When the people revolt, a dictator and his son use magic to escape to new lives; not the ones they wanted, but the ones that they deserved.
By Ellie Dauber
When the people revolt, a dictator and his son use magic to escape to new lives; not the ones they wanted, but the ones that they deserve.
Firing could be heard at the gates of the Palace Royale.
Fernando Diego Cadiz y Silvero, President for Life of Costa Verde, looked up from the papers he was working on. There would be no time to finish. Some fifteen million pesos that he had hoped to transfer to the Swiss account would remain in his nation's treasury.
‘Well,’ he thought, ‘let the people, those ungrateful bastards, have it. Esteban and I will still have more than enough to comfort and cushion us in exile.’ All that remained was to escape to enjoy it. And Esteban was working on that.
"Father, the helicopter is here." Esteban Cadiz y Silvero, Fernando's son and his Treasury Minister came into the room. The two men regarded each other. Both were tall, muscular men. Esteban's hair and small mustache were jet black, as befit a man still in his mid-thirties. He wore a dark gray business suit, impeccably tailored. He had a dark brown leather briefcase filled with bearer bonds under his arm. A colonel in their nation's air force stood behind him in a flight suit holding a suitcase.
Fernando was in his late 50s. His hair had turned to a deep slate grate and his hairline was receding. He compensated for this with a full beard. As always, he wore the dress uniform of an army general. It was a self-promotion from the day when he and a group of his fellow captains had executed his predecessor and seized the government.
A few of those captains had remained in the government with him. Some had fled overseas, and the rest slept the sleep of honored martyrs. Many of the last had suffered their honored "martyrdom" shortly after disagreeing with Fernando.
Fernando stood. He brushed the papers to the floor. "I'm ready, my son. Let us leave this damned place." He picked up a scrap of paper and laid it on the table. Then he took one last swallow from the whiskey bottle on the table. He poured the rest over the papers on the floor. He picked up the scrap from the table, lit it with his lighter, and tossed it with the rest on the floor. The fire would keep the new government from realizing its financial loss for several weeks.
The three men ran from the room, the pilot in the lead. The helicopter was in the garden outside. They climbed in. The copter took off within minutes. As it climbed over the roofs of the palace, Fernando could see the enemy troops running across the courtyard towards his offices. They could see the smoke from the office window as easily as he could. Then one of them saw the copter. He yelled something and some of the crowd stopped running and fire at the helicopter.
‘Let them shoot,’ Fernando thought. Most of their weapons were small arms and unlikely to be able to do anything to the aircraft. A few might, but they were high up and moving fast. In moments, the palace was far behind.
The helicopter landed in a field near a small farmhouse. The farm was ostensibly owned by an elderly man in the nearby village. In reality, Esteban had bought the farm a year ago. The purchase was shown in the local records as an inheritance that had left the old man with enough money to live in the village and rent the farm out. The "tenant" was a servant of Esteban's sent to work the farm when the rebels had taken the country's eastern province. Fernando had stayed alive and in power for over twenty years by always preparing an escape for himself from any possibly dangerous situation.
A car was waiting. It was an undistinguished old Chevy that was in a much better condition that the bad paint job and dent in one side would let anyone guess. There was a map of the area in the glove compartment and two changes of clothes on the seat, but nobody else was nearby. Esteban's servant had received a coded message some hours before. He was spending the day in the village on the orders of a master he had never met but who had paid him a very large retainer every month.
Fernando and Esteban changed clothes, putting on worn brown slacks and a pair of colorful work shirts. Straw hats helped hide their too familiar features. Their old clothes were folded and stuffed under the seat of the helicopter. Fernando took a set of keys from the pocket of his uniform. He opened the trunk and tossed in his suitcase. He handed the briefcase Esteban had brought to the pilot.
The pilot, a slender man of average height, opened the case. He looked through it quickly, and he smiled a toothy grin. "Gracias, Senors. May your money, wherever it is, make your exile as happy as these bearer bonds will make mine." He closed the briefcase and climbed back into the helicopter. It took off moments later, flying east towards the ocean.
The helicopter must have been over a mile away, barely visible as a speck in the sky, when it vanished in a flash of blue flame. The briefcase had held a bomb as well as almost a hundred thousand dollars in U.S. bearer bonds. It was worth the loss to eliminate a witness to their escape. The two men were already in the car and drove off without a glance at the falling wreckage.
Fernando drove for almost an hour along the narrow back roads. They passed through several small villages and were delayed on more than one instance by villagers celebrating the fall of "El Monstro", the former President. Fernando sat behind the wheel gritting his teeth at these delays. “How dare these fleas dance at the fall of a lion,” he grumbled. Well, he could hardly get out of the car and argue as much as he would have liked to. The whole country was looking for him. He was well rid of such people. Let them laugh. They were trapped in their squalor forever, and he and Esteban would soon be enjoying a well-financed exile in New York.
Eventually, the car came to a halt in front of a large, oddly-shaped group of buildings at the edge of the jungle. Three or four small wooden huts surrounded by a yellow pole fence. Fernando took a large envelop from the suitcase in the trunk. The men slowly advanced on the gate. A single eye could be seen watching through a small opening.
"You have brought the offering," a voice croaked. It was as much a statement as a question.
"We have it" Esteban said. “Is she ready for us?"
"She is always ready for her supplicants; for those with the respect for the old ways."
"We are such men," said Fernando.
Sign and countersign were given. The men heard a latch thrown open and a large bolt pushed back. The gate was pushed by slowly; just enough for the two men to enter. It closed behind them much more quickly.
Only when he had reset the bolt did the gatekeeper turn to speak to them again. He was a dried up husk of a man, no more than five feet tall, thin and almost hairless, wearing a loincloth that looked like a large diaper on a rather undernourished infant. Yet he had worked a gate that had to weigh several hundred pounds and was held in place by a lead bolt almost as long as he was tall and a good foot in radius.
"Come," the gatekeeper said. He motioned to a circular hut in the center of the yard. It looked like a child's pile of sticks held together with string. An acrid purplish smoke rose from a single chimney. Mother Juana was standing on the porch.
The gatekeeper led them to the house. He -- and they -- stopped just short of the single step. “These are the ones who seek your aid, Mother Juana."
"Very good, Herve. Go back to your duty." The gatekeeper nodded and walked back to sit on a small wooden stool near the gate.
Fernando looked at Mother Juana, wondering if the tales that he had heard since his boyhood were all true. She looked as if she had been old even back when he was that boy, playing in the dirty streets of the village not that many miles from here. She was no taller than the gatekeeper, but heavier, almost fat. Her hair was thin and stringy, and one eye had a gray empty look to it. She wore a garish yellow, red, and green peasant dress that hung straight down from her shoulders to her shoeless feet.
He realized suddenly that he was staring. And she was staring back at him. "You do not think that Mother Juana can help you, do you Senor Presidente? You or your brat of a son."
"No, I --" He was in a position that he did not like, he needed someone else more than they needed him. "It is just that I have never met you, Mother Juana, though I have heard of you since I was a boy."
Esteban tried to help. "It is always hard to meet a legend, Mother Juana."
She smiled. "Well said, boy. You always were your father's ‘Little Gallant', were you not?" Both men looked at her in surprise.
"My mother," Esteban said.
"Yes, she called you that as a boy. Long ago before the cancer took her." She smiled a toothless grin at his surprise. "Oh, I know many things about you, boy, and about your father. More than that poor pilot did, certainly."
"And you will still -- you will help us," Fernando asked.
"I help those who ask and do not judge why. That is for They Who Wait, those gods who will judge us when we are dead." Both men crossed themselves from habit. She ignored what another might have thought of as sacrilege against her own gods. "Come with me. All is waiting for you." She turned and walked into the hut.
The men followed. The inside of the hut seemed somehow much larger than the outside. Its floors were tiled. The walls were sturdy and well lit by torches. Piles of large pillows took the place of chairs, though there was a few chairs against the walls. A small altar laden with dark sculpted figures stood in one corner. There were a number of boxes and cupboard against another wall. In the center was a fire pit within a brick circle. A small pot hung from a steel hook over the fire. Something was simmering within it.
Mother Juana turned and faced the two men. "My money, if you please." She put out her hand towards Fernando.
He drew back. "Now so fast, Mother Juana. How do I know that this potion of yours will work as you promised?"
"How do you say such things? I am Mother Juana."
"You are woman who wants to be paid for what she has not yet delivered."
"Have a care, Senor. You are not here as the President, but as a man in great danger, seeking to escape with his life."
They stared at one another for a moment, each taking the other's measure. Then Fernando laughed and handed her the envelope. "Mother Juana, you are all that I have heard about you and more."
Mother Juana took the envelop and shook it out onto the rug near her. She stirred the money, a half million U.S. dollars worth of stocks and bonds with a long stick as if looking for scorpion. "You are all I have heard and less, but the money is here. We shall proceed."
She took the pot down with a pair of silvered tongs, setting it on a steel plate. She filled two metallic looking cups with water from a goatskin sack, then carefully poured a small amount of the potion into each cup. The water hissed and bubbled, only partly from the heat. She handed a cup to each man.
Both hesitated. "Drink," she ordered. "It must be drunk while it is still hot or it will not work." When neither drank, she added, "You have paid me for one dose each. If you let them cool and another dose is needed, another payment will be asked."
Fernando and Esteban looked at each other, grimaced, and took the drink in two quick swallows. It wasn't as hot as they had thought, but it tasted far worse than either had expected. They held their jaws tightly, fighting the urge to retch as they felt it slowly slide down into their stomachs.
They felt a warmth grow in their stomachs. The urge to throw up passed. Then the warmth seemed to spread out from their bellies in every direction throughout their bodies. The warmth was followed by a tingling sensation that felt almost pleasant.
The changes began a moment later. Fernando felt himself grow taller. His hands lost their manicured smoothness, taking on the rough look of a field hand. His bare arms became tanned and more muscular. Then it seemed that he was shrinking, and he looked down. No, he was just developing a more bowlegged stance. He felt his face and discovered that his beard was gone, leaving only a thick mustache above his lip.
Esteban saw himself growing thinner, almost lanky, though with a layer of muscle that suggested a life of heavy labor. His legs, no his entire body, seemed to grow a bit smaller, and his mustache disappeared completely.
The two men looked at each other. It was still obvious that they were related, but there was no trace of either Fernando Diego Cadiz y Silvero or his son. Nor was there any chance that these two men were father and son. Fernando looked like a man in his late twenties, while Esteban was, for all appearances, barely eighteen.
Mother Juana held up a small hand mirror. "Incredible," Esteban said. "I am a boy again."
"And I," Fernando said, rubbing his bare chin in disbelief, "am your older brother. My statement stands proved, Mother Juana, you are far more than people say that you are."
"I thank you, Senor, but you had best be on your way to wherever you are bound."
"One question," Esteban said. “Are we to stay like this, or do we ever regain our true forms?"
"You do not like what you have become, Senor?"
"I am young, I am strong, and I am not the man that those fools are looking for. All this is true, but I would like to see my true face in the mirror once again."
"As would I," Fernando said. "But we cannot come back to this place; not even to this country ever again."
"And you will not have to." She handed each man a small medallion on a chain. Three years ago, the U.S. Vice President had visited Costa Verde. Esteban, as Treasury Minister, had issued a memorial medallion with the crossed flags on the U.S. and Costa Verde on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other. They were still a common item that could be bound almost anywhere in their country.
"So," Fernando asked.
"So," Mother Juana replied. "Look closely at the medallion."
Fernando did. A number of letters on both sides were scratched. Different letters were scratched on each one. "What is this nonsense?" Esteban asked.
"It is a message; a message in the Old Language to my sister in New York. It starts on the front of your medallion, Senor Presidente, then onto the back and on to your son's medallion in the same way. Put an ad in The New York Times classified section; those words plus your phone number. She will see it, and she will call. Your money has paid for the antidote."
"And that's all?"
"That is all. Now, you must leave."
"Your sister?” Esteban interrupted. “How will she know that we are coming, that she must look for our message?"
"We do not talk. We have not spoken one to the other for years. She reads the ads every day. It is a hobby for her. She says that it helps her with her English."
"Then you are not needed," Fernando said. He had taken off his hat earlier. Now he pulled a small pistol from the concealed holster. Two quick shots and Mother Juana fell to the floor. Esteban ran to the door. The gatekeeper had heard the shot and was running for the house.
"Father," Esteban called. Fernando tossed him the pistol. Esteban took quick aim and fired. The first shot slowed the man. He stopped as the second shot hit him. Then he staggered forward for a few steps and fell to the ground.
Fernando stooped down and pushed the pile of stocks back into the envelope. He turned and bowed towards the body. "Thank you, Mother Juana. Our escape will be your last and greatest bit of magic."
The two men ran to the gate. It took the two of them several minutes to work the giant bolt loose, and they stopped more than once to stare in amazement at the gamekeeper's wizened body. Finally, it sprang open. They used a pole to wedge open the gate. In a moment, they were back in the car, heading down the road towards the coast.
They had been gone for less than five minutes when Mother Juana sat up. She brushed the spent bullets off her rapidly healing body and stood up. It took but a few minutes more to heal Herve, her gatekeeper.
"You were right, my old friend," she said. "They are men without honor."
He took her hand in his two and smiled. "I knew that they could be trusted not to be trusted. That is why I offered our help. Men like them often escape their just punishment. They have come and paid us for theirs."
"Men, indeed, but not for long." Mother Juana smiled and offered him a cup filled with the potion that she had brought with her into the yard. She drank a second dose herself.
In moments, they regained the forms that they had worn for almost 150 years. Mother Juana grew taller as her body thinned. She became a vibrant brunette of thirty. Her lush breast and wide hips strained at the fabric of her dress. Her long feminine legs were revealed as the hem rose up from her shins to her knees. Her hair thickened and turned a dark brown that was almost black as it grew back down to her waist in curly waves.
Herve gained over a foot in height as his body fleshed out, muscle forming on muscle. He was over 6 feet tall with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. His loincloth, the only clothing he wore, strained to contain his restored manhood.
The two embraced and went into the hut to celebrate their victory against two much hated men. "A pity that they got to take the money," Herve told her.
"It will return to the people, my friend, have no fear of that," Mother Juana answered. "And there are other riches to life." She kissed him, and they went into the hut to prepare the next phase of their people's vengeance.
Fernando and Esteban sped down the twisting back road as fast as they dared. They were nearing the town of San Miguel, about an hour from the coast at the rate they were driving. "The link onto the main road should be around here somewhere," Fernando said, slowing the car. "See if you can find it on the map."
Esteban looked up from where he had been dozing. There was a man ahead of them standing by the side of the road. "Why not ask that peasant, my fath -- my brother?" They both laughed at the joke.
Fernando stopped the car next to the man. He was standing half hidden in shadow. As the car pulled up, he stepped forward so they could see him. They recognized his wizened form and toothless grin almost at once. The gatekeeper! The wounds from Esteban's two shots were still fresh on his ancient body.
Fernando pushed the gas pedal to the floor and the car sped off, its tires spraying mud behind. "It -- it can't be," Esteban gasped. "We killed them."
"As if your bullets could kill such as we." Both men turned and saw Mother Juana's ancient form sitting in the seat behind them. Fernando pulled over and stopped the car. He and Esteban tried to flee the car, but found that neither lock nor window worked. They were trapped.
"I will do nothing; you have brought this upon yourselves."
"What do you mean," Esteban asked.
"The potion is not done with you. There was a second drug that had to be taken. You did not because you shot us and fled before I could tell you of it. Now you shall change in other ways, and those forms will be the ones that you will wear until you see my sister in New York."
"You do not to intend to kill us, then?" Fernando asked.
"Perhaps I should. You intended to kill me. But I promised you an escape to new lives. I will not let such as you force Mother Juana to break her agreement. Go! Go to your new lives, though they will be nothing like what you had expected." She disappeared Cheshire Cat style, her smile staying long after the rest of her was gone.
The car started again of its own accord and sped down the road. Fernando tried to steer or hit the brake. Esteban grabbed the wheel as well to try and regain control. Nothing happened. The car drove on, taking the curves and twists as smoothly as any human driver might have managed. Fernando released the wheel and watched the car taking each turn. He had no need to keep his hands on the wheel, and so he leaned back in the seat to watch the countryside go past.
Then the two men felt the tingling warmth that marked the transformations spread out through their bodies. They felt their hair grow long, trailing down past their necks. Their bodies lost their muscular appearance as a layer of fat formed beneath their skin and smoothed out their angular forms. The calluses faded from their hands as their fingers grew longer and more supple.
They felt a pressure in their chest and hips. Their shirts felt tight against their chests. The shirts were pushed out, buttons straining, then popping, as they both grew large, feminine breasts. Esteban lifted his and stared at them in wonder. Then he began to fondle them, oblivious to the other changes in his body. He moaned at the strange feelings, his voice growing higher and softer each moment, becoming a woman's voice.
Fernando felt a tightness, as his waist constricted to a narrow 25 inches. He pushed his fingers down into his pants. He was relieved to find his male equipment still there, but it tingled at his touch. He grasped at his penis, only to feel it shrink out of his hand. He tightened his grip. It was shrinking so fast now that it actually seemed to be pulled out of his hand.
He felt his scrotal sack. It was smaller, too, and the skin seemed to be getting tight, pulling up into his crotch. He felt for his testes. He felt only one, and in a moment, it disappeared as well, rising up into his body. The sack continued to shrink, separating to become the lips of his rapidly forming vagina. Fernando groped about, trying to find the last remnant of his penis. He felt his finger enter a warm, moist slit and fell back in the seat in horror. He was a woman.
Father and son looked at one another. Fernando was a tall, voluptuous woman with breasts like two melons, a narrow waist, and hips wide enough to carry any number of babies. Her lips were full and lustrous even without lipstick, and her lashed long and curled.
Esteban was much smaller and of a slighter build. His eyes were large with thick lashes, and his lips pouty. Except for his 36B breasts, which seemed large against his tiny body, he looked more like a girl of 14 than the woman of 18 he had become.
At that moment, the car began to slow. There was a turn in the road ahead, but this time there was no invisible force to guide the car. It drove straight ahead and crashed into a stone fence.
Esteban was knocked forward. He hit his head against the dashboard and lost consciousness. Fernando threw himself sideways across the seat at the last instance and was knocked to the floor by the impact.
Fernando climbed back up onto the seat. There was the beginning of a large bruise on his forehead. A small cut above Esteban’s right eye was bleeding slightly. His breathing and pulse seemed regular, but Fernando expected that he would need a doctor.
They had seen no other traffic in either direction on this back road. Fernando got out and looked at the front of the car. It was stove in from the force of the accident. There was no chance of it moving again without major work.
Fernando vaguely remembered that passing a sign saying that there was some sort of government outpost a kilometer or two ahead on the road. He shrugged his shoulders, trying to ignore the feel of the material against his sensitive breasts. There was no chance that he would be recognized for who he truly was. He picked up his hat from the seat as a shield against the afternoon sun and began walking.
The walk was longer than Fernando had expected, almost five kilometers. He was tired and drenched with sweat when he saw the sign for the fire watch station. There were similar stations all through this province, high towers manned by a staff of four men who spent a year on duty watching for any sign of fire.
Fernando had first established them as a legitimate effort to deal with the too frequent forest fires in the province. But he had allowed them to become cushy assignments for lazy militia members or anybody else who had the influence to get a job that involved little work for reasonably good pay. They were sparsely furnished, but there would be food, water, a place to rest, and a telephone to call for the nearest doctor.
It also had four lonely men, three in the station and the fourth up in the hilltop watchtower at any time.
Manuel Ortega was sitting on the porch wondering for the thousandth time why he had signed up for the fire watch. The money was good enough for a poor peasant like him, but the prospect of another eight months stuck at the station, with very little to do and the same three other faces to look at was beginning to get to him.
He heard a voice and looked up from the sports magazine he'd been pretending to read. A woman, a beautiful woman, was coming up the path. She was tall and young. Her shirt was open almost to the waist revealing a pair of very interesting breasts. The rest of her looked as promising, but it was hard to tell in the rough peasant clothes she wore.
She ran the rest of the way to the porch, collapsing in a chair in the welcome shade. "Car," she panted, accident... five kilo north... son-sister hurt... please... call." Manuel stood, watching those lovely breasts rise and fall as she gasped out her message. She wore no brassiere, and he longed to fondle her prominent nipples. But duty called. He ran into the house and phoned the doctor in a village a couple of kilometers north of the accident. They even had a small hospital there if this angel's son or sister needed it.
Carlos and Tomaso had been in the house playing cards. They were about to ask why he had hurried with the phone call, when Fernando walked in. He had caught his breath and now just wanted some water and a ride back to the car. Both men stared at this wonder, a beautiful woman there in front of them. Her face was flushed from the walk, her shirt was open nearly to her waist showing much of the curve of her breasts. They felt themselves harden just as Manuel had.
"I just wanted --" Fernando had wanted to ask for some water. But now he felt a strange warmth spread through his new body. He felt his nipples erect, growing hard as two little rocks as they pushed against his shirt. There was a warmth and a wetness in his crotch, as if he had spilled coffee there, and a sudden growing feeling of emptiness down there, as well.
The same invisible presence that had driven the car seemed to take over his body. He smiled, and his body shifted to a more feminine posture. He walked over to Manuel, a sensuous walk with hips and butt swaying. "I wanted to thank you for helping me." He lifted his arms up around Manuel's shoulders and kissed him deeply.
Fernando was horrified and tried to stop. He couldn't. His body, his very feminine body, was in control. He felt Manuel's arms close around him, pulling him close. His breasts were crushed against Manuel's chest, and he felt Manuel's maleness pushing at his groin. He wanted to push this man way, to run. Instead, he heard himself moan and felt himself rubbing against the man's loins exciting him further.
Manuel broke the kiss and looked at this strange woman not believing his luck. "Is this a joke? How much do you want to thank me?"
‘I want nothing,’ Fernando thought. ‘Let me go, you peasant.’ But he found that he could not say such things. Against his will, his hand reached down to touch Manuel's penis, as it strained against his pants. Fernando ran a finger along the length of it, feeling it twitch in response. He heard himself giggle, “Oh, very, very much."
Even while his mind screamed for him to stop, he took Manuel's hand and led him past the other two men towards what had to be their bedroom. "Then I will thank your two handsome friends." As he closed the door behind them, Fernando looked back smiling and added, “They can play cards to see who I get to thank first."
Esteban sat propped up in his hospital bed. He had been there for five days recovering from the accident. There was a single stitch in his forehead, and it was still a little tender, but otherwise he felt fine.
Or as fine as a thirty-five year old man who has been changed into a teenage sex kitten could feel. Every male in the hospital had been in to see him. And several of the women as well. The doctors and technicians had examined or tested him. The rest had just leered. A few, including one older doctor, had pointed out that since he was already in a bed....
Esteban shuddered at the thought and pulled his bed jacket around him. The jacket was on loan from a sympathetic nurse, one who was herself only too familiar with the attitudes of the staff towards pretty female patients. It was pale blue trimmed in darker blue lace at the neck and cuffs, very pretty and very feminine.
There was a knock at his door. "May we come in, Esperanza?" It was Dr. Alverez, a kindly man in his late fifties. He was one of the few who had not treated Esteban -- who had called herself Esperanza when they brought her in -- as a patient and not a sex object.
"Yes, please," Esteban told him.
Alverez entered. He was tall and thin with the long supple fingers of the surgeon that he was. He primped a little as he entered, pushing back the few wisps of gray hair that were all he had left atop his head. "My dear Esperanza, you are too healthy to keep in this place any longer, so I am forced to release you in spite of the wishes of most of the staff. There remains, I am afraid, only one question."
"What is that, Doctor," Esteban asked. ‘Free,’ he thought. ‘Free to find Father and escape this place. Free to get my manhood back.’
"How will you pay?" A short, rather fat man about Esteban's real age had entered. He wore a white suit that was too small for him and a pair of thick glasses that fell down low on his hooked nose. The effect would have been sinister if it weren't so funny. Esteban thought he looked familiar, but he wasn't sure.
"This," Dr. Alverez announced, is Senor Hidalgo, the owner of this hospital and almost everything else in this part of the province." He sounded embarrassed at having to make the introduction.
"Enough pleasantries” Hidalgo snapped. “Young woman, your bill is 1273 pesos. You had no money when you came to us, no sign of family or friends. We cannot even claim your automobile, since it was so badly wrecked. How will you pay?"
"I -- I cannot, senor. I must throw myself on your mercy. Perhaps I can work it off here?" Esteban did not like the idea, but agreeing to work at the hospital seemed like the only way to get out of the role of patient. ‘These people are peasants,’ he thought, ‘even Hidalgo. It should be easy to sneak away.
"Oh, you shall work it off, but not here at the hospital,” the man spoke in a formal tone. “I, hereby, invoke the Public Debtors' Law. I will pay your bill, and you will be indentured to me for a period of at least one year."
The Debtor's Law! Esteban had written the law himself. It was a re-working of an old law from the colonial days that he and his father had used many times. Pay off a man's debt, and he becomes your servant, no, your slave until a court decides that he has worked off the debt.
Fernando appointed the courts. More than one of their political enemies had disappeared into the mines or the jungle after Fernando or Esteban used public funds to buy up all of their debts. It was as effective as jailing a man, and harder for those meddlesome fools at places like Amnesty International to prove.
"Very well," Esteban said. "I agree."
"I do not remember asking you. It is already done. Come, doctor. We will wait outside while my newest 'employee' dresses."
"Esperanza," Dr. Alverez apologized, “I am truly sorry." He lowered his head and followed Hidalgo out the door.
Esteban took off the bed jacket and laid it on a chair. Lucinda, its owner, was on duty this shift and could reclaim it any time. She had been kind for no reason, and Esteban felt a strange need not to betray her.
He took his clothes from a drawer. Despite his new, smaller size, his undershorts were tight going over his broad hips. He found that he had the same problem with his pants and had to tie the belt in a knot to keep them from sliding down from his narrow waist. He put on the work shirt but only buttoned it part of the way. He did not want the rough cloth rubbing against his bare nipples. Yet, when he saw how much of his breasts the shirt showed, he buttoned it to the collar. He put on his sandals, readjusting the laces for his now tiny feet, and opened the door.
"I am ready," he said.
Dr. Alvarez was strangely quiet as he walked down the hall with Esteban and Hidalgo. As the pair left the hospital, he stood in the door and waved. "Goodbye, Esperanza, and good luck."
Hidalgo turned and sneered. "Not goodbye, fool. You can visit her anytime. Anytime you have the money."
A horrible realization came to Esteban. Hidalgo! Miguel Hidalgo was known in the capital as the owner of the best brothel in the province. And he had just bought Esteban.
Esteban panicked looking for a place to run. Hidalgo noticed. "Ah, my dear Esmeralda, so you have heard of me. If you try to run, I will have to send Reymundo after you."
Hidalgo snapped his fingers, and a giant stepped out of the shadows. "This is Reymundo." The man was almost seven foot tall without an ounce of fat. He wore black slacks and a torn black muscle shirt. His arm just above the wrist was almost as thick as Esteban's leg at the thigh. Yet he moved as silently as a ghost.
Esteban smiled weakly. "He -- hello, Reymundo." The giant looked down at the transformed man and smiled, the smile of a fox looking at a rabbit. Esteban took the only course that seemed safe. He cowered in as close to Hidalgo as he possibly could.
"You see, Reymundo. She is more than willing to cooperate once the truth is explained to her."
The hospital stood on one side of the village's main square. At the opposite side was a large masonry building that looked like it might once have been a bank. Reymundo opened the door, and Esteban and Hidalgo went inside.
They were in a small anteroom with a cloakroom and attendant on one side, an ornate wooden desk on the other. A rather elegantly dressed older woman sat behind the desk. She wore a black, off-the-shoulder cocktail dress. Her silver blonde hair hung down to her shoulders, and her make-up was both elegant and understated. She looked up from a book as they entered. "Is this the one you spoke of, Senor Hidalgo?"
"Yes," Hidalgo replied. "Is everything in readiness as I directed?"
"Of course," she said, standing up. "All of the interested parties are inside. They have been here for almost an hour eating and drinking. No our best, of course, since it is free, but good enough to loosen their wallets."
"Excellent." He took Esteban's arm and gave it to the woman. "Prepare her. You have thirty minutes."
The woman looked Esteban up and down with a professional eye. "Not a great deal of time, but she has potential. I shall do my best."
"And you shall have thirty minutes to do it in." He turned to Esteban. "Go with Sofia. If you misbehave, Reymundo will be in to discipline you."
Sofia took Esteban's wrist and lead him through a narrow door in a corner. “What was all that about," he asked as they walked through the door.
"My dear, you are unique, a beautiful twenty year old virgin. Oh, do not deny it. Most of the doctors at the hospital work for Hidalgo. He and I have seen most of your medical record. But to get back to the point, Hidalgo owns you, and he owns your virginity. Except that he is auctioning that off in a half hour to the highest bidder."
"What! But he can't? I -- I won't."
"He can, and you will. Some of the wealthiest men in Costa Verde are waiting to bid. They've seen your picture and read the records. It should be quite exciting. You should be flattered."
"I'm not." Esteban tried desperately to find a way to escape. They had walked up a narrow stairway and were now walking down a hall, all without windows. The only way out was the way they had come, and Reymundo was at the end of that route.
Sofia opened a door and they walked into what looked like an actor's dressing room. It was well lit with a row of large make-up tables and chairs along one wall. Two other walls were lined with racks that held a wide variety of exotic female costumes.
"Take off those clothes," Sofia ordered. Esteban hesitated. In these clothes, he might pretend to be just another peasant. In any of those revealing outfits, well it would be only two obvious what he was. Sofia glared at him a moment, then slapped his face. "I said take them off. My dear, I am not as nice as I appear to be."
Esteban was stunned by the sudden blow. He meekly stepped out of the sandals. He unbuttoned the shirt and laid it over a chair, then undid his belt and pulled both pants and undershorts down past his hips. He let go of the material, and they fell around his ankles. He lowered his head, embarrassed at what he was doing.
Sofia smiled. "A little shy, too; how charming." She looked at him a moment. "I have just the thing." She walked over to one rack and pulled out a hanger with a swirl of pink lace hanging down from it. She handed Esteban the hanger. "Here. This will suit you perfectly, but don't put it on just yet."
It was a pink babydoll nightie, cut low in front with a frilled pink ruffle at the neckline and puffy short sleeves. It looked shorted than the shirt that Esteban had been wearing. It was sheer enough to see the matching panty that hung beneath it on the hanger.
Sofia rummaged through a drawer in one of the make-up tables. "Ah, the very thing." She pulled out a garter belt in almost the same shade of pink as the nightie and a pair of stockings. "Put these on first, then the nightie."
‘Is she serious?’ Esteban thought. Sofia read his hesitation and raised her hand in a threatening gesture. "I can hit you again, my dear, or I can call for Reymundo. He would be delighted to see you again. Especially dressed as you are now."
It was a threat that Esteban was hardly ready to face. He laid the nightie over a chair, took the garter belt, and wrapped it around his narrow waist, fastening the three clasps in front. Then he sat in one of the chairs and unrolled the stockings. He balled one up and put it over his toes as he had seen any number of women do in the past. The thought that, now, he was the woman, now chilled him, but there was no way to escape.
Esteban carefully pulled the stocking up his leg. He was grateful for his short nails. He could only imagine Sofia's reaction if he got a snag or run in the stocking. He attached the stocking to the front garter from the belt. Then he repeated the entire process with the other stocking. He stood and twisted at the waist to attach the rear garters.
He could feel the material like a spider web against his skin. The garters were pulled tight against his thigh. The stockings were low and the garters long, revealing a length of creamy thigh and framing his female groin. Esteban took the panty off the hanger and stepped into them. As he pulled them up his legs and onto his hips, he was troubled by the sudden thought that he hoped he looked pretty in these new clothes.
Pretty! That was the last thing he wanted. He had suffered such thoughts on occasion in the hospital, but he had told himself that it was just the drugs. The thoughts always passed. But he was not on any drug now, though he might wish, in a short while, that he were. In the hospital it had been easy to distract himself. Now he was in a brothel and about to be sold as some man's sexual partner. Such feminine thoughts would be far harder to lose. This was not a good thing.
He felt the panty's elastic at his waist, felt the material lay flat against his female mound. And he felt Sofia's eyes staring at him. "Hurry," she commanded. "Do not think for a moment that Hidalgo enjoys being kept waiting." Esteban took the nightie of the hanger and lifted it up over his head. He put his arms into the sleeves and let it slide down his body. The material was soft and silky. It seemed to caress his skin as it slid into place.
"Sit," Sofia directed, "but do not touch anything. I will do your make-up after I finish your hair." Esteban sat in chair and pulled it in next to one of the tables. Sofia leaned over and turned on the lights on the mirror behind the table. She picked up a brush and began working on his hair.
Sofia brushed and combed the hair, parting it in the middle into two long strands. "You have lovely hair," she said. "I wish that there was time to braid it, but Hidalgo would have a fit. These will have to do." She took two lengths of pink ribbon and tied his hair into twin ponytails with ornate bows. Narrower ribbons were tied in small bows at the end.
"Now the face," she sat sitting on the edge of the make-up table. "Purse your lips." Esteban did and tasted an oily sweetness as she applied something. A second coat of something else went over the first. She patted some kind of powder to his cheeks, and then had him close his eyes. He felt a tug at his lashes. A moment later, her fingers were gently rubbing something on his eyelids. He was about to open his eyes when he felt a tug at his eyebrows. Then several more tugs as Sofia pulled out a few hairs.
"You're ready," her voice said. "Open those pretty eyes and look at yourself."
Esteban looked, and his jaw dropped. He saw a pretty -- a very pretty girl of perhaps fifteen. Her lips were a shiny pink and very full. Her cheekbones were high. Her eyes were much bigger than he remembered his ever being and surrounded by a subtle shading that seemed to suggest both innocence and mystery. He was ashamed to be seen this way, but something, something deep within him, was pleased at his beauty.
"Now stand and see the whole effect." As if in a trance, Esteban stood. There was a mirror running the length of the wall behind the make-up tables. Esteban had tried not to look at himself before. Now he looked. If his face was that of a girl in her early teens, his body was most assuredly that of a woman. It was displayed in a nightie that concealed nothing, not his large rounded breasts, nor his narrow waist, nor the full, womanly curve of his hips. The stockings called attention to the delightful length of his shapely legs and the feminine mound at her groin. It was a body that begged for sex and promised much to whomever gave it to her.
If Esteban had been a man and had seen such a woman, he would have been ready in an instant to bed her. He was still aroused by the beauty, but that arousal showed itself in a hardening and extension of his nipples and a pleasant warmth in his groin. He realized that he was turning himself on, but he could not help himself. He smiled at the sensations flooding his new body.
Sofia nodded and smiled. "Ah, how beautiful, my dear." She reached out and pinched Esteban's nipple. He moaned softly at the pleasant shock from her touch. "And how ready. It is time to go, now." She opened another door, but then stopped.
"I forgot the shoes. What an old woman I am." There was a stack of boxes next to one of the racks. She pulled out a box and handed it to him. "Do not be surprised, my dear. Not all of the examinations in the hospital were for medical reasons. We know all your sizes."
Esteban opened the box. Inside, was a pair of woman's pumps with a narrow two inch heel. He shook his head. "I -- I am not used to such shoes. Please do not be mad, Sofia, but I have never worn heels; not once in my life."
"Peasants!" Sofia sighed. "Well, I do not have the time to teach you now." She handed him another box. These held sandals with a wide, one-inch heel. "These will have to do." He put them on and took a step. They felt strange, but he could manage. They weren't that different from the heeled boots that he had worn for riding his horse.
"Good," Sofia said. "But now we are almost late." She took his hand and lead him down another hall and down a second flight of stairs. There was door at the bottom. They went through it. Hidalgo was waiting inside. He smiled broadly and looked Esteban over.
"My dear Sofia, you have outdone yourself. She will bring an excellent price, probably even higher than I had expected."
"Thank you, Senor. Shall I make the announcement?"
When Hidalgo nodded, Sofia stepped through a curtain that hung along the entire length of one wall. There was a murmur of voices from the other side. "Welcome, gentlemen," Her voice came back through the curtain. "I thank you all for coming to this afternoon's little auction."
"Start already," came a yell. Esteban could hear other voices yelling for Sofia to start.
"Very well, gentlemen.," said Sofia. "I am sure that your eagerness will be reflected in your bids. So let us begin by showing what you will be bidding on."
The curtains parted. Esteban stood transfixed. He was standing on a stage. He looked out from the darkness onto a room filled with chairs where perhaps two dozen men sat. Wealthy men, some of whom he recognized from his life as Finance Minister. He felt a sudden push from behind and stumbled forward through the opening in the curtain. A spotlight hit him, and he instinctively put up an arm to shield his eyes.
"Muy Buena… Lovely", the crowd was most appreciative.
Esteban felt unable to move, as if he were pinned by the light. He could hear the men making all manner of lewd comments about his new body. Several boasted of what they intended to do to it when they had won the auction. He was terrified. Then, to his horror, he felt a warmth growing in his breasts and his groin. It seemed to gather strength and flow out to every portion of his body. He shuddered for a moment at its intensity and found that he had lost control of his body.
He smiled and lowered his hand from before his eyes. One knee bent and his hips tilted, the classic female stance. Then he began to walk, strutting from one side of the stage to the other and back. It was a sexy walk, his hips cocking and re-cocking, his ass swaying with each step. Then back to the center of the stage, where is hands moved up to begin caressing his breasts. The men hooted and applauded.
"The auction begins, gentleman," Hidalgo said from a low podium that seemed to appear in a corner of the stage. "This virgin --"
He was interrupted by catcalls from the audience. "Virgin," someone yelled. "Only an experienced woman knows how to arouse a man like that."
"Gentlemen," Hidalgo said. "Have I ever lied to you?" When several voices yelled, “Yes!", Hidalgo told them, “Yes, but you have all seen the report from Dr. Alverez, and you know that he doesn't lie. He says that this woman is a virgin."
"Ask her!" somebody yelled and the crowd picked up the shout. "Ask her!"
Hidalgo walked over to where Esteban was standing. He held a hand mike in front of Esteban. "My dear, these men wish to know if you are a virgin."
Esteban found himself smiling. "I am," he said, but I don't want to be." Esteban was horrified at what he was saying and at the high, throaty, voice that he was speaking in. "Please, please someone release me from that terrible innocence." He leaned over and kissed the microphone, then ran his tongue across the top of it. The sound over the speakers was not unlike that of a large cat purring.
"I will be so grateful to the man who helps me lose my virginity." Esteban stepped back from the mike and cupped his breasts with his hands, sending jolts of sexual energy through his body. He wanted to stop this. He begged any angel or saint that would hear him to stop this, but his body continued to rebel against him. A hand snaked down to caress his groin, rubbing at the lips of his vagina. He felt himself growing hot and wet.
The bidding began at 1,000 pesos and rose quickly. The bidders' ranks did not thin until it was over 10,000 pesos. Eventually, the winner was Raul Vargas with a bid of 37,500 pesos. Vargas was a political crony of his father's regime, one of the sergeants who had helped Fernando seize power.
Vargas had used his influence to buy up a number of small businesses, which he wove together into an industrial cartel that controlled a large portion of the national economy. The regime had changed, but Vargas obviously still had enough connections to feel safe. He was a small man about five years younger than his father, with beady eyes and only a narrow fringe of graying hair around his ears.
He ran down from his seat and jumped up onto the stage. He walked over to Esteban and grabbed him, pulling him close. Then he kissed Esteban on the mouth, hard, passionately. Esteban responded. He opened his mouth to receive Vargas' tongue and pressed himself up against Vargas' body.
‘No, please, no!’ Esteban's mind screamed, even as his hand reached down into Vargas' pants. He found Vargas' penis and massaged it, feeling it lengthen and grow hard within his fingers. ‘I don't want to do this,’ Esteban thought. ‘I cannot be doing this.’ Then another voice within him added, ‘Not with such an ugly man, not with one with such a tiny penis.’
Esteban's nipples were hard, begging to be caressed. He felt a yielding hunger growing in his groin. It was a need that he had never known, and it demanded his attention. He kept fighting, but his body was acting on its own. He broke the kiss and took Vargas' hand. "Shall we go somewhere, my lover, so I can give you what you just bought?"
Vargas grinned and looked at Hidalgo. "The price included the use of my facilities," Hidalgo replied. “Sofia will take you to the 'bridal suite.' There is champagne cooling, should you want it."
Esteban's body tingled -- no, throbbed with anticipation. He grabbed the mike from Hidalgo. "And when we are done, and I am no longer a virgin, I will be back to thank as many as possible of you for wanting to help." ‘Oh, my Lord,’ Esteban thought. ‘I cannot be saying such things.’ But his body was still as control, as he was led away by Vargas. It threw kisses to the crowd and shouted, “To thank you in the best way that I can."
Fernando was awake, lying next to Tomaso in the small storeroom that had been fitted out as a second bedroom. He thought back on the last few days. He? That hardly fit anymore. ‘I am a woman now,’ he thought. ‘Fernando Diego Cadiz y Silvero is gone; only Felice remains.’
Felice. The name meant “happiness", but the first days at the station had been a nightmare. One of the men had only to look at her, and her body took control. She acted the part of the seductress no matter how hard she tried to figh it.
Then the erotic spell was gone. But Felice discovered that she had become physically addicted to her new lovers. It began as an itch in her groin or a tingling in her breasts. It grew stronger as she tried to ignore it. Finally, she could think of nothing else but the hunger of her body. She would find herself moaning, stroking her body, begging attention from the men. And when they responded -- one or, sometimes, more than one of them -- she would be unable to resist whatever they demanded.
She had exhausted Tomaso the night before, having sex with him for over an hour before he fell asleep. He was still snoring peacefully, while she lay next to him. Her body was itself asleep, making no demands on her.
There was a small clock on a shelf near the makeshift bed. It was almost 10 AM. The feelings would begin again by noon, and by mid-afternoon, she would be an animal in heat. The only uncertainty was which man -- which men -- would take her.
An escape was impossible. She could read the map on the wall in the main room. There were only small villages for several hours travel. She had no money, no clothes beyond the man's garb that she had been wearing. (Mostly, she just walked around the station wearing a shirt and sandals.) And she had the hunger in her body.
The men were crude, but they protected her. There was no way to even guess what would happen to her in any of those villages. No, staying here, being the station whore seemed somehow better. ‘Someday,’ she thought, ‘someday, I will be able to escape.’
Esperanza moaned. The feeling was becoming too strong to resist. She had locked herself in the bedroom after the last man, praying as she always did, that she could control herself. Then it began again. She felt her nipples begin to tingle. She tried to ignore the sensation, but it grew stronger.
She took a shower, as cold as she could stand, in the small bathroom. Then she sat in a chair letting her body slowly dry. A towel would just have awakened the feelings again. But they had come back anyway, just taken longer. They were stronger than before, and, now, they had spread to her groin. The hunger was growing, growing faster than she could hope to control it.
She sighed and went over to the dresser in the corner. She took a white bustier and matching thong panty and garter belt from one drawer. She held the bustier in her two hands and leaned forward into it, fastening it behind her. The garter belt went on next, followed by the panty. It barely covered her genitals. She could wear it now, since a client" had shaved her public hair the day before.
She pulled two stockings expertly up her legs, fastening them to the garters. Then she stepped into a pair of white shoes with three inch spiked heels. Esperanza was used to walking in them now. She unlocked the door and walked slowly down to the parlor, hips and ass swinging suggestively as she walked.
The hunger grew stronger as she walked. ‘Soon,’ she told her body. She had never had to wait very long before someone selected her as partner. The hunger would soon be satisfied for a while, and she could be a person instead of a rutting animal.
Escape was not possible at present. Hidalgo was too powerful in this place. But she had time. She would watch and wait, and someday find some way to freedom.
Felice and Esperanza could not know -- would never know that they were bonded to their new lives by one last part of Mother Juana's spell. The spell would make it seem that life at the station or at Hidalgo's brothel were the best place for them to be. It would even build the false hope that by staying in these places they might someday escape.
Eventually, the addiction to sex would fade into the normal drives of two young, sexually active women. By that time, the two would not only have accepted their new lives, they would discover, to their horror, that they preferred their new lives.
Esperanza would spend her life at the brothel, becoming a servant when she was too old to work “upstairs." Felice would remain and the station, greeting and serving each new team of forest watchers in their turn. First as Felice, the station whore, and then as Mother Felice, cook and housekeeper.
Fernando Diego Cadiz y Silvero had used his mind to take control of his people and to force them to serve him in luxury for many years. Now Fernando and his son and ally, Esteban, were gone. In their place were Felice and Esperanza, who were ruled by their bodies and who would spend as many years serving the most basic needs of the men of the province.
It was, Mother Juana thought, the sort of new lives the two men deserved.
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