A story based in the real world. For some reason, a high school boy named J.J. went to sleep and didn't wake up for nearly 3 years. Someone else was awake in his place ...
Chapter 1 of 13
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Jacoby Jesse Evarist woke up.
It was a strange awakening, this. Not the fact that it appeared to be a gradual lifting of the night’s fog; after all, he could not expect to spring suddenly out of bed to full fresh consciousness every dawn. It was another thing – no, actually multiple other things this morning. Beginning with the fact that it didn’t appear to be morning. The bright sunbeams were coming in through the windows nearly straight down onto the floor … that would be more in keeping with noontime, right?
Huh. That’s odd. I never oversleep this badly. When did I get to bed last night? J.J. tried to concentrate, but last night seemed blank to him. Weird. I’m only 14 years old; that’s way too young to start getting memory loss, right?
The next oddity was the room. As his vision cleared, it became obvious that he wasn’t in his bedroom. The walls were darkly stained natural wood, accented with shelves of books with names like Jungian Thought in the 21st century. The book next to that one had print too small on the spine to read, but the next one said DSM 5TH EDITION. After that was Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
That’s a funny sequence, J.J. thought, and smiled. The smile vanished when he realized Wait a minute – I’m waking up at noon, in a strange room, and I’m not looking at the ceiling. I usually am when I first open my-
That’s when J.J. realized he wasn’t in a bed: he was sitting upright. Bolt upright. He leaned back, slower than he intended – sheesh, it’s like my body is in slow motion – and felt a thin cushion over a hard immovable surface as if he was in a high backed chair. He then proceeded to try to stand – but he couldn’t move his feet. Nor his arms. The thought came that he was tangled up in his blanket, but then reasoned he wouldn’t be in a blanket while sitting. He weakly tried a few more times to move his limbs; nothing.
He wondered about calling for assistance, and then realized: there were other voices in the room already talking. In low volumes, but they were there. J.J. held his breath as he tried to hear the discussion.
A stocky man with glasses and a suit was sitting in a shadowed part of the room; only his silhouette was discernable. J.J. had not noticed him until the man just now spoke. “Ma’am. I need your patience. The injection is in him, working; as soon as the sedation wears off, we’ll see if he returns to us. Don’t give up. I know how horrible this must-“
“Shut up. No. No you don’t. You DON’T know,” wailed a woman’s pained voice. “Unless you’ve been in my position – our position – you have NO idea about what we are feeling. And we’re not even the main victims here! Jacoby – my sweet J.J. – God, what horrors he’s gone through! I’m sorry; forgive my rudeness, doctor –“
A third voice, gruff, male, interrupted. “Don’t apologize to the quack. He doesn’t deserve it.”
J.J.’s eyes shifted to the right edge of the room, towards the latter voices. There they were, a man and woman together on a settee. The woman was leaning forward, elbows on her knees, face buried in her open palms. She occasionally shook and sniffled. The man was hugely obese, and the little couch seemed to strain to hold their combined weight. He had his big heavy arm across her back, alternately petting and rubbing it.
J.J. squinted his half-awake eyes. Somehow, in a strange way, he knew these people. They were familiar yet alien at the same time. The woman had a small crude flower tattoo on her left wrist. Just like the one Aunt Faye gave to Mom when they were kids. But this woman was not his mother. Mom was always bright, positive and joyous; and this woman’s hands and voice indicated she was years older than Becky Evarist. And this balding fat man must be her husband; J.J. was quite sure he’d never seen him before. My mom would have my athletic, svelte father near her, not this big blob.
The woman cleared her throat. “Doctor … I must have J.J. back. I need my son.” While saying this, she raised up her sad, haggard face. J.J.’s soul froze.
Mom!? What … what-what-what-what-WHAT THE HECK’S HAPPENED??!! MY GOD is that REALLY HER? And can that – that man really be Dad?’
J.J.’s mother continued. “Bob needs him too. We are living in hell right now, with J.J. being so close that we can touch him, yet this – this girl –“
“This IMPOSTER,” inserted the fat man –
Omigod. That voice. It’s Dad. The speech tone had changed, with a slightly muffled quality; but there was now no mistaking that this was his father.
His mom resumed her plea to the bespectacled man. “This stranger has taken over, and I don’t know her, and she refuses to leave! Doctor, put yourself in our position and tell us that we shouldn’t be hurting and fearful and angry and – and -” She stopped as she broke into tears.
Jacoby was now fully alert, not to mention confused and near panic. The strange surroundings, his changed parents, the nonsense conversation – he had to get answers. He attempted again to stand, putting all of his might into it. Still, nothing budged. He was – tied down?!
A glance downward showed his torso, arms, and legs, all secured with heavy-duty cotton garments that had thick straps at intervals pulled across and buckled. Like a straitjacket, except this covered his whole body. J.J. now mightily heaved his whole body in an effort to break free. He remained bound; all he accomplished was just to shift the chair he was in, and it rasped loudly as the legs scraped across the hard wood floor.
This produced a temporary scowl on J.J.’s face – until he realized that now, all three adults in the room now sat gaping at him.
J.J. looked at the woman; he felt suddenly awkward and at a loss for any words. That rarely happened; he was known as a chatterbox. Rebecca – his mom – was staring back with wary intensity, holding her breath.
“J.J.?” she finally squeaked.
“M-Mom? What’s going on?”
“WAIT,” shouted the father, springing to his feet. “She’s trying to trick us!”
The mother looked wary again. “What’s your full name, child?”
J.J. was incredulous. “You know my name, Mom! Jacoby Jesse Evarist! And your full name is Rebecca Evarist! What’s happened to you? You look so –“
His speech was interrupted by a flying tackle and bear hug from his mother. “My son! My boy! My BOY, my baby boy who remembers me! My child, my best friend! Oh God, I’d just about given up hope! I love you I love you I LOVE YOU and I’m never ever letting you go!”
Dad was dumbfounded. “J.J. – Jake? Buddy, is it really you?”
The boy in the belted chair nodded his head. “Dad – why am I tied down?”
“Not for long!” sang Mom as she furiously worked on unbuckling the shackles. This was more like the mother J.J. was used to, all smiles and joy.
The bespectacled man in the suit held his hand up. “I need to ask him some questions quickly, or he may forget what happened to him.”
“You will get to, Doctor,” stated J.J.’s mom. “I want to find out too. But I’m getting this damn restraining suit off him NOW. And I am not leaving his side. Not ever again.”
“Jacoby, I am Dr. Ramanathan,” said the physician; he rolled his desk chair out to where the sunlight made his appearance clearer. “You have a million questions, I’ll bet. I will answer all of them to the best of my ability. But first, I must ask you some; just a few, then we can get to yours.”
“Wait. What kind of doctor are you?” ventured J.J.
“My specialty is psychiatry.”
“OH. A doc for loonie-toonies . Hey - I’m not crazy. At least I hope not. I feel normal right now; I mean, outside of the fact I don’t know where I am or how I got here or why Mom and Dad are so … different … oh God. Something really bad has happened to me, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, it has. Exactly what, we don’t completely know. That’s what we’re all here to find out, honey,” cooed J.J.’s mom as she stroked his hair.
The doctor cleared his throat. “Jacoby. I need you to think hard for me. What is the last thing you remember happening – the last place you can remember being – before waking up just now?”
The boy, now free from his restraints and clothed in a hospital gown, tried to think. He had to close his eyes. After a minute, his brow began to furrow. “I – I’m having trouble remembering exactly what happened last night!”
His parents looked at each other with that. “Son,” rumbled his father, “you’ve been asleep for longer than one night.”
“I’m sorry, I must resume questioning Jacoby,” interrupted the doc. “Do you remember the last football game you attended at your high school?”
“Of course I do; I’m the freshman boy on the cheer squad. It was – homecoming! Yeah, we beat Armstrong High School 24 – 21 with a last second field goal! That’s the last – wait, no, I remember going to the homecoming dance after that! Missy and I were the hit of the dance – we had some ballroom moves we’d been practicing and boy, did we ever steal the spotlight!“
“Do you remember anything AFTER the dance, Jacoby?” The doctor had turned on a voice recorder.
“Yeah. Umm.” J.J.’s face turned red.
“No condemnation, son. We need your complete honesty. Tell me everything that happened. No matter how bad it was,” reassured his mother.
“Oh, it wasn’t bad. It was … GREAT,” sighed J.J. with a sudden far-off look. “Missy was … so perfect.” He lifted his head towards his parents. “Mom and Dad. I’m sorry. I broke a house rule; I brought Missy inside while you guys were gone. And, well, she was so beautiful – things just got out of hand. I could have had her back at her house before you got home; but I’m assuming – we fell asleep and you caught us, or…?” He wrinkled his face and closed his eyes, as if his memory were now failing.
The doctor spoke. “J.J. – this is really important – what do you remember next?”
J.J. sat still. He closed his eyes again. After a half minute, he opened them. “Nothing. Heck, I don’t remember even getting up to use the bathroom. So, I’ve been asleep – for more than one night? How long have I –” and J.J. suddenly stopped talking. His head had inadvertently turned to the far right, and now it was fixed in that position, staring at the structure affixed to the wall. His mouth slowly began to open in a gape, until his chin was nearly on his chest.
His mother became concerned. “J.J.?”
The father glanced around and figured out what was happening. “Doc, he sees himself! In your damned mirror!” The couple had hardly noticed the huge mirror on the side of the office wall before; its presence seemed inconsequential until now.
“Blast!” muttered the doctor as he flew to the mirror. He grabbed it with the intent to take it off the wall and turn it away.
“STOP! DON’T TAKE IT DOWN!” yelled the boy. “What … WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ME??”
Rebecca became the haggard, sorrow filled woman from minutes earlier, crying as she held her child’s head against her. “Son,” she whispered, “there is no easy way to say this. So get ready; this is some shocking, bad news.”
J.J. grabbed his mom’s waist and held on for dear life, even as his father came up and placed his rock steady hands on his son’s shoulders.
“Yes, Momma?” the boy whispered.
“Your body … is no longer a boy’s body. Someone changed you into a girl – with the body of one, fully. You have girl parts in your undershorts. You have the bones and breasts of a girl. You even became one in your mind. It’s like the boy ‘you’ – the REAL ‘you’ – went to sleep, and this girl took your place in your head. That’s the way it was until just now, when you woke up and came back to us.”
The room was silent for minutes, save for the sound of parents squeezing and kissing a bewildered, weeping child.
J.J. muttered something barely audible.
“What’s that, son?’ proffered his father.
“How long have I been … gone?”
The doctor gave the reply. “As best as I can tell, you – Jacoby – have been ‘asleep’ for two years and eight months. Roughly. It is now August of what should have been the summer before your senior year in high school. You turn seventeen years old in two weeks. It appears your memories as J.J. have been on ‘pause’ since age fourteen. And –"
“Stop,” chided Rebecca. “He’s fainted.”
To be continued tomorrow.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to an actual person or situation is purely coincidental.
Thanks to cyclist, whose advise and editorial skills have elevated this tale to 100x better than it was when I submitted it to her. She is one of the shining stars of our community!
Thanks to JenaJumbled for the awesome picture.
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