Time is not always a healer. Science is often best used by those who have the greatest need and I thought I was one of those people. My name is John Harper. I had been employed for seventeen years at a scientific laboratory that did a great deal of rather secretive work with genetics, stem cell research and even some more radical surgical techniques. I was what is commonly known as a "tech." I helped by doing the lab tests and tabulation of results from those tests.

A bit over three years ago I fell victim to a condition that doctors said would deteriorate nerves that made motor function of musculature impossible. Basically my nerves would not make my muscles move when my brain told them to. Shortly I was confined to a wheelchair as my legs would not move correctly. The troubled me greatly. I hated looking up at the world from a chair but there was little I could do about it at this time.

Research groups in our lab had been working on some theories that brought some impressive results with lab animals. They had taken rodents, mostly mice and rats, that had physical damage of the limbs and had created some very interesting changes in them. Some had the deformities completely eliminated. Some problems were just improved. Those were the areas I was most interested in. I read through some of the literature, mostly charts and logs, and became quite hopeful that I might be seeing a way out of my situation.

Several months went by and I watched the studies and research. Soon it became evident that things were becoming predictable. When certain parameters were entered into the "equations" certain things seemed to always happen. For example, when a set of numbers was entered into the computer and the animal, one with paralyzed hind legs, was irradiated, the result was always an animal with legs that now moved. They moved slowly and somewhat unsteady but they moved. They even supported the animal's weight! This was the door I was waiting for. I needed to step through now or loose the chance!

One night I stayed behind at the lab. I told my supervisor that I had to finish tabulations on our project. It had a deadline in two days and these figures had to be finished by morning. She seemed to buy the excuse and left me to my work.

I wheeled myself down the hallway to the lab. As I entered I could hear the steady hum of the power supplies of the equipment. On the table near the irradiation generator was a fish tank that held several mice, all of which had some type of physical problem. I opened the top, grabbed a mouse by the tail and placed it in a small plastic canister. I aimed the wand at it and set the dials ... pushed the leaver and watched. A light blue glow came from the end of the wand. The mouse flinched a bit but otherwise seemed unhurt or even undisturbed. One minute passed and I returned the lever to it's off setting. The mouse just sat there. Minutes passed and then it happened. The mouse began to move about the canister as if it had nothing wrong with it! I watched it closely for several minutes. Still no sign of any problems. I knew then that I must use this on myself ... but how long?

I calculated several possible settings of power and time, pertaining to my body weight and mass. I then took off all the metal jewelry and clothing parts and laid them on the floor. Even my shoes came off. I then pointed the wand towards myself as I sat in a wooden chair next to the table. I set the timer for seven minutes and the power to 3200 gig. I moved the lever and closed my eyes. The hum of the machine raised in pitch and there was a warm feeling the coursed through my body right down to my toes. The seven minutes passed and the hum lowered in pitch. The warmth left and I felt nothing but relaxed. The first thing I did when I opened my eyes was feel my legs. They felt as I thought they should. As I looked at my feet I tried to move my left one. It moved ever so slowly .. but it DID move! I tried the right one .... it moved as well. It worked!

I stood up carefully as I held the edge of the counter. I moved one foot and then the other and I actually took a few steps ... then I did the same without holding the table. I was walking again. I WAS WALKING AGAIN!

I immediately cleaned up, placed the mouse back in the cage and reset the settings on the machine to normal. Then I left the lab. I went down the hallway and cleaned up my area and left the research center and headed home for the night.

As I got home I got into my apartment and fixed a bit of food, watched some TV and then readied myself for bed. Lying down I felt a slight tingle in my legs but thought nothing of it. It was probably just nerves rejuvenating. I dropped off to sleep dreaming of things I wanted to do tomorrow.

The alarm blasted me awake at the normal time, 5:32 am. Why 32? I don't know. I reached over in the dusty dawn of morning and smacked the clock with my hand. It fell silent. I rolled over and took the first morning step I had taken in several years. I fell on my face. I fell flat on my face and my chest hurt something terrible from that rude awakening. What was wrong with this picture? Last night I had walked to bed. This morning I have fallen on my face. What has changed? As I looked down at my feet I was stunned beyond belief. There were  no feet there. My legs just ended at my ankles. No feet what so ever!

As I sat up I noticed that my chest ached as if I had bruised it. I reached to rub it and was again shocked to find two mounds of flesh and a sensation that I had never felt before. I had breasts that any woman would be happy to have. This could not be happening. As my hands felt the breasts I also looked down to my genitals were. It was a vagina, not a scrotum and penis! How is this possible? Could this be true?

I pulled myself up on my bed and sat there for a moment trying to collect my thoughts. Fortunately I had brought my wheelchair into my bedroom so I transferred to it and made my way into the bathroom. After turning on the light I looked at myself in the mirror. My figure was quite strange .. but very much as a woman of my age would normally be. I had short hair and moderately fine features. I had what I estimated to be about a "C" cup breast size and my legs were still fairly long. They just ended where my ankles should have been. I was now a woman with two problems. I had no clothes and no feet. One I knew I could fix ... the other I was not so sure about.

I found a sweatshirt and a pair of Levi's and slipped them on. The shirt was baggy and the Levi's were tight. They were made for a guy's shape and not the one I found in my bed this morning. I called in sick and took myself out for a little information seeking. I called Tom Hansen. He was one of the scientists that I worked with. I told him what had happened and he actually seemed to understand. He did tell me a few things that gave me some choices to make. He said he could put me back the way I was or I could stay as what I now was and keep the legs that moved. He said that if I chose to stay as I am now he could get me identification to replace the ones I had as a man, credit cards, driver's license, passport, social security card, everything. Or I could go back to the old me and eventually the nerve condition would worsen and I would probably die from it. I asked if I could think it over for a while. He told me to take my time and that tomorrow would be soon enough. I thi
 nk he was joking.

I was getting hungry so I stopped at a small shopping mall. Wheeling myself inside and up to a fast food eatery I noticed the stares of several people, not the least of which were three young men, two of which were quite nice looking. As I wheeled around the little mall I noticed they seemed quite interested. Not being used to men's attention, having not been a woman for long, I was quite uncomfortable so I left the mall, taking my lunch with me. As I ate in the safety of my van I thought about what had just happened. I finally decided that this being a woman may not be quite so bad .. especially if it meant that I would outlive my old nerve condition. No, I had no feet but that could be fixed with prosthetics, right?

Well, If I was going to be a woman I was going to need some real clothes. I was no fool and I had seen most of the adds and catalogs and more magazines than you can shake a stick at. I know what women wear. I also know enough to ask for help when I need it.

First ... underware. I stopped at a cash machine and got several hundred dollars. That way I'd not have to sign anything as John. Several bras, panties, pantyhose later and I was well set in the "foundations" area. Now I needed some outer clothes. I few shirts, I mean blouses and three skirts,... two dresses and two pair of "slacks," as the sales woman called them. I was now ready to check out the makeup department.

I wheeled myself into Dayton's and right up to the woman at the counter. I looked as if I really needed a makeover and she bit the bait. She said "Can I interest you in a facial today? We're having a sale on all of our counter brands. They're 30% off until Friday." I told her that I couldn't afford much but I'd be interested in something simple, easy to do. I wheeled myself out of there with a bag of makeup and $200 lighter wallet.

Now I had to get home to try out this stuff. The bra and panties were easy. So were the pantyhose. The dress was a bit hard to pull up but I got it done. Now came the makeup. It took me nearly thirty minutes to do the simplest of things, mascara, lipstick and blush. The woman at Dayton's had plucked my brows. ..... That really hurts. I was ready to head down and see if Tom had anything to help me out.

I wheeled into the lobby and asked at the desk if Tom Hansen was in. They paged him and he met me in the lobby. We went to his office and he looked me over. "Wow! You're actually quite the knockout aren't you?" I told him thanks and that I'd decided to stay this way and keep my life. He said "Good choice." He said "I can line you up with my wife and she can coach you in how to act and speak so you'll not sound so much like a guy. Your voice is fine but the languages is a bit rough for a woman of your .. a .. beauty, if you know what I mean." He winked. As for the possibility of prosthetics . I can set you up with any of three or four places here in the city. Or .. you can stay in that chair if you like. You may find it quite useful in many situations." Again he winked. I told him "thanks."

I was now a woman who was fully mobile .. though I had no feet. I now have no nerved disorder and have the possibility of a full life. I even have my career at the lab, thanks to Tom.

It has been four years since I changed. I have two great prosthetic feet that I use at work and I often go out on the town with friends in my wheelchair sans feet. I am even dating on occasion. There are certain men who actually seem to enjoy the fact that I have no feet. There have been several women who have even approached me. Seems I've not lost my interest in women either. You see, my lower legs have atrophied to the point of being just bone covered in skin so they are very thin but my thighs are well proportioned. You can imagine just where I can put those thin legs in a woman's physique .. can't you?

My life is getting better and better. I'm glad I made The Trade Off. Tell me, would you have done otherwise?



from: Kevin Lincicum, 50, United States
e-mail: anonimous