It was like tuning a radio from overlapping signals to the clarity of just one strong station. The overwhelming flow of thoughts all focused into one at the same moment.
It was a strange sensation.
Compounding that was the feelings associated with the poster on the wall. One moment, Nick Jonas was causing a disconcerting, but not uncomfortable tingling sensation down below, and the next, it faded away into the normal default position of derision and scorn.
It was good to have her own heterosexual brain back (even if her current form was technically homosexual). Looking at the anguish in Stephanie’s face as she held onto the dimming glow of a set of cards, she immediately felt a sense of empathy for what the girl went though in her normal everyday existence. Jim wondered if there wasn’t a way to just magically give her a normal brain without a swap?
“You should probably take your medicine now.” Becky advised in a motherly tone.
“Yeah, I’ll go get it now…” Stef said dropping the cards into the pile that Becky was already scooping up.
“I still can’t believe you girls were playing with these. Magic is dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Becky scolded everyone remaining as she put them back into the tin. “You’re lucky I knew mom’s secret hiding spot.”
“The one on the shelf in the attic?” Rachel teased trying to lighten the mood.
Becky let a smile slip, but then went back to stern. “Okay, not so secret then. We’ve still got to figure out how to get Jim back to himself without freaking everyone out.”
“Um…” Jim raised her hand, “what happens if all of the blanks are already filled in? Is it too late to do anything about it?”
“No, it just means you have to swap again and wait a day before everything sortof goes back to the way it should be… mostly…” Amanda piped up.
“Mostly?” Jim didn’t like the sound of that at all.
“There will be differences from before. It’s hard to predict.” Becky said. “Depends on how big the change is as to how big the ripple effects are. The bigger the ripples, the more likely things won’t be exactly the same as before. It’s like if you write something, but lose the paper and then have to re-write it again–it will be close to the same, but not exactly the same.”
“But don’t worry, we’ll get your penis back before that happens.” Stephanie said re-entering the room and patting her on the head.
Rachel looked at Stephanie in mock shock before laughing, “Welcome back, Stephanie, we’ve missed you…”
At the hospital, Mrs. Parks met the girls in the waiting area. “He’s doing okay.” she said, if she was confused as to why her daughter’s lifelong friend was now a boy named Sue, it was now barely registering in her facial expressions. “They’ve got him on some pain medication so he’s in and out.”
“Can he have visitors?” Jim asked.
“Sure, the doctor said he can have a couple of visitors at a time, but not for long. It’s room 302.”
Jim discreetly took the tin of cards from Becky. Rachel and Jim then walked down the corridor towards the room.
“Your mom called me Jamie…” Jim whispered to Rachel.
“I think we’re running out of time…” she whispered back.
They entered the room where Sue was laid on his side, eyes barely open. “Hey guys…” he slurred.
“You’re one to be calling us ‘guys’ Rachel kidded, patting her slightly unfamiliar friend lightly on the shoulder but then pulled away as he winced.
“Hurts, huh?” Jim said half-jokingly.
“Only when I breathe…” Sue coughed.
“Want to swap back now?” Jim held up the tin of cards.
Sue nodded slowly.
Jim opened up the deck and dealt the cards in front of the boy, then picked up her own. “How many?”
Sue was asleep.
Rachel nudged the boy. “Wha…?” Sue barely opened his eyes.
“Your cards… how many?” Jim said loudly, trying to keep him awake.
“Three…” they could barely hear Sue say as he nudged three cards towards Jim.
Jim dealt three cards to Sue and one for herself. she had a pair of five’s.
“What do you got?” Jim asked as the boy faded fast.
Rachel turned over the cards to reveal three two’s that were glowing. “Sue, you won!” she nudged him again, but no response. “Sue! Wake up!”
“Sue!!!” Jim yelled. “Swap back! Please!”
The door swung open and Mrs. Parks stood there. “Why are you yelling???” she was only barely not yelling herself. “Jamie, this is a hospital. Let him have his rest!”
She angrily shoo’d the pair towards the door as Rachel grabbed the cards from the bed in the nick of time.
Becky ran to Jim out in the hallway. “What happened? Why didn’t you switch back?”
“Sue fell asleep before they could swap.” Rachel said.
“Oh, shit… that’s not good.” Becky said in sympathy.
“What’s not good?” asked the young woman standing next to her that Rachel and Jim both recognized immediately.
“These two were foolishly playing around with one of our products.” Becky said pointing at the pair of younger girls. “This is my sister Rachel and her friend Jamie. Girls, this is Karen, we went to high school together and she works at my store.”
“The pleasure’s all mine” Karen said winking at the pair.