Allison Zero - Book 1 - Part 9

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A dark metallic hallway on a space station, functional and industrial with signs of advanced technology, with a large hexagonal window with a view of a star field. Faint pink text with the words ‘Allison Zero’ are centred on the window to the star field.

Allison spent her first night as a woman tossing and turning in her sleep, her pain obvious to Angie who was looking after her. Allison did manage to make the best of her Sunday — after updating her doctor on her issues — mainly by spending time with her new ‘friend’ Robert.

With her first night being one of tumultuous rest — due to the faster than expected effects of the medication Dr. Grace prescribed — what will Allison discover upon waking on day three? And what will she not notice, or refuse to accept, that it takes Angie to point out?

Allison woke, not in pain, thankfully, but drenched through, just like the day before. Angie was no longer in bed next to her. She checked the time and saw it was later than she slept on the Sunday, which was late, and on both days it had been for good reason.

Walking into the living room Angie was sitting, dressed in a clean, casual dress, hair and makeup done, and obviously showered. Her hair even looked better styled than usual. She must have had all morning, and some of the lunchtime, to ready herself. And now she was reading.

Angie looked up at Allison. “I used your styler. Same ‘do,’ just tidied up,” she said. “How do you feel? How bad is the pain?”

“I don’t remember going to bed,” Allison said.

Angie nodded. “After our few smokes, when we got back here, you took the medication Dr. Grace prescribed for sleep and insisted it was having no effect. Well, it did have an effect. You were out cold in ten minutes. Tongue hanging out, drooling on Adam.”

Allison cringed. “Oh, no!” Her head fell. She thought that was a dream, her curling into Adam. And she liked it as a dream but as reality? She was Patryk a few days ago and she and Adam were buds. Now she was acting like she was some teenage girl with a crush on a grown up. And she definitely didn’t think of Adam that way.

“He thought you were adorable. Of course he didn’t say ‘adorable.’ But he looked proud as punch that you’d fall asleep cuddled into him. I don’t think he cared that you’d essentially been drugged and it wasn’t actually a reflection of any interest in him. He helped me put you to bed.”

“He undressed me!!?”

“No! He carried you to the bed. I put you in your nightclothes, and tucked you in, but he insisted on seeing you were safe and sound.”

“What?” Allison asked.

Angie laughed — with evil to the laughter. “Do you really want to know?”

Allison closed her eyes and shook her head. “No. I really don’t.”

“When you were tucked away he came back in—”

“Angie!” Allison said, muscles in her neck tensing.

“And he looked at you, in silence, for about thirty seconds, then walked over, like a proud Papa Bear, and stroked your hair—”

“Please, Angie...”

“And as he was stroking your hair you smiled a peaceful smile, and he gave sleeping beauty a kiss on the forehead.”

Allison’s chin was down on her chest. “Fucking hell. That’s horrific.”

“Don’t worry you silly bitch, he’s still a man. When we went to sleep he insisted on staying in the single room in case there was any problems like the first night. He probably wanked himself silly thinking of you. You should check your panty drawers. I bet something in whore red, silk and lace is missing. Stuffed in his pocket and filled with his shame. Sticky and gross. And smelly. And he’s disappearing to the toilets at work every break to add another load.”

Allison raised her head to stare at the ceiling, and with her eyes fixed straight up and said, “I feel awful.”

“Pain?” Angie asked.

“Mental anguish.”

“Guys are horndogs. They want to fuck. You gave Robert a handjob in the bar yesterday. Did he turn that down?”

Allison shrugged with confusion. “That’s different. That’s just hands.”

“And fluids.” Angie cackled. “You’re fine with the fucking but don’t want to be a pretty princess?” She laughed again. “Tough shit! You’re a cutie pie not a slut. Get used to it.”

“I’m neither! I don’t know what I am!”

“Allison! I’ve known you for—”

“Two days.”

“Two years!” Angie shouted. “When you were confused and thought you were a dude you were kind, and caring, and romantic. You are the same as most, other, normal women. We want to be swept off our feet.”

Allison looked as though she was about to interrupt but Angie continued. “And then, if we’re lucky, we get fucked senseless for hours by the man who swept us off our feet. And fucked so hard we have an out of body experience, which we most definitely need because we won’t be walking right for days.”

“Seriously, Angie?” Allison asked, thinking if her days were going to be filled with talk like this she’d be constantly exhausted.

“How’s the pain?”

“Genuinely none. But...”

Angie sat up straighter on the couch, resting her conn to her side and looking at Allison with concern.

“Last night... You were asleep, middle of the night — I woke. For maybe three or four hours, it was intense. Aches, all over. It wasn’t a sharp pain, just constant. Strong.”

“Skeleton? Bones? Please think.”

“No. Definitely not. I’m sure.”


Allison lowered the straps on her nightdress over her shoulders and wriggled the body off, letting it drop to floor before stepping out of it.

“Panties too,” Angie said.

“Why do you insist on seeing my genitals?” Allison demanded.

Angie’s smile was sly. “Because I get off on seeing asshole men having their dicks turned into clits. Then regretting everything they’ve given up forever, with no choice but to find the smallest amount of relief in being fucked like a single-use, disposable whore by the exact kind of man they used to be, not even a proper woman but a toy, fruitlessly wishing they could be that man again fucking the kind of useless bitch they’ve been stupid enough to turn themselves into.”

Allison pushed her panties down saying, “Fuck you, Angie!” as she took another step out of yet more discarded clothing on the ground.

“The first time a man who knows what he’s doing goes down on you you’ll be sure you made the right decision. I’ve seen men orgasm. It looks dull. You’ll love the new you.”

Allison raised her arms to the side to give Angie a good look. “It really is dull.”

“A grunt and it’s over. Pathetic!” Then she smiled. “You have boobs! I have to take a picture.” Her conn was held up in front of her.

“You’re not allowed take pictures. And certainly not because you’re imagining me having grown boobs in thirty-six hours!”

Angie was ignoring Allison and tapping something into her conn. “Dr. Grace asked for a picture of you. She might call if necessary. Did you sweat a lot last night?”

“Yeah. Just for those hours in pain. The bed will need replacing and professional cleaning again but I don’t want to bother Dr. Grace about that. She’s already doing so much.”

Angie handed Allison a bottle of water. Allison sat in the armchair, crossed her legs and began to drink.

There was silence for a few minutes, as Allison drank, until Angie laughed. It was more gentle amusement than the cackling and teasing from before.

“What?” Allison asked.

“Before... I mean, when... You’d barely let me even touch you. It took me about six months of chatting before I could touch your bare forearm without you pulling it back. Another six months before I could cuddle into you.”

“OK...” Allison said, nothing really coming to mind. Certainly not remembering anything with detail.

“Now you’re sitting opposite me, stark naked, without a care in the world. And certainly no cares about being known or open.”

Allison didn’t say anything to that, instead drinking some more water. And the silence returned. She was just thinking it was time for her shower when there was a call on her conn. It was Dr. Grace. Allison answered.

“How did you sleep, Allison?” Dr. Grace asked.

“Ten minutes to lights out after she took the sleep medication you prescribed,” Angie said.

“Any pain, Allison?”

“None in her bones, I’m sure of that. She woke for about four hours during the night, a lot of pain. Constant but not sharp until it subsided. Not targetted anywhere. Heavy sweating. Then she slept until twenty or so minutes ago. Pain free now. No medication taken, I think.”

Dr. Grace didn’t say anything in response. And Allison hadn’t said anything at all.

“Is your name Allison, Angie?” Dr. Grace asked, after a few seconds passed.

“What?” Angie asked.

“She’s right, Dr. Grace. My nurse got it all,” Allison said.

“And she’s sitting as naked as the day she was born — opposite me here — so I’d see if there was anything wrong on the surface.”

Some tapping of keys came down the conn like Dr. Grace was checking something on a computer. Then there was a pause and Dr. Grace spoke up again. “That makes sense. I’m guessing she wasn’t much of an exhibitionist before, Angie? Seeing as you seem to know everything.”

“She wasn’t. But what makes sense?” Angie asked. Asking the question Allison wanted to ask but didn’t know she could.

“Allison’s more comfortable in herself. The medication is working faster than I expected but not to a degree it’s an issue. If it happened overnight I’d be worried, or took longer than a month, those are one in a million effects and need close monitoring or further investigation. I would have expected this amount of change could have happened in maybe twenty percent of cases in four or five days, two days is a one percent case although you have been sleeping a lot which explains it a little. You seem to be doing, in terms of care, what you’re supposed to be doing, so your body and mind are doing what they need to do.” Again, there was silence. “Do you understand the boundaries I’ve given you? The likelihoods on what we expected, that there’s no concerns?”

“I do.” Allison was nodding. She really did get it.

“Do you like what’s happening to you, Allison?”

“Yes,” Allison said, not needing to give it any thought.

“It’s as simple as that, Angie. She wasn’t comfortable in her body. Now she is feeling more comfortable. The pharmaceutical side of things wouldn’t have had such a strong effect on mentality, not like this. This is just a stable base, one she didn’t have before, and what Allison wants. It’s what she needs. She feels good about her future.”

Allison grabbed where Angie had told her she’d grown boobs. “I told you, Angie! I’m just happier, there’s no real difference in me. I haven’t grown boobs overnight.”

Angie rolled her eyes.

“That’s not the case, Allison. Psychologically things are different, personality-wise things are different, legally things are different. I’d guess people are treating you a little differently, and you them. That all combines, to a whole, to say there are very real differences. There are hormonal and other changes too. When I say they’re not enough to change your head, as it were, that is medically correct, to put it in generalities. It’s certainly not going to rewire a personality. Something like that takes time and personal involvement. There’ll be a minor effect in mood, like a woman’s cycle or menopause, but not pronounced. Three days in it’ll have settled to you feeling normal. But when everything is put together in one basket it becomes quite a heavy basket. Or really more the opposite, you have a weight lifted off your shoulders. This is real.

“But if you’re talking purely physically? That can be noticed from simply looking at a naked you? There are definite, medically significant changes. I’m looking at them now as a comparison to your pre-medicated scans. Angie’s photograph was taken on a regular issue conn. They’re precise, not as precise as my personal medical conn, but even then the medical computer here has more than enough data from it to confirm everything I’m seeing with my eyes, and know from my training, and that I’m telling you. I’ll be having colleagues check my work later when I speak to them but I’m not wrong.”

“What will her orgasms be like?” Angie asked.

“Why are you doing this to her, Angie?” Dr. Grace asked, or more said as a statement. “Stop putting pressure on her. Let her find things out and enjoy things.”

Angie looked a little annoyed and was sitting more upright. “She said man orgasms were dull. I want to reassure her.”

Dr. Grace laughed. “Men tend not to think their orgasms are dull.” She laughed again. “So I am 99% certain Allison will enjoy her new non-man experiences a lot more.”

“When?” Angie asked.

“Please stop this, Angie,” Dr. Grace said.

“I’m not asking for no reason. This isn’t me being a bitch!” Angie sounded angry. “She likes a man and a man likes her I am telling you she is worried about that. She hasn’t said it, but I would be if I was her.”

There was yet more tapping on keys. “Everyone is worried about their first time.”

“YES, DR. GRACE! EVERYONE IS WORRIED ABOUT THEIR FIRST TIME! And everyone on the station had people to talk to. Friends, people who’ve been through it before. Drunken, uninhibited conversations in the early hours at parties. They’ve read stories about it, heard gossip about it, both accurate and not. Helpful and not. They’ve literally seen it happen with other people! Allison has nothing. I’m worried and it’s not even me!”

There was a pause, and silence almost below the station’s natural atmosphere. “Did you have a sex dream last night, Angie?” Dr. Grace asked.

Angie gasped. Then began to blush intensely as she stared at the floor.

“She’s beetroot red, Dr. Grace,” Allison said.

“I’m sorry, Angie. You’re right. You both need to know what’s happening, and I’ll explain that and the mistakes I realise I’ve made with both of you.” Dr. Grace paused.

Allison looked at Angie who was still staring at the floor, seemingly trying to hide herself away.

“You know how doctors will consult with other doctors if they’re not sure about something?”

“Yeah, of course. Same as anything,” Allison said.

“And in difficult cases there can be a team of people working on something?”


“Your case has a team, Allison. Full time. Across a range of disciplines. A lot of research is being crawled over. We’ve confirmed our stable, always-on links to a few specialist libraries and databanks this morning. There’s some interested teams in a couple of planetary institutes reviewing what we’re doing, and more who’ve asked for daily updates to make sure we’re not making mistakes and to offer help if they spot something.”

Allison didn’t know if she’d drawn even a single breath while Dr. Grace said all that. “Is my case really so serious?” she asked.

“Only in the way all medicine is serious. Dangerous? Definitely not. Significant? Maybe. Anyway, every case is significant to the person going through it. Is it rare? Extremely. Most importantly it’s different; there’s no real subject-authority alive who could be considered to have the final say in it, let alone an oversight board. It’s happened in the past, elsewhere. We haven’t found anyone on this station it’s happened with, ever. There are doctors and researchers who have expertise in related fields but not so knowledgeable they’re telling me they should take over your team. For now it’s my team. You came to me.”

In lieu of silence Dr. Grace continued. “A few of those experts are on their way to the station now. They’ll be here in about ten days. We have data links to them as they travel. Your health is not at risk, Allison. Nothing is unsafe about this, painful at times, needing review and maybe adjustments but not dangerous. Your well-being supersedes everything. Literally everything. If protecting your health means stopping the greatest scientific breakthrough since the jump drive then your health comes first. That is the case for everyone, with any issue. I am your doctor. I am not responsible for or to anyone else. Which is the mistake I made.”

There was another pause and then Dr. Grace spoke up again. “I haven’t been thinking about your well-being, Angie. I’ve asked too much of you. You’re a friend, not a carer. It’s not your job to maintain Allison’s health. That’s my job. That’s this team’s role.”

“Fuck off, Dr. Grace,” Angie said, sitting up. “Do you even have friends?” She looked grumpy, and upset.

“This isn’t about friends, Angie. This is a professional care situation,” Dr. Grace said.

“Yeah, I thought so. You have no friends. If you did you’d know this is what friends do for each other. I feel closer to Allison in two days than anyone else in my life. And that’s because I’ve wanted to be a real friend to her for two years. Now I see what was holding her back and it’s fucking amazing watching her be herself. So no, fuck off. I’m not doing any of this because you asked me to do it. I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing it because I care for my friend, Allison,” Angie said, then she mumbled something.

There was an intake of breath, then a cough down the conn. “I’m sorry, I missed that last part,” Dr. Grace said, with a strained voice.

“She called you an, ‘idiot voter,’” Allison said.

“And I’m being more idiotic than usual right now,” Dr. Grace said. “But I am learning, this is new to me as well. We’re all learning.”

“How many teams like this are there, Dr. Grace? For different people up and down the station?” Allison asked.

“I only know about the medical field, really. But let’s say at minimum a dedicated liaison doctor, and either a doctor or researcher pulling information, a third medical professional to double check everything and pick up any slack, and someone dedicated to handling admin... Not counting actual research labs? Easily over two hundred teams right now. Pretty much every medical professional on the station will be keeping up to date with the fields relevant to them, and offering advice and opinions when needed, a subset of medical professionals will be checking up on and moving between every team, or a group of teams in similar areas.

“Of the ones of your size, that’ll keep the minimum staff on full call for at least three months after the case is concluded, and nothing new presents itself, while keeping open datalinks, with planetary interest from institutional researchers? There’s usually between three and about eight at any one time.”

Allison shook her head. “How many doctors are there on the station?”

“A lot,” Dr. Grace said.

“How many people are on the station?” Angie asked.

“I have no clue. Only the Governor’s office really knows that. I listened to the most boring date in my life, when I was in university, try to explain his estimates based on something even more boring and I nearly lost to the will to live.

“A much more interesting date explained Deep-Space Stations are bigger — or more populated — than the biggest cities that ever existed on planets. And for the past few hundred years more important to the continued survival of the human species than the planets. She was a much more interesting date. I think she’s actually with the Governor’s office now.”

Angie sniggered. “‘She?’” she said, and laughed again.

“Oh, grow up Angie! Lots of women have tried it. I bet you did.”

“You’re back to being the good Dr. Grace, now,” Angie said.

“Thank fuck for that,” Dr. Grace said, with what sounded like a sigh of relief. “And now that you’re back to being your usual tormenting self I’m telling you I’m setting up a team for you too, Angie. And before you complain it is not the Angie Team. Nor is it the Allison Team any more. It is one team, for both of you. That’s another first, I think. If there are problems, and either of your health issues conflict with the others, I will talk to you and explain things. And we will figure things out.

“Now... Do I have to go over the really basic shit again, about what you need to do?”

“Walk, eat, rest,” Allison said.

“Drink too much, get in fights, party all night,” Angie said.

“You two make a great team,” Dr. Grace said. “Goodbye. Message with any issues. You should know by now if I’m unavailable or somehow manage to fall asleep someone will see the message and wake me if necessary.”

“Thanks, Dr. Grace,” Allison said.

The call ended.

“The sex dream was about me, wasn’t it?” Allison asked.

“Yeah,” Angie said, sucking air through her teeth. “It was weird though, which is why I blushed. There was nothing sexy about it. At all! I could handle it if we boned but we were just talking, over dinner. I can’t remember what we were talking about. I can’t even remember where we were or any details, not even what was on the table, but it was intense. And good.”

“I’ll get ready then we should go eat. I’m sure you actually had a plan for us today.”

“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard Dr. Grace swear.” Angie laughed.

“I like her,” Allison said.

“Nicest idiot voter I’ve met.”

Allison uncrossed her legs, slapped her thighs and hoisted herself out of her armchair, leaving to go shower. A dry shower, considering how late in the day it already was.

Not having taken two steps into the single room with the en-suite adjoined Allison was back in the living room where Angie had just reached for her conn. “Do I really have boobs?” she asked Angie.

Angie squeezed her fingers together. “Tiny ones,” she said. “Lil’ cuties.”

Allison smiled and felt a swagger in her step as she walked towards the shower.

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An impressive work.

It's hard to find completely unique stories. You've managed one here; this society has gendered castes, embedded in what seems to be an otherwise (possibly) egalitarian system. Maybe sort of benevolent fascism, though we can't really tell with the hints we've gotten, nor can we tell what led to the institutionalized misogyny.
Also really nice to see a society that appears to have solved scarcity problems, apparently able to keep all its citizens in reasonable comfort, though the sexism is disconcerting.
You also forced me to go check up on the few virtues of tobacco, which are limited to the mild stimulant effect of nicotine, and some minor antidepressant effects of other chemicals in tobacco. It's hard to imagine that you could get the bad stuff out of tobacco and leave anything useful behind. I'd assumed at first that ‘smoke’ was marijuana, which would be a much better candidate for the effects described.
In any case, this is engaging and well written, thanks.

(possibly) Egalitarian Systems - Sci Fi and the Distant Future

This story is set thousands of years in the future, possibly tens of thousands. It's to the point where actual numbers are irrelevant except to a few nerds and researchers. I don't know it myself. It's really not important. It is post-scarcity. And that's allowed them to do and achieve a lot. It was Des, in a previous part, who said something like, "We may never have a breakthrough as big as the jump drive again." And that's completely true. It's essentially what established the true post-scarcity environment. They've had virtually free energy for thousands of years as well. Humanity has no concerns other than aliens popping out of nowhere (don't worry, there's no aliens in this story.)

You might have noticed there's no advanced tech to the point it's bordering really mind-bending stuff, at least as far as sci-fi as a genre goes. That's very deliberate. This isn't a story about tech, in any shape or form. Allison Zero is about people, and societies. It's what I feel good sci-fi is. It's what I believe all good fiction is about, when it comes down to it: People.

As for the tobacco, that is essentially made up by me. It's the thousands of years in the future thing again. They've been developing it long enough, and "playing" with its growth, crossbreeding it, its chemical makeup, genetics (whatever you want yourself. How they do it doesn't matter. It is what it is.) that they can do what they want with it. If you're bald there's no special tobacco that will let you re-grow your hair after you smoke it. It serves a specific function within society (which is part of Allison's story.) And as we've seen so far there are tobaccos that are mild stimulants, there's one that's calming, there's one that affects/intensifies taste. The brown ones that "unleashed" who Allison is is The Big Daddy. I haven't decided the boundaries of that one except they pack the force of a sledgehammer and are probably the only truly dangerous things we've seen in the story so far. Outside of the fact that Robert works as a handler moving stuff around, and there'll always be industrial accidents, including deaths, so that's a physical danger that's implied, especially with reference to his skin being stained. And it's pretty much why male citizens only work three or four days a week. They're some of the few who are exposed to true danger. Society has decided you can't expose someone to the chance of being paralysed and expect them to work five days a week, or more, and not have and enjoy their time off.

And thanks for the comment. I know there's a lot "hidden away" in this world, and it's asking a little of any reader to go with me. It is part of the story, though. Not in the sense of the hiding being a device of storytelling, rather it is a functional part of this society, and very much core to what makes it what it is. I'm not being flippant with it or trying to use it as a crutch. So to see someone engaged with it, and accepting that, is extremely encouraging to me. Thank you <3

This story continues to intrigue

Emma Anne Tate's picture

So many hidden layers to the organization of this society, and now you’ve given us another piece of the puzzle — a sense of scale. The habitat is huge, and heavily populated. A post scarcity environment, and yet there is scarcity (for example, hot water for showering), which suggests that the scarcity is a social construct. Hmmmmm . . . .

Highly imaginative, with characters that pop. I’m really enjoying it, and think this is a story that will also be fun as a binge-read when it’s complete.


The true blessing of...

Thanks, Emma. It is a true blessing to have highly engaged readers. :)

I realised early on in writing this it'd "work" much better being published as a completed novel. I don't mind about the inefficiency, however. I'm enjoying writing it and publishing it the way I am now. I think it'll stand to the story in the long run that my working with it is more enjoyable this way — including getting comments like yours and taryntula's— over any potential upside there'd be in maintaining readers with a weekly release of an already completed story. Or by simply releasing an entire novel in one fell swoop. It's part of the beauty of a site like this, for authors at least.