A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "People Without Souls"
After talking it over, you and Sydney decide to continue your original plan to seed each school grade at Westside with Brothers.
"We'll start each one off in his own class," Sydney muses. "Start 'em off in a body of our choice. A good one, you know, so they'll be happy and interested. Tell them that if they work hard, they'll gain the ability move into a different one. One they can choose."
"Where will we be?" you ask.
"Well, we'll start off as who we are now," she says after a moment's thought. "Christine and Zion. Mmm!" She rolls onto her side, to embrace you and give you a quick, sucking kiss. "You like being here, don't you? With me? Like this? As us?"
"Oh yeah, babe, don't you know it!"
"Then we should start in the junior class. With a couple of juniors. Maybe with Marianne?"
Sydney—with Christine's toothsome overbite—gives you a coquettish grin. "Maybe to get back at her for what she said about you and me? You know, about Sydney and Will."
"Yeah, what was that about?" You've been diplomatically avoiding the topic.
"So it turns out you and me are kind of an item. People are noticing," she says, as though you yourself hadn't been on the receiving end of just that kind of noticing. It's how come you're now inhabiting the identity of Zion Barber, junior-class president. "Including people down in the junior class."
"Like Marianne and Christine."
"And Natasha and Sara and—" She wriggles. "Would you like to take Zion's face off and ravish me as yourself, Will? I think I'd like that."
"'Cos Christine doesn't get why a girl like Sydney McGlynn would be into a guy like Will Prescott. And I think—" She gnaws on a knuckle and grins at you. "I think maybe you should explain it to her."
So you do. She screams and calls your name and afterward moans that Sydney McGlynn is the luckiest girl in the whole wide world to have Will Prescott as her boyfriend.
* * * * *
The next morning you go to church, but the Barbers attend the Unitarian church, so it's more like sitting through one of Mr. Walberg's sociology lectures. Your girlfriend, meanwhile, gets dragged out to some kind of Extremely Important Sunday Banquet with her parents.
Normally, this would leave you at a loss. But Zion Barber doesn't lack for friends to tap whenever he's bored.
"Watch this," you murmur at Kyler Zook as you drill the basketball in place against the blacktop. He's blocking you from passing it to Kian Benefield, or from driving it to the basket yourself—and being a big, sloppy kid with arms like an ape, Kyler's doing a good job of it. Not that you're worried. You wheel and slide around him, and loft the ball at the basket before he can get his hand up. The ball bounces once on the rim before dropping through. Jake Davis catches it with a grimace.
These are some guys that Zion is working with on a junior-class charity drive, and none of them, like Zion, have played basketball outside of PE class. That's why you're handicapped with the clumsy Kian as a teammate for this game of two-on-two, even though he and Kyler are boyfriends. But it's only supposed to be a fun game among friends, played on the abandoned blacktop of a nearby elementary school.
"So any of you amateurs up for real challenge?" a voice sounds, and play pauses as you all look around. A dark-haired kid with a wide, white smile comes striding up.
You feel your own expression lighting up. "Robo-man!" you call out. "Here, gimme!" you call to Kyler, who has the ball. You catch it, then swing around to hurl it at the newcomer.
Roman Robey is the star of the school's JV basketball squad, and he would be on the varsity team already if Gordon Black and Steve Patterson didn't hate his guts. He's a tall, strong, handsome kid—one of, if not the, dreamboat of the junior class—and one of the most popular guys around. "What are you hanging around this place for?" you ask him.
"Looking for cocksure little smartasses I can humiliate," he replies. "Who's playing who?" he asks.
"Me 'n Kian 'gainst these other wusses."
"Ninety-nine to two." You slap your chest. "Advantage us!"
"Fuck you!" Jake cries. "More like ... Sixteen, ten?" He squints at Kyler for confirmation.
Roman hammers the ball against the blacktop and eyes your quartet. "Zook," he says, "you're with Barber and Benefield. Davis?" He nods at Jake.
"Oh, screw this!" you protest. "You ain't givin' me both these guys to babysit! You gimme Jake and take the other two yourself!"
Roman gives you a very narrow grin. "You really think you can handle three of us?"
"More glory for me when I kick your asses!"
The game that follows is hot and hard-fought, with no time for banter. Not that you come close to winning. Not that you even come close. Roman is just too good, and no matter how hard you hustle (and Jake is good help) you just can't get past him or stop him from scoring.
Which sucks for him, you can tell. He doesn't like humiliating you by racking up shot after shot, or using his superior height to block most of your shots. Still less does he like it when he has to stop trying to pass to Kian, who has too many thumbs on his two left hands to keep the ball from you or Jake. After a half hour or so, when everyone has stopped keeping score, and the sweat is pouring off your naked torsos, Roman calls a halt. "I was just out for a walk anyway," he says as he bounces the ball back to you.
"Winners buy the losers Gatorades," you riposte. Roman shrugs, you all trudge over to where your cars are parked.
Kian and Kyler and Jake drive off to the 7-11 together in Kian's car; Roman hitches a ride with you. "You did good out there," he tells you after you're in the car.
"I didn't wanna win. I just wanted to make you sweat."
"Well, mission accomplished." He wipes his face with his t-shirt, then pulls it on. "Wish you were still on the squad."
"There's always next year."
He hesitates. "I thought you were gonna be student council president next year."
"I can do both. Student council president and captain of the basketball team. Class valedictorian. National Science Fair winner. Head cheerleader, even?"
Roman laughs, a little uncertainly.
He thinks you're joking. But of course, with the masks, you really could be all those things!
* * * * *
Sydney, meanwhile, has been scheming some more. When you meet up with her later that afternoon, she tells you she's changed her mind about being "Zion and Christine" when you reveal yourselves to your new recruits.
"We need to be plausible," she says when you're relaxing in Mr. Hagerman's bed again after fucking each other into a shared state of relaxation. "We need to be— I mean, if you woke up tomorrow in a new body, and someone came to you and said, 'I'm the one who did that to you'— Well, would you really believe them if they were Zion or Christine? Who would it have to be so that you'd believe them?"
It's a weird question. "Well, if you're asking who I'd believe was a wizard or a witch," you reply, "I'd have to go with Braydon Delp."
You describe him—a classmate of yours who is into the occult, and who advertises his interest by wearing heavy mascara, dark t-shirts, and silver.
"Oh, one of those kinds of guys," Sydney sniffs. "Well, I guess."
"Or Morgana Hollis. Here." You take out Zion's phone and do a deep dive into his photo album, for Morgana has helped out on some of the charity work that Zion has organized, and is in some of the group pictures he has. Sydney makes a face when you show her one of the pictures.
"Okay, I see what you're getting at," she says. "But, um—"
"Um what? Isn't that what you were getting at?"
"Yeah, I guess." Her expression tightens. "But maybe I've changed my mind. Someone like that isn't a very good advertisement, is she? I mean, if I looked like that Morgana girl and could swap bodies, I think I would have."
"Oh. So maybe we should be people who are, um—?"
"Desirable," Sydney declares. "Who do you think would make a good advertisement for the Brotherhood?"
And Zion and Christine wouldn't be good advertisements? you wonder. We picked them because they were a "hot" couple.
There are too many candidates. But you finally decide that Chelsea Cooper, as the head cheerleader, and Roman Robey—who is on your mind after this afternoon's pick-up game—would be the best advertisements if you're recruiting in the junior class. Chelsea because—dur!—she's visible as the school's head cheerleader, and Roman because he's so popular.
But even then Sydney veers back to the suggestions she rejected. "Maybe we should have one mascot and one master," she says. "One of us could be Morgana or what's his name, and be the witch. The other one could pretend to be the first recruit, and show off their new body."
Later, after you're washing your hands in the bathroom and studying yourself, you again wonder if you've already got a couple of plausible bodies. Couldn't Zion, with his Levantine/Ethiopian genes, look exotic enough to be a plausible warlock? And Christine is very plausible as the victim of a body swap.
Or what about your two teachers? If you want to impress your potential recruits, you can hardly do better than by showing that you've hijacked the bodies of two teachers.
Next: "Cover Girl"