. She told me to go wait in the car after she was done. I felt better after the change but Susan had more in store for me. I was shuttled away in the car for a long distance. I eventually fell asleep sobbing. When I awoke, we were driving into an unfamiliar town.
I rubbed my eyes. "Where are we Th-uthan? What ith dis pwace?" Susan just smiled.
"It’s my old hometown. Before I moved, I used to live in this house." We pulled up to an old, large house.
"Why are we hewe?" I asked confused.
"You’ll see." She helped me out of the car and up the steps of the house. Susan unlocked the front door and said, "Now it’s your turn. You have to open it and walk through." I complied and cautiously opened the door. What I saw astounded me. It was the house from my dream! The wood floors, the plush carpets, the long hallways, this was it! I knew what Susan was trying to do.
"Dis ith home!" I said as I ran inside happily. Everything was so clean. Just like someone had always lived there.
"Yes John, I used this house to help guide your dream. I projected this house because it was the one place I felt completely safe. As you can see, it’s been kept up. My folks never did sell it. It too has been in our family for generations. We have our ways of keeping it in this condition." Susan led me around to different rooms. There was the hallway where I happily played in the sunshine. There was the room with all the toys in it. I could tell that I was getting smaller with each room we visited. It felt so relaxing. Then we came to the nursery. Where we locked the darkness away. I could no longer tell if I was dreaming or not as things seemed to blur. "You have to open that door. You have to face it." I didn’t want to. I was scared. I couldn’t have been but about 3 years old. My clothing had started to head south again.
"B-b-but, da monsta in dere!" I said nervously.
"I know. Just remember what I said. You’ll have to make a choice. I need you to be a brave boy for me. Can you be mommy’s brave little boy?" Susan tried talking in that condescending way that mothers use to get their kids to do things they don’t really want to.
"Yeth! I big boy!" I was still very scared as I turned to face the door. I walked toward it as it opened. I could feel my loose clothes getting warm and heavy as my bladder cut loose. Suddenly, the darkness roared out from behind the door and I screamed. "Mommy! Mommy! Hewp me pwease!" Then the darkness got closer and began to take on a shape. The shape was becoming more and more familiar until it became the dark figure of a man. The figure leaned over at me and I could see its face. It was me!
"Hi there Johnny! I see you brought that WITCH with you!" my dark reflection said in a deep monstrous voice that sounded like a mix of myself and my dad. "She’s the cause of your problems you know? She’s the one who cost you your job, your sanity, and your very adulthood! Now, what are we going to do about that? Hmmm?" I turned to Susan who was now enveloped in a glowing light. "Don’t be fooled Johnny! She’s trying to trick you! Trust me. You know that you’re going to end up like me. It’s fate!"
"Are you afraid of it? Or are you afraid of what you will become?" said Susan. Those words, much clearer now, made more sense. I would have to choose between the two. If I went with Susan, I’d be rid of the darkness, but I’d still be a little baby. If I went with the darkness, I could become my adult self again, but I would always be full of anger and hate. I would still have my apartment, all my bills, and my hate filled life to deal with. I would probably have to move in with my parents now that I had no job. I could work things out though, couldn’t I?
The darkness began to laugh. "So you’ve made your decision then? Good. Choose!" I stood for a brief moment between the darkness and the light.
"I choose..." I leapt over to Susan, jumping out of my shoes and overalls in the process, "my one TRUE friend!" I said in my own voice. The darkness growled and lurched toward us. Susan picked me up and together we glowed brilliantly. I looked one final time at the darkness and waved. "Bye bye monsta!" The light around us focused into a beam and struck the darkness causing it to disintegrate like a shadow in the sun. The nightmare was finally over. I looked up at Susan and was now not even 2 years old. I just grinned.
"I knew you would make the right choice John. Don’t worry, I can take care of your adult woes. I can make it all disappear. For all those times when you stood up for me, took care of me, I’m returning the favor. Now it’s my turn. I’ll take care of you and let you grow up in a loving household. You’ll be my little baby boy. How does that sound?"
It sounded like bliss to me. I giggled and finally said, "I wov u Usan!" She held me up and spun me around while we both laughed with delight. She took me over to the changing table and removed my wet things. She revealed to me the secret items she had got at the store. They were baby items! Baby powder, baby oil, diapers, wipes, sleepers, bottles, you name it! She handed me a toy that she had bought. "Here you go John. I guess now you’re young enough to play with it." she laughed. I laid on my back and played with the toy as she gently cleaned my bottom and groin with a wipe. I put the toy in my mouth and explored it with my toungue. She then rubbed in some baby oil, sprinkled a bit of powder on me, and slid a diaper underneath. I was as happy as could possibly be. She folded the diaper up and pinned it in place. Then I was picked up and held lovingly. Susan fed me a bottle of chocolate milk and burped me. I was a bit embarrassed by the sudden loud burp I made, but it made her happy. She began rocking me to sleep as I felt a warmth growing in the front of my diaper. Susan just smiled and hummed a lullaby.
John was finally at peace. This is what he had wanted all along. He knew Susan would take good care of him. He had always felt very comfortable around her. John never again had a bad dream or felt the darkness. She used her family’s influence to cloud the minds of everyone who knew him. As far as they knew, he had simply disappeared. His stress filled adult memories faded away with time and he became Susan’s loving baby. He would sit on the floor in the large house as she watched, and play with toys in the warmth of the sun’s light, peacefully.