By Dee Williamson
“Anyone ever told you your eyes are like dark pools at the bottom of a cave?”
The beeps keep perfect time with her heartbeat, as a nurse fusses around her.
“Now, you lie still and count backwards from a hundred.”
She is finding it harder to focus. Anything she looks at directly flies away, while the ceiling is slowly spinning above her. Three high-pitched chirps interrupt the steady beeps. The antiseptic smell fights a losing battle against the underlying stench of piss, shit, and vomit.
“Do you think I’ll be pretty? When I’ve got my new bod, would you fuck me?
“Dammit, those pills you gave me are making me say every crap thing that comes into my head. I’m so sorry. I’m worse than the sleaziest clients at the space-port bar.
“But seriously, this has to work. I’ve got to get out of this dump one way or another. Hey, do you think I’ll be cute enough for a space lord to fall in love with me?”
She stares down at the sheets, mapping out the continents and islands in the brown stains that chronicle the lives and deaths of former explorers.
“Relax your arm now. You’ll feel a little prick. It can be a bit cold going in.”
A soft tentacle wraps around her upper arm and squeezes it firmly.
“Ooh, that’s kind of sexy. I should get one of these for work. And I do love a little prick.”
And then it bites into the underside of her forearm, just above the wrist.
“Fuck, that freaking octopus stuck its whole damn dick into me! And that’s not cold! It’s fucking freezing!”
Jubilee forces her lungs to relax and let the air out. She tries to remember what to do next, as another breath forces its way in. She focuses hard on steadying her breathing while trying to imagine her new body. Slowly, the room darkens, and she doesn’t remember the moment between being awake or not.
Jubilee is running in the dark. Running to get away. Away from her parent’s farm. Her foot hits a rock, and she’s losing her balance for a moment, but she keeps going. A small pack’s bouncing against her back. Tears are stinging her cheeks. Her throat’s bitter raw. All she can do is run.
As she runs, the grass of the paddock changes to carpet, and fences turn to walls, forming into a corridor, leading her back in her front room.
“Look at you, boy! Your manhood ceremony’s only days away!” Father’s voice rises so that surely everyone in the house can hear him. “Why won’t you grow up and be a man? Get the hell out of my sight before I beat the man into you!”
She turns to run but can’t. Mother appears, tears in her eyes, waving a packet of pills in her face.
“Julius, what are these things? Why didn’t you come to me? Whatever is wrong with you, we could have prayed together and Sweet Jesus would have wrapped you in His divine loved and healed you!”
Jubilee curls tight into a ball, head tucked into her knees as the floor swallows her up. She is falling forever until she’s back running across paddocks.
Behind her, Father shouts, “You can’t skulk around the kitchen forever. It’s time to become a man!”
She is jumping a fence in one go and running down to the creek. Mother’s sitting on a rock, weeping, holding the pills.
“I showed them to John the Apothecary, and he says they’re pure evil. He says these pills will stop you growing into a man. I don’t understand. Why would you want that? You’re such a good boy. You were always my special boy. I don’t understand.”
Jubilee’s running back up the hill. Father’s standing with a pitchfork in his hand, ready to turn the hay. He turns and looks straight through her.
“How can I present you when your balls haven’t even dropped? You’re such a weakling! You know nothing about farming. You can’t be my son!”
Jubilee opens her mouth wide, but no sound comes out. She raises her arms above her head as the jet pack on her back ignites and carries her high into the night sky.
Below, Father’s voice booms out, “You’re a disgrace to the family! You are not my son!”
She flies higher and higher, reaching out into the darkness.
Jubilee hears the noise of the door opening behind her and soft footsteps on the carpeted floor. But she doesn’t want to turn around.
“Jubilee?” a woman’s voice asks, “May I call you Jubilee?”
“Of course, that’s my name.”
Jubilee continues sitting, gazing through the window at the sunlight playing on the currents in the river.
“Nice to see you’re awake, it’s been a while.”
“Has it?” says Jubilee, “I hadn’t noticed.”
A multicoloured bird with a long tail plume sings opera from a tree. The wallpaper has the same bird in fierce blue on a silver background.
“I’ve never seen a tree with bright red leaves before or vivid green flowers. What is this place? How long have I been here? Where the fuck am I?”
“Oh, so many questions, my dear. All in good time. First, tell me how you’re feeling.”
“It’s like I’ve been abducted by kind aliens. But, you know, actually, I’m feeling pretty good. It’s weird. I thought I’d wake up all sore and tired, but it’s like I’ve had the best sleep in my life.”
“Great, exactly as expected. The hex transplant is so wonderful. Takes care of all the healing for you. Your colour perception is still a bit off, it’ll come right soon.”
The woman’s standing beside her now. “Try a sip of this,” she suggests, “it’s one of the finest teas from China.”
Jubilee sniffs at the steaming liquid in the mug. It smells of new-mown hay. Closing her eyes, she takes a cautious sip. It tastes like shit. Choking and spluttering, she opens her eyes to an upside-down world. Moaning out loud, she shuts her eyes tight and carefully opens them to a world that is right-way-up again.
“Wow, that stuff is kind of potent. It flipped my world and not in a good way.”
“OK, don’t worry, that’s all normal. As they would’ve explained before your operation, the hex bonds to your neurons and needs to learn how to perceive the world alongside you. It can be confusing at the start.”
Jubilee can’t remember any of this. Maybe she’s forgotten.
“Relax. Take some deep breaths and listen to the boats going by.”
Those last words tug at her to go somewhere while wanting to stay right where she is. The birds on the wallpaper are now burnished silver against a blue background. A slight breeze blows across her head, which she realises is completely bald. Her breasts seem heavier and there are weird sensations in her groin. So, is her body changing the way she wanted? Will she become the woman she truly is? Can she, at last, get away from this place? May she would fall in love with a space lord. She can almost hear the river answering her questions as she falls into a deep sleep.
Jubilee can hear water running and feels it pouring hot over her naked skin. She’s standing in her tiny shower, washing away the vast quantity of cum from her last client, a junior nephew of the Duke of some far-off planet. He couldn’t hold himself for more than 30 seconds before squirting gallons of it all over her. He’d left in a rage, refusing to pay. She’s wondering how she’ll pay for her next cycle of meds and how fast she would turn back into a boy without them.
Walking naked and wet, she enters the next room. Now the sun is peaking through rough slats in the wall and birds are singing outside. There is a soft chorus of cicadas in the background. Across on a rough bench, her best friend Michael sits decked out in a stolen dress and bits of lost jewellery.
“I’m not a real boy, and I don’t think you are either,” he says.
Her blood scorches inside her as it rushes to her head. Her heart booms in her ears. She can’t feel her feet, but she has to flee. She’s pushing for all she is worth at the door of the secret hideaway and plummets ten feet to the ground.
Elsie’s cradling her head as they lie in the soft king-size bed.
“Have ya’ heard about the hex?”
“You mean like a curse or a wrench?”
“No, silly. You see, there was this space worker, and he had a horrible accident. Lost both legs, one arm smashed to pulp and his head all done in too. They kept him on life support for weeks and weeks. Then along came the hex. Cured him! No kidding. Total fucking cure!. Not just like awake and talking. He grew back his legs and his arm and you would never have known he had a bang on the head. Not only that, he’s like super smart. Now they’ve moved him up into engineering. Never seen again on the maintenance crew.”
Elsie’s face morphs back to Michael’s boyish look. They’re lying in the soft grass under a tree behind the woolshed.
“I’m leaving tonight. Before my man-hood ceremony tomorrow. I’m not going through with it.”
“I’m coming with you then. Don’t leave me here alone.”
“It’s too dangerous out there for kids. Wait ’til the week before your ceremony and then come to the spaceport and ask for Elsie.”
“But my ceremony is more than four years away. Nearly 50 months!”
“Think of it as your jubilee then. Here, take these pills. They’ll stop you going into puberty and growing your balls. It’ll be easier for you later on when you have the change. I’ll send you more when these run out.
I will wait for you. You’ll get all the best surgery and become the woman you truly are. Anything will be possible. You’ll dance with handsomest men, and fall in love with a space lord, who’ll never know you were once a poor farmer boy.”
The tree above them is the same as the one outside the run-down shack that passes for a bar at the edge of the space-port. They’re sitting in a quiet corner trying to make their cheap beers last a little longer.
“OK, guess what I’ve found out,” Elsie explains. “Saturn-5 hospital station’s running a free trial for girls like us. They just put the hex inside you, and it sticks to your guts. Then you imagine what you want your body to really be — boobs, face, vagina, the lot! If you can imagine it, you can grow it, girl! No more pills, just one minor surgery.
“I met a girl yesterday who’d had the treatment, and she was so stunningly beautiful I could have fucked her — and you know I don’t do girls.
“This is our chance to get out of here. Stop turning tricks and be the women we truly are. You never know, you might even find your space lord and be swept away to a far distant galaxy.”
Their flat chests swell into breasts the size of balloons. The water from the river outside rises and fills the room and they float away gently through the window, buoyed up by their inflatable breasts.
Suzanne sits, back straight, chin held high and gazing out the window at the river. She takes a tiny sip of the hot tea she’d especially ordered from an earth country called China.
“The visual spectrum of these eyes is very limited. It is a great wonder that the human species ever survived. Please tell me that I will not ever have to do that again? I really do not want to remain in this primitive backwater for another minute.”
“Your Ladyship, may I point out that we have talked about before. You do need to build a relationship with your host, otherwise, your stay in this body will be very uncomfortable. Please work with her, don’t fight against her.”
“But she is such pure spaceport trash. She grew up on a dirt farm, with actual animals, for heaven’s sake. I thought I was getting someone with a proper upbringing. You cannot tell his Lordship about her past. No one must ever know.”
“We absolutely guarantee your privacy. But please remember, human bodies are the height of fashion this year and in unprecedented demand. This one was undamaged and even came with a fully intact brain. And she consented to the transfer, which makes things so much easier.”
“But her dreams are so weird and nonsensical. Her fantasies are puerile. She gets upset about the stupidest things and her people are so obnoxiously backwards. It is really just disgusting. I cannot face going through another one with her.”
“Don’t worry, Your Ladyship, it won’t be much longer. Just one last trip back to the Earth Spaceport, where she can say goodbye to her friends. Her talking about her surgery to her friends is vital to our sales strategy. Once she’s said her goodbyes, then you can travel home. But you need have to allow her to awake at least once a year, otherwise this body will weaken, just like your last one.”
“So be it. We must do what we must in the name of fashion. But, maybe I will keep this body male. His Lordship likes a bit of variety.”
Jubilee opens her eyes, still sitting in the same chair where she had dozed off. The boats are steering their way up the river outside.
“Jubilee, are you awake?”
“Good, time to get ready to go home.”
About the author: I write poetry and short fiction. I live in New Zealand with my wife, two cats and two dogs. Writing is a way to release the weird ideas that haunt my neurodivergent brain and provides a potent antidote for my day job as a data analyst and social researcher. https://davidearle.wordpress.com
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