Metamorphosed to Malleability (13th Shift)

Jaquelidor's avatar
By Jaquelidor
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The Thirteenth Shift: Puppetmaster

When Alyana arrived Brielle absorbed the finger which at that moment looked like a tiny dining room chair. Heading downstairs she formed a tank-style maxi dress in alternating stripes of green, black-brown, and white with black piping around the hems as well as black footie socks. The pre-dinner conversation was light as Alyana brought up she'd heard one of their favourite bands from college, Often Wrong, would be playing in a nearby town in a few weeks. They made plans to go.

During dinner Brielle told Alyana about her day and the assorted experiments as well as what had happened with the WD40. Taking the last bite of pork Alyana pointed her fork at Brielle. "So, you cut off a piece of your toe then later your pinky finger." It wasn't said as a question and there was an undertone of "what were you thinking". Brielle shrugged. "If I was going to run tests it was better to do it on something not connected to the rest of my body. And if it had hurt when I cut it off I'd probably have stopped there. But you're the one who said we didn't know enough about my new body." Alyana backed down as she remembered her own words nearly a week ago. "Point taken."

The pair grabbed desert as well as a glass of the wine Brielle had used earlier and moved to the living room. Brielle went over the results between bites. After reviewing the more technical findings she boiled it down to, "Everything appears stable right now." Alyana looked visibly relieved.

After they'd finished desert and while Brielle rinsed the dishes Alyana, who was working on a third glass of wine, asked, "So, you can control parts of yourself that are severed so long as you're close enough? I can't even begin to imagine how that works." Brielle set the last plate into the dishwasher. With a mischievous twinkle in her eye she turned to her friend and asked, "Want to see?" She'd expected Alyana to decline but instead she picked up her wine and grabbed her glasses from her purse. "Oh yes."

Brielle selected a large knife from the holder and led her friend back to the living room. She sat down on the couch while Alyana sat in a chair opposite to get a better view. Brielle put her left hand palm down on the coffee table. Initially she was going to cut off her pinky finger again but with Alyana there she was feeling emboldened. Hovering the knife over her wrist she pushed down. There was a bit more resistance than with the scalpel which she attributed it to the knife being less sharp and there just being more to cut through.

Sitting back she left her hand on the table. To her surprise Alyana immediately picked it up. She turned it over several times, studying it. She examined the site of the cut. "Amazing. You really do look like you're made of one continuous substance." She poked the palm. "So this far apart you can't feel that?" When Brielle didn't respond Alyana looked up at her. She slid off her glasses. Poking the palm again Brielle seemed to react. "Can you feel this?" Brielle, looking rather dumbfounded, nodded. "I thought you had to be within centimeters of a cut off piece to sense it?" Brielle stared at the hand. "So did I. Maybe," she paused to think. "Maybe the size of the part cut off has an effect on the range."

"Don't freak out," Brielle cautioned. One of the fingers started to move. Alyana held the hand up and watched as each finger flexed in turn. Then all the fingers flexed together. Alyana said, "Can you count to four?" Brielle focused. "I think so." The hand closed to a fist. She started counting out loud and as she did so an appropriate number of digits lifted up.

Alyana laughed. "Incredible. You mentioned being able to change the parts earlier. Can you change the hand?"

Looking at her friend Brielle commented, "You're taking this a lot differently than I'd imagined." Alyana smiled at her. "As part of my job I've sat in on autopsies. This," she waved the hand, "is a lot easier to handle."

Brielle blanched a little. She'd had no idea. Deciding to get back on topic she said, "I should be able to change it. Let's start simple. Can you lay it on your palm?" Alyana did as asked. The hand made a fist which sagged a bit then morphed into a red ball with white polka dots. Alyana tossed the ball from hand to hand. "Oh, very nice. Will it bounce?" Brielle shrugged. "I honestly have no idea. Go for it." She was glad Alyana was taking this so well though in the back of her mind she wondered if the wine might be contributing to her friend's mood.

Alyana leaned over the side of her chair and tried to bounce the ball. Instead it landed on the floor with a soft splat. Reaching down to pick it up she held the deformed sphere for Brielle to see. Brielle had felt the impact. She used that and her memories of being the giant die to firm up the ball. "Try it now." Her friend giggled as the ball bounced. "Incredible!" She bounced the ball on the floor several times then tossed it so it bounced off the nearby wall and back to her. Watching her friend play Brielle thought, Well, I wanted to figure out an experiment on what it might feel like to be kicked. Being bounced is as good a place to start as any.

Catching the ball Alyana turned to face Brielle. "What else?" The ball had been pretty easy so she decided to skip the other basic shapes. Hitting on an idea she smirked. "How open are you to a little experiment?" Alyana looked at the ball then back to Brielle. "What is it you used to say? Ah! FOR SCIENCE!" Brielle laughed. "Ok, this is going to feel weird."

The ball softened then began to flow. The ooze coated Alyana's hand and forearm. It stopped just after her elbow and solidified, becoming white. Alyana held up her hand. "Opera glove. Very nice." She held up her naked hand. "Would be nicer to have a matching pair." Brielle thought for a moment. "Maybe you can. Touch your hands together." She did so. Brielle closed her eyes and focused. The glove flowed across until both her friend's arms up to their elbows were covered. "Okay, now for the difficult part. Slowly pull your hands apart." As the hands pulled apart she shifted the gloves, moving the connection so all of her friend's fingers were individually covered. Then she narrowed the connection between the palms. Brielle hadn't figured out how to divide herself at will but maybe if she softened the place between Alyana's hands and with her friend's help she could do it. "Alright, when I say so yank your hands apart." Brielle firmed up everything about the gloves except the tether connecting them. "Now." Alyana pulled hard and with an audible plip! the tether broke. Brielle merged the remains of the tether into the appropriate glove. Alyana held up both her hands. "This is so incredible!"

"You think that's incredible? Do you remember those puppet shows we went to at that old toy store?" Brielle asked. She focused, first on the right glove which turned a fuzzy green. Around Alyana's hand the glove changed into a puppet dragon's head with black eyes, a pink mouth, white felt-like fangs, black-brown felt horns, stubby green wings, and red felt spikes running down its back. The left glove turned a fuzzy fleshtone. Around her friend's hand a round humanish head with a pink mouth, yarn-like black-brown hair, and black eyes took shape. Below Alyana's wrist the puppet sported a red doublet trimmed in white. Her friend's eye's lit up. "I remember these!"

She did a bit of play acting with the two puppets. Brielle stood up. "You know, if you're going to do a be a puppetmaster you need a proper stage." She walked to an open space in the living room and slowly transformed into a narrow black-brown puppet theatre with green curtains held open using white ties.

Alyana hopped up and ducked behind her friend's form. "Are you watching?" Brielle extended a pseudopod from the front of the theatre which bulged at the end then morphed into her head. "I'm watching." For about 10 minutes Alyana acted out a few scenes from the show which was about a knight befriending a dragon. Brielle laughed. She was glad her friend was enjoying herself. She knew after last night Alyana was worried about her. Maybe this would let her unwind a bit. That and the wine, Brielle mused. Her friend had always been something of a light-weight when it came to alcohol.

Giggling Alyana stumbled out from behind the puppet theatre. “Oh, I think my legs fell asleep.” She was still giggling when she flopped onto the couch. Brielle retracted the pseudopod but stayed as the puppet theatre while watching her friend as she lay on her back playing with the puppets.

Brielle was contemplating the practical and existential effects of cutting herself exactly in half when she realized the puppets had stopped moving. Alyana was sound asleep. She shifted to her human form and walked over the couch. Touching the puppets in turn they and her hand and forearm pulsed and rippled as she absorbed each. It was Friday and she knew Alyana had the weekend off which was why she’d offered the wine with desert. Though she hadn’t expected her friend to have almost three glasses. No way I’m letting her drive home like this, she thought.

A minimalist by nature her living room contained only the necessities and perhaps less so she had neither pillows nor throw on the couch. She flattened her arms and tried to slip them under her friend with the intent of carrying her back to her bed but Alyana started giggling and squirming. Brielle gave up. Planting her hands on her hips she said, “Ok, fine. But you better not freak out in the morning.”

She flattened her left arm and slid it under her friend’s head then carefully transformed it into a white pillow. Alyana rolled over, happily burying her face into it. Brielle shook her head in amusement. She stopped thinking of the pillow as part of her arm and narrowed the connection between it and her body thread thin. Closing her eyes her head and neck melted into her torso as did her right arm. Using the dress as the colour pattern she flattened her body and spread it into a rectangular blanket outlined in black piping.

The Brielle-blanket stood there for a moment figuring out how best to cover Alyana without disturbing her. Turning on its side it stretched up and over her sleeping friend, bracing the bulk of its weight on the back of the couch. As the Brielle-blanket settled into place Alyana grabbed it and shuffled around getting comfortable underneath. The Brielle-blanket did its best to be the softest, most comfortable blanket it could be so the woman could sleep blissfully under its care.

anonymous's avatar
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rays6464's avatar
another fantastic entry in the series. Keep it up!

Specific awsomesees:
- nice feeling of the casual shapeshifter in day to day life
- good balance between descriptions of the changes and the casualness with how Brielle is using her powers now
- interesting direction ...

just really great.
HeraldOfOpera's avatar
That last paragraph reads very strangely to me. If you were anthropomorphising an inanimate object to the level, I'd expect you to avoid "it" as a pronoun, so not doing so when you were clearly talking about an actual person has connotations I don't think you intended.
Jaquelidor's avatar
Brielle's ideal for a shapeshifter is not simply to assume the form but to also embody the identity of the form. There are also different "degrees" of shapeshifting in her mind. If she does nothing more than take on a shape then she sees herself as still being Brielle just with a different appearance. But if she opts to truly "be" what she transforms into her identity as "Brielle" fades to the background. (In as much as it's currently possible for her.) Whether it's the Brielle-bot, Brielle-droid, or Brielle-blanket she sees herself as "it". This could be equated to Method Acting except she aspires for it not to be an act but a reality.

I've tried to express this through the use of pronouns and whether she's identified as "Brielle" or "Brielle-" in the narrative. Perhaps not as well as I could/should.
Bonkleton's avatar
BonkletonHobbyist General Artist
I read it as through the mind of some observer who's more interested in describing what happens than relaying Brielle's mental state, and from that perspective, it works, since they're just describing a blanket to me, its object pronouns being illustrative tools to reinforce the visual of the blanket rather than the exact nature of the blanket-shaped person.