“I can’t believe you convinced me to come to this,” I whined, looking at the stereotypical run down student apartment.
“Oh please Coby,” Brook groaned with a roll of her intense hazel eyes, “You’re always complaining about how you have no social life, so we’re here to start you one.”
I sighed and nodded in resignation. How was I meant to tell her that it wasn’t my lack of going to parties that was the problem, but that I just couldn’t talk to people properly. Guys intimidated me to no end, being the scrawny one hundred and thirty pound dude that I was. I had no muscle, no fat, and I was middling height. My glasses added to the wimpy exterior like a sprig of parsley on a high class restaurant meal.
Flicking my shaggy black hair out of my dark eyes again, I watched as Brook sauntered off, hips swaying and everything, towards the party that was already incredibly loud. She was so different from me. Tall, gorgeous and blonde, with long legs that allowed her a huge edge in her passion for track. She was built to run, her body lithe and coiled like some tigress on the prowl. Which is what she was doing right now, prowling towards the party.
She casually strode up to the door, which stood open, and turned back to wave me in after her. She was here to hook up with someone, that much I knew from experience. I wondered idly if she would find a guy or a girl tonight. She never seemed to care which. I'd be abandoned in the process, left to fend for myself in an environment that I wasn't at all comfortable in.
That’s actually how we’d met. I had been her prey, so to speak, during high school, and I’d given her a good chase. See, the problem had been that I wasn't attracted to her. No that wasn't right, I was attracted to her, but I wasn't... attracted to her. I don't know. I mean, sure, I liked girls, but she was downright scary sometimes. I'd asked to stay just friends instead.
Stepping carefully inside the house, I found myself in a hallway that was chock full of people, many of whom were obviously drunk. I carefully stepped over the prone form of a girl in a too short dress, and felt myself blush at the indecent position she was in. I hoped she had friends to care for her.
Once I was through the gauntlet, I found myself being dragged by the arm into a kitchen, where apparently all the alcohol was to be found. In a rare and generous move by one of the more wealthy students at Manhattanville Uni, there was a bunch of free booze available. Thus, the party was teeming with people looking for studentry nectar, and I was jostled and bumped as we fought our way through.
“Here,” Brook said as her slender hand thrust a solo cup full of something I couldn’t identify towards me.
“What is it?” I asked timidly, my eyes flicking between her gaze, dancing with amusement, and the cup, dancing with... gunk, no wait, bubbles.
“Rum and coke I think. I splashed some vodka in there for added kick,” she grinned, egging me on with an enthusiastic nod towards the cup.
“That sounds gross,” I grumbled, eyeing the cup dubiously.
She laughed and downed her own cup in one long pull, tried to hide her eye-watering wince, then turned to me, “Your turn!”
“No! I’m fine, I’ll drink it slowly!” I exclaimed, just a little desperately.
“Drink it bro! Don’t let your girlfriend show you up like that!” a random guy shouted as he stumbled up to us.
“She’s not my girlfriend,” I scowled, feeling that familiar lump in my chest every time people made that mistake.
It made me so uncomfortable, the way people just kept making that assumption. We were good friends, and if sometimes we got huggy, it wasn't a big deal.
“Go on Coby, let’s get you drunk enough to come out of that shell of yours,” Brook said with a smile of encouragement, running a hand down my arm and earning a spike of goosebumps from it. I didn't want to be touched after someone had just made the girlfriend mistake!
“Yeah! Get druuunk man!” the random guy said.
“Fine! Fine… I’ll do it!” I exclaimed, cringing as I brought the awful concoction to my lips.
It tasted as foul as I’d expected, and I almost gagged and coughed it all back up. How the hell do people drink like this every damn night? I want to go back to my computer. I drank Brook’s foul cup over several gulps, as opposed to the clean pour down the throat that she did.
“Niiiice dude,” said the random guy, nodding like I'd just completed some complicated kung fu ritual and he was my master.
Brook clapped me on the shoulder and started refilling my cup with something else, “Here’s your to-go drink Coby. I’m gonna go get smashed and find someone to make out with. Good luck!”
“What? No! Come back!” I called, my stomach dropping out with worry as she waved and wandered off.
I didn’t try and follow her, despite wanting nothing more than to cling to her side like an unborn twin through the whole party. She’d get super pissed if I tried that, and I’d feel bad for being a beaver dam anyway. Bad in the sense that she would be mad at me, not that I'd stop her from getting some. She always went with people that looked fine enough, they were nice... but there was always this feeling that I couldn't shake about them. I just didn't like them.
Deciding to explore and try to find some place to hide, I made my way back into the hallway and further into the house. The place was already a mess, with beer cans laying half crushed on the carpet, and I think I saw some speckles of vomit on a wall. Really gross.
I found the living room, which seemed to be teeming with people talking loudly over the top of some unidentifiable song that was playing on some cheap speakers. I had no idea where to put myself, and just sidled along next to a wall and stood there pretending to sip my drink. Nearby, a group of people who looked almost as nerdy as myself were arguing.
"NO, I'm telling you! The fundamental way the transplanted ruins are laid out points to heavy Greco-roman influence!" one girl said, her glasses drunkenly sliding down her nose.
She was cute in an owlish way, her huge eyes blinking rapidly as she tried to adjust her glasses. Her brown hair was incredibly long and extended down almost past her butt. It was wrangled into a thick frizzy braid that looked like it could break a window if she turned her head too fast. She wore no makeup, and she had a smattering of freckles across her cheeks and nose. She was short, coming in somewhere just above five feet if I had to guess.
Right now she seemed much taller and scarier as she drunkenly debated with a plump boy who looked like he saw very little sun. I started to judge him further on this, but realised I was just like him, if slightly less full of myself. My hair probably looked just as unkempt and unwashed as his.
“They are clearly alien in origin, Madeline,” the boy sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose as though he thought was a character in an anime. I think I could name a few that used that gesture.
“Based on what evidence? You studying a degree in alien archeology there genius? You take a look at those ruins! They’ve definitely got some sort of Creat… Ceet… Cretan origin in the way they are built. They have a very similar style of Doric pillar, where the top is thicker than the bottom!” the girl named Madeline huffed drunkenly slurring her words and her brows furrowing in an adorable way that caused her glasses to slip down again.
There was something strange in her accent that I couldn’t place. Most of her speech sounded like a normal north east accent, but something was slipping through that sounded english, or maybe irish? Either way, I was fascinated by her and by her argument. The ruins had always been really interesting to me.
“Ancient Greek people couldn’t have caused the Emergence that’s why! Not the first one and not the second one! It’s obvious that aliens are punishing the world for something!” the boy sneered, “It’s not like you’d understand anyway! I heard you were some snowflake libtard anyway.”
“I… I’m what? How does that… how’s that relevant?” the girl stuttered.
“You think you know stuff because you’re a history nerd! What does it matter what happened ages ago, we’ve got like superheros and stuff now. Real gods, not fake ones!” he said, trying to take another sip from his drink and spilling some in the process.
“The past is important!” she exclaimed weakly, the fire she’d displayed before going out so abruptly I thought I heard a fizzle as it was doused in water.
“It’s not, but I don’t expect someone like you to understand,” he said flippantly, and some of the other boys around who had been silent up til now started nodding.
“Just because you were a fan of the marvel movies before the Emergence doesn’t make you some sort of expert!” she retorted, “Plus, if you’d read the comics like a real fan you’d realise this sort of thing is more than possible, based on the bullshit comic book logic you’re throwing around!”
“I don’t want to be like sexist or something, but you’re being super dramatic about this,” another boy said.
“I’m not! I just know about this stuff and-” she started sadly, only to be cut off.
“Just leave it already Maddy, you’re killing the vibe,” another guy said with an annoyed sigh.
Her eyes began to tear up, and she swallowed, looking like she was about to speak, then turned abruptly and wobbled her way out the back door and into the garden.
“What a drama queen,” the first boy said with a roll of his eyes.
Wow, he was a bag of dicks. Why was a girl like her hanging out with a group of guys like that? I might be a massive shut in nerd, but at least I wasn’t an asshole like these guys were. I frowned as I absentmindedly followed Madeline out into the backyard. I hoped I wasn’t... was I an asshole like them?
The backyard of the place was a madhouse. A bunch of frat boys were chanting “Chug, chug, chug, chug, chug,” as one of their number hovered upside down in midair while two more held a keg open into his mouth. Ah, another Emerged person who was wasting their powers on stupid shit. The dude had a strange blue aura around him as he floated, and it began to flicker as I watched, until it disappeared and he fell to the ground in a spray of beer.
The Emergence had been hectic for those first few months, the strange coloured storms rolling in and bringing terror. In a blinding flash, the world had changed forever, with people suddenly gaining powers, having their appearance changed or even becoming entirely inhuman. I remembered that night as I huddled with my parents in the living room, watching an honest to god Dragon tearing up the Bronx just ten miles away. We’d been able to hear the roars.
Since then, people had used their powers in all sorts of ways, some villainous and some heroic. The vast majority used their powers for mundane crap like this though, their powers not being powerful enough to do anything intense with. My dad had later Emerged during the second Emergence, gaining the ability to shine lights out of his eyes like a flashlights. He loved it for when he was tinkering around in the perpetual project that was his car, but at the same time I suspected he hated himself for having the powers.
You see, along with the Emerged people and their powers, came a wave of fear and hate towards them. They were new, dangerous, powerful, and unpredictable. People feared and hated them, and my dad had been among those to do so. He’d foamed at the mouth when the talking heads on Fox and Friends railed against “those violent freaks wrecking our America”. I’d always known my father had harboured a lot of hate in his heart, but it had been jarring to see it in action. He’d always kept his racism mostly under wraps, so I hadn’t realised the extent of it until now.
I was snapped out of my reverie when Brook stumbled into my path and slurred, “Ohh myy god you havenn’t even finished that cup? Drink it now you buzzzzzzkill!”
“W-what?” I stammered, my heart hammering into my throat. I was not expecting her to jump out of the woodwork like that.
“Drink!” she said with drunken smile, stumbling close and shoving her bottle of vodka into my mouth.
I sputtered and accidentally swallowed a gulp or two of the stuff before she took it out again, some getting on my clothes in the process. Fuck, it wasn’t the good stuff either, it tasted like paint thinner.
“That’s foul, Brook!” I coughed, trying in vain to get the burning to go away.
“Hey dude, it gets you drunk, and that’s the whole point of this shit!” she laughed, leaning down to grab my shirt and suck on the vodka there.
“Stop that! It's weird, and no! I don’t want to get drunk!” I exclaimed with embarrassment, frowning up at her as she straightened.
She got this sort of wry sad smile on her face and tweaked my cheek like I was a baby, “Yeah you do Coby, then you can make some friends of your own. Maybe even meet a girl?”
“Yeah right,” I mumbled, “I can’t even talk to girls, how am I meant to make friends with a girl?”
“Hey I’m a girl,” she said with a brow creasing frown.
“Yeah I know, but you’re different! I dunno,” I winced, feeling my chest constrict as I realised what I had just said would probably upset her, “Sorry.”
“Nah it’s fine,” she said tightly, turning away from me, “I’ll just… go hang out with some people I met earlier.”
“Oh, okay,” I said to her retreating back, feeling my stomach drop out again.
I stood there in the backyard with its rowdy and drunken occupants for a few minutes, wallowing in self pity about how socially anxious I was and how I just wanted Brook to come back. Strangely, when I tried to move again, I realised with a start that my balance was way off. Oh, my fuzzy mind thought, the drink is kicking in. I looked down at the sloshing cup I still had in my hand that I hadn’t touched. What the hell, maybe Brook was right. I downed the thing and it almost felt like the extra alcohol hit my bloodstream immediately.
I frowned as the ground began to change colours, flashing every now and then with strange light. Wow, what was in that drink? Surely Brook didn’t slip anything extra in there? She wasn’t the type to do anything more than just get blind drunk. Then why was…?
My confusion was cut off when I felt an elbow jostle me, and suddenly found myself knocked to the ground face first. At the same time, I heard a girl scream, “Oh my god! It’s happening again!”
What was happening again? Wow the ground was comfy, how was the ground so comfy? Wait, there was something jabbing into my stomach. I wrigged to try and remove it, but I couldn’t get my arm down there. Well, if that didn’t work, I guess I’d roll over. With an effort of will I got myself onto my back and looked to the side with relief as whatever it was stopped poking me in the stomach. It had been a beer bottle. Great.
Turning my head to look up, I noticed the dark clouds of the night sky were flashing with various multicoloured lights. Wow, something was seriously off. Wait… I knew those lights! Oh fuck! It’s another Emergence! I barely had time to tense up when I heard a screeching noise akin to shearing metal and sundering stone. The world rolled, reality seeming to shudder, or maybe that was just my drunken vision.
White, piercing stabbing painful white all in an instant. I felt my body writhe and contort as something changed within and without me, as though I was a pot of water being brought to boil. It was strange, I felt pain, but it was a distant thing that I felt disconnected with. Then the pain was gone, taking the white piercing light with it.
Fuck me, why did I feel like I’d just downed a gallon of turpentine and then been hit by a car? My body felt strange and out of control. I gave it a vague suggestion about sitting up, and it complied with wails of protest. What was wrong with me? Fuck I had drunk way too much.
I managed to stumble upright and look around. People were shouting and I heard someone screaming in the background. Distantly, I heard the popping of gunfire, and I assumed that was the Police Commissioner’s thugs going to town. Some poor bastard who had just Emerged was probably feeling the wrath of an AR-15. New York was more than a bit jumpy about superheroes and villains. You can blame the movie industry for that.
My body felt really strange, but my dancing vision and numbed sense of touch couldn’t figure it out. I shrugged, I’d get to the bottom of it when I started sobering up. I’d drunk a lot fairly quickly so past experience told me it would filter out fairly quickly as well. I think... don’t quote me on that, I’m a finance major not a medical major.
I tried looking for Brook, but she was nowhere to be found amidst the chaos that this third emergence had just caused. I should just get to somewhere less crowded. I tried to push my way through the crowd, expecting a lot of resistance, but for some reason I was able to weave nimbly, if a bit drunkenly, through and into the back of the lot where less people were hanging out. On a bench out of the light I could dimly see a couple who had apparently decided the lightshow wasn’t worth their time and had opted to passionately make out instead. Good for them.
Leaving the couple to their devices I wobbled my way past, looking for somewhere to rest until I sobered up. I found respite behind a run down looking shed where an old bike was in the process of merging with some overgrown grass. I noticed as I walked that I felt a strange subtle buzzing within me. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but at the same time it felt natural?
I slowly lowered myself to the ground and waited, allowing the world to spin alarmingly like it always did when you drank too much. Why did I feel so off? I’d been drunk a few times before, that was partly why I’d been so hesitant to drink when Brook had shoved the weird concoction in front of me. Why did I always let her pressure me into this stuff? It was like clockwork I swear.
Anyway, point is that this didn’t feel like it normally did. I could feel the drunkenness, and it was distinct from whatever was wrong with my body. Oh… wait. My body had started feeling strange right after that Emergence. Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no.
My hands flew over my body, feeling for differences, and differences I found, although it was not what I expected. My body was… curved? Not in some strange way, but in a soft and comforting way. I seemed to be even thinner as well, but with more squish to me. It seemed I had shrunk, but gained a layer of fat across my body that added to the softness in a way my intoxicated brain heartily approved of in a rush of happiness.
Then I felt them, warm squishy lumps on my chest. I squeezed experimentally and felt my fingers become slightly enveloped in them. What on earth? I lifted the collar of my shirt and tried to peek in, but found it too dark to see. Also, why was my shirt suddenly huge? Scratch that, why was all my clothing suddenly too big for me? Even my shoes felt loose.
I was still confused about my shoes when my mind finally clicked as to what the lumps on my chest were. Boobs... I had boobs, and they weren’t small either. Okay, if I have boobs, then the next logical step is to check between my legs. Why do I feel so calm about this? Why is my mind rearing in something almost like anticipation?
Yup, I’m missing the useless piece of flesh that was dangling around down there only a few minutes prior. I did feel something else though. Slipping my hand under the now too loose waistband of my jeans, I explored what was happening down there. Okay, I’ve never actually like, felt or seen a vagina, so I don’t have a frame of reference, but I’m pretty sure that I have one.
Unlike when I normally got too handsy with my dick, my new genitals weren’t vaguely replusing me like I was used to. Weird. I pushed two fingers between the folds and immediately regretted it. With a pained yelp, I pulled my hand back. Ow! Way too rough! That hurt!
Right at that moment, a soft voice spoke up from nearby, “Who’s there? Are you okay?”