Crystal's StorySite


Transformers (Sort Of)

by Catherine Linda Michel


Where to begin this journal, that's the real question. Whether or not I should even write this down is a moot point. If I DON'T write it down, no one will ever believe that it happened, so I guess, here goes.


It all started one bright, beautiful day, about a year ago. I was out of school for the summer and, being a 17 year old boy and full of……well, you know what I was full of, I was busy planning a summer full of fun, debauchery(or as much of that as a 17 year old boy could get away with) and general goofing off. Little did I know that the events which would unfold in the following week would change my life forever.

My Father, bless his old fashioned heart, had insisted that I find some sort of gainful employment for the summer, saying, and I quote:

"You're old enough to learn the value of money and an honest day's work, my boy. I'm not going to discontinue your allowance, but you are going to have to earn it from now on. I expect you to find a job for the summer in addition to keeping up with your chores here at home. The lawn, and keeping the cars washed and waxed, will be your primary duties here at home, and I've arranged for an interview for you at Acton Labs. They're hiring summer help and I think you'll fit the bill for them. You'll not only learn what it's like to have to work for a living, but you'll also have a chance to work with some of the finest minds in the country."

Now, I knew that Acton Labs were a high security "think tank" on the outskirts of town, but what they did there was pretty much unknown to virtually everyone I knew. My Father was a supplier of vending machines and he knew some of the people who worked out there, thus the chance for my interview. Dad's machines vended everything from carbonated beverages to snacks, to sandwiches and even hot soups and coffee.

My reaction to this announcement by my Father was, I suppose, typical of your average 17 year old boy who was looking forward to a summer of fun before his senior year of high school.

"DAD! No WAY! I've got plans for this summer and they don't include making myself a wage slave to some mega brains at some government geek club! C'mon, Dad! Don't make me do this!" and so forth, but Dad's reaction to my impassioned plea was,

"Tough noogies, my boy. I've made my decision and, as long as you live in my house and eat my food, you'll do as I say. Look, Donnie," he continued. "I know you wanted to spend the summer goofing off and having fun, but you have to think about the future. You're going to be a senior next year and you need to consider college and beyond. Working out at the Labs will be excellent job experience for you and will net you a considerable paycheck to boot. You'll still have plenty of free time on the weekends and after work, and who knows. You might actually learn something from those "geek, mega brains", as you called them. Some of the best minds in the country are working on things out there that I don't have the slightest clue about, but I'm sure you'll be in a position to find out some of what they do, and maybe even be included in it."

'Whoopie.' Was my only thought at that revelation, but I didn't voice it. I knew Dad only had my best interests at heart and I also didn't wanna risk a smack upside the head for being what he called, 'impertinent', so I shut up and accepted my fate.

He left for work and left me to wallow in my misery. I pushed my cereal around in the bowl for a little while, trying to think of a way out of this disgusting turn of events, but nothing came to mind and nothing showed up in the cereal bowl besides the usual mush of corn, wheat, milk and sugar. Sigh. What a revolting development! WORK!!!! All summer! Oh well.

Mom had already left for her job and I was alone in the house. I didn't have to go out to Acton Labs until 2 in the afternoon, so I spent the time just chilling around the house and calling my friends to report the bad news about my summer plans. Several of them commiserated with me, but Jerry, my lifelong buddy said,

"You're SHITTING me! You TOO? My old man set ME up to go out there too! This SUCKS, Donnie! This is gonna screw up our summers ALL to hell!"

"Yeah, I know it Jerry, but what can we do? If your Dad is anything like my Dad, there's no way out of it. We can't even purposely mess up the interview because they'll call both our Dads and tell them. Looks like we're gonna have to grin and bear it for this summer. Hey, we can still mess around after work and on the weekends, right? Besides, if we're both working out there, at least we'll have each other to lean on and complain to, and we'll have some bucks to take our girls out for some fun as well. I've heard that they pay pretty well out there. Something like 10 bucks an hour, just to the flunkies like you and I will be."

"Yeah, I heard the same thing Don. Still, it sucks to have to work for our last summer as high schoolers. I was really looking forward to lazing around at the lake with Cindy, you and Debbie, drinking a few illegal beers and maybe even getting laid. You might be right though. With the bucks we'll earn there, we'll be able to impress the girls and take them out to some nice places instead of Mickey D's."

"That's what I was talking about, Jer. I mean, I know that my Dad is gonna want me to put some of what I earn into some kind of savings account for college or whatever, but that'll still leave a lot more than my allowance was gonna net me, and I know that Debbie'll be pleased to be taken to some nicer joints. So will your girl, Cindy, so what the hell. Let's make the best of this and try our best to get the jobs. What do ya say?"

"Okay. I guess you're right. What time do you have to be out there for your interview?"

"2 PM." I answered. "How about you?"

"Mine's at 2:30, with some guy named Howard Fine. Sounds like one of the Three Stooges to me. Who's yours with?"

"Same guy!" I responded. Maybe we'll get to work together! Now THAT'D be cool, don't ya think?"

"Yeah! Even if we only get to clean offices or labs or whatever, at least we'll be together and it'd make the work go a little easier and faster. Okay man. You got it. You wanna ride out with me?"

"Nah." I replied. I'll drive my beast out there and meet you after your interview. That way we'll be able to compare notes and find out if we're gonna be working together or what, okay?"

"That sounds tight, Don. I'll borrow my Mom's car, or maybe just have her drop me off and then ride back with you if that'd be okay by you. If you don't mind waiting for me, that is."

"Nah. That works for me, Jer. I'll see ya out there then. Be cool, man."

"Yeah, you too, man. See ya there." And I hung up the phone.

'Well, maybe this working thing wouldn't be TOO bad.' I thought to myself. 'At least I'll be working with Jerry, so it'll SEEM like hanging out together.'

I spent the rest of the time planning what I was gonna wear for the interview. I figured that I'd better try to go for a somewhat better look than my normal torn jeans and t-shirt, considering that this WAS a job interview and all. I grabbed a pair of dress slacks and a white button front shirt from the back of my closet and put them on the bed while I showered. I even used a deodorant, which I never did unless I was taking Debbie out.

I got dressed and went out to the driveway where my 'beast' awaited. The 'beast' was a 1960 Cadillac, Sedan De Ville with power everything. That thing weighed in at 5400 pounds with no one in it! It had the biggest V-8 engine I'd ever seen under the hood, but was surprisingly good on gas, getting almost 15 MPG in town and close to 20 MPG on the open road, IF I kept my foot out of the throttle, that is! If you remember the old detective/cop show called "BERETTA" with Robert Blake, you'll know exactly what my 'beast' looked like. Yeah, it was a land barge, but that back seat seemingly had enough room to play SOCCER, so there was plenty of room for "other" things, if you get my drift. Debbie and me'd had some pretty good times in that back seat! In the front seat too, as I recall!

Anyhow, I climbed in and fired the 'beast' up. Pushing the button on the radio for my fave classic rock station, I cruised on out of the driveway to the beat of Inna Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly, and headed out of town towards the think tank. I had plenty of time to get there since, being one of those people who HATES being late for anything, I started out a half hour before anyone else would've. I always figure something is gonna happen to make me late, so I allow plenty of time whenever I go anywhere. The think tank was only ten minutes out of town, so I knew I had plenty of time anyway.

Cruising in that great big car had it's advantages. Most newer cars would give me plenty of room on the road for one thing, and I didn't have to worry about anything smaller than a dump truck hitting me. Anything smaller would lose the confrontation. It was smooth as silk on most roads, too. That big Caddy just seemed to float over minor bumps and potholes. Then there was the stereo system I had installed.

Now it wasn't one of those "I can hear it four blocks away' kind of systems, but it WAS a really tight stereo, with CD player which would handle MP3s, and Cassettes, along with the AM/FM stereo radio, and I COULD turn it up to ear splitting decibels although I seldom did.

So, with the drum solo from that great old Iron Butterfly tune thundering out of the custom speakers, I pulled up to the guard shack at Acton Labs. I turned it down so I could hear what the guard was saying to me. He seemed almost disappointed to hear the sound decrease, but he came up to the car and said,

"What can I do for you, kid?"

"I'm Donald Franklin." I replied. "I've got an appointment for an interview with some guy called Howard Fine, at 2 PM. Where am I supposed to go, do you know?"

"Yeah. Go down this street until you see the Admin building. You can't miss it. It's the big ugly place with the mirror like windows in it. Park in the visitors lot and go in the main doors. There's a receptionist there and she'll direct you from there. You wanna rewind that thing a bit and let me hear that drum solo before you go? That song takes me back to my days in the service, in Germany."

"Sure, man, I would if it was a tape or a CD, but it's on ROCK 100 on the FM and I can't rewind the radio station. Sorry about that."

"Aw, that's cool, kid. Thanks anyway. Lemme give ya a visitor's pass so you won't get busted by the other security here. They're real pricks about passes and such."

He gave me a placard to put in the front windshield of the car and a little tag on a clip to attach to my shirt pocket. I stuck the one in the windshield on the dash, and clipped the other to my pocket and signed the clipboard he shoved at me. Then I drove on down til I found the building he had described to me and he was right. You couldn't miss the thing. It was big, and ugly, and it reflected the afternoon sun like a mirror. The windows were gold tinted and it shone like some kind of beacon. I figured you could probably see the damned thing from orbit, on a clear day!

Finding a parking spot for the 'beast' was no easy task. It seemed as though, with the advent of smaller cars with good fuel mileage, the parking spaces had shrunk somehow. Anyway, I finally found a place where I could park the Caddy and, getting out and locking it, I headed on into the main doors of the Admin building. It was fairly warm, with the sun's heat being absorbed by and then reflected back up by the black asphalt surface of the parking lot and I was glad I'd decided not to wear a jacket or sport coat.

Entering the building was like going from day to night, temperature wise. It was cool and dry in there and I paused to soak up a little bit of the coolness before continuing. Straight ahead of me was a circular desk deal and, seated behind it was a really pretty woman. She looked to be about 25 or so and she had really great blonde hair, all hanging loose down her back, which I love anyway. Something about long hair on a girl just turns me on, especially when it's well cared for and wavy like hers was.

I tried to be cool and not look like some fool kid when I talked to this vision, but I'm afraid that it came out all wrong. Something happens to me when I see a really great looking girl and I, well, I start to st-st-stutter a bit. So what came out of my mouth was;

"G-g-good af-af-afternoon. I-I-I'm D-D-D-Donald F-F-F-Franklin. I-I- have an a-a-a-appointment for t-t-t-two P-P-PM with M-Mr. F-F-Fine." Wonderful! I sounded like Porky friggin' PIG in front of this gorgeous woman! I could feel my face getting red and I was about as embarrassed as I had ever been.

She just smiled at me and said,

"Yes, Mr. Franklin." (MR. FRANKLIN! No one EVER called me MR.! Cool!) "DOCTOR Fine is located on the fifth floor in office 501. I see you already have your visitor's badge clipped on. That's good. You can't go anywhere inside this building without it, I'm afraid. When you reach the fifth floor, just follow the red line to Dr. Fine's office. Please don't try to go anywhere else. Security here is VERY tight."

She smiled at me through this whole little speech and I felt a little more at ease.

"O-Okay. I'll w-watch my s-step then. T-Thanks for the help."

"That's okay, Mr. Franklin. Don't be nervous, okay? Dr. Fine is a really nice person and I'm sure you're going to like working here. I'll look forward to seeing you each morning. You're kinda cute!"

Well, that just made me blush all the more. It felt like I was gonna need a CO2 fire extinguisher to cool my face off with! I kinda stumbled away from the desk and headed for the elevators she pointed out to me. Once I got inside and the door shut, closing off the sight of that beautiful woman, I started to relax a little bit. 'GEEZE!' I thought, mentally kicking myself. 'WHEN am I gonna NOT do that in front of great looking girls?' It was WAY embarrassing and it made me look like some kind of nerd or something!

I tried to put that experience out of my mind on the ride up to the fifth floor and, by the time the doors opened, I was feeling a bit better again. I followed a red line painted on the floor, like I had been told, to an office with '501' on the door. I didn't know whether to knock or not, so I took a chance and just walked in.

Inside I found another good looking woman seated behind a desk. 'CRAP!' I thought. 'I'm NEVER gonna get this job! I'm gonna be stammering and stuttering all over the place and they're gonna think I'm some sort of mentally handicapped dweeb!'

Well, I tried my best.

"I-I-Is this D-D-Dr. F-F-F-Fine's of-of-office?" I stammered.

"Yes it is. Please come in. Are you Mr. Franklin?" This vision asked me.

"T-T-Thanks. Y-Y-Yes I-I-I am D-D-Donald F-F-Franklin." DAMN! I HAD to get this under control!

I decided that honesty was the best policy and I said,

"P-Please excuse my st-st-stuttering. I-I-I'm not usually l-l-like this. I-I-It only hap-hap-happens w-w-when I m-m-meet a b-b-beautiful wo-wo-woman l-l-like y-y-you." 'Oh, THAT was cool!' I thought to myself, disgustedly. 'That'll REALLY impress her! CRAP!'

To my surprise though, she didn't laugh at me. I guess you gotta be cool and collected in a job like hers. She just smiled at me and said,

"Why thank you, Mr. Franklin! I believe that's the nicest compliment I've gotten all this week! Listen, if it'll help at all, my name is Nancy and I'm nobody important here. I'm just Dr. Fine's secretary. I'd like it if you'd call me Nancy and I hope, if you get the job here, that we'll become friends. Now if you'll just have a seat, I'll go tell Dr. Fine you're here. You're early! That's good. Punctuality is highly prized around here. Just make yourself comfortable and I'll be right back."

Well, that smile, and what she said, did a lot to help me get over my jitters and stuttering.

"T-Thanks." I said. 'I a-appreciate it." And I took a seat in what turned out to be, a comfortable chair.

"OH!" She exclaimed. "I almost forgot! You have to fill out one of these questionnaires. Dr. Fine would have my HEAD if I forgot that!"

She scurried back to her desk and rummaged around in a pile of papers until she found the one she was looking for. She handed it to me, along with a clipboard and a pen.

"Now, you just fill that out sweetie, and I'll tell Dr. Fine that you're here."

Sweetie? She called me sweetie? Hey! Things might be looking up! I mean yeah, she was older than me, but what the heck, some women LIKE younger guys, right? She WAS very good looking. Maybe not quite as gorgeous as the one downstairs, but very, very cute, nevertheless.

The form was pretty much standard and I won't bore you with the details of it. It took a few minutes to fill it out and read the security warnings and such. Nancy came back before I was finished and just sat down at her desk and continued with whatever she had been doing before I came in. When I was done, I got up and walked over to her desk, handing the form, clipboard and pen back to her. She went over the form quickly and showed me where I'd forgotten to sign one of the security warnings. I signed it and she took the form with her, leaving the outer office.

She returned just a couple of minutes later and said,

"Dr. Fine is waiting for you, Donald. Just go right through that door and turn left. It's the second door to the right after that. Good luck, honey and don't worry about a thing. Dr. Fine is a little gruff, but he's really a pussycat. Just be yourself and I'm sure you'll be just fine."

"T-Thanks, Nancy." I said. I ap-appreciate all your help."

I left via the door she indicated and followed her directions, coming to a closed door with Dr. Fine's name on it. This time I figured I'd better knock and I did. A strong male voice answered, saying.

"Come in, Donald!"

I entered and saw a 50ish looking man with graying hair and wearing one of those tweed jackets like you see in the old movies, coming around a desk with his hand held out. I stepped in, closed the door and grasped his hand with a good, strong male handshake like my Father had taught me to do.

"Dr, Fine, I presume?" I said, and then I groaned to myself. 'Swell! Who do I think I am? Some kind of African explorer? GEEZE!'

He just smiled at me and invited me to have a seat. I grabbed a squat in a chair opposite his desk and he went beck behind the desk, sitting down there.

"So, Donald. He began. Your Father tells me that you're looking for summer work and you'd like to give us a try? He's a good man, your Dad. Always puts in the kind of sandwiches I like in those machines of his. Would you like a soda or a glass of water or something? NANCY?…..NANCY?" he kind of yelled. Then, grumbling to himself, he pushed a button on his phone. "NANCY! NANCY! Where ARE you, confound it! These contraptions never work right!"

I tried to get in a word edgewise, but he was sort of rambling and complaining about not being able to get hold of Nancy on the intercom or whatever it was.

"Sir? Sir? Dr. Fine? Really, I'm okay. I don't need anything to drink, Sir. Please don't both…." But I seemed to not be getting through to him.

I finally gave up and let him rant until Nancy came in with a can of Pepsi™.

"Dr. Fine?" She said. "I figured this was what you wanted, Dr. Will there be anything else?"

"Harumph! No, Nancy, that'll be all for now. Thank you. Now please leave us alone. How will I ever get through this interview with this fine young man if you keep on interrupting us?"

Nancy gave me a look that said, 'This happens all the time. Pay no attention to it.'

Surprisingly, I got it. She was trying to tell me that Dr. Fine was a little bit….um…eccentric. 'Okay.' I thought. 'I can deal with this.'

After Nancy left and Dr. Fine had settled down again, he continued.

So, my boy, what do you think? Do you want the job? Fine. Fine. I knew you'd be perfect for it. So nice to meet you, Ronald. Please see Nancy on your way out and she'll give you all the things you need. Wonderful meeting you, young man." Then he leaned in toward me and whispered, "You wouldn't have a tuna on rye on you, would you?"

"Um, no sir, I don't." I responded, also in a whisper.

"Well, well, no matter." He said in a normal tone of voice. I'll get one from one of the machines downstairs. Well, have a nice day young man. I'll expect to see you bright and early Monday morning at the lab." And he went back behind his desk, muttering to himself. "Now HOW does this blasted machine work again? NANCY! NANCY!" He yelled at the phone.

"Say, Ronald is it? Would you mind very much sending Nancy in here on your way out? There was something I needed from her, but I'm damned if I can recall how to work this confounded machine!"

"No problem Dr Fine." I responded. "I'll send her right in for you. Thank you sir for the job and I'll try to do my bes…."but he cut me off saying,

"Fine. Fine. Yes that's my name….OH! I see what you mean, young fellow. Haw. Haw. Very funny indeed! Fine-Fine. Very amusing." And off he went again, muttering and laughing to himself as he closed the door behind me.

'WOW!' I remember thinking. 'This guy is WHACKED! I hope he's a LOT better at whatever scientific crap he does here. If he's as bad at IT as he is with that simple phone/intercom, I'm gonna stay FAR away from whatever he does!'

I quickly negotiated the distance back to Nancy's office and let myself in. She was sitting behind the desk, seemingly trying to stifle the giggles.

"Oh, Hon, I WANTED to warn you better, but I thought you'd better find out that Dr. Fine is more than a little bit, um, eccentric. He's WONDERFUL in his lab, but outside it, he seems as crazy as a bedbug, as my Grandma used to say." And at that point Nancy collapsed into helpless giggles.

"Wow!" I said. He IS a bit 'out there' isn't he? That HAD to be the strangest interview for a job I've ever had! He didn't even ask me any questions, except the one about did I want something to drink! I'm not so sure I wanna work for him! He's liable to blow the lab up or something!"

"Oh, no, hon." Nancy responded, getting over her giggles. "Dr. Fine is one of the world's BEST at what he does! It's just that, with people, he's somewhat scattered and, well, socially inept. He's a brilliant theoretical scientist and is YEARS ahead of everyone else in his field, which is exo-skeletal research and development. In fact, you WILL be working directly with him in his lab. Don't worry. He hasn't killed or crippled anyone yet!" and she started giggling again. "At least no one I've heard about!"

'Great!' I thought. 'This whole place is infested with loonies! Dad's gonna get an EARfull when I get home!'

"Well, I'm outta here, Nancy. I'm glad you had a laugh at my expense and I hope that I can be just as amusing when I'm working here!"

'Oh, c'mon, Donald. Don't be that way! I'm not laughing at you! I'm just laughing because I know how Dr. Fine is, and I knew you had the job before you ever walked in here. Why all morning he talked about the "son of the vending man" coming to work here!" She rose from behind her desk and came over to me, taking my hand in hers.

"Please don't think badly of me, Donald. I REALLY didn't mean to laugh. You seem like a really nice guy and I'd hate to think that you think I'm mean or cruel. Please?"

Well, how could I be mad as such a lovely woman? Especially when she was practically pleading to be forgiven?

"Welllll…..okay, Nancy." I finally said, in a kidding manner. But I owe you one! One of these days, I'll get you back for this, I promise!"

"Tell you what, Donald. Your first day here, lunch is on me, okay? Will that make up for the little joke I played on you?"

'WOW! Lunch with Nancy on my first day here? Heck YEAH!' I was thinking.

About that time, Jerry entered the office. He came over to me and we did the teenage handshake thing. You know. Fist on fist, forearm on forearm and then the handshake with thumbs up?

"What's up my man?" He said enthusiastically.

'Not a lot, dude." I replied. I got the job! Hey, look, when you meet this Dr. Fine? Make sure you're VERY respectful to him, okay? He likes that. Nancy here turned me on to that. Listen VERY carefully to what he says, and don't let him scare ya, okay? He seems real mean, but he isn't."

I shot Nancy a look that said, "Go along with me on this and you're forgiven."

She jumped right in saying,

"Oh yes! You must be Mr. Jenkins, right? Your interview is next. Just do as Donald here told you and you'll be fine. Here, fill out this form and I'll be right back. Donald? I'm looking forward to our lunch Monday. Byee sweetie!"

She left and Jerry looked at me with an expression of awe on his face.

"DUDE! You scored lunch with that babe already? You haven't even been here an hour and the gals are hittin' on ya already? Way to GO, My man!"

"Hey Jer. Some of us got it, and some of us don't. I GOT it! What can I tell ya? Look, I'll wait for ya in the lot. You meet me there after your interview and we'll hit the Golden Starches for something, okay?"

"Solid, duder! Congrats on landing the job, man. Hope I can say the same about myself when this is finished. Wish me luck, man okay?"

"You got it, Jer. You know that. Knock him dead! I'll catch ya downstairs out at the 'beast'."

I left Jerry filling out the form and headed downstairs, finally letting out some laughter that I had been holding back. Then, something curious occurred to me. All that time I had been talking to Nancy after my 'interview' with Dr. Fine, I hadn't stuttered ONCE! I couldn't remember the last time THAT had happened with a pretty woman! Maybe this working thing was gonna work out for me after all.


Chapter two.

Well, Jerry's interview went about the same as mine, and he swore that he was gonna GET me for it! I just laughed and, eventually, so did he. We played little jokes and some NOT so little jokes on one another all the time. We were both scheduled to work for Dr. Fine, starting the following Monday so we used the weekend to party HEARTY! My Dad was proud of me for landing the job and he made me promise to do my very best. Of course, that was the only way I knew anyway, but I promised just the same, just to make him happy. He even gave me fundage for partying that weekend. Awesome!

Cindy, Jerry's girlfriend, and Debbie, my girlfriend were sorta bummed about us having to work all summer, but they cheered up when they realized that we'd still have evenings and weekends with them AND we'd have more bucks to spend. Women. Go figure them out!

We had a great time all that weekend at the lake and, by Sunday night, I was worn out. I hit the bed and was asleep almost immediately, even though I was a bit nervous about starting work. Monday morning I was up before the alarm went off and was out of the house even before my Father! I fired up the 'beast' and headed over to pick Jerry up. We'd agreed that he would ride back and forth to work with me and we'd split the gas fees.

We arrived bright and early. So early in fact that the parking lot was almost empty. I had my choice of spots to park that land yacht. Cool! We sat in the car until some of the other employees started to arrive and then we fell in with them and entered the main building. That whole first morning was taken up with security warnings and paperwork and briefings. BORING!

Finally, when lunchtime arrived, Nancy showed up to escort me for our lunch date! Well I CALLED it a date anyway. She looked AWESOME, and I was getting flustered again when I recalled the way I felt when I was there last, and used that to try to overcome my stuttering tendency. Lunch went VERY quickly, and Nancy filled most of the time, telling me and Jerry about the work that Dr. Fine was doing and how far in advance of everyone else in the world he was. In fact, she told us,

"Dr. Fine is SO far ahead of everyone else that he's working in areas they haven't even recognized yet! Why do you know that he's already working on the 10th generation of exoskeleton suits? I've heard that they're amazing! You know, the first ones looked like something out of that movie Aliens, where Sigourney Weaver used one to fight the Queen alien, but the new ones, I've heard, look so real, so much like a real person, that it's hard to tell they're just mechanical suits!"

Jerry and I looked at one another and I know that our minds reached the same conclusion at the same time. TRANSFORMERS!!! You know, that cartoon show about the mechanical robots with people inside them, that can transform into other things, like cars and trucks? I suppose, if I'd stopped to think about it then, I'd have wondered why Nancy knew so much about Dr. Fine's work and why she was telling us about it, but I was so fascinated by what she was saying AND with her great looks and voice that the little voice inside me that SHOULD have warned me, went unheeded.

Then she dropped the REAL bombshell on us! See, Jerry and I thought we'd be just cleaning up the lab and stuff like that, but Nancy told us that we were gonna be trained to operate the suits! Our pay scale was gonna be WAY more than 10 bucks an hour PLUS danger pay! She said we'd probably be making about a thousand a week, and more if there was any real danger involved! WAY COOL! Jerry and I looked at one another again and we did the high five thing, right there in the cafeteria.

Then, some of the words she'd said kinda snuck up on me and hit me in the back of my head. Danger? Like REAL danger? Like life threatening danger? The expression on my face must have told Nancy that my mind had gone there, because she turned to me and took my hand saying,

"Oh, Honey! Don't worry. There's never been an accident in Dr. Fine's lab, not EVER! Why he's so careful that he triple checks every little thing, twice, before he allows anything to begin. There's no real danger there at all, but that danger clause has to be there to protect the facility, just in case, you know?"

Well, despite what Nancy told us after that, there was the beginning of some serious doubt about what Jerry and I were gonna be doing. I mean it WAS exciting, yes, but that hint about danger that she had dropped on our heads, kinda let some of the air outta out balloons, you know? Let's face it. Jerry and I were just a couple of kids. Now I knew that my Dad wouldn't let me get into something too far over my head, but I was still a bit apprehensive when we reported to Dr. Fine's lab and it took the edge right off lunch with a beautiful woman, lemme tell you!

In the course of that afternoon, Jerry and I learned a lot about exoskeletons and what they were as well as what they weren't. What they weren't, they weren't TRANSFORMERS. Well, not in the cartoon sense they weren't. They couldn't transform themselves into trucks and fighting robots and like that. What they WERE, was incredibly capable working machines and they DID look VERY human. One person, wearing one of Dr. Fine's current crop of exoskeletons, could do the work of 5 regular forklifts and do it more efficiently.

One person, wearing one of those suits could lift over two tons of properly loaded stuff and walk over a hundred yards with it, depositing it safely in whatever location you'd care to name. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the suits were very light. They weighed no more than 100 pounds and, once wearing one of them, you didn't even notice the weight. They had servomotors in them that kept them always upright and you couldn't knock one over with anything less than one of the other suits or a truck! You could even run at an almost normal speed in them. They fit sort of like I imagine an old time suit of armor would have fit, but were much more flexible than that old armor would have been.

There were currently four suits in existence, with former models having been destroyed in testing or when the newer ones were ready for use and tests. In the first two weeks, Jerry and I were trained so thoroughly in their uses and operations that we probably could put one on, use it and take it off in our sleep!

In the following few weeks, Dr. Fine lived up to his reputation. He was as flighty as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs out of the lab, but inside the lab he was a real pit bull! NOTHING got past him and he allowed NO horseplay or fooling around in the lab at all! We found THAT out the first time Jerry and I tried a mock fight with two of the suits on. I'm surprised I had any skin left on me after Dr. Fine got through ripping it off me!

Whatever else Dr. Fine might have been out of the lab, he was a real theoretical genius inside that lab. He was constantly coming up with improvements and additions to the suits and Jerry and I tested every one of them. Along with the improvements came more real looking suits, and more agile suits, as well as stronger ones. By the time one month had gone by, the suits that we were testing made the ones we started with, look like model Ts as compared with racing Ferraris. Of course, all this development was strictly monitored and controlled by numerous security people and regulations, and there were severe penalties connected with telling ANYONE outside the lab, ANYTHING about the suits OR the work going on there.

Now, I didn't mention, although I probably should have, that Dr. Fine DID have a little eccentricity that carried through into the lab. See, in his designs for the suits, he made four in each series. Two that looked male, and two that looked female. Why? I don't have a clue. All I know is that Jerry and I had to test every one of them, including the female ones. That was somewhat embarrassing the first time we had to test the female ones, but we quickly got used to them and, after the first month, it didn't seem odd at all to look like a girl inside one of those suits. Now they didn't make us ACT like girls, just LOOK like girls.

With all the improvements and more coming, Dr. Fine was more and more scattered outside the lab and made almost no sense at all if you tried to talk to him then. Inside the lab though, he was increasingly more and more centered and focused on improving the suits, and he kept the fabrication shops working overtime, for sure. The latest suits were amazing, just amazing.

Their load capacities had doubled, their agility was incredible, and their weight had been reduced. They were damn near bulletproof and as tough as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle! They even had grappling hooks that they could shoot out to grab hold of things, connected to cables with a four ton tensile strength! You could tow a TRUCK using them, and hit that truck from 50 yards away! Just incredible stuff!

Of course, our girlfriends were constantly trying to get us to tell them what we were doing, and my parents even tried, but Jerry and I had been warned often and continuously about what to say and what not to say. The pay was too good and the penalties were too great to get us to say anything we weren't allowed to say and that pissed the girls off a little bit, I think. Fortunately the money that Jerry and I were making, and spending on them, kinda kept them from getting TOO curious. Besides, it was kinda neat to have this big secret, you know? It kinda made us feel like we were some kind of James Bond spy kinda guys, even when we were wearing the female exosuits.

Now, as the summer came to an end, and the suits were getting more and more sophisticated, it got more and more difficult to tell from the outside, whether one was wearing one or not. They were so lifelike that, when Jerry or I were wearing one of them, you really couldn't tell whether or not we WERE wearing an exosuit! The female ones even moved like a girl and, through some interesting technological breakthroughs, our voices SOUNDED female, although we still had our male speaking patterns. We DID have some fun messing with the guys in the lab, flirting with them and stuff though, while wearing the female suits.

Dr. Fine was so pleased with our work and the way things were going, that he offered to bring in tutors for Jerry and me so we wouldn't have to go back to school and break up the flow of progress, but our parents nixed that, saying that we needed the social intercourse as much as the actual educational part of school and Jerry and I agreed with that. Hey! We were both 17, about to be 18, year old guys with raging hormones and a need for the company of our own peers. The money we made through the summer enabled us both to buy better cars though and THAT enhanced out social standings no end!

Well, Jerry bought a new car. I improved the 'beast'. I upgraded the stereo system for one thing. I also had it taken into a specialty shop and had the engine, suspension and drive train upgraded to WAY beyond anything GM could have dreamed possible. Then I had the whole car detailed and redone inside, but I left the outside pretty much untouched except for repairing a few rusty spots. I wanted it to LOOK like it was bone stock, but that car could turn a quarter mile in 9 seconds flat by the time I was done with it, and would top 150 with no problem on the road, while handling like a racing Porsche! It sure surprised a lot of Red Light racers, I can tell ya that!

Anyway, Jerry and I continued working at the facility, after school three days a week and on Saturdays until 5PM. It sorta pissed Dr. Fine off a bit to not have us available on a more regular basis, but he had to accede to our wants and needs as well as those of out parents.

Time went on and so did the improvements to the suits and, each time Jerry and I tested a new model, we were astounded by how far Dr. Fine had advanced them from the last models. By Christmas vacation time, the suits we were testing were so advanced that we couldn't believe it. To all intents and purposes, while wearing one of them, no one could tell you were wearing it! They were absolutely lifelike! Their load capacities had increased to the point of almost supernatural. One could easily lift and carry over 6 tons of dead weight without any strain at all, and the grapple systems had been upgraded so far that they began to resemble weapons! You could shoot a hook with a line attached to over 150 yards with pinpoint accuracy and you could tow a fully loaded tractor-trailer after you hit it! Their agility was so advanced that, when wearing one of them, you weren't even aware that you WERE wearing one. You could move just as easily with one on as you could without it, and fast? Lemme tell you, those suits, with all their strength and the self leveling servos meant that when we were wearing them we could run VERY fast indeed, sometimes reaching 60 MPH or better, depending on the surface we were running on. Even our reflexes were quicker. It seemed that Dr. Fine had somehow managed to key the suit's abilities right into our own nervous systems!

Now I'm sure that the military had a hand in those suits somewhere, but I could never prove it. I mean, I never saw anyone in any sort of uniform in all the time I spent there, and no one ever mentioned anything about the military, although with all the security precautions, no one would have dared to say anything to anyone who didn't have a 'need to know'. Dr. Fine was frustrated at what he called the "slow" progress in further developments on the suits, referring of course, to the fact that Jerry and I weren't working there full time during the school year.

He got flakier and flakier until his weirdness began to insinuate itself into the lab itself! He started shortcutting certain things he never would have before, and I guess that's what led to the "accident".

What happened was this. Jerry and I were in on a Saturday, testing the newest models of the suits. He was wearing one of the male models and I was wearing one of the female ones. We were fooling around, like we shouldn't have been doing, but Dr. Fine didn't seem to mind so much that day. In fact, he was encouraging us to 'play around a bit' in the suits! Well, you know what that meant to two teenage boys, right? We were throwing 50 pound weight plates around like Frisbees, and lifting stuff that shouldn't have been lifted. Jerry grabbed hold of one of the supports for part of the roof and yanked on it, just fooling around, you know? Next thing we knew, that part of the roof just collapsed! I mean, it came down like an avalanche, snow from the outside and all! Jerry and I weren't hurt at all, in fact, neither of us was even knocked off balance by all that weight that came crashing down, but a couple of the techs were buried by the falling debris and Jerry and I had to dig them out.

Of course, the ambulance had to be called and Jerry and I had no time to get out of the suits before they got there. The police came along as well and, along with the security force at the facility got involved as well. They immediately closed down that section of the lab and that created a real problem for everyone. See, Jerry and I were still in the damned SUITS when they closed everything down! Now getting into the suits was pretty easy and quick, but getting OUT of them was a little involved and took considerably more time. Like about a flippin' hour!

Dr. Fine was no help at all, having freaked right out when the roof came down. He was taken away for observation, leaving me and Jerry standing there, still in those stupid damn suits. Now, ordinarily, that wouldn't have bothered me SO much except that the suits were made to look…..well, naked. That is to say, they didn't have clothes on them. They were also anatomically correct, another one of Dr. Fine's little quirks. So Jerry and I covered ourselves with some blankets while outsiders were around. After the ambulance and cops left, we took off the blankets and kinda stood around, staring at the wreck of the lab. It was pretty bad, I gotta tell ya. There was no way in hell it was gonna be back in operation for several weeks.

The worst part of it was that the part of the lab that had the equipment to help get us out of those damned suits was dead center in the midst of the pile of debris, so there was no way to get OUT of the things! We were pretty much stuck until the lab was rebuilt or until Dr. Fine was released and figured out another way to take them off of us!

So there we were. Looking like God's own designs of Adam and Eve, as perfect as Dr. Fine's genius could make us look, and, oh yeah, still NAKED! We talked about what we could do and we both realized that, with the capabilities of those suits, normal clothes would be ripped to shreds in minutes of putting them on. See, clothes can stretch a bit, even the stiffer kinds of clothes, but they can't stretch fast, or at least as fast as the suits could move, and there was NO give in the suits like there is in a human body. The things were virtually bulletproof and you couldn't hurt them OR their wearers by running them over with a big rig!

So regular clothes were right out. That left us only a couple of options. Since we couldn't get out of the things without the help of the special equipment, and going naked was NOT an option, we could either find some kind of clothing that would stretch and do so fast enough and far enough so the enhanced strength of the suits wouldn't rip them to shreds, or we could stay at the facility until the lab was rebuilt or Dr. Fine was released from the hospital. The latter was NOT a real option. We still had school to attend, but that presented a whole NEW batch of problems for us.

First of all, we didn't look anything like ourselves. Jerry and I looked like perfect specimens of male and female, but neither of us had ANY resemblance to what we REALLY looked like, especially ME! Another thing was that with the advanced capabilities of the suits we had to be VERY, VERY careful not to hurt anyone while wearing them. I mean, even something as simple as a handshake could cripple someone if we forgot who we looked like and what we were capable of! Then there was the security angle of the whole thing.

Security wasn't keen at all about letting us walk off wearing those suits. They represented countless hours of development and countless dollars of research money, and they weren't at ALL happy about letting us out of their sight! The upside of that was, at least for us, that they couldn't very well force us to stay. I mean, we were, to all intents and purposes, self-contained minitanks! Even the full force of a police taser felt like no more than a mild tickle to us, since the suits were fully insulated from heat, cold, and electricity. They even had emergency air supplies built into them, good for at least two hours!

Now I don't really remember which one of us came up with the next thought first, but ONE of us said it. We were the next best things to real SUPERHEROES! Tough, fast, damned near invulnerable, and strong as hell! We even had weapons, for God's sake! The grappling hooks! What were they really like? Well, picture Spiderman's enemy in Spidy 2, Doc Ock. Well they were a LOT like Doc Ock's arms, only we each only had three of them, and they weren't as fully usable as his, but after all, this was real life, not some Hollywood movie! Basically we could shoot with them, grapple, and pull with incredible force, while still retaining the use of our own arms inside the suit's arms. Don't even bother to ask me HOW all this got contained inside the suits, okay? I haven't a CLUE how Dr. Fine did it, and even if I did know, if I told you, I'd have to kill you! No, not really!


Well, I wasn't too keen on the superhero thing, I can tell you. I mean it MIGHT have been okay for Jerry. He still looked like a guy. An incredibly well built and handsome guy, about 6' 4" and looking like he weighed about 250 VERY solid pounds, but still a guy when all was said and done. Me? Well, imagine your dream woman. I was about 6 feet tall in the suit and looked to weigh about 160 VERY well built female pounds, with curves everywhere a woman is supposed to have curves and so forth. My face was right out of someone's wet dream with big puffy lips and high cheekbones and all the rest of the things that make a woman's face really beautiful. Hell, I made Nancy look like a friggin' boy!


Add to that the fact that the female suits were built slightly differently from the male suits. The articulation was such that, while wearing one of them, you were forced to walk and move the way a female would. Dr. Fine's little predilection, no doubt, but there it was. Then there was the voice. Yeah, the voice. If you've ever called one of those 1-900 numbers and heard one of those really sexy female voices on them, you have some idea of what my voice sounded like while I wore that suit. Dr. Fine had really worked overtime on the movement and voices of the suits and I can tell you that they were completely convincing to anyone seeing them move, or hearing them speak. Yes my speech patterns were still my own, but, modified by the suit, even THAT sounded almost unbearable sexy! Hell, even when I got MAD, I still sounded sexy and cute! A TRULY revolting state of being for a 17 year old, wanna-be, macho man like me!


Well anyway, we called our parents and told them as much as we could about what had happened. Just convincing them of who we were was a MAJOR undertaking, although we did finally get that accomplished. We left the decision about whether we were to stay at the facility or come home in their hands. We convinced security that whatever our parents decided, we were gonna do, with or without THEIR approval! We did agree that they could send a man, or a woman, with each of us to help and to keep a close eye on their investments and we told out parents about that part of it.


Now bear in mind that NO one outside the facility and damned few INSIDE it had ever seen the suits or what they could do, and we couldn't even tell our parents ALL of what the suits were capable of. In fact, we couldn't let on at all that we weren't what and who we appeared to be, except to our parents and immediate families, and that would create problems for us as far as school went. We still, after all, had several months to go before graduation. Add to that the very real danger of one of us harming someone, even completely unintentionally, and you have some idea of out dilemma.


Now we both knew that no one could really harm either of us without some serious horsepower and we weren't concerned for ourselves, but we also knew that one mistake, one hug too tight, one handshake too strenuous, one high five delivered with too much force, and we could seriously hurt or even kill someone else, and to say that we were scared would be the ultimate in understatement! Still, we thought that our best choice was to try to act and behave as though we were what we appeared to be, and even though for me, that meant a MAJOR change in behavior, it was still better than the alternative, which was internment for an indefinite amount of time, at the facility. When our parents called back, they agreed with our assessment of the situation and they wanted us home, regardless of the way we looked. I knew it would be an uphill battle, getting MY parents to accept that, for the foreseeable future, they had a new daughter, but there was no other way to go, so we fashioned some makeshift tunics from the blankets and climbed in the 'beast' to head home, followed by two of the vehicles from security.


I don't think I mentioned the heads up displays, built into the suits yet. I don't understand the technicalities of how they worked, I only know that they DID work, very well. They were tough to get used to, but, once we did get used to them, it was a kind of culture shock to take the suits off and NOT have the HUD to depend on. Everything from temperatures, to distances, to the amount of load being carried, to power remaining, as well as infra-red and enhanced hearing were built into the HUD's. We could basically hear better than a dog and see better than any animal, night or day. Quite the pieces of work were those suits, and completely off the scale as far as putting a dollar price on them.


I didn't spend a LOT of time bemoaning the fact that I was stuck looking, moving and sounding like a woman. I mean, it was a roll of the dice anyway. It could just as easily been Jerry in the female suit and me in the male one. It just happened that I was the one testing the newest female suit that day. The one thing I DID know was that this was gonna put a serious strain on my relationship with Debbie, my girlfriend. I didn't know HOW I was gonna explain this to her, at all. If indeed I COULD tell her anything about it! I also knew that, if ANYONE tried anything on the lovely lady that I appeared to be, they'd be in for one HELL of a shock! They'd be at the least disappointed or, at the worst, seriously injured!


Well, after we got everything worked out with the security force and our parents, Jerry and I again wrapped those blankets around ourselves like some kinda togas and headed out to the parking lot where the new, improved 'beast' awaited. We had managed to grab our own clothes from the lockers where we usually stored them while we were working, testing the suits, so I we had our wallets and I'Ds and keys. I climbed in the driver's side and Jerry got in the passenger side, almost ripping off the damn door handle in the process!


"JERRY!" I screamed at him in my higher, feminine tones. "Take it EASY, willya? Jeeze! I just got this car the way I WANT it! Don't go tearing stuff off it already, okay?"

"Hey Don, my man, or maybe I should say my Woman? Ha ha ha. It's not like I have a LOT of experience at being this strong, you know? I mean, yeah we've used this new strength in the lab and stuff, but never out here in the real world. In the lab, stuff is built with the power of these suits in mind, but out here in the real deal, things are built for the strength of an average human being, which we AIN'T right now, in case you forgot or something! So lighten up, okay?"

"Oh, HA friggin' HA, you moron!" I screamed back at him. "You think it's funny that I'm stuck in this sexy babe suit, huh? Don't forget, dimwit, it could just as easily have been YOU in here, and ME in that babe magnet you're wearing! How would you like a swift kick where it hurts?"

"Go ahead, you dummy!" Jerry yelled back at me. "You can't hurt me and I can't hurt you, in case you forgot THAT little detail, you dipstick! And what the hell are you yelling at ME for, anyway? This wasn't MY fault, you know!"

"Oh REALLY?" I shot back at him. "Just WHO was it that pulled the goddamn ROOF down on us you shithead? It sure as hell wasn't ME! This is all YOUR fault and, if I didn't know it would be an exercise in futility, I'd kick your ass all over this parking lot!"

"Well, why don't you just give it a try, SWEETCAKES! Maybe you'd rather KISS me than kick me, huh? You look sweet enough to kiss, I'll tell ya THAT!"

Well, I ALMOST got out of that car and I would have TRIED to kick his stupid ass, but I started thinking again. Something I hadn't been doing for the past few minutes, having given myself over to some kind of panic attack. Finally, cool reason took hold of my mind again and I just shut my mouth and GLARED at Jerry for a couple of minutes.

Okay, maybe I shouldn't have hollered at Jerry, but this whole deal was really stressing me out. I mean, here I was, an average, 17 year old teenage BOY, trapped, for the time being and for the foreseeable future, in an extremely sexy, beautiful WOMAN'S form! Granted I had a lot of abilities inside the suit that I didn't have without it, but it was STILL a case of MAJOR culture shock, okay?

"Look, Jerry." I finally said. "We're both really freaked out right now, and it's probably not a good idea for us to get ANY kind of physical with one another right now. We'd likely wreck half of the area, trying to kick each other's asses. I'm sorry I yelled at you. We've been friends WAY too long for us to be at each other's throats over this, right? Let's just take a couple of chill pills and work out how we're gonna deal with all this, okay?"

Jerry just sat there for a couple more minutes and then, finally gave one of those big, tension relieving sighs.

"Yeah, Don, my man. You're right, ya know? I mean this is freaky enough without you and me going at each other. I'm sorry I laughed at ya, but you ARE damned sexy in that thing, ya know?"

"Well Jer, don't forget who's really IN this thing, okay? No matter what I look like right now, I'm still your best bud since kindergarten, right? So don't get too freaky about how I look and I'll try not to get freaked out by how YOU look, okay? Shit man, you make Arnold Schwartzenegger look like the original 98 pound weakling in that damned suit!"

"Yeah. This thing's the bomb, alright! The chicks are gonna be all over me for however long I gotta wear it, that's for sure. How are YOU gonna deal with guys coming on to YOU in your suit, though? That's gonna be a real freakout trip, no doubt! Man, that suit makes Paris Hilton look like a damn BOY! You're gonna have your hands full, for certain, duder….or should I say dudette? WHOA…WHOA, Don! Don't go nuts on me again, I was only kidding about that dudette thing, but DAMN man, I wouldn't wanna be in YOUR shoes, that's for sure!"

"Okay, Jer, OKAY! JEEZE! You think I don't KNOW that? Just back off and let me deal with this my own way, okay? You screaming the freaking obvious at me isn't gonna help! Look, we're gonna have to help each other a lot, in the next few days, or weeks, or whatever, until we can get the hell OUT of these damn things, right? Let's just get home and try to figure it out there. For now, though…..shake?"

"You got it, Don. Whatever happens, we're friends til the end, right? Just like we said back in the day, and every day for our whole lives. You back me, I back you. Although, my friend, with you looking like that, I'm gonna have a whole new reason to back you up. The view from behind you is….well, WOW! Hahahahaha! KIDDING!!! KIDDING!" He yelled, as I drew back my fist like I was gonna swat him.

"Jerry, you idiot! JEEZE, man. What the hell am I gonna do with you? It's a damn good thing we're friends, that's all I gotta say about it. Ah, forget it. I guess if things were the other way around and YOU looked like my wet dream, I'd be acting the same way you are right now. Let's just drop it and get home, but not another WORD outta you about my looks, okay? I can't help how Dr. Fine designed the suits, ya know?"

"Okay, Don. You got my word. Not another word outta me about….that. I AM sorry, duder. I can't help how I feel about the way you look right now, ya know? I mean, shit man! If you and me had seen a babe who looked like you, before we got involved in all this job crap and these suits, you KNOW we woulda been all over her, yes?"

I sighed and said,

"Yeah, you're right. I'm just stressed, ya know. Just shut up about it for now, willya?"

Well, he did shut up, at least about….that, and I fired up the 'beast' being very careful and tentative about every movement and pressure I used. I didn't wanna put holes in the old girl, right? I drove, very carefully out of the lot and the first thing I noticed was that it took a lot more concentration than usual, to do something as simple as driving a car. If I moved JUST a little too quickly or suddenly, the car would either swerve wildly, accelerate too fast, or stop too hard. I took a few minutes, just driving around the parking lot, getting used to using the suit in ways I had never used it before. Jerry bitched a bit about what I was doing, but after I explained it to him, he got it and agreed with me. We both agreed that we were gonna need a bunch of practice before we were comfortable with our enhanced abilities.

We HOPED that we wouldn't be stuck in the suits for very long anyway. We figured that Dr. Fine would be out of the hospital in no more than a couple of days and then things could get back to what we laughingly referred to as normal. Well, after about ten or fifteen minutes of just driving slowly around the parking lot, I felt a little more secure in my ability to control my strength while driving and I headed out for home, at a reduced rate of speed. The LAST thing I needed was a cop stopping me for speeding or reckless driving while I looked the way I did right then!

We were our own little parade, consisting of Jerry and me in the 'beast' and two regular cars which contained the man and woman from security who were gonna stay close to Jerry and me until something happened, like the lab being reopened or Dr. Fine coming back. While enroute home, Jerry used my cell phone to contact his parents and mine, and arrange to have everyone get together at my folks place. We both figured that we'd rather get everything over with all at once than have to explain everything two or three times to both families.

We decided that what we were gonna tell our folks would be almost the truth. We were gonna say that these suits were just bodysuit kinda things. We were NOT gonna tell them about their enhanced capabilities unless we absolutely HAD to. We'd say that, because of the accident, the special equipment we needed to take them off with, had been damaged and we were stuck for a little while in them. We knew that we'd have to be VERY careful not to forget and display any of what the suits could really do, even with our families. If they knew, they could tell someone else and that would NOT go well with the people at the think tank or the security people.

Jerry and I talked about it all the way home and, by the time we made it to the driveway at my parent's home, we had it pretty much down pat, what we were gonna tell them. We talked it over very quickly with the security people who had followed us home and they agreed with our plan, so into the house we went.

I had barely opened the door before both our Moms were right there, followed by our Dad's and Jerry's sister, Claire. Claire was 15 at the time and was getting to be a real looker in her own right. I was even thinking of dating her, sometime down the road, she was getting that cute. 'Guess THAT'LL have to wait a little while!' I thought to myself.

It took a few minutes to re-introduce ourselves to our families, but they seemed to accept what we told them and who we really were, pretty quickly. They did ask us about the 'togas' we were wearing, but we explained that by saying that the clothes wouldn't really fit our changed appearances and that seemed to satisfy them on that point.

Claire just kept staring at Jerry and particularly at me. I don't know what she was thinking, but I thought I caught just a little bit of actual jealousy in her eyes when she looked at me. Well, I WAS better built and better looking than she was just then, so I kinda understood, although I wasn't pleased by the fact that a cute teenage girl was jealous of MY looks.

We finally made it into the living room, where we all got comfortable. We introduced the two security people, Jim and Penny, to our families and explained that they were there to make sure no harm came to us, or the suits, until we could get them off. Our folks seemed to accept that as well. Actually, I was kinda shocked at how well our families were dealing with all this. They were doing better than Jerry and I were!

My Mom seemed to actually be smiling a little bit at me and I wondered about that as well. Well, I had other things to worry about right then, so I just wrote it off to her being Mom and being glad that I wasn't hurt or something.

Now seems like a pretty good place to tell you the rest about these suits that Jerry and I were stuck in. I guess Dr. Fine was a little weirder than anyone knew, because, well, see these suits…well, while you were wearing one, you could FEEL stuff. I mean, for instance, when I touched my arm or leg or whatever, I could feel the touch on both my arm or leg, and on the hand or finger that was doing the touching. Now, you couldn't feel like, pain for instance, if the suit got cut or hit, but you COULD feel the touch of whatever cut it or hit it and it felt very different from someone just touching it. Look, I ain't a tech nerd or anything like one, and trying to explain this is really strange and beyond my capabilities, really. What I'm TRYING to say is that, I could feel every touch on this body as if it were my own body BEING touched. We could even use a bathroom and shower and stuff, as well as, um, well you know, urinate or poop, while wearing them. THERE, I finally said it! MAN, that was difficult for me to write.

Now, all the time I had been wearing one of the suits, I hadn't ever experimented, particularly with the female suits. I mean, we knew that we COULD feel stuff, like being touched and all, but we never really ever had a chance to experiment with that part of it at all. We were always too busy testing the other functions of the suits to have any time to try…..other stuff. Besides, it was just too weird a thought that you could touch privates that weren't your own, especially those on the female suits, you know?

Anyway, we could eat and all that other stuff as well. We could even go in the water with them on, like if we hadda do some underwater work or whatever, and you could feel the water like it was on your own skin, as well, but you didn't get cold or hot, and even deep water with high pressure didn't seem to affect us, inside the suits. I suppose, we could have made a lot of money, raising sunken boats and ships and stuff, or salvaging stuff from sunken ocean liners if that was part of the final plan for the suits.

Well, back to the story. It had been a very long day for me and Jerry and we were feeling really beat, so I suggested we turn in and get some sleep. We decided that it would be best if Jerry and his family went home, so Jim went with them and Penny stayed with me and my folks. When they left, I caught that "look" from Claire again when she said goodbye. DAMN! This was really gonna mess up my plans for maybe dating her at some future time.

After Jerry and his family left, I went upstairs to wash up and get ready for bed. Dad went into the den and made some arrangements to stay home from work for a day or two so we could figure out what we were gonna do in the next few days and Mom went upstairs with me, followed by Penny. Mom showed Penny the spare room where she was gonna sleep while she was with us and then followed me to my room. She kinda stood there, looking at me with a strange expression on her face, almost a dreamy kinda look if you ask me. I asked her what was she thinking about and she replied,

"Honey, I just can't get over the way you LOOK right now. It's as if I suddenly have a daughter instead of a son, and I was just thinking about all the things I would have done if you had been a girl instead of a boy, is all. Oh my GOODNESS!" She suddenly exclaimed. What are you going to do for clothes? Your old things won't fit THAT body, that's for sure. I suppose you could wear some of my things, but I don't like the thought of my son wearing my clothes. Hmmm." And she put her hand up to her lips, thinking about God knows what, I sure didn't.

"Maybe tomorrow, you and I should go shopping and pick up a few things to tide you over until you can get out of that thing. You're going to need something to wear. You certainly can't go around wearing that old blanket, or naked, that's for sure! Well, let me think about it tonight and we'll talk about it in the morning, okay?"

"Sure, Mom." I said, not really paying attention to what she had been saying. I was too busy trying to come up with an idea of how I was gonna handle the way I looked, sounded and moved, for the next few days. "You do that and I'll see you at breakfast, okay? I love you Mom." And I move to hug her.

She moved to put her arms around me and I felt the darndest thing! My breasts against HERS! I almost jumped backwards out of her hug, but I stopped myself. I also stopped myself from tightening my hug around her, knowing that I could really hurt her if I hugged her too hard. I finally disengaged myself from her and I couldn't look her in the eyes. I was too embarrassed by what I had felt. She seemed to know, somehow, what I was feeling because she just patted my shoulder and said,

"Don't worry about anything honey, okay? Your Dad and I will be with you all the way through this and everything will work out okay. You just wait and see. Now you get some sleep. I'll get you a nightgown to wear since your old PJs won't fit you right now and I won't have you sleeping naked on MY sheets young lady, I mean, young man! Oh goodness! This is going to be difficult, isn't it? Promise you aren't going to get mad at your Mom if she slips and says something like that again, okay honey? I'll try really hard to remember that you are still a boy inside that thing, but the way you look, well it's going to be hard NOT to refer to you in feminine terms."

"I looked at her, knowing that this woman loved me with all her heart and would never hurt me in any way, including with words and said,

"Don't worry Mom. If you think it's gonna be hard for YOU to remember, you should try it from where I'm standing! Every time I look in a mirror I think there's this really great looking woman standing in front of me! Just wait til I'm outta this thing. I'm gonna give old Dr. Fine a piece of my mind, you can bet on that! The only good thing I can think of out of all this right now is, the way he made these suits, the female ones anyway, I won't have to worry about giving my real identity away. I can't help but move and sound like a woman. Even the makeup is permanent on them, so I won't have to worry about that either, thank God!"

Mom just stood there, watching the way I was moving and listening to that female voice coming out of my mouth, and smiling a little bit.

"Donald, my son. Never worry about me or your Dad in all this, okay? We love you no matter what you look like. You are our SON and we'll support you and be at your side no matter what, okay? I just know that this will all be over soon and you'll be back to your old self before you know it. Now I'm going to get that nightgown. I'll be right back." And she kissed me on the cheek and left my room.

I sat down on the bed, just thinking. 'Great! My Mother is going to get me a freaking NIGHTGOWN! Wonderful. Peachy! Shit!' and other things along those lines. 'JEEZE! I hope she doesn't bring me one of those frilly, lacy kinda things. I'll never be able to sleep in one of those!' Well, my worries were for nothing. She came back with a plain looking cotton nightgown that would come all the way down to my ankles, from the look of it. No frills, no lace, and no see through sexy stuff, thank God. I shoulda known, though. Mom didn't really have any stuff like what I had been thinking about as far as I knew. I thanked her for the gown and she just smiled, kissed me on the cheek again and left me to get ready for bed.

I took off that blanket and threw it over a chair. I hadn't really had a chance in all this time to really LOOK at this body I was stuck in, believe it or not. Oh sure, I saw it every time Jerry or I tested one of them, but there was never a chance to really EXAMINE one of them until now. I walked over to my closet door, opened it and, using the full length mirror on the inside of it, I gave this body a real close inspection.

Well, one thing was sure. I definitely looked like my own wet dream. Full red lips and what appeared to be reasonable, but not overdone makeup, dominated a face that could have driven me to commit terrible acts of crime, or whatever, if it were on a real girl, was what looked back at me from that mirror. The body itself was incredible. The breasts stood up proud and didn't seem to sag at all. I guesstimated that the measurements I saw were about 38 or 40 on top, maybe 24 or so at the waist and probably in the neighborhood of 36 or so at the hips. There wasn't a single blemish anywhere on that body and it looked, well, it looked just perfect, and it WOULD have been perfect if it had been on a real woman, but it was on ME! CRAP!


So, reluctantly closing the closet door, I turned back towards my bed, picking up the nightgown that Mom had supplied. Now, I gotta tell ya, I've always been a "sleep in my

FOTL briefs" kinda guy. I outgrew PJs about the same time that I hit 13 and never went back to them. It was easier and more comfortable for me, just sleeping in my 'tighty-whities'. So this nightgown was gonna be strange to me for more reasons than the fact that only women wore them. I lifted it and found the front and back and, putting my arms into the appropriate sleeves, I pulled it down over my (heh) breasts and on down over my hips, being very careful not to tug too hard on it. Okay, it felt weird. Was that gonna be your question?

I remember thinking, 'This thing must be really long on Mom, if it comes down to MY ankles.' It had been a very busy and stressful day, so I pulled back the blankets and eased into my bed. I saw right away that sleeping in a nightgown was gonna be an exercise in tactics, because the minute I put my legs up and tried to pull the blankets up to my neck, the damn gown bunched up. CRAP! One MORE thing to deal with! I threw the blankets back toward the foot of the bed and tried to figure out how to do this. Finally I just grabbed the materiel of the gown and kinda tucked it around my ankles, holding it between them. Then I grabbed the blankets and pulled them up carefully. That seemed to do the trick, since the gown didn't bunch up on me that time. I laid my head down on the pillow and tried to relax, hoping I wouldn't thrash around in my sleep and destroy the bed. Then I remembered the HUD display and, accessing it, I searched through its capabilities until I came to an area I hadn't ever bothered with before. I found that it contained shutdown procedures and stand-by modes, of all things so I triggered the stand-by mode and, lo and behold, I could actually FEEL the suit powering down! To test it, I grabbed the blanket and tried to rip it and found that, while I could tear it, it took much more effort. Thank you Dr Fine!

Having dealt with that and feeling much better about not being able to destroy things accidentally, I finally was able to drop off to sleep. My dreams were actually peaceful and I experienced no interruption of my sleep until Mom knocked on my door in the morning.

"Time to rise and shine, Sweetheart!" I heard. I groaned, feeling as though I could have slept for a few more hours, but that's another thing about me. Once I wake up, I'm up. I'm not one of those people who can just roll over and go back to sleep, once I've been awakened. So, yawning and stretching, I put my feet on the floor, and stood up. No, I didn't wake up thinking that yesterday had been just a bad dream. I knew what reality was and I accepted it, good or bad. This…..was still bad.

Looking down, I couldn't see my feet until I moved one or the other one far enough forward so I could glimpse it over my new endowments. Sigh. Well, there was nothing for it, but to start the day no matter what I looked like. I pulled the nightgown over my head and tossed it on the bed, then I padded into the half bath that was a part of my room. I had to go, so I did. You know the score on that, except for the part about doing it in this suit. My male parts were enclosed and kept out of harms way, but everything still functioned, just slightly differently. Finishing with that task, I stood and gazed into the mirror over the sink at myself for a few seconds, then I proceeded to brush my teeth and do whatever else one usually does upon rising first thing in the morning.

When I was done with as much as I could do in a half bathroom, I went back out and pulled the blanket off the chair, and wrapped it around me, toga style again. I wondered if Jerry had thought about accessing the shutdown/standby modes and called him from the phone in my room. When his sleepy voice finally answered, I said,

"Hey numbnuts! You awake?"

"Bite me, duder! I was just settling into my third really good dream! Why'd ya wake me ya hoser?"

"Not on your best day or my worst." I retorted. This was pretty much a standard exchange between me and Jerry, by the way. "I just wondered if your inferior brain had managed to stumble into the shutdown/standby modes area of the HUD display. I figured you're way too dumb to find it yourself and thought I'd call and give you the advantage of picking my vastly superior brainpower."

"Yeah, yeah. I found it. You think you're the only one who can think? Damn man, I could outthink you on your best day! Now, here's one for you. Have you remembered that these things need to recharge? I mean they are good for 24 hours at full use of 48 hours in standby mode, but you gotta plug in, remember? We've been in these things for almost 18 hours by now I figure, so allowing for 8 hours of that being in standby, we're good til later this afternoon, but it might be better to charge now than to wait til later."

Damn! I HAD forgotten about recharging the suits!

'Shit! You're right man! Okay, here's the plan. We recharge now but keep the suits in standby mode. That way we have longer between recharges and we don't have to worry so much about tearing something up by accident, cool?"

"Yeah, duder. That works for me. Listen, what are we gonna do for clothes? My stuff here won't even come close to fitting me the way this suit is built, and you are in a whole different galaxy when it comes right down to it. None of your clothes stands a chance of fitting THAT bod."

"I know, I know, man. You ain't telling me anything I don't already know, ya know? I figure I'll have Mom go get me some simple stuff that I can use for a few days. If we end up stuck like this for longer than that, I'll just have to change plans and lay in a supply of jeans and stuff like that, that'll fit me. Maybe I can return most of them if I don't wear them out or rip 'em."

"Aw, man. Don't tell me you're gonna dress that beautiful work of feminine art you're wearing in jeans and t-shirts!"

"Well, what did ya THINK I was gonna do you doofus, go shopping and dress myself up like a three dollar hooker?"

"Weeeeel…I was kinda HOPING! Ha ha ha. No, seriously, dude, you're gonna have to think about this. That body deserves to look it's best and jeans and t-shirts ain't gonna get it! Plus, I don't think your Mom is gonna go along with your plan. Knowing her, she's gonna wanna see you in something a bit more female, if you get my drift."

"Hey Jer! Remember who it is you're talking to! Just because I look like a centerfold, doesn't mean I wanna dress like one. I don't wanna draw any more attention to myself than I absolutely have to. It's gonna be tough enough getting used to walking around looking like this. I don't need guys coming on to me, thinking I'm some kinda hot chick!"

"Don, man, you're gonna look like a hot chick no matter what you wear, don't you realize that? Shit, even wrapped up in that blanket last night, you looked awesome. Dr. Fine really built these things attractive and we're gonna be stuck looking like we do until he gets better or until they fix up the lab, whichever comes first. I know I'm gonna dress the best I can afford to. This fine male body deserves the best I can put on it and it'll be all good when the chicks start flocking around me, I can tell ya that!"

"That's all well and good for you, man, but I'm in a slightly different situation here, ya know? I don't WANT hunky guys flocking around me. I'm a GUY under all this, REMEMBER?" Damn this sexy voice of mine! I couldn't even SOUND mad!

"Okay man, okay! Whatever. All I know is, you're gonna stand out like a sore thumb if you try to dress THAT bod in jeans and shit, but you're gonna do what you're gonna do. At least think about it though, okay and remember that your Mom might have the final say in how you dress?"

"Yeah, I know, Jer. Look, this is really tough for me, okay? I never, ever thought about wearing girl's stuff. I mean, you know me. I'm a guy's guy for chrissake! I'm no fag! So even the THOUGHT of having to wear those kinds of things gives me the willies!"

"Yeah, I know all that Don, but think about this. That suit makes you walk, talk and move like a chick, right? How would you want a chick that looks like you do right now, to dress? How do you think other people would expect a chick like you to dress? If you go against that, you WILL draw attention to yourself. Hey, I gotta go. Mom musta heard me talking and she just yelled to come down for breakfast. You wanna get together later or what?"

' I dunno, man. I'll call ya in an hour or two and let ya know. MAN! This shit is tough to get my thoughts around! Later man."

"Okay duder. Later." And we hung up.

Okay. Logically I knew that Jerry was probably right, up to a point. I knew that if I tried to just wear simple stuff like jeans, unless they were the sexy kind that girls wear, I'd probably seem weird to people who saw me. A beautiful woman is almost expected to dress to show off her body to its best possible advantage, and, right now, I was, to all intents and purposes, and to all who would see me, one gorgeous gal! CRAP AGAIN!

Well, I decided to put that whole issue on hold until I got some food in me and, wrapping the blanket around me tighter, I headed for the kitchen. When I got there, Mom and Dad were already sitting down having coffee. The smell of eggs and bacon were in the air and Mom said,

Breakfast is ready honey. Your plate is in the microwave. Just let me heat it up a little bit for you. Just sit down at the table and I'll have it for you in a jiffy. My! We're going to have to do something about clothes for you, aren't we? You certainly can't wear that nasty old blanket all the time. I know! We'll go SHOPPING after you eat! Oh, won't that be FUN honey?" She was all sweetness and light. Yuck. Why we can go to that big mall on the other side of town and find you some really cute things! I know JUST what you'd look good in. I was over there the other day and I saw this adorable little sundress that would look PERFECT on you and then there was this…'

"MOM!" I shouted, interrupting her little flight of fancy. "Did you forget something? This is DONNIE under here, not DONNA! I don't WANT some 'cute little sundress'! Hell, I don't want girls clothes at all, but I know I'm gonna have to wear something! Can't we just stick to simple stuff like pants and tops, or blouses at the worst?"

"Absolutely NOT, DONALD!" She shot back at me. I will NOT have a child of mine looking scruffy or scrubby! No matter what you look like, you will dress accordingly and that's my final say on the matter. Your Father and I have talked this over and we've decided that, for as long as you have to be stuck in that, that, whatever it is, you're going to dress like the attractive young woman you appear to be! Now no more arguments from you young LADY! Here! And she shoved a plate in front of me. "Eat your breakfast while I go to the superstore down the block and find you something decent to wear to go shopping in! Jeans indeed!"

Oh, I knew it. I knew Mom was gonna be this way. She always was. When she thought she was right it took more arguing and more time than most people wanted to expend, to change her mind. I also knew that, no matter what I said, she was set on a course and I wouldn't be able to sway her right now. So I sat there and ate what she put in front of me. Well, I was hungry, okay?

Mom left right away, grabbing her purse and car keys.

'I'll be back in about a half hour or so, honey." She said to me. When you finish with your breakfast, go upstairs and take a shower. We don't have time for a bath…..oh, um, CAN you bathe while wearing that thing?"

"Yes Mom, I can." I replied tiredly. I didn't want to give anything away about what the suit could really do, so I didn't mention that I could check for cracks at the bottom of a dam if I wanted to. "Hey Mom. Before you go, is Penny up? She'll wanna go with us, you know? She's supposed to stay pretty much with me as long as I'm wearing lab property."

'Oh, Penny was up long before you, dear." Mom said. 'She's up bathing right now and she knows all about us going shopping. She wasn't too happy about it, but I explained it to her like I did to you and she finally saw the wisdom of it. You can't hole up in the house indefinitely and she knows it. I'll see you in a little while, honey." And she slipped out the door.

I just sat there, chewing and trying not to think about what Mom might be going to put me through today. Dad hadn't taken his head out of the newspaper through all of this. The only thing he'd done was snake his hand around once in awhile, to grab a sip of coffee. I was prepared for that as well. Dad wasn't much of a talker. He was a doer, and he left the majority of the decisions about anything that involved the house, to Mom almost exclusively. I didn't even try to get him on my side in this. Mom ruled in the house and he knew that I knew it. I'll give him this much though. He DID say two sentences to me, never moving that paper.

"Do as your Mother says, son. You know how she is and how she gets and it'll be better for BOTH of us if you don't give her any flak over this, okay?"

"Yeah, I know Dad. It's just that this is so damn weird and hard for me to deal with, ya know? Dad, I don't wanna be a chick! None of this is my fault, but I keep feeling like I'm being punished or something. Now Mom wants to dress me up like some kinda Barbie Doll™ and I don't even get a SAY in it? That ain't fair and you know it.

Before my Dad had a chance to answer, Penny came walking in and she sat down at the table.

"Now look here little boy!" she began. "My whole job depends on keeping you safe and unnoticed. You will NOT argue about little things like what you're going to wear or how you're going to act, is that clear? I want this to be over just as much as you do, you can damn well believe that, but until it IS over, you are going to toe the line set by your parents and by me and that's the bottom line here! You screw up and I'll see that you and your pal Jerry are put in security cells at the lab until we can get our property back from the both of you. By the way, I've already spoken with Jim this morning and he told me that Jerry is co-operating and giving his parents no trouble about this, so I suggest you follow his example, got it?"

"Why sure, Penny." I replied sarcastically. 'There's just one little thing I'd like to call to your attention if you don't mind. Jerry isn't gonna have to wear PANTIES AND A BRA! I AM! So if I get just a little bit testy about it, I hope it won't put you off your feed or anything, okay! Oh, and one other thing Penny dear? You'll play merry hell trying to confine Jerry and me to some cell somewhere. Don't forget THAT! Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go shower! Dad. Can we talk later?" I stood up from the table, shoving the chair back somewhat violently.

"Of course we can, Donnie. Only it'll have to be this evening after I get back from work. I'm going to have to replace a couple of machines at the lab, you know and there are a few other things I HAVE to get done today as well. How's after supper sound?"

"Fine by me, Dad. Maybe I'll be in a better mood by then, or maybe I'll be so angry or embarrassed by all of this I'll just lock myself in my room and sulk like some, oh I don't know, like some "LITTLE BOY or something!" and I glared right at Penny when I said that last bit.

I stalked out of the kitchen without any further conversation with either Penny or my Dad. I was really angry and it was a good thing I HAD put the suit on standby. I might have shoved that chair right through a wall if I hadn't done that. Now I hadn't told Mom that I really didn't need to shower OR bathe while in the suit. Just a simple wipedown with a damp sponge or washcloth would suffice to clean it. I wouldn't even begin to get smelly or dirty inside the suit for several days since it was completely impervious to dirt and was totally climate controlled to boot, so I wouldn't even sweat inside it.

So, having wiped it down in a matter of seconds, I sulked back to my bedroom, slammed the door, threw the blanket into a corner and plopped my butt down on the bed. Crap, crap, CRAP! Wasn't ANYONE on my side here? I sat there, immersed in my own dark thoughts until there was a knock on my door. I said,

"Yeah? Who is it?"

"It's Penny, Donald. Can we talk? I'm sorry about my attitude downstairs."

"What do ya wanna talk about, Penny? I'm not in the best of moods right now."

"Look, Donald, I know that and I really am sorry for what I said, or at least, the way I said it. I wasn't thinking about you so much as I was about my job and that was wrong of me. Your Dad set me straight real quick after you left. So let me in for a minute or two and let me talk to you a bit? Please?"

"You're not gonna go away or leave me alone until you talk to me, are ya?" I replied tiredly.

"No, Donald, I'm not. I'm prepared to wait right here until your Mother comes back, so let's talk and get some things straight between us, okay?"

"Okay, okay, fine. Come, the hell, in. then, and let's get this over with."

I pulled the blankets on the bed over me and waited to hear what Penny had to say. She entered and closed the door behind her. Walking over to my bed, she sat down on the edge of it and said,

"Okay Donald. Let's get a few things straight. I'm not angry at you, I'm frightened that something will happen with you or Jerry out here away from the lab, and I'll lose my job. I can't afford to get fired, Donald. I've got bills to pay and no other job prospects out there. Plus I've worked out there at the lab for over 5 years and I'm not gonna waste that much time by getting fired over this. So if I come off a little tough or unsympathetic, I don't mean to be, I'm just worried about my job, okay? That's the first thing."

I laid there, just listening to what she was saying. I really didn't even care about her OR her job. I was too wrapped up in what I was feeling about ME and about Jerry. She continued.

Number two, I AM a little worried about what this is doing to you and Jerry. Maybe a lot more about you than about him. I know what a shock this must be for you and how hard it must be to try to adjust to what you look like and how you move and sound, but you HAVE to do it, Donald and you know it. There's no way for you two to get out of those suits without Dr. Fine's help, or the equipment at the lab and that's a stone cold fact. If you or Jerry screw up and blow your covers on this thing, you won't believe the shitstorm that'll come down on ALL of us! We'd all lose our jobs at the very least, and you and Jerry would get locked up somewhere where even those suits couldn't get you out of, believe me! Most of what Dr. Fine was working on is so highly classified that there's only maybe two other people in the WORLD who would even begin to know what his notes mean. Hell, the military has been screaming all the way to the White House about this project and how they want in on it. The only thing that's kept them at bay is Dr. Fine's reputation and his highly placed and 'influential' friends."

She paused to gather her thoughts and then finished by saying,

"Look, kid. Like it or not, we're in this thing together and the sooner you quit feeling sorry for yourself and accept responsibility and TRY to act like an adult here, the better for all of us. I know it's tough for you, but you're gonna have to grow up real fast if we are gonna come out of this smelling like roses, get me? Now I'm here to HELP, Donald and that's what I wanna do, but never forget that I'm also here to see that you don't do anything dumb or damage the suit in any way, and that's my priority here. I'd like for us to try to be friends although that isn't required. I just think things'll go much smoother if you and I aren't at each other's throats. So let's bury the hatchet and get on with this. What do you say?"

She gave plenty of food for thought and I knew she was right. It didn't make me feel any better about this situation, but it did help make me get a better hold of myself.

"Look, Penny." I finally said. "I know that you have a job to do, but don't forget that I'm NOT a machine okay? I'm an almost 18-year-old GUY inside a 'power suit' for lack of a better term, that looks like a beautiful WOMAN for God's sake! This is really HARD for me to wrap my thoughts around and people yelling at me or threatening me doesn't help. I've been a guy all my life and never wanted to be anything else. I don't even know anything about BEING a girl and now I gotta ACT like one! Can you understand that? If you can, and if you can accept that I'm GONNA be emotional and scared about this, then we can come to an understanding. If you can't, then just get outta here and worry about your job. Put yourself in my place for a second and tell me that YOU wouldn't be scared out of your mind if you can!"

Penny just sat there, looking at me for a minute. Then, she stood up and held out her arms. I looked at her like she had lost her mind or something, but then I realized that she wanted to HUG me. Must be a female emotional thing. I laid there, covered up by the blankets and not moving. Finally she said,

"Get up out of there and let me hug you, you idiot kid!

Well, I knew that she couldn't DRAG me out of there, but I began to feel like I NEEDED a hug and, disregarding the fact that I was stark naked under those blankets, I stood up and did as she asked. I was tired of arguing and fighting anyway and I figured that, if nothing else, this would shut her up. It was so weird to hug someone and feel my boobs pressing against HER boobs, but it did begin to feel sorta nice after a few seconds and I did begin to feel a bit better. Then I heard the downstairs door open and close. Oh man! Mom was back!

:"Penny, you better get outta here. I don't think Mom is ready to see her new daughter hugging a woman while naked! We'll talk more later. Now geddouttahere!"

I pushed her towards the door and she went without protest, thanks goodness. She closed the door and it wasn't more than a minute after she did that Mom came bursting in, all excited.

"MOM!" I screamed. 'I'm NAKED for God's sake!"

"Oh Donnie, you haven't got anything I haven't seen before, so quit being shy and come see what I got for you to wear!"

She dumped a few bags on my bed and began pulling out stuff. Bras! Panties! A SKIRT? PANTYHOSE??? Oh HELL no!

"Moooooommmm!" I said, plaintively. I can't wear that stuff! I don't even know how to put most of them ON! I'll feel like a weirdo!"

Mom gave me a few seconds to moan and complain and then she said,

"Honey? These are the clothes that I thought would look good on you and not cause you any problems. I told you before that you are NOT going to look like some scruffy bum, male OR female and that's the end of that! Look, sweetie, I know that this is strange and scary for you, but you need to realize that you are, to the rest of the world, a beautiful woman. Beautiful women have a certain responsibility to present themselves as attractively as they possibly can. Now I COULD have gotten you sexier things, but I know how frightening all this must be for you. Besides, you are still my child and you always will be. I love you and I still know what's best for you. Now, let's get you dressed and ready to face the world, shall we? Trust me, Donnie, you won't even notice what you're wearing after awhile."

'Oh I won't notice that I'm wearing a freaking SKIRT? Or PANTYHOSE? I don't THINK so!' I was thinking. Well, like I said, you can't change Mom's mind with the facts once she's made it up, so I sighed and then I started climbing into those clothes. She guided me every step of the way and helped when things got a little too strange for me. Like when I put on the (gulp) Bra. Can someone tell me HOW the hell women put those damn things on all by themselves? You gotta have three arms and eyes in the back of your damn head. Jeeze! Then you gotta adjust the damn thing so it isn't too tight or it doesn't hold your boobs just right. What a pain in the ass!

Then there was the pantyhose. Of all the useless, complicated delicate waste of materiel I've ever seen, pantyhose HAVE to top the list! What the heck is wrong with socks? Just a simple pair of socks! Oh Nooooooo! I gotta wear these flimsy, saggy, oh so delicate things. Sigh. Okay, yes they DID make my legs look great, but Damn! There's GOTTA be a better way of doing that. Hell, the first pair I tried to put on ended up looking like shredded wheat AFTER you're done with the bowl. What a mess. Looked like a cat scratching post. Fortunately, Mom had bought more than one pair of the things. Wheee. Boy was I pleased about that! NOT. Finally, there were the shoes. Now, I've always been a sneakers kinda guy and I had thought, well, I had HOPED that Mom would kinda remember that and not get me anything TOO girly. No such luck. She had gotten me some freakin' HEELS!

Now I wasn't concerned that I wouldn't be able to walk in them. The gyros and stuff built into the exosuit would MAKE me maintain my balance. I also wasn't concerned about them hurting my feet. I could have walked across hot coals, barefoot in that suit. No, what most concerned me was that they were HEELS! Not HIGH heels, as most would see them, but they DID have about a 2 inch heel on them and STRAPS for God's sake, that went around my heel and held the things on my feet. Not only that, but the toes were open on them and my cute little polished toes showed right through those damn pantyhose. CRUMMY BUTTONS! How friggin' cutsey could you get!? But Mom was adamant about me wearing them, at least until we got to the mall and found some really cute shoes for me(her words, not mine!).

Well, with Mom's help, I struggled into the unfamiliar and, to me, scary, clothes and then Mom turned her attention to my face and hair. Now I TRIED to tell her that what looked like makeup on my face was really permanently painted on and it was designed to look minimal, but she wasn't having any of that. She messed around with different pots and tubes and then went to work on my hair when she was done with that. She had told me to pay attention to what she was doing with the makeup, but she went so fast it was all a blur in my mind. Hey, c'mon. My MOM was putting makeup on my face! How would some of YOU guys feel if it was happening to you?

Well, somewhere in there, I came to a conclusion. I might as well make the best of this for as long as I had to put up with it, I thought. There was no sense trying to argue with Mom, Dad, OR Penny and there was also no chance of me making it go any faster than it would. I was stuck until whenever and it wasn't gonna help matters for me to complain and pout and bitch about it. I didn't think I was ever gonna get comfortable with it, but it was time to stop being a pain in the ass about it too. So I tried to become more detached about the face and form I was gonna see in the mirror for the next few days or whatever.

Yeah, it wasn't MY face, but it WAS a damned good looking one, so at least I wasn't ugly or something. Sure, the body was different….a LOT different, but I still had two arms, two legs, two…err…never mind. The basic compliment of limbs and things that everyone has. 'What the hell.' I thought to myself. 'Might as well try to have a little fun with this for as long as it lasts, I guess.'

So, after Mom got done painting goop on me and pulling on my hair, we headed back to the kitchen. Dad had long since left for work, so it was me, Mom and Penny heading out to the car to go (gulp) shopping. Mom talked damn near non-stop from the house to the mall and Penny and I could hardly get a word in edgewise. Mom seemed excited and, I dunno, kinda happy about all this. Did she always want a daughter to dress up pretty and share secrets with? She and Dad had never indicated in any way that they were dissatisfied with having only a son, and I was a bit puzzled by her behavior, but I went along with it, even to the point of trying to work up a little enthusiasm of my own. Penny just sat in the back seat, smiling a little bit and not saying word one.

"Mom." I said as we were pulling into the parking lot at the mall, 'Now you aren't thinking about going crazy here, are you? I mean, we might only need enough stuff for a couple of days, or until Dr. Fine gets out of the hospital and I don't wanna spend all the money I've earned, buying clothes I'll never have another use for, ya know?"

'Now, don't you worry your pretty head about a thing, honey." She replied. "I'm only planning on getting you the absolute minimum that I think you'll need for about a week. If things go on any longer than that, we can always come back and get more, okay? Now you just put yourself in my hands and don't fret. This is going to be FUN!" and she turned toward me and smiled the biggest smile I'd seen on her face in years.

'Oh crap again!' I thought to myself. 'This is NOT gonna be as much fun for me as it looks like it will be for her!' But, there was no help for it. Mom was bound and determined that I was going to enjoy this 'shopping' thing with her and that, as they say, was that! So, into the mall we went.

Now I already told you that the exosuit was constructed in such a way that, while one was wearing it, one was more or less forced to move in a very feminine way and I had sort of gotten used to that while testing it, but wearing the flimsy(to me)skirt, hose, blouse and those weird little shoes. Sigh. Well, I had promised myself that I would TRY to have a little fun with this while it lasted, so I put a smile on my face and the three of us entered that most holy of holies(for women at least)THE MALL!

This whole time, Penny had been very quiet. Speaking only when she was spoken to and not offering any comments whatsoever. I kinda wondered about that, but I didn't have time to dwell on it because, once inside that mall, Mom turned into SUPER SHOPPER!! She dragged me and Penny from one store to the next, all the while commenting on how THIS would look cute on me, or how THAT dress was just MADE for me! HAH! Made for me indeed! At the moment it was actually the other way around. I was made for a dress!

I can't recall a time when I tried on more clothes than that day. It was all sort of a blur, for the most part. From pillar to post, Mom dragged me into one women's store after another, and all the while keeping up her running commentary about what I needed and what she thought I HAD to have. Penny, somewhere in there, kinda loosened up and began offering suggestions as well. 'Gee, THANKS, Penny.' I thought. 'You wanna help me? Then DON'T help me!'

About two hours into this shopping fest, I began to get a little bit hungry and I turned to Mom and suggested that we hit the food court. She agreed and, curiously, Penny went on ahead, almost like she was scooping the place out before Mom and I got there. I could see her turning her head this way and that, almost like she was trying to spot hidden assassins or spies. Strange gal, that Penny. Well, I guessed that she was just trying to look like she was doing her job. She finally seemed satisfied and she gave us a little nod with her head as if to say, 'It's safe. Come on ahead.' Like we already weren't GOING to!

We went up to the multicounter to order. You know what that is, right? That long, common counter that runs in front of all the food places and is only broken up by the wall of the particular booth that sells whatever? Mom and Penny seemed to want me to go for some kind of salad thing, saying that it would look better if I ate what a real woman would eat. I vetoed THAT notion right on the spot though.

"No." I said very firmly. "I'm hungry and I am gonna eat what I wanna eat!" I didn't say that loudly or anything, just loud enough so I got my point across to Mom and Penny that I was still in control of my own stomach, at least! Well, they got their salads and I got my usual, healthy teenage meal. A super sized double hamburger with fries and a large Pepsi™. Mom and Penny both looked at that pile of food on my tray and shook their heads, disparagingly at the amount of it. I said, quietly,

"Now look, both of you. I told you I'm hungry and I don't HAVE to watch what I eat while I'm in this thing. I don't have a 'girlish' figure that I have to watch out for and I'm gonna eat what I want, when I want. I'm going along with you both on these clothes and stuff, but I gotta draw the line at my stomach! Besides, I DID get a salad…sort of. See? There's pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and dressing on this burger. So there!" and I sat down, remembering to smooth my skirt over my behind at the very last second.

Well? I HAD remembered that women are supposed to do that sort of thing and, while what I was having for lunch looked like it woulda fed three women, I WAS still aware of what I looked like and how I was supposed to behave. It woulda been WAY uncool for me to look like I did and conduct myself like a truck driver, after all.

While we ate, we talked quite a bit and, since we had chosen a table far enough away from others so we COULD talk about the situation I was in, a little bit, we got quite detailed on how I was gonna have to be for however long I was stuck in that thing. Mom firmly believed that I should act like any other mid-20s looking woman and that way no one would suspect that anything was out of the ordinary, and Penny sort of agreed.

She(Penny) said that as long as I looked the part, I should act it as well. I agreed, for the most part. The last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself or give anyone reason to think that I was anything but what I appeared to be. That could lead to disaster for me, both professionally AND personally. If it got out that I was really Donald Franklin inside a sexy 'super suit', I'd never hear the end of it from my friends at school. It would also be a disaster for the lab, security wise. We had to keep this whole episode as quiet as possible so the military or the government didn't catch wind of it. If they did, it would mean the end of Dr. Fine's experiments and his autonomy over the designs of the suits. So, I made a bargain with Mom and Penny, right there in the food court.

"Look." I began, "Here's the deal as I see it. I agree with you both on most aspects of this. I know what I look like and I know that I'm expected to behave in a certain way, looking as I do. That's all well and good, but I want you both to understand, and Mom, no offense meant, but I am NOT gonna be a 'girly girl' no matter WHAT I look like. Oh I'll wear the skirts and underwear and all that, but I am NOT gonna enjoy it, at least not like YOU want me to. I'm still your son under all this glamour and I will be your son again once I get outta this damn thing, I wanna make that perfectly clear. I'm NOT gonna flirt or make nice with guys under ANY circumstances."

"But honey," Mom broke in. "Suppose it takes longer than you think it will for them to find the way to get you out of that suit? I mean, it COULD be days or even weeks. You can't just sit around at home all that time! You'll be bored and you'll drive me and your Dad crazy as well." Then she got this 'look' on her face. Now I know that 'look'. It means that Mom is thinking in overdrive. Oh yikes! THIS could mean trouble.

"Oh, I know!" Mom continued. "Why you and JERRY could go out, just like a regular couple and that would help both of you! You would get the chance to get out of the house regularly and Jerry, even if he doesn't LOOK like Jerry, would get the chance to date and see how to treat a woman! Why that would be PERFECT!"

At that point, both Penny and I did classic spit takes, me with my Pepsi™ and Penny with her coffee.

I admit, I almost lost it right there in that mall. I got angry with Mom, but I remembered, at the last second, where we were and how it would sound, so I gritted my teeth and said to Mom, in a very quiet, but firm tone of voice,

"Mom! There is no WAY that I am gonna go anywhere with Jerry, especially with the way we both look right now. My God, people will think we're some kind of models or something! We'll be mobbed, or worse, found out!"

Penny agreed with me, well, in a way anyhow. She agreed that I couldn't spend all my time in the house, even thought that would make things easier for her from a security point of view, but she also agreed with me that going out with Jerry would double our chances of being found out, if for no other reason than the fact that we DID both look like fashion models. Two of us showing up in town on the same day and being out together would fuel people's imaginations and we'd be more noticeable.

Mom, on the other hand was getting that other look on her face. The one that said, 'I've got a good idea here and you two are not going to talk me out of it!' Turning to Penny, Mom said,

Penny, just think about this for a moment. Both Donnie here and Jerry have security people following them around, right? Now separately, you have to be in two different places. If Jerry and Donnie were together, it would make matters simpler for you both! There'd be TWO of you to watch out for them and keep them out of trouble! Besides, if either of them starts dating other people, it could create problems on down the line for the lab, right? I mean, if they started to build any kind of relationship with someone else and then it had to end because they both seemingly disappear when they can get out of those suits, there'd be questions asked. As it is, with them both staying at home, people are going to wonder who they are and where Jerry and Donnie are."

I was getting a bit scared at where Mom was going with this, but I knew better than to try to get in her way. That would only get me rolled over and in serious trouble once I shed that suit. Try grounded until I hit 25! So I kept my mouth shut, hoping I could find SOME way of escaping from this ever tightening nose I felt myself to be in. Penny actually seemed to be listening to and agreeing with a lot of what Mom was saying.

"You know, Mrs. Franklin, a lot of what you are saying is true. It WOULD be a lot easier on Jim and me if Donnie and Jerry were together whenever they left their homes. Why maybe we should even set them up in some sort of apartment together if this goes on for any longer than a day or two. That way Jim and I could keep an eye on both of them, and, as an added benefit, it would keep suspicion more at bay than living in their family's homes would. Tell you what. Let me get together with Jim after we're done here and talk this over with him. We can get an update on Dr. Fine's condition and also find out if there is any chance of getting Donnie and Jerry back to the lab to use the special equipment to get them out of the suits. If Dr. Fine is not going to be out of the hospital for awhile, or if the lab can't be gotten into, why this might be our best bet for both of them."

Okay, NOW I was scared.




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