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Chapter 03

      I stared at him mouth open. I couldn't believe Mike had just said we should wish all of this away.

      "No," Jess said resolutely.

      Mike looked at him in surprise. "You can't be serious. Not after the way you freaked out this morning."

      Jess cupped his cheeks. "Honey, I was surprised. Yeah, I never expected this to happen, but it is something I've always wanted. I don't have to settle with being a drag queen anymore; I'm a bonafide female impersonator."

      "I don't want things to change either," I stated.

      Mike looked at me and rolled his eyes. "'course not," he muttered.

      "How about you?" he asked Pat.

      Pat leaned against the table, looking worn. He looked at the four of us and then at his hands. He looked completely lost for a moment and then he closed his eyes. "I, I don't know," he said, rubbing a hand over his face. "I wi . . . I wish I'd known it was going to come true so I could have put a few more caveats on it works. The way things are though? I just don't know."

      "The point's moot anyway," Harry said, "we can't change what happened." He was looking at us with a slightly disinterested expression as he took another swig form the juice bottle.

      "What do you mean?" Mike asked, "you still have one wish."

      "Yeah, but if you remember the wording, it has to be a selfish wish. I defy you to convince me to want to wish myself back to being an idiot." He put a lot of anger behind the word 'idiot' and stared directly at Mike as he said it, literally daring him to try.

      "Great, that's just great." Mike grumbled.

      "I don't see why you have such a problem with this," Harry added. "You've got strength, invulnerability and handsomeness"

      "Not that you ever needed *that*, dear," Jess commented on the handsomeness.

      Mike looked at his boyfriend and a small smiled cracked his dour face, widening to an open mouth grin. I swear I saw the light reflect on his teeth as he did that.

      "Good," Harry said as he rubbed his hands together, "now that's settled, how about we get out of this place. I'm hungry and I can hear books calling my name."

      That seemed to settle it, we left Harry's condo. Harry and Pat were walking in front of me on the way to the elevators. Harry placed an arm around Pat's shoulders, but the other man shrugged it off. The football player's body tensed for a moment and I caught a smell off him that my brain identified as disappointment.

      I was surprised that I could identify the smell, as well as Harry's reaction; I would never have guessed that he still carried a torch for his ex. Behind me Jess was still telling Mike how everything was going to be ok.

      The ride down the elevator was in silence. I distracted myself by identifying the multiple smells contained inside the cage. Someone had brought groceries in recently, and my stomach growled in response. I hadn't eaten anything yet either.

      I got a few amused glances and I just shrugged as the door opened. We stepped out in the empty lobby and I heard something rip.

      Jess cursed as I turned around. His shirt had caught on a burr and there was a long rip along his sleeve. I stifled a chuckle as he slowed down his walk to try to fix it. Jess' vanity wasn't quite legendary, but it was impressive. Even Mike shook his head in amusement and kept on walking. Jess would catch up to us once he was happy he looked presentable.

      We stepped outside the building to an odd sight. Police cars were parked in the street, with officers behind them, holding guns and riffles. The strangest thing was that they were pointing them at us. On the other side of the street, behind a barricade was a crowd of people and standing out in the group of men in blue was a man in a gray suit talking with one of the officer.

      Mike, Pat, Harry and I looked at each other as we stepped forward, almost more out of curiosity to find out what was going on than anything else I think.

      I heard a cacophony of guns being cocked. "Do not move," Yelled one of the officers. He didn't have to use a megaphone since there was barely thirty feet separating them from us. "Stay where you are, get down on your knees and put your hands behind your head."

      "Guns and riffles jam!" Pat yelled in return, at the top of his lungs.

      Harry took another step. "What seems to be the problem?" his voice carried without him having to yell.

      "I said; don't move." The same officer repeated. "Just get own on your knees, put your hands behind your head and everything will be okay."

      "We haven't done anything wrong," Harry said, but he tensed, He'd noticed too that a few of the officers had tried to fire their guns. They were now looking at them and each other, trying to figure out why nothing had happened.

      "We're just doing our job, son. You and your friends need to come with us."

      I wasn't paying attention to the officer anymore, the man in the suit was talking on his cell phone and I was trying to make out what he was saying. Unfortunately the noise made by the officers made that impossible.

      A moment later something stung my back, hard enough to really hurt. With a growl of pain I worked at reaching that spot. When I did I pulled a dart out. I turned toward where it had to come and another one hit me in the chest. I pulled it out too and I roared in anger, trying to see where it was coming from. A few more hit me but I ignored them, obviously what ever they contained didn't affect me.

      "Pat?" Mike kneeled next to him. He was sprawled on the ground and Mike was shaking him, trying to wake him. I saw that Harry was also on the ground, unconscious.

      I slowly turned, a growled coming from deep inside me, I looked at the cops and roared. Everyone cowered back, except for the man in the suit. He was still talking on the phone while looking at me. Since of everyone here he was the only one not afraid I figured he was the one in charge.

      I ran toward him and I saw signs that he was getting nervous. Just as I was about to jump over a police car something hit me in the back so hard that I crashed in the car, smashing the window. I used the car to help me up, not paying attention to the red stuff I could see plastered on the door, I was too intent on the man.

      I was standing again when another hit sent me in the car again. This time I caught the faint sound of the shot being fired. I never stopped looking at the man as I stood again. He was definitely nervous now.

      "He's healing, are you hearing me?" he said. I could hear him now since he was almost screaming. "Make it a head shot for God's sake!"

      I heard the shot almost at the same time as my head was slammed against the hood of the police car and the world went black.

      * * * * *

      I have to say I never expected to wake up. When I'd called the healing ability 'Wolverine level' I hadn't really considered the extent of what that meant. Now I remembered reading a comic where he put a claw through his own brain. The reason why he'd done it escaped me, but he'd survived something that should have been fatal.

      So had I.

      I opened my eyes and they adjusted automatically to the bright light. I looked around the completely white room. Well, except for the missing wall opposite where I was lying.

      I did expect to feel pain, just not where it was coming from. My head felt fine, so did my body, there was no indication I'd been shot, not even the telltale sign of pink skin. No, what was hurting were my balls. How long had I been unconscious?

      I sat up cautiously, my balls were pretty tender. I looked for my cell so I could check the time, but my pockets had been emptied. I hoped I was close to the twenty four hour mark, because this was pretty annoying. I didn't want to think it might be getting more painful.

      I stood and headed out of this room. Only to hit an invisible wall that gave me quite the electrical shock, sending me reeling back.

      "Watch it, those thing sting." I recognized Mike's voice and realized that there was another cell in front of mine. Mike was sitting in the bench, watching me.

      "Thanks for the warning," I grumble. I moved back close to the force field, rubbing my muzzle, which had taken the brunt of the shock and looked around. On each side of Mike were other cells.

      In the one right next to him I could see Pat on a stretcher. "What's wrong with Pat?" I asked him.

      "He's been sedated," came the answer, but from the cell on my right, in front of Pat's. It was Harry.

      "Are you ok Harry?"

      There was a sigh. "I'm fine. The hangover passed hours ago."

      I sat down and leaned back. "How did they get you?" I asked Mike.

      "They rushed me and then gassed me. I think I hurt a few of them," he said remorsefully. "I should have wished for his super breath instead."

      "I know what you mean," I said as I rested my head against the wall.

      Mike snorted, "right, like you'd have done it different."

      "Excuse me?" I said looking at him. "Do you really think this is what I would have wished for if I'd known it was going to come true?"

      Mike Snorted again. "Of course you would have. Being one of those furry things with an out of control sex drive's always been your dream."

      I stared at him, momentarily speechless. Was that what he though of me? I walked to the force field. "You really think I'm some sort of freak don't you?" I growled. "You with the perfect life, the perfect job and the prefect boyfriend," I added with derision.

      "Hey!" Mike snapped, standing too. "What, you think I'm happy with this?" he was yelled, showing me his hands. "I'm afraid of touching Jess 'cause I might break him in half if I'm not careful."

      "Boo hoo hoo," I mocked loudly, "cry me a river why don't you. At least you're able to go outside without having the cops shooting you."

      "You've always wanted to be different, well now you've got your wish so stop bitching."

      "Shut up!" Harry said before I could reply. "Will the two of you just shut the fuck up!" He sighed loudly. "Did one of us wish for you two to become children or what?"

      "Sorry," I said meekly as I went back to the bench.

      Mike was still angry at me, I could tell, but he looked at Harry and when he spoke his voice was controlled. "What about you? Have you been able to think of a way out?"

      "No, I haven't," he answered flatly.

      "How come? I thought you were a genius now. Shouldn't you be able to think of a way to turn off those force fields; reverse the polarity or something?"

      "I might be a genius," Harry responded, and I could hear the glare he gave Mike from the tone, "but I'm an uneducated genius. Give me a couple of books on electronics and structural supports and I would have us out of here in a jiffy. Without those we're stuck."

      "How about using . . ."

      "I can't." Harry interrupted.

      "What do you mean? Don't you still . . ."

      "I just can't ok? Just leave it."

      Harry was spared Mike's reply because we heard a door open and close. In the following silence came the sounds of footsteps. A few moments later a man in his late sixties came into view.

      He was a little shorter and heavier set than I used to be, but he wore it much better. Actually with the well cut beige suit and crown of silver hair he looked pretty damn good. He stopped before our cells and held his hands before him.

      Looking at him standing there silently he looked a grand father, kind and understanding. Of course, since he was on the other side of the force field I was pretty sure the image was false, but it was still there.

      "I'm guessing you're the guy in charge," Mike said with derision.

      The man turned around to study him. "No, I am not," he replied after a moment, in a deep voice. "My name is Joel Montgomery, I am here to evaluate you."

      "So it's Judge, jury and executioner kind of thing?"

      "Please Mister Marcozy, this is the United States. I am here to talk with all of you, once that is done it is my hope that I will be able to tell my superiors, the actual 'people in charge' as you put it, that you are sound of mind and pose no threat to the general population."

      "All of us?" Harry asked, "How about Pat?"

      Joel stepped in front of the cell and looked at him, lying on his cot. "I am afraid that Mister Lennon will have to remain under sedation, at least until we have secured a cell that is not so reliant on technology." He turned back to us. "We saw him command the police's weapons, so we would prefer not to give him the opportunity to let any of you out. I am certain that you are good people, but considering your current circumstance I am doubtful that you were be inclined to remain here if you were given the choice."

      "You got that right," Mike snarled.

      "Michael just stay quiet, will you?" Harry said with a sigh of exasperation. "You aren't helping the situation right now. I take it these aren't our new permanent residences then?"

      "Hardly," the old man answered, "this is merely an evaluation station. I am highly confident that once I am done you and Mister Marcozy will be allowed to leave."

      "What about me?" I asked.

      The man moved closer to my cell. The way he looked at me I could tell that even with his age he didn't need glasses. "I fear that you pose a different problem. Your appearance is the issue. Allowing you to move about the population will make it difficult to keep the existence of Wishers hidden."

      "What's a Wisher?" I asked him.

      "That would be the four of you. I would hazard a guess that rather recently you made one of more wishes, probably simply as a way to pass the time, without any belief that they would come true."

      "We're not the first ones, are we?" Harry asked and continues without waiting for an answer. "This place is set up to deal with people who can do things out of the ordinary. You wouldn't have something like this if it hadn't happened before."

      Joel nodded. "You are correct. In fact the first time we became aware of Wishers was during the Great War. We have come across other Wishers since that time, but I believe that you are the first group we have found so close to when the wishes were granted. When did you realize your wishes had come true?"

      Mike looked from me to Harry with a definitive shake of the head.

      "Sometime during the night," Harry answered.

      Mike glared at him.

      "Harry. You sure it's wise to tell him?" was all I said.

      "What do you want to do? We're not really in a position to hold anything back. You and Mike might be able to withstand what ever torture they put us through to get the info, but I'm just a regular guy."

      "You are hardly normal anymore; Mister Marcozy called you a genius. How smart are you now?"

      "He's smarter then Einstein," Mike offered sharply.

      I rolled my eyes at his behavior. I'd never seen Mike act like that.

      Joel looked at him over his shoulder before focusing back on Harry. "How many wishes did each of you make?"

      "Two each," Harry said.

      The old man raised an eyebrow. "Only two?"

      "Yeah. That was the game we played last night. Two selfish wishes."

      "And what did you wish for?"

      There was a moment of silence. "Pat wished to be able to talk to machines, and have them obey what he said. Mike wanted super strength and invulnerability. Jim went for the tiger form and healing."

      "What bout you?"

      "I wished to be smarter than my friends put together."

      "What was the second one?"

      Harry hesitated again. "I had to use the second one to lower my IQ," he said with definite embarrassment in his tone.

      Joel cracked a smile. "I see. Where were you when you made the wishes?"

      "We were at a diner on . . . I, I don't remember where it was."

      "Are you trying to protect someone there?" Joel asked.

      "No, I was rather drunk when we got there. Either one of you remember where it was?" he called out.

      I tried to recall, but I had been pretty drunk myself, and I hadn't really been paying attention, Jess was telling a story about something happening backstage at one of the shows, I couldn't even remember what *that* had been about, and his stories were always memorable.

      "Not really," Mike said, "I think it was named after the street it was on."

      "Me neither; I don't remember anything about how we got there, except," I added as a though resurfaced, "something about doing some cleaning. Does that make any sense?" I had no idea where it had come from but I clearly remembered thinking about cleaning my place as we got close.

      "Broom's Diner," Mike suggested after a moment of silence.

      "That's right," Harry picked up, "near the corner of Broom and . . . Damn it, I can't remember that either."

      "That is quite alright, I believe that is enough information so we can start the investigation."

      I lied down on the bench; my balls were getting more painful by the minute.

      "This place seems rather high tech," Harry said, "how did you build it?"

      "As I said, you are not the first Wishers we have come across. In the Twenties it became obvious we needed a way to secure Wishers so we build this facility. In the Forties we found a Wisher who like you gained a higher intellect and he upgraded the facilities. In the early Eighties we found one who could build virtually anything he could imagine."

      He chuckled and I could hear in his tone that he was reminiscing a little when he started talking again. "Poor Seth was very much out there, like he would say. He added the force field and quite a few other things. Now we use this facility to house Wisher we can't be certain can be contained in other ways."

      "When you let us out, is there any chance I can meet him?" Harry asked, "I'd love to discuss how he built it."

      "I am certain that can be arranged, although it might take some time. The last news I heard from him he was taking himself off the grid, somewhere in the mountains I believe."

      "That's ok, there's no hurry. Once you're done here what happens? You call your boss and tell him to let us go?"

      "No, I will be making my report in person. You and Mister Marcozy should be released within the next forty eight hours. In spite of his attitude I believe that it will be safe to allow him in the general population; after a course on etiquette, of course. Unless you have other questions for me I shall see to it."

      "I'm good, how about you two?" Harry asked.

      Neither Mike nor I replied, so Joel left.

      I curled up and tried to wish the pain away.


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