The Naked Truth
Charlene didn't know why her world changed, only that it did.
It was Saturday, and her tennis lesson wasn't going well. Franco was an excellent coach, she knew he was, but for some reason her wrist would not listen to him, twisting a bit on each stroke. This was having a deleterious effect on her accuracy, and it was damned frustrating!
Franco scolded her again, mocking in tone. "Charlene, you are a beautiful woman, but your swing is not so beautiful." You fucking arrogant prick!
He took several effortless steps to intercept her ball, and smacked it back over the net, to the corner opposite her own.
Without thinking, something in her decided she was going to get this one, no matter what. Legs pumping furiously, she launched herself across the court to intercept the yellow-green sphere she'd learned to hate this year. Her strides took her amazingly close, and then she knew with certainty she was going to make it, this time. Arms outstretched, her hand swinging back, sweat flying off in hot little bursts, she put everything she had into a single, concentrated burst of power meant to launch the ball back over at Franco and wipe that smug little European grin off the bastard's face. Her lips curled back in a snarl and she strained every muscle--
And now her head was on fire, the back of her skull percolated with needles seemingly slammed into her head with great force by some invisible club. Her knees crumpled, knocking her on her ass, the racket and ball lost to her now, flung far and wide. She felt more pain; knees, shins, elbows: the fall scraping her flesh off in wide red patches. But nothing compared to the hot, ripping sensation at the top of her neck. A nerve in her tongue, of all places, was pulsing wildly, and when Franco vaulted the net to come to her aid, she couldn't speak through its thickness.
The last thing she saw as the black, sparkly patchiness in her eyes took her under was the girl, standing naked as the world made her, looking down at her with concern.
The naked girl with her own face.
* * *
"It was probably a miniature stroke," Hansen was explaining. "Which is rare, but not unheard of for women in their mid-twenties. Your grandmother died of a stroke, didn't she?"
"She was eighty-seven," Charlene replied, defiantly.
Dr. Hansen took no offense; patients resenting their medical conditions were as old as the medical conditions themselves. "Yes, she was, but you're under a lot of stress, and that can accelerate deterioration of blood vessel walls. Not to mention raise your blood pressure."
This from a guy with a beer belly and smokers' teeth. Charlene couldn't-- no, wouldn't-- accept this criticism from such a man. Especially since she could see his naked twin standing beside him.
Like everyone, including herself.
At first, waking to see the nurse leaning over her charts, she'd assumed it was delirium that thrust upon her the image of the large black woman with pendulous breasts jiggling insanely next to her more appropriately-dressed counterpart, and her incoherent inquiry to the nurse about the extra visitor was giggled away as side-effects from the tranquilizers in the IV drip.
But as the hours had passed, her own simulacrum... partner... extra her... whatever... steadfastly refused to return to whatever chemical oblivion she arose from. The Charlene with no clothes on had merely looked at her with concern, and stroked her brow with insubstantial fingertips, always standing at her side.
As hours turned to days, Charlene had seen more of these entities-- countless more. Every person who entered her room, from medical residents to coworkers who'd visited her... everyone, without exception, had an unclothed replica which walked beside them, never speaking, just tending their material mate.
And the mysterious replicas seemed as invisible to each other as they were to their (owners? mates? prototypes?); at one point, the flower deliveryman's doppelganger had bumped into the day-shift nurse's, and then both shades continued on their way undaunted. Though the (real, solid) nurse had looked pointedly at the deliveryman a half-second after it happened... Something had passed unseen there, evidently, but Charlene was damned if she knew what. The IV drugs had made her content, preventing her from insanely demanding of every person in the room what the fuck was going on.
By the time Dr. Hansen had made his way into her room to discuss her case, she'd accepted the duplicates as almost normal.
"I want you," he continued, "to take several weeks off work. At least."
She objected, strenuously.
He raised his hands, fending this off. "No, I talked to your boss; she was here while you slept, and inquired about your condition. I told her my recommendation, and she concluded that it would be best for the company if you returned at the top of your game, rather than limping. I can't make you stay home," he said with a smile, "but I suspect she can." His naked partner smiled blandly, patting him on the shoulder.
"You had no right." Her fury was tempered by the glowy juice from the drip, but not by much. Now that bitch Gwynneth would finish the ACAPA project and take all the credit for it, no less for taking it up and excelling in an "emergency" situation.
Dr. Hansen didn't like the look in her eyes, but duty compelled him to continue. "I'm also prescribing Zolutac, which is the stuff in the drip there; it's a mild muscle relaxant and sedative. Your nurse will fill you in on the details. Not only will it help keep you stress-free, I think you'll find you don't want to do anything physical-- which is good, as you need to rest." His image was looking agitated now, and tapping Hansen's jacket pocket. The doctor glanced down at the pocket, his look slowly matching that of his other self, and he got to his feet. "I'm recommending your release tomorrow." He patted her on the hand, and as he bent, she saw what was in his pocket: a packet of cigarettes.
And then she knew, with real poignancy, that he was going to have a smoke-- that his unseen shadow had been influencing him, somehow, like the incarnation of his urges.
Before he was even out the door, she was laughing at the absurdity of it all. Her mirror image smiled at her benevolently and stroked her hair without moving a strand.
* * *
The Zolutac went straight into the trash as soon as she got home. Damned if she was going to be doped up for the next two weeks. She'd called Deborah immediately, but her superior had confirmed Hansen's story: she was taking a paid leave of absence, whether she liked it or not. "Relax," said her boss gently over the phone, "and have a good time away from this place."
A line had appeared between her twin's knitted brows, forehead wrinkling, and Charlene had a sudden urge to kick the phone. After she hung up, she succumbed to the urge, and the insubstantial Charlene smiled grimly as the phone's receiver keys emitted a cacophony of tones. Charlene matched the facial expression. Yeah, sister. I'm with you there.
Fuck this, she said voicelessly to the Other. I'm not sitting around the house this week. I'm going up north to the condo. Her newly-discovered companion nodded at her, words unspoken but implication clear: Let's do it.
* * *
The drive north was several hours long, but the scenery more than made up for it. Both she and her silent friend gazed happily at the trees which lined the side of the road.
Her condominium was on the shore of the east bay, and as she unpacked her bags and dragged them to the front door, she breathed deep of the cooler near-lake air. Delicious. Too bad her buddy wasn't carrying her share of the luggage, she thought, but then both clothed and unclothed versions of Charlene giggled and realized that she already was. Compulsive nudists pack light.
There wasn't much food in the pantry; she hadn't had enough time up here this year to accumulate a decent stash. There would have to be grocery shopping later. She crashed onto the living room lounge chair. Fortunately, she'd grabbed a sandwich an hour ago, so the need was not urgent.
Other needs, though, were starting to become manifest. Other-Charlene was looking at her mischievously, and reached down to touch her through her panties. There was no real contact made, and nothing had actually happened down there yet... but gradually, Charlene found herself wanting something to. You're right, she silently told her Other. It has been a long time...
The material Charlene kicked off her shorts, eliciting a wry smile from the Other, who had stopped stroking her as soon as she'd gotten the desired effect. Material fingers took the place of phantom ones, and she teased herself with slow pressure through the cotton panties, her observer beaming at her with approval, before eventually discarding the moistened undergarments. She could better access her pussy, now, and that made all the difference as her folds engorged and transitioned from damp to wet and she sank into her own familiar rhythm. The woman with her face, watching avidly, mimicking perfectly the stroking of her clitoris, did not seem to Charlene as unnatural, or in any way out of place. She's always been here, Charlene thought. Especially when I'm hungry, or horny, or... her thought process trailed off as her strokes quickened. She dipped a finger inside her cunt and withdrew it to smear the lubrication onto her lips and clit, making a delicious-feeling near-puddle in her lap, and then she was squeezing her clitoris between middle- and ring-fingers, and she could see that Other-Charlene was ready to come and then the Other kissed her right in her pussy and suddenly from her hindbrain a wash of hormones poured down her neck and filled her every corner with electricity.
"Mmmmmm…" she vocalized, her breathing slowing. "Thank you." Other-Charlene looked pleased, and began to stroke her forehead. You're right, she thought, this would be an excellent time for a nap. Grabbing the green cotton throw, she closed her eyes and dropped off into slumber.
Her ethereal duplicate looked on in satisfaction.
* * *
Groceries were postponed; by the time she woke it was already dinnertime, and her companion was rubbing her stomach in an insistent and unpleasant way. I know, I know...
There was nothing for it but to head into town to find a restaurant. She re-dressed; then, grabbing the keys, held the door for her shadow in mock-politeness and headed out the door.
She wasn't sure of her destination, but apparently Other-Charlene was, because as soon as they hit Main Street, she pointed towards 3rd Avenue, and continued to guide the driver to Ember House. Which did, in fact, sound wonderful tonight. Not that Charlene was surprised.
Ember House was spacious, with good entrees and freshly-baked breads to die for. There was a live band, and though late at night it grew somewhat dark and smoky, this early in the evening sunset cast its light across the tables and couples were eating, not dancing. The hostess seated her in a corner, where she had a decent view of the whole establishment.
It was an odd view, actually. Twice as many people as usual, half of them nude and one half oblivious to the other. Except for Charlene, not one material person seemed to take any notice of their own (or anyone else's) Other.
The waitress arrived, and she gave the girl her order-- grilled chicken and the house au gratin dish-- quietly observing the girl stretching and yawning as NakedWaitress touched her eyes in exhaustion from the long day.
She had to admit it was novel to compare the outward facade with... the naked truth, so to speak. The business guy over by the bar with the slicked-back hair and Armani suit had a twin with considerably less hair on his head, and too much on his back. She shuddered. The woman sitting next to him wore a low-cut blouse that he peered down, from time to time, but observing her Other revealed that much of what she displayed was an enhancement of some kind-- including her hair color, which was definitely not blonde. And while his avatar looked very interested, even blatantly turned on-- most men's were plainly erect, truth be told; why was she not surprised?-- hers looked bored, and the woman kept glancing at her watch whenever her Other touched her wrist.
The gentleman at the adjacent table, now, resembled his twin perfectly; light hair with a peaceful demeanor and half-lidded blue eyes, gently scanning the room. His apparition was, like most guys', comfortably aroused, and she found himself examining him very carefully. More carefully still as Other-Charlene touched her breasts a bit, before stroking her between the legs again.
In the middle of dinner? she thought at her match, but the naughty clone of her brushed away at her stomach as if to banish the hunger. And it was working; she was getting hungrier for something else. She stared some more at the man's cock (his twin's, really, but did it matter?), feeling her nether regions slowly growing warm in response to Other-Charlene's touch, when something very odd happened.
As she became fixated on the shape of him, and imagined the feel of it, her duplicate suddenly turned around and, with widened eyes, looked directly at the man's ghostly companion. To Charlene, this seemed wrong, somehow, and she could see the confusion on the face of Other-Charlene, even as she could sense the... fascination at finding someone else on her plane of existence, someone other than her twin? The Others didn't normally notice each other, but she could tell by the way Other-Charlene licked her lips that she was taking serious notice of her new discovery. Her Other walked over to his, and looked down at his manhood, fascinated. Her eyes glowed with delight, and it was evident she knew what she wanted to do with it.
The moment Other-Charlene grabbed his cock, the Other-Man turned this way and that, in confusion. It was apparent he couldn't see her, but he sure as hell could feel what she was doing. Apparently she could speak to him in some way, too, though Charlene couldn't hear a word. At the same time, the more material half of their team had locked gazes with Charlene, and it was becoming obvious by the growing, mischievous smile on his face that he was of like mind with his Other. For that matter, Charlene wasn't indifferent to what hers was doing. In fact, she tingled with every stroke her Other half delivered.
She stood up, headed for the restroom, beckoning to her Other. Her Other grinned, and whispered into the ear of his, as she guided the quasi-blind apparition after her material half. The man's eyes glazed over, and he stood up and followed the others to the restroom.
Charlene, the heat rising in her loins, chose the first door she came to; it was the men's room. She waited while the Others and the enthralled man walked in, then flicked the lock shut on the door. She needed this, she told herself. It had been too long since she'd had a man inside her, and even if that wasn't exactly true the looks she was getting from her Other decided the matter for her. She looked pointedly at Other-Charlene, and the nymphetic ghost smiled lasciviously, nodded, and whispered something in her male counterpart's ear.
Charlene, pressed up against the sink by the intensity of the man's obedience to the whispers of her Other, felt his (real!) cock through his slacks, and watched in unconcealed eagerness as he yanked down her shorts and tore her panties in one sharp movement. Now his tongue was dancing on her clit, as her Other's voice was dancing in his mind, and he knew (oh, he knew!) exactly where to flick her and taste her and suck her, because her desires were going directly into his head by way of their Other companions. When she needed him inside her, he knew that, too; and exactly how she liked it (hard, with her legs around his neck!), and how long she demanded he last…
* * *
Back at work, finally, after her weeks off, Charlene felt much more relaxed. She got into her office, and kicked off her pumps, resting her feet on the cooling smoothness of the floor. Her Other half looked amused, resting against the desk. Charlene was extremely glad she'd spent the time up north. Dennis, as her restaurant lover was named, was very knowledgable in all sorts of ways, and apparently Other-Charlene was able to wield considerable influence over his own twin on how to apply that knowledge. It didn't seem to go both ways, though; Other-Dennis couldn't see Other-Charlene, he could only respond to the things she made him want. Mmmm… that made her think of some of the things she'd made him want... She noticed that Other-Charlene was getting ready to touch her pussy again.
Unfortunately, Deborah chose that moment to walk in, her naked (and quite beautiful, really) Other trailing along. She greeted her employee, and welcomed her back, but Charlene noticed that Other-Charlene had some other ideas, now. Other-Charlene had made her way over to Other-Deborah, crept up behind her, and started whispering.
Stop! That's my boss! Charlene projected mentally to the lithe mischief maker who wore her face, but Other-Charlene just smiled and winked at her, placing her tongue firmly in the ear of Other-Deborah. And when Deborah stopped mid-sentence, kicking the door closed behind her with a long leg, Charlene found she didn't really object to the outcome.