Saturday, February 18, 2017

Cathy's Long Lost Stories - Extreme Measures - A Story from A Devoted Future


Extreme Measures:
A Story from A Devoted Future
By ParaGirl

The Players
Linda had always been very bright, ever since she began school.  Her grades were always the highest, her projects always the best and her parents were always the proudest.  She had always loved media, from books to videos to holograms, but her foremost love was computers.  She started playing with her house computer by age four, and her parents got her a deck of her own when she was seven.  By nine she was already an adequate programmer, and by thirteen she was actually improving on consumer wares, making them run more efficiently or add to their capabilities.  Of course she could never sell or gain credit for her skills, at least not for another six months, on her eighteenth birthday- after she went through Puberty.

Linda had many friends, but the girls who held the distinct honor of ‘Best Friend’ were Karen, Libby, and Iris. They had grown up in the same neighborhood, gone to the same school, and the four had been friends for as long as any of them could remember. They were all almost the same age, though Linda was technically the youngest.  Iris, the oldest of the group, would reach puberty in just six weeks, and like most girls she was
very excited about her impending womanhood.  It was actually one year ago, on Iris’ seventeenth birthday, when the beginnings of a plan started in Linda’s mind- a plan that, to Linda’s knowledge, had never been tried before.


The Plan
Linda, like most girls her age, was both excited and nervous about Puberty, the day when a girl became a woman and left some part of herself behind in the process.  Linda would never think about NOT going through puberty, but the uncertainty of the whole process frightened her, she wasn’t sure if she could accept her Womanly Body, at least not certain possibilities of it.  She couldn’t bear the thought of losing her arms, and a wheelchair, though not as bad, still frightened her.  After long hours of thought, she decided that deafness would be acceptable, not too difficult, as she already knew Sign fluently, but still Puberty, so she would still be a Woman.  It was with this thought that her plan emerged.

No one really knew how FATE, the deciding factor in every Puberty, chose the Womanly Body that a girl would get, but everyone knew it was some sort of computer, and that was the key. If Linda could somehow get into that computer, she could possibly manipulate the data to give her exactly what she wanted for her Puberty.  She already had a vague idea on how to do it, and she had three tries to get it right- her three friends were going before her.

The First Try
Linda made the first connection to FATE four days before Iris’ Day of Decision. The security was incredible, more layers than Linda had ever seen, all protecting what looked like huge numerical database.  Linda didn’t know what many of the numbers’ meant, but she figured out a few sets- one was the identifier number, a unique number given to each citizen at birth.  It took little time to find her own, and she figured out another string of numbers was her birthday, but the other strings of numbers were undecipherable.  She found Iris’ number and marked that set of codes on her home deck.  It would be a risk, using one of her tries just to see if the code changed, but it was all she could do.

Iris’ birthday came, and Linda got back into FATE to find her string. She did a compare of Iris’ saved string and the new string- there was only one digit different, and it changed from 0 to 1!  That was the information that Linda needed- if only one digit changed, then FATE for a girls’ puberty was probably predetermined.  She got out many of the tools
she had written and had to write two more to begin the decipher of the remaining string of numbers, but once she saw Iris when she got home from her puberty, she would have even more information.

Linda waited at Iris’ new home with all Iris’ other friends and family. By the layout of the place she could tell Iris would be in a wheelchair, though no one spoke of that.  Finally the doors opened, and in rolled Iris- her legs were still there, but by her feet Linda could tell that Iris was paralyzed.  There was much rejoicing, and Linda and the rest of the girls got together with Iris and talked for hours.  Thankfully, none of the girls noticed how distant Linda was as she sat and went over the code in her mind.  Oh, she laughed and joked and enjoyed the company of her best friends, but her thoughts were always with that string of numbers on her deck at home.

The Second Try
It had been five weeks since Iris had come home, and it was only one week before Libby’s day of decision, when Linda thought she had the answer. The numbers represented different codes of disability, in octal format. When she decoded the Octal, she got three-letter alphabetic codes that represented different disabilities.  She tested the hypothesis with Iris, and her code came up PAR- that had to mean paralysis.  There was another string of numbers that Linda still hadn’t accounted for, but she believed she had the key she needed.  According to the code, Libby was destined to be a BAE, which Linda took to mean Bilateral Above Elbow amputee.  Linda knew that Libby really wanted to be in a wheelchair, and she wanted to be a doctor.  Holding her breath, Linda changed the code from BAE to BAK, or Bilateral Above Knee.  She knew what she was doing, using her best friend as a guinea pig for her own plan, but if it worked Libby would be so happy.  She entered the code, then re-checked that section of the string to make sure it saved properly.  She shut down her deck and silently prayed for her friend.

Libby’s rehabilitation took longer than Linda anticipated, but she finally got the call to Libby’s homecoming.  Linda was the first one there, and she was so nervous she was shaking.  She waited silently while all Libby’s other friends chatted in joyful anticipation.  Finally, the door opened and Linda’s heart rose, then sank.  Libby walked in on both legs, but with empty silk sleeves- the change hadn’t worked, Libby was still a BAE amputee.  Without realizing it, Linda started to cry and Libby walked up to her and hugged her with her new arm stumps, telling her it was OK, that she felt wonderful and she was a woman now.  Linda pulled herself together and made her apologies, saying she wasn’t feeling well.  She left and as soon as she made it home turned on her deck and logged back into FATE.  She pulled up Libby’s code and looked for the change.  It wasn’t there!  They must have changed it back somehow- they must have had more layers of security than she had figured out.  This was actually better than she had thought, and she already had a plan for her next try.    She had to be right, because this was her last chance.

The Third Try
Linda had been monitoring FATE for seven weeks when Karen went for Puberty.  She had changed Karen’s code repeatedly and watched it- she had figured out what the layer of security was that did the refresh and had overcome it- it was a simple checksum, and it didn’t appear that it’s routine alerted anyone to a violation, luckily for her.  Karen was destined to be RBE, or Right Below Elbow amputation.  This posed a dilemma for Linda, because she knew Karen wanted an arm amputation, so she didn’t want to test the code for deafness- she believed it was DEF. She entered LAE for Left Above Elbow amputation, calculated and changed the checksum, and crossed her fingers.  If this didn’t work, she would abort the whole thing and take what she was going to get.  She kept checking to make sure the code didn’t’ change, and on the day after Karen’s puberty, the code was still as Linda had set it- LAE.  Linda waited nervously for the call to come to Karen’s coming home party.

    The day finally came, and as Karen walked in the door, a Left Above Elbow amputee- it had worked!  Linda ran up and hugged her one-armed friend, laughing and saying how wonderful she looked.  She and her friends enjoyed the party and Linda stayed out until very late, her head swimming with her success- she had changed FATE!!  She got home and turned on her deck, calling up herself.  She finally looked at the code she had been given at birth- RAK- she was to be a Right Above Knee amputee, spending her days on crutches, hobbling around. Not any more!   She changed her code to DEF and updated the checksum- she was ready for Puberty!

The Big Day
    Linda’s friends and family had never seen a girl so excited for puberty.  Her party was bright and cheerful, and the morning of her eighteenth birthday she practically skipped to the Hospital and her Puberty Clinic.  She passed all manner of women on the street, in wheelchairs, on crutches, with empty sleeves, and she smiled at each one, imagining herself in just a few days as a Woman.

    The Puberty clinic was warm and inviting, and Linda approached the counter.  The nurse behind the counter, who was in a wheelchair and had no legs, greeted Linda warmly and took her information down, then led her to the waiting area.  There were already four girls there before her, and as usual no one spoke, they all just sat nervously and stared at the inspirational posters on the walls.  Linda tried to fit in, But she was so excited she fidgeted and the other girls looked at her strangely.  One of them offered a small smile but turned back away before Linda could return it.

    The first girl was called and walked up to FATE.  The screen showed a reflection of her, then blanked, replacing the image with the girl naked, but shaded black from her waist down- the girl would be paralyzed.  A doctor came in on crutches, one leg gone right at the hip, and she led the girl through the doors and into Womanhood.

    A few minutes later the next girl was called.  Again the girl got on the platform, and it showed her as she stood.  Again the screen blanked, and again the image was replaced by an image of the girl, naked, only this time she was less one arm at the elbow- she would be an arm amputee as dictated by FATE.

The third girl was called up and the screen reflected her Womanly Self- both legs amputated mid-thigh. The fourth girl was called up, and FATE reflected her Womanly Self- paralyzed, this time the screen reflected the girl shaded from the shoulders down- she would be paralyzed as high up as possible, a rare occurrence indeed.  The girl visibly slumped as she saw the reflection, and her doctor, an elder woman in a wheelchair with Para legs, put her hand on the girls’ arm, leading her gently into the clinic.

    Finally it was Linda’s turn, and she could barely contain her excitement.  She stood on the platform and FATE reflected her as she stood.  The screen blanked and was replaced but an image of Linda, naked.  She looked right at her head, for the black shading on her ears, but it wasn’t there.  She looked again, and the indication that she would be deaf just wasn’t there.  She held her breath as she looked at the rest of her body, then she began to shake.   Her doctor, a pretty younger woman with one arm, placed her only hand on Linda’s shoulder and led her gently back, into the clinic.  She was prepared and led to her operating room, where she laid on the table with tears in her eyes, still shaking.  As she  fell into an anesthetic sleep, the last thing she saw was her mistake, the image of her Womanly Self.

The Results
    Linda woke up groggy and disoriented.  She was blindfolded, as she expected.  She heard someone in the room and called out.

    “I’m right here Linda” her doctor replied.

    “It’s over then?” was all she asked.

    “Yes Linda, and it went very well, you make a beautiful woman.” The doctor said from beside the bed.  Linda felt different, her limbs felt different, as of course they would.  Linda fell back to sleep, not wanting to feel herself any more.

    Linda awoke feeling better, less groggy and very hungry.  She called out- she still couldn’t see- and a nurse came to her side.  She asked for food, and the nurse left immediately to get some dinner for Linda.  The nurse returned not only with dinner, but with Linda’s doctor in tow as well.  Linda’s doctor helped her to sit up carefully, and as Linda was fed by the nurse she realized just how she would spend the rest of her life.  As she finished her dinner she began to sob again and wasn’t even able to wipe away her tears.  She felt her doctor wipe them with a soft cloth and she went back to sleep, dreaming of her childhood.  
             
    As the bandages came off Linda’s eyes she looked at her womanly body for the first time.  Her arms ended in smooth, round stumps just four inches below her shoulders, and her legs ended in smooth round stumps at mid-thigh.  She would be a  quadruple amputee for the rest of her life.  A nurse dressed her in specially made clothes that fit her new
body, and she was helped into a power wheelchair with a mouth control.  Then, as she was pushed into the Rehab center to learn how to use her new Womanly Body, her doctor said something that for the rest of her life she would never forget;

    “By the way, Linda, the code for deafness- it’s EAR.” She said quietly, then walked beside Linda as she was pushed in her wheelchair, her four smooth stumps wriggling slightly as she unconsciously tried to keep balanced.

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