Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Unraveling the Q Mystery

I got a chill when last month I found myself sitting across a lunch table with a little girl purporting to be a man/woman/entity known as Q who had been swapped nine times since December, boldly contradicting one very important fact thought to be known about swaps: that you can only be swapped once. Since I made Q's existence public (at his, her or its insistence,) many swapees who have already made the difficult adjustment to a new lifestyle have been on edge.

This is despite the still comparatively low odds of it happening once to begin with. When considering hardly 1 in 10000 Americans has been swapped (and that ratio is even lower in countries like Japan and India, despite increased population density,) knowing it could happen twice has led many to believe it will happen twice. However, to date, it is only known to have happened twice, or rather 10 times, to one person, the nomadic swapee known now as Q.

This is surely more than a coincidence, but even Q seems unsure of his significance in the grand scheme of things. For several months Q seemed to bound around the country, appropriating whatever body he/she/it landed in. With no memory of a prior existence, Q would act the part to its own end before, after less than a month, appearing in a new body elsewhere. Q considers himself to be male, although gender is more or less in the eye of the beholder. I've met Q three times, once as a male and twice as a female.

Q described to me the hazy attachment "he" had to his past; the earliest memories he has are of being in a woman's body, but that it was an uncomfortable and unnatural-feeling experience at the time.

The woman in question was Noreen Daugherty, whose body is currently resided in by Andrew Holloway, a high school student from Omaha, Nebraska. Daugherty, 29, was a fashion retailer from Jacksonville, Florida. Though Q has left a path of sequential swapees, she has never been located.

When I last spoke with Q, he was at the time inhabiting the body of 9-year-old Megan Richardson of Denver, CO. However, he described to me the increasing awareness and ability to anticipate oncoming swaps, "like a sneeze," Q told me in part of the interview not printed. Q expected that before long he would be able to control them outright, and planned to "hide in plain sight."

At the end of the interview, Q was swapped into the body of Taylor Marsten, a management-level employee of New York City's SwapCentre, the multimillion-dollar complex designed to offer private guidance and aid to swapees, headed by millionaire Robert Kleinberg. Two days ago I received a postcard from New York City, with only the words "Getting Closer" printed on it, and Q's signature. By the time it was realized the swap had occurred, Marsten's body was found naked and hysterical, in a New Jersey electrical field, apparently inhabited by an as-yet-unidentified babysitter... from Bethesda, MD, home office the BISA.

I for one doubt these last two swaps have been coincidences, and that Q has, at least partly, gained the ability to guide his swaps. He seems to be playing detective.

Myself, I believe that the key to this is learning the whereabouts of Ms. Daugherty. Once she is located, we will probably learn a lot more about Q, and those individuals, if they're out there, who are pulling the strings.

Brief: BISA doctor jailed

According to sources, Dr. Arthur Gulf, one of the senior officials at the Bureau of International Swap Affairs main office in Bethesda, MD, has been jailed.

We have few details at this time, but reportedly Dr. Gulf had been at odds with colleagues for some time. The charges apparently relate to aggravated assault in the workplace. Gulf has often been quoted as being somewhat antagonistic toward colleagues, especially Co-Director of Research Dr. Howard Bergman who months ago was swapped with 12-year-old Manuella Perez of Mexico City.

No BISA officials are yet available for comment.

We will have more on this story as it develops.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Brief: Mid-prom swap plays havoc

It was more than a little mischief at Woodward High School's Prom this past Tuesday night in Bethesda, MD. Students were eager to forget the stress of their final exams and upcoming graduation and spend the night dancing. Liam Wheeler was there with his date, Deedee Brooks. Wheeler's twin sister, Laura was also there with her boyfriend, valedictorian Jay Stroman.

It was not long into the night when Liam suddenly found himself swapped - leaning over the girl's room sink, fixing his sister's make-up!

"It was embarrassing," she pouts, "And I had to fight off that twerp [Jay's] advances all night!"

The abrupt swap forced the two to call it a night early, despite plans previously arranged by both parties.

"I was gonna take Deedee to Butchie Michaels' party," grins the lipgloss-wearing blonde Liam.

The sister who now inhabits Liam's body sadly admits, "Jay had gotten us a hotel room. I don't know what we would have done in it, I really don't, but obviously I wasn't in much of a mood for it by the end of the night."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nicki: Answers and questions

I mentioned last week that I had to cut shot my writing because I was getting ready for something. Many people guessed correctly if they thought it was for "a date."

After getting turned down by Cherrie, I had to drown my sorrows. Here I was, this miserable half-girl, just trying to come into her own, and instead getting rejected and more or less out on the street. I had gradually moved more and more of my Nicki stuff into Cherrie's apartment, and now I'm awkwardly back on Traci's couch with whatever I have left. So I needed a drink. Or really, three drinks. To start with.

"Long time no see," as I downed that third pint. Feeling a fuzz around my eyes I figured someone was just mistaking me for Traci (it still happens every now and again.) I turned to enlighten the person, but found I vaguely recognized him.

His name is Chris and he has the distinction of being the first guy to ever actively hit on me since becoming a woman (*let's not get into it, but there had been mix-ups when I was a guy.) Feeling vulnerable and alone that night, I let him walk me home but tried my best not to lead him on. But here I was back at the same bar as that night, throwing them back like nobody's business and with a little bit of tear-smudged make-up. He sat across from me and asked if there was anything wrong. I proceeded to lay it all out, glossing over a few key details, which left him with a few questions.

He attempted to summarize: "You slept with your roommate, a guy, and then tried to go out with your hairdresser, a woman? Wow."

"I guess it makes more sense when you know the whole story," I admitted, laughing a bit to myself. I was getting very good at explaining matters. So I just came out with it. "I was swapped a few months ago, to this body, and I'm finally getting around to not fighting with it."

"With what?" he asked curiously. For a lot of people, the experience of speakingto a swapee is still unknwon.

"With this body! With it's urges and impulses, it's likes and dislikes..." I took a swig of beer, "With its drink preferences! Everything it wants to do and be and for me to do to it, how to eat, how to walk, how to do my hair... I hat eit sometimes, but sometimes..." I cringed imagining my one night with Traci, "Sometimes it feels so god damn right! I used to be a man, Chris. I might as well just let it all out there. I didn't ask for it, but someone made me into it, and I've gotta like it or just sit around hating everything."

With a typical male disbelief, he asked, "So you like being a woman?"

I rolled my head trying to loosed my neck and shoulders, "Man. Woman. If I've learned anything, it's that life's too short to put up a fight, you are who they make you. Whoever they are, I don't know. But somebody's at the switch. It could happen to you, bro. And you know what? Odds are heavy you'd like it after a few months too. And does that make me gay? No sir! It makes me a damn straight woman, or at least bi." Keep in mind this was all drunken rambling. "But I'll tell you a secret. Hope it doesn't weird you out. I kinda like you."

He grinned. "You make a damn smooth woman, Nicki. I'm almost not weirded out."

I smiled at him and leaned back. Then I fondled my tits a bit and told him, "If you wanna take me out some night, I'll let you see."

Given the genuineness of my femininity, I doubted a man could resist. And I was right. A few nights later he called and that night last week, we went out.

In a probably-not-great first date for a man and an ex-male, we saw Knocked up. It made me uncomfortable to see femaleness all out ther eon the screen and know he'd be comparing me, but I tried to put it out of my mind, not hard given how funny it was. At the end of the night, he took me to the door of Traci's building.

I looked at him and read his mind. I told him, "You want to come up."

He admitted, "A little bit. But I don't think we're ready."

I put my hand on his shoulder and whispered, "Just kiss me then." I know that, when I was a man, I'd rather a woman be so straightforward, off-putting as it might be.

So he kissed me. It was nothing special, but not a cold fish either. So we're going out again this weekend. Before long, who knows?

And everytime I think I've got the answers... somebody changes the questions.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Strange encounters: An Interview with Q?

Ever since the conference I had made my top priority to score an interview with this enigmatic Q character. She left me a pager number, which I have called numerous times with no response. I was growing frustrated, until early this week when I received an e-mail.



BODY: In town this week, meet me Tuesday, noon, this address - Q

Following that was the address to a diner. I arrived early, because she would know me but I may not necessarily recognize her. Part of me was expecting to see an African American woman, but based on what she told me at our last meeting, there was no real reason to expect that.

I ordered a sandwich and a cup of coffee and sat in wait, examining every person who entered for those hunched shoulders and twisted lips that Q seemed to carry, man or woman. A bald man, a teenage boy, a thirtysomething mother with a stroller... no, no, of course not. An old man, a teenage girl, a pair of businessmen... again, three no's. Most of them glanced at me and shrugged it off, seeing that I was obviously waiting for someone.

I was done my second cup of coffee and most of my sandwich when the someone finally entered. A thin little girl of no more than 12. She wore shorts and sandals and her hair was in pigtails. She sat next to me and tried to flag down a waitress.

"Soup and salad," she ordered, "Diet Pepsi." The waitress siad they had Coke and she said "Whatever" and turned her attention to me, shocked as I was. I don't know why; I shouldn't have been because swaps have a random way about them. Black woman, white preeteen, whatever.

"Q," I assured myself.

She smirked and said, "In the flesh. well, somebody's flesh! Oh, man, you would not believe the week I've been having! I was shacking up with the Richardsons in Colorado... this is Meg Richardson's body, by the way... and they just wouldn't let me go until they were sure their poor daughter was safe! And I told her she was probably fine and I called her on my cell and told her to go to the BISA and make sure everything was kosher. They managed to get her back to Denver and finally, finally I hit the road."

"I'm sure the Richardsons weren't to hpapy to see you take off in their daughter's body," I noted.

"What are they gonna do? I'm not their daughter."

Which is when I asked, "Then who are you?"

She coughed a little and mused, "I need a cigarette. You wanna do this thing quick? I'm not sure how much time I've got here."

I told her she should probably not smoke in that body and she told me bluntly it was not my business. I got out my notebook.

SN: So let's get down to it... who is "Q"?

Q: (Laughs) Well obviously, I am. Aren't I? I don't know anymore.

But where did you come from? Where were you before the swaps?

I'm not really sure, I'm sorry to say. I think I was in a coma or something, or maybe I just didn't exist and came into being just to swap people around.

So you think you are responsible for the swaps?

Maybe! I don't know. I mean, I don't know what's really going on, I'm sad to say. I wish I did, I'm as confused as everyone else, I'm just handling it better.

Could you at least try to explain yourself?

I'll give it a go. It was New Year's Eve, I guess, and I woke up on a beach. nobody knew what a swap was at the time, there was a half-a-handful of swapees. I was in Florida wearing this naughty string bikini and this man comes up and puts his arms around me, fondling me, kissing me.

Your husband?

Somebody's husband. Noreen Daugherty's husband. They were vacationing in Florida, she was catching some rays and he'd turned his back for a moment and pop, we were swapped.

You can't remember anything before that?

Not specifically. I have this personality, so it must've come from somewhere, but I knew I wasn't Noreen. I had just popped into her.

How did you react?

I wanted to sock the guy for touching me. I didn't know what was going on and it felt disgusting, but enticing in a way because he was, you know, stimulating the erogenous zones. So after it felt wrong, it started to feel right. And it was after fooling around a bit that I asked him who he was. At first he thought I had amnesia - that Noreen did anyway, because I didn't know who I was and I was worried that maybe I was Noreen. We were going to go to the doctor and get an MRI. Maybe they did, but I was gone after a few weeks of staying at home.

Where to?

Andrew Holloway, the poor kid from Nebraska was doing a little ice fishing on soem lake. That was January 10.

How did you react to THAT?

With quite a bit of surprise, because it wasn't like the first one. I knew where I'd just come from, and they were on the verge of convincing me I was Noreen.

And what happened to Andrew?

Well, he became Noreen I suppose. And by that, I mean he came back to Nebraska and lived as Andrew in Noreen's body, which has become the tendancy for swapees I suppose.

Did Noreen ever turn up?

No, I believe she just vanished into thin air.

What did you do after becoming Andrew?

I freaked out, because I was suddenly male again.


Well, when I was Noreen, I thought it was wrong to be a woman, so I thuoght I must've been a man. Then I become a man, and that felt wrong too, after being a woman for 10 days. Andrew was a high school football player with an athletic body, compared to Noreen, 5-something-feet, 100-something-pounds. I tried to explain to the Holloways their son was in Florida with Mr. Daugherty and they didn't believe me until he got home. I quietly snuck off.

Where to?

I just had to hit the road, so I went to Kansas City and did a little roadwork. I met a girl and we messed around some. Then one morning, a few days into February... it was after Groundhod Day, so maybe the third or fourth... I'm in Sacramento working a convenience store. That's when I got hooked on the Camels.

You were swapped into a convenience store clerk?

Rajiv Singh, to be precise. That lasted about eighteen days. He never came back, and by the end of February I'm in a first-grade classroom.

You were swapped with a first-grader?

No, just the teacher, Mrs. Pulaski. Diane. By this time I wasn't surprised at all, and I was a woman again, but whatever.

How did Mr. Pulaski react?

I never told him.

What, you just went on being this woman?

Yeah, it was easy enough to fake. So I was now, let's see, a 40-year-old woman with a husband who's almost fifty, teaching 6-year-olds shapes and basic math. Not too hard, basically babysitting. That lasted nearly a month, most of March. I liked it. It was a nice quiet life.

And the real Mrs. Pulaski never called?

Sure she did, but that's what caller-ID is for. I told Singh not to call again and convinced the husband he was just a crazy person. Eventually he gave up I guess.

What about Singh, did he ever try to get his life back?

Not really. He actually thanked me, because I left him a good job and a girlfriend, as Holloway. I told him it was no sweat and went on living. All the while, I horded some cash away for my next swap.

You knew it was going to happen?

You'd have to be stupid, after four of the damn things, not to know. It was around that time they were becoming more public. I laid low, I wanted to see what was going on. By Easter I wsa a waitress/student in Philly. Louise Chau.

You just take these people's lives?

Not by choice, but I don't have one of my own to go back to.

And you leave behind you a trail of unrelated swapees?

Sure. Not by choice, I told you, I'm just some kind of pawn in this I swear. After that, I was 8-year-old Billy MacKay for about a week, and then I was Lou Albini, the man you met in Canton.

And who were you in Bethesda?

Carrie Jackson.

How long do you spend in each body?

A couple weeks or so, but I'm getting better at estimating it, so I know I might not be here at the end of the day. I'm trying to learn to oconcentrate and control where I swap to.

Do you think you can do that?

When I was swapping out of Carrie, I thought abuot the mountains, and suddenly I was in Denver. You tell me.

Who are you going to be next?

Not sure. I wanted you to interview me because I'm going to go undergorund. Going to hide in plain sight.


The scientists want to dissect me, but it's not my body, they'd be hurting an innocent person. The Church of Redeemer wants to deify me, and that ain't cool. And everyone will want to ask me what the swaps are, but I don't know. All I know is that there is more to them than they know, and they know more than they are saying.

Do you think it's alien technology?

No, I think alien technology wouldn't fuck up as badly as this. Believe me, this is man-made, probably in America; you can tell because it doesn't work properly.

And you've only ever been swapped into Americans.

I know, that's so weird, isn't it? People get swapped to France or England or Japan all the time. I'm stuck in the Land of the (uses finger-quotes) "Free." Connect the dots, bro.

(She finished her meal.)

I think I'm going soon.

Going where?

Going to be swapped. I can tell. I'll stay in touch. But listen, as soon as I do, just play along, okay?

With that, she stared off in space for a moment...

"Bill?" The little girl looked around frantically. I didn't know what to say. "Bill, am-- oh, damn, I've been swapped?"

I almost answered when in barged a young lady, maybe in her late 20's. She wore sunglasses, a light top, a black skirt and had straight dark hair. I had never seen her before but she zoomed over to our table.

"Thanks for watching Meg, Alex," she told me as she grabbed Meg's shoulder, "Come on, honey."

The little girl pled, "Lady, I'm sorry I'm not your--- daughter? Aw, man. Listen, I'm a grown man, I--" she tried to explain as the woman cut her off.

"Oh, we're not playing this game." She smirked, "You let the girl watch one 20/20 special and suddenly she's swapped twice a day."

"Lady, I'm telling you, I'm not--"

"Shh," again she interrupted. The girl - probably some kind of businessman it seemed - was probably intimidated by how much larger the woman looked, even though she stood between 5'4-and-7. I couold only watch as the young lady scolded, "Your mommy is getting tired of this game."

Whatever Q had set up, it was a pretty flimsy cover and would probably only get him so far, wherever he now was. The little girl will likely get to a BISA soon and alert the authorities. I don't think Q can run for ever... just that there won't be a prison to hold him.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nicki: Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes

Hey all. Long time no post. Um, a lot's been going on. For the past several weeks I've been going by Nicki. It was something I toyed with ever since becoming a woman, but I didn't want to give in that way. But things change.

It started one evening while I was sitting in the tub shaving my legs. I cut myself pretty bad and it stung. My eyes started to water, and then I ended up full-on crying. I sobbed for like five minutes and something occurred to me. A few things, actually.

First, I hadn't cried since getting a concussion from an errant softball in the fifth grade. Second, I was sitting in a bathtub shaving my legs. Third, I didn't have a penis. Fourth, all of this seemed okay.

Until recently, I had identified myself, if not biologically then at least mentally, as a man. My identity was all tied to boyhood memories, sports, chasing girls, and most importantly, whether or not I had a penis. Even without one, I thought often "I wish I still had my penis" but as I wiped my eyes I thought "It's okay." I was realizing, maybe it's okay not to be a man.

I've been living as a woman for months now. No matter how I tried to spin it, ever since that chilly spring morning, I've been a woman, dealing with tight underthings, various areas of extreme sensitivity (example: I hear like a bat now and get a ton of headaches,) cycles, leering men I have no interest in touching, and the physical limitations of being shorter, weaker, and more vulnerable. And less and less I resent what I see in the mirror, because more and more it becomes mine. For better or worse. Which brings me to this post.

I'm sitting here half-dressed with crumpled up tissues all around. I should be getting ready to go out, but I needed to make this point. It's about knowing what you want.

Not long after I slept with Traci I had to tell Cherrie about it. I wanted to get her feeling on it. We met in a cafe for lunch.

"Well there it is," she said with a sighing smirk, "Now you know the secret."

I laughed and shrugged, "Well it really just confused me more because I wasn't sure if I liked it."

She nodded, "Well, that makes sense, all things considered."

"I think," I leaned in closer and whispered, "I'm a woman - let's get that out there, I'm a woman - who is interested in women."

She rolled her eyes. "Maybe you're just afraid of men because you used to be--"

"That's not it!" I whisper-hissed, "It felt fine. It didn't feel... you know, gay or anything. If that was it, why would I be so comfortable dressing myself like a woman rather than like a man? Why did I do it in the first place?"

She reasoned "Because you wanted to find out if--"

"Exactly." I cut her off. "As a man, I never wanted to find out, because I knew I liked girls. Now I'm a woman and I had to find out, and I know. Cherrie, I know. I like girls."

She squirmed a bit, not knowing what to say, but probably fearing what I was about to say. I put my hand on hers.

"I like you, Cherrie."

A tear trickled down her cheek and she pulled her hand away from me. "Don't..." she whimpered. It was too late. I said it and I meant it.

All she said was, "I'm sorry" as she dug through her purse, put a few bucks on the counter, and left, repeating, "I'm so sorry Nick."

I felt bad. Really heartbroken, like a teenager again. It was the exact same feeling whenever a girl would turn me down in high school, in college, in life. That's how I knew that was what I wanted.

Now I'm sitting here, minus one friend, and I have something I should be dressing for. That's the second part of the story but I really am low on time so I'll tell you how it turns out on Friday.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Brief: Swap halts plans for spring wedding

Donald Terry, 27, of Greenwich, CT, was heartbroken this past weekend to have to put his wedding plans on hold indefinitely. He had planned to wed his longtime fiancee, Marlene Darrick, 24, but is now completely unable to due to an untimely swap.

As final preparations were being made - Darrick was already in her dress for the cereminy later that afternoon - the bride felt dizzy and tried to sit down, only to regain her vision, a middle-pew view of the altar, in the seat occupied by Terry's own cousin, Frances Terry, 31.

Donald and Marlene are now legally unable to wed, as Ms. Darrick is biologically Donald's cousin.

"It's damn frustrating," complains Donald, "To look at the woman I love and in fact be seeing my cousin."

Donald hopes that the swap may soon someday be undone, as he is eager to resume life as normal.

"Plus," he quipped, "We couldn't get the deposit back on the Reception Hall."