As one of the founders of Rooster Teeth, the creator of Achievement Hunter and a former serviceman, Geoff Ramsey had never played life on the safe side and even though he was now in his mid-forties he had no intention of doing as such. He had continually sought out challenges and rebelled against stagnancy, which was what had prompted him to take a step back from the company he had helped shape since its origin, and reassess where he was at life. He was proud of what he had achieved - no pun intended - but the need for competition was calling and with his plate cleared of content-creating duties he was ready to jump to the call.
Since taking his leave of absence from Rooster Teeth and Achievement Hunter the forty-five year old single father of one had begun to travel more and more. His kid was a teenager and living with their mother so there was little keeping Geoff tied down to Austin, Texas. He’d always been a wandering man; it was one of the things that had most appealed to him about joining the army back as a teenager. With his newfound time he’d travelled to London, to Berlin and to Rio de Janeiro, and while his next trip wouldn’t be taking him quite as far, Geoff was still looking forward to a weekend getaway in San Jose.
The intended relaxation of his weekend was put on hold though as his journey from the airport to his hotel was hampered by delays at multiple points: collecting his luggage, getting stuck in traffic, and even when he’d arrived the hotel receptionist had taken a full ten minutes to locate his booking. Geoff had attempted to smile through it all but as the little irritations began building up he was beginning to lose his patience. The receptionist had been incredibly apologetic and even added a free bottle of champagne to his booking - by that point Geoff was too tired to even bother to try and explain to her that he was sober by choice. By the time he was finally in his hotel room (one that was far more plush than he’d been expecting) he was relieved that the chaotic ordeal was over, but of course that wasn’t to be.
Opening his suitcase to fish out some clothes he could change into, Geoff let out an audible groan as he immediately identified the clothes within as not being his own. Bizarrely though, checking the label on the suitcase confirmed it as his own, so how had its contents changed from those he had remembered packing just earlier that morning before the short flight between Texas and California? Gone were his countless supply of pain black tees sporting various ironic statements or parodied logos, instead he could only locate clothes from assorted brands that Geoff had always considered preppy at best and obnoxious at worst. By far the strangest items among the various designer garments though were a jersey for the San Jose Sharks, the local ice hockey team, as well as various pads that Geoff could only guess were a requirement for a professional hockey player. Had he somehow ended up with the luggage of one of the Sharks players? Even if that was the case, how had all of their items ended up in the suitcase with his name attached to it?
Fishing the jersey out of the suitcase, Geoff took note of the name and number emblazoned upon the back: Kane, #9. Outside of attending a few Dallas Stars games due to their relative locality to his Austin home Geoff’s knowledge of ice hockey was limited at best, so the identity of whose items he had evidently come into possession of wasn’t immediately known to him. “He better at least be a good player,” he joked as he rose back to full height, still holding the jersey in his hands. He had the strangest compulsion to pull it up and over his slender shoulders and before he could even begin counting the reasons as to why that was a bad idea he was already in the process of doing it. As expected it hung loosely off of his skinny frame and as he inspected himself in the en-suite mirror Geoff could hardly stop himself from laughing. He looked nothing short of ridiculous!
The garment remained on him for all of two minutes before the initial amusement had worn off. Dropping the jersey back into the open suitcase, Geoff instead moved to the balcony to enjoy his hotel room’s view over San Jose. He felt fairly confident that the room and the view it provided were far more luxurious than the one he had actually paid for but considering the stresses of his journey he was hardly going to complain about a little unexpected opulence.
A knock at the door pulled Geoff out of his peaceful haze and he reluctantly pulled himself away from the picturesque view of the city under the evening glow. By the time he reached the hotel room door whoever had knocked had left, although they had left behind a gift: the bottle of champagne that the apologetic receptionist had promised, as well as a note. Geoff lazily fished both off of the ground and spared a single glance at the note as he kicked the door closed behind him, only to hesitate at the words he read: My apologies once again, Mr Kane!
“You’ve gotta be shitting me,” Geoff muttered in utter bewilderment, thinking back to his earlier conversation with the receptionist. He was nothing short of one-hundred percent confident that the name he had given her was Geoff Ramsey and not Evander Kane, so how she’d gotten that mixed up he really didn’t know. On that point, he wasn’t even sure how he’d summoned up the hockey player’s first name when just a few minutes ago he’d had no idea at all. The combination of that sudden knowledge, the name on the note and the clothes in his suitcase were really starting to make him feel paranoid. What the hell was going on?
Placing the bottle of champagne on the dresser and discarding the mis-addressed note into the trash, Geoff decided that the best way to clear his mind would be to take a refreshing shower. Once he was under the pleasant stream of warm water and beginning to soap himself up though, he noticed a few more oddities to really send his day from bizarre into the realm of the impossible. While his skin tone being a few shades darker than his usual paleness and the muscles in his arms, legs and chest feeling firmer were both surprises, they were at least things he could rationalise. The disappearance of several tattoos from his upper arms and chest though wasn’t just difficult to explain, it should have been downright impossible. How could most of the very ink under his skin just disappear like that?
Inspecting himself in the mirror after emerging from the shower caused Geoff’s heart to thunder in his chest. He hardly recognised himself at all! The vast majority of his tattoos had been washed away and his skin had darkened to such an extent that he would have been able to pass as African-American with ease. His lips were plumper, his nostrils wider and the lines of age that he had grown into over the years had vanished to leave him with a smoother youthful appearance. The grey in his hair had vanished too, and it looked darker than ever, as well as being much thicker. “The fuck?” he grunted as he took in his changed reflection, only to discover that he even sounded different too!
Did I eat some brownies before I flew out here? Geoff wondered. despite having no memory of it. He was desperate to find something that would rationalise the impossible factors of his current situation. He’d happily extended his beliefs to include things such as ghosts and the paranormal but the physical transformation he was apparently experiencing was so far beyond anything he’d ever contemplated being real.
Exiting the bathroom at a quickened pace, Geoff mindlessly grabbed a couple items from the suitcase and threw them on, hardly noticing that they fit perfectly on his body now that it had subtly changed shape. The sleeves of the tee hugged the muscles in his arms and the jeans made his ass look particularly enticing to anybody who would be lucky enough to see him from behind. Once he was fully dressed and satisfied with his image in the mirror - his earlier logical apprehension having suddenly been replaced by a calm acceptance - the man’s next move was to reach for the hotel room’s phone. “Hi, this is Geoff up in room one-oh-seven, I’d like to order some room service,” he started, pressing a hand to his abs as his stomach growled.
“I’m sorry sir, what did you say your name was?” the voice on the other end of the line asked.
“Evander Kane,” Geoff huffed, figuring he might as well give them the answer they were expecting. He’d have to find out how he had ended up with somebody else’s luggage, hotel room and body, but that could wait until after he’d had some food and sleep.
“Ah yes, my apologies, Mr Kane, I must have heard you wrong the first time,” the employee conceded, “What would you like to order?”
Once Geoff had placed his order, he relaxed back onto the plush sheets of the king-sized bed and began scanning through various websites on his phone. He’d been operating so automatically that he hadn’t even realised that every page he’d accessed had been about the ice hockey season that was about to be restarting: player signings, training camp reports, game predictions. With each new article that he read, the more he seemed to remember, as if unlocking knowledge of the sport that had been clouded in his mind, despite his own vague awareness that those memories couldn’t possibly be his own.
After wolfing down his evening meal of salmon stir fry and then a little cheap meal side of fries while watching the highlights of a classic Stanley Cup game on YouTube, the dark-skinned young man felt about ready to turn in for the night when there was once again a knock on the hotel door. Reluctantly pulling himself away from his evening entertainment, Geoff crossed the room and opened the door to find himself standing on the other side, or at least the pale, middle-aged and heavily tattooed man that he had been prior to his arrival at the hotel. “Well, shit.” Even despite all the oddity of his evening conditioning him not to be surprised anymore, the arrival of his own body was an unexpected development. “I’m gonna guess… Evander Kane?”
Evander was thrilled for the National Hockey League to finally be returning from its hiatus but his travel back to San Jose from his native Canada had been nothing short of chaotic. An apparent mix-up on the flight over had led to him sitting in economy rather than the first class ticket he’d booked (and he was doubtful that he’d receive the refund that they had promised him too), his driver had no-showed at the airport and then he’d been made to wait a whole quarter of an hour at the hotel desk as the receptionist struggled to find his booking. By the time he finally made it up into his hotel room he was so exhausted that he didn’t even have the energy to be disappointed at how unexpectedly small the room was. Usually the San Jose Sharks were pretty good about putting him up in nicer establishments but this could only be described as mediocre at best!
The events of his journey had been frustrating, but the frustration soon gave way to confusion when the professional hockey player opened his suitcase to discover a set of garments that were certainly not his own. All of his designer shirts and skinny jeans were gone, replaced by an army of black cotton tees emblazoned with assorted ‘edgy’ or ironic designs. The suitcase still had his name on it but the contents were all wrong; it was such an unusual situation that Evander wasn’t even sure who he should be mad at. Had somebody with the airline thought they would be playing a really funny joke on the Sharks player by switching out his stuff? Even if that was the case, how had they managed to undo the lock to take all of his stuff out, especially given it didn’t look like the padlock had been tampered with at all?
After leaving an angry voicemail with the airline demanding that they deliver his possessions to his hotel, the twenty-eight year old hockey player turned on some loud music and decided to take a shower, hoping that some decent water pressure might help eradicate his foul mood. As he scrubbed himself clean though, he was surprised to discover that his body felt softer in places where he should have found lean muscle. His abs had disappeared under a layer of fat and Evander wasn’t sure if it was just a trick of the light but his dark skin actually appeared to be paler. You must be real fucking tired if you think you’re turning into a white man, he joked to himself, only as the minutes passed he was more and more certain of what he was seeing, as impossible as it should have been.
As he confronted the unfamiliar face in the mirror, Evander desperately wanted to believe that this was all part of some crazy dream he was having. The man in the mirror appeared to be in his forties, had thinning hair and gangly limbs, as well as being the type who apparently used their body as a canvas for various ink artworks; he was everything that the young athletic black man was not. Maybe he’d decided to blaze up once he’d gotten to the hotel room and passed out on a high? Poking at the sallow cheeks and pinching at the tattooed arms and pale skin though made everything feel incredibly real and Evander struggled with the concept that maybe - just maybe - he really had transformed into a no-name white man!
Unable to locate the clothes he had travelled in, the athlete was forced to pick out a fresh outfit from the suitcase while he listened to the response from the airline company who had been surprisingly quick in getting back to him: “We’re sorry Mr Ramsey, but I can assure you that there was no tampering with the luggage of any of our passengers. The source of this issue isn’t on our end, but we do hope you get your possessions back soon!” Evander bristled at the message. They hadn’t even managed to get his name right, he was Evander fucking Kane, not whoever this “Mr Ramsey” was!
An idea finally crept its way into Evander’s mind once he was fully dressed and pacing around the tiny hotel room - what if this “Mr Ramsey” guy had found their suitcase full of his stuff and was looking for him? That seemed logical; now he just had to hope that the other man was in the same hotel as him, otherwise tracking him down would be difficult, and it wasn’t as if he’d ever be able to make anyone believe that he was San Jose Sharks left wing Evander Kane - he wasn’t even the right skin tone, for crying out loud! He wouldn’t be getting anywhere if he didn’t try though, so he figured the logical place to start would be the reception desk.
The day finally presented its first blessing when Evander discovered that there had been a change of shift in the hours since he had arrived at the hotel and he wouldn’t have to deal with the incompetent receptionist who had made him wait for so long previously. Instead it was a young man, probably no older than twenty-one, whose eyes lit up in excitement when he saw Evander, for reasons the athlete couldn’t explain considering he looked nothing like himself.
“Geoff! I mean, Mr Ramsey!” the young man exclaimed, a flood of pink colouring his cheeks, “I didn’t know you were staying with us! I’m a big Achievement Hunter fan but, uh, I guess you might have worked that out from my reaction.” Evander took note of what was being said, even if it made no sense to him. At the very least he now had a full name for the identity he was currently presenting as; that gave him something to work with at least.
“Uh, hey, it’s always nice to meet a fan,” he began, forcing a smile onto his face that he was certain didn’t appear natural. Still, the male receptionist seemed too blustered by his presence to notice. “Listen, bud, I’ve got a bit of an issue I was hoping you could help me with.”
“Oh, anything! It’s my job, after all!”
“Well, uh, on my flight over here I got talking to a guy I think might be staying here. Evander Kane, the Sharks player?” Fuck, it’s so trippy talking about myself in the third person. I’ve gotta fix this ASAP! “I was wondering if you could tell me his room number? He invited me for drinks but I forgot his room number so…” Hesitation flashed over the young man’s features, evidently Evander’s ask had been a step beyond what the kid’s job allowed him to do, so he had to think fast. “I know it’s probably against policy but, uh, maybe for a selfie?”
Much to his relief, the offer of a selfie with Geoff Ramsey (or at least someone who currently looked and sounded a lot like him) was enough to win the young man over and soon Evander had a room number in hand, ready to find out if his wild hypothesis was correct…
“This is about twenty-thousand shades of fucked up.” Hearing his own voice from an exterior position was something Geoff should have been used to considering all those years of reviewing Achievement Hunter content before permitting it to be released but there was something different about it in that moment and a shiver ran down his spine. “You Geoff Ramsey?”
“On an average day, yeah,” the retired gaming personality replied with a small chuckle, “Why don’t you come in? I’m pretty sure this suite was meant to be yours anyway…”
Geoff had always been something of a self-critical fellow but that had never been more true than it was in that moment. Standing across the room from his own body brought all of his imperfections to light: the gaunt nature of his sunken cheeks and tired eyes, the scars and blemishes highlighted by his pale skin, the thinning of the hair on his scalp. Simply put, he was disappointed with what he saw, especially when he was able to compare it to the young athletic body he now occupied. He didn’t want to say that he actually preferred being in Evander Kane’s body but… well, it definitely had its positives.
“You got a rational explanation for any of this?” Evander asked through Geoff’s lips, a permanent expression of frustration etched into every line on his face.
“I don’t think there is a rational explanation for this,” Geoff remarked with a chuckle, running a hand through his hair. Even that felt like a totally different experience; it was all trippy beyond belief. “I can promise you I didn’t wish upon a star or have a fortune cookie tell me I needed a change though.” Deflect the awkwardness with humour, classic Geoff Ramsey!
“Me neither,” Evander grunted, his frown deepening even further. “So how do we fix this, huh? You seem like more of a ‘body swap movie’ type than me - no offence. How do they get back to their bodies at the end?”
“Well, for one, they’re movies and therefore fictional.” Geoff just couldn’t help himself with the snark. Maybe there was just a little part of him that actually kind of liked the idea of keeping the body he was currently occupying, as wrong as that was. “But, uh, sometimes it’s like a handshake or a headbutt or they both wish to go back at the same time. But, again, movies. Not reality.”
The (former) ice hockey player glared at his own body. “Better than not doing anything. Let’s start with the handshake though, I don’t feel like having my skull split open,” he suggested, reaching out a too-pale hand. His replacement clasped it and Evander was caught off guard by the tightness of the other’s group, which caused him to wince. Alas it didn’t immediately switch them back and Evander found himself nervously giggling. It was hard to get over just how crazy this whole situation was!
“What’s next, you wanna make a wish?” Geoff asked, his voice laced with a small amount of ridicule. Evander either ignored it or chose not to draw attention to it, as he nodded eagerly. The duo chanting “I wish to be myself again” did nothing though, neither did “I wish to be back in my body.” As far as Geoff’s suggestions went, that only left one: “You really want me to headbutt you?”
“Like I said, we don’t have any other wise ideas right now and the longer I’m in your body, the weirder I feel,” Evander mumbled, his cheeks flushed pink. Staring up into his own face was causing a strange stirring inside of him and he didn’t much like it.
Steadying the other with a pair of strong hands on his shoulders, Geoff let out a small sigh. “Don’t cry to me if you get a headache after this,” he commanded, surprised by his own take-charge approach to the situation. Without giving the other any warning he snapped his head forward, bringing their skulls together with a sickening thud. Both men found their visions swimming and were greeted by an immediate throbbing in their heads. The moment the athlete’s hands left the other’s shoulders, the smaller man dropped back onto the bed, while the more athletic body rested back against the wall, his powerful chest rising and falling with each heavy breath.
As the unstable world finally began to steady itself out for the two men and their minds relaxed to fit their new equilibrium, the younger of the two glanced around the hotel room before his gaze settled on the other. “Uh, yo,” he began, “What are you doing in my hotel room, man?” There was something vaguely familiar about the tired-looking older man but Evander simply couldn’t place what it was. The confusion in the other’s eyes suggested the same was true for him too. “Do we know each other?”
“I… I don’t think so,” Geoff stammered in response, confused to find himself in the presence of a young athlete with whom he was certain he’d never met before. “I must have… gone to the wrong room. Sorry about that.” He was totally overwhelmed by confusion and anxiety that he felt there was little left to do other than sheepishly excuse himself and flee the room, leaving the confused hockey player to watch him go. It was strange but as the door slammed shut behind the older man, it felt as if there was a door in Evander’s own mind closing, like he’d finished a whole part of his own life. That was ridiculous though, wasn’t it?
Putting the oddity of suddenly finding a stranger in his hotel room, Evander stepped out onto the hotel room balcony to enjoy the fresh evening air of San Jose. It was so good to be back in the city with training camp right around the corner! The last twenty-four hours were still something of a blur for Evander but he was confident that the upcoming hockey season was definitely going to be something to remember!