Here On Earth

By E. Red

 

My name is Erik Walker, and I had a lot of hate when I was younger. That’s the first thing you should know about me. I grew up in a middle class family, and, as both of my parents were enlisted, I ended up living on several army bases in southern Canada over the first half of my life. My mother and father divorced when I was seven, and my mother remarried only a year later. My stepfather was a real prick. His policy on life is ‘If it worked for me, it’ll work for you’. I quickly had the real meaning of that beat into me, along with whatever apparently ‘worked for him’.

 

Like I said, I learned to hate early.

 

The second thing you should know, is that my twin sister, Julia, didn’t know at all about what happened to me. (Neither did my mother, but I’ll get to that later…) She grew up alongside me, completely oblivious of what was going on. The first time she got into a situation where she might have felt the ‘teachings’ of my stepfather, I took steps. I was only ten at the time, but he never hit her again. I think that, in some small way, I gained a little respect from him that day.

 

But that didn’t stop him from beating me to within an inch of my life.

 

My sister came to me later that night as I lay in my bed, my entire body throbbing in pain. “Why’d you do that?” She asked, crying quietly. “I was the one in trouble, not you…”

 

I smiled numbly. “I’m not gonna let him hurt you, sis. Him or anyone else.” I said, reaching out and grasping her shaking hands in one of mine. “You’re all I’ve got…” She sat there on the edge of my bed, sobbing for a while before finally falling asleep in my arms.

 

My sister is my identical twin in every respect but two: She’s a she, and she’s tiny. There’s nothing wrong with her, per se, but she was only about three foot nothing and fifty pounds at the time. So it was hardly a challenge at all to pick her up and carry her across the hall to tuck her into bed. I bit back the painful feelings I was experiencing as I closed her door quietly. When I turned around, I came face to face with my stepfather.

 

I didn’t wake up for two weeks.

 

And that was the beginning of my life.

 

At age thirteen, I was finally legally allowed to choose between which parent I wanted to live with. And even after two years of actively fighting for myself, the permanent limp and paralysis in my left hand was more than enough to convince me of the right choice.

 

Fortunately my sister agreed with me.

 

And so, we moved to live with our dad. He’d moved down south, to California, when the divorce had finalized. We’d had him visit us every summer since then, but our choice to move in with him made him happier than I’d ever seen him.

 

That was three years ago. And this is where my story begins.

 

 

“How is she, dad?”

 

My father closed the door quietly. “She’s fine, Boom. She’s taken her energy pack and her pill, and now she’s asleep.” I frowned at him for using my old nickname. He called me Boomer when I was a kid, due to my tendency to run into things.

 

“I hope she doesn’t change into something freaky. She’d… Well… Freak.”

 

MORFS wasn’t new to me. Several of my friends had changed because of it in the last few years. Allan had MORFed his hair into an indestructible Afro, and gained a limited ability to give people vertigo, and Jen had gained about a foot of leg height, along with a permanent tan. (Not much for a Californian girl, I know…) But to see my own sister, violently purging her system, was almost too much for me to handle.

 

She’d been extremely upset when the diagnosis had come in. She’d cried on my shoulder for an hour before she’d finally calmed down enough to take her first energy pack. She chewed the foul-smelling concoction, swallowing with a grimace as I held out the pill for her. She swallowed that, too, and lay back in her bed.

 

“Will you still love me in the morning, Erik?” She said quietly, fighting off sleep as best as she could.

 

I laughed quietly at our little inside joke. “Always, baby sister. No matter how much fur you grow.”

 

I was glad that she fell asleep laughing.

 

That was yesterday morning. The whole gang pestered me when I got to school that day. My friends laughed along with me, giving me encouraging words and joking about me getting a new brother. Well, they joked about it until I put my fist through a table. By accident, of course. I was feeling incredibly strung out from the shock of possibly loosing my sister to such a fate that when confronted by that fact, I became violent.

 

Which explains, in my humble opinion, what happened to Randall Jones.

 

Randy was one of the school’s resident tough guys. He went through MORFS about two years ago, and had gone from being an overweight imbecile to an overweight imbecile with superpowers. He used to be fat, but now, he was built better than I was. Seven foot, three fifty. The guy could bench my dad’s Hummer, and had a sense of smell that would put a bloodhound to shame.

 

He seemed to find it amusing to ‘pick on’ my sister and I. She thought it was because we ‘had the kind of relationship that he could never dream of’. I just thought it was because his IQ was too low to realize that he wasn’t funny.

 

“Well, well. If it ain’t commander twincest.” Just hearing his dumb voice made my temper spike. Partially because I knew where he was going with this. “Where’s your wife, farmboy.” God, that was real original. Hah hah, he’s Canadian, so he’s a farmer.

 

“She’s at home sick, captain shit-for-brains. Now go screw with someone you can handle, ‘cause I really don’t feel like getting suspended today.” I snapped at him, silencing his guffawing posse and causing mine to back away in fear.

 

“Iss’at so.” He said, growling. “Well, too bad. You’ve just pissed off the wrong-”

 

I never let him finish.

 

I’m a well-built guy. Six foot two, Two twenty. Built like a brick house. Solid. Plus I was incredibly good at science. I knew all about leverage and application of force, and I also knew that the human body has hundreds of sensitive nerve clusters that are close enough to the skin to be depressed. Ahh yes. Biology and Physics at their best. So I was the only one who wasn’t surprised when Randy ended up flat on his back, his entire body completely numb and my good hand wrapped around his throat.

 

“I’m a little unbalanced right now, so I’ll let you off easy this time.” I said staring unblinkingly into his terror-filled eyes. “Don’t. Fuck. With. Me.

 

And that’s why I was at home when Julia woke up at noon today. Dad wouldn’t let me see her, as I’d promised to wait for the change to finish. He hadn’t grounded me for the fight, but he was going to hold me to my promise. My dad’s a little weird…

 

I sat down at the kitchen table with a sigh. My dad was a lawyer, so we were never strapped for cash, and lived in good comfort. Our house wasn’t by any means a mansion, but we had more than enough room for the three of us. Four bedrooms upstairs, each with their own ensuite bathrooms and walk in closets, a large kitchen and great room on the main floor, and a party room in the basement.

 

Absently flipping through the homework package the school had sent, I slouched down in my chair. “Homework sucks.” Indeed, one of the things people hated about me was my uncanny ability to do no work whatsoever, and not pay attention in class, and yet still come out of it with high eighties. I have a naturally photographic memory, which helps with the theory parts, but the real mystery was how I always aced the practicals, too.

 

My sister hated to admit it, but she would be lost without me. Hell, I practically got her through the last two years on my own, tutoring her and such. So why do homework now, when I had the rest of the week off?

 

And so I spent the next three days, sitting in an easy chair, playing video games and watching old school movies.

 

But on the fourth day, I was awakened by a scream from across the hall. Launching myself out of bed, I was flying across the room and out into the hallway before I’d fully woken up. I stumbled a bit as the world around me lurched, and crashed into someone’s back. My father was standing in the door of my sister’s room, effectively blocking me out. “What’s going on?” I asked, on the verge of panicking.

 

“I’m tall!”

 

I pushed past my dad and stared at my sister, shaking my head to try and wake up fully. Though I was six two, my sister was only four nine, for some odd genetic reason. But now…

 

“Wow, you grew a whole half a foot!” I said, trying to keep my laughter contained. My sister threw me a mock angry look as she stood there in her too small robe. I blinked a couple of times before turning around, blushing. “Err, Jules? You’re… Showing.”

 

I heard her give a small eep, followed by the sound of the closet door slamming. Dad and I stood there laughing at her while she changed into the loosest clothes she owned. She finally stepped out, wearing what used to be a long skirt that now barely came down to her knees, and a thick wool sweater. She put her hands on her hips as she glared at us.

 

“It’s not funny! I feel like I just went through puberty again. In less than a week.” She said, pouting. “Now I need to replace my entire wardrobe!”

 

I looked at her closer, now that she was dressed. Her hair had changed from dark brown to a gorgeous strawberry blonde, while her eyes had changed to an electric violet shade and she’d gained a few inches in both height and… ahem… figure. But I couldn’t see any other changes.

 

“What, no fur?” I quipped, laughing as I ducked her retaliatory swipe.

 

“No, actually. I’m completely devoid of any and all body hair…” She trailed off, blushing deeply as I doubled over, laughing even harder. “I can’t believe I just told you that! Oh My God!” She shoved me from my bent over position.

 

Imagine my surprise when I landed on the other side of the room.

 

She immediately ran to me helping me stagger to my feet. “Are you alright?”

 

I thought about that for a second, before the world lurched again and I fell against her. My head was throbbing in a way that it only had once before in my life, and I barely registered the fact that I was throwing up. All over my sister’s floor. Great.

 

The doctor made his house call an hour or so later. Julia had given me her flu. And now… I sighed as he handed me the MORFS kit. “Perfect.”

 

“Oh well.” Jules said, sitting down on the edge of my bed as I scarfed the energy pack. “Look at it this way. You could come out of it like me. You know, only cosmetically altered.”

 

I look back on that statement from time to time. It’s usually good for a laugh.

 

“Will you still love me in the morning, sis?” I asked jokingly as I swallowed the sleeping pill.

 

She laughed the same way I had. “Only forever, big brother.”

 

And that was the last thing I heard before sleep overtook me.

 

 

I woke to the call of nature the next day and staggered into my bathroom, feeling itchy and sore all over. I fumbled with the toilet handle and all but collapsed into the shower, revelling in the feeling of the hot water running down my itchy, clammy skin. I felt slightly better afterwards as I stripped my bed of my sweat-and-grime-ridden sheets, replacing them quickly and wolfing another energy pack and pill. I just wanted it to end soon.

 

Yet again, I snapped awake the next day, feeling like a tenderised steak. I didn’t even bother looking for any changes, just slumped into the shower and back into bed, which someone had changed for me while I was showering. Jules only took four days… I hope I’m that lucky…

 

But the next day, even in my groggy, living-dead, incredibly painful state, I knew that there was something wrong. I stood up and walked to the bathroom, which made me stop. I walked in a few more circles just to be sure. My limp was gone. No longer would I have to sit out of contact sports because of my damn stepfather!

 

I was ecstatic as I hopped into the shower, flexing my previously paralysed left hand. Apparently, my MORF included total regeneration in the second phase. I turned the water on full blast, smiling as I used my left hand to wash myself.

 

I knew something was not kosher when I went to clean ‘Little Erik’. I gaped down at my limp member, utterly shocked at it. Normally my morning wood lasted for at least an hour, but I realized that I couldn’t even feel the pressure of my hand on it. “Well that’s fucking great.” I said aloud, griping about my fate. “I gain a hand and loose my one real commodity.”

 

That turned out to be another statement that brings me amusement nowadays…

 

Staring into my foggy mirror, I tried to make out any major changes to my body. I appeared to have shrunk about half a foot, which, while distressing, was no big deal. My eyes and hair seemed to be copying my sisters, having turned the same bright violet and strawberry blonde that hers had, but remaining the same length as before. At least we’ll still look like twins…My body hair had all fallen out over the last day, and I wondered how much more of my MORF would be like my sisters. If I was going through puberty again, as she put it, shouldn’t I be getting taller?

 

I shrugged it off, cramming another energy bar into my mouth. The pill followed shortly after, and once again, I fell into a dreamless sleep.

 

But when I woke up the next day, I felt healthier than I had ever felt before in my life. It’s over! I’m finished! I barely held in a delighted squeal as I sat up in my bed.

 

When I felt parts of my body moving that I had never felt before, I began to get a little worried. That’s not right… I looked down at my naked body, blinking in disbelief.

 

Looking back, I’m kind of ashamed of the way I reacted…

 

“AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”

 

I screamed. And as I screamed, I noticed that my manly baritone voice had changed into an all too familiar girlish soprano.

 

I screamed louder.

 

It was only a few seconds later that my sister kicked in my door, but it was long enough for me to have my first female emotional breakdown. I was in tears as she approached me cautiously, a worried look on her face. “Erik?”

 

I sobbed louder, collapsing back onto my pillows and curling up defensively.

 

And then she was there, holding me to her and rubbing my back comfortingly. “Shhh… I’m here…”

 

My life was over. I was going to be forced to live as a girl for the rest of my miserable existence because of a stupid fucking virus and the government’s stupid ideas about gender roles. Nobody would be able to accept me as I was.

 

Julia laughed at me when I sobbed that thought out to her.

 

“Well, if they don’t accept you, then I’m certainly screwed.” She said through her laughing. I stared at her, blinking in confusion until I realized what she was laughing about. Glancing into my open bathroom, I caught a glimpse of the two of us in the mirror. We really were identical twins now. That though made me giggle despite my distress, and soon we were both shaking with mirth, laughing uproariously.

 

It took a few minutes to calm down. I felt better now that Jules was with me, but I was still incredibly uncomfortable with this new body. It jiggled in what my male brain dubbed ‘all the right places’, and yet they were all the wrong places at the same time, seeing as they were on his body. My hips were abnormally wide, and they swayed provocatively when I walked into the bathroom.

 

I did my business, trying hard not to pay any attention to what was going on ‘down there’, and concentrated hard on not thinking about it as I stood and wiped myself. It was then that I finally got around to glancing in the mirror and really take a good look at myself, and I nearly fell over from the shock of what I saw.

 

I was gorgeous. Drop dead, perfect ten freaking gorgeous. My male mind instinctively estimated my measurements, and I morbidly realized that I was now the hottest woman I’d ever seen. And that included all the women in the magazines under my bed. I absently poked one of my apparently C cup breasts, still not convinced that it was real.

 

My body however, disagreed.

 

I knew that women’s breasts were sensitive. I’d read things… (Don’t ask…) But the reaction I got was far, far greater than expected. One innocent poke had reduced my mind to a blithering pile of goo as a not-so-gentle jolt flashed through my body. I almost fell over as my (comparatively) huge nipples decided to rise to the occasion.

 

It wasn’t until later that I found out that I wasn’t the only person who felt that poke, and snap to attention because of it...

 

I shook my head roughly, trying to clear it of the numerous conflicting thoughts that were cropping up, and turned on the shower. Standing in the hot stream of water was an incredible feeling. It felt good to rinse off the day’s-worth of grime from my skin, but I realized the just the sensation of the water running over my new curves felt hundreds of times better than it usually did. All the things I’d read about how sensitive a woman’s skin was were confirmed to me in those fifteen minutes of bliss.

 

And again, only a minute after. I bit my lip at the stinging pain that was radiating from my now raw arm. It looked like I’d taken sandpaper to my skin, rather than the soft towel I’d actually used. Oh well. A lesson learned… I thought smugly, gently patting myself dry. When that was done, I stood staring into the mirror, completely stark naked, wondering how to dry my hair. Until, of course, my eyes started to wander again.

 

“No more of that, sister dear.” I heard from outside my bathroom door, and I blushed as I realised that I was becoming aroused again. By my own body. I wrapped my old robe around myself, bunching it up like a blanket so I wouldn’t trip on it. It felt like a circus tent, to be honest. It just served to remind me of my shrinkage, which brought another surge of self-pity.

 

“And none of that, either.” Jules said as I stepped into the room. There was a plate of bacon and eggs sitting on my desk, and a set of clothes laid out on my freshly changed bed. I slumped into my desk chair as I stared at the black sweat pants and purple shirt my sister had laid out for me, while she fiddled with my hair, blow-drying it for me. My heart sank as I once again returned to the thought of having to conform to a whole new lifestyle. The tears were in my eyes before I could stop them, and for the second time in as many hours, my sister held me in her arms as I sobbed in despair.

 

I’m not sure how long we stayed like that. It seemed like hours. By the time I’d finally calmed down a bit, I realized that my sister had been quietly crying along with me. “I’m sorry.” I whispered to her, sitting up. “I didn’t mean to push my troubles onto you…”

 

She smiled at me. “It’s okay. It’s not your fault”

 

My fear was quickly replaced by embarrassment. Jules helped me into the clothes she’d picked out for me, starting with a plain pair of white panties. I stared at her like she was crazy, and she just stared right back. Oddly, I noticed that I was feeling both amusement and determination, despite my embarrassment. I sighed in defeat, and pulled them up my baby smooth legs, which I was now noticing appeared to be incredibly long. The soft fabric seemed to cling to my body as I pulled them into place, stretching them over my now ample behind and hips. I admired them for a second, before an odd flicker of annoyance set me back on track.

 

She had elected to give me a sports bra, attempting to relieve some of my apprehension by not forcing anything lacy on me. (Yet…) It felt just as snug as it’s lower body companion, and supported my breasts like magic, holding them firmly in place and relieving a little bit of the strain on my shoulders.

 

The sweat pants fit loosely on me, and the t-shirt was just a little tight, but overall they felt exactly like they usually would, much to my (surprising) dismay.

 

I wolfed down the huge plate of bacon, eggs and hash browns in a few minutes, ignoring my sister’s giggling. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until I took my first bite, and I kind of dove in, head first…

 

Jules took the dishes downstairs, leaving me to fall backwards onto my bed. I couldn’t bring myself to look around my own room. Everything I owned was going to have to change. My life would never be the same…

 

Again my thoughts cycled back through the ring of doubt. Our friends would accept my sister, because she had barely changed. But me… I was a whole new person. Tears once again threatened to well up in my eyes as I imagined the most horrible things I could think of that my friends would say. The ridicule I would be forced to face. I would be an outcast again, just like when I was little…

 

The feeling of despair grew larger with each passing second, and I felt the world spin again. I blacked out just as the door of my room slammed open.

 

 

Julia rushed up the stairs, panicking at the intensity of the sorrow she suddenly felt. She very nearly smashed headlong into the door when the feeling suddenly intensified, just as she reached out to open it. She stumbled, feeling as though something was sucking her energy out of her body. Throwing it open, she was just in time to see her new sister pass out with a tiny whimper. But as soon as she had, the feeling dissipated immediately. She ran to the bed, breathing a small sigh of relief upon seeing the steady rise and fall of breathing from her unconscious sibling. But it was all for naught as she noticed her sister’s body twitching rapidly, miniature convulsions running up and down her new body.

 

She grabbed the phone, dialling 911.

 

“911 emergency hotline. What seems to be the problem?” Came a woman’s voice from the other end of the line.

 

“I need an ambulance! There’s something wrong with my brother! He’s gone into convulsions!” Julia almost yelled into the phone, breathing heavily as she looked around the room franticly, trying to think of a way to help her twitching twin. She didn’t even stop to think about the fact that her brother was now her sister.

 

“Miss, please try to calm down.” The woman said coolly. “A medical team has been scrambled to your location. They should be there shortly. I’m going to transfer you to their line…”

 

There was a small beep, followed quickly by a man’s voice. “Miss?” Julia could hear an engine starting in the background, followed shortly by a muted siren.

 

“Yes?! Hello?!”

 

“Listen very carefully to my instructions. I need you to check a few things on your brother for me. It’ll help me know what I’m dealing with. Do you understand?”

 

“Y-yes…” Julia responded quietly, staring helplessly at her twin.

 

“Good. Now, are his eyes closed?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Are they moving underneath his eyelids?”

 

Julia looked. “No…”

 

She heard the man whisper something. “Damn. Alright, I need you to tell me your full name.”

 

“What? Why?”

 

“So I can help your brother. I’m a specialist, of a sort…”

 

“Julia Anne Walker.” She said, not sure what was going on.

 

There was a slight pause before the man’s voice spoke again. * Julia? Can you hear me?*

 

His voice echoed off the inside of her head, and she reeled backwards in shock. “H-how…?”

 

* I’m a telepath. Is that your brother?*

 

“What?”

 

* The woman you keep looking at. I’m of course assuming that he’s had MORFS recently.*

 

“Y-yes…”

 

* Alright.* His voice sounded confident, and that calmed her somewhat. There was a slight pause, accompanied by a small tingling sensation in the back of her skull. * I need you to place both your hands on the sides of your sister’s head. Can you do that for me?*

 

Julia did, but as soon as her hands made contact, her mind was assaulted by hundreds of images, all at once. Colours flashed past her eyes that she’d never seen before, and with them came immense feelings of dread, sorrow and fear. She tried to let go, but some force held her hands there, forcing her to stay.

 

* Julia!* The man’s voice was barely audible over the silent screams that were suddenly flaring up in her head, bringing frightened tears to her eyes. * Your brother is experiencing heightened awareness lash back! You need to try to push a calming thought into his mind! Try to get him to calm down!*

 

Julia trued to find a calming thought, fighting against the agony that was buffeting against her mind. Their miniature black lab, Trooper. Summer at the lake with dad. She tried to pick out the most calming, happy memories she could think of.

 

* No!* The voice was getting louder, and distantly, Julia’s ears picked out the sound of a siren. * You need a thought that will calm him down!*

 

And the answer was so obvious, that Julia felt ashamed of herself. What was the only thing that could calm him down? Keep his anger in check? Take away his sadness?

 

Julia leaned forward, pressing her forehead against her twins. * I’m here for you. Everything will be okay…*

 

Instantly the flashing images stopped, and Julia felt a distinct tug on her consciousness as her brother’s mind latched onto that thought. Julia felt her hands fall away from her sister’s head, as the convulsions subsided into severe trembling.

 

* NO! You have to let go of him, or you’ll be-*

 

The man never finished. Julia felt something impact with her entire body, and she gasped as she felt herself slipping into the darkness…

 

 

Beep… Beep… Beep…

 

Great.  I thought as I slowly started to come to. That sounds like a heart monitor. Which means…

 

“I hate hospitals…” I groaned, squinting as I opened my eyes. The bright lights weren’t helping my pounding headache at all, but I think it was the whitewashed walls that really bothered me. Or whatever the hell colour they used…

 

“Well, at least I’m awake…” I said as I tried to sit up. It took a few seconds to realise that I was strapped to the bed. Tightly.

 

Now, most people would give up. Wait for someone to come and look after them. Tell them why they were being restrained. But then again, most people aren’t as claustrophobic as I am. Just the thought of being tied up was enough to put me on edge, but waking up to find myself restrained. Immediate hysterics.

 

Thank god for soundproofing. I think my neighbours still heard my screams, even through the two layers of cork and soundproof plastic that was built into the hospital walls. Hell, the heart monitor started beeping so fast, it sounded like one continuous tone. And we all know what that means…

 

My fear of being enclosed stemmed from one of my worst life experiences, outside of my stepfather’s influence, at age ten. I was beaten up by one of the school bullies at the end of the day and tied up with my own jacket, my mouth taped shut as I was stuffed and locked into a locker. Took an hour and a half ‘till the night janitor found me.

 

In the thirty seconds it took my sister to respond to my distress, I was reduced to a blibbering wreck, sobbing openly as I twisted under the leather straps. I knew I was whimpering, but it seemed to be the right thing to do at the moment. “Please let me up… Please…”

 

Julia didn’t hesitate for a second, ripping the straps in half with her bare hands. I felt my body lurch to the side as the last strap snapped, and I nearly hit the floor before my sister caught me, holding me to close as I scrambled to get away from the horrible bed.

 

“Shhhh… I’m here. It’s okay…” She whispered to me, rubbing my back as I sat there, trembling. Somehow I felt, rather than saw, the frustrated glare that she sent at the group of people who were just now entering the room.

 

And then I felt a man’s hands grab my shoulders, trying to take me away! My tears redoubled as I clung even tighter to my sister, crying out in fear. I felt my sister grab the man’s hand, squeezing until it popped. The man let out a grunt of pain, stepping away in shock.

 

“Leave us alone! You’re only making it worse!” I was surprised to hear a hint of a growl in Julia’s angry voice.

 

The man backed off, along with the others in the room, and all were quiet as I cried my fear out to my twin. A dim corner of my mind registers some embarrassment at showing so much emotion in so little time, but it was lost in the power of my despair.

 

I took the better part of twenty minutes to calm my jumpy nerves. By the time I’d stopped shaking, my dad had arrived. The look of shock on his fifty-two year old face was almost enough to send me back into hysterics, fearing his reaction.

 

Turns out I needn’t have worried.

 

When he wordlessly took me in his arms, I felt the final piece of my problem slide out of my mind. (Later, I would find out the this was mostly due to my sister’s influence, but that’s a story for another time.)

 

 

It felt awkward, being in public as a girl for the first time, so soon after my change had occurred. I felt like a slab of meat, being examined for freshness. Nearly every person I walked past stopped to look at me. The fact that my sister was receiving the same number of looks was no consolation. The pair of us followed the nurse as she guided us through the halls.

 

It had taken me a while to completely get control of my rampant emotions, but the supportive presence of both my sister and father had helped immensely. The doctor in charge had given me a clean bill of health, attributing my earlier meltdown to ‘extreme post-MORFS distress’. No kidding…

 

And now, we were off to see the MORFS specialist for our screening. We got pushed to the front of the line because of my little episode, I realized sadly. I felt my sister take my hand and give it a small, reassuring squeeze. I closed my eyes, allowing myself to be led as I tried to take comfort in the fact that I wasn’t alone in this.

 

Yeah. Right…

 

The nurse led us into a small waiting room, sitting us down as she went behind the counter. Being close to nine PM on a Tuesday evening, there weren’t many people left in the room, as most people prefer to get their screening done during daylight. There were five other people in the room, two of them obvious MORFS survivors, a teenage girl, not much younger than myself, who had grown an extra set of arms just beneath her original ones, and a boy who had what appeared to be transparent skin. (Gross…)

 

There were two older folks, sitting off to one side with a young girl between them. She was extremely pale, and kept glancing around the room nervously. We locked eyes for a split second, and I saw the most horrible look of absolute terror in those tiny green eyes. A frantic need to get away. A need I knew too well, having experienced it myself only an hour ago. One of the girl’s parents noticed her looking at me, and gave a sharp tug on her arm, causing her gaze to fall to the floor. The woman glared at me, hatred clear in her gaze, but I just stared back in defiance.

 

“Walker?” A new nurse said, leaning over the counter. I glanced at my sister, and she smirked, holding out her fist. One quick rock-paper-scissors game later, and I found myself sitting in a small office, looking across a large oak desk at a woman in a lab coat. She looked me over once, as I fidgeted nervously in my seat.

 

She smiled warmly at me after a few more awkward seconds. “I think you should know that, while you may not think so now, your situation is much better as it is now than it could have turned out.”

 

I smirked at her. “Yeah. Right.”

 

She only nodded in response to my sarcasm. “My advice to you is to try and take on a positive outlook about it. It’ll help.” She leaned forward onto her desk, closing her eyes. “Hmm.”

 

I felt a tiny prodding sensation in my head, and a muscle in my neck twitched in response. We sat in silence for about two minutes before she finally looked up, a mildly irritated look on her face. “Well, it appears that you’ve gained several abilities through your illness.”

 

She paused, a sad smile slowly replacing the irritation. “What? What’s wrong with me?!”

 

“Nothing wrong, per se. You’ve gained mid-level water elemental abilities, enabling you to control the shape, temperature and density of any water-based liquid within about ten yards of yourself. You’re also an extremely powerful empath, however the ability appears to have limited itself to your sister, for some reason.” She said, sitting back in her office chair and folding her arms across her chest. “You’ve also gained another set of abilities, which are all tied together. I could explain how exactly they work, but you wouldn’t really be able to follow.” She sighed. “You’ve got superhuman reflexes and reaction timing, and an increased metabolism, but you also have incredibly elevated emotional and physical receptors. Your emotions will be ten times more powerful than a normal persons, and your senses of touch and taste will be similarly heightened.”

 

I blinked. “So there’s a reason why I passed out?”

 

She nodded. “In short, you overloaded your own brain with negative emotions before it had a chance to adapt fully to the change.” Once again, she smiled sadly. “Also, the fact that you’ve been through a gender change means that your new hormones are also increasing your emotional sensitivity.”

 

“Great.” I said, letting my shoulders slump in depression. “So I’m an extra-sensitive, overly-emotional teenage girl. Perfect.”

 

She laughed. “At least you’ve got a sister to help you through it. I was an only child when I changed.”

 

My head snapped up involuntarily. “What?”

 

“You’re not the first to go through this, honey.” She said, smiling. “And you won’t be the last.” She stood up, opening her door for me. “You’re safe to return to school as soon as you feel up to it. But take this advice with you: any situation, no matter how bad, can be the base of good things.”

 

I stared at her, not really knowing how to respond. She took one last look at me before motioning me out the door, and calling for Julia. She passed me as I went back to my seat, but my thoughts were elsewhere…

 

 

Julia sat across from the doctor, glancing back at the door with a concerned look on her face. Her twin had been strangely blank when she’d walked past, and she was worried. She could feel the confusion from her new sister, but there was something else there, something she couldn’t quite place.

 

“What did you say to my br… sister?”

 

“Just a little friendly advice.” The woman responded, smirking at Julia’s slip up. “However, I feel that I should warn you about your… sister’s condition…”

 

Julia remained absolutely still, but her eyes betrayed her panic. “What condition?”

 

The doctor let out a small laugh. “Besides the hard time she’s having with her gender change, you mean? Which is perfectly normal, by the way.” She smiled at the stoic expression she received in return. “She’s going to have an even  rougher time of it than most. MORFS amplified her emotional responses. Coupled with the fact that the female body already feels emotions more strongly than a male would, your… twin is going to be very emotionally unstable, probably until the end of MORFS phase 3.”

 

Julie slumped visibly, staring down at the floor. “How long will that take?”

 

“Anywhere from two weeks to five months. But realistically, I’d say about two, to two and a half months.”

 

They sat in silence for several minutes before the doctor spoke, her right eye twitching slightly as she did. “Well, your abilities are surprisingly similar to your twin’s. You’re a mid-level earth elemental, which means you can control the shape and density of earth, stone and natural metals within ten yards of your body. You’ve also gained increased muscle and bone density, providing you with increased strength and durability. Lastly, you’ve got a powerful empathic bond with your sister. Lets you share emotions, sensations, and subconscious thoughts.”

 

She paused for a second, chewing on her lip thoughtfully. “That bond will be a big help for when you try to help your sister adapt… Good luck with that. You’re safe to return to school at your earliest convenience.”  Scribbling something onto a piece of paper, she handed it to Julia. “Give that to the nurse on the way out.”

 

 

The doctor waited until the door clicked closed before she tapped a few buttons on the face of her eCom, tagging the twins’ files and forwarding them to her superiors. She absently rubbed her temples, attempting to alleviate the headache that was forming. Those girls were next to impossible to read. She thought to herself as she watched the little send icon blinking on the screen. They shield each other’s thoughts almost perfectly… The guys in HQ will want to keep an eye on these two…

 

 

The little girl cast one last glance at me as I walked out of the office with Jules. I knew something was terribly wrong, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I gave her what I hoped was a reassuring smile, but that was all I could do before the door closed behind me.

 

My sister and I were both quiet as we walked back to where our dad was waiting. I caught a huge jumble of emotions from her, and I’m sure she got the same feeling from me. This was all too much to absorb at once. My thoughts were heading on a downward spiral at a startling pace, and I was lucky that Jules caught me before I got too far.

 

It’s strange, but looking back on those early days now, I realize just how dependant I became of my sister. Heh. Seems fate has a sense of irony, after all… My life went from being the protector to the protected in less than a day. I was the pillar that supported Julia for so long, but in the end, she was the one who supported me…

 

But the feeling of her hand interlocking with mine was enough to whisk away the horrible thoughts in my head. For a little while, anyway…

 

Dad was looking rather haggard when we found him, filling out the last of the forms he’d been given. He gave us a forced smile through his exhaustion. “How’d it go?”

 

I shrugged my shoulders at him. “Fine, I guess…” I had to fight to keep from cringing at the sound of my sister’s voice coming from my mouth. “Can we please go home?”

 

I saw the concerned twitch of his eyebrow, but he nodded without missing a beat. “Okay. I just need you to sign a few things and, well…” He dropped off, holding out a form for me to see.

 

“MORFS gender change registration form.” I read aloud. “You’re kidding me. There’s a form for this?”

 

Julia giggled quietly, but I glared at her all the same. “Oh, this is funny? Are you sure? Because I’m NOT laughing.” I felt a little bad for putting such a harsh snap into my words, but she got the point.

 

“Ahem…” Dad interrupted, pointing to a blank section of the form.

 

Original name: Erik Michael Walker. Requested Post-MORFS Name:_______.

 

The reality of my situation was rapidly bubbling to the surface of my mind again as I stared at the piece of paper that wanted to change my life. I sat down on one of the hard plastic chairs of the waiting room, feeling dizzy. Tears once again sprang into my eyes as my hyperactive female hormones did their thing.

 

“Are you alright?” Dad asked, concerned.

 

The feeling of worry I was picking up on from my sister wasn’t helping my conscience any, so I forced a small smile. “Yeah… Yeah, I’m okay…” I wiped my eyes with my arm. “Just these damn new hormones, that’s all.”

 

Sighing, I turned back to the paper. Name… A name that I can live with. A good name… One with meaning… I sat there, stumped for a few minutes, as my sister and father settled down on either side of me. “Any, uh, suggestions?”

 

Dad laughed. “Well, sadly, your sister got the female name we’d picked out for you. Just in case, you know…”

 

“How about… I dunno…” Julia paused, chewing on her knuckle. “Lindsay? Maria? Alexandra? Umm…” She rambled off a few more serious names before she degenerated into weird ones, like Lucia and Genevieve.

 

I punched her in the arm. “Get serious. This is my name we’re talking about.”

 

“You know…” Dad said with a distant look in his eyes. “How about Mia?”

 

I could see the sadness in his smile, and felt a swell of sympathy. “That’s a good name… What’s the story behind it?”

 

“It was my little sister’s name.” He said quietly, closing his eyes.

 

I was startled. As far as I knew, my dad was the youngest of three siblings. “I thought-”

 

“She was two years younger than me.” He interrupted. “She died when I was six. Had an accident at the playground.” His hands were shaking with suppressed emotion, and before I could stop myself, I was hugging him.

 

We sat in silence for a minute, until dad had calmed down. (Funny how emotional a family can get during a medical ‘crisis’…) He looked at Julia and I, smiling genuinely. “It’s a good name.”

 

“Yeah…” I said, looking back down at the form. “A good name…”

 

Requested Post-MORFS Name: Mia Erika Walker.

 

 

I awoke with a start, sitting up in my bed. I was soaked in sweat, and my sheets were clinging to my wet body, hugging my new curves. I was breathing hard, and felt slightly panicked, but couldn’t recall why. My alarm clock told me that it was three in the morning.

 

I sighed, falling back onto my pillows. There’s no way I’m going to get back to sleep now…

 

I rolled over, glancing at the nightgown that was hanging off the hook on the back of my door. I’d accepted it from my sister without any hesitation when she offered it to me earlier that night, after we’d gotten home from the hospital. But when I’d gone to put it on before bed, my mind stopped myself. What the hell am I doing? Was the thought that stopped me from giving up on my masculinity. So I’d slept in the buff.

 

But now I found myself wishing I’d worn the extra layer, as my sweaty sheets stuck to my body, making me itch terribly. And that wasn’t helping me get back to sleep…

 

So instead, I lay there, awake, in my sweat-soaked bed, itching like mad and trying not to think about my future. But of course, what else was there to think about?

 

Truth be told, I was terrified about how my friends would accept me. There were a dozen of us, Julia and myself included, who were really close friends. We jokingly called ourselves ‘The Posse’, a name that had grown on us in the past three years and, oddly enough, we had all of the usual stereotypes in the group: the Hippy, the Queen, the Shy Girl, the Mexican, the Black Guy, the Asian, the Tomboy, the Jock, the Nerd and the Cheerleader. (Plus Jules and me.) Five of us had caught MORFS, excluding my sister and I.

 

Allan Schultz was the first person we met when we moved to California. He lived just down the street, and he’d been the guy who’d been our Transfer Guide when we started school. Basically, the school got him to show us the ropes, give us the tour, and all the other ‘new kid’ crap. He’d caught MORFS about a month after we’d met him, and his hair had grown long, and essentially hardened, becoming nearly impossible to damage.

 

Then there was Jennifer Warden, our resident drama queen. She’d not gotten her MORFS until last year, and all that had happened to her was a permanent tan and an extra foot of leg length. She was probably the most erratic one of the lot of us, but we loved her just the same…

 

Leanne Jennings was the quiet, reserved one of the group. MORFS had given her a pair of snowy white wings at age ten, and she’d stopped growing, leaving her at four foot four for the rest of her life. She often played the voice of reason, mediating between us when we got into heated arguments, as we often did. Se also had the most absolutely beautiful singing voice I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing. These traits, together, earned her the widely recognised nickname ‘Seraphim’.

 

Our group’s joker was Marco Cortez, or ‘the Spanish wonder’, as we playfully called him. He had the fastest mind of all of us, leading him to cracking off comebacks and one-liners like it was going out of style. I’d never seen him at a loss for words. He always had something witty to say.

 

Johnny Black was, ironically, the black guy. He jokes about it a lot more than we do, though… He’d MORFed into a hybrid, becoming part gorilla. His arms grew to four feet long, and thickened with muscle, while his legs had dwindled to stumps. His face had also scrunched in, and he’d gotten a bit hairier, though it wasn’t full-blown fur. He wore glasses, as well, giving him that wise ape look, and always got a laugh with his ‘hear no evil, speak no evil’ bit.

 

Hiroyuki Liu, or Hiro, was born in Japan, but his family immigrated when he was very young. He was a bit of an odd duck, but I suspect his family had something to do with that. His mother was a cartoonist, and his father was a doctor, and even upon just meeting them briefly, I could tell that they were a handful. Hiro spent a lot of time away from his house, and rightfully so, in my opinion…

 

Michelina Corby was our tomboy. She was extremely put out by the dress code that the government had implemented, and frequently wore overalls to and from school, changing into the regulation skirt and blouse only when it was required of her. She came from a family of five kids, and was the youngest, as well as the only girl, so it was hard to blame her for her… quirks.

 

Andrew and Jordan Spence were brothers, almost nine months to the day apart in age, and were our resident Jock and Nerd, respectively. They’d been orphaned at a young age by a car accident, and had lived in a foster home ever since. They had refused to be adopted separately, and not that many potential adopters were “in the market” for more than one child. They dealt with this in very different ways, Andy exercising his body to its limits, while Jordan exercised his mind. Jordan suffered through MORFS at age 12, and had come out of it with one of the most extreme changes any of us had ever seen. His body had become semi-metallic, fluid, and extremely conductive. It was only through the fact that he’d also become a Metal elemental that he was even still alive, let alone in any sort of recognisable shape…

 

Rounding out our little group of misfits was Kimberly Valentine. Despite what her name might imply, she was the only cheerleader at our school who actually had a brain, and she flaunted that fact as often as she could. She was the student council president, the head of the yearbook committee, and a general, all-around good person. She was a bit of a workaholic, and the undisputed ‘leader’ of their merry band.

 

I finally gave up on trying to get to sleep, and pulled on the sweats my sister had left out for me, picking up my guitar and slipping out onto my small deck, sitting back in the beanbag chair and watching the clear sky. My mind chased itself in circles as I sat there, absently strumming at the strings and pondering how well I’d be accepted…

 

The hours passed like seconds, and by the time I realized it, the sun was already coming up. It was still early, but by then the usual suspects could be seen starting their morning routines: old Mrs Creedy letting her cats back in, Mr Jones starting his morning warm-up for his marathon training. It was just another boring beginning to another boring day.

 

Yeah, for everyone else in the world…

 

I slouched further down in my seat, trying to make my foreign body disappear. My fingers wandered over the strings, pouring out a tune that seemed to spring out of nowhere in my mind, a tune I’d never played. It was as therapeutic, as it always was. I’d usually play when I was in a mood, and it always calmed me down.

 

It must have been an hour later when I noticed it. From atop my desk, my eCom was ringing. Without taking a second to think, I stood up, and answered it.

 

“Hello?” I said. As soon as the words left my mouth, I nearly smacked myself. Because the next thing I heard was…

 

“Jules?” Marco’s voice sounded through the speaker, and I groaned internally. “Why’re you answering Erik’s phone? He’s not still changing, is he?”

 

“Err…” I said weakly. “No…”

 

“Great!” He interrupted. “So you’ll both be back at school today, right?”

 

“I… Dunno…” I replied evasively, deciding to go along with Marco’s assumption, for now at least. “He’s still not very… Comfortable with his… Changes.”

 

“Ah. Same as Johnny was, yeah?” Marco’s voice had an understanding tone to it. “Can I talk to him?”

 

I panicked. “NO!”

 

There was a pause on the other end of the line. “You okay Jules? Is something wrong?”

 

I felt my face heat up and it took a few deep breaths to calm myself down. “No, no… He’s still… asleep. I’ll, err, tell him you called though…”

 

“Ehh. Don’t worry about it.” His voice suddenly got a bit more serious. “Hey, even if you two don’t come to school today, you’ll still come to the CEC meeting tonight, right?”

 

“I-I’m not sure… I’ll talk to…him when he gets up…” I said, fighting another groan.

 

“Yeah. Cool.” He said, the usual smugness returning to his voice. “At least there, you won’t have to worry about being judged, right? But if you don’t show, I’ll get the gang to cover for you, so don’t worry” There was another pause, and I heard a voice yelling in the background. “Jeez… Gotta go. Talk to you later, girl!”

 

“Yeah… Later.” I replied, listening until I heard the click of him hanging up.

 

The CEC was a genius concept that Johnny had come up with a year ago. Our school had a lot of clubs, and had decided to downsize their club funds, turning some of their fundraising instead into funds for the school administration’s use (For new gym equipment, and the like.) leaving several of the smaller clubs in the school threatened with forced disbandment.

 

Johnny had come up with the CEC idea after the first week of angry arguments. The Consolidated Entertainment Club was formed almost immediately, combining together the marching, concert and jazz bands, the choir, the dance club, the drama club, the comedy club and the film and photography club. It became the largest club in the school, as well as the district, and consequently, was able to avoid being shut down. Of course, there was still less money coming to us than we needed, but with so many of us, we got by. And, as a stipulation to our forming, the administration decided that we needed to put on at least two shows per year, in order for the CEC to continue being an active club. We did a talent show in the fall, open to anybody, and we put on a show at the end of the year, as well as performing several small shows throughout the year.

 

Johnny got a kiss from every girl in each of the clubs for coming up with the idea.

 

Deep in my gut, I knew Marco was right. The CEC was like a huge family, and certainly had its fair share of MORFS survivors. But I was, as far as I knew, the only one of the lot of us to get a sex change.

 

I was still stewing about it as I shuffled down the stairs and opened the fridge, pulling out all the things I’d need for my ‘famous’ pancakes, priming the griddle and getting to work. The smell of buttermilk soon permeated the whole house, and I heard a small sigh from behind me, and smiled.

 

“Morning, sis.” I said automatically.

 

“Morning, sis.” She replied groggily. I felt her stab of shock, and a pang of surprise. “I’m sorry! I-”

 

I waved her off. “Nah, forget about it. It’s more or less true, anyway.”

 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” She asked slowly.

 

“Yeah.” I lied, trying not to let my feelings show. “I’ve gotta get used to it anyway…”

 

I felt her arms wrap around my shoulders, and smiled despite myself. “I remember when you had to reach up to do that.” I said, smirking.

 

She giggled slightly as she let go, sitting down and spearing a couple of pancakes from the platter and smothering them with syrup. I slid into a chair beside her, taking my usual amount and digging in.

 

“You’ll ruin your figure, you know. Eating like that…” My sister said as she watched me eat.

 

“Inchreashed mechabolishm, shish.” I said around a mouthful of pancake.

 

“Still, it’s not very ladylike…”

 

“Leave your sister alone, Julia.” My dad’s voice interrupted from the doorway. I swallowed, and stuck my tongue out at him, making him laugh. “You two up for school?” He asked hopefully.

 

I shook my head. “Not today… But…” I paused, carefully considering what I’d been told earlier today. “I… Well… Marco called this morning…”

 

“And you answered?” Julia asked, gasping. “How did he take it? I mean-”

 

“He thought I was you.” I replied, blushing. “And I kinda let him keep thinking that…”

 

They both stared at me for a second, before busting out laughing.

 

“Anyway…” I said when they’d finally calmed down. “He said we should come to the CEC general meeting today, as a trial run. And, well… I think it’s a good idea…”

 

The general thought was an affirmative, and we sat and talked for several more hours, before my own personal hell-on-earth finally started.

 

 

By the end of the day, I never wanted to hear the word ‘feminine’ again. My sister had put me through feminine boot camp, teaching me sixteen years worth of girly crap in just under eight hours. Primping, priming and all that crap had filled the day, which refused to pass faster than was strictly necessary. My sister attacked me, powering her way through the finer points of female life as I sat in a chair in front of her vanity mirror, trying not to flinch as she pulled a hairbrush through my hair. This was followed by an hour-long session on feminine hygene, which left me thoroughly disgusted with my new body for entirely new reasons. The alien sensation of having the tampon inside me for the first time sent me into another fit of sobbing, and it took Jules a full twenty minutes to calm me down again.

 

I suppose I was lucky, considering what others must have gone through, to have Jules there to help me. And our empathic link helped enormously, though we didn’t realize it until much later. Tiny, picky things about the way I should walk in high heels, and how to sit in a skirt seemed to come to me almost instinctively, and I have my sister to thank for that.

 

Not that it helped me cope at all. If anything, it merely frayed my nerves even more.

 

And so I found myself, sitting in the passenger seat of my sister’s car, wearing a black, knee-length skirt, and a pale pink blouse, with a bit of makeup on and my hair done up in waves. My horrible sister had made me sit in a chair, in front of her vanity mirror while she applied a light dusting of foundation, along with some subtle red lipstick and mascara. I wouldn’t admit it, but I did look good when she was done.

 

Still complained about it, though…

 

It wasn’t long after that we arrived at the school building, and I found myself standing stiffly before the doors and staring up at the brick walls, the mid-October breeze making me shiver slightly as it wafted into unusual places on my body. The mandatory safety bars in each window suddenly reminded me of that prison movie I’d seen before my illness, and I started to feel sick again. But my sister’s hand on my back was reassuring enough to help me get through the doors. The tile floor, in our school colours of orange and black, shone brightly as we clicked our way across it. We were going to be the last to arrive, as everybody usually met with his or her CEC section heads before the general meeting.

 

Which meant everybody would be interrupted by our arrival.

 

I felt another swell of fear, but there wasn’t enough time to fight it as we rounded the last corner, the auditorium doors appearing before us, along with someone else…

 

Leanne was standing there on her tiptoes, drinking out of the water fountain. She stood up, not noticing them, and stretched out, cracking her neck and spreading her twelve-foot wingspan. We stopped at the corner, and the sudden motion of my sister dashing forward alerted Leanne to our presence.

 

“Seraphim!” Julia said, throwing her arms out. “It’s good to see you!”

 

Seraphim blinked, dimly recognising her voice. “Julia?” She asked, her face lighting up as the pair of them embraced, laughing. “It is you! Oh my god, it’s been over a week! We were so worried…”

 

She trailed off in mid sentence, staring past her. Directly at me.

 

I felt my face flush as I looked away, gripping my hands together behind my back. I desperately tried to make myself melt into the floor as she slowly approached.

 

“E-Erik…?” She asked quietly.

 

I nodded, squeezing my eyes shut as I felt the tears starting to form.

 

But again, my faith in my friends was restored by a hug. My sister doing it was not much consolation, really, as we’d always been close. But the feeling of Leanne’s arms squeezing me gently was far more reassuring. My worries disappeared, and were replaced by an extremely joyful feeling, and hot, happy tears.

 

They sat me down in a chair just outside the door, and Seraphim flitted inside, to round up the gang. I dimly saw her lift off of the ground before the door closed, and Jules started dabbing my eyes with a tissue, trying to get me cleaned up before everybody came out.

 

And come out they did. Seraphim was the first, followed closely by Andy and Jordan, whose eyes widened in shock when they noticed the pair of us. Hiro, Mic and Jen followed suit, with a very similar reaction, and they were closely followed by Allan, Johnny and Marco. Marco’s jaw dropped when he saw me, and I had to stifle a giggle as I watched the gears in his head grind out the realization of just who he’d spoken to that morning. Kim was the last one out, and the first one to speak. She was actually speaking as she exited the auditorium.

 

“So what’s this all about, Seraphim?” She asked, sounding slightly put out. “I was just about to start the meeting and you…. HOLY CRAP!”

 

I couldn’t stifle the laugh that welled up in me when she shouted that. I was slightly mortified at the thought that the whole CEC had heard that little outburst, but as long as my friends accepted me, I was fine with that.

 

“Jules?” She said, her eyes flickering between the two of us. “And… ERIK???”

 

Andy was having much the same problem, his eyes blinking as he looked at us. “Wha?”

 

Julia took the reigns. “Well, as you all surely know, the pair of us both went through MORFS in the last week and a bit, and the changes were… Well, staggering, for one of us, at least…”

 

I caught the mischievous tone in her voice, and grinned internally. Standing up as well, I continued where she’d left off. “And so we decided to come tonight, as a trial run. See how people react…”

 

There was a brief silence, and Johnny’s voice finally piped up. “Soooo…. Which one of you is- Or rather, was- Erik?”

 

I looked at my sister, and she mirrored my motion, before we both looked back and spoke simultaneously. “Guess.”

 

There was another pause, before all the girls and, surprisingly, Jordan, pointed at me.

 

I slumped my shoulders in exaggerated defeat, sighing. “Guh. Guess I’ve still got a bit to work on…”

 

Another long awkward pause followed, and I felt the full weight of everybody’s eyes on me, and I subconsciously tried to make myself shrink, avoiding their eyes.  I knew I was going red, and I stared at the floor.

 

Julia’s hand closed gently around my shoulder, reassuring me. I was very nearly reduced to tears as they stood there, staring at me silently, which only served to remind me, yet again, that I was going through something that none of them would ever understand.

 

The fact that I was getting emotional must have rubbed off on everybody else, as the girls all got teary as they fussed over my sister and me. The rest of the guys stood back, extremely awkward expressions on their faces, not quite knowing how to react.

 

I could tell that they were fighting the urge to step back when I finally escaped from the girls and made to approach them. I, too, was having my fair share of problems, flushing even deeper and looking down. “Hey, guys…” I said quietly, flinching internally at the meekness in my voice.

 

Their greeting was far more awkward than the girl’s had been. Where they’d rushed and hugged and cried, the guys, well… I got a few pats on the back…

 

I understood it all, of course. They weren’t sure I was comfortable, or even if they were comfortable enough to give me the friendly hug they’d given to Julia.

 

It was Hiro who finally broke the silence. “So, how long has it been since you finished?” He asked slowly.

 

“Two days…” I replied.

 

“So, that was you on the phone this morning?” Marco piped in. I nodded, feeling my cheeks heating up again.

 

“Got any powers?” Andy and Jordan asked at the same time, making me smile despite myself.

 

“Well, apparently I’m a water elemental…” I said, once again disturbed by the timidity in my voice. “And certain… aspects of my body are hyperactive. My reflexes and reaction time, my metabolism…” I faltered, not really wanting to reveal my overactive emotions.

 

“Water elemental?” Jordan said, scratching his chin. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen a water elemental before…”

 

I was glad for the interruption. “Well, neither have I… I haven’t really tried to use it yet…”

 

There was a loud yell from inside the auditorium, and we were forced to break so we can get the meeting started. I sidled in, hiding in the center of the group, trying to stay out of sight for as long as I could. As we walked down the aisle towards the stage, I heard Julia’s voice from beside me.

 

“Are you going to be okay coming up with us?” She asked in a hushed voice. All of the section heads had seats on the stage, facing the rest of the group, and of course all of our little posse were heads of various sections. (I represented the Comedy section, and Jules represented the Concert Band.) “I can handle your section, if you don’t want to…”

 

I felt the flutter of nervousness, which had been bothering me since we’d left the car, swell again, but I forced myself to choke it down. “I’ll be okay.” I answered quietly. “It’s better that they find out now, anyway…”

 

We filed into our seats, facing the general congregation, and I heard several loud murmurs when I took my customary seat between Marco and Julia. I was able to barely make out somebody from my section asking his friend “Who the hell is that?”, before Kim stood up, raising her hands to catch everyone’s attention.

 

“Good evening, CEC members, and welcome to this month’s general CEC meeting, where we’ll make the necessary decisions that will affect our activities for the next month.” Kim spouted her canned opening speech, the one we’d heard numerous times before. She grinned after that. “Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get straight to the points.”

 

The murmuring started up again, and Johnny smacked one hubcap-sized hand on the stage, silencing everybody with the sudden, hollow boom.

 

“As you can see,” Kim continued, “There are a few new faces on the stage tonight, and I’d like you all to join me in welcoming back the Walker twins, who’ve only just undergone MORFS.” Julia stealthily hooked my arm with one of her hands and pulled me up beside her as she stood. The feeling of almost two hundred pairs of eyes boring into me was nearly too much to bear. If not for the confidence I could sense from my sister, I would have collapsed for the fear, I was sure of it.

 

Julia raised her voice over the buzzing crowd. “You all know the pair of us, at least in passing. Well, my changes were mostly cosmetic, but my brother, Erik, is now my sister, Mia.” She paused for a second as the buzzing redoubled, forcing Johnny to calm everybody down again. “If anybody has a problem with that, or if they feel the need to make trouble of it, then they will quickly find that they are no longer welcome in the CEC.”

 

The murmuring continued for the remainder of the meeting, though thankfully in a much more subdued fashion. But the stares continued throughout the remainder of the meeting, and I felt my insides churning more and more every time I caught a pair of eyes staring at me.

 

By the time the meeting had concluded, I was happy to get out of there. Jules must’ve felt that, because we left almost immediately after the meeting ended, after saying our goodbyes to the rest of the gang. We were almost to the car, when Seraphim caught up to us.

 

“You two coming to school tomorrow?” She asked quietly as she fluttered down beside me.

 

It took me a minute to ponder the answer. A minute of uncomfortable silence…

 

“Y… Yeah…” I said finally, forcing a weak smile. “Yeah, we’ll be there…”

 

That was my first mistake.

 

To Be Continued…

 

   

 

 

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

 


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