Acts of Humanity 3:
Higher and Higher
A MORFS Universe Tale
by Ray Drouillard
Tina Shepherd was in the final stages of dying a slow death due to cancer when she met the Martins and their friends.
Categories: Hybrid, Elemental, PSI
Chapter One: In The Ashes
I woke up feeling lousy, as usual.
No, I'm not talking about the vomiting and nausea that comes with MORFS – though I do get to experience plenty of vomiting and nausea. Actually, I wish it was MORFS. If it was MORFS, my death sentence might just be stayed. If it was MORFS, maybe my body would be rebuilt and the cancer would be gone.
But I come from a long line of pures.
We are not connected those obnoxious people who think that resistance to MORFS is somehow indicative of moral superiority. We have no problem with MORFS survivors. We seem to be immune to the condition, but that's just the luck of the draw. Of course, that doesn't stop people from trying to recruit us into their self-righteous organizations. But, like I said, we're not interested. We would have to give up too many friends to cop an anti-MORFS attitude.
I went outside and tried to enjoy the summer. After all, it would probably be my last. When I think about it, it's hard to keep from dissolving into tears and just staying that way.
But, I have to be strong. No matter how hard it is for me, it's even harder for my parents. I have perused the web for resources on terminal illness enough to know that losing a child is probably the hardest thing that any human can go through. I can feel sorry for myself, but at least it'll be over for me once I go. My parents, unfortunately, will be left to pick up the pieces. Maybe their marriage will survive, and maybe it won't.
I went over to the gate and walked out into the pasture. My pony came to see me, nudging me gently with her nose. I had always wanted a pony, but there was always some good reason that I couldn't have one. Then, just a few days after I was diagnosed, there she was. Somehow, all those reasons seemed less important.
I finally have my pony, but I can't ride her. I put my arms around her neck and cried. She stood perfectly still and seemed to cry with me. Through my tears, I said a prayer that this cup should pass from me. I chose those words because they reminded me of the scene of at the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed for the cup to pass, but accepted that it just wasn't to be.
As I wept bitterly, I was reminded of another scene – a scene where Lazarus lay in his tomb. Everyone was sure that he was gone for good, but he walked out.
It's never too late.
I wanted to get on my pony and ride, but I was too fragile. With all the tumors in my body, even Ginny's gentle gait would hurt.
Will I ever get to ride my pony? Will I ever get to do anything other than stumble around and try to smile through the pain? The streets of gold are getting more and more appealing as I go through this. My life is being stolen away from me. I still live, but I can't do what I want to do.
Ginny waited patiently as I cried myself out. After my last sniffle, I gave her a hug and stroked her velvety nose. I reached into my pocket and gave her some of her favorite treats.
I walked over to the chicken coop. By the time I got there, I had quite a following. I reached into the feed bin and scooped up a handful of scratch grain. I tossed it to the chickens, and they ate it up like candy. I noticed that they had plenty of water, but that their food bin was almost empty. In the past, I would have filled it with laying pellets. I'm not allowed to do that anymore. All I can do is let Mom or Dad know that they need feed. I gathered the eggs and walked back into the house. The goats bleated at me as I walked past their pen. They like attention, too. "I'll pet you later, noisy girls," I said to them.
I walked stiffly back to the house and set the eggs by the sink. "Breakfast is almost ready, Kitten," my mom said.
"Thanks," I said as I walked past, carefully avoiding her gaze. I went to the bathroom and washed so that Mom wouldn't have to see my tear-streaked face.
After breakfast, I went into the goat pen and sat on one of the piles of rocks that Dad put there. The goats like to climb, and the rocks help keep their hooves worn down. Soon, I had goats climbing all over each other to see me. They wanted to climb on me, but they knew better. We had trained them well. The kids were growing quickly. The bucklings had been wethered at a young age. If they hadn't, they would already be trying to mount the does. Bucklings mature quickly. Unfortunately, they get stinky when they hit puberty. The musk gland gets active, and they start to pee on themselves.
Puberty hadn't been kind to me. When puberty tried to fill out my curves and develop my breasts, it succeeded in filling me with cancer. What was supposed to be the start of my life as a woman ended up being the beginning of my death. I cried with the bitter irony.
Mom had already milked the goats, so their udders were loose and floppy. I had often wondered if that makes them feel a little lighter and more energetic. I might find out myself – if I live long enough have a baby and breast feed her.
I was trying to enjoy the day, but the thoughts of my situation kept coming back. Doctor Josephson had managed to secure the services of a powerful bio elemental – a lady named Betty Wilson. I looked her up on the web, and was excited about the prospect of finally being cured. I remember the excitement of that day – the day that I rose early to go to the clinic. I went into a treatment room and changed to a hospital gown half an hour before she was due to arrive.
Hope faded slowly as the hours went by. Eventually, the teleport who had been retained to transport Betty Wilson called to inform us that she had disappeared, and that she hadn't made any of her appointments that day. To say I was crushed would be an understatement. It was almost as if my grave had been dug and the tombstone placed. The only thing left was for me to be lowered into it.
Try as he might, Doctor Josephson couldn't find another bio elemental at any price. My last remaining ray of hope was snuffed out.
It's never too late.
My hope hangs by such a thin thread.
Then it's cut.
Mom looked out the window at me, so I put on my happy face. I think she saw right through it.
The rest of the day went on pretty much like this. I did what chores I could. Mom and Dad don't make me do them, but I can't just lay around. I can't just give up.
I went up to my room and fired up my computer. Gregory, the kitten that Mom had gotten for me a few months ago, walked over and sat on my lap. I read through the email from the on-line support group that I frequent. I didn't get much from my old friends. It's almost as if they're afraid to get too close – as if putting distance between them and me will make it easier when I finally pass away. Maybe that's part of it, but my friends in the support group tell me that they simply don't know what to say to me.
That doesn't make it any easier.
After dinner, Mom helped me shower. She told me that we're going to go to a church that's about an hour away. Uncle Mark and Aunt Janis had set up a special prayer session for me. I'm grateful, but I wonder if going there to pray will work any better than praying right here.
Mom and Dad tucked me in and prayed over me. I could tell that they were working hard to hide their tears. It's almost easier to have no hope than to have hope dashed.
Chapter Two: A Glimmer of Hope
When we got there, my first impression was that it must be the Church of MORFS or something. Aunt Janis whispered in my ear that their church welcomes morfs, and that helping difficult changes is a part of their ministry.
We sat near the front, next to a family of morfs. Or maybe it's more than one family. There were three girls that looked almost like elves. One had violet hair and eyes, and the others had blue hair and eyes. They were sitting next to four of the most adorable kitty people I have ever seen. One of the blue haired girls looked kind of cozy with the cute kitty boy.
A wave of envy and sadness hit me. Would I ever have a boyfriend? Who wants to start a relationship with a stringy-haired and haggard looking girl who's dying? Even my face is misshapen from all the tumors. Why is my life being stolen away from me like this? It's bad enough that I have to go, but do my last days have to be so miserable and lacking?
It's never too late.
I barely listened as Doctor Josephson introduced me and told them about my situation. Mom and Dad helped me walk up to the front. About a dozen people stretched out their hands and put them on my head. Everyone else stretched their hands toward me. The pastor gave a very impassioned prayer asking for my deliverance. I felt warmth spreading through me.
Was that God healing me? Was there an empath in the congregation? Was it just my imagination?
After it was over, I did feel some peace – as if something good is going to happen. I saw Mom and Dad having a whispered conversation with Doctor Josephson. They all had smiles on their faces. They looked hopeful.
After the service, the seven people I had noticed before came to us and led us downstairs. The raven-haired kitty girl put her hand on my shoulder and whispered, "You're going to be all right."
I believed her.
They sat me on a couch and introduced themselves. I couldn't believe that Doctors Kim and Sara Martin, the straw blond and raven haired kitty girls, were as old as my grandparents; and that the blue haired girls were mother and daughter. They explained that Amy Cox, the girl with violet hair, was a bio elemental. Hope started to kindle within me. They explained that Sue and Cara Jones, the blue haired girls, are telekinetic, and can control their powers so well that they can remove my tumors one by one.
Surgery while I'm awake? I was nervous, but excited. Even if it's painful, it's worth it. I'm no stranger to pain.
*Don't worry about the pain. We can deaden it as soon as it happens.*
I looked around. *Are you reading my mind?*
Amy waved at me. *Sorry,* she sent. *I guess that wasn't very polite. Still, everything will go better if you can open completely to us.*
I just smiled. *No harm done. I'm really grateful that you're willing to help me.*
Soon, they got to work. I felt a sharp pain that quickly went away. I felt my flesh moving deep within me as the tumors were liquefied and removed through narrow tubes of force. They shared what they were doing with me so that I could watch their process. Sometimes, I would feel pain as something shifted. It wasn't any worse than the pain I am used to feeling from just walking or moving, but they seemed to sense it and squelch it almost as soon as it appeared.
*That's exactly what we're doing,* Doctor Kim told me. *We are all monitoring you and helping any way we can.*
It was taking a long time, and I was getting tired.
*Do you want to sleep for a while?*
I drifted off almost as fast as I formed the answer in my mind.
The first thing I noticed when I woke up was that there was no pain. I felt kind of drained, but I still felt better than I had for a long time. I yawned and stretched, reveling in the ability to move without pain.
Everyone was smiling at me and munching on power bars and other snacks. They told me that the tumors weren't cancer in the classical sense, but are caused by a curious interaction between the MORFS DNA that has been foisted upon humanity, and my own DNA – perhaps the very DNA that makes me resistant to MORFS. The tumors seem to be caused by the same mechanism that triggers the total rebuilding of a morfing body. They told me that the cancer would come back if I didn't go through MORFS, then asked me how I would like to morf. I didn't know that anyone could do that. I soon found out that it's a deep, dark secret, and that Amy's life would be in serious danger if that secret ever got out.
It didn't take me long to decide that I wanted to be a kitty person. I have always loved cats, and the Martins were simply adorable. I have also dreamed of flying like a bird, so I asked for wings. When Amy offered me powers, I told her that I want to help people the way that they helped me. After some discussion among the adults, Amy offered to zap me with MORFS. Of course I accepted. She told me that I would come down with MORFS in two days.
After she zapped me, she zapped Doctor Josephson with the same powers, but no physical changes. She made the bug sexually transmittable so that his wife, the other Doctor Josephson, would get the same changes.
Chapter Three: A New Life
I think I drove my parents nuts on the ride home. They were happy to see me cured, but I was just bubbling over with enthusiasm. After living with constant pain for so long, its absence was positively intoxicating. They didn't seem to mind, of course. The smiles never left their faces. As soon as we got home, they gave me a sandwich hug. Then, they sent me out to say hello to all my animals.
I went straight out to Ginny and hugged her around the neck. She could sense my happiness. I so wanted to ride her right then and there, but we never bought any tack for her. By the time I got her, I was too sick to ride. I hope she remembers her training. I hope I remember my training. It's been a long time.
After making my rounds; petting the goats, playing with the dogs, tossing scratch to the chickens, and hugging the barn cats, I went to my room and fired up my computer. What should I tell everyone? I don't want to blow my benefactors' cover, but I'm not going to pretend that I'm still sick.
Really, there's no need to talk about my illness at all. When I come down with MORFS in two days, I can tell them that. Then, they can assume that I was cured by MORFS.
I really hate to hold back on them. Some of the people in the support group are as desperate as I was. Maybe I can help them myself once I get my powers. Or, maybe I can refer them to the Doctors Josephson.
We need more doctors with powers.
That night, Mom and Dad tucked me in and prayed over me. They didn't try to hide the tears in their eyes as they said a heart-felt prayer of thanksgiving. I smiled and snuggled down into the covers.
The next morning, Mom had a surprise for me. She took me over to Mustang Sally's to buy some tack for Ginny. She also arranged to have a trainer come and make sure that she is ready to be ridden. I was disappointed that we couldn't get an appointment for today or tomorrow. I guess I'll have to wait until after I have changed.
Sure enough, when Tuesday came, I started to feel ill. Still, I didn't feel as bad as I had when I was full of cancer. Doctor Josephson already had me in his appointment book, of course. He commented that it's mighty handy to be able to schedule MORFS appointments. He put the stim pack IV thingie on my arm and sent me home. I crawled into bed and snuggled under the covers while Mom prayed over me. She pushed the 'go to sleep' button, and I went out like a light.
I got up a couple times to empty my bladder and shower the guck off of my body. It wasn't as bad as all my morfed friends made it out to be. I don't know if I had a particularly easy case, or if I'm simply used to more pain than this wimpy little case of MORFS.
When I got up on Friday, I felt wonderful. I pushed the release button on the IV thingie. The needle retracted and the latch released. I removed it and set it on my bedside table.
I was astonished by the beautiful girl in the mirror. After watching the life drain out of my body for so many years, it was wonderful to see an adorable seal point kitty girl with radiant blue hair and piercing violet eyes staring back at me. I examined myself carefully. I concentrated on my fingertips and let my satin black claws slide out. I admired the way the color of my skin varied from creamy white to velvety seal point black. I moved my seal point kitty ears and practiced focusing my hearing on the quietly humming computer, the barnyard noises outside, and the kitchen sounds downstairs.
Amy had told me that the Martins only have fur on their ears and tail, but that I might want to consider having fur on my back. That way, my back will stay warm when I am flying, even if the cool air gets in around the wing slits of my clothes. She assured me that I'll be able to dry my fur with telekinesis once I get the hang of using my powers.
I turned around slowly and looked at the mirror over my left shoulder. My wings are the same satiny seal point black as the fur over the middle of my back. They blend almost perfectly – with only the difference in texture betraying anything at all. My silky glossy fur merged smoothly with my flight feathers.
Controlling my wings took a bit of practice. I wasn't at all used to their look and feel yet. The joint at the very top of my folded wings looks like it should be an elbow joint, but it's really a wrist joint. When I touch it, it feels like a wrist joint.
This is weird.
But I'll get used to it.
I blew myself a kiss and went into the shower.
Showering with wings was weird. I was still struggling to control them. I unfurled them enough to allow a scrubby on a stick to be slipped under them. I had to make sure that I scrubbed down, but not up. Rubbing my fur the wrong way is unpleasant.
I walked out of the shower with wet hair, a soggy tail, wet fur, and a drenched pair of wings. I toweled off as best I could. Mom came and helped me with my wings. Apparently, she had done some web research on wing care. She had also done some shopping. I found clothes laid out on my bed. The panties and shorts each had a hole for my tail. The bra was specially designed to be worn by women with wings. The t-shirt had wing slits cut in the back. This particular one was set up so that the wings reside outside the shirt, rather than being hidden underneath.
I remembered what the Martins had told me about UV vision when I noticed that the colors were different – more vivid and complete, somehow.
I dressed quickly and went outside. I spread my wings and reveled in the way they felt as the breeze blew around them. I flapped them vigorously, and lifted off the ground a bit. I decided to wait before actually trying to fly, though. It wouldn't do to break my new body right off the bat.
Mom came out and enfolded me in a warm hug. I leaned into it and hugged her back, enjoying the warm glow of her love and happiness. "I think we need to go celebrate by getting you a new wardrobe," she said.
Hey, who am I to argue?
Chapter Four: Making Changes
While I was sick with MORFS, Mom had cleaned my closet. All the medical paraphernalia was gone. All of the clothes that I had outgrown were gone. All of the clothes that weren't worth modifying for my new appendages were gone.
Before buying any clothes, Mom marched me into the beauty salon. The ladies there told me that they love taking good care of new morfs. By the time they were done with me, I was positively radiant. I walked out of there with a smile on my face and a book of cloth swatches in my hand. I could tell that I was attracting stares. I could almost feel the their gaze. I enjoyed the appreciative glance, but not the lustful stares, envious looks, or the hateful glares of the radical pures.
I was used to buying clothes that would cover me and disguise the fact that my body was getting eaten from the inside out. Now, I bought clothes that enhanced the lithe and graceful look of my new body. It took some getting used to, but I have always been a willing learner. Mom, much to her credit, didn't even flinch at some of the more daring styles I wanted to get. I think it's still sinking in that her only child is now healthy and full of life. Far be it for me to take advantage, but I have a few years of living to make up.
I noticed that Mom was glancing at her watch on occasion. Somehow, she managed to time it so that we were done shopping in time to grab a quick meal and head to my appointment at the post-MORFS testing center. As expected, I was healthy and whole. As expected, I got the same physical enhancements as the Martins. As the Martins had warned me, the telepath couldn't read me.
Once we got home, Mom helped me stash my loot. We ended up cleaning out even more clothes. We packed away the stuff that I had worn to hide my dying body. The contrast between my old clothes and my new wardrobe was so great that we could see that I wasn't about to wear the old stuff; except for a few of the more formal items.
She took great delight in making me model a bunch of my new stuff, and I took great delight in modeling it for her. She took a number of pictures. After we were tired of that game, I fired up my computer. As usual, Gregory curled up on my lap and started purring.
I sent email to everyone, telling them that I had gone through MORFS, and that I was now free of the cancer that had dominated my life for way too long. I sent along one of the cuter pictures. I was wearing a short mini and a crop top. I was posed with my tail held high and my wings half unfurled. The smile on my face said it all.
Very soon after I sent it out, I got a number of emails from the Martin household. They congratulated me on my change, and sent me a few articles that explain how to find out if I have any powers. They knew what I had gotten, of course, but they didn't want to make that obvious to anyone who might intercept their messages. I did the exercises that they recommended, and sent back an email telling them what I thought I had. They then sent me some online courses and articles. Reading all of that stuff kept me busy until it was time for bed.
Mom and Dad tucked me in and congratulated me on my first beddy-bye time as a full-fledged winged kitty girl. I giggled at the appropriateness of the term 'fledged'. I snuggled down under the covers, settled my wings, and smiled sleepily as they prayed over me.
Chapter Five: Settling In
I woke up to the smell of breakfast. I was famished. The Martins had warned me that I would have a big appetite, and that I shouldn't be shy about feeding myself.
After breakfast, I was surprised to see the trainer calmly riding Ginny around the corral. He brought her up toward the house at a trot when he saw me. He congratulated me on my change, then got down to business. He gave me a quick refresher course, then helped me mount Ginny.
I had tears in my eyes. I had wanted to do this for a long time. So had Ginny. I could almost feel her happiness at finally being ridden by me.
Then, I suddenly realized that I could feel her happiness. It was as if a veil was suddenly pulled away from my eyes. The trainer was smiling, and I could tell that he meant it. Mom and Dad were positively beaming with pleasure.
I patted Ginny on the neck and sent happy thoughts to her. I nudged her forward and let her walk around the corral. Once the trainer was satisfied that I was doing OK, I headed for the gate. He opened it and we walked through. I rode Ginny over to the lane, and toward the back of the property. We walked along a field of CNT hemp that was pretty much ready to harvest.
Dad had been working on the special harvester that uproots and washes the plants before they are dried and bailed. Hemp is a traditional fiber plant, and this variety is genetically engineered to produce fibers that are reinforced with carbon nanotubes. Uprooting the plants reduces the amount of CNT fibers that end up in the soil and have to be decomposed with special genetically engineered bacteria.
As Ginny carried me between the field and the planted CNT pine forest, I felt myself relaxing and enjoying a peace that had eluded me for years. I yawned and stretched, unfurling my wings to their fullest extent. Ginny wasn't bothered by this at all. Living with chickens and ducks and guineas had made her pretty much immune to being startled by feathered fluttery things.
We walked between the field and the forest until we reached the creek. We walked along the creek to the bridge, crossed over, and went to the back forest. I used to go there all the time when I was healthy, but had been there all too seldom lately.
Ginny carried me along the trail and seemed to understand how much I was enjoying the cool green calmness of the natural woods that had been in our family for generations. She carried me back to the pond, where my great grandfather had set up a picnic shelter. I dismounted and let Ginny graze while I sat at a picnic table, munched on a power bar, and watched the sunlight glint off of the water.
I noticed that when I was reading my eCom, the glints in the water were tall and skinny – sort of like skinny footballs standing on end. As soon as I tried to look at them, they disappeared. All I saw was the normal glinting of the sun on the water. I experimented a bit. I looked out at the water and allowed my eyes to lose focus. When they lost focus, the highlights took on the shape of cat's pupils. They shrunk as I focused on them, and got bigger as I relaxed my focus.
After enjoying our old family picnic spot for about an hour, I mounted and rode back. I brushed Ginny down, gave her some grain, and put the tack away. Then, I went inside and helped Mom prepare lunch.
Chapter Six: Up and Away!
After lunch, I decided to try my wings. I stood in the open pasture, spread my wings, and flapped them. I could feel them grab the air. I took a running leap, and I was flying! I pumped my wings and gained altitude, laughing out loud with exhilaration My emotions must have been leaking, because all of my favorite animals were looking up at me and reflecting my feelings.
I flew over the forest and to the back of the property. I circled the pond once and flew back. I swooped down, flared, and landed in front of Mom and Dad, who treated me to a sandwich hug.
I spent the rest of the day alternating between flying, playing with the animals, and learning how to use my powers. Cara had told me about some of the things she did with her telekinesis and remote sensing, and I was eager to try them. Soon, I was looking at the world in a different way. It was confusing at first, but I soon learned to distinguish between the different kinds of remote vision.
My bio senses saw only living things – the animals, the trees, the grass, and even the microbes on seemingly sterile surfaces. My telekinetic senses were almost like a three dimensional sense of touch. I cold feel the hardness or springiness or mushiness of everything. The remote sensing that went with my telepathy was the most complex. I could see current in the wires, magnetic fields, and a kind of essence of each substance. As I used each sense, it became stronger and more detailed. It went from the vague tickling in the back of my mind that I had felt when I woke up to a fully three-dimensional view of my surroundings.
I reached out with my empathy and felt around. The animals had feelings, but they were kind of simplistic. The cats, dogs, and my pony felt the most like people. I guess that's because they have been bred as companions for many generations. The goats weren't far behind. The chickens were reachable, but simpler. The wild animals that I felt skulking around didn't display much more than the basic drives for survival and reproduction.
I tried casting about with my telepathy. Mom and Dad were easy enough to find, but I quickly backed off – being careful to only sense the fact that they are there. The wild animals didn't have much in the way of complex thoughts. The domestic animals had more, but were a far cry from being human. By far the most interesting thing was the ability to sense what they were sensing. The cats and dogs could see clearly, but their color vision was limited. The birds circling overhead could see very clearly, and had very good color vision. 'Eyes like a hawk' is a common expression. I smiled as I read them and felt the wind flowing around their feathered bodies. The moles couldn't see, but they sensed their surroundings with an almost three-dimensional accuracy. The chickens could see just fine, but it was weird seeing looking eyes that were pointed in opposite directions.
I managed to find a whole lot more animals than I had imagined lived here. Some, like the insects and worms, had only the vaguest hint of a nervous system. Viewing their thoughts was more like viewing a running computer program than a living thing. Their brains were little more than automatic control units. The worms perceived little. The bugs had very fragmented vision, and no real processing behind it. If I wanted a coherent image, I had to put it together myself.
It was interesting spying on all the animals, but there's more to telepathy than that. If I want to learn to control my telepathy properly, I need to go among a bunch of strangers and practice.
Of course, I'm not totally unfamiliar with telepathy. I had experienced it first-hand on the day that I was cured of that accursed cancer. I remembered Sara's soft voice – so kind that it almost broke my aching heart. She is a hugely successful and well-known researcher, but there was no pride or pretentiousness in her voice – audible or mental.
*Hello Tina. You sound wonderful!*
*Sara? But how?*
Her warm chuckle drifted through my mind. *You called me, silly! Two telepaths can talk over quite a distance. When you thought about me with the desire to talk to me, I heard and answered.*
*I didn't mean to disturb...*
*Don't be silly," she replied. *I always have time for my friends. What's on your mind?*
I giggled. She 'heard' me, of course. I recounted my day to her, complete with images, sounds, and emotions.
She favored me with a telepathic smile. *It certainly looks like you have been studying and practicing. If you need help with something, don't hesitate to call one of us. Amy can help you with the bio stuff, Cara or Sue can help you with precision TK, and any of us can help you with telepathy.*
I returned her smile. *Thanks!*
She then suggested that I ask Mom or Dad to take me to the mall or some other public place so that I can practice my telepathy.
(End of part one)
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/
More writing and photography by Ray Drouillard at http://ray-d.deviantart.com/