Crystal's StorySite

I have to dedicate this part to all of you who cared enough to write and convince me that it was worth doing. You are ALL true friends and I thank you.
This is also dedicated to a special person who is going through some trying times right now. I won’t mention her name but I wish her transformation could be as painless and quick as the one described herein.


Luck Be A Lady

by Catherine Linda Michel



12/14/2000 11:44:55 PM

Prue stomped hard on the brakes and swerved to the right side of the road in a hurry. Everything that was loose inside the van slid forward, and I heard a ‘clunk’ followed by Neri yelping in surprise, or pain, I couldn’t tell which. When we finally came to a halt, I jumped out and yanked open the sliding side door. Neri came pelting out of her seat like she was jet propelled and damn near knocked me down! By this time, the smoke was getting thick inside the van and I felt my way around until I found the bag I knew contained the alien machines and yanked it out of the van.

It slipped out of my grasp but I managed to catch it with my other hand before it hit the ground. I still wasn’t used to the new, longer nails. I gently dumped the contents of the bag onto the ground and quickly located the piece that seemed to be smoking. It was one of the magazine-like pieces that fit into one of the weapon-like devices. I wadded up the bag and picked up the magazine and gave it a toss as hard as I could. DAMN, I kept forgetting that I was now a girl, and I threw like one! The thing went about 30 feet, tumbled into a small depression in the ground and, as I grabbed Neri and threw her to the ground and followed her, it blew up!

The shock wave blew over us and, for a second, I was afraid that I hadn’t thrown that damn thing far enough. For a few minutes, I couldn’t hear anything at all but I immediately began checking myself and Neri for cuts. I didn’t find any, or rather, I didn’t find any that wouldn’t require removal of clothing to locate. I could see Neri’s mouth moving but there was no sound and I knew that my hearing might’ve been damaged. I hoped it was just temporary and I motioned to Neri that I couldn’t hear her. I could see that she was having the same problem as I was and I tried to calm her down even though I was on the verge of panic, myself!

A thought went through my mind and I thought, "PRUE!" My God, Prue! Was she ok? I couldn’t see her at all and I jumped up and ran around the front of the van to see if she was sprawled inside somewhere. I located her, slumped behind the steering wheel and although her eyes were closed, I could tell that she was breathing. I quickly checked her for injuries but I found none. Thank God! I backed away from the door and bumped into Neri who had, apparently, followed me. She and I managed to get Prue out of the van and onto the grassy shoulder of the road.

By the time we got her there, she was beginning to move a bit and she looked like she was waking up. We waited there with her until she opened her eyes and, when she did, a look of panic and fear flashed across her face and she began to struggle to sit up. I looked directly into her eyes, getting her attention and motioned for her to lay still. Her mouth moved but all I could hear was a low humming sound and a high pitched ringing noise, all at the same time. I could tell that she was having the same difficulties as Neri and I and I tried to make her understand that she should just lay there for a few minutes. I managed to get across to Neri that she should stay with Prue while I went to check on the alien machines to see if there was any damage to them and also, to the van itself. The smoke had pretty much cleared out of the van by that time and I could see a singed spot on the carpeting in the back area behind the seat that Neri had been sitting in, but no other apparent damage met my searching eyes. Turning my attention to the machines laying out on the grass, I began to check each one very carefully. I don’t mind telling you, I was scared out of my wits at that point. If anything had happened to the body changing machine, we would all be stuck in the forms we now wore and I did NOT want to spend the rest of my life as the voluptuous redhead I now was!

I didn’t see any damage anywhere on the machine but I couldn’t tell if there was any internal damage from heat or smoke, not to mention from being dumped on the ground! I carefully put the machine back in the van and went back to check the other machines. Again, there was no apparent damage to any of them but I could only check their appearances externally. We would have to wait until we were in a relatively safe place until we could check more thoroughly. Gathering everything up, I carefully placed it all in the van and, this time, I separated the weapons and magazines from the other devices.

By this time, my hearing was beginning to come back and I could hear Neri calling to me. I turned towards her and saw that Prue was sitting up and looked a lot better although both she and Neri looked shaken. I’m sure I must have looked the same to them and I knew that it was gonna take some serious brushing to straighten out the tangles in my new, longer hair! I stood up and walked over to where I had tossed the magazine. There was a 5 foot crater in the side of the road! Fortunately for us, the ground there was sandy and loose and the explosion had merely dug out that crater instead of spreading out. If it had spread out any at all, it probably would have killed us!

The bottom of the crater was smooth and glassy as if it had been blasted by some incredible heat source and I knew that if that thing had gone off in the van, we WOULD have died! All of a sudden, I lost contact with my lower body and fell on the ground. When I hit, I must’ve blacked out because the next thing I knew, I was laying on my back with Prue and Neri anxiously looking down at me. My first thought was that something had happened to my nervous system because I recalled losing the feeling in my lower body but, I could tell that there was feeling there now so I decided that it must have been because I was on the verge of fainting that I had felt numb. I struggled to sit up and managed to get partway there before Neri’s hands and arms caught me and helped me the rest of the way up. I felt a bit dizzy but, other than that, there were no other readily apparent effects and I slowly got to my feet. Our hearing was returning and I got across to the two of them that we needed to get the hell out of there quickly! Fortunately, no other traffic had been anywhere near us when we swerved off the road and other cars going by after that, hadn’t bothered to stop and check on us. Evidently, no other traffic had been around when that bomb went off either although I knew it wouldn’t be very long before someone reported an explosion and the cops would come to investigate. We couldn’t afford to be there when authorities of ANY kind came around and, after making certain that nothing else was hot or seemingly in danger of catching fire, we stowed the devices safely in the back of the van and took off. I warned Prue not to come screeching up off the shoulder of the road because that would leave tire tracks that could help someone identify our vehicle and she accelerated slowly and easily back onto the road. We took several turns that came up at random in the hopes of throwing off any pursuit and eventually ended up on a road that roughly paralleled the road we had been on. Prue and Neri were babbling a mile a minute about how close a call we’d had and I guess I must’ve blocked them out for a while because I lost track of what they were saying. I was too wrapped up in fear and worry about what we were doing, again. I knew, now that I had to get Prue and Neri away from any more danger like that which we had just gone through. I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to the two of them because of my interference in their lives! I had NO right to place them in such danger as we were now in and I was trying to think up a way to lose the two of them when Prue nudged me in the ribs. I jerked in the seat, trying to stand up while my seat belt was still buckled and looked over at Prue with fear in my eyes. She smiled at me and said, "Hey, Billie. It’s all right! We’re ok and nobody saw what happened back there. It was kind of exciting, wasn’t it?"

"EXCITING?" I almost screamed out. "It was damn near FATAL! This is all wrong, Prue. I have no right to involve the two of you any further in this mess! We could have been killed back there and it would’ve been all MY fault! I don’t want to hear any arguments, Prue, Neri. The very minute we get to the next decent sized town, I am dropping the two of you off and I am going on alone! If something happened to you two, I would just die!"

I was going to say more but one look at Prue’s face silenced me. She had gone from excited to angry in nothing flat! She directed the van into a rest area and parked it without saying a word. I tried to continue but she held up her hand and shook her head at me. For a minute she just sat there, not looking at me, apparently trying to gather her thoughts before speaking. When she DID speak, it was in a low controlled sounding tone.

"Ok, Billie." she began, "here’s the deal. Just WHO the hell do you think you are? Do you think I’m here because you forced me to come with you? I’m here because I WANT to be here and you’d better believe that If I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t be! Listen close, honey because I’m only going to say this once! I’m in this thing until the end, whatever that might turn out to be! You can’t get rid of me so easy, my dear and you just better get used to me being around! My life was boring and I was going nowhere when you showed up at my Grampa’s motel. Now I’m involved in the damndest adventure I have EVER heard of and I’ll be damned if you are gonna lose me until the end of it!"

Neri chimed in at about that time as well, saying, "Yeah, Billie! That goes for ME too! All I was headed for was a life on the streets in L.A. until the two of you decided to bring me along on this ride and now that I’ve seen what is going on, I’m gonna be stuck to you like a cockleburr! I just GOTTA see how this turns out so you can just forget any ideas you might have about trying to dump EITHER of us! Besides, you wouldn’t make it without us! You’d get caught in ten minutes! You might be smart about some things, Billie, but when it comes to street smarts, you have NONE! Now I don’t want to hear any more about this subject and I’m sure Prue feels the same way! We started this thing together and we’re gonna finish it the same way."

I opened my mouth to argue with them but Prue put a finger to my lips to silence me and said, "You know we’re right, Billie. Besides, if you try to dump us, the van and the money go with US! You’ll be stuck out here on the road with no money and no I.D. so just get used to the idea that we are in this together and for the long haul, ok?" She turned back toward the front of the van and started the engine again. She pulled out of the rest stop and we drove for awhile in silence. I was trying to think of SOME way to convince the two of them that I was right and that it would be better for them if I went on alone, but nothing was coming to mind.

Ok, maybe they were right, I told myself. Certainly three heads WERE better than one and Neri DID have a lot of ‘street smarts’, as she called them. Add to that the fact that Prue had quite a few contacts around the L.A. area so we would be able to find a place to hole up and think our next moves through, and it did make sense, I reasoned, that we three stay together. We three, we three, we happy three! There was one thing, though, that I WAS gonna do, at the very next opportunity and neither Prue nor Neri was going to talk me out of it! I was gonna change this body back to the original female form I had been wearing, the one we had I.D. for!

At least, in THAT body, I could walk into a place and not worry about getting raped! With this body, I felt like I was sex personified and every time I looked into a mirror I was shocked by the incredibly sensuous features of this well stacked body! I was even turning ME on in this body!

After a couple more hours of driving, Prue said, "Let’s find someplace to stop and eat. I don’t know about the two of you, but my tummy is growling at me and besides, I gotta pee."

Neri and I quickly agreed with Prue, on both counts and, after a few more miles went by, we spotted a roadside diner up ahead. It didn’t look like much but the promise of some food and a restroom was too much to pass it by and so we pulled into the parking lot. There weren’t very many other cars there and we had no problems finding a parking spot near the door. We got out of the van, locked the doors and entered the joint.

I had a bit less trouble, walking in this new body than I’d had before and I seemed to be adjusting to it. That scared me a bit but the restroom was beckoning to me in a loud voice so I decided to wait until we were inside it before I voiced these latest thoughts to Prue and Neri. It turned out that there were only two stalls in this ladies room so I, being a gentleman, let Prue and Neri go first. Well, I WAS a gentleman! Even if I didn’t exactly look like one at the moment. While they took care of business, we talked in low tones and I told them about feeling more comfortable in this form but that I wanted to try to change back as soon as possible.

When Neri came out of the stall, I quickly entered and took care of my own pressing business and Prue said, "Look, Billie. We don’t know if those things were damaged back there and we don’t know why we couldn’t change you back to the other form, back there at that motel! I think we should wait until a day or two have gone by and see if maybe that’ll do the trick. Neri or I can try the machine to do some minor changes to ourselves tonite when we stop to rest and we’ll see then whether the device is damaged or not. We won’t try anything like a full body change but just some little changes. That way we’ll see if there was any damage and won’t do any damage to ourselves. Now let’s not talk about it anymore. I’m hungry and I know the both of you are as well so let’s get ourselves together and get out there and order." We finished up in the restroom and exited, finding a table in short order. As we sat down, I noticed that the only other customers in there were men and they were certainly giving us the once over! I squirmed a little bit in the booth but Neri kicked my leg, under the table and whispered, "Don’t look at them, Billie, and whatever you do, don’t SMILE at any of them! Just act like they aren’t there. We’ll order "to go" if you really feel nervous but I’d rather eat here than take a chance of spilling food on me in a moving vehicle. Now just relax and concentrate on what you want to order because here comes a waitress."

Sure enough, a waitress WAS moving in our direction and she had some menus in her hands. She stopped at the booth and said, in an interested sounding voice, "Well, HI, ladies! Sure is nice to see some women in here. All day long it’s been nothing but men, men, men! Sometimes I get so tired of them all trying to talk me into a date or a quick roll in the hay, if you know what I mean? Oh but, just listen to me! Why you-all don’t even know me and I’m talking a mile a minute about stuff like that! Listen, gals, you just take your time and when you’re ready to order, I’ll be back in nothing flat! Oh, by the way?" and here she leaned in close so she could whisper to us without anyone else hearing her. "Don’t order the special. It’s beef stew but I won’t guarantee that it’s beef and it don’t smell good at all."

She straightened up and turned to leave. I looked at Prue and Neri and, after the waitress was out of earshot, I began to giggle!

"You women DO have a little secret sorority all your own, don’t you?" I whispered to Prue. "She acted like we were old pals or something!" "Well, Billie, that’s just one of those little secrets that men never seem to catch onto." Prue replied. "You ‘men’ just don’t seem to ‘get it’. You all have the same thoughts in your heads about women. Like we’re all just on this planet to serve you and be at your beck and call any old time you want! Now, I know that you are different, Billie but most men ARE like I just described. You are getting a rare chance here, Billie. You’re getting to find out what women are REALLY all about, from the inside, so to speak. Pay close attention, Billie and when you change back to your old self again, you’ll have a real advantage over almost every other guy on the planet. You’ll know just what women want and how they want it!" She grinned at me and blushed just a bit. Neri snorted laughter, across the table from me. She wasn’t blushing, though. She had an almost predatory grin on her face and she was looking at me as if she had never seen me before.

"Maybe tonight, before we go to sleep," she said, "we’ll show you what we mean, Billie." She started to say ore but the waitress was headed our way again and she subsided with another of those strange grins. "Well, Ladies. Are you-all ready to order?

Prue spoke up, saying, "Yes, hon, we are." She and Neri ordered, staying with ‘safe’ food like salads and coffee. I ordered a Pepsi, a burger and some fries. I felt like living dangerously at that point and I WAS hungry but not for salad! Never been much of a "grazer". I have always been a dyed in the wool, meat eater and as I said earlier in this story, my idea of the four major food groups was sugar, salt, caffeine and grease!

After the waitress left to get our food, Prue scowled at me, saying, "You know, Billie, you have a figure to watch out for, now. You should think about ordering some food with real food value instead of that junk stuff." "Now, look, Prue." I replied." Maybe right now I look like every guy’s wet dream but, inside, I’m still plain old Bill and I happen to like the kind of food I ordered. Besides, with those alien machines, I can just zap away any weight I might gain, right?" Prue looked startled at that and, after a couple of seconds, she said, "You know, Billie, I hadn’t even considered that! I guess I’m so used to watching my weight and ordering food I don’t really like just to keep my shape that it’s second nature to me. Of course, you could be in trouble if the machines are damaged in any way, couldn’t you?"

My blood chilled in my veins when she said that and I whispered fiercely at her, "Don’t even joke about that, Prue! You might think this whole thing is a big adventure and fun but I’M the one stuck in a whole different sex right now! At least you and Neri are still female even if you do look a bit different than you used to. You have NO idea how I feel right now, Prue. Look at it this way. Suppose you and Neri had to masquerade as guys? You say that I have a great opportunity to find our how the "other half’ lives? Well, that may be very true but don’t forget that I am still a guy under all this," and I motioned at my lushly curved female body. "I was born a guy and I have BEEN a guy all my life. This is DAMNED tough for me, Prue!" I was going to say more but I spotted the waitress coming back with our food so I shut up. She placed the food on the table in front of us and gave us another one of those friendly smiles of her’s. "I sure hope you enjoy your lunch, gals." she said brightly. I watched close and I made the cook use real fresh stuff, not the stuff he usually uses, so everything oughtta be good." She turned to me and continued. "I made the fries myself, honey and I made sure that the cook used the fresh ground beef for your burger. I sure hope everything will be ok. Now, you just enjoy your lunch gals and if there’s anything you-all need at all, why you just wave at me and I’ll make sure you get it, ok?"

I was amazed at the amount of attention she had paid to us and I guess it must’ve showed on my face because she smiled at me and continued talking. "Oh shoot, honey, you-all don’t have to thank me. After all, we gals gotta stick together, right? Now, don’t you worry about a thing, sweetie. Why, this here burger might just be the best one that no good cook has EVER made in this place! You just enjoy it and the rest of your food and, like I said, you call me if there’s anything else you need, ok?" With that, she turned and walked away from the table, leaving me sitting there, a bit confused and somehow, ashamed of men! Prue and Neri didn’t say anything at all. they just dug into their salads. We ate in silence for quite awhile. I was lost in my thoughts and enjoying the burger and fries. I don’t know what Prue and Neri were thinking right then and I never asked them about it later. I only knew, at that point, that I had never had better service, or food, anywhere, ever in my life and I was thoroughly uncertain about how to react.

When we finished eating, Prue and I lit cigarettes and relaxed back into the seats of the booth. Neri excused herself and headed off to the ladies room again. I think she sensed that I needed to talk to Prue alone for a few minutes. After she left, I leaned close to Prue and asked her about the waitress’ attitude.

"It’s true, Prue, isn’t it? I mean, I said it earlier, as a joke, but you women really DO connect with each other, don’t you?"

She Looked at me for a few seconds and then she answered me saying, "Billie, You’re finding out a lot about women, aren’t you? I’ll tell you that, yes it IS true. Women have, for years been able to connect better with other women much easier than they can with men. Only a woman can know what another woman really means or wants, for that matter. Men DO connect but they are usually too afraid to seem gay to other men to let their real feelings show," she said with some disgust. "That’s why they hardly ever hug each other or cry. So, as a result of all the conditioning that men get from the moment they’re born, men can barely understand one another, never mind understanding what women are or what they want and need."

She fell silent for a few seconds then continued. "You thought I was making fun of you a bit ago when I said you had a real opportunity to find out about women, didn’t you? I wasn’t, Billie. Don’t you know by now that I’d NEVER make fun of you? We’ve been through a lot since we met a couple of days ago and I have grown to respect you as a man! Only a REAL man would be willing to masquerade as a fully functional woman, Billie, don’t you realize that? You’ve done as Neri and I asked without question through all of this and I KNOW that it must be humiliating for you to have to be a woman! You’ve been a really good sport about all of this and you’ve earned not only MY respect, but Neri’s as well. I promise you, Bill," she continued, using my real name for the first time in a long time, "When all of this is over, I just might show you how much I DO respect you. Maybe, before!"

I was really taken aback by her words. I’d had no idea about how she was feeling but, as she spoke, I listened. I mean I REALLY listened! Behind those words was something very real, something very important, to me. Prue respected me! This beautiful, capable, intelligent woman respected me! I couldn’t speak. My emotions were running through me at a breakneck pace and I felt like crying and laughing at the same time. I turned toward Prue and I asked her if it would be all right if I hugged her. "Of course it would be ok, you silly man!" she whispered to me. I just told you that women can do that and not have to worry about seeming strange or weird!"

I put my arms around Prue and hugged her as hard as I could. Something inside me broke loose and I DIDN’T feel strange about it at all. All of a sudden it seemed perfectly natural to be hugging another woman. ANOTHER WOMAN? Well, damn it, yes, another woman. Right then I was a woman as far as the rest of the world was concerned and I guess what broke loose in me was that ingrained behavior that Prue had been talking about. I only know that it felt right and it felt good to be in her arms, just then and I didn’t really care what anyone else thought about it. Looking back on that moment, I realize that, indeed it was the male ego, ingrained behavior that let go, then. It was also something else. It was, for the first time in my life, truly respecting a woman. Not just because she was good looking or stacked but because she was intelligent and capable! A revelation for me, I gotta tell ya. Oh I know that there are a lot of women out there who are just like that. Brilliant, self confident and good looking in the bargain, it’s just that I had never paid attention and had not seen them! One other thing came bursting into my mind right then also.

I had been agonizing over the fact that I might have to remain a woman if that machine was damaged and I couldn’t change back to me, the male me. All of a sudden, that didn’t seem to be so important anymore! I can’t explain it except that maybe, with Prue as an example, I suddenly realized that being a woman wasn’t the step down in status, the humiliation, that I had thought it would be! It was a real revelation for me and I needed time to work it all out so I let go of Prue and wiped a couple of tears from my eyes. "I think I need a trip to the ladies room, Prue." I said, sniffling a little bit. I got up from the booth and began to walk towards the restrooms and I saw Neri coming back. I smiled at her as we passed and gave her a discreet thank you in a whisper. She just smiled back at me, knowingly and continued to the booth where Prue now sat, alone. I continued to the ladies room and took a few private moments there to collect my thoughts.

I knew, now, that there was no way I was gonna let Prue get away from me or Neri either. They had both showed me a rare understanding and toughness of spirit and I knew that I would need both of them on my side if I was ever gonna see my way clear of the mess I had landed myself in. I washed my face and hands and exited the ladies room headed, back to the booth and my two friends.

When we got up to leave the place, I made sure that we left a healthy tip for the waitress. I was sure that, working in a place like this, she didn’t make too much either in pay or in tips. We each left her a five dollar tip, but when Neri and Prue weren’t looking, I slid a twenty under my plate. I owed her a lot more than money, but paying her back properly would have to wait until I had gotten myself out of this weird situation. We paid the bill at the register and left the diner, waving goodbye to Flo, our waitress and headed for the van. As we exited though, we were met by a man in a black suit and sunglasses!

He looked at the three of us and kind of grinned. Then his hand came out of his pocket and, in that hand, was a smaller version of what I recognized as one of the weapons that we had hidden in the van! I couldn’t find my voice and it seemed that Prue and Neri were in the same fix as I was. He just smiled at us and finally he said, "Well, ladies! You’ve led me a merry chase, haven’t you? Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Matthews and I represent....well, never mind who I represent. The important thing is that I have finally caught up to you. Now, ladies, if you would be so kind as to precede me to your vehicle, we can get away from here and I can get back to my original case." His demeanor seemed to change a bit as he said that, and I detected a note of bitterness in his voice. He waved that little weapon at us and indicated that we should get in the back of the van.

Prue started off, followed by Neri and then me. I was still a bit unsteady on those heels, though and I stumbled backwards when my foot didn’t quite make it over one of those concrete dividers that you see in parking lots. I caught my heel and fell backwards, right into Matthews, knocking that weapon from his hand! He cursed and dove for it but was stopped by another man who had been coming towards the diner who picked up that weapon and trained it on Matthews! Matthews looked at him with hatred in his eyes and started to spout something but the new man stopped him by waving that weapon at him and saying, "Well now, what have we here? Mister, what were you doing? Threatening these lovely ladies with this goofy looking thing? I gotta admit, I’ve never seen anything like this!" he indicated the weapon. "I don’t know what this thing is or what it does, but, from the look on your face, mister, it must be a deadly little thing so I suggest you back away from the ladies and start explaining yourself REAL quick!" Matthews started to bluster again, but this new man stopped him again, saying, "I don’t want to hear any threats or bullshit, mister! Now, you just calm down and tell me in a CIVIL tone what you’re doing with these ladies or I might just be tempted to pull the trigger on this thing just to see what it does to you!"

Matthews looked VERY frightened by that possibility and, with a visible effort, he forced himself to speak in a quieter tone of voice.

"Look, fella. My name is Matthews and I represent the United States of America. These three "ladies" are my prisoners. I’ve chased them across most of three states and I finally caught up to them, here at this dump," and he indicated the diner then. "They are, or were, in my custody and I was about to take them back to my supervisors for questioning, regarding theft of government property and flight to avoid arrest, as well as assault on a government official! If you know what’s good for you, you’ll hand that weapon back to me and let me get about my business without further involving yourself in this!" The new man listened to all of what Matthews had to say and then he looked at us. He asked, then, "Well, ladies, is what this guy says, true? Are the three of you desperate criminals and guilty of all that this," and he looked hard at Matthews, "black suit says?"

I was still trying to find my voice when Neri spoke up, though.

"Mister," she began, "I don’t know who you are and I never met this guy, Matthews before in my life! We’re just three friends on a vacation drive to the coast, sightseeing along the way. However, if that’s his car over there," and she indicated a plain black sedan that was parked near our van, "then I HAVE seen him before! He tried to run us off the road a day or two ago! If you look at the front of his car, you’ll see the damage from that little run-in. Our car was so damaged that we had to rent this van to continue our trip! Why, he almost KILLED us!" At that point, Neri let a couple of tears leak from her eyes and seemed to be getting hysterical. I looked at her in surprise but kept the look on my face from showing to this stranger. He seemed to be getting angry with Matthews and, suddenly, I knew what Neri was doing. She was working this new man for all she was worth! Actually flirting with him and playing on his male ego, trying to get him to feel like he was rescuing three "helpless" women!

Prue fell right into the act right about then and, when she nudged me, unseen by this new man, I tried to join in as well. For a few minutes there, all this new guy could hear, I’m sure, was the sound of three female voices, saying three different things, all at the same time. I had to give him credit, though. He just stood there, looking back and forth at the three of us, and seemingly trying to make sense out of all this female clamor. Finally, he held up his hand, though, and shouted, "OK! Everybody hold it right there! Now, I don’t know who is telling the truth here but I sure don’t ever like to see a fella threatening three beautiful ladies with a gun, or whatever the hell this thing is! I’ll tell you what we’re gonna do. You, mister are gonna go over to your car with me and show me some I.D. You ladies are gonna come along so you don’t try to pull a fast one on me and we’ll get this thing straightened out real quick!"

He motioned us to move towards that black car and motioned for Matthews to do the same. He made sure that we stayed far enough away from Matthews, though, so he couldn’t grab one of us to use as a shield against that weapon. We were about halfway to the black car, when I heard a noise behind us and I turned around to see Pickles, our waitress, come running towards us! She was shouting something I couldn’t quite hear and pointing at the three of us women, though, and the new man turned his head to look at her.

Matthews chose that exact moment to try to jump the new guy, however, and the two of them went to the ground, struggling for control of that gun! I was about to jump in to help the new guy until I suddenly remembered, AGAIN, that I wasn’t Bill anymore! I was a woman and I would likely be more of a hindrance to the man than a help, so I backed off towards the van and I saw that Prue and Neri were doing the same thing. Pickles was yelling something that sounded like, "Get ‘im, Kim!" and I figured that the new guy’s name must be Kim. Brilliant of me, huh? Well, I wasn’t in the most reasonable state of mind right then and that was the most logic my brain could handle! Pickles herded Prue, Neri and me back towards our van and out of the way of any possible harm. She didn’t have to push me too hard, though! I didn’t want to be anywhere around that fight right then, especially when the thought crossed my mind that the weapon that they were fighting over could, POSSIBLY go off, with disastrous results for Kim, Matthews, us and the surrounding countryside!

All to soon, though, the struggle was over and Kim stood up, panting a bit, and stood over the unconscious form of Matthews. I was kind of surprised that he had managed to beat Matthews but I sure was glad of it! Pickles ran over to Kim and gave him a big hug, then turned to us and said, "This is my big brother, Kim, gals. Ain’t he a handsome son of a gun?" She turned back to Kim and continued, "These three beautiful gals were just in the diner, Kim and they left me the BIGGEST tip I ever got! I dunno what that other guy wanted, but I’ll bet you a dollar to a doughnut that he was up to no good! Why he coulda been trying to KIDNAP these three lovely gals for God knows what! Kim, you tie that fella up and I’ll go call the county Mounties to come and get that no good kidnapper!"

She turned and began to run back to the diner, but Prue called to her to stop and she did, looking at us with a puzzled look on her face.

"Pickles," Prue began, "please don’t do that. The last thing we want, right now, is to get tied up with the law in ANY form. Maybe we should tie Matthews up and stuff him into his car, then go to our van where we can explain why, ok?"

Well, Pickles just looked at the three of us and then back at her brother and back at us. Finally, it seemed that she came to a decision and said, "All right, girls, but you better have a damn good reason for all of this stuff or I’ll make that call anyway! Now, I’m inclined to trust you, for now, because you seemed so nice in the diner and because you left me that huge tip, but I’m a law abiding person and so is Kim there, so bear that in mind, ok?

We all nodded at Pickles and at Kim, who went over and grabbed hold of Matthew’s unconscious form, lifting it almost all the way off the ground! He carried Matthews over to that black car and took off his belt, using it to tie Matthews’ hands behind him. Then he searched Matthews’ pockets, coming up with a wallet, some change, and the keys for the car. Using the keys, Kim opened the trunk and, after a brief search, found some rope which he used to further incapacitate Matthews.

Then, Kim opened the back door of the car and pushed Matthews into the back seat, slamming the door behind him, and walked back across the parking lot to Pickles. He still had that weapon, which he had picked up off the ground where it had fallen during the fight, and he looked at it closely, for the first time. Then he looked at Prue, Neri and me and said,

"You heard what my sister said, ladies. Let’s step over to your vehicle and you better have a damn good explanation for us! I don’t mind playing the "White Knight", and coming to the rescue of some good looking women but I sure hope that fella isn’t some kind of law enforcement type! I’d be in a real pickle if he was!"

As we walked toward the van, I whispered to Prue, "What are we gonna tell these two? I sure hope you have a good story cooking in that head of yours because I am drawing an absolute blank!" Well, Billie, the only thing I CAN come up with is to tell them the truth! Anything else is going to only get us into more trouble and I think it’s about time we had someone else on OUR side! I have just about HAD it with having to hide all the time from people like Matthews there! Always running and hiding, never knowing who to trust. Well, all that is gonna end, right here! We are gonna tell these two the absolute truth, prove it to them if we have to, by showing them the devices and what they can do, and get SOMEONE else on our side! If you can come up with anything better than that in the time it takes to get to the van, I’m willing to listen to it. If not, well, then this is it for us. We lay it all on the line here and now and let the chips fall where they may. You game?" I tried to find a flaw in Prue’s reasoning but, to tell the truth, I couldn’t. At least not in the limited time I had to think about it. Before I knew it we were in the van and Prue was spilling the whole story to these two relative strangers who had befriended us. I’ll give her credit, she DID make the story sound believable and she also left out the part about who and what I really was, or used to be. Pickles just sat there, her mouth open, through the whole story. Kim, on the other hand, was clearly not buying what Prue was trying to sell him! He snorted a couple of times, and laughed out loud a couple of others. He changed his tune, though, when Prue demonstrated the makeup device and the hair changer on him! A fully made up face and long blonde hair convinced him in short order and, after Prue had changed him back, he looked at us searchingly, for a few minutes before he spoke.

"Well, ladies." he began. "If I am to believe the three of you, and, from the looks of these machines, I have to, you ARE in a heap of trouble!" I’m just not sure what you expect me and Pickles to do about it. I mean, right now, there’s a GOVERNMENT agent of some kind, tied up in his car out there and I’m gonna be in trouble for THAT! Now, for me to be in some kind of trouble, is nothing new, but I’m really worried about Pickles! What are WE gonna do now?" "Well, Kim," I replied, cutting Prue off, "It seems to me that you have a couple of choices here. You can just let us go and untie that agent after we’re gone. Maybe he’ll be understanding about being beaten up and robbed of his prisoners, but, somehow, I doubt that will happen! You could find a place to stash him for awhile, long enough for you and Pickles to pack up and move. Of course you’d both have to take on new identities and start all over somewhere else and that’d take a good sized pile of cash do accomplish.

You could leave with us, and help us get to the coast where we could set you up in new identities and jobs.

Quite frankly, Kim, as sorry as I am that you and your sister got involved in this, the last one seems to me to be your best shot. We have some experience at this new identity thing and we do have access to cash. In addition, I think I can guarantee that no one would ever know who you really are if that’s what you would want. I wish we had time to let you and Pickles think about this but we have to get back on the road. It’s only a matter of time before someone misses that agent out there and comes looking for him. Prue took Kim’s hand in hers and leaned in close to him.

"We ARE sorry to involve you and Pickles in all of this, Kim, but what else can we do now? You and she sort of involved yourselves and, as much as we all wish it had never happened, It DID happen and you and Pickles are in real danger, now! We’ll let you two have ten minutes to talk this out between you, but we can’t afford to give you more time than that! We HAVE to get going!"

Prue, Neri and I got out of the van and closed the doors, giving Kim and his sister the privacy they would certainly need to talk this out. I asked Prue to wait near the van while Neri and I went to check on Matthews. When we reached the car, I looked in the rear window and I could see his motionless form, still laying in the same position that Kim had left him in. I watched closely for a couple of minutes to make sure that he was breathing and, when I ascertained that he was, I took the car keys which Kim had left in the car door, and threw them into the underbrush bordering the parking lot.

Then I rolled all the car windows up almost all the way and locked all the doors. I figured, with luck, Matthews wouldn’t suffocate inside the car but he would be unable to follow us for quite awhile, even after he managed to free himself from the ropes. I checked his wallet for a spare set of keys, remembering that I used to keep a spare set in MY wallet for emergencies, like locking the keys in the car, and, sure enough, there they were! I took them out of his wallet and tossed them away as well. About then, I heard Prue call to Neri and I. We headed back over to the van and Kim and Pickles were standing outside it with grim expressions on their faces. I could tell that they had reached a decision and I waited, anxiously, for them to tell us what it was.

Kim cleared his throat and began to speak, saying, "Well, ladies, Pickles and I have decided that we are gonna have to go with you. There’s no way that either of us can stay here with people like our friend over there, tied up in his car, after us. Plus, if we DID stay, they’d eventually force one of us to tell them everything we know about the three of you! I only have a couple of questions for you. Number one, do we have time to stop by our place and grab a few things? Number two, can we stop by our bank and close out our accounts?"

I looked at Prue and Neri and got nods from both of them, so I went ahead and said to Kim and Pickles, "We can probably stop by your house for a few minutes to let you grab anything irreplaceable. Anything you might need in the way of clothes and the like, will have to be bought somewhere after we get back on the road. As far as your bank accounts are concerned, if you can get all your money using an ATM, fine. If not, well, like I said before, we have money enough and access to more if we really need it. Will that be good enough?"

"I guess it’ll have to be," Kim replied. I know that, if we’re going, we gotta go now. What about our cars?"

"Take what you need from them, Kim," Prue said, "but you’re going to have to leave them as well. I’m sorry, Kim and Pickles, but this is the way it’s got to be! We just don’t have the time to do more. Please understand that we don’t like this anymore than you do but we’re all in the same boat now, and we have to play this out to the end, for better or worse. Neri here is our expert in new I.D. papers and, as soon as we reach the next large city, she can get the two of you set up with new names and identities. We’ll use the machines to change both of you so you don’t look like yourselves. How much we change you will be up to you, but we can do a lot so don’t worry about that."

Kim and Pickles looked at each other and then back at us. They nodded, accepting the inevitable and then they went to their cars. In a few minutes, they came back, their arms loaded with things they couldn’t bear to leave behind. We all piled into the van and took off towards their apartment.

When we arrived there, they quickly went inside and, in a very few minutes, they came back out with more of their things. They were sensible about it, though and everything fit into the van. Pickles left a note on the door and, after checking with us, made a call on her cell phone to a friend. She just told her friend that both she and Kim had to leave suddenly and wouldn’t be back and that anything she wanted from the apartment, she could have. Pickles told her friend that she and Kim were going back east to live with their parents because they were ill and needed care. Then she said goodbye and hung up. There were tears in her eyes after that call and she explained that the friend she had just called had been a good friend for a long time and she would miss her a lot. I told Pickles that we understood that and that she had done a good job of covering her tracks. While we had waited for Kim and Pickles to get their stuff, we had gone over the van from bumper to bumper, looking for tracking devices but we hadn’t located any. We were puzzled and more than a little concerned about how Matthews had been able to find us but found no answers anywhere on the van.

Kim offered a possible explanation, after hearing about our unsuccessful search, though. "What if they have some way of tracking the devices themselves?" He postulated. "If they ARE from the government, they could have access to all kinds of secret stuff that we wouldn’t know anything about. It’s fairly certain that they know you have these things and they probably know about the aliens. If that’s true, maybe they even have more of these things and know how to track them, much like you can track radioactivity with a Geiger counter!" I hadn’t even considered that possibility and I could tell, from the looks on Prue’s and Neri’s faces that they hadn’t either! If what Kim had theorized WAS true, we had almost no chance of staying hidden from the agents that were on our tails! Once again, my ROTTEN luck had reared it’s ugly head and bitten me in the ass, but this time, it was biting ALL of us! I sat in the passenger seat of that van, brooding over all the things that had happened to me in the last four days. I could hear Neri and Prue talking to Kim and Pickles but, somehow, I couldn’t make out the words. I was to lost in my own problems and trying to figure a way to make all this work. I couldn’t shake the feeling I had that, if we could just get to L.A. we could find a way to get ourselves free from all this madness.

To tell the truth, I don’t know why I felt that way but it HAD been my original goal to get to L.A. and I guess maybe I was stuck on that idea. Now that I had found Prue and Neri, and found out that Neri wanted to go to L.A. and Prue had contacts there, it seemed even more imperative to get there. Well, L.A. IS a huge city and there are millions of people there. It could be really easy to lose ourselves there until we could find an answer, a way out of this "Run For Your Life"/V parody we found ourselves involved in. As we rode along that lonely road, somewhere in Nevada, I found that I was making no progress at all in thinking this out. Maybe, I thought, the problem was that I was just thinking of myself, or by myself. Maybe I needed the input from Prue, Neri, Kim, and Pickles? As that thought bounced around inside my head, the conversation going on between the others became more clear and I began listening to what they were saying.

Apparently, Prue had asked Kim and Pickles to talk about themselves and they were giving her and Neri a thumbnail sketch of their lives. Kim had been in the service and had been trained as a computer specialist. He had served 8 years before deciding that the military wasn’t his cup of tea and taking a discharge at the end of his second hitch. Pickles had a bad marriage right out of high school and had been kind of soured on men ever since. She had bounced from job to job, landing the waitress job about 10 months ago.

Kim had located her after his discharge and they had found an apartment to share while they both tried to get their lives going once again. Their parents were still alive but there had been a falling out between them and their folks and they hadn’t talked in more than a year. Kim thought they were still living somewhere in West Virginia but they had moved a couple of times in the past three years and Kim didn’t seem sure of their present address.

They talked for quite awhile, about their past lives and ambitions and it seemed that the both of them were kind of adrift in life, much like Prue, Neri and I were. None of us really had a career goal in mind and were just sort of marking time, waiting for something to come along that would show us the direction to go in our lives. I guess the old phrase, "birds of a feather" was ringing true in this case because here we were. Five directionless people, heading for a city none of us, except Prue, knew a damn thing about, with only a vague idea of what we were going to do when we got there. Eventually the conversation turned to what we were going to do about the alien devices. Evidently, the M.I.B. or whoever they were, had a way to track or locate us. Since there were no tracking devices anywhere on or in the van, the only logical conclusion was that they could track of locate the alien machines. Kim mentioned something about Geiger counters again and that started me thinking about shielding. Maybe we could somehow shield whatever emanations or radiation that might be coming from the devices? Something lined with lead which, as I recalled, seemed to block radiation pretty well. I spoke up, voicing my thoughts to the others and Kim said he thought that I was onto something. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to try something along those lines if we could find something large enough to store all the devices in but small enough to be transported. Lead tends to be fairly heavy and we had no idea how thick it would have to be to block whatever might be emanating from the devices.

Pickles spoke up just then, saying,

"Well, what about a small safe? I mean they make them things in all sizes. Maybe there’s one that we could fit into the van but would have enough shielding to stop the radiation or whatever and then those M.I.Bs wouldn’t be able to find us?" Conversation stopped for a minute as everyone looked at Pickles, except Prue. Pickles kind of looked from one of us to the others as if afraid she had spoken out of turn or said something dumb but Kim grabbed her and hugged her and said, "Sis! What a great idea! I always said you were a lot smarter than you gave yourself credit for and you just proved it. That little West Virginia accent of yours has always been something that you leaned on so people wouldn’t know how smart you really are but you never fooled me with it! Pickles looked pleased with herself and she hugged Kim back.

Neri spoke up then, saying,

"OK. That’s settled. All we gotta do is find a safe that’ll fit in the van but will be thick enough to block the M.I.B.s from detecting the machines. No problem! We oughta be able to pick one of those up at the next 7-11 that we come to!"

"Neri," I interjected. "Do I detect a little bit of sarcasm there? I realize that what Pickles came up with is a long shot but what other options do we have? We have to do something to get those agents off our trail! We haven’t had a real break from this whole thing in four days! If things keep on the way they have been going, we’ll be at each other’s throats before the end of another day and we can’t afford that!"

"Oh, I know that, Billie." Neri said. "It’s just that things were getting pretty grim there and I thought a little humor might help. Don’t you know by now that I don’t mean most of the things I say? It’s in my nature to try to lighten the mood whenever I can. I hate it when things get too dark and brooding. If that’s the way you want it, though, I’ll try to be serious for a bit. You do, of course, realize that we have to disguise Kim and Pickles before we do anything else, don’t you?"

Yeah. That thought had also been rattling around in my brain. It wouldn’t do to have anyone see Kim or Pickles as they presently were. It would give the M.I.Bs a trail to follow if people were able to describe them.

"You’re right, Neri," I replied. "I was trying not to think about that but we do have to fix them up so no one can connect them with us. Tell you what, let’s keep on driving until dinnertime and then we can eat, find rooms for the night and figure out what to do about Kim’s and Pickle’s appearances, ok? Prue? Do you agree with that?"

"That sounds good to me, Billie, Neri. We’re gonna need some privacy to do what we’ll have to do to their appearances in order to disguise them. We can talk it over while we eat. I’ll find a drive through somewhere so they won’t have to get out of the van. We also need to locate a big hardware store so we can pick up that safe you all were talking about." We all seemed to be in agreement, including Kim and Pickles although they didn’t seem very enthusiastic about undergoing any changes from the alien machines. We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to convince them that there were no hazards, that we knew of, in allowing themselves to be disguised using those machines. By the time we were ready to think about supper, they were fairly well convinced though, and it didn’t hurt our case that Kim and Pickles knew that all three of us had already undergone changes from those devices. In MY case, though, they weren’t yet aware of just how much of a change could be affected.

We located a fast food place with a drive through and got some food, on the outskirts of a fairly large city. I don’t remember the name of it but the fast food place was located in a strip mall kind of place and there was also a pretty big hardware store there as well. Prue and I ate quickly and, while the others finished, we went to the hardware store to see what we could find.

Prue and I entered the store to find a brightly lit, spacious store. It looked like we might be in the right place to find a safe. We wandered the aisles for awhile but didn’t locate any, however. Finally, I noticed a set of stairs leading downward with a sign that said, Home Safety Equipment and an arrow pointing down the stairs. I called Prue’s attention to this and we descended the stairs to find a veritable cornucopia of hardware designed to keep one’s home secure. Everything from electronic home security systems to fire extinguishers to, WELL, what do you know? Safes!

There were several safes displayed there and a couple of them looked like they’d be perfect for our purposes. We looked them over carefully and I noticed that neither of them was lead lined. They WERE fireproof and both of them were large enough for all of the alien devices. About that time, a salesman walked over and asked if he could help us. I hemmed and hawed a couple of times but Prue jumped right in, saying, "Well, yes, I think you can. We’re looking for a safe about this size," and here she indicated the ones we had looked at, "only we need it to be lead lined. Is there anything like that available here?" The salesman looked a bit taken aback by what Prue asked him but, sensing a good sized sale, he shifted gears, mentally and went right on with his sales pitch.

"Well, that’s a rather unusual request but I assume you must have a reason for wanting such a thing and, to answer your question, yes, we do have a model that’s lead lined. It’s just a bit bigger than either of the two you indicated but it’s fireproof as well. We don’t have it on display because usually the only buyers for it we get are doctors or hospitals. I can show it to you if you like, though. Just follow me to the back" Prue and I followed him into the back area of the store where he showed us a safe that was about 18 inches square on the inside but about 22 inches square on the outside. He explained that the difference in the measurements was due to the thickness of the walls which included lead. It was very heavy, as you might imagine but I thought it would work perfectly and Prue, after considering it for a minute, agreed with me.

We made arrangements to have the safe brought out to a loading dock at the back of the store and, on the way out, I looked again at the two safes we had considered earlier. I stopped Prue and asked her, "Listen, what do you think about this? I think we should keep those weapon things, or at least the magazines for them, separate from the rest of the devices. We already had one burn and explode on us and I don’t want to risk any further damage to the machines, do you? My guess is that only the machines themselves might be emanating any kind of energy that could be tracked by anyone so if we put THEM is the lined safe and the magazines in this smaller one here, then I think we could breathe a little easier." Prue agreed with me and we ended up buying both safes. I don’t want to tell you the price but it put another sizable dent in the large wad of money that Prue had gotten. I figured that it was money well spent if it got those damned agents off our trail, though and I know that Prue agreed with that, as well. We pulled the van around to the loading dock and, with some help, loaded the two safes into the van. It was a testament to the stiff suspension of that van that it didn’t settle more than an inch or so onto the springs after those two safes were in it, as heavy as they were. The salesman told us how to set the combinations on both of them and we thanked him and got back on the road. I wanted to put a lot of distance between us and that store before we stopped for the night and we made a change of direction as well, just to be on the safe side.

While we drove, Kim and Neri stowed the devices into the larger of the two safes. they padded the bottom and sides with clothing , set the combination and closed the safe, double checking and re-opening it just to make sure it worked properly. Then they carefully padded the remaining magazines for those weapons, including the small one we had taken from the agent at the diner and stowed them in the smaller safe. By the time we were a half hour down the road from the strip mall, both safes were packed and locked and I felt a LOT better.

We finally came across a Motel 6 kind of place and decided that it would be a good idea to hole up for the night. Prue and Neri went in and booked two rooms while Kim, Pickles and I waited out in the van. We had decided that one of us would sleep in the van to keep an eye on it while the rest of us used the rooms, and had stopped at a Radio Shack to pick up several FM walkie talkies and batteries. Kim volunteered to sleep in the van but we told him that he and Pickles would need to use one of the rooms so we could disguise them, so Neri volunteered to take the first night in the van.

Since she was going to go shopping for us for more clothing and personal care items as well as I.D.s for Kim and Pickles, this seemed to be the best way to work it and no one argued with the decision. I did insist that she take the small weapon we had taken from the agent out of the safe and insert the magazine in it. I was taking no more chances than I thought we absolutely had to take and I wanted her armed in case trouble came up. She agreed and left on her errands. The other four of us adjourned to one of the two adjoining rooms that Prue and Neri had gotten and sat down to discuss what we could do to disguise Kim and Pickles. I started things off, figuring that we had to let Kim and Pickles in on my little secret so they would know for sure just what was possible with the alien machines.

"Kim, Pickles," I began, "You know that Prue, Neri and I have already used the machines to change our appearances. What you DON’T know is just how much we, particularly I, have changed. You see, my real name is William Butler!" I paused there for a minute or two to let the two of them digest that bit of information. Then I continued.

We originally decided that the MIBs or whoever they are would be looking for me, the MALE me but they might not be expecting two females traveling together so we changed me into a pleasing but not too ostentatious female form. I got hurt, last night, though and, rather than risk taking me to a doctor or a hospital, Prue and Neri decided to change my form again in the hopes of repairing my injuries. In their hurry, though, they grabbed the first form they came to, the one I am wearing now. It wouldn’t have been my first choice and I’m not really comfortable like this but I have adjusted somewhat and it isn’t all that bad to look like this."

Well, Kim just flat didn’t believe what I had said, but Pickles had a look on her face that indicated acceptance of my words. I asked her about it and she said, "I thought there was something a bit strange about yo when I first set eyes on you back at the diner," she replied. You didn’t look very sure of yourself and a REAL woman, with a body and a face like yours, would have been much more relaxed and confident of herself. You didn’t seem very steady on those high heels either, that was my second clue." I sat there for a minute, stunned by what Pickles had said. If she could spot me as not ‘right’ in so short a time, maybe we needed to rethink this disguise thing. Prue chimed in about there and said, "She’s right, Billie. Although you sure look like a beautiful woman, your moves and attitude are still male. I had hoped that a little time and experience in a female form would make you more feminine but I can see now that it’s gonna take some work to make you convincing as a woman. For now, though let’s leave that and settle on what we are gonna do to disguise Kim and Pickles here. Now, I don’t know if you’re gonna like this, Kim, but I feel like 5 women traveling together will draw a lot less suspicion than four women and a man and Neri and I talked about this and already picked out forms for you and Pickles."

Kim stood up and said,

If you think you’re gonna make ME into a woman, you’re sadly mistaken! I like being a guy and I don’t really want to do this disguise thing in the FIRST place. I mean, ok, a beard and mustache, or something like that, but THIS? Oh NO you don’t!" Prue stood up as well and got right into Kim’s face, saying, "Look, Kim, there’s no point in discussing this. We don’t have time for arguing! Neri is already shopping for clothes to fit the forms we picked and will be back in a couple of hours with the clothes and I.D. papers matching the forms so GET over it! We’ll all know who you really are and we aren’t going to tease you about it. Look at Billie there. Do you think she, I mean he, would have chosen that form to wear if he had a choice in the matter? He’s doing it so we have a better chance of getting away from the people chasing us and the sooner you start thinking the same way, the better!"

Kim seemed a bit taken aback by Prue’s outburst and he just sat there, on the edge of the bed, looking at her without speaking for a few minutes. Finally, he said, "Look, Prue, I know what you are saying makes sense and I can’t really find any holes in your logic except that I don’t like the thought of looking and acting like a woman! I’ve always been a man and I don’t have the slightest idea of HOW to be like a woman and, to tell the truth, I never even THOUGHT of being one. I..." But here, I broke in, shouting at him! Kim, of all the pig headed, stubborn, inconsiderate things I have heard in my life, what you just said has GOT to be the dumbest thing I have EVER heard! Didn’t you hear what Prue said at ALL? My God, man, do you think for even one second that I would have chosen THIS shape to wear if it wasn’t absolutely necessary for our own good? I was born a man, TOO, in case you have forgotten who I really am! The LAST thing I ever dreamed of was looking like I do now but if I had retained my old looks, we would have been caught by now and we’d be in some super secret hideaway, run by the Government! We’d be the subjects of GOD knows what kind of experiments and questioning and, most likely, we’d never have our freedom again!" Kim came up off the bed like he was gonna hit me or something and I backed off, realizing just how small and weak I was, in this body. His face began to turn red, a sure sign of either aggression or embarrassment and his fists balled up at his sides. I didn’t stop, though. Even though I was backing away from him, I continued to read him the riot act, ending with, "If that’s gonna be your attitude, we can just dump both you AND your sister right here and leave you to your own devices. How long do you think it’ll be before that guy we left tied up in his car gets free and comes looking for you? THINK, for Pete’s sake, Kim THINK!! You’ve thrown with us, by choice or by necessity and, having done that, you’ve gotta go with it for now, no matter WHAT comes from it. They’ll never let you get away, having done what you’ve done. You’re either in with us, or else you and Pickles are on your own. How long do you think you’ll last?" I ran out of breath, then and I WAS a bit scared that Kim WAS gonna hit me but he didn’t, thank God! He stood there looking at me and Prue, then back to his sister and back to me and Prue and, finally, he heaved a huge sigh and sat down and put his face in his hands. He heaved another big sigh and then looked up at me from his seated position and said, "I...I’m sorry Billie. I guess the strain of the last few hours caught up with me and I lost it a bit there. I didn’t mean to threaten you. God knows I’d never hit a woman, I mean a man, I mean........well YOU know what I mean! I’m just worried about Pickles and me, is all. I mean, granted, we didn’t have GREAT lives back there but they were lives, nonetheless and to just pick up and walk away like we just had to,’s kinda scary, you know? Then, on top of being worried, now you tell me that you wanna turn me into a WOMAN! This is just freaking me out too much, you know?"

Pickles moved to Kim’s side and sat down next to him, putting her arms around him and hugging him. "Kim," she murmured softly, "Come on, snap out of this. It won’t be so bad being a girl for awhile and, besides, you KNOW that Billie and Prue are right. We have kinda gotten thrown into the deep end of the pool here because of the way you jumped in and rescued these people from what you thought was a bad person. They ARE right, though. Whoever it is that’s after them will be looking for you and me, now and we’ll HAVE to disguise ourselves! Like Prue and Billie told us, too, all of us will know who you REALLY are and nobody will give you a hard time about it. At any rate, you HAVE to do this! I have NEVER had an adventure in my WHOLE life and I’m NOT gonna miss out on this one that’s been dumped in our laps, just because you think it’s some kind of bad thing to be a woman!"

Pickles folded her arms across her chest and GLARED at her brother. For a second or two, he met her stare but, gradually his eyes began to fall and before to long he was looking at the floor, unable to meet that glare of Pickles’. He didn’t say another word but I could tell that he had given in and I breathed a big sigh of relief. I kinda liked this big guy and I would have felt really bad if we’d had to leave him and his sister to the tender mercies of the MIB. We decided to show Kim and Pickles the options and got out the body changer machine. We ran through the options for them, showing them each form and letting them discuss the pros and cons of each form. When they had decided on which forms to take, Prue spoke up, saying, "Okay, now Kim, this is painless and only takes a few minutes, but before we change you and Pickles, I want to take Billie here, and see if his first form is ready for him to be switched back into it. I know he isn’t happy in this sexy redhead’s body and I can’t really blame him. As you can see, he’s a walking advertisement for sex! I’m surprised that he hasn’t been hit on so hard that it’d leave bruises by now. Billie and I will take the machine to the other room and do the change and then we’ll come back here to take care of changing you and Pickles, ok? Besides, that’ll give you both some more time to talk and get ready."

Prue picked up the machine and turned to leave the room and I followed her. It didn’t seem so at the time, to me, but looking back, it was amazing how I had so easily surrendered control of most situations to her and Neri. I guess it just seemed logical to me, to do so and they always seemed to have an answer for every situation that came up. I knew they were extremely capable and intelligent women so I never questioned it, then. Looking back, I now know a lot of things I never even suspected, back then, but more of that as I continue with this story.

Prue and I entered the other room and closed and locked the door behind us. While Prue readied the machine, I used the bathroom and, when I returned to Prue she was all set. She turned the machine on and put the weird wire harness on my head, arranging the wires around my sexy body. Then she pressed the button that I knew would initiate the change. All of a sudden, I felt light headed and, before I could do anything, the world went black! When I came to, Prue was sitting on the floor next to me with a very worried look on her face.

"Billie, BILLIE!" She was saying, over and over.

"Are you ok? Come on Billie, wake up!" I moaned a little bit as my head began to clear a little bit and Prue looked very relieved that I was coming to.

"What happened?" I mumbled. "Did I trip on something?"

"No, Billie," Prue stated, but something DID happen. Something very strange and, well, kinda worrisome but................." Her voice trailed off and she stopped speaking, a puzzled and worried look readily apparent on her face. "Do you feel like you can stand up?" She asked me.

I dunno, Prue but I’ll try. Say, Prue, why don’t I feel any different than I did before? I mean, every time I have used this machine, I have always noticed differences right away so how come I don’t, now?" "Billie," Prue answered, "You’d better sit down. There was some kind of problem with the machine and you didn’t change back to your other female form. I don’t know, exactly, what DID happen but as long as you’re ok right now, that’s the important thing. Now here, sit down on the bed and I’ll explain what happened, or at least what I SAW!

I sat down and, as I did, I looked down at my body. Prue was right! I hadn’t changed at all! I was still this impossibly lovely redhead with the dynamite shape! THEN I started to worry! What had happened? Why didn’t I change back to my other form? A hundred questions collided inside my brain as I tried not to panic. Then Prue began to speak, saying, "Well, Billie it was the strangest thing I have ever seen and, considering the events of the last few days, that’s saying a LOT! I started the machine and you began to change but, all of a sudden, you looked weird, different somehow from EITHER form, the one you’re in now and the one you had before! Then, you DID change back but the injuries were still there! You fainted, I guess from the pain of the injuries, and I was only BARELY able to catch you before you fell hard on the floor! I used the machine to change you back to this redhead form and then tried to revive you. You were out like a light for almost ten minutes and I was starting to REALLY worry! Are you sure you feel ok now?"

I hung my head and put my face in my hands, trying to rub out the last of the dizziness I had felt, with my fingers. For a few minutes I didn’t say anything. I was scared, I can tell you that for sure! I didn’t want to worry Prue any more, though so I told her that I was still a bit dizzy but otherwise, considering the shape I still wore, I was ok. While I sat there I ran through about a thousand thoughts in my head but I kept coming back to the most important one at the time. WHAT had gone wrong? Would I be STUCK in this body forever? Could I even change back to my old male body? What if I COULDN’T!?

Finally, I sat up straight and asked Prue the first question that I HAD to have an answer to. "Prue, I have to know! I gotta find out if I can even change back to my old body shape. Please get the disc with my recording on it, will you?" Bill," she answered, "I don’t know if that’s such a hot idea! I mean what if something else goes wrong and you get hurt? I could NEVER forgive myself if that happened and I don’t think it’s a good idea to try that at all, right now. Maybe later when you’ve recovered a bit more?"

"No, Prue!" I said, "I GOTTA know if I can change back to myself and I gotta know NOW! If I wait it’ll only make it worse on me so please just go get the disc. I’ll reset the machine and have it ready when you return. In a few minutes, Prue returned with a disc. It had the markings that we had used to identify it so my old form wouldn’t get lost or confused with the others. I put it into the machine and double checked that it was the right one and it was so I arranged the wires, sat down on the bed in case I fainted again and hit the on button. I felt that old almost familiar by now, slightly queasy feeling begin and then, like a flash it was over! I was Bill again! I shut the machine off and took the wires from around me and just sat there, relieved on too many levels to count. First, and foremost, the machine still worked properly. I had been afraid that all the jostling and bumping around it had received in the last few days might have damaged it.

Secondly, I was my old MALE self again! I hadn’t really thought about it in the last few days but, I had felt REALLY strange in a female body! Oh , I know. You’re sitting there thinking to yourself, "GEE, Bill! Ya think?, but it’s true. I mean, it hadn’t been a BAD feeling, being a woman, just very, very strange. Different ways of moving and doing the simplest things like using a bathroom, and the way long hair gets in the way, sometimes when you move were just a couple of the things that had seemed SO different, as a woman, from the way they felt as a man.

Well, I just sat there for a few minutes and then got up, marveling at the old familiar feeling of having something between my legs and feeling stronger than I had since using the machine for the very first time. Oh, I knew that I would have to change back to that female form but, at least now, I knew that I COULD change back into me! I grabbed Prue and planted a great big kiss on her! She resisted for a couple of seconds but then, she kind of melted into my embrace and we kissed for quite a little while! When I relaxed my hold on Prue’s body a little bit, she leaned her head away from me, just a little, and looked into my eyes, the most interesting look on her face. I was so happy with the knowledge that I could be me again, though, I didn’t really pay any attention to that look, at the time. I just leaned in and kissed her again! She didn’t resist and, as a matter of fact, she helped! She put her arms around my neck and pulled me in as if she were trying to meld the two of us into one body! I knew, right then, that I had fallen in love with Prue and, from the way she was responding to that kiss, I was hoping and praying that she had maybe fallen for me too. Any further details of what went on in that room after that kiss are considered top secret and if you really have to ask what happened, well, you better check your own pulses. You know, to see if you are alive. Suffice it to say that we didn’t leave that room for almost two hours and nuff said. When we DID leave, I had changed back to the sex bomb body, feeling a LOT better about having to wear it now that I knew that I could change back to myself any time I wanted to. I almost began to appreciate the shape I was now wearing, with it’s sleek curves and smooth, hairless skin. Granted, it was a HUGE departure and VERY much different from my male form but I had worn it for a couple of days, now, and I was almost beginning to get used to it and to the way it moved.

No matter how hard I tried, for example, I couldn’t move in any other way but what I would describe as, well, sexy! Now, I assume that this was partly caused by the difference in the way this body was constructed but, looking back, once I got a little more familiar with the way it moved, it felt kinda good to move like that! I knew that if I were still male, and I saw this body walking around, I would have been immensely turned on by it and, somehow, knowing that, I felt, well, a bit turned on as a woman! It’s VERY hard to explain how I really felt. You’d really have to try it for yourself to understand all that I was thinking and feeling but, trust me, now that I knew there was a way back, it felt good to just relax and let that body sway and move, more than it had ever done before. Prue noticed that I seemed a lot more relaxed and commented on it, saying, "Wow, Billie! You are really getting into the swing of this now, aren’t you? I mean, the way you are moving, you are gonna turn some male heads, you know. Aren’t you concerned about that?"

"No, Prue," I answered. "Oh, I’ll admit that I WAS concerned about that, before, but now that I know that this isn’t permanent, I feel a lot more relaxed and confident. So why shouldn’t I have a little fun with it? You and Neri will protect me from any hungry guys who come sniffing around, right? I said, jokingly. "Well, I don’t know, Billie." Prue riposted. The way you’re moving, now, it may take more than just Neri and me to keep the wolves from your door and that big smile on your face won’t help!" She said with a laugh. We May need to ARM ourselves to keep your virtue intact!" Then she started to laugh out loud and so did I. I guess it was just the release of a lot of built up tension of maybe it was more than that.

Maybe it had something to do with what Prue and I had shared back there in that room, I don’t know. All I did know, right then, was that I hadn’t felt that relaxed and confident since this whole thing had started. For the first time I felt like we might get out of this predicament and actually end up okay and, that alone, lifted my spirits a long way from where they had been. One thing I did know however, was that this wasn’t over by a long shot! There was a LOT more we would have to go through and I wasn’t kidding myself by thinking that any of it would be any easier than what we had already experienced. I put my arm around Prue’s shoulders and pulled her a little closer to me as we walked back to the room where Kim Pickles were waiting. I said, to Prue, Oh, you can kid me all you want, but I know that you and Neri will look out for me while I have to look like this and you won’t let me get into any trouble, right?" She put her arm around my waist and leaned closer to whisper, Why SURE we will, Billie, you sexy thing, you! However, you and I better have a little talk about, umm, the birds and the bees and about how to assure that, if the worst does happen, you’ll be protected! And she began to laugh. The last thing we need right now is for you to get pregnant!"

"PREGNANT!!!??? Are you HIGH?? I shouted at her.

"There’s NO way on EARTH that I’ll ever get pregnant!

I mean, I’m a GUY under all this, remember?"

"Oh no you aren’t," she replied, somewhat heatedly. "Right now you are ALL woman, Billie and it CAN happen if you aren’t careful, and even if you ARE it can STILL happen. That’s one of the facts of life that women live with EVERY day of their lives and the sooner you understand and accept that it CAN happen, the better the chances of keeping it from happening, are!"

I fell silent, at that. This was something that I had NEVER considered! I mean, granted, I looked like a really sexy woman and I knew that women will get pregnant under the right circumstances but I had never thought, for a second that I would have to worry about that. I was not attracted to men in any way, shape, or form and I puzzled about what Prue was saying for the rest of the time it took us to reach the door of the other room. With my hand on the doorknob, I turned to Prue and said, quietly, "We gotta talk about this more, later. You just scared the you-know-what out of me with what you said and I need to know more. For now, let’s concentrate on getting Kim and Pickles squared away." We entered the room and found Pickles and Kim talking quietly. Kim didn’t look exactly pleased about what was going to happen but at least he wasn’t openly angry of scared about it anymore. He seemed resigned to it and I thought I’d talk to him about it a bit more since I had just done some changing, myself. I wanted to reassure him that it wasn’t a permanent thing and that, eventually, he’d be able to return to his male body, none the worse for wear. I talked to him for about ten minutes while Prue talked with Pickles and then we proceeded with the planned changes. Prue and Neri had decided that, for the sake of simplicity, we would only change Pickles’ face and hair, with maybe just a little enhancement of her body. Kim, on the other hand was going to get a complete make over and they had selected a very nice, very pretty body for him. It was about 5’ 5" in height and maybe 125 pounds, with light brown hair and a very cute face. I decided to kid Kim, just a very little bit and I actually squealed with delight when I saw the shape he would be wearing! "Oh, Kim, honey!" I giggled at him, "You’re gonna be a REAL cutie! Just look at that adorable face! Why you’re gonna be the target of a LOT of male attention in THAT body! We’re gonna have to keep a close eye on you to make sure some handsome guy doesn’t try to run off with you!"

His face fell and he began to get a scared look in his eyes as I said that so I quickly added, "Hey, Kim, I’m only kidding with ya a little bit. You know that this won’t be permanent and, after all this is over with, you and I’ll laugh ourselves stupid about it over a couple of beers, right? Now, c’mon, let’s get this over with. Neri should be back any time now with clothes and food and we still need to get a good night’s sleep.

"OK, Billie." She replied. "I guess we should get this over with and relieve Kim of the anticipation worries he’s been experiencing." We started with Pickles since she was going to be the easiest of the two as far as changes went. Prue lightened her hair, and changed her makeup, dramatically. Then, using the hair device, she lengthened Pickle’s hair until it was almost down to her waist and styled it so it had lots of curls.

Kim watched this whole process with some nervousness but, when assured by Pickles that it didn’t hurt at all, but rather tickled, Kim seemed to loosen up just a bit. When we were done with Pickles, she didn’t look anything like her old self. She looked younger and somehow taller and more slender. Prue said it was all the hair and the way it was styled that made her look different. Then we turned to Kim. "Now, Kim," Prue began, "you already know that this is necessary and that it doesn’t hurt. You also know that it isn’t permanent and we can change you back at any time, right? So, what I’d like you to do is just close your eyes and try to relax. It’ll be all done in just a very short time and then you can see the whole result at once instead of trying to follow it as it happens."

Kim swallowed, hard a couple of times, took a deep breath and stood in the center of the room. Then Prue arranged the wires around him and recorded his present form on a blank disc. When that was finished, she inserted the disc that she and Neri had selected for Kim’s new body and told Kim that she was starting the process. Kim nodded slightly to show that he had heard her and then Prue hit the activation button. I just stood there and quietly talked to Kim, giving him some verbal encouragement and support while Prue ran the machine, and in a few minutes, it was all over. I watched while Kim began to change and as he lost height, he gained other, ummm assets and his hair vanished. Then his whole body seemed to hesitate for a second or two before really beginning to change rapidly. As the change speeded up I could actually see the changes taking place and I just stood there, watching, absolutely amazed at what this little machine could do!

Kim’s height changed very quickly and he stabilized at 5’5". At the same time, his male genitalia swiftly drew up inside him, leaving only the smooth looking front of a woman. The outer lips appeared almost as if by magic, suddenly and fully formed and I knew that inside Kim, a whole new set of organs were speedily growing from what used to be. His waist shrank in on itself so quickly that he was forced to breathe out, suddenly almost as if someone had hit him in the stomach and, at the same time, his hips widened, his rear-end plumped out and his chest blossomed into two very normal looking but pleasantly shaped breasts. His face rearranged itself almost too fast to follow, losing it’s sharp male angles and softening as it reshaped into a very pretty but not spectacular female face. In just a couple of minutes, as Prue had promised, it was all over. Prue shut down the machine and I grabbed the hair device. Prue took the wire harness off Kim and I set the hair machine into operation. Prue had already preset it so all I had to do was turn it on and watch as Kim’s now bald head was covered by very soft looking and middle of the back length blonde hair grew out.

Kim’s crotch was also suddenly covered by a blonde patch of fine blonde hair and his eyebrows grew in to match, high and severely arched above his now almost cat like eyes. When the device was done, I turned it off and told Kim he could open his eyes. He slowly peeled his eyelids apart and, since he was facing the mirror, he got the full effect of the changes we had made to his form. I heard him gasp and then he seemed to stop breathing. I knew he was ok, though because his eyes were moving, following the new contours of his new body.

While he was doing that, the room phone began to ring and Prue answered it. I continued to talk to Kim, softly reassuring him that this WAS for the best and that it wouldn’t be for very long, only until we managed to find a hiding place big enough to pull in behind us so we could have time to think and plan. Kim seemed mesmerized by the image he now saw in the mirror and I remembered back to when I had first changed my form. I remembered the disbelief and the scary feelings that had assailed me and I tried to keep my voice even and pleasant to assuage Kim’s fears and shock.

He just stood there, looking at that new form for a few minutes more and then his hands began to explore the new curves and hollows, as if by their own volition. Finally, Kim spoke, saying, "Holy SHIT!!! You know, I really didn’t believe that you could actually do this! I mean, I guess I did believe but.....well, shit! You know what I mean!" He seemed a little put off by the fact that his male voice was issuing forth from that very pretty and well constructed female body but I told him that we had to do that last so we could get it to sort of match the body. It didn’t take long before his voice had changed to that of a mid 20s woman and we fine tuned it until it seemed to match his new appearance perfectly. Then Prue went to work with the makeup machine and in a matter of just a couple of minutes, Kim’s face was subtly but perfectly made up. I told Kim that he wouldn’t have to worry about learning to apply all the makeup since, once the machine did it’s thing, it was pretty much indelible. Kim seemed a little put off by that and said, "But what about when I change back? I don’t wanna look like some kind of queer or something, wearing makeup!"

"Don’t worry." I told him, "as soon as you change back, we can remove the makeup with the same machine and you’ll never know it was even there. For now, the best advice I can give you is to relax and get used to the way that new body moves and feels. It won’t take long but it is a rather disconcerting thing at first. Kim began to walk around in the room, assisted by Pickles and myself.

At first he seemed really off balance but, as I had promised, it wasn’t more than a couple of minutes until he was walking as if he had been born female. Pickles was coaching him and I left the two of them alone for a bit and walked over to where Prue was still on the phone. I waited a few minutes and, while I did, I noticed that she looked very upset and her voice quavered just a bit. I didn’t catch what she was saying but, when she hung up, she turned to face me and began to cry, softly!

"What’s wrong, Prue? Who was that on the phone? " I asked anxiously.

"It was Neri." She replied, tears slowly making their way down her cheeks. She’s been ARRESTED!!!





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