(Or My Life as a Bird)
By Oliver McDonald
Chapter 1 - Transformation
After getting Benito into the observation ward, Dr. Fligstein called a meeting in his office.
“Ok, people,” he began. “This is more serious than I intimated to Mrs. Sanchez. We don’t know what’s going on. Let’s start with what we do know. Robert, what did the blood test tell us?”
“Well, it is MORFs for sure.” Robert replied.
“Ok, good,” Dr. Fligstein continued. “But the symptoms are atypical. Primus, the onset of MORFs usually begins with nausea and may include vomiting, diarrhoea, and most noticeably insomnia. We don’t know how he felt, but there is no evidence of vomiting or diarrhoea. What we do know is that he is not insomniac.”
“No,’ Dr. Entworth added. “We’ve run the Glaucoma consciousness test. He is responsive to pain stimulus and his eyes respond to light. All tests indicate he is simply asleep, except that we can’t wake him up.”
“Odd.” Dr. Fligstein mused. “Another oddity is how quickly he is going through the energy packs.” He turned to the nurse’s aid. “Steven, what are we at there?”
“When we came to the meeting he was on his second.” Steven answered looking at his notes. “They normally last 12 to 18 hours.”
Just then the phone rang. “Yes?” asked Dr. Fligstein as he answered it. “Hmm, thank you,” and hung up the phone.
“Well, keep thinking on this.” Dr. Fligstein addressed the group. “That was the observation ward. They just started him on his third energy pack and he’s awake. I’m going to talk to him, wait here for me,” and left the meeting room for the ward.
I woke up in the hospital; I was sore all over and my head hurt. I still felt sick, but not as badly. There was an IV in my arm.
The nurse noticed I was awake and said, “Well, the sleeping prince awakes,” and smiled. “Do you think you’re up to talking to the doctor?”
“I guess,” I replied. “As long as I can go home. I don’t want to miss my birthday party.”
The nurse chuckled and went to the phone. Shortly after, a doctor came in and introduced himself.
“Good morning, Benito, I’m Dr. Fligstein. How are you feeling?”
“I feel sick, sore, and my head hurts,” I replied. “But I have to go home.”
“Now, now, Benito,” he replied. “Let’s not be hasty.” He looked me over and turned to the nurse, saying sharply “I thought you said you just started him on this energy pack!
The nurse looked startled and replied. “I did. I’ll get another one right away.”
“Sorry, son,” Dr. Fligstein turned back to me. “But you have MORFs, so even if we sent you home, you won’t be going to any parties for a few days at least.”
“No!” I cried. “Jessica was coming.”
The doctor smiled a bit. “Well, perhaps your mother might bring her to see you this evening. We’re going to give you something to help you sleep.”
“I nodded, tired. “Thanks.”
Not MORFS, I hoped it wouldn’t change me, or worse, turn me into something freakish.
“Well,” Dr. Fligstein said as he returned to his meeting room. “Other than the energy pack usage, Benito is now going through the normal reaction to MORFs.”
Steven interjected “Perhaps that’s why we couldn’t wake him.”
Dr. Fligstein looked at Steven interrogatively. “Explain,” he demanded.
Steven flushed; to have the head of the department grilling him was not high on his list of things to do. “Well, perhaps the onset of his MORFs drained his energy more than it normally does and all he needed was the energy packs?”
“Interesting theory.” He looked around the room. “Remember who came up with this suggestion. It might not be correct, but it didn’t occur to any of us despite our expensive degrees. Listen to your nurses and nurses’ aids. They bring another viewpoint.” He paused. “Enough with the lessons now. I want Benito Sanchez observed and more intensive blood tests run. It might be that Steven is right, or it might be something else entirely.”
The other doctors nodded almost in unison. Dr, Fligstein was famous for his little “lessons”; ware those that didn’t learn from them.
“Now go, I have a call to make.” He picked up the phone. “Get me Mrs Sanchez,” he instructed and waited.
“Hello Mrs. Sanchez, you asked me to call if Benito woke up.”
“Thank you, how is he?” Evelyn asked.
“He’s doing well., Its definitely MORFs. He’s using more energy packs than normal though, so I think it would be best if we kept him here until he stabilizes.”
“Well, you’re the doctor, but I’m still worried. Can we come and see him?
“Please do. One other thing; he was concerned about missing his birthday party and he mentioned a Jessica.”
“I’ll see if we can bring her along.”
Dr Fligstein chuckled into the phone. “I think he’d like that.”
Thank god, Evelyn thought.
She dialled the phone and waited while it rang. “Hi, Mrs. Meling, its Evelyn Sanchez. I am afraid that we have to cancel the birthday party, Benito’s in the hospital.”
“It isn’t serious, I hope?”
“No Lily, It just came on suddenly.”
“Poor kid. I hope he gets better soon.”
“Thanks. He was disappointed, I think especially since he was going to miss seeing Jessica there.”
“Hang on, I’ll ask if she’d like to go see him.” Lily put down the phone for a moment “She would,” she said a moment later. “Can you pick her up?”
Evelyn chuckled. “Yes. I’ll pick her up about 6:30 then?”
“I’ll make sure she’s ready.”
“Good, I’ll see you then.”
When I woke up again, I was still in the hospital, but the bed seemed smaller and every now and then I thought I saw glowing lines in the walls. Perhaps MORFs is making me taller. Great, further to fall when I stumble.
“Ah, good, awake I see,” a nurse said. “How are you feeling?”
“Sore and my shoulders itch.”
“Let’s see shall we?” he said, “Roll over and let me take a look.”
After he looked at my shoulders, he told me that there were a couple of red patches and MORFs might be adding something there. Then he suggested that I lie on my side before I went back to sleep.
This worried me. Taller I could explain away as a growth spurt, adding something though!
“Your mother’s coming soon. Do you want me to crank your bed up so you can sit for a bit?”
“Yes, please,” I replied.
I dozed a little after he left; not too long later though, the door opened. It was my mom.
“Hi, honey,” she replied. “I’m sorry you’re missing your party. I brought someone to see you though.”
As she said this, Jessica stepped through the door.
“Hi, Jessica” I stammered.
Wow! She came to see me.
“Do you mind if I leave you two alone for a bit?” Mom asked me. “I have to talk to the doctor.”
“Ok.” I replied; then after she left, I didn’t know what to say.
After an uncomfortable silence, Jessica asked “What’s it like?”
“Not too bad,” I replied. “Kinda bummed about missing my own party though.”
”Does it hurt?”
“Oh, it’s not that much worse than trying to walk,” I replied, trying to appear nonchalant, but suspecting I was failing miserably.
Jessica’s eyes glowed. “Hey, perhaps it will fix you so you, you know, don’t have to use those anymore.” She pointed to my crutches and smiled.
I would have broken my legs just to see that smile. “Maybe, but I’m not going to get my hopes up. “ I chuckled, “it could give me flippers instead.”
Her face fell. “That’s not funny.”
I felt like shit. “Sorry, Jessica, it was a joke. I didn’t want to make you feel bad.”
She smiled again. “Hey, I’m supposed to be the one cheering you up. Not the other way around.” She looked at me and raised an eyebrow, then giggled and said, “I don’t think flippers are likely though, you look taller.”
There was another awkward silence before a nurse came in to change my IV. As she was leaving, my mom came back. “How many is that?” she asked the nurse.
“Nine,” the nurse replied. “Your son should expect big changes; all that energy has to go somewhere,” she trailed off, “most people don’t go through that many in the entirety of their MORFs transformation.”
“We should let you get your rest, Benito” my mom said. “I’ll come back tomorrow.”
“Ok, mom,” I replied. “If you want,” my breath caught, “perhaps you could come again Jessica?” I almost whispered.
She ran over and hugged me and whispered quickly “You bet!”
The hug and whisper left me dazed and before I recovered they were gone and a nurse was coming in. “Time for your sleepy pill Benito.”
“Can I stay awake for a bit?” I asked.
“Ok, you can have half an hour, then you’ll take one.”
I spent the entire half hour replaying those last ten seconds in my mind. That hug had felt so nice, so different from any other hug I ever had before. When the nurse came back, I took the pill and went to sleep, to dream of Jessica.
The next few days flew by; I would wake up and mom or dad, and sometimes Jessica, was there. The bed kept feeling smaller and they moved me into a new room. Then one day I woke up and all the aches and pains were gone, as was the IV.
While I luxuriated in the absence of pain, my whole family came in. I smiled at them, and then suddenly Amelia exclaimed “Mommy, Ben’s got boobies!”
I looked down at my body. She was right, there were huge protuberances on my chest. I shuddered. As I did so, I heard a rustling behind me and turned my head to see a couple of massive wings. I must have blacked out, because when I opened my eyes only my mom was in the room.
“I am so sorry,” she said. “I told her that you had wings, but not to say anything…”
“Then I’m a girl?” I asked. Just my luck. I actually get a chance to get a girlfriend, and suddenly I’m a girl.
Mom nodded. “Mostly. I think the technical term is ‘intersexed’.”
“You mean I’m a freak?” I sobbed.
“No!” Mom exclaimed. “You never thought as yourself as a cripple did you?”
“No,” I admitted.
“Well, most people looked at you that way, and you never let them define you.” Mom said, as I nodded. “Well, if you could do that, then I think that to let other people tell you that you are a freak now would be pretty silly.”
You know, I thought, she’s got a point there I wasn’t too sure though, but I’d better put my best foot forwards. “Ok, I guess. So when can I come home?”
“First we have to get your post-MORFs check-up.”
I reached for my crutches, pushed my legs off the bed and stood up. My crutches didn’t reach the floor. I expected to fall immediately, but suddenly realized I was just standing there, my hips didn’t hurt! I whooped “Jessica’s a genius!” Then, much more quietly “Maybe…”
Mom looked a little puzzled at my comment. “Then there’s the new law the state passed about hybrids.”
I looked at her in mock outrage, “So I’m an animal now?” I knew it was a joke, my mom didn’t feel that way though, as some of my parent’s friends had animal features, and had grown up accepting them as normal. They’d recently moved away though.
“Only if you live that way,” she said seriously.
“Well, can I at least get some clothes?” I asked. “This hospital robe is drafty.”
Mom nodded. “I’ve brought you some pants and a halter-top. Anything else is going to be hard; we have to fit your wings, and, umm, your chest.”
I blushed, and said “Ok, clothes, and then food. I’m starving.” The last came out almost as a growl, I am not sure who that frightened more; me or my mom.
To be continued….
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/