Interface By EMW
I didn't set out to be evil. I wasn't one of those kids that tortured small animals for fun that just made the leap to humans one day.
It was a gradual path, a slip into villainy by degrees . It wasn't even the shock of my change that did it, though it played its part. Without the powers that came with it I doubt I would have managed much, as my previous body would have been little help in a life of crime beyond petty crime. I just slowly found that a life of super villainy was my most appealing career choice.
Anyway, perhaps it's time I introduced myself, I go by the name Interface. You may have seen me on the News. I am not a technopath, well not really, I do have some abilities that seem to be in that area but anyone that takes that as the implication of my name earns my unending wrath! Well OK, more a nasty glare, but it makes me annoyed and cranky, and an annoyed and cranky super villain is no fun to be around.
I was born as Alex Jones only son of a teacher and a mechanic. Dad, Peter Jones, was a science teacher. He was an engineer by training and in his spare time loved tinkering with machines. From old cars to steam engines, he had mucked around with them all. This was how he met Mum, Mary Jones. She was a also mechanic, into repairing and restoring old cars for fun and profit. The two of them kept meeting at car meets and the local scrap heap, (scavenging bits for their respective projects), and eventually they began working together. They bonded working on a car so old that it ran off compressed dinosaurs, and pretty soon it was wedding bells.
I followed soon after and the two of them tried to raise me to be a grease monkey. Unfortunately I was a bit of a sickly child. I had asthma, bad eyesight, a list of allergies so long it was easier to list what I wasn't allergic to, crooked teeth requiring braces, and was a bit overweight. I also disliked getting dirty, so though I liked machines, I was more comfortable reading about them. My passion was little robots, and I made little electronic friends to substitute the lack of real ones. I had always wanted to have a pet a cat or a dog or even a hamster. Unfortunately my allergies didn’t let me go near them. To compensate, I had a go at making a robotic pet instead, though so far my attempts had been pretty poor with intelligence barely above that of a cockroach, able to avoid or follow lights and avoid obstacles.
I didn't really have any friends. I was a dreamer, and shy. At school, people thought I was weird, and bullies saw me as a soft target. No one wanted to be friends with the odd fat kid who sat on his own fiddling with his little machines lest the unpopularity rubbed off and they became a target by association. I wasn't very popular with teachers, either. I tended to sit there daydreaming and very few saw past that to see I was reasonably bright, but uninterested. As a result, school was a fairly unhappy place with bullies and annoying teachers where I had no friends, and certainly no girlfriend.
I did my best to live in the time outside of school hours, where I could do more or less what I pleased. My parents would occasionally take me to car events, or try and get me to join in more. Most of the time I preferred to read or play on my console.
However soon, all that changed. My path to super villainy began one weekend in March, a few months after my 15th birthday.
I was walking through a thick forest, my assault rifle out ready. My comrades were at my sides, moving slowly through the undergrowth. Suddenly, hearing a noise, we all stopped and ducked, taking cover, listening. I caught the eye of the man to my left. He gestured with his hands indicating I should take a look. I nervously responded in the affirmative and slowly moved forward, trying to penetrate the thick foliage as silently as possible.
There was a cry to my right and shots rang out. I turned to see who was shooting when a slug of hot lead hit my leg. I cried out as I tumbled to the floor and one of my comrades pulled me back out of harm’s way. I was shoved against a tree for cover while the squad medic patched up my leg as my squad returned fire.
It was an enemy patrol. With my bleeding stopped, I propped myself up and returned fire. Now that they had lost the element of surprise we managed to pick our attackers one by one, and soon there was only one left. Not fancying his chances, he turned and ran. I winged him with a lucky shot and limped over to where he’d fallen. He was still alive, blood flowing from a wound in his torso. He was crawling towards the gun that he had dropped when I hit him. He was obviously in agony, but determined to try and take more of us with him.
I was taking aim to put him out of his misery when suddenly a woman's voice said, "You're not still up here playing that game!"
Distracted, I hesitated, and the dying soldier got the gun and shot me, everything faded to red. Two words filled my vision: game over.
I flipped up my visor and glared at the tall blonde woman in overalls standing in the doorway, her arms crossed, her blue eyes glaring at me "Mum!" I moaned, "You made me lose!"
She moved over and picked up a colourful game box sat atop a humming machine, "Well you can take a break then. It's a lovely day outside, you're not going to waste it all up here!"
She examined the game box which had scenes of imagined combat all over it and "Call of Duty 14" emblazoned on it.
"Besides I'm not sure I approve of you playing this game. It's too old for you. Uncle Tommy should know better!" she said setting the box back down where she'd found it.
Uncle Tommy was her brother, who did his best to be as bad an influence on me as possible.
"But I wasn't feeling that well so I decided to stay inside."
"Probably too much playing on this thing. You know it aggravates your motion sickness. Come on, some fresh air will do you good." she was clearly set on making me go out.
I took off the visor and slipped the haptic gloves off, (Haptic devices are the ones that offer force feedback), then grumpily made my way outside into the garden to look at whatever thing she was up to. The front part was fairly normal, with washing line and even a few garden chairs, but the back part was full of machines in various states of repair. I sat on the wall next to the car she was working on, squinting in the sunlight. My tummy was doing turns, maybe she was right about the motion sickness.
"Come on, cheer up, Sweetie. I'll show you how to replace a brake pad, and you can do the other one if you like," she said brightly, indicating the wheel with her spanner.
She demonstrated how to remove the wheel and then replace the pad while I began to feel increasingly ill.
"I don't feel so good," I said, rubbing my tummy.
"What's the matter, Sweetheart?" Mum sounded concerned.
Before I could elaborate, I felt like I was going to be sick, and barely made it to the toilet in time. I was ill for what seemed like several hours, but was probably more like a minute, tops. Mum came in just as I was finishing cleaning up, and put a hand to my forehead.
"Oh, you're burning up, Darling. You must be coming down with something. You get yourself into bed I'll see if I can get you a doctor’s appointment," she said, cleaning the oil smudge her hand had left on my forehead.
I went back upstairs to my room feeling a bit sickly, where I put on my pyjamas and lay in bed. I was beginning to get the chills I wrapped my self up making sure I was completely covered to keep warm. I tried to sleep, but I couldn't doze off.
Later Mum came up to see me, "How are you feeling,, Sweetheart?"
"Cold and sick," I replied from my duvet cocoon.
"Well the Doctor is a bit busy, so they can't see you till Monday. They said your symptoms don't sound life threatening. They said to just keep you comfy and unless you get any worse, come in to see them on Monday," Mum said.
I groaned and snuggled up tighter, "But I'm ill. I need medicine or something."
"I know, Sweetheart. Let me see if we have any stuff to make you feel a bit better for the time being."
She wandered off, returning some time later with some pills, a glass of water, a blanket, and a bucket. "Here take these it should help a little, and here's a bucket in case you need to throw up again and can't make it to the bathroom."
She helped me take the pills, then tucked me in tighter, pulling the blanket over me to keep me warm.
"Now you try and get some rest." She ruffled my hair. Her hands smelled like oranges from the heavy duty cleaner she’d used to get oil the oil off. Some of the gritty particles that made it clean better were still on her hand and scratched my forehead.
I managed to sleep a bit, surfacing for some soup at lunch, then in and out of sleep for the rest of the day.
I woke up in the middle of the night and was sick again, making it to the bathroom, thankfully. I staggered back to bed meeting my Mum on the way checking I was alright.
Sunday was no better, and I was thoroughly miserable by the time I got to see the Doctor. He did the doctoring things, listening to my breathing, feeling glands and taking temperatures. Then he got the MORFS testing kit out. I recognised it since I had been tested before, due to some bug that presented the same way. I didn't like needles, but I duly stuck my finger in the tester and steeled myself for the pain. After putting a plaster on my finger, the Doc performed the test and then waited for the result.
When it came back positive, it was a bit of a shock. I wasn't listening to the Doctor after that, more considering what this meant. I had seen people a bit like me, not very popular social outcasts, go through MORFS and end up popular with friends. I had seen some of the reverse too, where a popular kid became a loser like me.
I figured this was unlikely to hurt my social standing. It might mean I got a different set of bullies but I couldn't see how it could make things worse. Even if it made me into a hybrid, they tended to stick together to the extent that people who had been enemies before became close friends. I tentatively labelled the possibility of changing a good thing in my mind which made me feel better about the illness, it was illness with a purpose now.
When the doctor was finished talking he wrote a prescription and we left. There was a pharmacy nearby so we picked up my drugs and then headed home. On the way back Mum kept glancing over at me.
"You're very quiet Alex. Are you alright?" she asked gently.
"Just thinking," I replied. I had been wondering what it was like to have a tail, could you use it for things like an extra arm? Could you use a screw driver with it?
"Well there's no need to be worried, only 50% of people change at all. Even if you do change your father and I will still love you," she said earnestly.
I nodded distractedly. ‘Would having wings let me fly? How do people with wings cope with them?’ There was a girl in my year who had little bat like wings, but she didn't ever seem to fly. Maybe she couldn't or maybe she just didn't like showing off.
'If I had wings I would fly everywhere,' I thought to myself.
I continued thinking about possible changes and what they might mean till we got home. I was just imagining what having gills or tentacles would be like when Mum tapped me on the shoulder. "Alex? We're home."
"Oh yes," I answered, not having noticed.
I got out of the car and walked back up to the house. Mum put her arm around me as we walked, perhaps thinking I was upset. I wasn't really. I was hopeful, a little scared, but also a little excited. I figured maybe she was a little worried, so I returned the hug to comfort her a bit.
We went up to my room together and I changed into my pyjamas. She gave me one of the energy drinks and a pill to take. The drink was revolting. It nearly made me throw up again just smelling it. I choked it down, then took the pill.
Mum tucked me in and gave me a kiss on the head. "Sweet dreams Alex. I love you."
"I love you too, Mum," I said, feeling very drowsy. It was a fight to keep my eyes open.
I blacked out suddenly and slept dreamlessly for what must have been most of the day.
When I woke I ached all over. Even my teeth ached, and my skin felt grimy like I hadn't washed in days. I put on my glasses and had a look around. My clock said it was late evening, I grabbed my dressing gown and staggered along to the bathroom to have a wash. As I was washing I noticed a load of hair going down the drain. My short blond hair and what little body hair I had was falling out.
I finished my shower and inspected myself in the mirror looking excitedly for any other changes. My hair was almost all gone, leaving me with only a few patches. Even my eyebrows had fallen out. I looked like I might have lost some weight. A quick weigh in confirmed it .I was slimmer. I couldn't see any other changes so I slipped back into my dressing gown, grabbed my messy pyjamas, and headed back.
I found Dad stripping my bed down and putting on new sheets. He stared at me for a bit, then shook himself. “How are you doing, Tiger?”
“Okay, Dad.” As I spoke I found my teeth felt funny. I reached in my mouth and found some were a bit wobbly, like they were going to fall out. That was an interesting development. Maybe I would get new teeth. I fiddled with them for a bit, wondering if my braces would get in the way.
“I just want you to know no matter what happens, your Mum and I will still love you, son,” Dad said while I was fiddling with my teeth.
I extracted my finger from my mouth. “I know, Dad.”
He gave me a hug and then went back to sorting out my bed, I grabbed a clean set of pyjamas and put the old ones with the dirty washing. Then I grabbed a drink and pill from the stash on my chest of drawers. I knocked the stuff back, grimacing at the taste and took my pill. I went to bed wondering what changes tomorrow would bring.
I woke up to a terrible pain in my gums. I reached into my mouth and found all my teeth were getting wobbly. There must be new teeth growing in under them. A few of my front teeth had come loose but they were held in place by my braces. I climbed out of bed then went to relieve myself and have a shower, plus check out any changes.
On reaching the bathroom I examined my self closely, I had short black hair growing out of my head. My eyebrows were also growing back in a dark colour. My eyes looked a little different, darker than before, though still blue. My glasses seemed not to be right any more. Even with them on the world was a little fuzzy. I seemed to be even slimmer. My pyjamas, sized for my previously larger body were loose on me. After further examination I realised I wasn't just getting slimmer, I was getting smaller. The legs of my pyjama bottoms now fell down over my feet. I couldn't be sure but I thought I must have lost at least two inches. I stripped off my now over-sized pyjamas and examined the rest, I noticed none of the rest of my body hair seemed to be growing back and my skin looked lighter, and it felt softer and smoother.
I spun about this way and that, looking for other changes. My previously flabby waist seemed to be pulling in as I lost weight, but I didn't seem to be losing as much from my behind or chest. I hoped that would be next to go. I had my shower and took care of a call of nature. Was it my imagination, or were my private parts getting smaller, too.
I headed back to my room and began changing my sheets for the ones Mum had left out. Having run out of clean pyjamas, I put on an old t shirt that had been loose before, and now looked like a tent. To better judge how much I was shrinking, I made a mark on the wall at my current height and then took my meds and went to sleep.
I woke up with a mouth full of teeth, well more so than usually. My new teeth had displaced most of the old ones with a few of my molars still hanging on. The braces kept them together though, so I had two strings of teeth in my mouth. With a little wobbling of the final molars, the teeth came loose and I extracted an upper and a lower set of teeth. I decided to give them a wash, then keep them as a souvenir. I slipped on my glasses so I could get a look at what was going on but if anything, now things seemed better without them. I took them off and put the glasses back on my table.
I was keen to get a look at my new teeth, which my fingers told me were starting to protruded through my now gummy mouth. They felt quite sharp and pointed, which was interesting. I checked the clock and realised it was late at night, too late to be showering and making a load of noise. I decided to keep my self-exploration till the morning, I chucked my teeth on my night stand and then grabbed another hit of meds. My back was really itchy for some reason. I scratched it idly then drank the drink down and took my pills. I was off to sleep again dreaming about big game hunters riding miniature elephants, hunting me for my teeth.
I woke up the next morning my back feeling really itchy, I swung my legs out over the floor. I had to bend my legs further before my feet touched the floor, maybe my legs were getting shorter. I wandered over to the mark on the wall and drew another line. I seemed to have lost at least another inch since yesterday, the hem of the t shirt was lower down. It seemed I was destined to be a short arse. I hadn't been that tall before at 5'6” and I would guess I was probably 5'3” to 5'2” now. I wandered out to the bathroom eager to get a look at what changes had happened.
I stared in the mirror, I had a head of ear length shiny black hair, my eyes were very dark blue and seemed to be slightly larger than before. My face looked slimmer and more delicate I seemed to have lost weight again, but my features had altered slightly making the effect more dramatic. My skin was getting increasingly pale. I opened my mouth, noticing my lips looked a little puffy, and took a look at my teeth. A line of sharp points stuck out of my gums at the front. My back teeth were still more or less grinding teeth, but the front ones looked like they were more vicious. I slipped out of my t shirt to get a look at the rest of me. My waist had pulled in some more but my behind and chest almost looked like they were gaining weight. I poked my chest and grimaced. It was sensitive and my nipples seemed swollen.
That led me down a whole different alleyway of thoughts and I checked my privates. They were definitely smaller. That probably meant my chest and behind were growing because I was being turned into a girl. I felt my behind and found that the padding I had gained there seemed partly to do with wider hips.
I hadn't considered turning into a girl as an option when I was going over the possible changes. I thought it for a minute or two, and decided this might work out okay. Girls seemed to get more attention, I hoped I would too. With this new bit of knowledge about the direction my changes were taking, I looked myself over again. The changes to my skin and the alterations to my face all seemed to fit the puzzle, even the body hair thing seemed consistent. I turned around to get a better look at my slightly enlarged behind and noticed a patch of dark colour on my back. With some twisting I found that I had a little patch of what looked like feathers sticking out of my back.
'Maybe I will get those wings after all,' I thought excitedly, and stroked the soft feathers, feeling the odd sensations as they pulled on my skin.
I jumped in the shower and cleaned myself off again. I padded back to my room in my dressing gown which seemed more voluminous on me as time passed.
I ran into my mother coming out of my room with an arm full of bedding. “Hey, Sweetheart ... are you shorter?” she said looking at me.
“Yes, couple of inches,” I said, finding my voice was in a higher register than before.
Mum frowned but said nothing, maybe thinking I hadn't realised I was turning into a girl and not wanting to make me face it while I was still changing. I wandered back into my room and put on a fresh t shirt, took my meds and slept.
I woke up in the night and found I could clearly see my room even though it was dark. It was like the lights were on, only different. I wondered if my eyes were more sensitive now, I took my meds and went back to sleep.
The next day I found I was another inch shorter and was thinner still, looking almost delicate. Where as most of me had been shrinking, other parts had been growing. First, my hair was now down to my shoulders. As I swept it back out of my face I noticed my ears were slightly pointed as well. The feathers on my back had spread down to my tail bone and across my back, forming a triangle. Next, I now had breasts, little handfuls that stuck out from my chest capped with larger nipples, and my behind was more rounded. That, with my small waist gave me the beginnings of a girl-like figure. My teeth were now a fearsome array of sharp points, almost blade like at the front and then needle like as they went round. They were all pearly white and straight, but my smile would probably put people off due to its predatory look. My eyes had darkened some more, such that they were a very dark blue, only just above black and they seemed bigger. The effect was quite odd it left me with a fairly pretty face, if somewhat predatory. So long as I didn't smile and show my teeth, I looked OK. I resolved to practise smiling without opening my mouth.
I was disappointed not to see any wings growing. I had a feel around and felt some small bumps but they might just have been some more feathers or something. I had rather been hoping I would be able to fly. I took my shower and checked over the rest of my progress, I couldn't quite call myself a she yet, but it wouldn't be long.
I padded back to my room, keen to get the changes finished with so I could see what I would look like. I changed my sheets and pulled on another t shirt. Now even clothes that had been normal sized on me before were tent-like, now. I hoped I didn't shrink too much more.
I drank down my energy drink and took a pill then was off to sleep again. I woke up sometime late at night, but almost immediately took my meds to get back to sleep, wanting to leave exploration till it was light.
When I woke up again I didn't feel sick any more. From what I had been told this meant the changes were over with. I stayed in bed under the covers for a bit to revel in the moment. Hopefully, this would be the first day of the rest of my life. I would put the old friendless unpopular Alex behind me and be this new Alex, who was popular and had many friends.
After I had appreciated the moment for a while I threw back my covers and jumped out of bed. I checked out my height, I was a bit shorter but not much. I made a beeline for the bathroom to clean up and check out the rest of me.
I took a look in the mirror. A small girl with shoulder length raven black hair, large midnight blue eyes, and pointed ears stared back at me.
I smiled at myself, revealing an array of brilliant white razor sharp teeth. The effect was a bit disturbing, I closed my mouth and tried a smile like that. That was better, less I'm a monster come to eat your children, more I'm a dark haired mysterious girl. My face was good looking, a touch angular, but the big eyes and the full lips looked pretty nice. I now had a cute little nose rather than my old large one, all in all, cute seemed to be an apt word to describe my face so long as I didn't spoil it by smiling. As I slipped out of my t shirt for a better look at the new me, I examined my hands which were now small and delicate, with soft almost chalky white skin.
My curves had grown some more overnight. I cupped my now larger breasts which were fairly prominent, or at least they seemed to be to me. I didn't think they were enormous, but in relation to the rest of me they seemed fairly large. My waist was now small, and my tummy flat. I giggled internally at the idea that I had been on the MORFS diet. My hips now flared outward to give me a shapely behind. I briefly explored my privates, which looked much like I would expect, having been taught about the different sexes at school. My legs were now smooth and seemed fairly long, but only relative to the rest of me. I turned around to check out my feathers, I noticed they seemed to protrude a bit more. I reached back to touch them and the area of my back flicked and moved out unfurling.
It was a little wing! I examined it and found a companion on the other side, that with some effort I managed to deploy that one and even flap them a bit. They were unfortunately very small, even fully extended they were barely big enough to reach my elbows. I scowled at them disappointedly, I knew enough about science to realise there was no way they were going to be carrying me aloft. Still, just in case, I worked out how to flap them, then spent five minutes flapping away like mad. Nothing much happened except I wore myself out and made a slight breeze. I folded them back and then had another look in the mirror. I stared at my reflection, a small curvy dark haired girl with the intense eyes and very pale skin. I was fairly happy with my reflection. I looked pretty sexy, well at least I thought so, and I wasn't too far from a normal girl.
I took a shower, finding my new feathers got pretty waterlogged. I wasn't sure what to use to clean them, either, so I just used shampoo and hoped that would do the job. I then had to work out how to dry myself off. My more sensitive skin didn't like the normal vigorous rubbing technique, so I was more gentle.
I slipped on my dressing gown, which was now ridiculously big on me and padded off to my bedroom. I wondered what I could wear. I was smaller and a very different shape, did I have anything that would fit me?
I started going through my clothes, humming a happy tune looking for things that would fit me. Most of my stuff would look ridiculous on me, but I eventually located enough stuff so I was at least covered. I wandered downstairs feeling hungry, hoping that Mum or Dad was around to cook something for me.
I hummed my way into the kitchen. I saw Mum standing there making tea. She called to me without turning around, "Is that you Alex? I was just going to come up and see how you were doing."
"Yeah it's me, I think I'm done," I said, hearing my girl voice for the first time. It was a little higher and more melodic than my previous voice.
Mum spun round to look at me on hearing my new voice. "Oh my!" she said, clasping her hand over her mouth and staring at me.
I smiled at her in an effort to reassure her, forgetting my new dentition. Her eyes went even wider for a bit, then she came over to hug me.
"It'll be alright , Sweetie. Being a girl isn't so bad."
"I know," I said noticing I now had to look slightly up to meet her gaze. "Oh, I have little wings now. Let me show you!"
I quickly shrugged off the t shirt and unfurled my little wings, giving them an enthusiastic flap.
"I don't think they will be much use. They are too small, maybe I can use them to glide or something," I said absently.
Mum stood there looking confused and a bit shocked. Then she seemed to shake herself out of it. "You shouldn't go topless like that, Alex dear. You'll get into trouble now you're a girl."
"Oh yes," I said thoughtfully, and put my t shirt back on. "I think I need new clothes, I'm smaller and differently shaped now."
"Yes that's true, we need to get you checked out by the doctors, too, to make sure everything is OK. I'll see if we can get an appointment, and then we'll go to the shops. Why don't you make us some tea while I call the centre."
I nodded and smiled, this time remembering to keep my mouth shut, then went into the kitchen. I immediately found my new smaller stature to be an issue. The tea was at the back of a reasonably high cupboard, and I couldn't quite reach it. I had to get a chair and stand on it to reach. I had hardly been a giant before, but now I was small, and this was one of the first glimpses of how my changes would impact my everyday life.
I set the kettle boiling and after warming the pot I put the tea on to mash. I got the milk out ready and stood humming happily watching a pair of red kites soaring around.
I poured the tea, added milk, then stood by the window sipping and watching the big birds of prey soar on the wind.
Mum came back into the room.
"Tea is on the counter," I called without looking round.
"Oh lovely, thank you, Sweetheart." She walked over, "What are you looking at?"
"A couple of red kites flying around," I said.
Mum stood next to me and stared out of the window for a bit, "Whereabouts? I don't see them."
"Over there," I pointed.
She looked again, "Oh I see two dots way over there. Is that what you mean?"
I paused, frowning. I could see the birds quite clearly, then shifted my view and realised that the birds were indeed a long way away, but that somehow I could see them clearly.
I figured it had something to do with MORFS, "My eyes must be better now."
"Quite a bit better if you can resolve birds from those dots," Mum said, surprised.
I shrugged, I had never been that keen on powers or abilities. I used to sit on my own at lunch or in class, but would get as close as I could (without risking a beating) to the popular kids. This was so I could listen in, and I guess, live vicariously through them. I had often overheard other kids talking about powers and how they hoped they would get some.
They always seemed more trouble than they were worth. People were scared of you, and then the only people you could be friends with were the supers, who were an unpleasant lot. Even then, you had to meet some minimum level of ability or the supers wouldn't touch you. The whole situation was fraught with potential for ending up an outcast and when your goal was to make friends, it seemed to me powers got in the way.
I went to sit in the living room to finish my tea. Mum came and joined me sitting in an arm chair opposite me. "I spoke to the centre and we're in luck, they have a free slot to see you later this morning. So what I think we'll do is go to that have you checked out, then a spot of lunch. Once that's out the way, we’ll head over to do some shopping." Mum clasped her mug and watched me carefully.
"Okay," I said cheerfully. "In the mean time let's have a biscuit to tide us over."
I nodded and she went back to the kitchen. She returned with the special biscuit box! We had a tin of regular biscuits full of digestives, rich tea, the odd soggy Bourbon. Then there was the special biscuit box that usually only got taken out when we had company or on special occasions. It was filled with fancy biscuits, chocolate covered or with sweet fillings.
"Don't tell your Father," winked Mum conspiratorially.
I grinned and picked a double chocolate digestive out of the box. I found my new teeth tore through the biscuit like the shredder my dad used to get rid of branches in the garden. They didn't so much cut things up as rip them apart. The biscuit tasted different to how I remembered. It was sweeter, the flavours much more intense. I sniffed what was left of the biscuit tentatively, getting a blast of sensory information that momentarily overwhelmed me. I think I also got a few crumbs, as it caused me to sneezed loudly. This reflex caused my new wings to shoot out against my t shirt, which hurt a bit. I worked my shoulders and tucked my wings back in to their stowed position.
I ate the rest of my biscuit as my mum watched me with wide eyes. I smiled back at her when I was done, once again forgetting about my teeth. She didn't look quite so worried this time. I guess she was more used to my grin.
I took my cup into the kitchen and was washing it in the sink when my powers kicked in for the first time. One of the spoons in the water with the cup stuck to my hand. I shook my hand trying to dislodge it to no avail. when Mum came in to wash her cup she found me jumping up and down trying to pull the spoon off me.
"What are you doing?" asked Mum.
"It won't come off," I said a note of worry creeping into my new voice.
Mum came and tried to pull it off and found it stuck fast. She used more force and the spoon separated but the force on my hand was terrible, pulling me and the spoon back together with a jolt. Mum tried again, the two of us bracing ourselves so we could both pull at the same time.
We pulled and pulled and the spoon gradually moving away from my hand. Suddenly the force let go and Mum and I were catapulted in opposite directions. I went arms flailing, smacking into the drying rack, scattering cutlery everywhere. It all seemed drawn to me and stuck like the spoon had.
Now, rather than one spoon, I had many, as well as forks, knives, and even one cheese grater, all stuck to me.
"Oh dear," Mum said holding the spoon, she walked closer to look and it was plucked from her grip and flew through the air, hitting me in the chest.
"Ow!" I exclaimed. It had hurt quite a lot, my new chest being a good deal more sensitive.
We managed to pry some of the larger items off me but I was still covered in cutlery when we headed out to go to the clinic.
It seemed almost any metal object would get stuck to me, though a few, like some coins didn't seem to. I would also stick to metal and I spent some time stuck to the car door before Mum helped me get free. She nearly lost her keys at that point, but luckily she caught them before they got too close.
I was very uncomfortable on the ride into the centre, mainly because I was sitting on a fork that was stuck to my behind. With a lot of wiggling I managed to shift it to a more comfy place up on my hip.
I had realised that somehow this weird metal sticking to me must be to do with magnetism, but that realisation hadn't helped much, other than I knew not to go near anything that could be magnetised.
We arrived at the centre and Mum helped by opening doors for me so I wouldn't get stuck to the metal handles. I got lots of funny looks, the small girl in ill fitting clothes covered in spoons. I did my best not to notice.
We went up to the desk and the receptionist handed Mum a load of forms to sign. She offered her a pen, I spotted only too late that it was a metal bodied ball point. I tried to back away but it was already inside my capture range and it was pulled from the woman's grip and hit me in the face.
"Ow!" I cried, screwing my eyes shut.
"Oh I'm so sorry. Are you alright? What happened?" exclaimed the woman.
"He, sorry, she, seems to be have developed a somewhat magnetic personality," Mum said, prying the pen from my forehead.
I giggled a little at Mum’s joke and kept my distance from the pen. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a little metal matchbox car that was sitting on the desk begin to roll towards me, but the woman caught it before could get close.
I smiled at her, thankful not to be carrying yet more metal around with me. When we were done we went over to wait for the doctor to call me, I read a few dog eared magazines and ignored the stares. We were called a few minutes later and met by a smiling blond woman of about 30.
"Hello, Alex. I'm Doctor Sarah Jones. Please call me Sarah. How are you doing?" she asked.
"Okay, except things keep sticking to me," I said.
"I see, what sort of things?"
"Spoons, Knives, Forks, Pens, Cars," I said running of the list. "Oh, and keys."
"It's like she's magnetic, Doctor," said Mum.
"Well that is possible, I have had patients capable of generating magnetic fields before. Have you tried turning it off?"
'No I like being covered in cutlery and poked in the bum when I sit down!' I thought sarcastically, and for a second I heard laughter and I wondered if I had spoken out loud.
"Yes, but nothing seems to work," I said.
"Well, let's have a look at you then." Sarah waved me over to the examination area and came over to check me over. "Right, if you could just take your clothes off we'll do a scan."
I slipped out of my clothing with some difficulty. Due to all the metal stuck to me, I had to work the fabric out from under the metal. Mum helped by lifting a few up enough to slide the fabric off. Once I was out of my shirt I stretched my wings out. It felt good to give them a stretch, a bit like stretching a limb that had been held in one position for too long.
Sarah gently examined them, stretching them out. Then she came and shone a light in my eyes, looking at the response. She got a little too close, and I was then wearing the torch as a hat. In her shock she moved closer to grab it and the stethoscope round her neck joined the torch.
"Hmm," said Sarah. After a few half hearted attempts to retrieve her tools, she smiled, "I think we need to skip this for now and move right to the powers test."
She moved over to her desk and picked up the phone.
"Hello Anna, Yes I need you a little earlier than usual. Okay see you in a bit," she said into the phone, then turning back to us, "My colleague Anna is a telepath. She will read your powers and try and help you a little with controlling them."
I played with my wings while we waited, exploring their range of movement. They were a bit like another set of arms. I was just trying to wrap them around me when there was a knock on the door and a small lady with green hair and purple eyes, entered an infectious smile on her face. I realised we were probably of equivalent height now.
"Hello I'm Anna Clark, one of the telepaths who works here," she said to me and Mum.
"I'm Alex," I said with a shy wave as I stowed my wings.
"Your eyes are just gorgeous," said Anna. "So, you want me to read you for powers?"
"We know she has at least one," said Sarah.
"Oh? You doing my job for me now Sarah?" Anna said with a smirk.
"Not quite, but if you have any metal on you it might be wise to remove it before going near her. Alex can't control her abilities yet," Sarah replied.
"Oh, it was you I heard with the cutlery," Anna’s wink garnered confused glances from Mum and Sarah. She felt her pockets and removed her watch then wandered over.
She took my hand and was about to say something when a small pendant round her neck pulled loose from where it sat under her blouse and stuck straight out, pointing at me.
The pull was obviously quite strong as she gave sort of “erk” noise before her head was pulled against my shoulder as the pendant latched onto my skin.
Sarah burst out laughing. "I tried to warn you," she grinned.
"Indeed you did," said Anna, "So ... er, little help?"
I located the string holding the pendant around her neck and undid the clasp so she could pull away. I looked at her apologetically and she grinned back while she made sure she didn't have any other metal on her. Once she was sure she came over and took my hands.
“Now try to relax,” she said.
I closed my eyes and tried to relax. I felt a prickling sensation through my head which must have been psychosomatic, as I knew the brain didn't have any nerves capable of feeling things.
“Good,” said Anna, I opened my eyes to look at her she kept hold of my hands, “Interesting you are an electrical elemental of a reasonable level of power but it seems completely internal. I suspect what is happening is your power is generating a lot of strong currents, but it has nowhere to go so it's racing around your body generating a magnetic field instead. With practise you should be able to manipulate your magnetic fields, even shape them. At the moment, you are just generating a sort of default allover field. Now let's see if we can figure out how to turn this off, so I can get my pendant back and Sarah can get back to work.”
Anna looked around then leaned close and said, “She's so lazy,” and winked.
“I heard that!” said Sarah with a laugh.
Anna stuck her tongue out at her and then turned back to me, “Okay, now I want you to close your eyes and focus. I'm going to help you find the mental button that triggers your power.”
I closed my eyes and did my best to focus. I heard Anna's voice in my head, *Good, now then let's see if I can help you.*
We spent the next few minutes with Anna looking into my mind and asking me to try various things to turn my power off. Just as I was getting frustrated by the lack of any progress, we hit the magic switch and my power shut off. There was a cacophony as the various metal objects glued to me fell to the floor.
“Well that appears to be the off switch,” grinned Anna bending down to retrieve her pendant, “I'm afraid I couldn't find any hint of how you turn it on or control it, but I'm sure with some time and practise you'll figure it out.”
Mum was picking up all the cutlery that had fallen off me when my powers switched off. I gave her a hand and soon her handbag was packed full of spoons, forks, and knives. Sarah retrieved her kit, we said goodbye to Anna, and then we went back to the physical.
She looked in my eyes, took my blood pressure and then I had to lie back on a scanner.
Once that was done I could put my clothes back on and we sat back in front of Sarah's desk while she analysed the results.
“Well, Alex, you seem to be a fairly normal healthy young girl,” said Sarah.
“Fairly normal?” questioned my Mother.
“The wings are the most obvious difference, with her new teeth a close second. Beyond that she has some interesting adjustments to her sensory capabilities. Her eyes seem to be much more sensitive, their slightly larger size allowing for better sensitivity as well as better resolution. Her hearing is also improved, and likewise her sense of smell. I suspect these are all avian characteristics, like her wings.”
“Can I fly?” I asked.
“I'm afraid not. Your wings are far too small to lift your body. They might make gliding possible but even then they have a very small surface area. Even given your smaller size they are too small,” Sarah said apologetically.
I had been suspecting as much. Still, it was a shame to have my suspicions confirmed, I would have rather liked to be able to fly.
“Other than that there are a few alterations to her musculature to allow her wings to work and some adjustments to her skeletal structure to make it stronger and lighter.”
“Is she a fully functional girl?” Mum said putting special emphasis on fully functional. I guessed she meant could I have babies or some such.
“Yes she is fertile, and will have her first period in a month,” Sarah said.
I didn't like the idea of that, but I figured there was nothing I could do about it.
“Now then, one more thing. People who have undergone such a radical change as you often pick new names for themselves. Something more fitting their new bodies,” Sarah suggested gently.
“Alex is fine,” I said with a shrug and a smile.
“But, Honey wouldn't it be better if you had a girl’s name instead of a boy's?” asked Mum.
“Alex is a girl’s name,” I said. “I guess rather than it being short for Alexander, it's short for Alexandria or Alexis.”
“Well how about something similar like Lexi? It sounds more like a girl's name but it's still similar to your old name,” Mum said.
I thought about it for a bit. One name seemed as good as the other. I didn't mind it sounding feminine, but I didn't really want the hassle of having to fill out all the new paperwork. Lexi was an interesting name. It was the same number of letters as my old one and it was quite a zingy name, almost sexy. Perhaps it would be good to take this new sexy name to distance myself from old friendless Alex.
“OK,” I said smiling, wondering whether I could make some sort of wing extenders to allow me to fly. Though this brought to mind the Icarus story, I resolved to use epoxy resin rather than wax if I made any large wings. Although thinking about it, the whole flying too close to the sun thing didn't really work. If he flew up higher the air would get colder, not warmer, due to the pressure and I didn't think being at a slightly higher altitude would expose him to massively more sun. If the wax didn't melt at sea level in Greece, which had a pretty warm climate, I failed to see how it would at a few metres up in the air.
'Yes those Greek myths are chock full of holes!' I thought to myself. There was the laughter again, I assumed it was Anna hearing my internal monologues.
*I'm sorry, I usually try not to listen Alex ... or should I say Lexi, but your surface thoughts just keep making me laugh, in a good way. You should try saying some of that out loud, nothing wins friends like a good sense of humour,* Anna sent. Her time in my head had obviously shown her what I wanted most in the world. Maybe I had been a little closed off
In the meantime Mum was trying to gauge whether or not I was just capitulating to the name change to please her or something, but I was too off in my own world to notice. Eventually they must have decided that I was happy with it, because a short while later Mum tapped me on the shoulder and indicated we were leaving. I said goodbye to Sarah and took Mum’s hand as she led me out of the office.
I was in a reasonably good mood as we left the doctors. I was thinking about how I would introduce myself with my new name. I hoped it would gain me lots of friends. I was a little concerned about my powers, but magnetism sounded like a reasonably safe power, not like shooting fire or lightning and so on. If I could keep it turned off, then no one would be any the wiser. Maybe once I had a friend I could tell them about it when I was sure they weren't going to run away because of it.
Mum led me along with my head in the clouds, barely taking in where we were, as she led me into a shopping centre.
We stopped but I was still considering having friends and what we might do together, I was a girl, and girls seemed to like shopping. Maybe I would do that. My knowledge of girls and their likes and dislikes was fairly limited, as they had avoided me even more than the boys for some reason.
“Al ... Lexi!” said Mum trying to get my attention.
“Huh?” I responded jolted out of my considerations.
“I said, we need to get you some new underwear that will fit your new body.”
“Oh,” I said looking around realising we were in a lingerie shop, I looked around at all the strange items. All of them seemed to be frilly or lacy at least at first glance. “Okay, what do I need?” I asked, looking up at my mother.
She seemed a little startled by this, but took me up to the desk where the sales assistants were.
She arranged with the assistant to measure me for a bra. I was taken into the dressing rooms and then told to take off my top. The woman then measured my breasts, though she was a little surprised by my wings. She told Mum my measurements made me a C cup, which was apparently reasonably large for my small stature. Then Mum had her measure my hips and had me try on some bras, showing me how to put them on while the assistant made sure they fitted properly.
I had to be careful of my wings and feathers. I didn't want to get my wings caught under the strap, and if my feathers were ruffled, I found it uncomfortable. I soon learnt to spread my wings out so I could fasten my bra and make it comfy on my feathered back. Then I could fold my wings away.
We got what seemed like far too many bras and then a large number of panties to go with them. I wondered if Mum had had some sort of unfulfilled mother daughter shopping fantasies and was now going overboard as a result. While we were paying, Mum opened her purse to get some money out spilling spoons everywhere. The shopping assistant gave her a very funny look. I smiled at her forgetting my teeth and her eyes went wide. She hurried through the purchase thing seemingly keen to get rid of the strange woman with a bag full of cutlery and the girl with the razor toothed smile.
We moved on to the next shop, a department store, and soon we were in the girl’s section. My small size meant the range was less than normal, but thankfully, I was just the right size of small to actually buy proper clothes in regular shops. I was feeling a little constrained in my new bra, but I guessed I would get used to it. It would stop the jiggling aspect of my new protuberances. Mum was picking many, many clothes for me to try on, so many that it seemed she was just grabbing every conceivable item of clothing in my size. I was beginning to get a little bored with it.
At that point my new powers kicked in again and a rack of clothing next to me was pulled off the rails and the metal hooks of the hangers stuck to me.
“AHH!” I said, nearly falling over from the shock, causing me to stagger round getting in range of yet more sets of clothing. I was soon covered in racks of clothing and was having difficulty moving. I looked like a big duster covered in lots of flaps of fabric to collect the dust.
“Oh dear,” said Mum.
A woman was striding over with an angry look on her face. She was in her forties or so, the lines in her face emphasising her rage. Her greying hair was pulled back into a tight bun. “What's going on here!” she said.
“I'm sorry, I can't help it,” I said, suddenly close to tears, feeling annoyed and sad for making a mess and embarrassing my Mum.
“She just changed and she hasn't quite got control over her powers yet. They seem to randomly trigger and she becomes magnetised,” said Mum apologetically.
Surprisingly the woman's face softened, “Oh I see. I understand what it's like. I have a low level fire elemental power. When I first got it I was constantly setting off small fires because I couldn't control it. People didn't understand and thought I was some sort of pyromaniac. Don't you worry, you'll get it. It just takes time,” she said with a warm smile.
People were beginning to stand around and stare at me, the small girl covered in clothes from the racks like a big puff ball made of trousers and shirts. The attention made me nervous and more worried.
“Try and do the trick that the nice telepath taught you to turn it off, Lexi,” Mum said gently.
“I'll try,” I said I took a few breaths to calm myself and closed my eyes trying to remember the switch. After several minutes of fearsome concentration, it didn't seem to be working.
“It's not working,” I said, bursting in to tears, I wasn't sure why I was getting so worked up.
“Come on, Lexi. It's alright, just try again, you'll manage it,” said Mum.
“You can do it,” said the woman, with a nice smile.
I fought back the tears and tried to calm myself and focus. I tried again and again, but nothing happened. I gave it one last go, and suddenly all the hangers attached to me dropped to the floor in a heap.
I wiped my eyes, “There you see? I told you that you could do it,” said Mum.
She began picking up the clothes around me and putting them back on the racks. They were all fairly OK, the odd one needing a little straightening on the hanger but nothing was damaged.
“I'm sorry about the mess,” I said to the woman.
“Oh, think nothing of it dear,” she said, helping us get everything back where it should be, "Now then, is there anything I can help you with?"
She was very nice to us, helping us find everything we needed. Once we had a huge pile of clothing I was sent to try them on. Mum offered to help me dress, but I huffily refused, claiming I could dress myself just fine.
I regretted that when trying to work out how to get into some of the more feminine clothes I had no clue about.
I came out and posed for Mum and she went and retrieved any things I needed in different sizes.
About half way through this dress up session a well dressed woman in her early 40's entered the changing rooms. I was trying on what Mum called a halter top, and my wings were exposed.
"Disgusting!" exclaimed the woman, "there's a filthy animal in the changing room!"
"Really? Where?" I asked, looking around, expecting to see a rat or something.
"You diseased brat! I've got a good mind to shut that smart mouth of yours for good!" she shouted, her face a mask of rage.
"Are you talking to me?" I asked, wondering what had got her panties in a bunch.
She stepped closer and moved to slap me, I fell back in surprise so her hand didn't hit me but passed straight through where I had been. I staggered a few steps, then fell to the floor bumping my now more padded behind (though not padded enough to completely absorb the impact). I scrambled away from the mad woman who towered above me, a look of glee in her eyes from seeing my fear.
The scene attracted notice from the other occupants of the changing room with women in various states of dress peeking out at what was going on. One of them ran out of the room, but most just stared, eyes wide. For the first time since my change I really hated being so small. I also wished I had been given a really nasty power, not the ability to make spoons stick to me. It wasn't really something that could be used offensively.
“I see you're kind out on the streets spreading your wretched illness to all around, taking away the lives of good kids who are too young to realise you're just mindless beasts,” she spat, advancing on me slowly.
“Hey, leave her alone!” said one of the other women finding a voice.
“What? You would defend this vile creature?” spat my would be assailant.
“Don't you call her that!” said another young woman maybe a few years older than me, who had cat like eyes, “She's just as human as you are!”
“You would say that. You are one of those things! Your mutant eyes are a mark of the infection!” the now ranting woman said.
“For your information, Honey,” the cat eyed woman said, putting a harsh emphasis on the Honey, “I was born with these eyes, and I've never had MORFS. My mother did! So you can shut right up about that infection nonsense.”
“Leave the poor girl alone,” said another woman.
“Yeah!” said another.
Soon a large group of women had surrounded my assailant, looking angry.
“What is going on here!?” said a voice near the door, I could just make out the sales assistant who had been so nice earlier, accompanied by a female security guard.
One of the gang of women standing up for me turned to her and said, “This woman was threatening to hurt this young girl and made objectionable remarks about her, just because she is a MORFS survivor.”
The assistant’s eyes narrowed, “Is this true?”
All the women chimed in with “yeah”, “sure is”, and even “You bet your arse it is”.
“Ma'am I think you had better leave before we have to have you arrested,” she said in a cold angry voice.
The woman. not quite so full of herself surrounded by these angry women blustered a bit. saying, “Like I want to shop in a place that supports those things! I'll never come here again. not after the way you treat good normal people!”
“Lindsey. escort this Lady to the door,” said the assistant. The guard nodded grimly.
With the woman gone, the mood in the room brightened considerably. “Are you alright dear?” asked an older woman, offering me a hand to help me up.
I smiled and thanked them all for helping me. They didn't seem too bothered by my teeth, which was nice. I brushed off my clothes and folded back my wings again.
“Don't let idiots like that bother you, Honey,” said the cat eyed woman. “They're ignorant fools.”
The women who were crowded around me all nodded and gave me reassuring pats on the shoulders and smiles. I thanked them again and then walked out to show Mum my current outfit. The woman being nasty had been a bit scary, but the reaction of the people around me had been nice.
“What was all the commotion about?” asked Mum as I modelled the clothes for her.
“Some lady didn't like me and started shouting at me,” I said.
“What? Are you alright?”
“Yeah, the other ladies all stopped her and then a guard kicked her out of the shop.”
“Well that's good. I'm glad she was chucked out. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of small minded people in the world who will not accept you for being different.”
I nodded, having known this would be the case. Still, I was gratified that the rest of the apparently normal women had stood up for me.
I continued trying on the many outfits that Mum had picked out, getting smiles from the women still in the changing rooms who had helped me.
Once we were done with that set of clothes, Mum set off to get more, taking back the ones she had rejected and looking for new ones. As we were doing this, an outfit caught my eye, a black top and tight black trousers. The top would allow me to have my wings out, but they would blend into its colour. It also all went with my hair. When Mum saw me looking, she got a small smile on her face for some reason.
“Do you want to try out that outfit then?” she asked.
“Yeah, I guess,” I replied not completely sure.
“Oh I saw a lovely jacket that would go with that,” she said, racing off to another part of the store, quickly returning with a small black synthetic leather jacket.
She thrust this into my hands, as well as the top and trousers I had been looking at. “Well come on, try them on!”
I wandered back to the changing rooms and tried on the new outfit. The all black look seemed to suit me and I loved the little jacket. I looked a bit like one of the Goth girls I had seen at school, but so long as I didn't wear black most of the time, put on black lipstick and get a load of piercings I'd probably not be taken as being Goth. I came out and did a turn for Mum, who seemed very pleased. She really was splashing out on clothes for me, and while that was nice, I hoped she didn't get too carried away with the amount she was spending.
After some more trying stuff on, Mum insisted I change into the black outfit and wear it out of the shop. We made out way over to the till and the nice sales assistant scanned all out purchases. I made sure to scan the stuff I was wearing first, since I didn't want to get accused of shop lifting. She gave us some money off vouchers to spend next time we were there and wished us goodbye. Weighted down by purchases, we staggered along to the next shop on the list, a shoe shop.
First I needed my feet measured, then Mum selected a few shoes for me to try out, including some with what looked to me, ridiculously high heels. Mum told me that they were not even the highest heels the place had, and that given my small stature, some shoes to give me a little lift would be useful. I stared at the shoes doubtfully, but tried them on and then proceeded to totter around, sure I was going to trip and break an ankle.
Mum got me some new trainers, a pair of smart shoes with a slight heel, the high heeled fancy shoes, and noticing my interest in a pair of black boots, those as well. They went with my current outfit and had a slight heel to them so Mum insisted I have them and even wear them out of the shop. I knew not to argue with her, and besides, they did go with the outfit I was wearing.
Properly clad in girl’s clothes that fit, I walked, a little hesitantly in my tall boots, out of the shop carrying our latest purchases. I hated to think how much money this little trip had thus far set my Mum back. Next, Mum insisted on getting me some make-up which I wasn't so sure about but quietly complied. After this, Mum suggested I get my ears pierced, but that seemed like a bit much. Plus, I was a little concerned by the thought of what might happen if I had metal piercing through my flesh at the same time my magnet thing kicked in. I could always get non-ferrous metals, I suppose, but the pain of having holes punched in me didn't appeal.
With the shopping out the way Mum took me for lunch. I was quite hungry and ordered my usual double cheeseburger. Mum made some quiet comments about me needing to watch my figure.
I found I couldn't eat as much as I could before, putting it down to my smaller stomach. What I could eat tasted funny, and I found one of my favourite drinks from before, a mega cherry fizz, was now sickly sweet, so much so I nearly spat out my first mouthful.
"What's the matter?" asked Mum, seeing my look of distaste.
"It tastes funny," I replied.
Mum reached over and took a sip, "Seems fine to me, Honey," she said.
"It must be my new taste buds, then," I replied forlornly, not all that happy that MORFS had made one of my favourite treats unappealing.
As a result of being unable to eat as much, and finding some of my food unpleasant, I left quite a bit untouched.
I felt a bit guilty for wasting all that food, but I couldn't eat any more.
Mum and I made our way back to the car. As we were crossing the car park my magnet thing kicked in, but this time instead of things being drawn to me, the large metal objects weighed more than me, so I was drawn to them.
I gave a squeak of shock as I was wrenched violently through the air to the left and slammed against the side of an old Land-Rover, which, unlike more modern cars, was almost all metal. I was stuck with my back glued to its side, my arms pinned, unable to move. My feet were even off the ground. I initially panicked a little and struggled fruitlessly. I had to force myself to calm down and then mentally try to turn off my power, which rather suddenly dumped me to the ground.
"Stupid magnet powers," I muttered, brushing down my outfit.
Mum gave me a reassuring hug, “You'll get control of them, Sweetie. Then they won't be a bother.”
We dragged the bags back to the car and just about fitted all of them into the boot. After we drove home we began dumped them all in my room ready for unpacking. Mum made us some tea before we got cracking on that task, and I sat with her in the kitchen, noticing that on the tall stools we had in there, my feet didn't touch the ground. They had only just done before, but now my legs dangled in thin air, and getting into the seat was an exercise in mountaineering, though I was lighter, and seemingly fitter now, so it was probably less of an effort than it might have been.
Mum sat leaned against the sideboard waiting for the kettle to boil, stealing glances at me while I kicked my legs. She watched me with a concerned look in her eyes as I whiled away the time, happily thinking up a plan for how I would approach the first day of school.
I was just considering whether to sit in my usual seat and see if anyone talked to the new me, or almost pretend I was a new person now, when Mum voiced what was bothering her, “How are you doing ... really? You can tell me, Honey, I know this has to be hard on you,” she said.
“I'm fine,” I said with a grin.
“You don't need to put on a brave face for me, Honey,” said Mum.
“I'm not,” I said, “I may not like everything MORFS has done to me, but I can't do anything about it, so there's no sense getting worked up about it.”
“I guess that's a good way to look at it.” Mum eyed me a little doubtfully.
“Besides, maybe now I'll be able to make some friends,” I said, turning away embarrassed and saddened by my inability to find a friend.
“I'm sure you will , Sweetie. Remember, it's what's on the inside that counts, and even before MORFS I knew you were a great person inside, even if other people were too short sighted to see it,” Mum said giving me a hug and a kiss on the forehead.
“Muuummm!” I squirmed, embarrassed, but secretly happy at her affection.
We decided to have our tea out in the garden as it was a lovely day. We sat on the patio under a big canvas umbrella we had to give us a bit of shade in the summer months. I sipped my tea and sighed contentedly, breathing in lungsful of fresh air. I began to notice scents on the air, a myriad of indicators blowing on the breeze. My enhanced hearing picking out sounds of the wildlife around us, the bees going about their work with the buzz and hum. I let the sounds wash over me, fascinated by the amount of things going on around me. Further down the garden little birds fed at a bird table, gorgeous little blue tits, robins, green finches, gold finches, chaffinches, and an unruly mob of sparrows all jumped, weaved, bickered, and pecked at the food, swooping off the low platform and into the trees when they'd had their fill.
With my new vision, it was like I was looking through some amazing binoculars. I could see the plumage of each bird, and watch them as they enjoyed their meal without even noticing me. While I was watching, something else attracted my attention, a noise. I cocked my head to get a better position on it and realised it was coming from the base of the bird table. It was a low breathing noise, an odd grumbling sound. I looked closely trying to see what it was. There in the bushes, waiting was a large cat. It was sat under the feeder, waiting for one of the birds to get too low as they leaped off the platform and took wing, so it could bat them out of the air.
I didn't like that. I liked cat's well enough, they were fluffy and cute. However something in me wanted to save the birds from this predator. Maybe it was avian solidarity, since I was now part bird or maybe it was just that I like birds. Either way I’d just decided to shoo the cat off when I saw it prepare itself to pounce. I grabbed an apple from the bowl Mum had brought out in case I was hungry, even though I had barely recovered from lunch only a half hour ago. I threw it at the cat with enough precision that it startled the animal without actually hitting it or causing it any harm, since I didn't want to hurt the creature for following its instincts. I was a little surprised at how accurately I had thrown the fruit missile, as I had never been good at sports and the cat was a good ten meters away.
“Shoo, Kitty!” I said in a loud voice, causing the birds to scatter.
Mum was looking at me like I had gone mad, and the cat was warily eyeing the apple as if it might leap up and try and attack it again. I stood up and shooed the cat more obviously and it scampered.
'Birdies 1, Kitty 0,' I thought to myself, flexing my wings in triumph, then sat back down. The birdies soon returned once quiet settled on the garden again.
“It was going to try and grab the birdies,” I explained to Mum.
“How did you even know it was there?” asked Mum
“I could hear it.”
Mum looked wide-eyed at the bird table, as if judging the distance and then looked back at me. I just smiled and drank my tea.
After I had finished my tea I headed up to my room to start clearing out the old clothes and putting away the new clothes. Mum got a load of boxes to pack the old stuff in to send to the charity shops. I went through everything I could keep, very little, as most things were large to the point of being tent-like on me. I kept a few things, but most got boxed up. Once we had cleared out the old stuff, in went the new stuff.
As we were hanging up my new clothes, something odd happened. My vision suddenly shifted, and colours looked different somehow. Various objects seemed to have weird flowing rainbow fringes, and all through the room I could see a weird flow in one direction. I closed my eyes and shook my head to clear it. When I opened my eyes again, things were back to normal.
Mum, having noticed my strange behaviour asked, "Are you OK?"
"My eyes went funny," I replied, not wanting to say that I was seeing things for fear of her thinking the stress had driven me mad.
After that it was just normal, well, as normal as replacing all your clothing due to a fairly sudden unexpected sex change can be. I packed all my new girl clothes away, and noted I now seemed to have far more clothes than I had before, due to Mum's spending spree.
When the last bit of clothing, a school skirt, was put away, Mum turned to me and said, “Wait here for a tick, Lexi.” Then she went out the room and I could hear her in my parents bed room across the hall.
She walked back in holding something behind her back. “Turn around!” she said.
I did as asked and she reached round me with a chain of some sort, snapping it shut behind my neck. I looked down to see a little slightly faded silver ring just above my newly acquired cleavage. I gently lifted it up to look. It was a very old intricately engraved silver ring on a newer silver chain.
“That's your great-great-great-grandmother’s wedding ring,” said Mum with a smile. “It's been passed down the women of my family since she died, with each mother handing it to her daughter when they are old enough. The tradition was when to pass it on when the daughter got her first period, but well, if you had been born a girl you would have already, and now feels the right time. I had thought the tradition would end with me. I'm glad it didn't and I could pass this precious heirloom to my beautiful daughter.”
She gave me a hug and kissed my forehead before we made our way back downstairs. Mum decided to get out an old photo album from way back when cameras were mechanical things and showed me some of my female relatives wearing the same necklace I wore.
She showed me a very old photo of the lady whose wedding ring it was, all crackled and faded. The small black and white picture showed great-great-great-grandmother Alison smiling widely at whoever was taking the picture. She was posed standing in the shade of a tree, dressed in a just about calf length skirt with a top that had wide, possibly padded shoulders. She was a petite lady with long dark hair, an angelic face, and mischievous smile. Mum paused looking at the photo of our long dead relative and then at me.
“Now I'm sure Great-Great-Great-Grandmother Alison would want you to have that ring. You're the spitting image of her,” Mum said with surprise.
Looking again, the resemblance was uncanny. I was of similar stature, and similarly built. My face was a little different, and I doubted she'd had wings, but even so, if you put photos of the two of us side by side, I think even strangers would have said we were related.
While we were puzzling over this Dad came in from work. He taught science at my school. I had never had him for lessons, as he tended to do the more advanced stuff, but I probably would some day. I wondered if being the kid of a teacher was another reason I'd had no luck making friends. I was one step removed from the teachers pet, since I was a teacher’s Kid. My only saving grace was not choosing it. Even then, my quiet nature, relatively good grades, and fascination with gadgets and all things mechanical didn't endear me to most people. Kids seemed to think Dad was like he was at school, all the time. While he was one of those people passionate about science and discovery, when he was at home, he channelled most of his effort into making or fixing things, rather than spontaneous science lessons. I suppose the truth was probably even weirder than what people thought, so I guess them believing random things wasn't too bad.
He walked into the living room right past us without really seeing Mum and me sitting on the sofa. He put his briefcase down on a table and began to remove his tie. While doing this he turned and saw Mum and me sitting there with the big book between us and he paused looking at the two of us.
He stood there frozen for a bit examining me, then he seemed to realise he was staring, and looked at his hands as he removed the tie from his neck.
He looked me in the eyes and gave me a smile. He began to say, “You certainly look different, Alex,” but Mum interrupted him. “Lexi,” said Mum pointedly.
“Oh yes, sorry, Lexi.” I wondered if Mum had sent him a message or called him while I was trying on clothes to make sure he knew my new name, and due to being a little startled at seeing me up and about for the first time he had forgotten.
I smiled, “Mum gave me a family heirloom, and now we are looking at pictures of people who wore it, including the lady whose ring it was. She looks like me!”
“Really,” said Dad, coming to have a look. He glanced down at the photo, then at me, then nodded to himself and said, “Amazing! You look just like her, must be some inactive genes you were carrying from your mother’s side of the family that were not active, due to you having XY. Now you're XX, they are expressed in your appearance.”
“I got some extra stuff though. I doubt Great-Great-Great-Grandma Alison had wings like mine,” I said, flicking my wings open.
Dad studied my wings with interest, gently stroking my feathers, which sort of tickled, “So did you get any other changes? Are you cleared to go back to school?”
“I sort of become a magnet,” I said, “So far it's been a pain. I t turns on, and then metal things get stuck to me, or I stick to metal things.”
“Magnetism, eh? Well that's right up my alley!” he said excitedly.
“Well, the mad experiments that cross the line man was not meant to cross will have to wait till after dinner,” Mum said sternly.
“Yeths Masta,” said Dad in a slurred voice hunching his back, squinting his eyes, screwing up his face, and folding up his arm oddly.
“Come along Igor. we have carrots to chop!” said Mum, leaping up.
Dad limped after her in an exaggerated manner. I giggled, then followed them.
I helped with the cooking as usual. Some people seemed to think this was a girly thing to do. I didn't really understand that, Mum had taught me to help out in the kitchen and also about how to cook in general, so I could fend for myself when the time came to move out or go to university. Mum and Dad often said that when I finished school I was out on my ear. They didn't want me to be hanging around till old age. I was pretty sure they weren't going to kick me out, but they also didn't want me to become one of those kids that lives with their parents, unable to care for themselves. So Mum and Dad had taught me how to do all the little things, cooking and cleaning, all the things that you needed to get by in life.
My diminished height made it difficult to reach things high up, so I had to rely on Dad and even Mum to reach things for me. Maybe I could get some stilts or something, I pictured myself going through life on big circus stilts, hiding my short legs with long skirts, trousers, and big clown shoes. It made me burst into giggles ,which made Mum ask what was so funny. She giggled too, and Dad laughed too, when I explained.
Once dinner was ready we sat at the table and began serving up. After what had happened at lunch, I made sure not to take anywhere near as much food as I was used to, taking only a small serving.
Dad eyeing my plate, said, "Are you sure you have enough there?"
"I'm a lot smaller, and have a smaller tummy, so I don't seem to be able to eat as much," I said, "I'll start with this and see how I go."
"OK, but if you want more shout," he said smiling.
Mum and Dad both had wine with their meal, and I was allowed a small glass. While nowhere near enough to get me drunk, my new body seemed to be far more effected by the alcohol. I also found my new taste buds allowed me to enjoy the wine more. Before, I hadn't really liked red wine. I would drink it when offered, as it made me feel grown-up, but I found the taste a bit harsh. White wine was better, but usually I preferred a soft drink for taste. Now my more sensitive sense of taste brought out all sorts of flavours and I found myself savouring every drop.
We finished the meal with a chocolate mouse, but it was too sweet for my tastes. After dinner we watched some telly in the living room. The comfy chairs now swallowed my small frame, and it was a struggle to get up to get something. There wasn't much on the box at the moment, so after a while I got bored and decide to head up to my bedroom.
I went over to my work bench, full of bits of half finished electronics and various tools strewn about the place. It was backed with a tall array of small plastic drawers, each about 5cm wide set in a grid eight across eight high. Each of these little drawers had a stash of components in them and were labelled on the front. Next to this was an in-box out-box style desk tray, with some of the larger bits and bobs stashed willy-nilly. I sat down on my work stool, finding my reduced height now meant I was barely above eye level with the work surface. I spent a few minutes adjusting the seat to a more appropriate height, then reached into a box under the desk and pulled out my latest work in progress. It was a small walking robot I had been making that used four small legs for locomotion. I had been having some trouble getting it to move properly, so I’d added another weighted limb that could be used to adjust its balance, that stuck up in the air. In effect, I had given it a tail, and as a result, had take to calling it Kittybot. Now that I was part bird, and kitties were my natural enemy, I thought about changing it to something else, but decided against it.
I turned my half-finished robot around in my hands, taking a moment to examine all my previous successful attempts at making a functional companion for myself. I had kept most of the ones that worked properly to show myself how far I had come in my designs. It also forced me to make everything new each time, rather than just cannibalising an old machine to make the new one.
I examined my current design, pulling out the work book that had all my designs in it and then began fiddling with the mechanics, trying to solve the balance issues the device currently had. My smaller hands were a bonus when dealing with these things, since I could get at parts of the machine that previously would have required complete disassembly to get at. Also, my improved vision allowed me to easily see small things that before, I would have needed a magnifier to see. By necessity of cost, my machines were fairly small, usually no bigger than an apple, Kittybot was no exception. it was towards the large end of my machines, yet just big enough to hold comfortably in one hand. It represented my most expensive machine to date.
After twenty minutes of tinkering I had fixed the problems with the legs and was rewiring the control circuitry into a set of new sensors I had acquired. Most of my previous works had very little in the way of sensors. This new bot was much more advanced than previous generations, and had visual sensors, heat sensors, and a few others. It also had a very expensive main processor, which had set me back all my Christmas and birthday money, as well as a chunk of my savings. It was far more powerful than anything else I had used in a bot before, incorporating a very powerful processor, almost as powerful as my tablet. It also had some FPGA (field programmable gate array) modules that allowed it to reconfigure a portion of its hardware on the fly. I hoped to use this to make a rudimentary neural network for kittybot, and allow it to be a bit more intelligent than my previous models, as well as giving it the ability to learn, rather than just run the program I gave it.
I installed the last connections to the motors and control circuitry, then wired in the sensors. With that done I installed a new power cell into the body of Kittybot and switched it on. Initially, nothing happened but I had been expecting that, since currently there was no software installed and essentially the device was a blank slate. I grabbed my tablet and began uploading the program I had written to Kittybot's internal memory. It was ambitious, using the full power of the processor and a self learning algorithm that processed the input from Kittybot's various limbs and sensors to allow it to learn to walk and interact with the world around it. The code was self modifying, allowing it to improve it's own program as it went. I also allowed it to use the FPGA to add additional hardware to improve its performance. I had my doubts about how well it would work, as this was fairly advanced stuff, and I was only a kid tinkering in my bedroom.
I waited patiently till the upload completed. Then, when the tablet informed me the device had been updated successfully I picked up Kittybot and set it on the floor and hit the reset switch that would start the currently loaded program.
Kittybot promptly fell over and waved its legs in the air. After this inauspicious start, things gradually improved. I righted Kittybot and placed her back on her feet, and she promptly fell over again, though this time she managed to roll over and right herself by making good use of her tail. After a few more attempts at standing, she managed to remain upright balancing wobbly on her four legs. She then slowly began moving about the room on her own, looking around at things, acting a bit like how a curious kitten might behave, at least so I had read. None of this behaviour had been coded into her firmware. She had just been given the basics of the world and a set of controllers for each of her limbs as well as her sensor inputs. Using the learning algorithm, she had worked out how to walk all on her own.
I clapped my hands in glee at my achievement. Kittybot looked up at the sound and located me with her cameras. I crouched down and her cameras tracked me, she them walked over to me to investigate.
I patted her on the head where I had put one of her few touch sensors. Initially, she didn't seem to like this, backing away but then she returned and raised her head towards me for more petting. After a while she went back to exploring. I grabbed my notes and filled in the details of what had happened and the adjustments I had made to make Kittybot work, so I would know in future. I also looked at the telemetry from her as she wandered around my room. Already her programming had changed beyond my original design. The changes were small and mostly localised to the movement sections of the code, several mappings between the orientation sensors, the accelerometer, and the motor controls had appeared as well as some specialised hardware that seemed to simplify some of the controller circuitry. As I was looking at the coding, she looked in my direction and I saw my own face appear on her cameras. Several bits of her code lit up and some sections of hardware associated with her cameras changed. I wondered if she was learning my face as if I was her mother or some such, which I suppose in a way, I was.
Kitty came over to me and stared at me, various bits of her mind flaring. I wondered if she wanted something. I realised I hadn't given my pet any means of communicating. I reached down and picked her up, patting her head, wondering how I could fix that. I didn't really want to start again from scratch, so I decided to wire some of her debug pins up to lights on her face, and give her direct control over them so she could express herself.
I pressed the sleep button on the board and then opened the access panel and began routing some wires to the front, and attaching lights to them. It didn't take long, then I made a slight modification to the settings of the controller, allowing Kittybot's firmware access to the lights.
I put her back on the floor then switched her back on, she jerked into motion, seemingly confused. I saw the multicoloured LED's (light emitting diodes) on her head flashing and flickering, seemingly randomly. There was a grid of 16 of them each one capable of emitting red green and blue and with careful control, all shades between. Part of her hardware was designed expressly to control lights in this way, so I had provided that connection in her software. I watched as the random lights diminished and I began to see patterns emerging.
At about this point my annoying magnetic power kicked in and a screwdriver near to my hand stabbed me painfully. I flailed my arms in surprise. overbalancing and falling to the floor. Kitty saw me fall and began coming over to see what was going on. her lights flickering in abstract patterns.
“No Kittybot you'll get stuck to me!” I said. but of course she didn't understand and was soon sliding towards me not under her own power. She got stuck and wiggled helplessly against the strong magnetic field. her lights going a bit crazy.
The noise of me falling must have carried. as I heard Dad coming up the stairs, “Are you alright up there?” he said and walked into my room.
He saw me with Kittybot and several tools stuck to me. I also had the stool glued to my rear end. since it was mostly made of metal.
“My damn magnet thing kicked in again,” I said grumpily. I focused and managed after some effort to switch it off.
I picked up Kittybot and patted her head and set her back on the floor. she looked around for a bit. then spotted Dad and hid behind me. peeking out at him with a green pulsing pattern on her head. I righted my stool and dumped the tools that had clung to me back on the desk. I stood up and brushed myself down. Kittybot had moved behind my feet now I was standing up, and I was a little concerned I would accidentally step on her, so I reached down and picked her up.
The green pulsing pattern flashed more urgently and she wiggled about in my grip, so I petted her head and she calmed down. The green was replaced by a blue fading pattern. Dad was staring at Kittybot with a big grin on his face.
“So this is the latest little machine you've been working on. It looks pretty good!” he said.
I wasn't listening and was still annoyed at my magnetic powers, “They're so annoying they kick in without warning, and I can barely control them!” I said.
“What's that? Oh your powers. Well, you'll get the hang of it. You just need to practise using them a bit,” Dad said.
“But how can I practise controlling them, when I can't even see what they do? Metal things just stick to me. How do you control that?” I whined. petting Kittybot.
“Hmm,” Dad said looking thoughtful, “I maybe able to help there. Come with me.”
I followed after him carrying Kittybot. He went into the bathroom and began rummaging through the medicine cabinet, “Aha!” he said, pulling a small plastic bottle out of the cupboard. “I knew we had some left!”
He wandered down the stairs and through the living room past Mum who looked up and asked, “Was Lexi alright dear?”
He didn't seem to hear her and went straight out into the kitchen, I followed after him giving her a quick, “I'm fine” before hurrying to keep up.
He went out into the garage and began rummaging in one of the boxes, coming out with a large magnet, some scissors, and what looked like iron wool. He went back into the kitchen and laid the items out on the table. He used the scissors to cut a small section off the iron wool, then trimmed that into a load of small filings. He opened the plastic bottle that appeared to be filled with some sort of oil and then dropped in the fillings. Then he sealed it, made sure there was no air in it, and shook it up, distributing the filings throughout the oil. He then stuck a bit of white paper to the side of the bottle with the label, making it easier to see the metal in there.
“Okay Al ... Lexi. While you can't see magnetic fields with the naked eye, we can use some techniques to make them visible. For instance, a compass or iron filings on a piece of paper will show you the magnetic field. This is a bottle of baby oil. I've put in it a load of iron filings made from this fine grade iron wool cut up really small. Now look how it reacts to the magnet,” he said, bringing the magnet up.
I watched and saw the filings align to the magnetic field, forming loops or parallel lines depending on how he held the magnet. He handed the two things to me and then packed away the rest of the stuff.
“There you go, Lexi your very own magnetic field viewer,” he said with a grin.
I sat down and put Kittybot on the table while I played with the bottle. She seemed as fascinated by it as I was. I played with the magnet, looking at the way the field affected the filings in the oil. This would be useful. It would let me see how I was generating a field, and what it was like. I put down the magnet and took a step away from anything metal.
“Wish me luck, Kittybot. I'm going to see if I can use my power,” I said.
I focused to find the switch in my head that turned my power off and tried to turn it on. This seemed much more difficult, but eventually I managed it. The metal in the oil immediately responded, forming complex loops where I held my hand, showing me the field I was producing. My magnetics seemed to be much stronger than the other magnet was, but it shared some of the same features. I played with this for a while, not really making any progress on control, but just enjoying myself. Eventually I switched off the field and picked up Kittybot and my magnetic field viewer and turned to find my parents, arm in arm watching me.
“It works really well! Thanks Dad,” I said.
“No problem. It's an old science experiment we used to do when I was your age. What we can do is peel off the label and paint one side of it white to make it a bit clearer,” he said.
“Cool,” I said. He took the bottle and headed towards the garage.
I made to follow him, but Mum stopped me, “Is that your new robot?” she asked.
“Oh yes, this is Kittybot,” I said, lifting my robotic feline up to show her, “The casing needs a little work, but she's getting there.”
“Wow, it really looks good! What does the pulsing green light mean?” She asked.
“Oh, she must be unhappy,” I said and petted Kittybot to reassure her.
“How did you program all that behaviour?”
“I didn't. It uses learning algorithms and neural networks, as well as self modifying control code.”
“I'm impressed. Lexi, your little robots have come a long way from the little wheeled ones that would roll around bumping into walls and following them,” Mum said, giving me a hug.
I beamed at her praise feeling very happy with Kittybot. Dad returned a while later, saying, “Well, I've painted the back of that thing with some car spray paint. It just needs to dry overnight.”
“Thanks, Dad,” I said, grinning.
We went back into the living room and watched some TV Kitty. bot sat on my lap for a while. but then looked at me and tapped her “paws” on my hand. her lights pulsing top to bottom. I assumed she wanted to have a wander. so I put her down and she began moving about the living room. I kept an eye on her as we watched the news. Some group of Pures were making trouble again. They had some big protests over the next few days up in London, with a few local things as well. I didn't like them, and hadn't, even before I underwent MORFS. I saw kittybot was observing my parents from under the table, looking a little nervous. She also seemed interested in the telly and tried to climb up a stack of books to see better.
“Here, Kitty!” I called, and her head spun round to look at me. She paused and then came over. I picked her up and put her on the arm of my chair so she could see the screen better. She sat herself down and began flicking her tail about as she watched the pictures.
It wasn't long before it was time for bed. Both Kittybot and I were tired, her, mainly due to the lack of charge in her power cell, me due to the efforts of the day. I wished my parents a good night, then took Kittybot and went up to bed. I sat her on the charger station and wished her a good night before pressing her sleep button. I had a quick glance at the details of how her program was changing, and noticed some new details had appeared and her neural net had all sorts of new pathways in there. I was excited by the progress I had made on her and the way she was developing. I wanted to puzzle more over her additions and figure out how her new hardware paths worked, but tomorrow was the first day of school for me as Lexi, so I needed my rest. I washed my face and brushed my teeth then slipped on some pyjamas and slept dreaming of playing fetch with Kittybot.
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/