Jeffrey Giligan was completely unprepared for his first encounter with his mother, who arrived later to pick him up. She seemed at first like what Jeffrey would have expected, an ordinary-looking woman in her early thirties, with light brown hair and a kind but somewhat stern gaze. She entered the principal’s office, where Jeffrey was sitting.

The principal greeted Mrs. Giligan and told her of her son’s earlier escapade. She looked at Jeffrey with something between disappointment and firmness in her eyes. “Now, Jeffy, we’ve talked about this. While you’re at school I expect you to follow the rules and obey your teachers.”

Jeffrey looked up at her. She seemed sensible enough, he decided. Surely she would recognize that he wasn’t her “Jeffy.” He adopted his most mannered and polite tone of speech. “Ma’am, allow me to explain,” he said as calmly and clearly as he could. “I am not you’we son. Thewe was an incident, and I believe he has swapped his body with mine. If I can get back into that lab, I believe I can wevewse the pwocess. Look into my eyes. You must believe that I’m not weally you’we son!”

The woman’s expression grew more stern. “Jeffy, we’ve also talked about your fibbing. Now stop making up stories and admit what you’ve done.”

“How can you not see that I’m telling the twuth?!” Jeffrey yelled, unable to put up with these idiots anymore. “I’m not Jeffy! I am Michemelel… Michelamangelel… Mich…el…angemelelo… Detwus!”

Mrs. Giligan looked down at him and simply said his name: “Jeffrey!” But, as if his mind translated it from another language, the meaning he understood from that one word was “I warned you not to tell fibs and if you dare tell one more excuse you will be in big trouble so you’d better say you’re sorry or I will make you sorry!”

In the back of his mind Jeffrey felt like he was standing on the edge of a cliff, where one false step would mean plummeting into an abyss of certain doom. But failing to heed the warning signs, Jeffrey turned back to the principal and slammed his hands on his desk. “I sweaw, if you don’t believe me wight now, once I’m back to myself I will pewsonally have you fiwed and awwested, do you undewstand me?!”

Suddenly he felt icy claws digging into his shoulder, stinging it with freezing pain as a chill went up his spine. Turning, he realized it was the woman’s nails. But she no longer seemed like a normal woman, the mother of some child. Fearfully he looked up into her eyes, and they seemed to blast searing fire into his brain. She smiled, but he saw through it like a thin curtain covering a window from the burning rays of the sun. Behind it he could sense a horrible angry will, like the spirit of some grotesque demon, and unable to speak he stared up at it in terrified agony. “Jeffrey,” the creature said in a hideous whisper, its eyes seeming to glow red as darkness filled the rest of the room, “let’s go home. We can talk more about this there.” The statement pierced his heart like an inescapable sentence of punishment. As the icy claws slid down and gripped his hand with a strength that would crush a giant, Jeffrey turned and looked back helplessly at the principal.

“Have a good day, Mrs. Giligan,” the principal said as Jeffrey’s mother led him toward the door.

“Thank you, I will,” she said cheerfully with a friendly smile.

But all Jeffrey saw was a wicked grimace filled with deadly fangs, as he was pulled away toward the den of this unearthly beast.

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