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Disclaimer: Ranma and the Nerima Wrecking Crew belong to Rumiko Takahashi while Rifts and Nightspawn belong to Palladium. Babylon 5, Nightspawn and Sailormoon belong to all their creators respectively.
Part 3: Eclipse
One year later …
In a certain place in China that was cut off from modern civillisation, a place which escaped the scrutiny of the nefarious Psi-Corps and the ever-present malevolent eye of a powerful yet paranoid dictator ......
A certain pigtailed martial artist had just dug himself out from the debris ....
"Damn! Saffron really did it this time! Akane? Where are you?" There was no sign of the doll that held the spirit of Akane. Suspecting the worst, Ranma expanded his senses to encompass the surroundings but there was no sign of Akane's ki signature .... or Saffron's ..... or anyone else's for that matter.
There didn't seem to be an exit from what he could see either. He was all alone with the darkness of the cavern to keep him company. Darkness? Since when could he see so clearly in the dark? He could see every feature of the wall, the stones on the ground and even the holes in the ceiling of the cavern.
Still, he would have to get out of this cavern and there was no exit. Looks like he would have to create one. Just as he was about to blast his way through the rock wall, something else came to him. A memory ... Pooling his energies together, a strange darkness darker than even the darkness of the cavern appeared on the surface of the rockwall. Ranma placed his palm on the rock wall which seemed to sink into the darkness with no resistance. He took a step and his foot went right through the knee into the rock wall.
Taking a deep breath, Ranma stepped through the darkness .... to emerge in the gentle light of the moon.
It was night. He was in the valley at the foot of the mountain in Jusendo ... Phoenix Mountain. The site where he fought Saffron for Akane's life. Speaking of Akane, where was she? There was no sign of the Nerima Wrecking Crew either. Anyway, it was time to go back to Nerima ..... to that hell of a place he called home.
He could have arrived home sooner using the same method that he head earlier used in the cavern. But he had decided to take his time. Ever since he discovered something different about himself. Or to be more accurate, herself.
There was no denying it. While leaping into the water in a nearby river, his eyes chanced upon the reflection of his female form. Instead of the usual short, petite, cute, red-haired girl that he usually changed into, his form now took on the form of a tall, cyan-haired, voluptuous woman of breathtaking beauty and charisma. His stunning appearance which put all his fiancees to shame very nearly gave him a heart attack.
The changes to his physical appearance were more than just cosmetic. Which he discovered the hard way while flying through the air to .... land on the other side of the river. Now, Ranma Saotome was a martial artist of no lean ability. Normally, he would have been able to correct the direction of his body before landing or position of his body before landing ... but stunned into immobility by his physical appearance he did not.
So we can guess the results. Ouch! A feminine shriek of pain could easily be heard through the night as someone landed on the hard rocky ground right in the 'sensitive area'. Elsewhere throughout the world, all females of various races had a sudden collective urge to protect certain areas of their physical anatomy without knowing why.
Ranma slowly picked himself up from the ground on the opposite end of the river bank after examining himself for physical injuries. There were none which puzzled him to no end. He now addressed the second question. How had he leaped across the entire river? Granted, he had only intended to land somewhere in the middle of the river.
Yet the strength of his leap had carried him across the river to the other end of the river bank. Had his strength changed that much? Just to be sure, Ranma leaped upwards. As before, the height of his leap took him by surprise. Whereas he could leap a hundred feet in his male form before, he could easily do a thousand feet in his female form now.
Granted, his male form was no slouch when it came to physical strength, but it seemed to pale into insignificance when compared with what he could accomplish with his female form. Well, after trying out his new female body in various ways, he came to the conclusion that 'all' his male physical attributes paled into insignificance when compared with his female form.
Though, loathed to admit it, but if it ever came down to a fight between his male and female forms, his female form would wipe the floor with his male form. And that was just pure physical fighting one on one.
There were other things to consider as well. His female form had access to abilities or powers that his male form did not such as becoming a moving shadow, creating a doorway of darkness, throwing a blast of dark energy, creating a shield of the same dark energy that enveloped his or to be more precise, her body, etc ...
He hadn't really tested out all of them yet as he was still trying to find the limits of his abilities and there were so many of them. Not to mention, he was also able to cast magic spells and perform magic rituals in his female form, something he had never been able to do before as he simply lacked the ability to do magic.
Yet the powers, abilities and knowledge were conspicuously absent when he was male. But would reappear in his female form, instantaneously though with a splash of cold water. Like it was always there. Much to his consternation. Ranma had tried to acquire or at the very least remember them in his male form but they would just disappear before he was able to do anything. It made duplicating them with his male form impossible. And very aggravating.
Another disturbing discovery, however, happened during his martial arts practice. He did not tire in female form. He could go on for days without stopping, without taking a breath of air. Now that he noticed it, he hadn't breathed once in female form since exiting the cave. Something he believed to be impossible.
For all living things breathed. Yet his female form did not show the need to breathe. Or drink. Or for that matter, eat. He had yet to remember a time when his female form was hungry or thirsty. It was downright disturbing. In male form, the familiar sensations of hunger or thirst would return.
The only thing his female form seemed unable to do currently was to throw ki blasts. For some reason or other, his female form lacked ki. Ranma found this absence of ki to be rather disturbing as ki had been the very core of his martial arts and his life since the day he was born. All the boost to his strength, speed, reflexes and accuracy came from his ki. Ranma tried breathing in order to draw ki but failed miserably.
Why was this happening? He wondered. Ranma knew that all living things needed a certain amount of energy in order to stay alive. So what was driving this body? It did not appear to tire or show the need for rest. Which Ranma thought to be inhuman. Even the world's greatest martial artists needed to rest or ... a source of energy to stay alive.
Ranma drew his senses inward to find his answers and there he made a startling discovery. His body was using energy alright. Only it was an energy which he was not familiar with as he had never seen it with his new senses before. All the new abilities that he had including his magic spells appeared to be powered by this source of energy. Which was present in vast amounts, evenly distributed throughout his body in every vein, muscle, tissue and cell.
Whenever he used an ability such as throwing an energy blast be it a beam of heat energy, light, electricity or darkness (he discovered he was able to do four types without having to use magic), the energy present in his female body would drop by a certain amount.
It also appeared to drop after a certain number of movements that he made in a single day. Ranma counted it. Every twenty-four hours, this energy appeared to drop by a certain amount. Even when he was doing nothing.
A certain panic filled him. What would happen once the energy in his female body had run out? An inner voice told him it would be a really bad thing and he resolved never to find out. Looking around, he noticed the same energy present in the trees, rocks and animals. Just like ki.
Could he draw on it? He went close to the tree and touched it. Focusing on drawing this new energy just like ki. Much to his relief, it worked. The energy flowed into his body like sweetened honey, replenishing his energy reserves and then more as he continued to draw.
Suddenly, there was a breaking sound like something snapping. Ranma removed his palm from the tree to see it topple to the ground in a heap. Right in front of his eyes, the tree began to wither and die as its very life was drained out of it. Just to be sure he wasn't dreaming, Ranma reached down to the bush next to it and continued to draw while watching carefully.
First, the same energy present in the bush would drain out and then its very life energy would follow .... That was when the bush began to wither ... Quickly, he stopped the drawing. The bush did not wither any further much to his relief.
'Crap! I've become some kind of energy vampire like Hinako! Looks like I've to draw very, very carefully to avoid killing everything in my surroundings.' was the first thought that came to his mind. 'One last time, just to be sure,' he thought as he reached for the grass beneath his feet. He watched with a mixture of morbid fascination and dread as their life essence left them as they withered away beneath his touch.
Deciding he had enough, Ranma looked around for some warm water and found none. And the only source of water available was the nearby river. 'Man, I wish I had a bucket or container nearby, so I could scoop up some of the water ...' he thought as he stared at the rock jutting out of the river.
Suddenly, the large rock shifted before his eyes into the shape of a bucket as he felt energy leaving him. 'How did I do that?' Ranma whispered under his breath. 'All I did was I wanted a ...' On impulse, Ranma willed the bucket to assume the shape of a long pole and then ... hey presto .... it did like magic.
A few minutes later ...
Ranma discovered he could shaped the rock into anything he liked or anything he could imagine in his mind. The only thing that dampened the fun was the slow rate of recovery at which his energy was replenishing itself. And the constant danger of running out of that same precious energy.
After scooping some of the water out of the river with the bucket, he was about to heat it up with his newly-found abilities when .....
............ he caught sight of a large snake curled around the trunk of a tree. Drawn towards the snake by some primal need, he walked towards it and caught the snake in his hands. The large snake struggled but Ranma held it easily within his hands. Trying to free itself, it bit the pigtailed martial artist causing him to crush its head instantly with his hand.
Acting on instinct, Ranma drew on the dying creature's energy which appeared to double in amount as it left its body for him. Feeling satiated, he dropped the now dead serpent to the ground and headed away. Unnoticed by anyone, the snake's body decomposed rapidly until it was nothing but dust.
And the Lord said, "The man has become like one of us, knowing both good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever ..."
- Genesis 2:10
What a day it had turned out to be …
Testing out his new abilities … and trying out the limits of his new female form. It was incredible … breathtaking … flexing his or to be more precise, her strength and power … It was different from the time when he was the petite red-haired Ranko. Much as he did not wish to accept ‘Ranko’, he knew without a doubt that the ‘pigtailed goddess’ as some virtuous kendo man would so kindly put it … was a part of him.
Unlike this new female form of his. Completely new … alien even … dare he say it … as though … it had been remade … and grafted in some arcane fashion onto his body.
This strange feelings all served to convince him that somehow … this new female body with all its wonderful inner workings of energy in harmony did not belong to him. Thus a reference to her as though she were a separate person altogether. What was more, the pigtailed martial artist got the distinct feeling that this person … whoever she was … was very much aware of everything he did with this female body.
Clip! Clop! Clip! Clop!
The sound of approaching footsteps and ringing chains could be heard from the distance. From time to time an agonizing scream punctured the silence of the Great Hall. Finally, a prisoner escorted by a full contingent of heavily armed guards rounded the corner and came to a stop before the throne of the High King of Kastuul. It was clear from the prisoner’s disheveled and unkempt state that she had seen better days. All manner of cruel wounds could be seen covering her exposed body as evident from the blood dripping to the ground of the palace.
“My Lord, we have brought the prisoner as you requested,” a man who appeared to be the captain of the guard spoke as he knelt before the throne.
“Leave us,” the one sitting on the throne replied.
The guards as one left the room without another word, leaving the prisoner alone with the High King and his chief advisor.
“Ariana …Queen of Lami-ra … Age … Twenty-four winters … Occupation … Magi … Place of Origin … Azvin-ra … Parents … Adopted …”
The woman’s head jerked up, suddenly, in response to the last word spoken, the expression on her face, a mixture of puzzlement and disbelief.
“Don’t look so puzzled, Ariana. Such ignorance is unbecoming of your bloodline. You … were unique …A half-blood, so to speak. Half Azvin and half Lunarian. Combining the best traits of both worlds.”
“Yes, I know your true parents just as I know all about your endless quest for Endymion. Mighty hero … Gallant prince … Esteemed heir to the Dragon Throne of Atlantis … what woman wouldn’t want him? Midas, however, didn’t want you pursuing his cherished son, not when he wanted to form a political and military alliance with the Lunarian Union. So he sent you away into exile under the pretext of founding a new settlement … For the good of the people … of course.”
The High King paused for a moment before continuing.
“Unfortunately for you, Midas was not the only one opposed to your relationship with the Crown Prince. There were other factions within the Atlantean government who were opposed to a marriage between you and Endymion as well. Some more ruthless than others. One such group was led by Chief Advisor Rathan who decided to get rid of you permanently. His agents sabotaged your expedition and later used powerful enchantments to destroy the vessel that you were on killing everyone on board or so it was believed. You, however, survived and found yourself shipwrecked on an island inhabited by hostile beasts and deadly creatures of all kinds. In your weakened state, you were no match for them and cried out for help. The powers that rule the forbidden lands answered your call, saving your life …Yes … it’s true … isn’t it? It’s said that the passing of day and night on Crystania is not determined by the passage of the sun in the sky … but by the strange forces that permeate the forbidden lands … and from there they gifted you with the knowledge to control the creatures and inhabitants of the place you were on to form what is now the province of Lami-ra.”
“So what do you want? If you want me dead, just get it over with!” Ariana snarled angrily.
Her life had been a sore point for her.
Suddenly, without warning, lightning and fire arced over her body, aggravating her wounds and causing her to convulse wildly in agony … screaming …
He was up in an instant … his well-trained body ready to dispatch any threat coming at him … and yet … other than his disheveled bedroll and the sound of his own voice … he saw and heard nothing … But memories of that scream disturbed him … Had he been dreaming?
After awhile … with nothing but silence … the pigtailed martial artist was able to breathe easy again.
A dream … only a dream … he thought. But still he couldn’t help but feel that what he had seen and heard had been more than just a dream. The dream had been particularly vivid especially the part when Saluvan ... Saluvan? This was getting strange. Somehow, he knew the name of the man who had struck the woman in his dream. A man he knew to be dangerous in the extreme … A man he had never encountered nor heard off in his entire life … but dangerous nonetheless …
Since sleep was now impossible, Ranma rolled up his bed and decided to relax by doing what he did best … all his life. He slid his hands and legs into a combat stance and began moving, his mind relaxing as he did so … his hands and legs moving swiftly through the air …
“Another strike!” the sword swung through the air only to hit the blade of another sword with a loud clang.
“Another, Ariana!” the blade continued to swing.
“Give it your best shot! Don’t hold back!” Once again the two-handed sword wove swiftly through the air to hit the person’s vest.
“Good hit! Keep it up!” the voice of the man instructing her continued.
Her blade continued to move swiftly searching for its target.
“Do not hesitate. In combat … hesitation could very well mean your death!” the man called out as he deflected another of her blows.
Suddenly … the deflected blade slid downwards and bit into his unarmoured arm … drawing blood.
“Endymion!” the woman called out ... her voice tinged with concern.
“I’m fine! Just a scratch, dear!” the man spoke, trying to reassure her.
Not buying into his act, the woman chanted a healing spell … causing the wound to disappear from sight.
“You shouldn’t lie to me … Endymion. It’s very unbecoming of an Azvin Prince!”
“Is that so?” the man challenged as he drew up close to her suddenly … causing her heart to beat wildly.
Both man and woman exchanged deep meaningful looks ….
The man drew down towards her lips … and then …
Ranma found himself back at the glade … doing his kata. Another one? While I’m awake? Am I still dreaming or what? The pigtailed martial artist wondered. I really got to stop having all this hallucinations.
When he heard a scream ….
The little girl ran for dear life ... panting as she did so.
They were coming. Those men with the nasty loud smoking guns were coming with their sharp knives to cut her heart out.
‘Please somebody … Help me!’ she mentally shrieked as one of those evil men stepped in front of her with a rope.
His face contorted into an evil smile as he cried out, “Found the sacrifice!”
More footsteps thundered through the woods and the little girl took a step back … crying in fear as she did so.
The man threw the rope around her feet and gave it a pull. The little girl fell to the ground in a heap and tried to get up to her feet.
“No … we can’t have you running off again …,” he spoke and continued to tie the rope around her expertly.
The little girl cried uncontrollably in fear as the man lifted her up unto his shoulder..
‘Please God … save me … I will never steal ice-cream again … ’ she prayed while struggling futilely in his grasp.
God must have heard her prayer for somebody appeared … and it was a face she would never forget …
Nor would she forget the cries and screams of the NASTY EVIL MEN that followed as they were taken down by a certain pigtailed boy in rather PAINFUL and memorable ways …
“So who’re you, my Prince?” she asked playfully.
“Ranma. Though I’m not a prince. I’m just a martial artist. You’re lucky that I happened to be nearby. So why were those men after you?” he asked in turn.
“Said they wanted to sacrifice me … to the Great Metallium, Metallios or something ...”
“Metallia …” the pigtailed boy repeated … but the name echoed off his tongue differently … resonating through the surroundings with power … and then … a voice full of malevolence and hatred … echoed through his mind …
Who dares call on me?
… with great force.
The strength of the mind-voice increased dramatically forcing Ranma to grip his head in pain.
The vision of a being of immense power, spitting out flames of death and decay filled his mind …
I see you, human!
Flames engulfed him … burning … Ranma screamed … and then the flames disappeared abruptly …
There was a shriek of anger and then the vision faded swiftly …
“Ranma … Ranma …” he could feel small hands tugging rather insistently onto his clothes.
“Huh?” the pigtailed boy mumbled unintelligently.
“You were spaced out like for a few seconds … And your clothes they were on smoking … like they were on fire …” The little girl cried out.
“Fire … Is that so …?” He asked unintelligently again while checking his clothes.
They seemed to be alright apart from a few scorched marks …
“Yes …” came the reply.
The pigtailed boy simply shrugged his shoulders before asking “Where do you live?”
“Not from here …”
“In that case, we had better get going. Little girls should not be out so late at night,” Ranma answered as he lifted her onto his shoulders and leaped into the sky.
“Put me down! Weee!” came the reply.
They must have been traveling for less then five minutes when they finally came towards a hut.
“Grandfather!” the little girl cried and ran into her grandfather’s arms.
“Yes … Little Flower … got into trouble didn’t you?”
The little girl looked sheepish at this remark before turning to the pigtailed boy behind her.
“He saved me, Grandfather,” she said quickly.
“I’m sure he did.” He replied before turning towards Ranma once more.
“Thank you for saving my granddaughter. I am what many would consider a fortune teller. Would you like your fortune to be told? It’s the least I can do after what you did for my only grandchild.”
Feeling a little hesitant, Ranma agreed.
“Let’s see … Your aura is strong … and vibrant. That is good … You will continue to attract those of the fairer sex till the end of your life and will never suffer from a lack of lovers …”
Ranma cringed inwardly at that statement as he remembered a certain insane gymnast with a creepy laugh and a mallet wielding tomboy with a terrible temper. Followed by a no-holds barred Amazon with a one dimensional personality and … a money-faced Tendo sister whose first love was money.
“You … possess great power … the strength of ages past … It stems from ... an ancient force … long-forgotten by man … and … was lost to the sands of time … This power is tied with your destiny … and that of many others … including both friend and enemy … by … another … beyond the stars … It is not natural … however … and will … bring great danger to you … and those around you …”
The voice and face of the fortune teller dimmed and faded away as though in a dream until Ranma could barely make out what he was saying. Something else began taking shape in his view from the background … the sight of a large antechamber filled with many beings of power …
"The Dark brought us perfection. Perfection of mind, body and power. This malady that ails us is not a form of sickness or the spell castings of an unknown enemy. It's like existence itself does not want this new state of mind, body and power that is now our heritage."
"Any reason as to why?"
"Life itself means change. Perfection means no change. We have remained unchanged through the centuries. Our minds and bodies untarnished throughout history. Existence itself is not perfect and strives to be perfect. So it rejects our unchanging state of being."
"Not a single one of us has ever suffered from fatigue, nor physical hunger and thirst or the need to breathe air. Furthermore there is not a single blemish on our bodies or any physical deformities or mental defects that we suffer from."
"And this is most unnatural to existence itself?"
"Yes, for some reason existence does not like our unchanging state of being and is forcing a change on to us ... by wiping us out …"
“Hello …” a voice interrupted.
“You were staring into empty space,” the fortune teller explained.
“Sorry … I must have dazed off,” the pigtailed martial artist replied.
“You’ve been having visions?” the old fortune teller enquired.
“Sort of … Except that they happened in the past.”
“In the past?”
“Yes … Like I was somebody else … a woman …” the pigtailed martial artist explained … his face a little red with embarrassment.
“I see … that can be problematic. Sometimes a person’s past life can be so different from his or her present life that they would seem like complete strangers to each other,” the fortune teller answered.
“I know what you mean … but I’m sure that this woman is not my past life. She’s someone else altogether … Like another soul attached to my own …”
“I used to have this Jusenkyo Curse … Cold water changes me into a red-headed girl. Hot water changes me back into a boy.”
“You are a Jusenkyo victim then … That explains many things …”
“But now …”
“You are not a red-headed girl.”
“Yes … It’s like something changed the girl form of my Jusenkyo Curse with that of another.”
“Meddling with a Jusenkyo Curse is dangerous. The spirits of Jusenkyo guard their works jealously. They would never knowingly allow another force to tamper with their victims. Anyone who would do so, does so at their own peril …”
“They risk their very lives …”
“Correct … or the person was someone desperate enough to do so …”
“Desperate? But who would be powerful or insane enough to defy the Spirits of Jusenkyo?”
“And that is the question … who? Already I see many forces converging around you. They gather like vultures awaiting their next meal. Sorry … about that, Ranma. But that’s what I see. They come from the shadows … bringing the night with them … So be ready …” the old fortune teller turned to leave.
“Wait … who are they?”
“It is not my place to know of such things. But They know you … from long ago, Ranma … Speak with Her when you can … for she knows them too … and time is running short … Good speed.”
And with those words, the old man returned to his hut.
That night …
It had happened at long last. Somebody had finally dared to strike down the High Priest bearing the daily sacrifice to the masters of the Empire. The High Priest, a bald man in his fifties, was brought down by an arrow through his chest. The soldiers guarding the sacrifice immediately began looking around for the killer but there was no sign of the killer.
"The High King will have our lives for this! Find the murderer and kill him!" the captain of the guard ordered.
The crowd grew more restive as the soldiers pushed past them searching methodically for the killer. The sacrifice ... a twelve year old girl was thrown to the side ... forgotten in the chaos.
Finally, a hooded man in a large thick robe was caught trying to flee the scene of the crime. He was beaten and promptly stripped bare before the crowd. A hush fell over the crowd as a bow and a quiver of arrows fell out. The soldiers tied him up and the captain ordered him to be prepared as the sacrifice.
"HOLD!" a voice cried out stunning those in the city square.
Such was the strength of the voice that everyone turned in the direction of the speaker to see an old man in a similar robe looking at them.
"Kill him not because I told him to."
"And you are?" The captain asked as he approached the robed man steadily.
The robed man showed no signs of fear.
"It's been a long time Captain Ramsey. Our masters have been treating you well, haven't they? Until they have no further use for you, of course."
"Treason!" the captain shouted as he drew his sword.
"Do you fear hearing the truth? Do you fear confronting the truth? We have all been that way before. Afraid but who wouldn't be against Them? They have brought wealth and glory to the empire ... but at what cost?" the robed man asked, his voice loud enough in the marketplace.
The captain continued his forward charge but the crowd listened. Emotions and feelings which have long been kept suppressed were brought to the surface.
"In the beginning, they demanded a living sacrifice for all they have brought us, but what have they brought us? Today, it's a lot more. These evil deeds must be brought to an end. First, it was the criminals. Then it was the traitors. Today they are using our firstborn. Tomorrow who? Maybe yours? Can we keep afford to keep paying this price for our entire lives?"
"Hear me! Today, I ask all of you here to make a stand to fight for our lives! We shall live and die as free men! Not at another's whim! Fight for your freedom! Fight for your destiny!" the old man shouted.
The words stirred the crowd to a fevered pitch.
"Arrest him!" the captain ordered.
The soldiers moved forward. The crowd became unruly.
"Be still! Do not be deceived by the lies of the Dark Wielders! There is no future with them!" the old shouted and pulled a thin mask off his face …
The scene ended abruptly … followed by another in its place …
There was silence for a couple of minutes before those present continued with the matter at hand.
"We have little time left before our enemies decide to put an end to us. Already, the people on the streets are becoming restless. Sooner or later, there will be a rebellion."
"And we will grind them into the dust like we have always done with all those that oppose us."
"They are our people! Not our enemies! If we slay them like wild beasts, we will become no better than those we once swore to defend them from. We are the preservers of life. Not destroyers of the living."
"We are long past that stage. Already word is out there on the streets that we are no better than the demons that we once fought from the abyss. We will be facing an insurrection most likely within this decade."
"Come what may. Soon it will all come down to a choice between them and us. So, what is it going to be? Our survival or theirs? All in favour of our survival?"
One by one all the members of the Ruling Council voted.
There was no one.
"So be it. The resolution for our survival has now been passed. Prepare all our defenses and troops. This is going to be one battle that we cannot afford to lose. Our very lives and souls are at stake."
"To the survival of the fittest!"
The voice carried on … its strength like the waves on the seashore reaching the ends of the chamber … before being joined by the others … their voices adding strength to it …
The pigtailed martial artist leaped into the air … that voice … it possessed a strength of power of its own … had woken him up. He got up … rubbed his eyes … and went to the sink, taking a look in the mirror as he did so. The face of a petite red-headed girl looked back at him from there. He was in his original cursed form? Shaking his head, Ranma rubbed his eyes. The petite red headed girl was still there!
There was something strange going on here … The petite red-headed girl looked as startled he was … and reached her hand out towards him … She spoke but he couldn’t hear anything … Not believing what he was seeing, he lifted up his male hand towards the mirror as she did so … and as their hands were about to touch … the hair on his skin stood … there was someone or something …
Instinctively, he looked behind him … and saw … no one.
But he could have sworn that he felt something or someone behind him a moment ago. Was he imagining things? He studied his surroundings for a moment. Not a dust stirred. Apparently, he had been made a fool of.
Turning around, he looked once again at the mirror and … merely saw his usual male face looking back at him … in puzzlement …
Had he been dreaming?