<This idea for this story sprang up while trading e-mails between Eric and myself. In the spirit of collaboration, Eric wrote the story, while I created the accompanying cover image and provided some minor editing. Personally, I think I got the easier of the two jobs. Enjoy!- Jenny>
By Eric; from a picture and ideas by Jenny North.
"Meddle not in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to
- J.R.R. Tolkien
"Mr. Madigan, I understand you are interested in purchasing the medallion of Zulo."
The tall man lost his urbanity and earned forward eagerly. "Do you claim to have it? For many years I've searched in vain for that artifact, but by the time I find someone who has encountered it, it always seems to have moved on to somewhere else!"
The young woman nodded decisively.
"Yes, we are living proof. My girlfriend and I have swapped bodies," she explained. "Isn't that right, Lori?"
"Yes, dear," the man said diffidently, crossing and uncrossing his legs in a somewhat feminine manner. He looked fearfully at the young woman.
Madigan steepled his fingers. "I see. Do you have it with you?"
The woman laughed mirthlessly. "Hardly. What if you should kill us for it--or hold us up and steal it?" she said, raising an eyebrow. "No, we make the transfer in our bank;you bring the cash, we bring the medallion--that is, after we switch back. I don't want to remain to stupid broad all my life!"
Her companion flushed angrily. "I wish you wouldn't say such things, Ray!" he said in a whiny, petulant voice.
"I would require some proof that you really have it, of course."
The woman nodded in agreement and lit up a cigar. She casually leaned forward and offered one to Madigan. "Cigar?"
He shook his handsome head. "About that proof?"
Ray dug deep into her purse and pulled out a photo. The man stared at it a long time and his breathing visibly quickened. He took out a magnifying glass and studied the image intently. It was of a cheap looking bronze medallion with a figure of what looked to be an angel on the front.
"Interesting, but hardly proof," he said.
The apparent woman gave a short bark of laughter. "Lori and I didn't think it would be," she said confidently. "Got a VCR? We have a tape of our transformation."
The man's hands trembled in anticipation. "But of course," he said. "It would be almost un-American not to own one." Then, with the slightest hint of a smile he added, "Naturally though, I haven't been able to program it...I may be a wizard, but I'm not a miracle worker."
The 'man' giggled and the 'woman' laughed boisterously. "Ask a neighbor's ten your old kid," she suggested.
They slid the tape into the machine. It showed a nervous Lori in a flowing feminine robe and Ray in a man's terrycloth one. Their voices could be heard over the speakers.
"Ray, do I really have to do this?" Lori asked in a frightened voice.
"Don't be such a pussy, Lori," Ray responded gruffly. "It will be OK. Besides, I guarantee Mr. Madigan won't be satisfied with just our word!"
She began to cry. "But what if something should happen? I would be stuck as you!" she wailed.
The strong man grabbed her roughly and shook her until her teeth almost rattled. "Get a grip on yourself Lori! Do you think I would take a chance on anything going wrong? Do you think I want to be a silly, weak female? We won't take the medallion with us. We'll demonstrate its power, then return, swap back and get our million dollars. Nothing can go wrong!"
"If you say so, Ray," she sniffled, clearly not completely convinced, but afraid to press the point further. "And afterwards you will marry me, wont you?"
"Of course!" he said with masculine impatience. "Now let's get on with it!"
Ray slipped the medallion over his head. Lori shrank a little from him but he pressed their two bodies together. For a time nothing happened--then they started to CHANGE! Slowly, right in front of the camera, Lori turned into Ray and Ray became Lori.
'Ray' looking ridiculous in a woman's gown, said, "Ray, it worked. I feel so strange."
'Lori' started playing lusciously with her boobs with a grin. "I told you it would."
"Ray, please--I can't stand to see you play with me like this!" she protested.
"Shut up, Lori!" said the apparent female. "I do what I damn well please!"
'Ray' started crying, and a few seconds later the tape came to an end.
The man turned to the expectant couple and asked simply, "What bank?"
"Tomorrow at first National, at 2:00 PM we meet and go into the safety deposit box area. You pass us the cash, we pass you the medallion. That will give me and Lori plenty of time to swap back tonight." 'Lori' crushed out the cigar, looking like a picture from True Detective Magazine.
"The cash will be there," Madigan responded. "There will be no tricks on my side. If there are on yours--well--" he said, leaving the threat hanging as he looked again at the pair. "No, you wouldn't be so foolish as to anger a wizard."
* * *
Lori and Ray met Mr. Madigan at the bank. He looked them over and smiled. "You seem more comfortable and relaxed," he observed.
Ray grinned, "Sure! We're back in our own skins! Women's clothes--let alone their bodies--are very uncomfortable!"
Lori stepped forward and touched his arm lightly. Her makeup was more expertly applied than it had been the night before, and she looked very attractive. "Don't forget--as soon as we get the money, you keep your promise and we are going to Vegas to get married!" she reminded him.
Ray looked at Madigan and smiled as if to say, 'Women!'
They entered the safe deposit privacy cubicle, and Madigan opened the brief case. It was filled with hundred dollar bills. Ray counted it and made sure that all the bills were real by flipping through the stacks of cash.
When he finished counting, he smiled and nodded to Lori, who was also smiling brilliantly.
"The medallion!" said Madigan urgently. Sweat was on his brow. The medallion was one of the most powerful magic objects in the world, and he had desired it for many long years.
Ray produced a clear locked plastic case lined inside with velvet. Visible within was the Medallion of Zulo.
"Here's the key to the case," Ray said. "We wouldn't want any accidental use of it in the bank." With that, he kissed Lori and they headed out the door.
Back in his home, Madigan opened the case and placed the medallion around the neck of his faithful, hunchbacked servant Horace. Then, he unzipped a garment bag and removed a woman's dress that had also been acquired at fairly significant expense. True, it had been nothing compared to the cost of the medallion, but it was no less important to the success of his plan. He touched the dress carefully to the medallion and waited in anticipation for the transformation to occur. A moment passed...then another. Nothing! The medallion wasn't working! He grabbed Horace and tried other pieces of clothing, all with no effect.
Angered, he dismissed Horace and threw himself into a chair, dangling the medallion from his fingers as he considered it thoughtfully. 'A fake...but how?' he wondered. But that didn't matter at the moment. As he seethed inwardly at this setback, he set his mind to other thoughts...
In their small bungalow Lori and Ray were celebrating with champagne.
"We sure fooled the old fart!" laughed Lori. "And casting directors said we couldn't act."
"Fools!" Ray said triumphantly. "But not as much a fool as Madigan. Imagine anyone believing in magic--or the fabled Medallion of Zulo! When I heard on the street that some rich guy was willing to pay a huge sum for it, I knew we had found our ticket out of there. Researching what it looked like was a snap."
Lori kissed him hungrily. Having a million dollars on the bed made her horny!
He kissed her back. "Thank God I am working for Lucas Industrial Light and Magic Company!" he continued. "That made it was possible for me to make it appear that we had swapped bodies! It took weeks to doctor the tapes, but we fooled him. Hell, looking at the tape I almost fooled myself!"
"Ray, you're a genius!"
"Ain't it the truth!"
Suddenly, their bedroom door was thrown open. Madigan stood silhouetted in the doorway.
"Oh, shit!" they said in unison. Then, before they could move there was a flash of light and they were knocked unconscious.
Madigan sighed as Horace stepped in beside him and at his master's direction began removing took potions and other items from the briefcase he carried. Madigan drew three mystical shapes around the fallen couple, and using enchanted oil made the sign of the mystical third eye on their foreheads.
"How simple this would be if I only had the medallion!" he sighed. Then Madigan began chanting. Six hours later, he finished.
Ray and Lori slowly awoke. The money was off the bed and Madigan was smiling at them. The smile was dangerously sweet and there was a cruel look in his eyes.
"I could have killed you, but that would have been so ordinary. So declasse'! After some thought I decided to let the punishment fit the crime, so to speak. You pretended to be each other--so be each other!"
He laughed cruelly. Lori and Ray looked at each other and screamed. It was for real. THEY WERE IN EACH OTHER'S BODIES!
"Change us back!" Ray begged.
"Please! Please!" Lori sobbed. She put Ray's former arms around the wizard's legs and begged.
With distaste, Madigan removed them.
"Your only real hope is to find the real Medallion of Zulo. Good luck. If you find it, call me--I am still interested. Have a nice day."
In a state of shock they watched him leave and then looked unbelievingly at each other.
With the wizard's valediction still in their ears, Ray and Lori turned to each other and shouted:
"Its all your fault!"
They glared at each other. It was bizarre and unnerving for them to do so and be glaring at themselves, but their fury was such that they didn't appreciate the irony of the situation.
Ray got up to slap some sense into Lori and promptly fell on his soft ass. He forgot he was wearing her high heels and they didn't lend themselves to manly, unconsidered strides.
Lori laughed at the comical sight of a lovely young woman sitting dazed on the floor with a bewildered look in her eyes. She took advantage of Ray's confusion. "Look, you must admit it was your idea to trick who will thought was a fake wizard with a fake medallion, right?"
"Yes, but you--"
"No, buts! I admit I went along and played the good girlfriend--a role you're pretty well suited for, now," she said reproachfully. "No wonder the world is such sad shape!"
Ray glowered with Lori's eyes at his former body. He no longer had the size or strength of his old body, but the power of his glare was much increased by being in Lori's body!
A little intimidated by the forcefulness of her former glare Lori mellowed slightly and said in a more moderate voice, "Well, I suppose that comes under the category of split milk. Now what are we going to do?"
She lifted Ray up, much surprised to find out how strong she was now. Ray's new breasts jiggled as he--now she rose up.
Ray took a deep breath and Lori found her--now his new gaze drawn to her exposed cleavage. "I always knew I had great looking tits, but they look even nicer from Ray's masculine body!" Lori thought.
Ray let out the sigh. "What can we do? We find the blasted Medallion!"
"I thought you said it didn't really exist?"
"Well, Lori, I guess I've changed my mind!"
"So have I," laughed Lori. "So have I!"
Ray frowned prettily. 'God, men are silly!' Then, startled at the implication of that thought, she rushed on. "Since that damned Madigan switched our bodies, it looks like it's safe to assume that magic unfortunately exists. If that's the case, then the Medallion must, as well," she reasoned. "Anyway, what else are we going to do to get back our own bodies?"
Lori thought for a moment. He went over to the liquor cabinet and poured out some sherry and then spit it out.
Ray had to grin. "Try Rip Van Winkle Bourbon."
"But I hate whiskey!"
"Not in that body!" Ray pointed out.
Thoughtfully Lori poured some whiskey and took a sip. 'Not bad--pretty darn good, in fact.' Then, returning to the business at hand, he asked, "How do we start?"
How did they start? Ray's mind felt befuddled with all that had happened. He let out a long sigh and shrugged.
"Let's sleep on it?" Lori suggested.
Ray nodded and drained the large glass of sherry Lori handed her. They awkwardly undressed for bed, eyeing each other. It seemed so unreal! They were in each other's bodies. As Ray removed his top, Lori couldn't take his eyes off those great tits swinging free.
Ray of course noticed the stare and was alarmed--and excited. She trembled as Lori approached and started caressing them. She put out a weak hand to stop the large male, but found it brushed aside.
"Boy these feel good. Not as good as when you did it to me, but good. How does it feel from the other side, darling?"
Ray felt his face flush. "Feels good! Really good!" she admitted.
"You know, if we have sex, it might reverse the spell!"
"You really think so?" asked Ray, panting a little as her tits swelled with desire. The would-be actor had always thought that her body was very handsome, but now she found herself appreciating it from a completely different perspective.
"Worth a try," answered a smiling Lori. 'God,' the new man thought, 'I always knew I had a sexy body and deserved to be a movie star, but I didn't know I was this beautiful and desirable!' He kissed those trembling lips that once belonged to him. Ray kissed him back.
Aflame with desire, the two lovers fell onto the bed and let their passions carry them away.
Afterwards Lori thought, 'WOW! Sex is even better as a man.'
Laying next to Lori, Ray was thinking, 'It was great--and I certainly am a hunk--but sex is still better as a guy!' Then, smiling, she thought, 'But this wasn't bad, far from it. I still can't get used to the fact that I am now basically helpless against the strength of my former body, though. And I certainly haven't had Lori's years of experience in dealing with that...or manipulating men, for that matter.' Soon Lori was snoring. Ray frowned and nudged him awake. Soon they both were asleep.
They woke up the next morning together. Suddenly realizing who they now were and what they had done, they stared unbelieving at each other and fell back. It hadn't been a dream. Eventually, Ray got up and waddled into the bathroom. She really needed to empty her bladder and, she added reluctantly, clean the juices from last night. It was a bizarre experience.
Back in the bedroom, Lori got up and flexed his new muscles and picked up a heavy chair effortlessly. 'I've never felt so powerful,' he thought. It gave him a new feeling of confidence.
Over breakfast--which an intimidated Ray had reluctantly prepared--Lori said with his mouth full of bacon and eggs, "I think I have it figured out. You go to my job at the library."
"The library!" cried Ray. She hated libraries! Only sissies went to libraries!
"Yes! It's an ideal spot to keep an eye out for the medallion! Search all the newspapers, check the Internet--they have a great program there. I'll show you how to use it."
Ray sat back. She didn't like the idea, but unfortunately it made a lot of sense. "OK!" she said, sighing. "But what about you?"
"We have to eat and build up cash for travel if--when--we find word of the medallion. So I'll go to your job at Lucas's Magical Light company. "
"But you can't do that job!"
"You'll have to show me, then," Lori stated simply. "Look, it's Saturday. I'll take you in as my girlfriend to show you around. They know us there. Show me as much as you can--and Sunday, too. In the evening I'll teach you make up and dressing and how to be a woman."
Ray started crying. "Its hopeless!"
Lori felt the same, but put a comforting arm around the weeping woman. "No, its not--we have a good chance! Look, if there is anything to what Jung believes--weird things coming together--I forget what he called it--we will succeed. We have swapped bodies; we will be swept by the currents of the Universe towards other people who have swapped bodies."
That weekend, Lori picked up Ray's job faster than either of them thought. "Maybe some of it stays with the body," Ray hazarded.
That night they went out to dinner over Ray's protests. "I feel funny in public," she said.
"Well so do I!" said Lori. "That's why we're doing it. We have to get used to being each other in public. And from now on call me Ray, even in private. We can't slip up."
Ray cried a little but agreed. With shaking hands she applied make up to her beautiful face as Lori had taught her. She looked critically in the mirror. 'I am beautiful, but my cheek bones are a little too high,' she thought. She said as much to Lori.
Lori just shook her head. "You look great, dear! That dress especially suits you."
Ray flushed a little with the compliment.
That evening was strange for both of them. Old buddies of Ray would come up and slap Lori on the back and stare with lust at the changed Ray. She felt really creepy! Thank god Lori was around to keep these jerks off her, but she still got her bottom touched and her tits brushed. It made her feel more uncomfortable than ever, but she grinned and bore it. After dinner, they went dancing. Ray's feet hurt in the heels, but she found herself enjoying being held in Lori's arms. More than half-drunk they went home and made out again, and Ray giggled as she saw how excited she had gotten Lori. It made her feel warm all over!
They both woke up with a slight hangover. They got dressed, went to church, over Ray's ignored protests. They then went on to her--now Lori's--work. Monday was do-or-die and they couldn't afford for 'Ray' to lose his job.
The next morning Ray went into work at the library, thoroughly briefed. At breaks or quiet times she tried to find the medallion. Inspired, she decided to put the other girls to work there. "Girls, I am writing an article on the weird and wonderful for the newspaper--freelance--" she explained. After giving them a few details, she was pleasantly surprised to discover how helpful and friendly her new coworkers were. By the end of the day, she had not only made some new friends but had also started to overcome her bad feelings about libraries in general.
Evenings were a different story, however, as Ray found she was now expected to do the cooking and cleaning. "Its not fair!" she cried to a stubborn and unsympathetic Lori.
His strong hands grabbed her slender arms. She cried out in fear and pain. He was so strong. What could she do?
"Look, get over it! We swapped bodies, remember? I work fifty hours a week, and you only work part-time," Lori said, irritated. "Besides," he added with a smirk, "you always insisted that I do all the housework before we switched, didn't you?"
"Well, yes." Ray could see where this was heading and groaned inside.
"That's right--so now you're doing the housework and that's final."
Ray stamped her foot in anger and flounced out. Although she gave in to doing the housework and cooking dinner, that night she refused his advances in bed. "Forget it you big bully! I'm hardly in the mood!" she said, turning a cold shoulder to her mate.
"OK, but get over it--I am not going to put up with a bitch for long--understand?"
Ray was frightened--what if Lori left her, stranded in this female body and left all alone? She cried a little and hugged her man. "I'm sorry! It just that you're being so unfair."
He kissed her wet face. "OK--I'll tell you what--I'll do the grocery shopping," he offered.
Gratefully, she kissed him. "That's so sweet!"
Lori kissed her back and then gently ran a finger over the curve of her thigh. "So," he said slyly, "how about a little make-up sex?"
Ray looked at Lori in surprise, then smiled as she warmed to the idea. Seductively pulling down the top of her nightgown, she lay back in bed and allowed herself to be taken. Afterwards, she snuggled up to Lori, feeling secure in her lover's arms.
* * *
That weekend, Lori announced that they were going to Las Vegas to get married.
Ray wasn't at all sure of this, and tried to stall the determined Lori. Back when he was Ray she had hoped to put marriage off a few years, if not forever. Unfortunately, her efforts were in vain, and she found herself hesitantly agreeing to the proposal.
Lost in a whirl, it seemed like only moments later that Ray found herself standing before the minister, reluctantly promising to be a good wife to her husband.
"You may kiss the bride."
'This is so weird,' Ray thought as they kissed. 'To weird for words. I'm the wife!' she thought over and over. 'I'm the wife!'
"You are a lovely bride," the minister's wife gushed. Later she took 'Lori' aside and whispered, "You have childbearing hips if I ever saw any. You won't have any trouble having children!"
The polite smile froze on Ray's pretty lips. 'Children!' she thought in a panic. 'Shit, I forgot to take the pills!'
Ray was almost hysterical on their honeymoon until Lori shook some sense into her. "Look, you're not pregnant! If you want proof, just wait a few days for your period."
"My period!" Ray whispered, horrified. She had forgotten about those.
"YES! YOUR PERIOD!" Lori exclaimed. "It'll be good for you. Maybe then you will understand what I used to go through." Although she was disturbed at the thought of having to suffer through a menstrual cycle, Ray was so relived when she started bleeding. It was disgusting, but she was so glad she wasn't pregnant!
After returning from her brief honeymoon, the other girls at work were so excited when 'Lori' told them she had got married.
"Finally hooked old Ray! Congratulations!" said Cindy, her best girlfriend at the library. They insisted on throwing her a bridal shower. Ray blushed at some of the gifts--like crotchless underwear--that were pretty rootie tootie! She never would have thought of them coming from librarians!
As they settled into married life, Ray found that she didn't like it when Lori didn't come straight home from work, but instead went and had a few drinks at a bar with his buds. 'How could he prefer their company over mine?' she thought indignantly.
In addition to her regular domestic duties, she helped the new Ray with his work both on the phone and when he got home. Meanwhile, the search went on. Finally, three months after they were married, Cindy came to her laughing.
"Look at this headline," she said, handing her a newspaper.
Eagerly 'Lori' scanned the pages. It was page three of the Springfield Times.
"Local five-year-old claims to be her teenage brother," the paper proclaimed. "That stupid old necklace did this to us," the little girl was quoted as saying. Her brother, the quarterback on his high school team, responded, "I'm proud to have such an imaginative sister."
'This was it!' thought Ray, dancing with excitement. "Thanks Cindy! " she gave her friend a big hug and dashed to the phone.
"Let me talk to my husband!" she said excitedly to her former coworker Bob.
"We found it!" she cried in excitement.
"Calm down, Lori. Found what?"
"The medallion, you idiot!" she said impatiently. "It's in Springfield, Missouri."
That night they planned on going to retrieve the artifact. They each took vacations and headed to the airport the very next day.
Ray could hardly wait to get back to himself. Being Lori hadn't been all bad, but he much preferred being a man. Not having to cater to a husband, not being so much weaker--no PEROIODS, bras, high heels or BABIES! And best of all, she'd be back to having an orgasm every time with sex! She would miss being so pretty and her friends at work. But not that much!
"I can't wait to get back!" she said bubbling as they arrived at Springfield.
"Me, too," said 'Ray' smiling.
Lori, being a large male, would try to intimate both the girl and bribe her quarterback brother. Meanwhile, Lori got a job as a maid in their house and used the opportunity to search around. That turned out to be disgusting work, though...the toilets were unreal!
She searched. In the boy's room and underneath his Jockey shorts she felt a ribbon and some medal. Full of excitement she pulled out a medallion. It swung in the light. But it was for second-place track and field in the broad jump! Ray cried. Aside from dust all she found were some Penthouse and Playboy magazines under the bed.
Two days later she was crying. "No! You say the girl was lying?"
The man's head nodded solemnly. "I'm afraid so. She read this kids book on a brother and sister switching bodies and thought it would be a good joke. She admitted as much to me and her brother Kurt said he only wished that he had a magic medallion he could sell me for ten thousand dollars!"
He comforted his disappointed wife, who by this point was almost inconsolable with grief. They returned home, and tried to return to their routine. 'Lori's' girlfriends could tell that something was bothering her, but she refused to talk about it, saying only that she wasn't feeling well.
* * *
That Saturday while she was working at the library, 'Ray' walked into the bank where they had their fateful encounter with Madigan months ago. As before, he found the sorcerer waiting for him there.
"I trust this time you have the medallion, Ray?"
"Yes, sir! I learned my lesson. I told you how we could test it," he said, removing the medallion from the case he had brought.
"Yes, ingenious," Madigan agreed. He opened the small cage and took out two small birds of different species.
'Ray' carefully touched both of them. Soon their colors and sizes started to change and they were each other.
Madigan took the medallion and practically glowed in triumph, beaming as he inspected the artifact. "There's the half million," he said absently, indicating the briefcase on the table.
"The deal was for a million!"
Madigan fixed him with a glare. "You angered me once, and I had to expand valuable magic on you both. Do you REALLY want to risk angering me again?" he asked threateningly.
'Ray' gulped a couple times and said, "Half a million sounds more than fair!"
Madigan left with the medallion. 'Mine at last!' he thought. 'MINE AT LAST AFTER 200 YEARS!'
'Ray' went home to his wife.
She looked up from the stove. "Yes, Ray dear. " Saying each other's original name was now a habit.
He took her slim hands in his large, strong ones and kissed her tenderly. "Lori, darling, I think we need to face facts. Even if the medallion exists we are never going to find it! We are wasting our lives spinning our wheels. We need to move on! We need to face the facts squarely. I'm Ray forever and you're Lori. I know this will be difficult to accept, but I think we can be very happy."
Lori began crying. "I don't like being a woman as much as I did being a man," she sniffled.
"And I don't like being a man as much as I liked being a woman!" said Ray, lying through his teeth. "Look, we have been happy the last few months, haven't we?" he asked, kissing her passionately.
"Yes," she said, responding to his kiss.
"We will be happier still if we give up the impossible dream of returning to our former bodies! It won't be bad. I've got a raise!"
Her eyes lit up as she blinked back her tears. "That's wonderful!"
"Yes, you can cut down to twenty hours a week at the library! And I'll even get you a maid for the heavier cleaning once a month!"
She hugged him passionately. "You're so sweet! I love you so much!"
"I love you too, Lori! Now, forget dinner," he said, turning off the stove. "I want to celebrate with my wife." He picked her up in his strong arms and she giggled as he led her to the bedroom. The man who was now and forever Ray thought, "Since I now handle all the finances--just like a man and husband should--Lori will never know about the money. Occasionally I'll tell her of winning at poker or something. We can go to Hawaii, and I'll buy her new clothes. She'll be a happy little homemaker and eventually a happy mother. She'll never know!"
The new Lori thought, "I guess I am pretty lucky at that I am a sexy young woman, with a handsome and devoted husband. Unlike other wives I know he will never lie to me."
Madigan stared with unabashed happiness at the medallion. Soon much of the world would be his! He would replace the rich, the famous, the powerful with his creatures and gain power and influence undreamed of by any in the world. Who could resist the bribe of youth or beauty or wealth?
"Not I, master," his assistant Horace said.
"Resist such a bribe," the hunchback responded. "Youth, beauty, and wealth, that is."
Madigan looked puzzled. "How did you know what I was just thinking?"
"You were ranting aloud again, master."
"Damnation, Horace!" the sorcerer thundered. "I thought I told you to stop me when I do that! I hate it when I rant!"
Horace nodded. "What are you going to do first, master?"
Madigan smiled. "Two birds with one stone! We are going to swap places with two of the greatest members of the power elite! Then, once we have ingratiated ourselves within their ranks, it will be a simple matter to establish my power base and from there, the world will be my oyster!"
"But master, you're allergic to shellfish."
"It's a metaphor, Horace."
"This will be wonderful!" the sorcerer said. "I will have a healthy YOUNG, virile male body again. Now, with the power of the medallion, I will finally have the power to transfer myself. As you know, much of my apparent age and health is a fragile facade held together by magic and my will."
"Master, do you really think you can dominate the world?"
"YES!" the wizard cried. "Yes, my loathsome, faithful friend. Once we have replaced our targets, my path will be cleared for global conquest!"
Horace nodded, although he was clearly ticked off by the 'loathsome' crack. "And who will we be replacing, master? The president and vice president?"
"No, you simple-minded troglodyte!" Madigan exclaimed, ignoring the dirty look his assistant gave him. "What are you thinking? This is an election year! Besides, Hillary is such a dog! No, we cannot depend on the fleeting power of politics! We must set our sights higher--on something more well-established!"
"So...who are we to become, then?"
"We will become..." Madigan paused dramatically. "...Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe!"
Horace laughed. "No, seriously."
"No, no...it makes perfect sense," Madigan said. "I read that they're supposed to have some sort of thing for each other. Ms. Ryan has a very solid track record, and Russell Crowe is definitely a star on the rise...did you see him in 'L.A. Confidential?'"
"Yes, master, but don't forget the good guys won."
Madigan frowned. "That only happens in the movies!"
"Then I will be Meg Ryan?" His pulse quickened at the thought of being beautiful!
"Yes, as originally planned. Don't worry, you will come to like being a female very quickly. It is part of the magic of the medallion. What would you rather be, an ugly middle-age hunchback or a beautiful, young, rich and famous movie star?"
"Will I get to meet Tom Hanks?"
"Almost certainly. Remember, 'you' do movies with him."
Horace nodded. "But what of her memories and skills, master?"
"Don't worry. I will transfer enough memories to you that you will have no problems in impersonating her. I will also transfer her acting skills as well...such as they are."
"You are so brilliant, master. But what of the originals?"
"What of them? Russell Crowe will die soon after the exchange as my body will not stand the shock. And what would happen if an aged hunchback male claimed to be Meg Ryan? At the very least, he would be committed to an asylum. "I have however decided against simply using the dress. The power of the Medallion is greater if the two people swapped are touching."
Horace again nodded obediently. He grew both fearful and excited. How would it be to be a young, sexy woman? And would he have the opportunity to work alongside Tom Hanks? The very thought made him giddy. 'I can get his autograph at last!' he thought.
That night, they arrived at Meg Ryan's mansion and were confronted by the guards at the gate. However, with a simple gesture from the wizard, they fell into a trance. The pair walked right in ignoring the security cameras and the entranced guards.
Midnight: the witching hour. Or in this case, the switching hour. Madigan was as excited as a schoolboy! It had been over 150 years since he felt this excited. They walked into the master bedroom and found the famous actress as she lay smiling, wrapped around the muscular body of Russell Crowe. Madigan touched his hands to their foreheads and the two fell into a deeper sleep. He then directed Horace to take her off the bed and into the nearby room.
"I don't want them in a trance for the switch! Take off your clothes!" The wizard removed Meg's sexy nightgown. He smiled at the thought of this lovely flesh soon making love to him! His breathing increased. Horace might object, of course, but a simple spell of compulsion would likely do the trick. Soon, he would be caressing that soft, supple...
He stopped the thought abruptly and turned to look at his assistant, who was still getting undressed.
"What?" Horace asked.
"Um, I wasn't thinking out loud again, was I?"
"No," the hunchback replied, looking at Madigan suspiciously. "Why?"
"Oh, no reason," the wizard said dismissively. He averted his eyes from Horace's naked form, unable to suppress a grimace as he placed the Medallion around his assistant's misshapen neck. "Lay down touching her."
The man obeyed fearfully. Would it work? He felt a tingle. The beautiful woman next to him face grew older, ugly--her long, golden hair shrunk and turned dirty gray. He felt his hump disappearing and breasts grew and his body hair fell out. His master came over and touched both their heads and suddenly he felt alien memories invading his mind. He also felt many memories fade--some of his early, miserable childhood of being teased and tormented left, replaced by Meg Ryan's memories. Soon the switch was complete. Horace walked over with unbelievable grace to the mirror. Meg Ryan stared opened mouth back at him. It had worked. Horace looked with distaste at the ugly old hunchback laying on the floor and shuddered.
Madigan asked, "How do you feel, 'Meg'?"
"Wonderful!! Wonderful!" She raced forward to embrace her master.
The wizard hugged her lovely young body, his heart burning with desire.
He then went to retrieve the priceless Medallion, his heart fluttering with anticipation.
The world was his--HIS!--he thought, his heart leaping for joy.
Suddenly he doubled over in agonizing pain, his heart seized with what could only be described as a major myocardial infarction. "No, no!" he cried as he hit the floor dying, realizing that a greater magic than his was at work, one possessed of a wonderful sense of irony. He smiled at the thought, tried to laugh and died.
Horace cried out with her lovely new voice and knelt at Madigan's side. Her master was dead. DEAD!
She heard a man's scream and whirled. Her old body was looking at horror at her and then at itself.
"You stole my body, you monster!" Meg Ryan hurled his new body at Horace and started choking her old form. "Give it back! Give it back!"
Horace dug her long nails into the attacker's hand and screamed. Suddenly, a large, angry Russell burst into the room and looked at the scene. In a blink, his powerful hands dragged the hunchback from his beautiful girlfriend, and he raised a large fist to strike the intruder.
"You don't understand!" cried the hunchback. "I'm--"
Russell's fist crashed into the ugly face, and the semi-conscious Meg heard her own voice say, "Thank god you came in time, darling! You saved me from this madman!"
The police came and took the crazy man away along with the wizard's body. After running a battery of tests, the psychologist came to the conclusion that the hunchback had watched 'Prelude to a Kiss' too many times. That would explain his delusion of being Meg Ryan! After all, people thought they were Napoleon, why not Meg Ryan?
'Meg Ryan' took the Medallion the next day to a trash can fifty miles away and stuffed it in, never looking back. No sense taking chances, after all. She and Russell Crowe lived happily ever after, which in Hollywood terms equates to a marriage, two relatively good years, a messy public breakup and a fairly amicable divorce. Her former husband Dennis Quaid claimed she was a real witch, however!
As for the hunchback, he spent the next few years in a mental ward. However, he is currently rumored to be working on a treatment for a romantic comedy co-written by Nora Ephron and said to be starring Tom Hanks and an unspecified female lead.
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