He had been doing really well, right up to the point where he passed out. Sor liked to think it was her magic’s guidance that had been doing all the work — the idea that Zebra could be good at something, something she was good at, something she took pride in, that would be too much for her to bear.
“Zebra!” she shouted into his face, taking his shoulders and giving them a good shake. “Zebra! Are you in there?!”
He didn’t respond, so she slapped him. It was satisfying, loud and violent, even though she was slapping her own face. But he still didn’t respond, and she was starting to get worried. He was still alive, but if he was in a coma or something, there was no way to get to the magic inside him. And that meant there was no way to switch back.
And that was unacceptable. She might have been able to handle being trapped in the wrong body for the rest of her life, but Zebra’s? No. A thousand times no.
Thankfully, he groaned and tried to sit up, jerking to his elbows before collapsing back to the stone floor. Sor resisted the sudden and strong urge to throw her arms around him, to hug him in her relief.
“Zebra!” she repeated, and he groaned again, pain painting his stolen face. There was a pink spot blooming over his cheek, through Sor’s false scales and equally false mouth, but he seemed to have other things to worry about just then. “Can you hear me?” she asked.
He nodded, his head wobbling drunkenly, and he tried sitting up again. This time, he succeeded.
“So,” she said. “We may need to revise our previous deadline to ‘lunch’.”
“What,” he managed. “What was that?”
“That was a backfire. You tried to cast a magic but it couldn’t get out.”
“It was—” He tried to stand, but slipped and fell back to his ass. “It was,” he repeated, fishing for words.
It was weird to see him at a loss, but Sor could get used to it.
“I know. Backfires are intense, even when you’re working small. It can be traumatic. Don’t try to stand up, yet.”
He ignored her, struggling to his feet. “Intense,” he said, trying the word out. “Yes. Intense.”
“Seriously, you should give yourself a minute, at least.”
He wobbled, but didn’t fall down, steadying himself with his arms held out away from his sides. “It was amazing.”
“Aside from the part where it hurt like, like hell. Aside from that part. That was a rush! It was great!”
“Oh, jesus,” she muttered. “Okay, you’re fried. Don’t worry, it’ll pass, eventually.”
Of course, it wasn’t him who was worried. Continue reading