Away mooncow Taddy fair fine. Fine again, take. Away, along, alas, alung the orbit-run, from swerve of space to wormhole wiggle, brings us. Start now. Wake.
So hear I am now coming out of nothing like Eros out of Death, knowing only that I was Ismael Forth-stately, muscled well-taping-in, and knowing that I don't know when I'm waking or where, or where-in. And hoping that it is a dream. But it isn't. Oh, no, it isn't. With that goggling piece of munster cheese oumphowing on my eyelids.
And seemingly up through endless levels and configurations that had no words and now no memories. Wake. "Helow, I'm Candy Darlinz."
"I am Ismael returned" was what I started to try to reply. After the third attempt it came out better. And the munster cheese had become a blond-haired young girl with piercing blue eyes.
"Your primary implantation was finished yesterday, finally. Everyone thinks you're a success. Your body is a pip. You're in the Norbert Wiener Research Hospital in Houston. You have two estates clear through probate. Your friend Peter Strawson has covered your affairs. It's the first week of April, 2112. You're alive."
She stood up and touched my hand.
"You start therapy tomorrow. Now sleep."
I was already drifting off by the time she had closed the door behind her. I couldn't even get myself worked up by what I was noticing. My
nipples felt as big as grapes. I went out as I worked my way down p the belly button.
The next day I discovered that I had not only lost a penis. I ha gained a meter-long prehensile tail. It was hate at first sense.
I had worked my way up to consciousness in slow stages. I ha endless flight dreams-walking, running, staggering on, away from sour nameless horror. And brief flashes of sexuality that featured performances by my (former) body.
I really liked my old body. One of my biggest problems, as Dr. Germaine Means was soon to tell me. I could picture clearly how it had looked in the mirrors as I did my stretch and tone work. Just a hair over six foot four. Two hundred and five pounds, well-defined muscles, and` just enough fat to be comfortable. A mat of curly red chest hair that made it easy to decide to have my facial hair wiped permanently. It felt good to be a confident and even slightly clumsy giant, looking down on a world of little people.
Oh, I wasn't a real body builder or anything like that. Just enough exercise to look good-and attractive. I hadn't in fact been all that good at physical sports. But I had liked my body. It was also a help in the public'' relations work that I did for IBO.
I was still lying on my back. I felt shrunk. Shrunk. As the warm, muza flush of sleep faded, my right hand moved up over my ribs. Ribs. Th were thin and they stuck out, as if the skin were sprayed over the ba cage. I felt like a skeleton until I got to the lumps. Bags. Growths. Sacks. Even then part of me realized that they were not at all large for a woma, while most of me felt that they were as big as cantaloupes.
You may have imagined it as a kind of erotic dream. There you a in the hospital bed. You reach and there they are. Apt to the hands, t hardening nipples nestled between index and middle fingers. (Doubtless some men have felt this warm reverie with their hands on real flesh. women may have felt pinch and itch rather than the imagined sensu flush. I know whereof I speak. I now know a lot of sexuality is like tha Perhaps heterosexuality continues as well as it does because of ignorance each partner is free to invent the feelings of the other.)
But I was quite unable to feel erotic about my new acquisitions. Bot ways. My fingers, as I felt them, felt pathology. Two dead cancerou mounds. And from the inside-so to speak-I felt that my flesh ha swollen. The sheet made the nipples feel raw. A strange feeding of separation, as if the breast were disconnected, nerveless jelly-and then two points of sensitivity some inches in front of my chest. Dead spots. Rejec tion. I learned a lot about these.
As my hand moved down I was prepared for the swerve of hip. I couldn't feel a penis and I did not expect to find one. I did not call it "gash." Though that term is found occasionally in space-marine slang and often among the small number of male homosexuals of the extreme S&M type (Secretary & Master). I first learned the term a few days later from Dr. Means. She said that traditional male-male pornography revealed typical male illusions about female bodies: a "rich source of information about body-image pathologies." She was certainly right in pointing out that "gash" was how I felt about it. At first.
I was not only scrawny, I was almost hairless. I felt really naked, naked and defenseless as a baby. Though my skin was several shades less fair -and I passed a scar. I was almost relieved to feel the curly groin hair. Gone. Sticklike legs. But I did feel something between my thighs. And knees. And ankles, by Sol.
At first I thought it was some sort of tube to take my body wastes. But as I felt down between my legs I could tell that it wasn't covering those areas. It was attached at the end of my spine-or rather it had become the end of my spine, stretching down to my feet. It was my flesh. I didn't quite intend it-at that point I can't say that I intended anything, I was so shook-but the damned thing flipped up from the bottom of the bed like a snake, throwing the sheet over my face.
I screamed my head off.
"Cut it off" was what I said after they had given me enough betaorthoamine to stop me flailing about. I said this several times to Dr. Germaine Means, who had directed the rest of them out of the room.
"Look, Sally-I'll call you that until you select a name yourself-we are not going to cut your tail off. By our calculations such a move would make terminal rejection almost certain. You would die. Several thousand nerves connect your brain with your prehensile tail. A sizable portion of your brain monitors and directs your tail-that part of your brain needs exercise and integration like any other component. We taped the pattern of your mind into your present brain. They have to learn to live together or you get rejection. In brief, you will die."
Dr. Means continued to read me the riot act. I would have to learn to love my new body-she practically gushed with praise for it-my new sex, my new tail. I would have to do a lot of exercise and tests. And I would have to talk to a lot of people about how I felt. And I should feel pleased as pisque to have an extra hand.
My new body broke into a cold sweat when I realized that I had truly-no choice. I wasn't poor, assuming what I had heard yesterday was true. But I certainly couldn't afford an implant, let alone a desirable
body. What I had, of course, came free under the Kellog-Murphy Bill.
After a while she left. I stared at the wall numbly. A nurse brought a tray with scrambled eggs and toast. I ignored both nurse and tray. The thin-lipped mouth salivated. Let it suffer.