Sometimes, when she was panhandling, Kit liked to pass the time by imagining what she might look like to the people who walked past her. Dark, greasy, matted hair; torn, faded clothes bundled onto her, and don't forget the stink--it wasn't like she got many opportunities to wash herself, let alone the six or seven layers of clothes she wore. In the early spring, like it was now, she wore them for protection from the cold; shelters weren't always safe for a teenage girl, and warm places to sleep were hard to come by. In the summer, she just wore them because if she didn't, they'd get stolen, and warm clothes were hard to come by in the fall and winter. They got sweaty and dirty and ripped and faded, but Kit had long gone past the point where she cared about her appearance.
Still, people probably noticed some intelligence in her cloudy blue eyes, some sign that life on the streets hadn't yet eaten her alive, and on good days, that made her enough money that she could go to a supermarket and buy a can of Spaghetti-Os to eat cold.
Today wasn't one of the good days. Three times, she'd had to gather up her stuff and move quick; a girl her age always had to have good instincts, had to learn the lessons that the street taught very quickly or not at all. The street was always full of lessons, from "Those kids are looking for someone to brutalize who won't call the cops" to "He's recruiting streetwalkers" to "Don't make eye contact, just run." Kit was good at learning lessons. She'd learned the first one a long time ago. "It's still better than home."
The woman walking towards her now almost made Kit run again, but all her instincts were confused. She was rich, that much was obvious from thirty feet away. She wore a white silk dress that hung by a single thin strap around her neck, exposing bare shoulders of perfect, paper-white flesh. It was tailored to accentuate her figure, which was the kind of perfect human beings don't attain without expensive help. Her hair was blonde, long, and perfectly straight. She looked, in short, like a rich model or an actress, usually the kind of person that was a soft touch. But something deep within Kit's hindbrain bared its teeth and growled, like a wolf seeing a bear. She almost ran.
But it wasn't one of the good days, and Kit's stomach was growling, and she felt her skin tight against her ribs. So she held her ground, and as the woman passed, she said, "Spare change?"
The woman stopped, turned, and looked at her. She had violet eyes. Kit had never seen anyone with violet eyes before, but there they were, a perfect shade of lavender. "Oh, you poor thing," the woman said. A part of Kit was still stuck in fight-or-flight mode, but that voice stopped her. She'd never heard anyone speak with such total sincerity before. "No place to go?"
Kit shook her head wordlessly. The expression on the woman's face quieted the hindbrain fear a little. Nobody faked pity that well.
"Oh, my poor dear," the woman said. "I'm Sara." She knelt down and reached out a hand with a pearl bracelet on it, very slowly, like she was trying to pet a stray. In a sense, Kit supposed, she was. "This is no night to be sleeping on the streets. They said it's going to get below freezing again tonight." A scent of sandalwood drifted off of Sara as she spoke, stronger than the grime and stink Kit no longer even noticed. "I live with my sisters; if you'd like, you can come to our house for the night. It'll be a little cramped, but there's always room for one more."
Kit didn't move for a long moment as she sized up Sara and her offer. She spotted three possibilities. First, Sara could be some sort of crazy person, planning to take her home and kill her. She dismissed that. Her instincts were all confused, giving off crazy jangling signals, but she could tell Sara wasn't violent. Second, she could be some sort of lesbo, and there'd be a price to pay for lodgings for the night. Kit didn't swing that way, but it wouldn't be the first time she'd gotten into a warm bed knowing she'd have to share it. She wasn't a hooker, but she got cold. Third, Sara could be a real live good Samaritan. Didn't seem likely, but those big, luminous, violet eyes spoke of someone who took in strays.
Kit sized up the risks, the rewards, looked down at the cardboard box that held the pitifully small takings from a day of begging for change, and took Sara's soft hand in her own. "I'm Kit," she said, her tone guarded.
Sara smiled. "That's a girl. You won't regret this. You'll love our house."
Kit smelled that sandalwood the whole walk to the house. She'd never seen a house that big, not in person. It was the kind of house they call a mansion, and it probably had a full-time staff to clean it and maintain it. Wild dreams of asking to get a job as a maid flitted through Kit's head for a moment, but she stilled them. She'd need to see if Sara was really a soft touch or just a perv dyke before she thought about playing the 'give me a leg up' card. Whether soft touch or perv dyke, though, one thing was clear. Sara and her sisters were rich.
"How do you afford this place?" she asked, a little surprised by the quiet awe in her voice.
Sara smiled just a little. "We've been provided for. For a long time now."
"Your parents are dead?" Kit tried to make it sound sympathetic, instead of envious.
"I haven't thought about them in a long time." Sara opened the door, and they went inside.
The lighting was dim and cold, but the rooms were warm, and Kit could feel the heat seeping back into bones already chilled by the early evening air. Sara led her into the kitchen, saying, "First, we'll get some food into you. Then you can use the shower, and..." But Kit wasn't listening to the rest of it. She just stared at the woman waiting in the kitchen when she walked in.
She looked so much like Sara that Kit actually looked behind her for a moment to make sure Sara hadn't somehow darted in front of her. It wasn't just a physical resemblance, even though the two of them were clearly identical twins; they dressed alike, the same white silk dress, the same shoes, the same pearl bracelet. If Kit closed her eyes for a minute, she had no doubt that when she opened them she wouldn't be able to tell the two apart. They even had the same violet eyes.
"Hi!" the new woman announced. "I'm Lana, and you are...?"
"This is Kit," Sara said. "She'll be staying with us."
Lana smiled. "Oh, that's wonderful. You'll love it at our house, Kit." She went to the fridge and pulled out some cold cuts. "Let me make you a sandwich."
Kit just nodded, staring at the two identical women. Everything was the same, even their cleavage. Their hairstyles were identical. Everything about them was identical. It gave her a sudden chill, something she couldn't understand. Human beings weren't supposed to look that similar.
But it didn't stop her from wolfing down her sandwich, and drinking a glass of milk with it. Sara and Lana just watched her eat, smiling warmly at her obvious hunger. "Now, dear," Sara said, "I'll show you to your room for the night."
Kit felt another shiver of uncertainty as they passed through the dim hallways. She'd lost track of the number of lefts and rights and staircases a few turns back, and it occurred to her that she would have a hard time finding her way out if she had to. But that worry suddenly took a backseat when she saw two other women out of the corner of her eye, walking down a side passage.
Before Sara could say anything, Kit doubled back and darted down the side passage, catching just one more glimpse of the two women as they moved out of sight again. But that one glimpse was enough to confirm her initial impression. Both women looked just like Sara and Lana. It hadn't been a mirror, or her imagination. They both wore white silk, they both had blonde hair. The same body, the same outfit, the same pearl bracelet. All four, precisely identical. She hadn't even seen their eyes, but she knew they were violet.
Sara walked over to her. "This way," she said. She looked at Kit with an expression of sincere concern, and some of Kit's fear loosened a bit. "Are you alright?"
"I..." Kit tried to vocalize her concerns, but didn't want to be rude to the woman that was keeping her off the streets for the night. It wasn't like there was anything wrong with being quadruplets. It just felt...creepy. "It's nothing. I'm just tired."
"Then let's get you off to bed." Sara's concern melted into compassion, and she opened a door into a large bedroom. A fire crackled in the fireplace, giving the room a warmth and light that the hallways had lacked. In the center of the room, an enormous double bed soaked up the heat of the fire, silk sheets covering a mattress that looked like you could sail it across the Atlantic. "Bathroom's through there if you want a shower. I'll come and check up on you in the morning." She gave Kit a little peck on the cheek, and Kit wasn't sure whether to recoil or smile. She didn't have the right instincts for this. She didn't know how to react to kindness, she just hadn't ever experienced enough to learn. Wordlessly, she closed the door.
Kit thought about wedging a chair under the door handle, but she wasn't sure if she wanted to antagonize any of her hosts if they came by in the night. Then she thought about it, and wedged a chair under the door handle. Only when that was done did she pull off her clothes and take a long, hot shower, rinsing off weeks of grime and filth and washing her hair over and over again until it felt clean. She even took the clothes and ran the shower over them, using a bar of soap to work some suds into the cloth and then draping them on the floor next to the fireplace to dry overnight. Only then, completely clean, did she slip into the big, warm bed and let her eyes shut.
At first, she thought it was a dream. Not even a surprising dream, really. The warm, soft silk felt so good enfolding her as she let her guard down and drifted off to sleep; every time she shifted position, it felt like a little caress of satiny cloth on her body. It felt good in a way she hadn't felt in, well...ever. She'd heard that sex was supposed to feel good, but her personal experiences didn't bear it out. All she ever got was mild discomfort and a squishy sensation between her legs. Nobody ever seemed to care if it was good for her.
But in the dream, someone did. She didn't know who. It was a faceless someone, like a shadow of a person instead of a person themselves. But they slid the silken sheets back and forth across her nipples, and Kit was surprised to feel stirrings of lust between her legs. The someone teased her, never touching her body directly, just touching her through the soft silk, but Kit smiled dreamily to find that she liked that even more. The silk slid over her body without a whisper of friction, so smooth but oh so very real, and her nipples stiffened as she let out a tiny gasp. She felt the someone stroking her legs, up and down her legs one at a time, then both at a time, and then other caresses, gentle circles on her stomach, and then she gasped sharply when she felt the pressure of the silk conforming perfectly to the outline of her pussy.
The silk felt like a second skin now, stroking her everywhere, and she writhed under its touch as it rubbed at her clit, circling it with a perfect, precise knowledge of how to give her pleasure. With pleasure came a lazy awareness that she wasn't just dreaming it all; the touches felt too real for that, the someone must actually be someone. Muddily, through a haze of sleep and near-orgasmic bliss, Kit realized that the chair must not have held, and that one--or, from the feel of it, several--of the sisters must have come in. Well, if this was what she had to do, it wasn't so bad. In fact, it felt--oh, it felt very good. It felt like...like...her climax hit her hard, and she lost herself for a long moment. If she'd ever felt an orgasm before, it certainly hadn't been like that.
The hands kept touching her through the silk. Kit's eyes began to open, slowly and dreamily. Then they opened all the way, wide awake and terrified.
There was nobody in the room. The chair remained lodged under the door handle. But she could still feel the hands on her. She looked down. There were no hands. There was no someone. Instead, she watched in mounting horror that didn't quite dampen mounting arousal as the silken sheet itself moved over her body, undulating and caressing her like a living thing. She looked down between her legs as the silk insinuated itself into her pussy, and she shuddered in a mix of horror and pleasure at the sensations in her cunt.
The paralysis of shock quickly gave over to the spastic motions of fear as she dived off of the bed, but the sheets tangled themselves up in her legs and she fell gracelessly to the floor. She kicked and flailed at the thing that held her, feeling a little like she was still dreaming, wrestling with the bedclothes in a fevered imagination that they were grabbing her. But it was no imagination, they were grabbing her, and it took her several minutes of struggle to extricate herself. She grabbed at her clothes, pulled them on, and kicked the chair away from the door, yanking it open as she fled the room. Any second, she expected the sheet to come slithering down the hallway after her.
The flight through the house took on a surreal quality, like she was caught in a maze. She ran down flights of stairs, through side passages, looping back on places she'd been before in a rat-scrabble of panic and terror. She burst through a set of double doors, and saw that she hadn't seen the worst yet.
The room she entered was large, some sort of formal dining room. But the floor had been strewn with silken cushions and sheets to turn it into some sort of improvised grand bedroom, and everywhere...everywhere, she saw women. Dozens of them. She couldn't count them all. They curled up against each other like a flock of birds roosting together, all nestled up cheek to breast and thigh to thigh, and Kit wasn't even sure if there were silken cushions on the floor or if it was just more of the women, all exactly alike. Every single one looked like Sara and Lana and who knew how many other names, they were all perfectly alike. She looked back and forth across the room, even up and down--some had curled up in the rafters, seeming perfectly happy to roost ten feet off the ground. The scent of sandalwood was overwhelming, and Kit felt like she might swoon, except that she was afraid she'd fall onto a silk-clad female form. She bit her knuckle to keep from screaming, but it wasn't quite enough.
At the sound of her entrance, some of the women woke up. They looked at her. "Hello, Kit," one said. That sound woke others, and they began to join in the chorus. "Hello Kit," "Hello, Kit," and soon it became a susurration of echoes in the semi-darkness of the room. Kit turned and sprinted headlong back the way she'd came, but she could hear the sound of footsteps behind her.
She no longer cared about "out", now she was just looking for "away." She ran as hard as she could, but the women behind her never stopped, and they knew the house better than she did. Eventually, her luck ran out in a dead end.
One of the women walked up. "Is everything alright, Kit?" That expression of concern on her face still looked real, but Kit was too freaked to care.
"I want out, let me out right now, I swear, I'll...I'll..." The fact that she didn't have anything she could do lent desperation to her voice as it trailed off.
"It's alright, Kit. It's me, Sara. Of course you can leave." She was lying, it was a trick, it had to be. "Follow me, I'll show you to the door." The other women parted aside like a human curtain, an optical illusion of mirror images suddenly revealing a perfectly normal hallway. Sara reached out her hand, and out of options, Kit took it.
At every step, she expected the women to fall upon her, but Sara led her through the halls to the same door they'd come in through. She opened it onto the early morning chill. "Good-bye, Kit," she said with a bit of sorrow in her voice. "I hope you understand that you're always welcome at our house."
Kit didn't answer. She just ran.
She spent most of the rest of the day on the move, her flight instincts now wired into permanent overdrive. She kept looking over her shoulder, flinching every time she saw a glimpse of white clothing, catching a faint hint of sandalwood on the air and flying into a panicked run. Her nerves felt all jangly, and she knew she had to calm herself down--if a cop saw her looking this freaked, they'd bring her in, and then from there it'd be a long set of trips through police station and courtroom back to a house she'd just have to run away from all over again. Kit took a deep breath, looked down at her reasonably clean, if faded and torn clothes, and decided she looked presentable enough to use a restroom without being asked to leave.
She went into a McDonald's and headed for the ladies' room, trying to calm the knot of panic in her stomach. Once inside, she bent over the sink and splashed cold water on her face, letting the sensation shock her back to rationality. Whatever was going on, whatever that house had been, whatever those women had been, they weren't after her. It was over.
She looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were violet.
The rest of the day passed in a blur of panic. She didn't even remember leaving the restaurant. She just walked the streets in a daze, not daring to look at her reflection in shop windows, not even trying to beg for change, just utterly lost in a haze of pure terror. She managed to find a place to sleep out of the wind, and eventually her fried nerves caused her to crash into sleep out of sheer exhaustion.
When she woke up, she could smell sandalwood all around her. Frantic, she rolled over and opened her eyes, expecting to see a coven of strange women in silk standing over her, but she was alone. The scent of sandalwood was still strong, though, and it took her long moments to realize it was coming from her.
She looked down at herself and let out a tiny scream. Her clothes had faded more, over the course of a single night. They'd gone from powder blue and dingy tan and pinkish red to a uniform cream color, almost...white. Some of the rips had repaired themselves. Kit tried to peel off the top layer, but the different outfits seemed to be stuck together now. They'd congealed onto her body.
Kit wanted to run some more, but she didn't know who to run to. Who would she talk to? Could she tell the police that she was changing, would they believe her? Would a social worker understand about the mansion on the hill, the hordes of perfect women roosting in their halls? They'd call her crazy. Right now, she wished she was.
She decided to head for the free clinic on the north of town. She didn't really think this was something they had a pill for, but whatever was happening to her, it was real, it was progressive, and maybe that meant it was medical. As she walked, she caught glimpses of herself in street windows. Her hair was a foot longer, lighter in shade. By the time she got to midtown, it was pure blonde. Her clothes were pure white now, and she could actually feel the changes in her body. Her breasts were getting bigger. Her waist was getting smaller. She didn't know if she could get to a doctor in time. She didn't know if a doctor could help her.
It got harder to move. She looked down and realized that the legs of her pants were slowly fusing together into a single tube, with both her legs inside it. The fabric seemed softer, silkier, and the rips and tears were now completely gone. She half-walked, half-waddled to a bench and sat down before she fell over. Once the outfit had completely become a dress, she thought, she'd keep going. She brushed her long blonde hair out of her eyes and waited.