Dead Weight – Part 5

Dead Weight – Part 5

“Let me just find the switch…” Veruca said, when her mind could work again. Her hands nervously patted at the mirrored wall behind her, trying to remember how she’d gotten out before, but this time, her hand went right through her reflection. She gasped and fell forward, hands slamming against the mirrored floor to keep herself from cracking her face against it, and it rippled beneath her like a solid puddle.

Frank pulled her to her feet and turned her around as the others started to edge past her. “Look at the walls,” he instructed, and while it was hard to tell where any of those began or ended, she could see areas in the endless reflections that seemed to be melting, almost, falling away as the room expanded infinitely outward. “What is going on?”

“Did you slip us all something?” Diane demanded of Scruffy, but he was frozen in fear, clutching the dog desperately.

Only for another second or two, however. “Let’s get outta here!” he yelled, out of nowhere, making Veruca jump in surprise as he took off, running right into what should have been a wall, but, of course, wasn’t anymore.

A few of the ghosts – one in a bloody butcher’s apron, a cleaver wedged in his back, another in a fancy suit, with half his face gone from what Veruca guessed was a gunshot – chased after him and the dog, who had followed obediently. “Scruffy!” Frank called after him, and, a moment later, Scruffy and the dog reappeared from the other side of the room, skidding to a stop as he saw the ghosts in front of him. “Scruffy, wait!”

“What are you doing?” Diane hissed, grabbing Frank’s arm as he moved toward his friend.

“We can’t just leave him alone!” Frank declared. “We have to help him!”

He hurried after him, barreling through the collection of spooks and pushing Scruffy out of the way of a whip, cracked by a rather large woman in leather. Instead of propelling him backwards, however, they sank through the floor, with more ghosts stomping after them, vanishing downward as if they were stomping across a pool from the shallow end to the deep.

“Frank!” Diane screamed, moving toward him. Some deep recess of Veruca’s mind was conscious enough to reach out and grab her before she could get too far, while the rest of her brain was too busy trying to process what was happening, and how her plan had gone so very wrong so quickly. Her head wasn’t screwed on quite well enough to come up with a justification for stopping Diane that she could actually tell the other girl, but it didn’t matter, since, by the time Diane was turning to give her a dirty look, the remaining ghosts were coming after them, and she was dragging Diane away.

“Stop it!” Diane protested, pulling away. “I’m not just leaving him!”

“You can’t go back there!” Veruca pleaded, but clearly she was wrong, as Diane went running towards the collection of ghosts on their tail. A man with one arm torn bloodily off, and held in his other arm, and a woman whose skin had a blueish color, even as a ghost, went after her, while another woman, in a white dress and apron, with a rather large bosom and blood staining the bottom of her dress continued towards Veruca with an air of fierce determination in her dead eyes.

Veruca cursed under her breath, then turned and ran in the opposite direction of Diane. Since they didn’t really need them to move, she wasn’t sure if there was any direct correlation to the tallness of a ghost, and thus how long their legs were, to how quickly they moved, but the speed at which she sensed this one getting closer to her compared to how slow she was moving would seem to indicate that she was significantly shorter than it, like comparing the gait of an adult and a child. That, combined with her diaper, made her feel quite small and helpless, which only scared her all the more.

After a few moments, she took a quick turn, and found herself nearly running straight into Diane. Determined not to lose her again, she grabbed her and pulled her back in the opposite direction, as her two ghosts were advancing rather quickly on them. This time, Diane cooperated with her, running alongside her. The whole place was disorienting, hard to figure out where you were going, or where you’d come from, since everything was mirrored, but they just kept going. Every once in a while, they’d catch a glimpse of the guys and go towards them, but almost as soon as they did, a ghost or two would seem to appear right in front of them and they’d have to backtrack, or turn and head another direction. No matter where they went, they never seemed to run out of room, the reflections just stretching on further and further away.

But it didn’t seem to make any difference how long they ran, or in what direction. The ghosts always showed back up sooner or later. It was inevitable that they were going to get caught, Veruca knew – it was only a matter of time and luck. And their luck ran out as they turned away from one group of ghosts and ran straight into the man in the suit. They split, but his arms seemed to grow as he enveloped them. Everything went dark for a moment, and then they were in an office. It was still in the mirror world – the windows looked out into the endless sea of reflection, and the ceiling and floor were mirrors as well, making it seem like the four walls were floating freely, not really attached to anything – yet inside that world was a large office, decorated sparsely but elegantly.

“What do you want?” Diane demanded, backing away from the man with the hole in his head.

“I need you,” he replied. His voice was different from Carol’s, more hollow, more desperate. “I need your flesh…”

“What are they, zombies?” Diane asked, scrambling away. Veruca couldn’t think of a way to explain why she knew that they were “simply” looking to use them as hosts to fulfill whatever obsession they’d had that had kept them as ghosts rather than letting them move on, so she kept quiet.

She was a little slower than Diane, and the man managed to grab her. She screamed as she felt her skin harden beneath his ghostly fingers, and as she looked down, she saw it turning into gold where he’d touched her, an undead King Midas. She tried to pull away, but his grip only tightened as she squirmed.

Then, from the mirrored ground, the woman in the apron burst forth, smacking the man aside. Veruca gasped as he let go of her, rubbing her skin and watching it turn back to its normal color and hardness, glancing up every few seconds to see the woman chasing the man away. “They’re mine!” she was screaming. “I need them more than you!”

The walls of the office began to quiver as she beat on the man, kicking and screaming otherworldly shrieks, eventually shattering as he sank into the floor. In their place rose the walls of a nursery, and the usual furniture one would find there, much to Veruca’s embarrassment, especially as a huge crib rose from beneath her, bars rising far above her head before she could try to escape, while, as she watched, a playpen similarly captured Diane.

It was Veruca the woman went to first, however, seeming to grow taller with every step. “I knew you were meant for me,” she cooed. “All I ever wanted was to be a mother… And here’s my baby, at last…”

“What? No, I’m not a baby!” Veruca protested, trying to scramble to the far side of the crib, but stumbling on the soft mattress and falling onto her diapered bottom with an especially loud crinkle, one that echoed from both her clothes and the plastic sheet on the mattress. By the time the woman was reaching down for her, she was the size of a giant, and her arms, as incorporeal as they were, felt strong and inescapable as they wrapped around Veruca’s squirming form.

“Of course you are,” she said, patting the seat of Veruca’s wet diaper. “You’re my little baby… And I bet you’re hungry, aren’t you?” Before Veruca could answer, she was shifted to one of the woman’s gigantic arms so the woman could use her other hand to slip her shoulder out of the dress, pushing it down, exposing one huge breast.

Veruca started to struggle, knowing with a sick certainty what was about to happen, despite how disturbing and unreal it felt. “No, no,” she shook her head as she was readjusted again, held in more of a cradle in the woman’s arms, one hand rhythmically patting the back of her diaper as she was brought closer and closer to that phantom nipple. “No, please, I’m not a baby, I’m not hungry, don’t!”

And then her protesting mouth was shoved around the breast, and filled almost instantly with milk. Her eyes went wide, and she tried to spit it out, but there was just too much, and while she managed to get a small stream of it trickling from the corners of her mouth, she had to swallow the majority of it to avoid drowning. It felt sweet and thick going down, and brought a pleasantly warm sensation to her tummy that made her instantly drowsy. Her eyes began to droop, and it was a struggle not to let them close entirely as she kept automatically sucking down mouthful after mouthful of the stuff. It became all she could concentrate on, though she could faintly hear Diane in the background yelling at the woman to stop.

After a minute, that pleasant warmth began to grow a little warmer, and then a little more, turning into a raging liquid fire in her guts. Her eyes opened again as she began to wriggle, only for the woman’s arms to lock tighter around her, push her mouth further around the mound of ghostly flesh. Her brain began to buzz, as if she were drunk, but she could tell it was different, could almost feel the milk sloshing through her memories, her thoughts, everything that made her her and erasing them. She looked down at herself and saw her belly bulging out, saw her scrawny limbs start to plump out, her baby fat returning. She tried to gasp, to scream, but that just let the milk in all the more quickly.

Weakly, she tried to kick at the woman, but her legs just hung there limply, out of her control now, and while she got a few lame flails out of her arms, they soon fell still, too, as she watched her fingers puff outward into a chubby baby hand. She looked down at her own chest, which had never been particularly impressive, and saw her breasts seem to melt beneath her sweater, redistributing themselves across her torso, making it fit in with the rest of her now infantile body.

The world was starting to get dark around the edges now, and Veruca knew she didn’t have much time left. Rapidly running out of parts of herself she was still in control of, and with a mind that was just as quickly getting hollowed out, like a pumpkin about to be cut into a jack-o-lantern, she desperately tried to come up with a plan. Only one thought came to her, and she had no time to second guess it.

She bit. She bit down into the ghost woman’s breast, and kept biting, hanging on even as she felt the milk continue working, as it kept pouring into her, mixed with the irony tang of blood, making her teeth start to recede into her gums. She was sure she’d waited too long, that it was all for nothing, but, at last, just when she was certain all was lost, the woman pulled her away, giving her a sharp smack on her thighs before returning her to her crib, laying her on her back.

“I guess I’ll start with the other one,” Veruca thought she heard her say, but her vision was still blurry, and her hearing not much better. She couldn’t even get off of her back, and could only do the barest of wriggling there. It took a significant amount of concentration to even remember who “the other one” was, and while she knew she should try to help her, or at least warn her, she couldn’t even sit up.

“I told you not to do it,” another woman said, suddenly standing beside the crib. Veruca had to squint to get her face to focus into anything but a blur, and work even harder to remember her name was Carol. With all her concentration and strength focused there, there was nothing she could do to stop the sudden invasion of something warm and thick and mushy working its way around her bottom, and only the feeling of discomfort it brought to make her think she should even try. “You just wouldn’t listen,” Carol shook her head. “With us gone, the room attracted any ghosts in the area, and it made them stronger… After spending so much time as just ghosts, they’d lost everything that made them human, reduced them to thoughtless animals. If you’d just left them alone, you would have been okay.”

Veruca tried to open her mouth, to respond, but only incoherent babbling came out. Deep inside, she knew all this was wrong, and the thought filled her with fear, but there was nothing she could do about it.  “You silly, silly girl,” she shook her head, reaching down to pick her up. Gently, she put her over her shoulder and began patting her back. In Veruca’s addled mind, she couldn’t figure out what was going on, not until she felt a burp escape from her lips, followed by a cascade of milk. As it flowed from her, she began to feel more and more embarrassed about it, and about the fact of throwing up on this woman’s shoulder, which, she realized happily, meant she was becoming herself again.

When she was done, Carol set her down on the floor, and, though she was still a little shaky, her legs held her. She could feel her full diaper all the more acutely, but after the past few days, it didn’t bother her as much as it could, or, really, as much as it should have. “You have to get out of the box,” Carol told her. “You have to escape, or your friends are doomed.”

“But I can’t,” Veruca shook her still-clearing mind. “The shelf… I don’t know where it is anymore.”

Before Carol could reply, Veruca heard the other woman roaring, “What are you doing with my baby?!” She turned around right in time to see the woman put Diane on the floor, the girl slumping forward, glassy-eyed, like a rag doll.

“Get her and get out of here!” Carol instructed, pushing Veruca out of the way and intercepting the raging mother. Veruca clumsily scrambled towards Diane, trying to pull her to her feet to no avail. Even in the best of times, Diane was enough bigger than her that she couldn’t have drug her out, and now, still weak from her ordeal, there was no chance. She tried to drag Diane across her shoulder, to burp her as Carol had done for her, but, not being a ghost and thus able to change her size, that was just as useless.

“Damn it,” she groaned, slamming her fist angrily against the floor. What was she supposed to do?! She looked around the room, noting that the only door had its knob set too high for her to reach, anyway. How was she supposed to get out?! She hit the floor again, staring down into her reflection, seeing the tears dotting her eyes, the drying milk around her mouth and the front of her sweater. “Of course!” she shook her head, hardly able to believe it had taken her this long to work it out.

She got to her feet and ran past the two feuding ghosts, grabbing her bag and pulling it out from between the bars of the crib. She returned to Diane with it, throwing open the front flap and digging through it. Her hand brushed against the box she’d prepared, and she glanced back at the ghosts. She probably had time, didn’t she? And since it was what she’d come here to do, it was almost wrong not to do it, after all they’d been through.

“I’m sorry,” she told Diane. “I was going to do this to Scruffy… I mean, it’s not like he does anything, and maybe he’d just leave us alone, you know?” Still, she had to admit she felt a certain amount of satisfaction as she cast the spell on Diane instead, tempered by a sharp pang of guilt as soon as it was done, thinking back to when Diane had helped her out, bought those diapers for her, even if she hated wearing them. “It’s not like you mind now, anyway, is it?” she asked, trying to make herself feel better.

She stared into Diane’s blank eyes for another moment, then grabbed her flashlight, the big, heavy thing, and slammed it against the floor. At first she didn’t think it was going to do anything, that there really was no escape, and then, at last, a crack began to form. She began banging the flashlight against it, harder and harder, faster and faster, watching it grow, lines forming and growing along the floor like a spiderweb, crawling along the floor, and then up the nursery walls and across the ceiling, until at last the whole thing shattered.

For a moment, she felt like she was falling, and then she realized it was the glass falling, huge slabs of it slamming down, forming the fours walls of the devil’s toy box. All her friends were there, at different places in the room, shocked and horrified, but slowly growing relieved as they realized it was over. Veruca heaved a sigh and sat back, wrinkling her nose as her diaper squished beneath her, staring down at the small crack she’d made in the floor beneath her, enough to break the symmetry of the room.

She crawled straight, until she hit a wall, then simply began working her way around the room until she found the right wall, the right spot, and the shelf began to slide open. Nobody said much of anything as they quickly fled the house, Frank carrying Diane.

They went to the hospital first, though they could find nothing wrong with Diane. Veruca couldn’t help but feel guilty as she stared at her – also feeling rather like her, as she stood there, naked beneath her skirt, having taken the first opportunity to change her diaper in the hospital bathroom, wishing she’d thought to bring along a spare pair of panties, though thinking that only made her feel more guilty – wondering if the spell had even been necessary. She hadn’t really known what would happen when she broken the devil’s toy box. She hadn’t even known for sure it would work, only that it seemed to be her only option. Still, since Carol and the kids were attached to her, surely they would have kept existing, wouldn’t they? They weren’t linked directly to the box anymore. And since she could only do the transference inside a box, she’d really had no choice, in the moment, but to use Diane, even though it was only her insistence in returning to the house that meant she was there at all, and that the other ghost had put her in a coma.

That didn’t do much to ease her conscience, though, so it would a blessed relief when, the next day, she got a call from Frank telling her Diane had woken up, and was fine now. It didn’t last for long, however, as she remembered the spirits attached to Diane now, knowing she’d sentenced her to the same diapered fate she’d suffered through, and with no end in sight.

She tried to look on the bright side – perhaps, like the plan had been with Scruffy, this would keep her from wanting to go on investigations with the team. Of course, she might also insist Frank didn’t go either, but maybe she’d change her mind by the time he, or even Veruca, was ready to get back into action. And Diane really could be a bitch to her sometimes, especially when they’d both still been in high school. The thought of her in diapers did bring her a certain satisfaction, but every time she tried to gloat too much about it, she recalled that trip to the store after their first trip to the house.

Later that day, as she lazily browsed the Internet, she heard the doorbell ring. She wasn’t expecting anyone, so she assumed it was a deliveryman and ran down to answer it, still in her PJs, and wearing her glasses, only to find Diane herself standing on the other side of the door, looking just as stylish as ever.

“Hi,” she blushed, somehow managing to feel like a kid in her presence, despite knowing that, most likely, she had somehow hidden a diaper beneath that stylish purple dress of hers, or she was going to need one soon. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Diane said, pushing her aside and walking in. “Look, I need to talk to you about something.”

“Okay,” Veruca nodded, closing the door and following Diane through her own house, nervously wondering if she’d figured out what happened and was going to beat her up or something for sentencing her to a life of incontinence. “Sorry about how I’m dressed, I was just… Well, I wasn’t expecting visitors, and it was a long night last night, and…”

“This is your room, right?” Diane asked, walking into it.

“Uh-huh,” Veruca answered, following her in. “What..?”

“Did you go through all of those diapers I bought for you?” Veruca couldn’t help but blush as she shook her head. “Do you still have them?”

“Yeah, I haven’t gotten around to getting rid of them. Why, do you… umm..?” Diane nodded that time, though it was still only Veruca who was blushing. “All right, I’ll get them.”

She went to her closet and pushed aside the piles of clothes she’d hidden the package beneath, picking them up. “I can loan you some sweatpants or something, too,” she offered. “I mean, that dress is kinda tight, I don’t know that these will fit under…”

She stood and turned back around, only to find Diane right behind her, one side of her dress hanging down, exposing a pert, shapely breast. “What are you…?” Veruca started to ask, but before she could finish, Diane reached out and grabbed her, pulling her face into her chest. Almost instantly, she felt her mouth filling with milk.

“Don’t you worry, I’ll get you in a nice, comfy diaper just as soon as you’re done feeding,” Diane cooed at her, patting her back. “There’s my baby…”

Veruca’s eyes darted around the room as she struggled against Diane’s strangely strong arms, stopping only as she caught a reflection of the pair of them in her mirror, showing her, as she was, suckling, once again, at the breast of the ghost woman she’d only barely escaped.

“Now I can take care of you forever,” she said, patting Veruca’s back again as the girl struggled and whined helplessly, the warm milk in her tummy already starting to work its magic. “Forever…”

The End

Dead Weight – Part 4

Dead Weight – Part 4

“Do we really need to be here?” Diane whined. “Seriously. Aren’t you done with all this yet?”

“Yes, we do have to be here,” Veruca growled. It had been like pulling teeth getting Frank to agree to go back to the house again, despite him having already agreed to it, and Veruca could tell Diane was behind that, and that she still thought this had been some twisted scheme on Veruca’s part. As if Veruca wanted to spend the last few days constantly in diapers, and almost as constantly wet. Like she wanted to spend her nights thrashing about in bed in double-thick diapers, as she thought about Diane, dressed up in what was surely some slutty costume, having the time of her life and keeping her from being able to fix this any earlier. Though, if there was any bright side to that, it was that it had given her the resolve to do what she was there to do.

“We’re already here,” Frank said calmly. “Let’s just go check things out.”

“Right,” Veruca stepped in quickly. “I think we should split up, and since I’m still not… feeling well… I think I need some help, so I was thinking…”

“Actually, I thought maybe we’d stick together this time,” Frank cut in. “That way we can be more thorough.”

“Like, I can stay and guard the van,” Scruffy offered timidly.

Veruca could hardly believe she was saying it, but, before she could come up with any better way to put it, the words were coming out. “I think we need you this time! A fresh set of eyes!”

“Yeah, Scruffy,” Diane rolled her eyes from the front seat, “it’s not like there’s anything to be scared of in there anyway.”

“Yeah, well, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s Halloween,” Scruffy pointed out. “All kinds of ghosts and goblins could be in there waiting for us!”

“I’ll protect you,” Veruca said dryly, opening the door and hopping out of the van. “Come on. Bring the dog, too, if you want.”

“Yeah, aren’t dogs supposed to be sensitive to ghosts or something?” Diane asked as she got out of the van as well, staring down at Veruca. “Do you think he’ll sniff any out?”

“It’s hard to tell, Diane,” Veruca glared at her. She didn’t want to get into an argument with her here – it would take too much time, run the risk of giving Diane enough ammunition to change Frank’s mind about this, and would just be tacky – but Diane seemed pretty set on pushing her buttons.

“I don’t know…” Scruffy shook his head, still firmly planted in his seat, arms around the dog’s neck. “Like, maybe if it was any other day…”

“Come on,” Veruca sighed. “Please?” She reached down into her bag, digging around in her bag. “Here, look… I’ve got some cookies here. I bet you’re hungry, aren’t you?”

His eyes opened a little wider. “What kind?”

She pulled them out, holding them out so he could see them. They were sugar cookies, frosted and decorated like jack-o-lanterns. It was what her parents had handed out to the trick-or-treaters, though, since nobody in the family was much into cooking, they were just something her mother had picked up at the grocery store, but they weren’t bad. And since Scruffy’s eyes were their usual bloodshot red, she was sure he’d appreciate them all the more. She jiggled the bag she’d put them in. “Just help me look around.”

“Oh, all right,” he caved finally, climbing out of the van, dragging the dog along with him. She handed him the bag, then, rest of the group behind her, headed into the house.

“Do you think they have the explosives set already?” Scruffy asked between mouthfuls of cookie.

“It isn’t a skyscraper,” Veruca rolled her eyes, flipping on her flashlight. “I’m sure they’re just going to bulldoze it down.”

The house looked the same as it had last time they’d been there, but there was a different feeling in the air, a chill that made her rub her arms through her sweater and wish she’d put on some jeans instead of a skirt, even though she hated the bulge her diapers made in pants. She was sure it hadn’t been this cold outside, but she was less certain that it really was any chillier in there. It could just be her nerves, knowing what she was about to try to do, or even memories of what had already happened to her in there.

“I really think we’ll get more done if we split up,” she offered again. “I mean, we’ll get done faster, anyway. I know you two always team up,” she looked at Diane and Frank, “so I can just take Scruffy, and we’ll…”

“Seriously?” Diane raised an eyebrow, smirking.

Veruca blushed. “God, don’t be gross! I’m just trying to be helpful!”

“I’m sure you are,” Diane teased.

“I’m not going anywhere alone with you,” Scruffy interrupted. “You already got attacked by a ghost here once!”

“Of course she did,” Diane rolled her eyes.

“Gang, let’s just concentrate on getting this done,” Frank finally broke in, “or we’ll be here all night.”

They began to creep from room to room, checking out every dust-covered, but otherwise empty, corner. Veruca did her best to pretend she was looking, since she was the one who had insisted they do so, but since she knew right where they were going, the other rooms just seemed like a waste of time, so she spent more time trying to figure out some natural way to split the group up. She didn’t have to, of course, but she thought it would make things easier.

“What are you doing, Veruca? Why are you back here?”

She turned around to see Carol standing there, with her children in tow. None of the others turned to look, so Veruca was pretty sure they couldn’t see or hear her. It was, Veruca pondered, kind of striking how easily she accepted that, but then, after spending several days solid doing research on ghosts, she’d sort of come to expect it. She couldn’t exactly answer without looking crazy, however, not that she planned to do so anyway. She gave Carol a cold look, then turned back around and returned to her half-hearted search.

“This is a bad idea, Veruca,” Carol informed her. “This is a dangerous time. You shouldn’t be back here.”

“I cannot have you… in me,” Veruca whispered. “I’m just doing what I have to do. Just leave me alone, okay?”

“You can’t,” Carol protested.

“There’s nothing in here,” Veruca said, speaking up as she turned back around, walking right through Carol, which gave her the shivers all the worse. “Let’s go on to the next room.”

“This is a horrible idea,” Carol told her once they were there. “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

“Next room!” Veruca cried, just as soon as she dared.

The room with the shelf was getting closer, and yet she was still stuck with the whole group. They all seemed to be getting restless, but none of them were suggesting the split on their own. She sidled up to Diane in the hallway, quietly telling her, “I could always team up with you, too, if we split up. I mean, I know you’re usually with Frank, but at least that way you wouldn’t have to worry about me being with him, and…”

“Not into that,” Diane cut her off, looking her up and down. “Way not into that.”

“That’s not what I meant!” Veruca insisted. “Why do you have to take everything like that? What is wrong with you?!” But Diane just ignored her, pushing past to catch up with Frank. Veruca knew she had no shot at getting him alone – and, honestly, she’d never even considered him as an option, partially because she’d expected that, and partly because he was the only one other than her that actually contributed. But it looked like he was going to have to come along, too.

“Veruca, you can’t do this!” Carol told her sternly. Veruca was feeling a little more uneasy, but she blamed that on the ghost’s constant warnings.

Finally, she was back in the room. Her stomach twisted a little at the sight of the shelves, as she looked around at the rest of her little group. She could always declare that room clean as well, then double back if she got the chance, but that would look pretty suspicious, she knew. It was going to have to be now.

“Veruca, please, don’t! For your sake, I’m begging you!” Carol was down on her ghostly knees now.

Veruca glared through her, then turned and tapped the trigger. “Whoa!” she exclaimed, almost before the shelf started moving. “Guys, come check this out!”

“Zoinks!” Scruffy exclaimed, eyeing the moving shelf in fear, empty cookie bag clutched in one hand. “Like, what is that?”

“Only one way to find out,” Frank said, shining his flashlight in and moving closer.

“I don’t know…” Diane followed him, hanging back a little. “I don’t like it…”

“What are you scared of?” Veruca couldn’t resist sneering at her. “Ghosts?”

“It just feels… wrong,” Diane shook her head.

“I’ll say! Let’s get out of here!”

Scruffy started to turn to leave, but Frank stopped him. “Dogs are supposed to be sensitive to spooky stuff,” he said. “Bring him over and have him check it out.”

“What?” Scruffy practically squeaked. “You want me to go in there first?”

“Well, I can,” Frank offered, “but I need the dog.”

“No way, man,” Scruffy shook his head. “He’s sticking with me, aren’t you, buddy?”

“Then get going!” Frank stepped to one side, leaving the path open for Scruffy.

Veruca watched this anxiously, seeing the shelves slowly sliding back, tapping her foot. She wanted to urge them all to hurry up, but she didn’t dare. Scruffy slowly edged toward the little room, dog following obediently, pausing at the doorway and looking around at the others, scared. Veruca couldn’t help feeling a little guilty for trying to force him into this – though she doubted she could have even come close to getting him inside without Frank’s help – but it was what she had to do.

“Come on,” Diane voiced Veruca’s thoughts. “Just go in.”

Scruffy crept in, the dog trotting in after him. “It doesn’t really feel different,” he offered. Veruca went dead still as she saw him inside, just as she wanted him. As inconspicuously, but still quickly, as she could, she started to move closer to the door.

Frank stepped back towards the entrance as well, and Diane moved next to him as they peered inside. “It looks like a bunch of mirrors,” he observed. “Kind of weird, but harmless.”

Veruca bit her bottom lip as she saw the shelf starting to slide shut again. Frank and Diane were blocking her path now, and there wasn’t much time. She only needed one – in fact, she wasn’t sure if having more would affect it or not – but it looked like she didn’t have a choice. She dashed towards them, using her small frame to crash into them and push them inside, falling in between them as the shelf slid shut behind them.

“Sorry, I tripped,” she said lamely. “I’m sure there’s some way to get out of here…” She started pawing at the wall, while, with her other hand, she began digging in her bag for the ingredients she was going to need.

“Umm, Veruca…” Scruffy edged over to her, tapping her on the shoulder.

“This would be easier if we all searched our own wall,” Veruca told him, mostly since she knew she had the wall with the trigger, so she’d have all the time she needed.

“No, Veruca, I think you should look at this,” Frank said.

“What, is there a ghost?” she asked, half-joking. She was sure Carol and the kids would show up, and probably even let the others see them, but she wasn’t really concerned about that at the moment.

“Yes,” Diane answered. Veruca had never heard her voice sound so un-confident. It almost made her feel proud, knowing that Diane was finally seeing that she hadn’t been lying after all; she was also pretty sure she hadn’t been anywhere near that freaked out when she’d first seen Carol, though she also hadn’t known what she was then.

“I thought there was no such thing as ghosts,” Veruca teased, turning around to give Diane a smug look. “I’m sure there’s nothing to…”

She froze as she saw what was behind her. There was a whole group of ghosts – and these were definitely ghosts, being semi-transparent, many of them splattered with blood or missing parts of their body, all of them staring at the four teenagers with a look of hunger in their eyes. Veruca felt her diaper grow wet, but, for once, she knew that was all her fault. “Jinkies,” she gulped.

Dead Weight – Part 3

Dead Weight – Part 3

Of course, actually getting that rest was easier said than done. Even after managing to sneak into the house and down to the basement to hide her skirt and socks in the washing machine until her parents went to work the next day so she could actually wash them, and grab another skirt to wear to go back upstairs and to her room in, she still had to actually fall asleep with a thick, crinkling diaper beneath her pajamas, one that seemed to grow wet of its own accord.

She hadn’t expected to need a change before going to sleep – or even really thought about it – but after relaxing and chilling out with a book for a little bit, she stood up in a diaper that seemed almost ready to fall off her hips and drag her pajama pants down with it. Not that it would have mattered much, since she had to put them into the washer as well after sneaking back down to get a fresh diaper, since her diaper had leaked onto them quite badly. It was a good thing her parents had gone to bed.

It bothered her slightly to be wearing the top and bottom from two separate pajama sets, but not nearly as much as the feeling of bulkiness between her thighs as she tossed and turned in her bed, nethers feeling quite warm and confined inside their plastic prison. She wasn’t about to risk sleeping without it, however. She hadn’t woken up to a wet bed in ten years, and she was determined not to go back to that, even if the alternative wasn’t much better.

“No wonder babies can be so hard to get to sleep,” she mumbled unhappily to herself. Eventually, she did manage to doze off, but the resulting sleep was far from restful, as she woke every hour or two, her diaper growing progressively wetter with each waking, in different stages of almost pleasantly warm to cold and clammy. The final time, she woke to something much more unpleasant, which prompted her to give up and simply get out of bed. She had to climb out of the middle of a puddle, which reminded her unhappily of being nine years old again, but even that wasn’t the worst part, as that didn’t get rid of the thick, gooey mess she had felt in the seat of her pants. That was something she’d never done in her sleep as a kid, and that only made her feel worse about her situation, as if she needed that.

Her sheets were pretty wet, she saw once she’d put on her glasses, not bothering with her contacts since she didn’t plan to go out, enough that she was pretty sure she was going to need to go with a double diaper that night if things hadn’t improved, a prospect she was not particularly happy about. She gathered them up and waddled down to the basement, glad her parents both went to work early, and started up a load of laundry. Her over-used diaper went into the shopping bag with the diaper from last night, recycled from having used it to transport her skirt and clean diapers, which she also took with her upstairs and to the bathroom for a long shower.

About halfway through her shower came a sensation that was all too familiar, and yet different from what she’d gotten so used to. She turned the water down cautiously, not expecting to be able to do much about it, then gleefully hopped out of the shower and onto the toilet, feeling a little too pleased about how easily she’d made it. Was that it, then, she wondered? Just an overnight sickness of some kind, gone by the time she woke up?

She wanted to think so – really wanted to think so – but she wasn’t sure she could actually bank on it. As she ducked back into the shower, she began to ponder what she should do, whether it was worth risking the well-being of another pair of underwear, and her floor, on the off chance that she was all better. She wanted quite badly to talk herself into it, but when she took her little bag of diapers out to the trash, she had one of their brethren on beneath her sweatpants and t-shirt, and it was only a few minutes after she got back inside that she found out what a good idea that had been.

Veruca considered herself a very rational, even-headed person, but when she felt her diaper growing wet around her with only the barest warning from her bladder as she spread peanut butter across her toast, she very nearly plopped herself right down on the kitchen floor and threw a tantrum. She knew it would be silly, and that it would serve no purpose, since she didn’t even know who, or what, she’d need to appeal to in order to stop this, only that they were almost probably not in her kitchen, whatever they were, but she still very much wanted to do just that.

It just wasn’t fair! There she was, an nineteen year old woman, stuck in diapers like a toddler, and one with a particularly overactive digestive system. Without a car, or even money for a cab, she couldn’t exactly go investigate the house again on her own, or, really, do much of anything other than research the house online. It was, indeed, set to be demolished at the start of November, which made her all the more determined to solve the case on Halloween. This sudden incontinence had to have something to do with the house – it was too big a coincidence otherwise – and since she didn’t have any idea what it could be, she needed to get in there and find it, so she could figure out how to cure it.

On a whim, she decided to do a little research on the family that had lived there last. As it turned out, they were also the first family to live there, since they seemed to have built the place. There wasn’t much on the web about them, other than the small fact that they were all dead. The husband, Tony, died a few years earlier, in a car accident. The wife, Carol, and children, Maxwell and Maxine, twins with parents who either thought they were really clever or were just mean, all died at once in what was assumed to be a carbon monoxide leak.

Veruca had solved enough cases to know what she would see next. A little more digging found her a copy of the obituaries with pictures, and those pictures looked just like the people she’d seen in the hidden room. It still surprised her, a little, but mostly because of the dedication whoever it really was had put into it. They really did look a lot like the real family. She supposed it was possible, with heavy use of make-up, that the mother was the same woman – perhaps she’d survived and gone crazy – but there was no way the kids could still look so young. If Tony hadn’t been an only child, she’d have suspected Carol had a second set of twins with the man’s brother.

That didn’t explain how the woman had known that stuff about her, but maybe she had researched Veruca, as Veruca was researching her now. Even though she rarely got credit for the cases she solved, at least not publicly, she’d still managed to get her face in the paper a time or two. That could also answer the bigger problem she was having; namely, what that little encounter had been intended to do. Perhaps Carol, or whoever she was, had seen something about her, then faked a haunting long enough to draw Veruca’s attention, then, when she was there, got her to go into the freaky mirror room to scare her and make her think maybe they were real ghosts so that… what? She was still unsure of the motive. Did Carol think Veruca would be fooled that easily and declare the house haunted, perhaps to discourage its destruction? Surely there were easier ways to accomplish that…

Or, if it wasn’t really Carol after all, maybe it was a squatter who was trying to do that same thing. It would have to have been a squatter with the incredible luck to look just like the former owner, or access to a very good disguise, though, not to mention a pair of kids. As far as she could tell, there were no rumors or legends about the house, or the land, other than the usual haunting stuff she’d been out there to check out in the first place. Why would anyone go to all this trouble? It just about had to be someone with a real connection to the place.

She was so engrossed in her research, she didn’t notice the time going by, or the heavy use her diaper was getting, though there were a couple time she knowingly contributed to it, not wanting to get up and break her train of thought in case the tracks were actually leading somewhere. It wasn’t until she heard the front door opening that she snapped out of it, realizing she’d somehow managed to leak again, though just enough to put a few wet spots on her sweatpants. The downside to having parents that went to work early was that they also tended to get home early.

Quickly, she grabbed a fresh diaper and a clean pair of pants, and then, on second thought, a bigger shirt to make certain the diaper bulge was hidden, then hurried to the bathroom before her mother could get out of the living room. Luckily, her parents had a bathroom in their own room, and generally stayed out of hers, so she was able to hide the used diaper and wet pants in there, resolving to put them somewhere more appropriate that night after they went to bed, or the next morning after they were gone.

She nearly had a heart attack when she opened the bathroom door and found her mother standing there, waiting for her. “Good morning, Veruca,” she said.

“Good… morning?” Veruca answered. As usual when she got really absorbed into a task, she had no real idea of how much time had passed, though since her mom was home, and she was feeling quite hungry now that she wasn’t working, it had to be late afternoon.

“Did you just get up?” her mother demanded.

“What? No! Mom, I’ve been working!” Veruca sighed.

Her mother sighed as well. “But not on finding a real job, I’m sure.”

“Mom, I have a case…”

“Sweetie, we talked about this. Your father and I love you, and you can stay with us as long as you want, but you have to do something with your life. We’d love for you to go to college, but if you just want to find a job here, we’ll support you in that, too. But solving your little mysteries is not a real job!”

It was an argument they’d had often, and not one Veruca cared to re-open at that time. Obviously it wasn’t, since she didn’t get paid – half the time, like now, she didn’t even have a client, she just heard rumors and looked into them on her own – but that wasn’t the point. The point was, if she solved the right case, something big, then she’d get the attention and publicity she needed to turn it into a real job. Her mother was just too narrowminded to be able to see it that way.

“I filled out a couple applications online,” she lied instead, carefully moving around her mother, making sure not to touch her for fear of her somehow feeling, or hearing, the diaper. “I’m actually right in the middle of one now, so…” She backed into her room and closed the door, making a nasty face at the woman once it was shut.

“You really should respect your mother,” a voice said from behind her, making her jump and squeal in shock.

“What are you doing?!” her mother demanded.

“I-I just stepped on something cold,” she said, a little disappointed with how lame her excuse came out sounding.

It seemed to work, though, and, after listening to her mother’s footsteps retreat, after a customary, “You should clean your room, then,” she spun around to see the woman who was supposedly Carol standing behind her.

“How did you get in here?” she hissed. “What are you doing here?”

“I just wanted to check on you,” Carol told her. “I’ve read the transition can be difficult for the host, but I just wanted you to know, we appreciate it so much…”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Veruca shook her head.

“The living host,” Carol said. “In my husband’s research, it said the living host could experience some problems… And that was just with one spirit attached. So with three, I mean, I’m sure…”

“You are not a ghost,” Veruca told her sternly, “so don’t even try to pull that! I’m not an idiot, I’ve unmasked plenty of-” She was cut off abruptly as her angry advance on Carol, intended to end with a shove on the shoulders, instead ended with her hands going right through the woman. “O-Okay, so you have a hologram,” she said, stepping back and wiping her hands. “It’s a good one, I’ll tell you that. I’ve seen a few, but that one… Probably the best.”

“I’m not a hologram,” Carol insisted.

“You have to be pretty close,” Veruca pondered, walking around her to the window and looking out, disappointed not to see any vans parked outside her house. “Either that or you have a crazy connection. There’s almost no lag.”

“I’m not a hologram,” Carol repeated.

“You know what? I’ll even overlook the fact that you snuck in here and put up a projector or whatever if you let me take a look at your set-up.”

“I am not a hologram,” Carol said once more, starting to lose her patience.

“Well, you’re not a ghost!” Veruca snapped. “I’m not an idiot, I know that! Look, I don’t know what you’re up to in that house, and I don’t care. Just tell me what you did to me.”

“I told you,” Carol replied. “You are our living host. The devil’s toy box Tony built kept our spirits intact and fully formed, but after a few years… It gets so lonely, Veruca. Real ghosts, they stick around because there’s one thing they’re obsessed with that they just can’t let go of, but that’s not what we are. The toy box trapped our whole essence, all our memories, all our urges and desires, everything. But it also trapped us. So we needed you to let us out, but even then, without a host, we’d just slowly dissolve until we became real ghosts, and then, without that one central thing to keep us stuck here, we’d fade away.”

“So I’m your host,” Veruca repeated, staring at the hologram, or ghost, or spirit, or whatever she was, over the top of her glasses. “Which means…?”

“It means that, by using your living energy, we can experience everything we’ve been remembering about life. I don’t really understand how it works, but it’s fantastic. I mean, just eating and drinking… You don’t realize how much you enjoy those until you can’t do them, and all you’re left with is the memory, haunting you day after day.”

“You’ve been doing a lot of eating and drinking?” Veruca asked, finding herself drawn in by this, despite being sure she should know better. “And where do I fit into this?”

“I’m not completely sure,” Carol admitted. “We’re a strange combination now, all mixed up in one another. I don’t think you’ll gain weight from what we eat, though, so don’t worry about that, dear.”

“But the end product of all that stuff has to wind up somewhere…” Veruca mused, fidgeting in her diaper. It was, of course, impossible, and yet… Was that what was going on? Had Carol and her kids just piggybacked a ride on her digestive system without so much as asking, and without really understanding what it would do? “Could you do me a favor?” she asked, gritting her teeth. “For starters, could you not eat so much? You’re ghosts! It’s not like you’re going to starve to death!”

“Well, no,” Carol admitted. “But it’s so hard… After all that time thinking about it, it’s hard not to…”

“Yeah, whatever,” Veruca waved her off. “Just take it easy. And please, just… go away.”

“All right,” Carol nodded, looking a little surprised, and hurt. “I just wanted to thank you.”

“Oh, you’ve thanked me enough,” Veruca told her sarcastically. The woman faded away, and as soon as she was gone, Veruca was dashing back to her computer, typing out a new search. She didn’t know if Carol would have had any power to try to stop her, but she wasn’t going to risk it. She knew it was ridiculous, but since it was the only lead she had, she was going to find out everything she could about this soul-piggybacking, or whatever it was, and what she could do to stop it.

And she was going to do it quickly, not just to get herself out of diapers, but because she had a bad feeling it was going to involve the devil’s toy box again, and she was only going to get one more shot at being able to use that, on Halloween night.

Dead Weight – Part 2

Dead Weight – Part 2

“Well, jeepers, Frank, it sounds like we need to do some good, old fashioned ghost busting!”

Veruca gave Diane a dirty look, wondering, for not the first time, if she could beat her up without getting thrashed too badly in return. Diane was pretty prissy, but Veruca was willing to admit that she was a nerd herself, which wasn’t much better, and maybe even worse, when it came to physical altercations. Plus, there was the fact that, even with the slight platforms in her shoes, Diane was still a few inches taller than her. And while she doubted Frank would hit her, he’d probably feel it was his duty to try to stop the fight.

So, instead, she sighed and reiterated, “I didn’t say they were ghosts. In fact, I said I was sure they weren’t.”

“So you’re just so scared of some woman and her kids that you’re wetting yourself twenty minutes later?”

“I don’t know why that’s happening,” Veruca blushed, “but it has to have something to do with that! Maybe there was something in that room!”

“Oh, right, the mirror room. Yeah, sounds real frightening, V. I’m surprised I haven’t peed my pants just hearing about it.”

“All right, ladies,” Frank broke in finally, turning back as he brought his van to a stop at a traffic light. “We’ll just have to go back and investigate the house another time.”

“Ugh,” Diane rolled her eyes, making Veruca quite tempted to point out there was no reason she couldn’t stay home. “You know we have all kinds of Halloween parties to go to this weekend. We don’t have time for this.”

“We can go next month,” Frank suggested.

“Seriously?” Veruca crossed her arms, trying hard not to look like she was sulking. “I have a serious problem here, and the only way to solve it might be to…”

“Oh, please,” Diane cut her off. “I’m not skipping my parties just because your mommy didn’t potty train you properly… Or at all.”

“Screw you,” Veruca grumbled.

“I bet you just had a little accident and made up that whole stupid story when you got caught.”

It was hard for Veruca to feel too tough, having been relegated to sitting in the back of the van in the middle of a garbage bag, but she was about to get to her feet and go after Diane when Scruffy spoke up. “Hey, man, like, I think Veruca’s right.”

“About what?” Diane scoffed.

“I think we have to go before next month. Like, didn’t we hear it was supposed to get torn down at the start of November?” There was no confirmation from the dog, but a curse from Diane after a flurry of tapping at her cell phone screen was good enough.

“I’m not missing any parties,” she sulked.

And Veruca knew better than to expect Frank would be allowed to miss any, either, so all she could do was ask, “When can you go, then?”

“Well, Halloween’s on a Monday this year, so there’s nothing going on then,” Diane offered.

“Like, go to a haunted house on Halloween? No way, man!” Scruffy shook his head. “No way, no how!”

“Then don’t come,” Veruca said. “We’ll do…” She stopped suddenly as a horrible feeling washed over her, and she began to squirm desperately on the floor to try to stop it.

“God, you’re not peeing yourself again, are you?” Diane rolled her eyes. “How much did you drink today?”

“N-No,” Veruca whimpered, her fidgeting growing more desperate by the second. The sensation of fullness had struck her suddenly and inescapably, a bolt from the blue that she could tell wasn’t going away, and that she was almost equally as sure she’d only been able to resist so far because she was sitting down on the hard metal floor of the van. “Frank, I need a bathroom…”

“You’d better hurry,” Diane said. “You know she can’t hold it.”

The words only made Veruca more frustrated with the other girl, but the worst part was that they were true. Even as Diane was speaking, Veruca could feel her body pushing, the warm, gooey mass squeezing its way out of her, into her already soaked underwear. She bit her bottom lip, frantically trying to stop it, or at least keep from letting anyone else know what was going on, but it was already too late for that. The pain in her body was too much, and just a moment later, she was having to lift her bottom, quickly filling her panties to overflowing with the disgusting mess. It was all she could do to keep from crying then, and Diane’s disgusted groan from the front of the van was enough to push her over the edge.

“Oh, don’t bother with that,” Diane told Frank. “Just go in there.”

Veruca was still mortified when she felt the van shudder to a stop, unable to move until the back doors opened, revealing Diane standing there, wrinkling her nose at her. “Well, come on,” she demanded. She didn’t want to move at all, but somehow Veruca made herself get out, numbly grabbing her bag out of reflex, following dumbly behind Diane as they crossed around the van, revealing that Diane had made Frank pull into the parking lot of a drug store.

Veruca wasn’t stupid, nor was she blind – she could see the gas stations all around, several down the road the direction they’d just come from. She had a very good idea why Diane had wanted to come here instead. “No,” she protested, before they could even get inside.

“The longer you fight this, the longer you’re going to be standing around in that wet skirt,” Diane pointed out, matter-of-factly, before adding, “And the longer I have to smell you,” in case Veruca thought she was getting soft.

Veruca sighed, but started walking again, glad the late hour meant there weren’t many people around, and that the cashier was busy restocking things when they came in. Her instinct was to move as fast as she could, but she didn’t really want to run towards the location she thought they were going, especially if she was wrong. She hung back instead, wanting to snap at Diane to move a little faster, sure she was enjoying drawing this out.

In the end, it was the incontinence aisle Diane was leading her toward after all, and the displays of youth sized adult diapers. Her stomach, already unhappy about the rest of the situation, started tying itself in nervous knots when she saw the prices. “I, uh… I don’t… I can’t…”

“You’ve babysat before, haven’t you?” Diane snipped. “It’s the same thing, just on yourself. And don’t you dare stand there like… that…” Diane waved her hand near Veruca’s skirt, making Veruca back away a step, “and tell me you don’t need them.”

“No, it’s not that,” Veruca blushed, staring down at her shuffling feet. “I can’t really… uh… afford those…”

“Oh, for…” Diane rolled her eyes back and shook her head. “Fine, I guess they’ll be a present. Just go to the bathroom, then.”

“Don’t you need my size?” Veruca asked quietly. Diane shot her a dirty look that seemed to suggest that was more of an insult than having to buy diapers for someone she mostly just tolerated, so Veruca quickly shuffled off to the bathroom, locking herself in one of the stalls and starting to undress herself, draping her miraculously still clean and dry sweater over the stall door while she tried to contend with the rest of her wardrobe.

She hadn’t made much progress by the time Diane showed up, pushing a shopping bag under the stall door with a, “Merry Christmas.”

Veruca walked over, glad to see that the diapers were double-bagged. She took the outermost bag and put her ruined underwear in it, then dropped her socks into the other bag after taking out the diapers. She’d draped her skirt over the wall, hoping that somehow it would dry by the time she finished her gross task. She was a little surprised to see a package of baby wipes in the bag, too, but, after going through what she was sure was a half roll of toilet paper already, she wasn’t going to complain.

She’d almost gotten herself as clean as she thought she was going to without taking the long, hot shower she craved when she felt another sudden urge to pee. Frantically, she dashed over to the toilet and slammed down the seat, sitting herself down, her stomach churning as she felt wetness on the seat and realized she still hadn’t been entirely quick enough, despite being mere inches away. It certainly justified getting the diapers, but that didn’t really make her feel any better.

“Are you okay?” Diane asked, sounding bored.

“I-I’m fine,” Veruca responded, determined not to let Diane hear her cry again. She didn’t know what was going on, or why it was happening to her, just that she hated it. Tearing open that package of diapers was one of the hardest things she’d ever done, as was pulling one of them out, listening to the white plastic crinkle beneath her fingertips, feeling the padding scrunch in her hand. She pondered unhappily if Diane had gone with the thickest she could find – it certainly seemed that way – as she unfolded it, looking at the peach-colored inside, nearly the same color as her sweater. Sighing, she pulled it up around her middle, dragging it up her legs and then tight around her bottom, making sure it was going to fit.

She backed up, pinning the diaper between her and the cold, cement wall, then tugged it tighter in front, holding it there with one hand as she started fastening the tapes, each one holding the garment more snugly around her, making its entrapment more real.

“Aren’t you done yet?” Diane sighed impatiently.

“Almost,” Veruca shouted back, once she’d recovered from her near heart attack. Even though Diane couldn’t see her, just hearing her voice while she was dressed this way was terrifying. “I-I just have to put my skirt and shoes back on, and…”

“You are not putting that skirt back on,” Diane interrupted her.

Veruca looked over at it, noting unhappily that it hadn’t dried much, if at all, while she’d been getting cleaned up. “Uh, yes, I am,” she said anyway. “I can’t just leave here without any pants!”

“That sweater’s like five sizes too big,” Diane pointed out. “It should be long enough.”

“Well…” Veruca hesitated, tugging at the hem of the sweater. It wasn’t that big, but she found if she pulled it down, it did cover the diaper, just not with much room to spare. “I can’t walk around like this…”

“We’re going to the van and then to your house. What was the point of changing if you’re just going to put the skirt back on?”

Veruca hated to admit it, but, once again, Diane had a point. Reluctantly, she pulled the skirt loose, sticking it into the bag with her socks, dropping it in so the dryest part made a spot on top for her to put the diapers. She slipped on her shoes, then grabbed the two bags and left the stall, eager to throw away the bag with her panties, and just as eager to wash her hands, enough that she managed to power through the idea of Diane seeing her in a diaper, and the strange sensation of the diaper rubbing against her thighs as she walked, crinkling away.

As she washed her hands, she could see Diane in the mirror, watching her. After a minute, she spoke. “I don’t know if you get off on this or something, and just wanted an excuse to do it around us,” she said, eyes drifting down towards Veruca’s backside, “but I promise you, Frank is not into… whatever this is. And I doubt Scruffy is, either, but surely even you aren’t that desperate.”

“This isn’t an act!” Veruca insisted angrily. “Do you really think I’d this for fun?!”

“I really don’t know what you’d do,” Diane shrugged. “Now would you hurry up? God only knows what those two idiots are doing out in the van… I’d really prefer not to have to drive everyone home because Scruffy’s gotten Frank too baked to do it himself.”

“All right,” Veruca nodded, making herself dry off her hands, even though she wouldn’t have minded to keep washing. It had probably been long enough, but after what she’d just done, she wouldn’t have minded continuing for another hour or two. She paused as she threw away the paper towel, blushing as she said softly, “Thank you.”

Diane looked at her for a second, then shrugged. “Yeah, whatever. Come on.”

With another tug on her sweater, Veruca followed Diane out of the bathroom, more than ready to go home and get some sleep, and hope the answer to the mystery of just what was going on would be more obvious after a good night’s rest.

Dead Weight – Part 1

Dead Weight – Part 1

“Let’s split up, gang! We’ll go investigate the basement!” Frank offered, hand tight around Diane’s waist, giving it an extra squeeze with the words, which got a giggle out of the girl.

“Yeah, I’m sure you will,” Veruca muttered under her breath, watching the two go off, hardly able to wait until they were out of sight before they began to undress each other. “Come on, Scruffy, are you going to go with me?” She hated to ask for his help – just as much as she hated calling him by that stupid nickname – but she had little choice for either. He was the only one left, and at least he came with that stupid dog, which would hopefully be enough to scare off whatever burglar or squatter or whatever was in this supposedly haunted house before they realized it was just a big, friendly, harmless teddy bear. And, no matter how good a detective she was, she simply couldn’t find his real name anywhere, so it was either Scruffy or nothing.

“What?” Scruffy asked, half-open eyes staring at the dog. “Yeah, I think he’s right,” he nodded sagely, staring back up at Veruca. “We need to keep an eye on things here.”

Veruca glared at him unhappily, but he was too oblivious, both naturally and with a little chemical help, to notice. Finally, she just snapped, “Fine!”, stomped and turned away, marching into the musty, cobweb-filled house on her own. Normally that wouldn’t bother her so much – she was used to it by now – but there was just something about this place that gave her the creeps. Most people might say it was just the dark, late October night affecting her, but she was certain there was something big going down here. She could feel it in her bones. This could be what it took for the local authorities to really start taking her seriously… Even if she would wind up having to share the credit with that vanload of idiots.

Still, without them, she never would have made it there in the first place, not after her last solo adventure had ended with her losing her prey by crashing her car into a tree. Now she was right back to where she’d started, bumming rides off of Frank. Diane, of course, wouldn’t dream of letting him out of her sight with another girl, especially to some dark, lonely house. With anyone else, it wouldn’t be a bad idea, but Veruca had no interest in the pompous douche-bag. And where Frank went, Scruffy came along with his dog, for reasons Veruca was never entirely clear on. He was just always there already when Frank picked her up. She figured either Frank found him funny, or Scruffy was his dealer and he just wanted to stay on his good side, so he indulged him by letting him tag along. Clearly, if he was crazy enough to think his dog could talk to him, it wasn’t a bad idea.

Of course, it might have been nice to have somebody to go with her, seeing as she’d pulled up to the half-destroyed front doors with a van full of people, even if none of them were particularly useful. She knew the house wasn’t haunted, as it was said to be, but there was something going on, and she didn’t want to run into a squatter, or someone making drugs, or whatever, all by herself, even with the taser tucked away in her bag and the heavy flashlight she was sweeping around the rooms she passed through, searching for clues. She was small, mousy, and bespectacled, and looked entirely non-threatening in nearly every possible way. She liked to think she looked smart, but that wasn’t the kind of intimidation she needed if she were to get into a physical altercation.

That hadn’t happened yet, nor had it ever come close to happening, but it was always a possibility, one she tried to prepare for, and get the others ready for as well. Most of the time, like tonight, they didn’t even pretend to listen to her anymore. She found herself yelling at them more and more, with less and less of an effect. She’d practically had to throw a tantrum to get them moving this time, something Diane had been all too happy to call her out on.

“Don’t get your little panties in a bunch,” she’d told her, using that infuriating tone of hers that made it sound like she thought Veruca was ten years younger than her, rather than ten months. The slut probably just thought the idea of wearing panties at all was chidlish, Veruca thought bitterly to herself.

“Don’t worry about her. She’s just jealous.”

“Yeah, right,” Veruca scoffed. “Like she’d be jealous of…” A chill shot up her spine, her hand clutching tighter around the flashlight as she realized what had just happened. She whipped around, looking for the source of the unfamiliar voice, the beam of her flashlight shakily slashing through the darkness around her and finding only dust and spiderwebs. “Who are you?” she demanded.

“There’s no need to be scared, dear,” the voice answered, warm and maternal, and seemingly coming from behind her, no matter which direction she turned. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

“You shouldn’t be in this house,” Veruca informed her. “You’re trespassing, and…”

“You’re the one who’s trespassing,” the voice countered. “But I don’t mind. It’s always nice to have visitors. And there are so many tonight… It was your idea, though, wasn’t it?”

“Well, yes,” Veruca couldn’t help but smiling a little as she took the credit. “But you’re still trespassing here, too. I don’t care how long you’ve lived here, you don’t own this house, and therefore…”

“This is my house,” the voice insisted.

“Where are you?” Veruca finally asked, giving up on figuring it out herself.

“I thought you’d never ask. Go back to the hall, turn right, and I’m in the next room.”

That made sense, Veruca thought, feeling silly for not realizing this woman was probably just in another room. Sure, it sounded like she was right there, but the walls were likely very thin, so it was just about the same thing. She walked out into the hall, stopping right before the next doorway. She reached into her bag and putting a hand on her taser, just in case, and took a breath. She knew she couldn’t take too long, since whoever was in the room had to have seen her flashlight, but she could afford a moment to compose herself. This didn’t seem like it was going to be the bust that made her famous, but every little bit helped, and every squatter evicted had to earn her some small amount of respect, surely. Not as much as if something nefarious really was happening here, but there wasn’t much she could do about that.

“I’m so sorry to disappoint you, dear,” the voice chuckled, “but there’s nothing going on.”

Veruca felt the dagger of cold stab into her again, this time certain she hadn’t said that out loud. “Who are you?” she asked again, quieter this time.

“Just come in and see,” the voice invited. “I promise, I’m not going to hurt you.”

It had to be somebody she knew, Veruca reasoned, someone who knew her well enough to be able to guess what she was thinking. But the voice didn’t sound familiar, certainly not that familiar, and there was no reason for anyone she knew to be there, except for Diane, and she was surely too busy with Frank to be disguising her voice and messing with her.

“You don’t know me,” the voice told her, “but I’d love to meet you.”

Despite the words, Veruca continued mentally searching through her list of who could have known where she’d be. There was always the possibility that one of the others had told someone they knew, but she and they didn’t exactly run in the same circles mostly, so this little “mind reading” act would be hard for them to pull off. Her skin crawled slightly as she crossed more and more alternatives off her list, until finally she had to accept she wasn’t going to get an answer by standing around waiting.

“Don’t jump out at me,” she warned, shifting her flashlight to her free hand and pulling her taser out of the bag, “I am armed, and I don’t respond to surprises well.”

“I don’t think you need to worry about that,” the voice chuckled softly.

Gathering up her courage, Veruca rounded the corner, shining her light directly into the door, feeling a bit like a police officer making a bust. Only there wasn’t anyone in that room, either. Quickly, she stepped inside and turned around, surveying the hall behind her, making sure nobody was sneaking up on her. “This isn’t funny,” she told the voice.

“You’re almost here,” it responded. “Go to the bookshelf.”

Veruca found the shelf in her flashlight’s beam and slowly approached, staring up at it uncertainly. It was big, taller than her, and rather imposing, even empty as it was. “Okay…”

“On the right side,” the voice instructed, press on the third brick out on the fifth row from the bottom.”

“Okay, yeah, whatever,” she rolled her eyes. “Why don’t you just come out and tell me who you are and why you’re here.”

“Just do it,” the voice said again.

Veruca checked behind herself one more time, then knelt down beside the bookcase, carefully counting the bricks, pushing in on the one she’d been directed towards. It didn’t move inwards at all, or do anything to indicate it was anything but an ordinary brick. “Yeah, nothing, wow, what a surprise. Now what are you..?”

Suddenly, the entire bookshelf popped upwards an inch or two, making Veruca jump in response, falling back and away onto her butt. She dropped her flashlight, leaving her to scrabble for it so she could make sure she really was seeing what she thought she was. And she was. The shelf was now gliding away along the wall, though she could now see that there were wheels on the bottom. She lifted her flashlight to see what was beyond, but all she could see in there when she did so was light.

“Hurry,” the voice urged. “It starts to close again as soon as it is all the way open.”

“I don’t know…” Veruca said, suddenly apprehensive. She still had no idea who was talking to her, and whether they might mean harm to her. She didn’t know how to get back out once she was in there, either.

“It opens from the inside, too,” the voice reassured her, though just the fact that it said that, and right as she was thinking about it, did the opposite. “You’ll be perfectly safe.”

This was, she mused, exactly where having one of the others along with her would help. At the very least, they could confirm that she wasn’t going crazy, but, more usefully, they could wait outside by the brick, ready to let her out if it turned out there wasn’t really a release on the inside. She could call them, she supposed, but would they come? Probably not, not unless they were ready to leave and waiting on her to get back so they could. If anything went bad inside, she could always call them then. And she still had her taser, after all…

“All right,” she sighed, having talked herself into it. “I’ll do it.” She stood up, shining her flashlight into the void beyond the shelf, which greeted her with light once more. As she got closer, however, she began to see why that was – the room was one big mirror, not just the walls, but the floor and ceiling, too. She could see herself there, reflected over and over in a way that made her a little nauseous to stare at, and made it difficult to be certain nothing else was inside, even though that was what it looked like.

The shelf had reached the far end of its journey and was starting to roll back towards her now, moving faster than it had on the first part of its trip. “You’re not in there,” she pointed out to the voice, as if it didn’t know.

“There’s another door inside,” it replied, and, indeed, it did sound closer than it had before.

She knew it was probably stupid, but with the shelf rapidly approaching, she had to make a choice, and by then, she was too curious to do anything but step inside. A moment later, the rolling stopped, and then the shelf began to sink again, the mirror on the back of it lining up perfectly with the other mirrors in the cube. Veruca began to feel dizzy as she looked around – despite the beam of her flashlight making plenty of illumination for the room, she was having a hard time figuring out where exactly in it she was, and making the mistake of turning around only made things worse. The mirrors all fit together seamlessly, making it impossible to tell which direction she’d come from.

“Where is this other door?” she asked, fighting to keep from sounding panicked.

“It’s right here,” the voice replied from behind her. She looked up at the walls, but saw no indication that there was anyone else in the room with her, which made her nearly jump out of her skin when she turned around and saw the woman standing there. She was in her thirties, maybe, pretty, but with sad eyes. And, somehow, despite the endless number of images of herself around the room, Veruca could only see one of the woman. “The room is the doorway,” the woman continued, giving Veruca time to try, and fail, to wrap her head around what was going on.

“What is going on?” Veruca demanded, fixing her eyes on the woman, glad for something definite to focus on, at least. “How are you doing that?”

“Veruca,” the woman said, taking a step closer, “do you know where you are?”

“I’m investigating rumors of a supposedly haunted house,” she replied.

“No, not that,” the woman waved her off. “Here. Do you know what this is?” She gestured to the room at large, to the reflections of reflections of reflections of Veruca looking around, bewildered. “Some people call this the devil’s toy box,” the woman explained, “but that doesn’t really explain anything, does it? That could mean any number of things, none of them good. But this isn’t something evil, dear, I promise. This is nothing more than a net.”

Veruca’s stomach wrenched inside of her. “A net for me?” she asked, sure she’d just walked herself straight into a trap.

“What? Oh, no, no,” the woman laughed. “It’s a net for souls. It concentrates energy, enough to attract souls once they become… detached from their living vessels. It’s surprisingly difficult to build – the mirrors have to be the exact same size, the same quality…”

“Why are you telling me this?” Veruca interjected. In her experience, this sort of monologuing rarely led to anything good.

“I could tell you were curious,” she explained. “And I’m sure my husband would have liked someone to know how hard he had to work to perfect this.”

“I’d be happy to let people know,” Veruca offered, “but I can’t do that if you kill me.”

“Kill you?” The woman chuckled again. “Where do you get these ideas, Veruca? What good would killing you do me? That would completely defeat the purpose of bringing you here.”

“Then why am I here?” Veruca asked nervously, lifting her taser slightly to make sure the woman saw she had it.

“Oh, Veruca… I’m so hungry… It’s been so long, I can barely remember what things taste like, just that the ability to taste is divine…” Veruca backed up, bumping into a wall. She lowered the hand with the flashlight, feeling on the wall behind her, looking for a swith, a button, anything, even though she wasn’t sure if it was the wall she’d come in from.

“I am not on the menu!” she declared, jabbing out with her other hand, and the taser clutched in it.

“I wouldn’t eat you!” the woman laughed. “I’m not a cannibal, dear. I just need your help. We all need your help.”

“We?” Veruca jumped as she felt something brush past her on either side, a pair of children walking past her to their mother, who put a hand around each’s shoulders. Veruca spun around, sliding her hand up the glass, finding it solid at least far enough up that there should have been no way through for those kids.

“What do you two think?” the woman asked gently as Veruca turned back around. The children didn’t cast reflections, either, but she was expecting that by then. “This nice lady is going to help us. Isn’t that nice of her?”

There was a girl and a boy, quite close to the same size, though she wasn’t sure if they were twins, or a year apart. “Thank you, ma’am,” they intoned as one, making Veruca’s skin start crawling again.

“Stay away!” she warned, hitting the trigger on the taser, letting the electricity arc across it for a moment to show them she meant business.

The children giggled, which was even more unsettling than speaking, though the girl did that afterwards. “She’s funny, mommy,” she said.

“Yes, she is,” the mother agreed. “Do calm down, Veruca. Just go to your right.”

Veruca pondered whether she should for a moment, but there didn’t seem to be much else she could do, so she slid across the mirror until she hit the corner. “Now just push that wall out,” the woman instructed. Veruca tried leaning against it, but that did no good. “No, you have to really push, dear. To work correctly, it has to shut quite firmly, you know.”

Veruca threw herself against it again, then, reluctantly, turned to face it. She glanced back over her shoulder, looking at the three figures standing behind her, not liking that she couldn’t keep an eye on them and do this at the same time, nor that the woman suggested, “It would be easier without all that stuff in your hands.”

“Are you sure this is the right wall?” Veruca asked, spinning back around to face them. “I’ll feel awful silly if I keep pushing on it and nothing happens.”

“I know this place all too well,” the woman replied. “Just push on that corner, dear. All will be well.”

Slowly, Veruca knelt down, setting down the flashlight, and then the taser, keeping an eye on the trio all the while. She considered putting the taser back in her bag, but digging around in there for it wouldn’t be any easier than ducking down and grabbing it, especially since she’d probably need to be dodging them at the same time. “I guess you aren’t going to help,” she mumbled, standing back up and turning around, pressing her hands to the smooth surface, staring right into her own frightened eyes as she strained and pushed, fighting to find the strength in her small form to budge the wall.

Just when she thought it was hopeless, she felt the wall jerk upwards away from her, then, to her great relief, it began to roll, letting her see first a sliver, then more and more, of the dirty, decrepit house beyond. “Got it!” she announced proudly, shivering suddenly as a strange chill ran up her spine. She shook it off as she turned back to the woman and her children, only to find that they were gone.

She began to shiver again, quickly grabbing her things from the floor of the glass cube and getting out before the shelf could begin rolling back into place again and trap her inside. The house seemed especially dark now, and while she didn’t know how they’d gotten past her and out so quickly, she was sure that was why she couldn’t find the people she’d just been talking with. “Yeah, it’s real funny… Where did you guys go?”

But there was no answer.

Veruca wandered the rooms around there for a little while, searching for any sign of them, or where they might have ducked out. She was squatting down, examining the floor, starting to feel a little frustrated and confused, when it happened. She had learned to limit her drinking before missions, knowing that having to run off to try to find a bathroom, or even a bush to duck behind, could cost valuable time in the middle of a case. So she hadn’t needed to go, wasn’t even thinking about it, and yet, as she knelt there, she felt her bladder start flooding into her underwear, straight through and onto the fabric of her skirt, and, as she tried, and failed, desperately to stop it, down onto her socks, and the floor beneath them.

“Oh, jinkies,” she gasped, hardly able to believe what had just happened to her. That had been no small amount of urine, certainly more than the small amount of coffee she’d had in preparation for this investigation should have produced, not to mention the fact that there was no reason she shouldn’t have been able to stop it, or at least known it was about to happen well before she peed her pants like that. She’d faced all kinds of weird and scary situations, and never done that – and certainly not twenty minutes after the fact.

She groaned as she realized how much of a field day Diane would have with this, like the girl needed new ammunition for picking on her. She briefly thought about undressing and hanging her wet things up to dry, but she wasn’t about to wander around this place half-naked, especially not when there had to be a couple kids somewhere, even if they seemed to have vanished into thin air with their mother.

She had to be getting sick, she decided. That was the only thing that would explain this and what she thought she’d seen. She didn’t feel bad, but some sicknesses were sneaky that way.

And speaking of sneaky, she jumped as she heard Diane’s voice from behind her. “Aren’t you done yet? Frank and I are bored, we’re ready to go. Come on.”

Veruca quickly turned around, putting the wet spot on her skirt behind her, away from Diane’s wandering flashlight. “D-Did you find anything?” she asked, trying to sound normal, lifting her own flashlight to see the other girl.

“Oh, yeah,” Diane nodded. “We found three ghosts, but they promised to be good and stop haunting this place, so we’re good to go.”

Before Veruca could stop herself, she squeaked out, “Really?” Normally, she’d have been too smart to rise to the bait, but in the moment, she was too busy trying to work out how the trio had gotten past her and down to the basement.

Diane rolled her eyes. “Yeah, then they got beamed up onto their spaceship and flew away. Dumbass. Now come on, or we’re going to leave you here.”

“All right, I’ll be there in a minute. I just have a little more evidence to collect,” Veruca said, waiting for Diane to walk down the hall before leaving the room, wanting to stay behind her while she tried to think about how she might be able to hide her accident beyond that.

She stuck her head back in the room with the shelf one last time as she passed, searching in vain for some hint that there was something she was missing, but it was just as empty as before. She made her way back to the front door, pushing it closed with her foot so she wouldn’t have to turn around, seeing the other three waiting for her by the van, its doors standing open, thankfully, since it always stunk after Scruffy stayed staked out in there.

She walked across the yard to them, feeling self-conscious. “So…” she said, tugging at her sweater, “I think we’re going to need to come back here again. I don’t have anything definite, but I really think there’s something here, guys.”

“If you say so, man,” Scruffy shrugged. “Like, we didn’t see a thing, did we?” The dog didn’t answer.

“We can talk about that later,” Frank responded. “Let’s just get going for now.”

“Yeah,” Diane nodded, smiling. “But do you have a garbage bag or something? Little Veruca here pissed herself.” Veruca blushed, gasping. “Oh, please, don’t look so surprised. I’m not an idiot.”

But that wasn’t why Veruca was gasping, and a moment later, she saw three pairs of eyes move downward, indicating they’d figured out the real reason, seeing the fresh river of pee running down her legs to the puddle forming beneath her feet.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Diane’s face scrunched as she looked at her.

“Well, that,” Veruca said, staring down at herself, just as shocked as the others, “is quite the mystery.”