Episode 1 - Abilities
"...then for my last wish I want the ability to cure anyone of any infirmity that I name."
"As you wish." The Djinn disappeared. All those possibilities and I had wasted most of them.
Financially, I was no better off than I was before; a hundred million comeand a hundred million go. The government does not take lightly buying anythingwith that much cash. I had narrowly missed a lifetime inprison by wasting my precious second wish. Anyway, I really hoped (wished/prayed/dreamed) that this altruistic use of my final wish would somehow not backfire.
There would be no wishing myself out of this one. I drove to the hospital. In theory, I was planning on just walking into the most critical areas and curing people. First I had to know that it worked, best to try with something small. I was in the elevator with a nice couple that was going up to visit a sick relative. "Dandruff." I said, quietly as I could. The couple looked at me, horrified. "Asshole." I got the embarrassed look from the man, and some real hostility as they left the elevator. I was disappointed. It didn't work. The flakes in his hair and on his jacket didn't go anywhere. Damn that lying Djinn! Well, I was going to try to make some people feel better, so I continued my ride in the elevator. I never thought of myself as a greedy person. When I found that stupid lamp my idea was to get myself set up and then get world peace or something like that. I guess that final wish was too much for him.
The elevator opened. I was ignored in the critical care unit. The nurseswere busy monitoring each patient, caring to their needs. Istarted to the first door with a patient. The least I could do. A pretty nurse stopped me. "Are you family?" "Uh… no. I just wanted to see if I could help so...." "If you aren't family then you can't come in. Hospital policy." And with that statement of Natural Law, she escorted me back to the elevator. "It was a nice thought, just OW!" she had inadvertently played kickboxing with a meal cart. The cartwon this round. She grabbed my shoulder for stability. "Help me over to that chair, will you?" I complied. She sat in the chair. I knelt to study her swelling ankle. "This isn't fair, I needed these hours. Ow!" No other nurses even noticed. In fact, there were none to be seen.
"Tender ankle? Broken?" She looked relaxed for a moment. "No, it feels alright now, must have hit a nerve."She stood back up cautiously, as if she were expecting the ankle to collapse on her. I helped her to her feet. The ankle didn't collapse. "I'm okay now. I was sure I had broken it. But Iguess our diagnosis was wrong." She laughed "I'm Debby, by the way." She held her hand out to me. "Larry." I shook her hand. We talked for a few minutes. "I know your heart is in the right place." She told me "But we have people to treat, they need their peace. Okay, you really have to go now." She didn't seem so harsh about it this time. She actually pushed the button for me. "Thanks for the help." I am pretty sure she didn't know the scope of my help. She did break her ankle, I watched her ankle go from the size of a softball back to normal in about 2 seconds. The Djinn didn't lie, he just didn't tell me the rules.
Apparently I had to be touching someone to have an effect. I sat in the lobby for a moment to collect my thoughts andto devise a new plan. Access was going to be the problem. The couple from the elevator walked back through the lobby. They gave me a dirty look and walked past. I noticed something strange, no dandruff. There was a little left on his jacket but there was nothing left in his hair. I felt stupid. Of course curing the dandruff didn't get rid of the flakes, they were already there. Note to self - Revisedrule for this ability: Touch was not necessary. I went to the Emergency Room. I sat in the corner, with a good view of the room. It was packed with every aspect of humanity and injury possible, wounds, illness, and what I could only think were psychological problems filled every corner. I sequentially went around the room and cured what I perceived to be their problems. Good deed, right? The room would empty out and the ER would get a well deserved break. I tried to do the big ones first.
Cuts healed and bones mended themselves back together. A compound fracture that was apparently on the ER fast track slipped back into place. Babies coughing fits stopped and most of them stopped crying. I had no effect on about thirty percent ofthe room. Either I could not figure out what was wrong with them or they were hypochondriacs. These people were led to the back and taken care of by the doctors. At midnight I went home a night of good complete.
The next morning I went back to my old job. It was as if I had never quit. I was exhausted. Last night I was pretty pumped up by the power I had obtained, I didn't sleep much. I stared at the computer screen, not reading it, for about 10 minutes. "Larry!" a stern voice jolted me out of my daze. It was my boss. "You haven't done anything for an hour." He exaggerated "Go walk it off and wake up. Splash some water on your face. Do something!" "Sure Josh." I stood and went to the washroom. I splashed water on my face and told myself to wake up.I did. I felt like I had just awoke from a full nights sleep. I felt great! I puffed up in the mirror. "I wish I would lose a few pounds." My pants felt looser. This was fantastic! I went back to my desk. I think I had the most productive day I've had in a long time.I went back to the hospital again that night. I had been in the ER for several hours when a nurse came up to me. "Do you need a place to go? Are you homeless?" "No." "This is the second night in a row you've stayed in here. We can't allow that." I looked around and realized my mistake. The room wasn't bustling like it normally was. I had silenced it enough where they could worry about other things. They could worry about things like me. I made my excuses and left. I drove around for hours, finding myself full of time. I had planned to make a night of the Emergency Room. I will, once again, have to rethink my plans. At the gas station, a hunched over man in ragged clothes hobbled over to me. I expected him to ask for change. Instead he surprised me. He stood up straight and held a knife to my throat. "Give me your money or you gonna die, chump!"
"Okay, just don't hurt me." "Hurry up!" I handed him my wallet. "Sucker, you've seen me. Now you gonna die!" I had an inspiration. "Paralysis." The mugger froze. He fell over.
"Give me that!" I took my wallet from his unmoving hands. "You just mugged the wrong person, chump." I drug him out of the way of my car. We were still out of view of the cashier, I set him down. "Paraplegic." I said. He pushed his way to a sitting position. "I didn't mean it, man.
I wouldn't have killed you. I was gonna give you your wallet back..." "Don't lie to me."
"No, no I wasn't lying, I wouldn't lie to you, sir. No Way." "Of course not." I leaned against my car "What am I going to do with you?" "I want to walk again, please!?" he was a little frantic at the loss of the use of his legs. "You'll be able to walk again. I'll give you that. But I can't have you hurting anyone, either..." I cured him of his puberty.
His muscles atrophied tothat of a small 8 year old. "Wait, stop." He would have a lovely singing voice, until puberty hit again. It was strange seeing this almostfully grown man, with the musculature and characteristics ofa small child. I got in my car and drove off.
"Paraplegic..." I said before I left the parking lot.This was something new. Apparently it just took a change in attitude in my part to turn a blessing into acurse. I could 'cure' someone of skinniness and make them overweight, I could 'heal' a leg into a broken bone. All it took was a change in perspective. I started taking sick days (I didn't need them anymore) and spending them in the courts. I became a court groupie. I would sit in on the horrendous trials and make subtle changes. If I was surethey were guilty, they would be stricken with tourettes syndrome for a few minutes here and there. Just enough to start swearing at the wrong people. When they were evaluated, nothing was found, so their outbursts were deemed part of their personality. My first rape trial was an experience. The man was areal dog. He raped women and mutilated them. 'Leaving his mark' is what he called it, so no one would go near them but him. He made it clear that he believed women existed for his pleasure. I chemically castrated him almost at once. I also inflicted him with 'gynecomastia' (I gave him breasts).
When they carted him off to prison I waited a couple days. I made him a woman. I wasn't sure it had worked until I heard on the news afew days later. A woman had been found savagely gang rapedand dead. A male prisoner had escaped and there was a man hunt on. I could impose a delayed reaction. I healed the women after that. It took forever to both find out who they were and where I could find them, but eventually I did. I continued my nightly visits to the ER.
There are many hospitals in the Denver area, I made sure to make therounds. After a few months, people started noticing. Nurses started calling me their 'good luck charm'.
Doctors welcomed me by name. Word got out. People started showing up to my office. The poor receptionist could not stop them all. Frantic parents pushed their way through the cubicle-land that was my workplace begging for me to heal their children. It was really a moving sight to see. My boss 'moved' me right out. I was fired. I had no grounds for a discrimination suit, the lawyers told me. I was not claiming religious grounds (although miraculous healing had a precedent, so I hear). I had disrupted the workplace and my distractions would no longer be tolerated. People started following my car. Taking little pieces of my life, hoping to gain some healing. I was booted from my apartment building, too.
I had abilities far beyond that which anyone had. I was also homeless and unemployed. Well, unpaid any way, I spent my days avenging the innocent and my nights healing the sick. I had come up with a series of disguises, none of them held out for long. The tabloids were looking for me and so was the government. I hid. I stopped using my power except to curb my own hunger.
I was living under a freeway overpass when she foundme. Debby. I prepared to start running again. I wasn't physically tired, but emotionally I was spent. "I have been everywhere looking for you, Larry." "You and everyone else." "I have an idea that would let you do what you want." "Oh, and what do I want" "You want to help people." "Okay, what's your idea?" Working in public was out of the question, I had run out of disguises.
"Come to my place for dinner, and I'll show you." This could be a setup. I was also convinced of my own ability to stay free. I could paralyze anyone who threatened me, and that was one of the nicer ways. I went with her. One of the disadvantages to living under a freeway was the lack of showers. Debby had one. She took my clothes to wash and left me some sweats to wear. I turned my hunger back on for the dinner she prepared. We talked over the meal.
"So what is this great idea?" "You work with me in the medical community." "No good," I was disappointed "Everyone knows my face." "Not if you go as a nurse." "A nurse? Sorry to sound so sexist but you are implying that I disguise myself as a woman? Why not a Doctor?"
"Nurses have more access and while the responsibility level is pretty high, no one will be asking for prescriptions. Anyway, who said anything about disguise?"she gestured to the coffee table. Newspapers dating back for six months were carefully arranged on the table. This wasn't the healing story; this was the other one. I had a part in the bizarre outcome of each and every one of these cases. "You really got a sense of humor toward the end here." She noted some of my favorites. Crimes against women took away some of their manhood. Crimes against children and the punishment got exponentially worse. "You can change men into women, right?" Suddenly Iwas seeing where she was going with this. "No way. I won't do it!" "Do you want to help people? I really thought you did?" "I can't pull that off. Even if I change my body, I wouldn't act right." "I'll teach you." "Why are you doing this?" "I want to help people too. If you'll change thenI'll show you." "Right now?" "Now. It would probably be best if we were the same size." "Okay. Do you have a full-length mirror?" "In the bedroom."
"Then follow me and take off your clothes." "What?" "If I have to trust you, you have to trust me. Come on." She followed me into the bedroom. "Turn around." She must think this was just some kind of trust exercise. I was already naked, facing the mirror. "It won't matter, you know. Stand next to me, please." She stood next to me in front of the mirror. Now she was beginning to understand; she was a template. "It was always a very generic job before. I would like to get this right." We stood side by side, naked in front of the mirror. She was nearly a foot shorter than me, I had a very masculine body with all the requisite body hair and appendages to match. "Hold on one second. Don't move." I ordered. I went into the bathroom for a moment. I knew all she could hear was rubbing for a moment and the sound of a toilet flushing several times. I was completely hairless when I returned, not even eyelashes remained.
"Best to start from a clean palate." I smirked ather. The person in the mirror looked like some bizarre future man, standing by her side. I whispered.
* * *
He whispered something. He looked like a deflating balloon. For a moment she thought something had gone terribly wrong, it couldn't be right. "Okay, my body fat is down to about 2 percent, musclesize is down to bare minimums." The skeleton next to her spoke. She fought against the retching that threatened. Years as a nurse should have made her immune to such things. She fought back the feeling. "What's next?" "Skeleton." He whispered something else. He started to shrink in height and the structure of his skeleton altered. Now she understood, he wanted to see his skeleton to work. After a few moments, they were roughly the same height. "Now the fun part." He said unconvincingly. His genitals deflated, much like his body fat. Perfectly formed female genitalia now graced his groin. There was a subtle change in his (her) abdomen. Larry looked like a hairless anorexic woman. "Could you please put some weight on?" "I had an idea on that." He whispered again. This time she felt it. Her hips and thighs slimmed subtly. "Just a present." He told her. When she was through checking herself out, she noticed that their bodies were looking almost like twins. Except for the lack of breasts, of course. He put his hands on his chest, as if trying to protect his non-existent breasts. "Just yours this time, okay?" she asked. He nodded. In a moment they were exactly like hers, right one larger than the left and all. "You can balance yours, if you want."
His chest complied. "What next?" he asked. "Unless you want a job at the circus, I would recommend some hair." "How's this?" his hair grew to a platinum blond and his face altered as well. He looked like a Playboy Playmate. "Stop thinking with your balls." "Ahem." He glanced down. "Figuratively, I mean." She grabbed a book off the shelf.
"This is my high school yearbook. Can you combine these three girls and me for your look?"
"Why you?" "Cover story, you are going to be my cousin." "Here goes." First he looked like one girl and then slowly started changing into the other. He did the same with the other two, including Debby. Finally he stopped, looking not quite like any of them. "Daughter to all four of you. How do I look?" "Fine, we just might want to age you up a bit." Sure enough he looked like a pretty eighteen year old girl with the body of a mature woman in her late twenties.
Giggling, he let his face age to something more appropriate. "So, how do you feel?" Debby asked.
"I have to pee." He thought for a moment "I'll be right back." Several minutes later, she heard the sound signifying that Larry was successful. It was new plumbing after all. "Remember to wipe." She called. "How could I forget, it's all damp down there." "You'll get used to it."
She prepared the clothes she had picked and spread them out on the bed. "Can I get dressed now?"
Debby asked. "I like you naked." The smirk was strange on his new, female face "Yes you can get dressed." Both of them dressed. Debby put out slacks for Larry. "No skirt?" "You really don't know how to wear one." "For practice, I mean." "We're going out." She laid out the top, panties and a bra. She held the straps of the bra to put his arms through and fastened it for him.
"I wanted to see you struggle with that, I thought it would be funny." She handed him the panties "Another time." "About this going out. What about teaching me like we discussed?"
"You'll be fine, can you do something about that voice." Larry whispered "Alto." and said.
"This better?" "Much, get dressed." On the way the hospital (Debby had told him where theywere going) they decided on the name 'Sarah Lawrence' to be the name they would use. It turns out that walking like a woman is very much driven by anatomy. Hips are at a different angle and the length of the thighs and calves are much different. The wrong swing in your walk can also set up a nasty sympathetic oscillation in the breasts. Larry did the best he could. It was strange to be back in the hospital where this all had started. They got in theElevator.
Debby punched the fifth floor. "I'm in pediatrics now." The door opened and Larry saw a different type of hospital. This part was decorated for children. Families looked somber yet strangely enough the children played anyway, most of them at least. Debby led Larry into one strangely darkened room. She knocked. "Debby!" there was a child in the bed. Larry could not tell if it was a boy or a girl. Debby came into the room and gave the child a hug. "Come here, I want you to meet someone." She gestured to Larry. "This is Sarah..." she noted the girl. "Sarah. That's my name too!" They all had a little awkward laugh. Debby and Little Sarah talked for a while until her parents came in. "It's good to see you, Debby." "Hi Michelle, David. This is my cousin, Sarah." "Nice to meet you." The parents have obviously been crying but they were putting on brave faces. Little Sarah threw up at one point; she looked horribly embarrassed. "Could you excuse us a minute." David asked. "Sure." Larry and Debby left. "What's wrong with her?" "Leukemia, they think she has less than a week to live."
Larry whispered something. "I think she'll live a long time, now." Debby smiled. They walked off. "Okay, you've convinced me. How do I become a 'nurse'?" Larry said, thinking that this might be aworkable power after all.
End part one