#1: The Gift
"So, were you surprised?"
Shannon Michaels looked up at her friend, Terri Hill. The tall redhead stood with her back to the door, which she had just closed behind the last guest. She was wearing a short, halter-top style dress, and that same mischievous smile that Shannon knew all too well.
"Iíll say I was," Shannon told her, as Terri came to sit next to her on the couch. "I was supposed to be coming over for a quiet dinner with my best friend. Instead, I find a full-blown party with more than twenty people."
"Hey," Terri grinned, putting her hand on her shoulder, "would I have been a real best friend if Iíd let your twenty-fifth birthday go by without a surprise party."
Shannon smiled at her, shaking her head. "I guess not," she admitted, with a sigh. She had met Terri in her junior year of college, and they had been friends ever since. They knew everything about each other, including a couple of secrets that no one else knew.
"Well," Terri announced, leaping up from the couch, "this mess isnít going to clean itself up." She began to collect the discarded paper plates from the coffee table.
Shannon watched as her friend carried the plates into the small kitchen that came off the apartmentís living room. "I donít get it," she said, as Terri dropped them into the trash can.
"Donít get what?" Terri asked, coming back into the room.
"Why donít you just use your magic to clean this place up?" Shannon asked. She had found out that Terri was a witch in college. She had seen her use her powers for all kinds of things. "Itíd be a hell of a lot easier."
"I know," Terri agreed. "But magic is not meant to make things easier, Shannon. You know that. Itís meant to help people."
Shannon laughed. "Oh, like when you helped Billy Rosier?"
Terri frowned. She didnít like to be reminded about her old college boyfriend. "Hey," she retorted, "Iíll have you know that Billy Rosier is now a very successful attorney in Florida. So, how do you know that his week as a horn-toad didnít do him some good."
"Maybe," Shannon nodded. "It didnít stop him from marrying Buffy Wade, though. Did it?"
Terri looked at her carefully. "Okay," she said, after a minute, "whatís wrong?"
"What do you mean?" Shannon asked, looking away.
"When you deliberately try to hurt my feelings, it means youíve got something on your mind," Terri told her, sitting back on the couch. "Letís have it."
Shannon looked at her for almost a full minute, before turning away. "I donít know what it is, Terri," she admitted. "Is twenty-five too young to have a mid-life crisis?"
"Not if youíre planning to die at fifty," Terri answered, trying to lighten the mood. "I know what this is. Itís the whole Ďwhat-did-I-go-to-college-forí thing again. Isnít it?"
Shannonís eyes grew angry. "Why shouldnít I wonder that? For godís sake, Terri, I have a degree in accounting. And where do I work?"
"You answer phones in a doctorís office," Terri replied, repeating the words she had heard more than once before.
"Thatís right," Shannon spit back. "I donít even get to keep his books. Heís got his wife for that. So, tell me again, Terri. Why exactly did I go to college?"
"I would think the answer to that should be obvious, Shannon," Terri told her.
"Oh, really," the blonde-haired birthday girl grumbled. "Oh, please, tell me, oh en-lightened one."
"You went to meet me, of course."
Shannon looked at her friend in disbelief. Then she smiled. "I donít know about you, Terri," she said with a shake of her head. "I really donít."
"Yes, you do," Terri corrected. "And I know you. Just like I know what you really meant when you said you were hoping for a quiet evening. You were hoping for a little statue time, werenít you?"
Shannon nodded, knowing that it was true. Ever since she had found out about Terriís magical powers, she had been allowing her friend to help her indulge a secret fantasy. Shannon was a statuephile, a person who enjoyed the idea of people being turned into statues. On more than one occasion, she had asked Terri to do just that to her. She found it not only exciting, but also very relaxing.
"Okay," Shannon admitted. "I wanted to spend the night here, standing in the corner. So, sue me."
"Well," Terri told her, pulling her up from the couch, "the nightís not over. Letís go. I think itís time I gave you your present."
"Yeah, I noticed that you didnít get me anything," Shannon teased, as Terri led her to the corner near the open counter that separated the kitchen and the living room.
"I beg to differ, my dear," Terri said, backing her into the corner. "It just so happens that I have the perfect present for you. And Iíve been working on it all week, so show a little appreciation. Okay?"
"Okay," Shannon agreed. "Sorry. What have you got for me?"
"You just stand right there, and Iíll give it to you."
Terri raised her hands in the arcane gestures that Shannon had come to know so well over the years. Knowing what was coming, she quickly struck a pose, placing one hand on her hips and the other across her chest. As she watched her friend finish up the spell and point at her, she waited for the familiar tingle of her flesh turning to stone.
And nothing happened.
Shannon looked down at herself. The very fact that she could was enough to tell her that she hadnít become a statue. She looked back up at Terri. "Hey, what gives?" she said. "I thought you were going to make me a statue."
"I never said that," Terri grinned. "I said I was going to give you your present, and I just did."
"I donít get it," Shannon admitted. "What did you just do?"
"Come here, and Iíll show you." Terri led her over to the bar that separated the rooms. "Touch the counter," she told her, "but when you do, think about being a statue."
Shannon thought it was odd, but placed her hand on the marble countertop. When she did, she felt a slight tingling sensation in her hand. "Whoa!" she gasped, pulling her hand away. "What the hell was that?"
Terri put her hands up to calm her friend. "Donít panic," she assured her. "Now back up." She guided Shannon back to the corner. "Okay," she told her, looking her over carefully, "now say Ďfreezeí."
"Freeze? Oh!" Shannon gasped, as the familiar electric-like shock ran through her body. She tried to look down again, but this time found that she couldnít move at all. Not even to blink. In seconds, she felt her whole body stiffen up, and knew that she had become a statue.
Terri walked up, and examined her petrified friend carefully from all angles. Shannon hadnít bothered to pose this time. She just stood in the corner with her hands by her side and a confused expression frozen on her face. The girl was now an image carved out of solid marble, with the only light-colored outfit that she wore escaping the amazing trans-formation.
"Not bad," she admitted, coming to stand where Shannon could see her. "Now, you understand. Donít you? You know how youíre always complaining that Iím out of town on a job when you need your statue time. Well, that shouldnít be a problem anymore. Because now you can give yourself statue time. Just by touching a material and thinking about it, your body will absorb the properties of that material. Then, by saying the code word Ďfreezeí, you will become a statue of that material. When youíre ready to change back, you just have to will yourself to do so. Try it."
Shannon did as she was instructed, telling her body to return to flesh. In just a few seconds, she could move again. "Holy shit!" she shouted out loud. "That was incredible." She struck another pose. "Freeze."
"Sorry," Terri told her. "One statue per touch. Also, as a fail-safe, a single transformation will only last a week. That way you donít get stuck as a statue."
Shannon nodded. "Thatís a good idea," she said, moving back toward the counter. "I want to do it again."
Terri stopped her. "In a minute," she explained. "First, let me show you something else."
"Yeah," Terri nodded. "Remember when you first told me about this little statuephile thing of yours. You said that you got off on the idea of turning people into statues. Right?"
Shannon nodded, not knowing what her friend was getting at.
"Well, try this. Touch the coffee table, just like you did the counter." Shannon did as she instructed, again feeling the tingling sensation. "Okay," Terri continued, "now touch that plant there with the same hand, and say ĎFreezeí."
Shannon reached over and took a leaf from the peace lily between her fingers. As instructed, she said, "Freeze," and waited to see what would happen. She didnít have to wait long. "Whoa!" she exclaimed, as she watched the leaf in her fingers take on the appearance of solid wood. The change spread outward until the entire lily was transformed.
"There you go," Terri smiled, gathering up some glasses off the table. "After youíve absorbed the properties of a material, saying your code word will make you a statue of that material. But, if youíre touching something else, saying the word will change it instead of you."
"Including people?" Shannon asked.
"Including people," Terri repeated. She turned to carry the glasses into the kitchen. "So, now that you have this power," she called back over her shoulder, "what do you plan to do with it?"
Shannon gathered up the rest of the glasses, and carried them to the counter. "First," she said, leaning onto it, "I have a couple of questions."
"Shoot," Terri said, putting her glasses in the sink.
"Okay," Shannon stated. "If I turn someone into a statue, is it permanent?"
"Nope," Terri replied, coming to stand on the other side of the counter. "Theyíll be sub-ject to the same conditions you would be if you had changed yourself."
Shannon nodded, while running her finger around one of the glasses on the counter. "So, theyíll stay a statue until I want them to return to normal?"
"Or for a week," Terri added. "Whichever comes first." She reached out and placed her hand on Shannonís arm on the counter. "So, are you happy with your gift?"
"You bet I am," Shannon told her, taking her hand from the glass and placing it over her friendís on her arm. "In fact, only one thing would make me happier." She looked into Terriís eyes.
"Oh, yeah," Terri smiled. "And what would that be?"
Shannon grinned. "This. Freeze."
Terriís eyes went wide, as a gasp escaped her lips. From where Shannonís hand rested on her arm, she felt a strange ticklish sensation. She went to pull away, but found herself frozen in place, staring into the grinning face of her friend, who carefully pulled away. Terri knew that Shannon had used her touch on her, but with her eyes locked forward, she couldnít see what kind of statue she was becoming.
Shannon could see, however, and smiled as she watched her best friendís body turning into solid glass. The change spread quickly, rushing up Terriís arm and down her body under the halter-top of her dress. In seconds, it had emerged with beneath the hem of the skirt to engulf both legs. At the same time, the transformation traveled down the other arm and up her neck, locking the young witch in crystal perfection.
Shannon stood and stared at the statue she had created for almost a full minute, before being able to move herself. She wasnít sure it would work, thinking that Terri would have surely put a fail-safe into the spell to protect herself. But Terri had always been a bit absent-minded, and this time sheíd paid for it.
Shannon went around the counter for a closer look, admiring the way the lights reflected off her friendís crystallized form. She went behind Terri and untied the halter-top of the dress, glad that Terri had worn her hair up that evening. She allowed the top to drop down and hang loosely at the waist, revealing her friendís naked torso. She reached around and ran her hands over Terriís frozen breasts, amazed at their smooth hardness.
She had done it. She had turned Terri into a statue.
She went back around the counter, so that she could look into the statueís unmoving face. "Thank you, so much, Terri," she said. "This is the best gift ever. Youíve really help me to forget my problems. Youíre the best friend a girl could have."
Thatís terrific, Terri thought, already regretting her decision to give Shannon her present. Now, how about turning me back?
Shannon could hear her, of course. Terri had used her powers to establish a physic link between them in college, and they often shared private conversations. But Shannon ignored her. She just stood looking at the incredible sight before her. Then, suddenly, she looked at her watch. "Oh, shit!" she shouted. "Look at the time. Iíve got to get up early tomorrow. Wouldnít want to be late. Got to answer those phones, you know."
Shannon! Terri shouted silently, as she watched her friend gathering her belongings. Donít you dare leave me this way! Change me back!
Again, Shannon ignored her friend. As she got to the door, she stopped and turned back. "Oh, donít worry, Terri," she grinned, reaching behind her to open the door. "Iíll try to get back by here sometime to restore you. But if I donítÖ Well, a week really isnít that long anyway. Is it?"
Terri just stood at the counter and watched as her friend left, closing the door behind her. Well, shit, the young woman thought. Looks like I created a monster.
The EndÖFor Now