All Rights Reserved.
Synopsis: The morning after Jake is kidnapped, his captor apologizes for what happened and attempts to explain to him why he was chosen and what exactly is going on.
Author's note: While this is a continuation of the A World Without Me story, reading it isn't too required. It'll make more sense if you read it but as the story's moved into its next phase it's not essential. This chapter answers a lot of the things that were large unanswered questions in A World Without Me.
Thankyou for reading! As this is the start of a new story I'd really appreciate people letting me know what they think and how it's going. Thanks ^_^
Jake's appearance: As mentioned by DonnaT, I did not put Jake's appearance in here, as I kind of forgot about it. I assumed people would know from reading the other parts, even though I just above said that they weren't necessary >.< Gah!
So, here is what he looks like, in his own words from the first chapter.
' I wasn’t exactly small for my age but I was…petite. Instead of the large chests and broad shoulders that most boys my age were developing I was instead more feminine, with slim shoulders and a slight chest that was complimented by a small waist and wider than normal hips.
My body by itself wasn’t enough to make people think I was a girl though, as more often than not I hid its shape under oversized or baggy clothes. It was my face that was the main problem, and there wasn’t much I could do about it. My complexion was smooth and pale, my blue eyes large and expressive, my nose and chin small and delicate, and my lips soft and full. Not to mention my almost shoulder-length thick black hair that Aunt Linda refused to let me get cut. My appearance was often likened to that of a Gothic porcelain doll, and, as much as I hated admitting it, it wasn’t an incorrect comparison. I didn’t look particularly gloomy or threatening, but my dark hair, milky skin and large, expressive eyes definitely made me look like some kind of doll. A somewhat confused, slightly upset little doll. '
Chapter 1: The one in the light
A loud knocking on the bedroom door startled me awake and for a moment I stared stupidly at the unfamiliar room I was in. It was so dark that I could barely see, but I could tell it was far larger than my own bedroom. Instead of the comfortable snugness there was just a vast emptiness that was cold and unwelcoming. The bed was incredibly comfortable though, with its silken sheets and soft, fluffy pillows. I’d never slept in a bed like this before and it felt amazing against my skin, so soft and smooth and warm. I won-
Mum’s old bed! Oh god! I’d forgotten! This was mum’s old room!
I rubbed my forehead as a sharp pain appeared, and I slowly remembered everything that had happened before I’d fallen asleep. Lilah tricking me, meeting Rachel, Linda telling me that…that…
Your mum…she doesn’t want to see you.
A lump appeared in my throat and I angrily wiped my eyes as tears started to form. She had to be lying about that! And about getting the email I’d sent to mum! There was no way I could trust her after what she’d done to my body! She was a mons…monster…wasn’t she?
A confusing pang of guilt washed through me as I recalled how upset she’d been when I’d told her that I hated her. And the last thing I remembered before collapsing was her smiling sadly down at me while she cried, wrapping me up in a loving embrace. She’d acted so differently than she normally did! Why? Was it just an act to try and trick me or was this who she really was?
‘It doesn’t matter.’ I muttered and looked around for Julia, needing to feel her comforting warmth. ‘She still lied to me about the tablets and isn’t going to let me go home so…so f-fu-screw her! She’s a jerk!’
Julia was squashed underneath a pillow and I quickly snuggled her against my chest, but just as I did there was a loud knock at the door and I gasped, remembering that I’d been woken up by a similar knock. My whole body tensed up and I stared fearfully at the door as it swung open, and bright light spilled into the room. I winced and rubbed my eyes as they blurred for a moment, and when they were clear I saw Rachel enter the room close the door behind her.
A mix of anger and fear ran through me and I hugged Julia tighter, unsure of what was going to happen. Rachel had seemed nice last night but I still had no idea why I was here, and she’d had me kidnapped. I didn’t know what she was capable of, and as I’d learned lately, it was easy for someone to pretend they were nice when they weren’t.
I watched in silence as she flicked on the light switch and slowly came over to the bed. I guessed that it was a new day, as she was wearing different clothes and had changed her hair. A fitted grey silk top with white bands around the cuffs, collar and bottom hugged her chest, while a short black skirt and knee-length black high heeled boots covered her legs. She looked like Linda did when she dressed for an important meeting at work, although Rachel’s blonde hair was straightened and pushed behind her ears, showing off a pair of gold raven-shaped studs.
‘Good morning.’ she said softly as she reached the end of the bed, the same warm smile from yesterday on her red lips. ‘How are you feeling?’
‘Awful.’ I said honestly and she sighed sadly.
‘Yes…we didn’t have the greatest of introductions, did we?’ She tapped the wooden backing of the bed with her long red fingernails and looked down at me thoughtfully. ‘I’d hoped Linda would be able to calm you down and explain what was going on, but I didn’t realise just how bad things had gotten between the two of you. I should have listened to her and let more time pass but I grew…impatient.’ Her lips thinned and she looked down at her hands. ‘So I’m sorry. I’ve made this all harder than it should have been and for that, I apologize. How about we start over?’
‘I don’t want to start over! I want to go home!’ I snapped but she ignored me, going over to the desk and pulling out the large office chair in front of it.
‘Now.’ she said as she dropped the chair in front of the bed and sat down on it, her warm smile replaced by a more serious expression. Her fragrant perfume washed over me, a pleasant mix of apple and some kind of sweet flower, and my nose twitched slightly. ‘Let’s go over a few things first before I explain why you’re here, okay?’ When I didn’t answer she leant forward and her hand shot out to grab my chin, making me yelp in shock. I tried to pull away but her grip just increased and I stared at her in terror as she spoke. ‘You will answer when I ask a question, Lain. Okay?’
‘O-okay!’ I stammered and to my relief she released my chin. I crawled to the edge of the bed and squashed myself up against the wall, my heart beating painfully in my chest. Oh god…
‘Good girl.’ she said with a quick smile, brushing her hair behind her ears and leaning back. ‘Now. As you know, my name’s Rachel but you will refer to me as Ms Trask for now. And as you just learnt, if I ask you a question then I expect you to answer it. The same goes for if I tell you to do something. You will do as I tell you without complaint. Do you understand?’
‘Yes.’ I said quickly, but she frowned.
‘O-oh! Ms Trask!’
She smiled warmly and crossed her legs in front of her. ‘Good girl! You’re a fast learner. That’ll make things much easier. Now…I assume you already know this, but you’ll be living as a girl from now on. Your name is Lain, not Jake, and I don’t want you to fight me over that anymore. And I don’t want you to ask if you can go home again either, because this is your home now. I know this is going to be very difficult for you, so over the next four weeks I’m going to do my best to make sure that your transition is as painless as possible. I’ve assigned one of my maids to help you out too, and she’s going to be looking after you today when I leave. You’ll have the help of the other girls who live here as well, including my wife. I was hoping we’d have more time but…well, we don’t.’ She tapped her lips as a small frown appeared on her brow. ‘You’ll be attending Jovi’s Girls Grammar when its second semester starts, and that’s in just over four weeks so we need to rush things a bit, unfortunately.’
‘Why?’ I asked warily, scared that she’d get angry if I asked a question. When she didn’t tell me off I continued to speak. ‘Why do I need to be a girl? Why am I even here? I don’t understand anything!’
She looked at me thoughtfully for a moment before leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees. ‘This is going to be a bit complicated, so I’ll try and simplify it for you as much as I can. Tell me, Lain…what’s your opinion on the current state of the world?’
I stared at her in confusion. ‘What?’
‘Do you think the world’s doing fine? That things are steadily getting better for people, or worse? And not just here, but overseas as well.’ She fixed me with a steady gaze before continuing. ‘Has humanity’s influence been good for the planet as a whole, and for ourselves? Are we on a path towards greatness or are we inevitably heading towards the death of society as we know it? And if the latter, do you think that would be for the best?’
‘I…uh…’ That was the absolute last thing I’d expected her to ask and as such my brain flailed about frantically, latching onto the only topic I had any amount of confidence in. ‘W-well, I know that lots of species are becoming extinct and that’s really bad! Especially in the ocean. Whales are dying! And polar bears too! And there are way too many puppies and kittens being bred that don’t get loving homes and they end up being abandoned on the streets or…or put to sleep and it’s awful! And some people even return cats when they grow up because they don’t think they’re cute anymore! It’s horrible! Especially around Christmas! People just buy…pets…’ I trailed off as I realized Rachel was staring at in amusement, her eyes shining and a wide smile on her face. ‘W-what? It’s not funny! It’s really serious!’
‘I know sweetheart, but I was asking about people, not animals.’ She said gently and I felt my face burn. ‘I do appreciate your concern for animals though! But at the moment I’m more interested in your opinion on humans. How are we doing as a whole? Are things good for us, or bad? What about religion? Is it a positive or negative influence on us? And capitalism? Socialism? LGBT issues? The apparent rise in conservative values across the world? And what about climate change?’
‘Huh?’ I was barely able to follow anything she’d just said, and understood less than half of the words she’d used. I rubbed the side of my head and just stared blankly at her until she sighed slightly and scratched her chin.
‘I’m…guessing you don’t pay much attention to the world around you, huh?’ she finally asked with a small smile.
I shook my head, feeling like an idiot. What did any of this have to do with why I was here?
‘Well, that’s fine. You’ll learn more than enough at the Grammar, and my wife and I will fill you in on the things you don’t learn there.’ Rachel said brightly. ‘It’s probably good that you don’t have any pre-conceived notions about the world, honestly. It’ll make it easier to show you the right way of thinking.’
‘Why does any of that matter?’ I asked as patiently as I could, although I was incredibly frustrated. I hated feeling like an idiot.
‘It matters because the world is not, in fact, in a good place. It’s in a very bad place, and if it continues on its current course then a lot of good people are going to suffer.’ Rachel said darkly, her serious expression returning. ‘I don’t have enough time now to go into any more detail than that, but suffice it to say, the world needs to change, and we’re going to be the ones to do it.’
‘We who?’ I asked slowly, wondering if she was crazy. Did she expect me to somehow fix the world?
Rachel uncrossed her legs and leant down again so that we were close to eye level. ‘Your mother, Linda and I are part of a group of like-minded men and women spread over the world, all sharing the same goal. To “fix” the world. To purify it. We will raise up those who deserve to be standing in the light and remove those who do not. We’re hoping to accomplish this with as little bloodshed as possible, but there are some people for whom death is absolutely required.’ Her eyes grew distant and a lopsided grin appeared on her face. ‘And no…I’m not going to pretend that we’re good people. Most of us are in this for selfish reasons like money or fame or power. Our end goal is ultimately good, but how we’re going to get there isn’t. I’d like to say that I’m in this for the right reasons but that’s…debatable. This world is made of shades of grey and I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere deep down in the black right about now.’
I stared at her incredulously, having no idea what to say to that. Or anything of the insane things she’d just said.
‘Anyway.’ Her eyes focused back on me and she smiled warmly. ‘We’ve developed a few ways of achieving our goal, and the least violent one’s been selected. Australia’s been chosen as the testing grounds for it and over the past three years we’ve been preparing to put it into motion. It won’t come to fruition for at least another six years, but that’s not a problem. As the world gets increasingly worse and worse, the easier it’ll be for us to take over.’
‘I still don’t understand what this has to do with me.’ I said quietly.
‘We’ll be in the shadows, but you’ll be in the light. You are going to be our…influencer.’ Her eyes shone with excitement and she reached over to grab my hands, letting Julia fall to my lap. I swallowed nervously but didn’t fight back as she pulled me closer so our faces were inches apart. ‘Some of us believe that it only takes one person to change the world, so long as that person is seen as something more than human. You can see examples of that with artists, singers who capture an entire generation with their music and actors who bring a character to life so effectively that they’re forever etched into the reality outside of their movies. Beyond art, you can see this in people like MLK and Churchill, the influence their words had on people. They became a source of inspiration for hundreds of thousands of people. They became heroes, idols and gods. They became more than human, but…’ Her eyes became huge as she smiled strangely and squeezed my hands painfully. ‘But none of them ever moved far enough. They were all bound by the weakness of their flesh and the misplaced goodness and morality that they held so dear, if they even held it at all. But you, Lain…you’re going to become something they couldn’t even dream of. We’re going to turn you into a goddess! You’re going to capture the hearts and minds of millions of people with our message, young and old, male or female. It doesn’t matter who, so long as they’re open to the message. And as for the ones that aren’t, the ones who have too much power…then you’ll get them too, but in a different kind of way.’
The absurdity of what she’d just said made me want to burst out laughing. I kind of got what she was saying, like I’d kind of understood what Lilah had said about my mum being her idol, but…she wanted me to be that kind of person?
That was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard in my life. Had she confused me with someone else? Had Linda lied about what kind of person I was? What the hell was going on here?
‘Well, that’s the plan, anyway.’ Rachel said and let go of my hands with a bright smile. ‘What do you think?’
‘Why me?’ I managed to ask, slightly dazed from everything she’d just said.
‘Well, we weren’t actually going to use you at first.’ She brushed her hair behind her ears from where it’d gotten loose. ‘We had another girl prepared but she wasn’t quite…right…so we went looking for a replacement. Lilah saw you at school and told us how much you looked like Elaine, and when we realised you were her son we contacted Linda and she agreed to explain to you all of what I just explained now, and then when you were ready you’d be handed over to me.’ She smiled crookedly. ‘Things didn’t quite turn out like that though, did they?’
‘So Linda made me look like a girl because of this?’ I asked quickly, but she shook her head.
‘She was already giving you hormones before we found out about it.’
‘Oh.’ I rubbed my head, where a sharp pain was starting to grow. God, I was hungry. ‘So…so then you’re only choosing me because I’m mum’s child?
‘Yes and no.’ Rachel got up and stretched luxuriously, her shoulders and back cracking slightly. ‘As Linda told you last night, years ago we’d originally planned for you sister to take up this role but since she…passed…we had to look elsewhere for a replacement, and that set us back quite a bit. We’d planned on using a cis girl for the job but ended up deciding that in the current climate it’d be more purposeful if we were to use a lesbian or transwoman. Someone that stands out and can reach out to some of the more disenfranchised communities out there. And when we found out about you then we thought you’d be perfect. Elaine’s child, and a transsexual at that.’
I gritted my teeth, a familiar frustration resurfacing. ‘I’m not trans! You know that!’
‘Do I?’ she smiled slightly. ‘Do you?’
‘Yes!’ I purposely ignored the painful thoughts I’d had the other night. ‘I know what I am.’
‘Do you want to be a boy then?’
I blinked at the questions and for a moment almost said no as the images of large-shouldered bearded men flashed through my mind. But that wasn’t how all men looked! There were some that looked much more feminine but were still men! ‘Y-yes! I do w-want to…be a boy…’
She raised an eyebrow. ‘Why?’
‘Because I am one!’
‘Really. You don’t look like one to me.’ She said with a coy smile and anger erupted inside of me.
‘That’s not my fault!’ I snarled and jumped to my feet on the bed. ‘Linda did this to me! Not me! I didn’t do anything!’
‘Yes, but y-’ Rachel began but stopped as there was a loud knock on the door, surprising both of us. ‘Who is it?’
The secretary from the other night came in and curtseyed slightly, then looked at Rachel. ‘It’s seven forty, Miss. You need to be going now.’
‘Oh. Already?’ Rachel asked and the secretary nodded grimly. ‘Shit. That went fast.’
‘You’re going?’ I asked, not sure what was going to happen to me if she left.
‘Yes. I have to get to work.’ She saw the question in my eyes and answered before I even asked. ‘I’m a teacher at Jovi’s Girls Grammar. English and Drama.’
‘You’re a teacher?’ I gasped, finding that even more surprising than everything else she’d told me. This crazy kidnapping lady was a teacher?
‘Yes, I am.’ Rachel smirked at my visible surprise and then turned to the secretary. ‘Are you okay to look after her for the rest of the day?’
‘Of course.’ the secretary nodded confidentially. ‘I’m going to get her cleaned up and dressed properly, then we’re going to have some breakfast and tour the mansion.’
‘Perfect.’ Rachel nodded and looked at me. ‘Lain, this is Eve. You saw her last night but I don’t think you two ever officially met, did you? She’s going to be your personal maid for the remainder of your stay here. I expect you to do everything she tells you to.’
I blinked. ‘A maid?’
‘Yes. Now get down from there.’ Rachel said and gestured for me to get off the bed, which after a moment’s hesitation I did. Then to my surprise she leant down and kissed me on the head, submerging me in her body’s warmth and the scent of her perfume. Despite my fear and hate of her I felt my face grow red and I couldn’t deny that she was very attractive, especially in the clothes she was wearing. She was so tall too. Why was everyone so tall? Or, rather, why was I so small?
‘I’ll see you tonight.’ she said and put her hands on either side of my face. ‘Be a good girl now, okay? I don’t want to come home and have to discipline you.’
I repressed a shudder. ‘Okay.’
She nodded and kissed me on the head one more time before going to the door. ‘Make sure to wash and brush her hair properly too, will you Eve? It’s a mess.’
‘I plan to.’ Eve said and Rachel nodded.
‘Good.’ She looked around at us and then waved slightly. ‘I’ll see you both tonight.’
‘Wait!’ I cried and she stopped in the doorway.
‘Why are you calling me Lain?’ I asked, having wondered about that as soon as Linda had first called me it. I’d never heard the name before.
Rachel looked at me silently before answering in a quiet voice. ‘Lain…was a friend of ours.’
‘She was? Did you have a fight or something?’
‘No. She’s dead.’ She looked at me, a strange expression on her face. ‘Your father killed her.’
‘O-oh…’ I swallowed uncomfortably. ‘I’m sor-’
‘See you tonight.’ She said and left the room, closing the door shut behind her rather forcefully.
I looked at the door and sat down on the edge of the bed, feeling sick. What the hell was going on?
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.