Chapter 5

Cate Fox and the Case of the Fading Magic by Emily


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Synopsis: Cate and Sophia take a trip into town.

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As we passed the Administration Building on the way to the campus exit, I remembered that the uniform lady admitted to taking an interest in campus gossip. I wonder what she knows about Ashley Tart. 


I stopped Sophia before we got too far. “Hey, I want to go talk with the uniform lady real quick.”


“Why?” She seemed annoyed at the delay. “You’re not still upset about the skirt, are you?”


“Uh, yeah,” I replied, accepting Sophia’s rationale. “I wanted to see if she would exchange it for another pair of pants.”


“But you don’t even have it with you,” Sophia argued. 


I left her there, rolling my eyes. I should ignore this lest I dig myself into a deeper lie.


“And you should at least try it on first!” she continued to call out.


I ignored her objections and entered the Administration Building then walked into the uniform shop. 


Thankfully, the lady was there and recognized me instantly. “Cate Fox. Back already?”


“Hey - I found a skirt in my bag. I should return that to you right?”


“Keep it,” she said with a wink.


I knew it. She did that on purpose. But that’s not why I’m really here. “Hey, I remember you saying you know a lot of campus gossip.”


She chuckled. “Being a teenager was such a long time ago for me, dear. I find keeping informed makes me feel… younger.”


“I heard this rumor of a missing student-”


“Ah, Ashley Tart,” she answered. She then shook her head. “Don’t let the upperclassmen get under your skin, Cate. They’re just trying to frighten you for a good laugh.”


“Well, I am curious. What do you know about her?”


“A bright young girl. She was well liked.”


“I thought she was middle aged.”


“Cate, youth has nothing to do with experience. I’m 60 but I feel alive here.”


“OK, but if Ashley was well liked did she have any enemies?”


“None that were apparent. She was popular, but not so popular that people resented her. She did, however, have an on-and-off rivalry with Kayla Robinson.”


“I think I met her,” I acknowledged. “A real bitch. Do you think Kayla did something to Ashley?”


“What? Heavens, no! Kayla’s still a good kid. She’s just had a rough transition.” 


“I’ll take your word for it. So are people speculating about Ashley’s disappearance?”


“Students can’t help but speculate.”


“What do they think happened?”


“Oh, I’ve heard it all,” she recited a mental list. “Ashley got abducted by aliens. She met a Normie lover. She found a way to go back to her old life. She left to go to Washington to protest anti-trans laws.”


“And what do you think? I heard she was last seen in town.”


“Well…my money is on, she found a Normie lover.”


“Thank you,” I said. “You’ve been a big help.” I started walking away.


“You’re welcome, dear. And don’t let those rumors get to you. And do try on that skirt. Let me know if it fits!”


I waved and ignored that last part as I walked away. “Aliens,” I muttered. “This place is nuts.”


Outside, Sophia was texting on her cellphone and quickly put it away when she saw me. “Did you order more skirts?” She joked.


“Ha ha,” I flatly replied.


As we walked out of the gate to the school, and on towards the main road, I looked around. The road I came in on with the Kincades went in one direction for what looked like corn fields for eternity. The other direction went up a hill. I don’t remember seeing a populated area on the way into campus.


 “We’re still in the middle of nowhere,” I complained to Sophia. “Where is this town?”


“The town is over this hill,” she explained. “The academy owns all of this land and has kept anyone from developing it.”


“What are they doing with all of this corn?”


She simply shrugged.


“In my experience, when there’s this much corn, some seriously freaky shit is going down.”


She chose not to respond to me. Tough crowd.


“Did you ever see Children of the Corn?”


“No. That’s an old movie right?”


“It’s not old. It came out in the 80’s. Classic horror flick.”


“Seth was born in the 90’s,” she replied flatly.


I shrugged. I wonder what kind of movies she did watch.


We walked along the sidewalk and up the hill until we reached the end of the academy property. From there the sidewalk continued down the other side until it reached a small town with a row of shops lining the main street.


“They say this town was built to support the academy,” Sophia explained. “So it’s at least a hundred years old.”


“Ms. Hathaway said the school was… pre-colonial.” I still had a hard time wrapping my head around that one.


“Not the town. The town popped up with the railroad.”


“Of course.” I can imagine parents in the 19the and early 20th century shipping their TG’d kids here by train. 


“Many of the shop’s owners are actually descendants of PAA alumni. Although none of the Normies would ever admit to having TG in their lineage.”


“Sounds like the rest of America,” I added. “Nobody wants to admit they had immigrants in their lineage either.”


“Yeah, that’s interesting seeing as the town wants the academy gone.”


“That doesn’t surprise me in the least.”


“How do you know so much about the town?”


“I’m from Weatherford. Born and raised. Or rather Seth was. I was reborn at PAA.”


“So your parents - I mean Seth’s parents - are still here?”


Sophia was silent for a few seconds. “I guess. I haven’t tried talking to them since they disowned me.”


“I’m thinking about disowning Emma's parents, if that makes you feel better.”


Sophia smiled and led me to the pharmacy. I was expecting a name-brand franchise like CVS or Walgreens. Instead it was simply called “Kelly’s Pharmacy.” We walked in and I was treated to just a normal store like those franchises. I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe corn.


Sophia grabbed a shopping basket and walked over to the hair products aisle. 


As I was looking for my usual shampoo, Sophia was tossing into the basket a pack of hair ties, hair clips, and other accessories.


“What are you doing?” I asked, annoyed. “I don’t need that stuff.”


“I’m surprised you haven’t asked for a hair tie yet. Unless you had long hair as a guy…”


As I pushed a strand of hair away from my face I realized she was right. “No, I had a receding hairline.” Then the hair fell right back in my face. “Fine,” I grumbled. “We can keep the hair ties. I don’t need those clips though.”


“But they’re sooo cute,” Sophia whined.


“How were you ever a guy?” I mumbled under my breath. Then I grabbed the closest bottle of men’s shampoo.


“Cate,” she chided, looking at the bottle in my hand. “Are we going to need to have an intervention?”


“What? Shampoo is shampoo,” I countered.


“No, it’s not. If you want to smell like Grandpa, sure. It's time to broaden your hair product choices.” She came to my side and grabbed a lock of my hair then let it go. “Oily,” she said as she wiped her hand on her skirt. “You have wavy hair right?”


I thought back to when Emma was in control of this body. Her hair was wavy and had more life. The last time I checked the mirror, the hair on my head looked flat. Not straight, just lifeless. “I think so.”


“Well, we need shampoos designed for your hair type.”


“Shampoos? As in more than one?”


“Absolutely. There are different shampoos for different hair styles, colors, curliness, even smells.”


I was very much out of my element. I should yield to Sophia’s expertise. “Lead the way,” I conceded, head down in defeat. I followed her up and down the aisle as she explained shampoo, conditioner, curl patterns, and sulfates. Her lecture concluded with me putting the suggested products in our basket.


I then followed her to the cosmetic aisle.


“Is your Femininity class talking about makeup yet?” she asked, picking up a tube of lipstick and examining it.


“I’ve only been to one class,” I countered.


“Well, we’ll come back to this when you’re ready, then.” She put the lipstick back on the shelf.


“Thank you,” I said, relieved I didn’t have to sit through a makeup lecture.


“Hey,” she said, stopping me. “How long have you been a girl?”


“It’s been three long days.” I replied.


“Oh boy. Then I have a question you may or may not know the answer to.”


“What is it?”


“Do you know when your cycle is?”


“My… what?” I choked out. “Hell, no!”


“It’s a fair question, Cate. You’re going to need pads or tampons sooner or later.” She started walking down the feminine hygiene aisle.


“I’m not ready for this,” I complained, following her anyway.


“What girl is?”


“I thought we were here for hair products only,” I continued to protest.


“Listen, I’m going to make this easy for you. One box of pads and one box of tampons. Try them out. You can decide which one you like later.”


“Fine,” I seethed through my teeth. Having her remind me that a woman's time of the month is in my short term future and slowly drawing near, reminded me that I wanted to get my own body back. There’s a ticking clock and I don’t know when it’s up. It could be tomorrow. It could be four weeks from now. And what if I don’t get one, I shuddered. Maybe I should read that pamphlet on menstruation before time runs out.


We got in line for the checkout counter when I realized I didn’t have money. “Hey, I don’t have any money for this,” I whispered to Sophia.


“Your parents didn’t give you a credit card?”


My parents are deceased, but I’m sure she meant the Kincades. “They dumped me here with just the clothes on my back and a suitcase.”


She pulled a credit card out of her purse. “Well, you should write to them and ask them for money.”


I had no intention of writing to the Kincades. Maybe I could get the department to give me per diem since I’m undercover on a case. “Sophia, what do you do for money?”


“My parents also disowned me when I became Sophia,” she explained. “It was too much for them when their deadbeat adult son turned into a teen girl. I had to take from my 401k just to survive. I was thinking of getting a part time job next year. The very limited money I made when I was an adult is going to run out soon.”


That sounded rough. I’m at least holding out hope I can return to my body. Hopefully, before I too must crack open my retirement fund. Sophia seems to have accepted her fate, and has to do her high school years all over again. I remember high school the first time around, and I feel sorry for her. “I’ll pay you back for this.”


“Don’t worry about it, roomie,” she said, placing a hand on my shoulder and smiling. “I know where you live.” She then frowned. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when money runs out.”


“Maybe you can sell school supplies,” I joked.


“Or I can try to get Seth’s job back part-time.”


I nodded. Maybe I shouldn’t tell her that I’m currently being paid to be here. That made me feel guilty. I’ll have to pay my roommate back.


After Sophia paid, we walked out of the pharmacy. 


“Where to?” I asked.


“Well, we can go back if you want.” She paused in thought, then smiled. “But we can also stay here longer if you want, too. There’s some clothing stores we can check out.”


The store adjacent to the pharmacy caught my eye and I walked over to it. It was a liquor store. I was about to go in when Sophia cleared her throat.


“I know, I know,” I sighed as I stepped away from the door. I stopped and turned to her. “Fake ID?”


“As if either of us can pass for 21,” she replied.


“What about a senior?” I asked, brainstorming how to get a case of beer for the room.


“Honestly, Cate, I’ve been sober for a year. I don’t really miss it.” 


“Sounds like your former self was interesting, Soph. I wonder if I'd get along with him.”


“I doubt it,” she said flatly. “Nobody liked him.” Clearly she hated talking about her past life.


Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to wait until Max gives me that case of beer he owes me. Across the street was a diner. That must be the diner Amanda said she saw Ashley go into. “Hey. You hungry? Let’s grab a bite to eat here instead of the dining hall. You can add it to my tab.”


Sophia didn’t say anything, so I took that as confirmation.


I was about to cross the street when she grabbed my arm. “Cate, we can’t go in there.”


“Why not? Are they gonna ID us too?”


“They don’t like… our kind.”


“Our kind? Well, that’s bullshit. A restaurant is a restaurant, let's go.”


I crossed the street and a reluctant Sophia followed me. We walked into the restaurant and the door jingled as we entered.


The hostess looked at us wide eyed. She checked us out from head to toe, getting a good look at our school uniforms.


“Table for two,” I requested with a polite smile.


The hostess grabbed two menus and silently escorted us to a booth, threw the menus down, and left without saying anything.


“This place sure is friendly,” I said loudly, as I sat in the booth.


“We should leave and try a different place,” Sophia cautioned as she sat in the seat across from me.


“Nonsense.” I picked up a menu and scanned it. “Oh, I can totally go for a pastrami sandwich. I’ll bet they don’t have pastrami on the school menu.”


Just then a man who didn’t look like a waiter came up to us. “Hi, I'm the manager.” He looked at both of us. “You two need to leave.”


Sophia put her head down and was about to get out of the booth when I stopped her. 


“Excuse me?” I said to the manager.


“You boys are not welcome,” he repeated.


“Funny. I could’ve sworn it's bad business to insult the patrons.”


“Please don’t make me call the sheriff,” the manager advised.


“Go ahead, call the sheriff,” I dared. “And while he’s on his way, I’d love a pastrami sandwich and a coke. And my friend would like…” I motioned to Sophia who I don't think even looked at the menu.


“Garden salad and water,” she meekly responded.


“Oh - and fries,” I added. I looked at the manager who didn’t seem amused. “You may want to write that down.”


The manager turned and walked away.


“He didn’t write that down,” I said to Sophia. “I hope he doesn’t mess up my order.”


“We shouldn't be here,” she repeated. “We should go.”


“Relax, it’ll be fine.”


Just then a woman came up to us who actually did look like a waitress and whispered, “What are you girls doing?”


“Ordering dinner,” I smugly replied.


“I told y’all before, if you want to come here, ditch the uniforms,” she admonished. “You can’t be coming around here dressed like that.”


She seemed friendlier than the hostess and manager, so maybe she’ll answer a few questions. “Since you work here,” I began, “I’m looking for a friend who may have come in weeks ago. Ashley.”


She looked at me, her eyes wide, shook her head, and whispered, “We can’t talk about this right now,” and walked away without taking our order.


Great. The only person willing to have a conversation with us just left. I turned to Sophia. “I’m not sure I’m going to get that sandwich.”


Five minutes went by. No drinks. No food.


I heard the restaurant’s door jingle and turned to see a police officer, dressed in a western sheriff’s uniform, complete with cowboy hat, strut in. He saw us and slowly walked directly towards us, emphasizing his swagger as his boots clopped on the floor. I’ve dealt with my share of these types of officers. This guy looks like a small-town jackass. King of his own little fiefdom.


“Good evening, boys,” he drawled, not bothering to look us in the eyes.


I dramatically looked around the booth then back at him. “I don’t see any boys here, officer.”


“You know what I mean,” he said, now looking directly at me. “I heard you’re causing a disturbance. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”


“But we didn’t get our food yet.”


He said nothing and pointed at the exit.


Again, Sophia was about to get up, but I stopped her.


“Are you the sheriff?” I asked.


“I’m Sheriff Dearing,” he replied.


“Well, I have a few questions about Ashley Tart.”


“I’m losing my patience,” the sheriff raised his voice.


“She’s a missing person who was last seen in your jurisdiction, Sheriff Dearing.”


“Are you going to leave freely or will I have to use force?”


I said nothing.


Sophia looked at me and pleaded. “Cate. We should go.”


“It’s a free country. Our money is good. I’m hungry. This is a restaurant.”


Before I knew it, Sherif Douchebag grabbed me by the collar, pulled me out of the booth, and slammed me down on the table. 


Ouch. My face was directly on the table. “Fuck you,” I spat. 


He leaned on me harder. 


“Where is my sandwich?” I demanded. “Where is Ashley Tart?”


It’s been decades since another human was able to pick me up so freely. I wonder how much I weigh now. I tried to resist, but instead felt the cold metal of handcuffs grip my wrists. Maybe I miscalculated this.


He pulled me up from the table. “Apparently money isn’t good in this establishment,” I yelled so the other patrons could see what was going on.


The sheriff escorted both of us out of the diner and to a cop car that was parked in front. He shoved me into the car. I scooted over so Sophia could join me. Thankfully, she wasn’t cuffed, but she did not look happy.


A normal person would be humiliated. But I wanted to send a message to the sheriff that I wasn’t fucking around. He might be bigger and stronger than me currently, but I see right through him.


“What’re your names?” the asshole sheriff asked.


“Sophia Blake,” Sophia nervously replied.


I looked at him and confidently replied, “Cate Fox. That’s Cate with a C.”


He was writing something down. That’s right, asshole. Write my name down. Remember it. I’m going to ruin you, sheriff.


* * *


He drove us back to the academy. As he pulled me out of the car, students were starting to gather and stare at us. Go look somewhere else! He then escorted us to the Administration Building where Ms. Hathaway was waiting.


“Ms. Hathaway.” I said before anyone else could speak. “The sheriff here was kind enough to give us a tour of the town. He said he really admires the work the school has done for the community.”


She didn’t look amused.


“Thank you, sheriff,” she said. “I’ll take it from here.”


The sheriff uncuffed me, turned around, and left without saying another word.


I rubbed my wrists. That asshole put the cuffs on way too tight.


The headmistress looked at us both. “Miss Blake, you are dismissed.”


Sophia timidly walked away.


The angry headmistress then looked daggers at me. “My office. Now.”


I followed her to her office and when we were both inside, she slammed the door.


“What were you thinking?” she yelled. “Making a scene in a Normie establishment. Going toe to toe with the town sheriff?”


“I was conducting an investigation,” I replied. “And I was hungry. And I never got my sandwich.”


“Miss Fox, you have to be more careful when in the town. There are people who do not accept our kind. And when you bring attention to us, it is me who has to clean up the mess. There are people in that town who not only want to see this academy closed, but to see each of us dead. We fight for our right to exist every day. It is my job to make sure the students here have a safe space. Part of that job is keeping the townspeople at bay.”


“I was working on my investigation of Ashley-”


“Miss Fox,” the headmistress cut me off. “Remember, I cannot shield you from consequences. Be more careful.” She was quiet for a moment. 


“Is that all?” I asked.


“You’re dismissed,” she confirmed.


I turned to walk out of her office, but I stopped at the threshold and asked, “Did Ashley Tart have a roommate?”


“No,” was all the headmistress said.


I walked out of the Administration Building where Sophia was waiting for me. She was holding the bag of items we had bought at the pharmacy.


“Cate, what happened?” she asked. It was nice to know my roommate had concern for me.


“She yelled at me,” I simply replied, showing her that I was unfazed.


“Were you expelled?”


“No such luck.”


“I’m glad that’s over with,” she sounded relieved. “Let's go to the dining hall. I’m hungry.”


“I hope they have pastrami,” I said as we started walking to the dining hall. 


Sophia rolled her eyes at me.


As we got closer, it appeared the dining hall was alive with activity. I turned to Sophia. “Does everyone eat at the same time?”


“Mostly.”


I got an idea. “Hey - where did Ashley Tart live?”


“Why do you keep asking about her? I don’t understand your obsession.”


“I like a good mystery,” I replied.


“She lived in Colby Hall.”


I nodded. 


As we got to the entrance of the dining hall I stopped in front of the door. “Go ahead,” I said to my roommate. “I need to run back to the room. I forgot something.” 


Sophia nodded as she walked into the dining hall and when she couldn’t see me, I quickly dashed to Colby Hall.


Colby Hall was decorated much like Cooper Hall. It was quiet since everyone was at dinner. I didn’t know which room I was looking for, but thankfully each door had a heart decoration with the occupant’s name on it.


I quickly ran down the hall of each floor. On the second floor I found an Ashley name tag. But she had a roommate named Cecila. Wrong Ashley. On the third floor, I found another Ashley with no roommate.


I turned the doorknob. Of course it was locked. I looked at the room number. 312. I would need to find a way to get in here later. Perhaps I could come back after hours with something to pick this lock.


I left Colby Hall and joined Sophia for dinner. Dinner was over-cooked, dried-out chicken. Sadly it was not a pastrami sandwich.


* * *


At night, after Sophia turned out the lights, I laid in bed fully clothed in today’s uniform and decided what time I was going to go investigate Ashley’s room. I still heard noises coming from outside the window, so not everyone was asleep yet.


I checked my phone and there weren't any new messages. I decided to text Chief Hamilton to send me a credit card. Hopefully he could authorize something like that. I also asked him to look up information on one Sheriff Dearing from Weatherford to see what dirt I could use to take that asshole down a few notches.


“Hey Cate,” Sophia asked from her bed.


“Yeah, Sophia?”


“That was scary today. We could’ve gotten hurt.”


“I’m used to it.”


“I don't know who you used to be. But you’re not that person anymore.”


“I can handle myself.”


I heard my roommate sigh. I suppose next time I attempt to assert my male dominance I should leave Sophia at home. Last thing I want is for her to get hurt.


“It was fun though,” she admitted. “The most excitement I’ve had in a while.”


I smiled. “Really? Compared to this morning?” My mind drifted to having her forcibly put my bra on me.


She didn’t respond to that, making me wonder if I said something wrong.


Twenty minutes later, when Sophia was snoring and the noises outside abated, I got out of bed, grabbed a few paperclips I “borrowed” from Sophia’s school supplies, and tiptoed out of the room.


I quickly made my way out of Cooper Hall, across the artificially lit empty quad and to Colby Hall. There was a student night watch at the desk with her back turned to the door who was chatting on her cellphone. I tiptoed to the nearest stairwell so she couldn’t see me.


I went up to floor three. The hallway was quiet. I continued inconspicuously walking to Ashley’s room. When I got to the door, I started to pick the lock when I realized the door was already unlocked.


I turned the knob slowly, pushed the door open, and walked inside the room. A desk lamp was on. As the door squeaked, I heard frantic footsteps.


Someone was here.


“Hello?” I called out.


I heard a thud in the closet. I walked over to the closet and opened the closet door and found a girl, slightly taller than me with bright neon pink hair. She had orange eyes. A Shifter. “Who are you?”


“Sam,” she replied. “Who are you?”


“I’m Cate.”


“The new girl?”


“Yeah.”


As I stepped away from the closet, she rushed me and pushed me down. She then ran out the door.


“Sam, wait!” I called.


Then I heard another voice from the hallway. It wasn’t Sam’s.


Shit. We caused too much commotion. I grabbed a blanket from Ashley’s closet and draped it over my head to not be recognized. Good thing everyone at this academy wears the same uniform. Although, how many girls wear chinos? I hoped my non-conformance didn’t come back to bite me.


I quickly left the room, as the neighboring doors started opening.


I closed the door behind me and quickly made my way to the stairwell before anyone could stop me.


When I left the building I tossed the blanket and ran toward the shadows to avoid the well-lit quad. When no one appeared to follow me, I returned to my dorm and to my room.


I quietly returned to bed, annoyed that this excursion was derailed by this “Sam.” If Sam was even her real name. Her eyes were orange, she could’ve been anyone.


What was she doing in Ashley’s room? Hiding evidence? Stealing evidence?


I could try to enter Ashley’s room again, but likely whatever Sam was there to do was already done. My next task was to find Sam and see why she too was breaking into Ashley’s room.


Before I knew it, I had dozed off, dreaming of solving both cases.


I suddenly was woken up by the bed jostling. “Dammit Soph-”


I looked up and a hooded figure was above me. 


If I had my way, I would’ve reached over to my underwear drawer, pulled out my Glock, and blown this person’s head clean off. And this person would be responsible for all of the missing students. Case Closed. Cate is a hero. Max calls me up and tells me they found Emma and the Slider and I’m back to being Jack tomorrow in time for a beer and pastrami sandwich dinner.


But that’s not what happened.


I was about to roll over to reach my underwear drawer, but the figure pinned both of my arms down and sat on top of me. I was unable to move.


The hooded figure then released one arm so they could put their hand on my face.


A Slider. Not again.



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Emily

Hi, I'm Emily and I'm writing Gender Transformation Fiction! This site is a place for me to keep all of my stories in one place. I'm also a software developer in the daytime, so this site will also be a proving ground of cool new features that pop into my head. Feel free to message me on Twitter or at my Discord Server! You can also find me on TGStorytime.com and FictionMania.tv.

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marter

I always get Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned mixed up.
I didn't expect another slider.
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kinuyasha2

Really enjoying the story so far!

Feel like the end but there is a false cliffhanger (not a slider), but still curious about what comes next.

Hoping that eventually Cate joins the Lacrosse team. Maybe some enemies to lovers with Kayla XD. Feel like that's a ship doomed to ex-wife status.

This line "Where is my sandwich?” I demanded. “Where is Ashley Tart" made me chuckled. Relatable priorities.

I hope Cate eventually refines her detective skills to suit her new situation, but not too fast. I'm enjoying seeing her struggle :P

The setting of the story vaguely reminds me of the Netflix show Wednesday, but with a different context. As a long time reader of TG stuff I like the potential it has for playing with tropes.

Anyways, great story, keep it up!
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Emily

Actually - the idea was certainly inspired by Wednesday. Someone mentioned it on my discord and slowly a story started to come together. We all agreed to make this idea my next story.
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