I discovered my new gift shortly after the accident. The accident, I won’t spell out the details of that here. Let’s suffice it to say I was a headstrong twenty something who liked the feel of a fast car. One night, a little too fast on a curve, I was the only one there that night who had survived. The night of the ending and the beginning of a whole new set of wheels. Wheels that would permanently take over the function of what my legs used to do.
The problem was I was still a head strong twenty something who was now trapped. Who had become bitter and angry. Where before I participated in life, now I only watched, glowering over what others could do that I couldn’t. Watching them taking their lives for granted while I sat stuck, wishing I had what they ignored.
I was sulking through yet another morning of physical therapy when I first made the discovery that I had somehow acquired a shape shifting gift. Call it the accident, call it a freak of nature, but I could become someone else. Not an imaginary someone else, I had dreamed up, no this was different. Not even a shape shifter exactly. I was still me, there in the wheelchair but I was also the person I chose to become, the person walking by. I could somehow duplicate myself and become them as well, the physical therapist joking with his co-workers, the man making the soda delivery, anyone I wanted. I had a way to be normal again, albeit in someone else’s body. I slowly became a parasite, a hanger on.
At first it was fun, having the sensation of walking again but never more than that. Sneaking into other people’s lives unknowingly. It seemed harmless enough, I became them, willing myself back to my own body whenever I became bored with the other person’s existence. Sometimes that was simple to do, other times it took a little more effort but I always succeeded in the end.
At first I’d only choose people I knew. Curious about what they weren’t telling me or what they were thinking but not saying. Having the ability to do this, I’ll tell you gives you a whole new perspective on who your friends are and what they are up to.
Me being me however, my friends lives soon became boring. That’s when I started going here, there and everywhere. Bars, airports, the local coffee shops anywhere someone might have a more interesting life than mine. I began to prey on others, feed on them almost. In a nice, non-intrusive way of course.
I can’t even tell you how I picked them out. The person I chose just stuck out. They had to look like they had an interesting life, like there was a curiosity about them and I had to know more. As my forays into this skill lengthened, I somehow felt like I was becoming two different people with two different lives, capable of controlling both at the same time but don’t ask me how, I’m not even sure myself. All I knew is that when I tired of being someone else after a day or two and willed myself back, I would be in my apartment, with no memory of what the last several days had entailed for my actual self.
Becoming bored easily and always looking for a new challenge, even total strangers weren’t enough after a while. I geared myself toward the darker side, strangers who looked like they had a mystery to hide. Each trip, one or two a week, while allowing myself a little time to recover, became a little darker, a little more edgy.
The night of that last journey I had been out on the city pier, watching the ocean under the moon by myself. I spent a lot of time by myself, the more I traveled. It was as if it created an aura that was off putting to the rest of humanity.
The man I chose appeared suddenly, dressed in dark clothing, looking like he was up to something. Suddenly I wanted to know exactly what. I closed my eyes and did what I always did. Somehow I was now him, creeping around corners, breaking into a locked warehouse. I knew I should go back, my instinct told me this was not going to end well. That now I had crossed over to the criminal element. Still there was something viciously curious about what I was doing. Escaping into a crime that I knew I hadn’t committed.
I don’t know what happened from there. I just know I felt an electrical charge surge through my body like I had never felt before. I remember forcing myself, willing myself back, in a way I never had before, to my old body, my old life, to that comfortable wheelchair that I hated so much.
Then I blacked out until I woke up in a cell. Charged with a crime I didn’t commit. Learning the dark side of my body traveling gift. I wasn’t the only body traveler, there were others who traveled in this world with me. A body swapping of sorts, which worked, until one of the body swappers stopped, tired of the game and stayed where he was, refusing to move.