Masks 19.3 - Going Up [Cutscene]

Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking …

My name is Jason Quill. My name is Jason Quill.

I’m a ghost.

I’m a girl.

I’m a freaking Ghost Girl.

And when she passes, each one she passes goes, “Ah!”

We can’t tell anyone.

The elevator continues to ascend, silently, smoothly. The lights of the city are in view through the glass walls as the car tracks along the side of League Tower North.

(“Goddamned pretentious bastards,” Dad grumbles over the table. “For what those buildings cost them, they could have installed a goddamned fusion reactor and not put a strain on the city grid when they rail-launch their jump-jet.”)

When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gently …

I cannot believe that the League actually has “The Girl from Ipanema” playing in their elevators. It must be ironic. I pray it’s ironic. I mean, sure, Harry’s Dad would probably do it un-ironically, but what are the odds?

That when she passes, each one she passes goes, “Ah!”

Body shifting. Or mind shifting.

I’m in a Buddhist temple that Dad just saved from an orbital death laser (do not ask), and one of the monks is “entertaining the kids” by challenging Amir and me with Zen koans. That includes the old “Am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a man?” one.

Am I Jason Quill dreaming I am in the body of Ghost Girl, or Ghost Girl dreaming that she is possessed by Jason Quill?

Given that we’re heading toward the penthouse suite and a grilling by the Halcyon Heroes League, it’s a difference I can’t afford to worry about.

Oh, but I watch her so sadly.

How should I feel, trapped in a woman’s body? Mortified? Is my “manhood” threatened?

I mean, I know, I’m supposed to be a teenage guy who gets all pissed off by anything that seems to make him less of a grunt-grunt Manly Guy®.

Dude, I grew up being taught and trained and bodyguarded by the manliest man I could imagine. And he was gay.

My manhood and heterosexuality aren’t threatened by this.

Well, not much. And assuming this is temporary.

How can I tell her, “I love you?”

Okay, should I be pervy curious? I’m in a woman’s body. I’ve known guys who would excuse themselves to the bathroom and … “Do you want to know more?”

Charlotte is a team mate. A friend. Doing that would be like staying over at someone’s house, then ransacking their nightstand looking for porn and sex toys.


Okay, fine, I’m enough of a teenage heterosexual guy to think about it. But I’m too much of a – jeez, I sound like my Dad – gentleman to actually take advantage of the situation.

I just … won’t think about it much.

Yes, I would give my heart gladly.

Is this how trans guys feel? “Trapped in a woman’s body”? That seems really un-PC, and there are a world of differences: I’ve been shoved into this body, not grown up in it … and it’s most likely temporary.

No, it’s not the same (but I think I’ll maybe understand more next time I run into someone who’s trans).

But each day, when she walks to the sea.

Except I’m also a ghost, whatever the hell that actually means.

She looks straight ahead …

Okay, stop thinking about it. Stop thinking about me. You’re the leader, Jason? How are the others holding up?

I have the biggest ego in the world. I think. At least, that explains why I immediately look at …

… not at me.

Jason Quill. Leo.

Is that what I look like to others?

No. He’s slouching. And scowling. Straighten up. Control yourself. Don’t act like a –

Jesus Christ on a pogo stick. I sound like my dad.

Looking at me – my body – is so weird. It should be like looking at myself in a mirror, but it’s not. It’s not a mirror image. That makes it feel more real. Which is – deeply disturbing.

He looks at me. What’s he thinking? What does he feel inside my body, with my senses? How does he see me?

What might he do?

I shake my head, slightly. He frowns, even though the gesture was meant for myself, not him.

I trust Leo not to do anything rash or stupid – well, nothing that would put my body at risk. Unnecessary risk, at least. He doesn’t seem to like me much, and it’s hard sometimes to trust someone with his background – but I only have to look at how he acts toward Otto, toward Pneuma, toward –

Tall and tan and young and lovely

– Numina to know that he is a far more compassionate and … trustworthy guy than he pretends to be sometimes. Or than most people think of him.

My body is in good hands. As long as this effect fades away soon. If it doesn’t –

– A flash image of Leo, in my body, with –

– it will be more challenging. For all of us.

The girl from Ipanema goes walking

I look at Harry. Well, Adam, but Harry’s in his body.

Harry thinks we should be straight with the HHL. Honest. Tell them what’s going on. Even if that opens up a whole can of worms. How can they trust us having gotten snagged up in this? How would they react to us “kid” in this situation? How would Harry’s dad react, or – jeez, what would Hecate think about Jason Quill’s mind inside of Charlotte Palmer’s body?

Dumb idea, Harry. Very dumb.

I understand it, though. Part of that is that Harry’s just a straight-shooter. Part of it is that he’s so dependent on his dad’s opinion of him (gee, I can’t imagine what that feels like).

Part of it is that he trusts the HHL. And, yeah, maybe he’s a little of a brown nose.

I’ve always kind of liked Harry, for all we’ve never been very close. In some ways, we’re a lot alike: kids of famous parents, in the public eye since childhood. I had a cartoon, he had some action figures. I caught fall-out from Dad’s public stance on national security matters. He was involved in HHL politics. We’re sort of cousins in the same big dysfunctional family. Except he’s the straight-arrow, and I’m the too-frequent disappointment.

How’s he doing now? He – Adam’s body – is fidgeting. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands. His eyes are darting around.

Is it worry about the League folk – including his parents – up above? Or is it the Concordance voice in his head?

(I feel like I hear voices, whispering, sighing, crying out, groaning. The dead? That’s so --)

And when she passes, I smile but she doesn’t see …

Adam’s in Harry’s body. His eyes are more still than Harry’s. But he hasn’t talked much. I smile at him, but he doesn’t seem to see me.

I realize his foot is tapping, at super-speed. It’s a blur, a soft trill of sound rather than steps or slaps.

Tall and tan and young and lovely,

My eyes shift, painfully, to Charlotte. The person who should be in me. Im this body.

I feel vaguely embarrassed to look at her, residing in Leo’s body, while I’ve kicked her out of her own.

Of course, it was her “magic spell” that triggered this. I should resent her for it. Instead, I … feel like I should apologize. Reassure her I’m not going to abuse her body. It should go without saying …

I can’t read her face in that damned armor and helmet, but she seems more excited than worried. She’s bouncing a bit on her toes, up and down, up and down. Maybe it’s because she has toes, rather than sort of vaguely trailing off into a floating vapor.

Like I am.

We need to talk about this, about this body, what it does, what it can do – when we get past whatever comes next.

The girl from Ipanema goes walking,

What does happen next? Star chamber? Wizard court? Sweat us out under bright lights? McCarthy-style HUAC hearings? Dad and Rusty standing over us in the living room and cheesed off over the airship exploding and it was Amir who brought the flares and that stupid Achilles Chin with his laser beam and it wasn’t my fault?

Given everything else that’s been dropped on us, will we crack? Or, rather, who will crack first?

It can’t be me.

And when she passes, I smile but she doesn’t see … she just doesn’t see …

The car slows.

Whatever it is, we’ll face it together.

A soft chime reverberates around us.

The doors open.


“The Girl from Ipanema”

  • Audio recording of the 1962 recording, with João Gilberto and his wife Astrud Gilberto, with Stan Getz on the sax. Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes wrote the original Portuguese song, with English lyric translation by Norman Gimbel. The story goes that when, while doing a Portuguese recording, the idea came up of adding a verse in English, and Astrud was the only member of the team who knew the language well enough to perform it.
  • Live TV production, again featuring Astrud Gilberto (her first US TV appearance) and Stan Getz.
  • Later version by Frank Sinatra and Tom Jobim.

author: *** Dave H.

Leo’s probable thoughts, in no particular order.

  • Boxers vs. Briefs has been settled, Jason. God. You’re on the wrong side of history.
  • Shit. We have the Ponies AMA coming up. No way am I letting Charlotte talk to them as me.
  • This building is like 20 years ahead of the world and they pick this song? Really?
  • Why does every muscle in my body feel like it’s hurting?
  • What the hell is that noise I keep hearing?

author: Bill G.

If more people wanted to chime in with “my thoughts while in the elevator”, I would not complain.

“Boxers and Briefs” comment got a LOL, btw.

author: Doyce T.

I love the whole thing Dave did, but Leo is actually kind of blasé about being in another body right now. Practicing coping with body dysphoria was part of the construction of Otto and Pneuma, and even with this incident he’s got an “ain’t got time to bleed” attitude with all the other shit going on.

author: Bill G.

Bill G. said:

I love the whole thing Dave did, but Leo is actually kind of blasé about being in another body right now. Practicing coping with body dysphoria was part of the construction of Otto and Pneuma, and even with this incident he’s got an “ain’t got time to bleed” attitude with all the other shit going on.

That makes perfect sense.

while Jason on the other hand is so concerned about who he is, voices in his head, and bodily integrity that this whole thing just hits his buttons – at least in the short term, and for a certain measure of comedic effect.

Also, “boxers vs briefs” – ha!

I’d love to hear from the others, too, and apologies for any mild stepping on of toes viz reactions Jason observed.

author: *** Dave H.

*** Dave H. said:
apologies for any mild stepping on of toes viz reactions Jason observed.

Nonsense, I thought it made a good writing prompt.

author: Bill G.

Oh, I know – I didn’t intend it as a writing prompt for others, but I like the idea.

And any erroneous interpretation can merely be from Jason not being an omniscient observer at the best of times, let along in his present circumstances. Maybe he thinks Leo is scowling a lot because Jason’s face tends to scowl more than he realizes it does. Or maybe it’s just annoyance over the music.

author: *** Dave H.

Doyce T. said:

If more people wanted to chime in with “my thoughts while in the elevator”, I would not complain.

Adam’s thoughts…

Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes
Each one she passes goes

Swings so cool…

author: Mike

^^ +1

author: *** Dave H.