Gromet's PlazaTransformation Stories

Suicide Is Painless

by Mark Gooley

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© Copyright 2010 - Mark Gooley - Used by permission

Storycodes: M/m; transform; M2f; machines; viruses; bodymod; sex; reluct/cons; X

"So I can't talk you out of it, can I?" I asked Fred.

"No," he said. "I can't go on, Jim. It's the honorable thing to do, you know. Die on your sword like a Roman, and all that."

"More heroic to go on," I said. "You've been depressed as long as I've known you -- just a coincidence, I hope?"

Usual wry smile. "Longer than that."

"You've fought your way through it. Yeah, you've grumbled all the way, but you've fought back. What's happened now?"

He sighed. "Last-straw kind of things, you know. Nothing, really. It just seems as if I'm doomed to failure and misery, and I'm too tired to keep fighting."

"In your twenties?"

"I haven't got the staying-power."

"Ah, shit," I said. "Fucking GENIUS like you, and--"

"Wasted what genius I have, accomplished nothing to speak of, nobody wants to hire me, no real friends but you...look, you can't convince me."

"You're sure, then?" I asked.


Presently I said, "Want me to help?"

"Jim! I couldn't ask you to do that!"

"I'm volunteering. I can make it easier for you."

"Yeah," he said. "I know you could. `We have the technology,' and so on."

"Pair of electrodes for pseudo-sleep," I said, "and then an injection of potassium chloride into a major vein. Painful, usually, but you won't feel it. I can make it look as if you did it all by yourself."


"Sure. I'll say we had this conversation in the lab. After I failed to talk you out of killing yourself, you swiped a disposable syringe, took it home, dissolved some salt substitute -- I'll leave some there -- and loaded the syringe, went out to the alley, and shot up. Open-and-shut case."

Presently he said, "Trouble for you, dragging out the body."

"Trivial," I said. "Trust me."

"This doesn't ring true, somehow," he said. "I just can't see you--"

"Your decision," I said.

Another pause. "Okay."

"Let's go to the lab," I said. "Less distance to carry the remains. It's got an exit to the alley, too."

We stood. "I hadn't known that," he said, as we headed for the lab.

"I don't use it much," I said.

We had to check several closets before finding the one where I'd stowed a fold-up gurney. In general I don't experiment on people, so I hadn't used it for a few years. It creaked, even screeched a little as we opened it up and latched it. "Bit dusty," I said, "but that doesn't matter, does it?"

"No, I guess not," he said, getting on and lying on his back.

I wheeled him so that his head was next to a lab table. "Okay. Gotta rustle up the pseudo-sleep thing and some electrodes. Don't go away."

Nervous laughter from Fred. "Not likely."

More rummaging in cabinets and closets, but in perhaps two minutes I'd found it. I'd taped a tube of electrode paste to it and left a set of old but serviceable electrodes plugged in, so putting the electrodes on Fred's head didn't take long. "Okay," I said, "time to say good-bye, Fred."

"Wait a minute," he said.

"Second thoughts?"

"No way. You used a lot of electrode paste."

"I can't shave patches of your hair, you know," I said.

"That stuff's a bitch to wash off." he said. "You'll get caught." He was quite right. He was no fool, was Fred. "And where's that potassium chloride solution?"

"Plenty of time for that once you're asleep," I said.

He was staring at me. "I know that look, Jim."

"What look?" Right again, of course. He'd known me for years.

"You're up to something!" He reached for an electrode with his right hand, and I hit the power switch on the pseudo-sleep box.

"Damned right I'm up to something," I said. He might have heard. His right arm went limp and I made sure that it fell to the gurney.

Do I believe in souls? Well, yes. I've put live animals to pseudo-sleep and constructed duplicates of their bodies. The original animal is the template used by the micro-machines, and the duplication is essentially perfect. Histology, DNA, everything: all perfect.

Except that the duplicates are always dead. Always. Nothing I do can bring them to life. Same for plants, even. Go figure.

It wasn't hard to produce a convincing Fred corpse. It just took longer than I'd expected: I'd put him to pseudo-sleep shortly after two in the afternoon that Saturday, and the corpse took over twelve hours to make. A year before then it might have taken weeks; two years before then, I couldn't have done it at all.

Details, details. State of the digestive tract suitable for 2:30 in the morning, state of the heart and vessels and blood consistent with the supposed cause of death, clothes off of the sleeping Fred and onto the substitute -- not too many fingerprints, nothing too askew. Quick scan of the alley between Fred's apartment and my lab door with my infrared-vision goggles, lugging the remains, planting the syringe, planting the salt substitute and so on in Fred's apartment.

I'll spare the reader the suspense: it all went perfectly, even though Fred and I had forgotten to provide a suicide note: a blunder. Official cause of death: suicide. Fred's mother was too ill for the funeral; his closest living relative, a younger sister, was the only relative there. Miserable little affair in a crematorium chapel. His mother and sister didn't want the ashes and I ended up taking them; I had a wooden box made for them, complete with engraved brass plate.

It was over a week before I could do anything with Fred. I'd had the engineered viruses ready for over a year, but I needed to restore their virulence: tedious process of infecting a series of tissue cultures. The necessary micromachines had to be retooled and instructed to replicate, and after a few days of nursing Fred's pseudo-sleeping body I realized that I'd have to build some sort of automatic "nurse": as an adjunct instructor at the University, I had one class to teach when the Spring term started at the end of the month, and I'd have no time to tend an effectively comatose patient. I gave the gadget a clear plastic shell and called it a "chrysalis."

Twelve days after the "suicide," I put Fred into the chrysalis and injected the viruses and micromachines. A couple days later, the feces-handler on the chrysalis broke down; I fixed it in a few hours, but two days after that the controller for the feeding-tube setup crashed and took most of a day to replace. After about two weeks of infection, Fred's body was growing hair of the new color I'd chosen, so I took the body out of the chrysalis for long enough to cut off its eyelashes, remove its ear and nostril hair, and shave it head to toe. Tedious.

The changes took months. The chrysalis needed various minor repairs, the power failure after an ice storm in March almost drained the emergency batteries in the lab, and the micromachines ran into a few problems that I solved for them with control messages and a little surgery on the body, but halfway through April the body had taken its new form: right shape, properly altered genes. After I sent in my tax return I started making the necessary changes to Fred's psyche. I kept those as minor as I could and hoped that they'd be sufficient: I didn't want to change Fred much.

On May seventh I supervised the final exam for my class, and the next day I got up early and went to my lab. The changes to Fred's personality couldn't complete themselves during pseudo-sleep; it would take a few weeks awake for the altered self to become integrated and stable. Time to wake Fred up, I knew, and I started the process.

I switched the chrysalis to manual control and set it to clean the body. When it had finished I opened the lid. The viruses and especially the micromachines had done a superb job. The hair on the head was short and all roughly the same length -- that would take time -- but everything else looked just right. I hooked up the battery-operated pseudo-sleep box I'd rigged up, and switched it on; when I was sure that it was working I took off the other electrodes. The hair that had grown underneath them was a little shorter than the rest, just enough so for that to be noticeable.

The body was heavier than it looked, and it was harder than I'd expected to carry it upstairs and put it on the bed in my guest room. After a few minutes of rest I got most of it under the bedclothes and had pillows under its head. I made sure that I had the hand-mirror next to the nightstand, and after a few seconds of hesitation I switched off the pseudo-sleep and plucked off the electrodes.

The body's eyes opened, focused, saw me. They were slightly too big for the face, and the color of a good blue sapphire. "You BASTARD", said its voice, a lovely, clear soprano. "I KNEW you wouldn't kill me."

"You were right," I said.

"You've done something to me." Definitely Fred's voice, given the new larynx and changed vocal tract. "What've you done?" The body sat up in bed but clutched the bedclothes to its torso.

I picked up the hand-mirror -- large of its kind, a foot across -- and the body's left hand gripped its handle with long, delicate fingers. The eyes widened as they caught the reflection of the face.

Enough teasing and hinting. The face in the mirror had an unusually high forehead, thick but pale sandy-colored eyebrows and eyelashes, the magnificent eyes I've mentioned, high cheekbones and a thin nose of good shape, a full mouth, and a stereotypical stubborn little chin. Pale skin, almost translucent: the blue of veins clearly visible, a dusting of tiny freckles. To either side, small ears with attached lobes; above, coarse hair of an astounding red-orange, all of it about three inches long. Unequivocally the face of a young woman, a girl-woman not yet twenty, an amazed and indignant woman. A very beautiful woman, to my mind.

"You FUCKING bastard," said the woman. "How the fucking HELL did you do this to me?" Really a beautiful voice, and surprisingly little real anger in the tone -- more incredulity. She touched her face with her free hand, felt her cheekbones and chin, stroked her eyebrows.

"Some very clever altered viruses and micromachines working very hard for a few months," I said.

"I thought that you were just working out the theory for those."

"I haven't been telling you everything."

"Obviously not. Months?" she asked, putting down the mirror.

"It's May," I said. "The seventh, uh, actually the eighth of May."

She let the bedclothes fall from her chest, and looked down at it. I've never been especially fond of large breasts; hers were about average for a woman her size, but high and firm and very pale, the veins a rich blue, the areolae a lovely pink, the nipples a bit large. She cupped one breast in either hand, hefted them, squeezed them gently, stroked the nipples with her thumbs, toyed with a few stray coarse hairs around her left areola. Suddenly self-conscious, she covered her chest with the bedclothes, holding them in place with her left hand, and leaned towards me.

"What right did you have to change my body into...THIS?" she asked.

"Well," I said, "it's obvious that you didn't want your body or mind any longer, so--"

"I wanted to DIE, you interfering SHIT!" Such a voice!

"Waste not, want not, I always say." That time I said it as sententiously as I could.

"You gave your word!"

"Yes, in effect I did, but you know perfectly well that a contract that requires either party to do something illegal isn't binding," I said. "Same principle here, I'd say. Still feel suicidal?"

She threw back the bedclothes, exposing all of her body. No wonder she had been heavy: under a masking layer of subcutaneous woman-fat, she was all hard muscle and bone, an athlete. I hadn't intended that, hadn't taken it in, even when I carried her body upstairs; really she was exquisite. I found myself stepping back as she swung her legs over the edge of the bed and got to her feet. She was about five feet nine; Fred had been about six feet tall, and I'd expected her to be clumsy and weak after her metamorphosis from Fred and the stay in the chrysalis, but she stood on the balls of her feet -- long and narrow feet, a perfect match for her hands -- and with her open left hand slapped my right cheek with such force that I saw stars. Fred had been right-handed and this woman was supposed to be the same, and the strength and coordination of her left arm were disconcerting. Only the wall to my left kept me from falling, and I nearly knocked over the lamp on the nightstand.

"No, seriously," I said, when I could. "Have you gotten over that?"

Wide eyes again. Beautiful puzzlement. "That's strange. I can't imagine wanting to kill myself, not ever." Cold indignation in a calm voice: "You've been tampering with my mind as well, haven't you?"

"Just a few little things," I said, as flippantly as I dared.

She did look beautiful when angry: another cliche holding true. "Such as?"

"Fixed the brain chemistry to get rid of the depression," I said. "What was your IQ when you were Fred, by the way?"

"You've turned me into a dumb broad, haven't you?" Pure ice? Dry ice, more like. She'd retained Fred's control of emotions -- I'd been afraid that I'd damaged that.

"You don't FEEL stupid, do you?" I asked. "C'mon, what was it?"

"One forty-eight, if you believe that IQ crap."

"You should be able to break one-eighty now," I said. "Better than my score, you know."

Reserved judgment. Clearly I was making progress with her. "What else?"

"A bit of, uh, software stuff," I said. "Change of gender identity and sexual preference, principally."

She looked furious again for a moment, and then broke into laughter. Silver bells? Beautiful music? Here the cliches don't work. A glorious sound, with a touch of the animal in it: baying, perhaps, or birdsong. I still can't describe it, even after years of hearing it. Presently she said, "You bastard," again, but affectionately, and stifled what promised to be a delightful giggle. "You've changed me into the girl of your dreams, haven't you?" She caressed my cheek, the one she'd struck.

"Well, I--"

"Yes! You have!" More of that laughter. "You couldn't find her, so you changed me into her. A bit of latent homosexuality there?"

"Yeah," I said. "I acted on it in high school. Result: sore butthole, psychological impotence. I just don't find men attractive enough sexually."

"Ironic tone there, Jim," she said. "I'd bet even money that you made that bit up entirely."


"But I AM the girl of your dreams, Jim," she said, walking over to the full-length mirror on the closet door and examining her body in it. She probed her crotch with the fingers of her left hand, stroked the fine pale hairs on her thighs, balanced on her left foot and raised her right knee-high, turning it, feeling it, stooping to look at it. She felt the set of her bones, flexed her joints.

"I won't deny that when I designed--"

"We -- or should I say you and Fred? -- were drunk on dry sherry. About a year and a half ago, I think. We were in your library with a couple bottles of good fino in ice buckets, talking about women, and you told me -- Fred -- about your red-headed phantom, the lead actress in your fantasies."

"I thought you'd have forgotten--"

"You really have improved my brain, you know," she said. "Jim, I can remember EVERYTHING from when I was Fred, and more clearly than before. In fact..."


"It can wait." Exaggerated but delicious coquette look. "Anyhow, you described her in copious detail. And there she is," she said, with a gesture, "right in that mirror, and HERE she is" -- she ran her hands from her shoulders down her body to her thighs, giving a calculated little wriggle -- "in the flesh."

"Look, I--"

She went on, touching the appropriate parts as she did. "Hair just the right shade of red -- a bit short now, but it'll grow. CUTE little ears with attached lobes, not pierced. Elfin. Simply DARLING, aren't they? Just what you like; Fred agreed that they'd be nice. Outsized sapphire-blue eyes, thin nose, just this sort of chin, just this elegant neck. You mentioned Mary, Queen of Scots, I think. Yes: so delicate and translucent a neck that when she drank red wine you could see it going down her throat. Break out a bottle of Burgundy and we'll try it!"

"I don't think that you should drink until your new personality is integrated," I said.

She thought for a moment. "You could be right. I won't risk it yet. We'll just have to wait for that, but I'll bet that you can do that trick with my neck. Real Burgundy or red Bordeaux, mind you."

"I've got some good Rhone..."

"That'll do," she said. "Where was I? Neck muscles. Yes. Your sternocleidomastoid fetish. You like nice ones on women." She turned her head to show me her right one to good advantage, tensed the muscle a little, massaged it. "I've got beauties."

"You don't have to--"

Naughty grin. "Oh, yes, I DO have to. You've asked for it. Serves you damned right for turning me into your dream girl without my permission. Bet that it'd be bad for us to have sex until my personality is integrated, right?"

I nodded. I'm certain that I looked crestfallen.

"Poor dear," she went on, in an exaggeratedly sympathetic tone. "I guess you'll just have to SUFFER until then." She resumed her earlier flippancy. "What next? Oh, yes. Shakespeare's version of `The Rape of Lucrece.' You get really literary when you're drunk, Jim. `With more than admiration he admired/ Her azure veins, her alabaster skin.' Now why does that sound so familiar, Jim? Why? And all that about her blue-veined breasts." She caressed her own. "And here they are! What a coincidence. A good, practical size: big enough to look good, but not so big as to get in the way. Commendable moderation there, as I told you over sherry."

"You're really enjoying this, aren't you, Fred?"

"I don't think that Fred is quite the right name," she said. "I take it you're not going to change me back."

"Maybe you'll like being a woman," I said.

"So far it's the most fun I've had in years," she said. "Mind you, when you've spent those years being Fred, that's not saying much. It grows on me, though, just like these breasts." She fondled them again, grinning. "Considering how and when you told me who you wanted to turn me into, I think that Sheri would be an appropriate name."

"All right, then, Sheri," I said.

"I haven't decided yet," she said. "It's clear you don't like the name, so it would have tremendous nuisance value. Then again, I don't like it either. Winifred would be practical: you could keep calling me Fred. It can wait, though."

"Don't you think you should put some clothes on?" I asked.

"I haven't finished cataloging the similarities between me and your drunken fantasies about your dream woman," she said. "Thoughtful of you to get me clothes, by the way."

"No problem."

"Good, trim waist," she said, massaging her abdomen. She turned her torso and threw out a hip to look at her buttocks. "Nicely-shaped rear, not too large, and lots of good, strong thigh and leg. Long, delicate, queenly feet -- I recall you said something to that effect."


She walked closer to the mirror. "A bit YOUNG for you, aren't I? You said that you wanted someone your own age. You're cradle-robbing!"

"I didn't think that it'd be practical," I said. "Anyhow, I'm only thirty-two."

She inspected her hands, her neck. "I can't be older than twenty, can I? It's May. I look as if I'm supposed to graduate from high school in a few weeks."

"Exactly," I said.

It took her about one second to catch on. "Of course. New identity. Such a convenient time, too." A matter-of-fact tone, but strained. "Double major: some scientific field and voice -- you've got a soprano fetish. Hey, Jim, listen to this bit of operatic warhorse." She launched into "O mio babbino caro," that staple of beauty-pageant contestants of bygone days. For an untrained singer she was good, as Fred had been. After half a minute she broke down in laughter.

"You don't HAVE to," I said. "You don't HAVE to do anything. You don't HAVE to marry me or even love me if you don't want to."

Her expression changed to one I hadn't yet seen on her face. A moment later it was as cynical and mocking as before; she went on as if I had said nothing. "I do believe you meant that about the one-eighty IQ. You really want a woman more intelligent that you are, don't you?"

"Yes, damn you."

She giggled. I'd never heard a really intelligent giggle before. With several long strides I was beside her, and I seized her in my arms. She resisted for a fraction of a second and then crushed her body against me, forced our lips together.

If she hadn't retained Fred's self-control, we would have had sex a few minutes later. I'm not sure how she talked me out of it. Fred had been very good at persuading people, and with a better brain and some feminine charms...

Later that day I went to the convenience store down the block and bought a package of dark-colored Kool-Aid. The woman who had been Fred wanted to see whether she really had a Mary-Queen-of-Scots neck. Despite her early enthusiasm she'd grown skeptical, doubting it possible. When I returned, she opened the door just as I was about to put my key in the lock. She wore a sailor dress, once dark-blue but now faded, that I had picked up at a thrift store; it made her look adorable and about twelve years old, apart from her figure. She gave me a chaste kiss on the right cheek, and said, "Did you get it?"

"Yeah," I said. I returned the kiss in kind as she hugged me. "Sorry about the clothes. Thrift-shop cheapies. I did have them all laundered."

"They're okay for now," she said. "I need a big, floppy straw hat for this dress."

"Did you check the high shelf in the guest-room closet?"

"It's all boxes there," she said. "Is a hat in one of those?"

"I think so," I said. "I'll mix the Kool-Aid and you get the hat."

"Okay." She ran upstairs effortlessly, and I went to my kitchen.

Presently she joined me there, big straw hat on her head. I had to kiss her again: she looked so deliciously absurd. "The hat's a bit musty," she said, removing it and sailing it accurately through the doorway to the dining room before she sat on a high stool next to mine at a counter.

"I'll buy you another," I said. "Anyway, here's the Kool-Aid." I'd mixed it in a tall glass pitcher: a foot or so of deep bluish-purple.

She picked up the empty packet. "`Great new flavor: Black-and-Blue Berry Delight.' The Kool-Aid thing -- giant pitcher with a smile -- next to a woebegone boxer that appears also to be a dog of that breed. Wine-dark as a Homeric sea."

"Or worse," I said, and poured a tall glass. "It looks livid."

She sniffed it and wrinkled her nose delectably. "I can't believe that this is any better for me than wine, even given my present condition."

"Shut up and drink," I said. "And if you wrinkle your nose again, I will not be responsible for my actions."

She suppressed a giggle -- just as well -- and drank slowly, swallowing regularly. "It works! You're Mary, Queen of Scots!" I told her.

"Liar!" she said, putting down the glass. "This is a VILE drink, I might add."

"You don't believe me?"

"I don't," she said.

"See for yourself," I said. "Get the mirror."

"The one you showed me my new face with?" she asked, and I nodded. "I can't believe that it was just this morning. I mean, it's as if I've always been a girl. If I weren't so happy I'd trounce you for fucking up my personality. Anyway, you go get it."

"You're the doubter," I said, "and you're the jock."

"You need the exercise," she said, but she ran off and presently she returned with the mirror. She sat and began to make faces in it, not comic ones but successively impish, wistful, lustful, coy...

"Get on with it," I said, but gently.

"It's strange," she said. "When I was Fred, if a girl had looked at me the way I've just looked into the mirror, I would have gone crazy with desire. All gone. It's fun to wear those expressions, and I'm going to use them on you all the time, but..."

After a few moments I said, "Okay, no evading the evil drink of artificial color and flavor," and refilled her glass.

"Sigh," she said, as Fred would have. It sounded better in her voice. She held the mirror in her right hand, the drinking glass in her left, and after maneuvering the mirror to get a good view of the front of her neck, she drank. After a few swallows she nearly choked from laughter, spat half a mouthful back into the glass, coughed a few times, and went into giggles.

I remembered a Monty Python routine. "`You are...Mary, Queen of Scots?'"

"`I am,'"

"`Take this, Mary, Queen of Scots!'" I answered, taking up a kitchen towel and pretending to whip her with it.

She produced the ridiculous little screams of her part, then said, "Okay, okay, I believe you."

I desisted. "Have you any idea how sexy that translucent neck is?"

"How absurd it is, more like," she said. "Hey, maybe we should call me Mary."

"Religious associations, you know," I said.

"True. You know, I'm still partial to Winifred," she said.

"I'd probably end up calling you Freddie."

"That'd be all right," she said. "Sort of a memorial to the old me. He wasn't that bad a fellow, was he?" She kept her tone light, but it was brittle.

"He was the best," I said.

"You loved him," she said. "You really did."


"No wonder you couldn't kill him."

"I just couldn't," I said. The tears ran down my face but I didn't pretend to try to stop them. "Ever since I met Fred...I kept thinking... if only he were a woman...why can't just ONE of my best friends have been a woman instead of a man...and he was the very best...and if he wants to die anyway, why can't I..."

She was holding me tight with those delicate-looking but strong arms. In her catalog of similarities between her new body and my dream-woman's she hadn't mentioned her scent, a subtle feminine musk. With my face against her neck it was still faint, but unquestionably there.

At length she kissed and caressed me back to contentment, and turned to a more practical matter. "I still need a name," she said. "I could be Scottish, what with these looks, don't you think? How about Winifred Mary McAllister?" She put a schwa in the first syllable of the surname.

"Why McAllister?"

"Why not? The name has a good rhythm. I've got to pick something: the sooner we fake a history for me and get me into the University here, the better."

"All right, Winifred."

She smiled. "You can call me Freddie."

"I love you, Freddie."

"I love you, Jim."

The next day, Freddie and I went for a long walk. I'd bought her a pair of sneakers: it's hard to find comfortable shoes at a thrift store. Of course she hadn't been out of my house since coming inside as the suicidal Fred in January.

It was a fine May day. The campus was largely empty and we wandered through it; it was the last day of finals and most of the undergraduates had left. We held hands as we walked; a few times we stopped to kiss.

"Jim," asked Freddie, "am I completely a woman? Fully functional, and all that?"

"Menstruation, and babies, you mean?"

"Uh-huh," she said. "Am I?"

"You finished your last period -- the second period of your life, I might add -- in the chrysalis, just before I took you out. Only three or four days ago."

"So you could get me pregnant, given the right time..."

"Well, actually I've shut that part off, for now, but I can turn it on whenever you like. You get to experience the dubious delights of menstruation soon enough, though."

"Gee, thanks."

"Jim, look!" said Freddie. "There's old Robertson!" Fred and I had both taken courses from the old mathematician; he'd become something of a friend to us both. "Think he'll recognize me?"

"Wouldn't be surprised," I said. "Sometimes I think the grand old man has second sight. Pretty foolproof disguise you have on, mind you."

Soon Robertson was within hailing distance; he hailed us first, though. "Jim!" he said, projecting his voice in his best lecture-room manner.

"Good afternoon, sir," I answered, and Freddie and I walked briskly towards him as he walked briskly towards us.

"Indeed it is," said Robertson as we met. "Last final done this morning. All done bar the grading. Who is your young friend?"

"Introductions are in order," I said. "Professor, this is Winifred McAllister. She'll be coming to the University this autumn. Freddie, Distinguished Professor Josiah Samuel Robertson of Mathematics."

"I'm honored, Professor," said Freddie, and curtsied gracefully. Another test for my self-control.

"And I am charmed, Miss McAllister," said Robertson. "Are you considering mathematics?"

"It's a possibility, Professor," said Freddie in her best schoolgirl style. "I still have trouble with partial differential equations, but I don't seem to have any with abstract algebra -- so far."

"Entering as a freshman, Miss McAllister?" Freddie nodded. "Most impressive. There is something familiar about you."

"Really, Professor?"

"For some reason you remind me forcibly of poor young Fred Smithson. Friend of Jim, here. Killed himself in January. Good mind, no staying power at all. I dearly hope that I am mistaken."

Freddie gave him her best schoolgirl smile. "Oh, I hope to show you that you're mistaken, Professor."

"You and Jim do kiss quite ardently," he said. "I hope that you can balance that with a devotion to mathematics."

A few days later, in my library, Freddie asked me, "Jim, did you actually manage to fake my suicide?"

"Oh. Yes, I did," I said. "Thanks for leaving me your entire estate, Freddie. I had no idea it was so big."

"An inheritance followed by some lucky investments," she said. "In retrospect it was a bad thing. When I was Fred it made me lazy. I didn't want to work unless I got just the right job. There was always that money to fall back on, money I didn't feel I'd earned. I think it helped keep me depressed. I didn't want my family to have it -- childish of me to blame them for my problems, but there you are. Obvious legatee: you, Jim."

"It's all yours, Freddie," I said. "I'm keeping it for you."

"I'll spend some on my college education," she said.

"Do you mind being turned into an undergrad again?"

"Not really," she said. "It should be fun, being what in my, uh, original college days they called a ``shwench' -- a `fresh-wench.' But getting back to my question: how did you fake my suicide?"

"Micromachines again," I said, and explained how easily I could produce a corpse.

"I can dance on my own grave," she said, giggling.

"Not exactly," I said. "Wait a minute." I rummaged in the old desk I keep in the library, and from one of the deep bottom drawers I produced the fine wooden box I'd had made. "Here you are."

Freddie looked at the brass plate and laughed out loud. "Why, it's `The Mortal Remains of Frederick Ludovic Smithson,'" she said. "May I look?"

"Just ashes and crushed unburnt bone," I said. "They're not too messy, but I'd rather you didn't spill any."

She undid the latches and opened the lid, then set the open box on the desk. She took a pinch of ashes between her left thumb and forefinger, feeling them and letting them trickle back inside. "Not very impressive. Ashes to ashes, and all that." She licked her thumb and forefinger clean. "Not even tasty."

"You're sick," I said. "I love you."

"Not as if it had been a real corpse."

"True, but people who work at crematoriums are cavalier about whose ashes get put in what cardboard box," I said.

"NOW you tell me, you pedant," she said. She latched the lid, put the box on the floor, put a sheet of typing paper atop it to protect the finish, and danced a brief little jig.

"Think that your personality has stabilized?" I asked her when she was done.

"Sure. Despite evidence to the contrary."

Sex with Freddie? My first time with her, her first time as a woman? Pleasant, extremely pleasant. A description? Okay. That's what you've been waiting for, right?

First a bit of background. I do not have the ten-inch thundering cock of most men starring in amateur erotica. I've checked the statistics. My penis, fully erect, is not even an inch longer than the average man's. Its circumference is maybe half an inch greater than average; divide that by around three (pi is for a cross-section that's a circle, and the three masses of erectile tissue in a human penis make for a rounded triangle) for the difference in thickness -- which is therefore trivial. It's a perfectly adequate penis. Before Fred became Freddie, I'd had sex with four other women -- so I'm no Don Juan -- and they all seemed to find it so, anyway. It's circumcised, if that matters.

I designed Freddie's genitals to work well with mine. There wasn't much to design; I understand that most men and most women fit together quite nicely without any planning at all. I can't really say that the effort wasn't wasted. Freddie isn't some sort of sexual prodigy, just a woman: no gusher scenes, no insatiable lust.

From the library we went upstairs to my bedroom. I have a double bed. I sleep in it; occasionally I masturbate; I can't remember when, before Freddie, I'd shared it.

She undressed me. I liked the feel of her hands, delicate yet powerful, undoing the buttons on my shirt, unbuckling my belt, helping me pull off my clothes. Then I undressed her, unzipping the back of the old thrift-shop dress as I made a mental note to buy her some better clothes, unhooking the bra, helping her out of her panties. We stood next to each other, naked; then we embraced. Kisses, caresses, the feel of her young skin -- the impossibly smooth, delicate skin I've found only on redheads and not on all I've known, the skin of my perfect woman. Her fingers in my hair, softness on softness; mine in hers, roughness on roughness.

In bed, snuggling close. Freddie's subtle dream-woman smell -- was she even aware of it? -- concentrated somewhat under the covers. Kissing her breasts, caressing her neck, nibbling her tiny earlobes. Freddie's fingertips, Freddie's lips on my skin.

I entered her, wishing that my whole body could enter hers, my whole self be lost for a time in her feminine perfection. Something seemed to give way -- her hymen? I couldn't tell; certainly her woman-body had grown one in the chrysalis. The fit seemed to be better than with any other woman in my limited experience, and we seemed from the start to be acting in synchrony. Yet my climax was a bit too soon, and as it waned hers began to build. I was disappointed: I'd wanted it to be better for her.

Then she laughed: delight, not derision; that incredible Freddie laugh I'd first heard the day she'd emerged from the chrysalis, confused by her metamophosis into a magnificent young woman. My erection returned, painfully hard, as her laughter went on and on, fading eventually into her delicious giggles. I held her tight, as if trying to force my flesh to be subsumed into hers, to be absorbed into Freddie's wonderful self, until I was exhausted.



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