Long time readers of this blog have probably been waiting for this post a while, expecting something ironic because they probably think it's fictional, but either, way, it's inevitable: I woke up this morning not myself.
It was early, like two-thirty, when people were banging on doors and yelling. It didn't wake Jordan - once he was out in his old body, there was no stirring him, and that doesn't seem to have changed - but I can be a pretty light sleeper. Waking up in the dark, nothing seemed to have changed, but when I got up an answered the door, I thought there was a weird trick of the light going on for how light my skin was. The lady who was at the door asked if it had happened to me, I asked what, and she said turning into someone else, and that the Canadians in the common area said they knew more.
I rushed to the bathroom to look in the mirror, and I was kind of shocked - I was white, had a full beard instead of just a mustache, and... Well, I was someone else! I was half-dazed as I walked away, and took a step toward Jordan's bed, but stopped, figuring I might as well know something before waking the lump under the covers.
Apparently, about half the Inn's capacity this week were returned visitors, and they told me what they knew: That the Inn was cursed somehow, that every couple of weeks it would turn the 13 people inside into copies of the last people to stay there, who had turned into the group before that, and so on back for decades, apparently. They said we weren't stuck like this - there was no rule saying you couldn't come back, and if you co-ordinate with the people who will become you, it's possible to build chains to get your real life back. Then two of them looked at each other and said you had to be really careful, because it's about being near where the other person was when they changed and a matter of inches could be a huge deal. They said that's why there was luggage in the room that the maids didn't clear out, because that was part of the ritual - you leave the next person to have your shape your clothes and a letter. Ours actually weren't in our room any more; they were among the things that had ticked Jordan off when we arrived, and he wound up dumping them in the lobby. Fortunately, they hadn't been stolen, so I opened one and found a letter to "the new Gary Goldstein". It turned out that I was now a couple years older and from a Jewish family in the Baltimore suburbs. The rest of his story was sort of like mine, but different in the details - got through college and even law school, though apparently at the bottom of the class, but hadn't passed the bar in three attempts. Not so different from getting a degree in electrical engineering only to wind up with an internship that didn't lead to a job. Working in the family deli sounded better than a big-box electronics store, especially since it led to--
Well, at that point, I rushed back to the room, pulled the covers off Jordan, and gasped. He'd become Deirdre O'Connell, Gary's fiance. Physically, she's about the most un-Jordan-like person you could imagine - about ten inches shorter, Caucasian, the sort of redhead that gets covered in freckles, heart-shaped face, slender neck... Not a classic beauty, maybe, but cute, and less than half his mass - the tank top he had worn to bed was so oversized that a pert little breast was visible in its entirety through the neck hole. I threw the covers back on and just sat there, although I did go to drag the bags back into the room and finish the letter.
I fished out Gary's phone, which had of course lost its charge over the past couple of weeks, and plugged it into one of the chargers, and started writing my own letter. There wasn't much to put in - my job, my parents, Kareena. I figured arranged marriages probably seemed strange to any non-Hindu who became me, but not to worry - we hadn't even had the formal engagement ceremony yet, and she was much too focused on her career for sex, so just be nice to her. Eventually the phone charged enough to show all the messages that had been left for Gary, most wondering where he had been for the past week, and that if I didn't show up for work on Sunday, I was fired, brother's grandkid or no brother's grandkid.
By that time, the sun was rising and a look at the train schedules suggested we get a move on. I was really uncomfortable shaking "Dierdre" awake, but it had to be done. Eventually, she stirred, slapping at me and wanting to know who I was and what the fuck I wanted, and I told her that I was Ravi, and she was right about this place being terrible, but we had to get going. I pulled her out of bed - she was shockingly light compared to how Jordan had been and dragged her into the bathroom so she could see herself in the mirror while telling her everything I'd heard. She fainted dead away.
It sounds kind of funny, but have you ever had someone faint on you? It may not be as freaky as waking up looking like someone else, but it's not as far off as you might think; you just don't know what to do! I tried splashing some water on her face, but apparently Deirdre faints like Jordan sleeps. I ran back into the lobby, and while nobody else could wake her, one of the nice Canadian girls was able to get her into some sweats when I said we had to take the train. Looked at me kind of funny, but seemed to understand when I said that Gary was in enough trouble already.
We split a cab to the train station rather than drag Deirdre, laughing nervously when the cabbie made a joke about how the redhead seemed to enjoy her last night of vacation a little too much. Thankfully, nobody thought my signature on the receipt was too weird when I bought the two tickets to Baltimore, and we're on our way now.