It's hard to believe I'm actually still writing this junk, but I can't seem to stop. Despite my mounting pile of hate mail and increasing awareness that most people who use the internet will NOT read anything longer the a paragraph and only accompanied with pictures. Had to start a new thread, but the previous seven chapters are in the old thread.
In this chapter, Zippy is finally back at school and presents Stitchy to the class to general amazement. Needless to say, this arouses the ire of Amber and her cronies. And Zippy finally marshals the courage to ask Kyle out. Please comment if you like this story, I really need comments to know people are actually reading this and not giving up after two paragraph.
The Eighth Experiment
When everyone was in one class or another, it was a rare moment of peace and quiet within normally chaotic halls of Madame Petri’s Academy For The Gifted And Eccentric, and that made it the perfect time for Charity Milquetoast to carry out her mission, given to her by Amber Tiffendorf, the leader of her group, which was now unofficially called Amber’s Army. And they had all learned fast that it wasn’t a good idea to disobey Amber, especially when it came to ways to thwart Zippy Zipperdale and the rest of the Shark Tank Guild as they called themselves. And that was the quest that had Charity cutting class and sneaking around in the hallways like a thief.
It was fairly common knowledge that Amber was livid about Zipperdale; her arrival had been something of a big deal, having received an award from Steven Hawking and such, and although she’d had a rough start, Zippy had quickly proved herself one of the best of all of them. That had ticked off Amber, especially after Zippy had ruined her chances of getting the Bell fortune by turning Cristobel into Krystal. And now that Krystal was an avowed member of the Shark Tank Guild, even wearing the small silver Megalodon tooth pin that the rest of them did, Amber’s wrath had reached a boiling point. And now, word was that Zipperdale had come back from break with something extraordinary to show for Mrs. Variola’s class, which was sending Amber into twitching fits of rage.
In a way, Charity understood Amber’s resentment; she felt a lot of it too. To be frank, Zipperdale was undeserving of all that attention. Certainly, she was beneath Charity’s own station: Zipperdale did not come from money, she came from an average middle class family, and she did not come from a family of unrestrained scientists. Not even regular scientists for that matter. It irked Charity that someone of such low origin could achieve so much; so much that was hers by right of birth. She frequently resented the way Zipperdale simply did not know her place. Especially with people like Lizzy Malaria and Rina Matsura, both of notable (if odd in the case of Malaria) scientific families, would hang off Zipperdale’s every word.
In any event, The Shark Tank Guild was something of freak show: With Buttercup the sloth girl and Eve the pseudo vampire among their ranks, to say nothing of the mongrel twins, Charity frequently whished they would all just go away and disappear, and to stop offending her aesthetics with their freakishness.
But all the same, she also considered this thievery to be beneath her station. She knew it was below her, and below Amber, to stoop to stealing Zippy’s experiments like they had been, but Amber had ordered it, and Charity never went against Amber. Mainly because she was afraid of her and her quick temper, she had gone ahead and did it.
Her, that is, and Amber’s other patsy that she used from time to time. Though Charity had no idea what Amber had over him, it must have been substantial to get him to do her bidding like that. Charity had hoped he’d be the one pulled for this job, but it had fallen to her.
Needless to say, Zipperdale had quickly figured it out and now hid her projects exceedingly well, making these trips even more agonizing for Charity. If she got caught, she could easily be expelled or “volunteered” for one of Madam Petri’s experiments.
Looking around and making sure she was alone, Charity slipped into the dorm room shared by Zipperdale, Malaria and Bell. She quietly slipped towards Zipperdale’s side of the room, looking around her to make sure there were no cameras or listening devices. After Zipperdale had realized Amber was stealing her projects, she had begun setting traps for any potential thieves. And the bitch was damn cleaver about them too, Charity had almost been caught several times, making her resent the Zipperdale girl that much more. Also she kept an eye out for Zipperdale’s revolting pet squid; that awful ugly creature she called a pet was a constant annoyance, since Charity was never sure when the damn thing would show up, waving its tentacles and sounding the alarm. Charity had been forced to get a new skirt once when she couldn’t get the squid’s ink stain out of it.
Still, there was at least one way in which Charity had to give Zipperdale begrudging thanks: Freeing her from Cristobel. True enough, Charity had liked the idea of marrying into the powerful Bell family, and getting the respect and influence due to her by her station. Her own family was rich and powerful, but marrying into the Bell family would have strengthened it quite a bit, and raised her status in the family ten fold. But she really had loathed Cristobel, and his constant derision of her and her gender. It had been at her mother’s insistence that she had perused Bell. Now that Cristobel was no longer a path to the Bell estate, she was free to engage her relationship with Rick Millhouse.
Her face grew warm thinking about her new boyfriend. He’d been around a lot, but it was only recently that she had begun to realize that he’d hung around because of her. The interest and attention he’d paid her had been starkly more appealing then Cristobel’s indifference, and more and more she’d found herself attracted to him and his earnest devotion. When Cristobel was gone and Krystal was cut off from her fortune, Rick had quickly made his move, and Charity had been perfectly happy to accept it.
Not exactly the Bell family, Rick was still from a rich well off family, so Charity could easily avoid her mother trying to break them up. That was good because Rick made her feel like no other boy she’d ever dated (which wasn’t a lot), and his simple presence had become her rock to whether Amber’s storms. When she was with Rick she felt like she could do anything, and that was a feeling she never wanted to give up.
Suitcases still sat around the room as break had only been over for one day, and they hadn’t seemed to have the time to unpack. Looking around the dorm room, Charity noticed something odd: The fourth bed in the room had some sparse luggage sitting on it. It didn’t seem to belong to Zipperdale, Malaria or Bell; did they have a new roommate? If they did, she must be huge because a dress was laid out on the bed and it was enormous.
Charity searched the room thoroughly, frustratingly turning up nothing after several minutes of hunting. Finally, she found something taped to the underside of Zippy’s bed: A wide flat wooden box, like a jewelry box. This had to be it. Charity carefully made sure the box wasn’t wired to some kind of booby trap and then pulled it out. It took her only a second to jimmy the lock and open the box.
What she found inside was deflating: Just a small scribbled note on a piece of paper. She squinted at it; it was definitely in Zipperdale’s handwriting.
It read, “It’s not nice to steal, bitch!”
Realizing it was a trap, Charity tried to drop the box but there was sudden explosion of a bright whit light from the container and Charity screamed.
Later on, people stared and pointed at Charity laughing as she walked down the hall, looking dismayed and humiliated. For she now had the word “thief” sunburned across her face in huge red letters.
Looking out at the long rectangular shape of Mrs. Variola’s large classroom; Zippy’s heart beat fast in her chest. The classroom was shaped basically like a bullet: A long rectangular shape but round at the front end. Designed around displaying projects, the front of the class held a slightly raised stage area where all lessons were carried out. Just in front of the stage area was a long rectangular run; lower then the stage but higher then the floor that ran down the middle of the classroom to the halfway mark, looking very much like a fashion show runway. The students desks were arranged in a horseshoe shape around the runway; three rows of four desks on the right hand side, another three on the left hand side, and then three directly in front of it.
A flat ceiling ran along the top of most of the classroom, but the front of the room had a much higher domed ceiling. The whole room was decorated in such a way that it looked like authentic DaVinci era Florentine architecture. And it was here in this aura of retro design that students leaned Mrs. Variola’s lessons on Artificial Life Form Creation; and it was here, that Zippy, Lizzy and Krystal were getting ready to present Stitchy, and stun the class with the Holy Grail of mad science.
Zippy kept one eye on the back row of the room, where she knew Tiffany Pikenbeiler, one of Amber’s stooges, was sitting her eyeing her intently. As soon as this was finished, Tiffany would run and tell Amber, and Zippy was sure that would provoke some kind of unpleasant reaction. She would have to be ready for it.
Mrs. Variola often taught lessons moving up and down that long runway, and students got used to repositioning themselves to see her better. She was doing that now, giving a brief introduction of their project, without giving much away. She couldn’t really have, because Zippy had kept quiet about what exactly it was she was doing, to avoid thievery. Mrs. Variola hadn’t known much more about the details of project then her students did until a few hours before the presentation.
She was an older woman that seemed younger then she was; with a long face and narrow green eyes. She had curly blonde hair that she tied back in a pony tail behind her head. Her face was adorned with very little make up and she wore small oval glasses on her eyes. Her thin, scrawny figure was kept under a long black dress that had probably gone out of style when Wyatt Erp was still alive. She had a stern, no nonsense air about her that was usually intimidating, and was in no way as approachable as Miss Piranha or Miss Gojira, reminding Zippy more of Mr. DeSade, in her way.
She spoke with slight Scottish accent, “And now, Miss. Zipperdale, Miss. Malaria, and Miss Bell will present the fruits of their labors. They all worked hard, even sacrificing their break to work on their project, so give then all your full attention.
“Miss Zipperdale, you may proceed.”
Feeling more nervous and more excited then she had since Stitchy’s initial creation; Zippy stepped up and began to talk. Never being one to shy away from a touch of the dramatic, Zippy began her speech.
“What you are about to see today,” She began, “Is the culmination of a radical project using the combined talents of myself, Lizzy and Krystal, as we stood on the shoulders of giants such as Frankenstein, Jekyll, Manchu and Mabuse. Using the best equipment available, and the best material we could lay our hands on, we embarked on an experiment that would revolutionize unrestrained science as we know it:
“The successful assembly, construction, and reanimation of a new human being from superior preserved dead body parts.”
She paused for dramatic effect, and was not disappointed with the drama: A ripple of gasps flowed through the room as students looked at each other in amazement, wondering if it could be possible, could they really have pulled this off. Tiffany was staring at Zippy with mix of surprise and anger. Zippy let the excitement settle down before continuing. She picked up a small remote control, and dimmed the lights while lowering a screen. A slide projector installed in the ceiling came on with the familiar click, and the slide and video show began, detailing every step of Stitchy’s creation process. Zippy had set the show to an old song called Eye Of The Tiger, somehow finding it appropriate.
As the footage progressed, Krystal noticed that Tiffany pulled out her cell phone and began punching numbers. She didn’t get far, since Krystal wasn’t the only one who noticed. With a quick, sure movement, Mrs. Variola snatched the phone out of her hands and hissed at her to pay attention.
The other students watched as the video showed every step of the process, mumbling amongst themselves. Even Mrs. Variola stared at the screen in awe; and she had already seen both the video and Stitchy. The video clips and photos continued to play, documenting every step of the process. Once the information was finished, and everyone understood the project, the lights came up, and the class remained in hushed, astonished silence.
A little smile appeared on Zippy’s face as she gauged their reactions. She then folded her hands in front of her after rearranging her glasses; all calculated theatrics on her part.
She then announced, “And now, for your intellectual pleasure, I’d like you all to meet our creation. We call her Stitchy.”
The door in the back opened and Stitchy strolled on stage, throwing her arms up above her head like a star athlete and strutting like a supermodel. Everyone gasped at the gigantic size of the girl, more then a little apprehensive, especially since they’d been informed in the slide show of her accented strength. Zippy had to giggle: All she’d asked Stitchy to do was walk out on stage, but Stitchy liked attention so it was a given that she’d milk this as much as she could. She even did a few dance steps and twirls as she reached the runway, walking down it to the end and turning, again like a runway model. Students chuckled watching her gleeful performance.
For reasons of display, Stitchy was dressed in a bathing suit, a bikini that was as revealing as anything Krystal had tried on back at Zippy’s house. Stitchy was rather proud of the garment, never having had a shy bone in her body since her ‘birth’, since it had taken a little bit of work to find one in her gigantic size. As sexy as it was, they’d picked it to better reveal the assembly work to the class.
Stitchy got back to the stage and announce proudly, “I Stitchy! Hello everyone!”
After the shocked silence finally broke, there was a round of applause. From everyone, Krystal noticed, except Tiffany. Krystal gritted her teeth; they had worked really hard on the creation of Stitchy, the least the bitch could do was show a little appreciation. A sinking feeling a remorse flooded her as she realized she used to be just like her. Unbelievable, how much her perspective had altered.
Step by step, Zippy took Stitchy through her paces, starting with simple movement and coordination, graduating to demonstrating her astonishing strength and reflexes, then moving on to her augmented sight and hearing. The last batch of demonstrations was all mental, wowing the class with Stitchy’s ability to solve complex math problems in her head and her practically photographic memory. The students were even impressed when Stitchy solved a Rubix Cube in under a minute.
Once the presentation was finished, the room filled with thunderous applause as students rushed to the stage to get a closer look; mostly, Zippy noticed, the male students. Once the fervor died down, they began taking questions. Zippy was a little surprised to notice that the bulk of the questions were directed at Stitchy rather then the rest, but then decided that really was inevitable, since Stitchy was the object of curiosity here. Stictchy gleefully answered all the questions that were aimed at her.
At one point, Caleb Murphy asked, “Do you’re various parts . . . feel different from each other at all. You know, from your point of view.”
Stitchy thought about it a second, before answering, “No, it all a part of Stitchy. But it hard to answer that question; Stitchy never be any other way then Stitchy is now, so Stitchy have nothing to compare it to.”
“Why does it talk like that?” Tiffany wanted to know.
Zippy was not blind to the fact that Tiffany had snidely referred to Stitchy as ‘it’ and not ‘she’. She grimaced a little, but answered the question anyways.
“We don’t really know, not for certain,” She said levelly, “But scans have shown some unusual electrical fluctuation in the Broca’s Center of her brain. Research has shown since 1865 that people with damage to that part of the brain lost the ability to speak, but could still think. We believe that is the cause of Stitchy’s unusual speech patterns. But what causes those fluctuations we can’t say.”
“So you’re creation is brain damaged?” Tiffany chuckled callously
“I’ll brain damage her in second.” Lizzy muttered.
Taking a deep breath, Zippy answered, “No. There are no cognitive deficiencies at all that we can determine. As far as tests have shown, all of Stitchy’s mental functions are not only normal, but far above average.”
She narrowed here eyes at Tiffany, “Maybe you’d like to come up here and try to do some of the math Stitchy did in your head?”
When Tiffany didn’t move, the whole class laughed at her, and she cast her eyes down at her desk furiously. Caleb started to ask another question but they were out of time, and Mrs. Variola interrupted him.
“Well, I hope you all enjoyed the presentation. High marks go to all three of our students here. We deliberated for a while on how to best handle Stitchy. But after seeing first hand her mental ability, and in the interest of further study, we have decided to admit Stitchy as a student at Madame Petri’s. After all, you don’t want to waste a life you’ve been given.”
Stitchy clapped her hands together excitedly, and even Zippy was a little amazed that the matter was decided so quickly. She had thought she would have make a strong case and fight for Stitchy’s admittance. But Petri’s valued intelligence, as well as having a rather shallow desire for students of fame and notoriety, which a unique girl like Stitchy was likely to bring. Whatever the cause, Zippy was feeling a glowing sense of pride that her creation would be attending classes at Petri’s.
Within a couple of hours, word about Stitchy was all over the school. Naturally, Petri’s had a large female population, and the fastest means of communication are telephone, telegraph and tell a girl. But this was the sort of news that spread fast over a unisex network, and pretty soon it was the only thing anyone could talk about and the whole school was bursting with excitement over Zippy, Lizzy and Krystal’s accomplishment.
All that is, except for Amber, who was livid that Zippy was now the top student in the school, in spite of all her efforts.
Krystal moved down the hallway, unable to contain her excitement at their success. Stitchy had been accepted more then she’d dreamed possible and unrestrained science had taken another leap forward. And she had been a part of that; sure, it had all been Zippy’s idea, but if Zippy was Neil Armstrong, then Krystal could securely feel like a fine Buzz Aldrin. And there was nothing wrong with that; she still felt like a piece of history.
As she rounded a corner she passed Mr. DeSade’s classroom. She could hear him talking to someone inside the room, and he didn’t sound too happy. The hair on the back of Krystal’s neck stood up as she recognized Mr. Innsmouth’s voice. After all this time, the vice principle still gave her the creeps, no matter what. A little curious, she listened to what they were saying.
“I’m telling you, I didn’t misplace it.” Mr. DeSade grumbled, “The materials where right where they were supposed to be the last time I used them. Someone has been stealing my genetic material.”
“That seems to be a rather strong accusation, Mr. DeSade.” Mr. Innsmouth replied coldly, “What proof do you have that they were stolen?”
“Well it wasn’t the sort of material that could get up and walk away on its own; I keep all of that stuff locked up in the freezer unit.”
“Oh I see.”
“Aren’t you the least bit concerned? What was taken could easily be very dangerous.”
“Everything worth knowing is dangerous.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Calm yourself, François. I’m sure your work will be unaffected.”
And with that, a seemingly unconcerned Mr. Innsmouth turned and abruptly left the class room, turning his back on a baffled and frustrated looking Mr. DeSade, who shook his head in disbelief. Krystal frowned; it seemed rather dangerous to be stealing material from DeSade’s class. Who in the world would do that, and why didn’t the Vice Principle care?
Krystal’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a voice she liked hearing a whole lot better then Innsmouth’s.
“Hey, Krystal.” Kevin Crowsfeet said coming towards her.
“Kevin! Hello!” Krystal said enthusiastically as her best friend approached her.
As he got closer Krystal felt her heart quicken a little and her face flush a bit. She always got excited by the presence of Kevin, the one person who had stood by her through everything, remained her friend despite her past and what had happened to her. As a boy she had somewhat taken his friendship for granted, but now it had become clear that Kevin was the only true friend she had. Everyone else had only been interested in the money, now that she’d been cut off from that; she discovered that Kevin was the only one to stick by her. She valued his friendship and presence more everyday, even going so far to call him from Zippy’s house everyday over break. She had teased him a little with the project they were working on, piping his interest without letting him know what they were doing.
He jogged up to her excitedly, and Krystal felt her pulse quicken the closer he got.
“I just heard about your project.” He said almost breathlessly, “Did you really do it, create a new life?”
Krystal nodded, “You bet. And she’s been enrolled here, so you’ll meet Stitchy soon enough. Really nice girl, actually.”
“’Stitchy’?” He raised an eyebrow, “That’s really what you named her?”
“She’s got a ton of them. Anyways, she picked the name herself.”
“You know, you’re right, I can’t wait to meet her.” He paused and then continued, “That’s was why you weren’t at breakfast this morning?”
“Yeah, there was too much preparation to do. Why did I miss something?”
“You’re kidding, who was it?”
Krystal knitted her brow, her face darkening. It seemed more and more ‘volunteers’ were being recruited for Madame Petri’s private experiments. The results were often almost horrific. A shiver went down her spine, even though she knew her grades were good enough to stay out of her clutches. Still, whatever the hell Madame Petri was doing in there, no one seemed to know what it was. Most of them had never even seen her.
Petri’s could be a scary place, and everyone knew the importance of making alliances, friends who could watch your back. Without them, you could find yourself kidnapped and subjected to who knows what sort of experiment. It was the reality of their fringe science school, and simply a part of the process, as horrifying as it may have sounded to outsiders. Krystal realized she was quite lucky; event though she had lost most of her friends when he gender was reassigned and she lost her claim to the Bell fortune, she had made plenty of new ones; as difficult as that had been. She now knew that Zippy and the others would watch her back, and she felt the same protective need towards them. And then there was . . .
She looked at Kevin, another swell of affection filling her breast.
“Kevin . . . thank you.” She said.
“Huh?” Kevin replied, “For what?”
“For sticking by me all this time. For not abandoning me like the others. And for putting up with me, I know I was pretty obnoxious. I realize that now. Thank you for that.”
Kevin smiled and put an arm on her shoulder, she felt her face go hot at the contact. What in the world was happening to her?
“It’s like I said,” Kevin told her soothingly, “I always knew there was much more to you then what you presented. And it’s been my privilege to know that better you before anyone else did.”
For one split second, Krystal actually thought she was going to cry, an almost euphoric feeling of happiness surging in her. Instead, she suddenly through her arms around Kevin and hugged him tightly, pulling herself close to him. He hugged her back; it only last a brief second, but to Krystal it seemed like an hour, and she wanted it to go on for an eternity.
Kevin finally let her go and headed off to class, waving good bye and disappeared down the hall, leaving Krystal standing by herself. Her face was flushed with heat and her heart hammered in her chest. It was a perplexing feeling of excitement, one that seemed to be getting stronger and stronger every time she was with Kevin. A lot of emotions that had never really reared their head before had found their way prominently into her make up since her transformation: Things like compassion, loyalty, friendship; but the emotions that seized her in Kevin’s presence were a bit confusing. She pondered it, and all at once, all the pieced came together. Suddenly, all at once, she understood the emotions that flooded her in his presence.
No, no, no, no, this couldn’t be true. It shouldn’t be true; it was impossible. She clapped a hand over her mouth, her eyes going wide. This wasn’t right, this shouldn’t be happening at all. She had to be mistaken; she absolutely had to be mistaken. She was still new to her body; it had to be something else. I just wasn’t possible, it wasn’t possible at all. It wasn’t true.
The realization sent her thoughts spinning like an out of control kaleidoscope: Questions with no clear answers danced in her brain, coming and going with electric rapidity. Could she pursue these feelings, should she ignore them, could she ignore them, did he feel anything for her . . . they surged in her in a mishmash of uncertainty and bewilderment. Suddenly, just as soon as she’d accepted herself, her whole world was being turned upside down again. How had this crept up on her; how long had she felt this way about him? With sinking feeling, she realized she had started feeling this way on her first day as a girl; when Kevin had sat down and consoled her when no one else would. From that very moment, she had fallen hopelessly in love with him, and she had just been too blind to see it.
The comprehension made her feel perplexed and confused, but also a little bit excited.
Zippy grinned as Stitchy stepped out of Mrs. Variola’s office proudly dressed in her new school uniform. Due to her massive size, the Werx had been forced to create some originals for her, but they had done their work well and the uniform fit like a glove. Stitchy twirled a little displaying it.
The Werx still fascinated Zippy: Most of them were pretty much the same, and all behaved the same way, running the preprogrammed duties unanimously. Most of the Werx were all activated and controlled by a wireless network called The Feed where they received most of their instructions and program updates. But certain Werx, like Vixen and Gortcha, were unique and functioned without The Feed, operating on their own.
The oddest one was Posey, who was apparently supposed to be a normal Werx, but for some reason operated independently.
“Very cute, Stitchy, very cute.” Zippy clapped her hands, there was always something endearing about Stitchy’s rampant enthusiasm.
In the interest of continued study, Stitchy had been assigned, not surprisingly, to the remaining bed in Zippy’s dorm room, which suited the amiable frankengirl just fine.
“Stitchy glad she here,” The big girl commented thoughtfully, “Stitchy happy for life mom give her, Stitchy not want to waste one second of it.”
While Mrs. Variola led Stitchy off to be signed in with Mr. Innsmouth, Zippy headed off to her next class, though it was likely to be somewhat less exciting then the previous one. She quickly made her way down the hall, noticing the stares and whispers and the occasional holler of congratulations as she went on her way. With an accomplishment like Stitchy, she was suddenly the most interesting student in the school. In a lot of ways, she was basking in all the attention, letting it boost her ego considerably, but on the other hand, if felt like everyone was staring at her all the time. She’d gotten a little used to that since she came here, but now it was a near constant thing that got on her nerves a little bit.
And she knew there was Amber to contend with; she wouldn’t take an upstaging like this sitting down. She would be out to event he score, and they would need to be ready for that. Indeed, Zippy had noticed Charity hiding the burned results of her trap by letting her hair fall over her face earlier in the day; so it had turned out to be a wise move to let Mrs. Variola hang on to all her notes and files until the presentation. She would have loved to have seen Charity’s face when that trap went off, however.
Zippy fingered the small silver shark’s tooth pin on her collar. All the members of The Shark Tank Guild were wearing them since they got back from break. Rina had made them up over her vacation; they were based on one of Megan’s actual teeth, which the shark had graciously let Rina have. Like all other sharks, Megan went through a lot of teeth, dropping old ones and growing new ones over and over. She would probably go through twenty thousand teeth in her lifetime, so she had no qualms about giving out the old ones to people as gifts, telling Mr. Carcharias who to deliver them too after they were picked up by Werx from the bottom of her tank. Zippy had a massive seven and a half inch one herself decorating her desk.
After a while of this, she felt like she really wanted to get somewhere where there weren’t any people. Maybe later she could stop by Megan’s tank? The thought was interrupted when Zippy saw someone she did want to talk to making his way towards her: Kyle.
She hadn’t had a chance to talk to her crush since she’d gotten back, and obviously hadn’t seen him at all over break. As soon as she saw him her face flushed and her heart hammered in her chest, and all the old nervousness seemed to be flooding back to her. For a horrible second, Zippy thought the old brain shutdown she used to experience in Kyle’s presence was going to rear its empty head again. And then, she took a deep breath and focused.
She noticed he was wearing the tooth pin himself. She grinned; Kyle wasn’t an official member of the Guild just yet, but he was friendly and supportive to them, so Zippy had insisted he get a pin as well.
Kyle smiled, excited as the rest of them as he jogged up to her, “Zippy! Welcome back.”
Zippy returned his smile, “Kyle, hi, it’s nice to see you again.”
She hoped that didn’t sound too desperate, like she’d been waiting to see him; even though the really had been.
He stopped in front of her, “I just heard, is it true? Did you really create your own human life form?”
Zippy nodded, “Six foot seven of her.”
Kyle grinned, “I heard about that too; that she’s really big.”
“Everything had to be large to make the reagent flow correctly. So far, Stitchy doesn’t really seem to mind.”
“’Stitchy’? That’s really what you called her?”
“She picked it out herself. Well, she got it from Lizzy’s boy toy, but somehow it stuck. I know it sounds lame; it’s just ‘stitch’ with a ‘y’ on the end of it, but she seems to like it. She proudly announces her name when you ask her, so I guess it’s all right.”
“Wait, wait, wait.” Kyle held his hands up, “Be kind, rewind . . . Lizzy has a boy toy?”
Zippy couldn’t help but giggle, “Yeah, she hooked up with my neighbor Jason.”
“Hey, she’s got all the same drives you and I have. She may be odd, but she’s still a woman. Anyways, if you think that’s weird; Stitchy hooked up with my other neighbor Darren. Same day she came to life, too.”
“She didn’t waste any time. Crist . . . er . . . Krystal didn’t get with anyone did she?”
“Well, my brother developed this massive crush on her. He followed her around, gave her clothes to wear. Even kissed her before we left; I think she really dug all the attention.”
“Wow, did he know she used to be a guy.”
“I don’t think he cared.”
“Damn, it’s like you guys had you own soap opera going on over break. I just went to Disneyworld.”
They both laughed, but truth be told, Zippy was feeling awkward. All the talk of kissing and hooking up was starting to excite her, and her heart was thumping faster the longer she spent with Kyle. She had an urge, a strong urge, to just ask him out and be done with it, but she couldn’t bring herself to. I was a completely foreign feeling to Zippy, who had always been very confident about boys. She had never before had any trouble going after a boy she liked before; she’d flirt and bat her eyes an wiggle her body and if he didn’t ask her out, well she’d just go ahead and ask him. For some reason, she was petrified of doing that with Kyle: she worried about him saying no. No, more then that, she worried about him being offended or angry at the suggestion. It was stupid, there was no reason to think he would, but the emotion persisted, over riding Zippy’s usually romantic confidence.
“Well, I gotta get to class.” Kyle was saying, awakening Zippy from her thoughts, “Lets hang out later, I’d love to hear more about your vacation.”
Zippy scolded herself, she’d drifted and lost track of their conversation. Kyle must think she was a complete space cadet. She was burning to say something to him before he left, but the words wouldn’t come. He started to turn away, and Zippy’s heart sank; she was going to let another opportunity pass her by.
Suddenly, Mrs. Variola’s voice popped into Zippy’s head: After all, you don’t want to waste a life you’ve been given.
And then Stitchy’s: Stitchy happy for life mom give her, Stitchy not want to waste one second of it
Zippy took a deep breath and spoke again, her ears burning and her heart pounding so hard she thought she might have a coronary at any minute.
“Would you like to go to The Manhattan Project with me?”
Kyle raised an eyebrow, “The Manhattan Project?”
Pausing to collect her frayed nerves, Zippy replied, “Yeah, you and me, at The Manhattan Project. Together . . . like a date.”
She sighed and finally said it, “Would you like to go out on a date with me?”
There was a long, agonizing pause which probably only lasted a second or two but felt like an eternity to Zippy as she waited for Kyle’s answer. For a horrible instant, she was sure he was going to say no or the dreaded ‘lets be friends’ . . . or even worse, start laughing or making gagging noises or both. Zippy gripped her hands together so tight she probably cracked a few of her knuckles.
And then, Kyle smiled. Zippy felt a wave of relief and excitement was over her like an Indonesian tsunami.
“Sure!” Kyle said smiling, “I’d love to.”
Zippy felt her heart skip a beat as Kyle became visibly excited by the idea. This was too good to be true; all she could do was giggle as release of nervous energy. She felt her face get hot and realized she was blushing.
“Great.” Was all she said.
Kyle exhaled running a hand through his hair, “Man, I wanted to ask you out for so long, but I never really thought you were interested.”
“Seriously?” Zippy almost gaped, “You never noticed?”
Whoa, ease down there, Zippy, she chided herself, you don’t want to drive him away by making him feel stupid or something. Don’t sabotage the chance before you even have it.
“I mean,” She corrected herself, “I wasn’t sure if I was sending the right signals or not?”
“I thought you might be interested, but I was never sure.” He said, “I guess I’m kind of a coward, I didn’t want to take the initiative.”
They both silently blushed, staring at each other. Kyle finally broke the silence.
“So . . . eight o’clock, at The Manhattan Project?” He said, nervously dodging that.
“I’ll be there!” Zippy declared joyously.
They said their goodbyes and then hurried off to class in different directions. Zippy practically ran down the hall, she was so elated. This was too good to be true; after all this time, after all the stupid things she’d done and said, she finally had a real honest to goodness date with Kyle. She felt like she was going to practically float down the hall, she was so getting and excited. And Kyle liked her, had liked her for a while, it sounded like. This could really be the start of something.
Zippy had never had a crush like this one before. Oh, sure, she’d been with boys that really pushed all her buttons, but never one that made her feel like this, like his mere presence was a elixir that she got drunk on. And now, she had finally, after so many failed attempts, gotten a date with him. Zippy felt goose bumps all over her body, and butterflies made their presence known in her stomach.
She had to tell somebody, she had to tell anybody and share this; her excitement felt like it was bottled up inside her so strong that she might burst. She spotted Nadjia Farrell and Lorne Vasectomy walking down the hall together, and ran up to the shouting out the news with so much gusto that she actually scared the crap out of them.
Waiting by the class, Lizzy Malaria looked at her watch and frowned: Class was almost ready to start, and Zippy hadn’t shown up. In the whole time she’d been her room mate, Lizzy had hardly seen Zippy be late for anything. She wondered if something could be wrong.
Finally, she spotted her friend coming towards her down the hall. Again, Lizzy knitted her brow in surprise.
Was she . . . dancing?
Cringing as the torrent of rage exploded at her, Charity clutched her hands together as Amber tore into her with enraged irritation. They were in Amber’s dorm room, and Charity was seated in a chair Amber had shoved her in. She looked up at her, the word ‘thief’ still burned on her face. She felt her hands tremble a little as she sat there, taking Amber’s ire like she usually did. Amber had been upset before, but now that Zipperdale’s experiment had been revealed, she was positively furious and fuming at Charity’s failure. Amber’s rages, and her ability to make life miserable for people, frightened Charity to no end. So she kept her mouth shut as Amber’s torrent spilled out of her lips, her usually pretty face crumpled with lines of rage.
“How can you be so incompetent?” Amber screamed, “I sent you on a simple job; find out what Zipperdale was working on. How could you screw that up? How could you not see a seven foot monster covered in stitches, you moron? Your stupidity never ceases to amaze me.”
Afraid to, Charity still felt she had to say something, “It wasn’t in the room when I looked; just its clothes, and I told you about that. Zipperdale didn’t have any notes or anything lying around in her room. She must have kept them somewhere else.”
“Then you should have found out where!” Amber screeched, undeterred, “Instead of falling into one of Zipperdale’s sleazy traps like a complete retard.”
Charity cringed but didn’t answer.
Amber went on, “You know you have to be careful of that devious little twerp. Remember what she did to Cristobel? What if she caught you and turned you into a guy? Would Rick like you so much then?”
That had stung; somehow, Amber had found Charity’s particular secret fear of late: That something might happen to her, she might be changed somehow, or maybe Rick would just learn something about her he didn’t like and dump her. The thought actually terrified her, she’d come to depend on Rick for so much support lately. Amber seemed to have an unconscious knack for finding stuff like that.
Feeling tears starting to well up in her eye, Charity resisted the urge to wipe them away.
Amber leaned over with another disdainful sneer, “Gonna cry, Charity? Hell, I’m the one who should be crying! We could have stopped this, would could have sabotaged it and then done one of our own and showed up that prissy little bitch, but now . . . “
Abruptly, Amber stopped, her face slacking and the anger suddenly draining out. She stared at Charity, right into her eyes. Slowly, a thin smile appeared across her face. Charity shivered, what in the world was she looking at? For a split second, Amber resembled a wolverine or a ferret with that sly, conniving grin.
“Well, maybe I’m being too hard on you.” Amber said, “After all, Zipperdale has outsmarted all of us in the past. You can go; we’ll decide what to do about this later.”
Thankful to be out of the room, Charity got up and left, casting apprehensive glances at Amber and her suddenly smug, self-satisfied expression. The sudden change in her demeanor creeped Charity out to no end. What had Amber seen that had changed her attitude so much?
Charity found Rick waiting just down the hall.
When he saw her he asked, “How’d it go?”
Looking at Charity’s tearful eyes, he said, “That bad, huh?”
Charity threw her arms around him sagged her head against his shoulder. Rick hugged her and held her until she lifted her head. He kissed her affectionately, running his hands over her back. When they broke the kiss, he looked into her eyes, and then frowned.
“Did you get new contacts?” He asked her.
“What?” Charity asked, perplexed, “No? Why?”
“Your eyes have changed color.”
Standing in the dark cold book laden office of the Vice Principle, Stitchy looked down at him with a bit of a shudder. Her mom had mentioned something about him being creepy, but that was apparently a severe understatement: Just being in the same room with him gave Stitchy the chills. His cold demeanor and piercing stare seemed to look right into her, almost unnervingly like he knew what she was thinking. He stared at her, appraisingly, looking her up and down. Stitchy was usually okay with being stared at; after all, she was unique and people liked to take a look at her. Stitchy generally liked the attention, but this was different. She did not like the way Mr. Innsmouth stared at her, as if he was ready to dissect her at any moment.
“Well, I must confess, you make for a most interesting conundrum, Miss . . . Stitchy? Or shall I call you Miss Zipperdale, after your creator?” He said in his sinister low voice.
“Uh . . . Stitchy fine.” Stitchy said, hoping to keep some of the fear out of her voice.
He snorted, “A ridiculous childlike name, but to each their own. You mark the first time a student’s project has ever enrolled in the school.”
Being one of a kind, that went without saying.
He leaned forward and narrowed his eyes at her, “I’ll be blunt, I initially opposed your enrollment in the school. But the teachers have been adamant that it was a good idea, and that much can be learned from your interactions and development in an educational setting. I am not one hundred percent sold, but your mental ability far exceeds the minimum requirement for enrollment. So I have been persuaded to give you a chance, as you are a most intriguing subject.”
He paused, and then narrowed his eyes at her, “It would be wise, therefore, not to disappoint me.”
“No, sir!” Stitchy said, hoping it came out less nervous then it felt, “Stitchy give her best.”
Mr. Innsmouth seemed to soften a bit, “You can do great things here, Stitchy. And make no mistake . . .”
As the Vice Principle began the same speech that he had given to Zippy on her first day, Stitchy found her eyes drawn to the idol on his desk. There was something unforgiving and grotesque about the carving, which depicted bulbous, wretched amalgam of a human, a fish, and an octopus. The statue was ugly, that was for sure, but there was something even more disquieting about it; some sinister sense of menace that seemed to ooze from the relief. It sent more shivers down Stitchy’s admittedly large spine then Mr. Innsmouth himself did.
Her attention was suddenly snapped back by Innsmouth standing up at his desk and turning his back to her.
“You may go now, feel free to explore the school.” He told her, “We expect you at dinner in the dining hall at six o’clock. Good day, Stitchy. I hope you don’t disappoint us.”
Without a word, Stitchy turned and walked out of the room. The further she got from the Vice Principle’s office, the more relaxed she felt. But her mind kept turning back to that horrid little idol: What in the world had been so frightening about it? She couldn’t put her stitched on finger on it.
But hours later it still bothered her.
The shimmering lights of the reflected water that bathed the walls outside of Megan the megalodon’s colossal tank were always a relaxing stimulation. Zippy often thought that was why they had chosen to center their meetings around the tank, and eventually naming themselves the Shark Tank Guild. There was something almost ethereal about the shimmers of blue that bathed the long hallway where they sat, and the endless blue of the water seen through one of the massive viewing windows. The underground tank was so huge you couldn’t see the other side of it. Sometimes it felt like they were really under the sea themselves.
Right now, however, the mood was more excited then relaxed. Zippy sat on the floor, her back to the tank window, with Jetson her talking pet Humboldt squid in her lap. She was flanked on either side by Lizzy on her right and Krystal on her left. They all chatted animatedly while Megan floated lazily behind them, listening with interest to their conversation.
Megan was an impressive sight no matter how many times you saw her: sixty feet long and weighing in at 115 tons, she was shaped like an overgrown Great White Shark, more or less, but her body coloring was deep greenish grey similar to a Greenland Shark, and her back was decorated with dark stripes similar to but more pronounced then the Tiger Shark. Her huge head filled the large viewing window, her speech implant visible on the top of her head between her eyes. For Megan was not the fifty million year old predator that had livid in late Oligocene epoch and Neocene period, but rather a genetically engineered mutation with intelligence in excess of a Dolphin or Orca. And the implant allowed her to talk, and carry on conversations.
The swell of Megan’s pregnant belly was much more pronounced now, and she was due to give birth pretty soon. Ultrasounds had revealed that she was carrying twins. It might have been Zippy’s imagination, but she could swear Megan looked more motherly today.
And, despite her fearsome appearance, Megan and her mate Morgan were perfectly friendly.
The topic of conversation, naturally: Zippy’s success at finally getting a date with Kyle.
The normally reserved Zippy was babbling a mile a minute, “I couldn’t believe it, I mean, I was there, he was there, and I just really thought I was gonna freeze up and say nothing like I always do and then . . . I just blurted it out. I asked him out and he said yes!”
“After all this time, I’m glad he actually said yes.” Lizzy commented dryly as usual.
“Oh! Oh!” Zippy chirped excitedly, “He didn’t just say yes, he got excited. No, he got really excited. I really think he actually likes me! I can’t believe I didn’t notice, but he was all happy to finally get a date with me. God, when I think of all the time I wasted just because I couldn’t get my courage up.”
“It seems kind of embarrassing to ask someone out.” Krystal observed, thinking about it.
“Yeah, I guess, but usually not for me.” Zippy replied, “I mean, I’ve always been pretty assertive about this kind of thing, but . . . I don’t know, something about Kyle flipped a switch off in my brain. I just . . . froze up every time I talked to him.”
Krystal chuckled, “Yeah, I’ve heard some of the stories.”
“Man, it just feels so good to finally make this happen.” Zippy giggled, “I mean, I’m just completely pumped right now.”
As Zippy continued to talk, Krystal looked at her. Zippy was about as happy as she’d ever seen her, animated and practically ready to start glowing any second now. Krystal bit her lip, feeling a jumble of jealousy rising up in her stomach; Zippy looked so animated and so joyful, and Krystal realized she wanted that feeling for herself. More to the point, she wanted that feeling for her and Kevin.
She had thought about mentioning her infatuation with him to Zippy or Lizzy, but she hadn’t known how to breach the subject. She was still blocked by the fact that she used to be a boy, and it was something she naturally had a good deal of trouble letting go of, so even though she realized that she was in love with Kevin, it was hard to accept it totally; as much as part of her wanted to. Admitting fully to herself that she was in love with Kevin meant accepting herself as a girl, and she still couldn’t quite do that completely yet; despite the clothes and the make up and fussing over her hair. So she had kept her feelings quietly hidden and watched Zippy’s joy with festering envy, and slight heartache. She doubted she could ever have a moment with Kevin like this.
Moving her monstrous triangular head closer to the window, Megan spoke with her implant, her high cutesy voice always at odds with the mouth full of steak knife sized teeth.
“I’m happy for you, Zippy,” She said moving her fins slightly, “It seems that your very cheerful about this. I don’t really understand this ‘dating’ thing that humans do, but I’m glad you’re enjoying it.”
“Dating is much too complicated to explain properly.” Lizzy told her, patting the tank reassuringly.
Sitting in Zippy’s lap, Jetson fumed with anger. How dare that pink monkey Kyle come in and try to steal Zippy from him. He turned a deep red color, clinging to Zippy tighter. She was so enthralled with her upcoming date that she didn’t even seem to notice. Jetson tried to calm himself down, exhaling out of his funnel; he liked seeing zippy happy, but he didn’t like her being happy because of some other male. He said nothing, continuing to simmer in his jealousy.
“Jeeze, I don’t even know what I’m gonna wear.” Zippy realized.
In spite of her jealousy, Krystal nudged her with her elbow, “Don’t worry, we’ll all help you pick out something good, right Lizzy?”
“Of course.” Lizzy said.
Krystal smiled a little; she had come to enjoy girl talk surprisingly easily, and now she found that she cherished these moments with just the girls. An idea came to her; maybe they should all plan some kind of activity together: A girl’s night out? The idea excited her and sounded like a lot of fun. Her thoughts were interrupted by Megan.
“Oh,” Megan said, “This dating thing is always so interesting.”
Zippy rolled her eyes, “How interesting can our girl talk be.”
“You’d be surprised.” Krystal giggled, smiling at her personal joke.
“Oh, it’s very interesting.” Megan insisted, “And I do love your company. I’m very pleased that you picked my tank for your meeting place; it almost makes me feel like I’m a part of your group. Especially today; Morgan is off getting his teeth cleaned, and no one else has visited me today. Unless you count the swimmers.”
Megan’s voice took on an air of annoyance, “Some people have been swimming in our tank uninvited. I see them from time to time, off in the distance. Groups of them, but when I get close they’re gone. I think they’re coming in through the aqueducts.”
Frowning, Zippy wondered what sort of suicidal idiot would swim with a sixty foot long carnivore, even one as seemingly nice as Megan. Granted, just about anyone she’d seen on Wacked Out Sports or Jackass might think of doing it, but Zippy thought even those morons would think twice about getting in the water with a pair of sharks the size of Megan and Morgan. There was, after all, a bit of primal fear of sharks in the human psyche. It was something about them, rising out of the depths of the oceans silently to strike. The thought made damn near everyone shiver, and although Megan and Morgan didn’t seem to have the predatory instinct of a real natural shark; Zippy would still be hard pressed to think of anyone who would get in the tank with them.
So the question was: Who was it, and why?
At the moment, the large half circle classroom where Mr. DeSade taught his Genetic Manipulation class was completely empty. The raised seats, like an old fashioned medical school were vacant from the normal chit chat of the students, and the lights were out leaving the whole classroom in darkness, lit only by the outside light from the rectangular windows at the top of the class. The thick old school wooden desks were all clean and empty, except for one or two items or papers absent mindedly left by students.
There was no one inside, to hear the door lock being jimmied.
It took only a few seconds, but the door gave way and a figure cautiously slipped into the room, heading for the door next to Mr. DeSade’s desk, in which he stored all his genetic material. There was an intricate combination lock on the door, a large round brass construction that was actually digital despite looking like something out of the thirties. The figure looked around to be sure there was no one watching and quickly moved over to the door.
Mr. DeSade frequently changed the combination to the lock, and after finding his stuff missing, he surely had done it again, but Amber had a source to find out what it was. She quickly dialed the number and popped open the door, leading into the teacher’s private stash of genetic material. Moving around in the wide circular room that was filled with a maze of modern storage cases made up to look like old style wood shelving, as was Mr. DeSade’s wont, Amber headed for what she was looking for.
The room itself was slightly oval in shape, and the rows and rows of storage facilities made it into something of maze, but Amber knew exactly where to go. On the far side was a locked facility where all of DeSade’s live specimens were, but Amber just wanted some more of one particular kind of mutagen, along with some very specific DNA samples. She found them quickly, and slipped them into her bag.
She left the classroom, making sure to lock all the doors behind her. She could whip this stuff up pretty fast on her own.
And then it was just a matter of slipping it to her unwitting subject.
Back in Zippy, Lizzy, Krystal, and Stitchy’s dorm room, the whole place was a buzz of activity. Almost every female member of The Shark Tank Guild was hanging around the dorm, filling up the usually spacious room. Usually they met in the library or at Megan’s tank for anything, but to day was a special project, picking out the perfect dress fro Zippy to wear on her date. Most of the outfits were from Zippy’s own closet, but a lot of the girls had brought things they thought Zippy would fit into. Vixen and Posey came along as well, helping then carry all the clothes.
Problem was, everyone had different ideas about what that dress should look like and Zippy had tried on everything from cute and pretty to slutty and wild. So far, no real success, and Zippy continually thought of the old saying “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. Not to mention “How many morons does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Buttercup had turned out to have a weirdly Lolita like fashion sense, and Zippy had wound up looking like a hipper Shirley Temple. The image of Buttercup with her long extended sloth like neck and arms in that dress herself was a bizarre one, and it took a maximum effort for Zippy not to chuckle.
At the moment, Rina had dressed her in a very conservative long skirt and blouse set, which didn’t really work on Zippy, although Rina still seemed to think so. She’d even put Zippy’s hair up behind her in a pony tail, making Zippy look and feel like a reject from the 1950s. She almost expected someone to say “Gee, Wally.”
“Oh, it’s cute.” Rina said, leaning over with her hands on her knees.
Behind her, everyone else was shaking their heads including the two Werx, which Zippy had to agree with, “I dunno, Rina, it’s not really me.”
“Why sure it is . . .” Rina started but never finished.
Suddenly, her body went rigid, and her eyes rolled back into her head with a little bit of tremble. Everyone knew what that meant, and when Madoka arrived, Lizzy quickly filled her in on what they were doing. Swiftly getting excited at the idea, Madoka frowned when she looked at Zippy’s current outfit.
“Eww . . . did Rina do that to you?” She asked.
When Zippy nodded, Madoka quickly ran over to her and unbuttoned the first three buttons on her blouse, opening it up wide, and then hiking her skirt up. Even Zippy had to blush a little at how forward she was about it. Taking a step back, Madoka made a face.
“Naw, it still sucks.” She observed, “Better loose that one.”
Zippy was in hearty agreement, and quickly pulled the out fit off, even letting her hair down for good measure. As she stood there, stripped to her bra and panties, looking over some of the other outfits that had been laid out, the door suddenly burst open and a grinning enthusiastic Miss Piranha burst through the door, dressed as always like some kind of fetish model, with a tight latex dress that hugged her curves like it was painted on.
“Why hello, my little Frankenstiens.” She cried, “I just heard the good news!”
“Hey, shut the door, Miss Piranha!” Zippy complained, “I’m in my underwear here.”
“Oh hush.” Miss Piranha admonished her, “You look adorable in your underwear.”
Zippy didn’t argue with that.
Holding up what she was carrying, Miss Piranha displayed the dress she had brought, with a grinning naughty expression on her face. There were many moments like this one where Zippy thought Miss Piranha was kind of like a glorified student rather then a full teacher.
“I heard you’ve finally got a date with Mr. Tordenholler.” Miss Piranha grinned wickedly, “Well, lemme tell ya’, when he sees you in this little number, he’ll be eating out your hand for life.”
Zippy looked at the dress that Miss Piranha held and almost passed out. Not surprisingly, it was all leather, with a tight extra short skirt that was slit up the sides and a strapless black top studded with metal balls on the front. The outfit looked super sexy just hanging in her hands let alone with somebody actually in it. Again, Zippy found herself blushing, although she was by no means shy about her body (at least not about anything other then her breast size); she’d strutted around is skimpy bikinis plenty of times; but there was something just too erotic about that dress.
“Jeepers, that’ll turn his head.” Vixen exclaimed.
“I don’t really think that’s my style.” Zippy told her apologetically.
Not to mention that fact that while Miss Piranha’s gigantic boobs would probably have fit nicely in those cups, Zippy’s little mole hill probably wouldn’t have even held them on. Zippy got a mental image of herself walking into the restaurant in that dress and suddenly having her top fall off in front Kyle. True, that probably would have him eating out of her hand, but it would also probably get her arrested.
Disappointed, Miss Piranha sighed, “Awe, but I used to wear this when I was your age.”
Zippy often wondered how long Miss Piranha had dressed like a bondage queen. An image of her as a little girl in elementary school; clad all in leather and latex and already sporting enormous hooters flashed comically through her mind, and she couldn’t help but giggle.
More outfits came and went, and nothing really seemed to make the grade. Krystal grumbled about how long it took for women to pic an outfit.
“Do I have to point out that you’re a woman now?” Lizzy asked her.
“That’s exactly my point.” Krystal complained, “I have trouble picking out what to wear every time I change. It didn’t used to be like that, but now getting ready for anything always takes longer.”
Everyone laughed, and Zippy observed how cutesy and feminine Krystal had gotten; the changes and growth she had made since the surgery had been incredible, and Zippy no longer felt the twinge of guilt she always had before. It seemed that quite literally, she had made a friend.
Suddenly, Stitchy spoke up, “Here, Mom. This one.”
She pointed to a dress laid out on her own bed. Jetson was sitting next to it as well. Her turned a bright orange of excitement and waved his tentacles.
“Yes, Zippy. Stitchy is right.” He announced, “This is the one for your date. The good life at a great price, guaranteed.”
Zippy thought she heard some inflection of hostility in Jetson’s voice when he said the word ‘date’ but looking at the dress, the thought dissolved.
“Oh, wow.” Zippy exclaimed, “I bought that for a dinner party that I never went to. I forgot I even had this.”
Stitchy held it out for her, “You try it on, Mom. Stitchy know Mom look great in this dress.”
Zippy quickly donned the dress and displayed it for everyone, doing a few twirls and poses for good measure. The dress till fit like a glove, and just wearing it gave Zippy and sudden burst of confidence.
Everyone was in agreement: This was the one.
Standing in the cold dim office of the Vice Principle, Amber leaned against his desk slightly casually, as they talked. The attitude was casual, at least as casual as any conversation with Mr. Innsmouth could possibly get. Amber enjoyed a more relaxed atmosphere with the Vice Principle the most, which she planned to exploit as much as she could. Still, Innsmouth regarded her with his sinister eyes, his intense stare as intimidating and threatening as always. No matter who he looked at, there was always a slight air that he regarded the other person as an insect to be stepped on. Amber, despite the hard shell she presented, always got chills in her presence, but she wouldn’t let that get in the way of her rightful place at the top.
At the moment, their topic of discussion was Amber’s particular favorite subject of protest: Zippy Zipperdale.
“It’s downright unacceptable.” Amber told him, “She’s some lowlife from the outside, and now she’d the top of the school? You told me she’d be inconsequential.”
Folding his fingers together, Mr. Innsmouth answered levelly, “And she will be. But for the moment, I feel its fine to let her get overconfident.”
“Easy for you to say, you’re not the one she’s humiliating all the time.” Amber retorted back.
“Do not forget yourself, young lady.” Innsmouth said, his face darkening but with no perceptible change in his voice, “Our association is at my discretion. Do not make me feel it would be better to end it prematurely.”
Amber backed off a bit, “You’re right, I’m sorry. It’s just so embarrassing and disheartening to be show up by some middle class pauper with no real scientific lineage. The top spot is mine by right of birth.”
“Then I assume you will work harder in your studies to best her the next time? Honor that ‘right of birth’ with something more creative then thievery?”
When Amber said nothing, Innsmouth continued, “Zipperdale is a thorn in my side as well. You say she has no real scientific lineage; but you and I both now know that this is not entirely true. Believe me, Miss Tiffendorf, if I had know about her . . . connection, I would never have risked enrolling her. She brings an unstable element to our plans.”
“You can say that again.” Amber mumbled.
Narrowing his eyes, Innsmouth spoke, “Zipperdale has excelled beyond anyone’s expectations. Her achievements have made use of knowledge and technology that none of the teachers here could have taught her. How and where she is getting her ideas is something of a galling mystery. Mark my words, I will solve it. But in the mean time, she is here, she is a student, and there is nothing we can do about it. As I said before, it will be wise to let her get overconfident, secure in her safety, before we think about dealing with her. Do I make myself clear?”
“For now, lets move on to the subject of our . . . private experiment.” Innsmouth said.
On that one, Amber brightened up, “I’ve already seen some results. I’ll administer the next infusion later tonight.”
“Excellent, quite good.” Innsmouth replied, “If this works the way we want it too, we’ll be able to push up the next phase of our plan. You’ll receive high extra credit marks if the experiment is a success; one more step on the way to beating your rival.
At the two continued to talk, they were, quite naturally, unaware of an unwanted visitor sitting on the ledge a little to the left of the large wide window that looked out of the Vice Principle’s office.
Looking for a quite place to read when the library was too crowded, artificial vampire Eve Absinth had discovered that the easy way to find it was to use her claws to climb the side of the school and find a ledge to sit on during cloudy days like this one when the sun wouldn’t bother her too much. She hung upside down from the ledge, dangling a few feet from the window, engrossed in a new book.
Her pointed ears perked up at the sound of the voices within. Through the thick metal walls, she couldn’t make out what was being said, but she could recognize who was in there. And the conspiratorial tone of the meeting was unmistakable.
She bit her lip, wincing because of her fangs; this was bad.
The Vice Principle and Amber had formed some kind of alliance.
The medium sized town of Isotope lay a quick Eastward car’s ride away from Madam Petri’s School For The Gifted And Eccentric, resting on a slightly higher elevation in the large geologic depression in which both sat. Once far back in prehistoric times, Spiritwood Forest had been a massively wide and extensively deep lake; but that had long since dried up, the only water being the river that ran through one side of it, the rest of the lake having been replaced by miles of thick forest except for those places where humans had carved out a residence for themselves.
Isotope was a medium sized town, but looking nothing like any sort of artificial Norman Rockwell painting; Isotope was a modern, fully up to date berg despite its small population. The town had grown up around the school and, indeed, many of the former students had taken up residence here, including most of the teaching facility. A quick tour around town revealed that Miss. Piranha and Miss Gojira were, in fact, neighbors. With a town full of so many high IQs, Isotope was the center for quite a few major international scientific conglomerates, and the local economy boomed because of it.
Being the only town within easy distance from Madam Petri’s, Isotope featured many amenities for the students, including the Isotope Mall, a three story shopping extravaganza the was three times as large as any mall in existence and featured a small roller coaster inside the shopping center. Also available was Franken World, a large high tech amusement park on the outskirts of town twice a big as Disney World that came equipped with rides the like of which could be found no where else on Earth. The Isotope Theater was an vast series of concert halls that hosted everything from opera, to movie premieres, to rock concerts.
And then there was The Manhattan Project.
The large multi-section club had been constructed particularly to cater to the Petri’s students and was still the primary hang out for them in town. Indeed, it had been opened and run originally by a former student and his great grandson was now the current proprietor. The club had changed a lot over the years with constant remodeling and revisions. In its current incarnation, the club was divided into four basic sections: Nuke’s Diner, which was an ordinary sit down restaurant similar to a large Denny’s, took up the eastern section. Taking up two floors of the Western section was a more upscale fancy restaurant known as The Fission Lounge, where one could find exotic dishes that probably weren’t available anywhere else, including meals made from cloned dinosaur meat, if one was so inclined. Taking up the second floor of the Eastern section above Nuke’s Diner was The Private Experiment, a small area set aside for private parties and events.
And then there was the Northern section, The Manhattan Project itself from which the whole establishment took its name. Built initially as a Saloon during the gold rush of 1850 that featured dancing girls, melodrama plays and saw its fair share of wild west gun battles, The Manhattan Project remained in business ever since, firmly supported by the flood of students form the nearby Madam Petri’s. The infamous development of the first atomic bomb, in fact, took its name from the club, rather then the other way around. It was now a night club, featuring live music, a full bar and grill, and plenty of wild nights all around. Many of the more shapely residents of town picked up extra cash as cocktail waitresses there, not to mention a quite a few of the students who wanted real world work experience.
And it was in front of this section that a nicely dressed Kyle Tordenholler stood out front, waiting for Zippy.
He had thought about taking her to The Fission Lounge instead, but tonight was Jazz Night at The Manhattan Project, and that was always a mellower, more date worthy, environment. The low lights, the smooth music, it was just too perfect to pass up. He was sure Zippy would enjoy it; they’d talked about Jazz many times before.
He fidgeted, obviously nervous to anyone who passed him as he glanced at his watch. Still ten minutes to go; he knew he was being silly, but he couldn’t help but be nervous. This was, after all, his first date with Zippy and he was very excited. All this time he’d known her, he’d never noticed a hint of her interest in him. Now that he thought about it thought, he’d been asininely obtuse on that front, as now all the obvious signs that he missed came flooding back to his brain. He goofy school girl giggles alone should have tipped him off, but somehow he’d been slow on the uptake.
Granted, he hadn’t had much experience with the opposite sex; not that he was unpopular with the girls, but rather that most of his checkered past left him with very little time for romantic or sexual pursuits. Before coming to Madame Petri’s and starting a new life, his family history had often reared its ugly head and ruined most of his relationships with girls before they even got started. The best he had ever managed were either one night stands, or at best brief flings.
His mood darkened a little bit: Even though he was far away from all that now, the nagging fear that his past might ruin his friendship and barely begun relationship with Zippy still tugged at him. He had taken great pains to hide his family history from everyone and anyone, but it was still there, lurking in the shadows of his past like malignant cancer waiting to spread. If Zippy ever found out that he was really . . .
His thoughts were mercifully interrupted by the arrival of a Petri’s car in front of the club. The cars the school used to transport students back and forth were experimental hydrogen cars. The school itself was powered entirely by wind, hydroelectric and geo thermal power, much the same way power is generated in Norway, so the electrical requirement for extracting the hydrogen from water burned up no fossil fuels (the main obstacle against hydrogen cars in the US: all the major power plants are fossil fuel powered, so the electricity needed to extract hydrogen used more gas then the cars they’re trying to replace). The way the new cars differed from standard hydrogen cars was that they could extract a certain amount of hydrogen from the air itself, when present, as they drove supplementing their fuel. To date, none of them had ever run out of fuel.
Kyle recognized Posey behind the wheel. The passenger door opened and Zippy got out the car. Had Kyle been a Loony Toons character, his jaw would have hit the floor and his heart would have been protruding from his chest. He had never seen her looking so good as she did now in that dress.
The dress was a slinky, form fitting number that hugged Zippy’s curves with a soft caress. It was tied on her right shoulder with small broach but was strapless on the other. It ran down knee length and was slit up the left side up to her hip, the dress was black with a red trim and a complex pattern made of several interlocking rectangles decorated the right side starting at her navel and going all the way down to the hem.
The neckline fell at a diagonal angle from her right shoulder and ending under her left arm. I easily hugged and accentuated her small breast size pleasantly rather then hiding it or artificially inflating it. It was an agreeable surprise, since Kyle knew how sensitive Zippy was about her bust. He’d almost expected her to stuff . . . but no, now that he thought about it, Zippy probably wouldn’t bother doing that.
She wore sparse but decorative jewelry: A thin silver necklace tipped with a fossil mako shark tooth, with matching earrings, and a similar bracelet on her wrist. Her fiery red hair was tied behind her head in a pony tail, leaving her facial features unobscured. For the first time Kyle could ever remember, Zippy was wearing contacts instead of her glasses, leaving her startlingly blue eyes much more visible then usual.
Kyle swallowed: She looked fantastic.
“Thank you, Posey.” Zippy said to the Werx.
“Blork.” Said Posey and drove away with an amiable wave of her metal hand.
Zippy walked up to the still dumbstruck Kyle, “Hey.”
“Hah! Gflabbin!” Kyle stammered.
“Excuse me?” Zippy asked, not unreasonably.
“Hello.” Kyle said, regaining his composure.
A little bit of color showed on Zippy’s cheeks, “I feel a little silly in this dress.”
“You look anything but.” Kyle assured her, “She we go?”
He reached out and took her hand. Zippy felt her heart quicken as she felt his warm skin press against her palm; this was it: She was finally on real date with Kyle. All that fumbling and giggling had evidently paid off. Zippy steadied herself, feeling light headed and faint. She looked at Kyle with a bit of wonder; what exactly was it about him that made her feel like this? She had never felt awkward like this with someone before, never felt this self conscious. What was it in him that triggered these responses in her? What was it that made her react so much differently any of the many other guys she’d been out with?
Looking him over, Zippy realized that Kyle was just as nervous as she was.
Zippy had been here once or twice with Lizzy, but those nights had been rowdy and noisy. The Jazz night was understandably, a much mellower affair.
The Manhattan project was a wide rectangular room with all the walls painted black. All over the walls were mounted replicas of various scientific inventions from all over history, and high up on the ceiling hung two full scale replicas: One of the Wright Brother’s original airplane, and the other of the Apollo 11 space craft that had taken astronauts to the moon. Along the South side of the room ran a long full bar staffed by a few bartenders and some Werx. Tables were set up in front of the bar, all round ones with a radiation symbol painted on the tops. Interspersed were a few small stages with brass poles where dancers might strut their stuff on wilder nights, but tonight were empty. A wide stage took up the north wall with deep red curtains and in font of it laid a wide dance floor, with another radiation symbol painted on the floor.
On the stage, a band played Jazz softly. The crowd was small and low key as they talked or listened to the music. Along the west and east walls were some private booths, and Kyle led Zippy over to one of them.
Glancing around her, Zippy could tell the dress was really having the effect it was supposed to. Several glances came from guys in the club, a few sparking the irritation of their dates. At least two came from women.
They got their menus, they ordered. And after that, things just got awkward. There were some uncomfortable silences as neither one really knew what to say. To their dismay, they were both a little intimidated by this sudden change in the dynamics of their relationship. Zippy realized, Kyle was just as afraid of saying the wrong thing as she was. After this went one for a while with a dizzying amount of idle small talk, Zippy felt like all her hopes were going to be dashed on the rocks. She decided to break the ice herself.
It came flooding out her mouth without thinking about it.
“I still remember the first time I saw you.” Zippy said, the words coming out with a smooth seductive tone that surprised her, considering her nervousness.
Kyle relaxed a little, “Really, when was that?”
“The first day I arrived at Petri’s.” Zippy said, remembering, “Madoka was showing me around, and I saw you outside the dorm hall. You were on your way somewhere. I noticed you right away. There was just something about you; I right away thought you were cute.”
The sudden switch to more forward conversation made a little color come to Kyle’s cheeks. A small grin appeared across his face.
“I . . . guess I didn’t notice you then.” He said sheepishly.
Taking a sip of her drink, Zippy asked, “Well, when did you first notice me?”
Without having to think about it, Kyle answered, “I think it was the same day. You . . . plunged out of one of the upper floors and fell right in the moat. When you came up to the surface you had Jetson on your head.”
In an instant, Zippy turned beet red: She had forgotten about that incident with the Farrell Twins on her first day; or rather she had deliberately pushed it out of her mind. This was a nightmare, of all the things to be Kyle’s first memory of her; it had to be of her soaking wet with a squid on her head. And being taunted by Cristobel and everyone else, no less. She was quiet for a second as her face got hot, remembering her humiliation in front of all those students, and then she burst out laughing.
“Oh . . . my . . . god!” She giggled, “That’s right; you were there at the shore. You said something to your friend. I can only imagine what it was.”
Kyle glanced down at his plate, a little bit of sheepishness creeping into his face.
When he looked up he said, “Actually, I told him you’re hair looks good when it’s wet.”
Not believing him, Zippy was quiet for a second and then raised an eyebrow, “Seriously?”
“You’ve got the kind of hair that lays smooth and flat across your head when it gets wet, instead of being all stringy and disheveled.” Kyle Explained, “It looked really good on you, even with Jetson messing it up a bit. So I asked my friend who you were, and that the first time I heard of that hot new student everyone was so excited about: Zippy Zipperdale.”
He paused a little before continuing, “I wanted to get to know you better, and later on I really wanted to ask you out, but I never thought you were interested in being anything but friends.”
“Really? You never noticed at all?” Zippy asked incredulously.
He shrugged, “Nope.”
“But my brain used to go all haywire every time I talked to you. It was horrible; it was like my mind turned off at the sight of you and got completely stupid till you left.”
“I thought you were just kidding around.”
“So we both just wasted a whole lot of time thinking the other one wasn’t interested? Man, are we pathetic or what?”
And then, the both burst out laughing again.
After that, the conversation flowed and they laughed and talked, drawing closer and enjoying each other’s company as the music played in the background. With the cat out of the proverbial bag, compliments went back and forth and flirting began in earnest and the two of the coyly played with each other over the meal. It was everything Zippy could have hoped for; she was finally here, out on a date with the guy she had been smitten with for what felt like an eternity. And he liked her just fine, it was like the magic had been turned on; and Zippy felt like she’d float out of her seat at any moment.
It was the most fun Zippy could remember having in a long time.
Deep in the darkened lower levels of Madame Petri’s, it was quiet as a tomb. And that was exactly what a student by the name of Felicia Eudemons was afraid it would end up being for her. She ran through the darkened hallways, turning one way or the other, not ever sure where she was anymore, her face a contorted mask of unimaginable fear as she ran around in a blind, horrified panic. Only sporadic light was available this late at night this deep in the school, yet Felicia ran blindly through the dark, more terrified then she had ever been in her life. Her heart hammered in her chest and she whimpered as she ran. Turning down one hallway then another, getting herself hopelessly turned around, but she dared not stop running.
For a few seconds she paused, listening in the darkness. She heard nothing, and suddenly her heart relaxed a bit as hope filled her that she’d gotten away.
And then she heard it: A sickly wet scraping sound rapidly coming up behind her.
She turned and ran again, stopping only to try some of the doors on either side of her. Every door she tried was locked. She pulled on the door knobs one after the other frantically trying to find one that was open. They all held and she whined in terror as the sounds rapidly got louder. Closer as whatever it was that was chasing her closed in. She could now hear a disgusting slurping sound which seemed to echo off the walls.
The hall ended up ahead and then split in opposite directions. There was another door at the end. She ran for it, grasping the handle and turning it. She felt a flood of elation as the knob turned: The door was open!
She pulled the door open rapidly and felt all her hope sink away: The door opened onto a solid brick wall. She cured the bizarre features that plagued the lower and upper levels of the school. Earlier she had run up a flight of stairs, only to find that they didn’t actually go anywhere except to the ceiling. The whole school was loaded with features like that since it was a tradition of each headmistress to never stop construction of the school.
She ran down the left hand hall pushing herself as hard as she could go. Her blood froze as the sounds seemed to be right behind her. She sprinted forward, tears now streaming from her eyes.
Her skin crawled as something wet and smooth gripped her leg. Loosing her balance, her flesh trembling in horror and revulsion, she pitched forward towards the bare floor of the hallway. With an agonizing slap she hit the ground, her head colliding painfully with the wood. Flashes danced in front of her eyes are her pain shot through her head. The world swam around her, and she felt blood gushing from her nose. She was sure it was broken. Disorientated, she tried to get back on her feet.
And then, she was grabbed by her legs again. Her fingernails scrapped the floor as she was pulled screaming into the darkness.
It was a little after closing that Zippy and Kyle finally left The Manhattan Project. They had been the last to leave, ending the night like a clique from a TV show: Still sitting at their table, talking and laughing amiably while the entire place was empty except for the employees cleaning up around them. They had finally decided to head back, getting up and heading for the exit. As they got out, Kyle had slipped his arm around Zippy’s waist. Her heart quickening, Zippy had returned the gesture and they’d walked out like a real couple.
Out front, Kyle told her, “This was a lot of fun. I’m glad we finally did this.”
“Definitely.” Zippy nodded, and then added tentatively, “Should we do it again sometime?”
It was only a split second before he answered, but to Zippy it felt like an eternity.
“Yeah, absolutely.” Kyle said.
And then, suddenly, they were in ‘the moment’; Zippy had been in it countless times before, but this was more intense then it had ever been. They looked at each other, making eye contact. Zippy’s heart pounded in her chest sending blood to her face making her flush slightly. That electrical spark of excitement passed between them, and Zippy felt it energize her. They stood facing each other, goose bumps rising and Zippy’s arms.
Kyle brushed some of the hair out of her face, and Zippy thought his was going to act, but the awkward pause remained. Her breathing had deepened as excitement flowed through her, and she could tell Kyle was just as excited. Still, he seemed unsure, not able to act. Zippy was at a loss for a second; should she act first? Should she be the aggressive one? She didn’t want to blow this moment. She thought of other guys she been out with, and suddenly, she knew what to do.
This moment called for subtle body language: Those simple motions that communicated with small movement what words took a whole sentence too. She simply straitened up, and lifted her head up a little, displaying her readiness.
To her relief, Kyle seized the movement and her at the same time. He stepped closer, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her closer to him, right up against his body. Leaning down to her, Zippy felt her whole body come alive with electric tingles as he placed his lips on hers and finally kissed her.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him close as their lips moved against each other. Their eyes closed and Zippy felt her body warm as she pressed against him, feeling the soft touch of his lips. It almost felt like she was melting into his arms, the way a good kiss should feel. And this was a good kiss; it felt like for that brief moment of physical connection that the world had stopped and there was just the two of them and their passion for one another. She moved her body slightly, rubbing it up against his.
His hand ran up and down her back, caressing her as they kissed, fleetingly threatening to ‘cross the boarder’ as they went lower, but never quite doing so. Zippy wasn’t sure she would have stopped him if he had.
Finally, they broke the kiss, separating only a little as they looked into each other’s eyes, feeling the magic between the two of them.
A chorus of cheers from in front of them altered them to the fact that they weren’t alone. Zippy yelped and Kyle gasped and they both flushed a deep pink color. They looked at each other, and then slowly, and apprehensively, turned towards the sound of the cheers. They both turned to see that Posey’s car had returned, and every single one of their friends were crammed into it and watching them.
Everyone leaned out of the doors and window, whistling and hooting, clapping their hands with raucous enthusiasm, wide grins on faces and a few blushes. Suddenly, Zippy and Kyle’s private moment had become center stage.
“Yeah!” Madoka cried, revealing which one she was at the moment, “You get her, Kyle-baby. Go for it.”
“You go, Mom.” Stitchy cheered, having apparently defied all known laws of physics to fit in the car.
“Ah, young love.” Cooed Miss Piranha.
“They’re so cute!” Squealed the Farrell Twins in unison.
“What a monstrous romance.” Laughed Miss Gojira, surprising Zippy with her presence.
“It’s about time.” Commented Lizzy.
“Blork.” Said Posey.
Zippy and Kyle looked at each other, timidly at first, and then both started laughing. A small giggle at first, and then they were both doubled over with laughter, as all their friends piled out of the car and ran over to them. Zippy threw her arms around the first person who got there, who happened to be Lizzy. The crowd encircled them both jostling with excitement.
As embarrassing as that had been, it was great to have the entire Guild behind her.
Late in the evening along the central shaft, an exhausted and slightly frustrated Tiffany Pikenbeiler made her way back to her dorm room after long after hours work on her own project, followed up by helping out Amber on her project to best Zippy Zipperdale’s achievement. It hadn’t been going very well; the general concept was to create an artificial human with fully augmented capabilities from raw genetic material, effectively a perfect clone. Everything they’d tried had seemed to fail, and Tiffany was left wondering how Zipperdale had made making scientific history look so easy. Even when Tiffany had insisted that they needed a break, Amber had driving them on, consumed as always by her personal vendetta against Zipperdale. It was a nightmare, but Tiffany had held on, even when Charity had bailed out claiming she didn’t feel well.
She wouldn’t have done it for anyone else but Amber.
What was worse was that she was now sweaty and slightly disheveled, and she was out in the open where anyone could see. It was, Tiffany felt, completely beneath her to look anything other then her absolute best. She hoped no one saw her.
She made it to the dorm room she shared with Charity without meeting anyone. As she approached, she could see that the light was already out. Her selfish bitch of a roommate was already sound asleep while she was up late looking less then stellar. She snorted with contempt; why was she the only one who had to suffer. She opened the door and went in reaching for the light switch as she did.
Charity’s voice stopped her, it sounded weak and wavering. Through the light from the hallway, Tiffany could see that her roommate was curled up under all her blankets completely, almost like she was hiding in there; no part of her stuck out.
“Leave the light off. I . . . I’ve got a terrible headache.” Charity mumbled.
Tiffany rolled her eye, “Whatever.”
She closed the door and went to her bed starting to undress. She didn’t care about Charity’s headache or whatever the hell her problems were, she just wanted to sleep. Couldn’t Charity see that she was tired, and she wanted to bug her with her own problems? She pulled off her clothes and slipped into her $400 Giorgyana night gown from La Perla and crawled under the covers, ignoring the slight whimpers from across the room.
Hidden under the sheets, Charity shivered and clutched her arms around herself. Something was very wrong: Her muscles and skin felt like they were contracting and moving by themselves and her flesh was quite literally crawling. She shuddered and clenched her teeth as the room swam around her. She curled her twitching body up in a fetal position, fear and horror running through her as icy fingers of terror ran up her spine. Aches and small spasms ran all over her. It was almost like her body was changing; altering somehow.
What was happening to her?
I Stitchy! In next chapter, all us girls plan fun girls night out, Farrell Twins have big robot battle with Amber, and some things happen that change everything in next chapter of Zippy Zipperdale: Moderately Mad Scientist “The Ninth Experiment”