A Whole New World Ch. 3-4

This section sees our main characters stuggling with kindergarten then taking another step back.

Chapter 3

Rachel hadn’t noticed the changes in the neighbourhood. As she rode to school her thoughts were still focussed on what had happened twenty minutes ago in the kitchen. She’d been sitting in her seat at the table while her mom dealt with her little brother. Danny had gotten ‘dressed’ by then, wearing a simple red t-shirt with white stripes and a big pull-up with yellow stars and all. It looked ridiculous on the grown teenager as he squatted on his seat, toes wrapped over the edge while mom tried to clean off his milk moustache. It was then that Rachel had looked over at the cereal box on the table. She wondered what strange foreign brand it was. She looked closer, noticing it was clearly a box of Rice Krispies. Rachel’s eyes went back to the label; it was indecipherable. That was the moment when she realised she couldn’t read.

Even as the car rumbled along the suburban streets Rachel couldn’t get over the loss of her reading ability. She always had taken such great pride in her intelligence, her superiority as a student. Now she couldn’t even read! Changes to the rest of the world were inconsequential when something so horrible had happened to her.

Her mother dropped Danny off at daycare first, lifting him out of his big car seat and setting him down on the pavement outside. Rachel only glanced over at the daycare building. She could see other teens playing in the front yard but she wasn’t interested in that. Mom was telling Danny to say goodbye to his big sister. He waved a silly little kid wave at her, flexing his fingers up and down and yelling “Bye-bye!” to her.

Rachel gave him a slight nod, noting that Mom had at least slipped a pair of shorts over his silly pull-ups, even if she hadn’t bothered to put shoes on his feet. The door slammed shut and Mom hopped back in the driver seat after handing off Danny to an attendant. Then they were back on their way to kindergarten.

With a glossy Barbie backpack swung over her shoulder Rachel edged her way across the playground in front of the elementary school. Her simple plastic and rubber flip-flops scraped across the blacktop and she tried to keep her eyes focussed on them and not on the swarming hordes of oversized children. Most of them were older than her, the oldest appearing to be close to thirty but dressed like pre-teens. She spotted a group of kids who appeared to be college-aged playing on a jungle-gym amidst the wood-chip covered playground area. One girl was hanging upside down from the metal bars, her skirt flopping down to reveal her pink panties to everyone, though she didn’t seem at all bothered. A handsome young man beside her was dressed in corduroy overalls, picking his nose and making no attempt to conceal it.

Rachel had no intention of approaching those nose-picking, dirty adult-sized kids. Clearly they weren’t like her. She may have lost her reading but she still had her mind. Just as she was about to leave the playground she spotted someone familiar. Sitting crouched on the ground beneath the jungle-gym was Brian. He was dressed as goofy as any of the big kids here but from the way he was hiding and the desperate look in his eyes Rachel guessed he was feeling like her. At least she hoped that was the case. She didn’t know what she’d do without at least one friend to commiserate with.

“Brian!” she called, rushing over and dropping to her knees in the wood-chips before him.

Immediately she saw the relief in his eyes and knew she wasn’t alone. “Rachel? You remember me?” Brian asked, sounding greatly relieved.

“How could I forget you?” she exclaimed. “You’re the only person I’ve met yet who isn’t acting like a dumb little kid.”

“I know, it’s like the whole damned world has changed. Everyone thinks we’re five years old again.”

“No, it’s worse than that Brian.”

“Worse than that? What do you mean?”

“My mom knew I’m twenty-one. But she thought it was normal for me to go to kindergarten. It’s like our whole reality has been altered and now it’s normal to go through developmental stages at much later ages,” Rachel explained.

Brian nodded in agreement. “That makes sense to me. I mean, it doesn’t make normal sense, but I think you’re right. This whole thing is messed up.”

“You’re telling me! Brian you didn’t see my little brother. You remember Dan?”

Brian nodded, “Yeah of course I remember him. He was always trying to tag along with us when we were kids.”

“Well he was running around the house buck naked this morning, refusing to get dressed. And right now he’s at a daycare centre and wearing a fuckin’ pull-up!” she exclaimed.

“He was naked?! Ugh, that’s awful!”

“And mom seemed to think that was normal too. He’s eighteen but he acted like he was two, maybe three at best.”

Brian looked around the playground and shook his head. “Rachel, you and I can still think like normal. But why do you think that is? I mean, why are we still able to sit here talking while all our old friends eat their boogers and play in the dirt?”

“Our old friends?”

“Yeah, didn’t you notice?” Brian asked, pointing around at other young people on the playground. “Most of these guys and girls are from college. A lot of them went to high school with us too.”

Rachel looked at the kids around her more carefully. It dawned on her that Brian was right. The nose-picking guy was in her chemistry class. The upside-down girl had been one of the popular girls in high school. In fact she knew pretty much all of these kids. Brian was right too, they were the only two here who weren’t acting like dumb little brats.

“I dunno Brian, it’s pretty weird isn’t it,” she agreed.

“More than weird Rach. I think it means all of this has something to do with us.”

Before she could comment further a loud bell rang and children began to hop off play equipment, climb out of sandpits and hurry over towards the front doors of the building. “We better go too,” Brian suggested, standing up and brushing the wood-chips off.

Rachel nodded and followed him towards the growing lines of kids. It seemed they lined up by grade. In a normal school it would have been easy to tell sixth graders from kindergarteners by height. Here though they had to judge by clothing and behaviour as pretty much everyone was in their twenties. They headed for the line of kids in overalls and skirts squirming about unable to stand still. They had just fallen in at the end of the line when another girl with a familiar face bumped right into them.

Megan looked cuter and more immature than ever with her hair tied in pig-tails with pretty pink bows. She wore a frilly purple short-sleeve shirt under hot-pink shortalls with a pair of purple Dora the Explorer sandals completing the outfit. For a moment Brian and Rachel were each certain that Megan would soon give them a silly grin and start picking her nose or doing something else childish. She just really looked like an overgrown five-year old. But as soon as she recognised them Megan yelled, “Oh my God I’m glad to see you guys!”

“Megan, you’ve got your mind!” Rachel blurted out, perhaps sounding a tad too shocked.

Megan frowned at her. “Of course I do, why is that so surprising?”

“Well look around you!” Rachel declared, trying to cover up her faux-pas.

“Oh, right,” Megan agreed.

Brian nodded at her sadly. He had never seen Megan look so uncomfortable and unhappy. She was always the cheerful party girl of the group but this change seemed to have hit her pretty hard. “You doing okay Meg?” he asked with concern.

She nodded feebly. “Everyone has been treating me like a little kid all morning, but I guess we’re actually pretty lucky. My little sister, Sue, has it so much worse.”

“How do you mean? Is she like a toddler?” Rachel asked.

Megan shook her head. “Worse. She’s like an infant, a big overgrown baby. And she’s not like us guys, she hasn’t got a fucking clue. She’s fifteen years old, but she looks happy as could be creeping around the house in nothing but a big droopy, stinky diaper chewing at her hair and drooling all over herself.”

All three stared at each other in shock. Nobody seemed able to even reply to offer some comforting words to Megan. What could they say after all?

The piercing whine of a whistle broke them out of their funk, all three looking at the front of the building where several older adults had appeared. A woman in a long red dress was blowing the whistle, calling all the children to attention. Once there was relative silence the teachers began taking the classes line by line. A kindly looking woman in a fuzzy knitted sweater and a long dotted skirt stood before their line, smiling cheerfully at them. With a little wave she urged them forward and the trio found themselves walking silently through the hallways of the school.

The classroom they were led to was clearly the kindergarten. It had a faded red carpeted floor, well worn from years of kids playing on it. At the centre of the room were several large tables with plastic kiddie-style chairs sat around them. In the corner was a pile of mats probably for napping on. One wall was decorated in big letters, going from A to Z in order across the wall, each with a little picture of some object that matched the letter. ‘A’ had a big red apple drawn next to it, ‘B’ a yellow school bus and so on. The other wall was lined with cubbies, each with a laminated yellow name tag on it. Beside that was a very large toy chest overflowing with toys.

The children raced over to the cubbies, stuffing backpacks and lunch-boxes in them. Sure enough the trio all found ones with their names and dutifully put away their backpacks before heading for the tables. They chose one that still had three open seats before sitting together. Though the chairs were brightly coloured plastic and looked like they should be tiny things for kids, they were actually normal sized.

They had hoped to have some time to scheme and think up ways to fix their situations but the teacher, Miss Henshaw, ruined that by repeatedly checking to make sure they were making progress on their ‘work’. That was what she called it at least. The day began with simple colouring. At first Rachel had rolled her eyes as she watched the other two ‘children’ at their table, a red-headed girl with pigtails and the booger-eating boy from the playground, make messy scribbles with little attempt to stay within the lines. Then she discovered that it was harder than she thought. Her fingers weren’t coordinated properly. It was as though she were very drunk. It took all her concentration to stay, mostly, within the lines. Brian and Megan didn’t even try. They quickly found that it was pointless and in any case there was a feeling of freedom and relaxation they got from scribbling the crayons this way and that without worrying much about lines.

After colouring came snack time and each kid was given a carton of milk. Brian found himself wishing it was chocolate milk, then pushed aside the errant thought, reminding himself how degrading this all was. Just as he thought that he noticed the booger-eater was blowing bubbles in his milk with his straw. The ginger pig-tailed girl was laughing her head off at his antics. Brian watched the boy blowing bubbles and felt a strange curiosity roll over him. Experimentally, he blew air into his straw. His milk bubbled in a strangely satisfying way. Brian couldn’t help but let out a giggle. He blew more, making bigger and bigger bubbles. This was pretty fun!

“Brian, stop playing with your food! Show me you can eat like a big boy,” the teacher reprimanded, having appeared behind Brian while he was distracted with his bubble-blowing.

Brian was sure he turned as red as a cherry. He couldn’t believe he’d just been told off for playing with his food like a dumb little kid. At least snack time didn’t last long. Soon it was time for some proper lessons.

Miss Henshaw called all the children over to a corner of the room where they had to sit on their butts on the floor. Brian always hated that when he was a kid and now he recalled why. There was no way to get comfortable on the floor. He tried Indian-style, then sitting with his legs under him, then with legs stretched out. None of those positions was comfortable for long. Meanwhile the teacher got to sit in a nice comfy chair.

Miss Henshaw hushed the children and pulled out a pack of big cards. “Okay children, now we’re going to practice our letters. I’ll show the card and call on one of you to tell me what letter it is. The rest of you have to be quiet though. If you can stay quiet for me, everyone will get another star on their charts.”

The teacher began to flip the cards up, calling on the eager children one at a time. Seeing their former lab partners and prom dates hopping on their butts and stretching out their hands to identify letters of the alphabet made Brian, Megan and Rachel all share a collective groan.

“Rachel,” Miss Henshaw called, looking down at the girl.

Rachel looked up, stunned. All eyes were on her now and she actually felt fear. Miss Henshaw was giving her an encouraging smile. “Come on Rachel, you know what letter this is, don’t you?”

Rachel looked at the letter on the card and felt a bit sick. What letter was that? It was so familiar and yet she couldn’t quite seem to name it. How was that even possible?! She was grasping at straws, determined not to look like a fool in front of her friends, in front of this gaggle of stupid brats. Finally the name of the letter flashed into her mind, just as it looked like Miss Henshaw was about to call on someone else. “R,” she blurted out. “It’s an ‘R’!”

Rachel felt so relieved and proud for recognising the letter. Or at least she did until Miss Henshaw frowned slightly and gave a little shake of her head. “Sorry dear, not quite,” she said.

Rachel felt like she’d been kicked in the stomach. Tears welled up in her eyes as she sat there stunned by her failure. Miss Henshaw pointed to a dumb looking twenty-year old named Becky who was busy sucking her thumb until a second ago. “That’s a ‘F’!” Becky eagerly yelled out.

“Very good Becky!” Miss Henshaw praised, while the girl beamed and returned her thumb to her mouth.

Of course it was an F! How could she have been so stupid? Rachel recalled that as a little girl she’d always had trouble with those two letters for some reason. They didn’t even look similar though? Now she’d been one-upped by a girl so dumb and juvenile she couldn’t stop sucking her thumb! It was beyond embarrassing, it was humiliating. Rachel felt salty tears tracing their way down her cheeks and she forced her head into her drawn-up knees to hide her shame.

Since kindergarten worked on a half-day schedule it mercifully came to an end not much later. After enduring Miss Henshaw’s reading from Winnie the Pooh they were told they could have free playtime until their moms or dads arrived to take them. Brian and Megan made their way over to the toy box dutifully while Rachel just sat by herself in the corner and sulked.

At first Brian was sure the toys would be stupid kid stuff that he’d have no interest in, but then he found there were several Thomas trains. They were brightly painted and appealing. They even had coaches that linked up to them. He hesitated to touch them at first. After all, why would he actually want to play with such silly toys? But then another boy grabbed Percy and James and ran off with them. Brian instantly felt a pang of jealousy. He wanted James! That was always his favourite character. Brian gave in and grabbed Henry and Gordon toys from the chest.

In moments he had Henry’s green plastic body attached to a line of red and white coaches and Gordon’s longer blue form linked to several box-cars. He lied down on the carpet on his tummy, swinging his legs automatically in the air above him, and began to push them towards each other. Without really thinking about it Brian began to make chugging sounds, quietly at first, but then louder. What did it matter if others heard him, they were all dumb kids anyway. Brian ran the two trains towards each other, imagining the spectacular crash that was coming and beginning to imitate Gordon and Henry’s voices.

The two toy trains smashed into each other, creating a satisfying wreck of coaches and box-cars. Brian grinned and made all sorts of smashing and crashing noises, giggling to himself at the fun of it all.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Brian stopped his giggling and looked up at Rachel, feeling immediately ashamed. “I… I was just…um…” he stammered.

“You were playing like a little kid! Is this what you want Brian? Did you make this happen to us, so you could play with kids’ toys?” she accused.

“What?! No! Of course I didn’t cause this, how could I? It just, I dunno, felt right.”

“He’s right.”

They both looked over to see Megan standing there with a Barbie doll in one hand and a toy brush in the other. “I was just playing with my Barbie, brushing her hair. And, well, it felt right. It was fun.”

Rachel frowned again, her cheeks still red from tears, her eyes still bloodshot. “What are we going to do?”

Brian put the toy trains down, feeling funny about playing with them now. “I’ll tell you what we can’t do,” he spoke up. “We can’t get separated again. We need to stick together guys.”

“How do we do that Brian?” Rachel asked. “We’re little kids now. Our moms will be here soon to take us hope for damned naps or something.”

“We could ask to have a play-date,” Megan suggested.

“What?”

“You know, a play-date. My little cousins have them with friends from pre-school all the time. It gives the moms a chance to spend time with other grown-ups too. We should convince our moms to let us all play this afternoon. Then maybe we can figure out a way to fix this.”

Brian and Rachel considered Megan’s suggestion, then they both nodded in agreement.

When Megan’s mom turned up a few minutes later the girl put on a convincing act. “Mommy, mommy, I wanna play with my friends today!” she announced, hopping up and down like a hyperactive little kid. “Pleeeease! Can I go over their house and play?”

To Brian and Rachel’s surprise the little kid act worked like a charm. Megan’s mom just couldn’t say no to the eager little girl. So they swallowed their pride and repeated the act for their moms. Brian had the toughest job because they’d decided his place would be the best location to go to as he was an only-child. He had to convince his mom to have them all back. In the end though it turned out to be a piece of cake. All the moms were eager for their children to make friends, or maybe just for the chance to socialise with other moms. Either way the trio was soon gathered at Brian’s house.

The moms placed the ‘kids’ in the back yard to play while they had tea in the kitchen. Of course that allowed them to watch the children closely through a sliding glass door, just in case they got into any trouble. The backyard was no exception to the transformations the world had gone through. A plastic play place with a little ladder and yellow slide sat in the middle of the lawn. Along the side was a swing-set with an attached slide of its own. Just beside that was a small sand box shaped like a turtle. The lawn showed all the signs of belonging to a family with a growing little boy. The newish swing-set had replaced the plastic play place as the boy reached ‘big boy’ kindergarten age.

The three friends headed as far away from their moms as they could, settling on their bottoms in the grass along the far fence. Brian and Rachel hadn’t even bothered to remove their backpacks and now dropped the bright cartoon bags beside them.

“So, what’s the plan?” Megan asked Rachel as soon as they’d sat.

“What plan? Why are you asking me?” she retorted.

“Well I dunno Rach, maybe because you’re always the one with a plan,” Megan huffed.

“Well I’m sorry if having my whole reality change overnight has thrown me off my game a bit! I mean, I can’t even read. No, worse, I can’t even recognise the alphabet! How do you expect me to come up with a plan to fix that?”

“Okay, okay, we need to stay calm,” Brian reminded them. “Now I don’t know how this happened, but the only thing we can do right now is accept it and try to go with the flow.”

“You go with the flow, I’ve had it with being treated like a kid,” Rachel snapped. “I’m tired, I’m dressed like an idiot and I’m hungry. But if I go in there and ask for something to eat all I’ll get is fussed over and fed like a baby.”

“Well maybe there’s something in here we can eat,” Brian suggested, opening the zipper of his Thomas the Tank Engine backpack.

Brian rummaged through the pack, finding only crayons, a colouring book and… a leather-bound copy of Catcher in the Rye. All three gasped as the book fell onto the grass. Brian picked it up tentatively, as though it might burn him. He felt the leather in his hands, looked over the worn book. It was completely unchanged.

“What is that doing here?” Rachel demanded.

“I didn’t put it in there. I swear I haven’t seen this since last night,” he insisted.

“So it just packed itself in your backpack all on its own then?” Rachel scoffed.

“Maybe it did,” Megan interrupted ominously.

They all exchanged wary looks before their eyes returned to the book. “Do you think…” Brian stammered, “Do you think it could have caused this?”

“How could a book do this?”

“How could anything or anyone do this? I think we are beyond the realm of the normal here. And this is the only constant between last night and today that I’ve seen yet,” Brian answered.

“Where did it come from anyway? You’re sure you found it in the library Brian?”

Brian looked guilty, his eyes on the grass as the girls stared.

“Well Brian?”

“I… I did find it in the library. But, when I looked in the back, it didn’t have a library card or a bar code or anything. So I just took it,” he admitted.

“Well that’s just great! A book has ruined out lives, that makes this all so much better, knowing what caused it,” Rachel mocked sarcastically.

“We should destroy it,” Megan breathed.

“No, that could make things worse,” Brian said.

“Worse? How?! I mean, so the book is all about how much adulthood sucks and how great being a kid is right? So now it changed us into little kids, saved us from adulthood. Well I’ve got news for it. Being a kid sucks! I hate this!” Rachel roared.

“We all hate this Rach,” Brian reminded her. “None of us likes being kindergarteners for God’s sake!”

Brian had barely spoken the words when he let loose a horrified yelp and threw the book on the grass between them.

“What?!” the girls shouted.

Brian looked at them with terror in his eyes. The colour had drained from his face. “It… it was like something inside kicked at the cover, trying to get out.”

Chapter 4

Three sets of eyes locked on the book, watching as it began to vibrate on the ground. Then an eerie green glow began to emanate from the cover. No one spoke a word as the book cover flew open as though caught by a gust, despite the air’s unnatural stillness. The pages fluttered back and forth and all around them the world began to change.

The swing-set vanished into thin air while the play place in the middle of the yard grew brighter, newer. The sand box moved from the edge of the yard to the middle, pales and plastic shovels and toys appearing in it and around it. A shiny red tricycle now sat next to the back deck. Beside it was a toy lawn-mower.

Then the changes began to affect the kids themselves. Rachel’s sun dress began to change, becoming pink, its hem rising higher and higher up her legs. A blast of wind seemed to whip her hair about until it settled in pig-tails with pink bows on each. Her flip-flops vanished completely. Megan’s pink short-alls didn’t change but the shirt underneath them changed until it sported the smiling face of Elmo from Sesame Street. Her Dora the Explorer sandals vanished the same as Rachel’s had.

Brian watched these changes happen before it began to affect him as well. His shorts began to lengthen, the cargo pockets disappearing. The elastic waist disappeared as the jeans began climbing upward as well. His Spiderman t-shirt faded to a light baby blue, the cartoon motif changing to Winnie the Pooh. Soon it was mostly covered by his new overalls. As the legs lengthened his tube socks receded down his legs ahead of the cuffs. The overall cuffs stopped just above his ankles, rolling themselves up to keep from getting dirty. His socks disappeared into the Velcro sneakers, then with a pop both disappeared, leaving him barefoot too.

As quickly as it began it ended. The book slammed itself shut and the breeze picked up again. The three kids looked each other over and knew that things had indeed just gotten worse. Brian was staring particularly hard at Rachel, specifically at the hem of her dress.

“What? All this stupid stuff happening and you gotta look up my dress?”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just your dress is really short….”

“I know it is! I didn’t choose it you dumb-dumb!”

“No, I mean, I can see your underwear. And, well, it looks kind of thick.”

Rachel’s eyes widened and she pulled up her dress, revealing white pull-ups with little pink star designs. “Oh my gosh! I don’t need those!” she yelled in horror.

Brian felt around his own crotch. Sure enough it felt a bit too padded down there on him as well. He pulled back the bib of his new Oshkosh overalls and slipped a hand down his pants. He felt the waist of the pull-ups between his fingers. There was no more doubt he wasn’t in big boy pants anymore. As he withdrew his arm he found something else. His skin was smooth, too smooth. In fact all the hair on his arms and legs was gone. He felt his chin and cheeks, no stubble, smooth as could be. He feared that he’d even lost his hair in a more intimate area, but was too afraid to check.

Brian looked up at the pained expressions Rachel and Megan wore. “I’m in pull-ups too,” he admitted sullenly.

“What happened?” Megan whispered, her voice shaky.

“I think we just got younger,” Brian replied.

They all turned their heads towards the house as they heard the back door slide open.

“Kids, you know not to play out there by the fence!” Brian’s mom yelled to them as she strode across the lawn towards them.

She didn’t look any different from before, but the way she was looking at them had changed. It wasn’t something that could really be measured, but they all shared the sense that she didn’t see them as kindergarteners anymore. When she reached them she bent over without another word and slipped her hands under Brian’s armpits. He was so shocked by the sudden invasion of his personal space that he didn’t have time to react. With incredible strength she lifted him to his feet, even though he was fully four inches taller than her.

“Okay little boy, you get your butt over to your play area right now,” she scolded, giving him a gentle pat on his bottom to send him on his way.

Brian padded barefoot through the grass without a word, too overwhelmed by the fact his mom had just manhandled him so easily to respond. Meanwhile she placed her hands on her hips and gave the girls a stern motherly look. “Let’s go Rachel… Megan. Scoot.”

The girls did as they were told. They could see there was no room for argument. They stood and followed Brian back to the bright plastic play place, watching him climb into one of the holes and disappear inside. Only then did it occur to Rachel and Megan that they’d left the most important book in the world sitting back in the grass with the bags. Unfortunately it was too late to go back now. They’d just have to wait until the adults weren’t looking to go back for it.

As they got closer to the play place they realised it was surprisingly big. It was clearly built for people their size. The slide reached over their heads in height and climbing up the pink ladder on the side actually looked tricky. Rachel and Megan hesitated, wondering what to do. Brian’s mom was still standing there waiting for them to start playing.

“C’mon guys, it isn’t so bad!” Brian’s voice called out.

The girls looked around and then up, realising he was now standing atop the play place smiling down at them. “It’s huge!” he enthused.

“Yeah, I noticed,” Megan agreed, feeling the plastic ladder rungs experimentally.

“C’mon, don’t be a scaredy-cat!” Brian chuckled.

The girls shared a sceptical look. How on earth could he actually be having fun after what had just happened to them? Still Megan at least decided it was worth a try and besides his mom wasn’t going to go away until she saw them all engaged in silly kid games. So she slipped a bare foot onto the plastic ladder and started climbing. Brian was waiting for her at the top, still smiling. “Look,” he told her.

She gazed around and was amazed at how high up she felt. “This is pretty fun,” she admitted.

“C’mon, let’s slide!” Brian urged, taking her by the hand.

It was an amazing feeling, sliding. The smooth plastic rushing past across her calves, the air rushing over her face, the sensation of speed and falling. It ended with a sharp drop onto the tickly grass and the gleeful screech of Brian as he barrelled into her. It was addictive. Rachel couldn’t resist long and soon all three had forgotten their other troubles, revelling in their play world.

There was no organisation to it as there had been at kindergarten. They didn’t play any particular games, just climbed and slid and tumbled about in the grass. They had lost all sense of time when Megan froze mid-way up the ladder and gasped, looking horrified by something. Rachel, waiting her turn to climb, got annoyed at her friend hogging the ladder. “C’mon Meg! Get a move on!”

Megan didn’t move an inch. She took a hand off the top rung and felt her crotch, letting out a low moan. Rachel recognised now that something was wrong.

“Meg are you okay?” she asked, concerned.

“No,” Megan squeaked meekly, still not budging.

“What is it?” Brian asked, appearing from the other side.

“I dunno. Something’s wrong with Meg,” Rachel told him.

Megan slowly, cautiously, climbed off the play place, her bare feet turning inward as they settled in the grass, toes pointed together. Slowly she turned to face them, now grasping at her crotch with both hands. Her face was red with shame and she wouldn’t make eye-contact with them.

“What is it Meg, you need the bathroom?” Brian asked.

She shook her head and closed her eyes tightly. “No, I don’t need the bathroom. Not anymore.”

Brian and Rachel shared a concerned look. “You mean…?” Brian began, letting the rest of the question hang in the air.

Megan nodded. “Yes. I went pee-pee in my pants!” she sobbed, tears running down her cheeks.

Rachel stood frozen where she was, a look of revulsion on her face. Brian recovered more quickly, reaching in and putting a hand on Megan’s shoulder. “It’s okay Meg, I’m sure your mommy will clean it up.”

Meg sobbed and hiccupped all the more. “I… I didn’t even feel it! I just tinkled myself and I didn’ even know it till I felt my pull-ups get all soggy.”

“Let’s just get you to your mommy okay,” Brian repeated, taking Megan’s hand and leading her towards the house.

As they trod towards the house Megan’s mom appeared and quickly headed towards her crying daughter. Her mom was a bigger woman than the other moms, overweight and frumpy. She had a look of deep concern on her face as she met them. “What is it sweetie-pie? What’s wrong?” she crooned, stroking the girl’s tear-stained cheek.

“I had an accident,” she sobbed.

“Oh honey,” the rotund mom crooned, wrapping her arms around her daughter and cuddling her close. “It’s okay Meggy, Mommy will get you all cleaned up and dry in no time,” she assured, rubbing Megan’s back.

“But, I didn’t even feel it happen Mommy! I’m supposed to be a grown-up, not a baby.”

“Oh Meggy, you’re not a baby. Lots of girls your age have accidents now and then. You’re only twenty-one after all. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough, I promise.”

Megan sniffled and stopped crying, feeling somehow comforted by her mother’s presence if not her words.

“Everything all right Amanda?” Brian’s mom asked, emerging from the doorway.

“Yes Sara, it’ll be fine, little Meggy just had an accident, that’s all.”

“Oh, poor dear. Was it just a pee-pee accident?”

“Well she’s not too stinky,” Amanda replied, making her daughter blush again. “Honey, did you make any poopy, or just tinkles?”

Megan’s lip quivered in shame as she shook her head vigorously and declared, “Just tinkles Mommy!”

“Well that’s not so bad,” Sara told the distraught girl. “My little guy still tinkles in his pull-ups more often than the potty,” she told her, gesturing to Brian.

Now it was Brian’s turn to burn bright red in shame. “Mommy!” he called, willing her to stop.

“Oh hush silly,” she replied. “In fact, as long as you have to change Megan we might as well get Brian and Rachel on the potty before they need to be changed too,” Sara added.

“I don’t need to pee-pee!” Brian yelled, feeling ever more frustrated by being talked down to like this by a woman who was shorter than him.

“Well if you keep up that yelling I think you’ll need to take a nap,” Sara warned him. Then she turned to Amanda and remarked, “He always gets fussy when he needs his nap. If he misses his nap I’ve got a sure-fired temper-tantrum on my hands.”

“Oh, I know exactly what you mean,” Amanda agreed. “You should have seen it the time Meggy went off at the supermarket. She can really make a scene when she gets cranky.”

“Do I hear temper-tantrum stories being told?” Rachel’s mom asked as she joined them outside, a cup of tea in her hand.

“Yes Joy, but they can wait for now, we really need to change poor Meggy’s pull-up,” Sara told her.

“Okay, let’s go little princess,” Amanda chirped, scooping up the college girl and carrying her into the house, her bottom resting on the mom’s arm.

Brian followed them into the house while Joy walked out into the yard to retrieve her daughter as well. The kitchen had changed since they were last in it a few minutes earlier. The white refrigerator was covered in pieces of paper covered in childish crayon scribbling. There were baby locks on all the bottom cabinets and a red fire-engine designed booster-seat sat in one of the kitchen chairs.

Heading into the living room revealed even more changes. The toy box that had been there before had disappeared. Gone was the little rug designed to look like a city street plan, and with it all the Tonka trucks and toy cars. The Lego set was nowhere to be seen, the Mr. Potato Head and radio-controlled car vanished. Instead there big letter blocks and shapes. A colourful xylophone sat abandoned in the middle of the room and beside it Buddy, his teddy bear. Although Buddy was now looking a lot newer and nicer than he had earlier. His fur was lighter and cleaner at least. In the corner was a toy vacuum cleaner and against the wall a whole toy kitchen set. Everything was bright and colourful. Nothing was small enough for a stupid toddler to choke on.

Brian stopped in the middle of the room and wiggled his toes in the plush cream carpet as Amanda laid out a mat on the floor and then beckoned Meg to lie down on it. She stood stock still and shook her head. “C’mon Meggy, you don’t want to stay in that wet pull-up do you? Be a good girl for Mommy and lie down.”

“No, I don’t want to do it like this. Please, I’m not a baby!” Megan begged.

“Oh, I see, you want to stand up like a big girl. Is that it honey?” Amanda asked, not waiting for an answer before she took Megan’s hand and pulled her to the middle of the mat. “That’s okay honey, you can stand up. Mommy knows you’re not a baby. You’re in big girl undies so you don’t have to lie down.”

Megan shook her head still but didn’t seem able to resist as he mother undid the buckles of her shortalls, letting them drop to her ankles with a plop. Megan shut her eyes to the world as her wet pull-ups were revealed to her mom and Brian. He felt a bit bad about standing there watching this all, but like a car accident, something compelled him to stay and watch.

Amanda poked her fingers in the waist of the pull-ups and yanked them down as well, revealing Megan’s naked bottom to Brian. The poor girl whimpered and covered her privates from her mother while the woman took her ankles one at a time and slipped the shortalls and sopping wet pull-ups off her.

“There we go Meggy! Isn’t that better?” Amanda cooed.

Megan was still too busy trying to cover her shame to care about anything else. She just wanted her mother to get the new pull-up on her. She didn’t even care that it was something a toddler wore, she just wanted something to cover up her nudity. But her mother was taking her time, oblivious to her daughter’s embarrassment. She looked around and then declared, “Oops, forgot the wipes! Okay, just wait right here sweetheart while Mommy goes upstairs and gets some tissue from the bathroom. Don’t go anywhere till I get you cleaned up.”

“Don’t go anywhere?! Where would I go? I’m all naked!” Megan exclaimed.

“You’re not naked silly goose. You’ve got a shirt on. But still, I don’t want you running outside nakie-bum since this isn’t our house and Brian’s mom might not be happy about that.”

Megan stood there absolutely flabbergasted as her mom left the room to look for tissue. There she was, naked from the waist down, wet with her own pee and in plain view of one of her best male friends. For a few minutes out in the yard this had all been fun, but now it had taken a serious turn for the worse. And now that she thought about it, why had that been so fun in the yard? What was happening to them to make them enjoy kiddie toys and lose control of their bladders?

Brian was having similar thoughts as he watched Megan stand shivering and ashamed before him. The only bright spot for him was that he still seemed to have control over his bladder. At least he hoped he did anyway.

“Okay, time for my big boy to make Mommy proud,” Sara announced, entering the room with a strange contraption.

Brian couldn’t figure out what the heck it was she was carrying. It looked like a big plastic flower pot built into a stool. As she came closer though Brian could see that the top was a hole surrounded by a contoured yellow plastic seat. It was only when she set it on the carpeted floor that is hit him. This was a potty chair! It was just like the kind he’d seen toddler’s use except that it was bigger and had legs lifting it slightly higher off the ground. In other words it was meant for someone fully grown, like him.

Sara smiled encouragingly at her son and gestured to the seat. “C’mon Brian, let’s get all that pee-pee out so you can play and not have to worry about keeping you big boy pants dry.”

“No!” Brian yelped, stepping back from the disgusting little seat. “I don’t have to go!”

“Don’t play that game with me mister. We both know that’s what you say every time right before you tinkle your pants. Now let’s give the potty a try for once, like a big kid.”

Brian didn’t want to sit down on that stupid potty and make pee-pee right in front of his mommy and his friends. That would be even more humiliating than what was happening to Megan right now. He considered running away, bolting out the front door right now. But then how far could he get? He was barefoot, no sign of shoes anywhere. Everyone in the world now seemed to think he was an incompetent toddler. He’d be found and returned home by the police in no time.

So Brian just stood there, unable to figure out what to do as Sara stepped forward and began to undo the buckles on his overalls. With a couple of snaps Brian heard the buckles undo and felt the shoulder straps go loose. Mommy slipped them off and just like that the overalls dropped to his ankles, revealing a white pull-up with a Winnie the Pooh design on the front. As his mother reached for his pull-up Brian squirmed, trying to step backwards but impeded by the bunched up overalls.

“Stay still you little wiggle-worm,” Sara told him.

Brian let out a little moan of despair as his mom grasped the pull-up and yanked it down. Instantly he shivered from head to toe as cool air rushed across his exposed privates. He tried to cover up his shame as Megan had but his mom had grabbed his hands and was turning him around and forcing him to sit on the potty seat. Soon he felt the cool plastic on his bare bottom.

“There we go, sitting on his potty like a big boy. Good job Brian!” Sara praised.

Brian didn’t feel like a big boy, not one little bit. He felt demeaned, stripped of all power and dignity. The only small comfort was that the potty seat shielded his penis from view. At least he wasn’t being forced to stand half-naked in the middle of the room like Megan was. Unfortunately Joy had just arrived with Rachel and she led the girl into the room, positioning her so she was looking at Brian. He couldn’t bring himself to make eye-contact with her. He stared at his feet, the bare toes just peeking out from the pile of his clothes.

Joy seemed oblivious to the young man’s embarrassment. “Look Rachel,” she directed her daughter, pointing at the poor fellow on the potty seat. “Brian’s using the potty like a big boy. Are you going to show him how you can use the potty too?”

Brian could just make out Rachel wordlessly shaking her head from the corner of his eye. It all seemed like a bad dream to him. It was like the recurring nightmare he’d once had about being naked at school. This, however, seemed infinitely worse. He wondered how long he’d be subjected to this humiliation. She couldn’t make him sit here for too long could she? It wasn’t like he could actually go. There was no way he could pee-pee in front of all these people.

It was the strange sound that broke Brian out of his reverie. It sounded like water rushing down a drain somewhere. He couldn’t figure out where the noise was coming from, though it sounded very close. Then he saw the wide grins his mom and Joy had on their faces and the look of horror Rachel had on hers. Now it was she who was avoiding eye-contact with him.

“Good boy!” Sara cheered.

It took another second for Brian to put it all together. Then it finally clicked. The noise was one of liquid splashing against plastic. It was the sound of him making tinkles in the potty. He hadn’t even felt his bladder let go! He was tinkling his pee-pee out into this silly child’s toy in front of his best friends and his mom without even being able to control it. And the worst part of it was that these adults were actually praising him for it.

“Look honey, Brian is making tinkles!” Joy announced to Rachel.

Even Megan was now looking over her shoulder at Brian’s plight while her mom assured her, “Don’t worry Meggy, you’ll get the chance to show Brian you can use the potty like a big girl just like him soon enough.”

It was all too much for Brian. He could feel his eyes beginning to sting as they welled up with tears. He tried to control his emotions, not look any more of a little kid than he already did. He couldn’t keep it together though and soon salty tears were streaking down his blushing cheeks.

“Oh sweetie,” Sara cooed as she saw Brian’s distress. “What’s the matter buddy? Mommy is very proud of her big boy. There’s no reason for crocodile tears.”

The steady flow of pee into the potty had tapered off to a few final spurts, the noises still echoing through the room to Brian’s horror. As it finally stopped Brian sniffled and declared, “I’m not supposed to use this little kid potty!”

Sara gave him a sympathetic look and leant in close, wrapping her arms around him and brushing her hand through his hair. “There, there,” she whispered. “It’s okay buddy, I think my big boy just needs some cuddles from his Mommy.”

Brian sobbed quietly as his mom snuggled him close. He couldn’t deny that this felt really nice, being in his Mommy’s strong protective arms. Her sweater was soft and cuddly on his skin and she smelled of her familiar perfume. Brian leant his face onto her shoulder, drying his tears on it while her hand rubbed his back.

As his sniffles slowed down he heard Mommy whisper into his ear again. “There we go. Feeling better sweetie?”

Brian pulled back and looked into his Mommy’s loving face, seeing that her eyes filled with concern for him. Whatever else was wrong, it at least felt nice to be so loved. He didn’t have to reply to her question, as she could see his answer in his eyes.

“Okay, let’s get you up so Rachel can make her tinkles too,” she directed, lifting Brian back to his feet by his armpits and helping him back into his pull-up and overalls.

Brian was led over to the couch to wait while Rachel did her business. Mommy sat next to him and slipped his teddy, Buddy, into his arms to comfort him. It didn’t surprise him that much anymore that snuggling the teddy in his arms was actually quite comforting. In fact he found himself resting his head against his Mommy’s shoulder again, growing a bit sleepy. His potty ordeal had really been quite draining.

Megan meanwhile was being forced to give up her attempts to retain a shred of her privacy as he mother pulled her hands away from her privates so she could wipe her clean. The young woman at least managed to face the opposite wall so that all Brian could see was her bare bum. After a few moments Amanda helped Megan to step into a new white pull-up with pink print swirls.

“There we go, all set!” Amanda declared.

Megan stared at her, dumbfounded. “What about my pants?” she asked.

“Oh, I don’t think we need to bother with those, princess. It’ll be nap-time soon anyway.”

“I don’t wanna run around in just a dumb pull-up Mommy!”

Amanda chuckled and said to Sara, “Isn’t it cute when they try to act all grown up,” ignoring the girl’s plea.

“I know, they all want to grow up so quickly!” Sara agreed. “Soon they’ll be missing the days when they could run around with no pants on.”

The sounds of pee-pee splashing in the potty echoed through the room again and all heads turned to look at Rachel. The poor young lady, only yesterday an honour student and mature adult, had her face buried in her hands as she peed. “That’a girl!” Joy was praising her, to no avail.

Rachel finally looked up from her hands with anger etched across her face. She was humiliated alright, but she was also pissed. “This is all wrong! I will not let you treat me like this!” she spat at her mother.

“Rachel, good girls don’t talk to their mommies that way,” Amanda sternly told the girl. “And remember to use your inside voice please,” she added.

The young woman on the oversized potty fumed, but seemed stung by her mom’s rebuke. Joy turned to the other moms and said, “I think they’re all getting pretty cranky. Rachel certainly needs a nap anyway.”

“Yes, I think they could all do with a nap before we get a full-blown temper tantrum,” Amanda agreed while Sara nodded. Joy helped Rachel to stand again, wiping her dry with a tissue and then letting her slide her pull-ups back up.

No one bothered to ask them if they were actually sleepy, all three simply found themselves being led upstairs to Brian’s bedroom. None of them struggled this time, not after Brian winked at the girls and placed his finger to his lips. The three college friends stayed silent and behaved while their moms settled them on the carpeted floor of the room and placed well-worn baby blankies over them, slipping plush stuffed animals into their arms. Then with a flurry of forehead kisses the moms withdrew so their little ones could sleep in peace.

Alone again at last none of the trio actually went to sleep, despite the fact that they all did feel oddly drowsy. It wasn’t dark out yet, heck it was only late afternoon, but there they were lying down to go to sleep while older ‘kids’ could be heard playing outside. None of them said a word about the ridiculous situation they were in. None of them wanted to risk a mom coming back in to shush them and coddle them even more.

After five minutes of silence it was Brian who finally spoke up, though only at a low whisper. “Rach, Meg, you still awake?”

“Yes,” two voices whispered back.

Brian rolled on his side to look over at his friends, still cuddling Buddy’s soft form against his chest. Rachel was nearest to him, a stuffed white bunny in her arms, sad eyes staring back at him. Megan was beside her, but crept forward from underneath her blankie to be part of the conversation.

“This is all too weird guys. How do we get out of this?” Brian put to them.

“Why don’t we just run away now,” Megan suggested. “Our mommies aren’t here, they think we’re sleeping. We could just sneak out your window.”

Rachel rolled her eyes. “Oh yeah, three pants-wetting toddlers running barefoot down the street, one without so much as a pair of shorts to cover her pull-ups. I’m sure no one will stop us,” she muttered sarcastically.

“Well do you have a better idea?” Megan snapped back.

“This is no time to argue,” Brian reminded them. “But Rachel’s right. Even if we could change into better clothes, everything in that closet is no doubt made for a toddler and none of us has shoes. That also doesn’t change the fact that we apparently can’t control our pee-pee anymore.”

“I didn’t pee-pee in my pants,” Rachel reminded them haughtily.

“Yet,” Megan snapped.

“Look, the point is we wouldn’t make it far without some adult intervening. This is America, people tend to notice unattended little kids out on the street.”

“So what do we do then?” Rachel sighed.

“We know that book caused all this right? So we get our hands on it again and find a way to fix things.”

The girls both nodded now, agreeing with Brian. “But where is it?” Rachel asked. “Remember we just left it out there in the yard. With all the pants tinkling and playing I forgot all about it.”

“Look, one of our moms will have taken it with the rest of our stuff, so whoever finds it first stash it somewhere until we can look at it together. We don’t want to cause any more changes now do we?”

Rachel and Megan nodded vigorously. “So what do we do till then?” Megan asked.

“Just keep playing along I guess. It’s not like we have much choice.”

“Yeah, but Brian…” Megan began, her voice quavering now. “There… there’s something wrong with me too. I really enjoyed that play place. I mean, it was fun going down that slide and climbing. I forgot how stupid I must look. I forgot I was dressed like a toddler. And then… and then… I didn’t even feel it. I tinkled in my pants and didn’t know till I felt it all over my pull-ups.”

Brian and Rachel shared concerned looks as Megan whispered her fears to them. “I know what you mean Meg. I thought I was just going to hide from Mommy in there at first. But then, when I got inside it something came over me. I don’t know why but it was just so much fun to play like a little kid. And… and I didn’t realise when I started to pee-pee either,” Brian admitted.

“This is all wrong. We’re mature young adults and we still have our minds right? We haven’t been changed into drooling idiots like our friends. So it is up to us to fix this thing. So let’s pull ourselves…” Rachel interrupted herself to yawn loudly, “… together.”

As though it were contagious both Brian and Megan began to yawn as well. “Why am I so sleepy?” Megan asked.

“Dunno, I think we all are. Think I’ll just shut my eyes for a sec,” Brian mumbled, cuddling his teddy closer and shutting his droopy eyes.

Rachel and Megan followed suit and within seconds all three were fast asleep, cuddled with their stuffed friends at four in the afternoon.

Re: A Whole New World Ch. 3-4

Wow. This is a really cool story. I rarely get the feeling that I’m watching a movie when I’m reading something. Great job!

Re: A Whole New World Ch. 3-4

ya ya more!! more!!

Re: A Whole New World Ch. 3-4

Keep it coming

Re: A Whole New World Ch. 3-4

dang this is good.