Continues from part two
Adam and Eve
The helicopter blew up a small cloud of dust as it landed. Two figures in black cloaks leapt from it and rushed to the waiting limousine. The pilot and the driver both recognised the wearers of the cloaks, but knew it was more than their jobs, and possibly their lives, were worth to mention that the couple had been seen together, especially here.
As the car pulled up at the front entrance of the grand hotel, the footman who opened the car door for them also recognised them, but schooled his face not to show that recognition. He also remembered that while both the man and woman were married, they were not and had never been married to each other. When the man said, "Thank you," having been conducted to the main door, the footman only replied, "You're welcome, sir," as he would have to any normal non-celebrity; in the usual run of business he would have been informed of the imminent arrival of a celebrity and greeted them by name.
At the signing in desk the clerk nearly greeted the two new guests by name, but seeing the event's organiser hovering across the lobby, remembered that everyone this weekend was anonymous and to be called whatever name they wished. "Sir, Madam, Would you please sign in."
The two cloaked figures signed the register and turned to see what this year's greeting would be like. The top half of a young woman floated towards them trailing a wisp of smoke that curled into a lamp that looked like a genuine version of a theatrical Aladdin lamp.
"Welcome to the Transformations Ball. May I guide you to Costume Inspection?" said the apparition. They nodded too astounded for words. "Follow me, please."
The couple soon arrived at a door labelled 'Costume Inspection' and the genie, who had introduced herself as Jenny during the short walk, opened the door and gestured for them to enter.
The inspection panel sat behind their table and of course recognised the couple as they entered, but as one they nodded and looked at the laptop in front of the panel's chairman. "Welcome. Adam and Eve is it?"
The man and woman dropped their cloaks to reveal themselves in their full naked glory; the only concession to this being a costume was the fact that they both had their navels concealed and the woman had a snake painted on her left upper arm.
After a short period, during which the panel admired the attendee's physiques, the chairman said, "While we are happy to see that you have made improvements in your costumes over the last three years, they still fall short from the originality point of view; so regretfully we have to fine you and send you to the transformations room. Thank you for coming."
The pair exited Costume Inspection expecting to find Jenny waiting for them, but a footman conducted them to the short distance to the Transformation Room, then ushered them in without passing over the threshold himself.
The room they had just entered was cluttered. One side had a table covered in an array of wigs, hair-dressing products and make-up and the other was similarly rammed with racks of costumes and a small screen to change behind. Each side was haunted by a woman, the younger one with the wigs and the older one with the costume racks. Their resemblance to each other made it obvious that they were daughter and mother. That resemblance carried over to the young man sat astride the chair in the centre of the room, except where the women seemed neat and professional, he seemed to be unkempt, in fading jeans and T-shirt.
"I wondered when you two would put in an appearance. Adam and Eve again, I see," comments the young man, with a sneer.
"Mike, behave! Or Jenny will see that your career is more ruined than it already is," hisses the older woman. The younger woman nods in agreement.
"Allow me to introduce myself and my team," Mike says as if the prospect is barely one step up from being kneecapped. "I am Mike, I shall be your transformation co-ordinator today and these are Mary, my mother, and Hannah, my sister, who will be helping to transform you into something new and exciting for the weekend." This is said in the sing-song tone of a tour guide or air-hostess whose heart is not in what they are doing. "Fortunately, I guessed that you would come in the same tired costumes - although yours, madam, has some outstanding points." The parenthetical comment was a slimy nod to the obvious fact that Eve had had help with her bust from a team of cosmetic surgeons.
"This means I already have a plan for what to do to perk things up." He turned to his sister and said, "Hannah, could you remove the fake snake, we can do a lot better than that. And Mum could you freshen up the navel covers, so they don't crack under the strain. I'll get the gear."
Mike stood up and slouched to the door leading into the next room, dragging the chair behind him. At the door he turned and commented, "I really enjoyed the first film you were in together, everything was good, but especially the chemistry between you; now I know why. You know what I reckon? You don't need to take just any film that gets offered to you just so that you can be together. You're heading towards the Razzies rather than the Oscars and devaluing your brands. If it's really that special between you, then go through the short-term pain of a divorce and getting married, and if it isn't why not make this your last hoorah and go back to doing what you did so brilliantly before." He disappeared into the other room.
"Is he usually that rude?" asked Adam.
Mary answered the question, which had been directed to no-one in particular, "No. He's toned it down a couple of notches, because it has caused a couple of complaints. Jenny, the genie, threatened to apply the penalty clauses in our contract, if she got many more complaints, which I think is quite courageous, as Mike is the only one that can transform her back to normal."
The next few minutes were taken up with cleaning the snake from Eve's upper arm and patching up the already crumbling navel covers.
Mike returned to the room, briefly, to deposit what was quite evidently a guillotine, before returning to the other room muttering under his breath; the kind of muttering that in a comic would be represented by a speech bubble full of skulls and crossbones, shaky spirals and fat exclamation marks.
Eve asked, "If it makes him so temperamental, why does he do it?"
Hannah shrugged before commenting, "Some people do drugs; it makes them feel good, at least part of the time. My brother does magic; at least magic isn't illegal, but getting enough magic to do to keep Mike on any anything like an even keel, may send us to an early grave. I think he needs a magical girlfriend, but where can you find one of them? And even if you can, how to get them together?"
Mary sharply whispered, "Enough!" to her daughter as Mike returned with another prop.
The two actors did not take much interest in apparatus the Mike wheeled into the room, because they were astounded at the transformation in Mike himself. Gone were the jeans, the t-shirt and the sloppy way of moving; they were replaced by a sharp suit over a clean white shirt and a hand-tied bow-tie that was both even and straight. The stained trainers that had slipped on his feet over wrinkled green socks were no longer there, instead he wore polished black shoes tidily laced and his black socks rose under the smartly creased trousers without a ripple.
"Are you folks ready for the finishing touches to your transformations?"
Neither Adam nor Eve responded, partly because they felt there had been no transformation to put finishing touches to, and partly because they were having trouble believing that, despite the strong physical resemblance, this was the same man who had told them to their faces he thought they should choose to be in better movies; he seemed so much more poised and mature now.
Mary answered, "We've done what you asked. They're all yours."
"Ladies first, I believe is the custom, and with a lady as lovely as Eve, here, it seems so sensible too." Mike held out his hand to Eve, who accepted it and was drawn to her feet. He led her to the device he had so recently brought into the room. It appeared to be an open-fronted and open-topped box held above a wheeled platform by some legs that meant the base of the box was about knee-high. The other outstanding feature of this device was the shelf-like boards held up by brackets either side of the top of the box. Mike guided Eve to sit in this box. The box came up to her neck. "Please hold still while I make some final adjustments," he requested.
Eve shuffled slightly in the box to get into a more comfortable position, the better to remain still when the moment came; a technique she had all but mastered during the shooting of their most recently released film, when she had to freeze mid-action to let the CGI experts have as stable an image as possible to perform their wizardry on. Mike spread his arms and pressed the ends of the side shelves inwards until they met around Eve's neck; leaving it in a hole formed by the semi-circular cut-outs in the inner end of the shelves. There was a click as a catch at the back uniting the two pieces of wood.
Mike came round the front and, out of Eve's sight, removed a square blade from a pouch on the outside of the box. He guided the blade up the front of the box until it located a slot in the front of the conjoined shelves immediately in front of Eve's neck. "Eve, I need you to take a deep breath for me," instructed Mike.
Eve took a deep breath and as she finished inhaling, Mike lifted the end of the blade and shoved it into the slot. It was difficult to tell who shrieked louder, Adam or Eve. Mike lifted Eve's head from the shallow steel-bottomed well it was resting in and then slid it to the side along one of the shelves.
"How did you do that?" queried Adam.
Without any pause for thought, Mike said, "Quickly, painlessly and, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, rather well too."
"What did he do?" asked Eve, whose only sensation was that the world moved a few feet sideways, which could have been achieved by moving the device.
"He only went and chopped your head off." Adam seemed close to panic at the situation.
"Of course, he did," replied Eve sarcastically. She did not seem so confident about the situation when she noticed that Mary and Hannah were nodding in agreement with Adam's assertion.
"It doesn’t hurt, I'm evidently still alive, and we were warned that Mike did magic, so what's the problem? None, unless this is permanent. So, Mike, am I meant to carry my head all weekend or are you going to finish me off?"
"Madam, you will most definitely not be carrying your head all weekend, but until I have done some preparation work with Sir, I cannot complete your transformation. So, Sir, please sit here." Mike moved the chair he had been sitting on to a position behind the guillotine.
Adam moved to the indicated chair and felt unsettled by the proximity of the guillotine. This apprehension doubled when Mike lifted the top half of the stock and asked him to place his neck in the lower cut-out. Despite most of his brain screaming at him that this was a bad idea, he rested his neck in the lower half of the stock and felt the upper half pushed into place and secured with a couple of pegs. "Time to take a deep breath," warned Mike, which was all the warning Adam got, because as he finished the inhale, he felt the blade hit the back of his neck and was tumbling into the wide cushion-laden basket below.
Adam had little chance to get used to being a disembodied head and a separate body sitting on a chair, before Mike loomed over him and picked his head up. After a disorienting few moments he was placed on the shelf opposite where Eve's head had been moved. He could see his body still leaning against the guillotine. Mike went to the body and by moving the chair and pulling on the body's shoulder, he soon had Adam's body facing Eve's.
"Now I need some cooperation from you two, so please do what I ask of you, it will be a lot easier for everyone in the long run. First, Adam, put your hands up to where you feel your head should be; I know it is not there, but a near guess will be good enough to start with."
Mike pronounced himself satisfied with Adam's effort. "Eve, I shall be moving your head, so please do not scream; it will just be a moment of disorientation." He lifted Eve's head and carried it to Adam's body, holding it where Adam's head would have been. "Adam, please take hold of Eve's head, being very careful not to drop it." Adam closed his hands fractionally and felt the sides of Eve's head. Cautiously, Mike released his hold on Eve's head and returned to her body. "Mum, Hannah, would you please go and keep the neck aligned with Adam's body." The two woman crouched either side of Adam's body using their hands to ensure the alignment of the two parts of neck where they met. Mike slid Adam's head along the shelf until it dropped into the well formed by the neck hole of the stock and the blade, he took some time make sure that the head was facing forward, then leaned over the shelf and slipped the blade out of the slot.
Both Adam and Eve experienced a queasy feeling that passed in a second or two, during which Mike undid the catch at the back of the device holding Eve's body and opened the shelves out again.
Both actors sat stunned for a moment, looking about and particularly down. It took them several minutes to be sure that what they thought had happened was a reality.
"I was about to say you could go, but then I remembered we are missing a snake." Both actors looked round apprehensively. "I meant I need to replace the snake that I had erased from Eve's arm. So Adam if you would hold out your arm. Hannah could you open the windows a little." While Hannah headed for the windows and Adam held out Eve's arm, Mike fished a thing that looked like a thin disk wrapped in a scrap of paper and placed it with the twisted paper on top of her out-stretched arm. From another pocket he produced a steel-cased lighter engraved with the words 'To Mike for services rendered'. With a deft flick the lighter lit and the flame was applied to the twist of paper.
As the flame reached the disk inside the paper there was a fizzing and hissing and then a column of ash wrapped itself around the arm three times, before the fizzling stopped and the glow at the point where the package was faded. Adam heard Mike say, "I've always loved indoor fireworks."
"Mother, could you hand me a brush and something to catch the ash, please."
Mike brushed at the coiled ash and dislodged flakes, revealing a pinkish-scaled fleshy core and a bulbous head.
Adam asked, "What kind of snake is that meant to be?" before emitting a scream when the snake began to move, slithering up and down the arm.
"In deference to the general atmosphere intended for this weekend, I thought a 'trouser snake' would be appropriate. You will need a little time to get used to it, but you will find that if you concentrate, you will have some small amount of control over it."
Hannah's and Mary's face tried to remain serious, but a combination of shock and amusement could be seen in their eyes.
"You are free to go and enjoy yourselves," said Mike. "But if I may make a suggestion; you might use this as a unique opportunity to experience the physical feelings of being the opposite gender, which I feel will stand you in good stead for the near future." Mike leave into the other room.
"Is he for real?" asked the actress with the body of Adam.
"His magic is most assuredly real, but his prescience is a little shaky," commented Mary. "Go and enjoy yourselves. If your experiences here will help you in the future that is good, but don't spoil the now for a possible future that may not happen."
Continues in part four