Changer of form, changer of shape,
Trickster and thief and jackanape.
Come now and visit this human form,
Make your home here, nevermore to roam!
“Doggerel,” Bobby said as she closed the book, and then looked up to see her twin sister Angie standing in the doorway.
“What is,” Angie said as she came in. Both girls had short black hair, and were wearing jumpers, faded jeans and t-shirts.
“That rhyme – a fairy tale,” Bobby said as she handed Angie the book. “Well, a fairy tale from the East, but a fairy tale none the less.” She watched as Angie looked at the page, and laughed.
“I see what you mean – wonder what would happen if you read this out loud?”
“According to the tale, it summons some sort of mischievous imp,” Bobby replied as she stood next to Angie. “It’s a story.”
“Then no harm down, right?”
“RIGHT!” Bobby laughed as both girls read the rhyme out together, and then watched as the book dropped on the floor. They both then walked to the front room of their Kensington flat, before there was a knock on the door.
“I’ll get it,” Angie said as she walked to the door, opening it as Bobby heard her say “oh hello Suzie – locked yourself out again?”
“I’m afraid so,” the brunette said as she walked in. Suzie was an actress who lived with her roommate in the flat next door, and today was wearing a tan sleeveless slip dress, tan stockings and white leather boots with a small heel.
“Come on in Suzie,” Angie said as she stood up, “I’ll get the keys for you.” As she headed into the bedroom, Bobby said “done for the day?”
“Yeah – I need to get ready for a date tonight, how are the studies going?”
“Slowly – I was just reading a book of Japanese fairy tales,” Bobby said, “A stupid one about…
“Bobby, what’s wrong,” Suzie said as she looked at the young girl, staring at her as her eyes seemed to turn yellow. She could not look away as Bobby smiled and took her arm, while her eyes started to close…
“Here we go,” Angie said as she came back in, seeing Suzie looking at something on the floor. “Where did Bobby go?”
She looked at the brunette as she turned her head and looked at her, and then slowly walked round, looking at the unconscious Suzie on the floor. “What the… How…”
“I don’t know,” Bobby/Suzie said as she looked down, “we were talking, and then I started to get this warm feeling going through me, and then… Why are you looking at me like that Angie – and why do I sound like Suzie?”
Angie stepped back for a moment, before she said “oh my god – that rhyme…” She picked up a hand mirror and gave it to her sister, as she continued to look down. Bobby looked at her, and then in the mirror, before she whispered “oh my god… It really happened?"
“Looks like it did – but how do we explain it to Suzie?”
“We don’t – go and open the door to their flat, and then help me carry her in.” Bobby/Suzie looked at her sister, who nodded and then walked across the corridor, opening the door and then coming back as she took Suzie’s legs, her sister her arms and they carried her in.
“Oh wow – what an apartment,” Angie whispered as they laid her on a lounger, and then went into the bedroom – only to return as she heard her sister laughing. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing – it’s just this is too weird for words, but there’s something else.”
“And that is?”
“The rush – my god, Angie… Oh my god – if I did this…”
“What are you doing in the flat?” Both girls turned to see Suzie’s flatmate Magenta standing in the doorway, wearing a checked blouse open at the neck, a short black skirt, and a pair of over the knee black leather boots. She closed the door and said to Angie “did she forget her keys again?”
“I did,” Bobby said, sounding like Suzie, “but I also asked Angie in for a…” She then saw Suzie unconscious on the recliner, and stared at Bobby.
“Who are you, and what have you done with Suzie?”
“There is a perfectly accurate explanation,” Angie said, but Magenta shook her head as she turned and said “I’m calling the police…”
Angie grabbed Magenta by the arm and looked at the blonde, the girl staring at her as Angie’s eyes started to glow yellow. “What… What…” Her vision swam as Angie’s features seemed to blur and change in front of her, and then she slumped to the floor.
Bobby watched as her sister’s body physically changed to look like Magenta, her clothes shifting to match them as well, before she looked down to the floor, then at her hands, and then at Bobby.
“Oh my god – this is AMAZING,” her sister said as she grinned. “How long do you think it will last for?”
“I don’t know – but we need to come up with an excuse to explain to them what happened.” Angie looked at Magenta, before she said “lift her on the couch – I have an idea.”
“And that is?”
“We make them think someone knocked them out and tied them up,” Angie said as they lifted Magenta onto the couch, Bobby watching as she went to the bathroom, and returned with a roll of white medical tape.
“They’ll never believe it!”
“Like they will believe what really happened? Give me a hand.” Bobby nodded as she crossed Magenta’s wrists in front of her, and then Angie taped them together, before she taped her black leather covered ankles, and then stuck several strips over her mouth.
They then did the same to Suzie, before the two sisters looked at each other. They then both burst out laughing as they went to the bedroom, returning with a pillow case that rattled as Bobby carried it.
“They can afford it – come on, we need to talk about this,” Angie said as they left, locking the apartment door behind themselves…
“Suzie – what happened,” Angie asked as she watched the police leave the flat.”
“I’m not sure – I remember going to get the key from you, but after that… Magenta and I just woke up to find ourselves bound and gagged, and some jewellery taken.”
“Wow – well, you took the keys and then went in. They must have been inside.”
“I know – we both had some dreams, must have been whatever they used to knock us out… Anyway, keep your eyes open.”
“I will,” Angie said as she closed the door. She looked at Bobby, before she said “so what do we do now…”
“So how are the girls?”
Bobby smiled as she sat across from Angie at the café. “Callie and Rhona are fine, if boisterous ten year olds. I left them with Carl – still single?”
Angie nodded as she stirred her coffee. “I just can’t seem to find the right man – you remember what that was like?”
“Yeah – but I was lucky. I found him,” Bobby said with a smile. She was wearing a blue trouser suit and a white camisole, with black heels, while Angie was wearing a grey dress and jacket. “Anyway, have you…”
“Once or twice – but it’s never quite the same without you, Sis.”
Bobby smiled as she shook her head. “I can understand that – so you feel like paying a little visit?”
“Who do you have in mind?” Once a year, for the last twenty years, the sisters had met and allowed the spirits that dwelled within them to come together. Not that they had not allowed it individually, but those were other stories…
Bobby nodded towards a nearby table that had two women sitting at it. One was in a wheelchair, a black leather jacket over her red blouse, the black leather boots visible under the long gypsy style chintz print skirt. The other woman had long ash blonde hair, a blue patterned scarf loose round her neck and other her own leather jacket, a black top and pleated blue skirt, also with black boots.
“They appear on television, don’t they?”
“Yup,” Bobby said quietly, as the redhead in the wheelchair started to wheel herself towards the car park nearby, the other woman heading inside. Angie nodded as Bobby smiled, and then stood up, following the disabled woman.
Bobby watched as the woman wheeled herself to a car, and then walked quickly over as she unlocked the rear door, watching as a ramp started to slowly descend to the ground. As the redhead turned her head, she asked “can I help you” as Bobby stood in front of her, and then blinked as Bobby smiled, her eyes starting to glow yellow...
“Sorry – I needed to go before we go, Andrea,” the other woman said as she walked over.
“Not a problem, Magda,” Andrea said form her wheelchair as her companion got into the passenger seat of the car, “so where are we heading now? Back to your place?”
“No – I thought we would head back to yours,” Andrea said with a smile.
“Well, you haven’t been to my house before – want me to show you the way?”
“Sounds good,” Andrea said as she started the car, and reversed out, as a second car pulled out and followed them.
“Here we are,” Magda eventually said as they pulled into the driveway of a detached house, “I’ll unlock the door while you get out.”
Andrea watched as her friend got out of the car, and then unlocked the chair, pressing a button as the rear door opened and the ramp went out. As she wheeled herself back, she glanced down at the rug at the side, the material rising and falling regularly.
“Well, this is a nice place,” Andrea said as she wheeled herself in. Magda nodded, and then said “excuse me a minute” as she went to answer the doorbell. Andrea turned and watched as she answered the door, saying “can I help you” before she stepped back, Angie walking in as well, her eyes yellow as her features and clothing started to blur. As she took on the form and clothing of Magda, the blonde crumpled to the floor, Andrea getting out of the chair and walking over to join the faux Magda.
“Give me a hand,” Angie said as she lifted the unconscious Magda by the arms, Bobby taking her legs as they carried her up the stairs and into a bedroom. As Andrea left, Bobby slipped the scarf off from round her neck and rolled it into a band, before she used it as a cleave gag in the unconscious woman’s mouth.
She looked back as Angie carried the unconscious Andrea in, ropes around her ankles, legs and upper body and a white scarf tied between her lips, before dropping a bag on the floor and laying Andrea next to Magda. As she took more ropes from the bag and rolled Magda onto her stomach, crossing her wrists and beginning to bind them together behind her back as Bobby looked round the room.
“I’ll go and get her handbag – see if they have a set of keys there.”
“Keys for what?”
“Her shop – she runs a fashion chain store.”
Bobby nodded as she put Magda’s ankles together and bound them with soft rope – it was going to be fun to find new clothes there…
“Police were called to a Marylebone flat today, when reports came in of a burglary. Unofficial reports are saying they found two women bound and gagged…”
As Bobby closed the door, she called out “anyone home?”
“Hey,” her husband said as he came out and kissed her, “the girls are up in their room. They were looking at one of your books – done some shopping?”
“A few new outfits,” Bobby said with a smile as she put the bags down, and walked up the stairs. Knocking on the bedroom door, she opened it and said “hey – what are my favourite girls…”
She stopped as she saw Callie lying on the bed, her eyes closed – and Callie turning her head and looking at her mother, her eyes wide in fear as she said “Mummy… We were reading your book, and found a rhyme…”
As she walked down the stairs, Lyra put her hand on the brown printed scarf that covered her head and neck, tucked under the collar of her white roll neck sweater. The sleeveless taupe wool jacket was wrapped round her, and her green skirt came down over her knees, covering the tops of her brown leather boots.
“How much longer are you going to be,” she called back up the staircase.”
“I will be a few more minutes,” a young female voice called back down, as Lyra walked along the corridor and looked in the front room. She allowed a smile to cross her lips as she looked round, and then she heard the knock on the front door.
“Who is it,” the voice called back down, Lyra calling back “I’ll find out” as she went and opened the front door. There was an older woman standing outside, a black scarf wrapped round her head and neck, a long black coat over her brown blouse and a black skirt with a thin white stripe. Long black boots covered her legs.
“I’m sorry,” Lyra said quietly, “can I help you?”
“Oh yes you can,” the stranger said quietly, “step back Callie, and let me in.”
Lyra stared at the woman, and then stepped back as she walked in, closing the door behind her as she looked round.
“How… How did you…”
“Because you’re not just my daughter – we have a lot more in common,” the older woman said with a smile, “where is Rhona?”
“Who was it,” a younger woman with a pink scarf said as she walked down the stairs, wearing a long sleeved grey top and jeans. She stopped and looked at the new arrival, before she said “Mum?”
“That’s right – I had a feeling you two were up to something when I overheard you this morning, and it seems I was right. So, where are they?”
Callie looked up the stairs, as the new arrival said “stay with your sister Rhona,” waiting for the younger girl to come down before she walked slowly up the stairs. She approached a room door, and opened it slowly, walking in and looking at the double bed.
Lyra and her daughter were lying on the bed, each with their wrists tied together and then raised above their heads, secured to the headboard. Their ankles were secured together with rope, as were their legs below their knees, and lengths of white tape were pressed firmly over their mouths, the shape of their lips clear underneath. Their eyes were closed, and their breathing was regular.
Satisfied, she walked slowly down the stairs, and looked at the other two women. “There is an excellent coffee house around the corner – you two, come with me…”
“It was that story in your book Mum,” Lyra said as she stirred the coffee with a spoon. “The one about the Japanese imp. We both read it that night five years ago, and then we were mucking round when Rhona touched my arm. The next thing I remember is waking up in bed the next morning – and then that night, Rhona told me how she had seen me fall unconscious, and what happened to her.
“A few weeks later, we were round at Aunt Angie’s house when she had to go to the shops, and we were left alone. Then these two women came in from the kitchen, both holding guns, and ordered us to stand up. Rhona and I looked at each other, and then at them, and there was this strange warm feeling in me as we turned our heads and looked at them. They could not stop staring at us, and then…”
“And then,” the younger girl said as she put her glass down, “there was this feeling like warm water washing over me as the two women collapsed. As they did so, however, I could see Callie changing into the woman who had been facing her…”
“And Rhona was changing into the second woman. We just looked at each other, and then Aunt Angie came back in. She took one look, and then went into the back room, coming back with some ropes. She taught us how to tie the two women up, and then put tape over their mouths, before we sat down and she told us the story.”
Both women watched as the black head scarfed woman wiped away a tear, Lyra putting her hand on her mother’s as she said “I know it’s been two years, but you still miss her, don’t you?”
As she nodded, she said “I haven’t done this since the accident – but when I saw the two of you going into that house, I knew I had to make sure you were all right.”
“Because it’s the first time, isn’t it?” She looked at the other two as they nodded, before she said “well, I’m your mother – I was concerned. How did you do it?”
Lyra smiled as she said “we walked up to the front door, the mother answered first, and I – well, you know what I did. Cassie went upstairs with me carrying her, and then we surprised her daughter.”
“And why did you pick them?”
“Their store – takings day.”
Nodding, the older woman said “and they are?”
Lyra picked up a handbag and put it down, before she shivered. “Before we change again – what did you do?”
“She’s in the back office – told you I knew a good coffee house. Now, we should retire to the toilets, before some rather awkward questions get asked – and when we get home, I’ll tell you the best way to do this.”
Ophelia smiled as she walked into the office, her leopard print silk skirt moving with every step she took in her designer black suede shoes.
“Hey Mum,” she said as she removed her leather jacket, leaving it on the back of the chair as she rubbed her bare arms. Her top was made from black Egyptian cotton, the tie neck loosely secured and hanging down in front of her. “Any new business?”
“We have a client coming in a few minutes, Ophelia,” the older woman said with a smile as she walked round. She was wearing a black silk dress with a red floral print on it, and red heels, her head up in a bun while her daughter’s flowed freely down her back.
“Oh? What are they interested in,” Ophelia said as she sat back.
“Your designer necklaces – and that will be them now,” she said as she went and opened the office door,” Ophelia standing up as she said “Welcome to Chance Bespoke Jewellery – I’m Agatha Chance, my daughter Ophelia?”
Ophelia looked at the two women as they walked in, obviously sisters, both wearing soft grey leather jackets over white silk sweaters and designer jeans.
“Pleasure to meet you both,” the taller of the two women said, “a very secure office you have here.”
“Given our trade, this is necessary,” Ophelia said as she made her way over to a set of leather chairs, round a low table. “My mother informs me you are interested in some of our designs?”
“We are indeed,” the second woman said, “you were recommended to us for something we wish to have prepared for my wedding.”
“Well, we’re always willing to discuss the needs of our potential clients,” Agatha said as she sat down.
“That is a beautiful bracelet – may I have a look at it?”
“Of course,” Agatha said as she held her hand out, the client taking it and looking at her, smiling as a warm feeling started to flow through her. Agatha stared at the client’s eyes as they started to glow yellow, and then she fainted, Ophelia watching as she said “Mum, what…”
“Hush,” the younger girl said as she took Ophelia’s hand, and the daughter suddenly started to feel faint – but as her eyes closed, she swore the woman holding her hand seemed to start to shimmer and change.
As the two dark skinned women fell onto the seats they were occupying, the clients looked at each other, their eyes glowing yellow as their body shapes and skin tones shimmered and blurred, then settled into those of Agatha and Ophelia.
“How come I have to be the older woman,” Callie said as she reached into her handbag and took out a roll of silver tape, kneeling in front of Agatha as she put her ankles together and started to wrap the tape tightly round them.
“Luck of the coin, remember,” Rhona, now the spitting image of Ophelia said as she also fetched a roll of silver tape form her bag, and walked behind the younger woman, taking her hands behind her back and starting to tape her wrists together. “Come on – let’s get them secured, and then we can have our fun for today…”