by B. L. Smith

  The door opened and Jenny's smiling face appeared, "Hey sweetie, you're up. How was your sleep? Good?"
  That was my night nurse, Jenny. The bright and effervescent evil twin I never had and really didn't want. Okay, so I did want her, she was such a hottie. With shoulder length strawberry-blonde hair, hazel eyes, and legs that never seemed to end, who wouldn't want her? I just wasn't into the incest twin thing: at least not as one of the twins. Besides, being that bright and cheery all the time was definitely a crime, a capital offense for sure. It was hard to be depressed around Jenny, very hard. Somehow, I was managing.
  Lying on my tummy, my face half buried in the pillow, the ultra-feminine soulful voice that reached my ears sounded strange -- mine, not hers. "Mmm, what time is it?"
  I was having a tough time adjusting to the changes in my body. Oddly, some of the most difficult to adapt to were the small and innocuous things that I didn't often think about. Things I took for granted. My voice was one of those little things. Every time I opened my mouth it was as if someone else, some seductress here in the room with me, was putting her voice to my thoughts. It wasn't my voice. My voice was several octaves lower and didn't have a cute nasal scratch. I didn't sound like a pixie in heat.
  Not only did I sound like a girl; somehow, I gained an accent. An exotic one to be sure, but an accent nonetheless. Should I have been surprised that it was exotic? Probably not. Why wouldn't it be exotic? Everything about me now was exotic. I was a regular little wet dream.
  "A little past noon, sleepyhead." The smile she flashed belied her evil intentions. There was no way she was going let me laze around in bed all day. Especially not after the hell I put her through last night.
  I hadn't felt like passing another interminably long night alone in my room. My fidget factor was running on overdrive. I was climbing the walls. Two days strapped to a bed in an isolation ward was almost more than I could handle. Last night, as soon as the quarantine came down, I got out and prowled the halls. It felt good to get out of my room -- even if I was still alone.
  That's not entirely true. I wasn't completely alone; the floor wasn't entirely deserted. Every three minutes, once each lap of the darkened and deserted halls, I passed Jenny sitting at the nurse's station. A few hours before dawn, and after growing bored with wandering aimlessly through the corridors, I sat at the nurse's station with Jenny. I drove her crazy with questions:
  "Can I read my chart?"
  "How can you read Doctor William's writing?"
  "Is that even a word?
  "What does urobilinogen mean?"
  A spiked mallet to the forehead or a pointy stick through one of my three hearts might have been more effective than the sleeping pill Jenny gave me. I really did have three hearts. There were even pictures to prove it. Okay, so two of them, if I believed the cardiologists knew what they were talking about, were some sort of auxiliary pumping stations that circulated blood through my wings. So far, they seemed to spend most of the time beating slowly. They sure as hell sounded neat though. It was like there was an entire band playing in my chest -- Thump-thump, wop bop, wop bop a lula a wham bam boom.
  I don't know why she bothered with the sleeping pills. Policy I guess. Most of the drugs they pumped into my system didn't work or the effects were minimal at best. However, I did get a good buzz off that radioactive sludge they made me drink before the last set of x-rays. Please sir, may I have another barium milk shake?
  Undeterred, I continued with the inquisition.
  "I don't see a ring, are you single?"
  "What's his name?"
  "How long have the two of you been together?"
  "What a jerk! You're not serious about him are you?"
  "So, do I still have a chance?"
  "What does the jerk, I mean Jeff, do?"
  "Can I have a sponge bath?"
  "Ah, what do you mean by no?"
  "You sure?"
  "I'm sure I saw sponge bath as one of the instructions for the night nurse. Can I see my chart again?"
  "Okay, okay! I'll drop it. Umm, what say I give you a sponge bath?"
  I didn't crawl into bed until Jenny laughingly threatened to use the restraints they kept for the more 'difficult' patients. I wasn't tired of being a pest, but Jenny did have a small mountain of paperwork to complete. Back to my room I went. I wasn't tired and I didn't really think she would follow through on the restraints, damn her -- I was only being polite.
  Alone in my room, I stood at the window for hours and gazed out at the rain and darkened city below. It was well past dawn when I finally crawled into bed, my tail dangling between my legs. And yes, my barbed tail really was dangling between my legs.
  I wasn't tired though. Demons don't sleep. At least this one didn't. In my case, there really seemed to be no rest for the wicked. I hadn't slept a wink last night or the night before. In fact, I hadn't slept a wink since the transformation three days ago. Not sleeping made for some long days and lonely nights.
  During the day I was a little lethargic, a bit brain dead too. When the sun went down it was like a whole new me. I perked up. I was ready for action. I felt like I should be doing something. Only I wasn't sure what. Well, maybe I was. I remembered the words I wrote all too well: 'She preys upon the unwary, hunting the night like a beautiful and terrifying dream, she seduces her victims with soothing words and sensual pleasures'. I didn't want to think about what I meant by it -- or act upon it. Denial wasn't only a river in Africa.
  Lying in bed feigning sleep all day was another way for me to pass the time between one poking and prodding and another. Unfortunately, it also gave me a lot of time to think, and that wasn't healthy. I had far too much time to dwell upon the trials and tribulations of my life, not to mention my current plight. A little more poking and prodding might have been a good thing.
  Maybe the aliens that did this to me would come back and beam me up into their spacecraft. Maybe, if I were lucky, really really lucky, they would end my misery by sucking my brains out with a large and terribly fatal anal probe.
  At least feigning sleep kept the nurses and doctors off my case. The door to my room would open. A head would poke in, and then seeing me apparently asleep in bed, would withdraw. I'd tried watching the news. Reading the newspaper and magazines they gave me was no better. They depressed me and that freaked the doctors out.
  "What do you mean she didn't sleep again last night?"
  "Are you okay? You seem depressed. Is there something you want to talk about?"
  That last one I translated to: Is there something incriminating you wanted to tell me so that I can write it down in your file? We need something incriminating so that we can justify locking you up. We have all sorts of non-standard invasive tests we want to run.
  Besides, I wasn't interested in Cosmo or any of the other trashy magazines they gave me. I didn't really give a shit about the news either. Same old shit, different day. I was only watching CNN because I kept expecting a special bulletin from Japan. If this was a dream; a product of a bad burrito, a high fever, and an overactive imagination; or even a sick and twisted episode of the Twilight Zone starring yours truly; then Godzilla would make his appearance.
  I knew, with absolute certainty, that if Godzilla was spotted wading through Tokyo Bay none of this could be real. I knew it. I just knew it. I would wake up in a fevered sweat and all of this would be over. It would only have been a very fucked-up bad dream.
  Even if I was wrong, and I had somehow turned into Alice and followed her through the looking glass, that was live breaking news footage I didn't want to miss! I wondered if anyone had warned the Japanese of the possible threat.
  The rest of the news, all the stuff about the changelings, wasn't really news at all; just more idle speculation from various self-impressed armchair 'experts'. Doctors and Academics -- even a few of the list members were spouting off! I'd had enough of doctors and academics here at the hospital; I didn't need to listen to them on TV! Besides, they were all morons. Nobody had a fucking clue -- myself included.
  I'd heard all sorts of outlandish claims about the event. They ran the gamut from the typical conspiracy nuts blaming it on anything and everything: the government, terrorists, aliens, genetically modified foods, an industrial accident, and even cosmic radiation. Then there were the religious nuts, from both sides, claiming that this was either the wrath of god or the work of the devil.
  My favorite, the one that made me laugh the hardest, was the loony that stood up on some talk show and claimed that this was all an elaborate sinister plot perpetrated by none other than the anti-Christ himself. Poor Mr. Gates, I wondered if he was getting more hate mail than usual.
  I couldn't help feeling sorry for the other poor bastards caught up in this mess, but mostly I felt sorry for myself. So many lives ruined; horribly twisted and mutilated, like the bodies we now wore.
  It was odd. Some of the changelings seemed desperate to grab their 15 minutes of fame. I couldn't figure that out. Me? I wanted to hide. I wanted to crawl under a rock. So far, despite Jenny's best efforts, I was managing to do just that. In the three days I'd been here, I hadn't had a single visitor. Sure, people (friends mostly) tried to get in and see the freak, but I sent them all packing. My brother, later today, would be the first. Every time I thought about his pending visit, I started to panic.
  At least my self-imposed isolation coupled with the security they placed around the floor kept the details of my change off the airwaves. The staff was under strict orders not to speak to the media, something about doctor patient confidentiality. Even the paramedics and the Hazmat team that arrived on my doorstep hadn't said much -- yet. I'm sure they were tempted. I was even betting that a couple of them were hard at work on a book or a movie script. Even if they were, they hadn't violated my privacy. There were the usual sorts of rumors and speculation by the local media, but they had no facts, no pictures. That didn't stop them from digging.
  It didn't take the media long to find out who was being kept in quarantine on the sixth floor. That was bad enough. Knowing my name, they began to piece together the details of my life. They put my family and friends through hell. I laughed when I saw the footage of my brother on one of the local TV stations. The audio was little more than a series of bleeps and tones, but the pictures were amusing. They showed my brother hopping into his huge ugly-ass green 4x4, flipping the news crew the bird, shifting into four-wheel drive, and then backing into their van. They got a nice long shot of his mangled rear bumper as he drove off into the sunset.
  They really shouldn't have blocked him in. They should have moved the van when he asked. That was my brother all right. I thought it was the best interview of the bunch. Some of the others they interviewed weren't so kind or diplomatic. Every ugly little detail of my past, everything from my failed marriage to my last speeding ticket was fair game for the media. Everyone I knew seemed to have an opinion or embarrassing story about me.
  They were even interviewing people from high school for Christ's sake! These were people I hadn't seen in almost 20 years. Those interviews were very revealing. Shocking in a way too. I guess I really wasn't as popular or well liked as I thought. After watching a few of those there didn't seem to be much point in going to the reunion next year. Maybe there was a reason -- revenge!
  I had to face facts. I would never be an anonymous private citizen again. I might have had a chance at anonymity if I 'd used a Hotmail account instead of the one from my ISP. It was a stupid mistake. Maybe if I hadn't sent my first message to the list less than a week before 'that' day I might have escaped the media circus. I doubted it, but it was another thing to flog myself over.
  The best I could hope for now was to divorce who I used to be from what I had suddenly become. Forget my past and start over -- if they would let me. I might be able to spare my family and what few friends remained the inquisition that was sure to erupt. I knew when my beatific mug was presented to the public, the religious right was going to go berserk. Those that didn't want to save me probably would want to kill me. I wondered how many kooks out there owned a rifle and more than a single copy of the Catcher In the Rye.
  Why did they insist on a news conference? I was dreading tomorrow. Why couldn't I slink out the back door and disappear into the night?
  "You're not dozing off on me again are you?"
  "Hunh?" I was surprised. Maybe I finally dozed off, or time could have been expanding and contracting again -- like reality.
  "I said it's almost noon." An edge of steel crept into Jenny's voice. "I'm about to go off shift and you have that appointment with Doctor Douglas after lunch."
  I missed it; cobwebs and woolgathering filled my head. I stretched languidly and began to brush the hair from my face. Suddenly I was fully awake; my eyes popped open and my toes curled. I'd stabbed myself with my claws again. The reality of the new form I wore flooded back into my addled and suddenly overstimulated brain.
  Claws. Nails really. They were long and straight, almost three centimeters from tip to cuticle. They were thick, tough, and as black as midnight. Sharp too. It was possible they would gouge steel, but I doubted it. However, they did leave some surprisingly deep furrows in the oak frame of the mirror in my bedroom, not that anyone knew about that. Nobody was going to figure it out either. Especially considering the mirror was now in a million tiny pieces. Nope, my claws wouldn't cut steel; they were perfect for ripping through flesh and bone. Perfect for ripping the still beating heart from some innocent's chest.
  I lifted myself up onto my elbows then shifted onto my side; long black hair fell into my face. Would I ever master the trick of hooking it behind my ear and over the shoulder? If I thought my hair was thick and a veritable mop before, I was wrong. This stuff was thicker and longer. Much longer. It also seemed to have lost its natural wave. Was it a bob or a pageboy? I didn't know the difference. Was it something else entirely? All I knew was that there was a lot of hair and at the back it fell down past my shoulder blades. In the front, it was a lot shorter. I had what? Bangs? God, I had a lot to learn, a bit less if I could talk someone into giving me a haircut.
  I stopped moving and clawed at the stray strands ineffectually. Even as I chased after the uncooperative locks another one broke free and fell into my face. The jiggle of the large twin mounds on my chest as I batted at them served as a reminder of the changes to rest of my body.
  I was about to give up on my hair, roll onto my back, and throw a genuine hissy fit when the unaccustomed weight and sudden twitching of strong and powerful muscles stopped me.
  Oh yeah, my wings. How could I forget almost four or five meters of black leathery wings? Reminiscent of a bat's, they were tough and pliable. Probably not as tough as my nails or as sensitive as my breast, but still, I wasn't taking any chances. Lying on my breasts was bad enough. The wings seemed infinitely more intricate and delicate than a pair of breasts. Nor were they nearly as well padded. A lot lumpier too! Besides, if I had to have wings, I didn't want to risk damaging them before I had a chance to take them for a test flight.
  Gingerly I sat up. My tiny delicate girl feet hung over one side of the bed, the trailing edge of my wings the other. Even my feet were clawed. Unlike my nails, these were nasty. They were almost honest-to-God talons. Despite my timidity, a disconcerting sensation emanated from just above the base of my spine. "Ah! Oh, Oh! Fuck Me!" I screeched.
  The sensations that reached my brain caused my large luminescent eyes to shoot open. My heart shaped girly ass shot up and off the bed. With one hand I fumbled after my errant tail. If I thought I was awake before I was wrong. It felt like I'd bent a fully erect (and former) Mr. Johnson into a 90-degree angle. No, that wasn't quite right. That would have hurt. This didn't.
  "What's wrong?"
  Untangling my tail from around my leg, I pulled it out from under my girly butt. I looked across the room at Jenny. My kissable ruby red lips formed themselves into a petulant and all-too-sexy pout. With a pleading look in my eye; as if she could do anything to fix it, I whined, " I'm still a damn girl AND I sat on my tail again!"
  The afterglow of the sudden stimulus began to fade and my backside made contact with the bed again. I tried to ignore the body's (I still couldn't bring myself to think of it as my body's) more intimate reactions. Pleasure, pain, it seemed all the same to me now. There seemed to be only one channel, and it wasn't pain. It was almost impossible to ignore the quickened breath, the hammering of my hearts, the sudden hardening of nipples, or the unfamiliar warmth between my legs.
  I managed to ignore it, barely. My will was like iron. You know? The same sort of iron possessed by the pecker of a 90-year-old man. No, not the guy with the Viagra prescription and the new 27 year old bride, the other one. The one sitting in the wheelchair in the nursing home. Yeah, that one. Like Iron.
  I guess sitting on the edge of the bed with my hair mussed, the bed sheet tangled about me, and my milky white legs dangling over the side was a real Kodak moment. I must have looked absolutely adorable; at least that's what the expression on Jenny's face told me. She crossed the distance with a few efficient strides of her long legs, then wrapped her arms around me. This was not proper professional detachment.
  Despite being a difficult and uncooperative patient, Jenny seemed to be warming up to me. The hug was genuine and felt good. I really needed it. The hug was also the first real human contact since my transformation. I couldn't help myself. I threw my slender arms around her neck and hugged back. The closeness and the smell of her hair only added to my frustration, not to mention the growing heat between my legs.
  I fought the urge to press more intimate areas of myself against her -- proper decorum and all. I don't think she noticed the rustling of my wings as they unfolded. If she did she didn't say anything. Like an extra pair of arms, they wrapped themselves around her. It was cool in a B horror movie sort of way. I felt kind of like Bela Lugosi with breasts.
  As we hugged -- or rather she hugged and I, mindful of my strength, fought desperately against crushing her to me -- I wondered if I was having some sort of effect upon her. I know she was having one on me. The only problem was, from our conversation last night I was pretty certain she wasn't interested in girls -- or a female demon -- at least not in that way. I folded my wings back behind me, and gently pushed the thought and Jenny away.
  Not willing to completely sever the embrace, Jenny stood with one hand on each of my small, seemingly delicate shoulders. She peered into the depths of my eyes and searched for signs that I would be ok. Unblinking, I met her gaze.
  Her hazel eyes were half open; my orange reptilian ones were wide as saucers. I watched as laugh lines began to spread from their corners. Her lips parted: "Yes honey, you are still a girl. The earth is still orbiting the sun. Hell hasn't frozen over. I am still going off shift. Worst of all, you are still getting up. You're not going to sleep away the day again. Besides, you have that appointment."
  Despite the hug, I think I liked it better when I was in the isolation ward with the space-suited nurses and doctors. At least there, they left me alone. I had quality mope time! When they did intrude, they were all so terribly serious and somber -- not to mention terrified. I liked it there.
  "Come on, get up lazybones!" she commanded.
  Jenny grabbed the sheets and began to untangle them. I thought about starting an impromptu tug-of-war, then decided against it. I figured I would either end up shredding the sheets with my nails, or getting carried away and letting on how strong I had become. My tiny frame was misleading. Despite being a little over five-foot nothing, I was strong. Stronger than when I was a mere mortal.
  I knew I was one of the strongest women on the planet, possibly the strongest person on the planet. Oh, not in absolute terms. I was sure some of the other freaks, I mean changelings, were stronger and could lift more, but pound for pound, I was certain I had them all beat. My strength to weight ratio was off the scale. If only I had a few more kilo's. Like say -- forty!
  If it came to it, I was sure the restraints Jenny showed me last night wouldn't hold me for long. I wasn't ready for the doctors to figure out that little fact, not yet anyway. I wasn't about to fill them in either. I didn't trust them. I was playing things pretty close to my chest -- and what a chest it was! Besides, I figured I was entitled. A girl has to have a few secrets.
  Pulling the sheets away exposed my skinny hairless legs. I felt a draft. I knew she was evil. Maybe it was latent girl reflexes; maybe it was residual boy memories. Maybe it wasn't. My hands shot down and pulled the hospital gown back over my exposed sex.
  "Okay, okay! I'm up!" I said blushing furiously. It was bad enough that my ass and wings had to hang out of the back of the damn gown 24/7. I didn't even want to think about how my nipples poked out the front like the headlights on a '57 Bel Air. I didn't need to show off all of my new equipment.
  A ghost of a smile twitched across the corners of Jenny's mouth, "I hope you have to pee. Go fill this up while I make the bed."
  She was having far too much fun! This was a hospital. People weren't supposed to be having fun. People were supposed to be sick and dying. Professional detachment, my ass!
  She pulled a plastic container with the all-too-familiar orange screw-top lid out of her lab coat pocket and handed it to me. I moaned, rolled my eyes, and if I had been standing, I would have stamped my little girly feet. Instead, I bit my lower lip. Reaching out, I deftly snatched the container from her hand. Ha! Beat that Grasshopper!
  Now that she mentioned it, of course I needed to pee. My bladder seemed to fill with amazing regularity. Given my tiny dimensions, my bladder had to be tiny too. I seemed to always be going to or coming from the bathroom. I was up once in the middle of the night, and then twice again in the wee hours of the morning.
  I didn't know where it all came from. There seemed to be more coming out than going in. In fact, there was so much coming out I figured if they hooked up an impeller and a dynamo down there, I could solve the entire Californian energy crisis by myself. It was horrible!
  Looking from the container in my hand to my all-too-flat crotch, I made a face. "Are you sure they wouldn't rather have more of my blood?"
  I couldn't keep the despair from my voice. A little physical pain, especially the way I was now wired, was infinitely preferable to the emotional turmoil I faced every time I went to the bathroom. Each time I hiked up my gown to pee, reality (two-headed ugly bitch that she was) wouldn't stop slapping me in the face. Take that, and that!
  Pistol Pete with the amazing aim was no more. Pistol? Hell, it was the size of... It used to be... When I had one... Oh fuck it! It was gone. I'd probably have to buy a cool sports car to compensate. I'd probably need the mother of all penis extenders. I'd need a freakin' Vette!
  The sudden and dramatic changes in my plumbing intrigued me. Part of me wanted to go spelunking and inspect, touch, and yes, even play with my new toys, but that was only a small and very sick part of me. Mostly I was horrified. I felt emasculated and embarrassed -- a veritable freak. In the last two days my self-esteem had dropped faster than a pair of hooker's panties. Which, I lamented, were now all-too-appropriate for my new gender.
  I think Jenny was a mind reader, because her tone was soft and reassuring. The hand she laid lightly on my shoulder as she helped me hop down from the bed and then used to propel me towards the bathroom was comforting too.
  "I'm sure the vampires in the lab want more blood, hon, but the doctors think you might be running short."
  What she said in jest was true. They'd tapped me for gallons of that thick black gold. I think they were trying to stock up my own private reserve. At least that's what I hoped they were doing with the stuff.
  "Who are you calling short?"
  I didn't have a snappy comeback. It was the truth and it hurt. Standing a few smidges over one and a half meters, I was short. Somewhere in all this, I'd lost over thirty-five centimeters. I didn't think I was going to find it again either. I suppose once my Napoleon complex took root I could always cheat and measure to the tip of my folded wings. If I did, I could honestly claim to be a half-meter taller.
  I turned and looked her in the eye; I needed to look up to do it too. She was smiling one of those warm girly happy giddy smiles. It lit up her face. The butterflies in my tummy did flip-flops. I hrmphed, muttered something disparaging about women, and headed for the bathroom.
  I'd found myself being able to read people, especially Jenny, and sense things about them better than when I was a man. I desperately hoped that this was a girl thing. The alternative was unthinkable. Somehow, without even looking I knew that smile was still on her face and she was watching me walk. I'm not sure why or how I knew, but I did. I didn't mind her staring at my cute little girly ass. I would have stared at my ass too. Besides, I really liked Jenny, even if she was an imp.
  Maybe it was a subconscious desire to do something nice in return for the hug. Maybe it was the hardwired reflexes of my new body reacting to the heat still burning in my loins. As I walked, I started to exaggerate my all-too-natural wiggle. If I were male, the gyrations I put my hips through would have me in traction for weeks. As a woman, as a succubus, it came all-too-easily and naturally. That frightened me.
  As I touched the door handle, I didn't quite feel like a condemned man heading for a hot and heavy date with Madame Guillotine; there was to much wiggling, jiggling, and bouncing going on for me to feel like a man.
  "Midstream," I could almost hear the lust in her voice.
  Safely inside I leaned against the door. I crinkled my cute little nose and made a funny face. Although I was alone with my nemesis, I only mouthed the word, "Midstream."
  I looked down. I couldn't see her, my nemesis that is. My breasts were in the way. Instead I fixed my eyes upon the porcelain guillotine. I could hear the self-mockery in my head. I didn't walk; I wiggled, I strutted across the damn room like a brazen whore. There went the hooker's panties again. I made a point of stamping like a truck driver the final few yards. The movement felt odd and unfamiliar. It also made the jiggle and bounce worse. I wanted to scream in frustration.
  Sitting on anything other than a stool seemed to be a major operation. I tried to stand once. Boy that was a mistake, no more writing my name in the snow. I had no choice; I needed to sit. Worst of all, I had to touch it; I had to wipe it. I'd already caught myself actually watching a couple of those commercials! I was learning all about feminine hygiene. Fuck!
  Turning, I hiked up my gown. My tail snaked up my thigh and over my hip. It proceeded to wrap itself twice around my waist. It made a more than adequate belt. I was learning.
  Maneuvering in the cramped quarters of a bathroom was tricky. Even with the extra room provided by a wheelchair accessible stall, sitting on a toilet was troublesome. Unfurling my wings, even partially, was a strange sensation. I wasn't quite used to having what amounted to an extra set of arms. To sit, I needed to unfurl them just so. They had to remain furled and close to my body, but I had to angle them enough, like a giant letter 'A', so that the trailing edge and wing tips would fall to either side of the toilet -- not into the bowl like last time. I'd learned that lesson already. I didn't want to get them wet again. I was learning all right!
  The seat was cold against my warm skin. I closed my eyes. I was an emotional basket case. I wasn't going to crack. I wasn't going to cry. My mental mantra returned. Big boys don't cry, big boys don't cry. It didn't seem to work. My eyes watered. I wasn't big anymore. I wasn't even a boy. I probably threw like a girl now too.
  Jenny's tap-tap tapping on the door and concerned voice brought me back to the mortal realm. "Everything alright in there?"
  "Umm, yeah I'm fine." I lied. I dabbed my eyes and swallowed the lump in my throat. I tried to relax.
  With a heavy sigh I removed the lid from the container, parted my slender thighs, and looked down. I shook my head in disgust. Not only was I a girl, my body, even there, was completely hairless, not a follicle in sight. Somehow I managed to relax and I felt a sphincter release. A gush of liquid began to spray out. I slid the container into the stream.
  The words were unladylike and heartfelt, "Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!"
  The door flew open with a bang. I jumped; actually it was more of an aborted attempt at takeoff than a jump. I spilled half the contents of the container, not to mention almost dropping it into the bowl. A concerned Jenny raced in and my humiliation was complete.
  "What's wrong!"
  Even as she spoke, her eyes continued to anxiously quest about for a sucking chest wound, spurting blood, or some other rational explanation for my hysterics. I don't know if it was the look on her face, the absurdity of my situation or both, but I couldn't help myself. I lost it. I totally lost it. I started to giggle.
  "Sweetie, what's wrong?" She used that voice that all women seem to revert to when speaking to a child, a particularly stupid child with a scraped knee or other life threatening booboo. I was certain it was the same tone she used with the mentally deficient. I could see the concern on her face.
  Professional detachment, my wiggly jiggly ass! That only made me giggle all the more. My ass really did wiggle.
  I couldn't seem to stop. Soon tears began streaming openly down my face. I couldn't catch my breath. The entire situation was so completely fucking absurd I laughed. Soon, interspersed with my giggles were cute-as-a-button little squeaks. Even to my ears I sounded like a child's squeaky toy. That started me giggling all over again.
  Jenny knelt down in front of me, took hold of my arm, and managed to gently pry the now quarter-full container from my grasp. She set the container aside and all the while never took her eyes off me. Despite the reassuring and comforting sounds she was making, I couldn't stop doing my impression of a squeaky toy.
  Through teary eyes, I watched as she reached over and pressed the emergency call button. I wondered how the hell they were going to fit me for a straitjacket. I didn't think they made any that would accommodate a tail let alone a pair of bat wings. I thought that was particularly funny so I added a few snorts between the giggles and squeaks.
  The bathroom quickly grew crowded. Two more nurses, one of them a large burly male, and then a doctor I had never seen before arrived on the scene. The syringe he was carrying looked big. I sobered up fast.
  Between gasps for air, I finally managed to squeak out an answer to Jenny's question. Holding up my hand I blubbered, "S-s-sorry, I -- I peed on my fingers again!"
  That declaration brought real tears and soul-wrenching sobs replaced the giggling. I fell forward into Jenny's waiting embrace and buried my head in the crook of her neck. My tears, real tears, flowed freely. They streamed down my face and onto the exposed skin of her neck. I think Jenny cried a bit too.
  I'm not sure how, but I managed to beg, snivel, and plead my way out of being jabbed with that needle. I'm not sure if that was a good thing or not. Instead of a sedative, they gave me Jenny.
  She took charge and after a few quick wipes of a damp cloth, I was mostly clean. We adjourned to my bed; she held and slowly rocked me back and forth while I cried. I cried for an hour, then two. I didn't stop until Jenny's shoulders were completely soaked and the doctors were rehashing the debate about my strange metabolism, my odd blood chemistry, and the correct dosage of the latest most efficacious tranquilizer for a distressed 45-kilogram demon woman. Actually, I weighed closer to 55. The ten-kilo deduction was an allowance for the dead weight of my wings.
  I never used to weigh 55 kilos. I never used to cry either. Okay, so maybe I did weigh 55 kilos when I was 12 or 13, and I did cry like this when my dad died. But he was my dad!
  If the transformation had been a gender change, or to something completely unrecognizably human, I figured I could have been able to cope -- at least better than I was. As a chick I would have been able to fit in, maybe not right away, but eventually. I could lose myself in the sea of humanity and still lead an insignificant and meaningless little life. I still wouldn't have been happy, but I would have been human.
  As an inhuman monster, there would have been no question about remaining a part of the human world; it would have been impossible. There would also have been no template to compare me to. I wouldn't have been a he or a she. I would have been an 'it'. A monster. A monster would have been banished from society, locked in a cage, or better yet, shot. I could deal with that.
  As a bat-winged, raven-haired beauty, I was caught in between. I think it was the sense of isolation I was feeling -- of unreality, of being completely and irrevocably severed from humanity but not my reliance on society, which made me lose it so dramatically. I was inhuman enough to never be accepted as normal, yet not so scary that little kids would run away screaming in terror. I would always be at best a freak. Well, maybe not always -- there was Halloween.
  Either way, I was doomed to a life of freakdom and continual scrutiny, and because of my gender change, I was betting on public ridicule. I would be stared at, laughed at, or worse. Nobody would ever want me. I would always be alone. Isolated.
  Is this what that dumpy fat chick felt like at my prom? Maybe I shouldn't have been such a prick. It was only one dance. What was one dance in the scheme of things? Was this to be my punishment for that one indiscretion?
  I knew there were worse freaks out there than me. I wasn't even thinking about the other poor bastards on the list. Being devilishly attractive and presenting at least the appearance of a desirable female, a veritable little Lolita in fact, I was going to attract a certain fringe element of society. I guess I would have to wait and see which was going to be worse -- the perverts, the religious right, or being completely and utterly alone.
  I was going to have a long time to get used to being alone. That stopped me like a spiked club to the old brain box. I didn't want to get used to this. I wanted to be me! I didn't want to be a monster! I didn't want to be alone.
  That phrase haunted me. Always be alone. 'Always' was going to be a very, very long time. How far off was the heat death of the universe anyway? Demons were immortal. If I really was the demon I imagined, then I was immortal, too. Wasn't I?
  No, not 'immortal'. That wasn't quite right. I was un-aging. I would be forever young. I could die, I was sure of that. Massive catastrophic damage would do the trick, but if I were the creature, the one I was thinking of, then I wouldn't really die. Would I? Would I instead be banished from the mortal realm? Go directly to hell. Do not pass the pearly gates. Do not collect a chance at redemption. Now that was a frightening thought and I wasn't even terribly religious!
  Fuck! I didn't want to be immortal. Young and healthy sure, but immortal? I had enough trouble trying to figure out what the hell to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon! What the hell was I going to do to fill the next three or four billion Sundays? Is it any wonder I couldn't stop crying?
  "I'm fine now, really."
  Jenny didn't look convinced. Hell, I wasn't convinced. I only stopped because Jenny's shoulders were getting soggy and gross. I'd finally run out of dry spots. Besides, I figured I would have plenty of time to cry later, all the time in the world in fact.
  I pulled away and wiped at my eyes. Jenny looked at her sodden shoulder, "Eww, gross. Demon snot!" The laughter that filled the room wasn't tinged with hysteria. I still squeaked and snorted though.
  Neither of us had seen quite that colour of sickly fluorescent greeny-yellow before. We were both intrigued. So was the doctor that came to see what was so funny. Out came a jar and off went a sample to the lab. The hospital was accumulating quite a considerable collection of my bodily fluids.
  At least my little melodrama pushed back my appointment with the dreaded Doctor Douglas. It didn't get me out of lunch though.
  After the sample was secured and on its way to the lab, Jenny's replacement arrived. Dressed in a crisp white nurse's uniform, Mary (my day nurse) came in carrying a tray. Mary had at least a couple of decades on Jenny and was her exact opposite. She was short and plump where Jenny was tall and athletic. Jenny was bright and bubbly, Mary brusque and curt. Jenny was cute and cuddly, and Mary, well, she wasn't.
  I couldn't fault Mary for her attitude. I bet she had seen a thing or two in her thirty-odd years of nursing. But that didn't stop me calling her Nurse Megabeast. Not to her face of course, I was far too polite, proper, and respectable for that. I called her that in my head. I wondered what she made of me though. I'm sure she pegged me as some sort of deranged pervert.
  "Lunch." Mary announced. Setting my tray on the table, she wheeled it over to the bed. She aimed it right between the two of us and used it like a wedge to drive us apart. We scooted back more than a few inches. Hug time was over.
  I didn't miss the look she flashed Jenny either. It was cold and disapproving. Mary could be a real bitch. I was sure that any compassion she once had was beaten out of her long ago. I wondered if the megabeast was on the mailing list. She was a real monster. She frightened me more than some of the freaks I'd seen on the news.
  "Gee thanks, but I'm not hungry. Maybe Jenny wants to eat it?" I flashed the megabeast my pearly whites, long needle sharp canines and all.
  At least I thought it was a winning smile. She scowled.
  "Hospital food. Mmmm!" To emphasize her point Jenny rubbed her tummy, then winked conspiratorially at me.
  Ignoring the scowling megabeast, I grumped, "You can't call what they serve here food, let alone lunch!" I picked up the plastic fork and stabbed at the food on the tray. It quivered a bit. Fortunately, that was the only sign of life. It didn't attack. I think it was waiting until I let my guard down and took my eyes off it.
  Mary wrinkled her nose and frowned, "It smells in here."
  "Must be lunch" Jenny poked me in the ribs.
  "No, it's not lunch. There's a funny smell in here. Did you change the sheets this morning?" Her tone was almost accusing. It was as if I had had an accident in the night and Jenny willfully neglected her job. Megabeast Mary wasn't about to do someone else's work.
  "Of course I did!" I could see Jenny tense up.
  "I don't smell anything either." It wasn't a lie. I couldn't smell anything.
  "I can't put my finger on it but..."
  I cut her off. I wanted her out of my room. I wanted her to leave Jenny alone. I wanted her to leave me alone. I wanted her to take the damn lunch away and just fucking leave! "Okay, You've got me. I have gas. Are you happy now?" I stuck my tongue out. It was a little long; at least it wasn't forked!
  It was an old happy thought from childhood. Since Jenny and I were being silly, it seemed appropriate. I knew as long as I was in bed, I was safe from evil monsters. All I needed to do was hide. My father told me that after a particularly rough and sleepless night of being terrorized by the closet monster. Lunch qualified as evil and Nurse Megabeast was definitely a monster. Putting the two together I pulled the sheet up and over my head and made a farting noise.
  The effect was completely ruined. The sheet tangled with my wings. Jenny laughed anyway. Mary looked at us like we were a pair of loons, I guess maybe we were. The food wasn't really that bad. The Megabeast was.
  I'd like to say that the Megabeast dragged Jenny from the room kicking and screaming, but the poor girl went willingly. Before she left, I got another hug and a not so chaste kiss on the cheek. It seemed odd and out of character. I didn't complain. I put it down as another girl thing I was going to have to figure out.
  It was also typical of my luck. As soon as I got a cute young nurse to kiss me, not to mention alone on my bed, there was nothing I could do to take advantage of her. Why did life have to be so unfair?
  Looking from Jenny's departing backside to my lunch only served to reaffirm life's cruelty. When the door finally closed, I was alone with my thoughts and my nutritious, but bland meal. Hospital food, yuck!


  I didn't want to change. I had to change. Only this time it was just my hospital gown. At least, like a good little bat-winged uber-Nazi wannabe, I could claim I was following orders -- the Megabeast's orders. But I still couldn't figure out why I wasn't allowed to show up for my appointment with a pudding stain on my left breast.
  I didn't think it was such a big deal. I didn't even think of it as a stain. It was more like a badge of courage proving I'd survived yet another glorious hospital meal. Better yet, the stain was nipple camouflage! Yeah, that's it! Pudding, breasts, they both jiggled about the same. Who would know?
  The megabeast that's who!
  "Anyone here?"
  I definitely could have gone for a second helping of pudding; the chocolate was yummy. It was the second, third, and fourth helping of breast I didn't need. Did the twins (I'd decided they were twins) really have to cast their own shadows? Mons fucking Olympus! The cleavage had to be deeper than the Marianas Trench. I was even contemplating giving them names. It seemed only proper; major geographic features always had names.
  Yeah. Twin Peaks, and looking down I noted my very own Bat Cave. Lucky me.
  "Mr. Smith? "
  If my worst fears were realized, if I lost my identity, my money, everything, I knew that with these perky puppies I would always be able to earn a living. I wasn't thinking stripper either. No, I was sure I could find work as a high school science instructional aid. With me in the classroom, science would never be the same. With these breasts and a flashlight I could teach the kids all about umbra's and penumbras. I'm sure we could even throw in a lecture or two on the ability of sufficiently massive bodies to bend light.
  "Ah, excuse me, Mr. Smith?"
  The male voice startled me; the bastard really should have knocked. I poked my head around the privacy curtain. "Umm, yeah?"
  Despite or perhaps because of the chubby pallid face, the orderly looked to be in his early thirties. A slick buzz cut served to disguise the receding hairline and his goatee was either in the early stages of growth or suffering from a severe case of testosterone deficiency. "Ah, Mr. I mean umm." A quick rub of pudgy fingers over his nearly baldpate, a glance at the clipboard on the gurney, then a deep crimson spread across his puffy cheeks. "Err, I'm sorry, Miss Smith?"
  "Yes?" Irked, my voice danced across two or three octaves.
  "I'm ah... I'm here to take you to your appointment with Doctor Douglas?" He didn't sound so certain. "Umm, my name's David?" He didn't sound so sure of that either. His puppy dog eyes, the color of something I'd recently deposited in the toilet, flicked to the clipboard seeking an answer to the chaos I'd injected into his ordered little world.
  Ducking behind the curtain, I finished wiggling and jiggling into the hospital gown. At least this one was blue, but like the pink ones, it still tied in the back and left my girly ass hanging out.
  If he was confused when he heard my voice and saw my face, he was apoplectic when I finally stepped out from behind the curtain. I watched his eyes slide from my breasts to my hips then back again. REM was only supposed to occur when sleeping, but the putz wasn't asleep. So, I guess since he was obviously wide awake I was either wrong about that or he was having a stroke. The way he was looking at me, I was rooting for the stroke.
  David seemed to lose focus. He swayed precariously, and then with a half step, caught himself. He was back. Yeah, back and fixated on my chest.
  The way his eyes rolled, I figured he had to be an amateur cartographer or geometry major. Either that or we both thought the headlights on a 57 Chevy Bel-Air were cool. I didn't like the way he was leering. It was degrading, dehumanizing. But I consoled myself with the fact that he didn't make me feel like a monster or a freak. He made me feel like an object -- a sex object. My cute little hooker's panties didn't know whether to go up or down so they just flopped uselessly around my ankles.
  Yeah, right around my ankles. Right where I was bound to trip over them later.
  I knew somewhere in that thick male skull of his he was using his imagination to picture me naked. Guys do that. Hell! I did it with Jenny and I wasn't even a guy anymore! At least I'd like to think I wasn't so blatant about it. From his glazed stare and vapid expression, I could tell he was shutting down non-essential systems and using every ounce of his limited imagination. I figured him for an older model CPU too.
  Thanks to my headlights, he didn't notice the wings, the horns, or the sexy little tail right away, but when he did, his jaw fell open, his breath came in short sharp wheezing gasps, and he clutched at whatever was hanging from the little gold chain around his neck. I wasn't sure if he was going to rip his clothes off and assault me, have a coronary, or run screaming from the room.
  Slender fingers balled themselves into a fist. Mine not his. His were short and fat. The word pudgy leapt into my brain. I seethed. Frustration and anger bled into my voice. I tried for a low menacing growl; I got an agitated dolphin breathing helium. "Okay, do you want to do some more drooling or are we going to go see Doctor Douglas?" My fist thumped against my thigh. It should have been the fat pig's face.
  I'd got smart and given up trying to walk like a trucker; it was a fight I knew I was never going to win. It was also a fight I wasn't prepared to lose either. There was no way I was prepared to give in to those girly hips and wiggle and sashay like some cheap strumpet. Instead, my brain and body worked out a compromise -- sort of. My new walk was an eclectic mix, one part gangster's casual shoulder roll, two parts seductive strut, and three parts imperious pixie. It worked. It got me from A to B. I especially liked the way my tail beat a counterpoint to the sway of my hips.
  As I approached the disordered orderly, I was trying to decide whether to punch him, slap him, climb onto the gurney, or just leave and try and find Doctor Douglas on my own. I wasn't looking for it, but as I got closer I couldn't help but notice the bulge in his pants. Suddenly, it was a toss-up between a hissy fit, a crying jag, or a swift kick to his engorged member. I don't know what it said about my mental state, but I settled for a girly slap.
  "Sorry, what?"
  I cocked a hip, pulled my bee-stung lips back into what I hoped was a snarl, and glared at him.
  "Ah, yes. Yes of course." His cheeks flushed and he looked away. The left, the one I slapped, was a little darker than the right. I could almost see the imprint of my hand starting to form on his face. I fought the smirk, but the smirk won.
  That was until I took a step towards the gurney and tripped over my imaginary hooker's panties. How retarded could I be? Apparently extremely! I shoved the thought aside. It pushed back. With a triple nipple lock, I got the little bitch under control and shoved her into a dark little corner of my mind. It was a crowded corner, but I had enough to dwell on. I didn't need to think about the ramifications of a simple slap and how others, particularly the media, might portray it.
  Instead, I gave in to my imperious pixie genes, harrumphed, and flopped onto the gurney. On my tummy, I settled in for the ride. Damn wings. Stupid hospital rules. Damned pig! I could have fucking well walked!
  The thought wasn't so easy to banish. She was tricky. I could see her there, in the dark corner, like some recalcitrant child. The little bitch must have seen me looking because she donned a dunce cap and started blowing raspberries.
  I wanted to ask if the little girl was talking to me, but in my new helium induced voice I knew my Travis Bickle impression wouldn't have gone over well. Besides, someone might figure out I was starting to lose it.
  I dismissed the slap as another one of the body's programmed reactions. I didn't slap him, the body did. It wasn't me! It was the little girl with the dunce cap. Honest officer! Would I lie to you? If I hit him it would have been with a balled fist. I would have hit him as hard as I could too. If I had officer, you'd be looking for his head somewhere back east -- say around Toronto.
  Hey, just because I failed the polygraph doesn't mean it's admissible in court.
  I don't know why, but I guess I had to be grateful that the body's timing hadn't been off. If it had, I could have been in serious trouble; my claws would have done horrific damage.
  The little girl waved the dunce cap in my direction, "Idiot! Its called assault! Dumbass!" With a final raspberry, she vanished.
  What is it with men? Sure, I stole a surreptitious glance or two, but I never acted like that. I didn't know if I should have been flattered or disgusted. Yeah, I did. I glanced at his crotch and shook my head in disgust. I seemed to be having that effect on most men. Fucking pigs!
  It also seemed to be getting worse. I wrote it off as another girl thing I was going to have to learn to deal with and fluffed my own pillow. Where was Jenny when I needed her most?
  I ignored the brush of the orderly's cold clammy hand against my bum as he reached for the sheet. I flinched when his fingers caressed the back of my calf. Sure, I believe you. You were just unfolding the sheet right? I tuned and gave him the look again. I suppose he got the message because he kept his grubby mitts off me as he spread the sheet over my back. Besides, I probably deserved it for the slap.
  "Rrready to roll?"
  I shrugged slender shoulders, my wings moved, and the sheet slid askew. Plucking at the sheet, I pulled it free. I figured I'd be more comfortable with nothing tangling my wings. Finally settled, I heard a little girl's voice say, "Yeah, let's go." Only it was my little girl voice.
  I wanted to beat my head on the pillow, or maybe into a wall, or better yet, the front end of a speeding bus. Instead, I folded one arm flat. The hand, black nails gleaming like ten slices of midnight, fingers outstretched and dangling just so, slid seductively under my chin.
  It may have been a pose worthy of a girly magazine, but at least propped up I could see where we were going. Unfortunately, it also meant I was lucky enough to see the Megabeast smile and wave as we rolled past the nurse's station.
  Where the hell was that bus?
  The ride could have been worse. At least on my tummy, facing forward, and the creep pushing from behind, I didn't have to acknowledge his existence. Best of all, my breasts weren't trapped beneath me and mashed into the gurney's mattress pad. Sure, it gave him an unobstructed view of my round girly ass, but the alternative was worse.
  I silently cursed myself as we idled waiting for the elevator. Dumbass! I shuffled and repositioned my wings. With nothing left to ogle, David finally decided to break the silence and talk. "So you're the changeling?"
  "The what?"
  "Changeling. You know? The transformee." I hated how he tacked on about fourteen E's to the end of transformee.
  "Is that what they are calling us?"
  "Uh, yeah. At least on CNN they are. So like, umm, what are you? Some sort of bat girl?"
  I'm an evil-assed bat-winged bitch and if you grope me again, I'll rip your fucking heart out! That was what I thought. Only the filter between my brain and mouth translated it into a less malignant, "Something like that." I still couldn't bring myself to say the word -- Succubus. Though even that wasn't exactly true, if the theory was right I wasn't just a Succubus, I was a. not something I wanted to think about.
  "Wow, that is like so cool. So like, umm, do they work?"
  "Does what work?" My voice didn't do hostility well, and he went on as if I'd merely asked him to pass the milk. Sure I wasn't' really a girl and my breasts were huge, but the nerve!
  "The wings, you know? Like have you, umm. tried to fly yet."
  "Oh. Ah, no I haven't."
  "Man, like that would be so cool. You know? To be able to fly."
  No, cool would be able to walk into a mall and not get stoned to death by an angry mob of frightened, hysterical villagers. Mental moron. Village fucking idiot. Unfortunately, the filter kicked in again. I managed to void my voice of any enthusiasm, "Yeah, like you know," I parroted, "I can hardly wait."
  "Off to see Doctor Douglas at long last. You know she's been anxious to get a look at you."
  "She?" New's flash. Doctor Douglas was a woman. I don't know why I was surprised. Residual sexist pig genes probably. I opened my mouth, the filter kicked in again and I closed it before uttering, "and how do you know she's anxious to see me? Are you psychic as well as a big fat pervert?"
  "Yeah, she's cool though. You'll like her. Tops in her field." He chuckled, and added as an afterthought. "Not that I'd know."
  We rolled into the elevator. Except for the odd bounce and squeak (not from me, from the wheels) it was mercifully silent.
  Every specialist I was seeing 'came highly recommended', 'Was well thought of by his peers', or was, as David suggested, 'tops in his or her field'. I had to give Doctor Williams credit; he had access to a lot of strings and knew how to pull them.
  I guess dad's membership to that posh snooty golf club was worth it after all. I figured it was maybe time to forgive him for all the weekends he spent on the golf course and not playing with us when we were kids. Unbidden, his handicap of four popped into my head. I also made a mental note to ask him if Doc Williams still had the '72 E-type. If he did, I wondered if he would let me drive it on Sunday's. Not only was the Jag a classic, but also she had flush mounted headlights. And that was definitely a huge plus in my new estrogen bound book.
  I decided to end the cold war. "So what's Douglas's specialty?"
  I'd seen so many doctors in such a short period that I'd stopped caring. After the joyous hour and a half with the proctologist, coupled with his assurances that it was impossible for his ministrations to prove fatal, I'd blotted them all out. I mean, what was the point? If it wasn't going to kill me, I didn't want to know about it.
  Life was full of difficult choices. Some harder than others -- specialists, hospital food, or a tack hammer to the forehead.
  I'll take large blunt objects to the forehead for a thousand, Alex.
  "She's an O B G Y N."
  "A WHAT? No way. No Fucking way! I'm not." Like an illegal shipment of Mexicans being pursued by the INS, I started to climb off the moving gurney. Limbs and wings went one way. I went the other. The elevator doors began to close. Abandon ship! Abandon ship! An imaginary or maybe not so imaginary klaxon sounded. I wasn't ready to face that. I wasn't above begging and pleading or just plain blubbering. I have more blood. See? Here's a vein. Urine sample? Sure, no problem. Gimme the cup! Send me back to the proctologist, please!
  My heart hammered. The earth shook. I was sure I was about to blow a gasket. What was high blood pressure for a demon anyway? I felt dizzy. I tasted pudding. My vision went funny, though not splotchy, red fade out, crashing to the floor twitching funny. That would have been a kindness.
  Instead, my perspective shifted, almost like looking through one eye then the other. Only instead of moving to the left or right, everything moved down. I scrunched my nose up and blinked a few times.
  God, that expression probably looked cute!
  The world shook again, and then stabilized itself. The vertigo subsided.
  Did reality just do another flip-flop? Did I spontaneously combust into something new and even more freakish? What was I now? An eight breasted octopus? A quick mental inventory: two tits, a tail, a jiggly-wiggly ass, and a collapsible hang glider on my back.
  No such luck. I was still me, the same demon chick in the same messed up world. Only. I gazed around in disbelief. It wasn't the same messed up world. Not really.
  This time I didn't change, the world did. Only that wasn't possible. Was it? Reality wasn't supposed to be malleable, but it was. Everything was different and yet the same. Everywhere I looked everything I saw seemed to glow and shimmer; my hands, the lights, David's retreating fat butt. Everything. Shades of blue, yellow, orange, and red danced in my head. I felt like Lucy, in the sky with diamonds.
  Had someone spiked my pudding?
  I stopped trying to get off the gurney and instead, sat down hard.
  I whimpered. My tail again. It wasn't a headache coming on; it felt more like a catatonic fetal ball. I fought it. I heard voices. My head swiveled left then right. Hair dragged across my back and shoulders.
  "Like, I didn't do anything. She just went all spacey-freaky like. You know? Then she started shaking."
  "Now what? Is everything okay here?"
  The elevator doors slid open and shut banging into the sides of the gurney. I recognized that voice.
  Megabeast alert! Megabeast alert! Condition red. Whoop! Whoop! I really hoped the filter caught that one. From Mary's look, I wasn't so sure.
  Like everything else, when I looked at her, Mary glowed too. Confusion, fear, and uncertainty congealed into a sickly smelly glop of anger. It was completely irrational. I knew that. I sat up a little straighter and adjusted my gown. Shoulders back, chest out -- way out in fact -- a quick, almost expert, flick of my head and the wayward lock of hair was tamed and back in its proper place. I didn't even stop to wonder how I knew that sexy little trick would work.
  I was determined. I wasn't going to show weakness or fear in front of the Megabeast. I tried for imperious. I got distressed pixie. "Fine. Everything's fine." Mary scowled; my lips curled up into what I hoped was a winning smile. I embellished further, "Just pixie. I mean peachy."
  "What happened?"
  Fine! Don't believe me, bloody skeptic!
  "I just got ditzy, I mean dizzy for a second then my vision went all goofy. Everything's okay now. Everything's under control." Except for the shaking I added silently and crossed my arms.
  "It's only a pelvic exam dear." I knew the megabeast was on the list, how else could she be an evil psychic monster.
  "Yeah well, I wasn't told that!" I berated myself for sounding like a petulant child or worse, like a weenie. "I mean, I thought." Don't lose it now; remember the size of the syringe. "I thought I was going for a, a. You know? A physical."
  When I needed to hate her most, the Megabeast pulled off an awesome little mind fuck. Sympathy! Compassion! She oozed it, the tricky devious bitch! Definitely on the list! My shit list for sure, I suppose the jury was still out on the other. I swore I'd figure out a way to get her back.
  "Well dear, I doubt you've had a physical quite like it before. The Doctor's going to do a full pelvic. Then you're scheduled for an ultrasound and a mammogram."
  Was that glee in her voice? Did she really just cackle?
  She even had the gall to lay her pudgy fingers on my shoulder. It felt like five big gooey banana slugs had latched on to me. I did a double take. They weren't the Megabeast's fingers. I shrugged off his hand and leaned away from the orderly's touch.
  Eww! Boy germs! Thankfully, the filter caught that one and I stifled the giggle before it managed to burble out.
  I didn't trust my voice. I bit my lower lip and merely nodded.
  Mary smiled sweetly.
  That meant.
  Oh god, I was radiating pure cuteness, AGAIN!
  I wanted to cry. Instead, I began to wonder what it would feel like, and if it would hurt -- payback, not the exam. I was sure the physical wasn't going to be pleasant or anything like the days of yore: drop your pants, turn your head, and cough. Nope, nothing like that.
  I was right. It wasn't. It was worse -- and it didn't even have the decency to prove fatal.


   I knew I was stark raving mad. It wasn't because my recently recovered hooker's panties were dangling around my ankles again or that my vision was still messed up. It wasn't, as Doctor Douglas found out, that the filter between my mouth and brain was irreparably damaged.
  Fuck, was it any wonder I did a verbal tap dance on her head?
  I have a mirror; do you want to see it? Christ! What sort of dumbass question was that? Did I want her to show me pictures and describe all my new girlie bits to me? Fuck no, lady! If I wanted a look at girly pictures, I'd buy a freakin' magazine and jack off in private, thank you very much! Get on with it you sick sadistic old hag!
  Fucking genius that I am, I'd really called her a sadistic old hag too. Worse than calling her a hag, now, every time I thought about it, I couldn't help but giggle!
  Yeah, well the bitch got me back. Serves me right I suppose. I should have paid more attention to the latest edition of Cosmo or was it Bimbo Weekly? Yeah, Girlie magazine tip number 106: Don't piss off a lady wielding a speculum. That's followed closely by tip 107: Never piss off a Doctor with the power to send you to the booby crusher. Fuck, after what they put me through, I felt like I should have called dad and told him I'd wrecked the car again.
  Only he's dead and what the hell would I say anyway. Hey dad, the Bel-Air's been in an 'orrible accident! Her front ends been smooshed in and the headlights will never be the same. Yeah right. Better yet, what could he do about it?
  Compacted, compressed, and smooshed. Only unlike a car in a crusher, my breasts didn't have the decency to get any smaller. Fucking mammogram. Hey Doc, stick your head in here for a sec will ya? Yeah, like I was the only insane one!
  At least I knew it!
  Yup, I knew for a fact I was nuts and it wasn't because I was sitting on the throne singing. Nope. In whole or in part, it wasn't the singing or the rest of the bizarre behavior. I knew I was a raving lunatic because even with the crappy acoustics of the bathroom, I thought I sounded darn good! Almost, but not quite a cross between whale music and the chick that did that Barbie Girl song, only I sounded better.
  "Jingle bells. Bat Girl smells." I sniffed an armpit and nodded.
  "Sponge bath! Sponge bath!" chanted the silent chipmunk chorus lost somewhere in the dark corners of my mind. I sniffed the other side and wrinkled my nose in appreciation. I wasn't rank, not exactly. It was more of a musky, heady bouquet seasoned with a touch of something. That extra little something was an aroma I couldn't quite place. Three days with only a single sponge bath.
  Three long miserable days since I woke up lying in a puddle of goo, transformed, transmutated, and transmogrified. I guess my missing mass had to go somewhere, but god; it really was icky, smelly, caustic goo. I shuddered and dismissed the memory and crinkled my nose again. Three days without a real shower was a lot, goo, or no goo.
  I parted slender thighs and looked down. I rocked on; "The bimbo laid an egg." At least this time I mused, they didn't want a sample. My legs snapped shut. I looked up and bobbed my head side to side in time to the musical score only I could hear. My recently battered and much abused breasts decided to act like a bunch of overly energetic background dancers and got jiggy with it too.
  "Bat-mobile lost her wheel, and the Joker got awa-ay. Second verse, same as the first!" A deep sigh, a heavy breath, and a peek down the top of my gown and I was singing again. "Jingle bells. Bat Girl smells."
  "Doesn't anyone fucking well knock?" It was supposed to be a private room, but it really was my own fault. I should have been more careful. I should have closed the bathroom door.
  "Sorry, I'll come back later."
  "Ah, shit!" I muttered, then louder, "Doc Williams. Sorry, give me a half a tick." I leaned forward and peeked out into the room. Doctor Williams was a gentleman. A short, stocky, bespectacled and mostly bald gentleman. I didn't catch him peeking, not yet anyway.
  I leaned back and as my tail sought the handle, one hand was reaching for more toilet paper, the other dabbing and wiping. Okay, I had to admit having a prehensile tail wasn't as bad as I first thought. That is, as long as I remembered not to sit on it.
  I peeked again; his back was still to me. A flush followed by a moment to straighten out the blue hospital gown, reposition my wings, shrug slender shoulders, and I was done.
  I peeked out again. Frankly, I was worried. What unexpected pleasure would this visit bring? The only orifice they hadn't yet plumbed was my nose. They had a sample of Demon snot, please let it be enough! Probably the sample would only serve to pique the interest of some lab geek somewhere. Fucking A! I could even hear the little fuck. 'Let's go spelunking. But doc, we just have to find Becky and Injun Joe! I know she's down there somewhere!' Now that was a promising thought. What were the odds of a fatality during a rhinoscope? My sudden elation evaporated. With my diminutive upturned pixie beak, probably slim to none.
  I didn't exactly bound out of the bathroom brimming with unbridled enthusiasm and squealing, 'Gee doc! Time for another prodding? Where do you want to stick your fingers today?' No, that wouldn't be one of my more cunning plans. I didn't exactly slink out of the bathroom either; my tail was dragging between my legs. My cocky gangster stroll gone, it's only remnant, a little nervous flick of the tip of my tail.
  As we made all polite-like and shook hands, the only thought that my muddled mind could formulate was 'did the toilet seat leave an imprint on my ass and would he notice if it did'. Now, how retarded was that?
  O rhinoscope, rhinoscope, wherefore art thou my fatal rhinoscope?
  "I'm sorry dear. Now that you're out of quarantine, I have some groupies that would like to examine you. Do you mind?" Doctors. Groupies. More like sadists in training. What did I expect? The hospital was a teaching hospital.
  My face remained impassive, or what I hoped might be mistaken for impassive. For all I knew I could have been making kissy faces or blowing raspberries.
  I wondered when, in Doc Williams's mind I had become 'dear'? I suppose that was my own fault too. The incongruity of my old name and this nubile body didn't fit so I'd ask them not to use it. I guess the staff, once they got a glimpse of my charming and bubbly personality wanted to establish a little more familiarity. Yeah right! They were probably tired of calling me Ms. Smith. Besides, 'Hey bitch', or 'Hey freakazoid' were a tad bit unprofessional.
  Still, I needed a new name. Something in the shadows tickled just out of reach.
  "Umm, no. I guess not. But..." I paused, my concentration suddenly diverted and intensely focused. I eyed the hospital bed, yet another newly acquired nemesis. For what it did to my ego, the graceful gymnastic hop and twist I did to get back up might as well have been a chin up. Shrimp! Munchkin Freak! My mind screamed and I began to wonder when I would forget about fancy cars and start thinking about my conquest of Europe. At least this time, like some twisted miracle, I managed to hop onto the edge of the bed, feet dangling off into space, without scrunching my tail.
  "But what?"
  "Huh? Oh, Umm." It was the daylight; I'd been drifting again. Another medical first; daylight attention deficit disorder. "Yeah well, I had some questions I'd like to ask. You know, in private?" Private questions, about private parts in private. With so many privates, I felt like I was in the army. I even knew who was in charge, one Major Fuckup that's who.
  "I'll suggest they grab a cup of coffee while we talk."
  I had a different suggestion, but the filter decided to act up and actually work again.
  Doc Williams poked his head out and gave his evil minions their marching orders. I think I heard him mutter something about Igor, the rack, and keeping the pokers hot, but I wasn't sure.
  Instead of worrying about it, I used the time productively. You know, productively? As in rearranging the hospital gown, plucking uselessly at the bed sheets, and praying to a god I no longer believed in. Yeah, I was praying. Only my silent prayer used a lot of words that began with the letter 'F' and ended in 'ing'. Well, except for the occasional word that sounded a lot like bastard.
  "Now, what was it you wanted to talk about?"
  He studied me intently. The silence drew itself out. It dragged on and was eventually interrupted by the wail of a distant siren. It was only a minor consolation; somewhere on the streets below, someone else was having a bad day. Finally, his somber gray eyes blinked. "What exactly did you have in mind?"
  "Everything! The tits. The, the. thing down there. The wings!" I managed not to break down and cry like a weenie or wail like the siren. My hands went into the air, my voice trailed off into a whisper, "Everything."
  "Let me ask you a few questions first. Hmm?" His left eyebrow did an impression of Spock or that hulking wrestling guy.
  I nodded.
  "How are you holding up?"
  "Mentally you mean?"
  It was his turn to nod.
  "Off the record? As a friend?"
  "I'm not a Shrink." Another time and another place his wry grin might have been infectious. Instead, I noted his comment for what it was -- a non-answer. Two angry slashes of crimson against my porcelain skin, I pursed my lips.
  Off the record, I would have been my glib and flippant self. On the record was a different matter entirely. I could only wonder at the pressures and the microscope they had him under -- whoever 'they' were. I also wondered if 'they' were reading my charts too. Somewhere a self-preservation gene acted up and I entered lie and obfuscation mode.
  "Well, I'm pretty sure I'm done with denial." I looked down glumly. As an afterthought, I groped my own breasts angrily. Pressing them together none to gently, I peeked down the top of the gown and got a good look at my cleavage. "Yup, they're real. Doc, I got a handle on anger earlier today. Feel free to ask Doctor Douglas about that though." I smirked. "I guess we're at bargaining. I'll try for depression later tonight. Tomorrow, tomorrow."
  "What Acceptance?" Not a shrink, my left testicle -- wherever it might be.
  "Fuck no, I'll be back at Anger. Anger was a lot of fun." I chuckled, only it sounded like more like a girlish giggle. "Then I was thinking about taking some time for..." For what? Revenge? Only I couldn't say that, could I? Lock me up for sure. Bastards!
  "For what?"
  "More denial." I finished lamely.
  He nodded sagely as if my comments had some great meaning. As if what I'd said actually meant something. "With all the testing I would imagine it's been a rough day. I heard about the little blow out with Doctor Douglas. She was quite upset."
  "Yeah well, it's not every day someone sticks a thingy up your thingy, pokes, prods and then takes a few cells from all the way up around here." I pointed at my throat, right where my Adam's apple used to be.
  In stern silence, he looked at me skeptically.
  "Well that's what it felt like anyway! Shit Doc, to further complicate my life she had the temerity to tell me that I'm probably going to start menstruating. Maybe even soon! Then.Then Christ! She sent me off to the crusher. To the booby press! Fuck! I would have been happier if she'd sent me to a Chinese laundry! At least there I wouldn't have to keep hopping in and out of this stupid gown!"
  "Is that what's bothering you? Menstruating?"
  "Yes! No! I mean." My hesitation was proof that I didn't really know what I meant anymore. "Fuck, I don't know." I relaxed my white-knuckled deathgrip on the mattress. Looking down, five little holes stared back.
  Okay, so I was still doing anger.
  I hoped they didn't bill me for a new mattress. Bargaining? Slender fingers tugged at the sheet in a vain attempt to hide the holes. Denial? It didn't work. Which of the five stages of coping was I really at? "Fuck it Doc!" My hands flew back into my lap and I looked up, "I keep running everything though the old brain box, you know all the plusses and minuses? Only I don't like the answers I keep getting."
  "What's the answer? Better yet, why don't you give me a peek at the score card?" He shifted in the chair and pulled his lab coat across his lap. He tried to make it look like he was settling in for a long chat.
  I could see differently. I could also see that the conversation was taking us to a place I wasn't ready to go. Right now, I didn't need facts cluttering up my muddled mental state or making their way onto my chart. It was my turn to change the topic.
  Some emerging evil gene overrode my mental filter, "Hiding a boner doc?" I said it softly. I didn't mean to say it at all. His bedside manner dissolved and his cheeks flushed.
  Before he could deny it, I recovered smoothly, "That's one of the things doc. You're not the only one. It's everyone! Even the implacable Doctor Douglas was starting to lose her professional demeanor before I blew up."
  "Surely you're exaggerating things?"
  I shook my head.
  "A little?"
  I shook my head again. "You tell me." I looked him right in the lap and waited for a response. I got one too.
  He shifted uncomfortably and changed the topic. "Surgery was it? What were you thinking?"
  "How about a wing- and tail-ectomy for starters?"
  He rubbed at the salt and pepper stubble covering his chin. Reflexively, I rubbed my chin too. Only I didn't have any stubble. The little green monster dove into the grave where I'd buried self-esteem and beat the living crap out of its corpse. My chin was smooth, smoother than a gigolo's come on line.
  "The wings... removing the wings are a problem hon. We've figured out, or I should say we have some very good working theories about the way you're put together."
  I sat and listened to a bunch of medical crap. I even understood most of it. I wish I hadn't because what it amounted to was, no wing-ectomy for me. My wings were intricately involved in regulating my bodacious body's temperature. It was those extra two chambered heart valve thingies and the resulting blood flow. At least they figured out why I was spending so much time peeing into the porcelain throne. Sweating wasn't the mechanism for cooling my body anymore. Instead, it was those two little hearts pumping blood through my wings, just like an elephant does with its ears.
  Cool, I'm a fucking elephant. Dumbo, the bat-winged blunder. Maybe I had another career option to fall back on. Come one, come all! See the Freak fly the big top!
  It got worse. One of the bright lads in the lab theorized that, given the overall structure of the membrane and the small size of my chest cavity and lungs, the wings were helping to oxygenate my blood. I had to stifle a laugh when Doc Williams dumped that one on me. My chest small? If the lab rat that came up with that whopper thought my chest was small, he had to be a charter member of massive mammaries monthly.
  "Okay so you can't hack off the wings. What about the rest?"
  It was a 'resounding no' to the removal of the not quite vestigial horns. The reason? A large bundle of nerves from my brain to a pair of small organs of unknown function (probably sensory) at each tip. At least the CRT that turned that gem up showed I still had a brain -- even if it was unlike anything they'd ever seen before. Bottom line, I'd just have to accept having my own permanent set of deely-bobbers.
  I'm sure I would have been happier with a propeller.
  It was a 'we wouldn't consider it prudent' to the removal of the tail. More nerves, hell I wasn't a doctor and I figured that one out. Then there was a possible flight or a balance issue. Yeah right, the tail wasn't that big. My ass felt like it was though!
  The list labeling me a perma-freak seemed to go on and on. It was 'doubtful' a boob job would be in my best interests. This time something about large pectoral muscles (gee doc, ya think?) and balance issues again. Not to mention one of the few places I stored body fat. I suppose he had a point. Considering I was a girl, I was ripped. Slimfast didn't look like it was ever going to be an issue.
  It didn't stop: no to this and no to that. Finally, I'd had enough. I wasn't stupid. Bargaining wasn't working. Besides, I didn't want to bankrupt our cash strapped health system, by now the groupies were probably on their third or fourth cup of Java.
  "So what you're saying is," I held out my hand towards him, fingers outstretched in an all too feminine and dainty manner, "about the only thing you'd recommend is a manicure?"
  He was in Doctor mode; bedside manner fully engaged. He didn't even have the courtesy to laugh. "No. Not even that. It's really quite fascinating. You see there is a large blood vessel that runs through each."
  It wasn't proper doctor patient etiquette. I knew that, but I picked up the pillow and threw it at him anyway. Screw bargaining. I was back to anger!
  Despite my insincere apology and the late hour, he still summoned Eigor and the rest of his torture team. I know it wasn't my imagination, I distinctly heard someone in the hallway chortle: 'Torture time my pretties'.
  I know I didn't imagine that!
  They filed in; four little white jacketed grim reapers in a row. A fifth, the lone woman of the bunch was wearing a red power suit. They weren't what I was expecting. I expected pimply-faced overachieving medical students. These weren't. I'd been duped.
  Doctor Williams told me their names and which government agency they were with. I promptly forgot their names and gave them new ones. Besides, the names I gave them were easier to remember: Deltoid, Trapezoid, Mastoid, Mongoloid, and the hawkish brunette in the back, the one wearing the power suit, Hemorrhoid. Fair is fair. They didn't say it, but I was sure the bastards were calling me names behind my back.
  Doc Williams and the 'oid quintuplets never did get around to asking me about my fucked up vision or my sleepless nights. Gee, I wonder why that was? It sure as hell wasn't because I was asked to turn my head and cough.
  Men! Perverts, the lot!

[more to come]