Part 3 - The Switchboard
I gave her a look and explained, "I just tried to think of something very different."
She smirked. "Sure you did, big brother-sister."
I folded my arms and stuck out my tongue. "Liking cuteness doesn't make me girly."
Raising a finger aloft, she announced, "Of course. But the house does have something to make you girly…if you swing that way. It's called the Switchboard! Well, I just call it that, but it has a sign with that name now."
I fidgeted in my seat and told her, "That might be a bit much for me. I mean…uh. It's an interesting idea."
Maggie put her hand on her chin and invited me, "Go on…I mean I have met brother/sister versions who are gay….transgendered, and other."
That actually made me a little more nervous. I took a breath and explained to her as best I could.
"It's not like that. I'm not gay. I don't feel like I have to be another gender. I just…there's just so many other ways I can imagine myself. That I have imagined myself since I was young." I gave her a shrug.
Maggie bent her arms down. Her smile faded. "You're right. I'm sorry. Still, you should check out the Switchboard. It's neat."
I hesitantly promised her I would as Nonami puttered around. Looking back, Maggie put on a fresh grin. I watched carefully. The busboy and one of the cooks came around the corner. They were now identical twin little girls of Nonami in different outfits. I raised my eyebrows at her and left them that way. None seemed bothered.
It didn't take long for our meals to arrive with little girl Nonami hauling them with all the strength she had. It was just as good as I remembered. I found myself eating eagerly. I was planning to break for a meal soon after I finished cleaning the bedroom anyway. Nonami lingered nearby and looked pleased that I was enjoying it. Maggie ate eagerly as well.
When we were done, Maggie paid in a handful of buttons. Nonami looked down at them in surprise and cautiously said, "Umm…this is a bit too much. It's only a button each for the meal." Maggie sipped from her tea and told her, "Consider it a tip."
Nonami's eyes were so wide. She smiled, hugged the buttons, and expressed her gratitude, saying, "If you need anything else, just ask. On the house."
Maggie wore a look of amusement. It took me a moment to realize why.
We waited but ultimately didn't order anything else. We did watch Nonami twirl around like she'd just won the lottery.
Before we left, I made Nonami and her twins a little bit older, just so they wouldn't have any trouble doing their jobs. Although, I wasn't sure what other customers they might have. Probably alternate versions of us.
We took a door at the back of the restaurant. It led to a room with a floor made entirely of a bouncy material. The walls were softly padded. We bounced around until protests issued from our full stomachs.
The next room was made of plush like a gigantic bed. We stopped for a bit to lie down. Or, in the case of Maggie, roll around the entire room.
It wasn't long after dens and silvery kitchens that we came upon a bookstore room familiar to Maggie. I wanted to stay and marvel at the books. She looked around the room, which was about the size of the regular house with long, dense rows, and assured me, "This is one of the smaller ones. Believe me, I've seen bigger. We're not far from the Switchboard."
So I gave a little wave goodbye to the books and continued on with her.
The Switchboard reminded me of the front room of the house where I would always start my train. The paneling was about the same with a look of dark wood grain. The difference was the metallic sliders, switches, and toggles which filled the wall. They had the same color as the doorknobs throughout the house. They were labeled with little white labels which looked like they could be rotated to other things. I noticed ones set to height, weight, and eye color. Towards the middle of the wall, I saw a white panel with the name "Maggie Thornhale".
Before I could ask about that, Maggie explained, "I was just testing it, to see if it worked. Made my hair longer." Her eyes dipped away from me and she scuffed her feet. I sighed and asked her, "So, how does it work?"
She brightened at that. "You'll see. I just need to make a few quick adjustments." She moved quickly, pulling latches and toggles. A bit of humming and little puffs of smoke issued from the wall.
Maggie rushed over to the white panel and pulled a metallic latch. The name card rotated in a blur and then came to rest on mine. She turned around and folded her arms with satisfaction before noting, "Actually, I didn't really need to do any of that. But it's fun."
She cracked her fingers and announced, "So…what to change first? How about your height? You oughta be shorter."
I flashed her a look. I was fine with my height as it was. But she was already rushing over to the height toggle. She slid it a little to the left. I felt a quick sense of falling. I settled back on my heels. I tried to stand up higher but soon found that I was as tall as I could get. I was still taller than Maggie but only by a little bit. My heart pulsed. My body really could be changed by this. That felt like more than the fun and games so far.
I urged Maggie, "Please be careful…"
She smiled and waved a hand. "Of course. None of it is permanent. You just set the restore button. Like a very simple computer or something. Only you have to make sure not to press the 'save as' button. This button…" She leaned on the button and my eyes bulged.
Before I could protest, she smirked. "Kidding! That's just the delete person button…or it's just whatever I imagine it as. There are no bad buttons here. You can go back to yourself at any time by just imagining a button with the right label. That's all. So, for now!..."
She eagerly threw herself at a new toggle. It didn't take long to figure out it regulated the length of my hair. A river of it spilled over my shoulders and didn't seem to stop until it was brushing at my legs. I groaned and Maggie gave a little smirk as she said, "Sorry there…I might've pushed it a little too much."
I nodded with a rippling tug following my head. She backed the toggle up until my hair was to my middle back. And she left it there.
Maggie paused over a big light slider on the wall. It was marked "gender" and slid to 'male'. I took a breath and she looked at me.
"It's just the…uh…bits. But I get to have another sister."
I folded my arms, took a breath, considered it a moment, and finally said, "Alright. Go ahead…if you really want to…" She flicked it before I was even done talking.
There is really no adequate way to describe what I felt right then. It reminded me of a serious case of jumping into cold water mixed with a sudden tug and a little burst of electrical feeling. All that came so quickly that I just stood there a moment and shifted my feet.
As I was starting to get used to all the associated feelings I had now, Maggie clutched the hips toggle and sent my hips rushing out. My jeans protested and then shifted too. I marveled when I realized that my clothes still fit fine despite my changed height.
Maggie explained, "Your clothes always fit. Nice little feature because there's still so much left to do!"
Next, she took time teasing a couple smaller sliders. I felt a little tug and push on my face but couldn't really see what the effect was. It reminded me of the character-creator in a video game.
It started to get bothersome after a while, but she was eventually done. Brushing her hands, she pointed behind me and said, "There's a mirror now. Check yourself out."
Despite what I said about imagining myself so many different ways, what I saw in the mirror surprised me. I still kinda had my face. But there were more bits of my mother in there, especially looking at old photos of when she was young. My cheeks flowed out in ways that felt unnatural to me. I felt strange. My whole image did. But it was a lovely face, even if it didn't feel like mine. I definitely resembled Maggie, but now more in an older, sisterly sense.
I fixed my pants, though they didn't need fixing, and fidgeted at the new arrangement.
Coincidently, or perhaps because she wanted to help me adjust, Maggie kept to smaller changes after that. She shifted my legs a little in their shape and feeling. I'd never really been that hairy, so the smoothness wasn't all that new to me. It was a little weird to feel my shoulders and torso shift, but it felt more like someone giving a slow massage.
It quickly became obvious that she'd left one area in particular untouched. I looked down at my flat chest and back up at her. Maggie smiled and said, "Actually, I think that's fine as it is." I raised an eyebrow, hardly believing her. I wondered to myself if she meant something by this. I remembered a girl back when I was just getting into my teens. She developed slowly and always looked sad. It wasn't like I knew what she was going through like this. But I did wonder if Maggie was trying to show me a bit of that.
I asked her frankly. I half expected her to glare. She went quiet, which worried me that I was in for something worse or about to become hopelessly top-heavy. She bowed her head and scratched at her wrist. Softly, she said, "That wasn't really my situation. But uh…I can relate too."
I blinked, not quite understanding what she meant. She shifted and looked up at me, asking, "If you…don't feel right about this. I can completely undo it, as I said. It's simple. I don't want this to pain you…honestly."
I looked into her eyes. There was something there which made me wonder. I shrugged and told her, "I'm okay. If I'm really upset I'll just hit you on the shoulder. Deal?" I gave her a thumbs up.
She returned the thumbs up with a slight smile and slid a particular toggle across. Not all the way, fortunately. My chest was a little bigger than Maggie's. I assumed that was meant to be in keeping with the older sister idea. I looked down at the shape of it. My shirt formed around them. I felt an internal shiver.
At the same time, the shiver wasn't sexual. From this angle, I was just looking down at my body. It was my flesh. A little manipulated by an outside force. But it was still me. It wasn't so big that it was uncomfortable, but the feeling would take some getting used to. Maggie was already eyeing the clothing switches.
I let her try different things on me. Skirts. Dresses. All varieties of pants. Even some really weird things that looked more like costumes. She eventually put me in something similar to but not exactly like what she was wearing.
I sighed and turned around for her when she was done. She clapped to herself and then smirked. "Oh! Swimsuits and we should go looking for a beach room!"
At least she wasn't thinking of sending me to a real beach in something crazy. I leaned back against the other wall as she darted around the sliders for just the outfit setting she wanted. I glanced to the right. My expression dipped.
Maggie hummed, but she soon noticed my expression.
"What is it?" Her voice was quieter than it had ever been before. She spoke nervously. I gestured with my hand a ways down the room to a wall with the lights above burnt out.
There was a door in the wall, and it was utterly black. The knob appeared deeply tarnished with grime and dirt. The door looked like it had been smeared in pitch. It was the first door I'd seen which was anything but light-toned.
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Bio: I'm MajorKerina and I love to collaborate creatively with a group of friends to make tales where people have their genders, identities, and very realities questioned, contorted, and turned upside-down. I like slice-of-life with a spicing of the supernatural, strange, or surreal. Reality with a scent of the impossible. You can find me on DeviantArt, Twitter, ScribbleHub, and other places.