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The New Hansel and Gretel (Part 3) :iconpersonalias:Personalias 7 8
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The Middle of the End

My name is Richard, not Richie.

I am not a baby, I’m an adult.

I’m twenty eight…no thirty.  Fuck, fuck, fuck!

(Keep it together Rich.  Keep it together. You know numbers.  You still know numbers. JUST FOCUS! START OVER!)

My name is Richard, not Richie.

I am not a baby, I am an adult.

I’m thirty years old.

Gwendolyn is my wife, not my mommy…mother…fuck!

(Keep going.  Power through.)

I’m an…accountant?

(That doesn’t sound right. Something with numbers though.  Something with numbers. Ones and zeroes.  Computer programmer?  Maybe.  Let’s try that out.)

My name is Richard, not Richie.

I am not a baby, I am an adult.

I’m thirty years old.

Gwen is my wife, not my mother.

I’m a computer programmer.

(Yeah that sounds right.  Keep going.)

I don’t need to sleep in cribs.

I don’t need to drink from a bottle.

I don’t need to be spoon fed.

I don’t need diapers. 

I don’t need any of this baby stuff.

One day, I will wake up, and this will all be over.

I’m lying in a crib, staring up at the dangling ducks on the mobile like I do every night and afternoon nap, reciting my mantra in my head.  It’s getting harder to concentrate, harder to focus, and it’s not just because I’m getting sleepy.

I don’t even get a pillow, I’m so young…I’m treated so young…I’m actually thirty-…ish… I think.  Maybe late twenties…it’s hard to tell.  I’m wearing feetie pajamas with airplanes on them, and a diaper underneath.

I think I’m dry right now, but it’s hard to tell.  It’s hard enough to tell how long this bucket of crazy that’s my existence has been going on, the days just seem to blur together.  Whether my diaper is wet or not- that’s something that’s beyond me at the moment.  I’ll be wet in the morning, that’s for sure, and I’m in a nighttime diaper. So unless I wake up in the middle of the night, bawling, I’m probably not getting changed till the sun is up.  So me being wet or not at the moment is irrelevant. By the time a grown-up; my wife; sees me tomorrow, I will be.

Shit, I gotta stop doing that: Referring to other adults as “grown-ups”.

I’m losing it.  I’ve been losing it.  I’ve been losing it since that day when everything turned upside down.  I still can’t make sense of anything anymore.  Reciting this mantra- reminding myself of basic facts about my life before-is the only thing that keeps me hanging on instead of going full on retard.  Never go full retard.

Heh…that was a joke from some movie, but I can’t for the life of me remember which one.  I haven’t watched anything that wasn’t animated in I-don’t-know-how long.

But I’m slipping:  The mantra gets messier every time I recite it.  Shorter too, I think; like I’m forgetting stuff that I used to put into it.  I’m getting basic facts wrong; remembering them wrong, or just feeling off about it.  Hell, maybe I was an accountant before my life went south.  I don’t know.

The mantra’s losing its meaning too.  It used to give me focus, I think; like meditation, or prayer.  I’m afraid that it’s becoming just something that I just say right before I drift off to sleep.  “Now I lay me down to sleep, my name is Richie, I’m not a baby, I’m an adult, and if I die before I wake I pray the Lord my toys to break so all the other kids can’t have them.”

And every time I go to sleep, a little less of me, the real me, comes back.

I’ve got to remember more than just words.  I’ve got to remember how it all happened.  What did I do to deserve this?  I didn’t piss off a gypsy, or enter a magic shop, or volunteer for a hypnotist act or do drugs.  God I wish I’d done drugs, then this would all make sense.  I’m tripping balls or something and any minute I’m going to wake up hung over.  But it’s been too long for that.

It’s been way too long.  Was it a year ago?  Thereabouts.  Yeah.  Maybe a year ago, when I pulled the car over to go pee.  I don’t even remember where I pulled over.  Maybe it was a bowling alley.  Maybe it was a church.  Or a college campus.  I honestly can’t for the life of me remember.  All I remember is it was a place where you wouldn’t normally think of childcare, but you wouldn’t think it that weird that they had a daycare or something like that.  Bowling alleys have daycares, right?  Right.

I had been driving, with Gwendolyn; my wife, (not my mommy) and I really had to pee.  We had been driving for a long ways.  Vacation?  Road trip?  Business?  Going to a concert, maybe?   I can’t remember anymore.  It’s all fuzzy.  You’d think I’d remember the exact day, but so much of my memory leading up to that moment has become multiple choice.

I wanna say that it was for something fun.  Gwen had her hair down, and she was wearing that top that I really like:  The blue one that shows a lot of cleavage. It makes her rack look like it did when we were in college.   Damn she looks hot in that thing.  And that long dark hair of hers, I don’t care if she’s already starting to gray a little bit up top; likely the result of stress from whatever the fuck her job was…or is… I can’t remember and she never tells me where she goes to work anymore.  It’s just “work”.

I’d look at her dressed like that, in that skirt that stops way above her knee, and get to thinking “If it weren’t for me needing to pee so bad, I’d pull over and take her right now.  We’d do it in the road like the Beatles song.”

Gwen loves the Beatles. She’s an old soul. I don’t know if she still likes the Beatles, but she did a year or so ago. Now she just listens to Raffi, and the Wiggles when I’m around. That kind of kiddie garbage.   No more “obla-dee obbla-da”.  Now, it’s just “skinamarink-a-dink-a-dink”.

If I had known that would be the last time I was gonna be in the driver’s seat, I would’ve pulled over and humped her in the back, Volkswagen be damned.

Now, were we on our way somewhere fun, or on our way home?  I don’t know.  I don’t fuckin’ know.  I’m getting over it and moving on before I lose that memory forever, too.

All I know right then is that I have to pee somethin’ fierce.  The dam’s about to break, and I need to find a toilet since ten miles back.  So, we pull off the interstate-I miss the gas stations, traffic is so bad and won’t let me turn- and we come to the first place that likely has a bathroom.  Maybe it was a bowling alley.  Maybe it was a campus of some community college.  Maybe it was a church, for all I know.  Not important anymore.  Beyond me now.  Moving on.

I rush into the place, ready to burst, and no one is there.  Hallways- there were hallways, I’m sure- are empty.  Doors are closed.  No one’s around.  If it was a bowling alley, the lanes were empty.  If it was a college, class wasn’t in session.  If it was a church, the rapture must’ve happened.

So I’m in an empty building, alone- Gwen didn’t have to go, or something, so she’d just wait in the car- and I’m about to piddle on the carpet like a little purse dog, when I see a sign.  It says “Nursery and Restrooms” and has a little arrow pointing left.  So of course, I take a left.

I walk left.  Then I run.  Then I dash.  Then I sprint till I finally, finally, get to a door that says “Nursery”.  It’s got a construction paper rainbow over the word and little happy face stickers all over the door.  No bathroom, though.

There’s no toilet in sight, I must’ve run right past it, and I’m squeezing my legs together and shuffling my feet in a little potty dance like I’m three or something.  So I do the one civilized thing I can think of and I knock on the door.

From here on out, I feel like I’m remembering things more clearly.  The details are sharper; more definite.  Maybe I ambrainwashed or something, and that’s why from here on out everything is so much more clear.  I’m not remembering things as they were, but as I’ve been made to remember them.  Maybe I’m not really remembering this as much as I think, and I’ve just relived this nightmare so many times in my head that it’s become real to me; the details exaggerated till they become fact instead of exaggeration.

Doesn’t matter.  I don’t know.  But maybe there’s a clue in them.  Moving on.

I knock on the door and a woman answers.  She looks like maybe she’s in her late forties, or early fifties, but life hasn’t wrecked her yet.  She’s a little bit taller than me- not that I’m a giant or anything but it sticks out in my mind- and she’s got light brown hair that’s tied back into a bun.  Her chin is square like an army drill sergeant and her eyes have this glint to them that says ‘Don’t fuck with me’.  Definitely a mom look.

She’s got a sky blue shirt on with little decorations of baby clothes like onesies, and t-shirts, and pants, and bibs and the word, “B-A-B-Y” printed out on building blocks, all along a thin black line, like her shirt was the sky and someone took a ton of little baby clothes and hung them out to dry on her shirt.  Yeah, she worked here.

“Yes, can I help you?” she asks, all business-like, before looking at me, my hands pinching my dick with me doubled over in pain.  My kidneys hate me so much right now.  “Oh,” she giggles a little bit.  “Do you need to use the bathroom?”  I nod frantically and she opens the door for me so I can squeeze through, still dancing.  “Come on in” she says.

She points me straight ahead, and asks me my name.

“Richard,” I say as I’m practically tripping over myself to take a piss.

“Are you hear to pick up or drop off?”  The nursery lady asks.

“Neither,” I tell her.  “I just gotta go!” and I dash to the door with a little toilet on the front.  I’ve got tunnel vision at this point.  A derby horse with blinders on could still see around him more than me.  For me it was straight ahead and nothing else.

“Okay, go on, Richie” the lady giggles after me. If there are kids in this daycare place right now, I don’t notice ‘em.  I might be tripping and stepping over a couple of tots on my way to the john.  I’m only hoping there isn’t some toddler on the pot so I don’t walk in on them.  Last thing I need is to wind up on some list because preschoolers don’t know how to lock a bathroom door.  But the lady seems cool with it, so I think I’m in the clear.

I open the door, and my belt is already unbuckled.  The door closes, and my pants are already around my ankles while I’m twisting the little lock on the door so I don’t get walked in on.  That’d be another great way to end up on the list.  “What was he doing at a daycare bathroom if he wasn’t a parent?” they’d ask.  “Why didn’t he lock the door?”  You read about this kind of shit all the time.

Fuck the zipper, I’m not wearing any underwear that day, I’m not thinking straight, and I’m not getting my cock caught in a zipper as I make a desperate dash to relief.   I am literally hopping to the toilet.

I lift the brown shell up, I aim in the middle, not even bothering with the seat, and I fire my steam out.  My own moans of relief drown out the sound of piss hitting a plastic bottom.  My brain is in too much ecstasy to realize that I should be hearing the sound of liquid hitting liquid and that normal toilets don’t have brown shells for lids.

It’s only after that my bladder is empty that I stop and take stock of my surroundings.  I’m in a single, one person bathroom.  With a little sink that you’d have to bend over to wash your hands in.  There are little paintings and posters on the walls about remembering to wash your hands, and to wipe when you’re done, but no normal toilet.

Instead, right in front of me, is a turtle.  A.  Fucking. Turtle.  It’s a plastic potty, like a two year old would sit on, but a heck of a lot bigger.  The lid is patterned like a shell, with the rest of it being a nauseating dark green color.  Right out in front is the turtle’s head with a big goofy smile and vacant, lifeless eyes.  The turtle was smiling at me while I pissed inside its shell.

I think I had a sandbox like this once, back when I was in kindergarten, only with more urine in it- mostly from cats.

And it’s a scaled-up version of a toddler toilet in every way, too.  Big. Plastic. And no plumbing or flushing mechanism.  Right then, my mind is racing.  I just pissed into a plastic potty.  Me. A grown-up.  My stomach is doing flip flops, I’m so embarrassed.

Then I see a sign above the potty:  “If you need help, go ask a grown-up.”  I wanna dash out the door, out of the nursery, through the empty hallway, and out to the parking lot back to Gwen so I can get my trip going again, but I’d feel like a real heel if I didn’t at least fess up to my mistake.  Somebody is going to have to dump my piss down the pipes and that doesn’t seem right to me.  Maybe if I explain it well enough, they’ll at least let me do it myself; no hard feelings.   The potty looks big, but it’s mostly plastic, so it doesn’t look that hard to pick up, even filled with a couple of my leftover liters in it.

I reach down and hike my pants up and button the snaps up.  I don’t bother to buckle my belt.  It’s not there anymore.  (It’s not there anymore?  Wait a second…why was it gone?)

Where the fuck did my belt buckle go?  Oh my God!  I just had a breakthrough!  The changes were starting right then and there! And my pants didn’t have snap buttons before!  The changes were starting by the time I was in the bathroom! I could have sworn it was the sippy cup full of juice that did it.  Maybe it was something in the air, or the place itself. Shit, don’t forget that, Richard!  Don’t forget that!  Moving on.

So, pants back up, I poke my head out of the bathroom and call out, “Excuse me?”

The tall lady in the nursery turns her head and says, “Is something wrong?” Her brow furrows like she’s concerned or something.  I’m beat red just thinking about how my pee is taking up space in a plastic bowl that I can’t just flush away.  I just nod my head, feeling sheepish.

“Got a bit of a problem,” I start to explain, but before I can even get the rest of the damn sentence out of my throat, she’s on me.  The bathroom door is open, and she’s right in my personal space with her hand on my chest, pushing me backwards.

My hands go up instinctively and I find myself backing up instead of pushing back.  I don’t know if this lady is pissed, or what, but I’m not looking for a fight, so I just go on the defensive.  I’m back in the bathroom with her, and now the door is closed.

Then, still looking me in the eyes, her hands go for my pants and unbutton them. Simple as that.

“Whoah!” I start to say something, but she’s yanking my pants back down to my ankles.  “Hey?!  Don’t?!” I’m sputtering out, thinking this lady’s trying to give me a blow job or something.  Yeah, I sound like a creep saying it like that, but how many stories do you hear about a grown woman unbuttoning a guy’s pants without any kind of warning and it not be sexual?

Before I can do anything about it, she pushes me back again, and the next thing I know, my cheeks are spread sitting on the giant turtle potty.

The lady takes a knee beside me and grabs my penis in one hand.  I freeze.  I don’t dare stand up.  I don’t dare move. She’s got me just north of the balls.  I’m expecting her to start squeezing or yanking or something, but instead she’s just holding my cock daintily in her fingers; thumb on the bottom, two fingers on top.

“What are-?” I start to say and then she presses her free pointer finger to my lips.

“Shhhh” she cuts me off.  “Go potty first, big boy.  Then we’ll talk.”  She’s got my dick pointed at the back of the potty turtle’s head.  It’s a splash guard, I realize, for little boys that are too young, dumb, and short to aim down.  This crazy bitch expects me to piss sitting down like I don’t have the coordination to relieve myself standing up the way God intended.

No one’s ever talked to me this way, and I feel myself go three shades of red.  I’m too scared to move, though.  Also, I’m running on empty, urine-wise, this woman has my dick in her hands and is watching me way too closely, and with the sudden rush of blood that I’m experiencing to my nether regions…well let’s just say that I’m having the weirdest case of performance issues ever.  I want to pee to get this over with and be able to run out of here, but I just can’t.

“Having trouble?” she asks me, as if that weren’t obvious.

“Yeah, but-“, I start to say, but she cuts me off again.

“Denise!” she calls out. “Denise!  A little help, please?”

Another woman opens up the bathroom door and pokes her head in.  She looks closer to my age, maybe even a little younger.  She’s blonde, and her hair is kept back in a ponytail.  It’s obvious by her identical shirt that she works here too.  I don’t remember seeing her when I was pee-pee dancing in, though.

“Yeah, Kate?” this new girl, Denise asks.  She’s staring right at me, naked from the waist down, with my penis clearly in this lady, Kate’s hands.  Denise doesn’t even flinch.  She doesn’t bat an eyelid. I don’t register to her.  I might as well not even be there.  I’m not a real person to her, or something.  I’m a fixture with the bathroom.  I’m practically part of the big plastic turtle potty that I’m sitting on.

“Sippy cup of apple juice?” Kate asks the younger woman, also not paying any attention to me.

“Comin’ right up,” Denise says before slipping her head out, but the door is still open a crack.  I don’t hear anything.  As far as I know, me, Kate, and Denise are the only three people in the whole building.  They must be getting their jollies off on me, I think.

Kate looks up from the door back up at me.  “She’ll be right back with some apple juice,” she says to me as if I didn’t hear everything.  “Let’s see if that helps you go potty.” I just sit there like a putz.  I could pop her in the eye; maybe make a break for it.  She’s got about an inch or two on me when we’re both standing, but I’ve got more muscle on my body, the element of surprise is on my side and my adrenaline is definitely pumping and telling me “fight or flight”.  She’s also kneeling right now; not what you’d think of as a fighting stance.  Worst case scenario, my common sense tells me, she digs her nails into my dick and I get scratches in some very uncomfortable places.

Still, I could get away and this just becomes one hella weird story to tell after a whle.

But what if I don’t get away?  What if she or her sick friend have some kind of pepper spray or Taser or something?  Then the cops get called and it’s my word against two women who work in a fuckin’ nursery.  I’m not even a local, so it’s not like I’ve got character witnesses or anything.  I decide not to act and just see how this all plays out.  That was Hamlet’s great flaw too, I think.

“Here you go,” Denise leans back into the little bathroom again, holding a decent sized plastic mug with two handles on it.  Just like before, she looks at the woman who’s holding my privates hostage, and not me.  I mean, she’s looking at me but she’s not really acknowledging me.  Just as quick, she pops her head out, and the door finally closes, leaving me alone with just the one psycho woman holding my penis to the back of a potty turtle’s head.

“Drink this,” Kate hands the sippy cup to me, and almost instinctively I grab onto the handles.  “This will help you go potty.”

I want to get this over with as quickly as possible, so I tilt it back and pour the apple juice inside down my throat.  At least I think it was apple juice.  It was sweet, and a little tangy I guess.  More poetic men than me would describe it in more detail, but really, it was just apple juice to me.  Nothing to write home about, not that I intended to write home about any of what was going on just now.  Get me out of here let me pee in front of this sick woman, and let me get back to my car so my wife and I can get back on the road.

For the longest time, I’ve assumed that there was something in that juice that made what happened happen; like I was drugged or something.  But the no belt thing now makes me think more was going on than I thought.  Gotta stay focused and remember, though.  What went on that day is the clearest that I can remember anything.  Everything before then has been swallowed up in a never ending series of feedings, naptimes, bath times, and diaper changes.  That’s why I have the mantra:  To keep what little I still have.

Holy shit, that last time on the turtle potty might have been the last time I relieved myself outside of my own pants.   Rambling again. Stop that!  Talking to myself?  Fine.  Rambling to myself? I’m drawing the line.  Cut it out.  Moving on.  Just remember.

So there I am, chugging juice from a sippy cup, while a forty-something lady points my Johnson at a splash guard on a giant toddler toilet like I’m a two-something.  Gwen’s gotta be wondering what the hell is taking me so long, but I absolutely do not want her to see me like this.

“I’ll sing a song to help you relax,” Kate, the nutter, tells me, uninvited.  Then she starts singing this dumb little song, my prick still between her fingers.  It’s a little like that one song: ‘I like to eat-eat-eat apples and bananas’ but it’s missing a few beats.

“I can go poop-and-pee…on the potty,” she sings to me like this is my first time.  I mean, it’s my first time that I can remember where someone else is holding my dick for me; it’s not like it’s my first time taking a piss, but it’s definitely the first time where this level of bullshit has happened.  “I can go poop-and-pee…on the potty.”  I’m more weirded out by this than anything, but if I’m showing it, she’s ignoring it.

Her voice echoes off the bathroom walls.  I gotta admit, it’s kind of pretty.  Not professional level, mind you, but nobody sounds professional in the bathroom.  Kinda sweet though.  The fuck am I saying?  Moving on!  Moving on!

Finally, after about two or three minutes, I feel something, and a little spurt of pee comes out of me.  It’s not much- barely a dribble-but it splashes against the back of the turtle’s head.

“All done?” Kate looks up at me, her eyes making it a genuine question.  It’s like my cock is a loaded gun and she’s a little afraid to let go cause it’ll go off.  Mortified beyond belief, I nod.  Then she let’s go of me and claps her hands while cheering.  “Yaaaaay Richard!” she says

“Can I get up now?” I ask her.  I probably shouldn’t have asked her.  I should’ve just stood up.  But things were just too weird for me and I was failing on every level to take control.  Moving on.

“Uh huh,” she says, and I stand up, feeling like I’m almost home.  I reach down to pull my pants up, but then Kate bats my hands away with a slap. I jerk my hands away from my own slacks like I just got caught trying to sneak a cookie.  “Don’t worry,” she says, “let me,” and she grabs my pants and starts shimmying them back up my thighs.  My dumb ass lets her.

Just when I can feel the elastic waist band of my slacks start to brush against my bum, (Elastic waist band? Holy shit that’s another difference I didn’t notice before…the fuck happened?) she stops and I hear a little gasp from her.

“Richard,” she says, her voice echoing off the wall with an accusation building up right behind it.  “Two questions.”

“What?” I gulp, feeling like I’m going to regret this.

“Where’s your underwear?” Kate asks, like I’ve done something wrong.

“I’m not wearing any today,” I tell her.  What?  I like free-balling.  It’s not like there’s a law saying that I have to wear them.  It’s not like I came in there wearing Underoos and ditched them in a trashcan or something.

“And what’s this?” she points to something on the front my pants.  Her tone is like the lawyer that just asked the guilty schmuck the case winning question, proving that he did it; he killed old lady Whithers or some such bullshit.

I squint my eyes and look down at the front of my pants.  She folds them forward so I can see a little better.  Maybe a quarter inch to the right of the zipper, is a wet spot.  A tiny wet spot.  It’s like somewhere between the size of a dime and a penny.  Okay, so maybe I leaked a little out in the last few milliseconds.  It happens.  It’s not a big deal.  If you weren’t looking directly at my crotch, (which you shouldn’t be), and weren’t looking for it, (which again you shouldn’t be), you wouldn’t even notice it.  It’d be dry inside of five minutes, anyways.

Her hand is on my chest again, and she’s pushing me back.  I don’t want to move, but the back of my legs hit the big turtle potty and my knees instantly buckle.  I’m sitting back down on the potty again. “Sit here,” she tells me, pointing her finger at me, “just in case.”  She turns towards the bathroom door again.  “Denise?” she yells.  Denise pokes her head in again.

“Yeah, Kate?”

“Richard had a little accident,” Kate says.  My jaw drops to my knees.  “Do we have any extra shorts or undies for him?”

“Hold on, I’ll check,” Denise tells Kate before her head disappears out of the bathroom again.

“What-?” I start to complain, but the crazy woman just puts another finger to my lips and I find myself unable to speak up.

“Just hold on, Richard,” she whispers to me, all soothing like.  “Miss Denise is checking.”  The door opens again and Denise pops her head in.

“Nothing in his size,” she says to Kate, not me.  I’m still invisible.  This is an ‘A-B’ conversation and they’re making sure that I ‘C’ my way out of it. (Shit, can I still spell?  R-I-C-A…R-I-C-C…fuck my life.  Moving on.)  Point is, I’m thinking “Of course there isn’t anything in my size.”  I’m a grown-up.  I’m too friggin’ big for anything they have.

“Pull-ups?” Kate asks.

The word “Seriously?!” might as well be tattooed on my forehead, I’m so confused and indignant.  Who do these people think they are?  Thing is, Kate’s face is completely straight.  The pull-ups question is a serious and genuine question to her.

“Only girls’” little blonde Denise says.  She’s doesn’t even smirk.

“Doubt mom would like that,” Kate clicks her tongue.

“Nope,” Denise agrees.  Why are they even talking about this?  I don’t know.  The real question is why am I not running?  Something about this still has me paralyzed.  For some reason, I’m still waiting to see how this all plays out.  Hamlet’s flaw.

“Well then we’ll do what we have to do and then explain it to his mother,” Kate sighs.  Denise disappears yet again and Kate turns to face me, my ass still kissing the plastic seat.  She looks anxious, but not afraid; like she’s about to break bad news.

Kate takes a knee and looks me straight in the face.  She’s wearing nursery scrubs and she’s suddenly the doctor telling me I’ve got three months to live.

“You’re not in trouble,” she tells me solemnly.  “But you’ve had a little pee-pee accident, and your pants are wet.”

“So?” I ask her.  “Who cares?  Just let me go, and I’ll be out of your hair.”  She sets her hand on my shoulder, like she’s trying to comfort me.

“You know I can’t do that, Richie,” she tells me, full on serious.  “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I let you walk around in pee-pee pants.”

“Look, lady,” I say, “my wi-“

“Your mommy won’t be mad,” Kate interrupts me. “We’ll explain everything to her when she comes to pick you up later today.”  Right then, Denise slips in, holding something in her hand.  Something white and rectangular and plastic looking.

Kate turns her head to Denise.  “Help me get his pants off.”

“WHAT?!” I yell, my voice echoing off the bathroom floor.  I try to stand up, but before I do, both of Kate’s hands are on my shoulders and she’s standing over me.  She’s pushing me down, and my arms are pinned to my sides all of a sudden.  I expect to be able to push her back or off or something, but she’s not budging.  I’m grunting and groaning like a motherfucker, but this crazy bitch who’s only an inch or so taller than me and who I’ve got to have like fifty to a hundred pounds on isn’t even struggling.

Like, I’m not a fighter or anything, but I should be doing better than this.  She should at least have to be right on top of me, straddling my naked ass with and pinning me with all of her weight.  Basic physics, right?

But she’s not.  She’s standing off to the side, holding me down on a humongous child’s toilet and all I can do is grunt and strain so that I at least feel that I’m putting up a good fight.  I’m not, though.  She might as well be Thor’s hammer or something, and I am definitely

Meanwhile, my shoes are off my feet and little blonde Denise is working my slacks off of me.  I’m kicking and flailing my legs, trying to kick her teeth out by this point- fuck pressing charges, this has gotta be some kind of assault- but it’s not working.  She just yanks my pants off and holds my legs by wrapping just one arm around my ankles.  The other hand is still holding the white plastic looking thing. I might as well be a fly in a spider’s web.

“It’s okay, Richard.  It’s okay!”  They both say while I’m doing everything I can to get free.  Meanwhile I’m cursing and screaming for help that’s not coming.  Maybe Gwen will hear me and come running.  Why isn’t she here yet?  It feels like it’s been at least ten minutes since I left the car, all told.

When I’m panting and heaving, red faced and feeling exhausted, Kate loosens her grip, and looks me in the eyes again.

“Are you done?” Kate asks me.

I nod yes, out of breath and feeling like I’m out of options.

“Now listen, sweetie,” the older woman says like she’s talking to a child, taking my chin in her hand.  “You had a little accident.  We’re not mad.  It happens sometimes to boys your age.”

“All the time,” Denise confirms, still holding my legs.   Everything in me is telling me to run and hide, but Hamlet’s flaw has run its course.  I’m in too deep now.  (I gotta wonder if this was the point of no return, or if there was other opportunities that I didn’t take.  Moving on.)

“But the thing is,” Kate keeps talking, “Miss Kate and Miss Denise don’t have any extra big boy undies that fit you.  We don’t even have any boy Pull-Ups. But we can’t let you go walking around wearing pee-pee pants and we definitely can’t let you walk around naked, either.”  She takes a deep breath.  Here it comes, I sense.  “So we’re going to have to put you in a diaper.”

“Diaper?!” I shriek. Then it clicks that that’s what Denise is holding; an adult diaper.  What kind of fucked up place are these crazy witches running?! I feel Denise clamp down on my legs with superhuman strength, bracing for another round of my flailing.  I don’t give her the satisfaction.

“It’s okay,” she shushes me and then starts trying to reassure me at rapid fire speed.  “It’s okay.  You’re not in trouble.  This isn’t a punishment.  You’re not a baby.  You’re still a big boy.  You can still use the potty if you need to.  It’s just a diaper is all that we have that will fit you right now. ”

“But, but, but,” I stutter, trying to interrupt this woman and not finding the words.

“You don’t have to use it,” Kate talked over me.  “You just have to wear it till your mommy comes and picks you up.”

“But my wife is in the car-“ I argue, “I can just leave and-”

“No you can’t, honey,” Kate cuts me off.  “Your mommy left you with us to take care of you, and that’s what we have to do till she gets back.”

“But my wife is right outside in the car!” I shout.  “Let me go get her!”

“That’s not what mommy said,” Kate says looking deep into my eyes.  “She said she’s be right back after she ran some errands in the car.  Isn’t that right, Denise?”

“That’s right,” Denise echoes.

“GWEN!” I shout at the top of my lungs.  “GWEN HELP!”

“Gwen?” Denise talks over me.

“Mom’s first name,” Kate says over her shoulder.  Then she turns back to me.  “Look, you’re not gonna get in trouble for wearing a diaper,” she lectures to me as if that’s my biggest concern.  “When your mommy, when Gwen gets here to pick you up, we’ll tell her what happened.  If she gets mad; she’ll get mad at us.  Okay?”

Damn right, she’d get mad at them. This is unlawful imprisonment.  This is kidnapping, including literally treating me like a kid.

“Now, you have two choices, Richard” she says to me.  “You can either be a good boy and let me put a diaper on you, and you can go play till someone comes to pick you up, OR you can make a bad decision, and we’ll still put a diaper on you, but you’ll be in time out instead.  Which is it?”

It’s only going to be a matter of time before Gwen comes looking for me.  Maybe I can run, then.  Worst part is, I know that I’m going to end up diapered regardless.  There’s something weird about these chicks.  Something not quite human.  I’d rather stay on their good side.

“Okay,” I say.  I’m resigned to my fate.  This is gonna be one hell of story.  I’m sure I’m gonna look back at this one day and laugh.  Denise lets my legs go, and Kate takes a step back from me.  She holds out her hand behind her and Denise slips her the adult diaper.

“I got this one,” she says to Denise, and Denise opens the bathroom door and walks out again with my pants, socks, and shoes.  “You can stand up,” Kate says to me, and I do what she says.  I’m covering my junk and I’m hunched over, feeling really fucking small right then, in more ways than one.

Kate looks at me and giggles a little bit.  “It’s okay, Richie.  Nothing I haven’t seen before.”

I was going to say that she hadn’t seen mine before, but that wasn’t true.  So I just keep quiet.

“Lay down on the floor,” she orders me, and I crouch down, feeling the cool tile beneath my now bare feet.  Then I ease on and lay down.  It’s crowded here and I barely fit lying down.  It’s cold too.  My ass is sticking slightly to the tile.  The lady takes a knee next to me and starts to unfold the diaper in front of me.

I get a closer look at it, and I notice that this isn’t an adult diaper.  It’s got little decorations on it.  Teddybears with balloons and parachutes and stuff.  I didn’t know they made kid diapers that big.

I let out a little “ugh” of surprise and discomfort as she slithers her arm underneath my knees and lifts my legs up into the air.  If she has just asked for me to raise my hips I would have planted my feet and pushed, but she didn’t.  Instead she just pushes my legs back till my ass is in the air. Meanwhile, I’m still covering my crotch out of embarrassment.

I watch helplessly as she slides the unfolded diaper under me and sets me down on it.  It feels soft on my bum and it crinkles as my weight comes down on the thick padding.  It’s warm and comfortable compared to the hard, cold, bathroom floor tiling.

“Move your hands,” she tells me, and I obey, knowing that I can’t do much about it anyways.  “Spread your legs,” she tells me. I do what she says.  Then Kate, this fucking nursery worker who I’ve known for all of ten minutes, tops, pulls the front of the diaper over me.  She reaches down to my left side and tucks the front end past the back.  She pulls the back of the left side up over the front and tapes it on to the front.  Then she does the same for the other side.

The whole thing goes taut, and encases me.  It’s only held together by two big pieces of tape; it’s practically a patchwork hanging by a thread.  But you wouldn’t know it by the feel of it.  It’s one solid, soldered together unit.  Yup.  I’m wearing a diaper now.  The baby perfume from the damn thing invades my nostrils.  I can practically taste the stuff.

Kate stands up first and leans over.  “That’s wasn’t so bad, was it?”  I don’t say anything.  I’m probably gonna shoot my mouth off and I don’t want some kind of ‘roided up superwoman spanking me- I wouldn’t put it past her.  She leans over me and offers me her hand.  I take it and she helps me to my feet.

When I stand up, I realize something feels off; and I don’t mean about how I have to stand with my legs further apart than I’m used to.  And I don’t mean how the frilly little leg gathers tickle the inside of my thighs.  I’m not talking about how my blue t-shirt only comes down past my waist, barely managing to cover up the little cartoon bears on the diaper, either. (Was it a t-shirt when I came in? I could’ve sworn it was at least a polo shirt or something with a collar.  Moving on)

It’s Kate.  She seems… taller.  A couple of minutes ago she had maybe an inch on me, but now I’m craning my neck up to look her in the eye.  I come up to about her shoulder all of a sudden.  My shoes didn’t give me that much lift, did they?

I try to move past her and get out the bathroom, but Kate blocks my way.  “Just a second, Richie,” she tells me.

“Now what?” I complain.

“You better wash your hands,” she tells me.

“What?!”  The word just leaps out of my throat.

“You might have had a pee-pee accident,” she says, “but you still got most of it in the big boy potty.  Good job!”  She raises her hand and offers it as a high five.  I don’t move.  She puts her hand down.  “Big boys wash their hands after they go to the potty.”

“Are you serious?” I ask.

“That’s what big boys do,” she answers, completely missing the point of my question.  “You’re a big boy, aren’t you?”

What a ridiculous question!  I nod.

“So let’s wash your hands.”

Suddenly I’m being shoved towards the little sink.  It doesn’t seem as little now, though.  I don’t have to bend over as much.  Kate’s leaning over my shoulder now, turning on the sink.

She grabs my wrists and runs them under the water.  “First we get ‘em wet,” she announces.  Then she grabs a bar of soap and puts it in the palm of my hands.  I’m like a puppet as she has me rub my hands together building up a foam, “Then we get them good and soapy.”  I drop the soap and she doesn’t say anything.  She just keeps having me rub my hands together.  “Then we rinse them off.” It’s that scene from “Ghost” all over again, only I’m the little spoon and the soundtrack is her telling me how to wash my goddamn hands.

She reaches past me again, and turns the water off, and grabs a paper towel and hands it to me.

Drying my hands:  This she lets me do by myself.

“All done,” she announces, as if I don’t friggin’ know.  I throw away the little brown paper towel into some dinky trash can, and then I feel her hand on my shoulder.  I whirl around and face her.  She is still waaaaaay to close and in my personal space.  She doesn’t seem to notice.

“Remember,” she says to me, “You’re still a big boy who knows how to use the big boy potty.”

I cock an eyebrow.  I nod.  Uh…duh?

“I don’t want you going potty in your diaper on purpose,” she rambles on.  “You’re potty trained.  You’re a big boy and I still want you to act like it.  If you need to go potty, just come get me and I’ll help you take your diaper off.  You’re not going to pee-pee in your diaper on purpose, are you?”

I just shake my head, but probably not for the reason she thinks.

“Okay, good.” She nods.  I turn my head towards the bathroom door.  Never before have I wanted to be out of anywhere worse than right then.  Her hand is on my chin and I’m looking her in the eyes again.

“Oh, one more thing,” she adds.  “If you do have an accident, come and tell me or Miss Denise about it. Don’t play around in a wet diaper.  You won’t be in trouble, and we’ll just come back and change you in here like a big kid; not out on the changing table with the babies.  Is that okay?”

I just stand and stare at her for a hot minute, saying nothing.  Then I say the only thing that I can think of: “The fuck is wrong with you?!”   That was a mistake.

Her eyes light up, her nostrils flare, and her lip curls into a snarl in all of half a second.  Weird daycare lady to werewolf; no full moon required.

Before I know it I’m spun around and in a headlock.  Her grip is a vise and I’m straining to breathe.  My eyes are scrunched tight.  I’m digging my bare feet in.  My toes are curling.  I’ve got one hand pushing against her back.  I’m punching her back.  Punching her kidneys.  My other hand is wrenching at her elbow.  I try her forearm.  I try her wrist.  I’m trying everything to wrench out of this hold she’s got me in.

It’s. Not. Working.

I’m a dumb dog with its head caught in the whole in the fence.  She’s the fence.

“Okay,” I choke out.  “Okay! I’m sorry.”  Nothing.  No response from her.  My eyes are still closed.  Then I hear the sink come on.

My eyes open.  I see a feminine hand with a wedding ring on it reach into the sink and grab a foamy bar of soap.

I know what’s about to happen. I try everything.  I kick.  I buck like a horse, both legs going airborn.  I think at one point, I manage to wrap around her leg in a weird bear hug.  All that does is make me look like a little piss ant dog dry humping her.  I even try going limp and dropping my weight.  All that does is choke me.

It’s right then that a big bar of soap, the same one that I was having my hands washed with, is shoved right past my lips, and my dumb ass doesn’t even clench my jaw.  My tongue is immediately tasting all kinds of foul.  Instinctively, I start biting down, trying to…I dunno spit it out, or get some traction, but Wonder Woman’s aunt is just shoving that vile piece of perfumed animal fat in my mouth.  Little flakes are scraping off onto my teeth.

So now I can’t breathe and there’s soap in my mouth.  With all the UFC pay-per-views I bought, you’d think I’d have learned a move or two, but I hadn’t.

“This ends, as soon as you stop fighting.” I hear. I can’t breathe.  My muscles ache.  My face is red and my mouth is foaming.  I stop struggling and I do everything I can to stop from puking as she slides that slippery brick around my mouth from side to side and front to back.  It might’ve sounded like some kind of whimpering if you were listening in, but I was just clamping down on my gag reflex.

Finally, finally, she lets me go.

“Rinse,” I hear her tell me.  She doesn’t have to tell me twice.  Before the sound of her voice stops echoing off the bathroom walls, I’m already hunched over, my mouth to the faucet and I’m gulping, and swishing, gargling all the nasty out of my mouth.  I spit into the sink and out come bubbles.

I stand up and wipe the last bit of saliva and bubbles onto my arm sleeve, and I hang my head.  Rainbow colored teddy bears holding balloons are waving to me from just below my shirt.  I’m going crazy.  I just know it.  Even then I realized that my shirt couldn’t have gotten shorter.  But somehow it did.

“You will never use language like that again,” Kate tells me.  It’s not an “or else” in her mind.  This is fact.

I nod. I’m beaten. I’m humbled.  My eyes…my eyes aren’t tearing up.  I must be remembering that part wrong.  I’m losing stuff all the time, new details…fake details are just coming in to replace those memories.  That’s it.

“Okie dokie,” Kate decides, “Time to go play.”  She opens the door and half-scoots, half-pushes me back out into the nursery area.  She pats me on the butt and that garbage bag crinkling fills my ears as I cross the threshold.

My eyes bug out and I feel all the blood drain away from my face at what’s in front of me.  I expect to see an empty floor, with maybe Denise somewhere.  Maybe not, I didn’t see her coming in, why should I see her now?  What I don’t expect to see is…is…is…this!

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<Neural Uplink Reconnected In Real Time.>

    To say that the rest of that day was uneventful would be misleading and factually incorrect.  Having my best friend and the only other sane person in the world ripped away from me because her mother had errands to run was eventful.  Finding out through a series of unplanned trial and error that I had roughly ninety seconds from the time I realized that I needed to relieve myself to the time that my underwear became squishy from urine was eventful.  Being bathed by my mother and then put to bed shortly after sunset was eventful; especially given the likelihood that I’d wake up wet again.  Hearing the harsh tones of my parents arguing…again…right before sleep claimed me was eventful.  Eventful to me, but to any other human being pushing thirty, it likely would have been common place to the point of banality.

  All of these things were eventful, but I’m choosing not to upload those specific memories because the one thing I don’t feel they are is pertinent.  Through firsthand experience and the brief “playtime” I had with Julia, I concluded that there had been more drastic changes to the world at large than would have been initially suggested by the data I had spent years collecting.  Not only had my capabilities been severely reduced, but apparently as far as the rest of human society was concerned, twenty-nine was the new two and a half… if that.  Yet I didn’t fully appreciate how much the world had changed until the next day.

<Memory Sequence Uploading.  August 18th, 2017 8:30 A.M.>

After waking up, changing out of my-on-the-verge-of-leaking Pull-Up, (trying not to listen to my father’s remarks that I should maybe go back to diapers at night), and breakfast, my parents explained to me that they were going back to work, and that meant I was going “back” to daycare.  The great panic of so many children disappearing and then reappearing- as those affected by the chronotons justified and misremembered the entirely of the population mentally and socially regressing by twenty-seven odd years- had allowed them each to take the day off of work to make sure that their little girl was all right, but now that they knew I was okay, we all had to get back into our regular routine.  I didn’t know whether this willful ignorance was the result of chronoton saturation, the human psyche’s need to put everything in place so that it makes sense, or some combination thereof.  Regardless, if my parents were any indicator, the world was quickly moving on and accepting of the new status quo.

As I sat in the unnecessary booster seat of my mother’s SUV, scores of buildings both familiar and strange zipped by on the periphery.   Julia had been right.  Not only had clothing changed to fit our new perceived social standing, but buildings and businesses as well.  Most of the franchises, their logos designed to be forever stamped upon the popular subconscious remained: the restaurants, the mega-marts and grocery stores; the places that catered to all walks of life. Looking at them I’d never know that anything had changed.  So too were local landmarks that people familiar with the town could use to navigate better than street signs: statues, the old church, the retention pond that never quire drained, schools.  All of it was the same.

Yet, like a dark road that you normally only travel by day, some things, no matter how familiar, were decidedly different.  I spotted men in their mid to late thirties running on the elementary school playground with all the zest and zeal of stereotypical second graders in their sneakers with the Velcro and no button shorts.  Women in their mid-forties popped bubblegum and gossiped with each other in their Catholic school uniforms as Mom drove me by the church.  And here I was sitting, in a floral-patterned shirt, nothing to cover my fresh Pull-Up but a hot pink skirt (provided I didn’t bend over too much,) the slightest bit envious of all of them.  Whether I envied them their clothing, their status, or their ignorance, I cannot objectively say.

Then there were the other buildings:  Most of them zipped by too fast as my mother drove down not-quite-memorized roads that I had long taken for granted, but based on the décor and color scheme of their signs, much had changed. Too many bright signs with letters in primary colors.  Too many pictures of various cartoon mascot animals in safety-pinned on diapers.  Too many mannequins with gigantic baby clothes on them in store windows.

 Losing (or, more accurately, misremembering) their target clientele, many businesses had transformed to serve the needs of a community filled with gigantic children.  A red bricked building I once knew to be a bar was now some kind of child’s clothes consignment shop. The Planet Fitness that I passed every day on the way to work was now a Gymboree.  A Gap was now a Baby Gap.  Of course there were more baby stores.  If ages zero to thirty were considered infants and toddlers, those goods and services would be in higher demand.  Unwittingly, I had changed an entire world’s economy.

And then, during the times when my mother would slow down enough, I got an eyeful of the rest of this topsy turvy reality I’d created.  Grown men and women were being pushed around in strollers.  Someone in their late teens or early twenties was still breastfeeding in public.  A car pulled up at a stoplight, and I saw someone only a few years younger than me, sitting rear facing, batting at the dangling toys of their car seat, giggling and drooling idiotically.

  I’d have to find a way to get to my lab and fix all of this mess, I decided.  This was my mistake.  I’d just have to figure out where I went wrong, then find a way to get back to the institute, get back to my equipment.  A tall order to be sure, but nothing was impossible; if anything, this entire misadventure was proof of that much.

I sucked in my breath as I felt the sudden, sharp, stinging sensation of a full bladder?  Really?!  I had just gone before my mother and I had left for daycare.  “Mommy!” I whimpered, desperation and urgency in my voice, “Potty!”

“Really?” she asked, her eyes unbelieving in the rear-view mirror.  “You just went before we left the house.”

The feeling was building.  Less than ninety seconds and counting.  “I know,” I whined.  “I gotta go, though.”

The SUV sped up.  “Just hold on, Elisa, baby,” Mommy said.  “We’re almost there.”  Sixty seconds.  Don’t think about don’t think about it don’t think about it don’tthinkaboutit.  “You’re doin’ good, big girl,” she encouraged me.  “Just hold it.  We’ve got a potty in the trunk.  We can stop at the daycare, and set you right on it before we even go inside.”  As humiliating as the thought of peeing in the parking lot of whatever childcare facility my mother was taking me to, the idea of me urinating in my clothes seemed infinitely more terrifying.  It was an illogical fear, like a phobia, gripping me despite all intellectual protestations.  Logically, dispassionately, in hindsight, I might have had an easier time of willfully succumbing to my bladder, saving myself the stress, and dedicating my mind to more important things, like fixing the whole of reality so that I was at least considered a middle schooler.

But only babies went pee-pee in their undies.  I was a big girl.  I didn’t need diapers.  I wasn’t a baby.  Thirty-seconds and counting till my bladder would let loose, and suddenly the term “baby” had become a slur of some sort in my mind; a way to instantly other and demean someone…or myself.  Right then, had you asked me, nudity would have been preferable to diapers.  Despite Julia’s safeguards, new immature impulses and outlooks had been slowly but surely worming their way into my subconscious.  For one reason or another, the idea that I had been or would soon be reduced to nothing more than a particularly verbose and gifted toddler seemed likely.

“Almost there, Elisa,” Mommy snapped me back to attention, the car decelerating as we approached our destination.  Why did this place seem so familiar to me?  The entire route we’d taken, almost exactly like the route I took everyday to-

 KA-THUNK

Mom’s SUV barreled over a final speedbump into the parking lot, causing the entire car to bounce.  I gasped in surprise and shock, my underwear becoming hot and moist as, not for the first time that day, I started to wet myself. Queen Ariel had one less sea shell in her collection.  How was I going to save the world when I couldn’t keep my training panties dry for longer than ninety seconds?  I said nothing.  No crying. No screaming.  No protestations that “I was a big girl,” as the car slowed to a stop.  All present and available data pointed to the contrary; and as a scientist, when a scientist’s hypothesis is not supported by the data, they must re-evaluate their hypothesis.  Try as I might, in terms of my physical capabilities and needs, I was not a big girl any longer.

Mommy opened up the side door, and saw me sulking in the backseat.  “Didn’t make it?” she asked.  Woefully, I shook my head in reply.  She leaned in and unbuckled me from the booster seat.  “Well, that’s okay,” she said, (because in this brave new world I had made it was normal for someone my age to have “accidents”) “you’ll just have to try harder later.”  She reached out her hand, and as if mine had a mind of its own, I accepted it, stepping out of the car and onto the hot pavement. 

Still preoccupied with the now sagging training panties between my thighs, I didn’t recognize the large cement building before me. The sign over the entrance said, “Tiny Tots. Ages 25-30.”  That made sense.  Even if infancy lasted well into the twenties, as far as the world was now concerned, it was impractical to keep actual newborns with substantially larger “children”.  I walked, bowlegged to prevent the urine soaked mass from touching me, disgusted with myself as I was.  Apparently, I was an extremely heavy wetter.  Maybe Daddy was right, I thought absentmindedly; maybe I did need to go back to diapers…at least for the nightti- stop it! Stop it stop it stoppit! 

Instantly and immediately, I was furious with myself.  I was thinking like one of them…like the little girl the world expected me to be.  I was Dr. Elisa Briggs, not some diaper wearing brat.  I couldn’t allow myself the luxury to slip into infantile oblivion.  I had a world to fix.   I had to get back to my-

MY LAB!

That’s what this place was: The Institute for Chrono-Research and Innovation.  Or at least that’s what it had been before.  Now…now it was “Tiny Tots.  Ages 25-30”.  Its gray granite walls were suddenly a cheery sky blue.  Over to the side of the main building, where a tasteful bamboo garden had been, was now a mulched playground with plastic slides and baby swings intended to accommodate fully grown adults.

Still in my stupor, I was pushed through the front doors, their formally clean and clear veneer now plastered with butterfly and smiley face stickers.  “It’s okay,” my mother whispered to me, “we’ll get you some clean undies as soon as I sign you in.”  Clearly, she was misattributing my distress; though to be truthful, had my bladder not already been emptied, I would have likely wet myself at the initial shock I felt. 

My throat felt dry and pinched.  The reception area was still there, only now the clean marble floor had been transmuted into worn and sturdy carpeting.  My mother led me up to a desk, a sign in book prominently displayed.  She pressed a button, an electronic bell of some sort to the right of the book, as she flipped through the pages, finding my name and signing me in.  As she signed the page with my name one, making sure to mark the time and date, I noticed a hand painted mural on the wall in front of me.  As if mocking me and my hubris, it showed a childishly drawn scene of “children” playing in a grassy field, the sun shining overhead.

The whiny creak of unoiled hinges alerted me to the door opening to my, right.  From my lab…from what used to be my lab, an older woman, grey-haired and bespectacled, came out, her bony frame concealed by the baggy sunshine yellow t-shirt she wore.  She looked at me, and her eyes lit up with recognition.  Sadly, I recognized her, too. 

< Memory Upload Disconnected>

<Neural Uplink Reconnected In Real Time.>

I don’t believe in God, personally.  I have nothing against faith, and I am open to the possibilities that there might be some sort of “higher power” out there, but I only tend to believe in what I can measure and what I can see.  Yet the amount of coincidences and little, petty ironies that have piled up lately are so numerous that I can’t help but speculate if some form of intelligence has been toying with me.  Perhaps chronotons have a sense of humor. 

<Memory Sequence Resume Uploading.  August 18th, 2017>

“Why, hello, Elisa,” she spoke in the high-pitched sing-song rhythm reserved for small children.  “Are you ready to learn today?”  I wanted to say that her name was Helen; but despite my superb, near photographic memory, I had never invested the modicum of effort needed to memorize the woman’s name.  People’s names just weren’t something that I typically had time for.  To me, she was just the lab’s secretary.

I stood there, tall enough to look her in the eye, but feeling so powerless and shocked that she might as well have been looming over me.  Two days ago, she was only good enough to answer phones and take messages.  As of today, she was considered my mental, developmental, and social superior.  She was my-

“Teacher…?”  Even the word left a bitter taste in my mouth.

“Yes, Elisa?” she leaned in.  I stood there; paralyzed, shaking, dumb.

A familiar, comforting hand was on my shoulder.  “She’s a little rattled still from all the strangeness that’s been going on,” Mommy offered by way of explanation.

“A lot of the little ones are,” my ex-secretary replied.  “Did she mysteriously pop off somewhere, too?”

“The memorial park, if you’d believe it.”

“Oh my,” my now-teacher remarked.  “you’re lucky you found her.”  I looked behind me and saw my mother nodding vehemently.  “We didn’t have many kids here yesterday, obviously,” I-think-Helen continued, “but it seems everyone is trickling back in; trying to get things back to normal.”

Again, my mother nodded in agreement.  “Same here,” she said.  “I’m hoping to get this whole messy business behind us.”

The teacher looked back to me.  “Speaking of business,” she leaned in and spoke slowly and clearly as if I might not understand her otherwise; “we were about to start Circle Time.  Are you ready to come learn with us?”    I wasn’t. I really wasn’t.  I looked back to my Mommy, my eyes pleading.  I wasn’t ready for this; my hopes had already been dashed by seeing this. 

Please, please don’t cast me into this strange limbo- trapped somewhere between child and adult.

The pity in my mother’s eyes was evident, but that didn’t stop her from saying, “Go on sweetie.  Mommy will pick you up after work.”  She scooted me forward, and my hands – disobedient – grabbed hold of the woman who used to answer my phones.  Mommy added as an afterthought, “Oh, and I didn’t check to make sure, but she said she had a little accident on the way over.”

“I’m sure she did,” my so-called teacher agreed. “Elisa usually knows when she’s had an accident and is the first to speak up about it.  She’s very advanced in that way.”  A hint of bile crept up into the back of my throat. I’d gone from being a genius scientist to being advanced because I knew when I’d peed my pants and could tell someone about it.

I didn’t have time to look back and call out as my mother walked away from me.  My legs weighted down by my own insistence, but still keeping pace with the teacher, I was led into what used to be my old laboratory; only now, apparently, it was the “Butterfly Room,” if signs and labels were to be believed.  More than ever, I wanted to cry.

My beautiful, spacious, clean laboratory had been transmogrified into a rough-and-tumble pre-school.  The storage space where Julia had kept her myriad of fungi, viruses, and bacteria had been replaced with a row of cubbies.  My own desk, computer and workbench now held tinker toys.  The space reserved for HAZMAT suits and other safety equipment was now a dress up and dramatic play center; a fireman’s yellow coat and red helmet was on a hook next to my old lab coat, a play stethoscope hanging out of one of the pockets.  Over by the rat cages, Lucy and Ethel remained, now the class pets instead of the award winning scientific curiosities.

I was led over to the cubbies.  On the way there I saw the rest of the class, all who would have been my peers in age if not intellect under normal circumstances, sitting in a semi-circle facing a wall decorated with educational posters.  “Just a second, Carol,” my teacher called out to another middle-aged woman as she walked me over to the cubbies.  “Let me get Elisa changed, and then we’ll start circle time.”  At the mention of my name, Julia, turned her head and made eye contact with me.  When it registered with her that I had recently wet myself, she had the good grace to blush and look away.

 Th teacher reached into a cubby that had my name and picture- a photograph of me smiling giddily from behind my strapped on glasses- and took out a fresh pink Pull-Up, brandishing it in her free hand as she rudely yanked me away towards a bathroom that hadn’t existed until two days ago.   Right next to it was what was unmistakably a changing table; wide, long, and thick enough to accommodate someone my size.  Despite myself, I glanced back at the semi-circle of adult toddlers, many of them hunched over enough so the waistbands of their underpants poked out slightly.   While some had the purplish pinks and bright blues of Pull-Ups poking up out of the top of their pants, just as many, if not more, had the flimsy, frail and uneven white edges of a diaper peeking out over their waistbands.  If that wasn’t evidence enough, the difference in the padding around their bums had been fairly obvious, too. 

Mommy had been right: some children my age hadn’t even begun potty training.  I really was advanced.

 I sucked in my breath as I passed the changing table on the way to the bathroom, as if I was afraid to catch the babyishness surely contained within. There but for grace of God, pure luck, or something in between go I.  It could always be worse.

It might have been my relentless curiosity and desire to collect data, or it might have been just a more complex but futile attempt to prove my maturity, but I felt compelled to test the limits of this new reality.  “Tell me Miss…” my voice bounced off the bathroom walls as I was escorted in, “…teacher; are you aware that the third law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the temperature approaches absolute zero?”

“I did not know that,” my ex-secretary replied as she closed the door behind us and went for a package of baby wipes resting on the toilet.  Her tone was that of a person listening without listening; as if she wasn’t particularly interested in what I had to say, but was letting me say it.  I might as well have been explaining the intricacies of a child’s television show that she had absolutely no interest in watching to her. 

“I personally think the fascinating thing about that is,” I pressed on while she knelt down to access my sagging underwear, “that there’s no such thing as absolute zero.  It’s purely theoretical, since as long as there’s motion somewhere in the universe, there will always be a form of heat.”  The easy open sides of the Pull-Up did just that, and I helped by holding up my skirt so that my nether regions could be properly cleaned.

“That’s a very good point,” I-think-Helen replied, wiping me between my legs; not even looking me in the eye.  She had no interest in anything I had to say. I might as well may have been talking about My Little Pony while she sanitized my privates, except that I didn’t know anything about My Little Pony.    Great, another “adult” who was either too deluded or too stupid to notice that the content and vocabulary I was using was far too complex for a pre-schooler.  My parents were the former, I believed.  The woman who was dressing me in what amounted to a tapeless diaper, the latter.

I was forced to make a show of washing my hands, as absurd as that was, and then walked over to the semi-circle, Julia patting a bare patch of carpet beside her, while my former employee threw away the wet Pull-Up in the diaper pail.  “How are you holding up?” Julia asked as I took a spot on the floor next to her. 

“Not great,” I muttered.  “All data is indicating that we’re royally scre-“

“Elisa,” the older woman in the middle of the circle, Carol, interrupted me. “We’re about to start Circle Time.  You two can talk afterwards during play time.”  Her tone brooked no argument.

“Yes Ma’am.” Julia replied with automaticity, lowering her head in submission. I followed suit and felt my own cheeks flush as a flash of shame tingled across the back of my brain.  Julia always was a people pleaser, but why was I feeling so easily cowed?  Some part of me, for whatever reason, recognized this woman’s authority and wanted to please her.  Was she really that much more of a “grown-up” than I used to be…than I was?

Miss Carol addressed the rest of the class.  “Okay gang, it’s Circle Time.  It’s Justin’s turn to be our special helper.”  On cue, a skinny brown-haired man with a bowl cut climbed to his feet and waddled over to the front.  Based on the swollen bulge between his legs and the light smell of ammonia and baby powder that wafted behind him, he was obviously diapered and would likely need to be changed soon.  He held out his hand and Miss Carol placed a stick with a plastic pointing finger on one end into his grip, before maneuvering him over to a poster entitled “Days of the Week.”  “Sing along if you know the words, and Justin and I will point.”  The older woman maneuvered herself behind the toddlerized man and grabbed hold of his wrist while he stood there stupidly and looked at the brightly colored display.

A little boombox, manned by I-think-Helen kicked in, and synthesized harpsichord notes filled the room.  Bland, autotuned, synthesized, not-quite-adult-not-quite-child voices blared out:

“Days of the Week (snap snap)

Days of the Week (snap snap)

Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week. (snap snap)”

I guffawed in surprise.  The Addams Family?  Really?  As mnemonic device for the days of the week?  Julia and I shot each other the same baffled look and we giggled at the absurdity and ridiculousness as it all.  Something must have overcome the two of us.  While Justin was being Miss Carol’s puppet- her hand guiding his to the correct days- and the other grown children were picking their noses or mumbling, Julia and I sang along:

“There’s Sunday and there’s Monday.

There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday.

There’s Thursday and there’s Friday.

And then there’s Saturday.

Days of the Week (snap snap)

Days of the Week (snap snap)

Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week. (snap snap)”

The teachers praised us. “Good job, Julia and Elisa!”  We both sat up a little straighter at that.  A feeling of accomplishment welled up in me.  I might have been a pre-schooler, but I was still the smartest pre-schooler, damnit.

The next track came on the boombox, and Justin was moved over to a “types of weather” chart, as different types of weather were sung to a rough approximation of “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine.”

“Sunny-Sunny, Sunny-Sunny, it is Sunny in the sky. S-U-N-N-Y Sunny, it is Sunny in the sky.”

Julia and I both instantly picked up the pattern, and smiling proudly and smugly to ourselves, repeated the process in our seats for “cloudy”, “rainy”, “windy”, and “snowy”.  I was bouncing when the grown-ups complimented us on participating and picking up on the words.  I was smart!  I was a big-girl!

Next came a song about writing numerals to the melody of “Skip to My Lou”, which we executed flawlessly.  Again, we were perfect when reciting the letter names and sounds to the tune of Jeopardy “A for apple, a-a-a.”  The pictures on the wall aided us in predicting what the other letters would be “for”.  The whole extravaganza ended with a song about basic shapes to the tune of “I’m a little tea-pot.”  Within seconds, we- child geniuses that we were- picked up on each rhythm and song and sang along perfectly as if we had heard these songs every day for months.  The teachers seemed so happy and surprised at our sudden progress.  But why should they be surprised?  Julia and I were both advanced.  Even when we had a potty accident we knew it and could tell people about it so we could get changed right away.  Poor Justin’s diaper was all squishy and he didn’t even notice or care.  He wasn’t even close to going potty like a big kid.

It was only after the music faded, the opiate of praise removed; after we were allowed to scatter and go play that we were able to objectively look at ourselves and our behavior of the past ten minutes.  Julia pulled me over to a low shelf filled with blocks.  “What the hell just happened there?” she asked.

My head shook so fast, I was vibrating.  “I don’t know,” I admitted.  I thumbed back to wall filled with educational posters.  “That wasn’t completely an act from you either?” I asked.

“Not at all,” Julia said, her pig-tails flopping.  “I’ve been getting super excited from praise from grown-up…adult…oh you know what I mean,” she sighed.  “I don’t understand it.  I can still recite the parts and functions of a cell in my sleep.  I can still recite my doctoral thesis practically verbatim,” she paused and looked over her shoulder, “ but I felt more accomplished when our secretary patted me on the head for singing the ABC’s than I have in years.”

“Me too,” I admitted.  “I felt more proud of myself when my Mommy let me wipe myself than when we got that grant money a few years back.”

Julia crossed her arms, and poked her upper lip out.  “I wouldn’t know.  I haven’t had that pleasure yet.”  I stared down at my sneakers, trying to distract myself by reciting complex theoretical equations in my head.  Julia looked over my shoulder and my gaze followed hers as Miss Carol taped Justin into a fresh Luvs, his pants around his ankles on the changing table.  “Still, it could be worse,” she granted.  “At least we’re not totally regressed.”  Without realizing, it we were holding hands, gripping each other’s fingers tightly as the poor man was helped off the table before his pants were pulled up over the diaper.  My colleague looked to me.  “You don’t have an irrational fear of being put back in diapers, too, do you?”

“There’s nothing irrational about it,” I replied defensively.  The only person whose opinion I still respected gave me a quizzical look.  “I mean,” I stuttered, “I just don’t want to be a baby, that’s all. Babies where diapers.”

“But isn’t infancy a matter of physical development that we’ve long since surpassed?” Julia asked.  “Is an old person who is incontinent a baby?”

“No,” I scoffed.  “Don’t be silly.”

“Then why are we both afraid of losing our big girl Pull-Ups?” she countered.  “Why are we defining babies by what they wear instead of their chronological age?  Why are we responding to positive reinforcement of perceived caregivers and authority figures so strongly?”

“Oh shit,” I whispered, Julia’s analysis hitting home. “We really are regressing.”

“Yes and no,” Julia gripped my hand. “I specifically designed my anti-regression safeguard to affect cognition.  I think we’re whole in that regard.”  Her eyes became slightly glassy as she blinked back tears.  “But emotionally, I think we’re becoming closer and closer to two-year olds.”

I tried to be clinical and cold; to act as an example and source of strength for my friend.  “Then let’s stay away from emotions,” I said.  “Focus on the work we have to do.  Like, why has the world changed? Like, I can see furniture and clothes being retrofitted to meet our physical needs after the fact, but that should take time.  There shouldn’t instantly be adult Pull-Ups and…” I gulped, “the only diapers that should fit us should be Depends.”

Julia let go of my hand and began scanning the shelves filled with blocks.  “Maybe chronotons don’t’ function exactly like we thought.  Maybe they’re somewhat psychoactive.”  She went over and began precariously stacking cardboard bricks into a careful tower in criss-crossing rows of three.

I toddled after her.  “But none of our experiments suggested that. The environment never reconfigured themselves when we exposed Lucy and Ethel to chronotons.”

“To be fair,” Julia said, still stacking. “Is a baby rat’s cage all that different from an adult rat’s?”

I opened my mouth to protest, but finding nothing to argue, I conceded. “Point taken.”  I took a seat by Julia as she continued to construct her block tower, the gears in her head clearly turning.  I felt just as much as heard the soft paper crinkle of the disposable training pants encasing me.  That was another point of contention.  “Yeah, but that’s another thing that’s bothering me,” I said.  “Chronotons from when we were toddlers the first time around leaked out into the world.  Wouldn’t you say our current treatment is a little more…modern?  Shouldn’t George Bush be president?  Shouldn’t smart phones be gone?  Shouldn’t I have been watching nineties cartoons this morning instead of SpongeBob re-runs?”

“I’ve thought about that,” Julia replied.  She wasn’t taking her eyes off of her tower, now several rows high so that she was having to rise to her knees to continue stacking.  “I think we left a few variables out and were working under some incorrect assumptions.”

“Like what?”

“We were harvesting chronotons from the fifth dimension,” my friend reminded me, “but chronotons only radiate outward into the fifth dimension from the present.  Chronotons from the past mixed with the chronotons being generated from the present.  Maybe this is what it looks like when past infects the present.”  Julia pointed to a row of blocks near the bottom.  “Let’s say that this is chronotons from the past when we were toddlers.”  Gently, she poked a block out of the stack and removed it, leaving the rest of the pile still standing stall.  “Then we moved those moments in time, those states of being, up here to the present.”  The brick she removed went to the top of the tower.  “The rest of reality still stands, but now in the present day, we’re potty training again, and this part,” she pointed to the top and wiggled her fingers down back to the base, “is spreading and dripping down the rest.  The present and past still happened, but now the entire structure of reality has changed to explain why we never left daycare, and have gaps in our potty training.”

 I felt myself frown.  “You’re suggesting that chronotons act like both a particle and a living thing?” I asked.  “Like a kind of bacteria that’s spreading and cross breeding?” 

Julia looked at me and shrugged.  “Unless you’ve got a better explanation.”  I didn’t.  “It still doesn’t quite explain why this building became a daycare,” she said.  “It never was one to begin with.”

“Maybe it would have been one, had it been normal for people in their twenties to need care at this level.” I said, giving her tower a look over. “ Cause and effect aren’t exactly intuitive where chronotons are concerned.  Neither is conservation of mass, in all likelihood.”

Bored now that she had given visual metaphor to her theory, Julia knocked over the cardboard bricks onto the carpet.  She started stacking them again into something less defined. A castle perhaps? “What do you mean?” she asked as I watched her build. 

How to put what I was thinking?  I saw a hint of Pull-Ups poking out from the back of her shorts, and inspiration struck me.  “Like, do you really think that all of your Pull-Ups used to be panties?  That your toddler bed used to be a grown-up bed?”

My colleague stopped stacking the blocks and looked at me.  “I…I suppose so?  I haven’t given it much thought.”

“How old were the panties you were wearing the night before they changed…” I stopped myself; poor choice of words, “err…transformed into Pull-Ups?”

Julia reached behind her and hiked her shorts up.  “I dunno.  Why would I know that off the top of my head?”

“Had them for a couple years?” I suggested.

“At least.”

“Right,” I nodded. “You don’t keep track because you wash and re-wear underwear again and again as long as it fits and is in good condition.  But with disposables, new ones have to be manufactured and replaced daily.  If everyone under thirty had their underwear-and just their underwear-transform to diapers…”

“We wouldn’t have enough diapers and training pants to make it through a week, even when accounting for countries where infants don’t wear diapers.”

Now she was getting it.  “And I felt my panties get thicker,” I told my friend.

“Me too,” she said.  Without consciously meaning too, my hand wandered underneath my skirt and I gave my Pull-Ups a quick squeeze.  Julia was noticeably touching her thighs together, likely taking notice of the slight padding between them.

“But where did the material come from?” I asked.

Both of us sat there in silence for a few moments, neither of us knowing the answer, the question only now coming into my head.  Julia broke the silence. “Are you suggesting that all this stuff just…just materialized out of thin air?”

I frowned.  The idea that such a thing could happen was against every known and plausible scientific law that I was aware of.  The amount of energy required to convert air into solid materials alone would likely drain the sun.

Finally, I spoke. “We still don’t know precisely how chronotons react with inanimate objects beyond a few isolated unprocessed samples,”

“We never thought to,” Julia said.  Then her own eyes showed a flash of shock as the further implications of our meddling occurred to her. “The extra strain on natural resources would already be catastrophic,” she told me.  “Oil is needed for the plastic and elastic needed for diapers. “

“You don’t suppose the chronotons had other effects do you?” I asked.  “Like, replenishing of certain irreplaceable resources?”

“I have no idea,” Julia admitted. “Every bit of news I’ve heard my mommy listening to has been about the kids popping up all over the place.  There’s no talk of any kind of resource shortages.”  She paused.  “No more than usual that is.”  She giggled.  It was dry and bitter, but it was giggling all the same.  “Maybe we accidentally solved the resource crisis on accident.”  

< Memory Upload Disconnected>

<Neural Uplink Reconnected In Real Time.>

I had no idea if we did.  I still don’t.  All I do know is that the diapers and baby clothes are still very much in demand and plentiful.  The adult and child sections of clothing stores have shrunk considerably, but the baby aisles have ballooned proportionately with no shortage in stock. 

 <Memory Sequence Resume Uploading.  August 18th, 2017>

With no further data to examine, I found my mind wandering to seeking further solutions to our current predicament. “So what do we do now?” I asked.  “Wait until we’re considered ‘old’ enough to re-enroll in college, re-earn our degrees, and pick up our research where we left off?”

“I don’t know,” Julia shuddered.  “I have no idea.  Never had to literally restart my life.”  She turned her attention back to the stacking bricks.  “I’m feeling really overwhelmed, right now.”

“Me too.”

“I just…I just need some time to de-stress.”  She didn’t even look at me.  “I need to…I need to play with some blocks for a little while.”  I stood up and flattened my skirt back out.  We were both stressed.  We needed time to think to ourselves rather than a constant commiseration.  Elisa would give Julia some space, and little by little Dr. Briggs and Dr. Meyer would return to the fore as some new idea snuck up on us.  Besides, I felt more like coloring. 

“Doctor,” I said, invoking our ritual.

She replied automatically, not even looking up from the blocks, “Doctor.”

I walked over to small, but abandoned table.  It wouldn’t do to have me trying to clear my head while some six-foot-tall toddler tried to give me a hug or pull my hair.  The table was filled with stacks of crisp white paper, several boxes of crayons strewn about.

Ignoring the dry crinkle and barely audible hiss from my padded backside as I sat down at the table, I grabbed a box of crayons and a piece of paper.  Perhaps in my calculations there had been something I overlooked when programming the chrono-drill.  With practiced ease, I grabbed a black crayon- the closest thing to an actual pencil- and went to write down an equation, only to be sorely surprised when the crayon streaked wildly off the paper and made a dark mark on the sunshine yellow surface beneath.  “The hell?” I whispered, bringing the crayon up to eye level to examine it.  Again, I tried to write formulae that I had long ago memorized in my sleep, and at most I was left with unintelligible scribbles.  I stared down at the paper, feeling betrayed by my tools, but somewhere inside of me, I knew that it wasn’t the crayon’s fault.

With shaking, unsteady digits, I attempted to write my name in all capital letters. E-L-I-S-A.  Only the first three letters were anything resembling legible.  The S was little more than a squiggle and the A looked like a Frankenstein’s hybrid of an X and an H.  My fine motor skills had been impacted along with my bladder capacity.

I turned over the piece of paper to continue experimenting, only to find a pre-rendered but rather plain sketch of a frog.  I grabbed another piece of paper from the stack and turned it over.  A white (save for the outlines) cow mooed up at me from the table.  Coloring pages.  Of course.  I should have been annoyed, or outraged, but instead I saw only opportunity to test the limits that this new reality had imposed on me.  Even a baby could manage to color a stupid cow, right?

Several hours passed as I experimented and colored, trying diligently to keep my crayons on the paper.  Little by little I started to get the hang of things.  I really was advanced.

I sat at the art table in daycare, doing my best to color in between the lines.  The thick orange crayon felt cumbersome and unwieldy in my hands.  Each stroke was laborious and imprecise; no two strokes precisely lining up with each other, no matter how intent I was or how meticulous my technique.  A chasm of white separated each grainy orange line.  The “work” that my teacher had given me was extremely frustrating- my coloring was more of a barely controlled scribble- but it served my purposes.  I was still collecting data, even if it was data concerning my current physical limitations and the lingering psychological side effects of the recent fallout from my previous experiment.  Besides, the chicken wasn’t going to color itself.

A cry from a familiar voice made me look up from my “work”.  Red faced and snot gushing out of her nose, Julia was being led to the daycare’s bathroom.  I looked back down to the cartoon sketch of a now mostly orange barnyard fowl, averting my eyes to give my colleague some measure, some tiny scrap of dignity.  She had likely just urinated in her pants, despite there being no outward visible indicator that I could see. 

Correction: the pink Pull-Up in the teacher’s free hand as she led Julia to the bathroom confirmed my hypothesis.  Unable to control her bladder properly, or her emotions, she was being led to get changed into a fresh pair of what passed for underpants.

The giggling twenty-something getting his bottom wiped on the nearby changing table as another adult slipped his soiled Huggies out from under him was a stark reminder that things could be much worse for us.  A sudden flash of doubt caused me to look to the left and the right, making sure the coast was clear before I peeked under the hem of my own hot-pink skirt.  The “fade when wet” designs on my crotch were still bright and clear.  A sigh of relief escaped me, involuntarily, as I smoothed out my skirt.  How queer it was, in this new status quo, that I was expected to occasionally soil myself yet still maintain a semblance of modesty.

How had it come to this, I wondered, as I heard my friend’s wails of protest echo off the bathroom walls.

“I’M NOT A BABY! LET GO OF ME!  STOP! PLEEEEAAASE! STOP! NOOOOO!”

At least one of Julia’s hypothesis about our current state was being supported.  We were cognitively still very much adults, thanks to the precautions she had taken before disaster struck; but emotionally we were becoming less and less developed.  Coloring and blocks were emotionally satisfying and perhaps even stimulating.  The thought of being treated as an infant mortified us disproportionately, even when compared to our adult selves.  The opinions of so called “grown-ups” held unmerited weight.

Julia was still bawling when she came out, our teacher shaking her head to herself while disposing of Julia’s soiled Pull-Up.  She practically threw herself down at the table; and almost slammed.  “I’m never going to get potty trained!” she wailed.  “NEVER! NEVER! NEVER!”  Each word was punctuated by a balled-up fist slamming down on the table.

Feeling incredibly awkward, I reached over and patted her on the back.  “Don’t worry,” I told her.  “You’ll get it.  This is only day two of-“

“-OF ETERNITY!”  she snapped her head up, tears streaming down from her eyes.  Without looking back, she pointed back at the rat cages.  “Lucy and Ethel,” she growled at me.  “How long have they been stuck in the same loop?  An eternity in rat years.  Not one bit of progress.  How long have our plant samples lasted?  Our bacterium?  Chronotons preserve.  That much holds constant!”  She was teetering the line into hysterics.

“Julia…”  There were no other words.  I tried to offer what comfort I could.

Tearfully, angrily, she shoved my hand away from her.  “The only time I’ve used the potty was yesterday when I went poopy; and that was an accident.”  The disgust on my face must have been unconscious and yet plain.  “Oh don’t act so high and mighty, Elisa,” she whispered through gritted teeth.  “I’m a couple of months younger than you, so my bladder is less developed…but it’s not going to get any more developed.”

I shook my head, dumbly.  Now my own eyes were getting watery.  “What do…what do you mean?”

“Either the grown-ups won’t notice the passage of time and we’ll be twenty-nine-year-old babies forever, or they will…only we’ll be thirty-year-old babies…forty-year-old babies…fifty-year-old babies.”  Her face broke into a buskin match, yet her sobs sounded almost like laughter.  “It’s like you said…we’re in a never-ending yesterday.”

She was right, of course.  All of our data, even before this mess indicated a kind of paralyzed immortality.  Being considered giant toddlers was just an unforeseen circumstance that we hadn’t calculated.  It was getting harder and harder for me to see.  My own tears.

“I’ll be forever in Pull-Ups…just starting to potty train,” my best friend moaned. “Never making it, always being shamed for not being mature enough.” Her body was racked with sobs. She picked herself up and stared at me.  “It’d almost be better if we had gone back even further,” she cried. “At least I wouldn’t have to deal with the shame of going pee-pee and poopy in my diapers if that’s what I was supposed to do!”  She wiped her nose and leveled a snot-dripping finger at me.  “And it’s all your fault.”

“What?”

“Oh come on!” my colleague wailed at me.  “Don’t tell me you haven’t figured out where it all went wrong.  Even I figured out that much.  It was your lack of foresight, your lack of understanding that made this all happen to us!  If you had just done one thing differently the other night, we’d be okay…”  Julia started babbling incoherently, more sobs than speech.

 I couldn’t see her anymore.  Everything was too blurry.  I too was crying, openly.  I was angry and penitent and miserable and desperate all at once.  I hated Julia for her telling me what I had been secretly telling myself this entire time.  I hated her for being smarter than me; her invention, though rushed and incomplete had saved us both from mine.

 The daycare teachers were walking over to us, two little girls bawling their eyes up for no reason they could discern.  I had no idea what Julia was talking about, blaming myself but still not sure what I could have done differently.  My body took control away from my rational mind, and my arms opened wide; the near universal sign for asking for a hug.  Damn, I needed a hug.  Thankfully, though still sobbing, Julia reciprocated.  Noses running with snot, eyes flooding with tears, and throats sore from incoherent screaming, we embraced each other, taking what comfort we could as grown-ups came to see what all the fuss was about.  “Julia,” I cried.  “I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.  If I could do it all over again, I’d go back and-“

I heard the response in my head, in my mind, rather than in my ears. “<Command accepted. Go back.>”

No… 
Check it out: Eclair, from "Perpetual Change" has fan art now.
Eclair by Kittenlover147

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Gentle Reader,

I shall not bother you overmuch with the sordid details of the rest of that second day. Much like the first day, all the great catastrophes and developments happened in the beginning.  The rest was just so much amusement designed to weaken their resolves.

There were finger paints that caused mild, but pleasant, psychotropic hallucinations; bubbles blown that released pure childlike amusement once popped; animate puppet shows that recreated the finest plays both drama and comedy ever put to paper with all the skills of the greatest actors to play the parts; and a baby piano that caused whomever sat before it to have temporarily have virtuoso talent at playing it.  It was rather wondrous if you were one of the little mortals.  It was merely (and literally) child’s play if you happened to be of the Fae.

As before, Jack and Jamie were completely helpless to resist the magical charms of the wyrd woman in the heat of the moment.  But unlike before, it was becoming harder and harder for them to come back to themselves.

Perhaps their resolve was simply wearing down given the events of the past morning, and becoming more childlike was a way to escape the anxiety and stress that they each faced- both alone and together.  Perhaps being secreted away and experiencing childish, but otherwise pleasurable things away from the judgmental eyes of society allowed them to let their guards down.  Maybe there was just a little more toddler in each of them (that was not placed inside of them through magic) than either cared to admit.

Regardless, the myriad of amusements that Mommy Mathair forced upon them was a welcome distraction from the internal strain that each faced.

Jack was frustrated.  As the Lords of Fate and Hearth would have it, he had stumbled upon the blue Faerie’s great weakness.  He had a way to end their torment once and for all.  It was so simple really.  He would only need a little help and then this entire misadventure would just become an increasingly foggy memory.  And the best part is, he’d get to be the hero.  He wouldn’t just outlast the white haired demon in this game, he would destroy her; turn her into so much ash and scatter her to the winds.

But he likely wouldn’t be able to do it alone.  He’d almost certainly need Jamie’s help, but to get her help, he’d have to find a way to talk to her.  This was going to take more than a little precision for the tale to unfold into Jack’s favor.

Jamie had problems of her own:  If what the violet eyed Faerie had told her was true, win or lose, Jamie and Jack’s adult lives were lost to them forever.  In the stories, Faeries were always very particular about the words they used, and could always be counted upon to keep to the letter- but rarely the spirit- of their agreements.

In their desperation, Jamie had managed to wager Mathair into a contest of sorts, the prize being her and Jack’s freedom.  Only now, Jamie knew, that their freedom would be the only thing that they would earn if they succeeded in this gamble; none of the enchantments that altered their capabilities or dependence would be removed.

It wasn’t just a choice of freedom or confinement, it was a matter of comfort in being treated as an overlarge child, or torment in being treated as a mentally incompetent adult.  Either way, the life that they had dreamed of was most likely beyond them.

But what if Mathair had been bluffing?  Desperation made humans craft elaborate fictions often and wildly, so couldn’t Mathair, fearing their love, be moved to equal if not greater desperation?  It could be a lie, Jamie supposed, but the blue Faerie had yet to lie…deceive, perhaps, but lie? No. Not yet.  Mommy never lied to her little darlings.

Jamie even tested out the Faerie’s latest claim:  After one of her inevitable “accidents” in her diaper, (though really, if it’s inevitable, is it really an accident?) Jamie threw her hands to her crotch and let out a shrieking “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!”.  “I” had been one of the three words that Mathair had left to her; the other two being “give” and “up”.  Just as promised and expected, Jamie’s mouth cooperated with her and intoned the word correctly, if rather drawn out. Just in case, she mouthed the word a few times in a whisper.  To make sure it wasn’t a coincidence, she then successfully hissed “give”, and then bit down on her tongue while her fingers scrambled to guide a pacifier to her lips; lest she utter the third and final word that would end the game and trap her in this bizarre little funhouse.

Jack, in the meantime, failed to notice his wife’s non-babble.  He was too preoccupied rolling on the floor, panting and pawing at his own diaper while he was magically brought to the point of orgasm.  Whether he was trying to stop himself, speed the process up, or miming some weak form of masturbation due to habit and muscle memory is a matter of some debate.

Jamie couldn’t help but smile at Jack in his stupor.  There really was much to enjoy about this miserable situation they had been forced into.  If not for a lifetime of social stigma- stigma that would never impact them so long as they never left-this would be delightful.  The food was good, the entertainment was varied and amusing, and when she wasn’t plotting ways to break their spirits, Mommy Mathair ministrations could be downright decadent.  Even the diaper changes had a certain level of luxury to them.  With Mathair, at least, there was a clear reason why a brand of diapers had taken the name “Pampers”.

A growing part of her wondered how much of her really wished to be an adult at all.  Was she truly a woman at heart? Or just a grown-up infant?  Deep down, who didn’t want to be cared for and loved?  The idea that the only alternative was worse and far more demeaning also made it easier to accept.

Throughout the rest of that day, she tried to imagine what she might look like: Wearing frilly dresses that did little to hide the thick padding between her legs.  Being spoon fed what tasted to her as her favorite foods every day.  Being entertained and played with constantly. And being able to make her man moan in ecstasy just by soiling her diapers -and yes, they were her diapers she quietly realized.  All of these things were immediately and immeasurably tempting.

Compared with being institutionalized, unable to communicate with anyone, being incontinent and separated from the love of her life, being a big baby wouldn’t be so bad, would it?  Perhaps she and Jack had only objected to all of this because they hadn’t know what they had been getting into.  Perhaps they weren’t really two adults struggling to retain their independence (had they really even had that to begin with?) but two children who were cross about being tricked into going to the doctor’s office when they were promised the circus.

The only price she’d have to pay for all of this would be to never sit on a toilet again, cut off all ties with the outside world, and possibly lose the love and trust of her husband.  The price was steep enough, but it was only that last part that kept her from uttering that last “up”.   Instead, she spent the rest of the day, pensively, guiltily even, sucking on her pacifier.

Jack didn’t notice his wife’s guilt, he was far too preoccupied with hatching his ingenious plan in between sessions of finger painting and bubble blowing.  He was busy fantasizing about rescuing her and toppling the evil witch.  He daydreamed of taking her in his arms and then rutting on the ground with her in primal passion as man and wife.

When the diaper between his legs became suddenly damp with urine, he watched as Jamie moaned and gasped and smile despite herself.  He smiled, too, and felt a subtle swelling in his loins.  A wet diaper didn’t have quite the same feeling as making love to his wife in terms of texture and temperature, but it was close; the orgasms helped, too.

He marveled at how even in baby clothes how beautiful Jamie was.  A little voice in his head that he promised wasn’t his own made a note that maybe they could try something like this- dressing up, that is- when they were free.

There might not be baby diapers in their size, but a package of Depends would likely still do the trick and give her that slightly “puffy” look around her hips.  His synapses fired pleasure through his system and he sucked on his teeth as he briefly fantasized about the two of them walking around with diapers under their clothes.  Hers slightly visible when she bent over; his peeking out from the top of his shorts.  There was a certain pleasurable rush at the idea of being caught and humiliated.

That same voice, despite his most earnest wishes, also gave him the idea: Why settle for Depends and playing dress up when you could both play dress up forever?   It was tempting, he had to admit.  He could struggle against the Faerie all he wanted and then be put back in his place; safe, secure, and in her care.  It could be the best of both worlds; a complete lack of personal restraint coupled with zero responsibility and an inability to actually harm someone.

Even at his most hot-headed he saw the same basic advantages to this arrangement as Jamie did- there was a certain freedom in having nothing left to lose – but there was one thing that was holding him back.  If he gave up, if he surrendered, he would lose.  And Jack was no loser.  He would do more than just beat this witch at her own game, he would invent a new one that she hadn’t anticipated, and destroy her.

Jack was no man-child.  He was not the one in need of care or coddling, no matter how much he liked it. He was the bold hero who would violently save his lady fair through a combination of trickery, brute force, and maybe a little luck. But if that was true, then why did he increasingly feel less like he was plotting an assassination or more like he was preparing for a game of hide and seek?  Why did he feel so…juvenile?  Perhaps it was the crinkle that he made with every movement.  Hard to feel particularly “manly” in a soaked diaper. More likely, though, it was the lack of enthusiasm and distracted look in Jamie’s eyes every time he glanced in her direction.

He had told her, hadn’t he?  Hadn’t she heard his message of “I know how to get her!”? Couldn’t she understand that they were on the precipice of victory?  Then why wasn’t she excited, or at least curious?  In the quiet moments they were allowed, it was clear from the look in her eyes that she was holding something back.  Did she not love him anymore?  Had the Faerie that had turned them both into these juvenile acting freaks already won?

No.  Just no.  He’d protect Jamie.  He’d defeat Mathair. Then Jamie would love him all the more.  He would win.  Like so many children before him, he knew intrinsically, that this was his story; his world. He was the hero, and the heroes always won.  Didn’t they?

The lovers gave each other one last look that night as they were laid in their separate cribs, each wishing desperately to talk to each to each other in true privacy, to let the other know of their plans and reservations and above all that their love was still solid, no matter what.  Their eyes drooped from exhaustion with that thought on their minds, that lingering wish festering inside both of their hearts

…and that wish was granted.

Some things, gentle reader, can’t even be explained by the powers of the Fae.  While they are empowered by the Lords of Fate and Hearth to bring mankind’s greatest dreams and fears to life, they are far from the only influence upon the world as we know it.

It might have been that Morpheus or one of his ilk took to their own form of meddling.  It may be that the faith of the Christ-child’s rhetoric of “two souls intertwining” through marriage has some merit.  Even the realm of Science, with its “theta waves” syncing up might offer some form of explanation as to “why”.

As it so often is with such things, the “why” wasn’t as important as the “what”.  Whatever the cause, both lovers closed their eyes looking at each other, and opened them again seeing each other’s faces. But this time, neither one was in the waking world.

“Jack?” she asked.

“Jamie?” he replied.

“Are…” she hesitated, “Are we dreaming?”

They looked around. There was no landscape.  Nor sky. Nor horizon. In every direction that they were capable of looking, was only a gray abyss with wisps of what might have been smoke constantly hovering around the periphery of their vision.

“We might be,” Jack conceded, “but if so, whose dream is this?  Yours or mine?”

“Does it matter?” Jamie asked.

“I guess not,” Jack admitted.

“What if this is just a dream?” Jamie wondered.

“Then I guess it’s just a dream,” Jack concluded.  “One of us dreams this, we wake up, and if the other one doesn’t remember-“
“We just start off from scratch,” Jamie completed the thought.  Neither one knowing how to start, they just stood and stared awkwardly as each one mustered the courage to speak uncomfortable truths to each other.

“I think I found a way to win,” Jack finally gathered his courage.  “I found a way to kill her.”

Jamie sucked in her lips, nervously, wanting to object, but decided to let her husband say his piece.

“While you were alone with her, I found a book,” Jack explained.  “It was like one of those weird fantasy books you like reading, only it was all about… her,”  He dared not even mention Mathair’s name while speaking this plan, even while dreaming.  “It said she wasn’t supposed to be this way, but she changed herself; changed the way she was and how she looked so she could…I dunno…try to have kids or something.  She has a weakness.”

“What?” Jamie heard herself say, becoming numb inside.  How would Jack propose to doom them both, if Mathair was truthful?

“Fire,” he whispered.  “The book said that she was as vulnerable to fire as dry kindling.”

“Okaaaaay,” Jamie grimaced.  “But how do we set her on fire?”

“I’ve been thinking about that all day, and I think I figured it out,” Jack grinned, his eyes mirroring a fox’s cunning with the sinister urges of a snake.  “Ever read Hansel and Gretel?”

Jamie’s gasped in recognition.  “You want to push her in an oven?”

“Yup.”  Jack was quite pleased with himself.

“That’s…” Jamie searched for the right words.  “That’s not going to matter.”

“No, we can make it work,” Jack insisted.  “All we need to do is-“

“I’m not saying we can’t do it,” Jamie interrupted, “I’m just saying that it won’t matter.”

“What do you mean?” Jack asked, concerned.

“When you were reading that book, she…” Jamie echoed her lover’s caution, “she told me something.  Even if she loses, even if she dies, there’s nothing we can do to turn back to normal.  If we go free, we only go free as big babies.”

“She’s lying,” Jack asserted.  “Simple as that.”

“I don’t think she can lie, as much as misdirect.” Jamie insisted.

“Then she’s misdirecting,” Jack snorted.

“Honey,” Jamie pleaded softly with Jack.  “We were screwed the moment we signed on the dotted line.  We’ve already lost.  Now it’s just a matter of how bad do we lose.”

That’s when they noticed what they were wearing.

Sigmund Freud may have been a cocaine addict with more than a few mother issues, gentle reader, but he had great insight into the nature of mortal dreams.  The wise pay attention to their dreams.  People often have nightmares that they cannot wake up from till the most critical moment, trapped in a feeling of helplessness that they don’t voice when their eyes are open and alert.  Others have dreams that they languish in, fantasies given a form of indulgence that they would never admit to in public.  Only the most brilliant liars and the most delusional souls can have complete control of a dream.  Dreams tell you truths about yourself that you might not otherwise admit.

Jack was wearing a pastel blue onesie, the words “Big Boy” were printed in white block letters on the front.  Jamie was in a light pink Lolita dress, the frills making her resemble a delicate flower, but with a hem that was almost comically short.  The matching ruffles on her panties only accentuated the look.  Around her neck was a matching pink bib, the words “Momma’s Girl”, embroidered onto the front.  Both were obviously well padded.  Even in their dreams they were infantilized.

“No,” Jack stomped his bare foot.  “This is a trick.  She’s trying to trick us.”

“I don’t think so,” Jamie said, staring down at her feet.  “None of stories I’ve read have ever indicated-.”

“But don’t you get it?” Jack cut her off.  “This is a story.  That’s all this is!  There are rules she has to follow because this is all a story.  She’s the wicked witch, we’re the kids that got trapped in the house that was too good to be true.  You bought us time to survive while I close the deal and we get our happily ever after.”

“But…” Jamie paused, “she’s not a witch.  And we’re not actually too lost little kids.  We’re just two adults that never got the chance to really grow up.  This story might be different.”

“We’re the new Hansel and Gretel,” Jack insisted, “and just like the original, the bad woman is going into that oven.”

“What if you’re wrong?”  Jamie questioned him.  “What if it just makes everything worse and we’re left stranded and screwed?”

“What if I’m right?” Jack countered.  “Do you really want to give up without even trying?  Is that how things are, now?  Is that how we are?   Jamie took a deep breath and found her courage.

“No,” she concluded.  “I guess it isn’t.”

They spent the remaining time they had, how long it was, no one is certain, finalizing how they would get the azure demoness into the kitchen oven.  They talked, and strategized, and quibbled on a few points, but they reached their gambit soon enough.

No further words were said in that gray endless void.  No more were needed. They each woke up that morning, hugging the stuffed animals in their cribs as they might have held each other.  Just like the first morning, there was no Mathair to torment them.  Just like the last two mornings, and every morning for the foreseeable future if the wyrd woman told the truth, their diapers were soaking wet and trying desperately to hang off their hips, contained only by the pajamas they had been placed in.

“Good morning, darlings,” Mathair’s voice rang out, breaking the silence of the morning.  “Ready to start our final day?”  Then she paused, her wings buzzed thoughtfully. “Well not our final day together, obviously, but the final day of our little game.”

The lovers each stole a look at each other, searching for recognition and remembrance in the other’s eyes.  They both found it.  They nodded without nodding.  Jamie stared off into the middle distance, becoming little more than a passively resisting doll.  Jack growled under his breath and gave the Faerie the middle finger.   She must not know or be allowed to suspect that anything was different.  They must appear for all intents and purposes to be ready to stay the course.

As was becoming typical, Jack was the first one trotted over to and then hoisted onto the changing table.  He smiled in grim satisfaction as he was stripped of his clothing and cleaned, knowing that this clean diaper- crinkling ever-so-slightly as his rump was lowered down onto it- would likely be his last.

He heard Jamie whine a bit in distress after he was taped up and he soon saw why.  From the air, Mathair had conjured the latest infantile outfit to clothe him in.  It was a pastel blue onesie, the words “Big Boy” were printed in white block letters on the front; just like Jack had dreamed it.

Did the Faerie know?  Had she peered into their dreams or read their minds?  Their gambit would fail, then.  Too much of the plan relied on surprise.  But Jack couldn’t read any hint of recognition in the wyrd woman’s face.  There was no knowing grin, or smug double talk such as “I just knew this would be the outfit you dreamed of, Jack darling.”

Maybe, just maybe, the dreams were prophetic.  Jack hadn’t believed in prophecy, but four days ago he hadn’t believed in feathers either.

Both lovers felt their stomachs knot up as Jamie was changed and worked into an all too familiar Lolita dress with a matching diaper cover.

“Now,” Mathair announced as two large highchairs hobbled up the stairs, “I think some breakfast is in order, don’t you two?”  The two were carried down the stairs and into the kitchen as they had been for the last several meals, while Mathair glided behind them, her feet concealed beneath her almost midnight colored dress.

The jars of (admittedly delicious) muck were floating in the kitchen when they arrived, already waiting for them.  Even though each spoonful tasted heavenly, an exact recreation of whatever favorite food either one craved at that particular moment, both of them struggled with every spoonful.  Legs kicked, and heads turned sharply at the last moment.  Hands swatted.

None of this seemed to perturb the Mistress of Miller Manor.  A few more wiggling of her digits, and both Jack and Jamie felt invisible forces grip their heads into vises and pinned their arms to the tray.  Just as on the first day, history was repeating itself.  Then, Jack did the unthinkable.  Baby food sailed through the air past the feeding tray of his highchair and onto the pristine kitchen floor.  He spat it out.  Jamie followed suit.

For an entire three seconds, Mathair just stared, unsure of what to make of this new development.

“What’s wrong, darlings?”  Mathair cooed, whatever method she used for holding her captives in place relaxing a bit.  “I know your num nums are yummy.  Why don’t you want them in your tummies?”

Jamie was already making herself shiver; shaking so much that her chair was rattling.  It was an exaggerated shiver to be sure, but hopefully the wyrd woman would buy it.

“Is it too cold?” Mathair asked Jamie as if she were a child.  “Do you want something warmer in your tum tum?”  Jamie did her best to look conflicted.  She looked away, not nodding, but not shaking her head either.

“And you Jack?” Mathair regarded him.  “Are you trying to tell me something, too?”  Jack responded by snatching a plastic tipped spoon out of the air and then hurling it angrily to the ground.  He looked up and stared daggers at his jailer.

A wry, knowing smile came across Mathair.  “Of course,” she whispered. “I have been awfully mediocre with my food, haven’t I?” she spoke up. “Just because it tastes good doesn’t mean it’s satisfying to eat. Taste is just part of it.  There’s still texture and temperature to consider.”

“So…” she suggested.  “How about something to warm my little girl up and something my darling little man can eat by himself?”

Jack’s toes curled in anticipation.  This was it.  She was taking the bait.  This was almost too good to be true.  Jack and Jamie had been planning on going hungry or being punished at breakfast.  This gambit was supposed to be stretched out till at least lunch, perhaps even dinner.  They had even anticipated talking about how the food left something to be desired during their one hour of “unstructured” time where they were allowed to speak like adults.

“Well what if we use your food as a type of jam, and put it on some nice hot biscuits?”

Neither of them nodded, or squealed, that would have given too much away. But neither objected as freezer doors from the top of a previously unused refrigerator opened, and a tin of dough emptied itself out onto a metal pan.  A red glow came from the nearby oven, and a wave of heat burst out so that the air literally began rippling.  Both lovers craned their necks around to see the source of the heat, and the high chairs graciously rotated so that they had a front row seat to the baking.

Perfect.  Jack was worried for a moment he’d have to do this backwards.

As the door to the oven groaned open, falling to the floor with a “CLANG”, Jack squirmed and wriggled in his highchair, managing while Mathair used her powers to stay a safe distance away from the one contraption in her house that might actually harm her to actually get his feet bunched up under him.  He waited for Jamie to take her cue.

“I!” Jamie yelped.  “GIVE!….”  and then she stopped.

“Yes?” Mathair asked, gliding in front of Jamie’s high chair.  “What is it darling?  You were about to say something?”  She grinned like a junkie about to get her fix.  “Go on, say it Jamie.  Say the last word and be mine.  Say that last word and this game will be over for you.”

“Blaba!” Jack shrieked as he leaped from his highchair, Mathair too distracted by anticipation to notice him.  His forearm clocked her on the temple, sending her reeling.  Her feet unsteady, she gripped onto the highchair, only to feel Jack, having landed on the floor bear hugging her ankles.

“Blaba.” Jamie repeated as she leaned forward and shoved with all of her might.
Back, back, back, the Faerie fell into the fiery maw of her own oven, the Lords of Fate and Hearth decreeing that this was how she would end.  Like a dragon turning on its keeper, the oven door snapped closed as Madam Mathair, Mistress of the Miller Manor tumbled inside it.

The shrieks of a thousand dying insects echoed from inside the oven.  Jamie had to catch herself and land on her feet as her highchair was the first thing to collapse like stale peanut brittle.  She threw herself towards the oven door, and Jack joined her on his feet as they leaned against it to prevent their tormentor from having any chance to escape.   They both shuddered as they felt the monster’s kicks and scrapes from the inside.

As the Faerie became so much ash, her inhuman screams echoing in the oven, a change came over the house.  It was fading, becoming less tangible by the second.  The pallor of the walls became the deathly white of burnt charcoal, the floors sizzled and then joined the walls.  Soon the entire structure was taking on a greasy, translucent hue, like thin paper at the bottom of a basket of French fries.

Their clothes were likewise unraveling.  Jacks’ cute onesie was beginning to drip from his skin.  Her dress was becoming nothing more than mist.  She clenched her toes around little more than dirt.

But while Jack looked around, eagerly, smiling like the man who just won the grand prize, Jamie noticed one minute detail as they held the oven door with all of their might.  Their diapers weren’t disappearing.  The infantile decorations on the landing strip of cute baby birds, still in their nests were fading from view, but the incontinence garments themselves stayed firmly taped on their hips.

“Blaggle dabba dabba!” she tapped Jack on the shoulder to get his attention, Jack still marveling at his handiwork and grinning like a drunkard.

Only as he glanced at her and asked “Gah?” did they both let out a gasp.  Their words weren’t returning to them.  Jack was wrong!  Both looked to their waists and witnessed in horror as two large tapes became four tiny ones and a pale yellow wetness strip that wasn’t there before snaked its way down the middle of their diapers.

Gone were facsimiles of the infantile garb of their youth.  In mere moments the house would vanish and they would be out in the open, unable to talk and naked save for a pair of decidedly “adult” diapers.
Jack’s face went from one of glorious victory to caught trout.  His lip quivered in fear and regret.  He fought for control and lost as his breathing sped up and he began hyperventilating.

Jamie looked to her husband and then to herself.  There was only one last gambit to try.  If Tinkerbell could be saved with some clapping, perhaps their relatively benevolent captor could be brought from the brink with three words.  She closed her eyes and balled up her fists.

“I. GIVE. UP.”

A flash of light overtook the couple, blinding them while and the hum of a thousand insects fluttering their wings in unison drowned out their screams.  When they could see again, they were both dressed as they had been; as toddlers.

They were still in the kitchen, the tiled floor now gleaming their reflections back at them.
Only now, Mommy Mathair-and she was most certainly “Mommy” now-held the young woman in her lap, a pink bib reading “Mama’s Girl” tied around Jamie’s neck.

“Good girl,” she smiled with one hand wrapped around her new daughter’s waist, the other hand stroking her long golden locks.  “I knew you’d make the right choice.  You always have.”

Both Jack and Jamie looked at the oven, a pile of glittering ashes remained visible through the glass panel.

Questioningly, Jack looked the wyrd woman dead in the eyes, and noticed that their coloring had gone from an almost royal violet to a cat-like yellow.  Her hair was also jet black, now, for some reason.  Her wings were gone, too.

“Grah ma?” he babble asked.

“Oh I was getting tired of that body anyways.” Mommy Mathair waved off the question.  “I decided to borrow your hair color, Jack.  I hope you don’t mind.”  She snapped her fingers, the tips of her nails now strawberry red, and green sparks danced through the air and down Jack’s open throat.

“THE FUCK?!” Jack shouted angrily, his words returned.  “I killed you!  I won!”

“Jack, darling, I am quite vulnerable to fire, but you can’t just burn my head, arms, and legs.  You have to burn alllll of me” she spread her arms and gestured to their surroundings.

“You mean?” Jack understood at last.

“I am so much more than a blue woman, Jack, stop treating me as such.” She smiled wryly.

Fresh tears dripped from Jamie’s cheeks.

“You…you were never in any real danger, were you?”  Jack questioned.

“None at all.” Mommy nodded, “Everything you just saw was for your benefit.  I like these bodies, but they are animate in the same way that the furniture or the puppets, or even the potty that you two so dread, are.”

“You lied to us,” Jack accused, his outrage draining into a kind of defeated numbness.

“Not at all, Jack darling,” she was bouncing Jamie on her knee.  “It was more of a bluff.  Playing psychological chicken, really.  And it worked didn’t it?  Oh, you’re free to go, by the way.”

“Huh?”

“I really only need one little darling I suppose, and Jamie was such a good girl, after all.” Mathair went on.   “Walk out the front door.  It’s open, now.” The creaking of old hinges rang out, blunted by wood slamming against wood.  Jack felt a cold breeze wash over his bare legs. “Leave and all of the enchantments I’ve placed on you will be removed.  You’ll be naked and require a walk of shame back to your Mommy and Daddy’s home, but no one will remember Jamie, so you won’t have to explain anything.”

“I’ll just come back and burn the rest of you down from the outside,” Jack threatened.

Mathair laughed at that.  Everything laughed.  Cabinet and bedroom doors opened and slammed shut. Toys and furniture rattled on the floor.  Jack heard her laughter reverberating from the television in the living room and heard the faint dinging of buzzers and bells from the pinball machine upstairs.

“If you do that, darling Jack, Jamie will burn too, won’t she? No, no, I think Jamie and I will be having a nice long tenure as Mommy and her little girl.  Now, off you go.  Take your freedom.”

Still bouncing on Mathair’s knee, Jamie whined as she slid her hands to her belly.  Her eyes were all apologies and urging her husband to go, and leave her to her fate.

“No.” Jack said.  It was fact.

“I beg your pardon?” Mommy Mathair tilted her head inquisitively.  “I’m not quite used to hearing that word and in thattone.”

Jamie whimpered a little as she bobbed up and down on the Fae’s knee.  Mathair plucked a pacifier from thin air and shoved it in the girl’s mouth.

“I’m not leaving without my wife” Jack replied.  Once again, this was fact.

Jamie’s legs began fidgeting, feebly kicking the air.

“Oh she’s not your wife anymore, darling,” the wyrd woman grinned.  “And you aren’t her husband.  Your marriage has been affectively annulled.  But you could always be her brother.  All you’d have to say is those three little words.  Concede the game to me.”

Jamie’s face was turning red, but not the familiar light pink hue of embarrassment- that would come later-but the deep crimson of strain.

“Nev-!“ Jack cut himself off as the crimson in Jamie’s face paled as she finally relaxed herself and transmuted to the rosy blush of shame.  Jack welled up inside and fell to his knees as a flood of pure sex surged through him.

He may have been an epileptic, he shook so.  As the contents of his lust rocketed though him and into his pants, the stickiness quickly absorbed by the padding, he broke out in a cold sweat and meekly pawed at his crotch, desperately trying to stem the tide for the sake of his pride more so than anything.

Jamie took it all in from Mommy Mathair’s lap and hid her face in her hands, sucking on her dummy for comfort. Meanwhile Mommy Mathair, her job done, thankfully stopped bouncing the poor girl.

Once their respective deeds were done, Jamie grimaced as she found herself plopped, bottom first, onto the floor beside Jack.  Jack looked up at the blue Faerie from his new position on the floor, tears of shame and sorrow, and perhaps relief, flooding his eyes.  Then he said the words: “I give up.  Take me.  Just let me stay here…with both of you.”

“Such a good boy,” Mommy tickled him condescendingly, yet lovingly, under his chin.  “You passed the final test, my darling baby.  The test of love; and now you two will have it.”

Seductively she lowered to her knees in front of the two former spouses.  The top half of her black and white pinstripe dress peeled as a plant does when opening it’s flowers, revealing her bosom.  Two large breasts, nipples dripping with milk greeted the babies.  Delicate, inhuman hands reached behind unresisting heads and guided them towards her bosom.

“Come to Mommy,” she whispered to them both.  “It’s time we get to know each other a little better.”

As their mouths opened, Jack and Jamie shared one last look with each other.  They didn’t talk, but they didn’t need to.  Their eyes, the eyes of love, communicated the same message that they always had.

“I love you”

“I love you, too”

They had tasted this milk before from their bottles; albeit a more watered down, less potent version.  It was a milk of innocence and preservation.  A milk that tasted of better times and nostalgia. Of comfort and security more so than nourishment.

The creamy stuff flowed down into their throats, saturating their very souls.  Everything that they were up to that point was preserved. But everything they could have been- parents, people with successful careers, independent adults with adult friends- all of that was impossible now.  They were Mommy’s little darlings, from now until the end of their days.

Here ends their story, gentle reader.  For while their lives and their love continues and will go on, their tale does not.  Whether this tale is cautionary or wish fulfillment is a matter of debate.  But as I have with all of my little darlings throughout the ages, I have told the tale and written it in the book of Fate and Hearth where all such tales are recorded.  May the Lords of Fate and Hearth be satisfied; whining, mewling children, always wanting the same yet “different” story that they are.  Hopefully, this one amused them with a little twist, and I am to remain blessed with a steady supply of little ones.

Now if you excuse me, gentle reader. I must put down my quill and cease writing in the pages of destiny.  I have two little darlings to attend to, both eager to be changed, fed, and then played with; their Mommy loves them so.

Oh, and one last offer, gentle reader: If you ever happen to come across a certain house- the kind in an otherwise nice neighborhood, that is not quite abandoned, but no one can ever recall catching site of its tenants- feel free to knock and not run away like the neighborhood children are wont to do.  I might just open to you.  My little darlings could souse another playmate.  Perhaps a brother or a sister.

“Happily Ever After”,

Madam Mathair, Mistress of Miller Manor, and the Manor Itself; but perhaps you’ll call me “Mommy”.

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She stood there in the doorway of what had become my room; eyes wide and shocked.  Hair still in pigtails, she wore a baby blue pinafore dress with a white undershirt and matching tights that did nothing to hide the slight bulge of her training pants. Julia was in my room.  We stared at one another, each taking the other in, absorbing what the chronotons had done to the two of us.  In looking at her, I was, in a way, gazing into my own black mirror.  Thanks to her little miracle pills incubating in our gray matter, Julia was likely the only person in the entire world who saw me for who I truly was; and I was the only one who knew the truth about her.  Yesterday, a lifetime ago, we would have been ridiculous. 

In this new life, we were merely adorable.  As if on instinct, or a switch being flipped, we sprung into mutual overload:  We screamed.  We shrieked.  We cried as if we hadn’t seen each other in years.  We held onto each other and refused to let go.

Amongst our shared delirium, an intruder entered the fray. “Looks like they’re happy to see each other,” I heard an older woman’s voice speak over our barely contained sobs.  Julia hugged me even harder at that, as though I might be ripped from her at any moment.  From over Julia’s shoulder, I spied my mother standing with what I could only assume was Julia’s mom; same hair and eye color, only thirty extra years and fifty extra pounds. 

“Oh, you know these two,” Mom chimed in, “thick as peas in a pod, ever since they met.  It’s times like this that I’m glad we arranged that first little playdate.”

Julia released her grasp on me and stepped forward to the “adults”.  “Mommy,” she asked, “can I play? Can I, can I, can I?” She was bobbing up and down as she spoke, like a hyperactive toddler.  Her entire demeanor- the way she carried herself; even the tone of her voice- was closer to twenty-nine months than twenty-nine years.  My back immediately went stiff from shock.  Why was she talking like this?    Had my friend and colleague, my one intellectual equal, been regressed herself?

“Of course, dear,” her mother replied.  “That’s why Mommy brought you over here.”  Julia’s mother turned to my mom.  “After last night, I thought we should check in.”

“Whyyyy?”  Julia asked, tilting her head to the side and tugging at her mother’s sleeve; a little girl asking a difficult question like it was a simple one.  My mouth went dry.  Replaying the last few moments in my head, it occurred to me that Julia hadn’t actually acted very much like an adult since our respective transformations.  She had cried and pawed at a wet Pull-Ups that had suddenly materialized inside her pants; she had asked to confirm my identity in relatively simple terms and vocabulary, and had shrieked upon seeing me.  What if I was the only one left in the world who knew that twenty somethings weren’t little children. What fresh Hell would that be like? 

Unconcerned with my own mental crises Mrs. Lanksy tried to address her daughter’s question.  “It’s…” Mrs. Lansky broke off, “it’s complicated.” From her perspective, it was, to be fair.  As far as she knew, the social equivalent of a pre-schooler had somehow teleported outdoors to the park. She looked over to my mother.  “Anything making sense to you about why the kids were out of bed and in the park?”  Mom could only shrug and shake her head sadly.  “You two play for a bit,” Julia’s mom told us.  “The grown-ups will be talking out in the family room.”

The so-called grown-ups left us alone, closing the door behind them. Julia stopped her bobbing and turned to face me.  Immediately, everything “little girl” about her behavior ceased.  Flatfooted and serious, she gazed at me with a more discerning, critical eye.  “It’s still you in there, right Elisa?”

I was taken aback.  I wasn’t the one bouncing around like a simpleton.  “Of course it’s me,” I told her.  “Who else would it be?”   

Apparently unconvinced, Julia pressed me for more information. “What’s your name, then?”

“Doctor Elisa Briggs,” I responded, automatically.  “Yours?”

“Doctor Julia Lansky,” she answered.  Some of the tension eased out of her as she held out her hand to me.  “Doctor.”

I took it and shook it firmly, falling back into the old comforting ritual.  “Doctor.”  That did it. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, we were both still very much ourselves, and not a duo of overgrown toddlers.

“Had me worried there for a second,” my companion giggled nervously.  “Playing with dolls, and everything.”

“Like you were any better?” I countered.  “You were practically doing the potty dance.”

Julia rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her baby blue pinafore dress. “My mommy seems to be more receptive to me when I meet certain pre-conceived expectations of hers.”  Julia always was more of a people person than I was; able to read a room and react appropriately.  A moment later her upper lip curled in disgust as she asked, “Was I really doing a potty dance?”  Her hand traveled down between her legs and she nervously groped around the padding, trying to checking herself discretely, and failing.

I shrugged. “It’s been a while since I’ve observed the behavior of small children,” I explained, “but there was definitely something juvenile about your behavior…” a beat…”for a moment anyways.” 

“Most of that was intentional,” Julia replied. Her eyes darted to the floor, as if she were confessing an embarrassing secret.

In realization, I scoffed.  “Most of it?”

“My mental faculties are intact as near as I can tell,” she explained.  “But my vocabulary has taken a bit of a hit.  How to put this?  I can’t refer to my mommy as anything other than…than…”

“Than ‘Mommy’,” I finished her sentence for her.  “Me too.  I have all the synonyms in my head, but I can’t vocalize them for some reason.  The same thing goes for Daddy.”

Julia nodded. “It’s not just those words, either,” she said.   “Like I can’t call grown-ups…grown…I can’t…grown-ups.”  Her face reddened and her nose wrinkled.  “Damnit,” she cursed.  “It’s there in my brain, but I can’t make myself say another word for uh.”

Adults. Elders. Fully sexually developed human beings capable of reproduction and full participation in active society.  I could think of any number of words used to describe who my parents were, who I considered myself to be, but could I…? 

“Grown-ups?” I added unhelpfully. 

Julia plopped herself down on the floor.  “See what I mean? If I think about it, I can speak with almost perfect enunciation and subject specific nomenclature, but if there’s a version of a particular word that exists in the average three year old’s vernacular, I’m forced to use that instead.”

I nodded my understanding while I joined her on the floor by my dolls.  The soft and subtle crinkle as I lowered myself to the ground reminded me that there were worse things than a stunted vocabulary.  “And if that wasn’t bad enough,” I added, “my Mommy and Daddy think I still go pee-pee in my pants.”  I hadn’t meant to say that; ‘go pee-pee’; nor had I consciously decided to refer to my parents as ‘Mommy and Daddy’.  Based on the way we both blanched and chose that moment to stare at the pile of dolls in front of us, I think we both knew that my word choice wasn’t entirely intentional.

After what felt like a small eternity, Julia spoke up.  “I’m just glad you’re still here. I was afraid you’d be out of state by now.”  My raised eyebrow was the only thing needed for her to elaborate.  “You grew up out of state, didn’t you?” 

“Correct,” I confirmed, “but my Mommy moved here almost a decade ago; Daddy was in town, too, apparently.”  Now it was Julia’s turn ask without asking.  “They’re divorced,” I explained, though something didn’t quite feel right about that.  “They were divorced until last night,” I corrected myself. “They stayed together long enough to raise me.”

“So now that they think you’re just above a baby, capability wise” my friend inferred, “they’re together again.”

“Pretty much.”  It may have been the tension in the room and my need to occupy my overloaded brain, but I soon found my hands fiddling with doll clothes again.  Julia joined me in dressing the not-quite-anatomically correct figurines.

Julia’s mouth twitched a bit as she managed to pull some scrubs over dental hygienist Barbie.  “So…we broke time.”  It wasn’t a question.

I bunched up Cafeteria worker Barbie’s flowing locks under a hairnet before responding. “Pretty much.”  There were perhaps more eloquent ways of phrasing our current predicament, more clinical ways to be certain.  However, we were two grown women in disposable training pants playing with dolls.  Eloquent and clinical were unnecessary.

Julia again stared at the slight bulge between her legs.  It was a fresh wound to her, and every gnawing animal instinct left to her couldn’t help but want to inspect and pick at it. “Everyone thinks we’re two, tops,” she said.  Her legs spread wide, I was able to make out the faint sigil of the fade when wet design on the Pull-Ups through her thin white tights.

“Effectively,” I sighed, glancing at my own, still dry underwear.  I wondered briefly if I’d be consciously aware of the need to relieve myself or whether I’d end up like the toddler on so many potty training commercials; a slight gasp and then a mad dash followed by a cry of ‘uh-oh’.

Julia looked up from herself and made eye contact. “Effectively?”  She was confused, as if my answer was more cryptic than I had intended.

She didn’t know.  Of course she didn’t know.  Julia, ever adaptive, ever the people pleaser had deduced her reduced social status immediately and hadn’t thought to raise any objections, intuitively knowing them to be futile.  I however, in my compulsive need to analyze and gather data, had stumbled onto a truth she hadn’t had time to.  “My Mommy and Daddy know I’m twenty-nine,” I said.  “They just think it’s normal for twenty-nine year old girls to be wearing Pull-Ups and have potty accidents.  I went pee-pee in the bed, too.” I admitted. 

My former colleague looked thoughtful for a moment, adding my new data to what she had already discovered about the brave new world we had accidentally created. “Huh…that explains a lot.”

I blanched. “Explains what?” I asked.  Had my enuresis been that obvious? Had she already taken note of my soiled bed?  No, that couldn’t have been what she was referring to; Julia was never one to mock shortcomings, especially if she likely shared them herself.  Logically, she had information that I lacked access to.  Nervously, I busied myself putting the pink camouflage pants on Army Reserve Barbie.  They matched her pink panties; oddly enough Army Reserve Barbie was one of the few dolls not going commando.

My friend glanced over her shoulder to the window with the ivy covering it.  “You haven’t been outside today, have you?”

I shook my head. “Uh-uh.”

“Things have changed…a lot,” she said.  She started fiddling with Pit Crew Engine Repair Barbie’s grease stained overalls.  “There’s a lot more day-cares and pre-schools it seems.  More than I remember, anyways.  Saw plenty on the car ride over here.  There’s car seats that fit me, now.”

I was confused.  I wasn’t drawing the correlation with her.  If the rest of the population went back approximately twenty-seven years, why would there be a significant increase in childcare facilities?  Even in accounting for mortality rates for the elderly, there shouldn’t be that much of a shift in the rates of so-called children to so called-adults.  The Baby Boomers would think themselves back in their primes, and the Generation X’ers would re-flood schools still thinking they had their lives ahead of them. “How does us being twenty-nine and not all the way potty trained…” I paused, having meant to say ‘toilet trained’.  “Potty…,” I tried to spit the word out in vain. “Potty…fuck!” I huffed for a moment, lamenting my decreased spoken vocabulary, then pressed on. “How does that explain more daycares?”

“It explains why there’s so many babies,”  Julia clarified.

 “Babies?” I repeated, dumbly.  “There are a whole lot of people who got put back into diapers out there; most of them waaaaaay too old to be wearing them.” 

Based on the chronotons that had rained from the sky, there were twenty-nine year-olds, twenty-eight year-olds, and likely twenty-seven year-olds, perhaps even a few of late born twenty-six year-olds, but beyond that…did unbirth count as murder?  “So there are twenty-seven year old crawlers or something?” I asked.

“And twenty-six year-olds,” she elaborated, “and twenty year-olds, and teenagers…” she let the thought hang in the air.

“But those people weren’t alive when we were…when we needed to be…when we were actually little kids.”  Never once had we thought to experiment on organisms younger than the chronotons we were exposing them to.  Even on a lab rat, the possibility of non-existence seemed particularly cruel.

“Exactly,” my friend replied, “but they’re alive now. They’re just being treated like newborns for the most part.  The chronotons didn’t unbirth them, they just set the development goal posts way back.”

I had just turned the coveted eighteen to thirty-five year old demographic and the birth to age five demographic into one and the same.  I was out of smart or clever words to use. “Shit.”

“Yeah.” 

For a few minutes we sat there in silence, busying ourselves with our dolls.  I put the finishing touches on the special edition Lizzie Bordon Cosplay Barbie, making sure the bloodied axe was in the proper hand.

“I mean, at least the streets aren’t littered with fetuses,” I said, “or people didn’t blink out of existence.  But…still…shit…”

Julia frowned and looked up from her own pile of dolls. “How come you can still say that word?”

“What word?”

“Poopy…agggh!” Julia looked down her nose to her lips as if struggling.  The vulgar word would just not come out. “ You know what I mean,” she said, giving up.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged.  “I’m normally thinking of garbage and junk, or just being mad.  I’m not thinking of…”  Feces. Solid waste.  Bowel Movements. “Of… poopy.”

“So context matters.  Hmmm…”

“I assume so.” I agreed. “I’m analyzing the data as I’m experiencing it; same as you.”

“Fair enough.” She picked a Barbie doll in each hand, and contemplated a moment before speaking up again. “Do you think we’re dressing these dolls because we’re being partially affected by the chronotons, or is it boredom and nervousness?”

I ignored her question and posed my own. “ More importantly, are humans the only ones affected by the chronotons at present?  We won’t have time to get potty trained again if the world supply of food runs out due to lack of livestock reproduction or crop germination.”  All our experiments had proved thusly.  That meant I would likely never have children, though Maslow’s hierarchy of needs necessitated I worry about my own safety before I consider reproducing.

“I think we’re relatively safe,” Julia replied before putting her Barbies, now fully dressed back in the bin they had come from.  “My mommy has an old basset hound; definitely not older than me.  Poor thing is still on its last legs.  If it was affected, it’d be acting like a newborn puppy.”

“So, the filtration system on the chrono-drill worked at least.”  I felt some small amount of satisfaction at that.  I wasn’t a complete failure.  My own dolls joined hers in the bin.

There was a certain nervous wriggling as Julia continued reflecting. “If there had to be one thing that went right, at least it was that,” she said. “ People might be stuck in diapers till their thirties, but at least we haven’t completely ended the world.” 

I chose to not bring up that we might be the very last generation of humanity if the data collected in the lab held true to the wider world.  Instead I asked, “Why are you squirming like that?”

“Like what?” Julia replied, a slight tension in her voice as her legs began to close; her hands once again snaking down between them- this time unconsciously it seemed.

I pointed with my free hand and shifted my weight forward.  “Like that,” I said.

“I’m not…I’m…uh-oh,” Julia stopped.  Now both hands were clamped over her nether regions. “I can’t…” she hissed, “I can’t move.”

“….Why not?” 

“If I move, I’ll…I’ll…”  Julia didn’t finish the sentence.  She didn’t need to.  My own legs closed and drew closer to my chest.

“How didn’t you…?”  I asked, “Why are you?”

Dr. Julia Lansky, was scooting on the floor, rather like a dog, while holding herself.  “I gotta…I gotta…”  It was only then that I noticed where my other hand was; only then did I consciously notice the stretched and pained feeling in my own bladder.  It felt so full.  Over the course of our playing and talking, my morning milk had gone through me and now threatened to burst forth into the thirsty padding of my di…of my training pants.

“But…but…we’re grown-ups,” I rationalized; still rocking nervously on the floor.  I was humiliated  The slight pressure from pressing down on myself was helping to ease the pain a bit, but I feared that if I let up for a moment, I’d lose the battle against my own body and piss my pants right in front of my best friend.   “We’re big-girls.  Why aren’t we potty-trained?  I know how to use the potty, don’t you?”  It was true.  I knew all the simple mechanics, and reduced vocabulary or not I could probably still talk through the process.  What my mind knew though, academically, my body was having extreme difficulty in replicating.  It was the difference between talking about Olympic level athletic performance and analyzing technique, and actually being an Olympic level athlete.

Panting, eyes darting around the room, Julia talked, perhaps more out of habit or to keep her mind off of the looming disaster about to happen in our pants.  “Chronotons,” she spoke in quick clips.  “Regressive tendencies.  Lucy and Ethel, ‘member?  Ethel gave milk. Should have dried up.  Lucy nursed. Already weaned.”  Rocking faster now.

I gritted my teeth.  Toilet!  Where was a toilet?  “Yeah, but how hard is it to suck?”  The bins.  I could squat over a toy bin and give the newly clothed Barbies a golden shower.  Degrading and disgusting yes, but still better than losing the little seashell underneath Queen Ariel.

“Most mammals can’t suckle after being weaned,” the words rushed out of Julia.  For her sake, I hoped that was the only thing rushing out of her.  “They literally lose…the ability.”  She sucked in her breath.  It reminded me of a woman going into labor, only this time she was trying to keep something in.

Both of us, paralyzed by our own rebellious bladders and reduced bodily awareness, sat there staring each other. Then, I heard a gasp.  I watched as tears dripped from my colleague’s eyes, while the flower emblem, visible through her thin white baby tights, blurred and vanished.  Something else was dripping out of her, too.

“MOMMY!” she called out, her voice filled with desperation. “PEE-PEE!”  Footsteps thundered into the bedroom, followed quickly by our respective parents.  They couldn’t have come any faster if Julia had shouted “fire” or “murder”.  “Heart attack” would have gotten a slower, less panicked response.  Both Mrs. Lansky and my own mother came through the door, their eyes sweeping the room for children and puddled remains.  Last to come in, lugging along a large, pink plastic pot was my father.  My face burned hot as my mother made the briefest eye contact with me.  I was moments away from pissing myself and we both knew it.

Her head turned to my father.  “George,” she said, taking charge, “put that one down and go get the spare.” My father was not what I would have described as a slender man, but he could have been a sprinter for how fast he obeyed.  In a state of denial, my mind refused to wrap itself around the current situation.  Stupidly, I pondered the purpose of the stout plastic cylinder on the floor.  Even as Mom raised up the lid, the inside cover spelling out E-L-I-S-A, it took me far too long to realize what I was really looking at; far too long to comprehend what my parents intended me to do right in front of them.  The glitter and plastic gems glued along the sides didn’t help appearances, either. Bedazzled or not, my parents still had just presented me with nothing more than a pot to piss in.

Julia’s mother hovered over her daughter’s crunched, huddling form and asked, “Did you have a pee-pee accident, honey?”  Tearfully, Julia nodded so rapidly that she might have been shivering or seizing instead of confirming what her blurry training pants, visible even through her stark white tights, showed as true. “Do you still have to go?”  Once again, Julia shuddered and nodded.

“Still dry,” Mom said, lifting up my skirt and looking at my own Pull-Up.  “Harriet, a little help?”  Julia’s mother came around to stand behind me.  “You get the top, I’ll take care of the business end.  If we move fast enough, we can fix this.”  She leaned over to me.  “Just try to hold it in, while we get you on the potty, okay Elisa?”  My entire body felt hot with shame.   “On three.  One…two…three!”  Mrs. Lansky hooked her arms under my arm pits as my mother slipped her fingers into the waist band of my Pull-Ups, and with a quick but clumsy motion, she slid them down past my knees as Julia’s mother yanked me off the ground.  When her hands got to the back of my knees she wrapped her arms around them, and together they shuffled me over to what was- in this new reality- my toddler’s potty.

The coolness of the plastic seat on my cheeks was nothing compared to unused porcelain, but there was a certain grip to the texture on my bare skin that made it uncomfortable all the same.  The training pants slid further down my legs, not stopping until they reached the floor, the waistband still around my ankles.  “Okay Elisa,” Mom said. “You’re safe now.  Go potty.” 

Though aching, my bladder found unexpected, and unwanted resilience.  “I can’t,” I whined from both physical and emotional discomfort.  Their eyes were upon me.   Mom was watching hopefully, like a dog owner waiting for her pet to do a trick.  Julia’s mother looked at me and her daughter in turn, comparing and contrasting, perhaps trying to figure out what went wrong.  Julia, though glassy eyed, still stared at me, perhaps jealous, perhaps hoping I’d somehow fail in this simple task; that I wasn’t somehow more lucky or competent than she was.

The so-called grown-ups looked at us, then each other.  “Do you think she actually as to go?” Mrs. Lansky asked my mom.  “Maybe she’s just copying Julia?  Doesn’t know what she’s saying?”  I could speak about the ways the universe functioned in ways that would make most people’s head spin and feel like complete dullards and simpletons.  The accusation from this woman that I was simply parroting my friend; that I didn’t know how or when to relieve myself properly made me far angrier than I could accurately put into words.  I really did have to pee!  Had my mother not intervened, I surely would have had an accident in my panties by now.  But then why couldn’t I pee now? 

The notion that my body would more willingly evacuate itself into my clothes than into a proper receptacle at best was highly disturbing.  As far as my body was convinced, however, it had been voiding into thick padded underwear for close to three decades; this was unnatural and unfamiliar to it, no matter what my memory and mind signaled.

“Trust me, she knows what she’s saying,” Mom defended me.  “I think my little Elisa is advanced for her age.”  Before Julia’s mother could retort or even say as much as “mine too”, my father returned, lumbering into the room with another child’s potty identical in size though not in color or decoration.  It was a simple, porcelain, white.  Even with a toilet’s flushing handle painted onto the inside of the lid, it was infinitely less gaudy than what I was perched upon, bladder aching.     How nice it would have been, damn near dignified even, to sit upon that throne.

The mothers took their positions by Julia, preparing to hoist he up on the potty next to mine.  Only this time, Julia’s mom took the legs.  “Okay, sweetie, try to hold it in as best as you can.”  She looked to my mother, while I sat on the plastic seat, in pain and paralyzed.  “One…two…three!” 

“Nononononononono!” Julia gasped and screamed as her tights and disposable panties were yanked down her legs.  I averted my gaze, but not in time to see several dribbles of urine hit the floor before Julia was on the potty next to mine.  Her liquid waste spilled out of her, rattling off the bottom of the potty, meekly as she sobbed in her hands; her mother meanwhile finishing the job of yanking off her tights and underwear completely off her.

My father sighed.  “I’ll go get some stain remover,” he said before shuffling back out.  During an anthropology course I took in college, I read that in less industrially developed nations, where diapers weren’t a practical option to dealing with infant wastes, the cultures used something called “elimination communication.”  Mothers would notice when the infant became uncomfortable, their bladder and bowels filled, and then take them to a waste receptacle and make a signal. According to the article, most often it would be a hissing noise for peeing, or a grunting noise for bowel movements usually, and in a relatively short amount of time, the infant would grow to associate the sounds subconsciously as a signal of sorts.  The same principle applies to the sound of running water and a sudden urge to urinate.

The sound of Julia peeing into the plastic bowl beneath her had a similar effect on my own body.  Without knowing it, I too was joining in, my bladder releasing into the vessel provided; the sound of urine hitting the bottom quickly being replaced by liquid hitting liquid as I quickly filled the bowl.  My breathing became simultaneously more relaxed- the strain literally pouring out of me- and faster as fear and years of ingrained modesty tried to reassert themselves.

 Mom beamed. “That’s my big girl!” she proclaimed, throwing her fists into the air; a great victory being won.  Instantly, and without warning, I was completely overwhelmed with pride.  My Mommy thought I was a big girl, too!  I did it! I did it! I had convinced her!  I was a big girl!  I went pee-pee in the potty like a big girl; not in my diaper like some little baby…not like Julia.  Pull-Ups still around my ankles, I raised my fists in victory, mirroring both my Mommy, and the girl on the package.

I turned my head to look at Julia, smiling with ecstasy at how mature, how BIG I was, and saw her crying openly in defeat; her mother patting her shoulder, comforting her.  “I’m sorry, Mommy,” she moaned.  “I’m sorry.”  What was I doing?  This was no accomplishment!  This was nothing to be proud of.  I’ve won accolades in the scientific community.  My findings were being put in history books and college text books by the time I was barely old enough to drink.  Being able to go potty was nothing to celebrate at my age. 

Julia’s hands, shot to her stomach, and she bent over.  “Julia,” her mother asked, “what’s wrong?”

Julia’s answer was nails on the chalkboard of my mind.  “Poooooooooooopie!”  A series of rude and loud noises emanated from her backside, echoing off the kiddie chamber pot and spilling out (along with the smell) into the room. 

The “grown-ups” stifled giggles as Julia unconsciously grunted and  uncontrollably pushed the solid mass out of her body while everyone, including me, looked on, a mixture of disgust, curiosity, and on the countenance of Julia’s mother, at least- pride.  “That’s right,” she cooed while rubbing Julia’s back.  “Get it all out, baby girl.”

Julia and I made the briefest of eye contact, before we each looked away.  I looked down between my legs into the pool I had created beneath me, the smell of urine starting to waft up from the pot I sat on.  Some small prayers of mine were answered.  I felt no cramps.  No feces came out of me, voluntarily or otherwise.  Only one of us was pooping in front of the other.

My mother came up to me, a baby wipe in hand, and with no warning, began to reach between my legs, to clean me.  “Mommy!” I protested.  “I’m…I’m…twenty-nine…” I stopped myself.  Inspiration hit:  If I could be a toddler, and twenty-nine in their eyes, I could also be mature for a toddler and gain a measure of independence in the process.  Just meet their expectations half way.  “I’mma big girl,” I declared, purposefully taking on a more childish tone. “Lemme do it myself.”   Mommy cocked an eyebrow, doubtful- so that’s where I got it from- but seemed to agree giving me the opportunity.  The wipe was in my hand, and under her critical eye, I wiped myself clean before dropping the used wipe into the puddle of piss.

“Good girl!” I was praised, my mother grabbing my wrists and pulling me up to a standing position.  “Now let’s get you dressed.  I stood there, far too impressed with my own ingenuity as my mother shimmied the crinkling, absorbent, disposable panties back up my hips.  Meanwhile, Dr. Julia Lanksy, world renowned biologist, was being taken over her mother’s lap, so that her mother could more easily wipe her ass, while my father helpfully readied a fresh pair of Pull-Ups.

I promised myself that I’d never forget the look of complete and total despair on her face; her mother sanitizing her as if she were completely incompetent while congratulating her for being a big girl and pooping in the potty. 

deviantID

Personalias
United States
I've been a closet AB/DL my entire life. My parents and close older family members probably suspect from when I was too young and dumb to know to hide my fascination. Then again, it probably got written off as "a phase", as soon as I got older and started not talking about it.

My friends may suspect, but if they do, they're kind enough not to say anything about it. The weird thing is, I have some friends that are open fetishists of different sorts; mostly furs. So yeah, I'm a bit of a coward. Even my name is a reference to that.

I'm not using anything even close to my real name, and anything with "Diaper" or "Baby" in the name was just too cliche. I'm so much more than just my fetish. We all are.

I'm just so paranoid that I'm going to be branded by it. So do I use a persona and change up my writing style and tone to further disguise myself? Live the internet dream by pretending to be someone much cooler than I am?

Or maybe just a simple Alias? Be myself with the exception of my name?

Persona+Alias= personalias

I'm actually scared some of my friends will find this page, and find enough clues to figure out it's me. I console myself with the question: "What the heck were my friends doing looking at AB/DL stories and pics anyways?"

My wonderful wife is the only person in my life who officially knows my secret. It was she who encouraged me to take some of my ideas, write them down and post them online for others to see.

The thing is...now that it's happening. Now that I'm becoming part of the online community. I can't help but wonder why I didn't join sooner.

Thanks for reading this. It was really cathartic.
Dear Internet Stalker,

When we first met each other, you seemed like a nice but lonely person who was new to the ABDL "scene," or "community," or "lifestyle," or "culture," or whatever you'd like to call it.  The point is you seemed lonely and needed someone to talk to and to ask the kind of "stupid questions" that come across people's brains when they're excited about something new but don't know much about the topic, so I was okay with that, and expected there to be some faux pas that happened.

For example, I did not particularly mind that you wanted to know what I thought of the various AB diapers that I knew of and had tried.  Perfectly fine.  Maybe not the kind of thing you ask at your first munch at the local Shoney's while the waitress is taking your order, but it didn't bother me out on the internet over PM's and notes. The distance between two computer screens can be beneficial in these instances.

However I became increasingly uncomfortable with pretty much everything else.  I found it weird that within a week of you constantly messaging me, you began to tell me about how your ex-girlfriend accused you of rape and how that broke your heart and almost ruined your life.  Moreso, I was uncomfortable that you started proposing these fantastical meet ups and coming to visit me in my hometown, even though we hadn't known each other very long at all.  


The fact that in fantasizing about this trip to meet me, you basically kept asking me if I'd want to do everything diapered with you was more than a little off-putting. You basically acted like Jon Stewart's character in the movie Half-Baked, except instead of weed it was diapers.  "Hey would it be okay if we watched a football game while diapered?"  "Could we one day meet and play musical instruments while diapered?"  "Would you be okay if we just hung out wearing nothing but T-shirts and diapers?"   I don't have a problem with doing said activities with people I trust. Also, I am particularly squeamish about (let's call it) "dress code" when I'm meeting fellow age players/ABs/DLs/littles, in that I want to make sure no one minds if I show up in what would otherwise be an objectively ridiculous outfit for a grown man to be seen in.  So I was patient up to a point.  But the fact that you kept asking it again and again and again, made me feel like you were fixating on me instead of any particular form of clothing.  That's one of the reasons I kept politely suggesting you meet with people who actually live in your state.  I figured you'd take the hint.  

I also didn't like how every time you messaged me (at least once a day during this time period) how you asked if I was wearing a diaper or if I had worn one lately.  I asked you not to ask me that, and that I would volunteer that information if and when I was comfortable with it and if I felt it was relevant to any conversation we were having and you apologized immediately, passionately, and profusely.  And then you did it again...and apologized.

The one time where I did volunteer that information, you immediately began asking me if I had wet it yet.  Lesson learned for me. I never mentioned anything regarding that to you again.

The fact that every day when I came home from work, I had three to five pms from you asking me the same sort of above questions, mixed with apologies for asking them, mixed with asking if you had angered me, mixed with the random minutae of your life, really made interacting with you a chore.  I continued to suggest that you meet more local and real people in your area and make more friends besides me.  I asked that you be more patient and let me find the time to respond to your questions and anecdotes in a less pressured manner where I didn't feel like my entire evening would be taken up in correspondence with you.  I feel that this did not help, because then you'd update me about how you waited a whole two days for me to respond before filling my inbox up with close to a dozen PM's, or you'd tell me about making more friends and that I should be proud of you because of the progress you were making.  

 We don't have many interests in common, outside of diapers.  Yes I went to college and you're a fan of my college's football team.  I haven't seen a game in years.  Yes we both learned how to play a musical instrument in high school; you are far more passionate about that subject than I am.  The fact that I didn't really talk about either of those things beyond the "oh neat" and "yup" and "cool" comments, I felt, should have been a clue.  

 Then I came upon a rough patch in my life.  I was taking a break from the scene and making a concentrated effort to not get involved in ABDL stuff outside of my writing.  Long story short: I had neither the time nor money to go to any sort of ABDL gathering and hearing about them and talking with other with this interest was only going to make me feel worse than I did.  I made an announcement where it was relevant, said my "goodbye for nows" and stopped logging on and interacting by-and-large.  But you kept sending me messages.  My other kink friends respected my need for alone time and privacy.  You didn't.

You even went so far as to find one of the very, very, few people that I trust enough and feel safe enough with to let them see my face and know how to contact me through non-fetish channels and tried to use them as an intermediary to get my attention.  At that point, I had had enough.   You showed me multiple times that you weren't going to respect my boundaries, my interests, or anything about me beyond me helping you feel good about yourself.  The bugging my friends was the straw that broke my camel's back.

I blocked you on Fetlife.  I considered the matter closed.  You go on with your life. I go on with mine.  

Then you come and message me on Daily Diapers a few months ago.   You say that you're sorry, and that you never meant to hurt me, and that if I just told you to go away you would never talk to me again.  I didn't believe you for a second, especially not that last part.  Then after a lengthy silence on my part, you tell me you're not going to talk to me anymore.  I hit "ignore" on your profile.  It's not quite as good as "block" on Fetlife, but if you say or do anything over there, I'm not told about it.   I can at least go on with my life.

Then I find a PM on my Deviantart account yesterday.  You had just made an account that day and you messaged me first thing, telling me how much you like my writing. You're now blocked there, too.  Any other site that you find me on you will find yourself blocked should you choose to try to interact with me. 

I am not going to be responsible for you, your fun, your social development, or your problems.  I am not your caregiver.  I don't care if you're "sorry".  I don't care if you "regret" things you've done.  I don't care if you're "improving".  I don't care if I "don't understand".  I don't care if I "don't know the whole story".  If you continue to harass me, I will have no choice but to tell everyone on this "scene", or "community", or "lifestyle", or "culture", or whatever that I care about about your behavior, including your screen name.

No reply is needed or wanted in any way, shape, or form.  I'm not unblocking you on any site.  If you don't see this, I don't particularly care.  This was for me, not for you.  Someone blocks you on three different sites, you don't go looking for a fourth.

No means no.
Stop means no.
Silence means no.

 

Comments


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:iconpierrylouys:
pierrylouys Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2017
Hey man do you have a patreon?
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:iconpersonalias:
Personalias Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2017
Sorry, no I don't.  
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:iconrenlysbaratheon:
RenlysBaratheon Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2017  New Deviant
Do you consider yourself an Adult Baby?
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:iconmarioman11:
Marioman11 Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2017
Thank you very much for the watch! I love your stories!
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:iconpersonalias:
Personalias Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2017
You're quite welcome.  And thank you too!
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:iconscarecrow-joe:
Scarecrow-Joe Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the watch!
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:iconpersonalias:
Personalias Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2017
Welcome.
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:iconjuspuh1:
Juspuh1 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Heya Personailias Thanks so much for the watch!
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:iconpersonalias:
Personalias Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2017
Welcome.  
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:iconpeculiarchangeling:
PeculiarChangeling Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
It's great to see that you're back around and putting out new stuff! I hadn't realized that you'd gone to CushyPen, so when your stuff stopped popping up in my feed I had just assumed that you had dropped off the face of the earth. So happy to see new stuff!
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