Byakko: A MORFS Universe Story

By Tagrachan  

 

Chapter 2

Kumiko woke up feeling drowsy. She didn’t get much sleep during the night. First a doctor checked on her and several times later during the night a nurse checked on her and each time the noise prevented her staying asleep. Early in the morning she woke up again from a short nap because of all the noise in the hospital and she began waiting for Doctor Ichiro Furumori to come back. Kumiko was quite bored, she didn’t have anything to read or to do. And to top it off, she didn’t feel sick, so why was she still confined to the hospital? But she was also painfully aware that she didn’t have any other place to go. She didn’t remember where she lived, or if she had any family or friends. She was still quietly brooding when a nurse arrived with breakfast. Kumiko tried a few bites but it just tasted like cardboard or was too bland and tasteless to her liking. She forced herself to eat at least some of it, but drank a lot of water to get rid of the aftertaste. Of course all the fluids she drank made her go to the toilet again soon. The old habit of standing up still lingered, but she found herself already adjusting to sitting down.

After she returned to the bed a different doctor entered. This young man was only an intern and was originally from China. He hadn’t read into the history of Kumiko yet. So when he saw an Asian girl that looked like Chinese or Japanese he asked, “Nî hâo. Nî hâo ma?” {Hello. How are you?}

Kumiko with an automatic response answered, “Wo hen hâo, xie xie” {I’m fine, thank you}

The intern thought that she was Chinese, so he continued, “Ching wen gui hsing?” {What is your name?}

Kumiko still didn’t realize that she was talking Chinese instead of English and answered, “Wo jiao Kumiko.” {My name is Kumiko.}

Now the intern realized his mistake, the girl had a Japanese name. So he switched to English. “Are you Japanese?”

Kumiko now realized that she had spoken Chinese and said, “I don’t think so. I don’t really know what nationality I have. I just recently morfed into this. They did say that I looked like a Caucasian Male before my transformation. But I don’t remember anything.”

The intern was now really confused. But fortunately at that moment Doctor Furumori entered the room. Kumiko’s mood immediately lifted, with a big smile she started, “Doctor Furumori! I mean Ichiro. I’m so glad to see you.”

“Good morning Kumiko, Lee. Am I interrupting something?”

The intern Lee Wang, smiled, “I was just talking to Kumiko in Chinese. I didn’t realize that she wasn’t Chinese until she said her name is Kumiko.”

“Ah yes, I see. Well we don’t really know what nationality Kumiko has. I offered her the name Kumiko yesterday. But she could be Chinese as well. But our guess is that she used to be a Caucasian American before her change.”

The intern looked at Kumiko. “So you can speak Japanese and Chinese?”

Kumiko looked down, “I also speak Indonesian. I talked to the cleaning lady last night.”

Both doctors were stunned. This girl was just full of surprises.

Ichiro asked Lee, “Will you excuse us? I have something to discuss with Kumiko.”

Kumiko was puzzled and looked at Ichiro with a big question mark in her eyes.

Ichiro pulled up a chair and sat down next to the bed. “Kumiko, I’ve been talking with my family. They expressed that they wouldn’t mind taking care of you. You don’t have a place to stay, so we’re offering one. If you don’t feel like it, then say so. I don’t want to push this on you.”

Kumiko’s mind was just filled with conflicting thoughts. It would be nice to have a place to stay and she did like Ichiro. But she didn’t know the family yet. ‘What if I don’t like the family? Or if they don’t like me?’ “Ichiro, I am uncertain. I mean, I would like to have a place to stay and I do like you. But I don’t know your family yet. And what about legal issues? I can’t just go live with you can I?”

Ichiro smiled, “I did some checking. Your situation is strange to say the least. Since we don’t know your background and former person, you don’t have a legal identity as an adult. We can get a new identity for you, but it will have to be for your apparent age. That means you will be a minor.”

Kumiko just looked at Ichiro with big eyes, and listened intently. She had lost so much and didn’t even remember it.

Ichiro continued, “There is a shortcut through all the red tape, which is if you sign a waiver to give me permission to decide things for you as a minor in my care. But I have to warn you that I also will decide on where you go to school and medical and any other choices that I would have to make as your parent or guardian. Do you understand the ramifications?”

Kumiko just nodded. She did understand that she would have to sign her life decisions over to him. But she didn’t remember what choices she had made in the past, and to have someone decide for her at this stage was comforting for her. With a small voice she asked, “Can I at least make an agreement that I can have a little say in my choices? And when I remember my past again, can we make this a bit less controlling on your side?”

Ichiro smiled, this girl did not only have a strong will, but she thought things out as well. “Kumiko, you will always have a say in what we decide for you. At first we may decide too much based on what we think is right. But you can always ask us into a family meeting and give us your grievances. We only have your best interests in mind.”

Kumiko thought for a little while, and Ichiro was just about to think that she had second thoughts, when she said, “I accept.”

Though Ichiro had hoped to hear that, he still was surprised that Kumiko gave her consent. He was about to comment as another doctor entered the room.

“Dr. Furumori, why are you here? This patient is either too old or too young for your expertise.” The doctor was referring to Ichiro’s expertise as a gynecologist.

Ichiro laughed, “Very funny, Tom. No I was just offering Kumiko here a place to stay.”

Tom Winfield lifted his brows. He hadn’t expected that. But it would be good. The girl didn’t need to stay in the hospital and they needed the bed for other patients. “That’s nice of you and your family. So Kumiko, what will you decide?”

Kumiko gave a wry smile, “I’ll accept, I have to stay somewhere. I don’t think I want to go to an orphanage, and I like Ichiro.”

Tom smiled, “I think you’ll be fine there. I have known Ichiro for years. You could do much worse. Now Ichiro, if you don’t mind, I will check Kumiko for the last time.”

Ichiro got to his feet, “Of course, Tom. I have to get to my patients as well. Kumiko, I’ll be back later with papers, and my wife will stop by later to take you home. Is that okay?”

Kumiko just nodded and sat up straight for her exam from Doctor Winfield. She asked him about her tail, strange ears and all the fur on her body. Dr. Winfield answered as much questions as he could, though he wasn’t a specialist on Hybrids. Kumiko was satisfied with his answers though. Just as he finished his initial exam, there was a knock on the door to the room. Dr. Winfield said, “Enter” and two men stepped in the room. Kumiko looked at them with suspicion. ‘What do these men want from me?

The first man said, “Hello Doctor. Miss Doe. I’m detective Brankovich, this is detective Mahone. We’re from the police. We would like to ask you some questions, if you don’t mind.”

Kumiko just nodded. She was a bit apprehensive. She didn’t like to talk to strangers just like that. Dr. Winfield noticed  the tension in Kumiko’s body. He decided to stick around. Apparently the girl wasn’t comfortable talking to strange people.

Detective Brankovich squinted, “Dr. Winfield? Could you give us some privacy here?”

“I’m sorry but I haven’t finished with Kumiko, so I’ll stay here. Besides I think someone from the medical staff should stay here. I’m volunteering.”

The detective didn’t like it, but he did understand the concerns involved. So he shrugged and started. “So Miss, your name is Kumiko? Did you remember it? I thought you were an adult male when you were brought in?”

Kumiko pursed her lips, “I don’t know anything from before I woke up here. I want to remember, but I can’t. Dr. Ichiro gave me the name Kumiko. It means beautiful, long-lived child.”

Brankovich frowned, “How do you know that? When you were admitted you were changing from a Caucasian male into this, a young Asian girl.”

Kumiko hesitated and looked away, “I don’t know how. But I’m able to speak Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian as well as English.” I wish I knew why I know all that, but I don’t.” Kumiko sounded frantic saying that.

Brankovich said in a soothing tone, “Okay girl. But that doesn’t explain your name.”

Kumiko looked up. “When I woke up here, I was talking to Dr. Furumori. He suggested the name to me. I liked it, so I kinda adopted that name.”

Detective Mahone spoke up now. “Okay Kumiko. I’m sure that the hospital will want to discharge you from the hospital soon. So I guess we should call in social services to arrange a place for you in an orphanage.”

Before Kumiko could react, Dr. Winfield spoke up, “Actually, my colleague Dr. Furumori just offered Kumiko a place to stay.”

Brankovich frowned. He hadn’t expected that development. “Are you sure that is wise? She should be under controlled surveillance for some time.”

Kumiko interrupted angrily, “Hey, I’m right here!, Don’t talk like I’m not here.”

Mahone smiled, “You’re quite right. How do you feel about staying with a family?”

Kumiko bit her under lip, “I don’t know yet. I would prefer to stay with a family rather than an orphanage. And I do like Dr. Furumori. But I haven’t met the family yet.”

Brankovich spoke up, “We’ll have a talk with Dr. Furumori. I’m sure that something can be arranged. Now is there anything else that you can remember, or that ties you to who you used to be?”

Kumiko shook her head, indicating that she didn’t, but Dr. Winfield interrupted, “Actually there was something. During her change we had to perform surgery on Kumiko. Her original body had a titanium pin in the leg. I was going to find her original name with the serial number, but unfortunately the pin mysteriously disappeared, along with the doctor that was admitted the same time as Kumiko.”

Mahone looked through some writing on his Ecom, “There was a mention of a doctor in the van with the military men that transported the victim. Oh, sorry, that transported you, Kumiko. The men in jail have been taken away by MP’s and vanished, so we can’t ask them anything. Now you’re saying our last clue has disappeared?”

Dr. Winfield nodded, “Yes that is correct. Sorry I can’t be of more help.”

Kumiko looked disappointed, ‘Will I ever learn my origin? Why did this happen to me?

The detectives pursed their lips, but it couldn’t be helped. There was something really weird going on. This probably would end as a cold case, but Brankovich vowed by himself to stay on it. He said to Kumiko, “If you ever remember anything that can help us and yourself, then don’t hesitate to call us. Here’s my card.” He presented Kumiko with one of the plastic digital cards that the police now carried.

Kumiko looked at the card, watching the data change every 5 seconds. She softly said, “I will call if I ever remember anything.”

With that, the detectives ended their questioning and left the room. Dr. Winfield asked Kumiko to follow him. He took her to another room along the long hall. Dr. Ichiro Furumori was sitting at his desk writing something on his tablet. Kumiko’s face lit up. “Ichiro!”

Ichiro looked up, Dr. Winfield gave him a look that he understood. He had already been waiting for it. “Hello Kumiko. Welcome to my department. I’ve got to ask you something.”

Kumiko didn’t even suspect anything, she just asked, “Oh? What is it?”

Ichiro had a pained look on his face. “I’ve got to examine you. If you feel awkward that I’m going to do it, then I can ask my colleague to do it.”

Kumiko still didn’t grasp it, “What kind of examination?”

Dr. Winfield softly said, “You have to have an exam to check your inner plumbing. I can do it, but it is Ichiro’s expertise.”

Now Kumiko understood, she paled visibly in the prospect. She tried to speak, but her mouth was dry. Dejected she finally said, “I guess it has to be done. I would like Ichiro to do it.”

Dr. Winfield smiled, “I thought so. Well I’ll leave you in his capable hands then. I’ll tell nurse Williams to join you two.”

He soon left the room and after nurse Williams came in, she locked the door while Ichiro asked Kumiko to get up on the table. He put her feet in the stirrups and told her what he was going to do. The experience was quite embarrassing for Kumiko. It wasn’t something she would like to repeat. She felt the urge to pee, so asked for the toilet. Ichiro showed her and left her there to do her business.

When she came back to Ichiro’s desk, he was writing something on the Tablet. Kumiko sat down and looked at what he was doing. He explained, “I’m just wrapping up the report. You’ve been cleared by both Tom and me to be fit to leave the hospital. Would you like to stay here or in your room to wait for Amaya to come with some clothes for you?”

Kumiko frowned, “Who is Amaya?”

Ichiro perked up, “Oh sorry, I forgot. Amaya is the name of my wife. And my daughter is called Sachiko.”

Kumiko pursed her lips, “What does your daughter say about taking in a girl? I don’t even know if I like her. Let alone what she will think.”

“Actually it was Sachiko who proposed to offer you to stay with us. She’d like someone close to her age to talk to. Besides you will have your own room in the house. I haven’t done much with that room, so you can decorate it yourself as you like.”

Kumiko thought about it. It would be nice to have something of her own where she could retreat. Ichiro pulled her out of her reverie, “So wait here or in the room?”

Kumiko bit her lower lip, “I’ll wait in the room, I don’t want to take up room here. You’ll have patients right?”

Ichiro confirmed that, but added, “There’s room enough here, so if you’d want to you can stay here.”

Kumiko just shook her pretty little head, and her new long purple hair flew around. “I’ll go to the room.”

Kumiko went back to her hospital room and while walking, thought, ‘I feel so good, there’s no pain at all. Wait why should there be pain while walking? Have I been injured in my previous life? Oh why can’t I remember?

She took a newspaper with her to her room and started reading while waiting for things to come.

Ichiro’s wife Amaya got a call from her husband to get the waiver from the courthouse and to bring some clothes for Kumiko. He provided her with the measurements that had been taken during Kumiko’s examination. Soon Amaya arrived at the hospital and went to see her husband, who took her to Kumiko’s room.

Kumiko was absorbed in her reading and startled when Ichiro and a strange woman entered her room. When she shied away from the woman involuntarily, Ichiro noticed. He hugged the woman, saying, “Kumiko, this is my wife Amaya.”

Amaya smiled, “Ohayo Kumiko. O-genki desu ka?” {Good morning Kumiko. How are you?}

“Daijobu, dozo.” {I feel fine, thank you}

Amaya turned to Ichiro, “You didn’t tell me she speaks Japanese!” and to Kumiko, “Are you from Japanese descendancy? Because Ichiro said that you used to be a Caucasian.”

Kumiko cringed a little hearing about her past. ‘Oh why can’t I just remember it?’ “I don’t know how I know all the languages. I know I can speak Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian. But I don’t know how!” Kumiko’s voice sounded higher and frantic. She was nearing the point of starting to cry again.

Amaya noticed and approaching the little tiger girl, sat down on the bed and hugged her. Kumiko leaned into her, feeling a bit more secure. Ichiro cleared his throat noisily and asked Amaya for the paper. He read the paper and signed it. Then Ichiro asked Kumiko, “Can you sign here please?”

Kumiko took the paper and read it. It said that she would accept Ichiro and Amaya as her legal guardians with all the rights and obligations due. She signed the paper and gave it back to Ichiro.

Ichiro folded the paper, “Good, now I’ll leave you two alone. Kumiko, Amaya will take you home and I’ll see you there tonight, is that okay?”

Kumiko nodded, but in her heart she would have liked Ichiro to come with her as well. When Ichiro left the room Amaya grabbed a bag. “I think you want to get out of this terrible hospital smock, right?”

Kumiko nodded. The smock wasn’t comfortable and wafted to many breezes in places that she didn’t like. As Amaya produced normal clothes from the bag, Kumiko’s mood fell into an abyss. ‘Do I have to wear that?’ There was a pink skirt, and a pinkish white blouse. White sneakers with pink laces and then she saw the underwear. It wasn’t lacy, but the white panties and the white bra made Kumiko’s skin crawl. “Do I have to wear that?” The fear was clearly present in her voice.

Amaya only now realized that Kumiko wasn’t that happy with the clothes. “I’m sorry Kumiko, but this is the best I could do on short notice. These clothes used to be Sachiko’s, but they should fit you well enough. The underwear is from the store where I work, so they are new. I hope the bra fits, Ichiro did give me your measurements but you are already quite developed up top.”

Kumiko was still staring at the horrible pink colored skirt and blouse. Amaya softly added, “I promise that we’ll go shopping soon. Then you’ll have your own clothes, and outfits that you will like.”

Kumiko realized that she didn’t have a choice. She would have to wear the pink clothes. ‘Why do I have something against the color pink?’ With the Amaya’s help she got dressed and just as Kumiko thought they were done, Amaya grabbed Kumiko’s long hair and put it in pigtails. Kumiko wasn’t happy again, though the tails kept her hair from swishing around wildly. Now she had two big tails of hair dangling beside her head, and she was reminded again how long her hair now was. Soon a nurse came with a wheelchair and Kumiko was wheeled out of the hospital to the car. When Amaya opened the backdoor of the car, Kumiko whined, “Why can’t I ride shotgun?”

“Because your apparent age is about 11 and you’re too small to ride in front. I’m sorry, but the law says that you have to sit in the back on a raised seat.”

Kumiko really put on a pouty face then. Amaya laughed, “No use in putting on that kind of face. I will not break the law, so just do as you’re told young lady!”

Kumiko climbed into the car, and sat on the cushion that lifted her up so the seatbelt could be used properly. Amaya secured the seatbelt and Kumiko complained, “I can do that myself. I’m not a baby.”

Amaya sighed, ‘She is going to be a handful.’ “Yes I know you can do that yourself. Just indulge me, okay?”

Kumiko still pouted, but kept quiet. She didn’t say a word the whole time on the drive to her new home. She also felt a bit scared riding in the back of the car. She couldn’t understand why. She had ridden in cars before, probably. So why was she upset at being tied down with the seatbelt and not driving herself. When they finally arrived she was relieved to finally be released from the constricting seatbelt and hopped out of the car. Amaya took Kumiko’s hand and pulled her along to the front door. It opened as they approached and a girl just a little older than Kumiko’s apparent age stepped out.

“Hi Mom. Hi Kumiko, welcome to your new home Come, I’ll show you the house and your room.”

Kumiko was overwhelmed as the bubbly girl pulled her inside and showed her around. She barely registered all the new impressions of the house and her room. She didn’t say much to either Sachiko or Amaya, just a few times confirming or denying something that they asked her. Ichiro came home soon as well and things got too much for Kumiko. She sat down in a big comfortable chair listening to the family talk amongst themselves. All the new impressions had worn her out, and without noticing she fell asleep.

As soon as Amaya noticed that Kumiko had fallen asleep, she had Ichiro pick her up and take her to her room. There they undressed her and dressed her in a new nightgown that Amaya had bought. Then they went back down quietly. There they talked amongst themselves about Kumiko. Amaya said that Kumiko seemed to be scared of many things. She felt sorry for her.

Sachiko commented, “I will help her adjust. Before you know It Kumiko will be just another girl like me.”

Ichiro gave her a sour look, “Please, one of you is enough. I don’t think we can handle two of you.”

“We do have to guide her carefully, Ichiro. She has a lot to get accustomed to,” said Amaya.

Kumiko woke up refreshed and found herself in a strange room. ‘This isn’t the hospital?’ Then she noticed that she wasn’t wearing the hospital gown or clothes. She wore a nightgown. ‘Why am I wearing a nightgown, where am I?’ Then she remembered that she been taken to her new house. ‘But I sat down in a chair, how did I end up here?

Kumiko sat up and hopped from the bed. As she did, she expected to feel some pain in her leg, but there wasn’t any. ‘Why did I expect pain?’ She saw a big mirror on a wall and went over to it. She saw a young girl standing and looked around to see where the girl was. Then she mentally smacked herself. ‘Stupid, you are the girl.’ As she watched her reflection again, she couldn’t help but think, ‘That gown looks good on me.

Then the time for looking at her self was over, as the door opened and Amaya entered. “Oh. You are awake already?” Kumiko just looked at her, as Amaya continued, “Dinner is ready. Are you hungry?”

Kumiko nodded and followed Amaya downstairs towards the nice smells that she eagerly sniffed. Arriving in the kitchen at the table she was welcomed by Ichiro and Sachiko. Kumiko felt awkward and said, “I’m sorry for falling asleep like that.”

Ichiro smiled back at her. “That’s OK Kumiko. We know that you had a lot of new impressions and a lot to get used to after your change. Now let’s eat.”

Kumiko sat down at her appointed seat and waited patiently for the food. Ichiro gave thanks silently before Amaya put food on the plates and gave a plate filled with white rice and some fish and meat parts to Kumiko. Kumiko didn’t hesitate and picking up her chopsticks,  almost literally dove into her food. She brought the food to her mouth so quickly that it looked like a continuous stream of food going in. Kumiko barely allowed time to chew and swallow. The family looked at it with mixed feelings ranging from wonder to disapproval.

When they didn’t eat themselves because of the display, Kumiko noticed. She looked up in wonder, and with a half mouthful asked, “Wha?”

Sachiko burst into laughter and laughed so hard that tears welled up in her eyes. Ichiro looked disapprovingly both at Kumiko and his daughter. Amaya gave a disapproving look as well, “Kumiko you shouldn’t eat like that. Please, eat more slowly and enjoy your food.”

Kumiko only now realized that she was gobbling up her food as a starving person. She paled, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize … I …” She shut up, clearly embarrassed at her action.

Now all the family started laughing. It only made Kumiko feel more embarrassed, and she almost wanted to get up and leave the table. Ichiro might have sensed it, since, while still laughing, he said, “Don’t feel embarrassed Kumiko. Just try to eat more slowly and ladylike. It’s not a race, you know. There is enough food for all of us.”

Kumiko felt torn between crying and smiling. She bit her lower lip, “I’ll try to eat more civilized.”

The whole family laughed now, and though Kumiko felt embarrassed at being laughed at, she also felt relieved that she didn’t get punished for her behavior.

Kumiko made an effort to eat more slowly, though strangely enough, it went against her nature. She thought, ‘Why do I want to eat so fast? Was I starving before my change? I know I’m hungry, but not that much!

As she was quietly absorbed in her thoughts, she missed the start of a new conversation. When she realized they were talking she tuned in as Amaya was saying,  “… so we’ll go shopping tomorrow with the three of us.”

Now Kumiko paid attention. She didn’t like the sound of it. “All I need is some underwear, some pants and some shirts, right?”

Both Sachiko and Amaya gave her a horrified look. Sachiko was the first to respond, “You can’t mean that Kumiko. You need lots of new clothes. I know just the things that you’ll need.”

Amaya joined in, “Yes Kumiko, we’ll help you with all the clothing. We know just what to get for you.”

Kumiko looked with more than a little fear at the slightly amused evil grin that Amaya gave her.

Ichiro gave a sad and disconcerting look at Kumiko, “I think I’ll lose my credit cards after tomorrow.”

Now Kumiko’s nerves were at an end. ‘What are they planning to shop for tomorrow?’ She was really getting worried now. Later that night when Amaya tucked her in she voiced her fears.

“I really don’t think I need that many new clothes. Can we please keep it simple?”

Amaya smiled at her, “Don’t you worry too much. I promise we’ll have a great day tomorrow.”

It didn’t appease Kumiko, but she tried to act like it had calmed her. Amaya didn’t seem to notice that she was just acting to be satisfied, and after giving her a goodnight kiss turned of the light and left her room. Kumiko fell asleep soon after.

Kumiko was walking inside a big mall, wearing a white short skirt and a pink blouse with a bunny painted on it. She didn’t know exactly where she was and what she was doing there. Then she saw her reflection in a window. But it showed a big man wearing the little girl clothes and looking really ridiculous. Kumiko just stared at the reflection, trying to understand what was going on. The reflection mirrored her movements. She got really scared now, but she couldn’t run. It was as if her feet were  glued to the floor. Then the man from the mirror stepped out of the mirror and came towards her. He reached out with his big hands towards Kumiko and she screamed as she couldn’t move away.

She was still screaming as she woke up from her nightmare. Amaya came into her room in a hurry and asked, “Kumiko, what is wrong? Why are you screaming?”

Kumiko only could cry. Amaya hugged her tightly and tried to calm her down. After a little while she did calm down enough to say, “I’m sorry, I just had a frightening nightmare.”

Amaya said in a soothing tone, “It’s Ok, honey. Don’t worry about it. We should have guessed that it would happen. Though you can’t remember your past, the suppressed memories may plague you in your dreams.”

Kumiko dried her tears and sniffed. “I really don’t want dreams like that. Is there anything that can be done about it?”

Amaya gave her a wry smile, “I’m not an expert, but I don’t think so. You’ll just have to find a solution for it yourself. But we can make an appointment with a psychiatrist if you want. Someone like that might help you deal with it.”

Kumiko responded after thinking, “Maybe it is for the best, can I think about it?”

“Sure, honey. Now get back to sleep. Tomorrow we have a long day of shopping.”

Kumiko shuddered thinking about what the family planned to do with her. But she lay down and tried to get back to sleep. Amaya went back to the master bedroom after a few minutes and talked to Ichiro about the problems with Kumiko. “She sure has lots of problems Ichiro. I hope we can help her work them out. It isn’t a good sign that she has nightmares.”

“I know that. I’ll have a talk with a co-worker at the hospital. He’s a psychiatrist. He will know what is best and how to proceed.”

They talked a bit more before going back to sleep themselves.

The next morning Kumiko was waked up early. Amaya had laid out some new fresh clothes for her after she got out of the shower, where she’d taken a long time again with her fur and tail. To her horror the clothes laid ready for her were exactly like the ones in her dream. A white skirt and a pink blouse were lying  on the bed waiting for her to get into them. Kumiko froze and just stared at the clothes. She had a deja-vu feeling and was just a fraction away from breaking down.

When Sachiko entered her room and saw her standing like a statue she asked, “Kumiko, why are you just standing there? Please get dressed ASAP?”

When Kumiko didn’t respond, Sachiko walked around her and looked more closely at her. Sachiko saw that she was almost in tears staring at the clothes. “Kumiko? Doshitano?” {What’s wrong?}

Now Kumiko blinked and looked frightened at Sachiko. “Those clothes are the same ones as I wore in my nightmare. I don’t want to go shopping. Please don’t make me go shopping.” She started to cry softly.

Sachiko was at a loss. She had heard Kumiko screaming the night before, , but hadn’t understood what it was about. Actually no one did, since Kumiko hadn’t explained her nightmare to anyone. For a moment Sachiko didn’t know what to do, but then disappeared for a while. Soon she came back with a bundle that turned out to be a different set of clothes, a navy-blue skirt and a cream-colored sweater. Kumiko still didn’t like the clothes, but they were better than the other ones, so she put them on quickly enough.

Amaya saw that Kumiko was wearing a different outfit, but other than lifting an eyebrow, didn’t comment. Sachiko whispered to her later after Kumiko was secured in the back of the car again. After a short drive they pulled into a big parking lot at the mall. As they went into the mall, Kumiko felt weird. She had a feeling that it just wasn’t right wearing the clothes she was wearing. She thought, ‘Why does the mall look so big? It never was this big before, right? And I really don’t like the draft that I feel with a skirt.

Amaya and Sachiko kept on walking and since Amaya held Kumiko by her hand, she got dragged along. As they marched towards the shops, Kumiko saw a very good looking girl about 17 years old walking by. She was dressed in a very short skirt and a tank top that could barely contain the girl’s generous bosom. Kumiko thought for a moment, ‘Wow, she looks hot.’ But then she realized that she was a girl now as well. Even worse, she might dress like that soon enough as well. This really put a damper on her mindset.

As the march towards the shop continued, Kumiko acted shy and hid behind Amaya and Sachiko as much as she could. She didn’t like the looks people gave her. Amaya was spoken to several times by acquaintances, and many said how cute both girls looked. Sachiko reveled in the compliments, while Kumiko only felt embarrassment. She hid even more behind the others hearing the comments.

But that experience was nothing compared to the horror she had to endure in the clothes shop. Sachiko and Amaya both kept sending her to the dressing room with lots of girly clothes . Amaya especially, seemed to pick out mostly pink colored clothes. In the few moments that Kumiko was able to look for some clothes for herself, she found some black and dark clothes with some silver ornaments. But they were all skirts, dresses and such. Amaya rejected all the pants and any other remotely male clothing. She said, “You’ll adjust better without those. Maybe later you can wear pants.”

After a grueling long time of trying on every bit of clothing, they settled on more than 50 percent girly clothes which had been picked out by either Amaya or Sachiko. The rest were dark, Goth-like clothes that Kumiko liked. Kumiko sighed with relief as they exited the store, but as she discovered soon enough the shopping had only just started. She got dragged into a shoe store, then into the store where Amaya worked herself for underwear and then to some other clothes shops. As the shopping dragged on, Kumiko was seething from the humiliation of every salesperson telling her how cute she looked with the girly clothes that Amaya forced her to keep on wearing.

When Sachiko wanted her mother’s opinion on some make-up, Kumiko saw her chance and quietly slipped away from the attention. She had seen a hair salon on the walks between the shops and wanted to have her hair cut short. She had really started to dislike the long hair, which Amaya had put into pigtails once again. As she entered the salon, a helpful young woman said, “Hello there, little girl. Can I help you?”

Kumiko screwed her eyes at the words ‘little girl’. In a cold tone she said, “Yes I want my hair cut short.”

The woman smiled, “Of course. Did your mother send you here, or does she know you’re here?”

“Yes. of course she does,” lied Kumiko with conviction.

“OK then, right this way.” The woman gestured to a chair with special accommodation for children.

Kumiko hopped into the chair and the woman tied an apron around her. The woman untied the pigtails and combed the hair out. As she picked up her scissors she asked, “How short do you want it darling?”

Kumiko’s eyes flashed in anger at the word ‘darling’. “A crew cut!”

The woman gave a disapproving look but put the scissors at the length that Kumiko said she wanted. She tried to quickly cut through the strands, but she couldn’t even manage to cut one single hair. It proved to be too resilient against cutting with scissors. The woman swore under her breath and called in an older looking woman. They whispered between them and the older woman stepped towards Kumiko.

She had been watching with wonder what had happened. “Why didn’t you tell that your hair is nano-tube reinforced? We don’t have the equipment to cut that kind of hair here.”

Now Kumiko looked crestfallen. ‘My hair is nano-tube reinforced? So I can’t even cut it myself if I want to?’ “I didn’t know that. I’m sorry for troubling you.” With that, Kumiko jumped from the chair and ran out of the hair salon with her loose hair flying. She ran back to the store where she had slipped away from Amaya and Sachiko with tears springing from her eyes. Arriving at the store she quickly noticed that her adoptive family wasn’t there anymore. Now she got really frightened. ‘Did they just leave without me?

Frantically Kumiko looked around in the shop. But she couldn’t find Amaya or Sachiko anywhere. Just as she was about to run out of the store again to look for them elsewhere in the mall, the door opened and she almost bumped into Amaya, who stepped into the store with Sachiko right on her heels.

“Where have you been, Kumiko? We’ve been looking all over for you.” Amaya said accusingly , giving Kumiko a stern look.

Kumiko looked down, clearly embarrassed. Very softly she said, “I went over to the hair salon to have my hair cut.”

Amaya cried out, “Why did you want it cut? It’s such nice long hair, and so silky to the touch.”

Kumiko looked up in anger, “I hate this long hair. It’s a continual bother. And I just found out that I can’t even have it cut. It is nano-tube reinforced. That means it can only be cut with special tools.”

With that she started crying and it softened Amaya somewhat. But she decided not to let Kumiko know that. She needed a lesson and some punishment. “You should have told us that you wanted to go to the hair salon. We’ve been looking all over for you. Don’t you know that it’s dangerous for girls your age to run around alone in the mall?”

Kumiko stopped crying and looked at Amaya. “Sorry.”

Amaya cut her off, “Sorry doesn’t cut it, young lady. Now come with us. We’re not done yet here.”

Kumiko became a little frightened hearing that. ‘What are they planning next?

She soon got her answer, as Amaya and Sachiko dragged her into a Tattoo parlor and piercing shop. Kumiko was told to sit in a chair and a woman approached her with a device. There was a short sharp pain, which Kumiko endured stoically. Then the other ear was pierced at a fast pace. Sachiko had picked out some pink studs for Kumiko to wear, but as she wanted to insert them, she found she couldn’t do it. The holes in Kumiko’s ears already had healed up, and there was no hole to be found. As everyone wondered what was going on, Kumiko broke out in a little smile as she realized that she had a fast healing power.

Amaya and Sachiko weren’t so pleased. Now Kumiko wouldn’t be able to wear most of the nice earrings they wanted to pick out. They did buy some clip on earrings, and made Kumiko wear them, though she scowled and protested in vain.

Finally shopping was over, but as they walked to the exit, Kumiko saw something in a store. She refused to budge till Amaya accompanied her into the store. Kumiko really wanted the long black leather coat. Since Amaya didn’t want to buy it, she pouted, pleaded and refused to go with her till she got the coat. Amaya sighed and bought it, just so Kumiko would come with her.

Later that night Kumiko couldn’t resist putting her new ankle length coat on again. She admired herself in it till she heard footsteps from Amaya come up the stairs to check up on her. Quickly she took it off and scooted back under the covers.

That night Kumiko again dreamt of being attacked by someone. But she wasn’t small. She was as tall as her attacker, a tall soldier. The man lunged with a knife and she stepped back, ‘Hey why didn’t my breasts get in the way.’ Then she lunged, but not with a knife, but her claws. Kumiko heard something rip and that’s when she woke up. Her claws had extended and she had ripped quite a tear in her bedspread. She began to fear what Amaya might say and decided to keep it quiet.

In the morning Kumiko made her bed, and made quite a good attempt of covering the tear in the spread. She was just finished with it, when Sachiko entered her room. “Good morning Kumiko, ready to go to the center?”

Kumiko frowned, “What center?”

“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that today you have your post-MORFS Eval.”

Kumiko groaned. It had completely slipped her mind. In the mean time Sachiko had gone over to the closet to pick out an outfit. Kumiko groaned again as she saw that Sachiko had selected quite a short skirt and light blue blouse. ‘Why does she keep picking out that kind of clothes for me?

But Kumiko sucked up her annoyance and got dressed. A while later she was waiting for her first talk with a psychiatrist. After that session she got poked and prodded by some physicians and had a talk with another person. This man didn’t ask anything but trivial questions and Kumiko began feeling antsy.

While Kumiko was answering the questions the man was concentrating very hard and Kumiko felt something in her head, which made her even more antsy. Finally she couldn’t stand it anymore. “Are you some kind of telepath, and are you picking my brain?” she asked boldly.

The man smiled, “Yes Kumiko. You are quite perceptive. I was looking into your subconscious. I have found out a little about you. You’re some kind of low power bio-elemental with some shape shifting capabilities, though I think it will be a while before you can consciously use it. You need to learn the activation and control of your power. Anything else I can’t make out. Your mind is full of a kind of static, and it’s giving me a headache.”

Now Kumiko put on big eyes. ‘I have a power?’ But she had a more urgent question for him. “Can you help me with my amnesia? I really want to know who I am, or rather who I used to be.”

The man frowned, “I’m sorry, but not only are you difficult to read, but the memories are so difficult to comprehend that I cannot even begin to retrieve any memory of your past.”

Kumiko looked at him with tears welling up in her eyes, “So there’s no hope for me to ever remember?”

The man said on a comforting tone, “No that’s not true either. Give it time. Memory is a strange thing. Sometimes it comes back from nowhere. So don’t despair, and don’t lose hope.”

In a daze Kumiko walked from the telepath’s office to the locker rooms. There she changed into a sports outfit and went off to the gym where some people were waiting.

It turned out that a few fellow MORFS survivors were going to be put through a physical evaluation with her. The others present were a martial arts trainer called Lee, and several scientists to monitor the body of the person being tested.

First a very fat boy by the name of Harold Smudge was called up. He didn’t look like he could fight well. But when Lee attacked him, he kinda vanished from sight. Well, not really vanished, Kumiko could still see him, but she had to concentrate very hard to keep him in sight. The trainer lost sight of the boy completely and soon got hit a few times.

After his session, Kumiko’s name was called out. She stepped onto the mat and bowed before the trainer, Lee. Clearly surprised, he bowed back and took on a fighting stance. Kumiko didn’t take a stance and didn’t make any move to start a fight. Lee frowned and decided to bait her. He said to her, “kawaii, ne?” {cute isn’t she?}

This enraged Kumiko and sent her over the edge towards fighting. She tried to hit Lee, who blocked her hard and tried his best to hit her. Kumiko showed her fast reflexes by ducking under his swings and when he tried to sweep her legs, she did a fantastic back flip, taking her out of his reach. Several of the spectators cheered and whistled. Kumiko was now really pissed, and charged towards Lee. As she charged, someone said, “She looks so cute fighting.”

This made her look away and Lee avoided her while she was charging at him. With a Irimi Nage he tried to put a sleeper hold clamp on Kumiko.

This triggered a buried memory in Kumiko and she stepped back slightly to her left, elbowed Lee hard in his solar plexus and slipped out of the grasp. Lee wasn’t done yet and grabbed hold of Kumiko’s arm. Her instincts took over completely, and in a blur of motion she swept one of Lee’s legs. Next, she felt where his weak point of balance was and threw him hard onto the mat. Just as she did, that her instinct went wild and she extended her claws and with a ferocious snarl was ready to strike hard and fast at the trainer’s exposed throat. Lee looked up in fear at the ominous looking claws ready to cut his throat.

End of Chapter 2

 

 

 

 

The entire MORFS  Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/

 


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