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I swear that they keep you waiting on purpose. Every time I go to the doctor – and my visits have been more frequent in recent years – I’m left sitting on that squishy bench for what feels like years, left alone with whatever ache or ailment dragged me in there. The rooms are the same no matter who I’m seeing, portals into the beige dimension that offer no stimulation save for peeling plastic posters slapped against wallpaper almost maddening in its blandness. Sore knees and persistent heartburn are nothing in the face of an all-encompassing boredom that becomes suffocating in a matter of minutes. By the time the doctor arrives, all I want to do is escape. So I downplay symptoms and illnesses. I nod along to whatever advice he or she drones out. I scurry away clutching a prescription that I know will merely buy me some time before I force myself back, before I’m again run through a demeaning cycle created by my impatience and cowardice.
What I’m expe
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Literature
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“…which is why I think the Avengers would be big fans of fidget spinners. Well guys, that’ll be it for me; remember to like, comment and subscribe if you want to see more premium content from yours truly. Have a great day, and I’ll see y’all tomorrow.”
lame
why do I even come here
just the worst
Carlos sighed as the comments for his newest video came trickling in, the thoughts shared by his fans somehow even more disappointing and mean-spirited than usual. A few months ago, his videos had been drawing enough viewers for him to eek out a living as a YouTuber if he pumped enough of them out. But as the well of ideas ran dry, Carlos found himself relying more and more heavily on outrageous stunts and cheap pop-culture listicles. Ghost peppers had burned away half of his taste buds and he now knew more about My Little Pony than any grown man should. Still, these efforts only seemed to hasten the plummeting of his viewing numbers. It was as though the Int
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Literature
The Technician
It doesn’t feel like anything.
That’s the hardest part for people to accept, if you can believe that. The confusion is, of course, understandable. One would expect there to be some sensation associated with being turned back into a child. I can tell a lot about the person asking by the kind of feeling they think might be associated with the transformation. The people who are against the very idea of it often posit that the bones must grind, that there must be an actual heat to the melting of one’s muscles, that the quick retreat of body hair must be akin to thousands of needles sinking into softening skin.
They’re often disappointed when I tell them that the whole procedure is not only completely painless but is in fact devoid of any feeling at all. I suspect it’s because they wished to receive some confirmation of the fear they held of the concept, a fear that is typically based either in personal distaste or some fundamental opposition to an individual t
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I swear that they keep you waiting on purpose. Every time I go to the doctor – and my visits have been more frequent in recent years – I’m left sitting on that squishy bench for what feels like years, left alone with whatever ache or ailment dragged me in there. The rooms are the same no matter who I’m seeing, portals into the beige dimension that offer no stimulation save for peeling plastic posters slapped against wallpaper almost maddening in its blandness. Sore knees and persistent heartburn are nothing in the face of an all-encompassing boredom that becomes suffocating in a matter of minutes. By the time the doctor arrives, all I want to do is escape. So I downplay symptoms and illnesses. I nod along to whatever advice he or she drones out. I scurry away clutching a prescription that I know will merely buy me some time before I force myself back, before I’m again run through a demeaning cycle created by my impatience and cowardice.

What I’m experiencing now, though, is a special kind of hell. The examination room in which I sit is no blander than any that’ve come before; a little more sterile, perhaps, a little brighter in its monotony. No, the torture that I’m going through is particularly grinding because I can’t escape what’s brought me here. The specialist I’ve come to has promised to remedy the disappointments that make up my day-to-day life, the shortcomings and weaknesses that have come to define my middle age. It’s easy, when waiting for a doctor, to convince yourself that an ache will fade or that an illness will pass. It’s much more difficult to make the case that your life is going to be okay; and as I sit here, waiting – begging – for her to arrive, I have nothing to occupy me but thoughts of the myriad failures that have driven me here.

“Mr. Bell?”

I nearly fall off the examination table when she enters. Though I try to laugh it off, Dr. Meyer does not seem amused. She merely closes the door behind her and stares down expressionlessly at the clipboard she scribbles upon. I clear my throat and straighten myself up as she stands before me, still not looking up. None of my doctors have a particularly tender bedside manner, but Dr. Meyer might as well be a mortician for all the effort she puts into being warm and comforting. Her attitude is all the more unsettling for the shame it adds to my attraction towards her, my fascination with her dark curls and amber eyes and the subtle spice of a perfume that I can only smell when she’s standing over me like this. Bad enough that I’m pining for a woman twenty years my junior; much worse that she hasn’t offered me so much as a smile in all the time I’ve been seeing her.

“Today’s the day, Mr. Bell.” She folds her hands at her waist and looks me over. She doesn’t even blink when I shiver under her scrutiny. “Do you have any questions before we get started?”

“Yes…well, no…I mean, it’s not really a question…” I stammer, my hands flopping about in pointless gestures. “It’s just that…well…I’m starting to think that this isn’t such a good idea.”

I’ve seen that frown before. It’s the one that curdles the corners of her lips when I haven’t answered a question the way she wanted me to, or when I crack a joke to try and break the unbearable tension she always carries into the room.

“It’s not that I don’t trust you or anything like that,” I barrel on. “It’s just…well…we’ve been talking for six months now. I told you all about my divorce, my failing business, the kids who won’t even speak to me. If I wanted to open up to somebody, I’d have seen a psychiatrist. But you…you haven’t even told me how you’re going to fix all that.”

“Solutions to issues this complex take time, Mr. Bell,” she says, as coolly as ever. “I would also like to remind you that you did sign a contract that compels you to accept whatever treatment I recommend.”

“Fuck the contract.” I surprise myself with my outburst, with this surge of confidence that make my hands tremble and my stomach somersault. Dr. Meyer even raises an eyebrow, which only spurs me on; if I could crack that ice, I must be on the right track. “Go ahead and sue me. I think the judge would be very interested to hear about how you’re bilking honest people out of their money in this secret clinic of yours.”

I force myself to meet her icy stare, not daring to so much as blink. My brow prickles with sweat and my heart thumps against my chest until she finally drops her eyes to her clipboard, scribbling as silently and casually as you please.

“Very well, Mr. Bell.” There’s something like a sigh in her voice. “Our lawyers will be in touch.”

She continues scribbling in silence. I clear my throat and hop off the table.

“I’m sorry,” I mutter, feeling guilty that disappointment was the first emotion other than annoyance I managed to evoke out of her. I wait a moment for a response. When none comes, I turn and walk past her.

There’s a flash of silver in the corner of my eye. A glint of something metallic against the harsh fluorescence of the overhead lights, moving with such speed that I’m not even given time to turn. All I know is that there’s a deep pinch in my thigh, a subtle stab that I know all too well as the insertion of a syringe. An instant later there comes the equally familiar sensation of the pushing of that syringe’s plunger, the icy burn of a fluid as it’s injected into me.

“You’re going to want to sit down, Mr. Bell,” Dr. Meyer says as she slips the syringe back into her lab coat. “Dizziness is a common side effect of this serum.”

A low nausea sloshes within my stomach. I groan and reach out with a shaking hand for a nearby counter, using it to steady myself against the spinning room. A cold sweat roils over my skin as I waver and wobble, as a new hollowness forms within me; a trembling void that pushes itself down through my guts and displaces my nausea like a beach ball being forced through water. When it reaches a certain point I’m suddenly made to feel as though I’m in desperate need of a toilet, but when I clench in defense I realize that there’s nothing behind the threat.

“What…” I croak, each word fighting through the desert that my throat has become. “…was that? What did you put into me?”

“Nothing more than your treatment, Mr. Bell.” She’s as cool as ever as she puts down her clipboard and strides to the intercom beside the door. “I had hoped to administer it under less dramatic circumstances, but I felt compelled to act before you could make yet another life-defining mistake. Amanda, could you please come in here?”

Dr. Meyer doesn’t wait for a response; I’ve been here enough times to know that her assistant comes without question whenever she’s called. So it’s not her quick appearance that surprises me when she opens the door a moment later. It’s the brilliant smile on her lips, the awed and elated look normally reserved for children discovering that they’d gotten just what they wanted for Christmas. Amanda’s been about as warm towards me as her superior has, so her sudden burst of cheer only adds to my growing panic over the effects of the mystery coursing through my veins.

“How long has the process been underway?” Amanda asks, eyes alight as she looks me over.

“Less than a minute,” the doctor responds. “Please observe from a safe distance until it’s finished.”

“Of course, doctor.” Amanda takes a seat in a nearby chair and leans towards me as though she’s afraid she’ll miss something. “This is going to be amazing.”

I look at Dr. Meyer for some clarification on just what it is Amanda’s expecting, but my question is silenced by the icy bolt of fear that runs me through when I see the expression on her face.

She’s smiling.

There’s no menace or malice to her smile; it’s really nothing more than a slight curl at the corners of her lips. My dread is based in the fact that it is now of all times that she chose to premiere it.

“Please concentrate on staying conscious, Mr. Bell.” Now I must be imagining things, since it sounded as though there was a note of tenderness in her voice. “We’re going to be questioning you on the experience afterwards, so it’s important that you remember as much of it as possible; doubly so given how difficult communicating will soon become.”

“What are you talking about?” I demand in a ragged cry. “I don’t even know what you’re doing to me!”

The doctor says nothing. She merely reaches into her pocket, whips out a handheld mirror, and turns it towards me. The shock that threatens to knock me into unconsciousness comes not from seeing my clammy skin and glassy eyes; it’s not the confirmation that I look as bad as I feel.

It’s the fact that I’m twenty years younger. At least.

“Guhhh…” My knees wobble beneath me as darkness wells at the corners of my vision. I distantly hear Dr. Meyer again urging me to fight off unconsciousness, but I do not do so for her sake. I must see every detail.

I have a full head of hair again, its magnificence marred only by the occasional gray strand. Sags have tightened and wrinkles have smoothed, my features regaining a brightness and definition that had been lost to time. I raise a trembling hand to examine it more closely and discover that my farsightedness has disappeared; I watch with perfect, gasping clarity as my arthritic fingers gain strength and shed ache.

“You were right.” Amanda chuckles behind me. “He was handsome.”

“Indeed,” Dr. Meyer muses. She takes my jaw in her fingers and turns it this way and that. I feel my beard flourishing beneath her touch, feel my heart pound in a distinctly different way as I realize that I’m now about her age. “It’ll be interesting to see how these features developed.”

“You…” I bark out a laugh, drawing back from her touch to examine my well-defined chin and stubbled cheeks for myself. “This was the treatment you were talking about. The way to fix everything I’ve been suffering through. You’ve…you’ve given me a second chance. You’ve made me young again.”

They share a laugh. My eyes widen and my hand freezes, gripping a beard that seemed fuller just a second ago.

“Oh, my dear Mr. Bell.” Dr. Meyer sighs. “You have no idea how right you are.”

I moan and double over as the sensation suddenly intensifies. The hollow weight within me seems to double in size, and I find myself pushing without any regard for what’ll happen – for the intensity of the humiliation I’ll feel – should I succeed in my desperate attempt at achieving relief. But nothing comes. There’s no easing the weight that sits ironlike in my gut or the shivers that break out all over my skin, every inch feeling tight and sensitive thanks to the goosebumps that cover me from head to toe.

“Something’s wrong…” I murmur as I sway on my feet, the grip on the counter no longer guaranteeing my uprightness. “This is…I can’t…”

“The side effects do appear to be a little stronger than anticipated.” It feels like I’m hearing Dr. Meyer speak through an ocean. At the same time, though, the scribbles against her clipboard are so sharp that I wince and cover an ear to keep them from dashing through my addled mind. “Still, the serum is achieving its purpose rather admirably. Wouldn’t you agree, Amanda?”

“Absolutely,” she giggles. “He looks like a guy I dated in college.”

The flush of bashfulness I feel at this gorgeous young woman looking at me in that way – no matter how abstractly – is washed away by the realization of the next instant. If I resemble an old college boyfriend of hers, then she and I must now be about the same age. A quick glance reveals arms tight with the lean muscle of my twenties. A redefined chest strains against the buttons of my shirt as I bubble with the energy of a young man in his prime.

This would all be fine save for the fact that it’s not stopping.

“Look how skinny he’s getting!” Amanda gushes as she rises from her seat, her eyes alight. Even though I’m a head taller, I still instinctively cringe as though she’s looking down on me. The hot shame that roars in my chest is of an intensity that I haven’t felt since high school, since the years where my only concern was that of looking cool before all the lovely creatures I was obsessed with. So terrified was I by the thought of being embarrassed before the objects of my desire that the notion became twisted in my hormone-addled mind. I often engaged in a teenage boy’s favorite activity while fantasizing about the girls I crushed on humiliating me in any number of different ways.

The reality of the situation proves not nearly as exciting. Shame seizes me as my line of vision starts lowering, tears burning at the corners of my eyes as I look down at my slimming shoulders and arms…as every degrading fantasy I’ve ever had comes trues a hundred times over. I look up pleadingly at Amanda when she gasps in delight, shuddering with horror at the realization that I’m now standing level with the high-heeled woman. In the next instant I slip below, slowly but steadily pulling away from her elated eyes and from a world that’s growing bigger and more intimidating with each passing second.

“How are you feeling, Mr. Bell?” Dr. Meyer’s smile has widened; she may as well be a tiger baring her teeth for how comforted I am when I look up at it. “Though that title hardly seems appropriate anymore. Did you go by Jeff or Jeffrey in high school?”

“Puh…please…” I whimper as my shirt starts to bunch on my skinny frame, my pathetic pleas rendered more so by the fact that I can’t keep my voice from cracking. Inadequate is not a strong enough word to describe how I feel cowering before these grinning women. My skinny arms are lost in my sleeves. My chin and cheeks are smooth and pimple-dotted. My slacks would slip right from my slimming waist were I not holding them up. “I didn’t…I didn’t want…”

“Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter.” Dr. Meyer chuckles. “Doesn’t look like you’re long for that particular institution.”

I moan out a protest of rising pitch as the world suddenly and repeatedly pulls away from me, little jolts of shrinking undoing the growth spurts that marked my adolescence. Each one comes with a tug at a very specific area, the pull from within growing more and more insistent as I grow closer and closer to crying at what I know to be the most significant loss yet. For a moment, I forget that my only free hand is the one holding up my pants; and so, when I instinctively grab at myself, I find myself naked from the waist down before I can even confirm the new littleness between my legs. Though I squeal and immediately bend to pick my slacks and underwear back up – paralyzed for only an instant by the smooth skinniness of the legs they pool at the bottom of – my efforts are cut short when I’m suddenly grabbed from behind and locked into a full nelson. Amanda’s giggles ride on the sweet waft of her perfume, the sensory combination only furthering my humiliation as I futilely kick and struggle under her grasp.

“Let me goooo!” My cheeks feel as though they’ll burst into flame when the women simply laugh in response. Were my hands free, I’d clamp them over my mouth to silence my despondent little soprano, horrified by the boyish wail that just left my lips. “Make it stooooooop!”

“It’ll stop once it’s done its job, Jeff.” Dr. Meyer pats my head and offers me an indulgent smile. “And since you’ve made such a mess of things, I think it’s only appropriate that we go all the way back to the beginning.”

My heart feels as though it’s fallen out of my chest. Even in the face of the horrible impossibility of what I’m experiencing, I still never dreamed that she would let things go this far. Adrenaline surges through my shrinking body as I realize that I have to take the chance to escape while I’m still ambulatory enough to do so. With a cub’s roar I muster up what little strength remains in my childish form, jerking my skinny arms forward and loosening Amanda’s grip just enough to slip through and make a break for it.

That is, anyway, what I try to do. Though I bolt towards the door the instant my feet touch the ground, they’re still bundled in my fallen pants and underwear. I’m unable to make so much as a step before I’m tripped up, banging my knees and elbows as I tumble to the tile. For a moment, I don’t even breathe. The pain that jolted through my joints was so unexpectedly powerful that I have to fight back the instinct to burst out bawling like any other little boy that’s had a tumble. More distressing than that, though, is the feel of cool air on my exposed bottom, the burning of my ears as they’re teased by the laughter of Amanda gushing over its apparent adorability.

“Aw, did Jeffy want to show the pretty ladies his little tushie?” My chin is quivering as she ruffles my hair, the syrupy condescension of her tone as devastating as any blow. “I’m flattered, sweetie, but I think we might be a little too old for you now.”

“He’s a little charmer, all right.” Dr. Meyer grins as she kneels to my side and pinches my glowing cheek. “He’ll be putting the moves on his preschool girlfriends before we know it.”

The two of them tease and fuss over me as I pray to just shrink away into nothingness, the treatment so gallingly humiliating that I cannot stand even a second more of it. Something warm and light, however, flutters in the midst of that heavy despair. It might be simply because I’m so in need of comfort that I’ll take whatever I can find, but it feels like there’s real affection behind the condescending treatment. Suddenly, I want nothing more than to be scooped into one of their laps and held like the little boy I’ve become. I want to have my hair stroked and my worries whispered away as I bury my face in a shoulder, sobbing without shame until I feel better.

It would be so nice. So lovely. And that’s why it’s so difficult to push it away.

I feel a lone tear dribbling down my cheek as I scramble back to my feet and once more make for the door, my legs wobbling beneath me when I see just how massive the world has become. The height I lost between falling and getting back up suggests that I’ve become very small indeed, and it takes nothing more than a glance down my sail of a shirt to confirm that fear. My chest and tummy are silky smooth, the latter now so swollen with baby fat that it hides from sight the dangling little toy I feel bouncing between my pudgy thighs. I only have enough coordination left to move at a clumsy tromp, my steps becoming slower and more uncertain the closer I’m drawn to toddlerhood. I hear Dr. Meyer and Amanda call after me, but their words don’t even register through the pounding in my ears, through my commitment to shutting out their seductive promises of care and affection. There’s nothing in the world that can stop me from escaping.

Or so I thought. I’m nearly within a chubby arm’s length of the door – just about to reach out with my stubby fingers to grab the handle – when there’s a sudden tickling slip that runs down my sides. My confusion lasts only for as long as it takes for the cool air to caress my now-naked body. A shiver washes over my tiny, plump form at the realization that I’ve become small enough to slip through the neckhole of my shirt.

“Oh my Goooooooooood.” I hear the distinct sound of a shutter over Amanda’s gushing. The feeling of this moment lasting forever is only intensified by the image of my nude little toddler self being captured in her phone for all time. “You are the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“Isn’t he?” I look up to see Dr. Meyer kneeling by my side. She pats my bare tush and grins when I can only offer an infantile whine in protest. “Not much of a man, Mr. Bell. But Jeffy; well, he’s just going to be a perfect little baby boy, isn’t he?”

I’m not through yet. I may be seconds away from the horrifying, impossible, tantalizing future she describes, but I’ve still got one last shot. It takes all of my remaining coordination, but somehow I manage to get up on my tippy toes and wrap my tiny sausage fingers around the door handle, hope flickering within me...only for it to be snuffed out a moment later when a shrink spurt yanks my pudgy hands away from their target. The sudden imbalance is too much for my wobbly legs to take, and I know the instant my chubby rump smacks against the tile that there’s no soldiering on this time. Everything that crashes down on me at once – the pain, the despair, the suffocating fear of being a very small child in a very big world – overwhelms me as thoroughly as it would a real infant. Tears blur my world as I finally give in to the overwhelming desire to cry, to wail shamelessly like the upset little baby I’ve become. I get only a moment to wave my balled fists in the air and drum my tiny heels against the tile before I’m plucked off the ground and scooped into a warm, secure, snuggly little nook.

“Shh shh shh.” Dr. Meyer’s voice soothes its way through my tantrum as she tickles my wobbly tummy. “There’s no need to cry. We’re going to take care of everything, darling. Every last little thing.”

I pull my bawling back to pitiful little sniffles when Dr. Meyer rocks me in her arms, when her intoxicating aroma swirls around me and soothes my senses. I look up at her and at the gigantic world that surrounds us with abject fascination and more than a little fear. The sparse furniture and high counters that I easily navigated as a man now seem like towering skyscrapers and massive mountain ranges, a skyline for a world of giants to which I no longer belong. I squeak and instinctively clutch at Dr. Meyer’s blouse when my gaze drifts downwards, feeling as though I’m being held a hundred feet in the air for how far away the ground now seems. Though I’m comforted by the way she cuddles me closer in response, I’m not made completely at ease until she lays me out on squishy bench that I had moments ago – a lifetime ago – sat waiting impatiently upon.

“You are just gorgeous,” Amanda breathes as she stands over me. It feels like the whole of my chubby little body is blushing when she kisses my cheek and plays with my wispy hair, when I can’t do anything in response but spastically wave my pudgy limbs about. “I can’t wait to take you home, sweetie pie.”

Nothing but gurgling comes out when I try to ask what she means by “home.” Though Dr. Meyer notices my consternation – this new horror of not even being able to speak – she takes a moment to play with my tiny feet before elaborating.

“Our home, silly billy.” Dr. Meyer tickles me beneath my chin and draws out an involuntary giggle. “Amanda and I have a lovely nursery set up for you back at our place. There’s one last thing to take care of before we go, though.”

She rifles through a nearby drawer as I reel at what I’ve just learned. Everything’s happening so fast that it seems like I only get a few seconds to absorb each new life-changing revelation before I’m slammed with the next one. That being the case, it’s not as big a shock as it might’ve been when Dr. Meyer pulls out a bottle of baby powder and a single crisp disposable diaper. I struggle to sputter out a protest as I gape at the infantile underwear, unable to get so much as a word out before Amanda pops a pacifier into my open mouth. My eyes widen as I instinctively latch onto it and start sucking, unable to do anything but look on in silent horror as Dr. Meyer effortlessly lifts my ankles with both hands and slides the diaper beneath my chubby tush.

“I’m frankly surprised that you’ve managed to hold out this long.” She powders down my most private areas and grins at the way I whimper and squirm in response. “Amanda and I hypothesized that evacuation would occur well before the regression reached its final stage. I suppose it’s all worked out for the best, though; you’re going to be going through a lot of these things, so might as well get used to using them.”

I’m baffled as to what she’s talking about until she finishes taping me in, that last little bit of pressure to my midsection reminding me of the great hollow weight inside my stomach. I had, in the tumult of everything that had happened in the past minute, forgotten all about it. The pressure has become too great to ignore, however, too massive to fight even though Dr. Meyer’s teasing has made me all too aware of what’ll happen when I give in. My pacifier bobs between my lips with increasing speed as Dr. Meyer and Amanda smile expectantly down at me, both knowing that my infantile strength is not nearly enough to hold back what’s coming, the weight like a spear in my gut for how desperately I crave release.

I whine.

I ball my fists.

I push back with all my might.

I gasp as the fight comes to an end.

My tiny, languid body puddles against the bench. My eyelids flutter as the pressure ebbs within me, diminishing in time with the expansion of my diaper. My burning ears are tickled by the crinkling it creates as it stretches to accommodate the weight I push into it. It’s a delicate sound that clashes crudely with the little grunts I produce out of the exertion it takes to empty myself out completely. Though that takes some effort, the other part doesn’t; I don’t even realize it’s happening until I feel a wet warmth soak into the front panel, completely saturating it before spreading to the other parts of my ruined diaper. If you were to look at the ecstatic faces of the women who did this to me, you’d think that I was turning water into wine. But no; they’re just delighted that their new little boy has settled fully into his second infancy, that he’s now helpless to even keep from messing himself.

I’m numb when I finish, staring blankly at the wall as my pacifier lay limp between my lips. Amanda and Dr. Meyer coo over what a good baby I am as one or the other start cleaning me up. I don’t look; I don’t care. Much as I’m glad that I’m immediately being changed, each wipe against my messy little baby bottom might as well be a slap in the face for how thoroughly it deepens my already-bottomless humiliation. I only acknowledge their existence when I’m forced to do so, when Amanda pulls me into her arms after I’m put in a fresh diaper.

“Aw, I think somebody’s still a little grumpy.” She giggles at my glumness before suddenly turning solemn. “There’s really no need to be upset, Mr. Bell.”

I perk up at the sound of honorific. Though I’m grateful for the unexpected respect, my eyes are wary and suspicious when they meet hers.

“She’s right, you know.” Dr. Meyer steps to her side and cups my head. I coo despite myself when she runs her fingers through my fine, barely-there hair. “You wouldn’t have come in here if you felt that you could go on living the way you had. Amanda and I can’t promise that we’ll be perfect parents, but we can promise that we’ll never let any boy of ours ever get that lost. Is that fair, darling?”

I know that it’s not up to me. No matter what I do next, they’re still just going to carry me home and make me their baby. It’s a terrifying thought. An idea of all-encompassing horror that I still haven’t wrapped my mind around. But there is value in being open to new things. To facing up to the challenges in one’s life and not – as I had done – running away as soon as things get hard.

And it feels so nice to be held.

I offer them a nod and the tiniest of smiles. They beam, kiss my forehead, and carry me out of the room. They close the door behind them.

***

“Come on, sweetie! You can do it!”

“Almost there, darling. Use those big strong legs of yours.”

I certainly don’t feel very big or strong. It’s not just because my chubby, uncoordinated limbs feel entirely muscle-free. There’s also the fact that I’m still wearing nothing but a diaper, a padded little palette for cartoon animals so thick and puffy that I can’t even bring my pudgy thighs together. The swooning vertigo I feel whenever I so much as look up isn’t helping matters either. Though every item in my new nursery was designed to be as cuddly and gentle as possible, I still can’t take my eyes from the carpet without being overwhelmed by oceans of baby blue. I cower in the shadow of my massive crib, gape at the impossible heights achieved by my changing table, tremble at the sight of a gigantic teddy bear that might as well be a rampaging grizzly for how intimidatingly it dwarfs me.

I’m not saying that I’d be able to stand up if I was free of those distractions. But they’re certainly not helping.

“There you go, Jeffy!” Amanda practically squeals when I finally get my feet under me. I’m still bent over with my bite-sized hands pressed into the carpet, but this is the closest I’ve gotten yet. Just straighten my back and I’m there; and then it’s simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. I tell myself that it’s just so they’ll stop pestering me to make the attempt, but the truth is that I’m genuinely curious as to whether it’s within my capabilities. There doesn’t – at least for now – seem to be any way out of this, so I should at least know exactly what I’m in for.

I take a deep breath and throw myself backwards, maintaining an upright position for the instant that my wobbly legs can support it. Then I’m right back on my puffy rump, crossing my arms and huffing as Dr. Meyer and Amanda chuckle at my frustration.

“Well, it was a very good effort.” Dr. Meyer kneels beside me and pats my head. Though I turn away from her smiling face, inside there’s a little gem of warmth that lights up whenever she praises me. It’s that desire to please her and Amanda that makes me capitulate when they suggest I explore my nursery through crawling instead, that keeps me from throwing them dirty looks when they giggle at my poofy bottom wiggling back and forth as I do so. The truth is that it’s not that bad. My rounded knees seem designed for prolonged shuffling against the carpet, and the little strength I have left in my tiny hands proves remarkably efficient at propelling my infantile body forward. Though I still take care to not crawl beneath any of the massive furniture – still give my menacing stuffed animals a wide berth – they’re not nearly as intimidating now that I’ve assumed some degree of authority over the space.

“What a good boy!” Amanda declares as she whisks me off the carpet. I squeal in surprise and giggle my little head off when she cuddles me in her arms and tickles my tummy. It’s not as though I mean to do any of that, but at the same time, I’m not exactly fighting the instinct, either. I haven’t even been a baby for half an hour and already it’s of massive importance to me that I make Amanda and Dr. Meyer happy; it’s like a smile of my own just appears whenever I see theirs.

“Our little explorer.” Dr. Meyer looks fit to burst with pride as she wraps an arm around Amanda’s shoulder. “I think he’s earned his surprise.”

I’ve already come to terms with the fact that attempting to speak isn’t worth the effort. Putting on a curious look whenever I need clarification on something seems to do the trick, even if I blush every time at the grin they share whenever I do so.

Jeez. I’m not that charming.

This time, however, a grin is as close to answering me as either of them get. They’re interrupted before they can do so by the ringing of the doorbell, which only makes them look even more pleased.

“Right on time,” Dr. Meyer says. “Come, darling – let’s go see what mommy and mama have arranged for you.”

I’m wary as I’m carried into the living room, completely at a loss as to what they have planned. The very fact that I’m being carried makes me feel as though these women are capable of anything; and so it’s a bit of a disappointment when Dr. Meyer opens the door to reveal a very average-looking handyman standing on the porch. He’s about the same age as the doctor and wears a worn polo with his company’s name on it, a shirt that seems designed to show off the muscles he’s earned from a life of skilled labor.

“Good afternoon, Scott.” Dr. Meyer smiles and steps aside to let him in. “Thank you for coming by on such short notice.”

“It’s no problem. If there’s something wrong with the work I’ve done, it’s my job to make it right.” He notices me for the first time and immediately puts on the indulgent smile I’ve seen others wear around very small children. I instinctively burrow deeper into Amanda’s embrace as all the adults laugh. “I’m guessing that this is the little fella that I’ve been busting my hump for.”

“The very same.” Amanda chuckles and bounces me in her arms. “We just showed him the nursery and he’s absolutely over the moon. You should’ve seen the way his little face lit up.”

“We really can’t thank you enough for putting the room together so quickly,” Dr. Meyer adds. “Aside from this one small electrical issue, everything’s worked like a dream.”

“No such thing as a small electrical issue. Let me go take care of that now so I can get out of your hair.”

“Sounds good.” Amanda says this as a whisper of a glance passes between her and Dr. Meyer, so quick and subtle that it escapes Scott’s attention. I see it, though. In an instant, I see Amanda ask for a go-ahead; I see Dr. Meyer give it. “Cuddlebug.”

Scott stiffens. His brow furrows.

“What did you just call me?”

“I called you cuddlebug, sweetie. That’s what you are, aren’t you? You’re just a sweet little baby boy that wants to snuggle with his mommy.” I can feel Amanda’s growing giddiness as she cradles me against her, and all at once I know exactly what’s happening. The realization crashes down on me with such force that for a moment I’m stunned, unable to do anything but gape up at my captor with a bit of drool dangling from my lower lip. The moment passes but I’m still not of much help in warning Scott what’s coming, as my desperate babbling and the clumsy waving of my tiny fists does nothing but deepen the man’s confusion. He looks back and forth between the chuckling women as the color drains from his face, as his eyes widen, as a swipe of sweat breaks out on his forehead.

“You’ve been so helpful, Scott.” Dr. Meyer’s rich voice savors every word. “Not just in the construction of the nursery, but in helping Amanda and I to test out new methods of application for our groundbreaking serum. Do you remember those homemade cookies you helped yourself to last week, Scott? Amanda was very proud of them; not only because they were delicious, but because they were the first batch to completely mask the scent of the serum.”

“I’d share the recipe,” Amanda giggles, “but I think it’s going to be a while before we can trust you to not make a mess in the kitchen.”

“What…are you talking about…?” Scott gasps, wavering on his feet as he brings a hand to his forehead. The wrinkles creasing the corners of his lips are smoothing. The few gray hairs dotting his beard are disappearing. It’s already happening, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. “Did that…serum…is that what’s doing this to me?”

“Clever boy,” Dr. Meyer grins. “But this serum is a special batch that’ll only be activated when the subject hears a certain word. I think our clients will agree that it’s much more fun to control when it happens. Imagine your fool of a boss cut down to size in the middle of a board meeting, or a cheating spouse taken down a peg while seeing their side piece.”

“When WHAT happens?” Scott shouts. “What are you doing to me?”

“Why don’t you ask your big brother?” Amanda beams as she holds me up. I’m red-faced with shame as I squirm in her arms, unable to meet Scott’s eyes as he gawks at me in dawning horror. “Jeffy here started the morning even older than you are. But soon you’ll be little enough to share his crib.”

Scott barks out a disbelieving laugh as he stumbles back into a tall cabinet, pressing himself against it as he shakes his head and groans.

“You’re lying…that’s not…I can’t…”

“What is it with men not believing something unless they can see it for themselves?” Dr. Meyer sighs as she reaches into her lab coat. “This should help rid you of the last of those doubts.”

She pulls out the handheld mirror and turns it towards Scott, looking delighted at the horrified, guttural cry that forces itself out of him when he sees what we see. The poor fellow had indeed started with a couple decades’ less age than I had, and as such would not even get to enjoy the reclamation of his prime. Those halcyon days have already slipped past by the time Dr. Meyer held up the mirror. The rounding chin to which Scott brings his trembling fingers has become baby-smooth; the thinning arms being swallowed by his shirtsleeves are those of a gawky teenager; the deflating chest that filled out his tight polo no longer holds even a hint of the hair that had bustled out from between the buttons.

“What a good boy your baby brother is.” Amanda coos as she plays with my tiny toes. “Getting all cute and little for his mommies. He might even end up more adorable than you are, though that’s a high bar to clear.”

Even if I were able to speak – if I could produce anything more coherent than wet gibberish – I don’t think that I would know what to say. Scott’s pleading eyes have finally met mine, and I see the terror in them deepen when he recognizes an intelligence in my gaze that no real baby possesses. I’m the only person in the world who knows how he feels, and I can’t even comfort him. I’m the only one who knows what it’s like to grapple with the final realization that what he’s going through is actually happening. He finally understands that he won’t be able to speak or walk; that his new mommies are going to cuddle him and fuss over him and carry him everywhere; that he’s mere moments away from being wrapped up in a diaper as thick and crinkly as my own.

That last part, as it turns out, comes a little too late.

“You can’t do this…” Scott whimpers as he tumbles backwards through high school. “Please…I – ”

His begging is cut short by a high, long squeak that did not come from his mouth. A bit of color finally returns to the young teen’s cheeks as he blushes at the rude sound he produced, a blush that only burns more brightly when Dr. Meyer and Amanda merely chuckle in response.

“Well, that’s something to note about this method of application.” Dr. Meyer muses. “I think someone’s about to have a little accident.”

“No!” Scott squeals even as another squeak eeks out. He’s shivering and shaking as he teeters on the precipice of puberty, holding onto the last vestiges of his masculinity for as long as he can before he’s yanked back into his childhood. The boy wails as inches of height are snatched from him at a time, as freckles dot his puffing cheeks, as one hand clutches through his pants at his severely diminished manhood. His other hand is trying to hold his stomach and the waist of his pants at the same time, making him look as though he got a tummyache while dressed up in daddy’s clothes. “I’m not gonnna…I won’t…I won’t…!”

He does. Scott moans, squats, and spreads his legs. Though none of us can see it happen, the associated sounds and smells give a more than clear enough picture of this ultimate humiliation that the poor, shrinking boy is going through. It’s almost as though he’s voiding himself of his age with every push, the lump in the seat of his comically oversized jeans growing as he gets smaller, cuter, younger, chubbier, his form becoming more and more in line with that of a boy too little to use the potty. The only mercy allowed him is the fact that he’s at least able to hold onto his jeans throughout the ordeal, though that too is taken from him the moment he finishes. The boy is driven to full-on bawling when the waistband finally slips through his tiny, trembling fingers, when his Levi’s and messy undies slump into a stinking pile at his feet. All that separates Scotty from total nudity is a polo that hangs endearing off one of his skinny shoulders, but even that is taken from him when Dr. Meyer whisks it off his tiny form.

“We’ll get you in something more age-appropriate soon, cuddlebug.” She grins. “Something you won’t have to worry about having an accident in.”

Scotty only cries louder as he dwindles before our eyes, so lost in his despair that he doesn’t even bother to cover himself up. Dr. Meyer and Amanda cheer him on – as though he had any choice in the matter – while I just look on in stunned silence, aghast and fascinated by seeing this transformation from the other side. As he descends into toddlerhood, all of his endearingly childish features simplify under a swell of baby fat until there remains naught but the barest hint of the man Scotty once was. His cries become the ear-splitting wails of an inconsolable infant as he impotently waves his little fists in the air, the stance of his pudgy legs growing more bowlegged and uncertain until they finally grow too weak even to support his tiny little baby body. Mercifully, Dr. Meyer swoops in and grabs him by the underarms before he can plop onto his bottom and into his own mess.

“Tch tch tch.” Dr. Meyer playfully reprimands the still-howling boy as she holds him at arm’s length. “Looks like we’ve figured out who the crybaby of the pair is going to be. C’mon, cuddlebug; let’s get you cleaned up and see if that doesn’t improve your mood.”

She carries Scotty down the hall with Amanda following right behind. Though she doesn’t say anything, I can tell by the way the young woman nuzzles me and holds me even closer – by the happiness she continues to radiate – that she’s delighted beyond measure.

My own feelings are a little more complicated.

Yes, there is great pity in me as I watch Dr. Meyer lay Scotty out on the nursery’s changing table. There is boundless sympathy when he immediately starts sucking on the pacifier she pops between his lips, when he finds himself unable to do anything but blubber and squirm as she cleans him up. There is righteous anger when I consider that he did not, as I did, ask these women for their help; that he is being diapered and fussed over merely because they needed a test subject and a brother for their first little bundle of joy. And all of this is exacerbated by the way Dr. Meyer speaks to Scotty as she diapers him, by the syrupy condescension that somehow seems even more galling when observed from outside.

“There’s our darling little cuddlebug,” Dr. Meyer coos, taking a moment to force a giggle out of him with a tickle to his tummy. “This is much better, isn’t it? No more hard work for our Scotty-wotty. Just lots of love and snuggles from his mommies.”

She pulls the tiny boy into his arms and rocks him against her. Scotty, for his part, has calmed himself down to mere sniffling. Fear and apprehension still cloud his shimmering eyes, though, so much so that a chill runs down my spine when he meets my gaze. Dr. Meyer and Amanda continue gushing as we stare at one another, but very little of what they say gets through. All they seem to want to talk about is how much fun we’re going to have as a family, how the two of them are just going to love their sweet little babies to death and give them every last little thing they need.

Something passes between Scotty and I in that moment. I can’t say for sure, but it feels like he’s thinking the same thing I am. If Dr. Meyer and Amanda are being truthful, well…there are worse fates. And though the coming days will likely prove to be a parade of embarrassments, there’s no denying the simple warmth of their embrace or the love in their voice. Another childhood – another life – stretches out before us. We may have fallen on hard luck by being lured into this impossible trap, but at least each of us get to experience the consequences alongside the only other person in the world who knows what we’re feeling.

I nod at the boy and offer him a smile. He hesitates, then smiles back. His lips curl around his pacifier as he wipes his eyes with a tiny fist.

My little brother. That’s kinda nice.
Hello everyone! I'm making this post to announce that I'm opening myself up for commissions. I realize that this may be a bit audacious given how new I am to the community, but I'm in need of the money and I'm hoping that the work I have created will speak for itself. 

I'm open to writing all forms of AR-related content, and the commissioner can choose when and where their story is posted (if at all). Please send me a PM  if you'd like information regarding pricing and turnaround time; answers to both those questions can be provided much more easily if you already have a concept and length in mind.

Thanks, and have a great day!
“…which is why I think the Avengers would be big fans of fidget spinners. Well guys, that’ll be it for me; remember to like, comment and subscribe if you want to see more premium content from yours truly. Have a great day, and I’ll see y’all tomorrow.”

<Omaheman> lame

<kitentid> why do I even come here

<AnimePhobic> just the worst


Carlos sighed as the comments for his newest video came trickling in, the thoughts shared by his fans somehow even more disappointing and mean-spirited than usual. A few months ago, his videos had been drawing enough viewers for him to eek out a living as a YouTuber if he pumped enough of them out. But as the well of ideas ran dry, Carlos found himself relying more and more heavily on outrageous stunts and cheap pop-culture listicles. Ghost peppers had burned away half of his taste buds and he now knew more about My Little Pony than any grown man should. Still, these efforts only seemed to hasten the plummeting of his viewing numbers. It was as though the Internet could smell his desperation.

The aspiring superstar sighed and spun in his chair, sinking back into the beat-up padding as he took in the makeshift studio that had once been his grandmother’s den. Though Carlos was deeply grateful to his beloved abuela for willing him her home, not having to pay rent had only encouraged him to pursue a dream that was looking more ridiculous by the day. And as encouraging as the rest of his family was, that encouragement did not keep them from gently reminding him that the lawn was overgrown, that the windows needed cleaning, that the property tax would be due before he knew it. At this rate, there was no way he’d be able to scrape together enough cash to keep the home in his name, to say nothing of keeping food on his table. It was, he reluctantly decided, time to get a real job.

He made it about two minutes into his search before he was distracted.

Man on New Drug Turns Into Child Before Astonished Onlookers

Carlos clicked on the outrageous headline, brow furrowing as he scanned the story for details. This, apparently, had been the first instance of someone caught using Lithro, a drug so new that it wasn’t even illegal yet. Though it typically allowed the user to control how young one would like to become – a thought so insane that Carlos went over the sentence three more times to ensure that he’d read it right – losing more years than one expected was a rare but established side effect. Perhaps even more startling than that was the fact that the antidote to the drug had to be taken within an hour after ingestion, lest the user risk being stuck at whatever age he’d ended up at. The man in question had braved the risks to hit the beach and flirt with girls, not expecting that his advances would be interrupted by him being turned into a whimpering grade-schooler. Carlos’ jaw dropped as he played the accompanying video, which showed a small boy clutching a pair of oversized trunks to his skinny little body. His welling eyes looked up pleadingly at those who recorded his plight yet made no move to assist him. Eventually the cops came along and whisked the child away, getting him back to the locker in which he’d stashed the antidote just before his hour was up. Charges would be filed, a police spokesperson said, as soon as they could figure out what to charge him with.

“It was crazy,” remarked one onlooker. “The wildest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Carlos froze. A smile crept across his lips.

***

The GoPro knockoff Carlos had strapped to his forehead wasn’t exactly a top-quality model, as evidenced by how frequently he had to tighten its strap to ensure that it stayed in place. Still, he was grateful for the distraction; there were now less than five minutes left before his livestream was scheduled to start, and the last thing he wanted to think about was what he’d be broadcasting to the whole world. The purchase – combined with what it cost to procure the actual catalyst for his performance – swallowed up the last of his cash, but Carlos was confident that the proceeds from the resulting video would more than justify the investment.

Carlos took a deep breath as his stomach gnawed at itself. He clicked a button and started the show.

“Hey fam.” He inwardly frowned at the tremble in his voice. “I’m really pleased to be with y’all today for what I know is going to be my best video yet. If you haven’t already, make sure to pass the link for the stream to everyone you know; they’re not gonna wanna miss seeing someone turn himself into a kid live on the Internet.”

<BulletinBit> wait what

<papallis> omg he wasnt kidding

<Cyclimat> FAKE


Carlos grinned as the once-languid chat instantly exploded with activity, half of his viewers expressing their astonishment while the other half accused him of fraudulence with varying degrees of vulgarity. He had, if nothing else, caught their attention, and the steady climb of viewership went a long way towards soothing his lingering concerns. Carlos had set his mind to this plan before he had even finished reading about the regressing beachgoer, as it seemed to him that there was no quicker path to digital superstardom than a video featuring two of the things the Internet loved most; a history-making moment and a cute kid. The only thing stopping him from completing the trifecta and getting a cat in the mix was that he’d have to explain to his cousin why he needed to borrow her sassy Siamese.

Still, nothing could totally convince him of the intelligence of what he had planned. Even if the whole thing went off without a hitch – side effects were rare, but, as Carlos well knew, not totally impossible – there was no getting around the fact that he’d be turning himself into an eleven-year-old. Just thinking the number made him shiver a bit. If you were to ask his family or the few friends he had had at the time, Carlos was a natural showman as a pre-teen, a charming and gregarious child who loved to perform and goof around for the entertainment of those he cared for. That sort of behavior was not wholly encouraged by the other students of the rough middle school he had attended, though, and the boy had not even gotten through sixth grade before his showmanship was bullied out of him. Just thinking about being that young again made him feel as vulnerable as he had when he was shoved into lockers or tripped in the halls, made him glance over his shoulder as though looking out for a giant thirteen-year-old intent on beating him up.

“I don’t blame y’all for being suspicious,” he chuckled. “I thought it was impossible too until I read the story that I linked to in the stream description. Long and short of it is that this stuff…”

He held up a tiny vial, the clear liquid within shimmering like puddled gasoline.

“…can make you as young as you want. I’m gonna take it in a minute, and stay right here in front of the webcam until I’m eleven years old again. Then I’ll have an hour to goof around until I have to take the antidote and grow back up. And you’ll get to see every second of it thanks to this little beauty strapped to my forehead. We’ll be covered no matter what happens.”

Those last four words echoed in his mind as he very, very carefully measured the proper dosage into the dropper, as he looked dead into the webcam and offered his viewers what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

“Well. See y’all on the other side.”

With trembling fingers he released the solution into his mouth, nearly sputtering and spitting it out the instant liquid hit flesh. If frostburn had a flavor, it would no doubt be akin to the scorching numb that smoldered over his lips, teeth and tongue. Carlos barely managed to set the vial next to the antidote as he groaned and grabbed at a chair, one hand clutching it for dear life while the other held a head that suddenly felt like a lead balloon. The sensation had spread from his mouth to the rest of his body with terrifying speed, his shivering skin breaking out into goosebumps as Carlos struggled to stay on his feet. That struggle became all the more difficult when his senses were suddenly overloaded; his vision collapsed into a cacophony of impossible colors that pulsed in time with his whimpers and moans, sounds that would not have seemed so alien to him had he enough wherewithal to realize the reason for their increasing pitch.

When his pants slipped from his waist, the burn that came to his cheeks was so instant and so intense that he felt as though his skin would blister under the blush. His hands darted downward out of instinct when his underwear joined his pants in a pile around his ankles, but still, Carlos stood strong. He did not give in to panic even when a cool breeze fluttered through the hem of a shirt that now hung down to his knees, when said breeze made him starkly aware of the smooth bareness of his legs and the sudden smallness of what dangled between them.

Finally, the sensation ebbed. Carlos panted as he stared down at the matchstick legs poking out from the bottom of his oversized shirt, at the now-ridiculous sleeves that threatened to swallow his small and untested hands. He needed a moment to accept what had happened before he dared to glance at the screen.

He looked up. An eleven-year-old boy looked back.

Carlos yelped and stumbled backwards, his feet getting caught up in a puddle of pants as he fell and landed right on his skinny bare butt. Though the impact stung, the pain paled in comparison to the crush of humiliation that came down on him as he sat there on the floor, burning beet red and willing himself not to cry. The embarrassment was so overwhelming and so familiar that, for a moment, he felt as though he were back in sixth grade and reeling from the latest bit of cruelty from his relentless tormenters. Startled by the sensation, Carlos took a moment to steady himself before puffing himself up and returning to his feet with reassumed confidence, stepping out of his pants and right up to his computer.

It was all there on the screen. That wild mop of hair, those endearingly oversized ears, the big bright eyes and that tiny split between his front teeth that he whistled through whenever he wanted to annoy his friends. He was a silly little pre-teen again, and it was to Carlos’ surprise that he saw a goofy grin creep across the lips of the boy on the screen. It was a moment before Carlos could take his eyes away from the sight long enough to check on the chat, his delight doubled when he saw that its population had doubled and that its inhabitants were losing their shit.

<lionhyawn> OMG SO CUTE

<Melcoun> uh did that srsly just happen

<PrimeAbout> FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE


Carlos allowed his audience their astonishment, feeling like a magician who’d just pulled off the trick of a lifetime. The newborn superstar milked the moment for as long as he could before straightening up and opening his hands, grin widening at how the performer’s gesture looked when performed by a tween wearing nothing but an oversized shirt and a cheek-splitting smile.

“Ta-da!” He let out a nervous giggle at the chirpiness of his timbre, at the way a new flood of adoration flowed through the chat when he spoke in his high, boyish soprano. The boy surged with energy as he realized that he had his viewers in the palm of his hand, that his performance was going better than he could have dreamed. It wasn’t just a feeling, either; the numbers grew and grew with each passing second until they hit and then surpassed that of the largest audience he had ever known. “Yeah, it’s a great trick – but I can only do it once.”

Textual representations of laughter filled the chat in response to Carlos’ lame joke, confirming his suspicion that something unfunny immediately became hilarious when uttered by a kid. Much as he would’ve loved to simply stand there and deliver a monologue – that kind that drew nothing but crickets when shared as an adult – the boy was still a touch self-conscious about his half-naked state.

“Nobody go anywhere,” he advised with a playful wag of the finger. “There’ll be lots more fun to be had once I change into something more comfortable. I’m gonna get on Skype and freak out my friends, and order myself a pizza so I can mess with the delivery guy. Hang tight!”

Carlos flashed the webcam a peace sign before ducking into the bathroom, allowing himself a deep and calming exhale as he turned his eyes to the outfit he’d chosen for himself. At the time of their purchase, it seemed impossible that he would fit into the miniature jeans and graphic tee; now they seemed a half-size big, if anything. He snickered as he looked up at the mirror, having forgotten what a shrimp he was at this age. Even though he had an audience waiting for him, he figured that a brief intermission would allow for further sharing of the stream and for those who came late to go back and see the transformation before the second act began. He spent a moment just making faces in the mirror and filling the bathroom with laughter, letting himself enjoy the surprisingly familiar feeling of being a kid.

A door opened and closed. Carlos froze with his fingers pulling back the corners of his lips, the silly expression made all the sillier by the sudden widening of his eyes.

“Carlos? Are you here? I thought you were going out but your car’s in the driveway.”

The boy dared not move a muscle until he heard the approach of footsteps. That’s when he lunged at the door and locked it, pressing himself up against the thin wood and clamping his hands over his mouth to muffle his hyperventilating. Were it not for the fact that he was trying to be silent, the boy would’ve groaned at the realization of who’d been responsible for the mysterious bouts of tidying up that occasionally occurred around his house. Telling her that he wouldn’t be home had seemingly motivated his mom towards another bout of creditless cleaning, and it became clear through the increasing volume of her footsteps that she planned to start in his studio.

Carlos grabbed at the chain that brought down the access ladder to the attic, needing the whole of his eleven-year-old strength to yank it down. He clambered up the rungs and then pulled the ladder back up after him, cinching it back in place just as he heard his mom open the door to the studio. Carlos’ skinny chest heaved against the layer of dust coating the bottom of the attic as he pressed an ear to its floor, wanting to know the instant that his mom left so that he might escape the musty and pitch-black space. He had, even as an adult, been reluctant to spend any time up here amongst his grandmother’s creepy porcelain figurines and her dead-eyed dolls. Somehow, being in a child’s body only magnified his unease, made him feel like the empty coal-black pupils were cutting through the murk and following his every movement. So desperate was the boy for distraction that he scuttled backwards from the access hatch and curled himself up against a corner, eyes darting through the dark for any sign of danger as he whispered into his action camera.

“Okay.” He took a deep breath and licked his lips. “Okay, guys? It looks like, um…it looks like my mom showed up.”

Carlos regretted the words the instant he spoke them, though he couldn’t have known how much he’d sound like an embarrassed child explaining to his friends why he couldn’t play with them anymore. He hoped his viewers would be cool about it, but he knew them – and the rest of the Internet – well enough to be sure that they were laughing at his expense.

<lirelerpo> what a weenie

<bernerto> gotta bail dudes my mommys here

<Deskrose> you guys are so mean hes in real trouble


In any other circumstance, Carlos would have been happy to see the caring and vivacious woman. Isabella had been an aspiring performer herself at his age; he had heard the one single she recorded and could hardly believe that the melodious voice emanating from the cassette was the same one that had scolded and comforted him throughout his childhood. When his mother told him that she had given up on those dreams to raise him, Carlos felt that the least he could do would be to offer his platform – meager as it was – as a showcase for her work. At that Isabella chuckled, saying that she appreciated the offer but that those days were long behind her. It was more than enough to know that she was helping her beloved baby boy in his quest to achieve what she could not. Though she hadn’t the slightest understanding of the technology her son used to create and distribute his work – to say nothing of her bafflement towards the idea that the videos he created were now what passed for entertainment – Isabella remained his most ardent and enthusiastic supporter. Carlos suspected, though, that that support might disappear if she were to find out that he had taken an untested drug and halved his age all for the sake of views.

“I think she’s just coming by to clean up and stuff,” Carlos breathed as he curled up tighter against the inky blackness. “So I’ll just hang out here until she leaves, and then we’ll get back to the show.”

“Carlos?” The boy flinched at Isabella’s rich tone powering through several layers of wood and plaster. “Are you home? You left your computer on.”

Carlos did not dare to so much as breathe. There was a moment of rummaging before another deep, awful silence settled in beneath him.

“Ay, so wasteful,” he heard her sigh. “No wonder his power bills are always so high.”

The boy barely managed to suppress his gasp when he realized that Isabella was looking at his computer. Though her lack of tech savvy might keep her from focusing in on the chat, Carlos wanted to make sure that he’d be safe if her eyes happened to drift that way.

“Yo fam,” he murmured. “Don’t tell her where I am, okay? Just…just say that I went to a friend’s and that I won’t be back for a while. Let her know that I’m sorry for leaving the computer on. I’m counting on you.”

<crazyncia> LOOK IN THE BATHROOM

<Restrong> hi mom check the bathroom

<ChronoChiri> your very cute and funny son is hiding in the bathroom


“The bathroom? Why is this thing saying I should check the bathroom?”

Carlos pulled at his messy hair and swallowed a swear.

“You guys suck,” he hissed.

“Carlos?” Isabella called. “I’m coming in. You better be decent.”

A moment passed before he heard the turning of a knob, his mom only needing to struggle with it for a second before the lock gave up the ghost and allowed her in. Shitty cheap fucking goddamn house. The boy inwardly swore up a blue streak as uncertain steps echoed beneath him, thankful only for the fact that he hadn’t specified to his viewers where he was hiding. There was no way for them to know that there was a way into the attic from the bathroom, and thus, no way for them to accurately rat him out.

When Carlos shivered, he knew at once that it was not because he was cold or scared. His thankfulness disappeared.

“No no no no no no…” Carlos whined as he was overcome once more by the frostburn numb that heralded an oncoming regression. The fact that the sensation was not as strong as the last time was of little comfort to the boy, as there was no way for him to tell in the complete dark of the attic just how many years he’d be losing. All he knew was that the material of his shirt was shifting against the sudden roil of goosebumps, that its sleeves had completely swallowed his dwindling fingers, that he was shrinking deeper into the curl he took against a room that was growing bigger and darker and scarier by the second.

The boy was allowed no time to take stock of himself when the feeling departed, as it was not a second later that he was snapped back to attention by the jangling of the chain attached to the access ladder. With a stab of panic he realized that his whimpering and squirming must have attracted Isabella’s attention, that he now had only a few fleeting seconds to work with before he was discovered. Carlos got on his hands and knees and hastily shuffled across the dusty floor, managing to get behind a giant box of Christmas lights just as the ladder was pulled down. A shaft of light flooded the tiny space, scaring away the shadows as his mother poked her head up through the opening. The boy couldn’t help but peek out from around his hiding spot, feeling almost grateful when he saw the confused and concerned expression that made the middle-aged woman look ten years older. Though he knew it was just a coincidence, her appearance had instantly made the attic a brighter and less intimidating place, and for an instant he struggled with the impulse to throw himself into her arms, cry into her embrace, and beg forgiveness for his foolishness.

Her eyes strayed his way. The boy snapped back behind the box.

“Is there somebody up here?” Isabella’s voice resonated throughout the tiny space, making her seem all-seeing and omnipresent. Still, there was a hint of uncertainty to it, as though she were questioning why she had let a bunch of text on a screen send her in this direction; why the voice she had heard was that of a child. “This isn’t funny, Carlos. If you’re trying to scare me so that you can put it in one of your videos, you better hope that it’ll be worth me beating your butt black and blue.”

Though he knew his mother was speaking hyperbolically, the boy still instinctually seized up at the threat. Spankings were exceedingly rare when he was a child – a punishment reserved only for his most egregious missteps – and yet the possibility of being pulled over her knee seemed horrifyingly real now that he was once again small enough for her to do so. The fading creak of her steps told Carlos that her mother was moving towards the other end of the attic, giving the boy that he might be able to make a break for it. If he could dash down the ladder behind her back, he might be able to snatch his adult clothes and the antidote before running off to another corner of the house, where he could grow back up in private and pretend that that was where he’d been all along. Still, a little voice in the back of his mind insisted that he should just fess up right now and explain to his mother what he’d been up to. He’d get in trouble, sure, but at least he’d be certain to get his hands on the antidote before time ran out. Somehow, though, the idea of getting in trouble had grown so great and terrible that he was willing to do just about anything to avoid it; and it was with that determination that he crept out from behind the box – wide eyes staring at his mother’s back the whole time, nostrils of his little button nose flaring – and towards the ladder.  

Isabella started turning. In an instant Carlos lost all his composure, thumping down the rungs of the ladder in a panic and wincing at the scrape of the rough wood against his bare and tender soles.

“Hey!” His mother’s shout boomed behind him. “Stop!”

Though Carlos’ first instinct was to do just that – knowing from experience that his mother didn’t get really mad until she was made to chase him – he pushed it out of his mind as he darted out of the bathroom and made a beeline for the table on which he’d left the antidote and what remained of the drug. Though his immediate concern was getting to the former as quickly as possible, a tiny part of him was deathly curious as to how his viewers were responding to the boy exploding back into the room in a clear panic.

<naidanet> holy shit he got even younger

<Purpletten> hahahahaha youre in trouble kid

<cartunight> so frickin adorable


Panic seized Carlos when he reached the table and realized that neither the drug not the antidote were anywhere to be found; his mother must’ve moved them in the brief bit of cleaning she managed before she was distracted. There was no time for him to search for where they’d been stuffed, though. The heavy footsteps that clomped across the ceiling told the boy that Isabella would be down the ladder and after him in a matter of seconds. With a childish cry of frustration he burst out of his room and down the hall, aware all the time that his viewers were getting a first-person view of what a naughty little boy saw as he ran from his mommy. How little was a question that had yet to be answered, one that Carlos would not dedicate any thought to until he could find a new place to hide. His mind was flooded with memories of visiting grandma’s when he was young the first time, of the nooks and crannies of the little house that had been so much fun to hide in and explore.

In an instant, he knew exactly where to go.

The boy grabbed a passing doorframe and used it to catapult himself to the left, swinging out of the sight of the giant rampaging after him. Terrifying as the whole situation was, part of Carlos was exhilarated by the chance to just run as fast as he could, to elude his predator like the crafty little cub he’d become. The hem of his shirt fluttered about his scrawny legs, legs that pumped with seemingly limitless energy as his heart pounded within his smooth, skinny chest. He felt fast, fast enough to throw back the rug in the living room, yank open the hatch that hid beneath, and pull both it and the rug back down before his mother could see. The boy clamped his hands over his mouth and drew his knees up to his heaving chest as the thud of Isabella’s footsteps grew louder and louder, as he hoped beyond hope that he hadn’t been caught in his gambit.

“Sweetie?” His mother called out as she stopped right above him. “Could you come out from wherever you’re hiding, please? I don’t know why you’re in my son’s house, but I’m willing to listen if you have a good reason for it.”

Carlos was grateful, if nothing else, that his mother had seemingly not gotten a good enough look at him to realize his identity. He silently prayed for her to go away, not able to exhale until her footsteps started back up and carried her out of the room. The boy shivered as he unfurled, frowning at how much room there was to move around even after he’d done so. The sensation was at once alien and familiar, the strangeness of being able to maneuver within such a small space clashing with memories of how special this spot had once been to him. He recalled the awe with which he had looked up at his grandmother as he sat on her knee, as she regaled him with tales of how her home had once been a spot on the Underground Railroad. The cubby, she had whispered, had hidden countless souls on their journey to freedom, a thought that only enhanced the adventurous fantasies that overtook Carlos whenever he slipped inside. His lips curled into a tiny smile as he thought back to how he could always duck under the rug if he wanted to pretend that he was hiding from monsters or enemy soldiers, how this secret little spot was always here for him if he needed a moment away from the grown-ups and all their rules. Still, that smile disappeared when he remembered that he had only stopped coming down here because he had grown too big to do so; which meant that he had become very young indeed if he once again fit comfortably within the cubby.

The boy took a deep breath as he turned on the light of his action camera and trained it on himself. He couldn’t help but whimper when the illumination allowed him for the first time to study the details of his shrunken hands and stubby fingers, to peek beneath the collar of his oversized shirt and blush hotly at the adorable immaturity it hid. No longer even grown enough to qualify for preteendom, Carlos had truly become a little boy again; a first-grader, perhaps, second-grader tops. He used his fists to wipe away the tears that burned at the corners of his eyes, casting about for any distraction from his sudden and overwhelming desire to cry.

“Hey guys.” Carlos sniffed as he frowned into the camera. “Are you still there?”

<Carawithi> WERE HERE CARLITO

<jewelia> oh god im gonna die hes so cute

<Leventisse> bet u he starts pickin his nose


“Kind of a dumb question, I guess.” The boy managed a grin. “Even if you were, it’s not like you’d be able to tell me. But that’s okay. I just…I just need somebody to talk to.”

Carlos sighed and looked away, digging his one front tooth into his lower lip.

“I was about this age when I decided to be a performer when I grew up.” Carlos’ tone was dreamy, distant, as though he were remembering the story as he was telling it. “It’s not like I knew what that meant when I was a kid; I just loved the idea of getting money for making people smile. That was my favorite thing to do when I was little, so it made perfect sense to me that it’d stay my favorite thing to do when I was big.”

The boy cradled the camera in his lap and looked down at it as though it were a beloved pet.

“I was a pretty dumb kid, but I was at least right about that. There’s nothing I enjoy more than putting on a show for you guys. I don’t say that ‘cause I want you to like everything I do or anything like that; I know that a lot of my stuff is pretty stupid. Maybe I’d be a better performer if I’d had an easier time of it when I was growing up. Maybe there’s even somebody listening to me right now who thinks that they’d be better at singing or drawing or whatever if they felt they could do so without being bullied or made fun of.”

<asperzo> preach carlito

<KiloSolix> kid speaks the truth

<byteldeal> i dont need to be any better im already perfect


“Anyway,” Carlos exhaled and smiled at the camera. “I guess all I really wanna do is thank y’all for being there. Even those of you who just come around to make fun of me. No matter what happens, it’s thanks to you guys that I’ve been able to perform for as long I have. And that’s all I ever wanted.”

<maligicon> i cry every time

<PartyApril> top ten saddest anime endings

<peachri> THANK U CARLITO


Silence settled back into the cubby as Carlos shook his head and chuckled. The boy realized that he’d been waiting for a response that he intellectually knew would never come, and in the same moment realized that he was okay with its perpetual distance. The vulnerability he felt lasted for only another moment, disappearing when he rolled his eyes and shot the camera a goofy, cheek-splitting grin.

“I forgot how quickly you get bored when you’re a kid,” he snickered. Though he tried to make light of the situation, the truth was that the youthful energy pumping through his veins was in fact begging him to crawl up out of his hiding space. The boy needed to run, to jump, to do anything but be down in that dark and cramped space for one second longer. Though Carlos was certain that his mother had by now given up the search, he realized with a start that he couldn’t even hazard a guess as to how long he had been hiding. His sense of time was seemingly in line with his physical age, where boring moments may as well last lifetimes for how endless they feel. Still, that only further motivated the boy to get moving; he was gripped with terror at the idea that he may, without even knowing it, have scant minutes left in which to take the antidote.

“Alright guys,” Carlos murmured as he re-strapped the camera to his forehead. “I think the coast is clear – I’m gonna make a break for it. Wish me luck.”

<sleekinesas> good luck little dude

<liventrora> WE LOVE U CARLITO

<Jane Smith> Google pays me $49.27 per hour to work from home!


Carlos felt as though he were vibrating from head to toe as he stood and slowly opened the hatch, doing so just enough to peek out and confirm that no one was around. He paused for one more moment…and then he threw the hatch up with all of his strength, bursting out of the cubby and dashing down the hall as quickly as his little legs could carry him. His tiny bare feet thumped against the worn wooden floors as he closed in on his room, so near the doorknob that if he were to leap out and reach –

“Gotcha!”

The boy squealed in surprise when an impossibly strong pair of arms wrapped themselves around his stomach and pulled him into the air. Though he kicked and struggled and wailed in frustration, nothing he did could loosen the iron grip his mother had locked his tummy into, and it was with plunging despair that he realized he’d fallen for the same trick that had bested him so often in childhood. All too familiar with the impatience of little boys, Isabella would simply do a little hiding of her own whenever she needed to draw her son out of his hole. Boredom always won out, just as it had in this humiliating and crushing moment.

“Ay, niño, relax.” The woman, still seemingly unaware of the boy’s identity, tried to calm her quarry as he bucked against her. “I’m not going to – ”

Isabella twisted Carlos towards her. They both froze.

“…C…Carlito?”

Carlos stared into his mother’s eyes. An infinity of emotions swirled within them – shock, awe, confusion, adoration – and he was struck by the opportunity he had received to, for an instant, witness a vulnerability that his mother barely ever let surface. The boy was snapped back to reality by the realization that Isabella’s hold on him had weakened, giving Carlos an opening to slip right through her slack arms. There was no time to explain, he reasoned, especially now that his mother had been entranced by the realization that the little boy she’d been chasing was her grown son. He broke for his door the instant his feet hit the ground, certain that her astonishment would give him enough of a head start.

That certainty – along with whatever hope he had left – quickly vanished.

“No! NO!” The boy screamed as he felt the re-emergence of the crackling numb. Though he tried to keep running, the rapidity of his regression quickly turned his sprint into a clumsy tromp, one that was cut short when he stepped on a hem that now dangled all the way to the ground. Carlos squealed as he fell out of his shirt, banging his rounded knees and elbows against the hardwood as he tumbled to the floor.

There was a moment of silence, the kind that comes after a child has been hurt and has not yet decided whether to cry. In Carlos’ case, it was not just the shock of pain resonating through his pudgy limbs that pushed him in that direction; there was also the fact that he had become a naked, chubby little baby, splayed out on the floor before his mommy as though posing on a bearskin rug. His dimpled chin quivered as he slowly turned to the action camera, which had slipped free of his forehead. It was still running. Its lens was pointed his way.

<Commella> OMGGGGGG BABY CARLITO

<inescook> pedobear plz

<RavenLetter> somebody call anne geddes


Everybody saw. Everybody was watching.

Carlos screwed up his face, clenched his fists, and bawled his little eyes out. The boy was so overwhelmed by the crush of infantile despair and frustration that there was nothing he could do but cry, filling the hall with his wailing as he drummed his heels and pounded his pudgy fists against the floor. His whole world was sadness and it remained that way until he was whisked up off the ground, until the entirety of his tiny, pudgy body was pulled against a warm, soft cushion. Carlos sniffled as he squirmed in that tender embrace, blinking away the tears to see his mom smiling down on him.

“Shh shh shh…” Isabella cooed, stroking his soft tuft of hair as she rocked him in her arms. “Mi estrellito. My little star. It’s okay, sweetie. Everything’s okay.”

Though bewilderment and concern still lingered, they were but trifles compared to the sheer warmth that had filled his mother’s eyes. There was a beauty to that moment that dwarfed anything Carlos he had ever felt as an adult, that resonated with his earliest memories of being completely enveloped in the unspoken perfection of her love. It would have been so easy to just close his eyes and snuggle deeper into those strong, unshakable arms. He could start all over. He could be her little star again.

But Carlos was a performer, and the show must go on.

“Mah…mah-mee…” Carlos gurgled through what felt like a mouthful of marbles. “Nee’…nee’ anny-doh…”

“What is it, mi hijo?” Though Isabella’s brow furrowed in concern, her voice never rose about a soothing coo. She pulled her baby close and lowered her ear. “What do you need?”

“Anny-dote, mah-mee.” Carlos felt himself on the verge of tears again, babyish emotions spiraling out of control at the thought that something as simple as speaking was now beyond him. “Nee’…anny-dote…pwease, mah-mee…”

“Annie…don’t…?” Isabella straightened in sudden understanding. “Are you saying antidote, sweetie?”

The woman plucked a tiny white pill from her shirt pocket, looking at it and then an accusatory gaze on her baby.

“Is that what this is? Have you been messing with drugs, Carlito?”

Carlos’ eyes lit up at the sight of the tiny chalk triangle as he inwardly kicked himself for not even considering that both it and the Lithro had been with his mother the entire time. The boy summoned the last of his coordination to snatch it from her hand and jam it in his mouth before she could stop him, the antidote swallowed as if it were any other tiny object left within reach of a curious infant. Though Isabella cried out in protest – no doubt concerned about what the strange pill would do to her baby – she had no time to try and get him to cough it back up. Carlos was hit with the effects almost instantly after downing the antidote, a dense and heavy weight expanding within him as though the pill itself were growing to monumental proportions. The feeling swelled with such rapidity that the boy thought he might burst right through his skin, a deepening roar of determination thundering through his throat as arms and legs spurted back to adult lengths, as fields of hair sprung from roughening skin, as decades’ worth of development was unleashed upon him in a matter of seconds.

The transformation was so quick that Isabella had not even time to let her son go, collapsing under the sudden strain of Carlos’ growing weight. Carlos, for his part, scrambled off of Isabella the instant he was able, flooded with relief when he helped her up and saw that he’d merely knocked the wind out of her. Then the next moment arrived, and with it the realization that he was standing naked before his mother. The man turned boy turned baby turned man again turned red and covered himself with both hands, shifting awkwardly as his mother – her ability to intimidate not at all undercut by her bent-over wheezing – stared a hole through him.

“Good news first.” Carlos laughed nervously and glanced at the camera, which looked just far enough away to have caught his return to adulthood. “I think you’re about to be famous.”

<bookator> nudity is against the tos

<Phrenzarz> awwwww i wanted him to stay a baby

<BukoBerk> she should still spank him. no youre the perv, shut up


***

“Ready, mom?”

“Just about.”

The response to Carlos’ video had been everything he’d dreamed of and more. Through his little adventure he’d reached an audience ten times greater than that of any he’d before achieved and created a minor pop-culture phenomenon. In the weeks that followed, “Carlito’s Way” (the DMCA notice he expected in response to that title thankfully never came) became the subject of countless remixes and reaction videos, a tally by which a digital historian could mark the advancement of the Internet video medium.

The “and more” had surprised him in more ways than one.

To begin with, there was the fact that he’d recorded himself taking a drug that, while not illegal, was still being hustled off the streets by police departments across the country. Law enforcement officials were terrified by the possibility of one overzealous cop forcibly arresting an adult who had temporarily turned themselves into an adorable little boy or girl. Carlos had been visited by the detectives of his precinct and pressured into giving up his dealer, but the young man held firm. He knew that there was no law on the books through which he could be charged; and with nothing to sustain it, the heat on him died down even as a nationwide debate – one sparked in part, Carlos liked to believe, by his video – raged over whether Lithro should be legal.

Even more surprising than that, however, was the stardom his mother had achieved. Though he’d expected that his fans would take an immediate liking to her, he’d thought it’d be in the semi-ironic and somewhat condescending way that parents of other YouTubers were often regarded. Carlos could admit to feeling a twinge of resentment when he realized that his mother was more beloved than he was, his fans’ demand for her presence no doubt bolstered by the fact that someone had found that old single of hers and uploaded it to the Internet. Still, a good showman never misses an opportunity to partner with someone more popular than him, and so one day he sat down with his mother to hammer out the details of a new program that would guarantee him steady views and her the position in the spotlight that she always deserved.

“Okay…all set. We go on three, okay?”

“Got it.”

“One…two…three.”

Carlos and his mother stood side-by-side before the webcam as their audience surged into the chat, their fans flooding the room with greetings and well wishes for the hosts of what had become one of the Internet’s most popular livestreams.

<MasterFallen> showtiiiiiiiiiiime

<balland> first

<papavibrant> notice me mama-senpai


“Hey y’all.” Carlos grinned and opened his hands. “Thanks for tuning in for another episode of Mama y Carlito. We’re gonna get right down to business today, as my mom was telling me that she’s got something special planned for this week’s show.”

“Well…” Isabella’s smile was coy but warm. “You know how your niece is having her quinceanera this afternoon?”

“Sure.” Carlos’ face dropped. “Oh no. No no no no.”

“Oh, don’t be like that, Carlito.” The woman chuckled and lightly slapped her son’s arm. “It’s the only thing she wanted from you; to have her famous uncle show up at her party in diapers and a tiny tuxedo.”

Though Carlos reacted to the reveal with horror and embarrassment, the truth was that he’d known about his mother’s plans well in advance. Admittedly, he hadn’t been thrilled with the idea the first time he’d heard it. He also hadn’t been looking forward to the episode where he, as a Kindergartener, had been forced to interact with real children on a playground; nor the one where he’d been regressed to the age of his twin third-grade cousins and immediately been pinned by them in an impromptu wrestling match. Both entries had been massive hits, though, and so Carlos eventually accepted that perhaps Isabella had a better mind for what people wanted than he did.

Carlos felt a smile creep across his lips as he watched his mother explain what he, as Baby Carlito, might expect at the party. This was not, by any stretch of the imagination, the sort of success he had envisioned for himself. He had always dreamed of making it on his own, of the life of a solitary superstar driven solely by his art and the adoration of his fans.

His heart swelled when he looked at his mother. This, he decided, was much better.
It doesn’t feel like anything.

That’s the hardest part for people to accept, if you can believe that. The confusion is, of course, understandable. One would expect there to be some sensation associated with being turned back into a child. I can tell a lot about the person asking by the kind of feeling they think might be associated with the transformation. The people who are against the very idea of it often posit that the bones must grind, that there must be an actual heat to the melting of one’s muscles, that the quick retreat of body hair must be akin to thousands of needles sinking into softening skin.

They’re often disappointed when I tell them that the whole procedure is not only completely painless but is in fact devoid of any feeling at all. I suspect it’s because they wished to receive some confirmation of the fear they held of the concept, a fear that is typically based either in personal distaste or some fundamental opposition to an individual temporarily returning to his or her childhood.

The disappointment of those who support the idea is much harder for me to bear. These people do not, of course, express their support out loud. Even those that use Noorus – a translation from the Estonian, I explain, an attempt by the company’s brilliant if eccentric founder to pay homage to the old country – do not speak openly of their patronage. It’s still a new technology, after all, and one that can conjure up the most insidious of implications. If you had been at the hearings that took place during the legalization of the process, you would have thought that Noorus had been designed solely to enable the worst predators humanity had to offer.

Those accusations are now nothing more than a footnote in a congressional record. Thanks to a strict set of regulations – and the greasing of more than a few palms – Noorus’ services became available to any law-abiding citizen that could pony up the exorbitant session fee.

It is the cost of the thing that keeps many of these silent supporters away, though I have spoken to a few wealthy individuals who were unable to hide their clear desire to partake. You can tell by the way their imagining of the process differs from those who oppose it. Warm is a word they often use. Light. Giddy. Those that attempt to draw a comparison ask me if I know how it feels to sit in the front car of a roller coaster and crest a hill at top speed.

I do, I say with a patient smile. But it’s not like that, I’m afraid. It’s not like anything.

The response is usually the same no matter what side of the spectrum the person falls on. They’ll nod and fall silent for a second, perhaps clearing their throat or taking a sip from their drink. This is time they need to work up the necessary confidence to ask the question that inevitably follows.

So, they’ll say. Any good stories?

I often rebuff these requests with practiced poise. I tell the questioner that I’m merely a technician and that I don’t get to see what goes on beyond closed doors. There are matters of privacy at stake, after all; our average customer would be mortified if their temporary regressions were made public, to say nothing of how said customer behaved while enjoying our service. The matter is often closed by me grinning and saying that our clean-up crew is very well paid for a very good reason.

Usually that gets a polite laugh, which the questioner and I will use to move on to another topic.

The truth, however, is that I do have a story.

It’s not one that I tell often. Even if I’m around people I trust, I typically need to be at least halfway through a joint before my tongue will be sufficiently loosened. Telling it the first time was a mistake, as it’s now requested of me whenever I’m in the company of the lucky few who were there for the original recounting. Luckily, I’m smart enough to hold a hard line, or at least enough to never get so high that I buckle under peer pressure. No, I’ll say, you cannot bring your friend over to hear the story. I don’t care how long you’ve known her. The story stays in this circle. If I hear a whiff of it from anyone but you guys, I’m never going to tell it again.

They protest, of course. They say that the weed has made me paranoid. But they always fall in line.

So. Please do not think I am being arrogant when I say that you are lucky to hear this.

***

They were a man and a woman. It is often a man and a woman, for reasons you can probably guess.

He was middle-aged, handsome and healthy. His body was that of a man who worked out simply for maintenance’s sake, not because he had any need or desire to show off.

She was young, confident and beautiful. The sort of woman who knew that she could coast on her looks but refused to allow herself to be so basely defined.

These dynamics were clear to me from the outset of the pre-screening interview, if only because I had already seen them so often. Our clients are typically successful men, as very few other people have both the means and the implied societal approval to explore a fantasy this outrageous. The nervousness of this particular man was, likewise, not at all unusual. One of the great satisfactions of my job is getting to ask established, respected individuals why they want to be turned into children. If I could live on the stammers and blushes and awkward laughter I get in response, I wouldn’t even take a salary.

The woman, though. She was unusual from the start. When a wife, girlfriend or mistress is brought along for the session, their embarrassment often approaches that of their partner. Though most try to rise above the strangeness of the whole thing, few succeed. With every pained smile you can see the complete disbelief and mild horror they feel at something this private and ridiculous becoming real. Surely they thought this would never advance beyond the awkward, lacking simulations that took place behind closed doors. Perhaps they would not have initially indulged their men had they the slightest inkling that their proclivities would ever stray beyond those boundaries.

It’s worth mentioning that the prostitutes are another story altogether. They do not, by and large, give a single shit.

But this woman. She spoke with self-assurance and a ringing clarity that was marred only by the barest hint of an accent, one whose origin I tried and failed to place. Though the man’s eyes wandered when I went over the more embarrassing parts of the liability agreement – you’d be surprised by how many people think that toddlers, even temporary ones, can possess adult continence – the woman’s never left mine. If anything, she seemed amused by the idea that her companion might wet himself in her presence; that he would, in fact, be helpless to keep from doing so. Even then, though, she betrayed nothing but a whisper of a smile, one that only lessened his composure when it was turned on the man to her side.

We finished up the paperwork and I led them into the chamber.

Very little of the chamber is necessary, strictly speaking. The humming lights embedded into the room’s cool steel walls are just for show, as is the soft illumination of the platform in the center. I once watched a Q&A with our founder in which he was asked why these elements are in place if they hold no practical purpose. He grinned and said that the subjects of a mad scientist would expect nothing less.

The laughter he received in response was like that of my clients.

I instructed the man – whose forehead now shone with sweat – to stand on the platform before leaving him and the woman inside. The accompanying party does not have to be present for the process, but when I saw her take up the chamber’s lone chair – saw her straighten up and cross her legs as though preparing for a meeting – I figured that there was little point in asking whether she wanted to stay.

I don’t have a choice when it comes to watching. It is, after all, my job to ensure that the process goes off without a hitch. I have, from the adjoining observation room, induced and witnessed hundreds of regressions. Some are of the belief that there is no stimulus so fantastic that it would not become dull after repeated exposure. That is perhaps true for most things, but it has not yet proven so for what I do.

I turn adults into children. That never gets old.

The process was already underway by the time I settled into my chair, tablet at the ready in case I needed to document any technical hiccups. He had, as most people do, chosen to keep his clothes on. Though nobody who goes into the chamber leaves it big enough to fill their adult outfits, I can respect the extra layer of embarrassment that must come along with being naked as the transformation occurs. Bad enough to know that a stranger in the other room is observing your shame; bad on another level entirety to know that said stranger has a front row seat to decades’ worth of nudity.

The man was doing well given his obvious unease. He ran a shaking hand through his growing, darkening hair and muttered little expressions of disbelief between barks of anxious laughter. His eyes were down and locked on his regressing form; mostly, I felt, because he didn’t want to miss a moment of what he was experiencing, but also at least partly because he wished to avoid the woman’s unblinking gaze. Though her stare never strayed, she regarded the impossibility unfolding before her with the sort of detached, benign interest typically induced by a second-rate landmark or an unremarkable sunset. It was as though she would only recognize the remarkability of the scene insofar that she would do it the respect of watching until it was complete.

Her stoicism was all the more impressive for how thoroughly it was maintained even as her companion moved past the relatively unremarkable changes of his adulthood and into those that defined his developing years. As a young man he had been attractive and athletic in a clean-cut sort of way, not that he was allowed much time to appreciate the details of his prime. That’s the other thing that takes people by surprise, how quick the process is. In thirty seconds he had gone from middle age to his physical peak, and in another thirty seconds…well…

Concern had begun to darken the man’s increasingly-boyish features as he was stripped so quickly of the landmarks of adolescence that he had not even the time to process one’s disappearance before another was lost. His hand went to his chin to register the loss of his beard, then under his shirt to confirm the sudden smoothness of his armpits. When he gasped – gasped in the same shocked, high-pitched chirp I had heard so many times before – his hand shot downwards as though moving by instinct. The man, now boy, managed to stop himself before he could confirm the most significant loss of all, freckles appearing on his beet-red cheeks as he for the first time – in more ways than one – looked up at his companion.

The woman was unaffected. If her unflinching demeanor had been impressive before, it was downright spooky now. She looked at the man without meeting his eyes, gaze ticking downward to follow his descent from middle school to elementary, from elementary to Kindergarten. Those burning cheeks of his puffed out to pinchable proportions as his hair lightened and curled, delicate tawny strands dancing above wide eyes that shined with the promise of tears. The casual suit he had worn was a mockery now, a baggy, billowing joke that had practically swallowed the boy. If he had been smiling – mugging for the camera like the child he had become, eager to show off his silliness – the scene would have been adorable. Junior caught playing dress-up in Daddy’s clothes. As it was, the tiny frown and the quivering of his smooth, dimpled chin spoke to the boy’s realization that he might be in over his head.

The process stopped. He was five years old.

I’m often helpless to keep myself from staring when a client is made that young. Of all the fantastic elements of my job, perhaps the most unbelievable is the idea that the small child standing on that unnecessarily-illuminated platform had been an adult a minute prior. The disconnect is not so great that it feels as though I’m dealing with two different people; when you’ve been doing this job for as long as I have, it becomes easy to see the genesis of a client’s adult features in rosy cheeks and wide, bewildered eyes. Even though he was now too young to get through the day without a nap, the boy still held the gentle curve to his brow that would become defined in adulthood, still possessed a sharpness in his expression that was no doubt of use in conquering whatever industry he was a captain of.

The difference was that he no longer appeared capable of running a lemonade stand, much less a business. If he had been plopped out on the street just then, no passerby would see a respectable man caught in a moment of indulgence; they would see a little boy who had lost his parents. And if something went wrong with the process – if it ended up being permanent – the client would have no longer been able to reward himself for his latest world-shaking decision with a trip to his favorite four-star restaurant. The only choice he would be trusted with would be the kind of juice box he gets to enjoy along with his chicken nuggets.

No, the process has never gone wrong in that way. It’s part of the disclaimer, yes, but only because it’s possible, not because it’s happened.

Yes, I’m sure.

Listen – do you want me to make something up along those lines, or do you want to hear this story?

Alright then.

There was a moment of silence after the transformation had ended, as there often is when client and observer try to process what had just happened. Not that the woman seemed in need of any such refractory period; hardly a beat had passed before she rose from her chair and strode over to the boy, looking down on him as he, with tiny fingers, clutched his oversized outfit closer to his impossibly immature form. She said something that I couldn’t hear. His frown and blush deepened and he seemed once more unable to meet her eyes. Even from where I sat I could feel the tension that crackled between them, tension that did not dissipate until the boy – with a deep, shuddering breath – relinquished his grip on his pants. He stepped out of that puddle of cloth and stood before his companion in nothing but a dress of a button-down shirt. Its long sleeves had devoured his skinny arms. Its hem swayed playfully above a pair of tiny bare feet. Its collar was just barely supported by shoulders that were slight, pale, and muscle-free.

The woman smiled and patted his curly crown. She took him by the hand and led him out of the room.

It was some time before I could pull myself out of that chair, even though I was making myself late for another appointment by lingering. My gaze was stuck on the door they had done through, as though I could see through it and into one of the guest suites the client and his companion had headed into. The suites – they used to be called “Playrooms” until management grew wise to how creepy that sounded – contain everything necessary to fully experience a temporary return to childhood. They’re designed to be appropriate for whatever age the subject has chosen for himself, which meant that this particular client was destined for a room filled with stuffed animals and action figures, crayons and fingerpaints, plastic furniture and plastic pants.

That last part is only an option, of course. There’s a variety of age-appropriate clothing available. But, given the way the woman reacted when I brought up the question of continence, it would not have surprised me if padded undies had been the first thing she dressed the client in. Shortalls would be next, perhaps, or maybe a tiny pair of cargo shorts complimented by a bright cartoon t-shirt. In any case, the important part was that the particulars of the client’s outfit were no longer up to him.

It was not juvenile fashion I was thinking of as I stared but rather what was being done in that room in order to coax the client into those immature duds. I had become convinced that it was not the man’s desires being fulfilled here; rather, it was those of his companion. The difference in the way the two of them carried themselves – before, after and during the process – had made that clear. I was stuck on this idea not because I felt compelled to take action; we had a liability waiver signed by the client, and that was all that mattered. Noorus employees are specifically instructed to avoid making inferences regarding the behavior of their clients. Our line of business is enough of a minefield without some nosy tech trying to decide whether what he sees is evidence of exploitation or merely an expression of a healthy dom/sub relationship.

I shook off those thoughts and left the room, lest I any longer delay my next client’s trip to third grade. Truth be told, I had forgotten all about the couple by the time I clocked out; but, when they appeared again a month later – to the day – it felt as though it had only been hours since I’d seen them last. The man and woman behaved just as they had during our first visit, with the former declaring that he’d had such a good time last month that he’d very much like to purchase the exact same package.

It was likely the corporate forbidding of inferring that kept me from determining right then that something was amiss. In retrospect, there had been a nervousness to the man that went beyond that which he had displayed before the first session, a sort of anxious forced cheer one might use to assure a cop that everything’s fine, just fine, no need to come in and discover the man with a gun pointed at my back. At the time, I merely chalked it up to the paranoia of a repeat customer, the fear that multiple visits to the same unsavory location had upped his chances of being discovered.

The woman said nothing. We once more went through the paperwork and the liabilities, and all she did was smile. The process unfolded just as it had last month, though this time there was more resignation and less embarrassment in the man’s reaction; his second return to Kindergarten might as well have been a visit to the dentist for the adorable little sigh he let out when he found himself swimming in another tailored suit. That notion only grew stronger when the smiling woman took the boy by the hand and led him out of the room. With his eyes locked on the ground and his skinny legs refusing to go faster than a trudge, the client looked for all the world like a pouting child being guided to a dreaded afternoon of teeth scraping and lectures on dental hygiene.

I had, of course, been curious as to what our clients do in their suites. Though I had occasionally overhead stories from the clean-up crew, their tales were little more than pieced-together speculation on what that stain on the floor had been or on how a preschooler could have summoned the strength necessary to completely trash a room in an hour. The only people who know for certain are the members of our security team, and even they only get to watch the footage when an incident has occurred. I’m friendly with some of those guys, but not so much that I was willing to risk both our jobs by asking to see what was occurring between my client and his pleasantly impassive companion.

The temptation, however, grew with each subsequent visit. They arrived on the same day every month, and every time the man asked for the same package while the woman smiled silently beside him. The only difference was the man’s obvious and growing discomfort, his hesitation now so palpable that it could no longer be mistaken as a mere product of nerves. By the third visit it was very clear that he did not want to be there; by the fourth, one might have thought that he was being led to a firing squad. Despite this, he filled out the paperwork every time as mechanically as he had during his first return to childhood. Every time, he let the woman lead him out of the chamber without a single complaint. Every time, she did nothing but smile at his distress.

It was getting to the point that I considered passing the client to a different technician. If I couldn’t make him stop coming – if I couldn’t pry into what was so horrible about his sessions – the least I could do was make it someone else’s problem. But I knew that wouldn’t be enough. I’d still see them come in every month like clockwork, and even if I wasn’t the one guiding them through the process, a mere glimpse at the stony dread on the man’s face – at the tranquil smile on the woman’s – would once again make my curiosity too much to bear.

I could, as I guided the man into his fifth session, think of nothing but putting in a transfer to another location. As much as I love my job, even quitting would have been preferable to the thought that I was acting as a perpetual accomplice to the man’s unending torment. I had started to see his pale despair in my dreams, a little boy’s pleading eyes devoured by a woman’s Cheshire cat smile. I couldn’t go on any longer.

It was, then, very lucky for me that things ended there.

I was doing my best to focus on my next client when I heard a commotion coming from the lobby. Though the man I was serving jumped up as if to leave – perhaps fearing that a police raid would bring to light his occasional forays into building blocks and thumbsucking – I managed to calm him down by assuring him that I would go out and see what the issue was.

The issue, it turned out, was that the woman was curled up against a wall, face buried in her knees as she sobbed in a way usually only reserved for small children – real or temporary. There was no sign of her partner anywhere, which made sense; with half an hour left in the session, he was still five and likely not eager to be seen by anyone. The question, then, was not only why she had left early but why she had not taken the back exit specifically designed for post-session departure. Nobody else in the room seemed particularly eager to find out; the other clients cast their eyes elsewhere, and our secretary’s attempts at consolation were awkward at best.

The woman’s sobs reverberated hollowly within me and I at once felt awful for suspecting the worst of her, for allowing her stoic demeanor to trick me into thinking that she was somehow incapable of crying the way she was right now. Still, my hands shook just so as I walked up to her, a small part of me believing that her deceptive abilities were so complete that this was just a way for her to bring another victim into whatever trap her partner had stepped into. I gently told the secretary that she could go back to her desk before kneeling before the woman and asking her what was wrong. When she looked up, her red eyes and streaking mascara spoke to a composure so shattered that it was difficult to believe it had ever been as solid as I remembered. She shook her head and wiped her eyes.

“It just can’t happen…” she managed between short, sharp breaths. “I didn’t…I didn’t ever expect him to…”

The woman inhaled and stood up so quickly that I, for a moment, knew what it must have felt like for the man to suddenly become small before her. Though her eyes were still red and her makeup still smudged, when that confident smile returned I knew that she was back in control.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done for us,” she said. “It means more than you’ll ever know.”

And then she left. I could do nothing but stare after her as she departed; even if I could think of anything to say in that moment, I don’t know that I would have been capable of giving those words voice. When the man left, he did so in typical fashion; at the end of his session and through the back door.

In most cases, that would have been the end of it. Though I worked up the nerve to ask one of my security buddies whether I could look at the couple’s tapes, the flat refusal I got in return let me know that there was no point in pursuing that avenue any further. It seemed as though I would, for the rest of my life, remain maddeningly ignorant as to what had occurred between that man and that woman, why he had looked so troubled and why she had been so repentant.

It was three months later that I saw him again.

I was at a table at my local coffee shop when he walked in. I tried not to look – my professionalism clashing against my overwhelming curiosity – but my gaze lingered just long enough for his eyes to catch mine. His cheeks instantly paled, then reddened, and he might have just kept on staring at me had the barista not gotten his attention. The flustered man finished his transaction and made to leave; but instead of heading out the door, he turned on his heel and made a beeline for my table. He sat across from me without asking whether he was welcome to do so, but, once he was seated, he seemed suddenly unable to meet my eyes or say anything. Even so, I was made to feel as though I should be intimidated by the domineering posture he had no doubt used to win any number of negotiations. The fact that I was not was almost certainly because I had seen him as a pouting, timid, adorable child.

When he finally spoke it was in the low, sharp rumble of a powerful man who has been made to feel vulnerable.

“You’re, uh…” He knocked a knuckle against the table. “You’re not allowed to talk about anything that happens in there, right?”

I assured him that I wasn’t. He seemed slightly relieved at this.

“I’ve got to talk to somebody about it.” He exhaled as he brought his eyes back to mine. “If I get a therapist, the board will see it as a sign of weakness. And my wife – well, if you listen to what I have to say, you’ll see why I can’t tell her either. Do you have a minute?”

I did my best to keep the excitement out of my voice as I told him that I did. My efforts must have been lacking, though, as he hesitated for another moment before launching into his story.

The woman I saw, he explained, was his longtime mistress. They had enjoyed a mutually beneficial agreement for nearly a decade; in exchange for her companionship, he put her up in a modest townhome in a trendy downtown neighborhood and took care of whatever expenses she incurred. I thought I could detect a hint of wistfulness in his gaze as he described their relationship, as he explained how she understood him in ways that even his wife didn’t. They had become so close that it did not surprise the man when his mistress asked him to give her a child.

“It’s not as though she didn’t deserve it,” the man sighed as his eyes drifted. “God knows she’d been good to me over the years. I might have paid for her company, but no amount of money could pay for how kind, patient, stimulating and loving she was. And I know for a fact that she would have been an excellent mother.”

That, he said, was why it was so difficult to turn her down. A child was a complication that he simply couldn’t justify, a living testimony to his infidelity that he knew would one day be the reason for his affair being brought to light. He loved his wife, but he was also intimidated by her. She was a power player in her own right and not the sort of person to forgive years of philandering. Had his mistress and her child been discovered, the man explained, he’d never so much as work in a mailroom again.

He was surprised by how poorly the woman took the news, and doubly surprised by what she suggested as recompense. If she couldn’t have his child, she declared, then the man would have to play the part. Not permanently, of course; she was not cruel enough to try and rip him completely from his life and plunk him back in Kindergarten. Once a month, he would be her little boy; and that would continue for as long as she saw fit. Though the man was mortified by the idea – he’d always thought regression sessions fit only for the weak-willed and indulgent among us – he had little choice but to comply. The alternative was that the woman tell his wife about the affair, stripping him of the two most important relationships in his life.

“It’s, uh…” He scratched the back of his head and let out something like a laugh. “It’s strange that it doesn’t feel like anything.”

Yes, I said. It certainly is. The silence swelled between us for a moment before I asked him if that’s why he had looked more and more distraught with every session; he hated being turned into a child and couldn’t figure out any way to keep it from happening. For the first time in many months, I saw the man smile.

“I loved every minute,” he murmured. “Those days with her were some of the best of my life.”

The anxiety I had seen, he explained, came about precisely because he had enjoyed it so much. He didn’t know what it said about him that he’d had more fun laying on his stomach and putting a crayon to a coloring book than from anything he could do as an adult. What's more, with each subsequent session he became more convinced that what he and the woman were doing amounted to a kind of infidelity that dwarfed even the years of cheating that had led up to it. There was something more intimate about their companionship in those hours, he said. Something that went beyond mere sex in its purity and innocence. The surprising enjoyment he took from childish games and toys was, after all, only a small part of what made those days so special. His true joy came from knowing that the woman was there the whole time, there to play with him and cuddle him and treat him with as much love as any parent could possibly give their child.

“She even cleaned me up once,” he chuckled. “I was all set to bawl my eyes out, but she was so tender and gentle during the whole thing that a few minutes later I had forgotten all about it.”

Cleaned you up?, I asked. He gave me a wilting look.

“Do you really need me to spell it out for you?”

I told him that I didn’t. Those plastic pants might’ve gotten some use after all.

As the months went by, he found himself growing even closer to the woman. It was with some alarm that he realized his true desire was not to be with her as her husband; it was to be with her as her son. He had come to this conclusion during the third session, he explained, when he fell asleep in her lap as she hummed a lullaby native to her country. It was not until the fifth session that he worked up the courage to ask if they could make the arrangement permanent.

“It wouldn’t have been anything at all,” he mused, as though he were talking about getting a parking ticket taken off his record. “I know that your technology can make it permanent. All I’d have to do is grease a few palms – yours included, since you’d have to oversee the ‘accident’ that would keep me that way – and my adult self would disappear. Her son would appear in his place, complete with a set of paperwork that’d make it seem as though he’d been there the whole time.”

He had explained all of this to the woman, had given her his very best pitch; one that, he admitted, must have been at least somewhat undercut by the chirpy little voice in which it had been delivered. For a moment, he said, the woman didn’t do anything. And then she started to cry. The man, who had been accustomed to being taken care of while temporarily small, found himself at a loss. He didn’t know how to comfort her, and her tears made him feel like shedding a few of his own. It was some time before she could compose herself enough to speak. When she did, she smiled sadly and took both of his small palms in her own, rubbing her thumbs reassuringly against the backs of his hands.

I thought I saw him shiver in that moment, as though he, for an instant, had recalled exactly what that had felt like.

The woman had not only felt the same way, but had come to that feeling exactly when he had. As she had stroked the hair of the dozing boy curled up in her lap, she realized that she had never loved anyone as much as she did the child sleeping safely in her warm embrace. It was not an idea that she dared to vocalize, though, because – despite the awful temptation – she could never bring herself to do it. The man had a life already. A wife, a business, children of his own and grandchildren on the way. It would be an act of pure selfishness on both of their parts to take him away from all that, to leave a void of grief where there had once been dependability, respect, and love.

At this point the man’s voice broke, and it was not until he had cleared his throat several times that he seemed capable of continuing. Even then, his tone trembled as he described how she had wiped a tear from his smooth cheek and kissed him on the forehead, how she had told him that they couldn’t see each other anymore. If this went on any longer, she had chuckled, I’d be too tempted to take you home with me. And we certainly can’t have that.

That was the last thing she said before she left the room. The man watched her go and then spent the rest of the session sobbing like the child he resembled. He hadn’t seen her since; all attempts at contact had been unreturned.

She was gone.

I was cold when he finished his story. Neither of us said anything until the man, with reassumed brusque professionalism, thanked me for my time and made to leave.

Wait, I said. There’s just one thing I don’t understand.

He remained in his chair and eyed me expectantly.

I told him that a man like him must be privy to all the pleasures this world can offer; that, as much fun as he’d had as a child, the life of a little boy must pale in comparison to the one he leads now. How could he be so willing to give up everything he had attained in exchange for such a simple existence?

I was taken aback by how broadly the man grinned in response. He asked me if I’d ever had a chance to experience it for myself. No, I responded. Certainly I was curious – and my employee discount almost made the prospect economically feasible – but I’d never taken the plunge.

“You should try it sometime,” he chuckled as he leaned back in his chair.  “Then maybe you’ll see what I mean.”

I chewed on that for a moment, taking a sip from my coffee and looking away in what I hoped was a suitable deflection of my sudden self-consciousness. Though the cost involved was one reason for my not having yet tried the process for myself, the other revolved around the fact that I had seen it from the outside. One of the main complaints we receive about our service is that we do not provide our clients a mirror through which they might observe their transformation for themselves. Though we say that we cannot risk introducing something as breakable as glass to the chamber, the truth is that most people are simply not be able to handle what they would see. We learned as much during beta testing. People screamed. People cried. People fainted. Even those that made it through the process unscathed reported a much lower rate of satisfaction than those who had been denied a mirror.

Our clients are, of course, free to look down at themselves and watch in that way. Most do. There are limitations to that perspective, though, limitations that keep one from taking in every last element of their transformation. Imagine what it's like to see everything. To just watch. To not be able to do anything but watch. Knowing that - with every receding wrinkle, every dwindle of height, every ebb of strength - you are being drawn closer and closer towards an existence you have not known for decades. You are watching yourself grow small, immature, helpless, and adorable. And there isn't a single thing you can do about it.

Though we advise our clients to try and envision the transformation before their session - we find that those who do so experience significantly less discomfort - very few are able to accurately imagine what their descent into childhood will actually look like.

I don't need to imagine how mine would unfold. I've witnessed the transformation so many times that the patterns are burned into my memory. If I close my eyes, I can see myself growing younger. I can visualize every detail of every instant.

And that terrifies me.

I must've been lost in that thought for a moment, as the impatience I saw on the man's face when I looked up told me that I was wasting his time. I suspect that he had suffered me as long as he had only because I had been a sympathetic ear. Though my first instinct was to apologize and let him get on with his day, there was still one part of his story that nagged at me.

You said that you love your wife, I ventured.

"I do." He furrowed his brow as though I had accused him of feeling otherwise.

If that's the case, I continued, treading lightly, why don't you tell her? Not about the affair, I mean - about how important this is to you.

The man's mask of self-assurance slipped. He shook his head, bit his lip, and stared into his coffee.

"She'd never go for it," he murmured. "Even if I could work up the nerve to tell her...there's just no way. She's not into this sort of thing."

I let out a small laugh. I stood, smiled down at the man, and laid a hand on his shoulder.

Neither were you, I said.

I left the coffeehouse without saying another word or looking back, feeling cool until I realized a block later that I'd been walking in the wrong direction. I wasn't really embarrassed about that until six months later, when I saw him again.

The pre-session meeting was remarkably similar to the man's first. He was nervous and full of forced cheer, though I couldn't tell whether that came from him pretending that it was his first time or from it being the first time with the woman that he had come with. She was calm throughout and spoke very little. She was older than the man's initial companion but no less striking or self-assured. When the process itself unfolded, she too observed it with a kind of detached, clinical interest.

There was, however, one striking difference. It came after the transformation had finished, when the man found himself for the sixth time as a Kindergartener swamped in the abandoned trappings of adulthood. The look he had worn whenever he took the hand of his mistress had spoken to the inner conflict of the man turned boy. It was a precociously anxious expression that had always kept him from completely resembling the child he had become.

He was smiling when he took his wife's hand. So was she.

***

So, that’s the story. I hope none of my other friends spoiled it for you; I tell them to keep it to themselves, but it’s not like I can monitor that twenty-four seven.

Good. I’m glad.

Hm? No, not yet.

Well, I've still got that hangup I told you about. Besides, even with my discount, it’s enormously expensive. I don’t know. Maybe someday.

No kidding. I didn’t take you for the type, if you don’t mind my saying so. I usually have a good sense about that sort of thing.

Well. Come down to the facility whenever you like. Ask for me by name; not that the other technicians are bad at their jobs or anything, but I’ll make sure you get treated right.

It was my pleasure. Hopefully I’ll see you soon.

Take care.

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nebirosity

Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Hello.

I like age regression, and I intend to post stories featuring it here.

If you wish, you can look at the interactive story chapters I wrote over at Choose Your Own Change. Please be aware that some include diapers and sexual content. Please also be aware that they uniformly feature male AR, as that is the only kind I enjoy. (www.cyoc.net/interactives/user…)

I typically do not do requests. If that changes, I will make a post indicating so.

If you're interested in a commission, allow me to congratulate you on being successful enough to afford such an extravagance. I'm fairly open-minded when it comes to content, so best to just get in touch with me about what you'd like so that I may do you the respect of telling you whether I feel it is an idea I can successfully execute. Costs vary depending on desired length, so please make sure that all queries include an approximate word count.

I hope you enjoy my work.

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Areat Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2017
Your AR works look very promising. Welcome on DA! :D
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dragondracen Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2017
Hello and welcome new DevianArtist 
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