Seven Days 6

In jeans and a grey T-shirt, but with Carnal’s small black purse and Carnal’s phone and Carnal’s remaining cash, Laura used her own TTC pass to get to the park where she’d met Jaz.

Things changed, but life went on: the familiar sights of a young mother fumbling with a stroller and her small child, a bearded man in rumpled clothing muttering to himself, a trio who were probably high-school students chattering at high speed.

In the park, she spotted Jaz on a bench, her legs outstretched with her ankles crossed, absorbed in eating the ice cream cone in her hand. Laura didn’t immediately recognize the flavour, something soft light brown with bits in it that caught the light, but whatever it was, it had her undivided attention.

Nervously, Laura sat down on the bench.

“About as Canadian as ice cream gets,” Jaz said reflectively. “Maple-walnut. Sweet and nutty. Instantly my favourite the first time I insisted on trying it, with my parents trying to push me into playing it safe with chocolate or vanilla. Which pretty much says it all about my childhood. Yep, I know it’s you. Saw Eureka’s toys undo their change while we were getting you out of the Plaza and home safely. Looks like she kept her word about fixing your back.”

“Yeah, she did.”

“Cool. Good to know she plays fair. Especially with a couple of dozen energy drinks under my bed that I promised to distribute and the option of asking for more—but only after I try for myself.” She laughed. “I think, after a lifetime’s strict no-drugs policy, I just became Eureka’s dealer. I figured you’d be back to purple skin and horns by now, one way or another, but instead you’re here looking lost.”

“I honestly don’t know what to do. I guess… I just needed to see a friendly face? That’s kind of a stupid reason to drag you out here. I’m sorry.”

“It gave me an excuse for ice cream. I’m good with that. And I can listen if you also need a friendly shoulder. Making choices is tough sometimes, but sometimes just trying to say it to someone else makes it clearer.”

Laura said nothing for a moment. “Eureka says I’m actually a super. It wasn’t just a side effect of the energy drink thing. That triggered it but it’s me.”

“Okay. From where I’m sitting, that changes absolutely nothing, since I didn’t realize you thought it was a side effect. Ditto for the rest of the planet. I think only you ever thought that.”

There was that.

“I doubt the League would even give me the chance to join if I lost my mind and tried to. They’re just going to want to ship me off to a permanent cell.”

“Yeah, probably. But that’s no different either. I don’t think I’m not really a super, it was a side effect would win any mercy.”

“From what Eureka says, I’m a danger to myself if I don’t learn some control and maybe see a therapist she knows.”

“Do you know what the waiting list is like for mental health stuff? It’s awful. And most of us could probably use a bit of mental maintenance work, even without having so-called heroes drop a building on us and screw up our lives.”

Laura glanced sideways and smiled. “You are not going to let me feel sorry for myself, are you?”

“I will if I hear anything that justifies it, I promise.”

“I can’t just go back to teaching dance and pretend nothing happened. The League will find me. I am sure as hell not going back to retail jobs.”

“With you there. Nobody needs that kind of abuse. Basic politeness died at some point. RIP.”

“So I can let Eureka change how I look and trust her friends to help me start a new life somewhere…”

“Really good witness protection, basically.”

“Yeah, pretty much. It sounds like a lot of work. I really don’t know if I have it in me. Well over a year of bottled up feelings sort of fed all the intensity for a week. One goal, no room for anything not feeding that. That’s gone and I just feel sort of… empty. I wasn’t planning on there being a tomorrow. I just… saw an opportunity that was never going to come again, and ran with it. Nothing to lose, and one chance to be heard.”

“Not sure if you noticed, but that gamble paid out.”

“Yeah. Eureka left me videos to watch. That was more than I expected. I suppose it’ll die down a lot in a few days, but it’s something.”

“Might. Might not. Depends how many people keep it alive. So, where’s the option that actually has some chance of making you happy?”


“You sound really unenthusiastic about the whole new-identity thing. What I haven’t heard is anything involving Carnal. Saving the best for last?”

“That’s… complicated. Do I really want to indefinitely be visibly that distinctive? Good way to get League attention. And if I do that, I don’t think I can avoid learning to use this psychic thing properly, instead of counting on Eureka giving me a gadget to suppress it.”

“Hm.” Jaz took a couple of thoughtful licks of her ice cream. “Well, it’s not my choice to make, but from where I’m sitting, you’re overthinking this.”

“How so?”

“You thought there was no tomorrow and everything ended last night. Maybe that was more of a transition than an ending. New life, new beginning, new future. It’s still starting over, but maybe you’ll feel more motivated if it’s in a direction that you can actually see something worth looking forward to, y’know? What I’m seeing boils down to this. You’re happy when you’re Carnal and dancing, and I won’t believe you if you try to tell me anything else. Actually, a whole lot of people are happy when you’re Carnal and you’re dancing, and I know that for a fact, so you’ll always have an audience to dance for. If there’s one option available to you that leads to being happy, then you do not have nothing to lose. Having some challenges to reach it isn’t the same thing.”

Laura pondered that, and Jaz didn’t push her.

“Yeah. I… it’s… I know that all the nonsense about female beauty is messed up. Being skinny is supposed to be good and healthier and more attractive, but it doesn’t feel right to me. And I already miss having horns and a tail, and my skin looks boring.”

Jaz shrugged. “There are no right answers. I’m not an expert, but it seems plausible that if there have always been people who absolutely know that they’re in a body with the wrong sexy bits, regardless of social approval or otherwise, then why shouldn’t there be people who just know that other things are wrong, regardless of social expectations and perceptions of what people should want? I mean, that’s gonna be a minefield these days, good luck untangling most of that from stereotypes and crap, but I’m pretty sure you’re safe from anyone screaming at you that feeling more at home with purple skin is racist. If you feel more like you as Carnal, then fuck all the psychoanalysis and the self-righteous types and be you.”

Laura went silent again, turning that over in her mind.

What kept intruding was memory of the sheer physical pleasure and emotional joy of dancing while Jaz played, and the sense that they’d been deeply in sync.

“Maybe you outgrew being Laura,” Jaz said quietly. “Maybe it’s time to let go.”

“You sound like you’re talking from experience.”

“Something like that. You wouldn’t have known me, a couple of years ago. I was engaged to a nice respectable girl my parents approved of, and her parents approved of me, and the whole future was all laid out, work for her dad and eventually take over while she stays at home to raise a brood of kids because who cares about overpopulation, hope one of them is a son and heir. I couldn’t do it. I’m happier downtown busking, doing odd jobs between gigs with friends, and couch-surfing, because at least I get to be me. I haven’t even managed to sort out hormones yet, and the thought of surgery scares me half to death. Keeping an ear out for news that Eureka’s going to be somewhere with her transformation RV is maybe a possibility, but that’s a major step I’m not sure I’ve reached yet. I’m kinda looking forward to those drinks under the bed—that would be the bed in the spare room of our drummer and his boyfriend who came along to help, by the way.”

“Wait… you’re trans?”

“Never crossed your mind?”

“Honestly, no.”

Jaz laughed. “I’ve met musicians who only see people in terms of how they feel about music. I think you might have been so wrapped up in dancing and having someone to play for you that you just failed to register anything else, because I do not pass that well, but thank you. Problem?”

“No, of course not.”

“Glad to hear it. I was having some worrying thoughts about that, but that’s mostly my baggage talking, not anything you’ve ever done to trigger it. Speaking of the drummer, I know four musicians, other than me, who understand why they only got like five minutes to play for you, but they’re hoping for another run at it, maybe without the tight time limit. The sound guy knows a bar with a decent stage, and thinks he could get us a gig there, and if Carnal just happened to join us…” Jaz gave her a sidelong look and a grin.

There was nothing Laura could do but laugh. “Just happened to, huh?”

“All the world’s a stage, right? And we make a good team.”

“All I have left to dance in is the red one from the Plaza, I found it hanging in my bathroom. I doubt I have enough right now to buy anything more, assuming there’s anything left downtown to buy that I would want, and I’m really not willing to disable Eureka’s suppression gizmo and try to encourage anyone.”

“I still have the one you gave me. The way it fits me is just tragic. Might change in the future, but for now, you can have it back. Does that mean you expect to need those gorgeous outfits you dance in?”

“Well, I can’t put on much of a show in jeans, can I? Tell you what. There are three bottles of Eureka Energy! in my fridge and I have a computer, which is probably easier than a phone. Try not to cringe over my apartment, it’s a closet-sized shithole. There’s lasagne in my kitchen that apparently Hologram made because I need to eat a lot to make up for all the psychic stuff over the past week, and more fruit than I can possibly eat in time thanks to Arable. Let’s go have our own private transformation party. I can text Eureka about the long-term version later. Maybe after we see how this bar thing goes.”

“I think I’m being tempted by a demon in disguise. I can’t think of any reason why I’d want to resist.” Jaz finished the last bite of her ice cream cone and stood up, offering Laura a hand. “So, how does this work? I’ve got that there’s the energy drink, something about nanites and a one-week hard limit, and something about a website and a code in the cap. How does that all fit together?”


“The sexy demon duo of Carnal and Jaz are back in Toronto, folks, after something like six weeks of sightings in a variety of North American cities and, more surprisingly, in small towns and even rural areas. We caught up with them in Scarborough last night, showing up onstage with a band they’ve worked with a few times in the past, and I got a chance to ask them a couple of questions. One of those, of course, was how they feel about having to do hit-and-run appearances with no notice to speak of, to keep ahead of the League who are still making noises about arresting them. Jaz said this.” The audio switched to a clip of Jaz’s own voice.

“We’d rather be doing longer shows and giving people more warning, of course, but there’s a kind of magic in what we do now, a bit of a mystery and the thrill of being in the right place at the right time. We’re certainly not going to stop doing what we do. Despair’s not so much a sin as a tragedy, and it’s an easy one to fall into. It disconnects people from themselves and from each other, and that’s incredibly destructive. If we can remind people, just for a few minutes, what it’s like to feel confident, happy, excited, connected to the others around them, then maybe we can push that back a bit. To make things better, we have to believe that we can.”

It switched back to the first voice, a youngish woman with a distinctly Irish accent. “For a pair of demons, they’re as altruistic as angels. Just before they started popping up outside Toronto, they dropped by fundraiser for a shelter for LGBT youth and spent the better part of half an hour in a park across from a women’s shelter…”

Carnal silenced the playback on her phone as Jaz slowed their nondescript dark cargo van; she pulled up her hood and hopped out to raise the garage door of a nondescript and long-defunct vehicle repair business, so Jaz could drive in, then closed the door again with herself inside. The space was big enough for an RV; it could have held two of their van, despite the van holding sleeping accommodations for two and more than enough storage for Jaz’s guitar and amp, Carnal’s dance costumes and props, a few portable items of exercise gear, and room for a cooler and a box of snacks to keep them going between highway rest stops. The supervillain alliance had friends, but they weren’t evenly distributed, after all.

While they waited, she crossed her arms on the open passenger window. “Nicely said.”

Jaz chuckled. “I stole the line about despair from Claire. I can’t take the credit.”

The cracking cement floor of the garage quivered slightly, then began to descend. The anodized rolled-metal collars had practical reasons for their existence, and for the precautions that would make them melt down completely if forced open outside Eureka’s lab: they held GPS trackers in case of emergencies, and defences although these two lacked the psychic blocker in favour of a version with an Off switch, and Eureka’s security system recognized them.

It didn’t quite coordinate with typical dancer jewellery, so Eureka had gotten some help to replicate Carnal’s favourite earrings and bracelets and body-chain in the same anodized metal.

Eureka considered small projects that made life better for her extended family and friends to be a restful and satisfying intermission between bouts of obsessive work on making life better for everyone.

The platform came to rest and the faint humming vibration stopped.

Jaz drove the van off the platform into its parking spot, next to the purple van Eureka and Hologram and Jolt used when they needed something smaller and less conspicuous than the massive RV that carried a version of the transformation machine. With the side door open, both began gathering up their things.

Carnal glanced back, hearing the rapid click of heels behind them. Unsurprisingly, it was Hologram. As usual, she was dressed to be Eureka’s eye candy: white ankle-high boots, cut-off faded jeans that must have a slit down the back to allow for her feline tail, a pink garter belt and lace stockings, and a pink-and-white midriff-baring top secured only by two buttons and a knot. Her pastel hair, carnatian and lilac, sky and silver, was pulled up into a neat high tail that showed off her pink-and-blue feline ears.

She made Jaz’s jeans and halter, Carnal’s wrapped open-sided tie pants and cropped sleeveless top, look positively conventional.

The bodies underneath weren’t. Carnal couldn’t recall the last time she’d switched forms for anything but a purely practical purpose: a twenty-four hour version of Eureka’s nanite drink and high-quality fake ID could get them across the border to the US without attracting attention. Jaz wavered back and forth more, loving her demon form for performances and appearances, but sometimes she preferred ditching the short spirally horns, the tail, the deeper-purple pink-toned skin, and the navy-blue hair with its canary-yellow off-centre stripe, back to her own warm-brown skin and black hair. She kept the same overall shape, though, more slender and less curvy than Carnal but unmistakably feminine. What for Carnal was natural was, to Jaz, a public persona that was real in a different way.

“Your trip went well, I gather?” Hologram said, stepping in to help them carry baggage since they already had their hands full. “All the multitude of methods for staying in touch over distance never really replace hearing about something in person.”

“It went great,” Carnal said. “No trouble at the border crossings. Eureka’s tricks with the van colour and plates changing and tinted windows probably kept us below notice a few times.”

“We had a lot of fun,” Jaz said, “made some new friends, made some people very happy, terrified some narrow-minded types into red-faced spluttering rage, and we really must do it again. Maybe we’ll eventually try overseas, if we can work out the logistics, but there’s a lot of ground in the Americas.”

“Wonderful! Just don’t forget to come home now and then. We’d all miss you.”

Jaz nudged the panels of the side door closed with her hip, and they started towards the tunnel that led to the living quarters. As they stepped out of the garage, their surroundings became more casual and comfortable. The corridor was wider than it would be in a normal house, but not as wide as it would be in an institution like a hospital or school; the near-white industrial ceramic tiles were softened considerably by the brightly-coloured mismatched runners down the centre. The walls to either side were painted in half a dozen irregular horizontal stripes, an artsy pastel rainbow from pink at the top down to violet.

“Mistress is working, of course,” Hologram added. “Mellifera asked her for something-or-other and they’ve been deep into that for the past three days. I had to ask Arable to stop by and give us some flowering plants, I got tired of trying to keep stray bees out of the kitchen while I’m cooking and of worrying about one of the cats getting stung, since little flying buzzing things are a pretty powerful temptation. Mel just can’t control them individually, only in aggregate, and they love her too much to not want to be where she is. Jolt is off helping Doc Shiro and Doc Kathika get their new lab set up, some of that gear takes an awful lot of power and a surge would be a dead giveaway, of course.”

“So, all the usual chaos,” Carnal said.

Hologram chuckled. “Pretty much. Arable decided to hang around for a bit once they heard we were expecting you home, just to say hi and give you a hug and maybe hear about your adventures. I think they’re keeping busy growing catnip and valerian and silvervine and cat grass for the feline horde. Once Jolt gets back and Mistress finishes her current project, we’re hoping to do another RV night. I know she’s been really excited about the recent nanite data. She likes Jaz’s idea about the next step including a website kill switch to help reduce some of the possible consequences of an unexpected month transformed. I suspect we’re about to get there in the very near future. But we still need those RV nights.”

“We’re not much help for defence on those if things go sideways,” Carnal began.

“But we do have some experience,” Jaz finished brightly.

Hologram flashed them a smile. “You help enormously. People recognize and trust you. And it helps when they get to see a super and a non-super who are absolutely an equal team.”

They paused in Carnal’s room to drop off her things, and deposited Jaz’s in her room across the hall.

With hands all empty, Hologram gave them each a hug. “Welcome home.”


That’s the end – so far. I don’t know whether there will be others in this universe in the future. I wasn’t expecting this one, really.

I have lots more stories, though! Stay tuned to find out what the next one will be! – Prysmcat

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