Brittany squinted at the wooden boards but the writing were Chinese to her. "I don't get why we have to be here."
Her mother popped up to one of the boulders, fists on her hips and took a deep breath. "Do you smell that, Britt-Britt?"
Brittany took a tentative sniff, it smelled like moist grass and stagnant water.
"That's the smell of success! Why, when your father died and I promised to make you the best gymnast the Midwest ever saw I bet he didn't picture this!"
"I think dad thought you were going to enroll me in a gymnastics program..."
"And I promised your father I would make you a woman among women! And look at you now!"
Brittany did look. She was wearing a leotard in the middle of a swamp land. Brittany looked at April, she was also sporting a leotard and that's one consolation, at least Brittany wasn't the only weird looking foreigner around. "Mom, have you been drinking again?"
"Pish-posh, I'm completely sober! I haven't touched the stuff in 55 minutes and 27 seconds!"
"I threw out all your vodka and I have our money how did you manage to find alcohol?"
April winked, "It's certainly not 'cause I drank a bottle of Listerine! Now c'mon, sour puss, are we just gonna stand here all day and look pretty or are we going to work?"
"Maybe we should just go home..."
"Ah, Britt, I thought you wanna be the best?"
"Then this is where we're supposed to be! I read that the best trained here! Standing on the bamboo poles--"
"We're supposed to be in a swamp?" Brittany glanced at the wooden boards again, "In China?"
"I got half off on the tickets," April said and shrugged. "C'mon, sugar cheeks!"
Brittany eyed the bamboo poles sticking up around them. "Then can we go home?"
"Of course! I'm running low on supplies too!" Her mom clapped her hands together, "Up the poles chop-chop! Mama needs to get her training on!"
"STOP! What are you doing?!" A girl in green uniform came running forward. "This isn't allowed!"
April frowned, "That's not what the brochure said! And we ain't trespassing, I checked!"
"Did you really?" Brittany asked.
April whipped out a brochure from who knows where and brandished it around, "I did!"
The girl's eyes widened, "Where did you get that?"
"Found it in a box somewhere when I was scavenging for booze."
"Well, that is out of date. This place is no longer open!"
"There's no sign saying that!"
The girl pointed to the wooden board in front of them, "There is!"
Oh, Brittany thought, so that's what it meant.
April squinted at the wooden board, "Doesn't say so in English so it doesn't count!"
"Who the hell are you anyway, angel buns?"
"I am Plum, I'm the new Jyusenkyo Guide!" The way she said the words it seemed like they were supposed to understand what that meant.
"Why do we need a guide for juice and q?" Brittany asked puzzled.
"Aha!" April singsonged, "If this place ain't open why does it have a guide and not a guard!"
"But, well, that's just-- it's a title, it doesn't--"
"Oh, c'mon, Pumpkin--"
"Just let me and my daughter play around on the bamboos for a while then we can leave so I can get on with my appointment with Mr. Cuervo!"
Plum shook her head. "No, no, no. You do not understand how dangerous these springs are! They all have tragic stories! It all dates back 1,500 years ago!"
Brittany's attention wandered she could hop on the bamboo, there's nothing to it, she had a lot more dangerous stunts when her mom volunteered her to be a stunt woman in that indie Hong Kong movie. Then without really thinking about it Brittany leapt, and it really was nothing to it her foot found the bamboo.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" Plum shrieked at the same time April crowed:
"Aha! That's my daughter! Work that like a stripper pole!"
"Mom, we're not here to train for pole dancing."
April cackled, "But we could try." Suddenly her mother leapt and April might be soused like a wet rag but she was still in fine form and she had no problem finding her balance on the bamboo pole. "I suddenly feel like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, except sexier and drunk."
"You said you're not drunk!"
"Oopsie?"She gestured to Brittany, "Come at me, Brittany."
"I don't like violence," Brittany pouted.
"After fighting over the last drops of rum with a gay pirate, I don't!" And that was the only warning Brittany had, April lunged for Brittany and Brittany yelped but countered April's blow. She leapt to another pole, scrunched her nose. Her mother might have been hot stuff in Rhythmic Martial Arts Gymnastics but she wasn't as spry as she used to be. Also, Brittany was awesome, they met in the air a couple of times but on the third try Brittany saw her opportunity and lashed out with her legs.
Brittany grinned when she felt her foot connect to something and with a shriek her mother fell on one of the springs. Brittany landed on a pole just in time to hear another shriek, this time from Plum.
"I just said don't fall in cursed spring! Are you two really not listening?!"
"Relax, it's just wate--"
Suddenly her mom broke the surface, surging out and-- holy green rolls that wasn't April! That was a bear! It was Brittany's turn to shriek. "It's a bear! And I'm not Goldilocks!"
"Your mother fell in the Shonmaonichuan," Plum intoned. "The Spring of Drowned Panda. Very tragic story of panda who drowned two thousand years ago. Legend said whoever fall in spring takes the body of the panda!"
Before Brittany could formulate any sort of answer the April Bear let out a roar, Brittany's eyes widened and realized Plum had distracted her and--
The air went out of her lungs. And she was suddenly very, very wet. I don't want to be a bear, Brittany thought frantically, I want to be a unicorn! Then suddenly her feet touched the ground and Brittany kicked, lifting herself from under water--
"--fell in Nannichuan! The Spring of Drowned Man. Very tragic legend of boy who died in spring 1,500 years ago! Now whoever falls in the spring take the body of a young man!"
At first Brittany thought: Oh good, I'm still human. Then it sunk in and she snapped her head down, feeling for her chest. But her boobs were gone. Her boobs were gone. Her boobs were no longer around. She doesn't have boobs!
Brittany tore her shirt off, nothing. No boobs. Then she slapped a hand between her thighs.
Plum shook her head, "See, I told you so, you are now a boy!
Brittany screamed. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!"