What price would you pay?



Disclaimer: This is fiction. All the characters and events portrayed here are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely accidental and unintentional. I as the author reserves all rights. A big thanks goes out to Cathy who proofed and generally made this readable. Any remaining errors, or mistakes are mine! Enjoy

From the tree where I was hidden, I watched him walk into the cemetery with an enormous bouquet of flowers in his ham sized hands. The big man walked purposely as if he knew exactly where he was going. Reaching a rather large headstone he stood there silently. He then knelt beside the cold marble gravestone.

I had trouble believing my eyes. The day started off strange enough when I spied The Main Man himself dressed in a suit and tie for Gawd‘s sake. I’d never seen him in anything but muscle shirts and jeans with the exception of his supersuit.

Oh yeah, introductions. I’m called Fix’it. I’m the newest member of the Charlotte Wasps the local super team. As you can guess I like to build and fix things, but I don’t do badly as a home grown ninja either if I do say so myself.

Enough about me, I was talking about the Big Guy, the one the press calls The Duke. Where to start? He was huge in the way brick strongmen tends to be. His bio says 7 feet, but it’s really nearer 6 feet ten. His massive muscled body looked like something out of an artist’s human perfection study.

The Man had the hero look down cold, the steely gray eyes, square chin and a full head of dark hair. If he looked like a breathing cliché, his personality was just as over the top.

He was infamous for his smoking, drinking, and hard partying. His trademark noxious cigars and tolerance to alcohol were a local legend. More macho than macho and then some, that was the Duke.

The Duke you see had one of those deals going on that he would heal up stuff almost as fast as he got hurt. That kept him healthier than a whole herd of horses despite his lifestyle. Add his bench pressing locomotives super strength to that healing, and you had one tough SOB with an attitude to match.

After he left out on this crisp Carolina Tar Heel morning, I just had to ask my teammates what in the world was going on. I mean, here he is all dressed up before noon and hadn’t said a word to anyone. No cussing, or bragging about the night’s conquests made me wonder if he was the same man.

Steel Magnolia, our leader, took me aside. “This happens about four times a year. He’ll get himself really hammered tonight. We’ll need to pick him up in few hours. Just take my advice and leave him alone.”

My poor mind boggled. How could his drunken debaucheries get any worse? I simply couldn’t help myself. I had to see this. Making excuses, I headed out, knowing I wasn’t fooling anyone, but no one tried to stop me.

The Duke’s oversized CXT pickup truck was easy to follow. Basically a dump truck with a pickup bed the bright red vehicle stood out like a sore thumb. Of course he was a big guy and needed the leg room, but I think it was just more plain ego.

Stopping at a florist, he picked up that armload of flowers. Then it was straight to Green Hills cemetery. I wondered if it was his parents, but that didn’t fit the drunken blowout I was told was coming. Curious, I used my holo-generator to try to get closer and take a look at that headstone.

Disguised as a grounds keeper I thought I was doing pretty good.

“Hey kid,” He said in his deep gravel voice. “Stop the bullshit. I know it’s you. You really don‘t want to get me mad today.”

I clicked off my gadget expecting him to cuss me out like he’d done before when I screwed up. However, today he said nothing. The Man just stood there with his head bowed.

Looking at the headstone it read,

Amanda Marie Woodard

Okay that didn’t clear up anything. I had to ask, “Who was she?”

For a moment I was afraid I was going to get pounded, but instead I saw a tear roll down his cheek.

His rough voice breaking he replied, “Me. I’m Amanda.”

“I’m going to tell you a story, and if I ever hear it repeated I’ll turn you into a greasy smear. You got me?”

Shocked I nodded.

He sighed, “Growing up, I was a tomboy. Never liked any of those things girls were supposed to go for. I always hanged with the guys and never had a moments regrets. Then I had to grow up. I hated every moment of it. Breasts, hips and I’m not even going to say how nasty periods were. I later found out that I was what was called a Transman.

“While transsexuals are usually thought of as women trapped in a man’s body, I was the other way around. I was a man stuck as a woman. Maybe I would have gone for the transition and surgery route, but fate dealt me a wild card.

“I was also a mutant. By accident I found I could take over someone else’s body, but only for a limited time. Hating my own, I couldn’t resist taking some of the jocks at school out for a test drive. ”

The Big Guy shook his head again. “I was young and stupid. It wasn’t long before I called attention to myself. Fearing I would be caught, I ran away from home. I learned early on, that after a shift, my own body stayed unconscious unless I woke it, but if I did the shift could last indefinitely. However, then they or I could end the body switch at anytime. My thought was I could find someone who wanted to change bodies and that way we would both be happy.

“That proved harder than I thought. All those who were willing to try weren’t the most masculine guys in the world, and honestly I wasn’t very feminine either. Neither one of those things helped very much.”

“It was much easier to just grab a body and have some fun at their expense. With me being a runaway, I had no money anyways so it didn’t take long for me to fall into a rut with stealing too.”

“People preach to me all the time about addictions and my bad habits.” He gave a bitter laugh, “I know more about obsessions and cravings than they every will. Only the biggest studs would do. Football players, wrestlers, or just about anyone who had money and muscles.”

“By the time they caught me, I was already having bad headaches and having problems shifting because of the pain. I got the book thrown at me because I used my powers to steal even though I had never physically hurt anyone. Embarrass and abuse, yes hurt no. They figured out I had to see my target to shift bodies with them and so I ended up blindfolded most of the time.”

“ULTIMATE didn’t bother to play their usual games after they learned I was dying anyways. Overusing my power, and the weird way my brains were put together led to the growth of tumors. My defense attorney pleaded, based on the testimony of the Telepaths that captured me that I was mentally unstable.

“With the knowledge that whoever gained custody and jurisdiction of me would have outrageous medical expenses to deal with, I became a hot potato no one wanted. It was no surprise I ended up in a piece of crap nut house.

He paused silent for a long moment. “That’s where Randy found me, sick and alone in the dark. I can still remember his words. ‘I want to help you, and I hope you’ll be able to help me. I’m a lot like you. I too am trapped in a body I can’t stand, but unlike you I can’t get out. My powers made me even more like what I despise. I can’t transition since I heal faster than the surgeon can cut. I want you to body switch with me.”

The Duke shook his head. “He had read about my case because of his superhero connections. It was so ironic because someone like him was exactly who I’d been looking for, but now it was too late.”

“I tried to tell him that. Even assuming they would let me try and shift us, it might not work or could even finish killing me. Worse, if it did work, he would be stranded in my dying body. Sure the doctors said the surgeries they had planned had a good chance of success, but that also meant they could fail. I might have only a year to live.”

He stopped again tears flowing down his face. “Randy told me, ‘I know the risks and accept them. You know how being like this is a terrible pain that never goes away. I tried to kill myself, but my power won’t let me. You are my only chance. I would rather live just one year as the woman I was meant to be, than a lifetime as a superman.”

The Big Guy smiled though his tears. “We had no choice but go the official route since I was regularly monitored by telepaths to make sure I didn’t body hop an escape. Oh the look on some of their faces at the thought of having me, a petty crook in Randy’s powerhouse of a body. However, he offered to take care of all the medical costs since it would now be her body they were operating on, and pointed out that if need be she could also end the transfer at anytime if I went out of control.”

“I think it was the money thing that decided the whole thing. It took weeks for all the details to be worked out, but he was very persuasive. When they took that blindfold off and I made our shift, I don’t think, I have ever seen such joy in anyone's face before in my life.”

Like I said I was never very feminine and being locked in a mental institution as well as ill had done nothing for that body’s looks. Despite that, Randy made my body beautiful. Her happiness made her beautiful. I know it sounds corny and perhaps even sick in a way, but I think I fell in love right there.

On the spot, I vowed I would make her life as happy as I could. Yeah, I was also watched like a hawk, but I really didn’t care. I had found something worth living for.

She had the surgeries and for a while things went well. We got to know each other and she became just as besotted with me as I was with her. Then Amanda got sick again. The tumors came back.”

Crying he went on, “It seemed the doctors were right after all. A year was all we had together. On the eve of the surgery, I asked, begged, her to let me shift us back. Sick and ill she was still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. She refused saying, “You would let me have one year of happy memories with a lifetime of misery? No. I love you too you big dummy. I won’t let you sacrifice yourself for me. If you love me, don’t take this from me. Let me go. Live your life to the fullest. Make what amends you need to for the wrongs you’ve done.

Her last words to me were ‘If I don’t wake up from this, I’ll see you on the other side.”

The Duke’s huge body shook with the power of his emotions. “She never woke up.”

We stood there for a while longer. The Big Man reached out and touched the headstone. “See you on the other side Amanda.”

The Duke stood and looked up at the sky as if questioning the very heavens. Turning to me and heaving a mighty sigh, The Duke growled. “I need a drink. You coming?”

The End


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