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The room's residents lay sprawled about in varying degrees of unconsciousness. A hairy specimen was sitting on the floor, hacking at some DNI game with the focus and determination of a Buddhist monk. The monitor showed his progress. The goal was to match up colored spheres with sounds according to some pattern I hadn't yet grasped. It was likely clearer to the one with the wire in his head.
I never got an input. Your average train car resembles a mental institution now, everyone twitching and muttering to themselves like zombies. We used to think people who talked to themselves were schizophrenic. I guess that's still true in a way. The voice of the Hive speaks to everyone from somewhere else, impossible to drown out, like the voice of God. Or the Devil.
"My penis will be back to normal soon," said the girl. I thought her jaw looked a little too square, the hair on her arms a little too dark to have naturally been born double-X. She must be in the process of reverting to her birth gender, her endocrine system was still seeking homeostasis with the unfamiliar hormones being steadily introduced into it. Her re-colonized organs would still be small, shriveled, incomplete.
"So you were born male?" I asked.
"Why'd you change?"
"My mom died when I was young. I was the oldest of nine brothers. I guess I was just the most feminine, the least butch, the best at taking care of the others. Bitches are better at taking care of little ones."
"I don't agree with your terminology, but I certainly agree with the sentiment." Would she? I'd never... I was becoming aroused despite myself, speculating on what her little penis looked like. I imagined, a precious little organ, half-erect. Slim, white, and almost feminine-seeming. "Why are you changing back?"
"I don't know. I'm 21 now I can do whatever I want."
She was talking to the DNI guy. I lost track of the conversation.
I didn't get out much anymore. I taught a course at the university and hung out at my house with the rest of the crap my ex-wife didn't have any use for anymore, the old scraps of her life. Yesterday I found a whole box of them.
Receipts, a briefcase with a broken strap, a stack of those blue military notebooks she used to write in constantly. Stuff for her job I don't know.
I opened up one of them. Every page was covered in a net of formulas and computations in Nikki's deliberate, scrupulous hand. So this is what she was always agonizing over all the time. Her passion in the oldest sense of the word: the thing she suffered for. Though I wouldn't say it made her all that happy. Nothing really did. She was uptight from the day I met her, then again so was I. Two dense knots we were, Gordian on a fraying old rope. We agreed in time it was better to cut.
Absurd. Listen to me thinking about it like it was really something.