Alien Abduction

If you should happen to want a little more transgender sci-fi on your virtual bookshelf, can I offer you a Marsh ’un? For March 2023 they’re running a short story contest at BigCloset, with the theme “Abduction” – to mark March 20th which is Alien Abduction Day, apparently. (Good to know: getting abducted on the wrong day of the year is so embarrassing, don’t you find?)

It’s also French Language Day at the United Nations and World Sparrow Day… but nobody’s writing tranny fiction about sparrows.

I decided to join the fun and I posted my contribution earlier today: it’s called Alienation. Blurb ahoy:

After many years, an old friend arrives with a strange tale to tell. An engine that dies on a lonely stretch of road; a brilliant beam of light from above; being kidnapped and experimented upon by those of another species… with a transgender twist, of course!


That’s some deliberately bland blurb, so as to conceal something important about the story – but it’s all there and ready for you to read if you so desire. I hope you like it, but… whatever flattens your crop circles.

(If you’ve read it, did you spot the little cameo?)

Thanks to Chrissy and Tanya who helped me tremendously by commenting on the story in its formative stages.

An Old, Old Story

I’ve rescued an old story: it was originally donated to Anna’s TransScripts website but it no longer appears there, so I decided to share it here…

A Conversation at the End of Time

Did you ever read Og Have Problem by Laika R. Pupkino? A tale of crossdressing in the stone age: it was lots of fun, but I thought I’d take things even further back in time. I hope you enjoy the result!

In other news, Gamer Girl is shaping up nicely: we’re past the 40,000 word mark and it seems the finished story will be novel length. Best of all, writing it has been tremendously enjoyable. That’s important, because if you don’t love what you do, you’d stop doing it! Whatever you’re doing today, I hope you’re enjoying it.

Sneak Preview: Gamer Girl

Back in October, with ‘My Faustian Bargain’ finished and published, I was at a bit of a loose end. What to do next? Chris Archer promptly came to the rescue, sharing an idea for a story – and I really do mean sharing, because I have been permitted to bounce all over it like a slobbery, over-enthusiastic pup. For the the first time ever, I’m a co-author.

Special Inquiries book cover

Do you know Chris? You should: she’s the author of the excellent ‘Special Inquiries’ and one or two other things besides. Of other things that might be in the pipeline, I’ll say not a word at this time because I’m here to tell you about our current project.

‘Gamer Girl’ offers just about as sweet and wholesome a journey into femininity as I can imagine. It’s the story of Danny, a nice kid who agrees to help his older sister, Kate, while she’s studying make-up and beauty at college: she needs to do something different in order to secure a decent mark from a particularly demanding teacher. Danny agrees to be dolled up for this purpose, as long as the film of it remains a secret.

No sooner is he transformed than Kate’s boyfriend shows up, so Danny has to stay hidden in her room. With nothing else to entertain him, he uses her computer and signs in to a video game he used to play, where he finds himself very popular all of a sudden. Eventually he realises why: the webcam’s been on the whole time.

“Promise me nobody will ever know,” my sister quoted when the screen had gone dark. “Just you, me and your tutor… and half the Internet.”

“I didn’t know,” I protested. “Your stupid webcam –”

My sister grinned wickedly. “Do you have a boyfriend now?”

“Not funny,” I growled.

“It looked like you amassed quite a fan club,” she said, innocently this time.

“We just raided together,” I stated.

She laughed. “Is that what you young people are calling it nowadays?”

“Young people? You’re only seventeen yourself!” I protested.

“Yeah, but I do a lot more living than you,” she said.

Gamer Girl

We’re quite pleased with the chemistry between these two. Now, Danny enjoys the game so much that he decides to get back into playing regularly, but when he starts a new character and appears online as his usual male self, everyone ignores him as just another noob.

Kate, meanwhile, finds out that perhaps the best way to get a decent mark on her module is to submit coursework that shows her not merely applying makeup, but teaching as she does so.

There’s a school holiday coming up: will Danny agree to be filmed over a number of days while he’s taught to apply makeup? Afterwards, Kate points out, he can remain in disguise and play his game for as long as he wants.

For a small financial inducement and because he likes the idea of playing a ‘game within a game’, Danny agrees. He finds himself welcomed by the girls who frequent the game and he enjoys hanging out with them, perhaps because he’s always been too shy to do any such thing in real life. He finds that he’s attracted to one of them in particular: the high-level thief character ‘Artemisia’ is played by a mysterious girl who always appears in a mask.

The two of them become very close, though Danny (now introducing himself as ‘Dani’) fears that it can’t last. When he discovers that the mysterious, masked player is a girl from his school, the only sensible thing to do is to quit playing and never go back…


Ah, but where’s the fun in that?

We’re still plugging away on ‘Gamer Girl’ at the moment. Even the long-suffering denizens of our writers’ group have only seen a fraction of it, so far… but watch this space.

Meanwhile, thanks so much for the amazing reception that you gave ‘My Faustian Bargain’, dear readers!

Schooled: Behind the Story

When the first little bit of ‘Schooled’ first appeared on Fictionmania, categorised as ‘Should It Be Continued’ (SIBC) a lot of people kindly said that it should – despite the fact that nobody could have known which way the story would go.

Like a lot of the short posts that appear on Fictionmania, where everything is called a ‘story’, it wasn’t one: not really. I’d say it was more of a predicament or a set-up: the premise to a story. That first airing of ‘Schooled’ ended around the 1,500 word mark, with George (a closeted crossdresser) in something of a fix:

“Did you subcontract your marking to somebody else?” she demanded.

“No, Ms Stanton!”

She stared at me, hard. Those eyes! I’d been on the receiving end of ‘the Stanton Stare’ before and I knew it was never pleasant. We all feared our head teacher. It was hard to explain: she never screamed at people, or threatened them… but she didn’t have to.

Her eyes seemed to strip away every defence I might have erected. I was glad I hadn’t needed to lie to her.

“I believe you,” she said at last.

I let out a breath that I hadn’t realised I was holding.

“Just a silly mix-up then,” she grinned like the famous Cheshire cat.

“Sorry, I don’t follow…” I began, but she passed me a Record of Second Marking Sheet.

“Agree all marks,” it said. It was signed ‘Jessica Brooke.’

“Who’s Jessica Brooke, George?” Once again, Ms Stanton’s gaze bored into me.

I opened and closed my mouth a couple of times. I wanted to deny; to plead; to beg forgiveness. I wanted to flee!

It was ridiculous, but it seemed that I had been struck dumb. Rooted to the spot, as well.

“If Jessica Brooke is going to be joining my faculty, I think I’d better meet her,” Ms Stanton said. It wasn’t a request.

“Meet her?” I parroted, stupidly.

She continued to stare at me and I felt my will draining away. I wanted to deny, to lie, to somehow obfuscate.

I couldn’t defend myself against that dreadful interrogation.

Powerful and immensely self-assured, my head teacher smiled a predatory sort of smile. “You spent the weekend as Jessica, didn’t you?”

It was all I could do to keep myself from speaking. Belatedly, I found that I was nodding.

Ms Stanton raised an eyebrow. “Does Jessica go out, at all?”

“No,” I muttered. I almost stumbled over that simple word, realising its implications.

“Alright. I’ll meet Jessica on Friday evening, then. Remind me of your address? I’ll come to your house at eight.”

“Yes, Ms Stanton,” I said, my stomach knotting.

It was going to be a long week.

end of Part One

Reviewers commonly left a comment that basically said “write some more” so of course I flew into action published no more of it for three years.

I simply didn’t know what to do with it – and I don’t like multi-part stories that are released piecemeal as they’re written. I wouldn’t expect anybody (okay… maybe Chrissy) to read a story while I’m still trying to work it out. Was Ms Stanton going to turn out to be a complete bitch, or was she a nice person and potential love interest? Might she, in fact, have some kind of supernatural power over other people? I’d already written about ‘the Stanton Stare’ and the obedience she commanded in all the people who worked for her. Might it be hypnotic in nature?

Tricky. I wrote some scenes to try out the ‘evil, magical Ms Stanton’ but it seemed altogether too trite. Forced feminisation (or feminization, for those of an American persuasion) is a well loved theme of tranny fiction, offering sweet surrender and guilt-free dressing: “she made me do it!” …but it’s a very well-worn trope. A head teacher who abused her position to make George into her personal plaything might have been a turn-on for some readers, but it wouldn’t have been much of a story. There have already been so many tales of innocent younger males falling under the spell of a powerful woman who controls them through her cunning use of clothing and makeup.

I have no problem with that. Sometimes it’s hot – but I wanted to write a book that had characters, not well-known archetypes. Instead, George gradually grows in confidence, to the point where he’s able to say “no” to the older, more assured woman who enters into a relationship with him.

It’ll all about balance – specifically because T* fiction so often isn’t. In so much transgender fiction, the protagonist is introduced to frilly knickers (etc.) and they immediately capitulate, enduring increasingly vile humiliations at the hands of a heartless dominant. That’s not the kind of story I wanted to write.

One of the challenges I faced was in discovering the means by which tension was created in the story. It was to be my fifth book, with perhaps ten or twelve shorter freebies also ‘out there’ and in almost every case I’d relied upon something magical (or a science fiction equivalent) to introduce change.

Sometimes I’d used crime and/or hospitalisation, but with ‘Schooled’ I didn’t want to. This wasn’t an adventure story. Those in my writers’ group assured me that “will they / won’t they?” ought to be enough for a good story, but that’s very different from the challenges faced by Michael (Harriet) as his gender changes with the phases of the moon; from Captain Lucas Garand and his adventures in a near-future European civil war; the magical realism of Aisha Burnside’s relationship to ancient Egypt. When you don’t allow yourself to introduce external factors that exert pressure on the characters, what’s left?

One of my first reviewers titled their review ‘The Road Not Taken’, and I was very pleased to see that the reader had understood perfectly. “There were dozens of paths not taken in this story that could have led to the disappointments common to this genre,” s/he wrote – and that’s exactly right: the moment when a piece of transgender fiction oversteps the mark, with little left to do but describe increasingly loathsome ways to treat another human being. ‘Schooled’ is a love story – not a story about surrender and exploitation. While it’s true that Ms Stanton’s sexual appetites are a little bit kinky, that doesn’t mean George has no say in what takes place.

Usually, anyway.

We walked in the hills, pausing to eat sandwiches while we watched the daredevils who steered their paragliders over the opposite side of the valley.

“I’ll be doing a lot more walking in the next few months,” Victoria said. “I can’t heat the pool through the winter, so I have to employ other forms of exercise. Sex alone won’t do it, unfortunately. Will you come with me?”

“I’d love to,” I told her.

“I wish I could take a walk with Jessica, sometime,” Victoria said, lost in contemplation. “Look: that couple back there on the path are at least half a mile away. Who’d know if I brought Jessica along for a walk?”

“What about people coming along the path the other way?” I demanded. “Or suppose we turn a corner and find ourselves face-to-face with three families from the school, having a day out? No: I can’t do it.”

Victoria sighed. “You’re right, I suppose. It just doesn’t seem fair. You’d love it, I’m sure.”

“Close your eyes,” I told her.

She did so and I kissed her, then held her close for a minute.

“Who just kissed you?” I whispered.

“Oh. I see!”

“Yup. Jessica was here. Just for a moment. For you.”

Victoria pondered this for a little while, then smiled. “Okay. I’m going to take advantage of the other opportunity that all this magnificent isolation offers.”

“Which is?”

“I’m going to pop behind those bushes for a moment.”

“Oh, right,” I said, blushing.

She was only gone for a minute. “Your turn,” she said when she returned.

“I don’t need to,” I said.

She smiled an evil sort of smile. “You’re assuming I went for a pee. I didn’t: I just needed a little bit of privacy to take these off.”

From her pocket she withdrew a pair of knickers, passing them to me.

I didn’t know quite what to say. “Victoria…?”

She gave me one of her no-nonsense looks. “Pop those on for me, there’s a good girl.”

I shook my head and tried to hand them back to her, but she wouldn’t accept them.

“Who’d know?” she demanded.

“I would,” I said. “It’s not something I want to do. I decided a long time ago that going out dressed could prove to be a very slippery slope. Speaking of which, imagine if I fell over and broke my ankle or something? If I was wearing those, the mountain rescue people would all laugh at me.”

Victoria rolled her eyes. “Do you often break a leg when you’re out walking?”

“No, but –”

“I thought we’d already established that I like you best when you’re obedient, Jessica,” Victoria said, sternly.

“I’m not Jessica,” I told her.

“Don’t I know it,” Victoria grumbled, taking back her knickers. She kicked me in the shin – just playfully, not so as to hurt me – and when I started to protest she reached for me and held me at the nape of the neck while she pushed them into my mouth.

“I’ve heard enough of your silly protests and excuses,” she told me. “You can finish our walk in silence and think about how much you’ve disappointed me.”

I grunted, unable to say anything unless I wanted to risk Victoria’s ire by spitting out her knickers.

“Better,” she declared, beginning to walk again. “I’d say we need twenty-five minutes to finish the walk; maybe half an hour to drive home. Add five minutes for a quick shower – because I’m considerate, like that – and then we’ll have you eating my pussy. No sex for you, obviously, because you’re being annoying… but you’re also making me very horny, so that’s good.”

I followed her along the trail, mute and newly aware of how much more strenuous walking is when you can’t breathe through your mouth. At one point we passed a Scottish couple who gave us a cheery “hello”; Victoria replied in kind, but I had to settle for raised eyebrows and a smile: just another rude, taciturn Englishman.


It’s a story about learning to be a part of a couple, where each has their own needs and wants. No magic potions and no nanites that can rewrite your DNA – even though that kind of stuff can be fun, too – just ordinary people with real strengths and weaknesses.

So, do they? Don’t they? Perhaps you’d like to read it and find out. If I’m reading Amazon’s rather odd analytics tools aright, it seems that quite a few folks are choosing to read ‘Schooled’ after first encountering ‘My Faustian Bargain’: a book in which magical transformation is a central theme. So, uh… enjoy your TG fiction, dear reader, whatever category it might fall into.

The entirely fictional publishing house for all your trannyfic desires.

Blast from the Past

This week I found a lovely, satirical piece of writing that I want to share with you. It’s called ‘How To Write A TV Story’, by D. Rhodes, managing editor in the first issue of ‘Turnabout’. That’s from June 1963, more than fifty-nine years ago… yet it’s an article complaining about the formulaic nature of the genre. Yup: fifty-nine years ago, transgender fiction was being described as lacking in variety.

Writing stories of transvestism is really a terrible chore! Nobody would want to wish it on anyone – these stories are so really embarrassing to attempt. Goodness, just reading one of these simply dreadful tales gives a body the shudders! Can you imagine the agony one has to go through to write one?

But there are those tearful souls who insist on trying… and try they do. Agonizingly, they put down on paper those horrid things that nobody – simply nobody – would ever wish to have happen to anybody, let alone the nice young men or healthy adolescent boys who become the unfortunate heroes (if that is the right word!) of these simply shameful tales.

D. Rhodes, ‘How To Write A TV Story’

Tongue firmly in cheek, Rhodes proceeds to lament the perilous situation of the main character – in the article, referred to as the ‘hero (?)’ – forced to don female attire that he wants nothing to do with… at first. Unfortunately, he’s fallen into the clutches of a powerful woman such as an aunt or a stepmother (who may have daughters of her own) and as a result of some misdemeanour, the poor lad ends up being punished by dressing him up as a girl.

“Whatever you do,” cried Brer Rabbit, “Don’t throw me into the briar patch!”

thinks every crossdresser, ever

The very same tropes were derided by Gillian Freeman (1929–2019) in ‘The Undergrowth of Literature’, her review of all the nonconformist publications she found on the fringes of society, circa 1967.

Freeman looked at gay and lesbian literature, bondage, rubber, superhero comics and other manifestations of fetish. In a couple of chapters on matters trans, she offered several examples gleaned from ‘Turnabout’, describing it thus:

… in a publication called Turnabout (American, as are virtually all transvestite magazines, fulfilling for the transvestite the function of Mattachine or Tangent for the homosexual; only less well or intelligently written. Are there no literary transvestites who are able to write professionally?) It contains serious feature articles, poems, and essays as well as advice on dress.

The Undergrowth of Literature

Perhaps it’s a shame that the examples she offers come from the second issue of ‘Turnabout’. Either she never got hold of a copy of the first issue, or she quite deliberately failed to mention that the managing editor agreed with her: fiction written for this community devotes a comical amount of attention to loving descriptions of undergarments; to dresses that “slither” or “whisper into place” over the girdle and nylon-encased form of the victim, who gasps when he sees his reflection – and promptly capitulates, surrendering his will to the powerful female who now commands his unquestioning devotion.

Equally, there’s a book review in the third issue of ‘Turnabout’ that expresses a viewpoint with which Gillian Freeman would doubtless have agreed:

Consider the plot: “A reporter acts the part of a girl on a
dare ••• gets a movie contract as an actress ••• lives with a
famous star as a girl ••• finally marries her,” says the precis
on the book’s front cover. That about says it, except that the
hero continues to live as a girl even after marriage to the
famous star. One is consoled by the apparent fact that they will
never reproduce.

Someday ••• somewhere ••• somehow ••• someone will write a transvestic novel that is based on reality rather than fantasy, on real people rather than glamorous shadows in a miracle world, and on some identifiable human emotion rather than mindless self-indulgence. We doubt that Chevalier would publish such a book, but we’ll be glad to. Anybody want to start writing for real?

Siobhan Fredericks’ review of ‘I Am a Male Actress’

(Is a transvestic novel one that is sometimes found in the dust jacket of a completely different genre?) To read ‘Turnabout’ today is to delve into an interesting time capsule, to discover that some things have changed a great deal, while others have changed not a bit. It was a magazine that attempted to explore what it meant to be transgender – just as subsequent publications were still trying to do when I first dared to subscribe to its 1990s equivalents; it reviewed what the medical profession made of the whole business – just as I had sought answers in a university library; it discussed the arts and the media, where TG-themed issues appeared.

In the days before widespread home Internet, this was what there was.

Some things never change: among them the plot of that old, old story where a boy is forced to dress as a girl by an overbearing authority figure. Interestingly, for all that Rhodes lamented the trite condition of tranny fiction in 1963 – and it was reported that they deliberated for a long while before ultimately deciding to include fiction in the ‘Turnabout’ magazine, it didn’t stop them from becoming the publisher of a number of novelettes including ‘Petticoated Male’, ‘Adventures in Petticoats’, ‘Prisoner in Lace’, ‘Miniskirted Male’, ‘One Summer in Petticoats’, ‘Lingerie and Lace’, ‘Masquerade in Petticoats’… I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Lingerie and Lace by Nan Gilbert, front cover

As I’ve already said, nothing ever changes. What you find on Fictionmania, Literotica or Amazon today will probably leave somewhat less to the imagination in terms of sex, but the same basic tropes are still being trotted out, almost sixty years on.

It was nonsense in 1963 (Rhodes in ‘Turnabout’) and it was nonsense in 1967 (Freeman in ‘Undergrowth’)… and it’s still nonsense today. Despite all criticism, being forced into frillies (and if there isn’t a piece of tranny fiction somewhere out there called ‘Forced into Frillies’, I’ll eat my liberty bodice…) remains inexplicably popular. It’s like a literary cockroach, surviving everything we’ve thrown at it.

Some things are destined to remain the same. I find it strange to note that all of the stories I listed above were sold for three or four dollars, back in the early 1960s – and most of the commercial tranny fiction that’s sold through Amazon is in the same price range today. Not the $29 that it would be if adjusted for inflation, but literally three or four bucks.

Most of them are still exploring the same old themes, too.

Faustian Folly

Only the most eagle-eyed consumers of all things Bryony Marsh can have noticed that a couple of blog posts have disappeared from this site. That’s because a story that I was working on ultimately proved to have only the slightest smidgin of transgender. As I worked on it, I discovered that it simply didn’t need to go that way: there was enough going on without such themes.

My proof readers concurred, so that book will come out under my non-TG brand. I’m quite deliberately not naming the distinctly anti-Russian book, nor ‘outing’ myself by naming my alter-ego here: this is an attempt at a nuanced and distinctly search engine unfriendly blog post. Trail of breadcrumbs to the completed book not included; dotted line between my two selves to remain undrawn. I’m sorry if that means there’s one less Bryony Marsh story in the world than anticipated.

With that project completed, I turned back to my extensive folder of works-in-progress, to see what I wanted to do next. There was the short story, ‘Carbon’ (mentioned here – and I must thank readers for the lovely review comments I got) but it was also time to delve a little deeper into the folder where I have now collected more unfinished symphonies than Franz Schubert could ever have dreamed of.

What I chose to work on was ‘My Faustian Bargain’. Documents on my hard drive suggest the idea was first worked upon in July 2016, which gives some idea of just how long a story has to marinate and mature, sometimes. You want blurb? No? You’re getting it anyway…

For years, Kurt lived as a lord among men; strong, confident, fortunate and able to enjoy every luxury. To achieve this he’d borrowed against his own future, entering into an arcane pact somewhat like that of Dr Faustus himself. As he was about to discover, when you borrow manliness as part of a Faustian bargain, sooner or later you have to pay it back… with interest.

My Faustian Bargain

It’s magical realism: a world in which some wealthy, secretive people have access to an old book where you write with your own blood, listing the things you want. You enjoy those things for a time, and then pay a greater price. (This explains why so many celebrities seem to come out of nowhere, enjoy adulation for a time and then descend into disgrace and bankruptcy: it’s all built on Faustian bargains.)

Lured into a deal that sees him living high on the hog for eight years, my story begins as this period of the main character’s life comes to an end. Kurt succumbs to an illness that sees his muscles waste away, along with all the power and good fortune that he’d enjoyed for most of his adult life. The powerful woman who facilitated the Faustian bargain is prepared to keep the greatly diminished victim in her life… as Kirsten the lowly housekeeper.

In the world of TG fiction, who doesn’t like a maid story? (Bonus points for not supplying yet another play on the words maid/made in the title, am I right?) The new novella is out now; hope you enjoy.


Do you want more Bryony Marsh? (I certainly hope you do…) I’ve recently released a new novelette, ‘Carbon’ on Fictionmania and at Big Closet. It’s a story set in Botswana, with some magical complications: a kind of sub-Saharan Ocean’s Eleven, with a sprinkling of transgender.

Parallels with the work of Alexander McCall Smith have already been pointed out, and I’m guilty as charged: I read a couple of the ‘#1 Ladies’ books some time back. I’ve also worked in Botswana and I can confirm that people there really are every bit as polite and gentle as they are portrayed. Happy times!

The primary influence behind my story was actually a presentation by Deviant Ollam at Wild West Hackin’ Fest… which just serves to prove Rule #34, really. (Not that the story is in any way sexual, but it’s romantic…)

I don’t entirely love the formatting that’s forced upon us by either of the main T* story hosting sites. Fictionmania doesn’t support smart quotes and delimits speech instead with the symbols for feet and inches, which is something I rather hoped we’d left behind with the death of Microsoft Dos; Big Closet seems to have stripped out all my italics (damned if I’m putting ’em all back in manually). I might have to offer an alternative ebook download in the near future, but for now at least you can read the story – the first freebie I’ve written in quite a while.

Thanks, as ever, to the good folks at TransScripts for their support, and for making this writing business fun.

More MacGuffin

Once before, I shared an excerpt from the MacGuffin Island Mystery: a collaborative whodunnit (and more importantly, whydunnit) that was undertaken by the T* writers at TransScripts back when we were still getting to know one another. We were working in pairs and taking turns to move the story forward.

While I don’t believe the whole story will ever see the light of day – too many cooks stirring that particular broth – it was certainly fun. Each author had skin in the game, having contributed one (in some cases, two) of the characters from their T* fiction to a gathering on a remote Scottish island where nobody was quite what they seemed and suspicions abounded. My character was the terrifying Drusilla Spankwell, disgraced former Headmistress of St. Slattern’s, an expensive finishing school for gir– er, for young people.

I was freebasing on a potent mixture of ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ and ‘Sir Henry at Rawlinson End’ at the time, so everything I wrote was a little bit crazy. On this occasion, Rebecca drew the short straw and had to work with me. Here’s what we created: as we rejoin the tale, it’s time for dinner and the guests have each been given a fancy dress costume chosen by their host, who has yet to appear. Dot, dot, dot.

Over aperitifs, the guests had shared what in some cases was an awkward discussion about the costumes that their host had provided. At last, Chrissy announced that it was time for dinner, and ushered the guests into the Great Hall. (It was formerly the Quite Good Hall, but Sir Bernard had got the decorators in and brought it up to snuff.)

Resplendent in her blue prom dress, Rebecca Cross tried her best to make an elegant entrance, but she almost stumbled as her attention was distracted by the sheer quantity of death that the room appeared to celebrate. As is traditional in Scottish castles, the walls were festooned with the heads of dead animals: mostly deer shot on the mainland; a few badgers and lesser critters. Unfortunately, a first-rate marksman like Sir Bernard always went for a headshot and when the shooter’s preferred weapon is an antique elephant gun, even the best reconstructive taxidermist can only do so much.

Beneath the cross-eyed gaze of a hundred deceased wild things, the dining table was enormous. There were fifteen place settings, each with five wineglasses and a bewildering array of silverware. Always one with a craftsman’s appreciation of well-kept tools, Rebecca cast a processional eye over the cutlery: some looked as if it might be more at home in the hands of a dentist, while other pieces looked like instruments of torture, models of the devices used aboard whaling ships in the 19th century, or miniature medieval weapons. There were a few good old-fashioned knives, forks and spoons around the table, but these were outnumbered and clearly outgunned. Each place setting featured up to nine different pieces of silverware on each side, and no two were exactly alike.

At the head of the table there was a chair that might almost have been described as a throne. (In fact, as Chrissy would have been happy to explain, one of the many features incorporated into the chair by a former Laird was a commode – but that doesn’t form a part of our story.) No eating irons had been provided at this place setting and it was clear that this had been left vacant for Sir Bernard.

There was no indication as to who should sit where and Maid Chrissy wasn’t offering any clues. Faced with the twin challenges of trying to sit with a stranger who wasn’t too obviously irritating (or intimidating) and choosing a place setting that featured cutlery that they at least recognised, the guests all shuffled awkwardly into place around the table. At last, everybody had a place, although the two who found themselves at Drusilla’s left and right may have felt that in this they had been outmanoeuvred. 

Everybody sat.

Rebecca regarded the motley collection of diners. Proceeding widdershins (anti-clockwise, as is the practice when describing seating arrangements in 21st Century Scotland) from the empty ‘throne’ of Sir Bernard, she could see Leslie Kerr – appearing in a fancy dress that was half male, half female. It was cleverly done; particularly his/her hair that showed in equal parts a bedraggled, casual look that a male could pull off with ease, and a neatly-styled female ‘up-do’. Like his/her neighbour, Leslie wore a ballerina’s tutu, and this seemed to be a source of some amusement.

The ballerina neighbour was Leila Nordham – a striking transwoman who moved and spoke with precision. From the little that Rebecca had heard, a sharp mind was at work behind those baby blues, although she seemed unsure of herself.

Next was Abi Mayland; a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Maybe even an enema. Rebecca simply didn’t know what to make of her – and the girl wasn’t offering any clues.

Paige and Jessica, each dressed in a sexy parody of a flight attendant’s uniform, Rebecca had already dismissed as a pair of sluts. They seemed determined to treat the whole occasion as a joke and an opportunity to down as much free booze as possible. A nagging voice of reason said that perhaps they were simply nervous, but they were loud and their laughter grated. So what the hell: sluts.

Then came the chilling figure of Drusilla Spankwell. Beneath the hood of the black robe and the strangely repulsive tiara, her face was hidden in shadow. She seemed content to let it remain so and Rebecca wasn’t going to argue. If it meant that the cold-hearted woman could shut out the others and refuse to participate fully in the gathering, so much the better.

At Drusilla’s right hand was Delilah Devereaux, in a beautiful evening gown. The contrast really couldn’t be greater. Rebecca understood that Delilah was a pianist of some renown, although it seemed unlikely that her skill as an entertainer would have been the sole reason that she had been invited to this strange gathering.

What, then? The founding of some new, secret order? A hard sell for some questionable Scottish property scheme? Rebecca realised she was speculating wildly and returned her attention to the diners.

At the far end of the table, where she would have faced the absent Sir Bernard, sat Danni Wentworth. She looked more than a little uncomfortable in a striped prison uniform. What did that signify? Was she a jailbird? Was she on the run, or perhaps guilty of something that Sir Bernard could only hint at? Perhaps time would tell, but she put out a powerful “don’t fuck with me” vibe and Rebecca decided not to test her patience too much.

She sat on Danni’s right, in her blue sheath prom dress, still astounded that Sir Bernard could find, let alone know about, the dress that Katherine had worn all those years ago when Rebecca took her to her prom, from before. It was an exact duplicate in every way, other than the size. She would have thought it impossible, there being only around eight pictures from that night in existence. Plus it was just so long ago…

If Sir Bernard had gone to that much trouble to ensure that her own costume was so thoroughly authentic and deeply personal, what did that say about the attire of other guests? Was Danni really a convict? Did Drusilla’s ‘mad monk’ attire indicate that she was a cultist of some kind? Curiouser and curiouser.

On her right were Angela Clemence and Anwyn Danforth. Despite the different family names it was clear that they were a couple. Maybe in a… what did the limeys call it? A civil partnership. Angela was Emma Peel to Anwyn’s John Steed, just like the old TV series. From something she’d said earlier, it appeared that Angela was some kind of private dick.

Beyond were Jenny something-or-other (wealthy dilettante, and perhaps something of a control freak, although Rebecca was still making up her mind about this one) and her girlfriend Alexa. Both were dressed as University of Minnesota cheerleaders and so clearly a couple. Young love… didn’t it just make you want to vomit?

Beyond was Esme Entwistle, not so much a wolf in sheep’s clothing as a journalist in school uniform. More than a few of the guests had resolved to tell her as little as possible about themselves – just in case. Rebecca recalled a newsman who had once told her, with wisdom garnered from the bottom of his glass of bourbon: “I like ya: don’t ever make me write about ya!”

Finally, there was another Jessica: Silverman, was it? She appeared as a classic Disney princess, but apparently she was a pharmaceutical whizzkid, or something. She was the archetype of a Jewish mother; competitive, hard-nosed and maternal. Rebecca thought she might come to like her, if she could weather the initial storm of sarcasm from the talkative New Yorker.

This completed the group: if Sir Bernard had been present, Jessica Silverman would have been sitting on his left hand – as it were.

With everybody seated, there was an awkward pause. Nobody suggested that they ought to say grace. Nobody said anything at all, in fact. The pop of a cork was a welcome distraction as Chrissy opened the first of an apparently endless supply of wines. There was no butler, so it seemed that self-service was the order of the day. The bottles were deposited unceremoniously in the centre of the table: no two alike and no apparent rhyme or reason for their selection.

Leslie, something of a wine connoisseur, suspected that the Bordeaux that had been left at the other end of the table, beyond his reach, was all but priceless. The Blue Nun left in from of him was far less appealing. Elsewhere, there were sparkling wines, rosés, and reds that should really have been cellared for a few more years (plus others that ought to have been drunk or disposed of long since). There was even a dessert wine. He suppressed a shudder: people were using the wrong glasses.

Rebecca had her back to the door and she jumped as the maid dragged in a protesting trolley that needed some oil. Upon it was a large, steaming tureen that resembled an upturned armadillo. With difficulty, Chrissy lifted it onto the dining table.

“Soup,” she announced, simply.

Next, she dashed around the table, depositing a bowl before each diner. Then she made another lap, seizing the outermost implements from every place setting (and in two cases, from the hands of diners) and replacing them with soup spoons. Delilah was relieved as she hadn’t had anything resembling a spoon before her, and the tiny halberd that was taken from her certainly wouldn’t have done the job.

Looking somewhat pained, Angela dared to ask: “What soup is it?”

Chrissy halted, and bit her lip. If she’d ever known, she couldn’t remember. She leaned forward, to get her nose close to the tureen, in the process forcing herself between Jenny and Alexa. She sniffed several times, like a bloodhound.

Rebecca noticed that Abi gazed at the drudge’s cleavage. That wasn’t lust, so… was it envy? Interesting.

“Dunno,” the maid said at last. “Broccoli? Chicken?”

Chrissy seized the ladle and dredged experimentally. Assorted small cubes of vegetable and animal matter were revealed.

“Oh,” she said, “it’s Cook’s Special Soup.”

That, it seemed, was the only explanation the diners were going to get.

Rebecca thought that it smelled surprisingly good. Better than anything she’d had during the journey, anyways.

As she headed back down the passage to the kitchens, Chrissy resolved to ask Cook what she was serving up for the subsequent courses: it seemed that there might be some fussy eaters in the assembled group.

There was another pause.

Few in the group would have identified sufficiently as ‘gentlemen’ that they might be disposed to offer assistance in the matter of serving up the food to those assembled, but old habits die hard: perhaps the sluts really were flight attendants, because they took pity on their fellow diners and one collected the bowls while the other ladled out the soup.

It really was surprisingly good and the diners all had some. Rebecca was two thirds of the way down her bowl when Chrissy reappeared with a tray of assorted bread rolls. Seeing that she was too late, the maid was nonetheless unapologetic: she grunted in disgust, whirled and took the bread back to the kitchen.

More courses followed, the diners picking as best they could from among the supply of curious cutlery. (How does one best eat whale bacon gnocchi? If you use the thing that looks like a miniature harpoon, as would seem appropriate, you might have nothing suitable when the roast suckling porpoise is served…) Air-dried hyaena in camel hoof jelly seemed a curious sort of salad, but apparently the Old Laird had picked up the recipe for this while campaigning in the Sudan and it was something of a MacGuffin staple.

The hubbub of conversation was generally comfortable, and it became increasingly companionable over time – with one exception. Apparently oblivious to the discomfort of the woman opposite her, Angela had asked Drusilla about her career – which led inevitably to questions about St Slattern’s. 

Who, exactly, held Saint Slattern as their patron saint, Rebecca’s neighbour inquired.

The question was met with a brief silence. Within her shadowy cowl, Drusilla was as inscrutable as ever. If she was glaring at Angela, nobody could tell, although in that instant the room seemed to have become fractionally colder. Drusilla raised a napkin to her lips, but her normal poise appeared to have deserted her: as the linen square was raised it dislodged a Moroccan truffle skewer, which tumbled to the floor with a clatter.

This made matters worse: everybody fell silent, regarding the dark spectre in their midst.

The napkin was frozen, halfway between dining table and mouth: the hand that held it shook, as if palsied.

Drusilla cleared her throat, and at last she spoke:

“St Slattern is a mentor for those in dire need of changing their erroneous ways,” she said – apparently through clenched teeth.

“Are you a fan of the Avengers?” Rebecca asked Angela, seeking to reduce the tension in the room by changing the subject. It worked, and the other diners breathed again.

By the time they were cleansing their palates with partridge sorbet, the supply of silverware had diminished to the point where the diners were using entirely inappropriate utensils. Leila’s unwise use of a head cheese strainer for the miniature capybara burgers had left her with a stain on her costume, and it was at this point that Rebecca cut her tongue on the wickedly sharp serrated edge of a whelk spoon.

Throughout all this, the wine was flowing. Especially the bottle that Alexa had knocked over. Fortunately, the ancient table had gutters carved into it for just such an eventuality and none of her fellow diners were greatly troubled.

School’s Out

It’s been a bit of a marathon: at eighty-five and a half thousand words, ‘Schooled’ is the longest story I’ve ever written… but at long last it’s finished and live on Amazon.

By happy accident, the “look inside” preview portion of the book provides just enough to show the direction that the story’s going in, while also serving as story arc in its own right. I’m quite pleased with the way that worked out.

Because Amazon always show a fixed percentage of a book in the freebie preview, you can use that to gauge the length of a story before you buy. I’m frustrated to see how many thirty-page fetish ‘stories’ are listed for $2.99. (Hint: if the preview only shows you four hundred words, you can’t expect much in the way of value for money.) In what sense are stories like that ‘books’? If all you want is a quick description of a compromising situation in order to get your rocks off – and for some reason, you can’t find something at Literotica – then fine… enjoy, but I’m in the business of writing stories – where you get to know characters and discover their hopes and fears. Where there are trials, obstacles, choices…

Ah, well. The market will show what it wants, as always. But please have a look at the free part of ‘Schooled’ on Amazon, at least.

Cover art for Schooled
On sale now

Sneak Preview

I’m getting close to the release of ‘Schooled’ now. Very close. I’ve wrestled with Kindle Create; I’ve made a book cover; I’ve uploaded everything to the Amazon development environment and seen a preview. Only my urge to get everything perfect is keeping me from saying “what the heck?” and hitting the ‘publish’ button.

Cover art for Schooled
Coming soon: my next book

Perhaps you’d like to know a little more? If so, you can start reading right away: the first part was already published on this blog long ago. ‘Schooled’ started life as a short story with a cliffhanger ending: what would happen to George, after his head teacher discovered his secret? Now we know… or at least, now I know.

Have some blurb, dear reader:

At work, George is passionate about teaching. At home he’s Jessica: the woman he wishes he could have been. When George inadvertently ‘outs’ himself to his head teacher, the terrifying Ms Victoria Stanton, her reaction surprises him: she insists on meeting Jessica… but what are her motives?

Both George and Jessica are drawn into the orbit of Victoria, a woman of considerable strength but with secrets of her own. As her passions threaten to destroy Jessica, George knows he ought to leave her… but that’s not easy when you’ve fallen in love.

A story of crossdressing, domination, submission and redemption.

As ever, thanks to the good folks at TransScripts TG Fiction for encouragement and for listening patiently while I agonised over various points of plot. The result was a surprisingly gentle tale… with some “fladge” that I’m really proud of.

Beyond Ourselves

Writing & Thoughts by Liam Slade

Mad Maddy’s Place

Transgender Fiction by Bryony Marsh

Look From The Other Side

A place to share my thoughts and opinions on Quality Trandsgendered Fiction from Samantha Ann Donaldson

Adventures in TG Fiction

A blog about TG Fiction written by Katerina Hellam (Also known as SuperHellKitten)