Mirror Image

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
An abusive husband wakes up to the most shocking awakening of his life.

Submitted: December 12, 2018

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Submitted: December 12, 2018

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1.

 

Police sirens wailed as officers moved with their guns drawn in the warehouse parking lot.  Thunder rumbled violently overhead but there was no rain.  Lightning flashed and the ground shook as they moved.  As the other officers walked cautiously around the lot watching for any sign of movement, two of them drug a man across the lot in handcuffs.  He was older, his grayish hair tousled and his clothing torn.  As they led him to the waiting squad car, he jumped around and yelled.  His eyes were fixed on the figure of a man standing on the edge of the parking lot.  The man had long dark hair draping down an ornate coat that reached the ground.

 

But it wasn't the man that was so terrifying, it was what stood behind him, brought here by his summoning:  A gaunt, tall figure with a top hat, smiling in the darkness.

 

"Please, you have to see him, he's right there!  He came to take me!  Please don't put me in that car!"  The old man shrieked.  The police looked up  and saw nothing but  a bare parking lot in front of them illuminated with flashing red and blue lights.

 

As they wrestled the man into the car he regarded the figure in the hat with terror.  It was Death, and he took out a pocket watch, looked at it, looked at the man and smiled.  "It's time."  He said.

 

As the police shut the door, the figure in the long coat came gently to the window and looked in at the man, who was recoiling in the seat in terror.  The figure then spoke to him.

 

"I warned you and you ignored me.  I have only to warn you.  By this time tomorrow morning all those who helped you in your empire of crime will cease to exist.  Every one of them, down to the last street soldier.  You shall be first."

 

"PLEASE PROTOS!"  The old man screamed.  "I'M SORRY, I DIDN'T EVEN THINK YOU WERE REAL!"

 

Protos replied "You were real, the people you hurt and killed were real.  That was real enough and you knew it."

 

Protos stepped away from the car and behind him death smiled, tipped his hat and the old man screamed.

 

Several minutes passed and the police finally returned to the car.  One of them went to the door to read the old man his rights and stopped short.  The old man was on his back staring up, blank, empty and dead."sonofabitch, he was kicking like a caught fish when we put him in!"  The officer said.  A sargent came up and shrugged.  "Don't worry about it, just another scum bag trouble maker who will be disposed of like all the rest.  No loss to society."

 

 

 

 

2.

 

THE stereo was blaring in the little house as Mouse got ready to go shopping.  She carefully checked her waist line in the mirror and growled to herself.  "Ok, ok, I'll cut back on the chocolate.  For crying out loud, I gotta have some pleasures in life."

 

As she turned, her husband Mark stood by the door and chuckled.  "Still eye balling that bottom line huh, Mousie?"

 

"I don't want to turn into a fat pizza head.  You know, sitting around getting bigger and bigger, degenerating.  We have people to do that, they're called sign posts."

 

Mark laughed.  "So how is your latest self abuse going?"

Mouse hissed at him.  "My pants are looser, but I want to lose enough to feel better about myself.  I'll know when I'm where I want to be."

 

  "Ok.  I'm going to go get some burritos and pop for lunch."

 

"You TURD!"  Mouse said, her hands on her hips.  Mark laughed as he went out the door.  Moments later Mouse heard a knock at the door, and she opened it to find Barbera.  Barbera lived next door in a virtual prison of her husband's making, the domineering he man of the neighborhood.

 

Mouse hugged Barbera who tensed up as she did it, and Mouse was suddenly aware he had hurt her again.  She then noticed the sun glasses and the scarf as Barbera came in and sat down.  Mouse fought back tears.  "Not again."  She squeaked.

 

"It's okay Mouse, I'm okay..."

"There's nothing okay about a brute being abusive to his wife!"  Mouse swiped the tears from her face.

 

"I feel trapped, Barbera.  I hate MANLY MAN with a passion.  A big ego, a big pickup truck, a big....you know, everything leading up to him stomping around (Mouse pushed out her chest and began walking around mocking men) "I'm a MMMAAANNN!  That means I OWN everthang I see, and ever be-atch out there is just some piece of property here to make my dinner, make my babies and be my door mat.  Do I leave it alone, do I call a bunch of MANLY cops to take him in or do I just shoot him, then shoot him again, and maybe again.  What is it about that sliver of meat that makes a damned man think he runs the world?"

 

"He didn't do more than a little yelling last night, he was mad over..."

 

Mouse came over and took off Barbera's glasses and scarf showing a black eye and some bruises.  "Boy he yells hard doesn't he, Barbera?"  Mouse grabbed Barbera up and began to hug her and cry.

 

 

 

 

3.

 

The clouds were dissipating in the sky as a 1975 Cadillac rolled down the street.  It was a solid looking car with faded paint and it rumbled like a warhorse.  It pulled up in front of a plain looking house with tall grass, trash scattered around, and weathered paint.

 

Inside the house was a woman in a wheel chair.  It was Laurie, and she watched the television and shook her head. The announcer sounded serious as he spoke.

 

"A week of black rolling clouds with no rain has been punctuated with the deaths of a large number of local gang members and members of organized crime.  Last night the entire E Street crime ring vanished and their leader was found dead in the back of a police cruiser shortly after his arrest.  It's just the latest in a week long string of strange incidents in the city.

 

There was a knock at the door and Laurie wheeled herself to it and opened it to find the tall man, his long hair perfectly groomed standing with a smile.

 

"Hi.  Still looking for someone to help you around your house?"  He said.  Laurie smiled pleasantly and moved so he could come in.

 

"My name is..."

"I know who you are.  Come on in.  I'm glad to see you Protos."

"I could use a place to stay and you could use a bit of help."

"Absolutely.  We have lots we can talk about.  Nice car."

 

Protos looked back at the Cadillac.  "You know ever since they started making them I had a fondness for those.  Double headlights, long bulky bodies, then I ran into this woman who had one and I did her a service and she gave it to me.  I was really pleased."

 

Laurie smiled.  "I really would like to get this place in order.  I want to scale down.  I just can't keep yup with it, and at this point I don't even want to."  She said.  Protos smiled.  "I totally understand."

 

Laurie looked Protos over as he came in and sat down.  He was tall, built very strong and she liked his hair.

 

Years ago she had dated men like him, but then she was enjoying being able to go out dressed nice, socialize and work toward her goals, till she felt some aching in some muscles and went to see why it would not go away only to find out that she was terminally ill.

 

Slowly but surely she had watched her shapely legs thin down and go pale, her slim figure sag into aching muscles, and her arms begin to move involuntarily.  Her hair got thinner also, and pretty soon the fancy dresses and high heels sat useless, looking awful on her, like icing on a rotting cake.

 

They talked for what seemed like an eternity, then Protos brought in his small amount of luggage and put it in her spare room, and went to get some tools from his car.  As he did, a pickup truck passed with a huge man in it and Protos stood for a moment and regarded the truck without saying anything.

 

The truck pulled into the driveway fo the house at the end of the block and a big man got out.  He was in his thirties, with short, wavy black hair, built like a prize fighter, with a tank top draped over his well toned muscles.  He walked stoutly up to the house next door and hit the door twice.  He yelled "Barbera?" and walked back to his house and vanished inside.

 

He was Jonas Walker, and he walked with the confidence of a man totally convinced of his own superiority.  He rarely spoke to his neighbors, preferring to ignore them, and referred to most of the women as "broads" or "bitches".

 

Barbera had been talking to Mouse and was settling into a cup of coffee when she all but dropped it getting up to go for the door when she heard him come home.  She panicked when the coffee spilled and Mouse  took the cup.  "It's okay Barbie, I'm not mad over a little spilled coffee!"  She assured her.  Barbera stammered and went out the door.  Behind her, Mouse watched her go and tears flowed and she took the cup and threw it into the kitchen sink where it broke into pieces.  "MISERABLE MACHO BASTARD!"  She yelled.

 

 

4

 

 

Jonas kicked off his boots and threw them into the laundry room.

 

"You still believe in doing laundry, right, snooks?"  He said to Barbera.

"I was working on getting ready to go down town and take care of the other stuff."

  "Looks more like you were hanging out bellyaching to Mouse again.  She still happy  married to that loser?

"She's very happy with him.  They have a cruise planned at the end of the week."

"A cruise?"  Jonas asked in surprise."How in the world does that goofball afford to go on a cruise?  Hell he can't even keep that junk pile car of his running.  Every time I see him he's working on that bundle of scrap.

"She got some kind of deal."

"I got a deal for her."  Jonas went to the refrigerator and pulled a beer, opened it and laughed.  "I convert to Mormonism, she marries me and I show her how a real man runs a home.  We could have some cool vacations, don't you think?"  He looked at Barbera."That would be interesting in the bedroom wouldn't it?  But then she'd probably think I'm an asshole like you do."

"I don't..."  The bathroom door slammed and Jonas turned on the shower water."  Behind him Barbera began to cry.

 

The sound of a lawn mower filled the street and Protos cut the grass in front of Laurie's house, then found a small bird sitting in a bush.  He picked it up and began to stroke it's head and talk to it.  Laurie came to the window and saw him.  She smiled as he held his hand up and the bird flew away.  Protos then went in the house where Laurie was.  "You up for a bit of a spin?"  He asked.  "Sure."  She smiled.

 

The Cadillac rumbled down the road minutes later with Laurie's wheelchair in the back and she looked out the windows like a child going shopping.

 

"Been a while since you got out and got to run around?"Protos asked.

"Yes, I had to sell my car.  Financially this is a big drain on me."

"I understand."

"Part of the day I feel like doing things, then I will find myself just wanting to just...just..."

 

Protos smiled.  "That's okay, because today you can start feeling better.  It's all going to work out, Laurie.  I'm taking you to someplace special to me."

 

They drove out into the country to a large hill and Protos got out her wheel chair and eased her across the grass.  Trees swayed down the hill and flowering plants covered most fo the ground.  Laurie smiled.

 

"This place is really  nice!"  She said.

Protos nodded.  "Over the centuries it has been an ocean, a mountain then it got turned on it's side and became the home of native tribes, then it became a wild life refuge."

 

She looked at Protos.  Why did you come to my place?"

Protos smiled.
"I have some business in town with someone and you were important to me.  Are you surprised?"
 
"I'm surprised that I matter.I'm just some..."
"You are a human being, who's life has value, and those who are pure hearted like you are important.  I've seen many possessed of pure evil.  It's like that old car I have, it's something special, not just a pile of junk to be recycled."
Laurie's eyes teared up and she smiled.  "Coming from you that's so amazing."  Laurie hugged Protos.  As they separated, Laurie began to breath hard.
 
"I'll take you home so you can get some rest."
"I'm sorry..."
"There is no need for you to ever apologize, Laurie."
 
 

5

The sun was dropping low in the sky and Jonas Walker stepped out of his house and finished a can of beer, walked to the end of his driveway and pitched it into the bed of his neighbor's truck.  He then walked back into the house and turned on the television.  Sitting down he glanced over his shoulder toward where Barbera was washing dishes.

"We've got two hours to get done here and go to Cathy's place.  I'm going to finish this show and get dressed.  Why don't you wear that red outfit with the choker?  You looks sexy as hell in it."

"You told me I couldn't wear it anymore because too many men were..."
"I told you not to wear it around Mouse's husband because he can't quit drooling.  You can wear it tonight, hell it might even make things better with some of the other guys I know when they see what I've got."

Barbera stopped washing dishes and stood for a moment.  Jonas looked at her.  "Something wrong?"  He asked.

Barbera looked at him for a moment.  "Barbera I asked you a question now damned well answer me!"

"I can't wear it because it will show where you hit me."
Jonas shook his head.  "Whatever, wear whatever you want to wear, I don't give a shit.  Bring me one more beer."
"If you didn't hit me..."

Jonas turned to her suddenly.  "What was that?  Did you say something?"
"You want to show me off but I make you so unhappy."
"I got an idea.  Bring me a damned beer and I'll forget you're talking down to me.  All I want is one more stinking assed beer, is that to much to ask?"
Barbera shakily went to the refrigerator and got a beer, popped the top and began walking his way.  As she got to him she was shaking an the beer dumped on him.  Jonas got up, infuriated.

"STUPID INCOMPETENT BITCH BROAD.  CAN'T EVEN CARRY A SIMPLE BEER WITHOUT DROPPING IT."

"I'm sorry.  Barbera stammered.
"You are that."  Jonas said, grabbing the beer, drinking some down and hurling it at the wall.  "If we're going to do it we might as well do it right.  Can you get cleaned up so we can go out or do I have to help you?"  Barbera went to the bedroom and shakily got a dress out of her closet, and was shaking so hard she dropped it.  She doubled to the bathroom and shut the door, shaking, and slid to the floor breathing hard.

Barbera sat for a moment and tears began to flow.  She whimpered.  "When did it all fall apart?  When?"

  An hour later Barbera was brushing her hair and Jonas was adjusting his suit.  He approached her and petted her back.
"You look nice in that.  Really pretty.  you still got it, girl."
Barbera stared into the mirror silently, then replied in a hushed voice.  "Are you sure?" 
  "Sure about what?"
  "I've still got it, whatever it is."
  "You're a great catch Barbera.  Just cause I get a little mad sometimes, shit, people have problems."
"If you say so."
Jonas patted Barbera on the back as he walked out fo the room and she closed her eyes and jerked nervously.
  "We gotta go, snooks."  Jonas said.  "Grab the keys."

Barbera pulled a small drawer open and next to a set of car keys she saw his revolver.  She took it out slowly, looked at it, and looked at herself in the mirror as she put it under her chin and felt the trigger.  Just a quick pull and all this would be over, and he would never get mad at her again.  She gently  squeezed the trigger and for a moment, she felt s surge of relief and calm, peace, as if she was about to be free...

"Come on Snooks, let's go!  Time to have some drinks and some fun."

Barbera put the gun back in the drawer and joined Jonas.  He drove down the road babbling to her about something but Barbera didn't say a word.  She didn't hear him.  She realized that for the first time in years she had felt at peace, calm and a moment away from having her troubles be over.

A tear ran down her cheek as she thought of how tempting that revolver seemed now.  She couldn't walk away...she had no means, and she was terrified that he owner her, and if he found her how angry he would be.

She could stay with him having fight after fight and being hit and yelled at or she could walk down an empty street, homeless and hungry, but free.Barbera got out of the truck when they got to Cathy's and she made her way swiftly to the bathroom.  She sat on the toilet and began to cry.  She cried till she was choked, then she heard the door open, and before she could contain herself she found Mouse closing and locking it.

"My baby girl having a moment?"  Mouse asked.
"Kinda."

For the next twenty minutes Jonas strutted around the party, almost like a model on display looking at women, having drinks, and talking with the other ego driven men who had showed up.  He shunned Mouse's husband Mark till they ran into each other over the drink table.
 
"So Mark, is your kid still into all that vampire crap or has she finally decided to join the real world?"
 
  Mark paused then answered.  "My DAUGHTER is very much interested in Victorian gothic fashion, and she does fine in the real world."
 
Jonas snickered.  "Has she gotten a job yet?  I know Chick Fill..."
 
"She works as a merchandiser in a clothing store and she likes it.  Tell me Jonas, have you ever considered replacing your massive ego and desire to walk all over others with some basic courtesy?  I'm not afraid of you in case you wondered."
 
"I didn't figure you were.  I was just curious about the little freak."
"Well now you know all about my Daughter."  Mark finished.
 
Barbera came out of the bathroom with her makeup  redone and she began to socialize with Jonas and others.  They danced and had drinks and things seemed to get more calm and wind down, finally making Barbera feel less edgy.  For once she seemed to be smiling a bit, but when the party began to wind down she seemed depressed and withdrawn and finally as she went to get into the truck and leave with Jonas, Mark took Mouse by the hand and led her to their car.

 

"You can't do anything Mouse, she has to come to a point where she has had enough and make some effort to help herself."  Mouse bit her knuckles as they drove toward the house.
 
"She's not strong enough.  She's emotionally dependent on him and she also can't take care of herself financially.  she knows it and it keeps her stuck in his fist.  It's sickening because I know it wont end before it's too late..."  Mouse's voice began to quiver..."and I get to go to her funeral."
 
Mark shook his head.  "I wonder what she saw in him when she married him."
"Believe it or not he wasn't always an asshole."
"It is hard to believe."
 
 
6
 
 

THE moon was high and bright as the truck pulled into the driveway and Jonas stumbled out, somewhat drunk, with Barbera going into the house ahead of him as if running away.
 
Next door moments later, Mark pulled up with Mouse and got out of his truck, ignoring Jonas as he went in his house.
Mark dropped onto his couch and looked at Mouse. 
 
"I want all the alcohol in the house, so we can get wasted, then get some friends from the neighborhood and have some filthy debauchery till sunrise.  So my piece of female property fetch me the alcohol at once.  Don't sass me."
 
Mouse left the room and returned with a plastic bottle labeled RUBBING ALCOHOL and tossed it to him."This is all the alcohol in the house and for your debauchery you can use the beanbag chair as a blowup doll."
Mark laughed out loud and pulled her on the couch where they cuddled.
 
In minutes they heard Jonas shouting, glass breaking, and the sound of him hitting Barbera.  She cried out as if she had been hit hard, and Mark got up and moved for his front door. 
"You call the cops Mousie."
Mouse began dialing.
 
Mark banged his fist on the door and shouted to Jonas, who opened the door and put his pistol between Mark's eyes, and Mark could smell the stench of alcohol on his breath.
For what seemed like an eternity, Jonas dripped sweat and pointed his gun at Mark, glaring angrily into his eyes and saying something, and Mark saw Barbera sobbing from inside the house.  Mouse was screaming something and when Mark turned toward  her he saw he saw a strange vision in the moonlight.  About fifty feet away in the street was the figure of a man in a long coat, hair flowing down his jacket front, looking calmly at the whole scene. 
 
Mark saw the man vanish into a haze of flashing lights as the police showed up and took Jonas away to jail, and Barbera to the hospital where he and Mouse joined her.  She was too afraid to press charges and Mark was n Jonas's property and therefore had no rights.  Totally frustrated and angry he drove Barbera home, and Mouse sat in the back seat and reached forward, stroking Barbera's hair.
 
"You okay baby girl?"  Mouse asked.
"No."  Barbera replied.  "I'm making a monster movie and taking my friends with me."
 
Barbera silently got out of the car and went into her house and Mark retired home with Mouse, sitting on the couch silently.  
 
"I need to kill him."
"You can;t do that, Mark."
"I know I can't but I still need to."
 
At the police station a gray haired officer entered the plain white room where Jonas sat staring at the wall as if totally put out.
 
"Jonas Walker.  I'm detective McSween.  Let's cut the bullshit and get straight to the point.  I've seen your kind a million times, a big badass, gets drunk, slaps his wife around again and again.  Six months from now I'll be charging you with capital murder and your wife will be in a casket.  That what you want?"
 
"You don't know what the hell hap..."
"You went home drunk, sex got rough, she did not want to play and you got pissed over some little thing and threw a tantrum.  Spare me.  I saw the stain of beer n the wall.  Everybody coats the wall with beer and licks it off, right?  Let's face it you are a violent bastard."
 
"That your professional opinion?"
"What do you want to do, Jo Walker, sue me?"
"So how long am I going to jail?"
"You aren't mighty man.  You got your wife so terrified of you she won't press charges.  I've got her freezer all picked out.  Go home, there is no sense me talking to you."
 
Jonas left the police station and got a cab home.  When he arrived, reeking of sweat and alcohol, Barbera was asleep.  He reached out to touch her and she recoiled.  Before he could think about it he fell asleep.
 
 
7
 
 
Jonas's head was hurting a little when he woke up but not much.  It was only six in the morning and he wanted to sleep some more but he stepped outside for a moment.  Barbera was coiled in a ball with blankets around her as if hiding.  He left her alone and went outside.  Mark passed him without a word and slammed his door shut.
 
Jonas walked to his truck and leaned against the back of it trying to get himself mentally prepared for a shower.  As he stood, he became aware he was not alone and he turned to find a man standing behind him.  The man had long hair and looked like some mythological god.  He also wore an elaborate long coat.  
 
"Good morning, Jonas."
"Who the hell are you and why are you in my yard?  How do you know my name?  Have we met?"
"So many questions Jonas.  My name is Protos, and no we have not met.  But I know everything about you."
"Whoopie damn ding dong.  Is hat supposed to mean something to me?"
 
Protos stared at him firmly.   "It means everything to you.   I'm going to give you the greatest gift of your life."
 
"Get your gothy ass off my lawn and we'll call it even.  You a salesman or something, cuz you wont sell much with that godawful ugly coat."
 
Protos continued calmly.   "I'm not a salesman. I am older and wiser than you can imagine, and I am going to give you the chance to find out what it is like to deal with you.  How you respond to that gift will determine how much longer I let you live."
 
Jona turned hostile.  He got in Protos's face.
 
"Listen you little societal reject, whiny depressed gothic jackass, you don't come here and threaten me.  For the last time, get off my lawn or we'll find out how long I let YOU live!"
 
"Go get some rest Jonas, and when you come to terms with things, we'll talk again.  You have a neighbor down the road in a wheel chair.  She is dying and I am sharing her last days because she is a very gentle soul."
 
Jonas was about to yell in Protos's face when he saw only empty air where Protos had been.  He looked around.
 
"FUNNY, MAGICIAN MAN, NOW STAY AWAY FROM MY PROPERTY!"  Jonas shouted.
 
Back in his house, Jonas got back into bed and went to sleep.  He woke up to the sound of a passing car playing loud rap and he sat up.  It was good and light outside, and Jonas knew it was time to get up.  No work today so he could have some....suddenly he realized something was very wrong.
 
Jonas felt strange, and his hands touched...his breasts.  His eyes wide open, Jonas looked down to see soft little hands where his had been, and he heard a female voice, his wife's voice, say "huh?"  Jonas slowly stood up and looked in the mirror and felt a tidal wave of shock go through him.  In the mirror...as Barbera.  Jonas then looked behind him in bed and saw...himself, waking up.
 
Jonas ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror again and shook his head.  He was no  longer Jonas walker, he was now Barbera, and Jonas was getting out of bed.  Jonas looked at Jonas from the bedroom.
 
"You slept late  Maybe you could think about getting us something to eat.  I gotta shower, you can when I'm done."
 
From Barbera's body, Jonas watched himself get up and go to the bathroom shower.
 
Barbera almost ran in a robe to the house down the street where Protos was sanding the house to paint.
 
"Okay, what the HELL have you done, mister?!"
 
Protos smiled.  "Hello Jonas,  This is your gift I told you I had for you, the chance to see yourself as your wife sees you.  Now you can be your own slave and punching bag and figure out just how she feels."
 
"Who or what are you?!"  Jonas yelled.
 
Protos calmly got close to him.  "I am part of a family of ancient immortal beings Jonas, who have watched humanity grow on this Earth for millenniums.  As humanity draws toward it's own destruction, those who sent me have had enough.  I put you in your wife's body to learn about you.  You will stay there till that message sinks in.  I am here to do some major cleanup but I also do some little side projects and you my friend are one of them.  You are a brute, a selfish overbearing man who needs to reconnect with what he once loved."
 
"I can't be in my wife's body!  I have a job and home!"
"You will do fine, because you don't know that you are in her, and you will not be able to tell him."
"How long are you going to leave me in  Barbera's body, Mr. Protos?!"
"However long it takes.  Now go home and learn, mortal man, learn."
 
Suddenly Jonas/Barbera found himself standing in his living room as Jonas came out of the bathroom.
 
"Well you gonna make breakfast or what?  Get in here Barbara, you're in your nightgown.  That idiot next door doesn't need the view!"
 
Protos went back to sanding and Laurie wheeled herself out and smiled.  
 
"Seems like alot of work to go to for you, shouldn't it be easier and faster for an immortal with powers?"  She smiled.
 
Protos chuckled.  "No, I am used to alot bigger work, but I'm happy right now with magic tricks."
 
Laurie wheeled herself over to where Protos was working.
 
"It just seems you would have so much to do, as an immortal with almost unlimited power."
 
Protos smiled. "You mean like saving the world?"
"Well, why confine yourself to taking care fo some crippled woman on her death bed?"
 
Protos put down what he was doing and came and sat on a chair next to her wheel chair.
 
"I really haven't told you much of anything about what is actually going on, besides our casual discussion the other day.
 
Protos looked up at the sky as he spoke.This universe is way older than you can imagine.  Long ago when the first planets were settled there was a race of immortals, Lumaris being the most mighty.  I came along as the prototype on which others would be made.  There are others, such as Asroth, Cirque and Onan, serving in various ways in various worlds.
 
"At first, Cretius ruled this universe and things were very beautiful and well organized.  Lumaris was his first in command besides himself.  At some point Lumaris became angry and felt he had been treated unfairly.  He tried to convince us to join him against Cretius but I refused as did others.  He got Asroth and Cirque to join him.
 
They attempted to seize power from Cretius and they lost.  Cretius banished Lumaris and the rest to this planet and barred them from leaving it.  When humanity was put here, Asroth decided the only thing to do was dominate them and become their gods.  He and Cirque ruled them for centuries till they became many in number and they turned them on each other.
 
"Cretius blew up the blue moon which used to orbit Earth and all but a very few of them died, and he let them rebuild.
 
"  They sent me because it is time to stop humanity from destroying themselves.  I have been busy for some time, and I made a stop here for business reasons."
 
"So you destroy people?"
  "I give them one chance to change direction and after that I do whatever is required." 
 
"So am I a project?"
"No, you are a gentle person who is giving me a place to stay and I am here to take you and ease you out of your suffering."
 
"I will be dead soon."
"This body will.  You wont be sick anymore."
"What then?"
"I can't tell you any more.  I want your last days to be happy ones."
"Good enough."  Laurie gave Protos a friendly kiss.
 
 
 
8
 
 
At his house, Jonas was horrified at his situation.  In Barbera's body, he felt the pull to get dressed, brush her hair and make breakfast, all fo which he did, then as Jonas watched himself walking around the house, he noticed that his actual body seemed hulking and huge, as opposed to seeing himself in the mirror. 
 
In his wife's body, he became aware of every little noise Jonas made, every move, and felt edgy and nervous, fumbling and dropping things because her hands shook constantly.  He became frustrated trying to do basic chores because as fast as he finished one he felt the sudden urge to do another, and he noticed the constant irritating nagging of Jonas, correcting everything and complaining.
 
"Trying to clean the kitchen, Barbera's hands broke a glass then dropped a plate.  Jonas came in angrily.  " for you to try and break everything in the kitchen? You act as if you never cooked before! Are you just stupid or what?"
 
"I'm doing the best I can."  She replied and her stomach knotted as Jonas shot back "Did you just say something?"  Barbera froze and Jonas heard her voice quiver as he replied "No, I just..." Jonas slammed down his coffee cup.  "It sounded like you sassed me and I will knock that sass out of you."
 
In Barbera's body, Jonas was ready to leave the house to go shopping and felt the tension of trying to hurry and get out the door.  Then he felt her dread as she approached Jonas in the living room sorting through television channels.
 
"I have to go to the store."  He heard Barbera's voice say.  "I need money."
 
Jonas Shook his head.  "Jeez."  He dug out his wallet and handed her some cash. "This better do it because you aren't getting any more."
 
In Barbera's body, Jonas walked out the front door of the house and felt a surge of relief being outside.  He got into the car and drove out into the city, and even though he did not know where she would go, her mind automatically took them there.
 
Jonas felt her desire to buy perfume, and saw blouses and dresses she liked and wanted.  He felt the tension in her as she looked but did not dare spend any of his money.  She bought food and other supplies robotically and he was amazed at how efficiently Barbera's mind planned and figured.  She was amazingly intelligent.  When the shopping was done,she got in the car and he felt dread welling up in her as she came close to the house.
 
As Barbera pulled into the driveway, Jonas was overwhelmed by her unhappiness, and forcing herself to go in the house and unload the car as he saw himself sitting on the couch engrossed in a sports show drinking beer.
 
  Barbera mechanically put things away in the kitchen, then turned and Jonas saw his body standing in the kitchen door way, filling it up like a monster and glaring.
 
"You can stay the hell away from that little butterball next door, that thing you call Mouse."  Jonas boomed.
 
Jonas suddenly felt Barbera's tears well up and without hearing it come, he heard her reply "She's the only friend I have.  My family doesn't come around me anymore because of problems between you and me, and you don't let me go out and socialize.  What am I supposed to do?"
 
Jonas saw himself get face to face with Barbera and he smelled his beer breath and herd his booming voice.  Jonas roared at Barbera about messages on Facebook, and when she responded, Jonas felt Barbera's terror and grief mount, and her voice break as she tried to fight back, then he felt the slamming impact of Jonas's hand on her face.  Barbera's body fell and Jonas stood over her yelling and in her mind, Jonas no longer knew anything but terror.  He watched his own body stomp around the house, throwing things and yelling then go in the bedroom and slam the door.
 
Forcing Barbera's body to get up, Jonas staggered out the front door and managed to force her to walk down the street.  Protos was washing his car when Jonas drug himself up in Barbera's body.
 
  "What do you want to take me out of my wife's body, Protos, money?"  She asked in a tortured voice.  Protos looked thoughtful.  "Um, twenty thousand you have in savings and your pickup truck to replace this old tank would be about right."
 
Jonas straightened up in anger.  "Are you serious?  Money and my truck?"
 
Protos drew near to Barbera's face.  "You don't get it, do you, Mr. Breakfast on the table on time.  I put you in Barbera's body for a reason Jonas, not for amusement, but to give you a sample of her life and now you are experiencing the confusion of having her thoughts, her emotions, and you’re also and learning what you do to the most important person in your life.  There was a lesson to be learned and since I can see into your mind and know exactly what you are thinking and feeling, I wont undo it till my purpose is accomplished.  You haven't figured it out yet, and until you do, you are stuck being her."
 
"She is not as strong as that hulking monster.  I'm not sure I can survive days or weeks like this."  Barbera's voice pleaded.
 
"Precisely my point, Jonas, it really stinks doesn't it?Do yourself a favor and go home and look at the wedding album you yourself made and ask yourself who the guy in those pictures is, then go to the mirror and take a moment, let your wife’s thoughts and memories come flooding home and get to know her, and the real you. I have lived for thousands of years, Jonas, seen kingdoms come and go, and I was sent here by a group of higher beings for a reason. Your money means less to me than a hill of dust. Go home and learn, mortal man, learn.  Jonas is about to go bellyaching about you  to his beer drinking buddies and he wont be home till later so you have some time, Jonas Walker, to learn about Jonas Walker.  You are the luckiest man alive.  You're welcome."
 
  Jonas suddenly found himself looking out of Barbera's eyes and seeing his body stomping for the door with his car keys.
 
"I'm going to watch the rest of the game at Marty's.  Try not to burn the damn house down while I'm gone."
 
The door slammed and Jonas stood looking after himself as he felt a surge of relief and heard the truck leave the yard.
 
 After Jonas watched his body leave the house, he sat for a moment in stunned silence in the living room.  He shook his head in disbelief that some strange looking man had stuck him in his wife's body.  Good lord, where did this guy come from?  Jonas wen to his computer and put the name Protos in.  After some searching he found a lengthy article on mythological men and women.  As he let Barbera's fingers search he saw that Protos was an ancient being in posession of incredible power, and some of the acts attributed to him in past centuries.  The man he had met looked just like the statues and renderings on the computer.
 
Jonas then read about him and found he had been loyal to Cretius and used his power to protect worlds filled with people just like him from destruction at the hands of Lumaris and Asroth.
 
  He then got up and took out his wedding album, and his world began to crumble.
 
Jonas looked at pictures of Barbera in her wedding dress, her hair swept to the side, her smile radiant, and her dress perfect.  He looked at her face and she seemed a totally different person.  Jonas paged through the pictures and saw a world he had forgotten and he began to feel her memories.  He got up slowly from the couch and walked into the bedroom and began to feel sick.  Then for no particular reason he opened the drawer and saw his gun.  He looked at it and felt her peace and desire to pick it up and end her misery...then the memories began to flow and he saw himself hitting her, yelling at her, berating her.
 
Jonas walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror.  He slid Barbera's dress down and saw the bruises and he looked at her face.  Her memories came flooding back and Jonas felt her tears begin to flow.  He bumped against the wall and slid down to the floor as her memories filled her head and he did not try to stop them.
 
Jonas whispered in his wife's voice, weak and strained "what have I done.  I destroyed the thing I loved the most."
 
Jonas was overwhelmed by grief and anger, at himself, and as the evening wore on and he sat alone, he felt it come to him in waves, sickening him.  He went through every album they had and at one point he stepped outside and bumped into Mouse.  She hugged Barbera's body as she readied to leave for her cruise, and he heard her make Barbera promise to call her while she was gone, and saw her turn as Mark waited for her to get into the car, and she looked frightened at Barbera for a moment then they departed.
 
The night came on, dark and lonely for Jonas Walker as he sat in his wife's body in the silent, dark house.  He then went in the bedroom and lay on the bed, and finally heard the front door open.
 
Jonas saw himself come in the bedroom, reeking of beer, and turn the light on.  To Barbera's horror he smiled and said "good, you're awake.  Great game, I won some money and I'm in a fun mood."
 
 
9
 
 
Down the road, sunlight hit the front window of Edward Howell who came out in front of his house.  He looked at the sunrise.  "Welp, today is as good a day to go in for that colonoscopy as any."  He went back in the house to get his car keys.  Down the road six houses Jonas Walker woke up in the morning.  He turned over and had an instant realization that he was in his own body again.
 
Jonas saw his hands and chest, then he saw Barbera next to him, coiled into a ball wrapped in blankets mentally isolating herself from him.  He reached for her, then stopped.
 
He got out of bed, and as he stood, the memories filled his brain and he almost felt faint.  He walked into the garage where he kept his mother's old furniture.  He looked into a mirror and saw his face.
 
Jonas was overwhelmed with more disgust and anger than he had ever felt in his life.  He stared at the image of the man, and let the memories from his wife's mind, and his experiences of living in her body for a time fill his head.  The yelling, bullying, slapping...Jonas looked at his morning face and every second filled him with more revulsion.  He had pushed her to the brink of seeing her own death as a relief.
 
Jonas balled up a fist, let out a yell and smashed the mirror.  He then turned and walked back into the house.  He picked up his phone and dialed a number, then he went to the bathroom and got in the shower.  He put on one of his button down shirts, and checked to make sure Barbera was still asleep.
 
Jonas went to the kitchen and began to cook.  It wouldn't be great but he was going to do it.  He put on some after shave and finished making breakfast.
 
Suddenly the doorbell rang, and Jonas turned to see Barbera throwing on a robe, running from the bedroom.  As she ran to the front door she was muttering.  "I'll get it Jonas, I'm sorry, I overslept, I'm so so sorry, just give me a minute, please don't get mad."  Jonas slowly walked up behind her as she answered the door and waited.
 
A flower deliver man was outside.  He had the biggest spray of roses she had ever seen.  She was terrified.  What man had sent these, while Jonas was home?!
 
"You Barb Walker, also known as Snooks?"  The man asked.  Barbera paused.  Snooks?
 
  She nodded and took the flowers and a large note.  The deliver man tipped his hat and left and she closed the door.  She slowly read the note as Jonas took the flowers and held them.
 
"Barbera.  I am a monster, I am a self centered, abusive bastard who does not deserve a smart, good woman like you.  I am mean and spiteful and a cowardly bully.Please please accept my apology.  I swear I will go back to being the man you married.
 
  Barbera slowly looked up and saw tears in Jonas's eyes.  He said nothing, just handed her the flowers.
 
Barbera put the roses on a table and saw breakfast waiting.  She turned and Jonas embraced her tightly and held her. 
 
"Can you accept the apology of the biggest asshole in the world?  I will never ever yell at you or hit you again, ever."  He said.  Barbera backed off and looked at him.  "Yeah, I can.  I'd really like that.  where did this come from?"
 
"You'd never believe me."
 
 
10
 
 
Laurie  woke in the middle of the night, feeling strange.  She tried to get out of bed, and with a struggle she managed to sit up.  She felt incredibly weak and her breathing was labored.  She weakly called for Protos, and he came into the room and eased her back onto the pillow and stroked her hair.
 
Large clouds rolled into the sky and thunder rumbled gently as wind blew lightly through the neighborhood.
 
Laurie looked up into the room.  "I'm so tired of this."  She said.  As Laurie looked at the room it began to fill with a strange glow, and she saw a figure come through the wall like a mist and take the shape of a tall man with a top hat and Victorian clothing.  He smiled pleasantly and removed the hat, and took out a pocket watch.  He looked at it and smiled at Laurie and extended his hand in a friendly fashion.
 
  Laurie felt strong suddenly and reached out, as the man took her hand.  She stood, and turned to find her body, pale and cold, in the bed, looking withered and wasted.  She looked down and found herself in one of her nice dresses and high heels.
 
Protos smiled.  "Your problems are over and I thought you might like to make your new discoveries in your nice clothes."
 
Laurie smiled, and she looked at the man in the hat, who took her gently by the arm and they faded through the wall out of the room.  
 
Protos started the engine on his old Cadillac and let it run for a moment, then he looked up to see Jonas standing outside his window.  He ran the window down and Jonas spoke, almost reflectively.
 
"I have so many things I'd like to ask you.  It must be awesome to roam the universe and be part of many worlds."
 
"The only world you need to worry over is the one with Barbera.  Just take care of that one."  Protos replied.  He backed out of the driveway and drove away and the clouds overhead faded away.
 
When Mouse and her husband drove up their driveway to their house, Mouse was shocked to see Barbera, her hair done, in nice clothes and looking nice.  Mark got out of his car and saw Jonas walking back from Laurie's house, and he put his arm around Barbera in the driveway and she walked pleasantly toward the house.  Jonas turned and looked at Mark.   He smiled and nodded.  Mark just stood there.  
 
  Moments later Mouse was unpacking when Barbera came smiling to see her in her living room.
 
Mouse looked at her.  "You don't look....bad."
 
Barbera smiled.  "Something happened to Jonas, I don't know what, but he changed.  He got me flowers, apologized to me, set me up a bank account and he hasn't raised his voice or been a jerk at all.  He stopped drinking beer and spends his sports television time with me."
 
"Did Satan himself show him his room in hell?"
 
"I really don't know, but for about a week he said he found out what it was like to be me living with him.  I have no idea."
 
"Whatever drugs he's taking..."  Mouse said, "find the dealer and imprison him in your garage."
 
Barbera laughed and behind them on the road a few hundred feet away an old Cadillac drove into the morning.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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