Sample – Corporate Takeover: Part One



As I stood under the hot water, the whole situation seemed more unreal, a dream that I couldn’t seem to wake from. My head was fuzzy from stress and lack of solid sleep, and everything had a hazy quality. Out of the shower, noting how flowery my hair and skin smelled after using the feminine soap and shampoo, I shaved and stared at myself in the mirror. As I examined my face, I felt the bracelet pulse and another sharp sting pierced my wrist, followed by the pressure of something being injected under the skin. I fought uselessly to remove the thing, but it was securely fastened to me.

I waited for my consciousness to slip away, or to divine some effect from the injection I’d just experienced, but there seemed to be no direct effect. I opened the closet and found that the clothes I’d hung there yesterday were gone, replaced by clothing more befitting a girl in college. There were tee shirts tapered at the waist and blouses, a few dresses still in plastic from cleaning, and the floor of the closet was littered with heels of varying colors, styles and heights. I closed the door and dressed in the clothes I’d slept in. If their intent here was to steal my manhood, and my very identity along with it, I wasn’t going to make it easy for them.

It was just after dressing that I started feeling odd. Not bad, really, just very strange. I waved my hand before my face and saw lingering trails waving behind it. My whole body tingled like my nerve receptors had been cranked to eleven, every step and touch a blaring klaxon of sensation. I moved back to the bathroom, intending to barricade myself inside while this unexpected and unwanted trip continued to consume me, but found myself staring again at my reflection.

I mapped the features of my face, the round chin darkened by stubble, the narrow cheeks, my dark brows and short-cropped dark hair, the circles under my eyes, puffy from exhaustion, even the sideburns that were as groomed as the rest of me. My fingers rose and traced the thin line of my lips, tugged at the flesh beneath my brown eyes. I was fascinated by my image, wondering what surgeries of injections could make this face look like anything but a man’s features.

I barely noticed the door opening and Raquel’s reflection appearing behind mine in the mirror.

“Come, dear,” she said in a surprisingly warm and comforting voice. “It’s time.”

“I’m a man,” I said dumbly, my head whirling with chaotic thoughts I couldn’t seem to hold onto, the heightened tingling in my skin – under the skin – filling my thoughts and scattering my resolve.

“I know you think so, Katie, but that’s all a dream. Come on.”

Raquel’s slim fingers settled on my shoulder and drew me away from the mirror. My will to run from her was overshadowed by the need to be led, to stop this noise in my head that made me feel like I was drowning. What had she called me? Katie?

“It’s okay, honey. You’re going to be okay.”

I nodded, not sure what it was exactly that I was agreeing to, only that her voice cut through the cacophony in my head and drove away the confusion.

She took my hand and led me from the room, down the hallway, and I realized that I hadn’t bothered with socks or shoes, the carpet underfoot a myriad of tiny fibers that I seemed to be able to feel individually as I padded along behind Raquel.

Then we were in the main building, the smooth floor cool underfoot, my whole body itching with jangling nerves. I wanted to strip right there, to free my body of the aggravating shift of fabric against the too-sensitive skin, and then Raquel was pulling me into the East Wing and the walls and decor zoomed by, barely cataloged before they were gone.

“I can’t…” I started, but the rest of that train of thought derailed, and I found myself staring, slack-jawed, at Raquel.

“Think?” she asked, and I nodded. “That happens at first. It will be better soon, Katie.”

That name again, and she was using it as my name, which was wrong, because my name was Tom. My name was Tom and I was married to Emily who had sent me to this place, and now I couldn’t think and I just wanted it to all go away because my head was buzzing like someone dumped a jar of bees in there and they were humming away in there and bouncing off the interior of my skull and I just wanted it all to stop stop STOP!

I was seated, I realized, in a dark room where I was leaning back, like a salon chair, only I was staring at darkness. Raquel was beside me, whispering, calling me by that name again.

“Look, Katie. Remember, Katie.”


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