Suited For Adventure - Book 1 - Part The End?

This is the end of Book one. I completely forgot to post it here. Please forgive me a blonde moment? Safety reached. A crisis averted, and a decision made, for better or worse.

Suited for Adventure

By Catherine Linda Michel

From the time we arrived, Mom took over, in her own inimitable way. She simply started issuing orders about what was needed and what needed to be done, and someone went and did it. Nobody questioned her decrees and I found it amusing to watch Jim, Penny and Paul simply knuckle under to Mom’s, sometimes-strange sounding, orders. For example: She insisted that we get new curtains for all the windows!

Curtains? For some cabins out in the woods? In the middle of nowhere? Yes, curtains. When asked why curtains, Mom simply said,

“Now HOW can I make a home for my family for goodness knows how long, without some homey touches?” And went on issuing orders for more seemingly silly and useless things. My Mom. To know her is to be confused by her.

In the midst of the damndest crisis any of us had ever known, and probably ever WOULD know, Mom refused to depart from what she considered ‘normal’. Dad went about helping Jim, Penny and Paul set up some kind of security perimeter, some distance from the cabins. Jerry and I stayed inside for several days until Jim, Penny and Paul told us it was safe to go outside.

Now, I’ve called the places where we were gonna be staying, ‘cabins’, but they were really more like homes, just WAY out in some woods. They all had electricity, running water, even cable TV hookups with internet connections. Each place had two bedrooms, each bedroom with it’s own attached bathroom. When I asked Paul about the seeming opulence of these places, he only said that they were owned by someone who owed him more favors than he could count. He never identified who that person was, or why he was owed so much by him or her, but it must have been someone with a LOT of horsepower.

Our first night out there was kinda quiet, even with all the unpacking of what we had brought with us, and with the hiding of the vehicles. Paul and Jim went into the nearest town, wherever that was (they didn’t tell us just then) and bought supplies. Food, some clothing, basic kitchen stuff and camping gear. They also brought back four 12-gauge shotguns and several boxes of shells for them. Double ought and slugs. Mom bristled at the weapons and almost refused to let them into the cabin with them, but Penny took her aside and, grudgingly she finally did allow them in, but with a sour look on her face that told me that this little deal wasn’t over yet. Not by a long shot! Me? I played Sgt. Shultz from Hogan’s Heroes. I saw nothing! I heard nothing!

In the time we spent at those cabins, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out just who the hell those guys at the lab were. Jim and Penny didn’t have clue one about them, but they had made calls to some friends in the security business and Paul had word out on the streets with his sources. We had to be careful so that nobody knew exactly who we were, so we used our cell phones to communicate with the ‘outside’ world, and then, only sparingly. Paul told us that Debbie and Cindy, Jerry’s and my girlfriends, were safe and that his ‘people’ would keep a very close watch on them, ensuring their safety. If anything went wrong, or if his people thought the girls were in danger, they would sprit them away, with their families, to our haven.

Yeah, it was boring out there in the woods. Sure we had TV and the internet, but for several days, we saw no one who wasn’t part of our little group. Mom was insisting on going ‘shopping’, saying there were things she needed that the men couldn’t possibly understand. Everyone tried to tell her that it wasn’t safe yet to go traipsing off into town where she’d be a stranger, but she wouldn’t hear of it. The more time that went by, the more insistent she got, until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I approached Paul, saying,

Look, Paul. You GOTTA get Mom into a town somewhere! This hiding out stuff is bad enough, but to hear her going on and on and on is making me nutso! Listen, I’ve dealt with her nuttiness for almost 18 years and I KNOW her better than ANY of you, except my Dad, will ever know her and she will NOT quit. She’ll just get louder and louder until she can be HEARD in town, for cripes sake! Is there ANY way you can get her outta here to get what she wants?”

“Well, Donna.” Paul responded. “I suppose we COULD take her over to Jergensville. There’s a mall there and she wouldn’t be so noticeable as a stranger. Mind you, I don’t like it, but I think you’re right. She’s just going to become a problem if we keep her cooped up here much longer. Tell you what. Why don’t you, and Jerry make up a list of things you think you might want or need, and we can get them at the same time? I’d like to take the two of you with us, but you aren’t fully recovered from your gunshot wound, and the two of you might be too recognizable or memorable.”

“Yeah, you’re right about that, Paul. Jerry and I look like friggin’ fashion models or something, and people would remember us. Heh. I never thought it would be a hindrance to be good looking. Add to that the fact that I’m still not comfortable with being looked at ‘that’ way, by men and I can see your points easily. As much as I’d LIKE to get outta here, I know that Jerry and I have to stay hidden, for awhile longer. We can take walks in the woods though, can’t we?”

“I guess that’d be okay kid, but if you do that, be very careful okay? If you think you might be seen by someone, or if you hear anyone out there, hightail it back to the cabins and stay put until you can get me, Jim or Penny to check it out. From what you’ve told me about the suits, I know I don’t have to worry about animals attacking you two, and you can move faster than any normal person can, but I don’t want anybody getting a good look at you or Jerry.”

“Deal, Paul. By the way, I haven’t had a chance to thank you for what you’re doing. I don’t know how we’ll ever be able to repay you, but we will, somehow.”

“Hey kid, don’t worry about it. I run that agency more for my own enjoyment than for a way to make a living. Over the years I’ve cracked some pretty big time cases for some very important and wealthy folks. Their fees have made me pretty well off. I took this one because it appealed to me on several different levels. First of all, I felt sorry for you and Jerry. None of this is your fault and you are only kids. Second of all, Jim and Penny are more than just acquaintances. Someday I’ll tell you about that. Third is simply because this is something way out of the ordinary for me. I won’t lie to ya kid. This is exciting for me, but aside from all that, I’ve come to like you kids and your families.”

He paused for a moment, looking at me with a very serious look on his face.

“You’ve got guts Donna. You and Jerry both, and it’s easy to see how you came by them. Your parents are some of the best I’ve ever met. As weird and ‘twilight zoneish’ as this whole thing is, your parents have simply backed you two kids to the hilt, without asking and without blame. They obviously love the two of you the way all parents should love their kids. I don’t see that very often in my line of work. It’s…nice.”

Believe it or not, he blushed at that point! Then, without another word, he turned and left the cabin, pausing at the door to look back at me. He winked and gave me the thumbs up gesture that said, to me, ‘Keep your head on straight. You’re okay, and I’ll back you to the hilt.’

Paul was true to his word. That very evening he told Mom that she was gonna get her wish to go shopping. He warned her against saying anything while she was out, that would point back to us, and he also said she was on a budget. We didn’t have unlimited funds and we’d have to watch our spending because we had no idea how long we were going to have to hide out. Mom, being Mom, pooh poohed the budget notion, fluttering about the cabin like some crazed butterfly, making lists of stuff she was going to HAVE to get, but Dad, of all people, put the brakes on her, saying,

“Dear. Like it or not, we are under the protection of Paul, Jim and Penny. It’s VITAL that we pay attention to what they tell us about what we can and can’t do or say. I know that I almost always bow to your wishes in just about everything, but this time, I have to put my foot down. You CANNOT spend more than they tell you that you can, and you CANNOT ‘talk’ to people about why you’re here or about any of us, except in the most oblique of ways. Please honey. Don’t fight us on this. It’s best for the safety of all of us, especially the kids.”

He hugged her tight and whispered some other things to her, but I didn’t hear them. When he finished, he gave her a big, romantic kiss. Eeeeeew.

“Mom! Dad! Will you two cut it out? You’re embarrassing me! Jeeze! Get a room or something, willya?”

Well? What would YOU say or do if it was YOUR parents getting all mushy and stuff? OH, I know that they were in love and like that, but to actually SEE my parents getting ‘that’ way….well it was just….wrong or something. Ya know?

Well, they took off the following morning on their shopping ‘expedition’. Paul and Penny went with Mom. I got majorly bored about 2 hours later and I suggested to Jerry that we go for a walk or something.

“Cool!” He said. “If you think you’re up to it, that sounds good to me. I’ve been itching to get outta this place and breathe some fresh air! When do ya wanna take off?”

I looked over at Jim who nodded that it was okay and then said,

“Don’t go too far from the cabins and stay out of sight if you hear anyone else out there. Remember, we want to remain virtually unknown out here for as long as possible and with you two looking like you do, anyone who sees you will not soon forget you. That Dr. Fine sure did some good work, I gotta say.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before, Jim.” I said, testily. “Every time I look at Jerry, or into a freaking mirror, I’m reminded of how handsome or beautiful these suits make us look. I never thought I’d miss my old, plain face, but I’d give damn near ANYTHING to see it looking back at me from a mirror! Now can we get OUTTA here or do you have some more ‘advice’ to give us, Grandma?”

Jim just smiled one of those long suffering, ‘KIDS! What are ya gonna do with ‘em’, kinda smiles and waved his hands at us, making a shooing motion.

“Get outta here, the both of you!” He said ruefully. I try and I try but you kids just don’t want to hear me. Oh me, Oh my. Whatever will I do with you two? Be back before supper, okay?”

“DEAL!” Both Jerry and I shouted, and we took off out of that cabin like our butts were on fire.

Running back to our own cabins, we changed clothes, even though we could probably have gone into the woods naked. The suits kept us completely safe from minor scratches and the like, that would bother someone not protected as well as we were in those suits. While changing, I noticed the ugly, puckered, half healed scar from where I’d been shot. It made me angry, but it also scared me. I’d thought that we were pretty much immune from bullets and stuff. The more I thought about it, the madder, and the more scared I got.

As I was thinking about it, I accessed the HUD and scrolled through the various options. There were all sorts of displays and graphs and the like, flashing in my view, but I couldn’t make heads nor tails out of most of them. We hadn’t gotten as far as testing all of them in the lab. One said; ‘Self Diagnostic’, and I stopped my scan there for a minute, deciding to look at this one more closely. When I went through the options there, there was one which said; “Activate Repair Mode’. I figured, what the hell, and I accessed it, not knowing what to expect, but not thinking it would harm me.

All of a sudden, I came to attention, like some Army guy of something! I couldn’t move! Scared pretty badly, I tried to make the HUD move on to something else, but the display said; “Repair Mode Functioning. Stand by’. I stood there stiffly, figuring that I’d really screwed up this time, but there was no pain. There was only a brief tickling sensation around the wound and then nothing. In a couple of minutes it was all over and I could move again. The display said; “Repairs Completed. Operation Nominal. Power Reserve 75% ’, and then it shut off.

I cautiously examined the wound area in a mirror and there was no trace of the wound! Not even so much as a scar! Just smooth, perfect skin! “Wow!” I thought to myself. “Now THIS is cool! Finally there’s a benefit from wearing this damn thing. I finished getting dressed and rushed out of the cabin, anxious to tell Jerry of my discovery. He was waiting for me outside, kind of impatient looking and he said.

“Well it’s about time! Jeeze, you’ve only been a female for about a week and already you take as much time as a real woman would, getting ready!”

“Oh shut up you jerk!” I shot back at him. “I’m not a friggin woman and you know it! It’s only the suit that makes me look like one, remember, dummy?”

“Oh lighten up, Donnie.” He responded, smiling at me. “I know that, you idiot! I’m just trying to make ya smile a bit. You’ve been a real gloomy Gus for the past couple of days. Look, Donnie, I know things look bad right now, but we’ve got lotta help, and they know what they’re doing. You just wait. I’ll betcha that things are gonna get better real soon.”

I stood there for a few seconds, trying not to get mad at Jerry. He’d always been a joker, as well as being able to look for the good side of almost any situation. I’d gotten mad at him a hundred times, but only for about 30 seconds or so at any one time. He’s just one of those people you can’t stay mad at, you know? Finally I said,

“Jerry? Sometimes I feel like beating the hell outta you, ya know? I’ll tell you, if we weren’t best pals……well, never mind that. I gotta tell you something cool!” and I proceeded to tell him about the wound and the healing that the suit had done. He asked me how I’d accessed it and I told him how. In just a few minutes he had accessed the same displays in his suit.

“Whoa Dude! Now THIS is majorly awesome, Donnie!” He said excitedly. “Man, this is like Wolverineâ„¢ or something. We can heal ourselves like he can! We gotta check out what else these things can do.”

“Okay, Jerry.” I agreed, “But lets take our walk first. I gotta get away from everybody and everything for awhile or I’m gonna go nutso! You have no idea of what it’s like to have guys looking at you like they want something from you. This really sucks! It’s been a freaking week since I could even pee like a guy, for God’s sake, and every guy I walk past ends up looking at my tits or my ass instead of looking at my face! At least out here in the jingweeds I won’t have to deal with that for awhile. C’mon. Let’s get outta here.” And I walked away from the cabins, leaving Jerry standing there.

He caught up with me in just a couple of steps and we headed out into the wooded area that surrounded the cabins. We walked and talked for quite awhile before we came to a small stream. We stopped there for a bit and sat down, even thought we weren’t anywhere near tired. Just sitting there with the quiet sounds of the stream seemed to help make some of my troubles a little easier to deal with. I think the biggest benefit from it was not having to deal with anyone else for a change. Just me and my best bud.

Actually, Jerry and I were ‘city kids’ and had spent very little time in the woods or even out of a town, so not only was this different, it was very soothing and restful. We sat there for an hour or so, idly tossing pebbles and sticks into the stream and watching the trees swaying with the gentle breeze. I thought, ‘Man. What I’ve missed by not getting away from the city.’

Then Jerry said, in a quiet, thoughtful tone of voice,

“Hey Donnie. Can I ask ya something? I mean, just between you and me?”

“Sure, Jerry.” I replied, lost in the quiet.

“Okay. Did you and your girl ever….you know? I mean, um, did you ever ‘do the deed’?”

“Damn, Jerry!” I responded. “What brought that up? That’s kinda personal, ya know?”

“Oh hell dude.” He said. “Since when do you and me have secrets between us?”

He leaned back against a small tree and looked at me with a strange expression on his face.

“Okay, Jerry.” I sighed resignedly. “To answer your question, no. We never did. I think we both wanted to, but we also knew that it wouldn’t be right, you know? I guess we’re both just a little old fashioned about stuff like that. Why do you ask?”

“Aw, hell, Donnie. Me and my girl never did it either. I think she wanted to, but we never really had a real chance for it. There was always somebody around, or one of us didn’t feel like it right then.”

“Yeah Jer. I know what you mean. Thing is, in this damn suit, it doesn’t look like I’m gonna get a shot at anything like that in the foreseeable future either!” I sulked.

Jerry moved over closer to me and kinda put his hand on my back, comforting me kinda, and said,

“Hey man. It’s gonna be okay. I don’t know how or when, but I just know we’re gonna get outta this crap, somehow.”

I turned toward Jerry and said, somewhat heatedly,

“Oh? And just how the hell do you know that? You got some kinda crystal ball or something that I don’t know about? Shit man, At least you look more or less normal. I mean you still look like a guy! I look like my own freaking wet dream, and that’s the way everybody else sees me too! How am I ever gonna get together with a girl when I look better than she does?”

Well, I guess the events of the past week had finally gotten to me, because I started to cry! At first it was just a couple of teardrops rolling down my cheeks, but before too long it became a full blown, heavy duty crying fit, wracking sobs and all. Jerry tried to comfort me by patting me on my back, but when that didn’t seem to be working, he took me in his arms and I ended up crying my heart out, with my head on his shoulder and his arms wrapped tightly around me.

He was making ‘shushing’ noises like, ‘hush, hush man. It’s gonna be okay. Go ahead and let it out. I’m right here and I ain’t gonna leave ya, no matter what. I finally seemed to cry myself out and I backed off of his shoulder, embarrassed to be in this position, and wiping the tears from my face. Jerry took my face in his hands, looked into my eyes and then………..he kissed me! Now it wasn’t one of those deep, spit swapping soul kisses of anything like that. Actually it was more of a quick touch of our lips and then he drew back, still looking into my eyes. I guess I must have been too shocked to try getting away from him and I just laid there, in his arms for a few seconds.

He kinda sighed and then he tried it again. At first, it was like it wasn’t really me he was kissing. I mean, it was me, but it wasn’t, in a way. I can’t explain it, and, for a moment, it felt kinda nice to be hugged and even kissed. But then, it crashed in on me just who was doing the kissing and I lost it. I pushed away from him, practically in a panic.

“What the hell are you doing man? Holy shit! What the hell are you doing kissing me, you fucking freak! Some goddamn friend you are!”

I jumped to my feet and took a couple of shots with closed fists at him, doing little or no damage and then, I turned around and started running, away from him, that place, that situation, from everything. I hardly slowed down for trees that were anything less than the thickness of my leg, just hitting them with a forearm shot and either breaking them off or ripping them right out of the ground. To this day, I don’t know if I was angry or just scared out of my mind.

I could hear Jerry crashing through the underbrush, close behind me. He was shouting something, but I couldn’t hear the words. I only knew that I had to get away from him. I didn’t even know why I had to. Maybe I thought he was gonna try something else, I don’t know. I took a hard left, hoping to elude him. About that time, I ran out of ground. I’d run right off the face of a cliff! I remember falling. I remember watching the cliff face flashing past me. I remember thinking, ‘Well, this is really gonna test this suit. I hope it fails and I die. I can’t live like this anymore. Then, everything went black.

I hit water, which was probably 50-75 feet below the cliff edge I’d run off and sank into its depths. I couldn’t see a damn thing. I just sank down into the depths of the water, not caring if I ever came back to the surface. It was quiet down there, and there was no one pressuring me, no one chasing me. No one trying to get me to do things I didn’t want to do. No one trying to get me to accept a situation I hated!

I tried to tear that damn suit off me, but all I succeeded in doing was hitting the bottom of the deep pool of water I’d fallen into. I sank into the muck at the bottom and just sat there. I didn’t seem to be having any problems breathing though. I guess that damn suit was living up to its capabilities. I actually considered staying down there until the suit failed, knowing that if I ran out of air, I’d never be able to reach the surface in time and I’d drown.

Then I started thinking about Mom and Dad and about my girlfriend and it began to sink in just how much pain and sorrow it would cause if I died, especially like this. About that time, I felt someone grab hold of me. I looked around wildly and there was Jerry! He motioned to me to start back for the surface and, after a couple of seconds I nodded my okay, and began to swim upward. I was still angry at Jerry, but I couldn’t give up my hope that I’d get out of that damned suit, somehow, someday. Jerry was a whole different matter though.

When we finally got out of the water, Jerry moved to my side, as if to make sure I was okay. I stopped him, saying,

“Just stay the hell away from me, okay? Right now I don’t even wanna see you, man! I don’t know what the hell was going through your idiot mind back there, and I’m not sure I ever wanna know! Just go away and leave me alone, before things get any worse. I know that I probably can’t beat you up, but I’ll damn sure try if you don’t get outta here. I’ll find my own way back to the cabins. Just go away.”

“Look, Donnie,” he began. “I don’t know what the hell happened back there either, but I gotta know you’re okay. I’m sorry that I did that, GOD I’m sorry! You gotta know I’d never hurt ya, man.”

“Just shut the hell up and leave me alone, okay?” I shot back at him. “Right now I don’t wanna even see your sorry ass! Just go back to the cabins and leave me alone. I’ll be fine, but I gotta be alone for awhile. This shit has gotten just too damn weird and I gotta work some things out in my head. Just go away, please?”

Jerry looked at me and shook his head.

“Okay man. If that’s what you really want, but you’re okay, right? You aren’t hurt or anything?”

“NO!” I shouted back at him. “I’m not hurt, but I AM pissed off and weirded out, and you being here isn’t helping me one damned bit. Just leave me alone. I’ll be back at the cabins in awhile. If you value our friendship, or what might be left of it after what you did, you’ll do as I’m asking you to do.”

I turned and walked away from Jerry. Not heading for the cabin area, but away from it. I fully intended to return to them, but I badly needed time alone to work through what I was feeling. I heard Jerry start to say something else, but I just motioned at him to go away. I didn’t trust my feelings just then, and I was afraid I’d do something we’d both regret later. I walked off into the trees and underbrush, my thoughts going about a hundred miles an hour.

After about an hour or so, I stopped walking. I was in a small clearing and I found a place where I could sit down on a large boulder. I don’t know how long I sat there, but I remember what I thought about. The biggest thing on my mind, other than praying to find a way out of that suit, was; how did I really feel about what Jerry had done? Yes, it had freaked me out. I wasn’t gay or anything like it. Just because I looked like a teenage boy’s wet dream, didn’t mean I felt that way.

Was it unpleasant, that small kiss? Well, it was, and…it wasn’t. I mean, it had been a long time since I’d held my girlfriend in my arms, since I’d kissed her, since I’d kissed anyone. Did it feel gay? Yes, it did. Hey I was still a guy and so was Jerry and guys just don’t do that sort of thing, right? Oh, they can hug and stuff, but not like that. Not like guys and girls do. Yet……what was I right then? Was I still a guy? Did my outward appearance dictate what I was, sexually? Yes, I moved, sounded, looked and even gestured like a girl. The suit made me do that. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t move or sound like a guy. Oh, I could say the words, and the phraseology sounded like a guy would sound, but it came out in the high, soft, sweet voice that the suit imposed on me.

Yet, thinking about it, that kiss also seemed….comforting, somehow. It had felt kinda nice to be held in someone’s arms, even if it was another guy. Jesus. Could this get any more confusing for me?

More to come.

I sat there on that rock thinking for at least a couple of hours, until it was beginning to get a little bit dark. So many things went through my mind. Not the least of which was, If I look like a girl, and I sound like a girl, and I walk like a girl, what the hell am I? I mean, I know that I’m just a guy in a ‘power suit”, but the rest of the world sees me as this sexy 19 or 20 year old female, so who’s right? Me or them?

So, thinking along those lines, could I really blame Jerry for what he did? Sure, he knows that it’s me, Donnie, his lifelong guy ‘bud’, in this suit, but he sees a gorgeous chick and he reacted to what he sees, not to what he knows. Given the same circumstances, could I say I wouldn’t do the same? I stopped my thoughts there, shook my head and headed back for ‘home’. Too much thinking was frying what was left of my brain.

I wandered into my cabin just as dark was falling. Nobody said a word to me as I went into my bedroom, stripped and headed for a shower. I didn’t really have to take one to get clean, but just the action of bathing seemed to relax me and the sound, and feel, of the water beating against my body also helped. When I was finished, I toweled off and went back to my bedroom where I chose some plain, cotton pajamas to sleep in. I didn’t bother with eating anything, not because I wasn’t hungry, but because I didn’t feel up to seeing other people, let alone eating with them.

Jerry wasn’t there and I assumed he was staying the night with someone else. As I went to sleep, my mind was racing, replaying the last week or so, over and over. My dreams were, well, they were strange, to say the least. In most of them, I was either running from….something, or I was fighting someone, or several someones. My girlfriend figured in there somewhere, but she seemed kinda…vague. Not fully formed. Almost as if I couldn’t recall exactly what she looked or sounded like. Jerry figured in those dreams too, but he was more fully formed than my girlfriend was. He seemed to be helping me fight whoever it was I was fighting, but there were several instances where I dreamed myself in his arms, being kissed by him. Sometimes it felt alright and other times, it seemed….wrong somehow.

I awoke before the sun was up. I didn’t really feel like I had slept at all, but my body was demanding that I get up and visit the bathroom, so up I got. Sitting there, answering nature’s call, I sorta drifted off a little bit, like you do sometimes, you know what I mean, right? I started idly examining the HUD display and all the little menus and submenus. Of course there was one little light flashing on and off that said; Power Level Low. I knew that I was due to recharge the suit so that one was no real surprise. Then, I found a display that accessed an area that I’d never seen before. The display shook me up a little bit, but thinking back over the events of the last week, it made sense. The display was labeled; Procedures For Permanent Bonding!

I damn near fell off the toilet when I found that section, but I went ahead and pulled up the display and read what was there anyway. It read: If permanent bonding with the suit should occur, the following changes will take place within the wearer.

1. If the wearer happens to have been male, the suit will begin dispersing small, but ever increasing amounts of a new powerful female hormone which will make the wearer of the suit more comfortable with being forced to become fully female.
2. The wearer will become able to access a formerly inaccessible area of the suit’s contained resources, concerning things like makeup, hair care, vocabulary, etc. These will make it easier for the wearer to assimilate into society as the female he now appears to be.
3. If the wearer of this suit is now accessing this display, be now aware that there is no going back. Unfortunately there is no way to remove the suit if it either accidentally or purposefully becomes bonded to your skin. Rest assured that you will suffer no untoward or harmful effects because of this bonding. The suit will, eventually become your own skin, replacing your original epidermis.
4. You have my sincere apologies for this unfortunate occurrence, but I based these suits on some recently uncovered, unknown research, which somehow relates to the “Roswell Incident.” I can only assume that the research is based on some kind of alien ‘spacesuit’ or ‘battlesuit’.

I have to assume that I am either unavailable or incapacitated in one way or another if you are reading this and I am not present. If it is any consolation to you, you will never age beyond your present appearance. The suit has built in gas, biological, and regeneration capabilities, which you may or may not have discovered by now. You will never get sick, or injured beyond the capabilities of the suit to repair, short of abrupt and violent disintegration as in an explosion or the like. Biological agents will not be able to enter the suit, thus you are immune to all known, and probably some unknown (since the technology of the suit is alien) poisons or gasses. In short, you will be as you now are, until old age claims you and even that will be deferred because of the systems built into the suit. You will likely have a life twice as long as your original one would have been. I estimated, in my research, that your age at the time of your death, if by old age, will be in the neighborhood of 200+ years.

I added these systems after the suits were deemed ready for testing, in the event of an accidental bonding, since such WAS hinted at in the research. I sincerely hope that you never have to access this section, but if you do, please accept my humble apologies once again, and my hope that the information I have included will help you become more comfortable with, and resigned to, the life, which is now yours. The suits are an enormous benefit and an awesome responsibility. They contain more personal power than any human has ever possessed. Please use them to help humanity if you can, and don’t hate me for what my research has done to you, whoever you are.
Regretfully, Dr. Howard Fine

What followed was s series of, well I guess you’d call them, instructional kinda videos. They covered everything from makeup application, though I’d thought that what was already on the suit was permanent, I guess it wasn’t) to detailed instructions on female behavior, mannerisms, gestures and hair care. At the end of that section was an accept/do not accept kind of mental toggle switch. Reading further, I discovered that, by flicking the switch and accepting, it would load all those things into the suit’s internal memory, effectively giving me the instant knowledge of how to do those things, much the same way the suit made me move and sound like a woman. So, if I accepted the knowledge, it would become as second nature to me as breathing. Yikes!

I decided, after recovering from this latest mental shock, to wait until I had discussed this with everyone concerned. I realized that I didn’t have a whole lotta choice in this though. Even if I didn’t accept the knowledge, I would still be stuck appearing to the world to be a very attractive, approximately 20-25 year old female.

More than somewhat dazed, I finished my morning ablutions and exited the bathroom, my mind spinning. I laid back down on the bed and tried to digest what I’d just learned. At first I blazed with hatred for Dr. Fine and his “alien” research. Why ME? Why couldn’t it have been Jerry stuck in this damned thing? At least then I could look like the guy I’d always been, but NOOOOOOOO! I hadda be the stupid guinea pig in the female suit that damned day! Then, for a few minutes I raged, mentally at Jerry who’s fooling around had led to the collapse of the lab and, eventually to my getting bonded to the stupid thing. I quickly realized that that line of thinking was flawed because we had both been fooling around that day. It was just dumb luck, or the lack of it that had led to us both getting stuck in these things. In his own way, Jerry was just as bad off as I was. Sure he still looked male, but he didn’t look anything like his old self and was just as alienated (no pun intended) from his loved ones as I was…..well, almost anyway.

Finally I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to go tell the others of this latest development. I dressed quickly and simply in jeans and a sweatshirt (never mind what kind of underwear, okay?) and went to find the others. They were all at my parent’s cabin, having some kind of meeting. When I entered, they all went silent, looking at me. Finally I had to speak, just to break the silence.

“Uh…morning everyone. I’m sorry if I caused anyone any worry yesterday, but I had a lot to think about. If you’ll all be patient with me, I’ll explain what happened and what I’ve discovered.”

I proceeded to tell them about our walk, the kiss, my reaction to it, and the revelation of what was in the programming of the suit. Jerry said,

“Duder! Where’s that on the HUD?”

I told him, but he couldn’t access any area like it.

“Maybe it’s because you aren’t bonded to the suit, the way I am to this one.” I said. I can give ya the gist of what’s in there, but most of it covers what I have to do and the way I have to do it as a female. It looks like I’m stuck like this permanently, so you’re all gonna have to bear with me as I get used to the thought that I’m always gonna be the way you see me now. The stuff Dr. Fine included will help me a lot, but it’s still gonna take a lotta adjustment on ALL out parts so if I seem to act weird or something, it’s just me trying to resign myself to a whole new life, VERY different from what I’d ever imagined or wanted for myself.”
“There’s also the issue of how we’re gonna handle using these suits. We can’t keep hiding forever. Sooner or later we are gonna have to face these people, whoever they are, who were trying to kidnap or kill us. There’s also the question of how to keep all of you safe, because sooner or later, Jerry and I are gonna become well known. There’s no way we can use these suits the way Dr. Fine suggests, and NOT get noticed.”

Well, when I stopped talking for a second, there was a rush of babble as everyone tried to talk at the same time. Finally I held up my hand and motioned for them all to quiet down and let me finish.

“There’s one other thing. Jerry? You and I gotta talk…privately. The rest of you, I’m sorry about all of this, but this is something that Jerry and I gotta get right between us. We’ll be over at our cabin. You have all the information that I have, so please discuss it and see if you can come up with some answers as to what we’re gonna do, and when is best to do it, or at least start doing it. Understand as I do though. There’s NO way out of this. We’re all stuck with what’s happened and the sooner we resign ourselves to that fact, the sooner we can get on with our lives, however changed they might be. Jerry? Let’s go.”

I led Jerry back to the cabin we shared and had him sit down while I talked. I couldn’t sit. I had to pace. Chalk it up to nervous energy.

“Okay Jerry. Here it is. Please don’t say anything until I finish, because if I have to stop, I’ll never get everything said that I need to get said.”

I stopped pacing for a minute and faced him, taking his hand in mine.

“First of all, I forgive you for that….kiss. I do understand why you did it, even though it wasn’t at all what I expected. It wasn’t all that bad and, looking back on it, it was kinda nice to be held and comforted, even if it was you doing it. Now, from all I can ascertain, I’m gonna look like this for the rest of my life, which according to Dr. Fine, is gonna be a lot longer than it would have been without the suit. I’m gonna have to live it looking the way I do and I’m gonna need a lot of help from everyone to do it, but I’m gonna need your help more than anyone else’s. You and I have been best ‘buds’ since almost before we could talk, and I see no reason for that to change, except that we’re gonna have to do it as a guy and a girl. I dunno how that’s gonna work out or where it’s gonna lead us, but I do know that there’s no way I can do it without you in my life, in whatever way it ends up being.”

I paused for breath and to further gather my thoughts and then continued.

“Also, like I told the others, we’re gonna have to learn ALL the capabilities of these suits if we’re gonna use them the way Dr. Fine intended. We are gonna HAVE to face those goons and either finish them off or convince them that it’d be better for all concerned if they just forgot about us and these suits. I dunno how the hell we’re gonna do all of that, but you know it has to be done. We can’t be running and hiding for the next 15 or 20 decades!”

Jerry stopped me just then and said,

“Look, Donnie, Donna, whatever! I have told you many times that I am NOT gonna desert you. Like you said, we’re ‘buds” and buds don’t let buds face shit like this alone, right? So all I’m gonna say is that I am NEVER gonna leave ya, not ever! If we get pissed at one another, well we’ll just have to deal with that if and when it happens. I’ve loved ya as a guy pal, and I’ll love ya as a girlfriend…I mean, as a girl..friend…oh crap! You know what I mean, right?”

Poor Jerry. He looked so confused by what he was supposed to call me. Finally I sat down on the couch with him and taking both his hands in mine I said,

“Ease off there my friend. You’re gonna burn out your poor little brain if you keep on backtracking like that. From now on, I guess you’d better just call me Donna, okay? It’ll make my adjustment a little easier if everyone refers to me as who I appear to be. I already know what I’m gonna have to do and, as difficult as it is to say goodbye to the life I thought I was gonna have, I have a feeling that this new one is gonna be a real trip! Okay, so I’m gonna have to live it as a girl, but damn it Jerry, we got friggin superpowers! We’re gonna have to learn how to use them to their best advantage, but we can do it if we stick together.”

Jerry reached over to me and drew me closer to him, putting his arms around me, holding me tight.

“Of course you’re right, duder…..I mean dudette? Well, whatever, you ain’t gonna get rid of me. Sure it ain’t gonna be easy, but together, we’ll do it, somehow, right?”

I settled into Jerry’s embrace, realizing that what I was gonna do next was gonna change my life more than anything ever had, but knowing that I had to do it. I let out a long sigh, accessed that portion of the HUD…….and flipped that little switch.

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