TFOS: Freddy On The Loose, Part 11
Note: This story uses background and concepts from the Teenagers From Outer Space role-playing game, Copyright 2001 R. Talsorian Games, Inc. The characters and story are Copyright 2001 Rodford Edmiston Smith.
As per their usual routine, Freddy and Karen met near her house to ride together to school on their bikes. Unusually, both looked rather sleepy this morning. Even more unusually, Freddy was a girl.
"Hi," said f-Freddy, a bit shyly, as she saw Karen.
"Hi," sighed Karen, who then yawned. "Sorry. Did you notice, after all that mess at the game yesterday got settled, that my folks were still in each other's bodies?"
"Uh, yeah," said Freddy, with an embarrassed grin. "I wasn't going to say anything about it. They obviously wanted it that way."
"Well, they were up half the night, 'experimenting,'" groaned Karen, rolling her eyes.
"Eewww..." said Freddy, screwing up her face in a very cute expression of disgust.
"Yeah, well, that's how we got here, remember," grinned Karen.
They completed the journey in silence, except for an occasional mutter of irritation from Freddy. Finally at school, they were just locking their bikes, Freddy bent over, hair in her eyes, when a tall guy sidled quickly up behind Freddy, staring at her rump.
"Whoah, hey, are you new here?" said the guy, seeming to materialize instantly from nowhere.
Freddy straightened, turned and blinked up at him in a moment of confusion. Then she flushed with an odd mix of emotions as she A) realized what was going on and B) remembered that this was the guy who'd picked a fight with Freddy - and lost badly - the first day of school.
Not even bothering to reply, Freddy screamed "You pervert!" picked up a trash can and slammed it down over his head so hard he wound up as short as her.
"Wasn't that...?" asked Karen, hurriedly following as Freddy stormed into the school.
"Oh..." Karen giggled. "Not too bright, is he? Though I admit to being a bit envious. Boys don't usually react that way to me."
"Yeah, well, some guys like the zaftig type, and sometimes they mistake muscle for something softer."
Freddy yawned so hard she nearly walked into the handrail at the bottom of the steps.
"You still haven't told me why you're so sleepy," said Karen. "Or should I guess?"
That last was said with a dirty smirk, and Freddy flushed again.
"Okay, I did some 'experimenting' of my own," she admitted, quietly, as they reached Karen's locker. "Not that much, though. I've been a girl enough that it's not a novelty any more. No, what happened was, this was the first time I've slept as a girl."
"Had trouble finding a comfortable position with those in the way, huh?" snickered Karen, glancing at Freddy's generous endowments.
"Not really," said Freddy, shifting uncomfortably, as Karen closed her locker. "Well, y'see... I started having one of... those dreams. I was with you and we were studying at your place, and things got hot 'n' heavy. Only they also got really confused, cause I started out a boy, but then I was a girl, and then you were a boy, and... well, I still... wanted to. Only before we could, your big brother's waterbed fell through the ceiling, burst, and washed us naked out into the street."
Freddy braced for a clobbering, but Karen's reaction surprised her.
"Oh, how sweet," said Karen, smiling. She turned and started for Freddy's locker, leaving the confused blond hastening to catch up.
"You mean you don't think that's disgusting?"
"No. I think it's very romantic. Even though you knew in a dream you were a girl, you still wanted to be with me."
"I will never understand women," sighed Freddy, glancing down at her own chest in an ironic gesture.
* * *
Fortunately, Freddy soon found Hub and got both changed back to male and changed back into male clothing. Which greatly improved Freddy's mood. He was humming happily to himself as he settled into his seat in Civics class. The students quieted, and their teacher began the lesson.
"Today, class, we are studying the social institution of a free press," Miss Furrpect announced.
As usual, she had the full attention of every male - and many of the females - in class. Today she was wearing a loose-fitting caftan-type thing, which under certain lighting conditions threatened to become (but never quite became, though it got close enough that her lack of any other clothing was obvious) completely transparent. Freddy figured that someone had told her to cover more of herself without telling her why.
"We are also combining with the shop class for an exercise they're working on, which is repairing, operating and maintaining an actual printing press. So, can you guess what this means?"
"We're studying yellow journalism?" asked Buffy.
"No, it means we're starting a school newspaper," Miss Furrpect corrected, still smiling. "An exercise in the Fifth Column!"
"Uh, shouldn't that be Fourth Estate?" asked Freddy, a bit concerned.
"Oh! You know, I think you're right!" said Miss Furrpect. "Sorry; I'm still getting used to Earth terminology."
She went on to explain how every member of the class would be expected to participate, either in physically producing the paper, or in writing articles for the first few issues.
"After the class project is completed, volunteers will keep publishing a paper or newsletter in some form as a school institution."
The whole thing sounded rather dull to Freddy, but Karen volunteered so he decided to as well.
The class split into two groups. The smaller, composed of the paper's staff was instructed by Miss Furrpect to select who would serve which position. She then went off to work with the larger group - which was to provide sample articles - giving them examples from famous papers and journalists and describing the history of journalism.
"Ooh!" said Jim, excitedly. "I wonder if I can do a comic strip!"
Karen was quickly selected editor, on the basis of previous experience in junior high. An alien Freddy didn't know, Flinkpoid, was selected as events reporter, mostly because it (He?) was a cute little fluffy white bunny of indeterminate gender to whom no-one could say no. Talli Illat, a gorgeous alien babe who looked entirely human, was social/fashion editor. Freddy asked to be made sports editor, but that went to Jim. Freddy tried to get selected as news reporter, but that went to Ramet. Freddy tried next for technical reporter, but that went to Hub.
"There's nothing left for me!" an exasperated Freddy cried.
"Sure there is. Layouts, proofreading..."
"I want to be a reporter!"
"Okay, write commentary stuff and if it's good we'll print it," said Karen, with a shrug. "Mostly, though, you're going to help with the actual making of the physical newspaper."
"You mean the typesetting? I don't want a dirty, inky job! I want to write!"
"No, that's what the shop folks are doing. I mean figuring out how things will be arranged on the paper." She smiled sweetly at him. "You're good at fiddly stuff like that. Sometimes I think you're a bit OCD."
"Hey, aren't you that guy who has to be a girl on the cheerleading squad?" asked Talli. "You could do a column on that! You know, a sort of 'My life as a girl' human interest bit."
"Oooh, I like that," said Karen, with a sudden, fierce grin. "You work on that angle first, Freddy. If it's good, we'll let you do other stuff."
"I don't want..."
Miss Furrpect returned, having given the others enough to keep them busy for a while.
"Everything settled? Good. The room we've set aside for the newspaper office is this way."
She led them out of the classroom and down the hall, to another room which contained tables and computer gear at one end, and a small rotary press at the other. Freddy noted that the shop classroom was adjacent, and could be entered through a door beyond the press. The press looked old and dirty, but intact. Though he did wonder why they were using an actual printing press instead of a modern, digital printer. Maybe a shop class needed something both mechanical and complicated.
"For the next two weeks our class will meet briefly together, then your group will come in here and work. The goal is to produce one issue by this time next week, then repeat. The other group will criticize the issue, then you will answer the criticisms. Okay?"
"Sure," said Karen, eagerly rubbing her hands together. "Okay, team, let's get busy!"
* * *
Hub was already in the cafeteria, avidly reading a car magazine, by the time Freddy arrived for lunch. Freddy filled his tray and sat across from the big rhino-whale guy. The usual crew quickly assembled.
"You look like you're in love," said Freddy.
"Oh, they've got an article on the new model Zamboni," said Hub. He sighed, a wistful smile on his face. "What a work of art."
"So, buy one," said Freddy.
"He'd have to buy two," said Ramet, snickering. "One for each foot."
"Yeah," said Hub. "They are very small. Are Italians all midgets or something?"
"Ah, no; you're thinking of the French," said Freddy, tongue in cheek. "I remember my Dad saying something about the Italians liking their cars intimate."
Karen, bearing her tray, bore down on the group, which was unusual, since she normally sat with some female friends.
"We've already got a scoop!" she announced eagerly. "They've tracked down the guy who made that switcher bomb!"
"Already?" said Hub, startled. "I mean, the talent needed to build something like that is rare, but..."
"He had his name and business address inside the thing!" said Karen. "They think he didn't know what it was going to be used for. If so, he should be able to tell the police who hired him to make it!"
"You heard this where?" asked Ramet.
"Dilly Pickle was running an errand for Assistant Principal Mueler, and heard Principal Tolliver talking with an Alien Control Officer about it."
"Well, that's good news," said Freddy. "Even if there's more than one person or group doing this stuff, this should stop one cold and put the others on notice."
"One can hope," sighed Ramet.
"I wonder if we can get an interview with the guy for the paper."
"Dilly didn't hear the name," said Karen. "Besides, we have to wait our turn, after the police talk to him. Otherwise we might damage their investigation."
"No, no, aggressive reporters..."
* * *
"Finally, I get my own," chortled Freddy, as he and Karen left the alien goods store.
"Oh, stop drooling," muttered Karen. "And stop fondling that thing."
"Mine, all mine," sighed Freddy, reluctantly yielding to Karen and putting the Boy/Girl Gun back in the shopping bag. "Next step: that hyperspatial holster."
"Yeah, that would be neat," agreed Karen, "but since I already have a hyperspatial purse I don't really need one."
"How long until you can afford another Boy/Girl Gun?" Freddy asked.
"Oh, since you have one I'm not going to bother," she replied, shrugging. "I mean, its not like I need one for anything except to help you."
"What if you get sniped?" snickered Freddy, meaningfully sneaking a hand into his shopping bag.
"You wouldn't dare," said Karen, casually.
Freddy sighed again and removed his hand.
"Wanna go over to The Evening Club?" asked Freddy. "Your treat, since you got paid with money but I took mine out in trade."
"Okay, but only if we get to dance some!"
As it turned out, she decided to drop that last requirement. This was "random night." While the pair sat and waited for their food to arrive, they watched the dancers. Thanks to Hub's modified version of the Boy/Girl/Whatever setup, it now only affected those actually on the dance floor. Most of them were in unisex clothes, though some wore gender-specific garb, apparently for the humorous effect produced when they changed inappropriately.
"The things some people do for fun," muttered Freddy, shaking his head.
"Hey, it is fun!" said a girl in a jumpsuit, at the next table. "You have to stay on until you get back to normal, which can take a while. Makes it a challenge."
"Hmmm..." thought Freddy, perking up a bit at the word "challenge."
"Oh, no, you don't!" said Karen. "I've had enough changing lately to last a good, long while. So have you, for that matter! Especially since you've got cheerleader practice tomorrow."
"'Cheerleader practice'?" the girl repeated, looking confused.
"It's a long story," said Freddy, in a tone which implied he wasn't going to relate it.
"So you like changing when you dance?" Karen asked, curious in spite of her own unwillingness to participate.
"Yeah. I admit, most people who come here don't go on the floor on random night. Well, a few who don't know what it means do, and it's fun to watch them when the get zapped! Anyway, yeah. My boyfriend and I both enjoy it. A couple of times we've even gone home changed! Of course, that was usually because we were drunk and forgot to change back, or just didn't realize we weren't quite back to normal."
"Well, we were at the football game yesterday, and got caught in that Switcher Bomb," Karen explained.
"No kidding!" the young woman exclaimed, looking suddenly more interested. "You two got switched?"
"Well, not with each other," said Freddy, a bit wistfully.
"Wow! Y'know, my boyfriend and I were planning to go to the game, but we got sidetracked and missed it."
"It wasn't very fun," said Karen.
"Yeah, but, y'know, the idea of switching bodies with someone..." she shivered with imagined excitement.
Just then a rather grungy-looking guy, also in a jumpsuit, arrived. He mumbled a greeting to Freddy and Karen, then he and the girl went onto the dance floor. Interestingly, the guy made a moderately attractive girl.
"Y'know, that might be fun, switching with each other," said Karen, thoughtfully. "We trade places for a day or two, and see if we can fool everyone."
"I'll pass, thanks," said Freddy. "Besides, you'd hate cheerleader practice."
"Yeah..." sighed Karen.
Just then their food arrived, and they dug in.
* * *
During their next journalism class Freddy was talking to Hub about how he and Karen went to The Evening Club and how well the big guy's work was being received.
"Oh! That reminds me!" said Jim. "You folks know Senator Kraighearn?"
"Not personally," said Karen, wryly.
"I mean you know who he is," said Jim, rolling his eyes. "He's on a rant against alien tech in general, transforming tech in particular and The Evening Club specifically. Says all these changes are 'unnatural.'"
"There's a lot of that going around," said Karen, nodding. "A backlash against alien technologies and the weirdness they sometimes bring. Lots of folks are claiming 'It ain't natural!'"
"Isn't Kraighearn the guy with two cornea transplants, a heart valve, a hip replacement, a knee replacement, false teeth and who dropped his bottle of Viagra when trying to seduce a Senate orderly?" said Freddy.
"Page," said Jim, nodding. "They're called Senate Pages. Yeah, that's him."
"Ooooh," said Karen, eye gleaming. "Our first political exposé!"
"Let's get busy," said Freddy, rubbing his hands together.
End Part Eleven
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