As I took in the sight of Reeve’s fear, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction. Morally speaking, it was not my place to judge him. I had probably done far worse in my 200+ years on this planet. Still, I had reformed. Reeve, on the other hand, had chosen not to. That choice sealed his fate, and now he was about to find out how severe the price of that decision was.
A little bit about me - I am part of a fairly well concealed group known informally as body hoppers. We have the ability to take control of someone else’s body, and live their lives for as long as we like. We do so by changing our forms, so that it can be absorbed into our host’s body. The only the way to distinguish a newer hopper is by looking at their faces in a photograph, or in a mirror. Unlike their female hosts (or mounts, as most refer to them as), their faces appear as male. As they age, most learn to alter their features so as to avoid detection by any normal mortal, and most hoppers. Some of us can see through the disguise, and that particular ability has proven to be particularly handy to me.
“Hopping” some one’s body wouldn’t be a bad thing, if it was done with their permission. However, it rarely happens that way. Most hoppers will force their way into their victim’s body, in what can only be described as a very strange and terrifying form of mind rape. Granted, the sensation doesn’t last very long before their mind goes into a coma like state, but it can feel like an eternity to the unfortunate person who is going through it.
Just about as bad is the carnage that a hopper can cause in the ensuing days, weeks, or months while occupying a host’s body. Because hoppers have an almost constant need to engage in sexual activity, they will have intercourse with pretty much anyone. They have no respect for their host’s morals, values or religious beliefs. This is partly because they generally border on being sociopaths or psychopaths; and partly because they aren’t around to suffer the consequences of their actions. Their victims may end up pregnant; shunned by friends, family and society; and/or afflicted with a venereal diseases.
I know, because for over two decades I did the exact same thing to my hosts’ bodies. I may never have become aware of what my victims went through, had it not been for an unusual host that I had the very good fortune of hopping in 1807.
Her name was Emily, and she was a strong willed, beautiful young woman. I encountered her while buying supplies for a trip out west. She was working in her father’s general store in St. Louis, Missouri, and from the second I saw her, I knew I had to have her. I waited until she finished her shift, and then followed her to her friend’s house. With sunset approaching, I knew she wouldn’t be there for long before returning to her home above the general store. I hid in an alleyway that I figured she would walk past on her return trip. When she approached, I lay down on the ground and moaned as if in pain. I knew she was a nice enough person that she would come to my aid. When she came to my side and touched my arm, I made my move. Before she had a chance to object or run away, I was literally inside her body and running the show. Her mind was in that familiar comatose state, and I was free to go about my business with her body.
Unlike the others, though, I had a faintest sense of her mind in the background. It didn’t happen right away, and I couldn’t even pin down when it did occur. It started with a faint sense of confusion, and went up from there. It wasn’t until maybe my twentieth time having intercourse with yet another man that I felt something else: shock, horror, and shame. It hit me like a tidal wave, and was absolutely the worst emotional state I’d ever experienced. There was nothing I could do to suppress it - hopping a body was supposed to shut down the host’s conscious mind. Hoppers had no defence against the host coming to, because it never happened.
The emotional trauma I experienced motivated me to leave Emily’s body right away. I walked over to a nearby shed where I had my males clothing stashed, and initiated the process of reforming my usual body. Something went wrong, though - as soon as I started to pull out of her, something in her mind clamped down on me, locking me inside her. I had no idea a host could do this. I fought her, but her grip didn’t budge an inch. I fought until I didn’t have any energy left. It was then, when I was at my weakest, that she completely overwhelmed me with her memories of what she went through. And she remembered everything, right from moment I took over her body, and through all the shameful acts I performed using her shell. The feeling of shame she experienced from everyone looking at her like she was no more than a whore. Her beau breaking up with her. It was all there, and I felt it all. I never knew such pain, and that was just from one victim. I knew the others I had hopped had no memories of my time in their bodies, but they had to live with the damage I had done. I made a vow, right then and there, that I would never take over someone else’s body without their express consent. I also made a promise, both to myself and Emily, that I would stop other hoppers from destroying their hosts’ lives.
If I could feel Emily’s emotions, and read her thoughts, she could do the same of mine. She knew I was being sincere, and it was then that she allowed me to leave. I reformed in front of her, staggering a bit. I was weakened from the fight, and the emotional onslaught. She could have taken advantage of that and killed me with little effort, but she didn’t. She knew that there were other hoppers out there, and that they needed to be dealt with. She didn’t have the resources or skill to stop them, but she knew I would figure it out. She just looked at me for a few very long moments, and then walked away. I knew that she would be leaving town shortly to start a new life elsewhere, as her reputation in St. Louis was beyond repair. I felt very guilty about that, and I hoped she would recover from the damage I had caused her one day.
Reeve looked at me, fearfully. The woman he currently occupied was beautiful, fit, and very bright. She had been in her third year of university, working towards a PhD in physics. I say ‘had’, because Reeve had ripped that from her. She was now pregnant, and a heavy smoker and drinker. Her school work had been ignored, and as a result, she was suspended. Her reputation had been all but destroyed by Reeve, who had slept his way through the football and basketball teams while in her body. Her fiance had broken off the engagement, as a result of her erratic behaviour and changed personality. Her life was a shambles, thanks to the sociopathic behaviour of yet another hopper. At least there would be justice - I would see to that.
He tried pleading and reasoning with me, and even threatening me, but it was all in vain. I only showed mercy to those who were genuinely remorseful,and would join my cause. I could not be fooled, as I could read any hopper’s true thoughts and intents once I made physical contact with them. It was an unpleasant experience, but I put myself through it in order to be 100% certain.
I gave him his options through the link - execution; or permanent elimination of his hopping powers, along with being locked into the form of a frail and unattractive woman. Death was the only option for many decades, until my research into hopper physiology paid off. I had found a way to destroy their ability to enter another body. I used that on a few hoppers I had caught, but it still left them as relatively healthy and strong men. Their anger at having their powers destroyed, compounded by their high sexual drive and being locked in a male body permanently, had severe consequences. A few of them were driven to the point of psychosis, with one becoming a rapist, and two more becoming serial killers. A few anonymous tips to police helped put all of them behind bars, and I spent more time refining the treatment.
Years later, it paid off. I could lock them into a female form, but it was not the physically desirable kind that they were accustomed to. Instead, their new body was small, weak and physically plain. They had a much reduced chance of causing others physical harm, and they would not be able to use good looks to manipulate people. They still had a chance at a decent life, but they would have to work hard at becoming better people. It had been successful so far, but I had people keep an eye on my ‘parolees’, just to be sure.
Reeve took only a few moments before giving his choice. Like the vast majority, he chose to live. I was relieved, as I never liked taking the life of another being, no matter how much they may deserve to be ended. I released my hold on him, and he flowed out of his host’s body. Even before he fully formed, I had injected the compound into his thigh. The changes to his form started instantly, and I watched as he shrunk in height and mass. He became a she - a mousy and plain looking brunette no more than five foot tall, and about 35 years old.
She looked a bit scared. I handed her a card and a cheap cell phone, and said, “Call this number - they will help you set up your new life and get you some ID. There are also counsellors available, if you need someone to talk to.” I found reform is nearly impossible if you don’t offer the resources to help.
I handed her a bag of clothes, and went to check on her victim. She would be coming to shortly, and would need someone to help her with her initial confusion. For the rest of the mess Reeve had made of her life, the counsellors available to hoppers were also available to their victims. There was also health care and financial resources available to them. It was the least I could do for them, as I was still making amends to Emily, and all the other others prior to her. That guilt lived on, and even diminished by the passing of two centuries, was still a powerful motivator to stop the abuses of other hoppers.
Another life saved, and another hopper’s depredations stopped. I took a moment to feel good about what I was doing, and to thank the Universe for helping me to help others.