Crazy. So much simpler than thinking… Oh, wow, I can be any age I want to be. Maybe just more realistic. Really, the thought that I had gained a superpower wasn’t one that had crossed my mind yet, not at that point. I was still waiting to wake up and find myself recovering from one of those awful dreams about going to school naked or something.
Point of fact, though, I’d never actually had any dreams like that.
So… about now you’re wondering how I got out of the back of that squad car, right?
Just kidding. I know how I got out. Poor officers, though. I send them thank you cards every year, but I’m not sure they appreciate that very much…
Clayton was still trying to come to terms with the fact that he was… a child when the car suddenly skidded to a stop. He fell forward, onto the floor, thinking that he should have woken up by now. This had to be some kind of dream or something, and he would wake up any second now. He’d had enough humiliation already, hadn’t he? Cailey had seen him as an old man and called the police, and now he was going to be arrested—only he was like, five years old.
Why wasn’t he hearing an alarm, then? He should be back in his own bed, thanking some small mercy that none of this was real.
Only he remained awake. Stubbornly so. He didn’t care for this, not one bit.
“What did you do that for?”
“Where’d he go? The old man. He’s gone. Look!” the driver said, frantically pointing to the rear view mirror, or so Clayton figured from his spot near the seat. He was just pile of clothes, mostly, since the stuff he’d been wearing was several sizes too big for him. In fact, if he pulled his head into the shirt, they probably wouldn’t even realize that he was in there.
“He couldn’t have escaped. Not possible. He’s just a pathetic old man who got lost. You saw him. That girl was probably freaking out over nothing.”
“Are you seeing the same back seat that I am? I mean, look. That is not some old man, okay? That’s an empty seat.”
“Fine, let’s go look,” the other officer said, opening his door and coming around to the back. Clayton pulled inside the clothes, hiding. He didn’t know what else to do. How was he supposed to explain this? He was now five when a while ago, he’d been fifty, and this was not something that anyone would understand. “Is that… his clothes?”
“Why are his clothes here and not… him? How is that possible?”
“There’s no such thing as magic, you idiot,” the driver snapped. He shook his head. “Maybe it’s a trick. Gotta be.”
“Oh, so now our guy slipped out of his handcuffs, out of his clothes, and went running off into the sunset after being locked up in the back of a squad car? Are you kidding me?” his partner demanded. “This is impossible. We’re going to lose our jobs for this, and even if we don’t, we’ll be the laughing stocks of the department.”
Clayton peeked through the buttons on his shirt and saw the driver shake his head before walking around to the other side of the car, shifting it a little as he leaned against the trunk. His partner joined him, and they continued to argue. This was it, Clay realized. His one chance. He slipped out of most of the clothes—leaving on the shirt since it was the one thing that wouldn’t fall right off—and took off running.
“Wait, what was that? Is that a kid?”
“That’s that old guy’s shirt! How’d he get that? Oh, you idiot! You left the door open!”
“How was I supposed to know that some kid was going to steal his shirt and take off running?” the other one demanded, out of breath. “Come back here, kid! Don’t run off now! Kid! Kid!”
Clay kept running, not looking back for a second. He struggled to roll up the sleeves as he did, almost tripping over the bottom of his shirt. Why had he had to grow up to be so tall? That wasn’t fair. This was never going to work. He needed to be his own size again, needed to get home and in his apartment, where he would lock the door and hide for days, if not the rest of his life.
“Dude! Put some pants on! I’m calling the police!”
Constantly tugging down his shirt to cover as much as possible, Clayton barely managed to get back to his apartment building without another arrest, rushing up the stairs and going for the spare key, opening the door as quickly as he could. He slammed it shut behind him, closing his eyes for a moment. He didn’t know what he was going to do. He had somehow been an old man and a little kid… and now he was… himself again? Was that it?
He made his way back into the bathroom, checking the mirror again. Yeah, that was his face. His own normal twenty year old face. He was back the way he’d been when he woke up this morning. He didn’t understand. Was it just that he kept seeing himself as an old man or a kid? But, no, he’d been able to hide in the clothes as a kid, vanishing as the old man. The police officers had not seen him until he ran off, so… something was going on here.
“Okay,” Clay began, looking at the mirror. “Make me a kid again.”
Then, to his complete shock, he was on the floor and no longer able to see himself in the mirror. The distorted reflection from the metal of the toilet handle showed what looked like a little kid. Clayton scrambled up the toilet onto the counter and then got a good look in the mirror.
He screamed and fell off the sink onto the floor, landing hard. Okay, so he was a little kid. He was either completely psychotic or capable of turning into a little kid. Fine. So… Then, what about the old man. Both times he’d turned into the kid, he’d been thinking about it. He didn’t remember thinking about the old man, and he knew he’d asked to go back into his normal form in the bathroom at the coffee shop.
He looked at his hands. Still a kid. Great. Next plan?
Eating lots of sugar because he never got his coffee and he felt like ice cream? That might not have anything to do with the fact that he was in a five year old’s body, but he’d deal with that later. He went into his bedroom, switched the dress shirt for one of his favorite tees instead, thinking he was due the comfort of the cotton and there was no way he was going to work today.
He padded into the kitchen, dragged the stool around to get into the drawer for a spoon and onto the kitchen counter to get into the cupboard for a bowl. He climbed down and tried to open the refrigerator. No go. He couldn’t lift it.
Lovely. Clayton leaned his head against the refrigerator and sighed. Someone knocked on his door, and he winced. Now would be a really good time to get his own form back. Wait. He didn’t have any pants. He had to get those on first. He ran back into his room, pulled some boxers and jeans out. He pulled the boxers on, but they were ready to fall right off again.
“Can I be big again now? Please?” he asked as the pounding on the door got louder.
“Clayton Moore? We need to talk to you.”
Clay groaned, but then he saw familiar hairy legs and had to smile. He pulled on the jeans and ran to the door, opening it. “Yes? Can I help you?”
“Mr. Moore?” the officer from the coffee shop asked, and Clayton nodded, getting a sick feeling in his stomach. “We have reason to believe someone stole your identity.”
“Oh?” Clay asked, running a hand through his hair. “Are you sure, because I don’t think that’s—”
“That someone might also be a sexual predator,” the other officer said. “We’ve had additional reports of a disturbance in this area. Can we come in?”
“Uh… sure,” Clayton said, letting them in. “I really don’t know what to tell you, though.”
“You’ve been here all morning?”
“Well… not exactly.”
“What do you mean, not exactly?”
“Excuse me, officers, I believe we’ll take this from here,” Clayton’s boss said from the doorway, and he winced. There went his security clearance and all future hope of getting out of the records department—if they even hired him after this internship was done.
“Uh, sure thing,” the police officers said, exchanging looks and reluctantly leaving the apartment.
The scary man in the suit shut the door behind them. He turned to face Clayton, who had a really bad feeling about this. “Now, Mr. Moore, what have you been up to?”