Walk on the Wild Side: A TG Mixed Tape

Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.

Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.

Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her legs and then he was a she

She says, "Hey, babe,

Take a walk on the wild side."

Said, "Hey, honey,

Take a walk on the wild side."

Lou Reed

Along the canal path there’s this scoop in the ground that lets you slide-wiggle under the back fence of O’Reilly’s Scrapyard. The dirt’s so super hard packed that you barely have to brush anything off. It could be worse.

I really wish I was still able to phase through stuff.

I get changed in the caravan. Someone’s replaced the mattress since we were last here. There’s an empty bottle of jack in the cupboard with the missing door. But my kit’s still in its compartment. Track pants, jog bra, sweatshirt. My costume, least what we’ve done of it so far, is in my backpack.

I let my body snap back to its default form.

Usually I try and slow the transition, work on my self-control, but today is a Fuck It day.

Outside, the generator is chugging away and Dakota is mucking about with the hard light projector that she’d salvaged back when I started this gig. I’d change into my pimped out wetsuit. She’d change from her singe-specked, grease-stained men’s overalls into her lime sundress or orange playsuit or whatever she’d hidden in the van.

The cupboard had had a door then. And a lock.

She gives me a thumbs up.

Three assailants flicker into existence. They’re featureless, like department store dummies, and fast.

God, they’re fast.

I focus inwards and ignore the wrongness of the empty place where my old powers used to be.

Focus.

I ramp them.

Around me everything slows. A fist inches towards my face, a knife from its sheath. The third projection is pulling a gun. Dakota, who’s filming with her phone, is still moving in real time (the field only extends a few meters). And so am I.

I kick the legs out from underneath Puncher, step out of the way of the knife and rap Blade on the noggin. The muzzle of Glock’s gun is blossoming. I crouch. The bullet flutters my hair. I rise. The slide is back as far as it goes and is juuust beginning to move forward when I grip the wrist. I dig in with my nails, I twist and jerk, I chop into its throat with my free hand.

Its skin ripples.

I unramp.

The projections thud into the ground sans every skerrick of slo-mo grace.

I feel great.

I feel like shit.

On the veranda of Dakota’s place there’s a punching bag. I remember it twisting on its chain. The Warlock’s creepy cassette was in my pocket. The tablecloth that’d been laid out for her sweet sixteenth was still on the table. I didn’t notice until she pointed it out – after I told her what I thought was the best news – that I’d morphed my birthmark onto the wrong arm.

Which was when I lost it.

“Again,” she asks.

“Again.”

~

Walk on the Wild Side

A TG MIXED TAPE

~

Liner Notes

“Downtime”

By Zapper

Eat Me

By StephAD

Gaze

by Jenny North

Justice

By D.A.W.

The Mixed Tape Interview: DAW

Multiply

By Trismegistus Shandy

Please, Grant My Wish

By Hikaro

Resolve

By PersnicketyBitch

Sweetness Is Born

By Amy Komori

Time’s Up

By TmC

Writing Trans Characters: Gender Dysphoria

By StephAD

(Edited by PersnicketyBitch)

~

“Downtime”

By Zapper

Special Agent T. Rivers walked into the kitchen and tossed his keys onto the counter. He grabbed a beer from the fridge and chugged it. This was followed by a loud chest-rumbling belch, then he grabbed a second beer before moving through the house to his study. Turning on the flat-screen and computer were reflexive actions that the exhausted agent didn’t even think about as he settled into his chair. The TV was set to a local news channel and the “breaking” news caught Rivers’ attention.

“. . . hostage crisis is over . . . special anti-terrorist unit assaulted . . . all hostages have been freed no word yet on how many terrorist . . .”

“They got it right, for once,” Rivers quipped, downing the rest of his beer and grimacing at the stench of gunpowder that clung to his hands. The government issued computer finished booting up and Rivers quickly clicked through his messages.

“De-brief at the facility at 07:00 hrs tomorrow. Well, that gives me the rest of the day off.”

Rivers wondered if he should but the temptation, the desire to get comfortable and relax, was too much to resist. Slowly, he clicked on the secure app innocuously named: “Profile.” Rivers slid his ID card into the reader and typed in his PIN and the app opened. It created an encrypted tunnel to the facility’s network, giving Rivers access to the “special” database.

He quickly moved through files until he found the one he sought. “Rivers_Prime.” For a second he wondered if he still remembered the code, it had been so long. When he hit “ENTER” a tingling sensation coursed through his body as the transmitter in the computer “pinged” the nanites in his blood and he let out a sigh of relief. He’d have to get up early to change before work.

The screen flashed: “AUTHENTICATION ACCEPTED” followed by “TRANSMITTING”.

Then the cramps started. “Arghhh . . .” Rivers struggled to stand up. “Fuck, I’ve got to get to the shower!”

He staggered down the hall to the bathroom, stripping as he moved. By the time he got into the shower, his body was excreting a gooey substance from every pore as the nanites dumped body-mass. Rivers collapsed to the floor as one wave of cramps after another hit him. The next thirty minutes were a blur and then it was over. Rivers climbed shakily to her feet and turned on the water.

She hissed as the water stung her sensitive breasts, no longer used to the delicate flesh. After scrubbing the nasty substance from her body she spent the next few minutes removing it from her shoulder length hair. Clean, she stepped out still dripping and moved to stand in front of the mirror. The petite blonde that looked back was a face she hadn’t seen for months. The blue eyes and button nose gave her the classic “cute girl” look that she now missed, but had hated growing up.

~

Zapper started writing in December 2011 and has contributed a number of short and long stories to various websites. A few of his TG stories include: The Security Consultant Trilogy, The Bounty Hunters Trilogy, "Conan and the Blade of Costa" and his first story, "A Favor for Anna." His most recent story is Altered Fates: “Bodyguard” is a Fan Fiction in the Tolkien Universe of Middle Earth.

Eat Me

“Holy shit Andi…” my girlfriend was wearing a sheer lace teddy that barely reached to her thighs, and absolutely nothing else. Her dark wavy hair was gathered loosely over one shoulder, and she was nervously preening it, her hands obscuring her small breasts. Her strapless peeked out from under the teddy, and I felt a little twinge in my gut.

I smiled and stood up from the bed, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The lacy blue lingerie I had bought earlier made my butt look amazing, and the little mound in front wasn’t that bad either. I took Andi’s hands in mine, forcing her to look down at me, “You look amazing babe. Almost good enough to eat…” Oh god. Could I be cornier? I grinned, forcing myself to concentrate on her. On the dark haired goddess in front of me. On my incredible, sexy, beautiful girlfriend. I felt my gut twinge again, and I shuddered. I was heating up, and pretty soon she would be too. I felt my lips start to swell, but nothing came from my vag. Nothing would.

I reached up, and stroked her face, leaning myself into her, then pulled her over to the bed. We sat down, and I stared into her eyes. What was going through her head? Nervousness? Arousal? Lust?...Love? Her eyes narrowed, and I realized exactly what was going through her head a second before I was flipped onto my back, her soft lips desperately searching for mine.

We kissed, her tongue in my mouth as much as mine was in hers, and I felt myself arching into her, straining to touch her, straining to feel her on my skin. She slowly broke off the kiss, and smiled down at me, her voice husky and her eyes sultry, “You’re definitely good enough to eat.”

I pulled her down to me, whispering in her ear, my lips brushing her soft flesh. She shuddered like I knew she would, and I told her, “Then eat me.” I nipped her ear, gently biting down, and she melted into me, quivering. Her strapless was swollen and warm; and warm, wet fluid dripped out of it. I could smell it. I reached behind her, and stroked my hand up her back, “Eat me Andi.” She shuddered under my hand, and I felt her strapless brush me. I clenched my feet, forcing myself not to ravish her right then.

That predatory, beautiful, sexy look appeared in her eyes, and she grinned, “Babe this is incredibly sexy, but keep it up and I’m not gonna have a straight face.”

I grinned back, “Then shut me up.”

“With pleasure,” She pulled my bra down, and I shut up.

A half hour later, I was lying in bed exhausted, as Andi slowly pulled out. She collapsed on top of me, making soft happy noises and nuzzling my skin. We fell asleep like that; a pair of sweaty girls in our cold bedroom.

~

StephAD writes primarily urban fantasy and sci-fi stories. She is the author of “Swarm Rising: A Brave New World Spin Off”, “Old Friends” (with Hikaro and The Wedge), and “I'm a Cheerleader!” (With Hikaro) and “Nurtha” (with Misaania)

Gaze

"Thanks," the young woman smiled as the busboy refilled her water glass, glancing up at him as she tugged self-consciously at her jacket.

As he left, her lunch companion looked puzzled. "Steph, why were you flirting with him?"

"I wasn't!"

"You were preening." The other woman fluttered her eyes and tugged at her floral blouse, mimicking her friend to demonstrate how it drew attention to her chest.

"I wasn't!" she repeated. "...Was I?"

Her friend raised an eyebrow.

"Ugh, I hate being a woman."

"You'll get used to it."

"Dale, I lost that stupid amulet weeks ago! And this still feels... weird." Then, seeing her friend's reproachful look, she amended, "Shit. I mean Denise. Sorry."

“You’d think my wig and makeup would help clue you in--”

"Hey, I'm trying, okay?"

"Okay," Denise said. "Besides, being a woman isn't so terrible."

"It is! I never know what to say or do or wear, and I constantly worry I'm sending signals. Plus, guys keep looking at me," Steph protested, tugging her jacket over her bosom.

"Poor baby."

"I can't take this off like you!" Steph shot back. "You get undressed and you're Dale again."

"This isn’t easy!" Denise protested. "I'm wearing a wig, padding, and a pound of makeup, and still get called 'sir.'"

"C'mon, you don't look that bad."

"Next to you, I look like a Basset Hound in a wig. Did you hear the waitress smirk, 'How are you ladies today?'"

"You’re just imagining things."

"Did I imagine those two giggling waitresses that dropped by? Come to see the tranny."

Steph sniffed. "And everyone keeps calling me 'honey' and 'sweetie'...what's that about?"

Denise looked enviously at her friend. "What I wouldn't give to look like you."

"You'd want this for like, a week," she countered. "Seriously, if womanhood is so awesome, why aren't you Denise full-time?"

She shrugged. "I kinda like going back and forth."

"Lucky! Meanwhile, I'm getting my first period!" Steph proclaimed, drawing puzzled glances from the couple sitting next to them.

"You don't get it," Denise muttered. "Always trying to fit in, everyone judging--"

Steph wasn't listening. "Guys ogling me, being treated like a second-class citizen--"

"--everybody gawking at me," they said in unison.

They regarded each other sheepishly. "Sorry," Steph said.

"Yeah, me--" Denise froze mid-sentence.

Steph turned and did a double-take at the woman getting up. She was tall, blonde, and absolutely stunning in a dress that hugged her unbelievably curvy figure. They gaped at her as she glided past their table.

Denise turned back to discover their waitress standing there. "Hey...did you see her shoes?"

"They were cute," the waitress agreed. "So, just the check for you... ladies?"

Denise nodded curtly and as the waitress left, Steph leaned close and whispered, "Were you really looking at her shoes?"

"I couldn't tell you if she was wearing shoes."

Steph nodded and the two sat in silence.

"We have a lot to learn about women, don't we?"

"Amen to that, sister."

~

Jenny North has lately been posting stories on Fictionmania and is really enjoying talking about herself in the third person. If you enjoyed this story, she recommends her feel-good short story "Legacy." But if you thought this was absolute drivel, then you're obviously a discerning reader who demands exceptionalism, and she respects that about you! She humbly suggests that someone as smart and good-looking as you might enjoy "Broken Echo."

Justice

I wrapped my hands around the bars of my cage and looked up at Rico, but he only stopped long enough to drop his cigarette and grind it out. He was my captor, my tormentor, and the person who had taken everything away from me, and although I hated the bastard with every fiber of my being, I wanted nothing more than to please him. He doled out the punishments… and nectar. If I pleased him I could be assured that sweet, sweet rapturous bliss would soon follow.

I was broken, remade, into something that bore little resemblance to my former self. All I wanted was release, another taste of that sweet, sweet drug. Sometimes when I wasn’t jonesing for another fix or lost to ecstasy of Nectar, bits and pieces of my old life came back to me, but those moments were getting further apart.

I collapsed back onto my ass and grunted as I rubbed my plump posterior. Had it always been so bulbous or was that one of the new additions my captors had forced on me? I didn’t know, but it certainly felt different. I smiled demurely. It wasn’t good to let Rico see me show my real emotions, that could lead to punishment and more pain. Sometimes it was hard to hold back the rage that had become a constant part of my life, but if I didn’t I might see that existence come to an end.

Every time I touched my new breasts, my anger swelled to even greater levels and it was all I could do to keep myself from throwing my head back and screaming. Another fix was what I needed, the nectar would make me calm again, but it would bring more changes.

I heard shouting, and light flooded the garage as the big bay door came crashing open. Men in guns charged in and I cowered in the corner of my cage and shielded my eyes and ears against the flash and bang that accompanied their assault. Stun grenades. How did I know that term?

I screamed as a tall figure knelt down next to my cage, but when I looked up at him, I realized that there was something familiar about him. He was someone I had known… before. He freed me from my cage and I melted into his arms. “S-sarge?”

“Dan? By god! What the hell have they done to you?”

“Who am I?” I asked.

“Dan, I’m so sorry. I should have never let you go in alone.”

When I caught sight of Rico I took off running, but even when I heard people shouting after me I didn’t stop. At least not until I reached Rico’s form and fell to my knees pummeling him with blow after blow. Hands locked around my wrists and pulled me away. I sobbed and collapsed into Sarge’s arms again. Rico had been brought to justice, but my life, as little of it that I could remember, had been destroyed.

~

D.A.W. is a fan of science-fiction and fantasy who brings his love of the genres to TG fiction. He is the author of "Facades", the "Ragnarok Rising Trilogy" ("Incompatible: Birth of a Spellbinder", "Transfigured: Ascension of a Spellbinder" and "Destiny: Legacy of a Spellbinder") and is in the process of serializing his science-fiction series “Battle For Earth”. He has contributed to several shared universes including Enemyoffun's DarkRealms Universe ("Hunger Pangs") and Morpheus' Twisted Universe ("Virtually Twisted").

The Mixed Tape Interview

By D.A.W.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Wow, I never imagined how hard answering that simple question would be! Let's give this a try, shall we? I'm a geek, a nerd, a weirdo, and all around I egghead. I love science (both of the fictional and non-fiction variety!), I love fantasy and science fiction, I love history, I love tg fiction and above all I love writing and honestly, I don't see anything wrong with any of those things. :D

My humor tends toward the self-depreciatory, I mean, who better to make fun of me than me!? You won't often see that come through in my writing, but it does in personal correspondences... and interviews. :P

What sort of stories do you write?

Fantasy, science-fiction, action and adventure or any combination of the four with maybe a little romance thrown in. One of the most important factors in a story, to me, besides plot, is character development. Which sadly a lot of tg fiction seems to lack. That lack is what drove me to start writing tg fiction in the first place. I wanted stories that showed the human qualities of the protagonist. Bimbo and identity theft stories annoy me to no end because they so often lack conflict and because whatever character development is in place before the change goes down the drain once the character is transformed. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some amazing tales on fictionmania, both of the sexy and non-sexy variety, but they are few and far between. I've always felt that if you wanted something you should lead by example which is why I first approached Morpheus about writing in his Twisted Universe.

What books have influenced you most as a writer?

It's really hard to pick just a few, but there are a number of author's works who have managed to leave a much bigger impression than the rest. Terry Brooks is probably the foremost among them. It was his novel, Elfstones of Shannara, that introduced me to fantasy and was the very first book that made me want to read another. I've been addicted to reading ever since! Anyone who is familiar with Brooks will discover a tendency of his to kill off a lot of his characters, it's a trait I seem to have picked up from him. What can I say? I'm just a sadist at heart! Bwahahaha!

Timothy Zahn is probably the next biggest one, I think he's the first science-fiction author that really gave me a love for the genre. I can't get enough of good character development and sadly I think a lot of science fiction lacks that key element. Fantasy excels in this area, but science-fiction, hard sci-fi especially, tends to focus on the mechanisms of the story, you know, the machines, the technology, and the ideas. The people are secondary to those things. Don't get me wrong I find exploration of a lot of the themes and concepts in the genre fascinating, but I don't believe that the characters or the plot for that matter should take a back seat to what should always be the primary focus. A story, isn't a story without characters to take part in it. Timothy Zahn (and Greg Bear) are wonderful in this respect.

As far as tg fiction goes, Morpheus would have to take the honor for being the biggest influence in that playing field. There's a reason my first, and frankly, disastrous foray into tg fiction, Virtually Twisted was set in his Twisted Universe.

Other influences include Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Donald A. Wollheim (no surprise if you know the meaning behind my nom de plume) and... even Robert Jordan as much as I detest the last dozen or so Wheel of Time books.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Don't let yourself get bogged down in trivial matters. I used to spend hours trying to perfect a single sentence and it really kept the flow of my stories to a crawl. I'm still slow, but I've managed to pick up my pace a little. Now I just hobble along. If I have trouble conveying an idea or finding the right way to phrase a sentence, I mark it, leave a little note describing what I want to accomplish and come back to it later. Which works... most of the time.

You put a lot of effort into imagining the settings that you write about, what are your top three world building tips?

World building is one of the things that always seems to come easily to me, but that's not to say it's not a lot of work. So many writers struggle with it. In my youth I created complex worlds in my mind and let my imagination take me away to faraway places. It was my only escape, maybe that's why I'm so inclined toward it.

First and foremost you must research, research, research! Building a world is no simple task! Say you're writing a story in a society similar to medieval England. Yes, you're creating a new world, but that doesn't mean you should just fly by the seat of your pants. You need to research how people in those times lived, how they dressed, and what sort of technologies they used. Say you're creating a polytheistic religion for your story, but you were raised Catholic. It might help you get a better idea how to proceed if you were to say study religious practices and beliefs of the ancient Romans or the Vikings. Doing these things help give the story a sense of realism that you could never achieved otherwise. Yes, you can take liberties, hell I take a lot of liberties, but just remember go too far and you'll destroy the reader's ability to suspend disbelief.

Which leads me to my next piece of advice, keep it real. I know how that sounds given the subject matter, but bear with me. I write stories with magic and technologies that fly in the face of the law of physics. But the culture and the world in which those magics and technologies exist is much more grounded in reality. You can fill your world full of whimsy and absurdity, but you have to give a good reason for those whimsical and absurd things to exist. If you just say "Oh, it's fantasy, it's that way because of magic," that's lazy writing and frankly your readers are going to pick up on that. Why has magic formed this world in such a strange way? How has it shaped the characters of that world? You don't even have to answer these questions directly, but it should be clear that you've given them their due consideration.

And finally, you need to be consistent. Your world must have rules in which governs its reality. It's jarring to the reader if what they perceive as rules change in the middle of the story. Don't just change the rules to avoid writing a difficult scene tough it out and find a way through that scene that fits within the rules you set up.

Your Ragnarok Rising trilogy takes place in a kind of urban-high fantasy alternate reality. Your newest story Battle for Earth is a Space Opera. What unique challenges do each of these settings pose?

Now that's a difficult question! The most difficult part of creating any world, for me, is making it seem real to the reader.

There were a lot of themes I wanted to tackle with Ragnarok Rising. One of which was the concept of a female dominated society. We've all seen this theme crop up in fiction, but I've never seen it executed very well. They often seem to find some cliched man traits and tack them on to women. In essence they make women the dominant sex by making them more masculine. Frankly, it's stupid and pretty sexist if you think about it. I wanted a story in which women could dominate and still be women and men still be men. Obviously magic became the means, but how exactly could such a society have evolved? The struggle came with answering that question.

Another was building a pantheon that differed so wildly from the Norse traditions we know. Norse mythology was very male centric, like most Western religions. How then could I feminize it? I didn't want to make feminine versions of Odin or Thor, that struck me as well... dumb. The answer might seem like a no-brainer now, but it took me days to come to the conclusion I needed. The male gods had to be dead.

As far as Battle for Earth, the whole story was challenging for me on about a hundred different levels. It tested my patience, my resolve and my sanity. Okay, not really my sanity, but you catch the drift.

Creating languages was one of the more difficult things for me. How do I create these alien tongues and make them seem unique? It took me ages to perfect them, but I managed to come up with a means. I picked a language that seemed to fit the personality of the race in question and make it phonetically similar. For the Qharr, I used a combination of Germanic languages, scrambling up letters to make their worlds seem harsh and guttural, just like their race. Although the Ghrev, I went a different route, yes they're harsh, like the Qharr, but they're also sensual... So I picked the most sensual language I could think of, French and scrambled it up as I did with the Qharr language.

As far as the Dexagarmetrax language, that one was the easiest. Vakrexid is long-winded and frankly he's a silly creature. So I made his language a direct reflection of that.

Another challenge was writing from the perspective of a character who had very little education. I didn't want Jellfree to sound dumb, but frankly he doesn't have the most refined vocabulary. I kept putting these big words into the story and I'd have to go back and find another way to phrase the sentence.

Battle for Earth is over 200,000 words long. Can you talk us through the process of writing a doorstop like that?

Don't ever try it at home folks... Ha!

This George R.R. Martin quote will help shed light on my writing process:

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have, they find out as it grows. And I'm much more a gardener than an architect.”

Some folks call architects plotters and some people call gardeners pantsers, but for all intents and purposes the idea is the same. Frankly, I like George's terms better. Don't ever call me a pantser, please! That sounds so much like someone who goes around pantsing people! Ahem... but to get back on point, like Mr. Martin, I'm mostly a gardener, I have much of the plot worked out in my head before I start writing, but I let the details get filled in as I go.

I never intended the story to be so long, but as I progressed I began to realize that if I was going to take the story in the direction I had planned I'd have to cover territory I hadn't originally conceived of and it just got bigger and bigger until it became this great big behemoth. When I reached 100,000 words I told myself, "Oh, this can't get any longer than 140,000 or 150,000 words!" and even when it did I didn't actually believe it would reach 200,000. It was insane!

Of course, the complexity required a lot of back and forth for my writing style to work. Often times, I'd be forced to make revisions in order to accommodate new plot thread and ideas into the story and there are a number of scenes I wrote over and over again just to make it fit. New ideas popped into my head and some of the more straight forward plot points became more detailed and intricate than I could have ever imagined.

So what’s next?

Another tg author and I and have put our heads together and done a bit of brainstorming and gotten the basics of story fleshed out for a collaboration. I don't know when it will happen or if and the idea needs a lot more development, but it's one I'd rather like to have a go at. He's more of an architect of course, so there's no telling if we'll mesh well enough to succeed, but I'm hopeful since our narrative styles would seem to complement one another.

That being said I have a lot of other ideas including a prequel of sorts to the Ragnarok Rising trilogy which details the transformation of Morgana le Fey, Aryanna's ancestor, and her quest for vengeance. I have a couple of projects I'd like to finish including a superhero tale and a rewrite of Virtually Twisted so there's no cause for concern. I plan to keep turning out stories.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I'd just like to thank Loki, Beyogi, The Rev. Anam Chara and Maggie Finson who have all been a tremendous help and have guided me on a path to becoming a better writer. Zapper, most recently has volunteered to help me with the final edits to Battle for Earth and his assistance has been invaluable.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Holly H Hart. Unfortunately, she lost her battle to cancer, but her influence on my writing was immense. And finally I'd like to thank you PersnicketyBitch and the rest of the Mixed tape contributors who've helped me fine tune some of the more clumsy early-drafts which I've submitted to the anthology.

Multiply

I'd died and been restored from backup twice before, so I recognized the sensation of waking up in a nutrient-vat. But as the nurse helped me sit up and take the breathing mask off, I realized something was wrong. She wasn't dressed in medical scrubs, but... animal skins?

I rubbed the fluid out of my eyes. This didn't look like a backup clinic at all -- more like a log hut, with no modern technology except the nutrient-vat I was sitting in.

"Take it easy," she said. "You're in for a shock."

"Where are we?"

"That too. Try not to panic --"

I stood up, with her help, then looked down and got the shock she'd warned me about.

"Why am I a girl? I left definite instructions --"

She helped me out of the vat and sponged the nutrient fluid off, saying: "Do you remember signing a release form? Permission to put a copy of your backup onto a space probe?"

"Yeah... Holy shit, are we on some colony planet?"

She nodded. "Eighty light years from Earth."

"So how long has it been?"

"Around forty thousand years... the terraforming wasn't quick." When she'd gotten me cleaned off, she helped me walk over to a pile of furs and lie down; I was still pretty weak.

"Okay, but why am I a girl, and why are things so primitive?"

"The terraforming AI hasn't given us any decent tech. The vat decants a new colonist every eight days, but nine-tenths of us are female, whatever gender preference we had on file. Everything else we've had to build from scratch."

"Why so many women?"

"No advanced tech means no artificial wombs. And the AI wants us to have lots of babies to grow the colony."

I involuntarily clenched my legs. "It expects us to grow babies inside us?"

"Not my idea of a good time. But it's necessary."

"Giving birth with no modern medicine? Do you know how many women used to die in childbirth?"

"Wait. The AI has promised that if we have a thousand babies in twenty years --"

"A thousand? Spread out over how many female colonists?"

"Just over a hundred so far, but the vat produces another one every few days. It should work out to about two or three babies each. If we meet that goal, we get backup scanners. We'll still have to wear animal skins until we can domesticate some sheep, but we can at least back up our minds again."

I gasped. "You mean we can't right now?"

"No -- when someone dies, it's permanent. So you see we need all the female colonists to help out."

"So for a chance at immortality, we risk dying in childbirth. What are the guys who get us pregnant risking?"

"Not nearly enough. But we're building a matriarchal society while they're too busy to notice."

I smiled for the first time in forty thousand years. "Nice."

~

Trismegistus Shandy has written more than twenty transgender stories and novels, available at Smashwords, Amazon, Shifti, BigCloset, and Fictionmania.

Please, Grant My Wish

I plunged my sword deep into the enemy’s chest and then used my boot to push him off of the blade. The man fell to the ground, blood pouring from his mouth. I took a deep breath and tried to calm my own heart, but it almost felt like it was beating in my throat. The battle had been raging for days, and I was finally becoming exhausted.

I closed my eyes and tried, yet again, to calm down. This time, I felt myself succeeding somewhat, but I could still feel the combat high trying to overtake me. I reopened my eyes and jumped out of the way just in time to stop an enemy soldier from driving a spear through my gut. I wrenched the spear from his hands and brought my sword down upon his wrists. He screamed at the stumps, before falling to the ground from the blood loss.

I looked at the battle all around me and decided I was done. It was time I left this fight. I slipped my sword into its scabbard and made my way to the south, as far away from the battle as possible.

Seven Months Later

My travels had been long, and far, but I had found what I’d been looking for. Seven months of battles during the journey that I’d had no desire to be involved in, and now I was where I needed to be. I dropped my sword at the entrance to the cave, then stripped my armour the further I walked in. Finally, I stood at the edge of the pool and prepared myself.

“Ancient one, please, hear me!” I knelt onto one knee and spread my arms, resting my palms on the rocks to either side of me. Had they always been there? I didn’t know or care. “I have a request!”

Before me, a being of pure light appeared and took on the shape of a woman. She glided along the air, as if she were a leaf slowly falling to the ground, and then picked me up with no effort whatsoever. “What do you ask of me?” she inquired.

I took a deep breath. “I have fought in many battles, across many lands, and I wish to be relieved of it.”

“Why?”

“Death and destruction is not my final wish. My first taste of battle should have been my last, but every step of this journey has further cemented my belief that I am not a soldier, despite the wars I have survived.”

She nodded. “What do you wish?”

I took another breath. “A woman’s work is not easy, nor is it anything to be looked down upon. I would like the life of a woman, for it would keep me away from the battlefields.”

She touched my forehead, and I felt a strange tingling across me. In seconds, it was done, and I saw the reflection of a woman staring back at me from the water. “It is done.”

~

Hikaro has been reading transgender stories for some years now, but only broke into the writing business in late 2011, when he posted his first story to TG Storytime. Since then, he's garnered critical acclaim (in his own mind) with stories like "A First-Person Account" and "Brave New World". An odd sort of man, he likes to claim he has drinks with Elvis on the Titanic during the weekends.

Resolve

My dad was thrilled when he found out that I was hiding something from him. He didn’t say so but I could tell.

Which isn’t to say that I’ve stopped flipping my notebooks closed, or minimising everything on the computer whenever he comes into the room, or answering his Where Are You Going’s with grunty Just Out’s. I figured the conclusion he’d jumped to pretty quick, and who am I to dissuade him? I value my clandestine freedom too much. And his assumptions aren’t so far from the truth really.

Which isn’t to say that I have a lot of opportunities to do any of that stuff since we don’t see much of each other. He works afternoons into nights, so he’s usually sleeping when I wake up. And when he’s around or awake, he’s tired. He likes to zone out to Charles Bronson movies, and he spends a lot of time in the bathroom; the wastebasket there is always full of bloodied cotton buds (I’ll spare you the gory details of his face). Once or twice a week he hands me a thick pile of comic books. “Hey kiddo”, he says, “I picked these up for you, it’s a bit of a grab bag, if there’s anything you want me to look out special for next time you let me know.”

Which isn’t to say that I didn’t appreciate the gesture, or that I don’t like comics. I like comics and superheroes a lot. Some of my best friends are capes.

It was Sven who spilled on my dad’s secret self, though I can’t say I hadn’t already guessed it. We were walking along the canal after school, eyes on the downtown skyline. Squad Supreme were taking off the Fleischer tower. We were talking names – cycling through the D’s: Donna, Demi, Dory (like the fish?), Dakota. It’s something we’ve been doing a lot lately.

“I pulled the Reckoner out of a fire-fight last night.” He said, changing the topic abruptly “And… I… well he was…”

There was a long silence before he said the next bit.

I often wonder if my dad would understand if I told him. There’s so much in his world I relate to. The double lives, the struggles associated with that. And the camp of it all (I mean the costumes are fabulous). But I’m not sure he sees it the same way.

Which isn’t to say that I’ll never tell him, or that I’m putting it off again.

Which is to say, I’m finally going to do it.

Wish me the best.

~

PersnicketyBitch is the creator of the Mixed Tape Anthologies. She is Australian, but don't hold that against her. If you do she will sic her pet drop bear on you.

Sweetness Is Born

Showered, shaved, taped and tucked. She exists in the mirror again, dresses to Bratmobile. Black everything, black tank, black skinny punk girl jeans, black socks, black Converse. She clips her shaggy black hair with a big white hairclip, slips her colorful beaded bracelets on her bony wrists, necklace over her head. Mascara and a little lip gloss.

She puts her sketchbook in her backpack, rides the elevator down to her bike, rides that to Starbucks where her friend Keiko is supposed to meet her. Keiko, late as usual.

“Mei-chan!” Keiko says in her deep voice. Short-haired, berry-lipped Keiko is petite so the voice is incongruous, surprisingly Spanish-sounding vowels. Mei-chan thought it was sexy as hell when they first met but what she wanted never happened between them and now, three years later, with Keiko a shufu, they’re super-close friends. Sisters, practically.

“Kei-chan!” Mei-chan says. No hugs, please. Just smiles.

They order two Tazo teas and take them to the sofa. It’s around noon, on a weekday. Mei-chan has Sundays-Mondays off. All the better for finding crowded places uncrowded and quieter than usual. Five days pretending guydom, two days of being herself. Hanging with Keiko, girlfriends together. These are the best times.

They chat and pore over Mei-chan’s sketches, all girls. Fashion girls from Cutie and Zipper magazine, cosplayers, super girls of every stripe. Keiko delights in Mei-chan’s drawings, much to Mei-chan’s ego-stroked pleasure.

As is her way, Keiko blurts, “Are you ready to go?”

They drop off tray and empty cups, still talking, Mei-chan trembling a bit, ride the escalators upstairs to the Lolita shop. Mei-chan has orbited it forever, too afraid to go in solo. Keiko steers her there and handles the talking, because Mei-chan isn’t very fluent in her adopted language yet. She’s is, however, almost a native speaker in being herself these days, which is like being the springiest of spring blossoms.

To this end, she doffs black and metamorphoses into a pink flower in ruffles and lace. The bodice is tight, the lace stiff. It’s a transformation that’s equally as startling to her as the first time she became herself. Her hair grown out, her bare arms and legs slim and pearlescent white. She looks down at the bare feet, kind of flat and planklike. Oh well.

She meets Mei-chan in baby blue and they are lacy, satin-beribboned sisters. Amarori time, in the mirror, the fleeting quality making it that much sweeter for its brevity.

We’re dolls, she thinks. It thrills.

“It suits you,” Keiko says.

“Not as much as you,” Mei-chan answers, her face a warm coal.

The tiny store clerk, sporting haylike blond bangs so precisely cut they’re like a wig and lovely ribbons dangling, her face delicate porcelain, wears a dress, aqua with a candy print herself, black mary janes over white lace-trimmed socks, asks if they want to buy the dresses.

“Sorry,” Mei-chan tells her. “Just looking.”

They change from dolls back to themselves.

~

Amy is the creator of the Amy Komori series.

Time’s Up

She was back again, following the same routine all week. She would pitch up outside the clinic after school, still in her uniform. Then she just sat there until closing time. A couple of times she would get a determined look on her face and march to the front doors only to turn back halfway and run off somewhere. My partner wanted to ask her to leave, but I convinced him to let her be. She wasn’t hurting anyone. On the third day she actually made it through the revolving doors before she lost her nerve and fled.

On the fourth day I decided to go talk to her, having intentionally delayed my lunch break for just that purpose. She looked at me leerily as I approached and sat next to her, scooting further away as I made myself comfortable on the bench. I pulled out my sandwich and started eating, throwing her an occasional glance out the corner of my eye. I spied her ID bracelet and nodded internally. The indicator was red, meaning that this was her last week in the program. I understood why she kept showing up outside. She had a major decision to make.

I took my time and finished my lunch and she continued to ignore me. But my time was running out, I had to say something.

“How long are you gonna sit out here?” I asked her.

Her look seemed to say, ‘why are you talking to me?’ But she said nothing.

I sighed, “I work inside,” I said jerking my thumb towards the clinic.” I’m not looking for trouble.”

She relaxed a little but continued to say nothing. “Ignoring me won’t help, I’m not going anywhere.” Which was not technically true, I had about 15 minutes left on my lunch break. I needn’t have worried She just got up and left after that.

She returned the next day and I once again ate my lunch outside. She gave me a withering glare as I approached. Progress it seemed, at least she acknowledged my presence.

I sat down and began eating, daring her to say something. She took the bait.

“Why won’t you leave me alone?” she asked softly.

“I want to help.”

“You can’t,” she said with finality, resuming her staring contest with the building.

“You’re torn on whether you should change back or keep this body,” I said. She went stiff, which I took as a yes.

She would be too prideful to actually ask me for advice so I forged on anyway, directing my advice to the pigeon foraging in front of me.

“Listen, it doesn’t make one bit of difference to the people in there. You go in, they push a button, out pops the old you. Or… you go home. Neither takes much effort on your part. I’m going back to work,” I said, getting up. “Think about this, when you picture yourself in ten years do you see the old you or the new one? If you can answer that then your problem will be all cleared up.”

~

TmC is the author of “A Fine Mess” and “I Died, Great,” which you can read a TG Storytime.

Writing Trans Characters

Gender Dysphoria

Hi everybody, Steph here, and I’m gonna do a series on how to write trans people well (or rather, not badly). This should not be used as a replacement for doing your research, and you should always get more than one source or opinion: I can and have screwed some stuff up. I am not infallible, and I am not the ultimate source on all things trans (go to r/asktransgender on Reddit. They are the people that answer questions).

Now, lets start with the biggest issue that people seem to run into: writing gender dysphoria.

So Steph, what is gender dysphoria, and why do people use it to develop trans characters?

Gender dysphoria (hereafter referred to as dysphoria) is discomfort or negative feelings in response to a forced gender role or gender expression, or a body inconsistent with their internal body map. Basically, they (trans people) are being shoved into a box that they absolutely don’t fit in, and their mind’s saying “Hey! What the heck are you doing? This hurts!” The solution (in many cases) is to stop putting them into the box. Living their preferred gender role or expression can alleviate many (but not all) types of dysphoria.

Since this is such a ubiquitous symptom of the trans condition (that should be a band name…), it is often used universally among writers of trans characters. This is not necessarily bad. The problem arises when people use only one type of dysphoria in all of their characters, or write dysphoria incorrectly. Or don’t use it at all with characters who weren’t trans to start with, but get changed. Gender dysphoria happens to everybody who is forced into a gender role/presentation or body different from their preferred one. Apply it to everybody, not just trans folks.

What’s dysphoria like?

When writing dysphoria, it can manifest in many different ways. Dysphoria can be anxious, it can be depressive, it can be moody, it can be panicky. None of these are wrong ways to express it, and everybody experiences dysphoria differently. You’ll notice that I’ve not mentioned exactly what it feels like, and this is because it’s very hard to explain, and is different for everybody. Some people are only mildly uneasy, and some people have horrible panic attacks. It can also vary in intensity over time. Dysphoria is weird, and it’s always different. Put some thought into how they express it when writing your trans character. And for more examples, look elsewhere, because I’m horrible at examples. (r/asktransgender)

That sounds horrible! How do people deal with it?

We cope. It’s important to think about what your character’s coping methods are. Do they masturbate? Many trans women do (for a host of reasons that I won’t get into). Do they self harm? Many people do (and I am absolutely not advocating it). Do they watch silly videos? Do they listen to music? Do they cuddle stuffed animals? Do they waste time on Tumblr? Coping strategies are important for your character to have, things they can do to get their mind off of their dysphoria, or things that alleviate it in the short term. Coping is super important. It also helps you deal with other things in life, because what can help you cope with dysphoria can often be applied with great success to other stresses (like the bullshit that often accompanies dysphoria).

That sounds hard, couldn’t you just avoid setting it off?

Good question. This brings me onto the subject of triggers. Triggers are things that remind you of, or trigger, some response. They’re basically anti-coping methods, and instead of making it better, they aggravate it. They can be as simple as seeing your reflection, or as complex as having penetrative intercourse with your natural junk instead of a strap on. There are tons of things that can trigger somebody. Anything can be a trigger, but common things include: genitals, clothing, mirrors, miscellaneous body parts, being referred to with the wrong pronouns, being referred to with the right pronouns (seriously, sometimes you can’t catch a break), and a variety of other things. Basically anything that reminds you of your dysphoria can be a trigger (but isn’t always). This can be words, images, sounds, actions, or sometimes just thoughts. Sometimes you’re just dysphoric with no reason whatsoever, and those times suck.

For some people, dysphoria sometimes just won’t go away even after transition. It’s just one of those things that you have to live with, so avoiding your triggers is kind of like closing the door to your dysphoria. Many things that tend to go hand in hand with dysphoria can be worked through, and often have their own triggers associated with them. Once you get down to just your dysphoria, you often have relatively few triggers, and what you do have can be avoided more easily since you don’t have as many (and they don’t chain together).

You said earlier that there are different types of dysphoria?

Absolutely! Gender dysphoria can be broken up into a few broad categories, body dysphoria, social dysphoria, and endocrine dysphoria.

Dysphoria is often accompanied by other mental issues, and can be hard to separate from these issues. Things that accompany dysphoria include, but are not limited to: depression, low self esteem, generalized anxiety, poor body image, and internalized transphobia. It’s important to make this distinction, because these other issues can be worked through, while dysphoria will often only go away after successful transition (and sometimes not even then). It also tends to aggravate these mental issues.

Most forms of dysphoria can be alleviated by living in your preferred gender role/presentation and through transition (surgical, hormonal, social, etc, etc. Basically, you aren’t shoving your mind somewhere it doesn’t fit anymore). However as I said earlier, dysphoria is different for everybody, and where one person may experience a complete eradication of dysphoria (not common), another person’s dysphoria may only be slightly alleviated (also not common, but slightly more common). Most people tend to have a little bit of dysphoria after transition, but this is often much lower than pre-transition dysphoria levels.

Social Dysphoria

Social dysphoria is dysphoria associated with being forced into a specific gender role or presentation. It includes dysphoria from wearing the wrong clothes, dysphoria when referred to incorrectly (by the wrong pronouns or gender words), being treated with the wrong set of social rules for their gender, thought processes, mannerisms, and other things in that vein. Basically, if it’s dysphoria related to how people see you and treat you, it’s probably social dysphoria.

Many trans stories don’t talk about, or only talk about a couple aspects of social dysphoria. This is bad. Do not do this. Talk about more aspects of social dysphoria than clothing and pronouns.

Body Dysphoria

Body dysphoria is dysphoria caused by a trans person’s physical body. If your body doesn’t seem right, and this causes stress and discomfort, then you probably have body dysphoria. Body dysphoria includes such things as the shape of your junk (or using it in certain ways), your bone structure, your fat distribution, body hair, voice pitch, and other things in that vein. Personal style and clothing dysphoria can be considered to fall under body dysphoria, since clothing is often an extension of one’s body. Basically, if it’s physical or related to how you see yourself, it’s probably body dysphoria. This can (and often does) overlap with social dysphoria (especially with things like hair and style, which often have societal roots). Do not describe it as “I’m a girl in a boy’s body” or any variation thereof. Some trans people honestly identify this way, but most don’t. It is a detrimental stereotype because it implies that trans people view their bodies as alien and foreign when they have lived in it their entire life.

This is something that is often invoked, to the detriment of trans people. Additionally, body dysphoria is often the only kind of dysphoria mentioned. Do not do this. Discuss other sorts of dysphoria, and show trans people coming to terms with their bodies.

Endocrine Dysphoria

The third, and weirdest type of dysphoria is called endocrine dysphoria and it refers to your hormones, specifically your sex hormones. If you have the wrong balance of sex hormones, no matter if you have worked through all of your other dysphoria, you will still experience dysphoria. The only way to get rid of this is through hormone replacement therapy, and changing the balance of sex hormones in your body. Many trans people report shifting levels of dysphoria depending on the time of day/month/year/week/whatever it is. This is because of the body’s natural hormone cycles. The further from ideal your hormone levels are, the worse your endocrine dysphoria will be. This usually goes away after trans people begin hormone replacement therapy, and is the only reason why a trans person would be angsty in the absence of other, more obvious forms of dysphoria. Many trans people start to develop a sense of what their hormone levels are like, and can tell when their endocrine dysphoria will be bad. It’s a superpower kind of like the Spider Sense.

Don’t use this form of dysphoria in your story unless you really know what you’re doing, because then you’ll just have a trans person who is angsty for no obvious reason.

Okay, so what else do I need to know?

You’ll notice how I’m saying many instead of all or most trans people. This is because many trans people do not experience dysphoria at all. And this is a huge part of why using dysphoria as an indication of trans-ness (totally not a word) is problematic. You’re telling trans people that just because they don’t have dysphoria, they aren’t trans. This can, in turn, cause them to suppress these feelings and make them develop a host of other fun and interesting things like anxiety and depression (and self esteem issues and body image issues and...). So when you write trans people be sure to have one or two who just don’t have dysphoria (or have very little dysphoria), but don’t use this as an excuse to avoid doing the research and work. It’s important to be familiar with it to avoid doing something dumb.

Any last words?

Use Reddit for your research. r/asktransgender is crazy useful, and the community is very large, so you’re likely to get many different responses. Tumblr is also a great tool, but be careful to weed through the pile of crap you’ll get. I am available for questions, but retain the right to refuse to answer any question. Most of the time, I won’t do this, but blatantly invasive questions will probably be turned down. Oh. And Google search. It’s often the best way to search through the above resources because most of your questions have already been asked and answered. If you have a question you can’t find an answer to go to r/asktransgender first because those are people who volunteer their time and brains to answering questions.

And finally, I have a checklist for you:

  • Have I done research? (this is most important)
  • Does my character have dysphoria, and if so, what types?
  • What triggers their dysphoria? (feet, voice, clothes, pronouns, gestures, etc…)
  • How does it manifest?
  • How do they cope?
  • Are they working through it?

Thanks for listening,

Steph

Afterword

I hope that you all enjoyed June’s Mixed Tape Collection. What was your favourite story? Do you have any thoughts on anything DAW said in his interview or Steph wrote about in her Dysphoria piece? Make yourself heard with a comment!

Submissions for the next Mixed Tape are due on the 24th of June. It will be published during the 1st week of July.

Guidelines for fiction submissions are as follows:

• Stories are to be no longer than 500 words.

• Write what you want to write. However, I'd like to see some stories where cisgendered characters are absent or in the minority; some sci-fi and fantasy pieces about trans characters that don't feature magical or super-science sex changes; and some erotic shorts that treat trans bodies as desirable. We don't see a lot of these types of stories in our niche. Let's try for at least one of each.

• Stories are to be accompanied by a short About the Author or Also by This Author blurb. Write one of those too.

Guidelines for nonfiction submissions:

• Shoot for between 1000 – 2000 words.

• Possible topics include trans issues, sex and sexuality, cross-dressing tips and tricks, writing, and books, movies, TV shows and comics about or featuring Transgender characters. If you can make a case for anything else, you can write about that.

• Regarding style: informal is fine, and preferred. These pieces shouldn’t be a chore to read. Write your chosen topic the same way you’d talk to a friend about it, or write about it in a blog, or in an effort-comment or forum post.

~

As a contributor you will be able to read and feedback other contributions as they come in. If at any point prior to publication you wish to withdraw your work, that’s OK.

The finished anthology will be published on Big Closet, TG Storytime and Fictionmania. Make sure you have accounts set up on all three sites (all are free to join). I want to get as many authors credited on each site as possible.

Email submissions to [email protected]

Cheers

PersnicketyBitch



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