The Changelings

(20 minute read)
by Hilary Griffin Platts

(U.K)

Chapter 1

Pandora sat up with a start, her pulse was pounding at a rate of knots and she felt so dizzy that she immediately fell back into a supine position and stared at the familiar mark on the ceiling. She felt absolutely exhausted, despite having slept for most of the night. Perhaps it had been the curry she’d consumed just before bedtime; mum had always told her not to eat just before sleeping. That was it, indigestion; however, at the back of her mind, the slight sliver of a remembered dream encroached into her consciousness. Something had been chasing her but she’d woken up just prior to being caught.

She sighed, must have been the dream that had unsettled her, that was all, she thought, and before long, the disturbing dream forgotten, she slipped back into a dreamless sleep. An hour later the alarm clock loudly announced that it was time for her to get up. She stretched and yawned before swinging her legs out of bed where she sat on the edge until the wave of dizziness that had plagued her earlier, had passed. She moved over to the dresser to begin her morning ritual and steadied herself before picking up her hair bush. She glanced into the mirror, expecting to see the usual bed head, but instead found herself staring into the eyes of a stranger.

Pandora dropped the brush onto the dresser and screamed loudly enough to wake the whole street. She ran into the en-suite, switched on the light only to find that her body was no longer familiar to her.

Gone were the long legs, lithe body, pert breasts, black hair and brown eyes. Pandora knocked her head against the glass and howled. This couldn’t be happening, not to her, not to anyone.

She drew in her breath before summoning up enough courage to closely examine this person who’d stolen her perfect body, the one she’d spent years perfecting. When Pandora opened her eyes she critically examined the life form standing before her. It was the very antithesis of her well toned self; it being short and dumpy, blonde haired, with bright blue eyes set into a homely face.

She pounded on the mirror as the adrenaline, flooding through her body, forced her into action. She ran through her bedroom and onto the landing shouting “help, please someone help me” at the top of her voice, but her pleas were met with silence. Returning into the bedroom she ran over to the bedside table where her mobile usually sat but it wasn’t there. Nothing was making any sense, the room was the same but she wasn’t, the dizziness returned and she collapsed gently backwards onto the unmade bed.

Pandora came to several hours later and, for some reason, she had no memory of the events that had taken place earlier that morning; maybe her mind hadn’t been able to take it in, causing a temporary amnesia. She glanced at the clock and realised that she was going to be late for work, which didn’t unduly bother her as she had her boss, Mr Bentley, under her spell, so to speak. That clever bit of blackmail worked wonders; yes, the flexible working hours really suited her, especially as she could come and go as she pleased.

As usual, Pandora paused to admire herself in the mirror, and the memory of the earlier events came crowding back in and the realisation that she’d somehow changed overnight into an ugly dwarf were too much for her. She collapsed onto the floor in a flood of tears.

Chapter 2

Lia opened her eyes and stared at the spot of light creeping through the slight gap in the curtains. She stretched out her arms and turned and over; however, for some reason, sleep eluded her. Usually she had no trouble achieving her eight hours but her mind just wouldn’t shut off, overwhelming the strong desire for at least two more hours down time. Despite the warmth of the early summer’s morning, Lia shivered as if she was cold, when in fact the very reverse was true. Her damp sheets were evidence that she had been, and still was, perspiring quite heavily. Cautiously she slid out of bed and made her way into the bathroom where she splashed her face with cold water. She stumbled back into bed and fell straight into a deep and dreamless sleep until the alarm cruelly returned her to consciousness.

She sighed, and although it was time to get ready for work, she made no effort to move. Her head thumped and it felt too heavy to lift off the pillow, whilst her legs felt like they had lead weights tied to them. After what seemed like hours, Lia managed to edge closer to the side of the bed and almost crawled into the bathroom. Switching on the light, she moved over to the sink where she clung onto its cool lip before steadying herself, using the sink as leverage,  and turning on the cold tap. She plunged her head under the cascading stream of almost freezing water and drank deeply, hoping that dehydration had caused this overwhelming feeling of fatigue.

She grabbed the lilac hand towel that was just within reach and dried her face before glancing into the mirror. Sad hazel eyes returned her startled stare, and despite her weariness, she slowly turned around to face the full-length mirror and gasped with amazement. It was she and yet not her, the plump body that she usually inhabited had been transformed into this veritable amazonian, tall, well toned, with legs to die for. She smiled because even if this was a hallucination she was experiencing, it had given her everything she had ever prayed for. A perfect face with a gorgeous body to match, what was not to like?

Lia walked back into the bedroom believing that any minute she would wake up, look in the mirror and find that it had just all been a dream. She strolled over to the dresser where she glanced into the small make-up mirror. She found, to her amazement, that the image glancing back at her remained that of a stranger. A tingle of excitement travelled down her spine, and the realisation that maybe God had, at last, answered her prayers. Gone was the plain face she so despised, replaced by a thing of beauty, a face that could indeed launch a thousand ships. She glanced at the clock, and was surprised to find that it was time she should’ve been on her way to work. Lia hurried into her work clothes before the realisation hit her, how on earth could she go to work like this, inhabiting a different body? She was so stupid, and wondered why it’d taken so long to sink in. No one was going to recognise her and she couldn’t just turn up and say, “Hey everyone, guess what happened to me last night?”

She sat down heavily on the side of the bed and dialled the familiar number wondering what on earth she was going to give as a reason for having the day off. Luckily it was the answering machine that picked up first, much easier to talk to a device as at least she had no need to give any details. “Mmm it’s Lia, sorry I think I’ve got the flu, and won’t be able to come to work today” she said and, giving no further information, she pressed down on the off button. She lay backwards and tried to figure out what on earth she was going to do next.

Chapter 3

“Cyril, did you notice anything strange last night?”

“Strange? What on earth do you mean Dave?”

“Well I was just about to call it a night when I noticed a beam of light closely followed by another.”

“Beam of light? I’m not following you Dave.”

“Well from out of space, of course.”

“Added too much whisky to your hot chocolate again Dave?”

“It’s no joke and no I wasn’t drunk. I know what I saw and yes, through my telescope, what idiot goes stargazing without a bloody telescope”.

“Yeh well, I did happen to be on the roof last night observing Ursa Major and the Polaris Star to be exact.”

“So you didn’t see anything out of the ordinary then?”

“Sorry Dave, just the usual night sky. Could it have been coming from a search helicopter, the Space Station, or could it have been caused by a meteor shower?”

“No! It definitely came from out of deep space beyond the Earth’s orbit. I saw it with my own eyes”.

“Dave, there’s nothing out there except stars, you know that, right?”

“Of course, I’m well aware of that Cyril, I know it’s illogical, after all I’ve been an astronomer for more years that I care to remember so that’s how I know it wasn’t a natural phenomenon. I’m telling you that something happened last night and whether you believe me or not is immaterial.”

“Say that you weren’t seeing things; what do you reckon they were then?”

“Well I know you’re going to think I’m off my rocker but I have to confess I saw something else as well.”

“What kind of something else Dave? Next you’re going to tell me next that you saw a UFO?”

“Um well I was getting around to that, Cyril, because that’s exactly what I did see, and I’m sure that’s where the two beams of light came from.”

“You just told me it was coming from outer space and now you say that it was actually being beamed from out of a UFO. You’ll make your mind up soon,” Cyril remarked, stifling a snort.

“Well the UFO came into view following the emission of the two beams of light, maybe it was just coming into Earth’s orbit. Oh you can scoff all you like Cyril, but I know what I saw and I can’t be the only one neither.”

“Why haven’t we all heard ‘owt about it then?”

“They’re keeping it quiet so as not to panic folks.”

“Oh come on, Dave, they wouldn’t be able to silence something like this. Just you imagine how many amateur and professional astronomers there are. If I were you I’d keep it under your hat, tell no one; they wouldn’t believe you anyway.”

“Okay Cyril, but you do, don’t you?”

“Well Dave, I know that you’re certain that’s what you saw, so that’s good enough for me. See you next Thursday, as usual, and don’t forget, keep stum.”

“I will, don’t you worry Cyril, not a word of this will pass my lips and don’t you say ‘owt neither pal.”

Chapter 4

MATLOCK TIMES – June 2nd 2017.

‘Mr Cyril Rees, a member of the local Astronomical Society, urges fellow enthusiasts to look up to the stars after spotting a UFO in the skies above Matlock last Friday.

Mr.Rees claims that he spotted the object in the night sky through his Meade Star Navigator 102 whilst observing Ursa Major’s Constellation of stars also known as ‘The Great Bear.’

At the present time Mr Rees appears to have been the only person to have witnessed this event.

Jodrell Bank Observatory declined to comment leading to speculation that this is either a hoax perpetrated by Mr Rees or being kept a closely guarded secret by the authorities.’

***

Dave began his morning ritual a little later than usual as he’d been up most of the night looking through the lenses of his telescope but it had proved to be disappointing and seemingly a waste of time. He’d been hoping to catch another glimpse of the UFO, but to no avail, as it had been mainly overcast rendering his mission an abysmal failure. 

He picked up the Matlock Times from the doormat before making his usual pot of tea and, with mug in hand, laid the paper down on the table. He was just about to take a sip when he noticed the headlines, the tea went everywhere but where it was supposed to be. He spent the next half hour swearing and cursing Cyril until a knock at the door stopped his tirade of blasphemy. Not used to having visitors, Dave opened the door to find two smartly dressed gents on his doorstep.

“Whatever you’re selling, no thanks” he said and was just about to close the door when one of the men placed his foot in the aperture.

“Look here,” Dave expostulated, “I’ve been polite, now piss off and take your foot with you.”

“Mr. David Cox?”

“Yes,” said Dave cautiously.

“Do you know a Mr. Cyril Rees?”

“Yes, he’s a pal.”

“Could we come in please, we have a few questions for you regarding your friend.”

“Who are you?”

“We are the police,” the tall fair headed one said.

“How do I know that? You could be anyone.”

The men sighed and pulled out their warrant cards.

“Sorry about that but you can’t be too careful these days, come in.”

“That’s absolutely fine, Mr. Cox, we quite understand.”

The two policemen followed Dave into the lounge.

“What is this about?” asked Dave.

“Can we sit down?”

“Sure.”

After they’d settled themselves down on the settee, the tall policeman introduced himself.

“I’m Detective Sergeant Davis and this is DC Clarke and we’re here to ask you about your friend Mr. Cyril Rees.”

“Why what’s wrong?”

“Your friend has unfortunately gone missing and we’re just wondering about when you last saw Cyril.”

“Well it was last weekend, we were up Matlock, we’re amateur astronomers so we have to wait until it’s dark.”

“Saturday or Sunday?”

“Well it were Sunday.”

“Where in Matlock?”

“There’s a kids’ park at the top of Bank Road that’s quiet and dark at night, usually we go into the Peaks but as we’d both had a bevy we decided that it was safer to walk.”

“To do what, Mr. Cox?”

“To look up at the stars, of course.”

“And that’s the last time you saw him?”

“Yes I’ve just told you ain’t I?”

“Have you any idea where he’s gone?”

“No we don’t live in each other’s pockets, just usually meet on a weekend and a Thursday, that’s when our local Astronomer’s group meets.”

“So you can’t help us.”

“Look I ain’t seen him since Sunday, how many times do I have to tell you?”

“Sorry we’ve had to disturb you sir, but we’re quite worried about Mr. Rees; he hasn’t been seen since you last saw him.”

“But someone must have seen him, his story is all over the bloody news.”

“News?” asked DS Davis.

Dave made his way into the kitchen where he retrieved the Matlock Times. 

“Must have been a slow news week,” Dave remarked as he passed the newspaper over to the DS.

“That’s who you should be asking, whoever wrote this tripe.”

“Well, we’ll not trouble you any further, thank you Mr.Cox, we’ll let you know about any future developments.”

“Please do, poor Cyril,” remarked Dave who was trying to suppress a fit of giggles.

“Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke” he whispered as he shut the door behind them.

Chapter 5

MATLOCK TIMES – June 9th 2017.

‘Missing man named.

Mr Cyril Rees has been missing for several days now. It is unclear when the last sighting of Mr Rees was. According to our reporter, Jenny Griffin, he was alive and well on Monday 1st June when he was interviewed for this newspaper.

Has his disappearance got anything to do with his story regarding the UFO he alleged to have spotted in the skies about Matlock?

Police are continuing their enquiries regarding the missing Matlock man.

Anyone with information can contact Matlock police on the usual number.’

***

Dave was missing his pal Cyril even though he’d spilt the beans regarding the sighting of the UFO, he’d still been a good mate. The police had interviewed him once more but all he could do was to repeat what he’d already told them. 

It had been a month since that fateful night when he’d seen those two bright lights over Sheffield, and he was beginning to doubt whether he’d actually seen them or not. Perhaps it had been searchlights, it was just that they’d been in a downward trajectory from above the Earth’s atmosphere. There’d been no noise and he knew that helicopters made an awful racket as they passed overhead. No he was convinced that what he’d seen was real but Dave had kept stum just like his mate Cyril had advised him. He sighed as he opened up the newspaper.

***

MATLOCK TIMES – July 3rd 2017.

‘The disappearance of Mr Cyril Rees remains a mystery and although extensive searches into the missing man continue, the police are scaling back their efforts to locate Mr.Rees.

Please contact the Police if you have any information regarding this matter.

In other news it has been announced that two girls have also recently gone missing from Sheffield.

I’m sure that, by now, everyone has read about the disappearance of Miss Pandora Patrick and Miss Lea Schofield in the national newspapers and we ask, is this a coincidence as it is unusual for three people to go missing, on the same day from similar locations. 

The police do not believe that these three disappearances are linked in any way, shape or form. They have thoroughly investigated the three disappearances and there is nothing to link the missing girls with either each other nor with Mr. Rees.

Despite the huge effort to locate the missing girls, their disappearances also remain a mystery.

Please ring the hotline if you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of the three missing people.’

Dave shook his head, “bloody useless police” he muttered, “there must be a link, three folks just don’t go missing on the same day from a radius of ten miles.” Coincidence or not, it had Dave thinking, two bright lights, a UFO sighting and Cyril who opened his mouth.

He shook his head once again and drank the rest of his tea.

Copyright © 2021 Hilary Griffin Platts. All rights reserved.

About the Author 

Hilary Griffin Platts

After a general education at various state schools trained and qualified as a SRN in 1976.

Worked in various specialities until she retired from her role as a Practice Nurse Sister in 2011.

Hilary is divorced with two children and two grandchildren.

Hiary gained a Certificate in Creative Writing, as a mature student, at Sheffield University in 2015 and is a member of a local writing group.

Hilary writes mainly short pieces across differing genres and her main ambition is to live long and prosper, continue writing, and meeting friends. 

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