Note to the reader: The characters in this story will be recognizable to readers of a certain comic strip. In that regard, this is actually a fan fiction story, my first in ages. I had a fun time writing it, and a miserable time trying to get everything right in the edit. I know I messed up a bunch of important details, sorry. Hope you enjoy it anyway.
Faye was 16 years old. She'd started wearing a bra in 6th grade, had been so excited at first, getting boobs before most other girls in her class. But the excitement slowly waned, giving way to uncertainty, and then disappointment as her noobs (her sister Katie called them that) refused to grow. Now in 11th grade, she was a frustrating 32AA, the smallest of all her friends. It didn't help that she was 5'1" tall and weighed only 92 lbs. Of course she had no noobs: she wore size zero-zero jeans.
"Mom!" she complained stridently one morning. "Where are my... ?" She fumed, digging through her top drawer. Where were her stupid bras? If that stupid Timmy was effing with her again...
She looked at the floor and her various pieces of bedroom furniture. No bras lying around. Were they all in the wash, she wondered? Not like she had a huge selection, maybe a dozen total. They couldn't all be dirty. Could they?
Miffed, she stomped into her closet and checked the floor. No bras there, either. She never used the hamper her mother insisted she use, but she checked it anyway, and guess what?
"Well fuck! What are you doing in there?" She reached in and snatched up the handful of bras. And blinked in confusion. These weren't hers. They were all too big ... size 36C, she read off the labels.
God, what she wouldn't give to actually wear these bras! She laughed, chagrined. Where were hers?
"Mom?" No answer to her yell. She stomped to her bedroom door and hollered at her mother again. Still no answer. She went through her bedroom door--and screamed.
She was outside, in the middle of the street, completely naked with no clothes on. (Yes, I know it's redundant, saying she was naked with no clothes on, but I'm the one writing this story and I feel like saying it, so there.) She panic-danced, screaming and spinning in circles and covering herself convulsively as any naked 16 year old would. She bolted for her front door, still wailing.
Shut up! her head screamed at her. Do you want everyone on the whole planet looking at you? Because that's what her screaming would insure, that everyone within earshot would stop what they were doing and gawp at the scrawny 16 year old with no clothes on. But no one was looking. Not that Faye knew any better. She was too panic-stricken for coherent thought or insightful observation.
She tore up her sidewalk at breakneck speed, skinning her toes on the rough cement and jamming, almost breaking her big toe stumbling up the steps. She rebounded off the door, and then tried to wrench it open. Incredibly, the door was unlocked, but she forgot it opened inward, and struggled with it stupidly for ten seconds before memory set in. By then, she was pretty much hyperventilating and on the verge of passing out.
"Ohhhhh," she moaned nauseously. She bent double for a moment, and then hugged herself tight, and then sat down clumsily on the stoop before she collapsed. Only then did she notice--well, half-notice--that no one was watching her. This was all she remembered upon awakening.
How long was she out, she wondered dully. She sat up, knowing she had awoken with her legs spread wide, showing anyone looking her girly parts. Not that anyone seemed to have seen. There was no one around, it looked like. That troubled her almost as much as being naked with her legs spread wide.
She stumbled to her feet, still dangerously nauseous, afraid of throwing up. This was something out of a nightmare, she thought. In fact, she'd dreamed this scenario dozens of times since starting puberty and wondered now if she weren't actually dreaming. If so, it hurt like crazy, considering her toes. How had she skinned them so badly just running up the walk? And why was she standing here naked, in front of the whole effing neighborhood? Get your ass inside, she told herself. Instead, she stayed where she was, looking up and down the street.
"What is going on?" she muttered.
She took a step down, when common sense ordered retreat into the house for some clothes. And where were her clothes, anyway? Before storming through her bedroom door, she'd been in her pale green tank top and jammie bottoms. Now she was naked outside on her front stoop. How did that jibe? And where was her mother?
"Mom?" she asked unsteadily. She had better sit down again she thought, head spinning sickeningly. She did, keeping her knees locked together this time. It did no good; upon waking from this second wooze-out, she again found her legs apart. Then she did something totally arbitrary and horrifying.
Fighting the impulse with every neuron in her head, Faye stumbled down the three steps to the walk, lurched down it and halfway into the street, laid down on her back and spread her legs. Wailing in despair, she spread them far apart as she possibly could, and then used her fingertips to expose her insides. She held this pose a full two minutes, crying hysterically. Then she flipped onto her stomach and pushed her behind into the air, spreading herself with her index fingers and thumbs, showing the entire world her pink insides. Her knees were now skinned up worse than her toes.
"Mommy!" she wailed desperately. "Please let me go!"
Her mother had nothing to do with this, of course--only the devil. Or some devilish bastard who'd seized control of her mind and body somehow. She might be insane, imagining all this in a padded room somewhere, clad in a straightjacket. She'd rather that, than what she was doing to herself on this black pavement.
"Please?" she begged, destitute. "Please stop?"
Whoever it was, let her go.
She staggered erect, stumbled back to the front steps and collapsed. She didn't care that her legs were wide open again. Like it really effing mattered, made a stupid difference after that. She sobbed, trying to silence her sobs. She laid back and looked at the blue sky way above. She woozed out again.
"Faye Simmons? Do you have any intention of getting out of bed this morning?" It was her mother, calling from downstairs.
Faye looked groggily at the clock, discovered it was 6:06 a.m. She was still in bed, under the covers, clad in her green jammie's. What the eff was happening?
She sat bolt upright, checking her knees. They were unblemished, same as her toes. She checked the palms of her hands, her shoulders and elbows, everything skinned up by the rough pavement. She even checked her boobs, yanking out the front of her top. Nothing amiss.
It was a dream then, an effing nightmare. She struggled out of bed, disjointed and nauseous. She peeled the top off over her head, unaware why. The door was closed and Timmy was in the shower, she thought. At least the water was running. She glanced at the door and then tossed her top on the floor.
Effing prick. Wouldn't he just love to see her topless, she thought. Wouldn't he love to catch her topless with the hickey on her boob. She looked down at it, blinking. Then she squeaked, "What?"
Whirling, she eyed herself bug-eyed in the mirror. She had four hickeys on her boobs, not one. Overnight, someone had added a second bite to the underside of her left breast, and two more to her right, staggered slightly apart. She gaped, pop-eyed and horrified.
She looked at her bed. She looked at her door. She looked at the window, which was stupidly open. The blinds were, at least. She was topless with hickeys on her boobs in full view of the Nicholson's house, she realized. Not that anyone was watching. Not with the blinds closed over there. Wait--did she just detect a movement in the blinds?
Startled, she reflexively spun around and covered up, forearms over her chest. Never had she worried about windows during the daytime. She dressed and undressed in front of it without a thought. Now she thought about it intensely.
Could someone see her nude? In the daytime, she wondered? She never did it at night. Did she?
She looked back over her shoulder. Had she really seen that window slat move? She was pretty sure she had. She was pretty sure the slat was still cockeyed, in fact.
If he's got binoculars, he's looking at my bare back right now, she thought. Maybe I should put my tank top back on, she thought. And maybe I should just wiggle out of my pajama bottoms and show you my skinny bare bottom, she thought, acidly.
The hickey was Jon's. He'd put it there Saturday night at the party at Nona's house.
Nona's? That wasn't right. The party was at Angela's house, not Nona's. Why had she thought that? It had been a year--almost a year--since she had done more than say Hi to Nona in school.
She furrowed her brow. What was Nona's last name, anyway? Did she even know? How could you be BFF's with someone and not know her last name? Not that they were BFF's anymore. Nona didn't even talk to Hil.
Oh, crap, she thought: Hil.
She was BFF with Hil--until Saturday night at least, before she let Jon push up her shirt, unsnap her bra, and attack her little noobies. Her nipples were still sensitive from being sucked on so hard, and fingered so much. Jon just loved her little...
For the first time, she wondered if Katie actually meant 'newbies' when she had coined that phrase. As in, brand-new, tiny little boobies, rather than describing them as 'nubs'. If so, was that even more embarrassing than noobies, she wondered? Uncovering and looking down, she decided yes, that was a more embarrassing comparison. Her newbies, unchanged in four and a half years. She sighed, depressed.
If left up to Jon (or any other boy she'd locked lips with lately) she'd no longer be a virgin. Jon had been desperate to fuck her; so much, that Faye was shocked. She'd been into Jon for a while now, but never got a hint from Hil that he was a sex-crazed maniac. He meant to rape her for a while there, she thought. He was just so crazy for it.
Timmy walked into the room, naked and dripping wet. Faye was too startled to scream, only stood there drop-jawed and bug-eyed. She didn't move as her brother walked over and...
She opened her eyes. She was in the back of some car, her top pushed up, and her bra undone. A boy she suspected was a friend of Jon's was noisily sucking her left nipple. He had his hand between her legs, groping her through her shorts. Oh, Jesus Christ, she thought despondently.
"Brian! Brian, stop!" She shoved his hand away from her crotch and then grabbed it with both hands.
"What?" Brian protested.
It must be the back of his car she was in, she thought. How the eff did she get in the back of some boy's car! And where was her naked brother? God, he'd had an effing hard on, and a big one! It was obvious Brian had a big one too, how it was digging into her thigh.
"Where are we?" she complained.
Brian fought her efforts to keep his hand away from her crotch.
"Brian, STOP!" she yelled.
He finally raised his head. "What?"
She stared at him as they warred for control of his hand.
"Please?" she begged. "I don't know what I'm doing here. Can I ask for a little space, please? You already have my boobs."
He looked at her querulously.
"Please? Just the hand?"
He relented with a sigh. "I knew you were a tease." Grumbling, he sat up. Then insulted her by yanking down the front of her shirt and calling her "Cunt."
She grimaced. "Please don't call me that. I'm not a tease, and I'm not a cunt." She yanked up the shirt and bared her chest again. There were no hickeys there. She peeled the top off over her head and wiggled out of her bra.
"Better?" she asked defiantly. She had never been topless before with a boy.
Brian eyed her admiringly. "I love your tiny breasts."
"Gee, thanks," she muttered. "How did we get here? Where are we?"
Brian had difficulty looking away from her chest. "Why are you asking me? You suggested this place."
She looked around, not recognizing the spot at all. It seemed to be an overlook. Where were they?
"Do you know what's going on?"
A light from outside the car illuminated her bare chest. She shrieked and convulsively covered up. And then she was...
... sunning topless alongside a backyard pool. She jerked upright in the chaise lounge, throwing panicked glances everywhere. She was alone, and seemingly invisible behind tall board fences. She could only see the roofs of the neighbor's houses and the tops of trees.
The top of her bikini sat beside her on the deck. It was the new one she'd bought for the summer. She was back to the single hickey on her left boob, she noted, the one Jon had put there. God, she was beginning to regret that. Where the eff was she, anyway?
Behind and to the right, the patio door slid open and Stacey Miller, her boyfriend Todd, Kellie Holland and her boyfriend James came through the opening, trailed by Jon, carrying two iced drinks with plastic straws. Both girls were topless and glistening with lotion, as was Faye. Both girls had significantly bigger boobs than Faye, and Kellie was much bigger. She fought a knee-jerk reaction to cover up; Jon grinned wide as he approached.
"Prune juice, as ordered," he joked.
It looked suspiciously like a Coke to Faye, hopefully a Diet Coke. She took the cold glass with numb fingers, and adjusted the chaise to sit up. The two claimed by Stacey and Kellie were upright also. Both girls sat down.
Whose house was she at? Not Jon's ... his grandma didn't have a backyard pool. So one of the girls, then. They wouldn't be at a boy's house, not sunning topless. They just wouldn't do that ... would they?
Who came through the door first, she wondered. It was Stacey and Todd, she decided, which made it a good bet this was Stacey's house. Why were they sunning topless, though? Whose stupid idea was this, three 16-year-olds with their tops off? Come to think if it, why had she and Brian been in the back seat of a car? He wasn't old enough to drive. He was only 15, a 10th grader.
She sipped the drink, nothing but Diet Coke, thank goodness. She eyed Jon as he came around and sat beside her in a chair. Stacey and Kellie were chattering about a party this weekend, and Todd and James were talking football. Both were on the varsity team. Todd was a wide reviewer and James ... a defensive tackle, she thought? Maybe.
"I can't believe you agreed to this," Jon said. "Not that I'm complaining. You know?"
She followed his eyes to the purple hickey on her boob. She bet Stacey and Kellie had teased her about that. She bet the guys had given Jon a hard time, stupid boy-laughing and snickering. Stupid boys.
She had no hickeys on the sidewalk or in the car, she remembered. Four of them in her bedroom. Where the eff was her brother and Brian?
It surprised her, how little attention she and her friends got for being topless. The boys seemed not to notice at all. The two other boys, anyway; Jon wanted to look nowhere else but her chest, it seemed. It was so embarrassing. She hadn't said a word, so far, to anyone.
"You okay?" Jon asked. "You seem kind of spooked."
"Do I?" She sipped her soda. She was most definitely spooked.
He leaned close. "We can go in the house, if you like... ?"
His suggestion came with a playfully raised eyebrow. Faye pretended not to notice. How had she got into this mess? Any of them?
"Can I ask you something?" she said in a low voice.
Jon leaned in conspiratorially. His high wattage grin was back. "Sure, doll."
"Doll?" she thought with a start. She tried to ignore it, get her thoughts in order.
How do you ask an insane question without sounding insane? What if she just disappeared again? What if the new situation was even worse? Every episode had this in common: she'd been topless. Completely nude in the first episode, but never in such horrible circumstances since. It made her squirm, remembering her behavior in the street. Had she really displayed herself like that? Was any of this real? Jon waited expectantly.
"What did the guys say about my hickey?" she asked.
He blinked. His grin dialed down a notch. That was not the reaction she expected, dodge question or not.
"They wondered who gave it to you," he said uncertainly. "I told them I didn't know."
Faye blinked rapidly. "Okay ... thank you. I think," she said slowly.
His grin was completely gone now. "What was I supposed to say?"
She had no idea. She was very confused. "Who do you think gave it to me?"
He cocked his head. "Who did?"
She realized he didn't know. Or was effing with her. Maybe he didn't know. Maybe she gave it to herself, she thought, sourly. That wasn't any crazier that turning up in a car with Brian Clemons at a make out spot.
He cocked his head even more. A ghost of a smile returned. "You want me to guess?"
Do I, she wondered?
He laughed at her uncertainty. "It's driving me crazy, wondering who. I wish you'd tell me, Faye."
He was being honest, she was certain of that. It meant she'd bared her chest for a third boy now, not including her brother. Or none, depending on how you looked at it. She liked the none option better, but guessed that was just wishful thinking.
"Do you like me better than Hil?" she asked.
His grin vanished again. He was instantly uncomfortable. "I thought we agreed not to talk about that."
"You know I like you, right? I mean... ?" She spread her hands in a, look where we are, gesture. "I wouldn't take off my top for just anyone, you know."
"I hope not. You shouldn't bring Hil into it, though. That's not cool."
"Is she okay?" It wasn't safe to assume anything, she suspected.
"Why wouldn't she be?" he queried, looking puzzled.
Oh, because I keep jumping from one impossible situation to another, she thought, chagrined.
"I want to ask another question. Not the one I wanted to ask but didn't, but something close."
"You know how you and Hil meet up every summer after vacation starts?"
He nodded, obviously stumped by the question.
"How many times have you done that, Jon?"
His brow wrinkled in consternation. "What?"
"Jon ... I'm sitting topless beside the backyard pool of a girl I barely know. They're topless, we're 16 years old, and it's a school day. You're Hilary's boyfriend, but you're with me. I like you, and you gave me this hickey on my boob. Whether you know it or not, you did. It happened Saturday night. Were we together Saturday night?"
Jon looked truly flummoxed now.
"If we weren't together Saturday night, and you didn't give me this, what are we doing here together on a Monday afternoon?"
He shook his head uncertainly. "It's Wednesday."
"Whatever day it is!" she said in exasperation, "What are we doing here together?"
Jon sat back, bewildered.
"Go back to my original question then. How many times have you and Hil met up for summer vacation?"
He scratched his head. "I don't know. Fifteen times, maybe. What did you mean, I gave you that hickey? You told me not to ask about it."
"No, I didn't. Maybe some other Faye Simmons did, but not me. How could you have met her fifteen times when you're 16 years old, Jon?" She waved her drink glass, frustrated. "How could you not remember giving me this stupid hickey? Especially after I almost killed you for doing it? How could you not remember us hooking up Saturday night?"
Jon stared at her, flabbergasted.
"Just answer the one about you and Hil, Jon. You're 16 years old. So is Hil. I know you've met up with her at least a dozen times. You were going to school at four, Jon?"
Jon wagged his head, open-mouthed. "What are you talking about, Faye? Fifteen years? Twelve?" He comically scratched his head. "It can't be, even a dozen." He seemed to be counting in his head. Faye took his hand.
"I'm older than 16, Jon. I think maybe, I'm a lot older. I can't seem to get this stuff straight in my head, though; it's really bothering me."
Not quite as much as jumping from one ordeal to another, mostly topless, she thought sourly, but enough. She was surprised she hadn't flitted away already.
She looked up, startled, at the sound of a soft whirring that grew suddenly louder. Hovering above the fence was a black drone, the four electric motors the source of the noise. Faye had never seen a drone up close before. It was obvious the pair of cameras slung beneath the sleek black shape were meant to send back video to the drone's operator. They were being spied upon, topless.
"Jesus!" Kellie yelped, covering up. She upset the chaise just enough to dump her off the side onto her butt. Stacey shrieked and spun around, hunching and covering up, gaping at the drone over her shoulder. Todd and James both started shouting and threatening to KO the vehicle, looking around for something to use as missiles.
Faye stared at the drone, faintly amused. This was not a totally unexpected development. She stymied Jon by twiddling her fingers at the cameras. She remained uncovered as the drone shifted, the cameras zooming in on her.
Jon hurled his drink. The glass shattered against one of the four motors, breaking the rotors. The craft tottered for a moment above the fence, dangerously off kilter, and then withdrew. Todd and James raced to the gate, both fumbling at the handle before Todd got it open and hurled the gate aside; they both rushed through. Faye grabbed Jon's wrist.
"Want to go inside?" she asked. The excitement had her unaccountably horny. Jon gaped at her.
"We could have some fun?" she offered. Now Jon blinked furiously.
"I'll let you give me three more of these..." She pointed out where the three additional hickeys could go. "You don't even have to get me out of my shirt, Jon. I'm not wearing one."
She grinned at his dismayed expression, took a sip of her drink, deliciously cold in the afternoon warmth.
Jon had said it was Wednesday. Did that matter to her? What's one more pimple to a face full of acne, she wondered.
She blinked, and found herself at her desk in Trig. She was not topless, thank God, but what the eff was she wearing? She jumped as someone tapped her right shoulder.
"Dude? Did you get that Faye ain't wearing a bra today?"
Startled, she looked back to see the half-leer on Eric McCormack's face.
"Wh-what?" She followed the slight nod and cut of Eric's eyes to a shock even worse: sitting across, and one seat back was a girl wearing her clothes.
What the... ?
The girl had identical short black hair, pale complexion, and stubby nails. She had on one of Faye's short-sleeve black turtlenecks, jeans, and her brown leather vest. It was not obvious to Faye that her imposter was braless; she'd have to accept Eric's word for that.
Looking down, she discovered herself in a t-shirt emblazoned with some heavy metal rock band, and boy's jeans. On her feet was a pair of Nike sneakers she didn't own. Her hands were her own, the nails stubby but unpolished, and she wore no rings. A quick feel of her left earlobe proved she wore no earrings, though she did have holes. She was not wearing a bra, but why should she, dressed as a boy? This was too much.
"What day is it?" she asked Eric, who blinked.
"Is today Monday ... or Wednesday?"
"Dude... ?" Eric's brow furrowed. "What are you talking about?"
Faye rolled her eyes. "It's a simple question, dude."
She was suddenly aware of a phone in her left front pocket and dug it out. It was not her iPhone 6, but an older 5C model. She knew it was a 5C because of the cheap plastic Home button. This was not her old 5C, though. Hers had been blue. This one was white.
The lock screen was a picture of Rosie Huntington-Whitely in a blue two-piece bathing suit. She recognized the magazine cover. According to the phone, it was Wednesday, June 3rd.
Still Wednesday, she thought distractedly. Did that matter? Hoping the pass code was hers, she keyed it in and blinked at the Home Screen photo of herself, snapped clandestinely as she sat at her desk. She wore one of her few skirts and a sleeveless blue top. The pic had been snapped from right here.
Flustered, she tapped the Photos icon--tried to anyway--to see what other pictures were on the phone. She clumsily tapped the Camera button instead. It showed her desk and Trig text and notebook. Irritated, she tapped the Flip Camera button and looked at herself on the display. It was definitely her, with a boy's haircut, no makeup, and no earrings, which she knew anyway.
She discretely nudged her right boob, and found it still there. That was good, still a girl, at least. Even more discretely, she shifted her thighs and discovered nothing amiss. She seemed to be wearing a foreign type of underwear though, and of course, no bra. Did her fellow students see her as a boy? That was disturbing.
"Dude? You okay?" Eric asked.
"No, I am not okay," she grumbled. "I'm as far from okay as--"
She yelped, staggering sideways, skipping clumsily down the incline of a plastic slide. She was in the middle of a deserted playground, dressed in her Trig clothes. She recognized her surroundings as Two Oaks County Park, and she was alone. Almost. On a swing, kicking gently back and forth was her imposter from Trig.
Panting, she hopped off the slide. A thorough look around assured her that she and her twin were alone. Her other self stared at her impassively a moment, and then burst into tears. Faye understood in that moment that somehow, she and the sobbing girl were both Faye Simmons ... and both were in this mess together. She walked slowly to the swings.
"Are you real?" she asked.
Faye on the swing wiped her nose on the back of her hand. "What difference does it make? It'll only ... Wait! Is it happening to you too?" She jumped awkwardly to her feet. Faye saw that she was indeed, not wearing a bra. She probably didn't have on panties, either.
"Are you wearing panties?" she asked impulsively.
Her other self exploded: "I'm lucky to have this on! Most of the time I'm fucking naked, or topless! Do you know what it's like being naked in front of your whole class?"
Faye made a calming gesture. "It's okay, Faye. We're in this together. Can I call you Faye?"
Her impostor wiped her nose with the back of her hand. "How long have you been doing this?"
"All morning," Faye said. It occurred to her she had her rings back, and her earrings. She was a girl again. If not dressed like one.
The other Faye sighed. "Lucky you. Two days for me, now. This is so maddening." She gazed, a bit apologetically at Faye's chest. "Do your hickeys keep coming and going?"
Faye looked down, peeked inside her t-shirt, unsurprised to find herself free of purple blotches. She missed the one belonging to her; it gave her a sense of self.
Other Faye pulled out her shirt, peeked inside also, and sighed. "We have that in common, anyway. Am I your first meet with yourself?"
The question startled Faye. "How many of us are there?"
"A lot. Like you and me in Trig a minute ago. The others were always unaware of my presence, though. It was you in Trig, right?"
"That was different. Usually I've been the other boy or girl, recognizing myself. And we were aware of each other, too. I don't know why I didn't get that when you showed up on the slide. I guess I'm slow after two days of this. I'm so effing tired."
She looked tired, dark patches beneath hollowed-out eyes, sallow complexion; shoulders slumped pitifully. Faye took a step forward, and enveloped her in her arms. Other Faye clung to her tightly and went back to sobbing. Faye stood there and rocked her.
Two days of this crap? It was amazing she could even talk, Faye thought. She walked her clone toward the closest bench and sat down. Other Faye curled up beside her and stuck her thumb in her mouth. Faye thought she might have mentally regressed to needing that, after two days.
"Hey," she said softly. "Do you know what's happening to us?"
Other Faye shook her head disjointedly.
Faye said: "I don't believe we're cartoon characters. That just isn't possible. Do you have another theory?"
Other Faye nodded. "We're a computer program," she said around her thumb. "Someone programmed us into a computer and is having fun with us now."
Faye had wondered as much. How else to explain all the craziness going on? Hilary had mentioned numerous times how none of them seemed to age, and that life had a comic strip texture. Her guess was that somebody had programmed characters into a computer capable of AI, and was manipulating her storyline. She wondered how deep this went. Were all of her friends AI, she wondered, or was she the only one? The other people--characters--could all be part of the background. Or back story. Or whatever it's effing called. What an appalling thought.
"I feel like someone's drawing a pornographic version of a comic strip," Other Faye said. "Maybe even a kid. Making us do horrible things."
The idea made Faye's stomach clench. How many times had she drawn pornographic cartoons, to delight herself and her friends? That was only a step removed from creating pornographic cartoons on the computer. She knew they existed. She'd seen them on the Internet: 3D characters fucking, getting blowjobs, and fucking 3D girls in the ass. Imagining 3D characters with AI wasn't hard. Imagine it happening to her.
"The other you's you saw: do you think they're AI?"
Other Faye half-shook, half-nodded her head, also shrugged. "I don't think anyone else is; they all seem clueless. Worse than clueless, you know ... paper mâché." She squeezed her eyes shut. "I don't want to talk about this anymore. Can we not talk about it?"
"Sure, sweetie," Faye said soothingly. "Just ... can you tell me what day it is for you?"
Other Faye shook her head, but choked out: "Wednesday, I think. This all started for me Monday morning."
She was time traveling, then, skipped ahead to Wednesday, bypassing the horrors her older self had undergone. To what purpose?
"He jumped me ahead to be with you," she muttered. "To keep you from cracking up." She gently stroked her older self's hair. "He put too much time into programming us, I guess, to let his creation go schizo."
Which begged the question, how many scenarios did this freak have running? Maybe her twin's suggestion of some kid playing games was all wrong. Maybe they were characters in some huge government sim, created to test the reactions of people in emergency situations, create terrible scenarios without putting real people at risk. How did that jibe with her current situation, though?
A moment's further thought and it came clear: Some sadistic programmer was messing with her AI mind, getting his rocks off. Did this person care about the misery he or she was putting them through? She might be AI, but she certainly had feelings. How emotion was programmed into a computer, she didn't know, but she had them.
"Whoever you are, I hate you," she muttered, cradling her older-self tight. "Leave us alone, why don't you?"
Instead, the programmer put them together in bed, both clothed in light green tank tops and jammie bottoms. Older Faye curled up tight against her on her side, thumb in mouth, sucking softly. It was Faye's own bedroom and the clock read 3:10 a.m.
Well, okay, she thought. Thank you, whoever you are.
A woman's voice said quietly behind her: "You're welcome. Get some sleep, now. In the morning, you'll find you two are identical twins: Faye, and Kaye Simmons. Make sure Kaye makes it back to her bedroom before your mom wakes up. You don't want to be caught together in bed. Mom is already suspicious of you."
Faye had stiffened in shock, making Kaye stir in her sleep. She cautiously looked back over her shoulder, spotted a shape in the darkest corner of the room, next to her closet door.
You hear my thoughts, she said to the apparition.
"When need be," the woman said softly. "I'm Katherine, your program manager. I'm sorry about the ordeal you went through today. Somebody hacked our system. We don't know who yet, though it appears not to be some foreign power by the looks of it." Her voice dripped irony. "The resulting breakdown has made you self-aware, unfortunately, and we don't know how to handle that issue just yet. The malfunction was compounded by your duplication. We don't understand that glitch at all. Theoretically, it's not even possible. Anyway..." Katherine sighed dejectedly. "We have two of you now to contend with, and the scenario had to be accommodated. Twinning was the most straightforward option. You and your sister have unique identities in the program now. True identical twins."
Faye's hostility toward the stranger needed no words.
"I'm sorry. It's the best I could do, Faye."
Just get out, she thought angrily. Then she thought of Jon, and the hickey on her breast, and her anger intensified.
"It's there," Katherine assured her quickly. "Unless you want it removed, or reassigned to your sister."
Faye clamped her teeth. What I want is for you to die a horrible fucking death, bitch! You and the rest of your fucking programmer buddies! Did you even once think how wrong this is, creating us? From a fucking comic strip, she yelled in outrage.
Katherine grimaced. Faye realized she could see her now. Her eyes had adjusted to the dark.
"You don't like who you are?"
Faye bristled, shuddering all the way down to her toes. She forced herself to calm when Kaye shifted and moaned in her sleep. She snuggled tight against her sister and tightened her hold around Kaye's chest; Kaye whimpered, then went back to sleep
Tell me she doesn't have a hickey on her boob, she thought caustically.
Katherine's face was mostly discernible in the dim light. She was dark-haired, in her mid to late twenties, Faye estimated; she looked vaguely familiar.
Katherine shook her head. "Don't worry about that right now. You have to get up in three hours. I'll talk to you tomorrow night. And don't worry about the program. We isolated the renegade code and have it quarantined. There should be no further disruptions ... at least, nothing like what tormented you today."
Faye stared at her, fuming. Tell that to my sister, she thought. She went through the really horrible stuff. Two days of it, lady. This isn't over yet, not by a long shot. I'm not finished with you yet. I want to know everything, she demanded.
Katherine stepped into a shaft of streetlight from the bedroom's front window. Faye blinked, startled. The face was hers, matured ten years, haggard and sleepless. Katherine had a black eye, puffy and half-lidded; her bottom lip was split and swollen. She smiled, dejectedly.
"There's more to this than you know. I'll tell you what I can later. Right now, you need to sleep."
Fat chance of that, Faye thought, disturbed.
Katherine nodded understanding. Then her image suddenly shivered, half-disappeared like an effect on TV, became staticky before stabilizing again. She frowned unhappily, eyes focused on something unseeable by Faye. "Fuck," she muttered, shaking her head. Just before disappearing with a soft popping sound, she looked up and gave Faye a panicked, "Sorry!"
Faye was alone.
The alarm startled her awake. She shot up straight in bed, looking everywhere at once. The room wasn't hers. It was Hilary's pink and white bedroom.
"Oh, man," she moaned, holding her spinning head. She went pop-eyed at the sound of her voice. She yanked down her hands and stared at them disbelievingly.
"What the fuck now?" she demanded peevishly.
The pajamas she wore were Hilary's also; she recognized them from her most recent sleepover: blue and white striped tank-top, light blue bottoms with tiny pink hearts. Classic Hilary.
"Fuck! Fuck-fuck-fuck!" she spat, jumping out of bed.
She stumbled, unused to the taller, heavier body. Her center of gravity was much higher also; she stared down at her chest in wonder, pulled out the neck of the tank top, and blinked. These were not her breasts. She remembered the size 36C bras in her hamper at home; Hil was a 36C.
"Fuck," she muttered again. Then, between her teeth: "Katherine?" No answer came to her angry query.
She continued on to the mirror and confirmed her suspicions. Hilary stared back at her from stunned, light blue eyes. She was now blonde, with big boobs.
She kicked the carpet in aggravation, spinning around. Katherine had promised her! She knew something was wrong when the bitch disappeared and Kaye was suddenly gone. In a panic, she'd tiptoed to her bedroom door and across the hall to what should be the spare bedroom. A peek inside proved Kaye was still around, though curled into a fetal position under the covers and sucking her thumb. Faye told herself to climb into bed with her. Sally's toilet flushing scared her back across the hall into her own room, though. She cursed herself now for not following her instinct. Would it have made a difference, she wondered?
She had to go pee and stomped from her room and down the hall to Hilary's bathroom. It was exactly as she'd used it last. She glared at the face reflecting back at her from the bathroom mirror and gave it a violent finger. At least she wasn't naked in the middle of the street.
She stiffened, praying she hadn't just cursed herself. Nothing happened though, and after a moment she let out a sigh, relaxing. How did Hil stand these boobs bouncing with every step, swinging all other the place, like this? Glowering, she made them sway back and forth in the mirror. They should belong to her, she thought darkly, not to some blonde airhead.
That brought her up short. She, the blonde bimbo, her duplicitous boyfriend, Stacy and Kellie ... Nona--all were electrons bouncing around the inside of some computer chip.
She touched her face with her fingertips, wondering how you taught a computer to sense touch. Or feel confusion or anger; to go pee or call someone a bitch. To feel a need to go pee, for that matter. She intentionally relaxed the muscles sealing her bladder and let a jet of pee soil her panties. She clamped it shut with a hard squirm. Everything was different with this body; she felt so effing top heavy.