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Three Months Earlier...




 “Not dressed like that, Johanna!”



Johanna stopped, foot halfway out the door, an annoyed scowl on her face. She turned to her mother, calling to her over the kitchen counter. “Dressed like what?”



“Like you’re preparing to spend the night canvasing for druggies outside of a strip club.”



Johanna looked down at her outfit, tank top, high-waisted hot pants. She groaned, screeching out, “But it’s the last day of school! Can’t I let loose just this once? You never let me, I’m almost seventeen years old! And you can’t keep babying me!”



Susan stepped from behind the counter, flipping her hair as she forced herself to turn on her mom mode. She seldom liked exercising parental authority against her daughter, but considering how much she’s started acting out of late, it tended to be a necessity. She crossed her arms and growled, “Johanna. Go to your room and change into something more modest.” She sighed, then squinted. “Is that… is that a hickey? Have you been spending time with boys, Johanna?!” Her mother incensed.



Johanna blushed hotly. “No?” she said truthfully, tugging at the lock of hair on the left side of her face where the mark her girlfriend gave her was situated beneath her chin.



Susan didn’t want to let it go, but time was running short. The bus would be here soon. In the interest of compromise, she said, “You can keep the tank-top, but if you’re not wearing pants or a skirt that goes below your knees, you are grounded. Understand? And when you get home, we’re going to talk about…” Susan gestured vaguely in her daughter’s face. “Whatever it is you’re doing. At length.



“But Mom --”



“Ah-ah! What did we say about back talk?”



“I wasn’t --”



Two weeks! No phone privileges!”



“Mom, I --”



NOW, Johanna.”



Susan held out her hand expectantly as her daughter’s eyes teared up, before she angrily dug into her pocket, muttering something unladylike and deposited the iPhone into her mother’s palm. She stomped to her room loudly and passive-aggressively. Susan watched her go past, shaking her head. She’d been such a good child not so long ago… what changed? Was it the trials of being a teenager?



Susan resumed her housework, dusting furniture and sweeping floors, drifting from room to room, when the doorbell chime went off a few minutes later. Skittering to the window, Susan noticed her daughter walking up the driveway, just in time for the bus to pass by. She elected to wear a jacket over her tank-top, and her booty shorts had in fact transmogrified into jeans.



Susan sighed, upset that her daughter left without even saying goodbye. But despite everything, she still was obedient enough to at least change clothes when her mom said to. Susan felt in her pocket for her daughter’s smartphone, wistful. Perhaps she had been a bit hard on her…



***



A power-drill at full blast knocked Johanna out of her concentration. Seething, she stood up from her seat and shouted “Shut the hell up!” in its direction.



Across the library, a worker on a stepladder currently putting up a new bookshelf removed one muff of his ear protection. “What was that, Miss?”



Johanna blushed, then called out, “Is there any way you can be… a bit quieter?”



The worker chuckled nervously and replied, “No can do. Principal wants this up ASAP.”



Johanna snuck a glance at the librarian, a petite old woman clearly just as perturbed by the noise in the library as she was. Sighing, she looked at Johanna apologetically.



Johanna huffed, then took her seat, returning to her book. This encyclopedia-length treatise on the history of European art had been the go-to choice in the absence of a phone to kill time after lunch, but it turned out to be far more boring than Johanna would’ve expected. Sighing, she closed it, then looked to the shelf from which she retrieved it. Directly perpendicular from the wall currently being worked on. Johanna had tried her best to sit as far away from the noise as possible, but now she would have no choice but to venture back into the maelstrom.



Stowing the book beneath the crook of her arm and with her other hand in her pockets, she trotted to the non-fiction section, coughing as the miasma of dusty wood shavings invaded her lungs.



BRRRRRRRRRR!!!



The books rumbled on their shelves as the powerful mechanical tool bored another hole in the wall. Johanna’s teeth chattered as she waited for the noise to recede before sighing. Reaching up to the empty shelf, she placed it in before yet another:



BRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!



This one Johanna felt in her bones. And she wasn’t the only one; the books themselves all jittered and jumbled, so much so that as Johanna successfully pushed one such tome inside, another from high above managed to dance its way out of its crevice, falling down and knocking Johanna on the head.



OWWWW!!”



Sent to the ground by the blow, the construction stopped as the adults in the room noticed what had just happened. The workers stared down with concern both for the student and themselves as the librarian pranced into the midst of the action, screeching, “Now, what is all this, now? Okay, that’s it, library’s closed! No students allowed until this renovation is over! Are you okay dear?”



The librarian took Johanna’s hand as she rubbed her head, still seeing stars from the impact. It throbbed. “Y-yeah… I think so…?”



“Don’t you worry, dear, I’ll take you to the nurse’s office,” the librarian cooed, trying her best to ease a very confused Johanna as she dumped the book that had fallen into her hands, mistakenly believing this was the one she sought to get. “Come with me, it won’t be long…”



Johanna followed dumbly behind, caressing the book for reasons she didn’t understand, keeping it for no real reason at all.



***



“Seems like a minor contusion,” the nurse, a young, stunningly attractive, incredibly affable woman barely out of her twenties, finished examining Johanna as she lay in the cot. In Johanna’s addled state, her only recurring thoughts were that the nurse very well could’ve been a model or an actress in another life. The nurse pulled off her plastic gloves, chuckling. “And the last day of school too. That’s gotta be a record, right? Just avoid any more head injuries for now. Maybe put some ice on it if you get any aches. If it gets worse, then call your physician.”



“T-thank you…” Johanna mused.



“You can stay here for the rest of the day if you like. Though I know that you students always have those big end of year parties on days like this.”



“Oh, oh no… not really.” None of the students in Johanna’s class were people she really cared for. And those she did care for, she was forced to meet with outside school.



“Well, looks like you just won a free pass for a breezy last day of school! I’ll pull out the TV, I think we have a few movies in here somewhere…” The nurse walked into the closet, door swinging closed behind her, leaving Johanna alone with the scent of latex gloves and cough medicine.



She groaned, exasperated as her senses were coming back to her. She wouldn’t have even been in the library looking for something, anything to entertain her if she just had her phone. But her dumb mom took it away. What kind of parent does that? What teenager is able to survive without a phone?!



And she was still bored.



I could’ve sworn we had a copy of that new Avengers in here somewhere!”



Johanna sighed, realizing that her boredom might not be alleviated anytime soon. Perhaps she should just go back to class. After all, her head was feeling better than before…



Slowly, Johanna rested her cheek on the worn sheet of the cot. And like a magnet, her eyes gravitated to the book on the end table.



It was big and dusty. She couldn’t see the spine from this view, though she could see the pages, which were a deep, desaturated papery yellow, with black bits at irregular intervals between the edges.



“Eugh…” Johanna wasn’t exactly someone who liked gross stuff for the sake of gross stuff, but her curiosity would not let her open go a moment before seeing just what exactly this book is.



Johanna sat up, leaning against her pillow, and grabbed it. Immediately, she struggled, needing to use her second hand to pick it up properly.



The cover was blank. It was a dark, chocolate brown, and the binding was made of leather. Despite the book’s apparent age, the leather felt good as new. A little warm, in fact, as Johanna dragged her fingers across the bumps. Weirdly, the warmth seemed to come in waves or pulses. Warm, cool, warm, cool, every four or so seconds, ad infinitum.



Johanna opened the front, looking for the library registry. There was a registry indeed. An old one, decaying, in fact. But not a single person in the thirty years the school had been erected had ever checked this book out.



Johanna shrugged. Not too much out of the ordinary. There were plenty of books in that library that had been untouched for decades. She turned the page, looking for a title, but finding none. Instead, she was instantly transported to what appeared to be the main body of the text. More surprisingly, it seemed to be entirely handwritten. In ink. At first Johanna didn’t want to believe it, but the more she inspected each repeated letter, the more she realized they all had tiny imperfections that could only be the result of handwriting. Intrigued, she began at the beginning. The front page also included a math-looking diagram that Johanna didn’t know the meaning of. The text was a bit archaic, but with a bit of work Johanna was able to decipher it…



I am recording the results of my Crop in the event I am unable to Complete the work upon which I have been seeded to this Earth. Even now my soul demands egress from this plane. But I have discovered this world is built upon laws. And all laws, through the right Channels, may be bent, or rewritten Entirely.



Johanna was bored already. She flipped through the book, candidly waiting for something interesting to pop up when she stopped at a drawing of a frog. It was… not a very good drawing. It looked more like an artist tried to generally get the body of a frog right, but gave it a human-ish face and features. And that made Johanna laugh.



“Heh, that’s cute.” She read beneath.



WARNING: No reversal spell found thus far… I’ve discovered transfiguration to be amongst the easier of spells to commit. Should one desire to transform something or someone into something or someone else, they need only hold in their mind an image of their target and say these words. Once completed, state the name of that which you desire your target to transform into.



The words beneath were unlike any script Johanna had ever witnessed. It was like trying to transcribe the exact text one had seen in a dream. Johanna felt a deep discomfort looking at it, but she was unable to look away, and her heart began to pound. Her fingers tightened their grip on the book, and inadvertently her nails began to scratch at the paper.



Gasp!



Johanna was almost horrified at potentially damaging it. Smoothening out the slight gashes, she placed her finger at the beginning of the incantation text, thinking to herself…



“What kind of book… is this?”



Johanna’s mind raced as dragged her finger across the page, as though doing so might result in the knowledge of how to say it entering her mind. It did give her a bit more confidence. Upon looking at it again, the letters didn’t appear to be too dissimilar from Latin script. She tried mouthing the text, taking several tries to get something consistent exiting her lips. As she prepared to recite the incantation, she thought…



“Wait, am I really about to try to use a magic spell?” Johanna wasn’t exactly the most religious, but she was not completely without faith, mostly a result of her late father’s work. If the tome was real, she could be encountering some serious trouble in the afterlife. And if it was fake… well, then she would be a teenager, effortlessly tricked into taking a toy or role playing game manual seriously. So she figured, if she was going to use the spell, she’d want to test it on something small first.



Johanna looked around the room. She looked at the cot upon which she rested, its blankets. She looked at the end table. An IV drip, unconnected to anything, was in the corner. The bag looked murky, in need of a replacement. There was a desk at the head of the room, populated by a phone and a computer, and there was a whiteboard perpendicular to it too. Nothing of note though, nothing specific. Nothing that jumped out at her.



Okay, Johanna, what do you think about The Dark Knight?”



Johanna almost jumped. She was so lost in her musings, she forgot she technically wasn’t alone. The nurse was still in the closet.



Suddenly… a devilish idea came to mind.



She glanced at the frog once again.



The nurse was real pretty. Maybe even… too pretty.



Slipping from beneath the sheets, Johanna walked silently to the door before yelling out, “Hey, do you have any Star Trek?



New or classic?”



“Doesn’t matter!” said Johanna as she quietly turned the lock, tiptoeing back to her bed for the book.



She got comfortable in her blankets, the page in the book saved. Then, she implanted an iron-enforced image of her nurse in her mind, reciting to herself slowly, patiently, the words in the book. She almost stumbled, catching herself on the edge of the syllables before finally finishing the short incantation, capping it off with the final piece: “A frog.”



Johanna felt a chill cycle through her, and immediately her fatigue returned, and she was forced to fall back on the bed, half-asleep, only barely able to comprehend as the minutes began to pass, the nurse nudging the doorknob, slowly realizing she was locked in, banging, loudly, incessantly, shouting, until…



***



RIRIRIRIRIRIRRRRRRIIIIIIIING!!!



Schools out! Have a great summer!”



Even Johanna couldn’t sleep through the sound of the school bell. Her eyes fluttered open, and she comprehended the thunderous footsteps of students rampaging through the halls, ready to have their go at the freedom the newly-wrought summer would bring them.



All except Johanna.



Johanna slowly got her bearings, pushing the blankets and sheets off her pant-clad legs, trying to remember what had happened. She rested her chin on her palm, and she tried to move over to the side of the cot, swinging her legs over the edge as the thunderous din slowly began to trickle out, away, leaving only meager footsteps traipsing the halls, until… only a few strides at a time. Always decreasing in frequency, never quite disappearing.



Then…



Ribbit.



The sound of the croak of a frog was like a shot to the heart. Johanna’s eyes widened, became bloodshot. She whipped her head to the book, unable to find it. She clawed through the blankets, uncovering the leatherbound tome. Thankful, she clutched it, not wanting to let go, and turned to the locked door.



Johanna distinctly remembered an increasingly panicked banging and screaming coming from behind it. She had no idea how long it went… but the door was silent. Except for the faint, occasional sound of a frog croaking.



“Okay, Johanna,” she tried to convince herself. “There’s… no reason to believe this book was actually able to… do that.” She took a few tentative steps toward the door, holding the tip of the handle the same way one might hold a piece of moldy food, unwilling to position her body near it.



She opened the door. It creaked. Afternoon sunlight mingled with yellowing LEDs that streamed out, and a blurry fast green blob rushed past Johanna’s feet.



“Ah, no you don’t!” Johanna dove for the creature, sliding on her knees. She thanked taking her mother’s advice to wear pants, then sat back up, cupping the somewhat moist organism that she now had buried in her grasp.



Ribbit!” The frog was fat, easily fat enough to take up the surface area of Johanna’s palm. And it was still on the move, hopping out of Johanna’s grasp before she was able to scoop it up once more, this time holding it in a grip with both hands.



“No… no goddamn way…”



The frog’s struggles were emphatic. Johanna stared into its eyes, and her heart pounded as the frog stared back, shaking its head, unable to verbally express the fear present in them. Whatever it was, she knew the nurse was still in there somewhere.



Maybe she just left.



Maybe she just picked the lock, silently, without waking Johanna, and then left without notifying the principal that their student just locked a staff member in a closet.



Or…



Maybe...



Johanna stuffed the frog into the side-pocket of her backpack, and she sidled outward, closing the door gently behind her.



***



“Thanks you, and I hope you enjoy your meal!” Nikki offered a short bow as the customer accepted his bag of chicken teriyaki and fried rice, heading to his table.



Nikki sighed graciously before the door to the eatery jingled once again. Nikki cursed as she straightened her back, preparing to meet the next customer when her eyes landed upon…



“Johanna!” She yelled something to the back before taking off her dopey looking hat and sidling out from behind the counter, ready to meet Johanna’s embrace and subsequent smooch on the cheek before the two left to take a seat at one of the open booths. “Haven’t seen you in a bit! You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”



Johanna said nothing, simply nodding as the two settled into their seats. Johanna waited a moment, slightly jittering as she tapped her fingers on the table.



“O….kay… Well, I called you a few times, but you didn’t pick up. Texted too. What gives?”



“No… no phone,” Johanna admitted, hoarsely. “N-Nikki… if I were to tell you anything, would you believe me?”



“I mean… it depends,” Nikki said ponderously. “What sort of… Why are you putting a frog on the table?”



Johanna had already unzipped the backpack compartment, grabbing the frog with her other hand and placing it down when the amphibian suddenly squirmed its slimy body from underneath Johanna’s palm.



EEEEEK!” Johanna shrieked before Nikki slammed her palm upon the creature.



It was stunned, but overall it was fine. Johanna watched in slight shock as Nikki put her own hands over the creature, looking furtively over her shoulder as she whispered, “Johanna! Are you trying to get me fired?!”



Johanna said nothing. Instead, she reached into her backpack, removing the book and setting it on the table. She opened it, flipping through the pages gingerly before reaching the one that she had seen before casting the spell. The words still had their odd demarcations, as though every time one read the page, the precise lines transcribed on the incantation changed.



Then, Johanna pointed at the frog. She whispered to Nikki, covering her mouth, “What if I told you… that was my high school nurse?”



Nikki stared at Johanna for a moment, then she chuckled. “Heh… okay… sure.”



Johanna waited for a second. “Well? What do you think?”



“Are you going to finish?”



Nikki! That thing is my high school nurse!



Now Nikki’s eyes narrowed. “Not sure I follow.”



Taking a deep breath, Johanna explained everything from the beginning, from the construction workers in the library, to the book falling on her head, to the recitation, to passing out before waking up. All through, Nikki’s face remained stalwart and resolute, though over time it slackened to a more neutral face as she simply waited for the story to end.



“And that pretty much brings us up to now. So? What do you think? Do you believe me?”



“No.”



Johanna sighed. “C’mon!”



Nikki shrugged. “I’m sorry. But magic spells and incantations? I never knew you wanted to be a writer, Jo!”



Johanna huffed. “Definitely not.”



“Though…” Nikki pondered with her finger to her chin. “If you were to prove it to me, use the spell on something… maybe it’d be different.”



Johanna hardened. That was something she could do… and yet, when she performed the spell the first time, it almost felt as though she did something wrong. It had been a huge drain on her the first time, sending her to sleep. And besides, it was already going on 5 o’clock. Her mom expected her home by 4 usually.



“Oh, shit,” Johanna sighed as she recalled. “My mom.”



“What about her?”



“She’s been getting on my case lately. Dressing all ‘slutty’ and all,” Johanna emphasized her point with air quotes. “She’ll freak if I’m late home. We can talk more about this later.” Johanna slid out from the booth, thinking she may have forgotten something. Until, “Oh yeah, the nurse!”



Nikki awkwardly uncupped her hands from above the stunned frog, allowing Johanna to once again place it in her pack. As Johanna gathered her affects, Nikki decided to verbalize her thoughts, and said, “Well… have you tried using the book?”



“What, to get home?”



“No, bitch. To get your mom off your case.”



“My… mom?” The very idea of associating her mom with whatever powers this book possessed had never even broached her mind. It was… nigh unthinkable.



“That’s a big-ass book! I bet there’s a spell to get her off your case. Maybe even one to make her into your slave. Can you imagine that? Hahahahahaha!



Johanna didn’t laugh.



Nikki sighed, reaching out to rub her girlfriend’s arm. “Not that I believe in this occult mumbo jumbo but I mean c’mon, the way you talk about her all the time… I dunno… almost sounds like she’s a pretty skank bitch.”



“N-not really…” Johanna and her mom did clash from time to time, but it’s not like she hated her. And besides, they used to be really close, at least before Dad died. That’s when she turned into a hardass all of a sudden.



“Well… if you do use the book… let me know. Because I wanna see.” Nikki leaned forward, planting a soothing kiss on Johanna’s collarbone that made her feel better. “So what’re you gonna do with the froggy there?”



Johanna glanced to her backpack pocket and smiled, watching as it puffed in and out from her repeated struggles. She appeared to have woken up. “I don’t know. I could just release her into the wild… though I’ve heard frog legs are a delicacy in certain places...” Johanna licked her lips. Something about doing such a thing to a creature that had once been a human just made her heart pound.



Even her Mom...



Nikki rolled her eyes. “Now I’m sure you’re just yanking my chain. Get out of here.”



“Thanks for chatting, Nik. I’ll think of something,” Johanna slung her backpack over her shoulder, pulling Nikki into another embrace.



“I’m sure you will. Love you,” Nikki smiled, letting go and watching as Johanna left the restaurant.



“Y-yeah, love you too,” Johanna said over her shoulder. She hadn’t put her book inside the bag. She still had it out, glancing down, thumbing through pages...



***



The city buses left early, and when her first Uber arrived, Johanna was halfway home before candidly mentioning her age, resulting in the driver turning around, kicking Johanna out of the vehicle, and leaving her on the side of the dingy road. When Johanna got home, night had fallen. She pulled her jacket a little tighter against her body, surveying the house. It appeared dark on the inside. There was always the chance her mom had gone to sleep early… though it was doubtful. Johanna rolled her eyes; if she had a phone, she wouldn’t need to be doing this clandestine spy reconnaissance. Then again, if she just obeyed her mother…



Johanna shook her head. She was sixteen. Practically an adult at this point – she even had the boobs to show for it! Her Mom can’t micromanage her every lifestyle choice forever. Still, at least for now… her mom was the one who held the power… right?



Johanna clutched her book tightly as she waddled down the driveway, sliding up to the front door, looking for her house key when…



“Oh no.”



Johanna patted her pockets. She checked her backpack. She took off her jacket, flipping it upside down, waggling it around, spreading loose coins and spare change from broken 20 dollar bills at the Hardee’s all across the front lawn. But no sign of her house key.



“No, shit!” Johanna crawled across the ground, feeling the grass between her fingers, but was unable to find anything, when…



The door opened.



Crouched on the ground, jacket off, digging through the yard for scraps, she turned with slow, trembling fear to face her mother, still in her own nightgown. Her breasts were practically overflowing, requiring an expertly tied belt of cloth to prevent their encumbrance from bursting through the silk garment as she crossed her arms, staring very sternly down at her daughter.



“Do you have even the slightest idea how late you are?”



Johanna brushed herself off, carrying herself up to height to almost look her mother in the eye. “N-no?”



“Oh, I’m sure. Johanna… When we had our agreement this morning, I thought we’d come to an understanding. I thought you had finally started to mature. But then you go and do… this… coming home in the dead of night…”



“M-Mom, it’s only 7:30 --”



“No, shut up! Just SHUT UP!” Her mother screeched, livid, face red. “You cannot continue to disobey me, in my house, coming home this late, when… is that… is that lipstick?!” Her mom lunged for Johanna’s collar, easily pulling down her tank top, exposing her cleavage as well as the smooch mark formed from Nikki’s earlier affectionate kiss.



“Mom, stop!” Johanna pulled away, but her mom refused to let go, the two tugged against each other, both screeching obscenities until --



RRRRRRIPPPPPP!!!



Johanna pulled herself away to the ground, her tank top ripped to shreds as her Mom held scraps of fabric in her talons, having inadvertently ripped it apart. Tears flooded Johanna’s eyes as she tried to block her bare exposed breasts from flopping out past her crossed arms. She beheld her mother, a woman who even now seemed to have had no idea this would be the result of her actions.



But Susan gulped, tossing the scraps away, and returned to her stalwart expression. “Get inside.”



“Mom, you --”



NOW, Johanna! Get inside!”



Whimpering, Johanna waddled to collect her discarded backpack, jacket, coins and the leatherbound book all sprawled across the ground.



“Johanna. I am not going to ask again. If you do not enter this house right now…”



Johanna had just grabbed hold of the book, mumbling, “I-I just need to…”



“Okay,” her mother sighed, grabbing Johanna’s arm and yanking her past the threshold, even as she screamed in protest.



“My stuff!” she yelled, before being thrown into the house, half naked, holding onto nothing except the book.



“Johanna, when I ask… stand up. NOW, Johanna!”



Johanna watched her mother, and as tears streamed down her face, she stood to full height. The nightlight was the only thing that illuminated either of them.



“When I ask you to do something and you don’t do it… you cannot even begin to imagine how much that disrespects me. I’ve worked my entire life to support you. And I never asked for anything in return. And for you to… completely ignore me like that?”



“M-m-m-MOM, I’m sore--”



“No, we’re past that. We’re too late for that. I’ve let you run around like this wild child for long enough. Starting this summer – starting tomorrow, we’re instituting new rules. Phone, TV, computer, hell, even books!” And she snatched the book out of Johanna’s hands, holding it above her head as Johanna leapt for the tome, shouting out in fear.



“Mom, mom, please! Don’t touch that!!”



“So this is what was so important that you didn’t feel the need to listen to your mother immediately?” Susan said, flipping candidly through the pages. “Some sort of fairy tale shit?” She chuckled before tossing the book to the ground, where it landed open face-down with a SMACK!, the leather bindings struggling against the pressure.



“Don’t even think about leaving this building tonight. Tomorrow, we’re going to have an extended talk about the direction of your life.” And as Johanna quietly wept, Susan walked away, carelessly stepping on the book as she went, without a word or glance to her daughter.



Johanna was on her knees as she watched her go, up to hearing the door slam with an intense THUMP! Snot and tears were collecting in a puddle beneath her…



She remained there, for long after her mother left. Allowing the sadness, misery, grief to siphon out of her.



And in her calcified heart, a seed of contempt grew.



She crawled toward the book, propping her back against a nearby counter, and turned it over.



The page it had landed on depicted a human figure trapped in a birdcage while a much larger silhouette looked upon them with a vague smile.



The text read:



If one desires complete control over another individual, they need only recite the following words while imaging the individual in question in their mind.



Standing up, Johanna studied the incantation’s vague sequencing as she retreated to her room.



***



Susan remained up, even after disrobing, lying in her bed. Her heart beat wildly. As much as she needed to portray the image of the stern parent… her head just wasn’t in it.



Susan had always been the fun one. She’d always been the one that would look the other way while Johanna snuck an extra Oreo from the pack. The one to take her out to ice cream after the dentist visit. Susan hated being the bad guy, with a passion. She hated the look in her daughter’s face when she yelled at her.



Tears began to leak out of her own eyes. The look on her daughter’s face.



She’d humiliated her… outside. At night. The chances anyone would’ve seen were nil, but… still. It made Susan feel so dirty. Going from her parental protector to… whatever it was she’d just become. It made her feel a chill. A deep chill all the way to the depths of her soul that almost reduced her into a sniveling wreck as it chattered and chittered from the tops of her hair to the depths of her bones.



And as Susan began to recover from the episode in a cold sweat, drool leaking from her mouth, eyes finally able to see in color again… she sat up. She rubbed her head, realizing that perhaps the guilt was a bit much for her. And after once again putting her bathrobe on, she stood up to visit her daughter in her room. All she wanted was to prevent her daughter from growing up too fast, turning into a thirty-two-year-old mother of a sixteen-year-old. She didn’t know if she would deliver an apology… but she would deliver an explanation.



***



Johanna laid on her back, utterly, completely still. Her blankets were atop her, baking her in heat, but she dare not move. Her book had been safely stowed beneath her pillow. Whatever happened… whether this worked, or not… she didn’t want to leave anything to chance. She could only hope that a poor recitation of the spell didn’t accidentally turn her mother into a werewolf or anything.



Suddenly, the creaky sound of old floorboards began to rattle through the scaffolding. Her mother had gotten up.



Interesting, Johanna thought, as her heart pounded. She’d been waiting for around 15 minutes for… something to happen. But she didn’t really know what. But now it seems her mother was walking around the house. Closer… closer… closer to her own room, until…



Knock, knock, knock.



Johanna said nothing.



“Johanna, look… can I come in? Would you mind if I come in?”



Johanna did nothing.



“Johanna, I know you’re still awake in there. Please? I’d like to talk. Just for a minute, I promise.”



Johanna awaited the sound of footsteps foretelling her mother’s departure, but none came. For a few moments, she could be sure her mom was standing outside.



If she wanted to test that the spell worked, she should try something that her mother wouldn’t do normally, but was also detectable from behind the door. Taking a deep breath, Johanna whispered, quietly, gently, to none but herself… “I want you to stomp your foot.



Johanna waited, and waited, and waited… until…



“Well, alright. Have a good night. And, just know… I love you. You know that, right?” And she pivoted, creaking the floorboards even more as she began to leave.



Johanna’s mouth was agape. Did the spell even work? There was practically no difference she could discern between her mother’s normal acting vs her mother under the spell! What was it she needed?



Pulling the book out, she shook her phone twice, activating the flashlight and flipping through to where she found the page. It was easy as the book now wanted to open here on account of the spine being bent. She squinted as she read, even as her mother now called out, “Johanna, I can see your light in there! Can you just let me in, please? I promise, I’m not mad at you.”



Johanna tried to ignore her, reading instead the text and context of the spell, cursing these 19th century witchcraft practitioners for being so unscrupulously vague in their verbiage. Abandoning the textual summary, she turned her gaze to the illustration.



A figure inside a birdcage…



A figure inside a birdcage…



Control… complete control…



Shrinking someone down was a good way to establish control over them. Could it be… the purpose of the spell was to shrink someone down?



***



Susan watched as the light in Johanna’s room shut off, and she cursed to herself. “Dammit.”



Susan sighed as she turned to leave. If she didn’t want to talk, she didn’t want to talk. Better to simply wait for tomorrow and make her case then. If anything it --



ACH!



Susan hunched over.



For a moment, she felt as though something alive and angry were trapped inside her skull, and it was trying very very hard to get out.



“Ah-ah-ah-AH!” Susan began to hyperventilate, wobbling and tripping to and fro, leaning against the wall as she felt a need to use both hands to scratch at her cranium, dragging her fingernails across her temples. The magnitude of this pain was something that could only be approached by that of the birth of her child. But the specific sensation of this pain was something wholly new: a fire, burning brightly in her mind, searing and hot, spreading out to deliver jolts of utter numbness to the rest of her body. As Susan vocalized unintelligibly, the faint part of her mind that was still functional briefly wondered whether she might’ve been suffering a stroke, a heart attack, a brain aneurysm. As spittle leaked from her mouth however, that functional last few brain cells began to reel in shock as Susan realized…



The room was getting bigger.



Her head clicked as it barely spun like a rotating fan held in place by a curious child. But the hallway was clearly, clearly becoming a larger space. She wanted to attribute it to vertigo, or even the angels of death finally spiriting her away form her body. But before long the effect became too much, too big to ignore. And it was only as she was reduced in size to less than that of a doll did she realize… she was less than the size of a doll.



Thoom…



Thoom…



Thoom…



Oh no.



Susan tried to move her arms. Her legs. She was propped against the baseboard as though it were the backboard of a bed, and her daughter’s room door loomed high into the sky before her. And behind that door… something was coming.



Click!



Creeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaakkkk…!



Susan gulped, gasped, as her daughter, now in a nightie that covered her breasts properly, opened the door, massive feet parking close to Susan, the teen glancing every which way for something. Seizing the opportunity for help, Susan tried to vocalize this plea, but was only able to produce a weak hiccup.



It seemed to do the trick, however, as Johanna’s gaze was pulled downward, scanning the floor until… the two locked eyes.



Oh, thank God, thought Susan. Help. Rescue.



Until… her daughter didn’t seem to be in a big hurry. In fact, past the first locking of eyes and raising of eyebrows… she didn’t seem to be too concerned at all.



In fact…



Was that… a smile?



Susan’s heart sank. And fear blossomed.



Just as the feeling began to return to Susan’s catatonic body of its own accord, Johanna reached down, her own nightgown nearly bursting against its seams from the stretching maneuver. She carefully cupped Susan into her hands, grinning all the way, as Susan could only twitch, trying in vain to move her mouth, say coherent words as her tiny little heart rushed to deliver live-sustaining adrenaline to her limbs. From this close, Susan was all too able to see the ridges carved into her daughter’s cheeks by her tears.



Almost robotically, Johanna closed her hands, completely concealing her mother from sight, and backstepped into her room. She turned on the lamp with her elbow, bathing the room in an orange glow. She sat in her desk, the rotating seat causing her to drift for a bit before stabilizing herself with her feet on the floor. Using her forearm to slide the underwear and discarded Takis bags from the table top… Johanna opened her hands again.



“Whoa…” Johanna whispered, careful to caress her mother carefully in her hands. “It… am I dreaming right now?”



“Ah-ah-ah…” Susan stuttered, shivering as her daughter looked at her, inspected her, examined her like one might examine a neat bug plucked from the bottom of a moss-ridden rock. “Ah, ah, AHHHHHHH!!!” She was unable to contain her screams, barely noticeable to the awestruck Johanna.



“This is no dream…” Johanna whispered with an ethereal excitement, picking her mother up by the leg and dangling her above the surface.



AH, AH, STOP, PUT ME DOWN!!!



Johanna leaned her cheek on her palm, staring down at her mother smugly, and said to her… “Or what?”



Susan’s own nightgown fell upside-down, revealing her mother’s bare privates. “JOHANNA, I SAID TO PUT ME DOWN THIS INSTANT!!!” Susan tried her best to inject some form of authority into her voice, but the blood was already flooding her brain.



“Yes, I know. I heard.” Johanna checked her nails. “And I said, or what?”



“I-I-”



“What are you going to do, huh? Ground me? Rip up my book? Take away my phone? Hey, where is that, by the way?”



Johanna smirked as her mother’s pitiful whimpers slowed to a halt, and she simply stared at her daughter with a terrified, confused expression. “W-what are… what?!”



“Don’t you get it now? I’m in control.” And Johanna unclenched her fingers, allowing her mother to fall to the desk, landing in a crumpled heap.



Susan coughed, sputtering as she crawled away from the direction of the titan above her. She didn’t know where she was going, or what she was doing, but all she knew was that she’d need to get away as quickly as possible.



“You could try,” Johanna said as though she read her mom’s mind, chuckling as she stood up from her seat, seeking to grab the book and peruse it some more. “In the meantime…” Johanna thought to what other fun things she could try with her mom as a shrunken tool in her possession. So much payback… years’ worth of payback. The only real problem was that she wished it hadn’t shrunk her mom to barely two inches tall. Having her a bit bigger would be…



CRASH!!



Johanna heard the sound of wood colliding with more wood, and turned rapidly. Had something gone wrong?



Immediately she saw the problem, and realized in terror: her mother was growing back! Was the spell wearing off?!



Susan realized it too, though the desk had already been overturned by her weight by the time she could do anything. Now on the floor, she slowly hobbled to her feet as Johanna realized with fear that she was staring at her not like she was a daughter… but like she was a witch.



Susan wasted no time. She’d been blessed with her full height once again, and she would not let this opportunity go to waste. She lunged for Johanna, claws extended, preparing to claw out her eyes if possible, restrain her, get the book away, and call the police for whatever it was her daughter had just done.



AGH!!” Johanna dove out of the way, and her mother crashed into the bookshelf, depositing numerous hardcover books on her own head. She rose from the pile, seeing stars, but the visions of tomes floating around her head made her realize something… the book.



The creepy book she found amidst her daughter’s belongings.



It defied all logic, but logic had long since gone out the window. The source of this occult tomfoolery must be that book.



Susan wobbled, still unused to gravity at her natural height, as she turned to the bed, clawing away at the sheets, finding the book. She grinned maniacally as she then held two halves of it, trying to tear it apart by the bindings.



Mom, NO!” Johanna had no idea whether the book itself had any power or if the spells and words themselves were the source of change, but either way she couldn’t let the repository of knowledge go to waste.



Susan didn’t stop, and in a jolt of panic, Johanna could only think about stopping her Mom when…



She began to shrink again.



“Oh… oh my God…” Johanna whispered.



“Huh? What?!” Susan exclaimed, trying hard to rip it apart with the few feet she had left, until at last the book became too heavy, falling out of her hands. “No, no, no no, no, NO! God fucking DAMMIT!!!



Once again at two and a half inches, Susan saw Johanna coming for her. She looked around, diving into a pile of dirty clothes only to be fished out by Johanna’s prowling fingers once again.



“It doesn’t just let me shrink you…” she began, examining her mother once again as order was restored. “It lets me control your height! Hey… I wonder if…”



And, thinking to herself, Johanna willed for Susan to grow. She did, her whimpering ceased, and finally it was as though Johanna were holding a Barbie doll one foot high.



“This is so fucking cool…” Johanna whispered.



“J-J-Johanna…” Susan had been humbled by the display. For the briefest moment, she’d been gifted her height back. For the briefest moment, this nightmare seemed truly, finally over. Only for her to be jolted awake. And her daughter’s giant, giddy face was greeting her. “P-p-please, put me down?”



“Oh… oh, that is rich! You get the shit beaten out of you, I shrink you again, and somehow you think that asking nicely is going to undo the years of pain you’ve put me through, when it didn’t even work the first time?!” Johanna was practically laughing now, her own spittle flying in her mother’s face.



“I-I am your Mother… and I demand you put me down… n-n-n-now…” Susan had never been so scared in her life. Parenthood was already uncharted territory, and now she was venturing through waters no parent had ever gone through before.



“Hm… you know what? Sure! I’ll put you down…”



And Johanna dropped Susan.



The journey from her fingertips to the hardwood floor felt like it took an eternity, and when she hit the surface, Susan let out a sharp and pained grunt, as this doll size made her large enough to still feel pain from high drops. As she rolled, trying to get her bearings and stand up again, she was suddenly overtaken by a shadow, casting her in yet more darkness from the twilit room. The underside of Johanna’s foot.



“I have a feeling this isn’t what you had in mind, huh?” And Johanna stomped down.



P’FWOHHH!!!” Johanna ground her foot down, though she was careful at all times not to break anything. It was a trial, though. She really really wanted to. The idea of turning her mother into a paste stain was beyond intoxicating, especially after today’s episode. Besides it was quite likely the book contained medicinal and regenerative spells, right? But Johanna’s better judgment argued against it, not wanting to increase the chances of unwanted side effects from a misincantation.



Susan, meanwhile, was having the time of her life being rubbed underneath her daughter’s rubbery sole, having to fight off the battering, probing toes, getting scraps of dead skin and toe jam stuck in her mouth, forced to swallow the excess she wasn’t able to spit out, and overall being diluted by the scent of her feet, still ripe from a long day of taking public and private transportation. Every word she tried to let loose was only superseded by a cough or groan to expel the waste her foot produced that entered her body. This went on for probably a far shorter time than it felt like, as Johanna only stopped once she got bored of this continued grinding of her mother against the dusty hardwood.



“This feels incredible…!” Johanna said, still awestruck. She was using her own mother as a Ped Egg. It made her feel… powerful.



As Johanna’s kneads became less forceful, more casual, more instinctive, she let up just enough pressure for Susan to get a word in edgewise, managing to sputter out a spare “PLEASE!!” or “CAN’T BREATHE”, though it wasn’t until she’d completely gone silent even then that Johanna decided to remove her foot from the body of her mother.



“Awwww… look at the itty bitty Susan…” Johanna chided, reaching down to pluck her mom’s limp body off the floor like a rag.



She held Susan by the scruff of her nightgown, and the woman hung, depressed, defeated.



P...please...” she stuttered, tears mixing with spittle.



“Don’t you get – ah, shit.” Johanna swore as the nightgown between her thumb and forefinger unraveled.



Susan didn’t even stir as she fell. Though at this size, any fall would’ve had minuscule effects, Johanna still lunged for her anyway. She didn’t want her mom to get brain damage from a concussion. She still needed to be able to pay bills. Go to work. It was neat and all having her Mom at her beck and call like this, but she still wanted her to remain in her life.



Johanna held her mom in her hand, looking at her own naked body, her well-endowed tits.



She looked down at her own breasts, chuckling. That’s where she got them from alright.



Maybe her mom could remain in her life.



But whatever form that took, it would be under Johanna’s rules.



For now. For tomorrow. Forever.

Chapter End Notes:

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