I sat in the ships dark store room space with my head in my hands. The dull throb of the engine filled the air and became the background music of the dark drama playing out before me. Here I was, shunned by Devina, on a cargo vessel moving through the dark night, on a black river headed who knows where.
At times life really can seem a little desperate. I know my luck has not been the best, but I still consider myself ‘lucky’. After all, this emerging Andrea inside me was flourishing as she came out into the light of day, generally speaking. My business, according to my partner Steve, was flourishing. And while it did look like I may be being trafficked into a diabolic future with little hope of survival, on the whole my life was better than that of nine tenths of the human race. After all, I could be Belgian.
In hours that followed I had plenty of time to think about my predicament. A few blankets, one dim lightbulb, a pillow and a bucket were my only other comforts. A tray appeared while I slept, and it had a hearty breakfast on it, along with several bottles of water and a paper back crime novel. Well, at least someone was being thoughtful. The door out of the storage room however remained resolutely locked.
“Feminine mind, feminine body,” I mumbled to myself and huddled beneath the blanket. Just at this particular moment I wasn’t feeling particularly feminine. My predicament was one that quite baffled me. Why would Devina do this to me? Did she not know I would do anything she asked anyway? Just picturing her there, in the moments before she pushed me into the darkness of this confinement, the thought of her powerful shoulders and her sensual body played with the emotions that spun around in my mind. By every rule of logic I should revile Devina, and yet even there in the seclusion of my despair, I found her enticing. I could almost see her chuckling to herself at my expense. In my increasingly grubby jeans, my heels kicked off and my sweater beginning to look decidedly tired, I sat wrapped in the blanket and meditated.
Time seemed to flow easily. I realised after a little while that either the food or the water had probably been interfered with. I seemed to float in and out of consciousness, and at some point I fell asleep once more. Again a meal appeared as I’d slept. This time when I awoke, instead of the dull industrial landscape slipping by the porthole, the countryside opened up into broad fields, rain soaked and grey. It seemed the rain would never stop. And all this time I saw not a soul.
It wasn’t until the third evening that the empty monotony of worry was broken by the sound of voices, barely discernable through the heavy metal door. I could hear someone moving about outside, and I even heard something being moved along the corridor. There was some sort of altercation going on. And then things fell silent once again. I can hardly explain how those muffled sounds encouraged me though. At least there was something out there.
In all of this time I found myself thinking, had I somehow brought this upon myself? Was the fact that I had accepted Andrea as a part of myself somehow connected to these terrible events. While there was no doubt that I would probably have suffered some equally disturbing trials and tribulations as ‘Andy’, these things had been visited upon ‘Andrea’. Had I rejected the emergence of Andrea, would I have somehow avoided these situations?
It seemed likely that not getting myself involved in some weird sex cult might have forestalled such outcomes. However, who was to say that had I somehow tricked fate, and continued to live the rather unexciting life I had before the events I now recount, some other equally disturbing twist might not have happened? Life has a way of throwing curve balls at us, after all. I am not usually given to dark imaginings of this kind, however it really did seem that fate was cast in the role of pitcher, and delivered to me ever more convoluted fastballs, twisting and turning in space as they flew at… at who? Andy? No. Andrea.
It was this thought that led me to start to explore something rather different. I could see myself facing this infernal pitcher not as ‘Andy’. On the playing field of life I stoop, bat in hand, as Andrea. My hair long, my baseball uniform feminine and exciting. Even glamourous. And that was the moment I realised that however much I might lie to myself about my physical biology, I was to my very core ‘Andrea’. Nothing could change that now. I dealt with life before me with small but slightly proud breasts, with legs as smooth as silk, and with the smouldering fire of a woman burning inside my breast.
I woke to the silence of a ship lying still in the current of the river. I had no idea of the time or how long we’d been at anchor. I tried to make out the shoreline in the dark, but it was lost in the pitted glass of the porthole. I could sense we were lying probably fifty yards from the river bank, but it was impossible to make out anything in the darkness of the night. I could see the moon in the distance and I tried to figure out if this gave me any idea of the time. I had no idea if it was rising or setting, and gave up trying to guess. Where ever I was it was remote. Not a light, nor headlight, seemed to interrupt the darkness beyond the bank.
Outside the door I heard footsteps. A door nearby semed to open, and then a moment later close. For the first time it occurred to me that I may not be the only person travelling like this. Perhaps others were also in the ship? And perhaps they were being fed and watered. Apparently whatever the nature of this cargo, keeping it alive was part of the deal.
It was then that I began to hatch the most cursory of plans. I swiftly arranged the blankets to look as though a form was sleeping beneath them, and then placed the tray beyond the makeshift sleeping space. I unscrewed the lightbulb that had cast a dim light, until it flickered and died. Anyone coming into the room would have to enter and take two or three steps to retrieve the tray and water bottles. That might just give me a moment in which to act. I settled down silently beside the door, positioned so that I would be hidden if someone were to open it to look in.
I didn’t have to wait long. A few minutes later I heard a door in the passage close. Three or four seconds passed, and then the door handle slowly moved. I pressed myself against the wall, knowing I would have one chance at this. The door opened a creek, and I could imagine someone looking into the gloom to see if I were asleep. They seemed to hesitate and then a shaft of light gleamed from a torch. It swung this way and that, and then a figure entered the room.
As a child I had taken a couple of years of martial arts training. It’s not as if I was any good at it, but even to that adolescent mind the technique and importance of surprise was not lost. I took my only shot, and as I pressed the door closed kicked the back of the man now creeping into the room squarely just below his neck, propelling him forward into the bulkhead with a sickening thud. He slumped immediately. I was not so hopeful as to think he’d be unconscious, but at least he was disoriented.
I grabbed my heels, and pulled the door open. The lights in the passageway seemed impossibly bright as I dashed barefoot as fast as I could for the companionway that led up to the deck. Emerging into the cold air I looked left and right. I wasn’t going to wait around to try and figure things out. Instead I ran straight to the side of the ship, took the rail at a single leap and plummeted to the water below. I didn’t look back, but instead struck out for the river bank with every bit if my already failing strength.
As it happened the bank on this side of the river was a little closer. My port hole had looked out on the more distant shoreline. I think I must have swum about 20 yards in that freezing water. I could feel the strength of the current, but that didn’t seem to matter much. After all, it wasn’t as if I knew where I was going. All I thought about was the need to keep pulling toward the dark bank. As I dragged myself up the muddy foreshore I could feel the way the current pulled at my legs. I knew I wouldn’t have lasted long out there.
A freezing breeze seemed to cut through the night. Only now did I have the presence of mind to look back at the ship. All seemed quiet on deck. Apparently my visitor was still either stunned or hadn’t raised the alarm. I wasted no more time checking the ship, but scanned the horizon for a light, for anything.
I ran away from the bank, putting as much distance as possible between myself and the river. It wasn’t long before I saw the lights of a house, standing alone nearby. I took a moment to reconnoiter the building. It was about half a mile distant, an old mansion like property. In the moonlight I couldn’t make it out well, but it appeared to be a sizable building. Probably a farm house, or country mansion of some kind. I could make out a big verandah, and a balcony. I guessed it was pre civil war, from the architecture.
When you’re soaking wet, barefoot and running through the night having escaped captivity on a cargo ship, you don’t get too fussy about where you are going to find sanctuary. I ran for the lights of the house, mud squishing between my bare feet.
It did strike me as being a little incongruous, a trannie arriving on the doorstep of a house, heels in hand claiming to have been kidnapped. I would have to handle this carefully.
I stood on the verandah and pressed the bell. Impatiently I peered through the panes of patterned glass in the door. A moment or two later an old woman with a curious bent gait opened the door, holding a torch.
“Goodness me,” she said on opening the door. “You look a sight!”
She looked me up and down, taking in the bare feet, and the soaked clothes. Her friendly eyes reassured me. She may be old but she seemed a kindly soul. I started trying to say something, but the cold and the exertion seemed to flood over me.
“Oh, you’d better come in. Let’s get you warmed up.”
The old woman took my arm and led me into the brightly lit entrance hall. She took a heavy coat from a coat rack by the door and wrapped it around me as I shuddered with cold.
“You come along to the kitchen and we’ll get some warm milk inside you.”
She led me to a warm kitchen, the stove loaded with pots and something already cooking, filling the air with moist warmth.
“I’ll just take those,” she said taking the heels from my hand, “now let’s get you nice and warm by this stove.”
Sitting me on one of the kitchen tables the woman took the coat and found a blanket, which she wrapped me in and then handed me a cup of warm milk. I clasped it in my hands and felt the warmth flowing back into my hands.
As I sipped it I found I had been shaking with cold. Holding the cup to my lips I tried to drink the warm liquid, and it seemed I’d spill as much as I’d swallow, my shivering was so intense. Gradually though, the warm milk restored me to the point of beginning to think more clearly.
“You just wait here, my child,” said the kindly old lady, and then she left the kitchen.
A few minutes passed and I began to wonder how I would explain myself. Doubtless I would have some rather awkward explaining to do. Having escaped the ship I felt sure I could handle whatever was ahead.
It was therefore doubly confounding when the kitchen door opened to reveal a statuesque woman in a black evening dress and the captain of the vessel I’d just escaped.
“Ah, it seems Andrea has arrived independently of the transport arranged,” said the captain, with a sardonic smile. “Not to worry. I’ll see what this is all about.”
The woman with the captain looked at me and frowned.
“Well, I suppose she’s here either way. Is the other one going to arrive in the same manner?”
“We’ll bring her ashore in the morning. It’s late and I should return to the ship.”
The woman turned to him and said, “Yes. You might want to check on your cargo arrangements. This one needs to be cleaned up. She’s probably got herself a cold as well. No harm done though.”
With that she turned to the old woman, hobbling along behind the mistress of the house.
“Clean her up Gertrude. Have her bathed and prepared.”
With that the kitchen door closed and Gertrude looked at me once more, this time with cold disapproval.
“Goodness, child. What have you got yourself into!”
“I really don’t know,” I replied uncertainly.