Life was good. It just wasn’t long enough. Eighty-year-old Jacob Hopkins is dying and wishes to return to his fourteen-year-old body. He has no burning desire to change the world. He just isn’t ready to die. And someone has decided that’s okay.
But Jacob is in for a major surprise.
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Original cover art by Nathan Everett
Part I: Transmogrification
“I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending.”
—Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
LOOK, there was nothing wrong with my life. Except it was coming to an end. I knew it. The doctors knew it. My kids knew it. My wife knew it, but she was preoccupied with the fact of her own demise nearing. I was eighty years old and the only thing I could think of that would be better than my life would be eighty more years of it. Except I’d rather not be old, sick, and crippled.
That was the whole problem with living. You died. And the human body just isn’t made to stand up to the wear and tear of life as we know it. Not for more than eighty or ninety years. I’d met people who were a hundred but none of them had the body or the stamina they wished for. They were old. People get old. People die. That’s life.
And, like I said, I was satisfied with mine. I just didn’t want to die.
Big—a name my friend got in his teens sixty-some years ago—had a different opinion.
“Just don’t resuscitate me. I’ve had enough of this life and it will be a blessing to put it behind me. Just let me go and Lord, make it soon. The only thing I have to look forward to in this life is beating you at pinochle Wednesday night and it isn’t that big a thrill. The food’s nothing to look forward to. They won’t let me drink. I haven’t had a smoke in over a year. And sex is a distant memory. Jesus, just let me die.”
I offered to put him out of my misery a couple of times.
“I don’t want you to kill me! Just let me die.”
“Well, would you get on with it then? I’m tired of listening to you bellyache about it.”
Doctors estimate that Renie (Lorene) and I have about four months left to live. I believe that is based on their investigation of our finances and savings. Once we hit four more months, we’ll be broke. That’s Big’s problem. He’s got enough money in his accounts to last him years, so they’ll keep him around until it’s gone. None of us will last twenty-four hours past our VISA credit limit.
Honestly, I don’t think Renie will make the four months. She’s just not here most of the time—I mean in her head. Mentally, she’s already gone. I figure one morning soon they’ll come in and zip her into a bag to wheel her out of here. I’ll have a devil of a time keeping them from zipping me up, too. They never listen to you, even if you’re telling them you’re not dead.
I went outside today. It’s a pretty day. About seventy-two degrees, sunny, not much wind. Kind of day I love. Took my Kindle with me and found a spot shady enough that I could read. The nurse tried to park me in the sun. Stupid. Too much glare on the screen and I don’t want to go blind. They want us out of the room so they can change the beds. Of course, they have to make Renie’s up with her in it but they kick me out. Tried to make me ride in a chair. Fuck that. The walker is bad enough. Of course, I know why they want to wheel me out. It’s faster. Me shuffling along with my walker takes twice as long as having a nurse just wheel me out and leave me.
I sit under the canopy and look out across the lawn. There isn’t much there. I try to imagine those nursing home lawns I’ve seen in movies with a park and acres of lawn and a pond. Maybe tennis courts where those who are still mobile can get some exercise. It’s not like that.
We have a patio, half of which is under a canvas canopy for those of us who prefer shade. There’s a tree at one end. An expanse of lawn about fifteen feet wide is in front of the patio so if you want to touch grass, you can. Then there’s the wall. The wall is for our safety, they say. Several folks here can get lost in ten feet and would never make it back if they stumbled off the grounds. And since we are in an urban environment, they don’t want unauthorized intruders wandering into the facility. You are only supposed to enter through the main doors. That protects us from theft and assault. Well, the staff has already taken most everything of value that we brought with us. It took a while, but things get misplaced during cleaning.
“Mr. Hopkins, are you sure you had that in your room? I don’t remember ever seeing it here. Don’t you think that was something you had in your home before you moved here?”
Yeah. I had it in my home and then in my room. It was on my bedside table right up until the staff came in to make the beds this morning. I wonder where it could have gone.
I take my Kindle with me whenever I leave the room and I sleep with it under my pillow. They don’t like that because the charger cord could get wrapped around my neck and strangle me in the night. Then they wouldn’t get the next four months of income for my room.
I’m the lucky one. I can get out of bed to use the bathroom if I plan ahead. They come in and change Renie’s diapers twice a day and shovel some tasteless glop into her mouth for nourishment. I get the same tasteless glop in the dining room when I go down for meals, but it’s formed into patties and covered with gravy. Who do they think they’re fooling?
What they really don’t like is that I don’t sleep. Not right away. Hell, I don’t do anything all day. What do I have to rest from? Lights go out and I read. They want to give me drugs so I’ll go to sleep. I have my own method. I load up some story about teens having sex for the first time and stroke myself up. It takes a while these days. It helps if it’s a really good story. Most of the time, I still manage to make it to orgasm, but my comes are pretty weak. Half the time, nothing comes out. After I wipe myself up, I head for the bathroom and try to piss. That usually feels as good as a come.
Then I can get to sleep for a couple of hours.
The penis is the principal source of pleasure for the human male. It feels good when it’s rubbed. It feels good when it comes. It feels good when it pisses. Nothing makes a man feel good like his penis.
I laugh when I read Memes on Twitter that say, “I’m fresh out of fucks to give.” Imbeciles. I have plenty of fucks and no one to give them to.
I miss Renie.
It was a Wednesday night. I went to play pinochle with Big and a couple others. They have an automatic card shuffler because so many of us can scarcely hold the cards, let alone shuffle them. Big and I rolled our newspapers.
Yeah. They won’t let us smoke in here. We grab yesterday’s newspaper and tear it into six-inch strips, then roll it as tight as we can. Then we can grip the roll in our teeth and play cards as if we had cigars. Sounds juvenile. It’s just hard to talk at a card table without something gripped between your teeth. It gets soggy pretty quick and we ditch them by the second hand but it’s the thought that counts, they say.
I got back to my room about eight-thirty. They were making up Renie’s bed. She wasn’t there.
“Where’s Renie?” I asked.
“Oh, Mr. Hopkins. I’m so sorry. Lorene passed away while you were out. We got her moved out of the room before you got back so you wouldn’t have to see. I am sorry, Mr. Hopkins.”
So that was it. I kissed her forehead before I went to play cards and when I got back, she was gone. I’d have liked to say goodbye. Even to be there when she passed. Touch her one last time. Fuckers.
I went to my bedside to plug in my Kindle.
“Where’s my charger?”
“What charger, Mr. Hopkins?”
“The one I plug my Kindle into at night.”
“Are you sure you don’t have it?”
“It never gets unplugged. It’s always here.”
“I’m sure you just moved it. We’ll look in the morning.”
“Look! Someone has taken my charger from my bedside table. I want it back, now!”
“I know you’re distressed, Mr. Hopkins. This must have come as a real shock to you. I’ll call the nurse and see if she can give you a sedative.”
“I don’t need a sedative! I need my charger!”
“I’m sure you just misplaced it. We’ll find it.”
I have half a notion to live another six months just to pay them back for taking my charger. They can’t force me to leave when my credit runs out. There’s laws.
But Renie isn’t here anymore. My Kindle is dead. I haven’t been able to get a hard-on since they screwed everything up. There isn’t really any reason to hang around.
“Nothing wrong with your life, so you say.”
“Who are you?”
“Just an interested party.”
“Well, let’s get the party started then. Got a cigar?”
“You became quite a smartass in your later years.”
“There was no one around who could flunk me or fire me.”
“Or mess up your meds?”
“That was a professional job. I outlived my money.”
“Those last days…”
“…sucked. But still, when I looked around me, I had nothing to complain about.”
“I thought you were supposed to tell me that. Frankly, I didn’t expect to see anyone after… Well, I figured dead is dead. I didn’t expect anything.”
“Well, you didn’t actually quite die—yet.”
“After your reaction to the drug mess-up, you went into a coma. You have a do not resuscitate note in your file, so you aren’t connected to anything. They are quite puzzled about why you are still alive.”
“Why am I?”
“We thought we’d try to find a new place for you.”
“A new place?”
“Do you really want to know all the details about the quantum universe and multiple realities? Let’s just say that the life you lived is one reality. You exist in several others. We could, shall we say, swap you out.”
“You mean send me back to my younger self? Uh… that sounds like some story I read on SOL. Do I get Wikipedic knowledge of everything that has happened in the past 80 years so I can become fabulously wealthy by betting on some sports team I’ve never heard of, investing in Microsoft and Apple, and beating the Koch Brothers out on cornering silver? Have a harem of all the fourteen-year-olds I couldn’t get to date me the first time around? Solve the world’s problems by changing events that turned out badly?”
“Have a high opinion of yourself, don’t you?”
“It doesn’t work that way?”
“Hmm. You’ll remember everything you remember. You’ll be surprised what that is. But uh… it was the Hunt brothers who tried to corner the silver market. The Koch brothers tried to corner the government.”
“No billions for you.”
“Not unless you can parlay what you do know into a successful life.”
“How old would I be?”
“We have a fourteen-year-old you available.”
“That’s good. It gives me a couple of years of structure that I can use to get my life sorted out before things get serious.”
“Not going to try to have all those fourteen-year-old girls in your bed the first week?”
“I’d have to forget that I’m really eighty. I figure that will take a couple of years. Hey! What about the me that is currently there? I mean you’re going to plant me in my fourteen-year-old body. What happens to the fourteen-year-old me that’s already there? I don’t want to grab at a new life by snatching away another me’s.”
“In another timeline and reality, there is a fourteen-year-old you that is also lying in a coma. That’s the only reason we could intervene.”
“Can’t you bring him out of it?”
“Let me be frank with you. The fourteen-year-old you in a coma was suicidal. He has done nothing but scream at us to let him die since we suspended you. I’m afraid he was a bit of a wreck as a kid. You’ll have your work cut out for you. First, there will be physical healing. He stepped in front of a bus. It looked like an accident. But there will be mental healing, as well. You’ll have to adapt to the life the other you was leading. And no matter what you might think now, there will be the process of integrating your old self with your new self. You might even have some self-loathing inspired by what your other self has done. You have to remember that this self’s life is not the same as the one you led in your own timeline. You’ll have to deal with what he’s done, who he’s loved, and who he’s alienated. And probably a suicide watch. His parents know it wasn’t an accident.”
“Crap! So, what you’re saying is that I have a chance to live my life over, so to speak, but the price of doing it is that I need to redeem his.”
“That is succinct. Or, of course, I can pull the metaphysical plug on both of you.”
“There was nothing wrong with my life. It just wasn’t long enough. This puts me back into a healthy teenage body—I mean it is healthy aside from reparable damage from the bus, right?”
“There is a prognosis of no lingering effects other than an occasional ache and pain after recovery.”
“Yeah. All right. So, a healthy teenage body with a long life ahead of me. I’d get a long life, right?”
“I don’t know. You’ll be in a different timeline and reality. You could actually be in an accident again tomorrow and all our work would be for naught.”
“It’s up to me to keep that body going if I want a long life. I see. Anything else I should know?”
“Memory resides in two places. There are paths in the brain that give you access to what you know. You may be able to read some of your new self’s memories, but I wouldn’t count on how reliable that availability is. Self-absorbed fourteen-year-olds don’t remember much. Your eighty-year-old memories will overwrite a portion of that. The second place is in neural pathways outside the brain. We call that muscle memory, though that isn’t really it. Everything originates in the brain, but some of the pathways that control muscle movement are more ingrained than the memories of events. It’s what you’ve trained your body to do.”
“Doesn’t sound too hard to overcome. I’ll start standing up straighter.”
“Yeah. That sums it up, doesn’t it? I’ve already decided to go back, or over, or whatever you call it. Now I’ll just need good luck.”
“Yes. Well, it’s time to pull the plug, so to speak. You’re sure?”
“Make it so, Number One.”
“Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.”
—Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
I came out of my coma with a gasp that nearly ripped my throat out. Beeps and alarms rang and people started skittering about like cockroaches when the kitchen light comes on. Everything hurt. I should have asked for an inventory of my injuries. I get that I stepped out in front of a bus, but why did my eyes and fingernails hurt?
It was hard to tune in what people were saying. Somebody was waving fingers in front of my face and asking how many I could see. Stupid fucker. How was I supposed to answer? I had tubes down my throat and both hands were in a cast. If there’s an afterlife one day instead of a transfer to an alternate reality, I’m going to find my other self and kill him.
Well, I was awake, more or less. They adjusted drips in my IV and a little of the pain faded. Enough that I could focus. Once the quacks satisfied themselves that I was alive, they let my mother get close enough to see for herself.
“Oh, Jakey, you’re back. Please stay with us, baby boy. Please don’t ever do this to us again. What did we do that made you hate us so much?”
Okay, if I was fourteen then she’d be what… thirty-eight? The last time I’d seen her was before her last surgery and she was um… seventy-four. Right before my fiftieth birthday. I celebrated my half-century standing beside her fresh grave. She’d looked so worn and tired before that surgery. Too tired to come out of it, apparently. The woman leaning over me looked tired, too. I wondered if I was the reason.
There was something else, though, besides her being younger than I remembered last. I didn’t remember her ever wearing her hair curled up like a French poodle on top of her head. And she was wearing makeup. Back in 1952, as I remembered it… well, Mom was no June Cleaver. She dressed nicely enough for housework and got dressed up for church on Sunday. But makeup? What the fuck?
What she was saying didn’t really make a difference since I couldn’t respond. Considering my first thoughts, it was better that way. She rambled on and on but I wasn’t able to pay attention. I guessed they were giving me morphine or something like that because I was getting incredibly scrambled messages from my brain. I guess that’s what the voice had warned me about. I was trying to integrate my memories as an eighty-year-old with my memories as a fourteen-year-old, only they weren’t exactly my memories. They were the memories of someone else who lived in what was now my body.
I recognized some things as they flashed past. My house. I could tell it was the same house but it looked different. The yard was neatly mowed, so maybe my version two self had been responsible enough to take care of it before he tried to off himself. The color was different than I remembered, too. Mom used to describe the house as being ‘baby-shit yellow’ but this was definitely just a pale yellow like cream. Maybe V2 was colorblind. Or maybe my V1 memory was from before the house was painted. Or something.
My bicycle was a lot nicer than I remembered. I could remember imagining that I’d ride it into traffic and get run over but decided to leave it home that day so the bike wouldn’t get destroyed. How considerate of me. I didn’t remember ever having a bicycle that nice.
I wondered when my father would show up in the hospital to tell me what a disappointment I was. At least I assumed that would be the message. It was certainly what Mom was conveying. Did they talk to me like this all the time? No wonder I tried to off myself.
I let my mind wander and it wandered straight to my seventeen-year-old sister. Damn! What a fox. Just that morning, I’d seen her coming out of the shower with a towel that didn’t quite cover her ass cheeks. I’d gone to my room and beaten off to that vision.
Damn it! I was lying in a hospital room with tubes running in and out of me and casts on my arms and God-knows where else and getting a damned erection. And it hurt, damn it! They must have had a catheter stuck in my prick. I tried to erase the image of my sister and her towel, but I wanted it where I could access it later. Like when I got the damn catheter out. V1 didn’t remember my sister being quite such a fox.
I’d been through life before. Eighty years, ten months, and nine days. I considered myself version one, or just V1. The kid who had been treating my parents like crap for fourteen years was definitely V2. I guess the hybrid, my current life, was V3. I could tell most of my work in this life was making V3 into what I wanted to be. Especially considering what a cockup V2 had been.
It was hard to even consider him to be me. I guess he wasn’t me. But we had the same parents, the same family, as far as I could tell, we had the same school and classmates. What could have been so much worse about his life than what I lived before?
I was suffocating. The walls were pressing in on me. It was dark and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. All I could hear was the thumping of my own pulse in my ears. I screamed but no sound came out.
“Hey. Hey, it’s okay, J. Wake up, brother. You’re safe now. I won’t let you go.”
My eyes snapped open and air filled my lungs like it had been forced there. I choked and coughed, just wanting to inhale more and more. I’d never had dreams of claustrophobia before. What on earth…? I realized I still couldn’t move. Both arms were in casts down to my fingers. One leg was in a rock up to my balls. My ribs hurt. That was progress. I was able to start naming where the pains were.
“Em?” I croaked. They’d taken out the feeding tube yesterday when they realized I was actually awake and could respond to drinking liquids. I still had tubes running out elsewhere.
“I got the lucky draw to spend the night tonight. Dad went home a couple of hours ago,” she said. “Need some water?” I nodded and she fitted a straw to my lips. My throat was still sore from the tube but my jaw ached as well. Someone said I’d knocked some teeth loose.
“Nightmare,” I said when I’d moistened my mouth. “Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move. Awful. So scared.”
“It’s your casts and the trauma. Just a dream. It will heal,” she said. “I didn’t let go of you then and I won’t now. J, you had me so scared. I know it’s been hard but don’t quit on me. Please?”
“I… I’m back, Em. I’ll live. I promise.”
My sister stroked my forehead and hair. I looked up at her in the dimly lit room and saw her breasts a few inches from my face. I grimaced as tumescence fought with my catheter.
“Do you need something more for pain?” she asked. “The nurse said she’d bring something when you needed it.”
“No. It’s okay. Just uncomfortable.”
“Someone needs to wash your hair tomorrow. What a greasy mess.”
“Your hair? Below your ears, like usual. They didn’t have to cut it.”
“How long was I out?”
“Oh. The um… accident was Sunday. It’s Friday night now. You woke up Wednesday afternoon. They’d just told us… told us you weren’t going to make it. Then all of a sudden you were awake and choking. I was praying for you, J. The whole time I was asking God to give you another chance.” She leaned in farther and gave me as much of an embrace as possible. I couldn’t lift my arms to return the gesture but I could feel her soft breasts pressed against my chest. Damned cock! I gasped and she pulled away.
“Maybe I should get something for pain after all.” She pressed the bedside button. “Thank you, Em. Thank you for being here and for praying for me.”
I remembered being sort of semi-religious during my teens. We went to church. I prayed. Mostly, I prayed that this girl or that would go out with me. When I was seventeen, I prayed that the girl I was out with would kiss me and promised God that if she did, I’d never kiss another girl. She didn’t. Wouldn’t. Spread the word around that I liked to get right down to business on a date. I thought that was a little unfair since we’d been dating for two months and I just tried to kiss her goodnight. Now I was probably ranked as her #metoo.
Well, we learned. Back in the fifties we were jerks. I got better, more respectful. Didn’t mean I wasn’t a jerk back then. Back now, I supposed. I had to remind myself that I was back in my fourteen-year-old body, even though it hurt worse than my V1 eighty-year-old body. I was probably still a jerk. I’d certainly been waiting in convenient places, hoping to get a glimpse of my big sister’s body.
I had a little sister, too. Peyton. Who names a kid Peyton? My parents sometimes went out on the far end of weird. For that matter, why did they bother to name me Jacob when they called me Jake or Jakey. Em started calling me by my initial, J, and Peyton was quick to follow her lead. Now we were Em, J, and Pey to each other. Mom was appalled.
I’d kind of quit praying to God when I got into college. Too many unanswered prayers, I suppose. Or God just wasn’t interested in my dating life, so I didn’t see much use in him. Now I had a different perspective entirely. The voice that put me back here in my fourteen-year-old self never mentioned anything about God. Or an afterlife. It had led me to believe that I was a special case because they happened to have a me in another reality who was also in a coma but wanted to die. I didn’t, so they swapped me. Where was God in that process?
I drifted in and out of drug-hazed sleep thinking deep thoughts. Em prayed for me. Maybe that was why they or it or whatever put me into this body. Maybe it was to answer Em’s prayer. It was nice to know she was in my corner. I didn’t have that close a relationship with her the first time around. I certainly didn’t remember her being so… Damn it! I’d forgotten what it was like to have a fourteen-year-old cock. I really needed to get this damned tube out of it.
“Do I have to move my stuff out of your room now?” Peyton asked about a week later. She had been trying to play ‘Go Fish’ with me but was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t hold the cards. There were lots of things I couldn’t do and I figured it was going to be a long time before I could. I could bend at the waist, so the bed got cranked up during the day to semi-sitting. I thought I must look like one of those cartoon characters with casts all over my body and my head wrapped in bandages. Except there was only a bandage on the right side of my head. Cut. Concussion, yes, but they don’t bandage for that. There were no deep scalp cuts that required more than a stitch or two. The one on my right jaw, though—the one that hurt when I tried to chew—had a bandage on it. It just didn’t wrap around my whole head.
“What’s your stuff doing in my room?” I asked.
“What did I say?”
“You said when you were gone, I could have your room. Everybody said you were going to die, so I kind of moved in. I’ve been sleeping in your bed,” she said. Totally guileless. At eight years old, she just figured I was moving out and she was getting my room.
“Did you want me to die?” I asked. It took her a minute to consider the question.
“Huh-uh.” She gathered up the cards and set them aside before standing on tiptoes beside the bed and kissing my cheek—the one that wasn’t stitched. “I wanted to sleep on your pillow and tell you to come back to it. And Em was crying really loud, so I moved to your room.”
“Well, maybe I should switch places with you and move in with Em. Then you could have my room.”
“That would be okay!”
“Uh… just a word of advice. Don’t suggest that.”
I don’t think V1 had had an unassisted erection in fifteen years. Everything still worked if I paid attention to it and concentrated. I’d been beating off two or three times a week right up until they stole my bottle of lotion. Fuckers. They called me crazy because I carried my dead Kindle around with me and rolled newspaper into fake cigars. The last thing I did before the Kindle battery died on me was unregister it so no fucker could steal my account and books. They already had the charger. I was sure they were waiting for me to leave the Kindle unattended for a minute. It would be gone, too.
Now that I was V3 and had a damn plastic tube in my cock, I was getting hard every time a nurse walked by. Or my older sister came to visit. She stopped by almost every day but once they figured I was going to live, the overnight vigils stopped. Most of the nurses wore armor-strength underwear. Their boobs didn’t move at all. I mean, they could do jumping jacks and it would be like two knots on a tree trunk. They only go where the trunk goes.
I suppose they were all used to having teenage boys gaping at them and hoping to cop a feel somehow. My feelers, of course, were wrapped in plaster. Both arms had the elbow immobilized, which meant I couldn’t even feel myself. If I could, I’d have ripped the catheter out! Not being able to do anything about it didn’t stop my cock from responding. After a long discussion, they took the catheter out two weeks after I woke up. This was going to be a long fucking process.
I had to call for help in order to piss and they threatened to put a catheter back in if I didn’t give them enough time to get set up. They stuck a plastic milk bottle over my cock and told me to just relax and pee. No, it wasn’t really a milk bottle, but that’s what it reminded me of. They kept me in a diaper like Renie used to wear because it was more difficult to get me into position to poop than to pee.
Once the catheter came out, having a nurse—even an old ugly one—handle my cock to get it into the bed urinal or clean me up after a bowel movement had predictable results. There was nothing sexy about it, but I got hard anyway. Part of the problem was having an eighty-year-old mind. Even my mother looked young and sexy to V1. And Emily was mouth-watering. A fifty-year-old nurse could make me feel young. And a fourteen-year-old body responded accordingly. The aide who came in to feed me daytime meals was married and weighed two hundred pounds. Same reaction.
I spent half my time trying not to have a bodily function and the other half embarrassed about it.
And life was boring. There was a TV in my room but it didn’t have a movie channel. Mostly, there was news and even V1 couldn’t take much of that. It was the same old thing over and over. I had the remote lying on my chest and after three weeks, they cut the cast back away from my fingers so I could carefully grasp the remote and push buttons. If I could have bent my elbows, I could have used the bed urinal without help, but the doctors said that was at least a month more away.
“God, I miss my Kindle,” I sighed. I didn’t think anyone was around who could hear me. School had started while I was laid up and no one was coming by during the daytime. Mom even had a job doing some kind of office work that I didn’t pay attention to. I didn’t remember her having a job my first go-round. Dad worked in an assembly plant, just like he did before. I guess Mom’s job was part of this new reality I was in.
Em had brought me a couple of textbooks, but it was almost impossible to hold a book to read. And forget about writing. I’d probably have to make up the whole year. On the other hand, when I got out of here, I should be able to just breeze through school since I’d already done this once before. Not like I was a straight-A student, but I did well, went to college, and had a career. I should be able to handle high school in less time, right?
“Hey, J,” Em said as she came into the room. “How are your fingers working?”
“Pretty good. It’s still hard to hold a book, though. How’s school.”
“Boring as usual. Stupid teachers and stupider students. I brought you a present.”
“Yeah. I brought your Kindle. I don’t know why we didn’t think of it sooner. I mean, your iPhone is trash. It’s what put the big gash in your right cheek when you got hit. I know you loved to read on your Kindle, though, so I figured you might even be able to find the textbooks on it.”
Porn, I thought.
And then I thought again.
My bed had a motor that allowed me to change the angle with a switch now that I had fingers. My room had a color television with a remote. My sister was holding her iPhone and handing me a Kindle. All these things were as natural to V1 as sunrise. How could they be so natural to V2? I was born in 1937. I was fourteen, almost fifteen in 1952. They didn’t have any of these things in 1952.
“Em? What year is it?”
“Dope! It’s 2018. Don’t tell me your head injury is making you forget when it is.”
In another timeline and reality, there is a fourteen-year-old you that is also lying in a coma.
You’d think they could have mentioned that in this reality my V1 timeline was all history. V1 was born October 17, 1937. V2 was born October 17, 2003.
I was fucked again.
“Ever since I could remember, She was all that mattered.”
—James J. Caterino, She
GRAPPLING WITH THE IMPLICATION that in this new reality I was not back in my own timeline nearly sent me back into a coma. Yes, I was fourteen again. But nothing that I knew of life when V١ was fourteen had any relevance to my life as V٣. I knew absolutely nothing about being a teen in ٢٠١٨. My memories were ancient history.
No wonder things had seemed catawampus. I made my first conscious effort to search the memories of V2. Some of them were fogged over like he’d already forgotten. Present memories were mostly there. I compared them to my V1 memories. My mother looked different, sharper, and more professional. My sisters, while identifiable, dressed differently, had better teeth, clearer complexions, and in the case of Em, a smoking hot body. My father still worked on an automobile assembly line, but it wasn’t Studebaker. The house that looked so familiar to me in the memories of V2, wasn’t in South Bend, but was in Fort Wayne. Dad assembled trucks in the Chevy and GM lines at the plant in Roanoke.
Everything was just the same but different. No wonder V2 had been suicidal. I was near it myself.
This meant that I was a freshman in high school, missing the first semester, in a reality that I had no idea how to function in. For the first time, I was thankful for being in a hospital where I could have time to adjust to the new world I lived in. I needed to pay more attention to the droning news shows on television. Who knew what else was different?
I could practically hear the mysterious voice that sent me here laughing.
Somehow, the little things that were the same as when I was a kid or an adult in V1 were almost more disorienting than the things that were different. My Kindle password was the same. My street address was the same, but in a different town. Names of people my parents or sisters mentioned were the same as I remembered from 1952—what few I actually remembered. It’s funny how after sixty-six years, how many of my ‘old friends’ I’d forgotten as I moved away from the homelands after college. Occasionally, a name would ring a bell, but trying to put a face to it was difficult. And I had no idea what to do about it.
“Bruce Sandusky asked about you,” Mom said when she came in to visit after work. “You know a lot of kids are concerned about you, but they don’t really know how to relate. It’s not like they can come up here and have a party. When we get you home, why don’t you plan to invite your friends over and we’ll do something for your birthday.”
My birthday was the same day of the month. Just a month away. I’d be fifteen. I was panicked thinking that I didn’t know who my friends were. I focused on trying to sift through V2’s memories for something useful. I didn’t want to start telling people I didn’t remember things. Mom had already mentioned wanting me to talk to a counselor. If I had memory loss issues… I didn’t dare talk to a psychologist about being an old man in a young kid’s body. They’d lock me away.
Well, one thing I remembered well enough was that kids talk on Facebook. My grandkids were on Facebook so I had an account just to keep track of them and their kids. I logged on and was happy to see that V2 had the same password as V1. Perhaps I’d find out who my friends were here.
The stream was packed with condolences. Early on, it seems, word had gotten out that I was dead. Classmates put messages on my stream saying they were sorry I was gone and I’d been mostly a pretty decent guy. Nobody was talking about me as their best friend in the world or as their worst enemy. I searched out my school friends first. About twenty were on my friends list. Of course, a lot of others that I wasn’t friends with had posted comments on their threads. I went through the process of sifting through all the pages and trying to put names and faces together. Many looked familiar but out of place. Still, if I saw them, there was at least a chance that I’d recognize them. I read through their timelines and moaned. What did I have in common with any of these privileged little brats?
I posted a quick message: “Looks like I’m not dead after all. Bunch of broken bones. Missing this semester. Good luck, everyone.”
Almost immediately, I started getting comments back. “Too bad. Better luck next time.” “You’d have been better off dead. Ms. Perkins is a bitch.” “Let’s do it together next time.”
Everyone believed I’d attempted suicide and were more upset that it failed than they’d been when they thought I was dead. What a screwed-up bunch of little…
I had to get past thinking like this. I had to try to figure out how my V2 thought or I’d be toast when I got out of here. I checked his groups and found that the one he was most active in was called ‘Watch List’. Most of the conversation was about how miserable life was and how they were going to commit suicide. V2 had told his friends that he thought walking in front of a bus would be easiest. I guess that’s what got me here.
I shut down Facebook and decided I needed to figure out what other groups he was involved in on social media. Fuck! I hardly knew what social media was. The only times I’d logged on in the past were to see pictures of my great-grandchildren. Great-grandchildren who would be the same age I am in this other reality.
I got to thinking about my books. It surprised me that we had a few different titles in our library but there was a huge overlap in our interests. I was fourteen. I wondered if V2 knew about SOL. I opened the browser again and started to type in the address. That answered that question. It auto-filled. Again, the password was the same. If I’d found out one of my great grandchildren was reading this smut, he’d have had a firm talking to. Right. I was thinking this as I was checking his library… my library of stories. I could justify it because I was really eighty. Only I was only fourteen and it was definitely illegal for me to access these stories.
I was getting a headache.
My library had the same active stories I’d been reading when my Kindle died in the nursing home and they’d stolen my charger. I might have been suckered but the nurses in the hospital didn’t appear to be interested in the Kindle or the charger. One even helped me get it plugged in. I checked the reading history as well as the library. I always deleted stories from the reading list when I finished them, but I kept them in the library.
I was only a little surprised to find a pretty big selection of brother-sister incest stories. Most of the stories were coming of age type stories with a few of the military and time travel stories that I’d enjoyed. What was missing from V2’s list that had been in V1’s list were do-over stories. Well, why would a fourteen-year-old be thinking about a do-over. I guess it made sense.
I was a few weeks behind on some of my favorite serials and set about catching up. Some of them I had to search for because they weren’t in V2’s library. A few, it appeared, hadn’t been written in this reality. That sucked. Now I’d never know how Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain ended. I still found a couple of good ones and as I was reading, I got hard. Then, damn it, I couldn’t do anything about it. I still couldn’t reach my cock with my fingers. I was going into a permanent state of blue balls.
“So, Francine managed to get herself pregnant over the summer and Colin is being an ass about it. Everyone knows he’s the daddy. But, of course, he’s not stepping up and claiming it,” Em said when she visited me Friday after school. She was pretty good at keeping me updated on all the gossip, even though I didn’t know half the people she was talking about.
“Are they going to kick her out of school?”
“Why would they do that? She’s not due until like April and she’ll get teen pregnancy leave with a tutor so she’ll graduate. She’ll probably have to sit in the back of the classroom so she can breastfeed without everyone staring at her when she gets back, but she’ll only need the daycare center during PE.”
I stared at my sister. Our high school had daycare? And single moms sat in the back of the classroom breastfeeding? What next? Did they allow conjugal visits? Old Faithful was getting chubby just thinking about it. I shifted around as much as I could.
“I just need to piss. I’ll call a nurse.”
“Oh. Don’t bother, I’ll do it. Let me get the pan.”
“Huh? I have to, like…”
“We already got instructions,” she said. “The whole family. We can’t spring you from this joint unless we are all trained and willing to participate in your care. It’s just a little urine. I can hold my nose. You don’t need the poop pan, do you?”
“No, but… um…”
“Let me get the gloves.”
Em snapped on a pair of disposable latex gloves, just like the nurses did. I’d almost gotten to the point where I could piss without getting an automatic hard-on when a nurse shoved my cock in the spout. But…
She unsnapped my diaper and pulled it down enough to expose my growing cock. Then she took hold of it and shoved it in the hole.
“Um… uh… this might take a minute or two. I need to relax and I’m a little… uh… nervous with you doing this.”
“J, baby. I’m your sister. I helped Mom change your diapers when I was four years old.”
“Yeah, but… I got bigger.”
“Yeah, like… OMG! I never even thought about you getting hard. You’re like… You can’t even touch it, can you? You poor baby!”
“Just… um… let me relax so I can piss, okay? Don’t talk about it. I get embarrassed and then I get… harder.”
“Okay. I’ll… um… just go to the bathroom and tinkle myself while you… relax.”
She left and eventually I did relax enough to let go of a full load. Damn it! I couldn’t even give it a shake. But at least I went limp. I could hear Em running water in the bathroom. A minute later she approached the bed with a wet washcloth.
“The instructions say we have to clean you each time,” she said, pulling the urinal away and capping it. “They made us recite each step in the homecare class.” She lifted my cock and washed it with warm water. My sister… my hot as a rocket sister… was holding my cock and washing it. I relaxed enough to piss but now I was on a fast climb to rock hard. “The rubber dummy they had us practice on stayed limp. Geez, J. How long’s it been since you got off?”
“Em,” I moaned. She hadn’t stopped stroking it when she dried it. “I don’t know. Before any of this.”
“Four weeks? Damn it, J. You should have said something. You must be in pain. I’ll… I mean if you want… I don’t suppose it will take long, will it?”
“No. A little more. Oh, God, Em.”
She leaned over and for a moment I thought she was going to take me right into her mouth. Instead, she spit on me and that slicked up the latex. Oh, fuck! She was right there, stroking me, with her breasts jiggling with each stroke. I was ready to chip the casts off my arms just so I could reach out and hold one of those magnificent tits hanging just beyond my reach. It only took about three more strokes and I came. It might have been four weeks for V2 but it was a lot longer for V1. V3 nearly passed out.
Em caught almost everything with the washcloth and wiped me off. She quickly re-snapped my diaper. She took the urinal and washcloth to the bathroom. I could hear her flush and rinse the equipment. She stayed in there a long time afterward and I just lay there flushed and sated. That was the best come I could remember. I suppose V2 was used to such things, but I thought that might have been extraordinary for him, too. I couldn’t remember anyone else having done the stroking. And the past fifteen years of V1 took all my energy just to get a dribble. I felt drained, exhausted, and happy.
Finally, she came out of the bathroom and started to gather her school things so she could go home. She avoided eye-contact, it seemed.
“Em, thank you. You’re the best.”
“Yeah, well, remember it. You owe me. I just figured, you know, if I had both arms in a cast and couldn’t get my fingers in the cookie jar, I’d want you to do it for me. It’s nothing.”
“Um… I’ll return the favor when I’m better.”
She snorted. “Yeah, I’m sure you would. Never touched one before, have you?” What could I say to that? “I might let you. Once. Study for a while and go to sleep. I need to get home.”
I lay awake for a long time that night. I tried to remember my older sister from V1. She’d passed on ten years before me. Peyton only lasted another four. I was the last one. I tried to remember if I’d ever had such feelings of lust for Em as I felt right now. If my sister had offered to jack me off in 1952, I think I’d have run away from home and never looked back. We didn’t get along all that well in the first place and in high school, when I was a freshman and she was a senior, even worse. She moved in with my grandparents in Kansas after she graduated from high school, found a husband, and had her first kid a year later. I was still just a junior in high school.
What was different about this?
Well, to start with, I had a fourteen-year-old body, but I was still an eighty-year-old man inside, looking at an incredibly hot teenage goddess that I could hardly recognize as my sister but felt… strongly about. I still thought forty, fifty, and sixty-year-olds were attractive. Having a seventeen-year-old stroking my cock was like a dream in a strip club. And I’d never had a dream that good.
Then, she was nice. I wondered if the same thing that drove V2 to suicide was what made Em2 so damned nice to him. I had a feeling they were linked and that the hand job wasn’t the first sexy play they’d had together. I clearly remembered standing in a position where I could see her come out of the shower with a towel only mostly wrapped around her. She had to know I was there and seemed to have a lot of trouble getting the towel in the right position and tied. I never quite saw the naughty bits, but it was like she was teasing me.
Finally, in a way, I didn’t feel related to any of these people. I was sixty-three years old in V1 reality when Em2 was born! I was suddenly forty-two years older than the woman who said she was my mother and the man I knew as my father.
And somehow, I was going to have to convince myself that I was a kid and they were the adults. This was going to be really hard.
During the next week, I got and was trained in the operation of an electric wheelchair. I needed help to get in and out of it, but once I was in and my leg was properly elevated, I could move around by pressing an extension lever with my face. If I wasn’t locked into my casts, I could have operated it with my fingers, but like so many other things, I couldn’t bend my arm to touch that part. It was pretty ingenious and I wondered who had invented this. Even Renie could have gotten around with one of these. Damn it! I wondered if my little Renie had gotten a chance like this to do her life again. Or if she’d have taken it. She was never enthusiastic about living forever like I was.
The training, along with physical therapy, was part of my new routine and preparation for going home. They changed my casts and x-rayed me again and said I was still at least five weeks from being out of them and then I’d have some difficulty because my ribs would still be hurting when I tried to walk with crutches. Nor would my arms really hold my weight, though I’d lost several pounds. I was never that heavy to start with, I didn’t think. Maybe V2 was heavier than what V1 had been at that age. I’d been active in sports and physically fit in high school. I wasn’t sure V2 had ever exercised a day in his life. That was going to change.
My physical therapist was as impressed with my devotion to the painful therapy as I was with her. I wondered if I could seduce her into bed during one of my sessions. She had run her fifth marathon on Labor Day and had the slim hard body that often went with being a long-distance runner. Most of our work for now was limited to what she could manipulate. It amounted to exercising my joints. She spent time lifting and rotating my arms to exercise the shoulder joint. I wasn’t allowed to lift my arms yet because it would cause too much strain on the healing fractures. I could only move slightly from side to side. She did the same thing with my hip, raising the leg in its cast up almost perpendicular to my body. That really stretched things. Then she worked on strengthening the only two things I could exercise on my own—my good left leg and my neck. I was surprised and pleased when she stripped to her sports bra and running shorts to wash my sweaty parts after our workouts.
Yeah. Predictable response. I imagined her stripping out of the rest of her clothes and straddling my groin while I sucked on her perky little nipples.
Aside from my being a cripple, there were other problems with the idea of seducing her. She saw me as a teen boy driven entirely by hormones with no thought of a relationship. Yeah. Check that. And she considered me to be a disabled juvenile. She could go to jail for molesting me. That was going to be a problem for every woman I found attractive for the next three years. For now, I was limited to girls my age up to age eighteen.
Well, that wasn’t all bad. I thought about my sister some more. I couldn’t remember exactly when V1 had my first hand job. I was pretty sure it wasn’t when I was fourteen. I’d always said that if I’d known it was all going to end so soon, I’d have started earlier.
I just needed to get mobile.
“On the surface, I was calm: in secret, without really admitting it, I was waiting for something.”
—Stanislaw Lem, Solaris
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 was a red-letter day. Hmm. I guessed I shouldn’t use that term. I doubted if anyone I knew had ever seen a paper calendar with Sundays and holidays marked in red. For me, though, it was the day I got out of the hospital.
Dad pulled up to the front of the hospital in a van I didn’t recognize. Of course, I wasn’t going to recognize any of the cars my parents owned. They were driving cars from this century. We had a 1947 Studebaker Champion in V1’s timeframe.
This was a fairly late-model van on a Chevy truck frame. Dad used it for hauling his tools around. He always had a lot of tools with him. He’d cleared one side of the front half of the van and attached a ramp that he could let down from behind the door. I was a little nervous about him pulling me up the ramp backwards and narrowly missed clipping my extended right leg on the door, but once I was inside, I felt fairly secure. I figured I’d only have a few rides in this thing. I didn’t think I wanted to try going to school or to church with this much plaster on me. I sure wasn’t going to any school dances.
Dad had been busy at home, too. There was a wooden ramp, just about the same width as my chair, that led from the driveway to the front porch. We lived in a ranch-style house, so at least I didn’t have to worry about stairs once I was inside.
That strange feeling of things being familiar but different hit me once I was inside. I’d look at a chair and almost be able to remember seeing my father sitting there sixty years ago, but not being quite the same color or shape. I could see my mother in the kitchen, but the appliances were different and a computer sat on one end of the counter with a movie playing on it. The whole place was just… a little off. Strange.
Peyton ran right over to me and did her best to give me a hug and kiss my cheek without getting hung up on my casts. Cute kid. I needed to make sure I spent some time with her while I was recovering. I thought I could hold cards in my hand now and maybe we could play a game or two. I hardly knew my little sister in V1. I was off to college before she hit high school. I guess I didn’t pay that much attention to her.
Mom was putting dinner on the table and called us to sit down. Well, I was already sitting. We almost never used the dining room table in my memory, taking all our meals in the kitchen. One look told me there was no way I was going to be maneuvering my wheel chair into the kitchen. It was just too crowded. Dad helped me position the chair at the end of the table so that my leg stuck out the side. It didn’t make too much difference since I couldn’t feed myself.
“Let me sit over there so I can feed you,” Mom said.
“It’s okay, Mom,” Em said. “I’ve got it. There’s lots of things J can’t do without hands. We just need to pitch in.” I almost choked on the bite of mashed potatoes she shoved in my mouth just then. Of course, my parents were oblivious to the underlying meaning.
“That’s very mature of you, Emily. I’m so glad you’re willing to help. The home nurse will be here during the day Monday but weekends are all up to the family. I’m sure we can share the burden so no one is inconvenienced too much.” That was nice of Mom, in a backhanded way. She’d just made it very clear that I was inconveniencing the entire family. Mom had always had a way of taking responsibility for things and making sure that you felt guilty about it.
“I’ll help,” Pey said cheerfully. “I might be too little to do some of the grownup things, but I can help get things for J. Like if he needs a drink. I think I could feed him, too.”
“Thank you, Pey. You’re the best little sister a guy could have. We’ll do some fun things together.”
“You need to keep up with your school,” Dad said. I nodded. It was about the most Dad ever said and that was all the response he expected. It was funny that he hardly said a word the whole time he was picking me up from the hospital and driving me home. It was just the way Dad was. It might have been the most familiar thing about coming home.
Home. After dinner, Dad took charge of seeing that I could maneuver my chair down the hall to my room. Our house was as modest as I remembered, though more modern. There were three bedrooms. The difference with this one was that there was a private bath for the master bedroom. The girls and I all shared the bath in the hall—not that I’d be going in there any time in the next few weeks.
Going down the hall wasn’t bad, but there was no way I could make a right turn with my right leg sticking straight out. Dad was analytical.
“Try going past the door and backing in,” he said. After I got the hang of backing and turning at the same time, it actually worked. It didn’t take long to realize that Dad was the only one who could get me in and out of the chair. With the added weight of all the plaster, there was no way that either Mom or Em could lift me. Dad took the training that everyone else in the family had, but even with that it took us a couple of tries before we got it right. After sitting up in the chair for the past few hours and then all the jockeying around to get to my room and into bed, I was exhausted.
“Everyone out. Let me get Jake ready for bed,” Mom directed. “You don’t have to go to sleep now, but let’s get you out of your traveling clothes and ready for bed.” It was like seven o’clock in the evening and obvious that everyone was getting tired of carting me around. They wanted me in bed so they could have their evening.
Having Mom get me ready for bed could have had unfortunate repercussions if my cock had betrayed me and gotten hard. I was in no way hot for my Mom, but she had to handle me in order for me to shit and piss and get cleaned up. Afterward, I got a fresh diaper and a giant-size T-shirt pulled over my head, arms and all. I needed to figure out something to protect my stomach from the plaster.
“Could I get a towel across my stomach so the plaster isn’t rubbing?” I asked. “Please.”
“Oh, I never thought about that. Is that what they did in the hospital?”
“They had some stretchy sleeve kind of thing they pulled over the casts. I should have asked them for some,” I said.
“I wonder if it would work to cut the toes out of a pair of tube socks. We’ll experiment tomorrow.”
I distracted myself while Mom was taking care of my toiletry by examining my room. I had a feeling it had been cleaned up for my arrival. I couldn’t imagine that I kept things so tidy. The room was typical off-white, but the wall at the head of my bed was garishly painted in the style of graffiti I’d seen on walls in the city. There were garish colors with dark outlines and an abundance of skulls. One had a cartoon balloon over it that said “Die Fucker!” A sword was stuck through another skull. If my kid had painted up his room like this, I’d have laced his hide.
I painted it. V2. Looking at it from that perspective, I had to admit I had some talent. A guitar leaned against the wall on the other side of my bed. A desk I recognized as being from IKEA had my computer on it. Dark. My dresser had a bunch of crap on it that looked like hell. I couldn’t even identify what the cards, dice, figures, and oddball junk were. I wondered if any of it was valuable. My closet door was closed so I had no idea if I owned any decent clothes. I’d worn a one-legged pair of sweatpants and a heavy pair of socks home with a hoody sweatshirt pulled around me and zipped up, trapping my arms inside. I’d find out later.
I sat propped up in my bed with my Kindle and read while the rest of the family went about their business. For Em, that included going out on a date. I really needed to talk to her.
I dozed. Can’t say I fully slept that night. I got Dad to remove the pillows from behind me and let me lie down about nine o’clock. I was bored of reading with a perpetual hard-on. I had plenty of books on my Kindle that weren’t porn, but I wasn’t interested in reading the history of World War II and the rise of the Third Reich. That was ancient history for V3 and the schools hardly touched on anything before the first Gulf War. That was pretty much the beginning of the modern age according to my history text book. What a bunch of crap.
I felt her presence at my door before I saw her.
“You awake?” she whispered.
“Yeah. Have a nice date?”
“Oh, you know. The usual. Get ice cream and a movie and pay for it with a hand job. Boys are jerks.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” Shit. I was planning to be a jerk. She apparently sensed my discomfort.
“Spill it. What’s on your mind? A nightmare?”
“Not since last night. I just… It’s nothing.”
“Right. You were going to ask for a hand job and I called my date a jerk for wanting one. Geez, didn’t we just do that?”
“Em, how many times did you jill off this week?” I whined.
“That’s none… Oh. And I was about to go to my room and do it again. And you haven’t had one for a week, have you?”
“I can do without.”
“Right. I’m not going to torture you. Just sit tight for a few minutes. I need the bathroom.”
I’d gotten hard just talking to her. Or I should say harder. I hadn’t really gone down all the way since I peed before bed. Mom had been very efficient about wiping me off but once she was gone and I started thinking again, the boner kept rising and falling. Thinking that Em might come and jack me off got me up all the way.
When she came back to my room, I got even harder. She’d changed for bed and was wearing a sports jersey that barely covered her butt. The neck hole was so big it slid down over one bare shoulder. She’d taken off her makeup and her fresh-scrubbed face looked sweet and innocent, even with the purple streak through her below-the-collar medium brown hair. She carried a washcloth and a bottle of lotion with her.
“You’re not a jerk for wanting to masturbate and not being able to,” she said. “Don’t get the idea that this will be an every night thing. Even I don’t do it that often. But I’m not going to let you suffer.” She pulled down the sheet and unfastened my diaper. I sprang up like a flagpole. “Geez! You know, you’ve got a nice cock. Do you need to pee first?”
“Huh-uh,” I moaned as she took hold of me. She squirted a little lotion in her hand and slicked my pole. I really wanted this to last, but I knew I was going to pop before I was really ready.
“Since I was going to do it to myself anyway, I figured I’d just get it out of the way at the same time,” she whispered. She sat on the edge of my bed with one leg pulled up. I wished the light was brighter so I could see what she had on display. She slowly stroked my cock with her right hand as her left started moving over her pussy. “I never imagined bonding with my brother over masturbation,” she giggled. “Ah.”
Having her active in her own sex made her movements on my pole less predictable and slowed me down some. But not enough. She wasn’t near when my cock started to pulse. She didn’t stop stroking. I didn’t get soft.
“Can you stand to go again?” she husked. “Diddling myself while I’m holding a hard cock is nice.” She was panting and I was watching her frig herself. God! To be fourteen again and have this immediate recovery time. I was! The last time I’d had two comes in a row was thirty years ago. I was building fast again and my previous come on Em’s fingers made her hand glide even smoother.
“I can feel it coming, Em,” I breathed. “Oh, yes!”
“I’m there!” she squeaked. Somehow the fact that she stopped stroking when she started coming didn’t diminish my shot. It arced up and landed on the towel Mom had given me to keep the casts from scratching me up.
“Thank you!” I panted. “Oh, God! Thank you! You’re the best.” My ribs had pretty much healed since they’d rested for five weeks already but the deep breaths I was gasping still gave me little twinges. I’d have to do some deep breathing exercises. “And thank you for letting me watch you come. You’re really beautiful, Em.”
“Oh, shit, J. I didn’t even think about you being able to see me. Is that why you stayed hard?”
“It didn’t hurt. It was… really nice.”
“I need to get you cleaned up.” She efficiently went about the process of wiping me down and cleaning up the come from all over. She refastened my diaper and covered me with the sheet. “Think you can sleep now?”
“Yeah. I think so.”
“I think I’m going to sleep like a rock. See you in the morning, J.”
Sleep came quickly and was filled with hazy visions of Em’s pussy.
We all managed to get through the weekend. Mom, Dad, and Em all took turns helping me with my toilet and cleaning me up afterward. I managed not to get fully erect with either Mom or Dad, but Em got to see me in all my glory. Pey was too little to do any of that work. Who’d subject an eight-year-old girl to cleaning her big brother’s ass? But it turned out that she did one thing that helped as much as everything else.
“You need a bell,” she said firmly. I’d been struggling to sit up in bed Sunday morning. She managed to get a pillow behind me so I was at least partway up. I guess she was the only one who was awake so far.
“Nobody knows when you need something if they aren’t in the same room. I’ll be right back.” She took off to the room she shared with Em. I had to say that Em was an angel with our little sister. How many almost-eighteen-year-olds do you know who’d peacefully share a room with their ten years younger sister. I needed to figure out a way to let Em know how great she was. The Em I remembered from V1 was always bitter and hated having younger siblings. She’d rather sleep on the sofa in the living room than sleep in the same room as Pey. And if we dared call her Em instead of by her full name, Emily, we could expect she wouldn’t speak to us for days. Apparently in this life, I was the one who was nasty and stand-offish to my siblings, even lording over them with my private room. What an asshole. I was going to change that, pronto.
Em came back with Pey. She immediately helped me sit the rest of the way up and get my pillows arranged so I didn’t slump back down. Having no working arms really sucks. I was working my abs like a demon to try and help them.
“I see what you mean,” Em said. “He needs some way to call us. At least in the hospital, they taped the call button to his cast so he could get help from a nurse.”
“You guys aren’t my nurse,” I said a little more hotly than I intended. “I mean, thank you, but I don’t want to inconvenience anybody.” I used Mom’s subtle dig at me.
“Right. Like it’s easier to change your diaper than to get you on the bedpan. We’re not talking about catering to your every whim, so get that idea right out of your mind.” She looked at me meaningfully and I got the message that she wasn’t going to be around to stroke me off on demand. “But you need to be able to alert someone if you need things. We’ll make it easy on you and write a list of acceptable summons on your cast. Before you ring the bell, you look at the cast and make sure what you want is on the list.”
“I don’t have a bell.”
“Well, that’s what we’re talking about. For some reason, Pey decided I need to get you a bell—or something.”
“I’d have told Mom, but she isn’t awake yet.”
“Neither was I, squirt.”
“Yeah, but… Em?”
“Don’t worry. I hear you. If we don’t stick together, we’ll all fall apart.” The two girls laughed. This life was so different than what I remembered. What had happened in my family that changed my sister so much? And me? It sounded so familiar but I couldn’t remember my sisters ever having a saying like that. “So, it will need to be loud enough to be heard but not so obnoxious that it sounds like he’s calling his servants.”
“And he needs to be able to ring it over and over to wake people up. You know… in case,” Pey agreed.
“Well, it’s only eight o’clock on Sunday morning. We can’t go shopping yet. What shall we have for breakfast?”
“Um… Not cereal, please,” I said.
“Does it do things to your poop?” Pey asked. Leave it to an eight-year-old.
“It’s not that. It’s just hard to eat. I end up with milk all down my chin and my chest.”
“Okay. He wants something totally… forkable,” Em said with an evil glint. “But not something that will make him constipated. That’s icky.”
“Pancakes!” Pey said.
“Good call. Why don’t you keep J company while I go whip some up? We can feed him from both sides and see if he gets syrup down his chin and chest.” The girls laughed. Em left to start some breakfast. Apparently in this life, our parents slept late on Sunday. I remembered always being up early and Sunday breakfast being a special time before church.
“Want to play ‘Go Fish’?” I asked my little sister.
“Yeah. I bet you can hold the cards easier with those card holder things the old people use.”
“We have those?”
“Yeah, you know. Mom and Dad don’t like people bending the cards so they insist that when people come over for card games that they use the holders.”
Well, that was a new point of information, too. I wondered how much I could count on my sisters to fill me in on things without giving away that I had no idea what I was doing in this life.
“I guess I haven’t been paying attention.”
“You quit playing cards with everybody the last time Mom yelled at you,” Pey said. “Em and I shaped up fast after that. We have one deck that we only use when you’re playing with me. They’re kind of bent up.”
“Why don’t you get things and see if I can hold cards with that gadget,” I said. Pey ran out of the room. I knew exactly what she was talking about. In the nursing home, when we played on Wednesday nights, we all used card holders. It wasn’t to keep the cards nice, though it did that. Most of us ‘old folks’ had arthritis so bad that we couldn’t grip a handful of cards. With the card holders, all the cards were in a rubber grip that even the weakest of us could keep.
Wednesday night cards. The last time I played pinochle with Big and the guys, Renie died. I never went back to the games. I hope she went peacefully. I still miss her. And I could sure use a good cigar right now.
“It is a form of grace to become nothing but a task”
—Kim Stanley Robinson, Icehenge
MONDAY MORNING, my home nurse showed up promptly at seven. Dad had already gotten me out of bed and helped me with morning toilet before he left for work. I was glad to be up and mobile in my chair but it was going to suck getting up before Dad went to work every morning. Still, Em was out the door to school at about the same time so I figured I’d better get used to it. Pey’s school didn’t start till nine. I guess that meant Em would get home earlier, too.
Molly was a big Irish redhead and I was in love from the moment I saw her. She was in her mid-fifties, I guess, and built like a brick. She was big but you’d never confuse her for fat. The first time she lifted me up to put the bedpan under my butt convinced me of that. She was strong as an ox. But her hair was still red and the spray of freckles across her nose just begged to be kissed. Damn it! V1 gets off on an old lady and V3 gets a hard-on. V2 is going ‘Oh, yuck!’ Except he was dead, so that didn’t count. She efficiently finished cleaning me up and gave my cock a pat before she fastened the diaper.
“That should provide you with some motivation to get healed,” she said. “You need to get your arms out of those casts so you can take care of little Jacob. You know, it’s the national pastime for boys of your age.”
After that, I was hard and red. I wondered if I could convince her to give me a helping hand, so to speak. Or mouth. She had full lips and a mouthful of white teeth that I was sure were her own. I could just imagine what it would feel like when she slipped those lips over my cock and started stroking me with her tongue.
“Yes, you’ve lost some mobility in your shoulders. We’ll have to work on extending them more every day. When you get out of those casts, it’s not just your flute you’ll want to finger. You’ll want to reach up over your head. Maybe even throw a ball. And you’re tight as a fiddle string. We need to do some torso stretches.”
My physical therapy with Molly took most of the morning. I was exhausted and wanted to nap after lunch.
“Why don’t you nap here on the sofa while I watch a soap?” she said.
“How am I going to get on the sofa?”
“How do you think?” She scooped me out of my chair with ease and laid me back on the sofa in a position where I could also see the TV if I so desired. I didn’t but it was nice to be with her while I napped. Finger my flute? Yeah.
It was two o’clock when Em got home from school. Molly had me back in my chair and was holding her purse when Em walked through the door.
“Well, I’m off then. See you for another round of torture in the morning, lad,” Molly said. She was out the door a minute after Em walked in.
“Who was that?” Em asked.
“Nurse Molly, my daily torturer,” I laughed. “She’s really a sweetheart and took good care of me today, but she’s on the clock.”
“You need anything before I change clothes?”
“Naw. I’m fine for a few. I’m happy to see you, though.”
“Keep that thought because I left school without pissing and I’m about to burst.” She hurried down the hall and I heard the bathroom door close. I was still pretty wrung out from half a day of PT and an hour of studying, but it really was nice to see Em in her school clothes. She was wearing a blue blouse and sweater that matched with skin tight jeans that did everything to accent her cute shape. I berated myself for the kinds of thoughts I had about my sister. I reminded myself that she was V3’s sister and not some common girl I’d see on the street. And besides, I was sixty-three years older than her and had no business lusting after a seventeen-year-old. Damn it! If I kept that attitude, I’d never be able to date when I got out of this contraption.
“Hey,” she said coming back into the room. She was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of cut-off sweats. Her legs were… luscious.
“Hey, yerself. Good day at school?”
“What are you, my mom? It was frustrating.”
“I thought you were good in school.”
“Oh, it’s not that. It’s… um… I was thinking that I’d burn off some… uh… fuck! I usually go to my room and jill off when I get home from school. You need some relief?”
“After the torturer was done with me today? I’d love some. Do you mean… Are you willing to do me? I don’t want to cut into your private time, I mean. I can… you know… wait… if you want.”
“In about five minutes, I’m going to have my panties around my ankles and three fingers buried in my twat. That leaves my other hand free if you want to join me. But Pey gets home in forty minutes. We need to do it now.”
“Let’s do it in your room.”
I followed her down the hall, maneuvered my chair past the door and backed it into my room. By the time I got there, Em had her sweats off and was mauling her breasts with one hand while she stroked her slit with the other.
“Get over here close to the bed. We have to work out a position since you aren’t in bed.” I backed my chair up next to the bed in the position she directed me to. She quickly got the Velcro closure of my little skirt open and unfastened the diaper. Just seeing her come in from school had me chubbing but seeing her with no pants on brought it to full attention. “I think I know how to do this and not be too stressful,” she said. With that, she sat on the bed, scooted down toward me, and put her right leg on my left shoulder. This close, she could still use her right hand on my cock and her left in her pussy. She squirted some lotion on her hand and started stroking as she lay back on her bed and got her other hand busy in a very wet pussy.
I could tell it was very wet. It was only about a foot in front of my face. I kept leaning forward to see if I could smell her. The sounds were great and the visual of her wide-open pussy was beyond belief. If it wasn’t for that visual, I might not have come. Sitting up with one leg stretched out in front of me isn’t the best jack-off position. But Em’s hand and the sight of her pussy as she got herself off were enough. She squealed and came again when my first shot hit her in the right buttock.
“Oh, God! You squirted on my butt!” Then she started laughing. “I forgot to get a washcloth and it’s going to run all the way down my leg by the time I get to the bathroom. Wow! That was a real charge! Be right back.” I could watch her bouncing butt with my come dripping down it all day.
Between school and homework and physical therapy, Em and I didn’t get together the rest of the week. I watched with dismay as she passed my room dressed in a miniskirt and tight top to go out for her Friday night date. I was seriously infatuated with my older sister.
When you can’t walk and your arms don’t move, life can be seriously boring. I loved my time in the power wheelchair because I could move from room to room. I could eat meals with the family in the dining room. I could watch television in the living room. But I couldn’t stand up by myself. You wouldn’t believe how much you depend on your arms when you change from standing to sitting to lying down. If someone, Dad or Nurse Molly, stood me up, I could stay there for a few seconds. But if I got the least bit off balance, I’d go from standing to lying down in a catastrophic manner. I felt confined all the time and I could tell Mom and Dad got tired of having to move me around and tend to my toilet.
The bell Em got me helped me get attention without yelling myself hoarse if I was in a room by myself. Em had carefully written on my cast the circumstances under which I could ring the bell. She had sequences as well. One ring, two rings, non-stop ringing. Each event I rang for had its own sequence. In general, one ring with a second not less than five minutes apart, meant that I’d like someone to talk to or I needed to ask a question. Someone would get to me as soon as they could but if Mom had three things cooking on the stove and was trying to pull something out of the oven, it might take a few minutes before she could make everything safe enough to answer my call. The second instance, five minutes later, would simply remind people that no one had responded yet.
At the other end of the spectrum, Em had written the few things that would merit non-stop ringing. Pain that I can’t stand. My room is on fire. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. (I think she was being facetious, but it reminded me that in the nursing home we all wore emergency communicators around our necks.) At the bottom of the list she’d written, ‘Nightmare.’
The problem, as I discovered later that night, was that when I had my nightmare, I couldn’t ring the bell.
I was suffocating. It always started that way. I couldn’t tell if I had air in my lungs and couldn’t exhale or if my lungs were empty and I couldn’t inhale. It made no difference. No air was going in or out. I was going to die here in the dark.
That was another thing that told me it was a nightmare. For as long as V2 could remember, he’d slept with a nightlight. He couldn’t stand the dark. But in the nightmare, everything was dark.
I opened my eyes and there was no nightlight. There was no light anywhere. The dark was absolute. It was like a vast silent chasm in space. Silence. I couldn’t hear. I couldn’t make a sound. My mind told me I was screaming, but no sound came out. I couldn’t even hear the beating of my own heart. It was like being in a sensory deprivation tank. The silence pressed in on me. And that was the difference. I could feel the pressure. My body was packed in a case that pressed against every part of me, growing heavier by the second. And this was where I would die. I would die alone in the dark and silence, crushed to death by the weight pressing down on me from every direction.
I begged in my mind for it to end. To die. To stop feeling this ever-increasing weight and silence and darkness. But I lived as it got worse and worse and I couldn’t let anyone know.
“J! J! Wake up. It’s a dream. I have you. I won’t let you go! Not now. Not ever!” The words eventually penetrated my skull. I clawed my way up out of sleep, hearing, seeing light, breathing again. Em had my cheeks held in her hands. She was gently rocking my head back and forth to get me to respond.
“Em!” I gasped. “Em, save me.”
“I’m here, J. It was just a dream. I’m here and you’re okay.”
“Oh,” I moaned. “Oh, God. I just wanted to die.”
“You promised, J. I’m not going to let you die. You promised.”
“I’m sorry, Em. It was… It was… just a dream. Like you said. Just a dream.”
“Christ, you’re all sweaty. Give me a minute and I’ll get a washcloth and towel. Can you do that for me? Okay?”
“I’m… okay, Em. I’ll wait. I’ll do whatever you say.” She kissed my forehead and slipped out of the room.
What the hell happened to V2 that gave him these nightmares? Fucking Christ! No wonder he wanted to kill himself. That one was one of the worst. I wondered how long I’d been dreaming. Of course, knowing the human brain, it might have been a second. It felt like I’d been in that tomb for days. I could feel my heart still racing. I couldn’t close my eyes for more than a blink because I needed to see the light in my room. I needed to hear the hum of the furnace kicking in because the October nights had become chilly. I needed to feel my own skin with my fingertips and scratch at the towel lying under my arms so I could pull it above my fingers. I never wanted to sleep again.
“You doing okay now? Let’s get the sweat mopped off of you and get you comfortable again,” Em said. She’d taken the time she was in the bathroom to change into the sports jersey she slept in. I wondered if she really thought she’d go to Michigan State or if she just wanted to attract a college boy to date her. Well, how would he know unless she was already sleeping with him. It was her nightgown, for God’s sake.
“It’s always the same,” I whispered as she helped me sit up so she could wipe the sweat off my back and dry it with a towel.
“I’m going to put a towel down behind you so you aren’t lying on these damp sheets,” she said. “It’s the middle of the night and it would take me forever to change the sheets with you in the bed.” She washed my sticky pits and my chest, then dried them with another towel.
“Why are you the only one who comes when I have a nightmare?” I asked. “Can’t anyone else hear? Do I make noise?”
“I just got home from my date with Robbie. I always stop to say goodnight, J. You were stiff as a board. Rigid. That’s how I knew. You never make a sound. Why didn’t you ring your bell?”
“Couldn’t. Couldn’t move.”
“I’m going to change your diaper. You might have wet yourself or it might just be sweat. Either way. This will help you calm down and sleep.”
It was a task for Emily to lift my hips to slide a fresh diaper under me, even when I was using my one good leg to help lift. I couldn’t press with my arms. She leaned over me and her breast brushed against the back of my fingers. I tried to turn my hand but, of course, it was encased in plaster and wouldn’t rotate. Even trying still sent a stab of pain up my arm. But I could feel it. I could feel her hard nipple against the backs of my fingers.
“God. You’ve got a boner now. You really like me to change you, don’t you? Will it help you sleep if I get you off?”
“Would you? Please?”
“Yeah. You know how I am after a date. I need to rub one off myself. How about I do you and… I do me. I guess you can’t really help.” She sat next to me on the bed with her knee pulled up so she could reach between her legs. It wasn’t the same as when I’d been sitting up a few days ago and the light was dimmer, but her pussy still opened before my eyes as she stroked my cock.
“You have such a beautiful pussy, Em. I wish I could touch it for you. I want to make you feel as good as you make me feel. That feels so good.”
“Yeah. Well, I sort of imagine that you’re doing me while I’m doing you. Robbie’s pretty good at it. I’ve only let him touch me outside my panties because you know that if he got inside, he’d be jabbing his finger into me and then he’d want to fuck. I’m not saying I’m a virgin, you know, but I don’t just give it up on every date. Mmm. I do like jilling myself while I’m stroking you, though. You’re probably going to spurt long before I… Oh… I… shit!”
That was wild. Em came before I did. I was so fascinated by what I was seeing and the hypnotic tone of her voice that I just didn’t connect to my own cock. I was hard as a rock but I hadn’t come.
“Oh yeah. That was good,” she sighed. “You haven’t come yet! Um…” What ever she was going to say was cut off as she turned her head and took my cock in her open mouth. I swear, my heart stopped. V1 had some pretty spectacular blowjobs in his eighty years. Not all from his wife. Em wasn’t technically as proficient as my college girlfriend. She could suck the chrome off a ’57 Cadillac. But this was Em. Em had my fourteen-year-old cock in her mouth. I tried desperately hard to thrust with my hips as I started firing in my sister’s mouth. Over and over and over.
“Oh, God! Em, I love you. I love you!” She reached up her other hand and covered my mouth. I was getting pretty loud. But the hand she used on my mouth was the one that had just been in her pussy and I sucked her fingers in. I bathed them with my tongue as I continued to mutter, “I love you.”
“Fuck, you come a lot. I couldn’t swallow fast enough.” She reached for the now-cool washcloth and wiped me down again, pausing to wipe a little come from her cheek.
“I love you, Em. I’m…”
“Puh-leeze, J. It was just a blowjob. I’m your sister. It’s not like you’re my boyfriend.”
“I’m going to have to get some help with this. I can’t have you falling in love with me. You know, it’s not like we’re getting married. I’m just being nice to my brother.”
“Oh.” I was crushed but tried not to show it as she got me tucked back into my diaper. “You are a nice sister. Thank you for being so nice. I… uh didn’t mean… you know… it was just kind of intense.”
“I know, kiddo. But if I get someone else to do this sometimes, you won’t be as tempted to fall in love with me. You know, I still kind of have a crush on the guy who took my cherry. Even though he ended up being a clueless jerk. Not a bad guy, just totally unaware. Anyway. I still dream about him sometimes, always correcting the little mistakes that he made in my dream and making it turn out happily ever after. The cure is to pick yourself up and get back on the horse. A different horse in my case. And that’s what I’m going to do for you. Get you another horse.”
“I’ll control myself,” I pleaded. “I don’t need a different horse.”
“See, that’s a sign right there. Don’t worry, J. I’ll get you a good one.” She kissed my forehead again. “Sleep tight, brother.”