Trick or Switch

The Fortune Teller


By Otaru

Frank Gatling was an imposing man. Over 6’2”, with Italian good looks, glistening black hair, a chiseled jaw, and a wide chest highly noticeable through his T-shirt, he good have been a model. Wearing his black studded leather motorcycle jacket, he walked into the living room through the front door. He walked briskly into the kitchen and deposited a small plastic bag full of Halloween goodies he could use later on that night. He flashed a smile in the circular mirror. Still got it, he thought. That cool looking guy, who could be any hero riding off in the sunset, with carefully trimmed sideburns curving inward, that point of hair at the center of his forehead that had yet to recede, at the tender age of 34. He just looked cool. Tan enough, just enough crags in the face to look mature, but not old in the slightest. Hell, he still looked mid twenties, at least. He took off his jacket and flexed a meaty, tanned, hair covered bicep, the T-shirt wrapped tight around, his muscular butt cinched within his jeans, and he patted it for effect.

It was no surprise that he was single again. After all, he was not your typical, average guy. Most often he got whoever it was he wanted. Unfortunately for him, the guys that qualified for that most often weren’t around in his area. He’d been dead set on moving to a more urban area once the chop shop he owned took off more and he was sure he could sell it at a major profit. For now, his devastatingly macho good looks would have to go in for an occasional quickie where he could find it. His last fling had resulted in a few months of happiness…a young college quarterback with thighs that just wouldn’t quit. He smiled. Life had been very fair to him…

The only thing that didn’t fit very neatly into the equation was his young adopted son, Robbie. He’d had Robbie since his infancy. Robbie had been the son of a friend of his, who was not at an ideal station in life. He had decided he’d wanted a child, badly, and had no desire to go through the system and publicly admit being gay and getting all the hassle that went along with it. He had a few discreet gay friends he confided in and that was enough. For now he was raising his ten year old son the best way he could, and in a safe neighborhood at that. And now it was Halloween! Time of mischief and magic. A time where Robbie could still live his dreams as he chased them down the streets in the night, filling up with sugared treats with memories to last a lifetime. The memories of his own happy childhood flooded through him. Wishing you could be anything, and then for one night having that dream fulfilled. And everyone treating you accordingly. Werewolf, people pretended to be scared. Cowboy, people tipped their hats. Soldier, people saluted you! On and on, like that. Fireman, gunslinger, construction worker, his costumes had become decidedly more masculine as the years went on. Now, people noticed him, but in a passing way. Most guys just didn’t look at him the way he wanted them to. He had begun to wish for a more simpler time, when he didn’t have as many mundane decisions in life…when people paid more attention to him, gave him praise for practically anything he attempted. He wasn’t close to his family, so Robbie was his sole familial obligation.

And what an obligation it was. Robbie was turning into a phase that was less than pleasing to the man who was always captain of his team, as it were. Bullied lately more and more, becoming withdrawn almost to the point where he’d considered a child psychologist. But he’d opted instead on showing him martial arts moves instead. The only thing kids listened to was action. You didn’t get a reputation by being whiny and complaining to teacher if you got picked on. Kid had to learn how to be his own boss.

Robbie came in a little happier than usual. He’d made several Halloween themed art projects (the kid was really talented at school, in all areas, of that he was most proud).

“Hey, bud. You ready for a night on the town?”

“Yeah. I’m gonna go change into my costume!”

“All right, but don’t take too long. I’ll be ready as soon as I get into my own. Picked up some face paint on the way home.” Frank flipped his shades on and strode into the bathroom. His costume was simple: army fatigues (pants and vest, so he could show off his arms), dog tags, a smear of camo on his cheeks, one black and one green under it (more like a linebacker than soldier, but then he didn’t want to cover up his whole face) Two lines under his eyes later, he trudged his bodybuilder physique to wait for Robbie in the living room. He cringed at the thought his son originally wanted to go as a witch. They’d made a compromise so that Robbie was go as a wizard, blue hat with stars, robe to match.

Robbie hurried downstairs and soon they were off.

“Hey dad?”

“Mmm hmm?”

“Do you ever think magic is real?”

“Well, depends on what you mean by magic. But I mean, hey, anything’s possible. I guess if there is magic it’s really rare, ya know, so I wouldn’t count on coming across any, except for stage shows, David Copperfield…”

“Do you think he can do magic? For real?”

“Hard to say,” he said, and smiled. His young son was earnest. Not long ago they’d discussed why Robbie didn’t look so much like his dad…he’d been honest with his son for over a year and a half, since he though Robbie was old enough to understand. But, he thought, as a result, Robbie had become increasingly more fantasy prone, wanting to escape his parents abandoning him. ‘Hell,’ he thought, ‘kid lucked out getting raised by me. God knows where he coulda ended up.’

Still, Robbie didn’t have his father’s genetic makeup. And that was a shame. He wasn’t a bad looking kid. Didn’t need glasses or braces, but he was kind of on the puny side (looked a bit like the kid from that new film Freaky Friday, the one playing the younger brother).

Kids reveled in the dimming sunlight. Witches and goblins, fire “men” and mummies, cowboys and Indians, the whole gamut. The first few houses they went to the people were more than responsive, always thinking Robbie “so adorable”, “Too cute!” and the always popular “Oh, I wish I had a camera!”.

Time passed, and the sun set. Kids still ran around, more and more the older type of kid without parental supervision as time worn on. They took a few turns and wound up walking along the trail above the river for some time. Tall, shadowy woods loomed above them in olive gray hills, fog seeping down from above, winding its way along the houses bordering its steep inclines.

The last street ended up on the opposite side of a small bridge, above a small tributary that branched off from the main river. Across that side was an almost abandoned looking street of houses. The wind blew across cold and lonely as they made their way to the other side. It was odd, he had never been here as it was only approachable by foot. He wondered how the people parked their cars that owned these houses.

The houses themselves were old. Too old. High chimneys, highly gabled, tall and narrow skeleton-houses, that creaked and cracked and leaf-bathed, dry crumbling patterns of red and musty yellow swirled out of their way as they made their way down to the one house with lights on.

“This place looks abandoned…” Frank spoke out loud. “Must have escaped the realtor craze to sell them off because they’re so far out here. Indeed, they had wandered for hours towards this direction because Frank had never been there. A black cat leaped at his feet and hissed. Frank let escape a small yelp, and then cursed.

“Spooky, huh?” said his son. He laughed.

“Yeah, you were more scared than I was, I was just doing that for your benefit.” Frank retorted, and laughed again.

As they made their way past the silent, dead houses, with their beautiful gates, iron wrought pinnacles, weather-vanes, lightning rods, and small, tastefully carved, gothique statues of winged creatures, they approached the very last house. Frank opened the loud, rusty gate, and it screeched open.

“You first,” he told his son, who approached hesitantly. Two bright jack-o-lanterns met them on either side of the porch. One absolutely gigantic, the size of three watermelons, and the other small, and portable. Frank almost did a double take there.

Incense burned on the wind…not the fragrant kind you could buy in the mall, but something older, something that reminded him of the woods, of autumns he had run through the woods, lucky in his childhood to be undisturbed, unregulated, free.

He knocked on the door, an old fashioned, large door knocker. The design of the house was definitely old. The porch was large, roomy, though cluttered with weird objects (was that a real iron cauldron, covered almost unrecognizable with rust?)

The door opened. A woman in colorful gypsy garb (what a great costume) met them at the door. Bangles, red and gold dress, frilled blue and gold and gray skirt, ruffled but old shirt sleeves, covered with a tan shawl…this woman had spared no expense!

“Greetings! Huzzah! I am so glad you have come and found me!” she exclaimed. “For you see you are my only visitors tonight, young ones. Oh, I am so a dapplebrain, where is my mind, come in, come in! You are to be my only guests, I will have to greet you as such, don’t be afraid, I am but an old woman living alone, and I miss the company of males esteemed as yourselves. Enter, please, humor an old woman!”

“Well, I don’t really see the harm,” said Frank as they walked inside. “Man, it’s some place you got here. It’s really to the edge, isn’t it? I didn’t even know the town extended this far north…”

“Yes, I don’t get many visitors, but I keep busy. I run my business from home, you know.”

“And what’s that?”

“Fortune telling! Ah, what else?” she made a shrugging gesture.

He laughed out loud. “Of course! So…this is your gig, I guess, all year round, is that it?”

“Well not all year, I do…a fair bit of traveling, I used to do more, but as I get older I think, I should be settling in a nice area for a while, give my old bones a rest.”

Robbie looked around him while the grown ups talked. Books lined shelves everywhere, old decrepit. Titles like “Skulls: Voodoo for the Intermediate novice and how to utilize bone fragments for practical purposes”, “Fun with the Future!”, “Transmogrify and Transendentalism: A How To for the Discerning Necromancer”, and “Seven Steps of the world’s most Successful Witches” lined up in his eyes. This woman was kind of scaring him.

“You see, I provide a use here that is unmatched…my tarot have eyes everywhere,” she said, mysteriously. Her black hair, turning midway to gray, glinted in the light of the fireplace as she drew near it. “Perhaps you would like a free reading? Ah? But first, I forget tradition!” And she scurried over to a pantry. Frank and Robbie exchanged an amused glance.

“There! Treats for you both!” and before Frank could protest she placed a small confectionary into his hands, he felt the smooth contours of it in his large, manly hand, and its spicy odor wafted throughout the room. He pocketed it in his camoflauge shirt, and Robbie placed his likewise in his robe.

“Uh, look…uh, I’m sorry what was your name again?” asked Frank.

She stalled for a second. “You would find it hard to pronounce in English. For now, you can call me….Madame Illusia,” she said, her eyes widening, her face tightening to hide a mischevious smile.

“Madame Illusia, thank you for the tour, but I should really get my son home before it gets too late, he has school tomorrow.”

“Ah yes, youth needs rest and you, my young stallion, you as well. But, for tonight and tonight alone I offer readings without charge, truly an offer of wonderous means. Surely you could not pass up a short amount of time? And surely the young wizard here would like to pick up a few…eh, tips?”

He smiled. What the hell. It would give Robbie a few memories to remember.

“Yeah, sure, I guess it couldn’t do any harm.”

“I do not promise anything regarding harm, either protection from, or otherwise,” she said. “All I do is…see what needs to be seen, yes?” She made her way over to a circular table in the old fashioned room, that looked like it was all decorated in the earliest part of the 20th century. She shuffled the tarot and arranged them accordingly, and held the crystal ball just within arms reach, touching it gently with a finger.

“You will,” she began “experience much change in the time to come, I find that is certain. You have many *desires* you hide from the world…many alterations you wish to make in your existence to make it more to your liking.”

“I have to admit, you got me there,” he admitted.

“You have a great deal of energy in the House of Mars, or is it the House of…Eros, hmmm.”

Frank blinked. He didn’t know much about astrology, but this didn’t sound too familiar.

“Ah, yes, the Tower…the one in which you sit to view the world. And the dwarf. A sign that your tower vantage could change sooner than you think. Your location in the world appears most uncertain.”

“I’ve been thinking of moving. That it?” he said, suddenly realizing for a split second he was believing all this nonsense.

“Per…haps. Ah! The locus of measurement, the alchemist’s stone jar. And The Lightning. And The Ziggurat, oh my, my, my. And look, The Jewel of Loki! I have not seen that card in a while…”

This was beginning to get strange to him…from what he remembered these weren’t normal tarot cards, not like his sisters used anyway. Maybe there were different kinds.

“I fear that you are not safe from your desires,” she concluded. “Whatever the spirits have aligned for you will affect you very soon. I cannot do anything about it. However, perhaps you can take this…” She produced a small wooden box she rooted through. “This signet has remarkable properties, and if you use them wisely, your safety will be guaranteed. However, it has been unpredictable to me in the past…”

He looked down on it. A dark black scarab beetle, carved out of some kind of what looked like volcanic stone. Once shiny, now rather dull and unnoticeable. He didn’t know why he looked at it so long, but then broke out of it, and said:

“I can’t accept this,” in a rather perplexed voice. What was she doing, giving away heirlooms, the poor old bat.

“I wish it, and you can return it to me when next we meet. It is only for your current state of affairs, you will need it and if you heed my advice well, you will certainly proper for it.”

He thanked her, in a hurried manner, exchanging pleasantries, and wanting to get the hell out of there.

Down the dark street he and his son walked, the cold biting his bare forearms, and he clutched the scarab until it almost hurt. They neared the bridge and he led his son by the hand, even though the rails were more than enough to keep anyone from falling. Towards the entrance he noticed something funny…a gate was in place where he could have sworn there wasn’t before. The bridge had been wide open. He lifted Robbie over it and placed him on the opposite side, and then hopped over himself.

On the green metal bars was a sign, that proclaimed in broad letters:


He blinked again. This was weird. Did that old woman, that Madame Illusia, know about this? No wonder she didn’t get any visitors if she didn’t. Maybe he should tell her…but the way was even darker now, and he thought it would be better if he and Robbie stuck to civilization for a while…

He and Robbie made small talk. How was school, school was fine, hey do ya think ya wanna play any sports anytime soon? Nah, the other kids would laugh at me. Who cares about other kids? You’ll never be good at something unless you actually try, he told his son. You have to get in there and show em’ who’s boss!

How late was it?, he wondered. He hadn’t seen a single person since they started walking back home. Down the river trail he decided to take a shortcut through the big park that bordered several neighborhoods.

There were many things bothering Frank about the way the whole night had passed. He saw that his son was eating the candy the old woman had given him, sucking on it thoughtfully. They traipsed through the park, which itself was a heavily wooded area, lit sporadically by small street lights. Frank suggested they root through Robbie’s bag and see how much he’d collected.

It wasn’t a bad haul. They sat on the stone steps of an old trail under dim light, just opposite from them an empty tennis court lit by a powerful white lamp.

“Hey, so you got away with a bunch, didn’t you?, he asked his son as they got up to walk again. “Man, I’m jealous of you, you know that?”

Robbie blushed. “Why? Because I’m a scrawny kid?”

“Are you kidding me? Hey, do you know what I would do to be a scrawny kid for a while?” He stopped. Woods gathered on his left hand side, the court he was just beginning to pass on his right. Robbie stopped as well. There was no one in sight, an isolated place they couldn’t be seen or heard.

“Did you just…feel something?” Frank said, wiping his temple. “It was like a vibration. Ran through me when I said…when I said I wished I could be a kid again. Hell, I was even thinking how cool it would be if were to switch bodies…just like in the movies. You me, me you.”

“That’d be sweet!” exclaimed Robbie, his redbrown hair shining in the night, having long taken the wizard’s hat off. “I’d like to know what it’s like to be an adult. I’ve thought of it…watching you. I wish I was that big, everyone would look at me different.”

“Yeah, and then maybe you’d learn something. And I could just kick back for a while…” his voice trailed off as Frank took the bit of candy out, his only piece, and popped it in his mouth.

He chewed on it for a second, it melted, and he swallowed. It tasted…strange. Like an amalgam of things, impossible as that was. He wiped his face again, realizing he was sweating, increasingly.

“Say it again, dad.”

“Why?” Frank replied nervously.

“I dunno. I just wanna hear you say it, I don’t know why…” Robbie said, his eyebrows furrowed in thought, confused.

“All right,” Frank said carefully, stroking the scarab. “I wish I was you. I wish I could be in your body, and you could be in mine. Heh!” He started shaking his head. “It’s silly, though, since there’s no chance—“ And that’s when the wave hit him. Like a compressing vise on all size, like a giant’s fist that seized him, forcing him immobile. His son stared for a second, in shock.

“Dad?” he moved forward, the two of them facing each other, when the same happened to Robbie.

“Robbie? Are you okay?” The wind started growing and blowing around them loudly.

“Dad? Dad, I can’t move!!”

“Neither can I, son! Just…ow…just don’t try and fight it, I think it hurts more that way!” What the hell is going on?!, he thought.

“Robbie! Robbiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie!” Frank called, as he fell. No, wait, he wasn’t falling. He was still standing on his own two feet. So why was the world moving slightly? It was strictly down, like he had walked into a depression.

“Dad?? I feel funny! It’s burning! DAAAAD!!!” The wizards had bobbed around at their feet.

Frank went down another couple of inches, as if someone had dropped him, but he could feel his legs were not the same as he remembered them. No! he thought. I’m getting shorter!

Robbie shot up another couple of inches after Frank, taking his turn.

“No! I DIDN’T MEAN IT!!!” Frank shouted. “I take it back! This CAN’T HAPPEN!!!”

But it was. He fell another couple of inches. How he was almost a foot smaller than he was before. He hadn’t been this tall since high school. He licked his stubble. He was frightened beyond words.

Robbie shot up again, his shirt straining underneath his new proportions. He looked like he was in junior high now.

Frank could feel constant pressure on all his limbs now, especially his arms. It was like an incredibly grueling workout, where all he felt was more and more drained, the certainty that he could lift less and less now, increment by increment.

“SON! SON, DO SOMETHING!!” Frank shouted helplessly, above the wind. Lightning crackled off somewhere and made a booming noise.

“What??! DAD! DADDY!!!” shouted Robbie, his voice cracking and changing before Frank’s eyes and ears. Frank licked his lips again and this time there was no man stubble, but only faint wisps over fresh skin. Robbie saw the five o clock shadow fade from his fathers face just as Frank noticed a wispy coloration emerge over his son’s cheeks. His son…his only son…growing at an exponential rate. The robe fell off fluttering from the wind leaving his son standing there in a very tight T-shirt and pajama bottoms. And then Frank realized with horror…

My son is at my eye level!!

“Daddy!” Robbie cried out, now an obvious teenager. “I’m scared!”

Frank couldn’t answer. Instead he was hit with a jolt of pain worse than before. “AAHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH AHHH!” He wanted to tear his arms free. His shirt flapped and flapped over his decreased mass. He was now even shorter than before. Another burst of energy was zapped from him and he could feel his legs contracting, the bones getting smaller and more compact, less massive. He could feel lots of room within his boots and wiggled his toes freely.

His son groaned and yelled as he grew like a tree trunk over his father.



But he couldn’t hear, he was jolting from something like an electric shock, and he could see his son’s chest expand outward as Robbie convulsed. Once, twice, three times.

“UHHhhhhhHHHHHH! UHHHHHHHHHHH! UHHHHHHHHHHHH!!” was the only sound Robbie was able to make, sounding like he was an older kid doing push ups.

“Son!” he shouted, in the voice of a young teen. Then again: “SoooOOOooooooooooooooooooon!” and his voice lowered several octaves.

‘I sound like a goddamn kid!’ he thought. Of course, I’m becoming a goddamn kid! That stupid witch did this!

“Dad??” said an incredulous, wide-eyed Robbie, whose hair had darkened to dark brown, looking like a closely shaven high school jock.

“No! Change us back! Please!!!” Frank screeched, his childish voice getting lost in the air.

Robbie’s biceps thickened, the shirt snapping in several places, made of thin cheap material. Somehow Robbie could move his arms now and he tore them off the tattered strips, revealing a hard mass of chest and abs beginning to form.

‘I think it’s almost over,’ thought Frank frantically, nauseous and exhausted. He honestly felt like crying.

“AaHHHH!” he exclaimed, hearing his own child’s voice but not believing it. A wave like a heated mirage floated around them.

Frank contracted until his foot could bang around in the massive boot. His clothes surrounded him, touching the ground like some sort of hoop skirt. His pants were bunched around his legs and he struggled to move his thin, hairless legs around them, his ability to move was just now coming back to him, slowly.

Robbie’s face changed, and remolded itself. The jaw became different..familiar, and Frank knew whose it was. Shady black glistening hair, straight and triangle shaped on the forehead, deep impressions below the eyes, sexy cut sideburns that curved in just the right way. Lips to die for. That smile, those ears, that massive chest he now looked UP to!

And then the wind died down.

Robbie panted in his new adult body, trying to come to grips with it, trying to keep from blubbering, but it didn’ He took two steps forward, his pajamas torn on the knees and sides where he’d exploded from them.

“D-Dad? You’re…you’re little!”

Frank looked in shock at his own body.

“This isn’t possible,” he said in his son’s voice.

“Yes it is, you heard what that old woman said! Change us back! C’mon! You’re the one that did this!” he said, his baritone surprising him, a child’s vehemence and persistence still clinging to his voice.

“ME? You’re the one that did this! This is your fault! You did something!”

“I didn’t do anything…” the grown man said, looking incredibly hurt, and then he began to sputter crying again, holding it in and then releasing it in very un-mature spurts.

“Alright, ALRIGHT! Listen to me son,” Frank said, knowing how strange it was those words should come out of a child’s mouth. Robbie, in his father’s massive body, knelt down and sat cross legged, still crying, holding in in, letting it out in little bursts. “Now son, Robbie, I need you to be brave for me, okay? Here, blow,” he said, taking a remnant of his son’s pajamas and tearing them easily enough at the knee and wiping his now-grown son’s nose with it. Robbie blew.

“It doesn’t feel like my nose, dad!” he cried. “I don’t want to be in your body, I was just kidding! You told me real magic doesn’t really exi-ii-ii-ist. Robbie-in-Frank’s body heaved, his lip quivering like mad.

“C’mon, son. The old woman did this, she can turn us right back.” Frank said, getting up and turning around from consoling his son, only to trip on his massive pants. (Who could ever fit into these?, he briefly thought before realizing that the GIANT pair of pants were once his.) “Uh…” he said, rather embarrassed. “If we don’t want people to notice us, son, I think we’d better switch clothes. Robbie wiped his eye and sniffed.


They got up, slowly, and Robbie took off his pajama bottoms. Frank saw the package and his jaw dropped. Great, he thought. My son will be the only kid in fifth grade with an 8 inch shlong…

They exchanged underwear (Robbie’s was killing him) keeping a lookout in case anyone should come by. Frank could smell the familiar body that was once his, so masculine, so drenched with power…now…not his. They traded pants, and Frank put on the wizard’s robe, and before that his son’s now stretched out shirt.

Robbie fared better, his father’s clothing hadn’t been torn or damaged at all. He noticed that face paint still on his dad and joked. “You look like Harry Potter going into Desert Storm,” They both laughed. A little.

Robbie awkwardly followed his father, terrified, but delighted by his new girth. Everything had new perspective. He walked over and in awe touched monkey bars he once would swing across but now *couldn’t*! He grinned. Frank was the forward one, ushering them both forward and encouraging his son not to waste time. They trudged on back through the familiar streets, and the backstreet that led to the tributary. The fence and sign were still there, the houses across from them deserted.

“I’m getting tired!” Frank complained. “I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a body this tiny.”

“I know whatcha mean. I feel so much…heavier. Like I don’t even have to try. I’m not tired at ALL!”

“Thanks for sharing.”

They got to the house. No lights were on. Things creaked, shutters banged a tiny bit against the house. The porch was emptied of all the artifacts that had been there just earlier. The jack o lanterns were also gone.

Frank tried knocking on the door stopper, but couldn’t reach it, even when he jumped.

“Hey. Mr. Adult! A little help, here!”

“Oh! Sorry, dad. I’ll get it.” Robbie knocked. Once, twice, a few times more. “Maybe she went to sleep?”

“She did and I’ll wake her up! Hey! You in there! Madame Horrifying! Get out here! This is not funny and I demand you change my son and I back! We CAN’T live like this! It’s not right!”

Things banged against the house, empty and still except for the wind.

“Should…should we go home?” asked Robbie. Anyone else watching this might find it comedic a grown man should keep asking a little kid to tell him what to do, and wait to see if it’s okay with him.

“No, we should not go home! I’m going inside! You are too, C’mon, I think I saw a window slightly open when we were in there…”

They made their way around the house and found it. Again, Frank couldn’t reach and had to get his son to do it for him.

‘This is so humiliating…’ he thought, as Robbie helped him up. He himself climbed in, his dog tags rattling against his large bodybuilder chest. They both moved toward a wide, dusty mirror.

“Wooooooooooow,” Robbie softly exclaimed. “Is that *me*? He touched his ruggedly handsome face, the grown man looked back at him and smiled. He wiggled his fingers. The man wiggled them back. He posed, flexing a bicep. What power he now felt! At first he had been afraid, but now he was starting to really like this! He moved his hands over his chest and his abdominal muscles as well, ran a hand over his whiskers. Whiskers! ‘I have whiskers’, he thought. ‘Shit, that’s awesome!’ But only said: “Woooow.”

“Hey, look. Over here,” said Robbie, over by a table. On it was a candlestick with three lit candles. And a note, that read:

Dear Frank and Robbie,

“As you have by now guessed, I am not a normal fortune teller. Sometimes I help people get to their future, meet their future, fulfill their dreams, desires, wishes. I sensed there was imbalance to you both, but I did not interfere directly. If you are reading this, then the houses of your beings have exchanged, that is to say you have switched places for a while. The cosmos is full of beings charged with changing themselves, either temporarily, or for the rest of their lives.”

Frank gulped. He didn’t like the sound of that.

“You should know that if this has happened, it is because you both desired it and wanted to enact the reversal of your lives. I only helped you along the way to your goal. The scarab is your key should you wish to return to normal, but it will not be possible until the stars are in correct alignment, so a period will pass where you will have no choice but to continue as you are...”

“Continue as you are! Why that--!” Frank fumed, gripped the paper, sweating, and read on.

“If you need assistance before then, simply consult the oracle scarab; it will guide you without fail. Let the moon pass once before attempting to shift, if you truly need assistance I will come, and in the meantime, may the stars bless you and the cards watch over your safety.

Ever your friend and guide through the cosmic realm,

The Madame Illusia”

“That can’t be…she can’t…what are we going to do? We can’t be stuck in each other’s bodies for an entire month!”

“Looks like we have no choice, dad.”

“I have the chop shop to run! You have to go to school!”

“Maybe we can do each other’s jobs for a while,” said Robbie, thinking it could be fun to work on motorcycles and sell them.

“I don’t know *what* we’re going to do. All I know is, I’m NOT going to school tomorrow!” said Frank, crumpling up the note and discarding it on the floor.

“Hey, dad, do you still have that scab thing?”

“Scarab,” Frank snapped. “And..yes, it’s in my pocket. Or is it your pocket?” He held it in his hands. “Change us back…change us back…” He got frustrated and made Robbie try it, then they both held it and tried, but nothing happened.

“I guess it’s like her note said,” said Robbie, apologetically.

“I can’t believe this! This is impossible! How did this happen?”

“You did say you wished you could be a kid…” Robbie said, shuffling his feet and looking “up” at his father nervously.

“Yeah, I…I was thinking about how carefree I was as a kid, how I had no worries…but now I am worrying! I can’t live your life, and you sure as heck can’t live mine! We’ll have to somehow wait things out and deal with this for the time being.”

“Kay.” Robbie shook his head attentively.

“Hoo boy. This is gonna be one hell of a month. Shit,” he said, the word sounding almost comical coming out of a ten year old’s mouth.

They walked out of the house, and into the dark and past the gate and along the streets, and past the river, and through the park, until they were finally in front of their house.

“I guess you won’t be driving ME to school anytime soon. Hey, do you think I can drive now? Since we’ll need to like, go shopping n’ stuff?” asked Robbie eagerly.

“We’ll talk…” said Frank grimly, not having any intention of letting Robbie near his hog, or his car. He reached absently for his key before realizing it was on his keyring. In his pants. On his son. His son in his pants. This was not good.

“Hey, could you open the door?” Frank asked. Robbie was confused for a sec but then looked down.

“Oh. Okay. Uh…which one is it?”

“That one.” At least I can reach my doorknob at home, he thought darkly. It doesn’t even feel like my home anymore. As they walked in he felt so much smaller, everything was so much more alien that it had been before.

They trudged up the stairs. Robbie noticed the stairs now creaked slightly under his weight. Several things like this had been delighting him for hours now. He was getting used to the bulk, the weight, the power, the manly voice, all of which was now his. ‘I don’t care what dad says, I’m drivin’ he thought. And then, a thought occurred to him. ‘And..if he doesn’t like it, what is HE doing to do about it?’ He smirked. He was gonna kind of like this, he could tell. Better not show it to dad, though.

Robbie opened the door of his room and flinched from almost hitting the ceiling of the door with his head.

“Hey, uh…dad?” Frank turned to face his son.

“Hey, I think my bed doesn’t fit me anymore. I mean, I’m a man now. I was…I was just wondering…” he hesitated.

“If we could switch rooms?” Robbie smiled.

“I don’t think I’ll fit.” He was right, thought Frank. It would be like trying to sleep on a few couch cushions for me..I mean, him. I mean…arrgh!

“Alright,” he conceded. “But don’t go through any of my things. That’s Daddy’s private stuff,” he clarified. It was strange, he as a child, speaking with such authority on what should and should not be done.

“Okay. Deal. But choo can’t look through any of my stuff either.”

“I think I can manage that,” Frank in his son’s body smiled.

Robbie extended his muscled, adult arm with an open hand. “Shake?”


His son’s hand gripped his, and it was firmer, stronger, and for a flash second, it scared Frank. What if his son realized he held all the cards? That he, Frank, was virtually powerless? What would happen if they had an argument, if Robbie acted up like he so often did, not wanting to do what he was told. But all children were like that at some point or another. Frank would just have to play the next month out very, very carefully.

“Well. Good night, son.”

“Night, dad.” Robbie yawned, and his adult arms reached the ceiling. “Wooooooow,” he said, staring at his hand, as he tested it, feeling the ceiling, then feeling his bicep with his other arm.

Frank waited until his massive son lumbered off to his, Frank’s, room, and the door shut.

Shit, he thought. Shit, shit, shit, I am in such massive shit. Why did I ever wish such a stupid wish???

He tried to get to sleep, and calm his nerves. Luckily, he was a little tyke now, and that didn’t take too much time, before he was out like a light. •

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