A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "Spencer's Gift"
You hesitate. "Are you going to put on the other mask?" you ask Spencer.
"Of Justin? Not until we get to the thrift shop or wherever," he says. "I don't wanna run into him accidentally."
"I don't want to run into Adrian accidentally!" you exclaim.
"You don't have to worry," Spencer sneers. "I saw him leave. While we were hanging out watching the tennis girls." You blink at him. "Come on, are you going to or not?"
"Alright," you grumble. "I'm just ... nervous."
"Come on," Spencer repeats, even more impatiently.
You remember they way he sank in a swoon when putting on the other mask, so you sit down on the floor, then lay on your back with your knees in the air. Spencer looks down at you. Maybe he doesn't mean to smirk, but his lips are pursed in an ugly way. Almost you chicken out.
Then you flush. Fuck that, you think. Just do it. You hold the mask over your face, lick your lips, then slowly lower it.
* * * * *
It was very heavy, for a just a moment, as it lay on your face. Then it got infinitely heavier, and you felt your face turning into soft goo, and the mask sinking into you. You wanted to cry out, but you couldn't move. Your whole body turned to ooze and jelly. But it was a warm ooze, a warm jelly, and even as the mask, like an anvil, sank through the front of your skull, and out the back of your skull into the floor beneath, dragging you with it down a deep, dark, obliterating hole, you felt warm and relaxed and cozy all over. The last thought you had, before being swallowed up, was, This feels nice!
It is a lot less pleasant waking up. You are cold, and someone is shaking you roughly. "Come on, man, sleep on your own time," a voice is urging you. You make a face, and open your eyes.
Spencer is kneeling beside you, scowling, and even when he breaks into a smile, the scowl doesn't leave his eyes. "'Bout fucking time," he says. "Was I that hard to wake up?"
"The fuck are you—? Oh!" You sit up, then fall back with a gasp. Your cargo shorts are pinching you hard in the gut, and you grapple with the top button, twisting it loose. You let out a sigh when you sit up, and frown at your lap. The front of your shirt drapes over a pot belly.
"Yeah, you put a little weight on, didn'cha?" Spencer snickers. "Come on." He puts out a hand, helps haul you to your feet. Your shorts sink a little, but don't slide off. Hair falls into your face, and you gingerly brush it back.
"You look good, man," Spencer says with a smirk. "Well, you look like Semple, and that means you look like dog shit, but fuck!" He gives you a once-over, up an ddown "'Cept for the clothes, you could totally pass as him." You blink at him, and he snickers again. "Wanna see?"
You take the cell phone he offers and flick over the screen until you bring up the camera app, then turn the phone onto yourself. Your eyes widen as you examine yourself.
At first, it's like looking at a video selfie of someone else, and it is hard to imagine that the face you are looking at is your own. Only it begins to mimic your movements—blinking, crinkling its eyes, touching its puffy lips with blunt fingertips, and showing its teeth—does a tingle of awe (shot through with a jolt of horror) run up your back. That's me, you think. Except my face is totally different!
It's a face you only know by sight: Puffy, with big lips and a fat, reddish nose. Dirty brown hair falls in loose curls down the side of your head, making a curtain around your face. You twitch a hank of it under your nose and sniff. It stinks like it hasn't been washed in days. Your fingers are short, with well-chewed nails at the end of each. You look down, past the little belly that hangs out over the top of your shorts, to stare at calves that are a little thicker than your own, and that have a lot less hair. Your shoes hang loosely on your feet.
"So I'll go check the coast is clear," Spencer says, and he claps and kneads your shoulder as he says it, "and we'll trot around to the music building. You can wait for me while I go get my car and bring it around to pick you up."
"I can't just go with you out to the parking lot?" Your voice sounds a little different in your ears—a little higher in pitch, maybe.
"Well, you can. But I figure you don't wanna take a risk running into someone. Think you can do a Semple imitation?"
"I don't know him."
"Right. And the clothes are all kinds of wrong." Spencer gives you an amused look. "We'll have you wait for me by the music building."
He goes out the door, and returns a minute later to gesture you to follow. Together you tramp across the open spaces toward the Music Annex, passing some late-straggling students as you go, but they all look like sophomores or juniors, and none of them speak to either you or Spencer. "Hang loose," he tells you before leaving you at the corner of the teachers' parking lot.
It's not too bad, waiting, and you kill the minutes by sending your mom a text telling her that you'll be skipping dinner at home to eat with friends. You watch as a couple of teachers come out the front of the school. One of them is Mr. Trencher, who you took an art class from, and he waves at you, and you wave back. It's with relief that you pile into the old sedan that Spencer drives up in.
* * * * *
You go downtown, to a thrift/vintage clothing store called Second Pickins. Spencer sends you in ahead, with instructions to look for anything in a tie-dyed t-shirt and jeans cut-offs, while he remains behind to change into the mask of Justin. You've found what he asked you to get when he joins you, but he makes you put them back and start over again.
You're glad, before you leave, that you told your mom you wouldn't be home for supper, because you and Spencer spend nearly an hour putting together a wardrobe to go with your disguises. Spencer is particularly choosy about his own, and he tries on most of Levis in the place—all off them scuffed and torn—in different shades of blue and black, before he settles on a pair that satisfy him, and he takes even longer to settle on a flimsy brown t-shirt with a picture of a coiled rattlesnake on its front. He takes nearly fifteen minutes to try on every pair of sunglasses, staring and grinning in the mirrors at his—Justin's—face. It gives you a lot of time to notice that the body he's put on is a lot more fit—hard and flat in the middle, with strong thighs and calves, and rounded biceps—than yours. Adrian has a soft and droopy belly, and flabby pecs. But once changed into a floppy tie-dyed t-shirt (hardly different than the one you originally picked out—and a pair of greasy, gray trousers cut off just above the knee—you'd have to admit that Spencer is probably right that you'd have an easy time getting laid with your new look. "Provided the girl is skanky enough," he adds with a raffish grin. He picks out a pair of sunglasses for you (in cheap, white plastic frames) and pays for it with a credit card. Together, you swagger out into the parking lot, feeling like a couple of new men.
And it turns out he was at least ninety-percent serious about "getting laid" with your new looks. When you ask him in the car what you're going to do now, he says, "Hang out, get spotted, get in trouble."
"What do you want to get spotted for?" you gasp.
"To get in trouble. Get Justin in trouble." He grins at you, and for the first time you notice what enormous dimples he's got in his handsome face. "Get laid, man!" he guffaws, and claps your knee.
"Are you serious?"
"Fuck, yeah! You know how much pussy Roth gets?" When you don't answer, he says, "I know where we can get some, too."
"Over at Eastman. Well, not at Eastman itself. But I know who we can crash in on."
"But what if Justin's there?"
"He won't be. He doesn't even know those guys. But they know him. Fucker's famous all over town with people he's too stoned to know. Girls who'd bend over and take it doggie style, if he just showed up and asked 'em."
You feel very faint. "What about Semple?
"You could pick up some pussy too."
"I mean, what if he shows up there? Does he know these guys?"
Spencer's silence tells you the answer.
"Well," he grunts after a moment, "if you don't wanna take the chance, I can drop you where you need to go. I just figured—"
Next: "A Dane Disguise"