I am not now who or what I was when I wrote this. I change as you read. I am changing now. I have had a strange and difficult life. Am having.

Like you, I was only an actor with, in my case, a bit part in a family comedy. That is to say, the others in the family were mostly comical, but I wasn’t. Take my mother-in-law, I’d say, and I’d be answered by a sullen silence. No, please, take her. Nothing. I did all I could. I sat on chairs that weren’t there, dropped my pants, slipped on banana peels, feigned astonishment at my own punchlines, clowned in front of mirrors, gave myself neck cramps from double takes, took humiliating pratfall after pratfall, got hit by ice water, custard pies, avalanches, trains and the flung contents of chamber pots. Only a restless stirring in response. The dumb little freckle-faced kid in the family got more laughs just by saying Yikes! and rolling his eyes. Finally, the producers decided to implant a morpher to see if something funny would happen. Something did. They turned it on, and couldn’t or wouldn’t turn it off.

At the first change, an off-the-shelf test transformation into a fat dwarf, I accepted it calmly as an everyday part of life for an actor. While I was terrified by the prospect of losing my familiar self, I also longed for success. But it was shockingly excruciating. They didn’t tell me! Everything inside seemed to be splintering and breaking. I screamed. You’ll get used to it, the producers said, and continued the morph until I was two feet shorter and three hundred pounds heavier. A little ball on flat feet. They were still making me new costumes then, and I was outfitted in a black suit and top hat like a banker. If I was tipped over, I rolled, but the hat stayed on. If I rolled onto my head, the hat folded up, then sprang open again. Not much reaction to the banker, but some laughter when I screamed.

More screams, more laughter followed as I was warped into a circus clown, then a cross-eyed pipsqueak, the world’s tallest man, a child tap dancer, a mustachioed muscle man. Every change hurt more than the one before. I morphed, but my clothes didn’t, so I kept the wardrobe people working overtime. Eventually, as everything speeded up, it was too much for them, and I had to go through the changes without costumes. That got a few laughs and sarcastic whistles, especially when the morpher accidentally switched the dancing boy’s peewee with the muscle man’s tallywhacker. Yikes! I said. Yikes! And brought the house down both times. Body bloopers became part of the act, and life got harder.

When the morpher turned me into a breasty young woman, there was a burst of ironic hoots and whistles. Maybe because the breasts turned up on my buttocks, my buttocks where the breasts should be. What was happening elsewhere on my body, I couldn’t see and daren’t imagine. I was having an identity crisis of bizarre proportions. The producers admitted the implant was malfunctioning, and promised to fix it. Meanwhile, I should be patient. My popularity ratings were rising fast, they said. It was important to keep the act going.

They were probably lying to me, but even in my agony, I could see that, at a terrible price, I was gaining an audience. I was something different. Not very funny maybe, though they still laughed when I screamed, but I was no longer just a dumb family guy, at least not only. There was even occasional applause.

The changes, though, were painful beyond belief. When I was morphed into an old crone who gummed her lines, for example, all my teeth had to be pulled out, and then get punched back in again for the flashy one-armed tennis star who was my next transformation. Removing the arm and putting it back wasn’t much fun either, and I don’t mention worse things. I was famous, but in the way that tortured martyrs are famous.

I lost my family, of course. That’s all right, it wasn’t a real family. I didn’t miss them. All I remembered from that time was the little kid’s freckled face and rolling eyes, my wife’s woeful look of infinite disappointment. In my clumsiness I was probably stepping on her lines, ruining her career. I was sorry about that and wished I could have provided her with the life she no doubt deserved, but now, without a wife, I was free to look around. I was becoming better known, there were ambitious women to be had. If I could only keep my shape long enough to be of any use to them.

It wasn’t easy. I was morphing back and forth across ages, body shapes and genders, and ever more rapidly, some new transformations starting before the previous ones had even ended. It sometimes excited the women to have me morph while I was still in them, but more often it terrified them, especially when the animal transformations began. They screamed and fought to extricate themselves and ran off yowling and weeping.

The first animal I was turned into was a relatively easy one: a chimpanzee. A near cousin. Except for the hairiness, I might almost have been able to do it without the implant. I found myself thinking different thoughts as a chimp, but at least my head could still make certain choices and think about beautiful things. One of the beautiful things I started thinking about was a puffy pink backside, and I prowled aggressively through the audience looking for one. It was a very thorough search, and there were a lot of squeals and yips as I poked about with my long arms, but no swollen red bottoms, at least none to be found before I was changed back into a human form, reminiscent of my original one – though not the original one, which was probably lost forever. No matter. As with the family, I didn’t miss it.

Several different animals followed, in and around the human shapes: a fox, a cow, a toad, a hedgehog. I survived them all, though each probably left its mark. My toenails curled up like claws, for example, and I was hairier than I used to be, and in different parts. Sprouting an udder and then losing it left me with a nippled potbelly. The ladies found it cute. The sequential transformations weren’t very funny, but the audiences still loved it when, with each change, I screamed, and they often screamed along with me, just for laughs.

Whenever I was morphed into an animal, I found that my mental activity shrank to purely practical matters and I remembered almost nothing afterwards, the only clear images remaining being those of the shape-changing ordeal. It was then that I began this memoir, while I still could. As an animal I couldn’t write, or even know I might want to, and there were disturbing rumors that transformations into inanimate objects were soon to follow. After life as a stone, would I remember anything at all? The thought sent a shiver down my spine when I had one. I had to take full advantage of the human moments that remained, fragmented and pain-ridden as they were. Not to describe myself – I no longer had a self – but simply to chronicle what was happening to me.

And the next thing that happened was that I was morphed into the most beautiful woman in the world. That was how they announced me, and that was what I was: The most beautiful woman in the world. The transformation didn’t last long, none of them did, but I had time to glimpse myself in a floor mirror before the horrific crunching and cracking of the next morph began. It was only a fleeting glance, she looking up in astonishment at me as I looked up at her, but in the course of it, something terrible happened. I fell deliriously in love. I was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. I wanted her, me, more than I’d ever wanted anything. But what could I do? I was utterly lost.

The morpher continued its implacable work while I mourned. I was severally a double-jointed contortionist, a bearded lady, a dancing bear, a one-eyed sailor on a peg leg. I tried to keep my chin up, if my current shape had one, but my heart was breaking, and it showed. Brace up, they’d say, and I’d stand a little straighter and smile and weep at the same time, tormented by an overwhelming longing.

The audience began to demand the most beautiful woman in the world again. I don’t know if they were feeling sorry for me or only wanted another look at her, but the crackling pain began again, and I suddenly appeared before me. I took my breath away. Omigod! You are the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me in all my life! I cried, and she cried the same, though I couldn’t hear her, could only see her lips move. We gazed at each other in abject adoration. I’d never had anyone look at me like that before. Her whole being radiated wonder, anguish, desire. I’m crazy about you! she mouthed, and I said. I leaned forward as she leaned forward. Our lips met. It was a timeless moment, a kiss that seemed to last an eternity. There was no way for me to reach out for her, wrap my arms around her, or for her to reach me, but we did touch tongues and pressed our hands flat against each other’s. Her hand sought out her vagina, as mine sought out mine. We were in a frenzy. You can’t know how desperately in love with you I am! we gasped. Everyone was whooping and laughing. We didn’t care. We pressed our whole bodies against each other, surrendering to desire, my pubis hammering against hers. We were whimpering, moaning, almost sobbing. It was happening as if in a dream, and was utterly unlike any love I’d ever known.

The climax was so transcendent it felt like forever, but then, with a magnificent shudder, it was over. Beautiful! I was so grateful I was weeping. There was loud applause. Thank you, she whispered tearfully, I whispered. Thank you . . .

And I began to morph again. No, wait! I cried, crumpling in distress. Stop! What were they doing to me? I couldn’t bear to lose her! But she was gone! I lashed out at the bow-legged hunchback who was rising before me and shattered the mirror.

I lay weeping on the floor in the broken glass, curled up under my hump. How they laughed! I was utterly broken. Bereft. The tragic victim of an impossible love.

Whenever I morphed into a female after that, even a female beast, I pretended it was she, and my hand, paw, hoof was back between my legs again. The audience loved it, but I was in mortal agony, aching with love and love’s loss. Meanwhile, the cruel body-warping continued, faster and faster. I was a kind of protean freak – like most actors, it must be said, but no one else had my dazzling pace. I was a legless beggar, a zombie, a beautiful doe tonguing myself, a green Martian, all in rapid succession, but the most beautiful woman in the world never reappeared.

Even as the morphs grew more extreme, the laughter subsided and the audience slowly drifted away. The novelty was wearing off. In the end, I was seen as just another actor with a peculiar shtick. People were looking elsewhere for their entertainment. The implanted morpher, however, ran on as always. Probably they just forgot about it. Increasingly, I was alone, suffering the traumatic changes without an audience. Without laughter. Which I found that, even when cruel, I missed.

There is more I haven’t told you yet – about the time when I became pure texture and papered a wall, for example. When they wrapped me around a ball and bounced me. The awful moment when I covered a balloon and got popped. Oh! I’d never known such devastating pain, such deep despair – but I’m running out of time. I’ve only been able to add a few words at a time between changes. Soon even that much may be impossible. Even as I write, another crippling morph is beginning. Ah! I can hardly breathe. I don’t know when I’ll be able to write again. Please help! Who knows what horrors


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Language In Exile
Grinning Inanity | Discoveries