River 5 - Mark's Close Call

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By Dawn Natelle

Sorry, I can't promise a chapter for next Monday. I haven't gotten anywhere with Chapter 6 yet, and my upcoming surgery is laying heavy on my mind. Thanks to my editor Eric for working on this series with me. His help has been invaluable in making the story as clear as it is.


So far: Camping can be dangerous, as Mark learns when he is accosted by a strange, creepy man in the camp washrooms. River is minutes away, running faster than she ever has in her life. She doesn't know what is wrong, but the river has told her that Mark is in danger. She needed to get to the camp, find out where Mark is, and then get to the washrooms before the young boy is scarred for life. There isn't enough time.

(Warning, this episode deals with pedophilia, and if this may be a trigger issue for you ... you have been warned.)

Henri Lawson had left Hull, Quebec, in a hurry, heading west. He had hitch-hiked when he could, taken the bus when he needed to, and camped out in a small pup tent each night he wasn't travelling. It was a small tent, big enough for him ... and a small person, if he could find one. His sleeping bag was also big enough to share with someone small. Someone who would love him. Someone he could love.

Henri was attracted to young boys. He knew that most people were repulsed by the idea, and their hatred bothered him. But he couldn't stop, any more than a normal man could stop being attracted to women. It was a natural thing ... to him ... and besides, the boys wanted it. At least that is what he told himself. How could they not want to share the love he felt for them? Except so far his luck had been bad, and the boys turned out wrong, somehow. They didn't return his love, and tried to run away, and sent the police after him.

In Hull he had gone to church, and sat waiting for a priest to hear his confession. He told the priest all. It had been a priest who had first introduced him to man-boy love, over 20 years ago, fondling his tiny penis under his altar boy robes. He had loved that old man, who later was suddenly transferred to somewhere in northern Quebec when Henri was about 11. Now Henri asked forgiveness of the young priest in the confession booth. Forgiveness for whatever it was that had made the boys turn out wrong so far. It must be the boys who had been wrong, it couldn't be him. God had made him this way ... how could God do wrong?

The priest didn't absolve his sins, but told him to wait while he went to the washroom for a minute. Five minutes later Henri slipped out of the confessional, and then out of the church itself. He was a block away when he saw the police cars pull up, lights flashing, in front of the church. He watched the officers, three men and a woman, run up the many steps to the church entrance. Henri ducked around a corner. The police had come for him, he realized. The priest had violated the sanctity of the confessional, and had called the police on him. How could such a bad person become a priest?

That was when Henri left town. It had taken him three days to get to St. Mary's. Hitchhiked to North Bay, then a bus over night to Sudbury, and then he found a trucker headed all the way to Vancouver, a city he hoped would be more conducive to his lifestyle than conservative Quebec had been. But the driver had kicked him out in St. Mary's when he stopped for gas at the reserve gas bar. He said that Henri "creeped him out." Henri didn't mind. He could find another way west.

It was early evening, so Henri paid the $15 for a no-services campsite in the nearby park. He had only intended to stay for the night, but that evening he had seen a family come in and camp close to his site. There were three boys in the family, with a mother and father. Three completely delectable boys. The oldest was a young teen, and normally would have attracted Henri's eye instantly. But he was a blonde, with somewhat girlish features, which was a turn-off to Henri. But the other two ... they were about 10, and so beautiful. Completely boyish, thin and wiry, roughhousing with each other as they ran about wildly exploring the campsite while the other three set up the camp. They were clearly not related, and the same age.

Henri hid in his tent when they tore past his site in their exploration, revelling in the sound of their high, boyish voices, giggling and laughing. Henri instantly decided to stay longer in the campsite, at least until the rangers kicked him out for overstaying. He started to fantasize about not one, but two young boys frolicking with him in his sleeping bag. Henri crawled into the bag, but not to sleep.

Now it was early morning, several days later. He had seen the boys many times over the past few days, but always together. He wanted them both, but figured it would be easier to approach them one at a time. This morning he thought he had missed his chance, when he saw one of the boys walking back from the washroom with a big dog. He cursed himself for being a few minutes too late. Then he saw the other boy approaching, with a bigger dog. Henri hid behind a tree just outside the washroom until the boy had passed. The boy went in, and the dog sniffed once at the door, and then walked around the washroom building. Henri slipped in behind the boy.

He watched as the boy peed, his beautiful little penis in full view as he used the open urinals. Henri felt emboldened. The boy looked at him, and then coyly turned and zipped up.

"Are you all alone," Henri asked softly.

"N ... no," the boy said. "My Dad ... no, my Mom is just coming."

He was teasing him, Henri decided. "Well your Mom can't come in here ... even if she was close." He walked up to Mark and put a hand softly on his shoulder, revelling in the thinness, the weakness, of the young boy. "Want to have some fun?"

The boy pulled back, playing hard to get, and Henri made another grab for him, stopping only when he heard a growl at the door to the building. Looking up, he saw the big dog ... no, he realized, that was a wolf. And it was showing all of its teeth in a menacing way.

A wolf?! How does a wolf appear in the middle of a campsite? Henri felt a warmth spread through his groin. Damn. He had always heard that you should never show fear in front of a wild animal, and yet he had pissed his pants.

Then, to his surprise, the boy ran to the wolf and wrapped its arms around the animal's neck. He does want me, Henri thought. He is holding the wolf off. If we can get away, then we will be lovers forever.

Just then a girl dashed into the doorway behind the wolf. Another person to save him. But the girl was angry. She looked a bit like the blonde boy Henri had seen that first night, but this was definitely a girl, with breasts and a long braid down her back. Not appealing to Henri at all.

"What are you doing?" she shouted, out of breath as if she had been running. She turned to the boy: "Did he touch you?"

The little angel nodded yes.

"We were just going to have some fun," Henri said, hoping the girl could understand and take that wolf away. It continued to growl at him menacingly. "He likes me."

"No I don't," the boy said vehemently. "He was staring at me pee. Then he grabbed my shoulder. He was going to grab again, until Night came in."

The girl's face showed recognition about what Henri had planned, and then darkened. "I should let Night rip you apart," she said disgustingly.

Henri slumped to the floor, sitting in the puddle of his own urine, as another person burst into the room. He was in a uniform, and Henri thought he was with the police for a second, then noticed that it was a brown uniform. He stared as the girl explained to the man what had happened. His face darkened even more than hers had. And the wolf still growled at him, with saliva now dripping from its fangs.

"Come on," the man said. "We have a little lockup at the office, and we'll call the police from there."

"No, wait," the girl said. "He is sick."

"Yes sick," the man said. "They will cure him of it at the penitentiary."

"No. I want the river to try first. If it can't cure him, then we can call in the police."

The man was a native, Henri realized. He looked apprehensive, but the girl seemed to have some power over him. "Okay," he said reluctantly. "You can try. But he is not of the people. The river may not want to cure him."

The Indian grabbed Henri's arm and roughly hauled him to his feet. They were about the same height, but the man was nearly twice Henri's weight, and much younger. He winced at the smell of Henri, and muttered: "At least the river can clean him up a bit."

Henri was walked out of the washroom with the big man holding one arm, and the wolf walking along the other side, ready to pounce if Henri could break free. Not that Henri tried. The man's hand was like a vice. The girl and the pretty little boy walked a bit behind.

At the boy's campsite they met the other boy, and the smaller wolf, for Henri now recognized it as a nearly grown wolf, not a big dog. The two boys were told to stay at the camp with the smaller wolf, and after the girl had given the boy a hug and a kiss, the man, the girl, and the wolf walked Henri down to where he knew the river was.

The girl stepped into the river first, and then the big Indian forced Henri into the water. On his second step in he heard a shout of ‘NO!' inside of his head. Ice formed around his legs, and he jumped back from the cold. There was a quarter inch thick piece of ice several inches in diameter around each leg. It melted in the early morning warmth, but he could still feel the tingle of the cold river water, minutes later.

The girl was still in the water. She looked as though she was arguing with someone, although Henri couldn't see who, and she made no sound. He didn't understand how she managed to stand in that freezing water. There didn't look to be ice forming around her, but her legs were clearly cold, and she was shivering from the water.

Finally the argument seemed to be over. "Send him back in, Wayne," she said.

"Are you sure, River?"

"No, it is too cold," Henri whimpered.

"It will be cold," the girl said. "The river is not in a mood to warm either of us. It really doesn't want to do this, but has agreed to try. Now get in and wade out here to me."

The girl was nearly in the middle of the river now, having waded further out. The water was just under her breasts. Henri took a step in, then stepped back. Night growled, and Henri stepped back in, feeling the cold would be less painful than a wolf attack. He gritted his teeth against the cold, and walked out to where the girl was standing.

Once he was next to the girl, she reached out and placed her hands, one atop his head and the other on his shoulder, and pushed down. Henri fought it. She clearly intended to drown him. But the girl was astonishingly strong. She held him tightly by the shoulder, and he could not fight the pressure on his head. He held his breath as long as possible, but finally had to take a breath.

He could breathe. He was underwater, but he could breathe. He opened his eyes. The water was clear, and he could see the legs of the girl standing a foot away, and then watched as she backed further away. He turned and looked the other direction, and saw that there was a dark, murky ichor oozing out from him. For a few feet it spread into the river water, and then as the current grabbed it, it coalesced into a long, twisty black cord heading downstream.

The girl was no longer holding him down, having stepped a few paces away to keep clear of the black coming out of his body. But Henri did not try to stand up. Suddenly it hit him how wrong his life had been to this point. He was not loving those boys. He was abusing them. They didn't enjoy his touches, they abhorred them. He was a pedophile, and for the first time in his life he hated himself for it. Still the blackness oozed out of his body. It was the evil within him.

The black continued to ooze out, slowly tapering off. Before it even stopped, Henri heard another unspoken command: ‘GET OUT!' He and the girl both waded off to the riverbank and crawled out. Both crawled a few paces up, and then lay down curled in tight balls.

At first Henri thought it was only the cold that made him feel that way, but then he realized that he was the most despicable being on the earth. He wanted to kill himself. He thought about going back into the river, but could he even drown himself? It seemed like he had spent an hour under the water. He looked around for the wolf, hoping it might dispatch him, but it was curled up next to the sobbing girl, warming her, and the Indian was standing over her, ignoring him. He could flee now, but he had absolutely no interest in doing so. He just wanted to die.

He listened to the girl sob: "It hates me. I forced it to do this, and it hates me now. I have lost the river. I made all the evil within him come out, and polluted the river with it. It will never speak to me again. I ... I can't even feel it, and it is only five feet away. I have lost it. I have lost everything. I just want to die."

"No," shouted the Indian. "You mustn't think that way ... I ... I love you. There is more than just the river. You can survive this."

"I love you too, Wayne," she sobbed. "But ... the river ... how can I live without it."

"You can. You will. He curled up next to her and hugged her, sobbing with her.

Then Henri noticed something odd. He felt down and discovered that his undersized penis was gone. He started taking off his sodden clothes, and soon was naked. Looking down, he was clearly female in that area. She noticed some spots of blood down there, and then was hit by a crippling cramp that caused her to fall back to the ground as pain wracked through her body.

‘This is your curse, your punishment for what you have done,' a voice said within his head. ‘You are female now, although not a pretty one. For one week every month you will suffer as a woman, much worse and much longer than any real woman. If the courts had convicted you, your sentence could have been 25 years, but it is unlikely you would have lived a year in prison. Now life is your prison, and you must serve your full time. You have the body, almost, of a woman, but the mind of a man, and you will be unable to take any treatments for that. You are not a pretty woman, and while you currently will have no interest in men, that might change. You can get pregnant, but you cannot give birth. Any child you conceive will die in your womb. Maybe after a month or two, maybe at full term. You will not feel the joy of children, as payment for the joy you have stolen from so many children in your life. You must leave this town within two days and never return. Go east, go west, but never again cross the river."

The cramping continued, fluctuating between crippling and merely horrible, but Henri crawled over to the bank to look and see what her reflection would show. Her face was unclear in the reflection, but her hair seemed different. Her body was still long and lanky. She was still 6'2" tall, but even thinner. Looking down at herself, she saw that her chest was completely flat. Her nipples were a bit larger, about halfway to looking female. With breasts they would pass as normal, but on her flat chest they looked boyish. She had a bit of a waist, but her hips and bum looked like that of an anorexic teen. Her legs were less hairy than before, but not the smooth shapely ones that most women had.

She sobbed, and then another cramp hit.

River looked up at her, noticing the changes in the now naked woman, particularly the blood. "What happened to you?"

"I ... the river changed me," she said. "He ... it said this is my punishment."

"It ... it spoke to you?" the girl wailed. "You are the new rivertalker?" She sobbed more deeply than ever before for a few seconds.

"No," Henri said. "It just was ... passing sentence. I have been banished from this place. The river said it is just not talking to you now."

"Now? You mean it might talk to me again later?" Henri was confused, both by the conversation about rivertalkers, and the obvious relief that the girl showed. She turned to the man, and said something softly, and he and the wolf trotted off down the river, to Henri's relief.

The girl went to a bag she had dropped by the edge of the river earlier, and brought it over to Henri, who was still standing, still naked, still bleeding, and still fluctuating between barely tolerable cramps, and much worse ones.

"We are going to have to look after you," the girl said, reaching into her bag. She pulled out two items. "This is a tampon, which we will use now, and this is a pad, which we will come to later. What's your name dear?"

"Henri," she replied in her softer voice. "Although perhaps Henrietta would be more appropriate now."

"Henrietta is not a very pretty name," the girl said. "You could pick something nicer."

"I am not a very pretty person," Henrietta said. "And I haven't been very nice in the past. I just wish I could kill myself and get it over with. I feel horrible about what I have done."

"No," the girl shouted. "You will stop thinking that way. The river went through a lot to cleanse you, and it ...," she choked up for a second, "it may have cost me a great deal as well. The fact that you now feel bad about your past means you are cured, and I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity."

"Now, you take this wrapper off ..." she said, and the most embarrassing half hour of Henrietta's life began.

When the hygiene lesson was over, Henrietta was no longer bleeding, although the cramps were just as bad as ever.

"I'd have you go into the river to wash your legs off," the girl said, "except I don't think the river wants to deal with either of us right now. Luckily I have some water in my canteen, and if I can find a rag ..."

She went and picked up a birchbark container and spilled a bit of water from it on what had been Henri's jockey shorts. They were bloody at the crotch, but she used the band areas and wetted her legs and washed away the blood. When she was finished, she looked at the bloody rag, and went to the river to rinse them out ... but then paused.

"I don't think the river wants to deal with me right now," she sobbed. "I just feel disgust coming from it. We'll carry this back to the campsite and dispose of it there. "Come on. We need to get you some dry clothes that fit." She reached into her bag and found a spare pair of panties. "It never hurts to have a spare handy."

Henrietta stepped into the panties. They were a bit loose on her, but the stretch was sufficient to stay up. Her rear was much thinner than the girl, although their waists were about the same. It felt odd to Henrietta that she no longer had a bulge in the front, as small as it had been.

She then pulled on her damp jeans, which still fit pretty well. The t-shirt was nearly dry, and it covered her top up. "You don't really need a bra," the girl said. "You should look at a camisole or softer undershirt to prevent nipple rub, if you don't. I don't think there will be any bras for sale in your size. Maybe in a bigger city, or on the Internet."

Henrietta then slipped into her running shoes, which fit perfectly. "They fit?" the girl seemed incredulous. "Women usually have smaller feet. When I changed into a girl my feet dropped four sizes."

"You were a boy?" Henrietta asked with wide eyes. "What did you do to make the river do that to you?"

"Actually, I kinda wanted it," the girl said sadly. "It was giving me so much more as a girl. I only hope that I haven't lost it all. I still feel like a girl though. I don't know if that will go away now though." She sobbed a bit, then seemed to will her sorrow away.

She whistled, and a few seconds later the man and the wolf returned. They walked to the pickup truck, and Henrietta was able to look at herself in the rear view mirror. She was not pleased at what she saw. She knew her body was boyish, except in one key area, but she saw that her face was not much changed. She still had the huge nose that had been too big for a male face, and now looked ridiculous on a female one. Not that it looked very female. The chin was still big, and with a cleft. Her beard was gone, and as she felt the smooth throat, which once had a huge Adam's apple. Her hair was a couple inches longer in the back, but in the front she had bangs covering what had once been a bald forehead and top of the head.

"I'm ugly," she thought. "This is my punishment. A male brain in a female body that is so ugly that no man or woman will ever want to love it." To her credit, she didn't even consider seeking love with children. The river had burned that desire from her, and left her as repulsed by the idea as most other people were.

They drove into the park, stopping for a second at the boys' campsite, where an elderly woman was making a breakfast for the boys, with the smaller wolf watching over them. The boy she had approached was hugging it closely as he continued to sob. The girl went out to talk to them. Henrietta wanted to get out and say she was sorry, but something told her that this would only cause the boy more hurt. Instead she stayed in the back of the truck with the big wolf, and sobbed into her hands. Occasionally her body wracked her with cramps, and they made the sobbing more real. She accepted it as her punishment, and knew it would continue for another six or seven days and then a full week every month.

The girl and the Indian came back and got into the cab, and headed to Henri's campsite. The Indian looked at the camp ticket, and was disgusted to see that it had expired days earlier. Henrietta went into the tent and grabbed her wallet and her money. There was little else she wanted -- everything seemed tainted to her now -- and she climbed back in the truck, telling the man that they could have everything else, to pay for her overstaying.

They drove the truck into town, stopping at a store on one side of the road, where the girl and she entered and purchased some feminine supplies, a small purse, a packet of panties, and a few snacks to eat on the road. Then they drove across the road to the truck stop, where there were five big rigs parked, waiting to get tax-free gas from the reservation pumps. Henrietta and the girl got out, and walked from truck to truck. The girl would stop in front of each and somehow assess it, even without the driver there. "This one will want sex," she said at one. "This one will take sex, whether or not you agree," she announced at the next. At a third truck she stopped with a shudder: "This one will kill you." She looked at Henrietta. "You must never tell them what you did ... you might feel that confession will make things better, but in your case, it won't. It might be fatal."

There was a driver at a fourth truck, getting ready to pull out.

"Excuse me sir," the girl said. "Would you be going west?"

"To Edmonton," he said politely. "Why?"

"Would you take a rider?"

"Oh my darling, you tempt me," he said. "A pretty thing like you? But I am happily married, and there is a company policy. No riders."

"Oh no," she said. "It is not me." She looked at Henrietta.

"Oh," he said, his smile disappearing as he looked at the taller girl. "Well, my wife certainly wouldn't worry about me straying with her, I guess. And the company policy is pretty slack. Look, if you ride, you can sleep in the bunk when I am driving, but when I stop for my sleep you sit in the front. No radio, no talking or singing. I need my sleep. Can you pay for your own meals?"

"Yessir," she said.

"Climb in then," the man said and then he turned to the girl with a bemused expression on his face. "Why am I doing this?"

"Because you are a good person," the girl said, and she turned and left. The man accepted her argument, and then climbed into his cab and left.

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