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What Not to Do When You’re Polymorphed and Stuck in a Time Warp

by Stewart C Baker

Note: It's actually best to not get polymorphed in the first place, but since you’re reading this, it's probably too late for that. There's no use crying over spilt psychoactive ichor you shouldn't have been rubbing all over your face, even if it did smell of rose and ginger, and you thought it might be cosmetics. Pity Mum never told us that, huh?


1. Barge in on Your Mother and Her Guests Apparently it's quite unnerving to be taking high tea at the Lady High All-Mage's estate and have a giant, slavering beast with bright green fur, silvery scales, and a constantly changing amount of heads smash through the picture window, screaming in ten different tongues and waving an uncountable number of arms around in the air. Apparently. 2. Slurp all the Magic Out of the Queen's Chief Inspector of Sorcerous Malpractice I swear by Her Magical Majesty's brilliantly bejewelled wand, that mouth slurped out his sorcerous essence before I could even blink. 3. Run Away Mages, it seems, are not unlike the small, yipping dogs kept by fashionable ladies: they'll chase just about anything that runs from them. 4. Hide in a Topiary If you do, at least pick a topiary that is capable of changing shape and size, so that your body's sudden and unstoppable desire to be fifty feet tall does not give you away. 5. Develop a Sudden and Unstoppable Desire to Be Fifty Feet Tall, Thereby Making an Utter Ruin of What Was in Fact Quite a Nice Topiary, Not to Mention One's Blouse and Slacks, Which Were New and Which One Rather Liked 6. Scream in Distress Certain individuals may have a hard time telling distress from ravenous hunger and murderous rage, especially if you just smashed through a window, ate one of their number, and ran away again. Mages, am I right? 7. Try to Solve Things on Your Own A list of Things That Will Not Work:

  • Waving your hands around and screaming

  • Jumping into the water fixture (and scaring the ducks)

  • Visiting a nearby village to see if the local doctor has invented a cure for being polymorphed (and scaring the doctor)

  • Flying back home while breathing huge gouts of flame and acting suspiciously dragon-like

  • Absorbing the sorcerous essence from more of the mages, despite the taste, in the hopes that being imbued with sorcerous powers will somehow allow you to turn back the hands of the clock

  • Eating some of the psychoactive ichor, despite the taste, in the hopes that &c. &c.

  • Eating anything (having six stomachs makes you hungry, okay?)

  • Running away from your mother

8. Wish Yourself into a Sorcerous Time Loop Remember all that hoping to turn back the clock? All that sorcerous energy sloshing around in your stomachs? How about that saying, "Careful what you wish for?" I don't like to think about how many times I've done all this before, but at least this time I talked to Mother. At least this time she ensorcelled this note to come back with me. 9. Avoid Asking for Help I know, it's humiliating. I've—you've—tried to show Mum you were strong and independent since forever, and it's really not fair to have all of this mess that up. Here's the thing about Mum, though. She may leave experiments lying around and she may spend way too much of her time on her work instead of paying attention to me—to you. To us. But she's your mum. You're her daughter. Please, if you're reading this, know you're not alone. Know she loves you. Know you can ask her for help when you need it, no matter what. Please, by the twinkly tiara of Her Magical Majesty, ask for help. I'm not saying a little help will fix the world. I'm not saying everything will suddenly be perfect. But every problem's better when there's someone on your side. Even this one.

Stewart C Baker is an academic librarian and author of speculative fiction and poetry. He was born in the UK and now lives within the traditional homelands of the Luckiamute Band of Kalapuya in western Oregon. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Nature, Fantasy, Lightspeed, and various other places.

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