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Transgender / Transformation stories in English
	I could remember being frightened before, and I could remember
being elated. I was frightened back in high school when in a football
game, I was being covered on a pass pattern by a guy who seemed to
be twice my size. I thought he would kill me before I could haul
in the ball that would win the game for us. Then I remembered the
fear wash away as I caught the ball just inside the goal line. Then,
I was elated. But that was another lifetime ago.  Now, here I was an
attractive young blonde woman named Cindy Patton, destined to live out
her life as a wife, mother, and assistant to the all-powerful Judge
in Ovid, Oklahoma. And for the first time in my memory of either life,
I was both frightened and elated at the same time.

	I was also hot and tired as I walked up the stairs to the
offices over the Farmer's and Merchant's Bank of Ovid. It was
a hot July day in Ovid. The fireworks of the Fourth were over,
and the hottest days of the summer were upon us. I suspected the
gods mitigated the temperatures a little for this town of theirs,
but even though we were usually a few degrees cooler in the summer
than nearby Tulsa, it was still hot and sticky as I walked up the
stairs. Dressing in pantyhose made it even hotter. Still, I supposed,
if I were still male, I'd have to wear a tie. Somehow, that seemed
even worse. I still hadn't cooled off from the ride in the Taurus. I
had been out to Duggan's IGA to see Jerry, my husband, before going
downtown, and the short ride hadn't given the car's air conditioner
enough time to cool the vehicle down.  I would have killed in that
moment for an elevator, but there was none.

	So it was with a silent prayer of thanks that I opened the
door to Susan's office and breathed in the air-conditioned air of her
law office. Dori sat at the reception desk, to the casual observer
the model of an efficient, middle-aged secretary, but to those of
us who were aware of the forces behind Ovid, a shade, almost but not
quite transparent.

	"Cindy!" she said brightly, looking up from her computer. "We
haven't seen you over here in quite a while."

	"I've been busy, Dori, but it's too hot to work today,"
I quipped.  Actually, I hadn't been all that busy. Usually, I was
in Susan's office a couple of times a week, since Susan often had to
defend people coming before the Judge. While she often was called upon
by the court to defend a person destined to become a new resident
of Ovid, she had begun to develop a substantial local practice as
well. This required us to meet often, which we enjoyed, as we had
become best friends since our own transformations.

	Lately, though, things had been slow in the courts of Ovid. The
only cases had been in the hands of a more junior municipal judge and
had been mundane in nature - the sort of cases which came before the
courts in every small town in America - things like property disputes
and other civil matters.

	There had been no transformations in nearly a month, as the
Judge had been out of town. Those of us on the inside understood
why. June Webster, an attractive woman of indeterminate age, had
been staying at the Ovid Inn. She was supposedly with the GAO -
the Government Accounting Office - on a mission to look into the
accounting procedures at Vulman Industries, which currently had a
large government contract. Although no one had told us for certain,
Susan and I were convinced that June Webster was, in fact, Juno,
the Judge's wife. If I remembered my mythology, Jupiter and Juno had
a rather stormy relationship. It seemed the myths were right.

	The door to Susan's office opened suddenly, and I saw Susan
with her arm around her husband, Steven. Both were smiling, so I
wondered what they were doing in her office with the door closed. I
don't think there was a couple in Ovid more deeply in love than Susan
and Steven. Who would have believed that they had both been born
the opposite sex, married in their old lives only later to divorce,
and ended up falling in love all over again under the spell of Ovid?

	"See you tonight, sweetheart," Susan practically cooed, giving
Steven a chaste but meaningful kiss. He actually blushed a little,
said, "Hi, Cindy," and left quickly.

	"A little afternoon delight?" I smiled at Susan.

	She smiled back. "Wouldn't you like to know?" she grinned as
she shut the door behind us.

	Well, yes, I would, I thought. It sounded like fun. It was
a shame Jerry's office over at the supermarket was so exposed or I
might try it myself.  Maybe I'd visit him at closing some night...

	"To what do I owe the honor of your visit?" Susan asked
brightly as we stepped into her office. "I thought with the Judge
out of town, you'd be playing hooky."

	"I already am," I admitted. It was an hour before I was due
off work. I'd still be going back, but just long enough to close my
office for the night before picking up the twins at day care.

	Susan looked at her watch. "I suppose you are. Well, I can't
even offer you a Diet Coke. I ran out and was just on my way to pick
some more up."

	"Don't worry about it," I said, trying not to sound
disappointed. In the heat of an Ovid summer afternoon, a Diet Coke
sounded like ambrosia. "I'll just settle for a glass of water."

	"No need for water," a voice called happily as the air in the
room suddenly popped. There was Diana, a very busty blonde this time
in a short red dress that was so tight on her it looked as if it might
explode. In each hand, she carried a bottle of chilled champagne that
bore the label of an expensive brand. "All we need are glasses."

	Susan wrinkled her nose a little. She never drank alcohol. "You
don't have a bottle of Diet Coke tucked in that dress anywhere,
do you?"

	Diana looked confused. "Where?" she asked, batting her
eyelashes in mock surprise while she indicated with her hands that
there was absolutely no room in the dress for anything else. Then, with
a smaller pop than the one that had transported her into the office,
one of the champagne bottles became a liter of Diet Coke. "Party
pooper," she muttered.

	"I thought maybe you were out of town, too," I told her as
she opened the two bottles with a snap of her finger. "I haven't seen
you since that day at the beach."

	"I am out of town," she told me. She tried to pour a glass
of champagne for me, but I shook my head. "You're going to make me
drink alone?" she asked.

	"I'll take a glass of the Diet Coke," I told her. She
shrugged and poured glasses of Diet Coke for Susan and me and a
glass of champagne for herself.  When we had all settled into Susan's
comfortable leather chairs, Diana continued.

	"As I said, I am out of town. Or at least I have been. July
isn't exactly my favorite month in Oklahoma. Even the men wilt in
this heat, and a hard man is good to find."

	"I though myths said you were a virgin," Susan laughed over
her Diet Coke.

	Diana frowned. "You try being a virgin for a couple of thousand
years. Who wrote those stupid myths anyway?"

	"Well, the Judge has been out of town, too," I commented,
quickly changing the subject.

	Diana laughed a broad laugh. "I'm not surprised. I heard
that Juno was back in town. He'll stay out of town until the little
woman leaves."

	Susan looked confused, so I took a moment to tell her about
June Webster.  "So the Judge is married?" Susan asked. She had never
been the fan of mythology I was.

	"So to speak," Diana told her. "It's what you might call a
common law marriage, but they've been married for as long as any of
us can remember - and that's a long, long time."

	"But they don't get along very well," I explained to
Susan. "The Judge apparently cheated on her quite a few times."

	"The Judge?" Susan said, incredulous. I had to admit, it was
hard to picture the Judge, stern disciplinarian that he always appeared
to be, as a philanderer. I had found in my experience of working with
the gods that they weren't always exactly as the myths portrayed them,
but there was invariably a grain of truth in each of the myths. While
I doubted that the Judge had fathered quite as many bastards as the
myths related, he had probably sowed a few wild oats in his youth -
if the time of the Roman Empire could be said to be his youth. Juno -
or Hera as the Greeks called her - was a powerful goddess in her own
right - and a jealous one.

	"Oh, you don't really know our Judge," Diana laughed. "In
any case, it appears their trial separation may be about to end. I
suspect she's come back either to reconcile or dissolve the marriage."

	"The gods have divorce?" I asked, suddenly curious.

	Diana shook her head. "Not exactly. We dissolve marriages
rather than divorcing.	Maybe someday Eric Vulman will tell you how
he dissolved the marriage with Vera March sometime."

	Now Susan's mouth was wide open. "Eric Vulman was married to
Vera March?  When?"

	"A long time ago," I told her with a friendly pat on her
hand. "Susan, you really need to read more mythology."

	"I guess I do," she agreed, nodding.

	Our conversation was suddenly interrupted as three very
attractive teenage girls burst into our office. One was Dori's
daughter, Myra. Susan had hired her for the summer since the girl
had an interest in becoming a lawyer someday. She was dressed
very professionally, a khaki shirtdress doing little to disguise
her terrific figure, punctuated my two magnificent breasts. Her
blonde hair was tied back in a demure ponytail, but it was easy to
visualize what it looked like when it was allowed to flow loose
over her shoulders. She wore a pair of conservative brown heels,
only an inch high, and her legs were encased in tan nylon. For all
her attempts to look conservative, she was a stunner.

	The second girl was dressed much more informally. She had
long, luxurious auburn hair and was wearing shorts which showed off
her magnificent legs and a sleeveless white blouse. Although not as
well endowed as her friend Myra, Samantha Wallace was a very, very
attractive girl. Bright and vivacious, she was a born leader and one
of the most popular girls in town.  Sam had also been of great help
to many of the women of Ovid who had been born as men and remembered
their male pasts. Her acceptance of her growing womanhood had been
an inspiration to many of us.

	I didn't know the third girl all that well. Like Samantha,
she had been transformed before I came to Ovid. Her name was Jennifer
Tilton, the daughter of the President of the Farmer's and Merchant's
Bank. When I had first come to Ovid, she had been a little tomboy. A
couple of years younger than Samantha, she had seemed to fight
being a girl with every ounce of her energy. She had come around,
though, the last few months, under the influence of her mother, also
a transformee. Now, she appeared to be a blonde version of Samantha,
her knit top proudly displaying her budding breasts while her own
shorts showed a pair of legs that were already driving all the boys
in her class wild.

	"I dropped those papers off at the County Clerk's office like
you asked," Myra said, proudly displaying the receipt.

	"And?" Susan asked, amused.

Myra grinned. "And the defendant missed the three o'clock
   deadline. Becky
Marshall from my class at school is working there over the summer,
   and she
told me ours was the only one filed."

	"Good work," Susan said with a smile. "You'll make a lawyer
   yet."

	Myra beamed. Then, she asked, "Do you suppose it would be
alright if I left a little early this afternoon? We'd like to do a
little shopping and..."

	"Meet your boyfriends before the party at the country
club?" Susan finished for her.

	"Well... yes," Myra said. "But how did you know about the
party? I thought it was just for teens."

	"Oh, you have your sources and I have mine," Susan drawled. I
was sure Dori had told her all about the dance. "Sure, go on. You
girls have fun. And be careful."

	"We will!" they all chorused as they rushed out the door,
closing it with a loud slam.

	I shook my head, taking another sip of Diet Coke. "Who would
believe that not so long ago they were all male?" I mused absently.

	Susan sighed. "I suppose we could say the same about
ourselves."

	"It's the magic of Ovid," Diana explained. "Ovid gives you
what you need to be who you've become. Would either of you go back
to your old lives if I gave you the chance."

	"No!" Susan and I both said together. The very thought of
giving up my life in Ovid, my family, my job, my friends, sent chills
up and down my spine.

	Diana's eyes narrowed. "Would you like to see what it was
like here back at the start?"

	"The start?" I asked.

	Diana shrugged. "Well, not exactly the start, but close to
it. I'm talking about the time Samantha and Jennifer came here. Since
we don't have any new stories, an old one will have to do."

	"But I don't have that information," I protested. "I can only
show the lives of the people whose trials I have attended. Samantha
and Jennifer were here almost a year before I was."

	Diana tapped the side of her head. "It's all in here,
girls. All the cases before you came to town, Cindy, are locked in
here. Now, since you don't have any good stories for me, what say I
give you one?"

	"Sure," I said happily as Susan nodded in agreement.

	"Okay, ladies," Diana said, hunching over the desk with Susan
and me, "here we go..."

				*****

	"What was that?"

	The nervous question sounded out of place, coming from the
deep rumble that served as a voice for Dusty Stephenson. I barely
heard it over the hoots and laughs chorusing from dozens of throats
as the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats celebrated their good fortune.

	We were on a jet - a rare experience for our team. Usually, we
traveled short distances to play nearby colleges in towns as small as
our own Maryville, Missouri. Not this time, though. While we might have
expected to be bussed to Muskogee, Oklahoma for Saturday's important
game, a wealthy alum, overjoyed with the season that had left our
football team with eight wins and no losses so far, had culled a plane
from his fleet of charters and made it available to the team. Yes,
we were travelling in style all right. We felt as if we were going
to swoop down from the sky and frighten the Muskogee State players
to death. After all, we were travelling like the big teams that day.

	"It was just an air pocket," I leaned across the aisle and
told Dusty.  "It's nothing to worry about."

	Worry crossed his Neanderthal brow anyhow. "Are you
sure?" Dusty had never flown before. He had grown up and lived his
whole life before college on a farm in Southern Iowa, not even a
hundred miles from Maryville. In fact, until he had come to college,
he had never even been out of Iowa. Everybody liked Dusty. He was one
of those big, slow farm boys who, if he liked you, was your friend
for life. And Dusty liked just about everybody - everybody except
Wild Bill.

	"You're gonna have to get off, Dusty," Bill "Wild Bill"
Moreland quipped from a couple of rows forward. "We can't gain altitude
with you on board."

	Wild Bill's friends - or maybe "sycophants" was a better word -
laughed at his joke. Dusty had always been a little sensitive about
his size. Coach Wallace had been on him to lose twenty pounds, but
Dusty was just one of those guys who could polish off a three pound
steak and still be hungry. At least Wild Bill's jibe had made him
forget about the rough air. His dislike for our overrated quarterback
was sufficient to chase away all other thoughts.

	Come to think of it, I felt the same way about him. Wild Bill
Moreland had come out of a top high school football powerhouse over
in Nebraska - in Lincoln to be exact. He had one hell of a throwing
arm. He could rocket the ball on target all the way across the field
and a good fifty yards downfield with pinpoint accuracy. Normally,
the University of Nebraska would have been interested in him, but Wild
Bill had a little problem - namely, he had trouble reading defenses. He
could have studied the other team's defensive play book for a week
and he would have still thrown into coverage. I understood that at
his high school, he held the record for passing yards, but he also
held the record for interceptions.  Nobody was going to play QB for
the Huskers who couldn't read a defense. They offered him a chance
to walk on, but no scholarship.

	Northwest Missouri State was perfect for him, though. Coach
Wallace had developed a winning program based on the full house
backfield, where two halfbacks and a fullback lined up behind
the quarterback, either running the ball or running short pass
patterns. Our wide receivers were used primarily to keep the defense
honest. Wild Bill had direct orders from the Coach to throw to them
only when there wasn't a defender within twenty yards. So the result
was that Wild Bill actually looked like a pretty good quarterback,
instead of the mediocre one he would have been with most teams. Many
of us on the team believed he would be able to look good enough to
make it to the pros, but few of us thought he had what it took to last.

	Wild Bill even looked like a quarterback. He was tall, slim
but well muscled, square jam, keen blue eyes, and a shock of blonde
hair that all the girls loved to run their fingers through. But when
he opened his mouth, it was usually to say something stupid or cutting
or both. In short, he was a jerk.

	"Can't a guy get any sleep around here?" a voice grumbled in
the window seat next to me. It was Larry Gunn, one of our starting
defensive ends - I was the other. Larry could read an opposing pass
pattern better than their own quarterback - and certainly better
than our quarterback. He was quick, intelligent, and would probably
have been playing for one of the top football powers if he had been
taller, but at five-eleven, no matter how quick and smart he was,
wide receivers could catch the passes over his head.

	If you could put the two of us together, you would have had
one hell of a defensive end. I was reasonably intelligent - or at
least my grade point said I was - and I was six-three. Unfortunately,
I wasn't terribly fast. I had to depend upon my size and my ability
to figure out where the ball was going to succeed. If the receiver
managed to get a step on me, I was toast.

	Larry and I had been friends since our freshman year. By
sheer chance, we had ended up as roommates, then we pledged the same
fraternity. We were both good students - probably the best on the team
- and we both had the same taste in girls - bright and well built with
long brown hair. In fact, that had been our only bone of contention
during our junior year when we both went after the same girl. We
both lost out to Dennis Mahoney, our starting halfback. It was no
big deal, though. Larry and I were both pretty decent looking guys,
so there were plenty more girls where that one came from.  Besides,
Dennis was a pretty decent guy.

	"Okay, listen up!" Coach Wallace suddenly yelled as soon as
the seatbelt sign went off. He was on his feet, his Bearcats ball cap
pushed back on his forehead to reveal a thinning hairline. He was in
good shape for sixty, but it hadn't saved his hair.  "This is a short
flight. We'll land in Muskogee in about thirty minutes, so keep all
your gear together."

	It isn't as if we had much gear. All the uniforms and equipment
had been shipped by bus along with some of the assistant coaches
and support people.  The only support person on the plane was Jill
Wentworth, the Team Manager.  By all rights, Jill should have been on
the bus with the equipment, but she had begged Coach Wallace to let
her ride with the team. Jill wasn't the kind of girl who wanted to be
surrounded by big beefy guys all the time, and she wasn't the kind of
girl who was dyke. No, she just loved the game of football. Raised by
a widowed father back in Wisconsin, she had grown up playing football
with her two brothers. They attended all the Wisconsin Badger games
from the time she was old enough to walk. Actually, she could even
throw the football pretty good - for a girl.

	Jill wasn't bad looking either. She had short blonde hair
curled in sort of a Meg Ryan style. Come to think of it, she looked
a little like Meg Ryan.  Only a little, though.

	"Hey Wentworth!" Wild Bill called out to her as she stood in
the aisle, a football in hand as she talked to Horace White, the big
black starting wide receiver. "What say you come back here and check
out my equipment before we get to Muskogee?"

	That got a few laughs from Wild Bill's usual followers, but
the rest of us just looked away so as not to embarrass Jill. We needn't
have bothered. Jill didn't reply, or even look embarrassed. She didn't
even seem to be looking at Wild Bill, but she knew exactly where the
prick was. In one fluid motion, she rifled the ball in her hand -
not hard enough to hurt, but hard enough to sting - right at the
top of Wild Bill's head. The ball thudded off his forehead with an
audible smack.

	"Ow!" Wild Bill screamed to the sudden roar of laughter from
most of the players who had seen it all. "That hurt!"

	"No it didn't," Jill called smugly in a feminine but confident
tone. "If I wanted to hurt you, I would have thrown harder."

	That got another laugh before Coach Wallace jumped to his
feet. "All right Moreland, Wentworth. Knock it off before somebody
gets hurt."

	"She already hurt me!" Wild Bill protested.

	"Then maybe I should put you down as injured for tomorrow's
game?" the coach asked.

	"No," Wild Bill said petulantly. "I'm fine." Of course,
he knew that there were two other quarterbacks just waiting in the
wings to see what they could do if Wild Bill weren't in the game,
and they weren't too bad themselves.  The crown always weighs heavy.

	Larry was wide awake now. He snorted at Wild Bill's little
act and said to me, "Jace, when is that clown going to grow up?"

	I'm not sure, but I think Wild Bill heard him, for he winced
suddenly.  Larry could get away with putting Wild Bill down. Like me,
he was defense, so we didn't have to take orders from our overrated
field general. Also, either one of us was strong enough to dismantle
Wild Bill while eating breakfast. You don't get to be a defensive end
without a fair amount of muscle. Of course, we still kept remarks
like that mostly to ourselves. It was bad for team morale, and we
were a team bound for glory.

	Northwest Missouri State had been a growing football power for
the last few years. Coach Wallace, now in his tenth season, had built
us into a winning team. Many thought this would be the year we took it
all - the NCAA Division II Title, making us the top team in the nation
in our division. Oh, it didn't get you a spot on nationwide TV on New
Year's Day, but it was as high as a school like ours could go, and
for the players like Wild Bill and Dennis Mahoney who were potential
pro players, it was a chance to get at least a little media time. That
might mean a lot of money when the NFL draft came around in the spring.

	I didn't really want to see Wild Bill go too high in the
draft. He didn't deserve it. It was the team around him that made
him look good. I could only hope that the pro scouts would realize
it. Dennis Mahoney, on the other hand, I wished well. I looked
back at Dennis, sitting calmly next to his best friend and old high
school classmate, Darren McDougal. They were unlikely friends, and
although their paths while similar in some ways were very different
in others. For similarities, they were both from the little Missouri
town of Cameron, not too far from Maryville, and neither of them was
particularly worldly. Both planned to be teachers, although Darren
liked math and Dennis was aiming more toward social studies. But
their paths were starting to diverge. Dennis had a steady girl - the
aforementioned brunette - whereas Darren preferred to shop around. And
Dennis had definite NFL potential and would probably play several years
before settling down to teach - if he ever did. Darren, although the
typical big Midwestern farm boy who ends up playing tackle or guard was
way too slow to make it in the pros.  It didn't really matter to him,
since all he really wanted to do was go back to Cameron and teach math.

	All in all, we were a great team. I was proud to be a part
of it. Here I was, Jason Stromberg, a big kid from the suburbs of
Kansas City, playing for a team which could go all the way to an
undefeated season. If we did well enough, maybe I would even get a
shot in the draft. Or I might decide to walk on at the Chief's camp
if I wasn't drafted. No, I realized with a smile. I wasn't destined
to play pro football. I had never even wanted to be a pro. I wasn't
really sure what I wanted to do with my life. I started out with
ambitions to become a doctor like my father, but although my grades
were very good, they weren't the sort of grades that would get me
into medical school. So I gave up on that major. I was now a history
major, but I didn't particularly want to teach. That meant I would
probably gravitate to something where a degree was a degree was
a degree. Something like selling, I thought. Many large companies
liked big former football players who were personable and reasonably
intelligent as sales people. They tended to be reasonably aggressive,
friendly, and good team players. Well, it wasn't the life I would
have picked for myself, but it wouldn't be a bad one. I'd probably
end up in Kansas City or some similar city just like my parents
had done and marry the first girl I asked and raise two point three
children in my tract house. I'd drive a company car until I reached
middle management.  Then, I'd opt for a BMW as part of my midlife
crisis. I'd find a girlfriend on the side and watch my wife grow old
while we held together our marriage for the sake of the children.

	And why not? Wasn't that what my family had done? My older
sister, Joan, had left for college two years before me. At that time,
I could already see my parent's marriage beginning to unravel. It
got even worse after I left for school. My younger brother, Johnny,
was a senior in high school, so by the time he started college, I
figured my parents would be splitsville.  Maybe not, though. Maybe
they'd just stay together and hate each other.

	My musings were interrupted by a loud pop coming from the
rear of the plane, followed by what sounded like tearing metal. The
entire fuselage shuddered suddenly, causing a collective gasp from the
entire team. Whatever had just happened wasn't supposed to happen. We
all realized that.

	Suddenly, a tense woman's voice filled the cabin. It was our
pilot. "I know you all felt that," she said, trying to sound upbeat
- and failing. "That was our starboard engine. It just flamed out,
but don't worry. This is a BAC-111, and it's designed to operate on
one engine if need be."

	Maybe so, I thought, but that didn't mean we should sit back
and enjoy the ride. The plane was obviously much harder to fly with
one engine gone, which meant it was going to be much harder to land
also. And the sound of tearing metal was more than just a flame out.

	"We'll be setting down shortly. We're about fifteen minutes
out of Muskogee right now and - "

	Whatever she was going to say would be forever lost, for the
plane began to roll lazily to the left with another shudder. All
we heard from the cockpit was a muttered "damn!" as the speaker
went silent.

	If we were worried before, we were petrified now. Several
members of the team were yelling "What the fuck?" and "Oh Jesus!" and
anything else they could think of to yell as the plane began to
drop. Something had gone terribly - fatally - wrong. I thought about
my family. I thought about how they would handle my death. Maybe it
would bring them closer together. Maybe some good could come out of -

	Then, all at once, the shuddering stopped. We were still
dropping, but it was the typical drop you always feel when a plane
is making a normal descent. We all became suddenly quiet, except for
Dusty next to me who uttered, "Thank you, God."

	"What's happening?" I asked Larry who had his face pressed
to the window.

	"We're landing," he said softly.

	"I thought the pilot said we were still fifteen minutes from
Muskogee," I pointed out.

	"I thought she did, too," Larry replied. Then he pointed out
the window.  "But look."



Leaning over him, I looked out the window. It was a clear fall day,
   and it
looked as if I could see forever. What was laid out below me was a long
valley with fairly impressive hills on either side. There was
   something odd
about the hills, though, I thought. It was almost as if they were
   identical
on each side of the valley, as if the valley were somehow squeezed
   into a
nonexistent space. Of more immediate interest, though, was the
   landing field
that we were banking to approach, Before we turned too far for me to
   see, I
had seen a long concrete runway in our path.

	I marveled at how our pilot had regained control of the
plane. I had actually thought we were goners, about to have ourselves
splattered all over the Oklahoma landscape. Maybe this was a good
omen, I speculated. Maybe this meant we'd beat Muskogee State, for
now nothing could stop us.

	Funny, though, I mused. The town in the distance didn't
look big enough to be Muskogee. Maybe it wasn't. Perhaps the pilot
had opted for a nearby field instead of flying on to Muskogee. Yes,
I thought. That must be it. Well, I didn't much care where we landed
as long as I got off this plane in one piece.

	The ground rushed up to meet us, and it felt as if we were
floating down the runway rather than flying. It was honest to God
the smoothest landing I had ever seen. We never even felt the wheels
touch the ground, and the roar of the engines reversing was like
sweet music to us all.

	The plane taxied up to a small collection of hangars that
housed several private planes. But there was no sign of any airline
activity; nor was there a sign displaying where we had landed.

	"Where the fuck are we?" somebody muttered.

	"I don't know, man," someone else drawled in an accent that
would be right at home in this place. "I grew up down here and I
don't know where we are."

	Well, we couldn't be far from Muskogee, I thought. A plane on
its descent travels at - what? - two hundred miles per hour? Fifteen
minutes meant fifty miles, give or take a mile or two. That meant we
were about an hour away by bus. I wondered if they had radioed ahead
so that a bus could be waiting.

	"Okay," Couch Wallace called out, bracing himself on the back
of a seat as we taxied in. "We've had our excitement for the day."

	There was nervous laughter at that remark. The coach even
smiled himself before going on, "We should still be able to get into
Muskogee at a reasonable time, so I expect we'll still have some time
to practice today.  Go ahead and gather everything up. The sooner we
get out of this plane, the sooner we can be on our way."

	"And welcome to the Sooner State," Wild Bill called out with
a laugh.

	The coach frowned for a minute before realizing what had
just happened.	Then even he broke out into a grin. Yeah, right. Now
let's get out of here."

	The plane rolled to a stop, and our single flight attendant
opened the forward door. I wondered how we were going to get down
from the plane.  Obviously, this airport was too small to have modern
jetways. I watched, though, as two men wheeled a large metal stairway
into place, but I wasn't really watching the stairway as much as
I was watching the men. To a casual observer, they would probably
have appeared normal, but I was studying them intently. Both men
were... not exactly transparent, but they didn't appear completely
solid either. It just seemed to be how intently I looked at them that
made the difference.

	"Jace," Larry said nervously, "do you see what I see?"

	I was hesitant to admit what I saw. "What do you mean, Larry?"

	"Those men," Larry said, emphasizing whom he meant with a
nod of his head.  "Do they seem odd to you?"

	I had to say it some time. "Do you mean, almost transparent?"

	"Yeah," he replied, relieved that he wasn't the only one who
noticed. "Do you suppose they're ghosts? Did we really crash? Is this
like - you know - Heaven's airport or something?"

	That seemed to be a ridiculous statement on the surface of it,
but things hadn't seemed quite right ever since the explosion in the
engine. Reality seemed to be suddenly tilted, as if... No, we couldn't
be dead, I thought. I reached over to pinch my own arm. Ouch! If I
was dead, why had that hurt?  Besides, I didn't feel dead. I felt as
young and healthy as ever.

	A man suddenly appeared in the doorway of the plane. He was
tall and slender, a serious look on what we could see of his face -
his eyes were hidden by reflective sunglasses. He was some sort of
official, his gray-blue shirt, dark trousers, and boots indicated
that. Then, I noticed the badge.  Police, perhaps, I thought, or
State Patrol.

	"Listen up, please," he ordered in an authoritative voice. He
didn't have to speak too loudly. All of us had been silent since the
plane had landed, as if we all noticed something out of order. "You
have just landed at the Ovid Municipal Airport in Ovid, Oklahoma. Your
plane has been damaged, and there may be some danger of a fuel leak
and fire, so I am going to ask you to deplane immediately. Do not
worry about your personal belongings. Those will be taken care of
once the plane has been checked. As I step by your rows, please exit
at once and go directly to the bus outside."

	"What bus?" I whispered to Larry. Then, together we looked out
the cabin window at a large silver bus which I could have sworn had
not been there a moment before. There were no markings on the bus. In
fact, there were no seams on the bus. It was as if it was made out of
a single piece of silver metal, gleaming brightly in the Oklahoma sun.

	"Hey man, this is getting weird," Larry murmured.

	He was right, but as I looked around the bus, no one else
seemed unduly upset. No wait, that wasn't quite true. Of course, I
couldn't see everyone on the plane, but I could see Wild Bill. He was
unusually subdued, as if he, too, noticed something not quite right.

	I began to watch as each row emptied, studying the faces of my
teammates if I could to see some evidence of alarm or confusion. Most
seemed normal, I observed, if just a little shaken from their brush
with disaster. But occasionally, I caught a glimpse of uncertainty
similar to the one that must have been on my own face.

	Coach Jessup, our defensive coordinator, was among that small
group. As he rose to his full six foot four height, he looked back at
those of us still seated. He was really second only to Coach Wallace
in authority. Given his height and build - he had once played safety
for the Rams - he was an impressive figure. Just in his mid thirties,
many thought he would be head coach when Coach Wallace finally
retired. When his eyes caught mine, the confusion registered. He
shifted his eyes a little to indicate that I needed to talk to him
when I could. Jill looked around, almost in terror. Again, she saw
me. I gave her a curt nod as if to say it would be all right. She
gave me a small nod herself before deplaning.

	In all, I noticed perhaps half a dozen of my teammates sensed
that something was wrong. I could tell. These guys were practically
my family.  Some of them had been teammates for all four years with
me. I could tell when something was bothering them, and something
was bothering them now.

	All of us hustled over to the bus as quickly as we
could. Nobody wanted to take a chance on the plane suddenly
exploding. I looked back at the tail of the plane and got quite a
shock. The BAC-111 has two engines, one mounted on either side of the
fuselage near the tail, sort of like a DC-9. The engine on the left
side of the plane was just so many pounds of scrap metal, its cowling
shredded and blackened. That we could have survived, I knew. The plane
could have flown on one engine with relative ease. Unfortunately,
whatever had caused the engine to disintegrate had thrown debris into
the tail of the aircraft, leaving it twisted as well. My father had his
own plane, and I had grown up in it. I knew there was no way the pilot
could have controlled a plane in that condition as well as she did. By
all rights, we should have lost control and plummeted to the ground.

	"What now?" Larry asked, seeing my face devoid of color.

	"I'll tell you later, man," I promised. I didn't want to
tell him then because I thought it would have sounded crazy. I didn't
realize it then, but the craziness hadn't even started yet.

	Larry and I sat together on the bus, and Coach Jessup slid into
the aisle seat across from us. Jill was sitting next to him. Once all
the players had boarded the bus and cleared the aisles, he asked,
"Jace, I know you saw something weird. I could see it in your
eyes. What was it?"

	"I don't know," I said honestly after a moment's
thought. Nothing seems right. Did you see those people out there on
the tarmac? They... it almost looked as if you could see through them."

	"What are you talking about?" a woman's voice said from the
row behind me.	I turned to see it was our pilot, her white shirt,
once crisp, now stained and wilted with perspiration. It was warm in
the bus, but not that warm.

	"Those men." I gestured with my hand at two workers who
were now moving the ramp away from the plane. Odd, I thought,
since they'd want to board it later to check it out and remove our
possessions. "Look at them. Do you notice something odd about them?"

	"I do," Larry volunteered next to me.

	The pilot shook her head, her short brown locks springing
as she did. "I don't. They just look like two workers. Why? What do
you see?"

	"They're... sort of transparent," I explained.

	She looked at me for a moment, then giggled. "You're joking,
right? This is some sort of a prank you guys pull on people?"

	Jill leaned over me, her breasts practically in my face. Good
old Jill. She might be cute, but she was always just one of the
guys. I guess that came from being the only girl in her home. Still,
I practically got hard while she did it. I mean, she might have been
just one of the guys, but she was a fine looking girl, too.

	She peered at the two men. "I see what you mean. What do you
think - " she began, but the bus lurched ahead suddenly, causing her
to fall in my lap. I was more than a little embarrassed as I realized
she could feel my growing erection. She grinned at me. "Not right
now," she jibed. "Maybe later." She got up to return to her seat,
impishly moving her hand across my crotch as she got off me.

	"I think you have a new girlfriend," Larry practically
whispered in my ear.  I looked at Jill's butt as she maneuvered past
Coach Jessup to reach her seat. New girlfriend, eh? Well, who knows? I
thought. I could do a lot worse.

	"Oh my god!" our pilot exclaimed as we pulled away.

	"Did you see what I meant?" I turned and asked.

	"No - I'm looking at the plane," she explained. "I shouldn't
have been able to turn on final with one engine out and the tail in
that condition."

	I nodded. She had confirmed my suspicions as well.

	"For that matter," Larry chimed in, "why did there just happen
to be a bus waiting for us when we landed?"

	"That's not so strange," Jill told us. "Airports have buses
to take people off the planes in emergencies. I saw one do it when
I changed planes at O'Hare last summer."

	"But that was O'Hare," our pilot pointed out. "Big airports
have those, but I imagine we're the largest plane to ever land
here. Your friend had a good point. What was a big bus like this
doing just waiting for us?"

	"You're not suggesting they knew we were coming, are
you?" Coach Jessup asked. It was obvious from his tone that he didn't
think much of our pilot.

	"I'm not suggesting anything," she said.

	"Neither am I," Larry said, as if to remind Coach Jessup that
he was the one who had initially mentioned the bus. "I just find it
one more oddity."

	We were in for a lot of oddities as it turned out. After a
couple of miles on the open road, we passed a sign that said "Welcome
to Ovid" followed by a collection of the usual roadside businesses -
metal warehouses with brick fronts housing a host of firms, implement
and car dealers, and so on. As the road widened to four lanes, the
businesses became the usual collection of fast food restaurants,
convenience stores, and gas stations. The funny thing was they were
all brands I had never heard of. I supposed this Ovid was too small
for the usual franchises like Burger King and KFC. I hoped we didn't
have to spend much time here.

	Trees began to line the street, their leaves still green,
but hints of yellow and red were already present, announcing a
fall a little later than we experienced further north, but fall
nonetheless. It was a bigger town than I had imagined - perhaps as
big or bigger than Maryville. I saw a directional sign announcing the
way to Capta College. So Ovid was a college town. It was beginning
to remind me in some ways of Maryville.

	But only in some ways. In other ways, it was as different from
Maryville as Earth is from the Moon. Nearly everyone I saw walking
in the warm fall weather of Ovid bore that same almost but not quite
transparent look. Except for that, they all seemed normal enough. There
were men in suits and work clothes as you would expect on a working
day. The only children in evidence were very young - preschoolers on
a school day. I saw one of them who didn't have that transparent look,
and the little guy seemed to see nothing wrong with the fact that the
woman who pulled him along by the hand had that same transparent look.

	Finally, the bus pulled into a large parking lot in front of a
large granite building with the words "City Hall" engraved between its
entry columns. It was a typical Midwest city building - a little nicer
and neater than most, but still not out of character. The building
was tastefully surrounded by trees and a grassy lawn which sported
two flying flags: one the US flag and the other what appeared to be
a state flag. What were we doing here? I wondered. I looked a few
rows up at our coach. Why wasn't he raising hell? We needed to be in
Muskogee, not stuck at City Hall in some town I had never heard of.

	It was then that I noticed still another oddity. When the
plane had landed, all of us were very animated. We were relieved that
we had landed safely, apparently avoiding a grisly end only through
the Herculean efforts of our flight crew. Some had even cheered. Now,
though, that animation was gone, replaced by an almost hypnotic
silence. Oh, there were a few small conversations like the one I had
been involved in, but most of the team seemed tranquil almost to the
point of a stupor.

	I looked at Coach Jessup. "What's happening?" I asked
him. "What's the matter with Coach Wallace?"

	"I don't know," he admitted. He began to rise to question
the head coach, but suddenly the bus doors swung open and the strange
police officer got on board. "Alright, please get off the bus in an
orderly fashion just like before. Then wait for me on the sidewalk."

	Almost like robots, my teammates began to stand and get off the
bus in almost military precision. Here and there, an individual would
look around in confusion. I saw Bert Hazleton, our big halfback, look
around almost in fear, but he got off just like everyone else. Soon,
our row was moving. I kept looking around, trying to figure out what
was going on. I stole a look at the driver - or I tried to. There
was no driver. Come to think of it, I hadn't seen a driver get on or
off. But how could a bus be driven without a driver? Wouldn't the
guys in the front of the bus notice something was wrong? What was
happening to all of us?

	"Please follow me," the police officer said with authority once
we were all gathered on the sidewalk. Like lemmings, we followed him
into the building.  We were led into a room with wide oak doors. I
realized at once it was a courtroom. But what were we doing in a
courtroom? It was empty except for our group. Maybe they were just
gathering us here until another bus could be brought in from Muskogee
State, I rationalized. After all, what possible reason would anyone
have to take us into a court?

	"All rise!" the police officer suddenly intoned. We were all
still on our feet, so why did he say that? I wondered. "Municipal
Court of and for the City of Ovid is now in session, the Honorable
Judge presiding."

	A man in a crisp black robe entered the room from behind
the bench. He was a dignified man, striding with the confidence of
a man who is in charge and knows it. He was tall, but not as tall
as many on our team and appeared to be in good shape for his age,
which I estimated to be low to mid fifties.  His hair and beard
were both neatly trimmed and brown with just a touch of gray. He
stopped at his seat, looking over at the officer. "Thank you, Officer
Mercer. Spectators may be seated."

	Did he mean us? There were no chairs for us, as we were before
the bench.  No one made a motion to sit anyway, and there were no
spectators in the visitor's gallery. Then if we weren't spectators,
what were we?

	"Officer Mercer, will you read the charges, please?"

	We all stood there in an eerie silence, either too dumbfounded
or too frightened to open our mouths as Officer Mercer recited
formally, "In the case of the people versus the football team of
Northwest Missouri State and associated parties, the defendants are
charged with unsafe operation of an aircraft and landing such aircraft
on property of the City of Ovid without proper clearances."

	"Very well," the Judge said with a nod. "I hereby find the
defendants - "

	"Wait!" I suddenly yelled. I regretted it the moment I had done
so, but I knew this wasn't right. Somebody had to say something. It
might as well be me. I certainly had second thoughts about it when
I saw all eyes turned toward me, the Judge's the most piercing of all.

	"Yes, Mr. Stromberg?" the Judge said in a tone that made me
want to run and hide. "Do you have something to say before I pass
judgement?"

	I looked at my teammates. Some, like Larry, Darren and Dennis
were watching me with encouragement. Most were watching with the same
level of interest they might have shown if I had been a bug on the
wall - which is to say, none at all.

	I suppose I should have wondered how he knew my name, but
when a man with as much of a powerful presence as the Judge stares
at you, it is hardly the time to ask questions. Something in the back
of my mind told me I had better come up with the right answer or the
consequences might be most unpleasant.

	"Your Honor," I began meekly, "we were just on our way to
play a football game."

	"I know that," he said with grim amusement.

	"Well, I mean, I don't think we've done anything wrong."

	"Didn't you hear the charges Officer Mercer just read?"

	I sighed. "Well, yes, Your Honor, I did, but it seems there
were extenuating circumstances." Now there was a good word. My college
education might pay off at last. "We didn't intend to land in Ovid."

	The Judge snorted, "Mr. Stromberg, you should have
tried the law as a profession. I must admire your courage in this
matter. However, if you say another word, I will find you in contempt
of this court, and the penalty for that might well be more than you
would want to pay."

	I believed him, and I shut up at once. I had never been so
frightened in my life. There was something about this magistrate
that exuded raw power of a kind I had never imagined before. Was it a
premonition of what was about to happen? Maybe. There was certainly
magic in the air. It was enough to calm some and confuse others,
and most were calmed by it. It was as if most of my teammates had no
idea where they were or what was happening to them. The rest of us -
the confused - could only stand and brace ourselves as best we could
for whatever was about to happen.

	The Judge turned his attention away from me and back
to the rest of our team. "I find you guilty of all charges and
specifications. In accordance with the Ovid City Code..." His voice
suddenly became a little deeper, uttering words I had never heard
before.

	At first, I thought there was something wrong. Maybe he was
having a stroke or something. But no, whatever he was saying was
powerful, for the level of magic in the room suddenly increased like
a light breeze becoming a strong March wind. I felt it on my face,
like tendrils of wind moving the air along my cheeks. Then, it was
in my hair, blowing my hair, making it feel longer than it really was.

	I looked around at my teammates. Some, like me, seemed to be
bracing against the wind. Horace White stood there defiantly as he
had many times in our backfield, but he was becoming pale, almost
as if the ebony color of his skin was being blown away, revealing
skin which became a light flesh pink.  His shaved head was sprouting
hair, but instead of its natural black, it was a light blonde shade,
becoming longer and longer as his facial features changed from their
natural broad masculine aspect to a more feminine appearance. His broad
shoulders were narrowing swiftly, and what were those two mounds of
flesh rising from his chest?

	The changes were coming more quickly, and there were so many
of them that I couldn't follow them all and still pay attention to
what was starting to happen to my own body. A few of my teammates
stayed the size they were, and one or two became even larger. Most,
however, were becoming smaller - some much smaller. I watched with
alarm as Jill Wentworth became suddenly taller, more muscular, as her
hair seemed to pull back into her scalp. To my left, Larry seemed as
tall as I was, but his nearly black hair had become a wavy brown. He
looked younger, too, almost like a young version of Brad Pitt.

	"What's happening?" I asked him, surprised to hear my own
voice over the gasps and cries emanating from the team. My voice
seemed higher and more melodic.

	Larry looked at me in stunned silence.

	I frowned. "What is it?" I asked.

	Ignoring for a moment the sudden gasps and chaos that was
swirling around me, I looked first at Larry's eyes to see where he
was staring. His eyes were fixed on my chest, so I looked down. With a
decidedly high-pitched gasp, I watched as my green and white Bearcats
sweatshirt began to expand in two prominent places. As I watched in
fascinated horror, two breasts were growing from my chest. I could
feel their weight growing with each frightened breath. Incredulous,
I raised my hand to touch them, noting almost as an afterthought that
the hand was smaller and slimmer, and that my nails were far longer
than they should be, glistening with a clear polish.

	"Larry..." I started, but my voice trailed off. What was I
going to say?  Larry, please help me? How could he help me? Powers
far greater than I had ever imagined were remolding my entire body. I
could feel it coursing over my entire body, leaving behind the weight
of longer hair already tickling my ears. And what was clinging to
the bottom of my ears? I could feel it in my face as the bones in
my cheeks began to shift, almost as if there was something alive in
there scuttling around.

	My waist and stomach seemed to be contracting, almost as
if air were being let out of a balloon, but I could feel the shift
of bones in my pelvis as it became wider, and like my new chest, it
was suddenly as if I had new weight in my butt. There was a tickling
sensation in my legs as well, as if the hair on them was suddenly
just not there any longer. That feeling was quickly replace by the
sensation of my legs, feet and ass being encased in something which
clung to me almost like a second skin.

	"My god, Jace!" Larry exclaimed. Except it didn't sound
exactly like Larry.  It was still a male voice, but not as deep or
as mature. Was he being changed into a girl, too? Part of me hoped
not - for his sake. Part of me, though, didn't want to be alone in
this humiliation.

	Of course, when I looked beyond Larry for a moment, it was
obvious that I was not alone. Still in the throes of change, my
teammates were meeting their fate with a variety of reactions. While
roughly half of them were taking on feminine characteristics at an
alarming rate, the rest, although still male, were like Larry, becoming
younger, more callow youths. Some seemed unaware of what was happening
to them, staring at the Judge as if listening to a lecture. Others
- only a few actually - were like Larry and me, examining our new
anatomies as best we could with expressions of disbelief.

	Why weren't we yelling and screaming? I don't really
know. Maybe it was part of the magic which kept us under control. Maybe
it was simply fear or shock. I knew - and I was certain some of my
teammates knew - that this was the supernatural work of the mysterious
Judge. Somehow, he was gifted with powers I had never imagined even
existed. He had taken our entire team and, with the power of a few
words in some arcane tongue, had transformed us into a group of
young men and women who appeared no more than fifteen or sixteen
years old. Part of me did want to cry out, but I was afraid. Yes,
I'll admit it - I was very afraid. Now was not the time to challenge
this powerful man - if he was, in fact, a man at all.

	The sensations of transformation were beginning to abate at
last. There had been no pain to endure, and I have no idea exactly how
long the process took. I suspect it may have differed a little for
each of us. I no longer felt as if there were live things crawling
beneath my skin, and my anatomy appeared to have settled into its
new form. The only odd sensations remaining were those I felt as my
clothing continued to shift. My jeans had transformed into a soft aqua
skirt cut well above the knee with small slits along the side. That
had revealed dark pantyhose clinging to shapely legs, ending in a
pair of black patent shoes - fortunately with only the hint of a
heel. My new breasts were covered with a light sweater which matched
my skirt. It did little to disguise my new shape. There was a small
weight on my shoulder - a purse strap, I realized as I looked down. A
strand or two of auburn hair lay over my slimmer shoulders as well,
ending where I could see a slender gold chain which formed a feminine
necklace ending about where my breasts began.

	"My god, Jace," the boy who had been Larry murmured,
"you're beautiful."

	But I didn't want to be beautiful. I was weak in the knees from
shock, and a look around the room told me I wasn't alone. I didn't know
who was who.  When you are enduring the sudden shock of watching your
own body transform, becoming younger and changing sex in the process,
it is a little difficult to take note of everything happening around
you. I no longer recognized the collection of youths who shared the
courtroom with me. I knew, of course, that the nice looking boy who
stood next to me was my good friend, Larry, for I had watched him
change. Why had he remained male while I became a... a girl?

	I wasn't alone in my sex change, though. Fully half the room
had become female. Most of my teammates looked as if nothing was
wrong. They shared the look of bored high school students everywhere,
seemingly unconcerned that they were wearing skirts - and in some
cases heels - for the first time in their lives. Several whispered to
each other, occasionally eyeing one of the boys and giggling. Others
patted their hair or stood trying to look interested with their arms
folded under breasts that they treated as if they had had them all
their lives.

	A few, though, were like me, looking from side to side, trying
to make some sense out of what had happened. Some were still boys,
like Larry. There was confusion written on their faces, but also
relief as well. They could see for themselves that about half of us
had joined the distaff side, and they were thanking whatever powers
were at work that they had been spared such an indignity. Some were
like me, though, radically changed, our hair long, makeup in place,
breasts heaving in alarm, and knees bare and shaking.

	I looked up at the Judge. His face was impassive. Who -
or what - was he?  How could he wield such power over us? I wanted
to demand an explanation.  Perhaps I would have managed to work up
enough courage to do so if I had had more time, but a woman's voice
suddenly called, "Thank you very much, Your Honor, for explaining
the municipal court system to us."

	Most of the crowd ignored her, but some of us who seemed
to be more aware of what had happened turned to see a rather plain,
well-dressed woman, perhaps fifty or so with her gray hair drawn back
into a neat bun. Wasn't she standing where Coach Wallace had been only
a few minutes before? Was this woman our transformed coach? If so,
she had dropped about ten years and a lot of pounds, not to mention
a whole new set of contours.

	The Judge smiled an indulgent smile. "I'm always pleased to
explain our legal system to your students, Miss Samson. I'm sure that
I'll see at least one of your students as an attorney practicing in
this very courtroom some fine day." He looked out at all of us with
a mock stern expression. "I certainly hope that is the only way I
see any of you in this courtroom."

	There was a smile on his face, and several of the "students"
laughed, but the message wasn't lost on those of us who realized
what had happened to them. We were not expected to question what had
been done to us. We were to accept it and move on with the new lives
we had been given, or the consequences might not - would not - be
pleasant. I looked around. No one appeared to be ready to challenge
him. Then I looked back at the Judge. He was staring right at me! I
lowered my eyes quickly. A cowardly act? Maybe, but I had just lost
my manhood to powers I could not even imagine. I wasn't about to see
what else I might lose.

	"All right," Miss Samson called out. "Now, everybody, go
back to the bus.  We need to get back to school for lunch before the
cafeteria closes."

	A gaggle of talking, laughing students made their way back
to the bus, oblivious to the fact that only minutes before, they
were the Northwest Missouri State football team. Or at least most
of them were oblivious. Here and there, there were furtive glances,
worried looks, and awkward movements, as if those individuals were
unfamiliar with their bodies. I felt it myself.

	When you're six-three and in shape to play football, you
move through a crowd with authority, looking over shorter people and
walking wherever you want to walk. People get out of your way. Now,
thought, I was no longer a strong, powerful figure. My diminutive size
made it difficult to see where I needed to go to get ahead. I was,
I estimated, no more than five-five or five-six. While that made me
as tall as many of the other girls in the crowd, I was considerably
shorter than most of the boys. Also, I lacked the physical presence
that had once made others get out of my way. Now, I was just a weak,
puny girl. It was enough to bring me to the brink of tears.  Tears! Oh
my god! I hadn't cried since I was ten. Whatever was happening to me
must be going past the physical aspects, I realized.

	Suddenly, a hand gently grabbed my arm. I turned in surprise to
see it was Larry - or at least the boy Larry had become. "Act natural,"
he whispered to me.

	Gratefully, I let him guide me along. Although not as imposing
as he had been when we played football together, Larry was still male,
and the aura of male self-assuredness was still there. As grateful
as I was, though, it bothered me to allow myself to be led as if I
was his girlfriend or something through the meandering crowd, but
what choice did I have?

	The bus was still waiting for us in the parking lot,
but although the same shape and size, it was now painted in the
familiar orange-yellow with black trim that always identified school
buses. "Ovid School District" was printed neatly in black on the side
of the bus beneath the windows. Had they changed buses on us? No,
I thought, this bus looked to be the same as the one we had arrived
on. Only the details had been changed to make it a school bus. After
all, whatever power had changed us into a group of high school students
would probably have little difficulty changing a bus to match.

	We climbed on the bus, and for the first time in my new life,
I learned what a problem wearing a skirt could be. There wasn't enough
give in the tight skirt to allow me to balance myself well enough to
step onto the bus easily. Again, I was grateful and embarrassed at
the same time to have Larry steady me up the step of the bus.

	I chose a seat toward the rear of the bus, Larry sliding
in next to me. I wanted to be in a position to see as many of my
"classmates" as possible, to determine who, like Larry and me,
remembered our previous lives. I couldn't see everyone, but here and
there, I could recognize telltale clues.

	One big guy (of course most of the guys were big to me now)
looked about with keen blue eyes. He wore a black letter sweater
with a gold "O" on it.	With his blonde hair and square jaw, he
looked almost like Wild Bill, but I suspected that wasn't who he
was. He seemed too uncomfortable with who he was. I watched with
amusement as he absently tugged at his pants, as if his crotch was
uncomfortable. Whoever he had been, I mused, he apparently had a
bigger set of balls than before. I found myself envying him.

	Another "couple" boarded the bus in apparent discomfort. The
boy was tall and well muscled, but not in an obscene way. In fact,
I found myself thinking he was... handsome. He had brown hair and
big blue eyes that seemed unsure of what to make of the situation. He
looked as if he wanted to put his arm around the girl who preceded him
but had thought better about it.  The girl was an attractive blonde,
almost delicate in features with every pore of her body exuding
femininity. She wore a very short, very feminine dress, and she was
obviously not pleased about it. I felt sorry for her, since she was
stumbling a bit in two inch heels. At least I had been spared that
indignity. They sat together, but I noticed she was practically out
of her seat toward the aisle, as if the thought of sitting next to
a boy was the worst thing she could imagine.

	One of the last to board the bus was someone I assumed
to be a teacher. She was much younger than Miss Samson and much
prettier. She had dark reddish skin and nearly black hair, and the
long silver earrings dangling from her small, half-hidden ears made
her look like an exotic Indian princess. She wore a moderate amount
of makeup and a tan dress, belted at the waist. Like the blonde girl,
she seemed to be having just a little difficulty walking in heels, but
hers were a little higher and narrower than the blonde's. Like me, she
was studying the transformees, looking for signs of recognition. She
spotted me, and I could see her make a mental note of me.

	The bus lurched forward, the roar of the engines causing the
chatter on the bus to rise to an even higher level. It was just like
all the high school bus rides I had been on when I was growing up,
only now I was one of the girls.

	"Sam!"

	I ignored the call, although it seemed to be aimed at me,
coming from an attractive brunette across the aisle. Then, she put
a hand on my arm. "Sam, are you okay?"

	Was that my name? Sam? How ironic that I would have a name
which could easily belong to one of the boys. Oh, how I wished I was
one of the boys!

	"Sam, are you okay?"

	Oh, sure, I thought. Never better. But I said, "Yes, I'm
fine..." My voice trailed off. I had no idea what her name was.

	"What time are you and Danny going to the game?"

	"The game?" I said stupidly.

	The girl looked at me with concern. "Samantha Wallace, what
is wrong with you?"

	"I'm sorry," I said, recovering as quickly as I could.
"I was just thinking about something else."

	"Probably just thinking about Danny," she said with a
mischievous grin, looking meaningfully at Larry. So that was his name
now - Danny. And I was Samantha - Sam for short - Wallace. I wondered
perversely if I was related to Coach Wallace's family now. Did he
have relatives in Ovid? I doubted it.

	"Just... thinking," I replied.

	"Anyhow, you guys want to sit with Jack and me?" She
was sitting next to a tall guy with a shock of blond hair. He was
grinning in a satisfied manner, his arm draped around the brunette's
shoulders. It was almost impossible to believe that they had once
been teammates who would never dream of acting the way they were
acting now. It was obvious they had no idea who they had once been.

	"Sure," I managed to say. I couldn't think of anything else
to say.

	Fortunately, I didn't need to say anything else. The bus
screeched to a halt, and I realized I had paid no attention to our
route. I supposed it didn't really matter. I was at a high school now,
expected to be a high school coed. But what did that mean? Once, I had
a dream that I was back in high school but had no idea of what classes
to attend or what my assignments were. It was an uncomfortable dream,
but I hadn't considered it a nightmare.  Now, I was living that dream,
and it seemed to be a certified nightmare.

	I looked quickly in the purse. There were the standard women's
cosmetics, which caused me to shudder a bit, a wallet, and a key
ring. There appeared to be a locker key on the ring, but which locker?

	The brunette came to my unexpected rescue. "Let's let Jack and
Danny save us a place at lunch while we freshen up," she suggested,
motioning with her head at a tall, lanky blond guy I assumed rightly
to be Jack.

	Freshen up? Oh my god, I thought, she wants me to go touch
up our makeup and maybe even go to the bathroom. I had no knowledge
of the first activity and wanted to put off the second one for as
long as possible. But there was this little odd feeling inside me
which told me I would not be able to avoid an introduction to my new
anatomy very long.

	Dutifully, I followed her off the bus, while Jack led "Danny"
off, presumably to the cafeteria. We entered a large, one-story
building made of tan brick. A flag flew in front, next to a large
wooden sign which proclaimed in black letters over a gold background,
"Ovid High School." In smaller script, the black letters declared,
"Home of the Fighting Eagles!"

	It took me back to walk down the main hallway of Ovid
High for the very first time. I remembered my own high school days
so clearly. Of course, I had been one of the jocks. I was a good
student, too, but my scholastic interests often took a back seat
to my interest in sports - particularly football. Now here I was,
back in high school. Only this time, I was in a skirt. This wasn't
going to be easy, I thought.

	"Aren't you going to get anything out of your locker?" the
brunette asked.  I suddenly realized we had stopped in front of a
bank of lockers and she was opening hers.

	"Huh?" Gee, that sounded intelligent, I thought to myself.

	"Boy, you really are a space case today, Sam," she said,
shaking your head.  "It's not time for your period yet is it?"

	Period? Period?

	"Uh...no." At least I hoped it wasn't. My god, I could - would
- have periods. I could get pregnant. No, I couldn't. To get pregnant,
I would have to let some guy... No, that wouldn't happen. I'd never
ever let that happen - not in a million zillion years. Never.

	The brunette dived into my purse, which I had forgotten to
close. She deftly pulled my keys out and opened the locker next to
her own. "Sam, I don't know what's wrong with you, but maybe you
should go see the school nurse. You just aren't yourself today."

	I'm not myself? I thought, almost laughing out loud. Was that
ever an understatement! What would this girl say if I told her I was
supposed to be a six foot three football player. She would look at
me as if I was crazy.  Then I could tell her that she used to be one,
too. Yes, I'm sure the school nurse would prescribe a nice rubber room
for me someplace where I could twiddle my toes for the rest of my life.

	"I'm just a little off balance," I said with a wan smile.

	She touched my arm. "Sam, you and Danny aren't having problems,
are you?"

	Oh, so "Danny" was more than just a casual Friday night
date. Somehow, it figured. How serious were we supposed to be? Had
he gotten to first base?  Second? Third? Home run?

	"No, we're fine," I assured her. But were we? I could use
a friend now, and Larry - or Danny as I would have to get used to
calling him - had been my friend for a long time. Could our friendship
survive my abrupt change of sex? I found myself hoping that it would.

	"Then get your notebook and your history book and let's get
to lunch."

	I grabbed the notebook and history text she had indicated and
meekly followed her down the hall. Students along the way called out,
"Hi, Sam! Hi, Jessica!" I just smiled and called "hi" back to them. At
least I had found out the brunette's name.

	I felt like an interloper in the girl's restroom. I tried to
emulate what Jessica was doing. She mostly touched up her lipstick
which, to me, didn't even look like it needed touching up. Of
course, neither did mine, I thought, noticing its taste for the first
time. Still, I went through the motions. I didn't want to appear out
of character.

	Danny and Jack were waiting for us as we got our lunch trays. I
sat the tray down and looked at the food. The portions were almost
miniscule. Years of football training tables had left me with a big
appetite, and I couldn't see how this tiny lunch was going to get me
through the day.

	"We thought you guys got lost," Jack commented.

	"We had to make ourselves beautiful for you," Jessica
explained. Well, she had made herself beautiful. I had merely
followed her into the girl's room and pretended to touch up my
lipstick. Actually, as I said, I had barely let it touch my lips. It
felt like there was plenty there already.

	Jessica hadn't used one of the stalls, so I put that off,
too. I was now finding I had cause to regret that. The need to pee
seemed far more urgent to me than it had when I was male. I would
have to eat quickly and get back into the girl's room before class.

	The conversation was inconsequential. We were just four high
school friends having lunch together. Danny and I let Jack and Jessica
carry most of the conversation, keeping to short answers whenever we
could. I was amazed at how complete the transformation had been for
Jack and Jessica. I knew they had been our teammates - either that or
members of the flight crew. Yet they seemed to have become exactly what
they looked like - two high school students. And there was no way of
telling that Jessica had ever been male.  Who had she been before? I
wondered. Was she one of my good friends, or maybe one of the guys
I didn't talk to much. I would probably never know, I realized.

	I almost envied Jack and Jessica. They were unaware
that they had ever been anyone else. They fit into the community
perfectly. Neither would ever have to pretend to be someone they
had not been before, as Danny and I would. But another part of me
disagreed. I might not look like Jason Stromberg anymore, but I
knew I had been him once. All my memories, all my ideas, were still
there. If I had to build a new life as Samantha Wallace, it would be
Jason Stromberg who did it.

	Jessica looked suddenly at her watch, then at me. "We need
to go to the little girl's room before class." It wasn't a request -
it was a command. Of course, I realized. This was part of the female
ritual. If one girl in a group had to go to the bathroom, every girl
in the group had to go to the bathroom. Well, why not? I had planned
to go on my own if I had to.

	Jack gave Jessica a chaste kiss, promising to see her in
class. I swear Danny was thinking about doing the same, but instead
he just gave me a little wave. I was off to the girl's room again.

	This time, there was no avoiding the inevitable - I had to
pee and I had to pee badly. I was afraid by the time I hiked up my
skirt and pulled down my pantyhose, being careful not to rip them,
I would find wet panties, but I had managed to hold back. The instant
my newly expanded bottom hit the seat, my new muscles relaxed, and I
felt instantaneous relief. It was a different feeling than peeing as
a male, but the relief was equally pleasant. I felt as if I had two
gallons stored up inside me, so I was surprised when only a small
amount sprayed out of me. Apparently, my bladder was much smaller.

	A lot of things were smaller, I thought to myself. The lunch
I had thought would be far too small had proven to be adequate. In
fact, I had even left part of it, my new stomach full. Of course,
I was much smaller than I had been before, I knew, as I unconsciously
wiped myself and got dressed. At least I wouldn't have the temptation
to bulk up as I had while playing football, I realized as I touched
up my lipstick. That would save on food...

	Wait a minute! I looked at myself in the mirror as if I had
just come out of a trance. In a way, I suppose I had. I had wiped
myself like a girl.  Sure, I knew they did that after they peed,
but I had never done that before - yet I seemed to know just what to
do. I hadn't even taken the time to examine my new privates. Then,
I had been so deep in thought that I had marched right over to the
mirror and reapplied lipstick as if I had done it hundreds of times
before - again without really thinking about it.

	What did all this mean? Was I about to lose my identity like
so many of the others? I hoped not. As much as I disliked being this
girl, I didn't want to forget who I had been. Maybe it was just part
of the magic, I thought. Maybe when you didn't fight it, you just
acted the way you were supposed to act.  Was there some way to test
that thought? Maybe.

	Jessica was waiting for me outside the restroom. "Come on,
let's go to class," she said.

	I shook my head, feeling the auburn tresses drift across
my shoulders. "You go ahead," I told her. "I need to go back to my
locker." I didn't really need to go to my locker. I just wanted to
test my theory. If I was right, I would be able to walk to class
without thinking about where I was going. Of course, if I was wrong,
I had given up a golden opportunity to be led to where I needed to
be. Still, that was part of my nature. I had to try.

	"Okay," she said. Then, stopping her turn, "Are you sure
you're okay?"

	I smiled what I hoped was a confident smile. "I'm fine."

	After Jessica left, I tried to blank my mind. I couldn't
do it - I don't think anyone really can. Then I realized that we do
things by rote when we're thinking about something else. What could I
think about? My past life?  I wondered what had become of us outside
Ovid. Had we been reported missing when our plane was overdue? Surely
we had. That meant there would be a search for us. It wasn't every
day that a plane drops out of sight in clear weather while carrying
a college football team.

	But what if we weren't missing - at least as far as the world
outside Ovid was concerned? After all, any agency powerful enough
to turn a college football team into a group of high school students
might be able to reshape the rest of the world enough to make it seem
as if we had never existed.

	But if that was the case, what agency could have such
power? Countless thousands of lives would have been changed. My
parents, my brother and sister, all my relatives and friends,
and everyone else I had ever met would have a different set of
memories. Multiply that by all of my teammates on the plane and the
number would be incredible. But wait! That would mean there would be
a new team at Northwest Missouri State composed of guys who weren't
there before. All their lives would be changed as well. Instead of
playing for another school, they would now be Bearcats. Where would
it all end? How could such a power exist? It went beyond magic;
it was god-like.

	I sat down, and the world I had been seeking to ignore rushed
back around me. I had been walking down the hall, lost in thought,
and my feet had taken me into a classroom and over to an empty desk
right next to Larry - er, Danny.

	"Are you okay?" he asked me over the din of the pre-class
conversation.

	"Why does everybody keep asking me that?" I muttered.

	"How did you find this classroom?" he wanted to know, speaking
so that only I could hear.

	"It was an experiment," I replied. "It seems if we sit back
and just let things happen, we act like the people we've become." I
gave a little shudder. How far would that go? What sort of a girl
was Samantha Wallace anyway? If I just let myself go, would I find
myself in the back seat of some guy's car on some lonely country
road? I would have to be careful.

	"We need to talk after class," he offered.

	I nodded. Maybe we could go somewhere after school and
talk. Did one of us have a car? For that matter, were either of us
now old enough to drive? I quickly looked in my purse, pushing by all
the cosmetics to find my wallet and keys. The keys were on top of the
wallet, but there was nothing that looked like a car key. That was
a bad sign. The wallet confirmed it. There was no driver's license
anywhere. The only picture ID I had was my student ID. According to
my birth date, I was only fifteen. That was going to throw a crimp
in any plans I might come up with.

	It turned out we were in a World History class. The teacher
was Miss Samson who I suspected had once been our coach. If so,
she showed no signs of remembering who she had been. She taught the
class with the poise and experience of someone who had been teaching
it for years, and her manner was decidedly feminine.

	The class was made up mostly of students who had that
same semi-transparent appearance we had first observed at the
airport. Although they seemed normal enough and were apparently solid
as evidenced by the way their seats moved when they leaned back,
there was something about them that made you think you could see
through them. Some of the other students were apparently our former
teammates - or at least people like them. They seemed to be completely
at ease with who they had become and noticed nothing unusual.

	Two of the girls looked a little uncomfortable, though. One was
a very attractive Hispanic girl, with long black hair that practically
shined. She kept tugging at her short skirt as if by doing so she
could cover her smooth legs. She would look around every now and
then as if embarrassed that someone might see them. Then, she would
redden when it became apparent to her that more than one boy in the
room was watching her appreciatively.

	The other girl was an attractive although hardly beautiful
brunette who seemed to be tuned out as far as Miss Samson's lecture was
concerned. She instead was closely examining her hands, touching the
tips of her feminine fingernails as if to test if they were real. She
kept brushing her long brown hair away from her face as if she wasn't
used to wearing it that long.

	Danny noticed, too, and we made eye contact long enough to
realize that we had to stop both of those girls and talk with them
after class. I took the Hispanic girl as the class bell rang, gently
touching her arm. She jumped suddenly. I think she had been afraid
that one of the boys had grabbed her.  I wish, I thought.

	Danny had gotten the attention of the other girl, and in
moments, we were huddled outside the classroom. The two girls looked
a little nervous at Danny's presence. It was obvious that neither
had ever socialized with boys in the role of girls before.

	"Look," I started out, "we haven't got much time until the
next class. I was Jace Stromberg and this guy was Larry Gunn. You
both remember who you were, too, don't you?"

	"Thank god!" the Hispanic girl practically cried. "I was
wondering if I was the only one who remembered." Like all of us,
she had also picked up a little bit of an Oklahoma twang, but her
voice also carried the lilting inflections of someone who had been
raised to speak another language. "I'm - or I was - Bert Hazleton."

	My mouth flew open. Bert had been about my size when he
played second string wide receiver for the team. He had also been
blonde and very fair skinned, almost to the point that he tended to
sunburn rather than tan. Now, here he was, petite and dark, looking
absolutely nothing like the Bert I remembered.

	"My name is Teresa Gonzales now," she continued
nervously. "I've got to figure out a way to get back to my own
life. There's a big guy on the football team here who thinks I'm his
girl. He told me he'd meet me after the game, and I'm scared to death."

	I hoped there was a way, but what would it be? I just gave
her a sympathetic nod and looked at the other girl.

	"I was Austin Blake," she said simply. Austin had been a junior
and a second string halfback. I hadn't known him very well. He was
one of the guys who kept pretty much to himself. I knew that he had
a long-time girlfriend who had followed him to college, and he lived
with her off campus. He didn't party much with the team, and I didn't
think I had said a dozen words to him since we had met.

	"Have you found any others who remember?" Danny asked.

	The girl who had been Austin bit her lip in thought, leaving
a small amount of bright pink lipstick on her teeth. "No..." she
replied at last, shaking her head slowly. "At least I'm not sure. No,
wait! The pilot - I noticed the pilot."

	"Is she a student here now?" I asked.

	"I don't think so. I saw her change into another young
woman. When we went to the bus, she left the group. She didn't seem
to notice anything odd. I don't think she remembers a thing. I think
she's older than we are - now."

	I filed that in memory. If we ever came up with a plan for
getting out of Ovid, it would have been handy to have a pilot. No
such luck, though.

	The bell rang again. We were due in another class. Bert -
Teresa now - looked stricken. "I don't know where I'm supposed to be."

	"Calm down," I told him - her. Then I explained to all of
my former teammates the technique I had discovered to find my next
class. I used it myself again, finding myself in a home economics
class surrounded by two dozen other girls. If I had still been Jace,
I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven. Not one of
the girls was homely. While some were prettier than others, there
wasn't a one I wouldn't have found attractive as Jace.	Apparently,
the powers that ruled Ovid had decided that ugly was out.

	Most of the girls had that same transparent look that was so
common in Ovid, but a few were real. Of the real ones, only three
of us seemed to know who we had been. Austin - who was now named
Darla Hastings - and a pretty blonde girl who was carefully watching
Darla and me. She was the same blonde I had noticed on the bus -
the girl who looked so uncomfortable. I didn't have a chance to talk
to her before class, though. In fact, Darla and I had arrived late,
suffering the silent frown of the teacher.

	Our teacher, who I later learned was named Ms Morrison,
really got into her subject. She really looked like the Beaver's
mother. Not exactly, I mean, but she wore a skirt and blouse, neatly
pressed and very feminine, her blonde hair was neatly in place,
and her makeup was flawlessly feminine without exaggeration. The
fact that she was partially transparent did nothing to detract from
her appearance. Apparently, I had landed smack dab in the middle of
the sewing part of the syllabus.  Now, I had never so much as sewed
a button back on a shirt before, so if I was going to look normal,
I had a lot of learning to do. Fortunately, we were still in the
lecture stage, so I had a chance to catch up.

	By the end of the class, I had even sewed a button on a shirt
and a hemmed a skirt. To be honest, I wasn't very good at it.

	"Samantha, haven't you ever helped your mother with sewing
before?" Miss Morrison asked with an almost motherly frown.

	"I'm afraid not," I answered truthfully. In my real family,
my mother did most of the sewing for my sister, brother, dad and
me. Even my older sister never did much sewing. Oh, I suppose mom
had at least taught her how, but she never took to it.

	"Darla, show her how to do that hem straighter," she said,
moving along to the next girl.

	Darla? I looked over at my former teammate. She had an
embarrassed smile on her face.

	"You know how to sew?" I asked her in a whisper as I looked
down at the straight hem she had just finished.

	She shrugged and whispered back, "I grew up with three
sisters. Mom taught them to sew and just figured why not teach me
while she was at it?"

	"I suppose you can cook, too," I ventured.

	"Sure can. I do a mean pineapple upside down cake."

	I'll be darned if we didn't both giggle.

	The blonde stopped us after class. "I'm Darren McDougal,"
she said without preamble. When Darla and I had introduced ourselves,
she went on, "Look, we've got to figure some way out of this."

	"I'm all for that," I said honestly. I didn't want to remain
a girl if I didn't have to, but I didn't think it was the sort of
thing you went to the doctor to get an antibiotic for. Hi, doc, I've
just grown tits and my balls have disappeared. Do you have something
for that?

	"Then let's get organized," she said with a grin.

	I held up my hand. "Look... Say, what do I call you?"

	She frowned. "I told you, Jace, I'm Darren."

	I shook my head. "Look, that isn't going to work. We can't
go around here calling ourselves Austin, Darren and Jace. Look at
us. People will think we've lost our minds."

	Darren growled, "What do we care if these ghosts think we're
lost our minds?"

	"Shades."

	We both turned to Darla, who up to now had had little to
say. "They're called shades," she clarified. "I was talking to a girl
at lunch about it and - "

	"Wait a minute," I stopped her. "A real girl? Not one of
these shades?"

	"Yes," Darla confirmed. "A real girl. We aren't the only ones
who've been transformed. Apparently, the Judge has been doing this to
people for a couple of months now. The girl I was talking to had been a
guy like us. She - he then - was caught speeding by that weird cop. The
Judge told him he'd change him and make him young enough that he
wouldn't be able to speed for a while. She's too young to drive now."

	Talk about revoking someone's license, I thought.

	"Anyhow, I guess these shades are as real as we are. They're
solid to the touch and they don't have any more inkling of what's
going on here than most of our teammates do."

	"But the girl you were talking to," Darren pressed. "That
means there's more people here who remember who they were. We need
to contact them."

	"She won't help us," Darla said. "She's been here long
enough that she's gotten used to being a girl. She even has a steady
boyfriend."

	Darren blanched. "Then we have to do whatever we're going to do
before some of our guys feel the same way. I'll let Coach Jessup know."

	"Coach Jessup remembers?" I asked, suddenly curious.

	Darren nodded. "Yeah. He's the Social Studies teacher now. They
gave him the name of Ms Drew. I got a chance to talk to him on the
bus. Since they made him a teacher, he thinks he might be able to
get us organized."

	"Organized?" Darla asked.

	"Yeah," Darren said. "Look Austin, we're still a team, no
matter what we look like. If we all stand up to that Judge, we should
be able to force him to change us back."

	Darla shook her head. "I don't know. I don't think that's
such a good idea."

	Darren snorted. "Pussy!" She then stormed away.

	"Yeah," Darla agreed. "So?" But I don't think Darren heard
her. And we still didn't know her name.

	As I came out of my last class, Danny was there to meet
me. "How did the rest of your day go?" he asked me with a little grin.

	"Oh great," I said sarcastically. "How did you know where to
meet me?"

	He shrugged. "I just did the same thing you did and let my
feet do the walking. I stopped here, so I assumed this was where I
was supposed to be. I found out I have a car, so I guess I'm supposed
to drive you home."

	"You don't even know where I live," I pointed out.

	Another shrug. "I'll just think about something else and
drive there on auto pilot."

	I wasn't so sure I wanted someone driving me around this
strange town without thinking about where they were going. But what
other choice did I really have? I was too tired to try to figure out
which school bus went by my house. I fell in step with him.

	His car was an old Mazda, but it was in decent
shape. Apparently Danny's family had enough money to buy him a car
when he turned sixteen because I knew he couldn't be much older than
me. Either that or he had one heck of a paper route.

	As we drove, I told Danny what had happened that afternoon.

	He nodded. "I know all about Coach Jessup."

	"You do? How?"

	"Wild Bill Moreland was in Spanish class with me this
afternoon," Danny explained.

	"So who did he become?" I secretly hoped he had become a
girl with big tits. He was always bragging about his sexual exploits,
claiming to be "a boob man." It would be very appropriate if he had
a set of his own.

	I was doomed to be disappointed though. "He's still a guy,"
Danny told me.	"He isn't quite as big as he was, but he's all
male. And get this, he's a quarterback on the high school football
team."

	"No!" I was pissed beyond belief. Here I was, in makeup
and skirts while that big prick... well, he still had a prick. It
wasn't fair.

	We had pulled up in front of a comfortable middle class two
story not too dissimilar from the one I had grown up in. "Do you live
here?" I asked.

	He grinned. "No, but I think you do. Your technique for
getting around works pretty well."

	"Uh, do you want to come in?" I really didn't want to face my
"family" alone.

	"Sorry. I have to go home myself. Besides, I have to get
ready to take you out on our date." He was grinning impishly.

	I gave him a playful slug on his shoulder. "You asshole. It's
not a date.  We're just going to the game together."

	"Can I hold your hand tonight?"

	I flushed. "Danny!"

	He laughed, "Okay, I'll see you tonight."

	As he drove away, I was left alone in front of the house that
was supposed to be my home.

	I sighed to myself. At least I lived in a nice neighborhood. I
suppose I could have been stuck with a lot worse. Having grown up
in a nice suburb of Kansas City, the son of a doctor, I had become
accustomed to pleasant surroundings. I wondered what my new parents
did for a living. And did I have any brothers or sisters? Well,
there was only one way to find out.

	I opened the door with the house key I had found in my
purse. To be honest, I was frightened half to death. It was one thing
to try to be Samantha Wallace while surrounded by casual friends and
my former teammates at the high school. It was quite another to try to
play my role with my new "family." There were just so many variables -
all of which I would be expected to know. I would just have to be as
passive as I possibly could until I got the lay of the land.

	"Is that you, Samantha?" a woman's voice called from somewhere
in the house.

	"It's me!" I called back. I almost added "mom" but I wasn't
sure if the voice belonged to my mother. It might be an older sister,
an aunt, my "father's" mistress (just joking) or whoever. I looked
around quickly for some clue and was rewarded by what was obviously
a family portrait over the fireplace. It showed a middle-aged couple,
quite attractive, a girl - me - and a boy of perhaps twelve. Judging
from the face I had seen in the mirror and comparing it to my face
in the picture, it appeared to be quite recent.

	"I'm glad you're home early," my "mom" said entering the
room. She could not deny me. She had the same auburn hair I now had
and looked like an older version of me. Although the portrait had
not shown it, she was one of the shades. She was wearing a pair of
khaki slacks and a white knit blouse. She smiled when she saw me. "You
always look so pretty in that outfit, Samantha."

	I felt my face flushing. I wasn't used to being called pretty,
although I knew I now was.

	"Your father and I have to go to that barbecue over at the
Hendersons," she explained. "He's coming by to pick me up in a few
minutes. I left you a note on the counter, and your dinner is in the
oven. You're still going to the game tonight with Danny, aren't you?"

	"Uh, yes."

	"Okay," she said with a smile. "By the way, Josh will be
staying over at Paul's house tonight. I left you the number and the
Henderson's number in case anything comes up. Of course, your dad
will have his pager if you need him."

	I just listened. She was giving me a wealth of
information. Josh had to be my brother, and if my new father had a
pager, it meant he had to be on call.  What was he? A doctor like my
father? I wasn't sure. It also meant I would be left alone in the
house for awhile. That would give me plenty of time to explore my
new surroundings. By the time my new family had returned, I would at
least have a rough idea of where everything was.

	"There's your father now," she announced as I heard the sound
of a vehicle in the driveway. She rushed away, presumably back to
her bedroom to finish getting ready.

	The door opened, and the man in the portrait walked in. He
was tall - about as tall as I had been until a few hours ago. His
hair was short and partially gray, and he had a rugged, suntanned
face, even if it was a little transparent. Apparently, I was to be
surrounded by shades. Somehow, that didn't bother me. From what I
had seen of the shades so far, they were just normal people.

	He grinned at me. "Hi, sweetheart! I'm surprised to see you
here. I thought you'd be with Danny."

	"I'll see him tonight," I replied, a little uncomfortable at
being called "sweetheart."

	"Well, give him my best," he said, heading for the
bedroom. "I've got to get cleaned up. I've been treating Jim Carson's
horse and I smell a little like one."

	With that, he was off to get changed. So he was a vet. One
of my friends in high school had been the son of a vet. I knew that
in many ways, being a vet was as demanding as my own real father's
occupation - particularly in a small agricultural town like Ovid. He
would be expected to treat everything from small dogs and cats to
horses and cows.

	At least I had been given a normal, middle class family,
I thought. I had a professional father, a mother who I suspected
stayed at home, a younger brother, and... What was Danny? He was my
old friend, Larry, of course. But what else was he in the scheme of
things in Ovid? He was obviously my boyfriend. My friends knew it and
my family knew it. But how close were we supposed to be? I hoped not
very close because I wasn't ready to be somebody's girlfriend. Not
now - and maybe not ever. I was grateful Danny remembered being
Larry. It would make it much easier for us to stay just friends than
if he had nothing but memories of me being his close girlfriend. I
pitied Teresa who would have to fight off a big football player who
thought she had always been his girlfriend.

	The game was at seven, and Danny had agreed to pick me up
about six thirty so me could get good seats with Jack and Jessica. It
was not even five yet, so I had plenty of time to get ready. I mean,
how much time would I need?  I'd just slip on a pair of jeans and be
ready to go in five minutes, so I had plenty of time to look around.

	While my parents got ready for their own social event, I
checked out what "mom" had made for my dinner. I had been surprised
that the tiny lunch I had been given at school had actually lasted
me all afternoon. It must have been because I was smaller and less
athletic now, because had I tried to eat so little at lunch when
I was Jace, I would have been starving by now. Dinner looked a lot
better and the portion was larger than lunch. There was another plus,
I thought as I looked at the plate of baked chicken. My new mother
was apparently a good cook. Thank God for small favors.

	My new parents left for their barbecue as I was eating. I found
that waving goodbye to them wasn't sufficient. As their daughter,
I was expected to hug and kiss them. It felt okay to hug my mother,
but getting a kiss from my father seemed unnatural. My real father
and I had not kissed since I was a small child, so the experience
felt odd - not unpleasant, but odd.

	So I was left alone in my new house, dinner eaten, "family"
gone, and time to kill. I used it to my advantage, exploring the house,
figuring out all the little things I would be expected to know. I
moved from room to room, stopping to explore, to examine everything
I saw.	I was actually relieved to see that if I had to be a girl,
at least I was going to be part of a family not too different in some
ways from my own. It would make it easier for me to adapt.

	Adapt?

	I had been a girl for only a few hours and yet I was thinking
about adapting. Shouldn't I be thinking about how to get this magic
reversed? I thought. After all, I wasn't meant to be a girl. I was
meant to be Jason Stromberg, football player and history major. I
suppose I should be less resigned to my fate, but I knew powerful
magic was at work. What could I do to overcome it? My best strategy
was to wait and see if Coach Jessup could do something and help him
- her. Our only chance was to stick together as a team. Until then,
I would have to play the hand I was dealt.

	I had saved my room and my "brother's" room for last. As I
walked into his room, I felt pangs of envy. Why couldn't I have been
turned into a boy - even a younger one like my new brother? I knew how
to be a boy. I could still play football then and do all the things
boys do. It might have actually been fun to be twelve or so again -
as a boy - and grow up all over again. What would I do differently if
I could? Well, I would probably have concentrated on school a little
more. I made good grades, but not good enough to give me the background
and study habits I would have needed to follow in my real father's
footsteps as a doctor. I had often regretted that I hadn't been a more
serious student. The idea of being a doctor actually appealed to me.

	I sighed, looking around - what was his name? Oh yes, Josh -
around Josh's room one more time. Lucky little prick, I thought. I'd
give a lot to change places with him.

	At last came the room I had been avoiding - my own. I had
visions of what it would look like. I was sure it would be all
feminine with plenty of lace and soft pastels like my sister's room
had been. There would be little fluffy pillows, a doll or teddy bear
on the bed, and maybe a poster of some rock star displaying lots of
muscles and a bulge in the crotch of his tight pants.

	I was a little relieved when I saw I was wrong. Well,
partially wrong at least.  There were a couple of fluffy pillows. And
the peach colored walls and small flower patterns on the curtains
were most certainly feminine, but there were no dolls, teddy bears,
or rock star posters in evidence.  Apparently, Samantha was feminine
in tastes but not overtly so.

	I still had plenty of time before Danny picked me up. I even
thought about calling him and canceling out to take advantage of my
time alone, but to be honest, I did want to watch the football game. I
still loved the game and regretted that my playing days seemed to be
over, but some of my old teammates were still male and could be on
the team. I wanted to be there to cheer them on.

	I had no attention of doing so dressed like a wanna-be
cheerleader. There would be no skirts for me. Of course, I couldn't
exactly dress out of character, but a lot of girls wore jeans and
sweatshirts and sneakers to football games. I planned to be one
of them.

	I have to admit, what happened after that was my own fault. I
really did have plenty of time, particularly, I thought, if I allowed
myself to go into automatic mode to get dressed. I looked through my
large closet, selecting an Ovid High sweatshirt, a pair of jeans, and
white sneakers. From a drawer, I found a pair of athletic socks. No
one would mistake me for a boy, but at least I would be dressed in
a manner that was comfortable and familiar to me.

	The mistake I made was using time I could have spent getting
ready to examine myself. I had gone to the restroom earlier at school,
but I had been in a hurry and had been in no mood to examine what was
in my panties. I had just made a quick wipe and gotten dressed again as
quickly as possible. Now, though, I had had a few more hours to adjust
to who I had become. As a result, I decided to play just a little bit.

	Like my real sister's room, Sam had a full-length mirror
attached to the back of the door. After carefully closing the curtains,
I decided to treat myself to a striptease. Humming a little bump and
grind music to myself, a seductively pulled off my dress, admiring
myself standing there in a bra, panties and pantyhose. It wasn't
exactly spangles and garter belts like I had seen on a quick trip to
a Kansas City topless joint a few weeks earlier with Larry and some of
my other teammates. But I had to admit that if I were in my old body,
Sam would turn me on.

	She - I - had a very nice body. Although I was only fifteen
and still developing, my breasts were already large and firm, and
the rest of my figure, although not fully adult, would be mature in
a matter of months. My legs were long and graceful. Maybe I could
actually be a model. That long auburn hair and classic face were of
a type photographers looked for.

	Or I could be the Playboy Playmate in a couple of years, I
thought wickedly. I sat down on my bed, still looking into the mirror,
trying to imitate the poses I had often seen in the men's magazines -
or at least the more tasteful magazines. Maybe a little more skin. I
peeled off the pantyhose and flipped my long hair up with my hand,
posing in front of the mirror.

	Looking back on it, I don't think I had really accepted my new
body yet. It was more like divorcing my mind from my body, pretending
to watch an attractive girl go through the poses for me. The girl
posing seductively in the mirror wasn't really me. I was still Jace
Stromberg, sitting in my room back at college, looking through the
latest issue of Playboy at the dynamite young girl represented in
the glossy pictures. It wasn't really me who pulled out a pair of
off-white heels from the closet, removed her bra, and stood with
bedroom eyes, one hand under a breast while the other hand played
with the waistband of her panties. It wasn't really me who pulled off
those panties and stood with her legs spread and her sex prominently
displayed. It wasn't really me who jumped guiltily a foot into the
air when the phone at her bedside suddenly rang.

	"He... hello?" I stammered, standing there in the nude,
the phone shaking in my hand. Whoever it is can't see you, I kept
telling myself, but I still felt like I had been caught in the act.

	"It's just me," Danny's voice said. I unconsciously tried
to cover my crotch and breasts with the one hand that wasn't holding
the phone. I nearly dropped the phone in the process.

	"I had to look up your number. Your own phone, huh?" Danny
asked.

	"Uh...yes."

	"Well," he went on, "I just thought I'd call and tell you
I'll be there in about fifteen minutes."

	"Fifteen minutes?" I looked at the clock on my nightstand. I
had lost track of time. My little act in front of the mirror had gone
on longer than I thought.

	"Is that a problem?"

	I wasn't about to develop a reputation of not being ready on
time. So many girls almost made it a point to be late. It couldn't
be that hard to get ready, could it? No - not at all - bye!" I was
in such a hurry I practically slammed down the phone

	I quickly put the panties back on. The bra was another matter,
but with a little effort, I managed to get it on, too. Next would be
the sweatshirt. I got in on in no time, but somehow, it just didn't
look right. Having worn sweatshirts most of my life, I just couldn't
stand what it did to me. As Jace, I had looked manly in a sweatshirt
since I was fifteen. This sweatshirt was almost a parody of that. True,
it hid my breasts, but the huge sweatshirt on my slender frame just
didn't look good at all. I looked like a war refugee. Slipping it off
and pulling the hair back out of my eyes, I managed to find a cranberry
turtleneck sweater in the closet. It didn't look too feminine, and it
did look as if it would be warm enough to ward off the fall evening
chill. I slipped it on. It looked fine. The breasts were in evidence,
but not voluptuously so.

	Next came the jeans. I pulled them up over my legs. They
felt like jeans, but something was wrong. They were way too tight. I
managed to pull them up over my widened hips. They fastened fine at
my slender waist, but the way they fit...

	I looked in the mirror. They honestly looked as if they had
been painted on. Every curve and smooth line of my body was outlined
in denim blue. This wasn't the look I wanted! I wanted a pair of nice,
baggy jeans. Instead of hiding my femininity, I had accentuated it. I
looked at the clock. Danny would be there any minute. I couldn't go
like this, though, could I?

	There was only one thing to do. Since I was making a hash of
things, it was time to go on automatic. I only hoped my automatic side
would agree with my need to be on time. Apparently, it did. I dashed
into the bathroom, ran a hairbrush through my long hair, touched
up my lipstick, and grabbed a pair of shoes from the closet, all in
record time just as the doorbell rang. All of this was done without
conscious effort, which was fine with me since I had obviously severely
underestimated how much time it would take me to get ready to go.

	Danny was dressed in a very similar fashion to me. His sweater
was navy blue, though, and of course, his jeans had a traditional
male fit instead of the ones I had painted on. It allowed him to wear
sneakers as well.  Unfortunately the shoes my unconscious mind had
selected were a pair of black flats. It was too late to go back for
sneakers, and to be honest, I don't think I would have been able to
pull athletic socks up under the tight fitting leg of the jeans.

	Danny grinned appreciatively when I opened the door. "Hey,
how about that?  A girl who can be ready to go on time."

	"I'm not a girl," I argued, still pleased that I had been
able to do something that wasn't stereotypically feminine - like
getting ready on time.

	He looked at me carefully. "Well, you could have fooled me."

	For some reason, I was pleased again. I should have been
annoyed at his statement, for I didn't want to be a girl. Still, I
supposed, if I had to be a girl, it was better to be one as attractive
as Samantha Wallace.

	"Let's go," I said.

	"Aren't you going to take your purse?"

	"Oh, sure." Damn, I had forgotten that girls always carry a
purse. I was so used to carrying everything I needed in a wallet in
my back pocket. With the extra padding I had back there covered by
skin tight jeans, I would have no choice but to carry a purse. "I'll
just be a minute."

	I rushed back upstairs and grabbed the purse off my bed,
stopping for a moment to look at myself in the mirror. I fussed a
little with a lock of hair that didn't look quite right. I looked
great - for a girl - but I wondered if in my rush I had forgotten
anything. I studied myself for a moment until I heard, "Are you
ready?" from the bottom of the stairs.

	Good lord! I was primping. I was all ready to go. All I had
needed to do was get the damn purse and go. Instead, I had started
looking at myself in the mirror again. I was only going to a stupid
high school football game. If I spent this much time and effort
getting ready for this, how much time would I spend when I had to be
really dressed up? I had only been a girl for a few hours and it was
already becoming a pain in the ass - both figuratively and with the
tight jeans, literally.

	"We ought to be able to identify a few more of our teammates
tonight," Danny suggested as we drove to the game.

	"I hope so," I agreed. "If we can find a large enough group
that remembers who they were, we might be able to figure a way out
of here."

	"So how is your family?" he asked.

	I gave him a quick rundown on my new parents. As I told
him about them, I began to realize to myself that I had been very
fortunate. I could have done a lot worse. "How about yours?"  I asked.

	He smiled. "Well, it took me a little time to get home after
I left your house. I had a little car trouble."

	"What happened?" I asked. "It seems to be running fine now."

	"Oh, it is," he agreed. "It was just a flat. I hit a nail. That
strange cop - Officer Mercer - saw me and helped me out. He even took
me home and promised he'd get my car to me later. Sure enough, an hour
later, it was in my driveway, the tire as good as new. Even the gas
tank was filled. You know, while he was helping, he never cracked a
smile. And how did he happen to be there just when I needed help?"

	"It's strange all right," I agreed. It seemed as if the
mysterious Officer Mercer was always just where he needed to be -
at the airport, in the courtroom, even helping Danny. At least the
last had been of benefit to one of my teammates. Maybe it was because
he saw us as residents of Ovid now.  Protect and serve and all that.

	"My parents are about like yours," Danny explained. "They're
both shades.  My 'father' runs a farm equipment business selling
tractors and farm implements like plows and stuff. My 'mother' sells
real estate. Apparently, I've got an older brother, but he's away at
college at the University of Oklahoma."

	"Do you suppose he's really at the university?" I asked
suddenly.

	Danny looked at me. "What makes you say that?"

	I almost quipped that it was feminine intuition but I was
afraid it might really be that. "I don't know. It just seems that
maybe these shades exist only here in Ovid. And I have no idea where
Ovid exists."

	"I know what you mean," he agreed. "I've never heard of Ovid,
and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it doesn't show up on
any map either.  What sort of beings would have the ability to create
something like Ovid and then alter us to live in it?"

	"Gods," I said simply.

	"Gods?" Danny repeated. "You mean God?"

	"Don't go religious on me," I told Danny as we pulled into
the school parking lot. "I mean beings with godlike powers. Up until
today, I didn't believe anything like Ovid was even possible. Now,
we have to grant that magic exists, but this seems to be a bit beyond
the capabilities of traditional wizards from out folklore. I'd say
the Judge and his minions like Officer Mercer are some kind of gods."

	"You mean like the old Greek or Norse gods?"

	"Maybe," I replied. "You know, I was a history major. I do
recall that there was a Roman poet named Ovid. The Roman gods came
from the Greek gods - or at least a number of them did. Maybe they
really existed."

	"That sounds sacrilegious," Danny cautioned. I suddenly
remembered that as Larry he had been raised in a strict religious
family.

	"I don't mean it that way," I assured him. "An author once
said that science sufficiently advanced would be viewed by others as
magic. Taking that one step further, if we allow that magic exists -
and I think we have to now - we might conclude that wielders of very
powerful magic are gods."

	"So you don't mean they're really gods," he concluded. I
let him think that if it made him feel better. By my definition,
the Judge and his followers were gods of one sort or another. If
they look like gods and act like gods and change your sex like gods,
they must be gods.

	Ovid High School had a nice little football stadium. It was
built out of flint stone, a popular building material in parts of the
Midwest. A soft, tan-colored stone, it made a very attractive little
stadium. There was even a bronze plaque attached to it that indicated
it had been built by the WPA in the thirties. I doubted it, though. I
didn't think there had been an Ovid in the thirties. I was certain
Ovid had been built for the benefit of its transformed residents,
and since other than my teammates, there seemed to be very few of
those around, I suspected that Ovid had been created quite recently -
but for what purpose? Why were we being changed in this way, our real
lives destroyed and these artificial ones created for us?

	I had to put those thoughts aside and concentrate on being
Samantha Wallace, I realized as we entered the stadium. Cries of
"Hi, Danny" and "Hi, Sam," were demanding our attention. We had to
pretend to be what we had been changed into - namely two high school
students on a date. Well, not exactly a date. I mean, we could have
just been two friends out doing something together. Larry and I used
to do that all the time.

	But Danny wasn't Larry and I wasn't Jace, I realized as we sat
down together with Jessica and Jack and some other couples. We weren't
being seen by other as just two friends going to the game together. As
far as the rest of our "friends" were concerned, we were a couple.

	In fact, the only other person in our section who I knew
realized she had been changed was Darla Hastings, formerly Austin
Blake.	She was sitting with a guy I assumed was one of our old
teammates, but whoever he had been, he seemed to not realize he had
ever been anyone else. He kept putting his arm around Darla, much to
her discomfort. I felt very sorry for her. At least Danny knew who
he had been and kept his distance from me.

	There was no sign of the attractive blonde who had been
Darren McDougal. I wasn't surprised. Whatever her name was now, she
was fighting her new sex with everything she had. I wished she'd chill
out a little bit. If it turned out that we were stuck with these new
lives, she was letting herself in for a lot of misery.

	Just by listening to the conversation around me, I realized
there was at least one other person in the stands who remembered her
previous life. Bert Hazleton, who had become Teresa Gonzales, was
seated about six rows from us, closer to the team.  Someone pointed
out that all of the group of girls she was sitting with were dating
football players. A few girls would come up and speak to that group,
but boys in the stands knew to stay away. They were all spoken
for. Teresa was carrying on an animated conversation with an attractive
black girl. I didn't know who she was, but I suspected that like us,
she remembered her previous life.

	Danny pointed out the player who had been Wild Bill
Moreland. He was now Glen MacReady, one of our quarterbacks. He even
wore a number eight jersey just like he had back in college. The
lucky bastard. As I watched the pre-game warm-ups on the field, I
began to realize that maybe Wild Bill wasn't so lucky after all. He
lacked the throwing arm he had once possessed, throwing such wobbly
passes that I heard Jack mutter to no one in particular, "Damned if
MacReady doesn't throw like a girl."

	Throw like a girl? Come to think of it, he did throw a little
like a girl.  I could remember when I was younger how my older sister
would always want to toss the football around with us. We always
told her she threw like a girl, and the way she threw was very much
like the former Wild Bill threw. No, the former Wild Bill Moreland
would never realize his dream of professional football in the body
of Glen MacReady. In fact, he'd probably never even have the chance
to play college football. For an insensitive jock like Wild Bill,
maybe that was a greater hardship than being changed into a girl.

	It was easy to see who the star quarterback of Ovid High
was. His number was seven - just like John Elway. And as luck would
have it, he even threw like a young John Elway, effortlessly hurling
the ball in the air more than fifty yards with uncanny accuracy.

	"James is right on target tonight," one of the boys said
to murmurs of agreement. So that was his name, eh? He was real,
too, so one of our teammates had possibly come out of this orgy of
transformation with the grand prize. I envied him whoever he had
been. I only hoped it was one of the guys I liked. Maybe somebody
like Dusty Stephenson, the big, likeable lineman, had finally gotten
a chance to be the hero.

	For a little while, I was able to forget the new body that
was under my clothes. I was watching football. Becoming a girl had
not lessened my interest in the game one little bit. And why should
it? I realized. I knew a lot of girls who enjoyed football. Some
could even play a pretty good game of touch football.

	I had though perhaps that the game would be a sham with a
shade team brought in. Apparently, it was a real team, though, from a
fairly large school in a suburb of Tulsa. Ovid's magic was probably
at work again, I thought. The small crowd across the field rooting
for the visitors looked a little strange, sitting more passively for
most of the game than the action would seem to demand.

	And there was plenty of action. The opposing team in their red
and silver uniforms were not passive like their fans. Their team played
hard and played well. While our quarterback, who I now knew was named
George James, played extremely well, our opponent's quarterback was
nearly as good, and their running game was actually a little better.

	Both defenses fought hard as well, making the offense earn
every yard. The game seesawed throughout the first half, and when
the whistle blew signaling half time, Ovid was ahead by a field goal,
clinging tenaciously to a 17-14 lead.

	I found myself enthralled by the game. It was almost exciting
enough to make me forget what had happened to me. Then, I would
be reminded as I yelled in support of our team and heard my sweet
feminine voice. Or when I jumped to my feet in excitement, feeling
the sway of my breasts and the bounce of my long hair. And suddenly,
it was half time, and I would have to play my new role once again.

	In many ways, half time was very much like half time at high
school football games all over the country. While announcements
were made over the PA system and the school marching band played
stirring renditions of tunes which were never meant to be marches,
the crowd's attention turned from the field to the stands. Some
mobbed the concession stands while others, like our group, took the
opportunity to stand and talk. We were in the latter group, surrounded
by our fellow students. Mostly, Danny and I just listened.

	As the focus of the conversation drifted away from us, we
found ourselves on the fringes of the group. It was then that I felt
a soft hand touch my own. I turned to see Teresa standing there with
the attractive black girl she had been talking with during the game.

	"Guys," she said softly so that only Danny and I would hear,
"meet Geena Johnson. Of course, you supposedly already know her."

	Danny and I both fought impulses to shake hands with the
new girl. She was about my height, with long gently curling hair,
and a soft brown complexion of coffee and cream. She looked athletic
without losing an ounce of femininity. I noted that both Geena and
Teresa were dressed in outfits similar to my own.

	"She used to be Dusty Stephenson," Teresa explained.

	I was momentarily speechless. No transformation I had yet
seen was as surprising as this one. Dusty had been changed from
a big, hulking white farm boy will all the grace of a drunken
bull into a svelte, graceful black girl. She smiled at me with
amusement. "You've...you've changed," I managed stupidly.

	"So have you," she replied with a grin, showing perfect
white teeth.

	"I've been talking with Geena during the game," Teresa
explained. "It seems she has the same problem I do - a football
playing boyfriend. And you know possessive those guys can be." She
gave us a little grin almost as good as Geena's.

	"We got it all worked out, though," Geena told us. "If they
get too fresh, we'll hit 'em where it hurts."

	"And we know where that is," Teresa added with a smile.

	I didn't envy the players these two were "dating." Real or
shade, they were in for more than they'd bargained for. Teresa had
been frightened that afternoon, almost to the point of hysteria. Now,
though, she was ready to joke about it. When she had discovered
Geena had the same problem, she was able to cope. In numbers there is
strength, even if the number is only two.  The two left us laughing
and giggling as if they had been friends - female friends - for years.

	Maybe that was why I had found it fairly easy to cope. Although
Larry had remained male, both of us had been uprooted from our old
lives and both of us had been good friends before. As Danny, I still
considered Larry a friend, although obviously our relationship would
be a little different.	Others saw us as a couple. How different was
brought home to me in the next few minutes.

	"Is there something wrong between you and Danny?" Jessica
asked when she had me alone for a minute.

	Had we done something out of character? I wondered. "No, why?"

	She hesitated before replying, "Oh, I don't know. It's just
that you two seem... distant. You've been going together since summer,
but you just don't seem... well, you know. You don't... snuggle."

	Snuggle!

	"I mean," she went on in reaction to the look that must have
been on my face, "you don't hold hands or put your arm around him or
anything. Jack noticed, too."

	How I longed to tell her that only hours before, she and
Jack would have gagged at the idea of "snuggling" since they had
both been guys.  Unfortunately, I knew that she would look at me
as if I had lost my mind.  Maybe I had. Maybe this was some sort
of a weird pizza-and-beer-induced nightmare. I wish, I thought. No,
it was very real.

	"Look," I tried to explain, "Danny and I are
fine. We're... you, know, friends."

	"Sure," she said with an impish grin. "Close friends."

	It was no use. Besides, our conversation was cut off as the
teams came back onto the field to the cheers of the Ovid crowd.

	Danny leaned over to me and said softly, "Jack thinks there's
something wrong because we aren't... close together."

	"I know," I sighed. "Jessica said the same thing."

	"Maybe we should..." his voice trailed off.

	We had to maintain our roles, at least until we could find
a way - if any - of returning to our original selves. Besides, I
realized, with Danny as my boyfriend, I was safe from other guys. I
wouldn't have to face the problems Teresa and Geena were facing
with guys claiming them who had no idea they were staking out former
men. In reply to Danny, I shifted closer to him and allowed him to
gently put his arm around me.

	There, everyone, I thought to myself, are you happy now? Don't
Danny and I look like just another couple? See? There was nothing
to worry about. It's just Danny and me, as happy as can be. Now,
leave us alone. Of course, I didn't say that out loud.

	As I started to get back into the game, a strange thought
passed through my head. It actually made me feel a little safer to
have Danny's arm wrapped around me. It was as if he was protecting me
from the world. Did I need his protection? Probably not. It wasn't the
middle ages, and even though I was a girl, I should have felt quite
safe in a small town like Ovid without Danny.  But for some reason,
it just felt right for us to be sitting together like that.

	My mind returned to the game. Ovid managed to hold on to its
slim lead until the beginning of the fourth quarter when a runner
for the visiting team managed to squeak through a hole in our line,
stutter-step his way past the secondary, and stroll into the end zone
after a forty yard sprint. The crowd groaned loudly, but across the
way, the visitors fans just sat emotionless as their team took the
lead. No one but me seemed to notice.

	The rest of the game was a nail biter. Ovid managed a drive
to the middle of the field, but the drive stalled out, forcing us to
punt. The visitors came right back, their own drive stalling at out
forty yard line. Danny and I were as excited as we would have been
had we been suited up for the game.

	Then, Ovid got the ball back with two minutes left. Our
quarterback was brilliant in the two-minute drill. He confidently
marched the team down the field, taking advantage of short passes
under the coverage whenever he could, and running once for a gain of
twenty-five yards, scrambling off the turf to call our last time out.

	There was only time for one more play, and all Ovid fans were
on their feet. The ball was still at the thirty yard line. It had
to be a pass.  Whoever George had been before, he was our last hope
now. Danny hugged me tightly, as if I was some sort of good luck charm.

	The visitors knew it had to be a pass, so they called a
blitz, then backed away into coverage. It fooled our offensive line,
allowing one of their defenders to scramble almost untouched into the
backfield. George scrambled himself, evading the defender while never
taking his eyes off the potential receivers down the field. There
was no time left on the clock when he let the ball fly.

	The ball arced through the air as if on a wire, threading the
needle between two defenders who nearly collided trying to snag the
ball. The hands that finally wrapped around the ball were extended from
a black and gold Ovid jersey. With no time left, Ovid had won the game.

	The Ovid crowd erupted in joy. Our section was jumping up
and down, and I suddenly found myself hugging Danny tightly while
he hugged me back. We were yelling joyfully into each other's face,
our eyes locked as our lips nearly touched. We each issued a gasp and
broke our hold on each other at once. It was just the excitement of
the moment, I told myself as I looked away. I let Jessica give me a
sisterly hug and tried to stop my heart from pounding so loudly. It
was just an accident, I rationalized. I didn't mean to come so close to
him, and he didn't mean to come so close to me. Yes, just an accident.

	We didn't speak to each other as we drove the streets of Ovid
after the game. At half time, Jack and Jessica had pestered Danny at me
into meeting them at an after-game party at the local Ovid Club. Danny
let himself go on automatic to drive to the Ovid Club, so he was
busily humming a tune to keep his mind off his driving. Normally,
we might have talked, but I think we were afraid to say anything to
each other. That would require each of us to look into the other's
face, reminding of us of what had almost happened at the game.

	Danny didn't lay a hand on me on the way back to the car,
which was fine with me. So okay, people might talk, wondering if we
were mad at each other.  We weren't, though, I realized. We weren't
angry at all; we were frightened.  Or at least I was. I had nearly
crushed my lips to his and kissed him. In fact, a wave of something
akin to disappointment had rushed through my body when I didn't. I
thought I saw the same disappointment in Danny's eyes.

	"We made it," Danny said, pulling the car into a parking lot
next to a painted cinder block building. I supposed it was like an
Elk's Club in most American small towns. It looked like one anyway. We
got out of the car and quietly walked in together.

	A party was already under way. Black and gold paper streamers
and balloons decorated the large party room. As we walked in, several
of our high school "friends" rushed over to us, gushing with excitement
left over from the game. I had attended many parties like this one
before. Where I had come from, a local Elk's Club would sponsor the
party. It was a good way to let high school kids blow off a little
steam after the game without getting into trouble.

	In other words, the party was chaperoned, the punch was
non-alcoholic, the music was popular but no metal, and the lights were
kept just high enough that there were no dark corners for a couple
to disappear into. It was strictly the PG rated party. Still, when I
had been in high school, after-game parties had been fun. Of course,
then I had been one of the conquering heroes, a game standout then,
enjoying the accolades of my friends. That honor was now reserved
for others.

	The hero of the game, our quarterback, entered moments after
we did. A cheer went up as George James entered the room, flanked
by some of the other players. While he seemed to enjoy the praise, I
noticed something about him that only someone who had been accustomed
to such accolades himself might have noticed. Namely, George seemed
a little surprised by it all, as if he had never had it happen to him
before. He must remember who he was, I thought, but who could he have
been? All of the players on our Bearcat team had to have experienced
something like this before, I thought.

	My eyes met George's then, and at once we seemed to realize
that we were kindred spirits. He gave me a little smile which I
returned. No one else seemed to notice. Even Danny had been distracted
by Jack and failed to notice. Wordlessly, George and I drifted away
from the crowd to a reasonably private place.

	"Nice game, George," I told him with a smile.

	He grinned. "Thanks, but that isn't what you wanted to talk
about, is it?"

	I shook my head. But what if I was wrong? What if I had
misread the look.  Oh my god, I thought. What if he thought I was hot
for him? I had to dive right in. If he didn't remember, the worst that
would happen would be that he would think I was a ditz. "You remember,
don't you?"

	He looked relieved as he nodded. "Yes, and so do you."

	"You were great out there tonight," I went on. "Were you one
of our quarterbacks?'

	He chuckled, "Not quite. I was the Team Manager."

	"J... Jill?" I gasped.

	"None other."

	"But you're a guy," I blurted out. Now how stupid was
that? I thought to myself. If the powers of Ovid could change
me from a six-three defensive end into an attractive young girl,
why couldn't they change an attractive young girl into a starting
quarterback? Besides, Jill had always been able to throw the ball
pretty well - for a girl.

	"And you're not," she - he - countered. There was a sly grin
on his face.

	"Well, you got me there," I conceded. "I was Jace Stromberg."

	George looked suddenly stricken. Jill and I had been good
friends. "Jace, I'm sorry," he said. "Somebody told me you had been
Don Moore." Don Moore had been one of Wild Bill's good friends. Jill
had never liked him.

	"I don't know who Don is now," I told him. I then briefly
went through the new identities I was aware of.

	George nodded solemnly. He then updated me on a couple of
transformations I wasn't aware of. "But they don't remember who
they were," he concluded. "As luck would have it, the only one who
remembers who I've talked to before you is Wild Bill. As you know,
he's Glen McReady."

	"I know," I replied, practically giggling as I told him about
the comment in the stands about Glen "throwing like a girl."

	George chuckled. "It's true, he does. Apparently the way the
story goes is that Glen's father was a hotshot quarterback for Ovid
back in the seventies.	Of course, I don't think Ovid was even here
in the seventies. Then his brother was a quarterback who graduated a
couple of years ago - or so the story goes. The coach had high hopes
for Glen, but nothing came of it. Rumor is he'll be dropped from the
team next year."

	"He must be devastated," I said.

	George nodded. "He is. Believe me, Jace - sorry, Sam. You
got a better deal than he did."

	I sighed, "I'm not so sure about that, George. I don't think
I'm cut out to be a girl." I didn't say it out loud, but I wondered
what justice there was in Ovid that had turned Jill into a guy and
me into a girl. It didn't seem right. Why not make me the quarterback
and Jill the attractive girl?

	"Oh, I don't know," George said, eyeing me appreciatively. "You
could stand a little more jewelry, but you look good. How did you
manage with the makeup? It looks great on you. I always liked that
shade of lipstick."

	It's a good thing we weren't being overheard. Most of the
teens in the room would have been very upset to hear their star
quarterback discussing jewelry and shades of lipstick. I told him
about running on automatic which he hadn't tried yet - at least not
consciously. The way he evaded defenders during the game had to be
part of the magic. Then it was time to change the subject.

	"George, you said you didn't think Ovid had been here since
the seventies.	Why?"

	He shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe it's masculine intuition,
huh? Seriously, though, the town just seems too new. I mean, even the
old buildings don't show that much wear. It's almost like a town on a
movie lot. Besides, except for our team, there don't seem to be very
many real people here. Most of them seem sort of transparent."

	"Yes, they're called shades," I told him.

	George though about that. "Shades, huh? Well, that sounds
appropriate.  Weren't shades the spirits of the dead in Greek
mythology?"

	"Something like that," I agreed.

	Our conversation ended there. Danny had reappeared with a glass
of punch for me, and while I had turned to take it from him, several
of George's teammates came up to drag him away. It was a shame. I had
wanted to talk to George some more. He seemed to be coping fine, but
of course, he had gotten to become male. As far as I was concerned,
he had been promoted while I had been demoted.

	Danny and I spent the remainder of the evening circulating
and talking, just trying to learn whatever we could to help get
us through our new lives.  We were trying to blend in as much as
possible. That didn't extend to dancing, though. It seemed so odd to
watch our former teammates, once male to the nth degree, now dancing
as couples, embracing each other on the slow numbers in a ballet of
teen love. It made me more than a little uncomfortable. Would I ever
be dancing like that with someone like Danny?  God, I hoped not.

	But what if this was permanent, and it most likely was,
I realized. I couldn't deny this new body forever. Already I felt
myself stirring at Danny's touch. I had nearly kissed him less
than a day after we had both been young men. I remembered being a
teenaged boy, feeling the awakening of sexual energy in my body. It
was intense. Now, I had been reduced in age and made female, and
those same teen stirrings - or rather their female equivalents - had
to be affecting my body. Would I become attracted to men?  Somehow,
although not yet a natural idea, it already seemed less repugnant
than it would have only hours before.

	I did a little mental experiment as Danny and I stood there
silently watching the couples dance. I saw Jessica out on the dance
floor, her arms wrapped possessively around Jack's neck. As Jace, I
would have found Jessica very attractive with her long brown hair,
blue eyes, and ample breasts. I might have even made a move on
her. So as my experiment, I tried to imagine what it would be like
to make a move on Jessica now. Let's say it was just the two of us,
alone in my room... No, it just didn't work. As attractive as she was,
she just didn't get the juices flowing. I never really like to watch
girl-on-girl sex that much, and now that I was one, participating in
it didn't seem much better.

	Then, on a whim, I looked not at Jessica but at Jack. Did he do
anything for me? Jack was as tall as I used to be. His face was thin,
framed by light blond hair cut fairly short. He was a nice guy if a
little on the gawky side. Did he do anything for me? I was relieved
to note that he did not.

	How about Danny, though? a little voice in my mind asked. I
tried to ignore it, but it was persistent. At last, I cast a sidelong
look at Danny. He was busy watching the dancers, so I was able to
look at him without his notice.  As Larry, I suppose he was a decent
looking guy. I had never been able to tell if another guy was good
looking or not. Now, though, as Danny, I could see that he had become
a very... handsome young man. Yes, he could be Brad Pitt's long-lost
younger brother, I thought. But was I attracted to him? I didn't
think so, but the unsettling thing was that I wasn't sure. Something
stirred when I looked at him.

	Suddenly, he turned to me. I quickly looked back at the
dancers, hoping he hadn't noticed the way I had been staring at him.

	"I don't see Jennifer and Barry here," he commented.

	Who in hell were Jennifer and Barry? Had something happened
to Danny? Had he become like most of our teammates, lost in the world
of Ovid?

	"Who are Jennifer and Barry?" I asked cautiously.

	He looked startled. "Oh, sorry. I was talking with Wild Bill -
Glen now. He told me the blonde Darren became is Jennifer Tilton. She's
the daughter of a bank president here in Ovid. She really fell into
high society in Ovid."

	Yes, but she had to be a girl to do it, I thought. It was
obvious she would have preferred being in a poor family living in a
packing crate if she could have kept her balls.

	"And Dennis Mahoney is now Barry Hartman."

	"Isn't Hartman the starting halfback for Ovid?" I asked.

	Danny nodded. "One and the same."

	Why was it Dennis got to remain male and play football
and I didn't? I was starting to feel victimized. Then I realized I
wasn't alone.  Dusty, Horace, Bert and Austin had all been male, but
no more. And what of all my other teammates? At least half of them
were as female as I was. No, I had to put all thoughts of feeling
sorry for myself away. Such thoughts would accomplish nothing.

	Danny and I had spent most of the party talking to others
and had spent very little time together. Maybe it was my imagination,
but I suspected Danny was as uncomfortable being around me as I was
being around him. We had been thrust into the role of a dating couple,
and there were some real pitfalls to that. It might have been easier if
we had barely known each other. If, say Austin Blake had been turned
into Danny, it might have been easier for me, I thought. I knew very
little about Austin, so it wouldn't be as difficult as it was with
Larry. Larry and I had roomed together, played football together,
caroused together, and spilled out guts to each other.	But we had both
been male then.  Now, I was a girl, and a girl who had done all the
things with a guy that I had done with Larry would be close, indeed.

	As the party began to wind down, I asked Danny to take me
home. He had really gotten in to the party. Although no longer a
football hero, he found out he was one of the more popular guys in the
class. I think he was actually enjoying it, but I wasn't. I was tired,
and the makeup on my face felt like it had been there a month. Also,
my tight jeans were rubbing where I didn't want them to rub, and even
though I was lucky enough to not have to wear heels like a few of
the girls had, my feet hurt in those flimsy flats.  A tired scowl got
his attention. Moments later, we were on our way to my house. Again,
we didn't say a lot to each other.

	When Danny dropped me off at my house, "Well, good night,"
was all he managed to say.

	"Good night," I returned softly, climbing out of the car before
an uncomfortable moment got any worse. He waited until I had the door
to my new home open before driving away. He would never have done
that before. There wouldn't have been any reason to do so. But now, he
had to treat me like a girl. I was surprised he hadn't tried to kiss
me good night. Then, I was surprised at being a little disappointed
that he hadn't tried.

	My parents were in bed already, so I managed to get ready
for bed in silence. Wrapped up in my thoughts, it was essentially
automatic, which was just as well since I would probably have botched
removing my makeup. I only took over long enough to find some pajamas
instead of a nightie. Even the pajamas were feminine, but at least
not as frilly as a nightie.

	My thoughts were still on Danny. I would have to call him
on Saturday and talk this out with him. I needed him. No, not that
way. I mean, I needed him as a friend. He could help me through this
mess since he knew me best of all my teammates. Also, as uncomfortable
as I was being a girl around him, I knew it would be worse if I was
a girl without a steady boyfriend. Every unattached guy in my class
would be angling for a date with me. We had to find some level to
deal with each other that we could both be comfortable with.

	I still had some hope that Coach Jessup would be able to figure
something out. Darren - or rather Jennifer, whether she liked it or
not - had said Coach Jessup was trying to organize something. Maybe
we could all go to the Judge and ask to be changed back. If all of
us went together, maybe we could reason with him. It was at least a
thread of hope, I thought as I began to drift off to sleep.

	I awoke the next morning to the ringing of a phone. I had
slept so soundly that it took me a moment to figure out where I was -
or who I was for that matter. I grabbed the phone without thinking,
muttering something which I hoped sounded like "hello." I was surprised
to hear my feminine voice.

	"Hi, Sam, it's Jessica," the voice on the phone said
cheerfully. "So are we going shopping today or what?"

	Three questions tumbled through my befuddled brain: who
was Sam, why would I want to go shopping, and how could anybody be
that cheerful in the morning? Then the answer to the first question
lodged in my brain: I was Sam. It had been real and not a dream. I
was really a fifteen year old girl now. As for the second, question,
I guess I was expected to like shopping because I was a girl now. As
for the third question, I guess Jessica was just that cheerful because
the powers of Ovid had made her so.

	I sighed, "I don't know, Jessica. I've got a lot of homework
to do."  Actually, that was true. I had looked in my assignments
notebook while still at school and had noticed that Sam had a history
test coming up on Tuesday and a paper due in English on Wednesday. Plus
I needed to review algebra since it had been several years since I
had really taken an algebra course.

	"Oh, come on," she wheedled. "Trina and Kelly and Darla are
all going. My mom is going to drive."

	Except for Darla, none of the names had any meaning for me,
but apparently, they were supposed to be friends of mine. Well, why
not? I thought. I really never liked to shop as a guy, but I knew a
lot of girls who did. I supposed it would be instructive since Jessica
thought she had always been a girl. I could learn from a pro. "Oh,
all right," I finally agreed, "but just for a little while."

	"Great! We'll be there to pick you up at ten. We're all
wearing skirts so we can try stuff on."

	"Wait!" I called. "What time is it now?"

	"Eight thirty, silly." There was a click in my ear as she
hung up. Well, that gave me an hour and a half to get ready and eat
breakfast. No problem.

	I showered and dressed quickly. Jessica had suggested a
skirt, so I abided by her suggestion. It was actually a little more
comfortable than the tight jeans anyway. It looked like a warm day,
so I chose a khaki skirt and a dark blue knit top. Sneakers with low
cut crew socks seemed appropriate, and just because I was wearing a
skirt, I saw no reason to wear pantyhose if I could avoid it. I made
it to the breakfast table with time to spare.

	My new mother was seated at the kitchen table, a cup of
coffee in her hand as she read the morning Tulsa paper. "Have fun
last night, dear?"

	Oh sure, I thought, pouring myself a glass of orange juice. I
spent the whole evening in a tight pair of jeans while my former best
friend had his arm around me and nearly kissed me. Such fun. "Yeah,
it was fun," I said without enthusiasm.

	"Mom" frowned but said nothing more about it. "So are you
still going shopping with the girls today?"

	"Yes," I replied, sipping my juice while I peeked at the front
page of mom's paper. There was no mention of a missing football team,
but I hadn't really expected to see one. It was as if the reality
we had known had somehow been shifted, and the people we had been no
longer existed. I could have confirmed this by calling my real family,
but to be honest, I was afraid of what I would hear from them. Maybe
I would try later, though.

	"Oh, Danny called while you were in the shower."

	"Oh?" Why was there a sudden sinking feeling in my stomach?

	"He wants you to call him back."

	"Okay," I said slowly as I checked the pantry until I found
some Pop Tarts to munch on.

	My new mother sighed. "Honey, is there something wrong between
you and Danny?"

	I looked at her, a little surprised. "What do you mean?" What
I really meant was how can you tell?

	"It's just that you and Danny have been so close since last
summer," she explained. "You're always saying 'Danny said this'
and 'Danny did that.' I guess I thought Danny was someone special,
that's all."

	"We're just friends," I replied, looking down at the newspaper
again so I wouldn't have to look her in the eye. My face felt flushed,
too. I hope I wasn't turning so red that she would notice.

	"Well, I know you're friends," she agreed. "A girl your age
isn't really old enough to get all that serious about a boy, but you
seemed to like Danny so much."

	"I do like him," I blurted out. "He's a friend. Can't we just
be friends? I mean, why does everybody have to make such a big deal of
it?" My eyes felt warm and moist. Was I starting to cry? That was too
much. I was starting to cry over something as stupid as... as stupid
as... Impulsively, I jumped up from the table and rushed upstairs.

	I looked in the mirror in the bathroom. It wasn't too
bad. There was a little redness around my eyes, and my mascara needed
minor repairs. It was still fifteen minutes until Jessica picked me
up, so I had a few minutes to fix the damage. I didn't even really
need to go on automatic. It wasn't that hard. I didn't see my mother
come up behind me.

	"Are you okay?" she asked, causing me to actually jump
a little.

	"Yes, I'm fine," I managed.

	"Samantha, Danny didn't do anything to upset you, did he?"

	It was a question I should have asked myself. The fact of the
matter was that Danny had really done nothing out of sorts. Like me,
he was just trying to play a role. The problem was that our roles now
involved an element neither of us would have considered even possible
a day before. Here we were, two fast friends, suddenly thrust into a
relationship neither of us had asked for. No, Danny had done nothing to
upset me. It was me who had upset me. I didn't know how to be a girl
in a relationship like the one everyone expected of us, so instead
of facing up to it, I had fled. It wasn't really very smart of me.

	"Well, did he?"

	"No, mom," I replied. "I'm sorry. Look, Danny didn't do
anything. I'm just a little... unsure," I replied, for lack of a
better word.

	She put her arm around me. Shade or not, she seemed solid
enough. "Look, honey, that's the way it is with boys."

	"It...it is?" I asked, oddly comforted by her embrace.

	"Sure," she said with a smile. "Look, you've never really
dated all that much, and never as long as you've dated Danny. He
seems like a wonderful boy, but the two of you are both a little new
at this. Just take it slowly and see what happens. Just make sure
you keep the relationship from getting out of hand - sexually, I mean."

	"I would never let that happen!" I assured her, and I meant
every word of it. The idea of somebody - anybody - getting in my
pants was like something out of a nightmare. I would be a nun before
I allowed that to happen - and I wasn't even Catholic! Or at least
I never used to be. I wasn't sure what I was now.

	I touched up my makeup as best I could while my new mother
did her best to make sure I didn't have sex with Danny - or any other
boy for that matter. I tried not to listen. The thought of having
a guy stick his dick into me was about as repugnant as any thought
I could think of. My sister back in the real world had once told me
how young girls sit around at slumber parties, pooling their meager
knowledge on the act of sex. At first, they chorus "ew!" in disgust,
but eventually, they reconcile themselves to the idea.	Well sorry,
but I couldn't see reconciling myself to doing that with a guy - ever.

	Suddenly there was the honk of a horn in the driveway. "Gotta
go," I said, relieved that Jessica had arrived early so I could leave
before I got more warnings on avoiding sex. I hoped my makeup looked
alright. It would just have to do.

	"Samantha, don't forget your purse!" my mother called
out. Damn, it was going to be a pain remembering that all the time.

	As Jace, I had ridden in cars driven by drunken teammates as we
drifted along the roads of Northwest Missouri. But nothing had prepared
me for riding down the streets of Ovid while the driver - a girl who
had just turned sixteen - paid more attention to the distractions
caused by other girls in the car than she did to the traffic on the
roads.	I thanked God that Ovid was a small town, and it only took
about five minutes until we were parking in front of a three story
building whose sign declared it to be March's Department Store. Well,
I supposed since Ovid was probably too small for a mall, hanging
around a department store on a Saturday was the next best thing.

	We all piled out of the car and headed into the store. At least
I knew Jessica and Darla. Trish and Kelly were new to me, though. Both
were shades; Trish was a willowy brunette while Kelly had long blonde
hair and a figure that although still developing at fifteen was well
on its way to being voluptuous. I was happy to let Jessica lead the
way since I had no idea how the store was laid out. Darla and I hung
back while the other girls attacked the clothing racks like ants at
a picnic.

	Something was bothering Darla, I could tell. When we had
been guys, we hadn't been very close. In fact, I barely knew Austin
- yet here we were, a new friendship being forged by a common
magical experience. Of course, it wasn't surprising to see Darla
be bothered. I was bothered, too. But I had misinterpreted what was
upsetting Darla. She motioned me over to another rack of dresses and
pretended to be looking at them, fingering them critically.

	"What do you think of this?" she asked, pulling a short yellow
dress with a small floral pattern on it.

	"I think it's a dress," I said a little sardonically.

	Darla got a little closer to me. "Sam, I've got a problem,"
she began in a low voice.

	"I'm listening," I assured her, pretending to examine the
rack of dresses next to hers. So what else was new? I thought. It
seemed as if we all had a problem.

	"I understand Coach Jessup is now Ms Drew, the Social Sciences
teacher."

	"I've heard that, too," I agreed. I couldn't confirm it. I
hadn't experienced any of my morning classes yet, so I hadn't even
met the new Ms Drew.

	Darla sighed. "And I've heard Ms Drew is trying to organize
something that might get us changed back."

	"Look, Darla," I began, "I wouldn't get my hopes up too much
because - "

	"I don't want to change back," she interrupted suddenly.

	I turned to face her, shocked. She looked embarrassed, her
face crimson.  She was having difficulty looking me in the eye. "I
don't want to be Austin again," she said softly. "I want to be
Darla. I've... I've always wanted to be... like this."

	"You're gay?" I asked, barely above a whisper. It couldn't
be! I hadn't known Austin well, but he was a regular guy - a team
player. Besides, I had seen him with his girlfriend before. They had
been hanging all over each other.

	A look approximating disgust crossed Darla's face. "You were
always one of the smartest guys on the team," she mumbled. "I though
you'd understand. I said I always wanted to be a girl. I didn't say
I was gay. I'm not gay."

	"Look, Darla," I said, recovering, "I'm sorry if I offended
you. I guess I just assumed..."

	"That if I wanted to be a girl, I must be gay?" she finished
for me.

	"Well... yes."

	She shook her head slowly. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. A
lot of people would think that. No, I never wanted to make love to
a man while I was male. I mean, not really. It's sort of confusing."

	"I'm trying to understand," I assured her.

	More sure of herself, she explained, "Think of how you feel
right now. You probably feel like you're a man trapped in the body
of a girl."

	"Of course," I agreed. That was exactly how I felt.

	"Well, I was just the opposite," she continued. "I always felt
like I was a girl trapped in the body of a boy. It was like there had
been some huge cosmic mistake. Or maybe it wasn't a mistake. Maybe it
was God's sense of humor. Anyhow, there I was. As a child, I always
envied the girls their lives. I wanted to be one of them - to wear
what they wore and think what they thought. When I was about thirteen,
I even slipped into my sister's room when she was away and tried on
her clothes." She turned red again.

	I put my hand on her arm and gave her a small smile. I was
developing an odd respect for Darla. It had to be hard for her to
be telling me all of this. And I was trying to understand. Sure,
every guy wonders at some point or another what it must be like to
be a girl. Of course, for most of us, it's a passing thought - just
like we wonder what it must be like to be a fireman or Chinese or a
fifty year old man. That wasn't where Darla was coming from, though.

	Encouraged, she went on, "I guess I was never cut out to be
a transvestite.  At thirteen, I was already pretty good sized. I mean,
I was playing JV football by then. So I realized I was condemned to
be male for the rest of my life. I did the best I could with it. The
problem was I couldn't look at a lingerie ad without wishing I looked
like that, and I couldn't make love to a girl without wondering what
it felt like for her. Damn it, Sam, I was pretty fucked up.

	"Then we came here. It was like a dream come true. One minute
there I was, Austin Blake - a man who didn't want to be a man. Then,
the next minute, I was Darla Hastings. I mean, I wasn't a real beauty
like you or some of the others, but I was attractive. I think I would
have settled for being unattractive just to be a girl, so this was
more than I could have ever hoped for."

	She stopped and looked at me seriously. "You don't hate me,
do you, Sam?"

	I felt a pang of emotion in my throat as I looked in her
sad but hopeful eyes. How could I hate someone who just wanted to be
happy with who they were? "No, I don't hate you, Darla."

	She sighed. "I'm glad. Look, I'll help everybody try to
get back to their old lives, but I want to stay here. I want to be
Darla. If Coach Jessup is successful, I just want to be left behind."

	"I understand," I told her. "But why not just opt out of
anything we do to get changed back?"

	"I want to support the team," she said seriously. "All of you
guys have been like family to me the last couple of years. I wouldn't
do anything to let you down. In fact, if it's all or nothing, I'd
even change back with you."

	I realized in that moment that this poor confused former
guy standing in front of me in the body of a girl was one of the
most self-sacrificing, heroic people I had ever known. If she had
told any of us of her odd desire back before we had come to Ovid,
she would have been ridiculed. She - then he - would never have lived
it down. But Darla had proven herself the bravest of us all. We would
think ourselves brave because we were willing to face the Judge as a
group, demanding our old lives back. Darla would be there with us -
not because she wanted to be, but because it was what the team wanted.

	"Don't worry, Darla," I told her, giving her a sisterly
hug. "I'm sure it will all work out."

	I had surprised myself with that little hug. It wasn't
instinctive for me, but somehow, it just felt like the right thing
to do. I think it made me feel as good as it made her feel.

	She smiled at me with a tear in her eye. I only hoped that
my promise wasn't an empty one. If the Judge was powerful enough to
change us as he had, what would he do when we crossed him?

	The other girls had joined us by then, so I wasn't able to
talk with her about it further. I'm not sure what I would have said to
her that hadn't already been said anyway. As I looked at the dresses,
I began to examine my own thoughts. Darla had told me to think of
the problem from my own perspective. I was now man trapped in the
body of a girl. In the topsy-turvy world of Ovid, our positions had
been somewhat reversed. Darla was now the person she wanted to be,
and it was me who was the oddball. I was now a man mentally trapped
in the body of a girl. I could continue to act like a guy, but to
what purpose? I would be subject to the same ridicule Austin would
have experienced if the situation was reversed.

	But how could I really act like a girl? Austin had acted
like the guy he didn't think he was.  I was sure he had even made
love in that form. Could I do that? Could I act like a girl? Oh,
I didn't mean just the little automatic things like applying makeup
and getting dressed that the magic of Ovid seemed to be able to help
me do. What I meant was, could I really think like a girl? And if I
did that just to fit in, wasn't there a danger that I might start to
think like that for real?

	"That would look very nice on you," a melodic feminine voice
said behind me.

	I jumped, unaware that I was being observed. I had been
fingering a silky dark green dress just to try to look like a
shopper. I hadn't really been looking at the dress, lost as I was
deep in my own thoughts.

	I turned to see perhaps the most beautiful woman I could
ever have imagined. Her hair was the color of spun gold, styled mid
length. Her skin was like alabaster, perfect and flawless. Her eyes
were the deepest, prettiest blue I had ever seen and her figure seen
through a rose colored sheath dress was perfection itself. A small
nametag tastefully identified her as Vera March.

	"Oh, I'm... I'm just looking," I told her. For once, I was
almost happy I was a girl. If I had still been a guy, I think I would
have been too tongue-tied to even talk to her.

	She smiled and went on as if I hadn't spoken. "This is the
new style for fall. You're very fortunate you have such attractive
legs because the skirt is a little short. Why don't you try it on
over there?" She nodded in the direction of the fitting rooms where
Jessica had just come from, dressed in a short white dress which she
was showing to the other girls.

	"Oh, I don't think it's for me," I protested. I didn't want
to be on display for the other girls in this short little thing. "I'm
really not into this sort of this." Yeah, like being a girl.

	"Just try it on," Vera March insisted. Her voice was soft and
sweet, but there was something in it that had force. I found myself
taking it off the rack and heading for the fitting rooms without
further protest.

	I had to admit, it did feel good - unlike anything else I
had ever had on my body. Maybe it was the soft, hairless skin I now
possessed, but whatever the reason, it felt almost luxurious.

	"Sam, come out! We all want to see it!" Jessica called
from beyond the curtain. There was no mirror in the fitting room,
and I had to admit I was a little curious as to what it did look
like on me. Reluctantly, I stepped out of the fitting room and faced
my friends.

	As one, they oohed as they looked at me. It was actually Darla
who finally blurted, "Oh Sam, that looks absolutely fabulous on you."

	"It's a little short," I muttered, feeling as if my butt
was exposed.

	"Oh, don't be a prude, Sam," Jessica giggled. "It looks great
on you. You should buy it."

	I think there must be a single moment in everyone's life when
he or she becomes aware of who they really are. For most of us, that
comes when we're so young that we don't remember it. For me, though,
it was that moment when I looked into the mirror and saw myself in
that dark green dress. I had spent over twenty-one years being aware
that I was a male, strong, not bad looking, intelligent, but most of
all, male. Since the day before, that image had been confounded. I
was still intelligent, but all of the other attributes had been
altered. I was now weaker and very good looking in a feminine sort of
way. Somehow, though, I had been trying to deny that I was, in fact,
female. Oh yes, I had no doubt that I had been thrust into the role
of a young woman, but it was more like a role in a play. Deep down,
I was still Jace Stromberg.

	Now, though, as I looked into that mirror, aware of how that
short green dress molded itself to the feminine curves of my body and
accented the reddish highlights in my hair and the creamy smoothness
of my skin, it was - for that moment at least - hard to imagine that
I had ever been male. Were those green-gray eyes really mine? Were
my breasts really that high and that form? Did my feminine hands
actually look that graceful when smoothing down the dress?

	I found myself wishing I had worn pantyhose after all. The
short crew socks looked absurd when viewed with the dress, and heels -
I needed heels. I...

	"It's beautiful on you." It was the voice of Vera March as
she stood behind me but out of my sight in the mirror. It was like
a siren song, luring me into the depths of my new femininity.

	But wasn't there hope that I needn't stay this way? If we all
stuck together as a team, perhaps we could still convince the Judge
to change us back. In numbers, there is strength. I could not give
into this image. I was still Jason Stromberg - strong, intelligent
and male. Yes, above all, I was male. I had to be male. This dress, as
beautiful as it was on my curved body, was a white flag of surrender -
surrender to a life I didn't want. I must resist. I must resist.

	"Shall we put it on your mother's account?"

	I turned to Vera March. "What? Ye - no. No, I don't think
so." Was that disappointment in her eyes? Or was it amusement?

	There was a collective "aw!" from the other girls.

	"You should get it," Darla urged sincerely. "With heels and
the right jewelry, you'd look sensational."

	"Don't remind me," I muttered, fleeing to the fitting room.

	So while the other girls each bought something, I contented
myself with pretending to look. Vera March made no further attempt to
foist the dress off on me, for which I was grateful. Her persuasive
tone, coupled with her unquestionable beauty, somehow made me want
to accept what had happened to me. She was real, too, but perhaps
not a transformee. No, she was like Officer Mercer and the Judge,
poised and imbued with a magical essence that spoke of something
beyond human understanding.

	Yes, they were gods, I thought to myself as we walked down the
main street of Ovid together. They had managed to change our football
team into a collection of high school students, most of whom could
not even remember who they had been. Here we were, our little group
of five girls walking down the streets of Ovid, stopping to admire
a pretty pair of shoes or a sexy dress in the windows we passed. Yet
only three of us remembered that only a day before, we had been young
men, fit and ready for a battle on the gridiron this very afternoon -
a battle that would now never take place.

	I had a sudden flash of inspiration. The Judge
- Jupiter? Perhaps. Like the King of the Roman Gods, he wielded
imperious power, creating a town and all its denizens from - what? -
whatever was available. At his side, Officer Mercer, an officer of
the court who seemed to be almost anywhere he needed to be - like
Mercury? And Vera March, beautiful beyond imagining. Wasn't it Venus
who fit that role in the stories of the Romans?

	"Don't you think so, Sam?"

	It was Jessica's voice. "What?" I responded.

	Jessica sighed. "Honestly, Sam, you've been on another planet
the last couple of days. I was asking you about the shoes." She
pointed at a pair of black pumps with a - what? - two inch heel."

	"Oh, yes, they're nice," I managed.

	The other girls tittered - even Darla.

	"I had just remarked that they would go great with that green
dress you tried on," she explained.

	"Sure," I agreed with a shrug. The funny thing is she was
right.	I found myself wondering what I would look like in the green
dress I had tried on, with these pumps on my feet and... What was
happening to me?

	As we continued up Main Street, I knew what was happening to
me. It was probably happening to all of us. When you're forced to play
a role, it becomes more and more who you are. Wake up some morning
and find out you are a girl instead of a man and you'll start acting
like a girl just to fit in.  The next thing you know, you'll start
thinking like a girl. What happens next? You'll be a girl. Already,
my life as Jace Stromberg was starting to feel like a life that had
happened to someone else. It was hard to imagine what it felt like
to block out tall, powerful receivers with my body. It was hard to
remember what it felt like to be taller than most other people.

	Our next stop was a trip into the past - Porter's Drug
Store. It was the grandaddy of the modern Walgreen's, a store with a
pharmacy in back and rows of greeting cards, magazines, candy, gifts
and other sundries packed tightly into limited display space. Unlike a
modern Walgreen's, though, Porter's was equipped with a genuine soda
fountain, complete with stools and a row of booths. It looked like
something out of Grease. My new friends and I would not have looked
out of place had we wandered in wearing Bobby socks, poodle skirts,
and ponytails to the sounds of Elvis on a jukebox.

	The five of us slid into a single booth. I was on the
outside of the side with three girls, a feat that we could never
have accomplished in our old bodies. Even with our expanded asses, we
managed to fit reasonably well.  Then, we deviated from the fifties
atmosphere by ordering Diet Cokes instead of the sodas Porter's
still offered.

	I tried to keep my mind on the conversation, but it wasn't
easy. The major topic of the day seemed to be the clothing we had
all looked at, followed closely by boys and a party the following
Saturday to celebrate Ovid's homecoming.

	"Do you and Danny want to double with Jack and me?" Jessica
asked.

	There it was again. They all assumed that Danny and I were a
couple. I wanted to scream out that Danny was not my boyfriend and I
didn't care if I never saw him again - even if he was an old friend. I
didn't, though.  Instead, I gave a tepid "Sure" in response to her
question. It was sufficient.

	Darla seemed to be honestly enjoying the conversation. For
her, this must have been heaven. At last, she had the body she had
always wanted. She was animated and exuberant as she talked about
the guy she was going to the homecoming dance with. As miserable as
I felt for myself, I felt happy for her. At least some good had come
out of our transformations.

	I wondered if I would ever be anything like these other
girls. Would I someday be avidly discussing shades of lipstick and
agreeing that George James had great buns? Maybe, but it didn't
seem likely.

	"Speaking of George James," Kelly whispered as she looked
over my shoulder, "it's a hunk alert."

	The three of us sitting with our backs to the front of the
store turned as one to see George walking toward us, flanked by Jack
and Danny. A flurry of emotions coursed through me at that moment. I
was at once envious of George.	Why couldn't I have been turned into
the high school starting quarterback?  Why had Jill been chosen for
that role? Then I became curious about Jack.  What was it like to
lose yourself so completely into an entirely new identity? But most
overwhelming were the feelings I had when I looked at Danny. He was -
or had been - my best friend. I was envious of him as well - still
male, self-assured, handsome. And there was the other emotion I was
finding so difficult to contend with. He was handsome, and somehow I
recognized that. When I saw him, my heart fluttered and I was drawn
to him like a moth to a flame. There was no use in denying it. My body
was attracted to his body. I knew it, and I knew I had to fight it.

	The next thing I knew, they were standing next to us, each of
them tall, good-looking, and exuding a masculine aura that I would
never have noticed before my transformation. There was the usual
social ritual that occurs when a group of girls and a group of guys
meet. There were greetings followed by posturing. Each of the guys
was anxious to show how cool he was. The odd thing was how George
had picked up on it so quickly. Just a day before, he had been a girl
himself. Yet here he was, chest out, stomach in, looking for all the
world as if he had been a high school sports hero all his life.

	Was I reacting as if I had been a girl forever? I didn't
think so, but if I really thought about it, I was pretending to ignore
the guys, stealing glances at them, looking a little flustered when
they noticed, and even fighting back a giggle or two at something
the guys said or did. True, I was the most reserved of the girls,
but a casual observer wouldn't have noticed anything in my actions
out of the ordinary. Somehow that both bothered me and pleased me at
the same time.

	I tried hard to ignore Danny. After all, I had not answered
his call that morning, and I had dreaded the next time I would have to
face him. That time had happened much sooner than I had imagined. For
what it was worth, he seemed a little uncomfortable, too.

	As the conversation continued, Danny managed to catch my
eye. He motioned nervously for me to join him. As I slid out of the
booth to talk with him, I don't really think any of the rest of the
group really noticed.

	It was unfortunate that the location we picked to talk was so
close to the cosmetics counter. Staring at a display of lipstick beside
us, it was a reminder to me of what I had become. I used lipstick
now, whether I liked it or not. All of the cosmetics so prominently
displayed were examples of what had been thrust upon me, so it was
with some rancor that I snapped at Danny with, "What do you want?"

	He was a little taken aback, but he stood his ground. "Look,
Sam, I tried to call you this morning."

	"I know."

	"Did I do something wrong last night?"

	Did he? Actually, he didn't. He was the proverbial perfect
gentleman around me. True, he had put his arm around me, but not in
a threatening way. And our lips had nearly met, but that had been as
much my fault as his. "No," I said slowly, my voice less threatening.

	"I thought we were friends," he pressed on.

	"Well," I had to admit, "we are."

	"Then as a friend," Danny continued, "let me help you out. This
has got to be hard for you."

	"You have no idea how hard," I sighed, fighting back a tear.

	"No, I don't," he admitted. "I can't imagine what it must be
like. Being Danny is weird enough."

	"Oh, Lar - I mean Danny," I said, my voice suddenly quaking. I
was afraid I couldn't hold it together much longer. What was happening
to me?

	"Hey, let's go outside," he suggested. "I'll walk you home."

	Walk? Oh sure, I remembered. Ovid wasn't that big. We could
walk practically anywhere if we had to. I thought I needed a walk. I
needed to...  to...think.

	Danny waived at the others who all gave him a knowing nod. They
had all seen scenes like this before and realized that a boy and a
girl needed time alone to work out their relationship. Of course, that
wasn't what was really happening here. Or was it? Come to think of it,
that was exactly what was happening. Danny and I had a relationship,
even if it wasn't the relationship everyone else thought it was. And
we did need to work it out.

	It was a warm Saturday morning, and I actually felt better as
we got out of the business district and walked together down streets
lined with stately oaks whose leaves were starting to reach the height
of their fall colors. It reminded me of home. I missed my family there
in that moment. I remembered what things had been like back when Joan
was the age I was now and I was in the eighth grade. Johnny was still
in elementary school. We had been a happy family then since it was
before mom and dad started arguing all the time.

	I felt a need to call them, I knew I wouldn't, though. I was
pretty sure they wouldn't remember me. Whatever power had changed
me had probably erased all trace of Jace Stromberg. How did I
know that? Well, when the morning paper had said nothing about our
disappearance, I was pretty sure the Judge had wiped out all trace
of our existence.

	The question was: could we convince him to change us back? What
incentive did he have to do so? For some reason, he wanted us this way.

	"You look like you're lost in thought," Danny observed.

	"I suppose I am," I replied. I told him my theories about
the Judge.

	"I suspect you're right," he agreed as we walked slowly. "I had
reached pretty much the same conclusions. And by the way, there's a Ms
Miner who's Superintendent of Schools in Ovid. She's probably Minerva."

	"I wonder how many of the old gods are really in Ovid," I
said. "If we try to fight them, the odds could be heavily against us."

	Danny shook his head. "I don't think we should fight them."

	"That's easy for you to say," I pointed out. "You're still
male. Besides, you're a good looking guy. The girls will be falling
all over you when they figure out we're not an item. And you've got
a good family and you're bright. Things are coming up roses for you."

	"And you," he pointed out.

	"Me?" I laughed at him. "Haven't you noticed? I'm a girl! I
can't exactly play football anymore and chasing girls is sort of out
of the question."

	"So that's what's bothering you," Danny said softly.

	"Of course it's bothering me! Did you think I want to run
around in skirts and heels for the rest of my life? To wear makeup
and have my hair done? To have periods and babies? God, Danny, what
did you think? That I wanted to be a girl?"

	We had stopped and were facing each other. I was practically
yelling at him, and I could feel my face flushing as my voice got
louder. I expected him to yell back at me. I wanted him to yell back
at me. I wanted him to tell me I had turned into a stupid bitch who
would have to learn to like being a girl and that he was just the
guy to show her why. In other words, I wanted him to be such a prick
that I would be justified in walking away. I wanted him to say all
the things a stupid prick would say. But he didn't.

	Danny looked me in the eye, a sad expression on his
face. "You're right.  I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. This has to be
very hard on you."

	"Well it is!" I snapped, but I was having difficulty
maintaining my anger.  Why did he have to be so understanding? Why did
he have to be so nice? Why did he have to be so... be so... handsome?

	"Look, Sam," he began softly, "I don't pretend to have any idea
what you're going through, but you're right. For me, I'm just looking
at living my old life over again. I guess I don't play football in this
reality, but that was probably a dead end for me anyway. Now, I can
concentrate on other things and get on with my life. Who knows? Maybe
I'll win a scholastic scholarship this time instead of an athletic one.

	"But for you, everything has changed. I can't even begin to
imagine what it must be like to have a... I mean, to be a girl. But
I want to help you any way I can."

	"Help me, sure," I snorted. "I suppose you want to show me
how to use all that new equipment of mine."

	"God damn it, Sam!" Danny raised his voice, startling me. "The
Jace Stromberg I knew didn't sit around wallowing in self pity. No,
I don't want to help you use that new equipment of yours." He was
silent for a moment, then continued, "No, that's not true. You've
become a very good looking girl - the kind of girl Larry Gunn would
have been all over."

	I felt an odd mixture of emotions. Part of me wanted to punch
him out for that remark, but part of me was strangely interested in
what he had to say.

	"But you're my friend - probably my best friend - and I
couldn't - wouldn't - do that to you," he said softly. "Sam, I want
us to be friends. I know that won't be easy. Practically everyone
thinks you and I are a couple. I know we aren't. We're friends,
or at least we should be."

	I suddenly remembered the old movie When Harry Met Sally. It
had explored the concept of friendship between men and women. In
it, the main characters had managed to become friends, I thought
brightly. Then I remembered that they had ended up in bed together.

	But I needed a friend. I needed for Danny to be my
friend. "Okay," I murmured. "Friends."

	He brightened, and I added, "But just friends."

	"Just friends," he repeated, smiling.

	We were silent for a moment, until I asked, "So okay, 'friend,'
what do we do next?"

	He grinned. "Well, I walk you home and we wait until Monday
to see if Coach Jessup is able to organize anything."

	"What do you think, Danny?" I asked.

	"About what?"

	"About Coach Jessup," I said. "I keep hearing he - or I guess
it's she now - is going to try to organize some way to get us changed
back. Do you think she can do it?"

	Danny thought carefully before responding. "No, I don't. Not
really."

	I felt the same way, but I was disappointed when I heard
Danny say it.

	"I'm sorry, Sam," he went on. "I hope I'm wrong and that he can
figure out something. But we can't even figure out why these gods have
done this to us.  I mean, if the old classical gods have some reason
for creating this town and changing us all into permanent residents,
I don't think they're going to change us back just because we don't
like it. The Greeks may have come up with democracy, but I don't
think the Judge and his folks buy into it."

	"I feel the same way," I sighed. "I guess that's why this is
so hard for me. If I could have been transformed into this form for
a day or two, it might have been kind of fun. I mean, a lot of guys
wonder what it would be like to be a girl. But, Danny, I'm afraid
I'm going to be a girl for the rest of my life, and... and I don't
know what to do about it."

	I was practically in tears. I was becoming so emotional,
I didn't know what to do. Danny looked for a moment as if he was
going to move toward me. If he had, I don't know what would have
happened. A part of me wanted him to do it. I needed someone to tell
me it was all going to work out while holding onto me. But wouldn't
that just be giving in?

	"Are... are you okay?" he asked softly.

	"I... I think so," I sniffled. With effort, I managed to
suppress disappointment that he hadn't held me.

	"Then let's get you home," he said.

	We managed to keep the conversation a little lighter the
rest of the way.  George was sixteen and had a car, so he had picked
Danny and Jack up that morning. Since he had picked up Danny first,
they had had a chance to compare notes before seeing Jack.

	Apparently our old friend Wild Bill wasn't one bit happy with
the role he had been given. His new persona of Glen MacReady wasn't all
that he would have wished for. Wild Bill had been talented at football
but had been a dork. Glen was a dork without football talent. If the
Judge was trying to punish him, he couldn't have done a better job,
and I said so to Danny.

	"True," Danny agreed, "but what is George being punished for?"

	"George?" I asked. "What about George? He came out of this
great. He's good looking, a great football player, and he seems to
be bright."

	"Yes, but he's also male."

	"So?"

	Danny sighed, "That's why he wanted to get together with me
today. He isn't too sure about being male. He would rather be female."

	"But why?" I asked. "He's got everything now."

	"Except his sex," Danny pointed out. "Think of it this way,
Sam. You're attractive, personable, and someone told me you currently
have one of the top five grade points in our class. Some people might
say you've got everything."

	"Yeah, but I'm a..." My voice trailed off. He was right, of
course. Of my friends who remembered their old lives, I was probably
an object of envy to some of them. Jill, it seemed, would prefer to
be me since I was a girl.  Darla was just happy to be female at last,
but I would imagine she would prefer to be Sam. Maybe some of the
others would rather be me, too.

	"So did you hear anything from any of our teammates?" Danny
asked.

	"No," I said slowly, unwilling to betray Darla's
confidence. "I've been in a group of girls all morning, and most of
them don't remember anything."

	Our conversation had brought me to my front door. "Uh, do
you want to come in?" I asked, just a little nervously.

	"Oh, no," Danny said self consciously. "I...uh...have some
studying to do.  I'm apparently pretty high in class standings, too,
and I think I'd like to keep it that way."

	"Okay," I said turning away, just a tad disappointed.

	"Hey, wait!"

	I turned back to him. "Yes?"

	"I noticed there was a new Van Damme movie playing tonight
at seven, and since you like his flicks, I thought..." He looked at
the expression on my face and hastened to add, "I mean, it wouldn't
be a date or anything. I mean, you and I used to go to the movies
together before. I just thought - "

	"Sure," I said impulsively, almost regretting it as I said
it. No matter what we chose to call it, I suppose it was still a date.

	"You mean it?"

	"I mean it," I admitted as much to myself as to Danny. "Pick
me up at six thirty."

	He grinned. "See you then."

	I closed the door behind me with a sigh. Why had I said
yes? Oh, I suppose I could pretend that I really wanted to see the
movie, but I really didn't care. It's just that it seemed to mean a
lot to Danny, and he was my friend.

	"Well, so how is Danny?" a young boy's voice teased. So
I was about to meet my kid brother, Josh, at last, I realized. He
was lying on a couch in the living room, a comic book open on his
lap. There was no denying him as my brother. He was almost a younger,
male version of me, auburn hair and all. I had been right about the
family picture being recent. He appeared to be about twelve.

	"He's fine," I said airily, refusing to rise to the bait. As
Jace, I had teased my own sister unmercifully when I had been Josh's
age. I knew all the tricks, but he didn't know that.

	"So did he kiss you?"

	"Why would you want to know?"

	He hadn't expected that question, so he just snorted and went
back to his comic. He was a shade, but he acted just like I had acted
when I was his age. I'd be able to get along fine with Josh. I knew
as much about being a twelve year old boy as he did.

	I greeted my parents, both of whom were busy with household
chores, and retreated to my room for the rest of the day. I was
intrigued with Danny's revelation that I was one of the top students
in the class, and I resolved to stay near the top. I think it was
the competitive instincts I had developed playing football. I might
not be able to break up a thirty yard pass pattern now, but I could
ace my next algebra exam.

	Fortunately, Sam took excellent notes. A small notebook
written in a distinctly feminine hand that was now mine outlined all
my assignments for the next week. There was to be a history quiz on
Tuesday. No problem. As a history major in college, I could probably
ace the quiz without looking at the book. I decided to study for the
quiz later. It would almost be like taking a break.

	My algebra assignment didn't look too bad, but I hadn't taken
a match course in quite a while. I would have to bear down to keep the
A I apparently had there. Chemistry would be a particular problem. I
had done okay in chemistry in high school, but it had been a tough
course. Come to think of it, it was when I was taking chemistry that
I had made the decision to concentrate on sports.

	I put the notebook down, lost for a moment in thought. There
are turning points in everyone's life that don't seem to earthshaking
at the time but have lasting effects on one's life. I had been a
male version of Samantha when I had been her age in high school. My
sophomore year, I was one of the top five in a very large class,
destined for great things. I had planned to follow in my father's
footsteps and be a doctor. What had changed?

	Well, for one thing, I had been good in sports. It was
a talent derived as much by my size and intelligence as by any
inherited instinct. My own father had set sports aside in high school
to concentrate on his future medical career. I had done just the
opposite. Why?

	Then I remembered. It was near the end of my sophomore year
that my mother and father started having trouble. She complained
that he was never around for family activities and that he never
showed any affection for anyone. He complained that she had no idea
of the pressures he faced daily as a surgeon. The trouble spilled
over that next fall. My sister Joan had been the mediator in many of
their disputes, but her mind was on college then, often off with her
friends through the summer. Although I had tried to act as mediator
in my sister's absence, I wasn't as adroit at it as she had been.

	I think I began to feel I might be on the same road as
my father. I could do well in school, get into a top college, go
on to medical school, and be a doctor just like my father, but to
what end? To find myself trapped in an unhappy marriage years later,
unable to separate my home life from my professional life? It didn't
seem all that attractive. So I had began to set my studies aside and
concentrate on athletics. As luck would have it, I was good enough
to excel at football. Oh, I still did reasonably well in school.
I was, after all, pretty bright. But I had eschewed my true potential.

	Why?

	The truth was, I didn't want to be like my father. Yes,
I could finally admit that to myself. It had taken the loss of my
balls to make me realize it, but I had ignored my true potential just
to avoid being the cold, aloof surgeon that my father had been. That
was why I had opted for something like history. That was why I had
begun to drift into a life that I now realized would have never been
satisfying to me. In fact, I had already resolved in my final moments
as Jace to be willing to drift into a most unsatisfying life.

	I had been given a second chance, I thought suddenly. Here I
was, only a sophomore but with an excellent grade point. I wouldn't
have football to distract me now, so I would have the extra time I
needed to stay near the top of my class. Then what? Well, maybe a good
college and then on to medical school. Doctor Samantha Wallace. That
actually sounded pretty good.  It had taken the loss of my masculinity
to tell me the truth: I really wanted to be a doctor; I just didn't
want to be like my father.

	It was a far happier, more resolute Samantha who answered
the door at six thirty. I had spent the entire afternoon poring
over a chemistry text. When I concentrated on it, it was actually
pretty easy. I had taken breaks only long enough to eat and touch
up my makeup to get ready to go to the movies with Danny. Since I
had plowed directly into my studies, I didn't even feel the need to
change for our date. I was looking in the mirror and smiling as the
doorbell rang, thinking of how I wasn't one-hundred percent girl in
my thoughts yet. If I had been a girl all my life, I would have felt
the need to change clothes just for the fun of it.

	As I opened the door, Danny gave me a funny look.

	"What's wrong?" I asked.

	"Oh, nothing," he told me. "It's just that this morning,
you seemed...  different."

	"I'm a whole new me," I said with a cryptic smile, grabbing
a sweater against the early fall chill.

	As we walked out of the movie, Danny asked, "Well, what did
you think of it?"

	"It was good," I said without much conviction. To be honest,
I had been a little disappointed with it. I usually went to a Van
Damme movie with a bunch of guys, and we would really get into
the action. Maybe it was my sudden lack of testosterone, but I had
actually been a little bored with the movie. It was all action with
only a hint of romance. I had also experienced an uncomfortable
feeling when I caught myself musing that Van Damme had nice buns.

	That had set me off on another train of thought. Was I becoming
attracted to men? I had only been a girl for a little over a day, but
it seemed as if I spent very little time looking at girls' breasts
asses, and legs and more time looking at guys. Even when I looked
at girls, it was more to analyze what they were wearing or how they
had done their hair or makeup. Well, I wanted to be a doctor, and
my doctor father had been very clinical when he had finally gotten
around to explaining the birds and the bees to me. I realized that
the basis of sexual attraction went well beyond the intellectual. Oh
sure, there were aspects of attraction that went beyond hormones and
pheromones, but those aspects allowed us to pick a specific member
of the opposite gender.

	Walking out of the movie with Danny, I came to the realization
that, like it or not, I was becoming attracted to him. That didn't
mean I was ready to hop into bed with him or even grope with him in
the front seat of his car, but I was finding that I enjoyed being
with him in a way that transcended our long-standing friendship.

	"Want to get something to drink?" he asked.

	"Sure." I found I really wanted to go someplace with Danny -
someplace where we could talk and get to know each other better. That
sounded odd to me since I had known him well for several years, but I
was a different person now, and I needed to know aspects of him that
I had never known before. Besides, just because he had remained male
didn't mean that there hadn't been changes to him mentally as well. As
I was beginning to understand, much of who we are is determined by
the body we wear.

	Rusty's Burger Barn seemed to be the hangout of choice for
every Ovid High student. It seemed as if half the people we had come
to know in Ovid were there. Teresa and Geena were there with their
football-playing boyfriends.  True to their word at the party, they
seemed to have the guys eating out of their hands. I think they were
actually enjoying themselves. Their new roles in Ovid were almost
like a private joke that only they could share.

	George James was there too, trying to keep his full attention
on an attractive young blonde girl while being constantly distracted
by teammates and well-wishers. Ah, the life of a football hero.

	Darla was there, dressed in the manner she had always wanted
for herself, I was sure. Her brown hair was pinned up, revealing
shell-like ears with long, dangling earrings. She wore a tight pink
sweater and displayed a substantial amount of nylon-covered leg
beyond her matching skirt. The guy she was with wasn't noticing that,
though. He was too busy trying to imagine what her small but pert
breasts must look like under the sweater. She was having the time of
her life. I was actually happy for her.

	Even Jennifer and Barry were there, sharing a table away
from the crowd.  Neither looked particularly pleased to be there,
and Jennifer actually would turn to face the crown occasionally with
an almost angry scowl. Then she would turn back and engage Barry in
an animated conversation. I could almost imagine them to be Lenin
and Trotsky, sitting in the back of some aging European cafй while
they plotted the overthrow of the rest of the patrons. I hoped they
weren't plotting to cause trouble, but I was pretty sure that was
what they were doing.

	Cause trouble? I caught myself thinking as we sat and ordered
Cokes and an order of fries to munch on. Just a few hours before, I
had found myself hoping they would succeed. What had changed? Didn't
I want to be Jace again?  Well yes, I suppose I did in a theoretical
sort of way. If someone had offered me the chance to be Samuel Wallace
instead of Samantha, keeping my new family and my class ranking and
all that the ranking implied about my future, I would have jumped
at the chance. Oh sure, I would miss my old family, but not all that
much. We were never the closest of families. If I missed anyone, it
would probably be my sister, Joan. But I seldom saw her anymore. She
was engaged and living back east.

	As for the rest of my family, my younger brother was a spoiled
brat. With all the marital problems my parents had, he had learned
to play them off against each other. My new younger brother, Josh,
was preferable. And as for parents, I supposed I still loved them
and I would miss them, but they seemed intent upon breaking up their
marriage. I had expected a call from them at any time telling me they
had finally split the sheets.

	Still, I planned to work with my teammates to try to return
to our old lives. It sounded almost perverse to me to think that,
but I was a team player. Besides, maybe it wasn't too late for Jace
to figure out a way to get into medical school. My grades were very
good. I had the top grade point on the team. Maybe some medical school
- possible out of the country - would give me a chance.

	"I'm really glad you decided to go to the movies with me
tonight," Danny told me. "I was afraid you... well, you know."

	I found myself putting my hand on his. "Let's not worry
about that anymore," I said softly so that others around us wouldn't
hear. "I think we're going to be stuck this way, and I just decided
if I had to be Samantha Wallace, I'd better start acting like her."

	Danny gave me a little smile. "I'm pleased." Then he looked
a little stricken. "I mean I'm pleased for you. I didn't mean how it
affect us or anything."

	"Hey, we're friends, remember?"

	He relaxed a little. "Oh sure."

	We changed the conversation to topics of school and our
friends, new and old. Other couples came up to talk to us, Jack and
Jessica actually joining us for awhile. Then, about eleven, we decided
to head home.

	Danny walked me to the door this time. That felt funny to
me, but I was actually glad he did. We looked at each other for a
moment after I got the door open, as if uncertain as to what to do
next. Finally, I said, "Well, goodnight, friend."

	He gave me a little smile but kept his hands to
himself. "Goodnight, friend."

	Then it happened before I could stop it. It was an impulse
that came so far from left field that I hadn't even had the chance
to consider what it might mean. I arched up onto my toes and gave
him a little sisterly kiss on the cheek. He looked as if he had been
shot, and I thought for one terrible moment that I had done something
wrong. What if our roles had been reversed and a female Larry Gunn had
suddenly kissed me on the cheek? Would I have fled screaming into the
night? I mean, just a couple of days before we had both been young
men. Now we were... friends.

	I felt my face begin to flush. I thought I had just made
a fool of myself.  Danny just stared at me as if he were unable to
move. Without another word, I fled into the house, closing the door
softly behind me. I was a hodgepodge of emotions. I was embarrassed for
what I had done. If we ever got back to our old lives, how would I ever
be able to face Larry again? I was disgusted with myself. I was a guy,
damn it! Or at least I had been one for most of my life. But I was
also very confused. A small part of me - the part that had suddenly
risen to the top of my consciousness - was actually a little pleased
with what I had done. I mean, if I ended up stuck as a girl - and I
was fairly certain our efforts to get our old lives back would fail
- then I would have to get used to seeing boys in a far different
light. I had taken an important first step in that direction with
that small, innocent kiss.

	"Is that you, Sam?"

	It was my new mother's voice, shaking me out of my reverie and
making me realize I was just standing there hiding behind the door,
listening to Danny's receding footsteps. "Yes, it's me," I replied.

	"Well, I'm glad you're home early," she said from the doorway
of the darkened bedroom where I could hear my new father softly
snoring. "We have to be at church early tomorrow. Your father and I
are greeting. Are you planning on going to Sunday School?"

	"Uh...I don't think so."

	"Then you can just ride to services with your father and me,"
she decided.

	Church? Well, why not? I hadn't gone much in college, but
my family had been fairly strong Methodists. I hoped I hadn't become
Catholic or something. I had no idea how they conducted services. All
I knew was that they did a lot of kneeling and crossed themselves
a lot. Maybe in Ovid, they worshiped the Greek and Roman gods. I
actually snickered to myself, thinking about how odd a congregation
of Midwestern Americans would look standing around in the Temple of
Jupiter sacrificing a goat - or whatever you sacrificed to Jupiter.

	Frivolous thoughts about church at least distracted me from
thinking about Danny. Still trying to visualize what a group of
Americans would be like worshiping Jupiter, I got ready for bed and
fell asleep almost at once.

	Dressing as a girl was getting more natural for me, I realized
the next morning as I got ready for church. It seemed almost natural to
put on a pastel blue slip dress patterned with tiny white flowers. And
the nylons and pale blue pumps matched well. I actually found the
two inch heel they sported not too hard to walk in at all. A dainty
gold necklace with matching earrings and thin gold bracelets made
nice accents, and I thought I looked quite nice as I finished off my
makeup in the bathroom mirror.

	"Are you about ready?" the frustrated voice of my father
boomed from the entryway.

	"Almost," I called back, inspecting my lipstick. This was the
first time I had applied it completely by myself, depending before on
my automatic help.  I didn't want to look like a clown. I thought I
had done quite a nice job. I had relied on a little automatic help for
the eye shadow and the highlights on my cheeks, but I still considered
my performance an accomplishment.

	"We're going to be late!" he hollered again. "Why does it
take you so long?"

	Why indeed! I had often wondered the same thing as I
had watched my real mother and sister get ready. Now I knew the
answer. Maybe my new father should try doing everything I had to do
to look beauti - well, to look presentable.

	"She's a teenage girl," I heard my new mother explain, as if
that answered it all.

	And it did, too. I was learning how to be a girl. I still
wasn't comfortable with it, and I would still have preferred to be
male, but as long as I had to be a girl, I wanted to be a normal
one. Each new thing that I learned - whether it was how to apply eye
shadow or how to accessorize an outfit - made me feel a little more
comfortable with myself.

	"Ready," I announced, grabbing my blue purse and trying not
to be caught by my father's frustrated stare or my brother's impish
grin. In spite of his muttering, we made it to church on time.

	I got the feeling as I stood in the back of the sanctuary while
they greeted parishioners that people were staring at me. I suppose
they were, but not, I realized, because I looked out of place. Guys my
age greeted me with a friendly "Hi, Sam!" Their fathers cast sidelong
glances so they wouldn't be seen staring at jail bait. I watched with
a mixture of embarrassment and amusement as these good church-going
men slipped a look at my long, graceful legs. Their wives smiled at
me as if I was a neophyte member of their sorority - a girl they had
known most of their lives who was rapidly blossoming into a woman
just like them.

	Then Danny came in and I felt an embarrassing flush cross my
face. I didn't realize that Danny would be going to the same church. He
was a Catholic. No, I corrected myself, Larry was a Catholic. Danny
had apparently experienced a change of religion just like me. I was no
longer a Methodist, but instead a member of the First Baptist Church
of Ovid.

	"Hi, Sam," Danny said a little shyly as he came up in front
of me.

	I looked down a little, trying not to stare directly into
his eyes. "Hi, Danny." I suddenly felt like a schoolgirl. Then I
realized I really was a schoolgirl. Danny is just a friend, I reminded
myself. I'm not really a girl; I just look like one. Hey, old buddy,
how's it hanging? Got any lately? How about those Chiefs? You wanna
go get a couple of beers? Oh, what I would have given to be able to
say any of those things just like I used to say them!

	Instead, I was appropriately demure. I tried to look around
the room, but I was greeted with amused glances from the adults
around the room. They didn't see two guys who were college friends
who played football, drank beer, and chased girls together. Instead,
they saw a young man dressed in a tweed sport coat, colorful tie
and khaki slacks talking to a sweet young thing in her Sunday best
with the obvious objective of courting her. I found that a little
disturbing. What I found even more disturbing was that I sort of
wanted to be courted. I mean... Oh, I really don't know what I meant.

	"Uh... are you going to be studying for that history test
today?" Danny ventured.

	"I suppose so," I replied. I really hadn't decided what to
study. I would need to catch up in everything. I hadn't planned to
study much for the history test, since as a history major, I should
have been able to do well on any high school history exam. Still,
I supposed it wouldn't hurt to review...

	"Do you mind if I come over for a little while this
afternoon?" he asked.  "I never was terribly good at history. Maybe you
could give me a little review. I could do the same for you in algebra."

	That sold it. I really did need a little help in algebra,
and Larry had a minor in math. "Okay."

	His face brightened. "About two?"

	I smiled back. "Sure."

	Danny joined his parents and I joined Josh and my parents for
the services.  I was a little relieved to see that a Baptist service
was not too different from a Methodist one. I had to stifle a giggle
or two, though, watching Danny a couple of pews away. He had to resist
the urge to cross himself and kneel a couple of times.

	We weren't the only ones from the team in church that
morning. Jennifer Tilton was there in a dress, and from the scowl
on her face, I would say that her new parents had probably had to
threaten her life before she agreed to wear it. Barry Hartman was
there as well, and I couldn't help but notice how he kept sneaking
glances at Jennifer. It seemed to me that he was oddly attracted to
his former friend. I would imagine that Jennifer would have gladly
killed him if she had suspected it for an instant.

	After church, Jennifer made her way over to me. "My, don't you
look pretty today," she said sweetly, but her eyes told a different
story.

	"Very funny," I replied quietly. "Same to you."

	She snorted. "Don't remind me! My dear sweet mother informed
me in no uncertain terms that either I dressed like this today or
I would be grounded for a month. Grounded! I haven't been grounded
since I was in eighth grade.  I mean when I was Darren."

	"Yeah, it's tough to be fifteen again," I agreed.

	"Look, Jace," Jennifer began, "I get the feeling some of our
guys are getting a little too comfortable with their new roles. You
aren't, are you?"

	"Me?" I said a little nervously. "Of course not." It was a lie,
though. I had just realized that I had been a little uncomfortable
when she had called me "Jace."

	"Good," she said with a rare smile. "I thought I could depend
on you. How about Larry?"

	"Larry? Oh, Danny. "Sure, he's with us."

	"So is Dennis," she told me. "That gives us a pretty good
nucleus. I'll see you tomorrow."

	She walked off, trying to recapture some of her old male
swagger. It was a waste of time, though. Her hips swayed with a
definite girlish charm. No amount of attempted swagger could take
that away.

	As I rode home with my parents, I wondered if Jennifer was
right. Of course, most of our team had no idea they had even been
changed, but were the rest of us becoming comfortable with our new
identities? Worse yet, was I? I had to admit to myself that each
passing hour made my role as Sam become more and more real. When I had
first seen my new body, I had been frightened - almost panicked. Then,
I began to look at it a little more objectively, as if I were my old
self admiring a pretty girl. Now, though, in just two short days,
I seemed to be integrating my soul as it were with this body. I
didn't want to lose all of Jace, but he was starting to become only
a memory - a boy who had grown to manhood and then moved away. When
I looked at Sam's pretty face in the mirror, I saw me. When I moved,
I moved with the knowledge that my body was female, jutting out her
and indenting there. When I looked at Danny...

	"Would you help me with lunch, dear?"

	"Huh? Oh sure," I muttered, still lost in thought.

	"You want to throw the football until lunch?" Josh asked
our father.

	"Sure," he replied with a smile.

	Now was that fair? They would throw the football while I worked
in the kitchen. Then I realized it made sense. I was bonding with my
mother while "the boys" were bonding. Still, as I got changed before
helping my mother, I found myself wishing I could throw the football
too. I wondered if I threw like a girl. Probably, I realized with a
sigh as I started making a salad under my mother's direction.

	At least my brother got saddled with doing the dishes after
lunch. All in all, it was fair. I found I actually enjoyed cooking. I
always had enjoyed it when I thought about it. What I hated was
cleaning up.

	As I retired to my room, I thought about how smoothly I
had accepted my new family. I really didn't notice their slight
transparency anymore. It was almost the way you ignore people's
blemishes and even disfigurements as you get to know them as
individuals. I was becoming comfortable as well. The sway of my
breasts and ass and the tickle of my long auburn hair and slight tug
of the earrings I wore no longer seemed unnatural. If I let myself
go in that automatic mode, it was very easy to conform to feminine
tasks. In the shower that morning, I had even shaved under my arms
and my legs without a second thought.

	Was I becoming like Darla? No, I thought. If given the
opportunity, I would still return to my old life. But on the other
hand, being Sam wasn't so bad after all. I could live with it if I
had to. I would even probably enjoy it.  I had become reconciled to
being Samantha Wallace.

	Danny dropped in at two to study. We occupied the kitchen,
tackling history first. Like me, Larry had always been a pretty
good student, so he had no problem catching up in history. Likewise,
I picked up on algebra pretty quickly. I hadn't taken a math class
since my sophomore year of college, but I had aced that course. That
meant I understood the principles. I just had to refresh myself on
the mechanics of the subject.

	After a couple of hours of serious study, we took a break on
the patio in back of the house. We sat in lounge chairs sipping on
sodas and enjoying the unusually warm fall sun. At least it was unusual
for us. Northern Missouri was starting to get a little chilly by that
time of year, but Oklahoma, a bit further south, seemed to be enjoying
late summer, although it tended to cool off some in the evening. We
were alone on the patio, the rest of my family glued to the television
where the Dallas Cowboys were struggling through a poor season.

	"Did you want to watch the game?" Danny asked, nodding toward
the house where the cheers of the game could be faintly heard through
the open windows.

	I thought about it. "Not really. I guess it would remind me
too much of what we've had to give up."

	"Playing football?" Danny asked with a grin. "We can still
throw a ball around if you want."

	Did I want to? I had been envious earlier when Josh and dad
were throwing the ball around, but now that I had the opportunity to
do so, I realized I really didn't want to. Besides, I might break a
nail. Not that they were that long, but...

	"Do you?"

	I sighed. "I guess not."

	Danny propped up on one arm and looked at me. "I can't get
over how much you've changed."

	I looked down at my bare legs. I was wearing a pair of denim
cutoffs and a beige T-top with a scalloped neck. There were tan sandals
on my feet. I had worn outfits not too different as Jace, but they
had never looked like this on me. I was all girl, that was for certain.

	"Yeah, it's really strange to be in this body," I agreed.

	"I don't mean just that," he clarified. He looked a little
sheepish. "Sorry if this bothers you, but I meant the way you act and -
"

	I sat up. "What's wrong with the way I act?"

	"Nothing," he said soothingly. "Nothing at all, for a... a..."

	"Girl," I finished for him.

	He gave me a disarming smile. "Well... yes."

	I think he expected me to be angry. I expected to be, too, but
I wasn't.  Instead, I was curious. "What do you mean?" I asked softly.

	"Well," he began, "I don't know, Sam. I guess the... well,
just look at how you're sitting."

	I was sitting on the edge of the lounge chair, my legs
crossed as I looked intently at Danny. "What's the matter with the
way I'm sitting?"

	"It's... well... look at your legs. They're crossed at the
knees. You would never have sat that way as Jace."

	"I probably couldn't sit this way as Jace," I pointed out. "I
would have crushed my... well, you know."

	"Sure," he agreed. "Your balls. That's another thing. You
found it hard to say balls. It isn't ladylike, is it?"

	"This is the nineties," I countered. "I can say...well,
whatever I want."

	"But you don't want to say it, do you?"

	I was silent. He was right. I had been a normal guy. I didn't
use a lot of bad language, but an occasional four-letter word slipped
out. Now though, it just didn't seem right.

	 "I don't know how else to say it, Sam," he pressed, more
confident now.	"You act exactly like a girl. The way you walk,
the way you talk - it's as if you had been a girl your entire life."

	"I know," I admitted after a moment's silence. "I don't know
what it means.	Danny, you don't suppose I'm losing my identity like
most of the rest of the team, do you? I mean, what if we all end up
forgetting who we are? Maybe some of us just take longer to forget."

	He must have seen the terror on my face, for he gently wrapped
one of my trembling hands in his larger one and said, "I don't think
so, Sam. I still remember everything about my old life. Don't you?"

	"Well," I replied with a little giggle, "I don't seem to
remember you holding my hand before."

	He started to draw back, a pained look on his face, until I
quickly added, "Not that I mind. I mean... well, I... I... think I
like you holding my hand."

	There. I had said it. I had stepped over the edge. It had been
coming almost from the hour of my transformation. Every time I saw
Danny, every time I talked to him, I began to see him differently
than I had ever seen another guy before. His smile, his gentle,
intelligent eyes, his self confident gait, his... masculinity, all
spoke to me in a way I could never have imagined only a few days
before. At first, it had frightened me and I had been determined to
avoid him at all costs. Now, though, I knew I wanted him near me,
to touch me, to... to...

	"I just made some lemonade," my mother called from the
kitchen. "Do you two want any?"

	I found my extended hand suddenly free and at my side as
I felt my face flush. We went into the kitchen together, and I
kept wondering what would have happened if she hadn't called. More
importantly, what had I wanted to happen? The next day, we would all
be meeting as a team to decide a course of action that could give us
back our original identities, but is that what I really wanted? I was
becoming almost like Darla. Although I had never wanted to be a girl
like she had, I was becoming increasingly reluctant to change back
even if I could. Here in Ovid, I had the opportunity to start over,
to be a top student. I had a new family which wasn't slowly drifting
apart as my old one had been. And I had Danny. Yes, I finally admitted
to myself, I was attracted to him. And I knew without a doubt that
he was attracted to me.

	After having lemonade with my family, Danny excused himself
and my father started to cook some steaks on the patio grill while I
helped my mother with a potato salad. The Cowboys had lost, but that
had been expected. So I spent the rest of the evening just getting
to know my family better.

	Life was beginning to feel normal to me. I was the female
version of the older brother in a real-life Leave it to Beaver
family. A couple of times, I almost called Josh "Beave." My new
identity was constantly reinforced, not only by my family but by
the half dozen phone calls from various friends from school. Some
I hadn't even met yet, so I kept a copy of my high school yearbook
by my phone. A girl named Myra called first. I identified her as an
attractive blonde in my class named Myra Smithwick. She had bee out
of school Friday, so I had to help her catch up on all the gossip. I
was amazed at how much I actually knew and was able to tell her.

	Jessica called next, just to tell me about her afternoon
with Jack. I wondered again which of my teammates they had been,
but realized it was now of little importance. We agreed to meet for
lunch the next day at school.

	The last call of the night came just before nine. It was
Danny. He sounded strangely down in the mouth, worrying me. Was he
having the same second thoughts I had experienced Friday night? Did
he find it hard to think of me as a girl? Was he trying to ditch
me? Finally, I blurted out, "Danny, what's wrong?"

	"Jennifer called, or I guess I should say Darren since she
refuses to think of herself as Jennifer."

	"And?"

	"And there's going to be a meeting tomorrow after school. A
team meeting," he said.

	I was a little relieved. "But we knew Coach Jessup - or rather
Ms Drew - was planning a meeting."

	"I know," he agreed, "but I..."

	"But you what, Danny?" I asked.

	"I... don't want to lose you, Sam."

	I was silent. I didn't want to lose him either, I
realized. Whatever power in Ovid had transformed us had done too
good a job. Danny and I were becoming a couple, just as practically
everyone else in Ovid thought we were.

	"Sam?" His voice was frightened. I think he was afraid I had
hung up on him.

	"Yes, Danny?"

	"I shouldn't have said that," he said as an apology.

	"It's okay, Danny," I told him softly. "I guess I don't want
to lose you either."

	His voice brightened. "Do you mean that?"

	"Would I say it if I didn't?" I returned.

	"Can I pick you up for school tomorrow?"

	The answer, of course, was yes. I was as giddy as a schoolgirl
when I went to bed that night, but of course as I have remarked before,
that was exactly what I was. The difference was that with each moment,
I was becoming more pleased with that.

	Danny picked me up the next morning at a quarter after
seven. Although neither of us had discussed it in advance, I think we
had each chosen to play out our first full day back in high school
as a normal day. He was Danny and I was Sam and that was all there
was to it. We knew we faced a team meeting after school - or at
least a meeting with the members of the team who were aware of their
transformations. But until then, we would be what we appeared to be.

	It seemed oddly comfortable being back in high school. To be
honest, my high school days had been my happiest. My parents were not
having as many problems when I started high school, and in my first
two years of high school, I had been able to balance athletics and
academics to the point that I excelled in both. It wasn't until my
junior year that I began to concentrate on football to the detriment
of my studies. Of course, that's when I took chemistry and my parents
started having more problems.

	I had gleaned a lot about my role as Sam over the weekend. I
knew I was supposed to be both bright and popular - a winning
combination if ever there was one. And of course, it didn't hurt to
be attractive.	Danny was my male counterpart, so we were a natural
couple.

	I noticed that most of the guys I knew who had become girls
had thrown themselves into the part. Only Dusty - now Geena - had worn
a skirt to school, but her long, coffee-brown legs looked terrific
extending out from her short skirt. Like me, Teresa and Darla had
chosen to wear shorts on the warm fall day - denim cutoffs with dark
tees and open vests. Only Jennifer, in what appeared to be a hopeless
attempt to hide her femininity, wore a sweatshirt and baggy khaki
pants with brown hiking shoes instead of the cooler sandals the rest
of us wore. She would be dying in the afternoon heat, but that was
her business.

	I found I enjoyed my day in school. Classes were fun, in spite
of the fact that for me it was simply a review of what I had learned
several years before. It felt good to be an outstanding student,
and my class day ended with a feeling of pride and accomplishment. So
it was with trepidation that Danny and I entered Ms Drew's classroom
after school.

	We were among the first to enter.  Ms Drew was already
standing at the front of the classroom. Our Coach Jessup had become
a very attractive woman of perhaps thirty-five. She had almost black
hair trimmed quite short. I suddenly realized she was the woman on
the bus who appeared to be an Indian.
  I had almost not recognized her since in addition to shorter hair,
she had removed all the makeup and jewelry she had worn right after her
transformation. Her outfit was rather mannish, consisting of a plain
white blouse which could easily have been mistaken for a man's dress
shirt. She wore dark brown slacks and nondescript brown loafers. In
spite of her best efforts to appear masculine, she failed, for Ms Drew
had a very feminine figure which her attire did little to disguise.

	Jennifer and Barry were standing with her, going over what
appeared to be a list. They all looked up and nodded at Danny and me as
we entered. Jennifer had been outspoken from the start, but Barry had
said practically nothing, content to shadow his old friend Jennifer
- or Darren as she preferred to still be called. I was becoming more
certain that Barry was developing an attachment to Jennifer. If he was,
I knew he would have to keep quiet about it. If she suspected for a
heartbeat that he had any interest in her as a young woman, she would
probably never speak to him again. I remembered that as Dennis, Barry
had developed a reputation for patience. It would serve him well now,
I mused.

	The rest of our little cadre trickled in by ones and twos. The
next was a blonde I didn't recognize. She was dressed much like I
was and was very pretty in an athletic sort of way, and I suddenly
realized she was one of Ovid High's cheerleaders. She smiled at me when
she walked in and took a seat a couple of rows away. Geena and Teresa
walked in together. I had heard them giggling together in the hall,
but they had put on their serious faces when they walked into the
room. George and Glen walked in together. I was pleased to see they
appeared to be more friends than rivals. George seemed to be talking
to Glen about how to get more power out of his throws, and to his
credit, Glen, unlike when he was Wild Bill, was listening attentively.

	"Who are we missing?" Ms Drew asked, looking up suddenly from
the list.

	"Just Austin," Jennifer told her. I wondered if Darla was
even going to show up. She had no desire to return to an existence
as Austin. I needn't have been concerned, for she scurried into the
classroom and sat quietly not far from me.

	"Okay, then we're all here," Ms Drew said, much as she would
have spoken at a team meeting a few days before. "Now as nearly as
we can tell, we are the only ones from the team who remember who we
are. Does anybody know of anyone else?" After a moment of silence, she
continued, "Then we can get started.  The purpose of this meeting is
to try to figure out a way to get the Judge to change us back. Now,
I'm a little concerned about some of the stories I've heard about
you guys. It seems some of you are getting a little too comfortable
in their new identities. I thought you guys had balls."

	"We used to," Teresa muttered a little too loudly, causing
several of us - all girls - to titter.

	Ms Drew frowned. "You guys think that's funny?" The room was
quiet. "Think about how funny it's going to be when you have your
first period, or when some guy knocks you up. I want to really hear
you guys laugh while you're giving birth to some little bastard." Her
stare was Coach Jessup all the way. Each of us looked down.

	"All right then," she continued. "Remember, we're not just
doing this for ourselves. We're doing it for the whole team. Now,
are you all with me?"

	The responses were quiet - muffled "yeahs" and "sures" -
but no one said no.

	It wasn't enough, though. I think she sensed a lack of
commitment on our part. She looked around the room, finally zeroing
in on Darla. "How about you, Blake? I didn't hear anything from
you. Maybe you like having a pussy?"

	"I heard her, coach," I lied. "She's with us."

	Darla turned to give me a thankful look.

	"I want to hear it from her," Ms Drew growled.

	"I'm with you," Darla said quietly.

	"Louder!" Ms Drew shouted.

	"I'm with you!" Darla yelled back, although in her soft,
sweet voice, it seemed to lack sincerity.

	And we all were with her. I knew Darla didn't want to be
changed into Austin, but she was a team player. We all were. No matter
what our own personal desires might be, Coach Jessup had emerged from
Ms Drew to remind us of our responsibilities to the team.

	"Take over, McDougal," she said to Jennifer.

	But before she could start, a new person stepped into the
room. I recognized her as the school nurse, a Mrs. Rawlins. She was
about forty with short dark hair and Mediterranean features. She was
fairly attractive for her age, and like us, she was real. "May I join
you?" she asked.

	"This is a private meeting," Ms Drew replied coldly.

	"I know," the nurse agreed. "But like you, I remember who I
was. And I've been here several weeks. I might be able to help."

	Ms Drew grunted, "All right."

	So Jennifer began, "I've put together a list of people here
in Ovid who rumor has it remember who they were. It isn't a very long
list, and it's not complete. We didn't even have you on the list,"
she said, speaking directly to Mrs. Rawlins. "But the more people we
can face the Judge with, the more weight our argument will have." It
was almost comical to see that pretty little blonde strutting in front
of the room in a baggy sweatshirt and cargo pants trying to act like
a little general. "Now Jace, I'm going to need your help."

	I was startled. First, I was becoming used to my new name,
and second, because I hadn't planned to take a very active role in
the plot. Before I could reply, she explained, "You've always been
one of the most persuasive guys on the team, and since Danny is able
to drive, the two of you can check out this list."

	"But what do I do when I find someone like us?" I asked.

	Jennifer shrugged. "Just tell them to join us in confronting
the Judge.  When he finds out we won't play his silly game, he'll
have to change us back and let us go."

	"It may not be that simple." That was my thought, but it
was Mrs. Rawlins who said it. We all turned to look at her. "You all
don't understand what you're facing here. Have any of you tried to
call home?"

	Teresa and the blonde cheerleader raised their
hands. Mrs. Rawlins looked at Teresa. "What did you find out?"

	Teresa sighed, "My mother said she had never heard of me. She
didn't have a son named Bert and never had."

	"I found out the same thing," the blonde said. "I called my
dad and my older brother both. They had never heard of Horace White."

	So that's what had happened to Horace. From black football
player to white cheerleader, and he seemed to be handling it well.

	"None of us exist anymore," the nurse went on. "We don't
have any lives to get back to. You were all members of a football
team from what I've heard.  We get newspapers here in Ovid from other
cities. Did you see anything about a missing football team?"

	"According to the Tulsa paper, Muskogee State played someone
else last weekend," George explained.

	"Think of the power that did that," Mrs. Rawlins told us. "You
know who they are, don't you?"

	To my surprise, not everyone did, so I answered, "They're
Roman gods."

	"Yes they are," she agreed. "Jupiter, Mercury, Minerva, Venus,
and who knows what other gods. I was an Oklahoma State Patrol officer
- a male officer. I was chasing a drug dealer who had escaped from a
sting operation.  He crashed into my car while trying to get away. That
was just outside Ovid.	Officer Mercer brought us both here. You can
see what happened to me, but what happened to the drug dealer should
frighten you all to death."

	She paused, noting that she had our full attention before
going on. "The drug dealer was laughing his ass off at what had been
done to me. Then, with a wave of his hand, the Judge and everyone
else in the courtroom found themselves standing in an open area in
Sooner Park. The Judge uttered another chant and I watched in horror
as the drug dealer changed. His flesh and clothing became bark and
his fingers and arms stretched out into tree limbs with leave growing
from them. He let out a horrible howl - the last sounds his throat
would ever make. In seconds, he was a large oak tree. And the most
terrible thing - and don't ask me how I know this - is that I think
he still knows who he was."

	I felt a shudder run down my back. I think we all did,
but it was Ms Drew who answered. "I never said this wouldn't take
guts. Apparently you don't have any."

	It was a cruel statement, and I expected Mrs. Rawlins to do
anything except what she did do - she laughed.

	"What's so funny?" Ms Drew growled.

	"Have you ever been shot?" she asked in her own turn.

	"No."

	Mrs. Rawlins got out of her seat and looked Ms Drew in the
eye. "Well I have - twice, in fact. The first time in the leg and the
second time in the chest. Yet I came back for more. Our drug dealer
friend fired off two rounds at me the day I was changed. There's
guts and there's stupidity. I thought you'd be smart enough to see
the difference." She stormed out the door, pausing only long enough to
tell us, "If you all follow him, there's no telling what the Judge will
do to you. He gave all of you good, decent lives. Don't screw them up."

	I don't know how many in that room took to heart what she had
said, but I know I did. The problem was that we were still a team. I
wasn't going to be the first person in the room to let my teammates
down. Apparently, we all felt the same way because nobody left -
not even Darla.

	We agreed that Friday would be the day we would confront the
Judge. Barry had checked the courthouse schedule, and we knew the Judge
would be in that day. Our little field trip would be unauthorized,
but if it went as planned, we would be returned to our old lives and
never have to worry about Ovid again.

	As a final order of business, we discussed how we would get out
of Ovid.  Flying was out of the question. Our plane was damaged beyond
reasonable repair and our pilot was apparently an unknowing teller
in an Ovid bank. "I saw her when she changed and again when I was in
the bank yesterday," Marsha - the blonde who had been Horace White -
told us. No one seemed to know what had happened to the co-pilot.

	"It doesn't matter," Ms Drew decided. "We'll worry about
that later."

	Sure, I thought, if any of us had a later.

	So for the next three days, I led a double life. During the
day, I was just Samantha Wallace, high school girl. I chummed around
with Jessica and some of the other girls. I even found out that one
of my best friends was a shade - Myra Smithwick who had called me
Sunday night. Apparently we had been friends for years.

	After school, though, Danny and I would hop in his car and
begin contacting each of the transformees on the list Jennifer
had compiled. I found I was wasting my time, though. Jennifer,
Barry and Ms Drew had put together a list of fifteen people who
remembered their past lives. Mrs. Rawlins wasn't one of the fifteen,
that meant there were at least sixteen transformees besides our team
- and I had to contact all of them. Since I had family commitments
and studies, fifteen was a pretty healthy number to reach in person
before Friday. But we did it.

	Danny and I would both go to the door and introduce ourselves,
but I would do most of the talking. Ten of the transformees had
experienced a sex change - seven from male to female and three from
female to male. The others - three men and two women - had remained
the same sex. Even if the transformee retained his or her sex, there
were usually other drastic changes. Three had been white but were now
black, and all had become either younger or older.  The most drastic
change was a former forty year old white man who was now a pretty
little black ten year old girl.

	In spite of the changes that had been made in their lives,
all had one thing in common: none of them wanted to change back.

	"I don't understand it," I said, shaking my head as we left
the last of our prospects - a former twenty-five year old man who
was now a thirty year old Indian woman with two young children.

	"Maybe they're frightened of the Judge," Danny suggested as
he opened the car door for me.

	"I don't think so," I replied when we were both in the
car. "They don't seem frightened. They seem... content. Yes, that's
it. They're content with their lives."

	I couldn't really blame them. I was becoming more content
with my own life with each passing day. I could never have dreamed
that I would actually enjoy being a girl, but I was. That isn't to
say I wouldn't have preferred to have my old life back. I was pretty
happy there, too, and if I was fortunate enough to be changed back,
I... I what?

	"What's wrong?" Danny asked before he started the car.

	"I was just thinking," I said softly. "I was thinking about
that I would do if I got my old life back."

	Danny stiffened. "What would you do?"

	"I don't know," I replied honestly. "I think I had a good
life, but this one's better. Sometimes I miss my family - especially
my sister - but I've grown attached to my family here. I was a good
student before, but now I'm an outstanding student. I never would
have made good enough grades as Jace to get into medical school,
but now I think I can. And..."

	My voice trailed off. I had gotten so excited that I had
nearly said that as Jace, I had no steady girl friend, preferring to
play the field. Now, though, there was Danny. We had been together
a good portion of every day since our transformations. As guys, we
had been good friends, confiding in each other as good friends often
do. Now it was different. I looked at Danny in a far different way
than I had ever looked at Larry. I couldn't imagine losing the bond
we had developed in the last few days.

	I turned to Danny. He was looking at me with confusion,
uncertain as to what I was thinking. Then, without warning, the
confusion changed to anticipation as we drew closer to each other. At
last I felt his lips touching mine. I felt a warm tingle throughout my
body as his strong arm slipped around my back. The kiss, experimental
and chaste at first became warmer and more forceful. I closed my eyes,
suddenly light-headed and weak.  It felt as if we were one being. As I
put my own arms around Danny, I found myself hoping the moment would
never end.

	At last, it did end, tough, with Danny looking into my eyes
as I released a soft sigh. "You don't know how much I've wanted to
do that," Danny said softly.

	"Oh, Danny!" I exclaimed. "Is this wrong. I mean, I'm not
really a girl."

	"You're as much a girl as you want to be," he argued. "When
I look at you, all I see is Samantha Wallace. And she is the most
beautiful girl I've ever known."

	That was it. I cried. I just broke down and cried. "Oh, Danny,
what are we doing? I don't want to change back. I didn't want to admit
it, even to myself. I'm as bad as Darla. What are we going to do?"

	He shrugged. "What do you want to do? I suppose we don't have
to go with the others to see the Judge tomorrow."

	"Yes we do," I countered. "We owe it to the team. This may be
the right thing for us, but think about some of the others. They're
miserable here. We have to help them."

	"Still a team player, eh?" Danny said with a smile.

	I smiled back. "I'm afraid so."

	Danny dropped me off at my house. Not right away, though. We
spent a little time together parked out in Sooner Park. When I got to
my room, I was still a virgin. I was only fifteen and I didn't want
to be thought of the way as a guy I had thought of fifteen year old
girls in high school who weren't. The funny thing is I didn't want to
be a virgin. I wanted Danny in the worst way, but I knew now wasn't
the time. Hopefully, we'd both know when the time was right.

	My phone was ringing when I walked dreamily into my room. The
voice on the other end brought me back to earth quickly enough.

	"Jace? This is Darren."

	Jace? Darren? Oh yeah.

	She didn't wait for me to reply. "So how many others are
going to be joining us tomorrow?"

	"None," I replied as calmly as I could. I was a little
embarrassed about my failure, in spite of the fact that I understood
why no one wanted to join us. Everyone else was either happy,
frightened of the Judge, or both. Why give up a perfectly good new
life when the penalty might be dropping acorns in Sooner Park?

	"None? Did you talk to everyone on the list?"

	"Yes," I told her, annoyed that she would bother to question
my work. "I think the longer we're here, the less likely it is that
anyone wants to change back."

	"Are you sure you're not describing yourself?" Jennifer -
I refused to think of her as Darren - said coldly.

	"I promised the team I would do my best and I did," I replied
through gritted teeth. "I explained what we were going to do tomorrow
and that it would probably be the only chance they would ever get to
get their old lives back. But do you know what they all - all - told
me?" I didn't wait for an answer. "They told me they liked their new
lives, and even if they were not telling the truth - and I believe
they are telling the truth - none of them want to cross the Judge."

	"Pussies!"

	I fought back the quip that some of them were, yes. "Look,
maybe it's time we recognized that we're fighting against something
too big for us."

	"What are you saying, honey?" she asked sarcastically.

	"I'm just saying that we're not in a position to demand
anything. I think we need to be careful tomorrow."

	"I think we can demand a lot," she countered. "If this Judge
realizes we won't play his stupid little game, we can upset everything
in Ovid. Just think - what if we contacted everyone right after he
transformed them and told them to fight back. Eventually, the whole
town would be against him."

	Or there might be a lot more oak trees in Sooner Park, I
thought to myself.  "Let's just be careful," I warned. There was no
reply. Jennifer hung up on me.

	Why was that girl fighting this so much? There were a lot of
positive things about Ovid. At first, I, too, felt as she did, but I
was starting to like being Sam. It didn't seem queer to wear skirts
and makeup. It seemed normal for this body. And it didn't seem queer
to like guys, especially guys like Danny.  Sure, my football days
were over, and I was weaker and didn't have that bulge in my crotch
anymore. But I had a chance to give my new life some direction. A
career in medicine beckoned again - an opportunity I had thought was
gone. I wasn't looking forward to eventual periods or giving birth,
but I suspected a lot of girls felt that way.

	The real question, though, was not why Jennifer was fighting
this, I realized. The real question was that if I felt the way I did,
why was I helping her? I wasn't helping her, I told myself. I was
helping the team. I wasn't about to be the only one of my teammates
who remembered who wasn't there Friday morning. I only hoped as I
climbed into bed that I was doing the right thing.

	It was almost like old times Friday morning. It was a team
rally before the big game, even if most of the team wasn't there. No
one finked out. We were all there. We gathered in the high school
parking lot before classes.  Everyone was dressed about like we had
been the previous Friday after our conversions. The boys wore sport
coats and ties while the girls were in skirts - except for Ms Drew
and Jennifer who wore dressy pants. The main difference is that many
of us who were now girls - me included - wore heels.  We would miss
the first hour, but if everything went as planned, we would be back
in our old lives before that became a problem. There was no school
bus to take us. Ms Drew, George and Danny had cars, so we agreed to
caravan to the courts.

	I felt as if I was being driven to my own execution. If Teresa
and Darla hadn't been in the back seat with us, I think I would have
snuggled against Danny for comfort. Why had I agreed to do this? Would
my dark green dress look good with oak leaves? Yes, I had gone back
to March's and bought the dress. It really did look good on me.

	I had not remembered until I walked into Courtroom A the
trappings of power evident there. When I had first been ushered
into the room as Jace, I had been too relieved to have survived
to really look around. And when I had left, my body changed beyond
recognition, I had been too frightened and confused to appreciate my
surroundings. Now, though, I was alert as I observed the room with its
walnut wainscoting and finely finished bench complete with an emblem
in gold that showed what appeared to be an eagle in a fierce pose,
but an eagle more powerful and fearsome than I had ever imagined
possible. I nearly cringed.

	Officer Mercer stood before the Judge, a leash in his hand. It
the end of the leash was a small white poodle, a pink bow in its hair.

	"Good day to you, Mr. Madison," the Judge intoned with what
I had come to recognize from the speech patterns of myself and my
friends as an Oklahoma twang. I wondered who he had been talking to;
then I realized he had been speaking to the dog.

	"Come, Fifi," Officer Mercer said with a gentle tug on the
leash. The frightened dog looked around the room furtively before being
led from the courtroom, forced to run on its short legs just to keep
up with the officer's long strides. I felt bile rising in my throat. I
might be joining Fifi in the annual Ovid Dog Show if there was one.

	"Well," the Judge drawled, as if noticing our little band
for the first time, "I thought your tour of City Hall was last Friday."

	Without preamble, Ms Drew stepped in front of the bench. "I
think you know why we're here."

	I winced when she failed to add "Your Honor." The Judge with
a frown noticed, too.

	"I would advise you to be careful, Ms Drew," the Judge
said. His voice was calm and even, but I nearly cringed at the barely
hidden menace in his tone.

	"I am not Ms Drew," she said defiantly. "I am Chip Jessup,
assistant football coach at Northwest Missouri State."

	"I will grant that is who you were," the Judge agreed, "but
when you came to Ovid, that identity became meaningless. This is who
you are now. You have no choice. You must either accept it or suffer
the consequences."

	"We demand that you change us back!" she said stridently. "You
had no right to do this to us."

	The Judge turned with piercing eyes to the rest of us. "Does
she speak for all of you?"

	We're a team, I kept telling myself. I won't be the one to
break ranks. I looked at my former teammates. Who would be the first
to deny it? I cast what I hoped was a subtle look at Darla. She wanted
so badly to be the girl she had become, but she said nothing. She did
look very uncomfortable, though, but almost all of us did. In fact,
I noticed that only Ms Drew and Jennifer showed any true revolutionary
spirit when facing the Judge. Could it be, I wondered, that the rest
of us had begun to settle into our new identities? Surely some of the
other former young men who were now younger girls were unhappy with
their new roles. And the former Wild Bill, his potential football
career squashed - surely he must want to return to his former life, I
thought. Yet they all looked as uncomfortable as Darla - and I - felt.

	"Very well," the Judge said with obvious disdain in his
voice. "I think I will grant your request."

	I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. A week
earlier, I would have been overjoyed at the thought of returning to my
old life. But now...  well, now it was like a sentence of death. The
hopes and dreams I had slowly developed over the last week would be
dust in my hands. There would be no second chance at excelling in
school, no shot at medical school, no family unblemished by marital
strife, no... no Danny.

	I was suddenly sitting down, my now uncomfortably large
masculine body strapped into a narrow seat. Larry was sitting next to
me, a look of shock on his face that must have been close to the one on
my own. I heard cries from some of the others. I heard Darren's voice
yell an exuberant "Yes!"  Then I heard Austin howl almost in agony.

	Then in happened. There was the loud pop again from the rear
of the plane, followed by a collective gasp from the team. At fist,
the only thing that happened was that the roar of the engines was not
as loud. That had not happened before, I realized. Then, the plane
began to pitch wildly, throwing me forward against the seat in front
of me. I felt an unexpected pain in my nose as it struck the seat. I
think it was broken. Then, we pitched back, and I was thrown back
into my own seat.

	"Strap in!" the pilot's voice suddenly came through the public
address system. Her voice held an edge of terror. "And brace for an
emergency landing."

	There would be no landing, I realized. The plane pitched
forward again, only this time, it was a slow, almost steady maneuver,
pointing the nose of the plane precipitously downward. I managed to
look at Larry. Like me, he realized what was happening. There would
be no miraculously safe landing in Ovid this time. There would be no
second chances. In a matter of moments, we would be a grisly mass
of bone and muscle, burned beyond all recognition amid the twisted
wreckage of what had once been an airliner.

	I wanted to cry, but Jace Stromberg hadn't cried since he was
ten. I wanted to hold Larry's hand and pretend he was Danny, but Jace
Stromberg wasn't a queer. He would never hold his best friend's hand.

	I heard the rush of air screaming past the wounded plane and
felt myself pressed further back in my seat as we plunged toward the
ground. I couldn't look out the window, but I could imagine the ground
coming closer and closer until...

	There was darkness for a moment, and then it was light. We
were back in the Ovid courtroom once more. I looked down at myself,
relieved to see a pair of breasts jutting forward bound by a dark green
dress. I sighed in relief as a strand of long auburn hair slipped over
my shoulder and into my line of vision. Then, through the stillness,
I heard other sighs and even soft crying. Not all of the crying was
coming from the girls. I couldn't help myself. I didn't care what
anybody thought anymore. I pressed myself into Danny and felt joy as
his strong arms wrapped around me.

	"So now you know," the Judge said to us, more than a
little triumph in his sonorous voice. In his hands, he held a
newspaper. Although I couldn't see the masthead, I could read the
headline which was much larger. TEAM DIES IN CRASH! It screamed. There
was a picture of twisted wreckage, and I had no doubt that it had
once been our plane.

	"This is what would have happened. By now, your families
would be consumed with grief. None of you would have survived."

	Ms Drew wasn't finished yet. Angrily, she countered, "But
if you could do this to us, you could have saved the plane. I mean,
you did save the plane, but you could have left us as we were."

	"There are some cultures," the Judge explained patiently, "who
believe that once you have saved someone's life, you are responsible
for them."

	"But not this way!" Ms Drew insisted. "We don't want to be
like this." She emphasized by pointed at her own body.

	"Don't you?" he asked, his voice suddenly soft. Then, he
looked right at Darla. "How about you, Ms Hastings? I insist that
you tell the truth. Do you want to be Darla Hastings?"

	It was a difficult moment for her, I knew. She faced potential
ridicule from people who had once been her teammates. Still, the
Judge's question demanded a truthful answer, and she was up to the
task. "Yes..." she began softly. Then, more confidently, "Yes... I
want to be Darla Hastings."

	There was a snort from Jennifer, but the rest of us stood
silently. Then, Teresa and Geena both smiled at her and each put an
arm gently around her waist.

	"I see you are not alone," the Judge remarked. Then, turning to
Glen, he said, "I took from you a promising future in football. Surely
you must want a different fate."

	To my surprise, Glen smiled. "No, I'm happy here. And you
didn't take away my chance at the pros. I just won't be a quarterback."

	"No?"

	"No. I've already talked to the coach. Apparently my new
father played quarterback in high school and wanted me to do the
same. I don't have the talent for it now. But George has worked with
me all week, and I found I can catch anything he throws at me. The
coach has agreed to try me at wide receiver. I'll have to work at it,
but I think I can make it all the way to the pros in that position."

	The Judge smiled. It was the answer he had sought. Then
turning Ms Drew, he observed, "It would seem that not all of your
team objects to its fate."

	For once, Ms Drew was speechless.

	"Then I think I must take some actions as a result of
this incident," the Judge told us. "Henceforth, all residents of
Ovid will be unable to speak of the magical nature of Ovid, except
privately. That is to say, you may speak to one other person, but no
longer may you discuss this business of Ovid in open forum. I think
it would also be wise if I limited your ability to discuss my nature
and the nature of my associates. Darla, you all know who I am. Would
you speak my real name, please?"

	"Yes, Your Honor," she said formally. "You are Ju... J..."

	"Thank you, my dear," he told her, smiling. "I think that
settles most of our business here today. However, I must still deal
with the ringleaders. Ms Drew, you and Ms Tilton, Mr. Hartman, and
Ms Wallace will remain. The rest of you can go."

	Danny looked as stricken at not being singled out as I was
at being named.  "Your Honor," he pleaded. "I would like to remain
as well."

	The Judge frowned. "Mr. Mitchell, this is not something that
concerns you.  You were only Ms Wallace's driver. Believe me when I
tell you that you do not want to be part of what is about to happen."

	I felt bile rising in my throat again. Why had I allowed
this to happen? I had actually become happy with my new life. Now,
I would stand in judgement.  I looked at Danny and felt moisture
forming in my eyes.

	"I'm not leaving," Danny insisted, looking at me with
concern. "I - "

	What he was about to say was suddenly cut off, for Danny and
all of my teammates whose names the Judge had not called suddenly
vanished from the room without a trace. I thought of running, but
then I saw the door barred by the ever-present Officer Mercer.

	"Now, to business," the Judge said with a wicked little
smile. There we were, the four of us standing in judgement before
a being whose identity we could no longer discuss among ourselves,
but whose powers were obvious.

	As I looked at my fellow defendants - for that is what we
were whether we realized it or not - I saw I was not the only one who
feared what was about to happen. While Ms Drew remained in a defiant
pose, Jennifer emulating her, Barry looked as nervous as I felt. I
was sure now that I had been right about Barry. He wasn't one of the
ringleaders of our little attempted rebellion any more than I was. He
was merely a young man in love. It was a testimony to his love of
Jennifer that he stood accused with us. And as I had noted before,
Jennifer remained oblivious to it.

	"Where to begin?" the Judge asked himself. He looked back
and forth, staring for a moment at each of us before stopping at
Jennifer. "And you, Ms Tilton. Let's start with you. You appear to
be Ms Drew's closest conspirator. Why is that?"

	It wasn't the question she had anticipated. Finally, she
responded, "Coach Jessup is our leader. Since Coach Wallace doesn't
remember who he was, Coach Jessup is in charge."

	"I see," the Judge drawled. "So do you admire Coach Jessup,
or are you just being a good little soldier following orders?"

	"I admire him!" Jennifer insisted.

	The Judge turned to Ms Drew. "So she admires you. How
commendable. Do you think she would admire you if she knew about
Susan?"

	Ms Drew turned suddenly pale. "Susan... Susan has nothing to
do with this."

	Who was Susan?

	"Quite the contrary. I even gave you 'Susan' as a middle
name. I thought it was appropriate. Alicia Sue Drew. Alicia for your
mother and Susan for your ex-wife."

	"That's all in the past," Ms Drew mumbled. She refused to
look the Judge in the eye.

	"That isn't what Kimberly would say," the Judge said harshly.

	Ms Drew, the reader of our little hopeless revolt was suddenly
speechless.

	The Judge turned to Jennifer. "Ms Tilton, let me tell you a
few things about your leader here. When he was young, he watched his
mother, Alicia, suffer beating after beating from his father. He was
a big man while she...	well, she was about the size of our Ms Drew
here. Fortunately for her, his father died when he was twelve. So
the beatings stopped, but not the abuse.  Chip was well named. He
was a chip off the old block. He took over where his father had left
off. Not physically so much, but mentally. He terrorized his mother
and two younger sisters until he went away to school.

	"The interesting thing is that he could be charming if he
put his mind to it. He was certainly charming when he met and courted
Susan. She became his wife. Then, the pattern of abuse learned so well
from his father resurfaced.  Only Susan wasn't like his mother. She
tolerated the verbal abuse for a few months, but the first time he
got physical - breaking two ribs I might add - she left him. His more
recent girlfriend, Kimberly, has been relatively lucky. She has just
been slapped around a bit - so far."

	Jennifer was dumfounded. Her hero was not who she thought he
was. "Is this true?" she asked softly.

	The fire was back in Ms Drew's eyes. "It wasn't like
that. Mother was weak.	All women are weak. They're just made
that way. And it would have worked for Susan and me if she had just
listened to me. And Kimberly is different. She and I had a good thing
going. She's learning her place. Men are strong, so it's their job
to be in charge. A family isn't a democracy any more than a football
team is. Darren, what would the team be like if we had to vote on
everything? A family is the same way."

	Jennifer looked at Ms Drew as if she had suddenly sprouted
horns and a pointed red tail. I knew a little about her former
family. They were good people - a loving family. I didn't know what
Jennifer's family was like. I had heard her new father was an important
man in Ovid - a bank president - but that was all I knew. I imagined
Jennifer would have no use for a wife beater.

	"It seems you have lost a disciple, Ms Drew," the Judge
observed.

	"I... I..." She fell silent. She wasn't stupid. I think she
realized in that moment just how foolish her own defense had sounded.

	"Still," the Judge continued, "I feel I have been remiss in my
sentencing of you. A change is certainly in order. He spoke again the
strange words he had spoken when we were transformed, and in seconds,
she shrank before out eyes. I had been so busy worrying about my
own transformation before that I had not had the chance to closely
observe the process. It was like watching a computerized morph. Her
body seemed to collapse in on itself until she was as small as a
three year child. In fact, she was a three year old child, tiny,
pretty, and undeniably female in a frilly pink dress. She retained
all of her Indian features, though. She looked down at herself and
uttered a sorrowful wail.

	"You are still Alicia Sue Drew," the Judge told her. "Your
mother, Judy Drew is a young divorcee left to raise her daughter by
herself. She is a strong woman and a good mother. I think this will
give you the opportunity to learn just how strong a woman can be. You
will learn by example this time."

	As if on cue, Vera March stepped in from the direction
of the Judge's chambers. The Judge smiled at her and said, "Vera,
would you be kind enough to see that our newest Ms Drew gets over to
daycare? Her mother will be picking her up after school."

	Vera March smiled, taking the little girl's unresisting
hand. "Of course, Your Honor."

	"And now to the two of you," the Judge said, turning his
attention to Jennifer and Barry. I saw Barry's hand move slightly,
as if he wanted to take Jennifer's hand, but it went back down again
as he thought better of it. The gesture was not lost on the Judge.

	"Do the two of you have anything to say for yourselves?" he
asked.

	This time, it was Barry who spoke. "Your Honor, we're sorry. We
didn't realize what was going on here."

	And you still don't, I thought. None of us really did. The
Judge had neatly deflected Ms Drew's contention that, given his
powers, he could have easily saved us without transforming us. But
I wasn't about to ask for an explanation now. My turn in the docket
was still coming.

	Jennifer, for once, said nothing. She realized she had already
said too much. Maybe there was hope for her yet.

	The Judge looked at them evenly for a few moments. "Very
well. I think you've learned a lesson today. However, our Ms Drew
could never have organized your group without your participation,
so at least a mild punishment is in order."

	I watched in horror as they, too, began to shrink, but this
time, the process stopped before the change was as radical. Both were
a little shorter, and I noticed that Jennifer's breasts had shrunk in
size as well.  Barry was dressed as before, in a sport coat, but the
coat was slightly smaller now and his shoulders less broad. Jennifer
had been given a change of wardrobe. She now wore a short plum-colored
skirt and a white blouse ruffled with lace. She had flats on her
feet and white hose. She looked very young and innocent, but with
the promise of considerable beauty when she was a little older.

	"You have both lost two years," the Judge explained. "Now,
you are in the eighth grade. That will give each of you a little
chance to grow up."

	It would also mean they would be too young to drive and in
a different school from the rest of us for the rest of the year,
I realized.

	"Officer Mercer!"

	"Yes, Your Honor?"

	"Would you be so good as to drive these two youngsters
home?" the Judge asked, although it was, of course, an order.

	"Of course, Your Honor."

	He waited until they were gone before turning to me.

	"And now, Ms Wallace, we come to you."

	My heart was beating faster and my palms were wet. To say
I was terrified was an understatement. For some reason, I had been
saved for last. I was the last course in the Judge's little banquet
of transformation. I was the coffee and sweets whose aftertaste he
would take away from the table. It wasn't a happy thought.

	"Ms Wallace, I am perhaps most disappointed in you."

	The words were like a death sentence.

	"Your Honor..." I began, barely able to speak. Now I knew
how Dorothy felt standing before the Wizard of Oz.

	"Don't bother with explanations," he said with a
dismissive waive of his hands. "When it comes to humans. I am often
disappointed. Just tell me one thing: whatever possessed you to follow
a blind fool like Jessup?"

	"Follow?" I said stupidly. "But he was our coach."

	The Judge stared at me. "I expected you to be their leader. I
even gave you the last name of Wallace, like your coach. You have the
required talent. You are intelligent, eloquent, and persuasive. With
you to lead them, this incident would never have happened."

	"Me? But I wasn't the coach," I protested. My fear was suddenly
replace by anger I barely repressed. If I was to be in charge, why was
I a student?  Shouldn't I have been the teacher? I began to realize
that the Judge, for all his power, did not understand some things
about humans.

	He confirmed that when he asked, "What difference did that
make?"

	"It made all the difference in the world," I explained. I
tried to think of something he might understand. "Look, Your Honor,
if you and some of your fellow... beings suddenly transformed into
mortals, who would be in charge?""

	"We have done so," the Judge admitted, "and I, of course,
I was in charge."

	"Why?"

	I had almost gone too far. "That is none of your concern,
young lady!" he blustered.

	"I'm sorry, Your Honor," I said, soothing him with as
respectful a tone as I could muster, "but I just wanted to point out
that you would still be in charge because all of your... associates
would know who you really were."

	The Judge seemed to relax a little, and some of the building
fire in his eyes receded. "I see." Then, the anger rising again,
he asked, "You would equate the power of an assistant coach with
my power?"

	"Of course not," I hastened to clarify, "but he was still an
authority figure to us. A team learns to follow a coach like soldiers
follow a general. If you don't follow orders, you won't be part of
the team."

	"But humans question their orders all the time," he pointed
out.

	"Yes," I agreed, "but not when the good of the team is
at stake."

	He was silent for a moment. In that short time, I knew my
fate was being determined. At last he spoke. "Ms Wallace, you have
been a girl for a week.  What would you say if I offered you the
opportunity to be male once more?"

	I nearly gasped. Had he made the offer only a few days
earlier, I would have jumped at the opportunity. Now, though, I
wasn't so sure. Samantha Wallace had a future that Jason Stromberg
did not. And, if I was to be completely honest with myself, I had
become comfortable being her.

	"I would... respectfully decline the offer," I admitted.

	He nodded. Apparently, I had given him the answer he had
wanted. "Do you love Mr. Mitchell?"

	Did I love Danny? "Oh, yes!" I answered, the lack of hesitation
surprising even me.

	"Then you may go, Ms Wallace."

	At first, I couldn't believe what I had just heard. I stood
dumbstruck.

	The Judge had been looking down when he had ordered me to
go, but now he looked up at me. "Is there something wrong with your
hearing, Ms Wallace? I said you could go."

	I still couldn't believe my good fortune. I turned quickly,
almost stumbling as I had forgotten that I was wearing heels, and
rushed from the courtroom. As I opened the door, I thought I heard a
soft call from the Judge. "Live well, Samantha," was what I thought
I heard, but I wasn't sure.

	"Sam!"

	It was Danny. I threw myself into his arms, unable to hold
back tears of joy.

	"What happened?" he asked softly as he held me, his face in
my hair.

	"The Judge ch - " I wanted to tell Danny all about it, but my
voice caught.  The, for the first time, I looked around. The rest of
my teammates - my friends - were there, too, standing to one side but
still in earshot. I would be able to tell them later, but only one at
a time. The Judge's new rules would make it impossible to challenge
him as we had ever again.

	"I'll tell you later," I whispered.

	"Come on, lovebirds," George called out. "We're late for
school."

	We were. And I had so many things to do. There were tests
to study for and papers to write. I had to excel or I'd never be a
doctor. Then, there was the party that weekend I had to get ready for,
and I didn't have a thing to wear...

				***

	"So the Judge is not omnipotent!" Susan said with a little
smile as the room came back into focus.

	"Oh, he's omnipotent," Diana laughed. "He just isn't
omnipresent."

	"What's the difference?" I asked, taking a needed sip of my
Diet Coke.

	"Omnipotent means supremely powerful," Susan explained.

	"And omnipresent means being in all places at the same time,"
Diana finished for her. "Humans still have the ability to confound
us at times.  It's that 'free will' you humans are always babbling
about." Then, with a sly grin, she added, "Of course that's what
makes you all so entertaining, too."

	"Well, here's to the Judge," Susan said, raising her
glass. "May he remain omnipotent but never omnipresent, especially
when Steven and I are in bed together."

	We giggled as we joined her in her toast.

	"I just have one question," I said. "If you can show these
stories in our minds just like I can, why did the Judge need me. You
weren't even in the courtroom when they were transformed."

	"Wasn't I?" she asked coyly. "To answer your question, though,
I don't like being pinned down in Ovid. Sam's case was special because
there were so many transformees all at once. I wanted to be a part
of that exercise. It was one of the few I ever observed."

	"Wait a minute," Susan mused. "You were one of the students,
weren't you?"

	As an answer, Diana's form suddenly blurred. In a few seconds,
an attractive young brunette of perhaps fifteen or sixteen stood
before us.  "Hi, Sam," she said with a giggle. "Do you want to go
shopping with me?"

	"Jessica!" Susan and I exclaimed in unison.

	"That's right," she laughed. "I was Jessica for most of
that week. It gave me a chance to observe all the team. Then, the
day before they all confronted the job, the Judge changed a newcomer
to Ovid into Jessica. Since she didn't remember who she was before,
Sam never noticed."

	Then as quickly as she had become Jessica, she returned to
her previous form. "Now," Diana said primly, "both of you looked as
if you had something interesting to tell me."

	"We didn't say that!" I protested.

	Diana gave me a mock frown. "Honey, I'm a goddess. Now both
of you - what gives?"

	I nodded at Susan. "If you have something, you go first."

	Susan shook her head. "Oh, no. You go first."

	"Ladies!" Diana cried in frustration. "Why don't you go
together?"

	"Well, all right," I agreed, and seeing Susan nod, we looked
at each other.	"One... Two... Three!"

	"I'm pregnant!" I declared, taking a moment to realize that I
hadn't said it alone. Susan and I looked at each other with disbelief.

	Diana roared with laughter.

The End


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