“She’s a possible match,” Phebe said to Digger as they walked back from her lab to the converted office dorm. “But it doesn’t mean she has the same mutation, Digger. Cindy’s mom—if Subject #2 was indeed her mom—didn’t need tits to stay thin.”
“But she still had the connection,” Digger said.
“Yes. I believe that’s what killed her,” Phebe said. She always became animated when they talked about the skinny gene mutation. “When she dropped more weight, they tried to pump the fat from tits back into her body to keep her at an equilibrium. But her tits account was empty.”
“We don’t know that,” Digger countered.
“No. And we have no way to find out, do we? So I say let’s just assume I’m right, okay?”
“Okay. So Mrs. Rella was pumped full of someone else’s fat?”
“I don’t see how that would have worked.” Phebe rubbed her forehead in consternation. “Where would the extra mass have come from?”
“Cindy said she never saw the body.”
“Again, she was just a kid. Would they have shown her?”
“Depends,” Digger said. “I wish we’d known about Cindy and her dad before. We could have asked him directly.”
“Well, it’s too late now. And her dad didn’t have the mutation. He died when they severed his tits connection. It was the typical death.”
“I saw the report. He exploded, basically.”
“Please,” Phebe barked at him. “Try to be more sensitive when you’re around the girl.”
“I’m not stupid, Phebe. You were the one who was cross with her.”
“I’m just talking it out with you,” Digger continued. “The guy blew up.” He again conjured the grisly visual, but only got a dirty look from Phebe this time. “But Cindy didn’t. They took her off, too. She should have died.”
“But she didn’t. Jacob said she hardly gained anything at all.”
“So she wasn’t really using her tits connection either,” Digger said.
“But it wasn’t empty.”
“It wasn’t big enough to blow her up,” he countered.
“Cut it out, Digger. Really. Why do you get off on being so…”
“At a loss for words?” Digger smiled.
Digger enjoyed sparring with Phebe, trying to break through her scientific composure. They’d known each other for many years. Dr. Pearson had worked for Transdimensional Industries for over three decades now; in fact, she was the one who’d first hired Digger when she was looking for a lab assistant. And both of their careers would have remained quite ordinary if not for Subject #2. Her death had changed everything.
It was only due to dumb luck that Subject #2’s death was brought to the attention of their lab—they were the closest geographical facility. But when Phebe got the call, she was quick to recognize the significance. They’d heard of other cases of strange deaths of course, but this was the first direct evidence they’d ever received. Subject #2 seemed to have been naturally thin—no transdimensional augmentations. Digger quickly theorized that perhaps the family had been put on the F.A.T.O.F.F. program to keep her mutation a secret. The woman herself might never even have known that she didn’t need tits to stay thin.
And that got Phebe thinking.
Phebe and Digger were part of the original group to wean themselves off their tits accounts. It was a painful process and very slow. No one knew how it all worked. Or at least, they didn’t know anyone who knew. They had to be careful—they had to reduce the stored fat in tits to make sure that when they turned off their tits anchors, they didn’t blow up. Subject #2 was their first clue as to what happened if tits wasn’t turned off at the right time.
Digger was the first to show progress, and it took over two years after the anchor was disconnected and then surgically removed before he lost even a single pound. But once he got started, he lost weight at a rapid clip, melting before his friends’ eyes. Soon after, others started to enjoy the effects of real weight loss. They were lucky—no one died in their group. But there were stories…
The group was quick to notice that their weight loss was radically different from tits weight loss. Tits connections left subjects lean and without stretch marks or loose skin. If people had money, they could even shape their fat excisions to match pre-specified parameters. As a result, the world was full of rich, preternaturally thin-waisted, super-curvy bombshells. By contrast, Phebe, Digger, and their colleagues had to contend with bodies that looked like deflated balloons. Naked, they were not a pretty sight. Some hypothesized that those with fully funded tits accounts would fare better at this process, if it was handled well.
But regardless of their saggy looks, everyone in the group enjoyed the health benefits associated with low body weight. And they no longer had to depend on tits to keep them alive. So although they still worked for Transdimensional Industries, they stopped being slaves to the tenuous technology that linked the dimensions and enabled the flow of materials from one side to the other.
Meanwhile, they continued their research into people like Subject #2. Phebe hoped that insight into Subject #2’s DNA might lead to a scientific breakthrough in fat management. The dieting approach she and her team had taken was, she believed, too hard for the masses; it was much easier to sell the virtues of gluttony than restraint.
Now Phebe thought out loud. “They didn’t know that Cindy’s dad would yank her tits subsidy in favor of his new wife and stepdaughter. And the girl gained weight right away—there was fat stored in her tits.”
“But not enough to kill her. Perhaps Cindy doesn’t have the full impact of the mutation. Her dad was normal, after all,” Digger said.
“Okay, so a few weeks ago, they pull her and her dad off tits. Her dad dies. But Cindy starts to lose weight naturally.”
“Something like that,” Digger said. “Remember, it took us years to get to where Cindy is just several weeks into life without tits.”
“I agree—the girl is special. Even if she and Subject #2 aren’t related.”
“But they could be. The timeframe fits, and her blood type doesn’t rule it out,” Digger insisted.
“I know what you think, Digger,” Phebe said. “Take her around tomorrow. Show her the Farm. Let’s get her on board.”
“That’s the plan.” Digger smiled.
They walked into the facility of the Farm group’s sleeping quarters. They’d started to call themselves “Farmers” after the first batch of vegetables they successfully managed to grow in the underground garden. They still used the transdimensional goo, but only as fertilizer. And their diets were still heavily dependent on the byproduct of tits. But someday, they hoped, they would be completely free of it.
“They aren’t here,” Digger said as he walked and then ran around the office dorm.
“Jacob must have taken her on an unauthorized tour,” Phebe said angrily. “Find them.”