Site icon Beyond Ourselves


Story by Liam Slade / Originally Published May 22, 2021

When Danielle first agreed to go out with me, I was on top of the world. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever laid my eyes on. She had the perfect body – 5’9 and buxom, with beautiful bedroom eyes and a waterfall of shining light brown hair. I idolized her from afar as we both frequented the same bar downtown. I would see her with her girlfriends laughing and wish I could be there, yukking it up with them with my arm around her. If we got there early, I would watch the door for her arrival and when she’d come in – always accompanied by the sound of every guy’s head in the place turning – I’d nudge my buddy Stu and say “I’ll get her someday.”

Stu of course would laugh and shake his head. “No way bro,” he would say. “You’re too chicken, you know she’s out of your league.”

League shmeague, I thought. Let her decide that. Slowly, I started building up a relationship with her – buying her drinks, getting to know her and not saying too much about myself. Real charming. I did have to constantly fend off the competition, of course. But eventually, she agreed to date me.

We would go out every weekend to restaurants and movies – places besides the usual bar so she would know this was a real date, we were starting a real relationship. I kept her close, knowing that many guys wouldn’t care that she was already with someone.

Eventually, that came to be a problem for her. She didn’t want it to just be her and me all the time. She still wanted to see her friends, and that meant going to the bar where all the guys would slobber all over her. That bugged me. I was still her guy, of course. I was the one she was going home with at the end of the night and we had an amazing time in bed, but she still didn’t want to commit. She even texted with other guys, even though she said they were “just friends.” I knew any one of those guys wanted to be where I was.

I felt toyed with. She would say “We’re just having fun… would you rather have some of me or none of me?” I knew I was getting enough of her to satisfy myself, but I also felt like I was at risk of losing her any time, if some other guy would come along, since she was so open.

Finally, she said, she was getting tired of my attitude. If I didn’t shape up, she was going to end things with me.

That’s when the idea occurred to me.

I didn’t know how the machine worked. Do you know how your computer or your phone works? You turn it on, push the buttons or open the apps, and you get the results. I’m no genius, just lucky enough to know them. In this case it was my crazy uncle Alden. Alden was an inventor, and he specialized in neuroscience. He died before he could unveil his big invention to the world: the Neuro-Transference Module. After he died, he left it in a storage unit that I and my parents were paying for. The way I saw it, that made it mine.

Uncle A left a manual on how to operate it – detailed notes on the scientific principles behind it, with schematics and everything, and plain English instructions on what it does and how to work it, for laymen like me. I guess he figured we’re not all neuroscientists in the family.

It was a simple thing, the main device about the size of a video game console with its own monitor. Plug a subject’s brain into the module with a little needle and flip hit execute. Everything about that person is stored in the device’s memory while their body enters a comalike state. Then you can input any other person’s brain in the body, and put the stored brain in any available human body.

Maybe it was an extreme length to go to, but I couldn’t lose Danielle. I idolized her, it’s just that her personality was giving me so much trouble.

So I called up Helene.

Helene was this woman from work. She was a little bit older, a little rough-looking. The years hadn’t totally been kind to her. She had a few wrinkles, saggy cheeks, and frizzy brown hair. And I knew she liked me – hell, I knew she loved me. She always took a seat next to me at meetings. She friended me on Facebook and would like every status update I made except for those that were about Danielle. She was constantly looking for opportunities to talk to me, and when she got my phone number she would text me frequently just to see what I was up to.

I didn’t hate Helene, I just thought she was a little annoying. Hell, in another life, I thought, maybe we would have a shot together, since she liked the same Baseball teams and movies and music as I did. I just wasn’t attracted to her, and her obsession with me was really overbearing. But I thought, if her exterior was different, maybe I could look past all that.

So once Danielle was “put to bed” I texted her “Hey – would you maybe want to fool around?”

Helene was no saint. She knew I was in a relationship. But she wasn’t going to let that stop her. She came right over.

We spent some time on the couch. I willed myself to get close to her. It was a bit like kissing an ashtray. She was about to take it further, reaching for my belt, when I asked – “How would you like to be beautiful?”

She paused. “What do you mean?”

“I can make it so that you don’t look like you anymore. Then we can be together.”

I don’t know if she heard everything I said beyond the part about us being together. So she agreed enthusiastically. “Whatever you want,” she said with a grin on her face.

I put the needle in her brain and downloaded her into Danielle’s body. She awoke with a start, gasping. “Oh my God!”

She looked at herself in the mirror, admiring Danielle’s features – her Bambi eyes, her round cheekbones, her beautiful straight teeth.

“This is unreal!” she squealed. “I feel so… so sexy!”

I knew I had picked the right person in Helene. She was miserable as herself, would have jumped at the chance to be beautiful and desired like Danielle was.

We had sex that night. Raw, sweaty, passionate sex. She did everything I wanted her to, grateful for the gift I had given her. She loved exploring her body, and loved letting me explore it too.

We brought her empty shell to the hospital. The doctors had no idea what had happened and believed me when I said I didn’t either; they put her on life support.

Things went on for a while, hot and heavy between me and the new Danielle. Helene relished her role as my one and only. She didn’t look at other guys, she didn’t talk to other guys, she was mine. I was free to parade her around as much as I liked, and at the end of every night we would tumble into bed and screw like bunnies.

A few weeks later, we got word from the hospital – Helene’s body was shutting down. But she didn’t care.

“I’m never going back,” she said coldly and firmly. “Let it die.”

I was a little unnerved.

Then things started to get worse.

Helene was too obsessed with me. Since we didn’t work together any longer, she texted and called me constantly and got suspicious and angry if I took too long to respond. I got constant aggravated voicemails from her demanding to know where I’d been. All that love she had for me turned to frustration and rage. She ran hot and cold, sometimes refusing to speak to me because of some slight I had no idea about, then turning back around and asking when we were going to get married and have kids. It was too much, I couldn’t stand it.

I confided to Stu, explaining everything about the body-switcher. What could I do? I had created this monster and had no choice but to live with it.

Stu was amazed. He had noticed the change in Danielle’s personality but thought it was due to some kind of therapy or drugs or hormones or something. “There had to be some explanation besides she just liked you so much,” he chuckled. I sneered at that. He hadn’t dated anyone in years.

I happened to go out one night with a female friend from college, Rachel, purely as friends. The whole night Helene/Danielle texted me demanding to know my location and I refused to tell her. Then as we were walking home, a car roared out of the shadows. Helene was behind the wheel. She gunned it toward us. We just barely made it to safety.

That confirmed to me that Helene was too far gone. She apologized profusely, tearfully begging me to take her back. I couldn’t believe her, but I played along. I knew I had to put an end to it. The next night while Helene slept, I grabbed the device and activated it, sucking her mind out of Danielle’s body. Then I loaded up the file containing Danielle’s persona. I hoped she could forgive me.

I hit ‘execute’ and – nothing.

Well, not nothing, but a red light came on the device and a popup on the screen.

“Error 1004: File Incompatible”

I tried again, and nothing. Panicked, I looked in Uncle A’s manual for some kind of a solution.

Error 1004: Prolonged storage may result in compatibility issues with download destination.

My jaw hung open. What did that mean? I definitely wasn’t smart enough to know.

In the meantime I had to deal with her empty body. If I didn’t put a mind in there, she was going to have to go to the coma ward, and then follow Helene to the grave.

I called Stu for assistance and he came right over.

“She’s stuck in a coma,” I explained. “If she doesn’t wake up, people are going to think it’s suspicious and start looking at me.”

“I’m sure you’re exaggerating,” Stu said. “Nobody’s going to blame you.”

“Her dad’s a Captain on the Police Force,” I told him. “I can’t risk him suspecting me of anything.”

“What are you going to do? You can’t just put Helene back in there, she’s dangerous,” Stu said.

“I don’t know man,” I said. “I’m short on options.”

Stu and I looked at each other.

“Stu,” I said finally, “How’s it going, really?”

His eyes widened when he realized what I was about to suggest. “No way.”

“Come on, man,” I said. “Don’t tell me you’re not a little bit curious.”

Stu was a great guy, but he never had much luck in life. He was out of work, out of shape, and besides me, kind of friendless.

“Don’t you think there’s worse things in life,” I said, “Than being a beautiful woman? The body’s no use to Danielle, and Helene’s a psycho…”

He stared down at the body. She looked peaceful and asleep.

“Oh my God,” he sighed. “I can’t believe I’m… considering this.”

“Come on, bud,” I said. “You’d be doing me a huge favor.”

He winced uncertainly, shifting on his feet agonizingly trying to come to a decision. “Errrrrrr… okay,” he finally said. “Just for a little bit, until we figure something else out.”

I beamed. This was exactly what I wanted to hear.

“And no funny business between us,” he said. I agreed.

I let him lie down on the couch as I linked him up. Before long, “Danielle’s” eyes fluttered open.

“Oh man,” he – now she – said raspily, like someone awakening from a deep sleep. “This is insane.”

I looked him up and down. He looked himself up and down. He cupped his breasts and smiled. A mischievous glint came in his eye and a smile of approval crossed those beautiful lips.

“You know, it’s not so bad.”

“That’s the spirit,” I grinned.

It was great to see “Danielle” up and about, but this meant the end of my relationship her. I liked Stu okay as a friend, but didn’t want to date him, and I was pretty sure he felt the same way. It was hard letting her go, though. She had been the only thing I ever wanted for so long, and I got to have her, it sucked to lose her.

The next day, Stu and I brought his comatose body to the hospital. Some of the nurses looked at me a little confused, noticing that I had been there a lot lately but they didn’t ask questions.

Time went on. I saw less and less of Stu as he disappeared into the role of Danielle. I would see his posts on her social media, laughing, living life and looking beautiful. I felt pangs for what I had lost. It didn’t feel fair.

Guilt gnawed at me. What did it mean that Danielle’s file was incompatible? Had I killed her?

In the back of Uncle A’s notes there was contact info for an old assistant of his, Trevor. If anyone knew what to do about this situation, it was him. I made arrangements to meet at his lab.

I presented to body-switcher and he laughed. “I can’t believe you got it to work,” he chuckled. “That thing’s glitchy as hell. Storage is just awful on it.”

“That’s my point,” I said. “I’ve got somebody’s brain stored on there and it says File Incompatible or whatever,”

“Yeah,” he said as if that only made logical sense. “The only thing that can truly store a mind for any length of time is a human brain.”

Trevor explained to me that he could design a special patch that would enable me to download Danielle’s mind. But it would take time.

Time was something we didn’t have a lot of. Stu’s body could start degenerating any day. I was feeling more and more pressure to put things right. But I was worried he would be reluctant. Stu had taken Danielle’s life and run with it, learning how to be feminine and hot. And he had used Danielle’s assets to his advantage. When I went to see him, he was no longer living in Danielle’s dingy apartment – he was living in a gorgeous high rise penthouse.

“What the hell, man?” I said as I entered, looking at the expensive furniture and the beautiful view. “What are you doing here?”

“Well,” he said, penting his feminine fingers nervously and biting his juicy lower lip as he spoke, “You know Tom Stone, the starting pitcher for the Mets? It’s his place.”

“You’re dating a baseball player?!” I cried out in shock.

“Engaged, actually,” he said, shrugging and wincing at once.

“Stu!” I said, grabbing his slender little shoulders, “What are you doing?! You can’t—”

“It all happened so fast!” he said, taking a seat. “There I was, out at the bar, just being me, when in walks this famous ballplayer. And I thought, I should go say hi or something, and I don’t even think about what I look like. But then he gets me a drink, and we’re talking and… a few weeks later, we’re…” he held up his hand with a giant engagement ring on it.

I cringed in disgust. “Does that mean you…”

“Have done the nasty? Yeah. A lot.”

“Oh my God, Stu…”

“I’m in too deep, man… I’m sorry.”

“You can’t go through with this,” I said. “This is someone else’s life.”

Stu heaved a deep sigh and ran his fingers through his long brown hair. He looked down at his body, dressed in a sundress that had the “girls” on display. He looked so gorgeous it was weird to think of my old buddy Stu in there.

“What are we gonna do?”

“I don’t think you can be trusted with Danielle’s body anymore,” I said. “You’re gonna wind up with kids at this rate.”

Stu agreed. He said he wanted to say one last goodbye to Tom Stone, but I couldn’t let him change his mind. We wrote him a “Dear John” letter and took off.

We were able to put Stu’s mind back in his own body, but that left us with no mind to put in Danielle’s. I visited her day after day in the hospital out of guilt, but there was no news on this patch that Trevor was supposed to be designing.

One day I ran into her father, the Police Captain. He was a hard, stone-faced man. He told me, “I don’t believe my little girl just fell into a coma one day. Something’s wrong here. And if I ever find out who’s responsible, I’ll make their life hell. You understand? If I can’t put them behind bars, I’ll make them wish they were.”

It was just what I was afraid of.

Even worse, Trevor was having no luck with the patch.

“I’m sorry,” he told me. “This stuff is just too complicated for me. I think we lost her.”

I wanted to punch a wall. This couldn’t be happening. If Danielle’s dad ever found out the part that I played in what had happened to his daughter, I was done for.

There was only one thing to do.

I had Trevor hook me up to the device.

When I woke up, the sun was shining. There was a dry, murky taste in my mouth, like I had been asleep for weeks. I blinked my eyes and looked at my hands: small, petite. I felt long, unwashed brown hair behind my head.

The doctors came in. It was a miracle, she had finally awoken. I had awoken. And just in time, they needed a bed for a new coma patient. Me.

I was woozy, but after some tests, they let me go. I dressed myself and went home, back to Danielle’s dingy apartment, to be alone.

There, I admired my looks in the mirror. Still beautiful, still a perfect figure. It felt a little different looking at it from this angle, but so much the better.

This was for the best, I thought. The idea of Danielle being with someone else angered me. I was the only one she should be with. Now I would always have her. Just like I always wanted.

Copyright 2021 Liam Slade, all rights reserved. To be reprinted only with permission of the author.

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