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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 114: Brown 90
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 113: Slade 86
The next morning Derek watched the bedroom fade into the dining room. Strains of ancient violin music coming from somewhere above reminded him of listening to the radio at home, but it was long enough ago now that it was more surprise than nostalgia. A large breakfast was served, although Derek had to ask if there was something other than tea to drink in order to get some orange juice.
Immediately after breakfast, Bethany changed the room to the library laboratory Derek had only briefly glimpsed the previous day when she was working. She pulled some containers out of a cabinet, and began mixing ingredients in a beaker over a Bunsen burner. Derek commented on the use of such scientific instruments in what he took to be a magic concoction, but Bethany laughed.
"The appearance is nothing. There's a flask and a flame, and that's all that matters." With that, she changed it to look like an oil fire under a crystal vial, then a focused beam of light on a synthetic plastic tube, and back to the burner and flask. "I prefer this look, but it's just a look."
She took a long time mixing ingredients and heating and cooling these. At one point she collected a bit of his drool to add to the potion, which she explained was important because it would connect it specifically to him. Eventually she turned toward him, holding the flask.
"You don't expect me to drink that, do you?" he said.
"Drink it? Oh, no, not at all. I'm sorry; didn't I explain? Well, it's not a good time to explain at the moment. Hold on, we're almost done." She then pronounced a long line of what sounded like it must be language because of the variation through it, but was unlike anything familiar to Derek. The liquid in the vial began to froth and bubble as if it were boiling, but Bethany was holding the glass in her hands as if it were cool. She then poured it over Derek's head.
"Close your eyes," Lauren said; Derek glanced at her and then understood, getting his lids shut just in time to keep the cold potion from stinging. Still Bethany's words continued, completely incomprehensible to Derek. The cool spread under his clothes over his entire body, and then both it and the words stopped. He opened his eyes. Nothing was different.
"Well?" he said.
"Well," Bethany answered, "you're Ferris Hoffman, and you're thinking of yourself right now as Ferris Hoffman. I want you to think of yourself as Theian Morach. Oh, and close your eyes this time, so you can imagine it. Probably you won't have to close your eyes usually, but I think it will help at least the first few times."
It sounded crazy; but then, everything Bethany did seemed a bit crazy, and Lauren didn't seem to be questioning this. He closed his eyes and thought of being Theian Toreinu Morach.
Suddenly he was buried in the shirt he had been wearing. He opened his eyes, and realized he was down to fifteen inches high, glowing slightly, and able to fly--but not really eager to do so without clothes that fit.
"Um--my clothes didn't change."
"Of course not, silly," Lauren said. "They're not part of you. You'll have to carry clothes with you."
"There's no way around that?" he asked.
Bethany answered, "Well, I could probably work up some sort of magic suit that changed when you did. Give me some time to think about it. But first, let's go the other way. Think of being Ferris again."
Derek closed his eyes, and as he thought of Ferris Hoffman he felt himself growing back into the odd shirt they'd made for him. It took about a minute. "It seems to work," he said. "Now do I try Derek?"
"I'd loosen that shirt and throw the robe over yourself," Lauren suggested. "At least until Bethany figures out how to make the emperor's new clothes, you don't want to rip your old ones."
"That's not very encouraging," Bethany said.
"You're right, and I'm sorry. I have every confidence in you. And if I ever think of practical uses for the toys you gave me--"
"Can I do this now?" Derek interrupted.
"Yes, please do," Bethany said, as Lauren tossed his robe to him. He undid the fasteners on the shirt, slipped the robe over his shoulders, and thought of being Derek as he closed his eyes. The shirt reshaped itself as his wings melted into his back and his body expanded. In a moment, he was finished. He opened his eyes.
"I'm a bit short, aren't I?"
Lauren looked at him. "Yes, maybe. You're about five feet tall; I think you were about that tall when I knew you before, but now you look a bit older, but not any taller. Still, you do look quite human."
That was a good thing, Derek thought. He had gotten used to being a sprite, and had grown to dislike humans. In the end, the humans had proved not to be so bad as he'd thought--he realized that now. He had missed being human, and it was good to be back.
"So," he said, "tell me about this computer problem you guys have."
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #205: Verser Reunion. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: