A switcheroo with a twist

The Temporary (A Wolf in the Lambkin)
by J. Michael Shell ©2012

I’d been working that body out, and I had it in really great shape (or so I thought) when it almost killed me. Undetected Latent Congenital Heart Defect. Swell. It quit and almost took me with it. Luckily I’d purchased an extended warranty. I’d be getting a new one, free, and possibly a nice court settlement for my time and pain. That’s what I was thinking about in holding (and let’s face it, what can you do in holding but think) when the voice of some PhysiCom flunky came through like a foghorn in my brain-drive. “Sentient Jial, we’ve finally got hold of a temporary for you. If you’ll just be patient for another hour, we should be able to get you housed.”

What I would have paid for a synvox right then so I could give that tech an earful. Forty-five hours in holding has got to be some kind of record. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. You can’t even sleep in those damn brain-drives so all you do is think. In fact, if you don’t pretty much keep up a constant dialogue of some nature you just might crash the thing. There’s no getting you out again if the brain-drive crashes, either—all your electrochemical neural-equilibrium, or whatever they call it, pretty much gets flushed. And in my case, there’d be no relatives to sue PhysiCom. I’ll bet they were burning incense and praying to Salk (or whatever heathen gods they bow to) that I’d meditate in there and save them having to dicker with my Lawtech. No dice. I had them right where I wanted them (or at least that’s what I was thinking).

When you do feel sleep coming over you in the brain-drive, you know you’re about to be re-housed. When that happens, there’s also a slight smell of onions right before you go under. I could feel my consciousness easing away as they were drawing it out of the drive and then, sure enough, spring onions. My last thought in the brain-drive was, I hope this temp is in shape, because I had a hot tenny match with a mommy on Delphi Island in less than three hours. I never expected to be in holding as long as I was or I’d have cancelled. I could just see me showing up as a five-foot ten-inch, hundred and forty pounder. Doryeth would take me apart on the court and off, especially after the hot-breath promises I’d made her about a good four hours up at my place after fuzzy ball.

Well, was I surprised.

Now, before I go any further I’ve got to get one thing straight—I have never tested acutely hetero. Furthermore, I’m not a bi-phobe, and would never have anything to do those Exclusivites or any other single-sex fanatics. Nonetheless, after my birth body stroked out on me at age twenty-three, I have never again put on a mommy. And, yes, a Psychtech once told me that the first near-death trauma has made me psychologically averse to wearing fems. He also told me I should seek treatment, but bug him. The fact is, I’ve simply had such a great time in my last three Physies, all daddies, not to mention the fun I’ve had with the mommies while I was in those daddies, that I just wasn’t about to switch. So there! You can call me hetero if you want—there’s no law against it, yet.

Anyway, I was holding for a Class Three Bruiser—same as the one that crapped out on me—when I find out from PhysiCom that I’m going to have to temp for at least a week. Apparently the model that fizzled on me was a popular one, and enough of them had gone south to warrant a recall. Big bad problems for PhysiCom, hopefully a minor inconvenience for me. Hell, if I ended up in a stick thin bookworm, maybe Doryeth would get a kick out of it. Maybe it would be good for a few laughs. That’s what I was thinking when I smelled those onions. No laugh at all when I came up in a very petite, very blond, Class One fem with at least a seven rate physical libido. I mean, this thing woke up with an itch!

“Hey,” I said, in the cutest little soprano I’d heard in a while (big Class Three Amazons being all the rage), “where the bug are the bearings on this job?”

“Sorry Sentient Jial, but it’s just a temporary. Your Class Three Bruiser will be out of the tank in eight days. Surely you can use a little diversion after three consecutive bouts with masculinity.”

“Don’t ‘surely’ me, buster,” I told him. He was obviously an Alternist, hell bent to have everybody changing sex every time they swapped out. “There’s no Alternate Law in this system, and if you people do manage to get one passed, I’m blowing straight for Shammat.” That was a little joke, the Shammat thing. It’s a fictional place from an ancient, Old Earth novel, which I was certain he’d never read (O. E. sci-fi is a hobby of mine). He’d probably be at his galacticharts that night looking for it.

I figured he’d drop it after that, but he went on. “Are you an Exclusivite, Sentient Jial, or simply a bi-phobe?” There was contempt in his voice.

“First of all, Sentient Comtech, that’s none of your business, and second of all, I’m about to bring a heavy suit of litigation against PhysiCom for bugging up my last purchase. How would you like me to add a little defam case against you? I’m sure the visicord is still copying.”

Sure enough, no sooner had I said that than the walls spoke in that familiar, tin monotone. “Working . . . transference complete . . . holding to Class One fem . . . visicord shutdown unless further copy requested.”

“Any more defamatory remarks to make, or should we let the visicord shut down?” I asked the surly Comtech.

“You can do as you please, Mister! I’m finished.”

Well! You can imagine how shocked I was. He knew the visicord was still running, but he called me Mister, anyway. Of course, I couldn’t get away with suing him—there was nobody else in the room in the room with us, so he really couldn’t defame me. But I could surely get him into trouble with PhysiCom for harassing a customer. It didn’t make sense (though it would, soon enough).

Did I mention that the little Class One fem I was in had a seven-rate physilib? Well, on top of that my mind was still thinking about Doryeth. I finally decided just to try and laugh the whole thing off, and maybe have a little kinky (for me, anyway) fun at the same time. Sure, I was telling myself, it’ll be a blast! So I quick trammed home and showered (something about the smell of a fresh Physi). Then I credited a tiny little tenny outfit (which, I have to admit, was really cute on that body) and headed for Delphi. When I saw me reflected in the tram door, I caught myself getting the hots for this bod I was in. I also caught that body sweating palms over a couple of tenny suited Bruisers sitting nearby. Definitely conflicting (and disturbing) interests. My discomfort started me wondering if I really was bi-phobic. I’d have to test again when I got out of this temp, but to be honest, I really didn’t care if I came up hetero or not. Who’d know? Just me and my Psychtech—that’s the law.

Delphi stop was first, so I bounced off and headed for the tenny-dome becoming more and more aware of the Bruisers all around me. This body was a regular little nymphet. I had to chuckle (giggle), but I also knew I’d eventually have to scratch this itch. It was almost unbearable.

Doryeth was waiting in the lobby with two other Amazons and a couple of very big boys—even bigger than my Class Three. They must have been exceedingly rich. With this “Muscle Beach” fad in full swing, Class Fours and Fives (Brawlers and Bouncers) were the Cadillac’s of the Physi market. I was expecting to be looked down on, in more ways than one. Krishna, these guys were six foot four, and even Doryeth was pressing six-two. I felt like a Vagan Elf at a Ryanese Giant convention. Doryeth saw me coming and all conversation stopped. I looked up into her ice blue eyes and tumbling gold locks and said, “Guess who?”

One of the big boys said, “Toto hasn’t come this way, little girl, but you might want to check with the munchkins.”

Laugh. I had to laugh. And it wasn’t said maliciously, or even condescendingly. Hell, I think he might have been making a pass! Didn’t seem likely, me being in this out-of-style little Physi, but it sure did seem like a pass to me. Finally, I said to Doryeth, “It’s me, Jial! How do you like my new fixtures?”

“Jial?” she exclaimed, truly surprised. Then that great, huge Amazon laughed like the goddess of mirth.

“Little mix-up at PhysiCom.” I squeaked through her laughter. “Looks like I’m going to be an easy match at tenny for the next week or so.”

“That’s not all, baby cakes! Remember what you promised me this afternoon? Well, I’m holding you to it.”

I could see a mischievous gleam in her eye, and knew things were going to get, well, different. My mind was ripe for this big lug of a woman, but this body was steering my eyes to about waist level of the Bruisers and Brawlers around me. But the really interesting thing was that they were practically tearing that little tenny suit off of me with their eyes. I guessed it was the novelty. Hell, when was the last time I’d seen a Class One anything—fifty years ago?

Tennis didn’t last long. I couldn’t get that nympho body to quit pumping hormones, much less start pumping adrenaline. Long stays in holding tend to have a horn-raising effect to begin with, and my mind still had a notion to wrestle down that Amazon across the net from me. Doryeth, however, had something else in mind. “C’mon, Jial,” she told me, “you’re no competition in that doll you’re wearing. Let’s tram to my place for a drink.” Then she added, with a wink and a seductive smile, “I’ve got a little vial of syncaine, too.”

“Let’s go,” I shrugged.

Doryeth lived in one of the two apartcoms on Delphi. The rest of the island was ent/rec. You can’t imagine the kind of “necessities” they build into those high dollar apartments. As we walked into Dory’s humble (not) abode, she said, “Jial, you know you’re really cute in that thing. Did you notice the looks you got from Syd and Renni in the lobby?”

“How could I miss,” I said, with a little shiver of longing or revulsion or both.

“Maybe you’ll start a new fad. Should I invest mega-credits in the Class One division?”

“Save your stash, Dory,” I told her. “I won’t be in this thing longer than a week or two. Then I might just hold out for a Four, maybe even a Five if I can get a big settlement from PhysiCom.”

“Legends have been born in less than two weeks, sugar buns. What are you going to call yourself while you’re in there, anyway?”

“C’mon, Dory, gimme a break . . . ”

“No, really! You can’t go on using a he-man name like Jial while you’re wearing a little Jill-suit. That’s it! I’ll call you Jill!”

“Krishna, Dory, that’s ancient.”

“As are Class Ones, so it fits. Now come here, little Jilly, and keep Jial’s promise for him.” Talk about your weird experiences. I’d been dying for some sack time with Doryeth, but I could never have turned her on in my Class Three the way that little towheaded fem did. I was literally a doll she was playing with. She was seriously getting off. I can’t exactly say the same for me. Mentally, I was having a difficult time. I hadn’t been that passive since my birth body crashed. And the body I was in kept insisting that something was missing. But, what the hell, I thought—Dory was having a good time, so I held still for it.

When, finally, it was over, Dory let out a long sigh and said, “I haven’t had that much fun on a romp in years! What a warp! C’mon, Jilly, let’s get a bath and then I’ll take you out for a feast—a big night of Delphi delights! Waddaya say?”

I barely heard Dory. I actually caught myself thinking about a boy brothel down on Island Avenue. That body I was in was a driving force! I was beginning to wonder if that Comtech had done this on purpose. I was definitely in some sort of specialized Physi, maybe even an old Playtoy model—the kind they used to put volunteer convicts in and then ship them out to the mining colonies. The whole thing was starting to get to me, so I decided to confide in Doryeth. “Dory,” I said in a plaintive little voice. “I think I’m the victim of a very bad, and maybe even criminal, joke. I think that Comtech housed me in this little mommy on purpose.”

“What do you mean, Jial . . . I mean Jill?”

“I think this might be an old Playtoy model,” I said, running the backs of my hands over the front of that body.

“Oh, c’mon,” she said, dismissing the idea.

“I’m serious, Dory. I’m uncomfortably horny in this thing.”

She looked me over for a few seconds, then asked, tentatively, “You really got it bad? Unbearable?”

“Ungodly!”

“Well, Kreesh, Jial, why don’t you just go with it? I mean, I always did think you were a little hetero—no offense—but surely you can flow with it for a week or two. C’mon, let’s go out and maybe I can get you fixed up.”

“But, Dory, my mind doesn’t really want to get fixed up. I don’t know if I could handle it.”

“Good Krishna, you are bi-phobic, aren’t you? Maybe this is the best thing that could have happened to you. Now c’mon. I’ve got a few things stored away out of an old Class One wardrobe—I guess I’m a little sentimental. Let me put the works to you and see if we can start that new fad.

It really got to me, her calling me hetero and bi-phobic. I mean, it’s one thing for a Psychtech or your Medi to suggest such a thing, but it isn’t something you’d want getting around. Nobody wants that kind of rep. Nobody wants to think they’re abnormal. I know I certainly didn’t, though I was beginning to suspect. Maybe Doryeth was right. Maybe I ought to try and flow with it.

So I let Dory play dolls, dressing me and making me up. I doubt if I could have remembered how, anyway. And I’ve got to admit, she did a really nice job. I was wearing a little silver-metallic mini with sequined hose and clear plexi pumps. The make up was pretty much classic, except that from somewhere she came up with a tube of blood-red lipstick and a silver-flake pencil. After vampire-ing my lips, she drew a tiny silver star high on my right cheek. If I’d been back in my Class Three I’d have drooled over this little plaything. Krishna, maybe I would start a new fad.

“You’re gorgeous, Jilly,” Doryeth crowed. “If it wouldn’t wreck my make-up job I’d go for another roll with you this minute! Now I want you to hang on my arm like a pretty little bird tonight and it’ll drive all the big boys wild. For both of us! If you’re gonna get over this man-fix thing, you’re gonna hafta go all the way! So wiggle and giggle and flirt, little Jilly. Hell, you were born a fem, weren’t you? Somewhere in that pretty little head you must still have the know-how.”

Most of Delphi Island, especially at night, is strictly for those with mega-credits to blow. While I was well off enough not to have to work, I couldn’t afford much more than a monthly night out in that platinum city. Doryeth, on the other hand, lived there. As long as she was paying I had another incentive to “flow” with it. I’d finally get the really grand tour of the island—get to flirt with the big credit holders.

Dory was having such a good time that she hired a limo for the night. The first place we stopped was The Milky Way. Talk about uptown. I ate Diagnan crawtails at twelve deca-credits a pop, and drank at least a half dozen Cream Dreamers. I was feeling no pain, but even the Dreamers didn’t numb the cravings of Jilly-The-Nymph. And Dory had been right—the two of us were attracting quite a following. There were three Bruisers and a Class Five buying us anything we wanted. I hadn’t seen such a display of chauvinism in a hundred years.

“So, Doryeth,” asked the Class Five, “who’s your little darling?”

On a cue from Dory, I wrapped my little arm around her and smiled demurely. “Jilly,” she said, “I’d like you to meet Sentient Tobiil.”

“Toby,” he insisted.

“Toby,” Dory corrected herself. “Toby, this is Jilly, and don’t you dare steal her away from me.”

Hoary Krishna! I couldn’t believe it! Sentient Tobiil owned three-quarters of Delphi (rumor had it he was about to buy the rest), and here he was staring at me with erect eyeballs! My Jilly body was doing internal flip-flops over his Class Five Bod, but my mind (staring out of a Cream Dreamer stupor) was watching all the high style mommies in their Amazon and Hera models sashaying and exposing and, occasionally, eyeing me. Oh, for the proper fittings! It just wasn’t fair. It was like being thirsty and having wine poured all over you. You can feel it, you can smell it, you can even lick your lips and taste it, but you just can’t get a good drink!

Before long, Tobiil’s strip-searching eyes started unnerving me, so I decided to stroll around a bit among all this depraved spending. “Doryeth,” I said, shimmying up close to her. “Do you have any more of this cherry red you lent me? I think I left most of what was on my lips on all these cocktail glasses,” giggle, giggle. I was play acting, I knew. But what else could I do? I just couldn’t settle in to this Physi. It was play act or go literally crazy being yanked back and forth between fem body desire and man mind lust. So I put my best dramatic foot forward and tried my best to flow.

“Jilly, I just happen to have brought that with me,” Dory answered. “Here, you keep it. It wouldn’t look right on me after seeing you wear it.”

“Thanks, Dory,” I said, giving her a little peck on the lips. Then I stood, a bit flimsily, and said, “Be right back.”

I was a hit in the powder room, too. My acting was definitely being enhanced by the six rounds I’d sparred with those Cream Dreamers. You should have seen them watching me pucker my lips full of that totally old fashioned red. I barely got out without being rolled right there on those gilded tiles. It’s amazing the effect that Class One was having on the Amazons. It seemed such a waste, which started me worrying again. I’d been born female, and yet I had no affinity for the gender. I had to put on an act. I really was hetero—man typed.

The more I thought like that, the less I enjoyed myself. I was starting to get a little frantic. I even belted a daddy for grabbing a handful of tush as I walked by. He seemed to enjoy my outrage. So did the mommies he was with. By the time I got back to our table, Tobiil and Doryeth were conversing in the language of high finance. What Tobiil was saying almost tossed me over the cliff into hysteria’s ocean.

“ . . . so with this big recall, and the near total shutdown of the One and Two divisions, it looks like PhysiCom could fold any minute. If they do, and you haven’t got anything laid away, you’re going to be S-O-L for at least five years. There’ll be nothing but stored One’s and Two’s left for strictly emergency transfers. Everybody’ll pretty much be stuck with what they’re in until some sort of merger can be negotiated and things get rolling again.”

Doryeth saw me go white, and caught me before I cracked little Jilly’s head. When I came to I was back at Dory’s place with her and Tobiil standing over me. Tobiil had a mirror full of syncaine. “Here, take some of this,” he said to me softly, as he mixed the powder into a glass of Chablis. “It’ll clear all those nasty cobwebs out of that precious head of yours.”

At first I wasn’t sure what was going on. I guess six Cream Dreamers and the shock of what I’d heard had sent me to Shangri-la-la land. Tobiil just thought I’d drunk too much (no lie), but Dory looked worried. She knew I’d heard them talking about PhysiCom. “Dory,” I said, the makings of hysteria in my voice. “My Three, where’s my body?” Then I guess I fainted. When I opened my eyes again, Dory was cradling my head in those big, strong arms of hers, crooning, “It’s all right, Jilly. It’s all right.” Then to Tobiil, she said, “Toby, I hate to ask, but do you think we can make it another night. Jilly just isn’t used to the warp set yet. I’m gonna put her to bed.”

I could see Tobiil start to melt when Dory mentioned me, herself, and bed in the same sentence. “Sure, Dory, sure,” he told her. “But you’ve both got to promise to let me take you out tomorrow night for a little quieter entertainment. Okay?”

With that he took my face in his hands and gave me a kiss that put the color back into horny Jilly’s cheeks. But I swear that I (that somewhere in there I) was revolted at the same time.

When he was gone, I looked into Dory’s eyes and asked, “Is it true? You’ve got to tell me.”

“Jilly . . . ”

“I’m Jial!” I told her. Then I collapsed into tears, whispering, “Jial.”

“I don’t know if it’s true . . . Jial . . . it might be. If anyone would know, it’s Tobiil. But even if it is, you’re a big hit in that thing! If PhysiCom doesn’t go under, you will start a fad! I actually heard one of those rich Brawlers ask Toby if there were any brothels still operating in Old Town that employed Playtoys. And if PhysiCom does go under, you could have anything you want in that lamb suit. Hell, you’d be practically one-of-a-kind, and the most popular . . . ”

“All I want is my Three back!” I wailed petulantly. “I’d take a Two if it were only male!”

“Jial, that isn’t healthy and you know it. You’re going to have to see a Psychtech, whether PhysiCom folds or not. You’re not well . . . ”

“I don’t care,” I cried, cutting her off. “I’ve got to get to PhysiCom. I’ve got to get out!”

“Calm down, calm down,” Dory soothed, holding me tight to keep me from fleeing. “It’s three a.m., and there’s nobody but emergency techs down there right now. Here—take a couple of Vals and relax. There’s nothing you can do until morning.”

I guess I just sat there in Dory’s arms, staring. She finally got me to swallow the pills—a horse dose of tiny yellow dots. The chemical composition of Vals is pretty much the same as something they used to give hysterical “housewives” back on Old Earth—back when things were hideously, and sometimes even violently, hetero. Talk about irony.

I woke up really fresh. The drug seemed to have killed the hangover I’d expected. I guess Dory dropped a couple, too, because she was radiant beside me.

“Good morning little bird. Feel better?”

“Yes,” I told her, and it was half the truth. “But I’ve got to get down to PhysiCom . . . ”

“Jilly, lie back down. I’ve got something to tell you.” She pressed me back down in the bed by the shoulders and then wrapped a leg and an arm over me for good measure. Her big, beautiful face was inches from mine . . . from Jilly’s. “Honey, I called Toby right after you zonked out last night, and told him what happened to you—all about it. He said it was funny I called when I did, because he’d just been talking to his investor-group chairman. Jilly . . . PhysiCom folded at midnight last night. It’s nothing but chaos down there now. But listen, I’m going to get you an appointment with one of the best Psychtechs in the system. And I want you to move in here with me! We’ll go shopping this afternoon and I’ll buy you a whole Class One wardrobe. You’ll be the talk of Delphi . . . ”

She was still going on as I tried to hide the tears streaming from Jilly’s eyes. I was afraid it might turn her on. I managed to slip away from her that afternoon while we were shopping. Actually, she was shopping—I was trying desperately to deal with panic. At some point I found myself standing in front of the PhysiCom Center. Dory had been right, it was chaos. I didn’t even bother going in. Just as I was about to walk away, the Comtech who’d put me inside Jilly walked out of the building. He saw me standing there. He was carrying an ancient, Old Earth novel. “Hey Playtoy,” he called to me. “I hear they really go for blondes on Shammat!”

x x x

Girly man or manly girl or mirly gan or ganly mirl—are you as confused (and entertained) as I by this debut tour de farce? If so, tell J. Michael about it on our BBS.- GM



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