The Wild Side

John took a bet to get a date with the girl of his dreams. He didn't know that when you enter the Wild Side all bets were off!

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. None of the characters, places, or anything else is meant to be represented by anything in reality. Duh! Fiction, get it? I the author reserve the rights, so please don't go posting this anyplace else without my permission. A very special thanks goes out to Cathy and all the others out there in BCTS land who have encouraged and inspired me to write and keep writing. Another round of thanks goes out to djkauf who is the fastest proofer I've ever encountered. Any remaining mistakes are all mine.

The Wild Side
Sioned and Owen

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Glancing behind me, the officials at the custom desks were watching me. The Wild Side returning native, tourists and the curious had already transited though the gate on their way home leaving only me. Even the human business folks had gone on ahead intent on their jobs.

Hey, at least they had some clue as to what awaited them on the other side.

I was the newbie, a Gate virgin.

It wasn't that humans avoided the Gates. After all we'd created the damn things looking for a loophole we'd hoped Einstein had somehow missed. We'd gotten a clue when the Haydon Collider snooped out those particles that were speeding, breaking the old Master's speed limit.

Imagine everyone's surprise when the first Gate accidentally formed. Even more, think about how those first visitors to the Wild Side felt. No, they didn't end up on another planet like Edgar Rice Burrough's heroes, but instead a whole new universe.

This was a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be. Being here all by my lonesome didn't help. Most tourists from Earth did the weekend thing going in groups. I suppose it was like Disney World. Go during the week and beat the crowds. In this case, it didn't help.

I knew Jason, Allison and Mary were watching me from the concourse observer deck. Judging from the snide sounding mutters from the custom desks they probably taking bets if I would go through with it or not.

Hell, it was a bet that got me in this mess to start with. All I'd done was ask Mary out on a date. I have to give it to her that she didn't just laugh in my face. Instead, in front of our friends no less, she'd made a bet. If I went through to the Wild Side, she would pay off with a date. You don't want to know what would happen if I chickened out. I shuddered just thinking about it.

Gathering my courage, I walked through the Gate.

It was really anti climatic. The Gate was just a metal framework and that was all. No shimmering effects, electrical arcs or any other Hollywood special effects need apply. To detect the energies involved, you needed a top notch physics lab and a room full of PhD's to decipher the results.

There were only garish warning signs that perhaps didn't say abandon all hope ye who enter here, but sure seemed like it.

One step on good old Mother Earth and the other was, well … somewhere else.

What stopped me in my track was that I was someone else too.

That was the thing about the Wild Side that the first accidental visitors learned the hard way. It was a completely different universe that had its own laws, and wasn't about to let a few illegal human immigrants get away with squat. You would fit in, end of line.

Everyone called it the 'adjusting.' That's where the Wild Side's Laws of Nature remade you to fit into her idea of what was right, and believe you me she had a hell of a sense of humor.

The Elves at the Wild Side's custom check-in, simply grinned at my discomfort. They had seen it all working here. After all they knew who was left to transit the Gate.

Going the other way, Wild Side, okay they didn't call it that, but very few humans could pronoun it right, the Elves, Goblins, Brownies and what all the other denizens of our neighboring universe always got changed into humans. Returning home they were transformed back into their old selves, mostly.

If Wild Side had taught any rule, it was that there was always an exception.

One of the photographers working the concourse snapped a pic of me standing there stunned. There was a fair number of tourists on both sides that passed through and went right back home thank you very much. They had their walk on the Wild Side and that was more than enough. However, it did allow photographers on both sides to make a very good living.

Alright, a part of my brains that wasn't frozen, that's cool. I needed that as proof I made it here anyways.

The tall elf carrying the old fashioned camera grinned, “Come on doll, show me some choppers.”

Dream-like I wandered to one of the mirrored walls. How did a poor starving male college student translate in to this?

The Adjusting could do a real number on humans. You name it. The Wild Side was home to just about any of the races Earth had long believed to be nothing but myths. Goblins, Brownies, Trolls, and the list went on and on.

In front of me was your standard elf. Tall, slim, and pointed ears, you know the drill. Not too unusual, but the problem was the two breasts that were clear clues I wasn't back home anymore. The very revealing dress dripping in jewels made that damn clear. The carefully piled high silver hair and long manicured painted talons said this was a woman who nurtured her beauty.

That's right. I was one hell of beautiful elf woman. Since when did the Adjusting include a sex change? I whispered to myself, “What did you call a female elf anyways.”

A soft voice next to my cheek answered, “That would be morwyn, oh fair one.”

Jumping back from the intrusion, I turned to face him. Yes, him because if I was beautiful, so was he. The second that thought hit me I started cursing Mary, bets and my own stupidity.

He was also an elf, but was so tall I had to tilt my head up to meet his sky blue eyes. Unlike me, he was dressed in Earth fashions that had survived the Wild Side's stern ideas of what was and what wasn't appropriate. His t-shirt and blue jeans was so tight and snug even paint-on couldn't do them justice.

“More-wind?” I mispronounced, trying to keep from staring at him. Not gay, I'm not gay, I told myself.

Morwyn,” he corrected me, his silvery smooth voice sent tingles all over me.

“Let me introduce myself,” He said, “My use name is Owen and I'm a curious traveler like you.

“Errr, I'm John.” My face turned red as my tongue stumbled over itself. The curious were those like me who just wanted to experience the Adjusting. Then it was back home as fast as we could go, bragging like little kids who had dared to stop over that forbidden line.

“That's a male name, is it not?” Owen asked still smiling.

My face burned red. I didn't have to look into the mirror to know I was blushing madly.

“You've received a great gift.” He took my hand and brought to his lips.

Powerless, I let him having no strength to resist. “W, wh, why would you say that?” I stuttered, trying to remember to breathe.

“For The Lady has bestowed such beauty upon you, mine eyes are blinded by your brilliance.” The tingles turned into an electric-like shock that traveled up my arm as he kissed my fingers. The entire time his eyes never left mine.

“I, I, I, have to go.” I tried to recover my traitorous hand, but his gentle touch imprisoned me. “My friends are waiting.”

The Photographer stood patiently by with the pictures he'd taken. That restored enough of my willpower to make me reach for my wallet to pay him. However, lacking pockets, I was at a loss until I found the silk purse hanging from my belted waist.

Again his soft touch robbed me of my senses.

“Please, Sioned.” He said. “I insist.” Owen dropped a coin into the photographer's hand who bowed respectfully and then hurried away. “All that I ask is that I be allowed to keep one to remind me of this moment.”

All I could do was nod numbly.

“As for reuniting with your companions,” He pointed up at the line of clocks that more or less kept track of how fast or slow time passed between Earth and the Wild Side. “We're behind today, so a few hours here is only a few minutes back on your home.”

I had to stop and make my addled wits do the math.

“Please,” Owen asked as smooth as silk, “Let me show you my home.” He waved his hand meaning his world, I guessed.

His eyes looking into mine, he whispered, “Your friends stayed behind, but you bravely stepped forward, Sioned. Reap the reward.”

Hardly trusting my voice, I croaked, “Sioned?”

“This is a different world, one of magic and great mysteries.” Again he sent tingles though me from the tips of my still blushing elvish ears to the bottom of my toes. “Your true name has power, and Sioned has the same meaning making a suitable use name for you. Besides, such a beautiful morwyn deserves an equally beautiful name.”

I'm a man damn it! This can't be happening to me. I'd heard of the magic that is all part of the Wild Side, but there were rules and treaties protecting tourists and others like me. Surely he wouldn't be so bold as to enchant me right here in the concourse?

He must've seen my suspicions in my eyes. He'd certainly been looking within them long enough!

“You wound me, Fair one.” He said, but I saw he was still smiling. “I'm using no spell or binding upon you. If anything it is you who have bound me with only your presence.”

Damn it! I was blushing again. As much as I wanted to flee for my life for the safety of a saner universe, I couldn't deny I was enjoying this too.

Yeah, sure he was trying to seduce me, but never back home had anyone given me any mind at all. To have Owen here, regardless of how goofy his lines, give me all his attention, it felt good.

He must've seen my hesitation.

“So Sioned, will you take flight back to your friends who were afraid to take a chance or take a walk on the Wild Side with me.” He grinned.

I suddenly understood what a devilish glint meant now.

“So you've been setting me up for that line all along haven't you?” I laughed as he shrugged expressively.

Owen held out his hand for me.

I took it.


Ten hours later

I took a deep breath resisting the urge to pat myself down. There was no need. I was home. The fine case Owen had provided my pictures had translated into a leather portfolio. Not able to help myself I had to look back. Damn if part of me wanted to run back, but I knew that was for now impossible. He had his life and I had mine.

“What happens in the Wild Side stays in the Wild Side,” He whispered to me after our last kiss stealing the famous line from Vegas. That didn't make it any less true.

Passing back through customs was easy. Nice though they were, the pictures and case were well below the imports limits. It was those things that made through the 'Adjusting' intact that were near priceless.

Checking the clocks, only ten minutes had passed here, but apparently that was enough for my so-called friends to grow bored. I actually saw them walking to their car. If I ran I suppose I could've caught them, but why bother?

Mary and her pettiness had become far less interesting now.

Waiting for the bus, I watched others head into the Gateway terminal. Right then and there I made a promise to myself, smiling. Someday I too would again walk the Wild Side.

The End

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