The Wachsmuth Syndrome

By Stefan Heym

From the September 1972 issue of Playboy

(Click on Pictures for Larger Versions)

Wachsmuth Picture 1Wachsmuth Picture 2I knew there was something funny when I woke up. Something unaccustomed.

The typewriter stood on my desk exactly as I had left it, my pipes were lined up in their rack, my trousers lay over the chair where I had thrown them before going to bed.

It couldn't be the cognac. I drink a glass of cognac every night, for my circulation. Nor do I smoke pot, take hash, or go on LSD trips. Susan was here, let's see, on Monday; I keep to the golden rule. I haven't masturbated since I was seventeen.

My sense of something being not quite as it should be persisted. I did feel uncomfortable sitting up, almost as though my center of gravity had changed its location. Moving about presented a slight problem too: I was bottom-heavy, and some weight dragged at my chest. I scratched my beard.


Where on earth was my beard?

I rushed to the mirror. That mirror, full-length, framed in mahogany, was bought at a good store; I knew I could trust it. And I knew there was no other person in the room whose image could be reflected in the glass, just me.


A person can always be identified by his teeth. The teeth in the mirror were definitely mine; I saw the two inlays and the familiar bridgework. The nose also belonged to me, though it seemed a little less rugged than yesterday, and cuter. So were the eyebrows mine, and the eyes, grayish green, with yellow speckles in the irises.

My fingers trembled as I unbuttoned my pajama. The breasts in the mirror weren't bad as breasts go, with a pair of dandy nipples that would have interested me on another woman.

Another woman?�I was a man!

I reached down to my crotch.


I nearly tore my pajama trousers pulling them down. I looked. I took a second look. It couldn't be true. Not that the thing I had owned had been out of the ordinary in size or shape and an object of special admiration on the part of Susan or any of the other girls, but it had served, and I had liked having it. For a moment I had the wild notion that some mad surgeon had operated on me during the night, without my permission, and I felt for the scar. There was no scar. There was just the well-known aperture.

Dr. Tauber was the family physician.

Dr. Tauber had brought me into this world. My mother used to delight in telling me how Dr. Tauber came into the room, stepped to her bedside, and proclaimed, "It's a boy. A very fine little boy!"

Dr. Tauber therefore must know what I did or did not have to start with.

Getting dressed proved a bit awkward. I had a bra somewhere that one of Susan's predecessors had left, but it proved too small. My derriere barely fit in the seat of my trousers, my jacket bulged suspiciously in front. I decided to wear an overcoat despite the warm, sunny weather.

"My," said Dr. Tauber, "have you changed. Goes to show you why the police frown on this beard fashion. You take off your beard, you're a changed man."

"Changed man," I said. "I wish it were just that."

He dug with his finger in his ear as though he had water on his eardrum. I noticed that my voice had slid up by nearly an octave; I was a contralto.

"Doc," I said, "I'm in trouble."

He looked worried and puzzled.

"You've got to help me, Doc. There's something. I don't know how to tell you, but it's pretty terrible."

"Now, now," he said, "it won't be that bad. I pulled you through the German measles and through the mumps; I set several of your bones; I cured that nasty little infection of yours; I'll try to take care of your present complaint. Open your mouth."

"Doc," I said, "it isn't just the voice." I started undressing. "It's all over me."

"What's all over you?"

I stood before him.

His face changed color. His mouth opened and closed like a sick fish's.

"I told you I was in bad trouble," I said in an attempt to help him over his shock.

"Madame," he said when he could talk again, "I'm sure I don't know what you intended pulling on me by impersonating a young friend of mine, a male friend. If�"

"Look, Doc," I interrupted gently, "see the scar on my arm? You made that incision when I was three months old. It saved my life. Now look at my foot, no, the other one. The third toe overlaps the fourth. You know I was born with that; it runs in the family."

He nodded.

I told him a few more things which only he and I could know. I mentioned my teeth; and if those weren't enough, I said, the army must have a set of fingerprints which would prove that I was I.

"But in the army you were a man," he said, pained.

"And now I appear to be a woman. That's why I've come to you."

He approached me hesitantly and felt my mammae. They were genuine enough, none of that silicone or whatever they use on a plastic job.

"But if you are what you are now"--he grew excited--"and if you were what we know you were, then this is�stupendous! It's unique! It'll do to medical science what the splitting of the atom did to physics. We must take you to Wachsmuth!"

I felt distinctly apprehensive at the prospect of playing to medical science the part which the first split atom has played to physics.

"Wachsmuth is your man. Every hermaphrodite in the city has been through his hands."

"But I don't think I'm an hermaphrodite," I mentioned.

"What you are is up to Wachsmuth to determine. Maybe we'll have to find a new term. Maybe there's a complete new development of which you're the first example: a new Adam."

"A new Eve," I said. "May I dress now?"

Professor Anatol Wachsmuth, M.D., D.S., D. Litt., etc., was cool and dispassionate, a man whose scientific approach to things seemed both to have formed his character and marked his face. Yet I saw him wax tense as Dr. Tauber got deeper into my story.

Dr. Tauber stuck to the facts, leaving the conclusions to his famous colleague. Professor Wachsmuth asked a few brief questions: had I been getting any hormones, orally or by injection? Had I during the last month consumed anything out of the ordinary, any foreign, especially oriental foods or potions that were previously unknown to me? Had I to my knowledge been exposed to radiation, X-ray, cosmic, or otherwise? Had I recently noticed any undue growth, or shrinkage of any part of myself? Any new and unusual desires, not necessarily sexual?

I denied every one of these in a firm but distinctly feminine voice. Professor Wachsmuth apparently had anticipated my answers; he motioned me to his obstetrical chair. Aware of my anxiety at my first vaginal, Dr. Tauber held my hand while the Professor explored all those new gadgets of mine which up to date I had only encountered elsewhere.

"Everything complete," Professor Wachsmuth said finally, "and not a trace of the male. Of course, we still have to have her--I mean his--hormone status."

He called in his nurse and told her to tap me for 10 cc.; the test tube was to be kept separate, he himself would attend to the analyses. And while the nurse perforated my vein and drew out my nice, dark red blood, he began a rapid colloquy with Dr. Tauber, something about devising a method to determine if my psyche had mutated along with my organism.

That was the least of my concerns. The questions that moved me were of a more practical nature. Should I continue to impersonate my old self, for instance, should I try to act the man I no longer was? Any public toilet would expose me. But if I started wearing skirts and high-heeled shoes and let my hair grow, I would lose many of my clients; also I hated the patronizing manner certain judges displayed towards female attorneys. There was no end of problems, down to learning how to button myself the other way around.

The two medical men had come to some conclusion. Professor Wachsmuth waited till I was fully clothed to give his opinion. "Your case is entirely new in my experience. I'll once more check through related literature, but I'm fairly sure there'll be nothing. Don't misunderstand: the matter is by no means hopeless. As soon as we have your hormone status, we'll design a tentative course of treatment; the definite treatment will have to wait on our finding the cause of your mutation. I strongly suspect your genes, you know, the little things that carry the coded information which determines growth and character of your cells. A change in your genes may have affected your gonads. But a whole complex of other factors must have entered the picture to bring about so radical a mutation in so short a time. We shall need some extended research, consultations, more tests. We'll call a top biologist, a geneticist, a gynecologist, a biophysicist, other men as required. We won't hurt you. We'll just ask you to hold yourself in readiness for further examinations. Of course, if you prefer our not doing anything, if you wish to stay what you have become--from what I can see, you are now a perfectly healthy woman--I can't force my services on you. But in the interest of science and in your own interest, madame--I mean, sir--I wish you would help us to get to the bottom of this extraordinary, this singular, this most promising new phenomenon which I should like to call the Wachsmuth syndrome."

A comparatively obscure item in the Journal of Applied Sexology set the ball rolling.

The journal reported Prof. Anatol Wachsmuth, M.D., D.S., D. Litt., etc., the well-known sexologist and hormone specialist, as having mentioned to several distinguished colleagues that he had found a complete case of spontaneous mutation (male to female) in a fully grown member of a species of higher vertebrates. Prof. Wachsmuth was preparing a paper on the case which was considered singular.

A few days later the local daily carried a front page story referring to the item in the Journal of Applied Sexology. The paper added that the species of higher vertebrates in question was in fact the species homo sapiens, and that its mutated member was a respected young member of the bar whose name was being withheld, but who was known to the editor. In the adjoining two columns they printed a photograph of me, a black oblong superimposed on part of my face to avoid possible legal action, and what they called an artist's conception of myself in a bikini after my mutation. Several paragraphs set in italics followed the story. They were written by the scientific correspondent, who spoke highly of the past achievements of Prof. Anatol Wachsmuth, M.D., D.S., D. Litt., etc., and predicted that his discovery of the new mutation syndrome, to be aptly called the Wachsmuth syndrome, would immortalize his fame. An editorial on the fourth page hinted broadly that the Wachsmuth syndrome, unless it remained restricted to the care of Mr. (or was it now Miss?) Dash Dash Dash, might well take care of the population explosion.

The joker who wrote that should have known how close he would be to the truth.

Things happened then.

It didn't take ten minutes for the rest of the papers, for the news services, for television and radio to detect my name and address. The telephone started ringing and never stopped. In the lobby of my apartment house lines formed at the reception desk and in front of the elevators. Friends I hadn't seen in years casually dropped by to inquire how I felt now that I had mutated. Newsmen fought each other for a question at me; photographers begged, Mister, give us some cheesecake, that's fine, that's a good boy, God bless you. One television station actually hired a fire truck and ran out the ladder outside my window to get some footage of me en déshabillé, brushing my teeth. Some viscous that spoke of a giant hoax were silenced by the sworn statements of Dr. Tauber and by the public display of my army fingerprints, which were irrefutable. I received offers from motion picture companies wanting me to star in the most daring films, from television chains willing to pay any amount for anything from a half hour show to a series, from some of our most eligible bachelors prepared to lead me to the altar, and from dirty-minded creatures of all ages suggesting the most outlandish games. I was offered a judgeship, the first female judge in the country to have been a male. I was invited to each at the biggest universities. Women's clubs wrote that, as a new woman, I owed them a lecture on how it felt to be a woman. The women's liberation movement nominated me vice-president, saying that, as a former man, I would have a particular appreciation of the disadvantages and discriminations from which women suffered. The Government considered sending me on an international goodwill mission: there were astronauts and cosmonauts by the dozen, but only one mutant. My glory reached its pinnacle when one of the most notorious underground organizations threatened to kidnap me. As the nation's foremost treasured individual, I was placed under 24-hour police guard.

But Wachsmuth was not satisfied. He grew increasingly moody, though I kept my appointments with him religiously.

"Your life belongs to science," he growled, "not to this circus. The whole world talks of the Wachsmuth syndrome. Do we have any idea of what it is, or why it comes about? And what of your genes? Have they changed? If so, how? You have learned to pronounce desoxyribonucleic acid without getting your tongue twisted, but do we know what effect, if any, it had on your sudden sex shift? There you are, a rather good-looking woman with a male past: that's all we really know. But that we knew the day Dr. Tauber brought you into this office�" He broke off. "Ah, you'll never understand."

But I thought I understood. Something in me had stirred, a feminine instinct.

But was I a woman? I mean, down in my heart?

The big colloquium which was to decide that ended in failure. There were rows and rows of great men come from a number of countries--psychologists, psychiatrists, sexologists, what have you--myself and Professor Wachsmuth on the platform, and the press up on the gallery and the cameras grinding away, and they were asking me these embarrassing questions.

Maybe I should have told them one way or the other and been done with it, but I honestly didn't know: did I still feel attracted to women, or had I a recent penchant for men? The thing with Susan was over: that much was fact. She had said she was willing to stick with me, but I felt I shouldn't take advantage of her loyalty. There had been a young liftboy who brought me a floral arrangement sent by an advertising agency: he suddenly blushed and asked if he just might kiss my cheek and I let him. But that was all. In all the rush and business in which I constantly was involved I simply hadn't had the opportunity to get any sort of feeling about a man or a woman.

"Gentlemen," I said after cutting a rather sad figure, "I'm afraid I can't make up my mind about that. I just know that none of you in this hall arouses anything in me."

That got me the laughs, but it didn't settle my problem. And I saw the deep frown on Professor Wachsmuth's face.

Suddenly my situation was altered.

A flash news bulletin burst upon the world: a Liverpool dockworker, Gus Emmett, had turned woman and was calling himself Gwendolyn. A few hours later the same thing was reported from Istanbul where a Turkish trumpeter named Hakim al Bülbül had changed sex. Further mutation stories emanated from Lima, Peru, and Bangalore in South India, but the cases referred to, a donkey driver and a practicing guru, were not confirmed by serious medical authority.

At any rate, I no longer was the sole living specimen of the Wachsmuth syndrome. I can't say that I was unhappy. It's always a consolation to have fellowship in misfortune, if becoming a woman after some good years as a male can properly be called a misfortune. I wrote to Gwendolyn, offering my advice as a mutant of several months' experience. Gwendolyn wrote back gratefully and related some delightful anecdotes about the reaction of her dockworker friends to her new status. If I had known Turkish, I should have similarly written to Hakim al Bülbül; however, I couldn't see myself exchanging confidences through a translator.

Professor Wachsmuth flew both to Liverpool and Istanbul. On his return he seemed depressed. The symptoms, he told me, were exactly as mine: the two men had turned into completely equipped females, shedding in the process every vestige of there one-time male appurtenances; the process itself remained a mystery since, just as in my case, it occurred during a deep, dreamless sleep.

The press and the commentators grew cautious. One mutant was a sensation, a freak, an object of public wonder. Three of them, of five if you trusted the reports from Peru and South India, gave cause for thought: not yet a matter of public concern, it was nothing to be brushed away lightly. The various scientific opinions on the origins and possible cures of the Wachsmuth syndrome were duly registered and their contradictory nature was noted with misgivings. If the medical men on whom the public relied were that much at odds, how was the average citizen to behave in the face of the new phenomenon?

A certain urgency manifested itself in the editorials and news comments when, on the Monday after Epiphany, a spate of reports appeared of fresh mutations in Norway and Italy, in South Africa and Brazil, in Ohio, Florida, Maine and Ontario, in Japan (two), on Bali and in Thailand, in Israel, in Iran and in Morocco. The next day new cases were added from Finland, from Tyrol, from the Sudan, Southern France, Spain (one in Catalonia, one in Valladolid), from Mexico, Paraguay, Barbados, also from Pakistan (three), Honolulu, and Australia. Even in Iceland a glacier guide, a giant of a man, had suddenly turned female. He refused to wear women's clothes, though, and continued to affect a bass voice in the hope that with the return of summer his renowned masculinity would return as well.

Here was a new illness, opinion ran, if an illness it was. True, it didn't kill. True, it had not reached epidemic proportions. Its eeriness lay in its erratic behavior: no predicting when, where, and whom it would hit. A man might peacefully fall asleep beside his lawfully wedded wife, to awake in the morning a member of the opposite sex. What this did to his family life, his job, his business was anybody's guess. But what of our medical science? Was the Wachsmuth syndrome beyond the power of our great doctors, our institutions of learning and research? And what about the governments? Billions were being spent on all sorts of things: why was there no international project in investigate the Wachsmuth syndrome; why was there not even an international scientific symposium on the subject? Did we want to wait until it was too late?

From the East came differing voices. Nothing in the faintest resembling the Wachsmuth syndrome had been noted in the socialist countries, wrote Literaturnaya Gazeta, obviously this strange mutation of men into women was a symptom of capitalist degeneration, akin to public immorality and the widespread use of harmful drugs. Literaturnaya Gazeta changed its line when in Poland a number of Catholic monks turned into devout nuns, and when in Kazakstan, Estonia, Vladivostok, and Erivan reports trickled into Moscow of man-to-woman mutations in those areas. Literaturnaya Gazeta calmed its readers by declaring that the Wachsmuth syndrome in truth should be called the Bezmensky syndrome, after Professor Andry Philippovich Bezmensky, who in the sixties of the past century had observed similar mutations in the Urals mining field.

Thus was the state of things when the avalanche broke loose.

I well remember that spring: never had the trees budded more beautifully, never had the sky seemed that high and that blue. But people were panicked. A few dozen cases per day of the Wachsmuth syndrome, spread over the globe, mushroomed into hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands. The thinning out of the male population on the streets of the cities, in the theatres, on buses, trains, planes, was frightening to observe. The remaining men became shy, introspective; they had something about them of the tired old flies that crawl across the window sill on a winter's day. Wives, suddenly widowed by mutation, tried to keep a semblance of married life; but as their boy children turned into girls, the institution of family assumed a new, perplexing character. Elsewhere orgiastic parties were being thrown at which the few males the hostesses could procure were shamelessly exploited. Several governments thought of introducing a system of rationing men, but the rapid increase of the mutation rate outdated every quota before it could become law.

Science was helpless. In their desperation, men tried their own remedies. Some shut themselves off in garrets, caves, lonely mountain huts, preferring life as recluses to life as women. Others believed in garlic, in frequent massages of their pertinent parts, in curare, in the waters of certain springs. Mass pilgrimages were undertaken to Lourdes, Mecca, Benares, Zagorsk, Lhasa; but of every thousand male pilgrims setting out, it was calculated that an average of three hundred returned as mutants. Writers treated the new subject and its attending complications in film, on the stage, in stories and novels; several authors who began their works as men finished them as women, which offered to critics and students fine material for comparative studies of male and female writing.

The news media which initially published daily mutation figures based on representative sample areas ceased that practice; they restricted themselves to reporting just the most prominent cases, such as that of a Greek shipping magnate who, having mutated, blew himself up together with the entire island he owned. But this was an extreme. On the whole, once a man had mutated, he took his fate like a man and tried to make the best of his new fate and figure. A number of people told me that they even derived a certain satisfaction from seeing a hefty girl, obviously a mutant, handle a bulldozer or climb the mast of a high tension wire or bounce a recalcitrant male out of the corner bar where the poor fellow had gone to drown his apprehensions.

Though they were patently senseless, I kept up my visits to Professor Wachsmuth.

He now lived as under a curse, as though he had invented the syndrome that carried his name. He had been the center of hopes that some means might be found of combating the dreaded mutation; as these hopes dwindled and the jokes whose butt he was grew stale, he retired more and more to his serums and slides.

That day it wasn't the nurse who opened the door. "Why!" I said. "Isn't this--"

"Call me Agnes." The Professor drew me into the office and motioned for me to the chair on which I always sat. "It's happened. Last night. I expected it for the longest time: why should I be exempt from my own syndrome. I had hoped I'd feel some of it, observe, make notes. But no, I slept through it. How do I look?"

"Great!" Professor Anatol Wachsmuth had been a fine figure of a man, youthful for his years, well-knit; some of that had transferred into the female. "Perhaps, if you combed your hair a little differently�May I?" I led the Professor to the mirror, took out my pocket comb and did a few things. "Now, isn't that better?"

"You know, I'll have to learn so much from you."

We sat down on the couch. Professor Wachsmuth held my hands.

"I've been thinking last night, before I--before I mutated. Wachsmuth, I said, Nature is Nature. Remember all those little bugs that we used to kill by penicillin? Suddenly there appeared a strain that was penicillin resistant. Wachsmuth, I said, somewhere on this globe, right this minute, there must grow one gene that is mutation resistant: all we have to do is find it."

"Isn't that a pretty large order?" I said. "And if you found it, wouldn�t it be too late--for you, for me?"

"So much in this world comes too late." Professor Wachsmuth caressed my fingers. "I've been meaning to tell you, dear. I've loved you all along. I fell in love with you the day you came here the first time�"

"Anatol!" I blushed.

"Agnes," the Professor corrected. "That's just it. Too late."

I kissed her, the chaste kiss of one mutant kissing another of her kind.

Those who had theorized that mass mutation would end the prevalent social conflicts were mistaken. On the contrary, as men faded from the picture, as radical groups and the forces of law both became increasingly feminized, class and radical clashes grew increasingly vindictive. As for the current wars, they just went on.

But a whole complex of conflicts entirely unknown in recorded history arose between the OWs (original women) and the MWs (mutation women). The OWs, being of pure, unmutated sex, claimed not only superiority but seniority. The positions previously held by men in business and in the professions, plus the former male privileges, now were rightfully theirs; let those sexual bastards, the MWs, take their turn as cleaning women, kindergardeners, nurses, typists, receptionists, and bunny girls. The MWs on the other hand held that by training and experience, by their very masculine past, they were entitled to stick to the jobs they had held as men: if it was a man's world no longer, it was not going to be a woman's world either. Without formally organizing, the MWs functioned like a mafia, furthering each other and protecting each other against OW competition. "Oh, you're one of us, too?" or a few casual words like it would suffice to assure the MW of the sorority's assistance. This in turn caused the OWs to take counter-measures. An embittered struggle ensued, a new sort of civil war which was fought in the jungle of day-to-day life and which was the more terrible for the fact that both contending sides consisted of women.

On the surface little of that showed. The political institutions created by the rapidly vanishing males somehow continued functioning, much as a wristwatch ticks on though its owner lies dead of the stroke. The British, as usual, made the smoothest transition; of course they were ruled by a Queen long before the appearance of the Wachsmuth syndrome; Her Majesty now was married to the Duchess of Edinburgh. Chairman Mao, in China, simply became Chairwoman Mao: all feminine virtues and wisdom were immediately ascribed to her and a number of excellent Chinese recipes were added to the Little Red Book. On the day the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union turned into a rather ponderous elderly lady, the MWs took control of the Politbureau: a communique was issued in which the continuity of Soviet policy was stressed and all governments were assured that the USSR would scrupulously hold to its treaty obligations. There was some constitutional debate in the United States because a daily decreasing number of enfeebled males protested that they never elected a woman President, but the Vice-President had mutated nearly three weeks before the President and the opposition could offer no proper substitute for the chief executive. In a new election, which some demanded, the men would have been heavily outnumbered; so the call for it was quietly dropped.

By and by it dawned on people that the Wachsmuth syndrome mean the end of the human race. As in the natural course of events women and mutants aged, died and were buried, as less and less infants were born and those of the male sex mutated within the first ten days of their young lives, people began to long back to the days when the public talk was of the population explosion, and would the earth be able to hold our progeny? The saurians, whose huge skeletons enlivened our museums of natural history, were thoughtfully remembered; a time was predicted when the remains of the strange bipeds who once roamed the earth and burned and bombed it as the spirit moved them would be displayed to interested groups of termites, or night owls, or crocodiles; and wry tribute was paid to the long-mutated editorial writer who had warned of the development when there was only one sample of a live mutant, myself.

Deep gloom spread over the globe: Gotterdammerung was obviously at hand. Churches, mosques, temples, tabernacles filled with the wailing OWs and MWs; preachers called for penitence; public officials for law and order. There was no general relaxation of morals because there was nothing to relax your morals with. A famous poetess wrote some lines to her mutant friend that were set to music and played in every discotheque:

The two of us
Will be the last
So let's de---e---e---e---part

And then word reached Professor Wachsmuth of a boy baby born in the small town of Koetzschenbroda, in a European country called the German Democratic Republic, who refused to mutate. His proud mother called him Otto. His father had mutated shortly after begetting him, so Otto was in a sense a posthumous child.

I never saw Agnes that excited. "That's it!" she cried as she paced her laboratory, "that's my resistant strain!" She took the next plane to East Berlin and reached Koetzschenbroda in due time. There, in an old-fashioned house that breathed Gemuetlichkeit, lay Otto in his crib, happily gurgling and sucking his big toe.

Agnes described him to me, her faced wreathed in a motherly smile: a fat, good-natured baby--"and he's got everything!" She showed me the pictures she had taken for the paper she would write and soon publish. "It's the fulfillment of my life," she proclaimed, "the second Wachsmuth syndrome!"

I looked at the photos with a certain melancholy: once I, too, had been like Otto. But I had no right to complain. If those little things I saw there survived, the human race would go on, with all that implied.

The article on Baby Otto by Prof. Agnes Wachsmuth, M.D., D.S., D. Litt., etc., in the Journal of Applied Sexology proved a bombshell. The front page of the biggest tabloid in town blossomed out with the giant-sized headline RACE SAVED, and a picture of Otto's saving equipment. The paper stated editorially that apologies were due to Professor Wachsmuth who had been made to suffer so much for the sake of her science but who in the nick of time had come forth with the answer to humanity's problem: the second Wachsmuth syndrome. The paper also called for immediate diplomatic recognition of the German Democratic Republic, the only country on earth which could boast of a man.

That call was taken up in every capital, and the German Democratic Republic became the most recognized republic of the world. Its Government wisely prevented little Otto from being victimized as I was by a sensation-hungry press and by the usual capitalist business hyenas. Otto and his mother were efficiently screened off; a commission of medical women and educators was named to assure Otto a normal childhood; his entire life was planned and parcelled out, the socialist countries naturally having first choice. But that share of Otto's future natural resources which was to be made available for export to the West proved sufficiently valuable to turn the East Mark into one of the most sought-after currencies.

The secret worry of everyone concerned is that Otto might not last, that by some quirk of fate he too might mutate, dashing all the proud hopes that are set on him. But to judge by the daily bulletins issued by the governmental commission he still is complete and growing lustily.

At this writing, that is.

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