by Taro Kimura
Nikki experienced this encounter during breakfast,
when she was still Nikki-One. This was her basic
personality, not yet splintered by the capsule she had
taken with her mango juice. Nikki was blonde and fat,
and even in the cool of morning she itched with sweat.
When the capsule took effect she would become
Nikki-Two, with the heart of a gamin; then later
Nikki-Three, the self-destroyer; and Nikki-Four, the
singer of free space. By nightfall, if she gave herself
sufficiently to her different personalities, she would be
All-Nikki, serene and integrated as only the playing
out of her conflicting drives could make her.
Drug-induced parasanity was the rage in Art World
Taro was a fire sculptor. He fashioned fires of wood,
plastics and chemicals, laying his materials in
patterns that determined the shapes and colors of the
blaze they would produce. He was an artist who
sculpted in flames, and already, after only one season
in Art world, he was considered one of the most
promising new visionaries of the city.
"Do you...have you decided what kind of fire you're
going to make?" she asked.
Taro scowled and turned away from her, looking at
the materials on his workbench. At length he said, "It
will have to be something dull, something tame. They
don't really want art; they only want pretty colors to
focus on. The temples are even more conservative than
Nikki smiled nervously, hoping she wouldn't have to
argue about art with Taro so early in the day. "I've
taken a capsule, Taro. Maybe I'll dance for you this
morning. Would you like that? You said last time that I
He regarded her with distaste. "You're fatter than
ever. If you dance, you'll look like a pregnant
She flushed, and with the rush of blood she felt the
first change coming over her. Her muscles were
jumping and her head was light.
"I'm on a diet," she said faintly.
"You shouldn't diet, you should fast," Taro said, and
rose from the table. He went to his workbench, prowled
nervously around it and abruptly turned back to her. "I
wish you'd go out today," he said.
The room was whirling, a series of red and black
strobes flashing through her consciousness. She felt
"Just go out," he said wearily. He sat heavily on the
floor beside his bench and stared morosely at the blank
page of his sketchbook. The he looked up at her, and
his expression softened. "Really, I've got to work
Nikki-One relaxed into her maelstrom, surrendering
to the new personality that was emerging. She let it
come and gradually felt the whirling lessen, saw the
light in the room clear and stabilize. Her sick fears
faded, a buoyant elation took hold of her, and she
opened her eyes to a room suddenly sharp with detail
and happiness. She was Nikki-Two.
"Oh, Taro, don't be a block," she said softly, rising
from the table and gliding toward him. His back was to
her, his sketchbook propped on his knees. She came up
behind him and touched him gently under the ears.
"Can't we go outside just for a while?" she asked. "We
could go look for the foreigner.."
He said, " Stop it, Nikki. I told you---"
"I'm Nikki-Two," she said, running fingertips down
He pushed her hands away. "I said stop! I don't care
who you are."
"Yes you do," she said, smiling softly, remembering.
She lay down on the floor next to him. "If we must stay
He looked at her with exasperation. "I told you I have
to work. It doesn't matter what little piece of yourself
you've opened up to use on me. I've only got until
tonight to finish this job. Now please don't get in my
She lay back and stretched her body, Thrusting her
full breasts into the clearness of the air. The room had
become so silent, each tiny sound distinct, the
fragrance of her own body warm and comforting.
"Taro," she said again, "I'm Nikki-Two."
He sighed impatiently. "No you're not. Nikki-Two
doesn't exist. Look at yourself; you're three stones
fat---do you really think a little capsule can make you
"But it has." she said matter-of-factly. "Come on, Taro,
it's morning, it's a new day, let's go outside and---"
He turned away from her, picked up his stylus very
deliberately and began to sketch free-form patterns in
his book. She saw the muscles of his upper back
become taut with gathering anger.
He dropped his sketchbook into his lap, sighing. "All
right, Nikki-Two, you exist. Science is wonderful. But
I've got to work; if you want to go out, go ahead. Go see
the foreigner; see what tales he has from
Transformation. Tell me all about it this evening."
Nikki threw a light shawl over her shoulders. "I'll be
gone by this afternoon, you know. You'll have to hear
about it from Nikki-Three, maybe. Or Four, if you're
He smiled faintly, picking up his sketchbook again.
"Some gamble---either a catatonic or a manic
loudmouth. Do you really have all those women in
"Nikki-One has. And don't feel so sorry for yourself;
you know you're crazy about Four." She went to the
door, opened it and paused. She turned back to him.
"Do you love her more than me, Taro?"
He threw up his hands in exasperation. "Go! Go out! I
can't deal with someone who's jealous of herself!"
Nikki-Two laughed; she waved and went out the door.