Chapter 5
(Jamie)

“It started a long time ago, I don't know how long, I lost track of the years a while ago. I was 10 at the time a happy little girl with a great family and nice life. Mum was a nursery school teacher, Dad worked for a building firm. We lived in a nice house in the village. My Mum had grown up there, and our grandparents lived near by, it was a nice place to live. Everyone knew everyone else. There was the tourist trade but mostly it was quiet.

“Growing up there were MORFS kids about, not many but a few. A few people had issues with MORFS survivors but mostly it was a friendly place to them. None of the family had been through MORFS we weren't Pures as such, just lucky I guess.

“I had never given it much thought, none of my friends had gone through it, and I was too young to really consider such things happening to me. The teacher at school had mentioned it a little, I guess to prepare us for when it might happen. But it was something that happened to bigger kids, so I didn't care about it.

“It was the school holidays at the time, so me and my sister Frankie were tearing round the house running our poor mother ragged. Frankie was a shy cute little brown-haired blue-eyed girl of 8 years old she still carried her favourite toy, Pinky Bear, around with her every where she went. I used to tease her about it. I was a blonde,   blue-eyed older version of my sister feeling very grown-up and important being the oldest, I guess I was a bit bossy.

“We lived in a nice old four bedroom house with a big garden to play in. We were playing a game of tag when I first got ill, racing round the garden like maniacs. My yellow dress, clean that morning, was now covered in grass stains, and my knees were muddy. My sister, in a similar pink dress, (in similar condition), was clutching her beloved bear and running away from me squealing as I tried to catch her. Our long suffering mother was sitting on a lounger next to our grandparents, who were visiting, having just returned from taking us to the zoo a few miles away to give Mum a break.”

"Slow down you two! One of you will trip and break your neck!" Mum shouted.

"Hopefully this will tire the two of them out, dear, and they will be quieter this afternoon," Grandma was telling her as I stopped to catch my breath..

"I wouldn't count on it, I don't know where they get the energy from," my mother said exasperatedly.

"They're young dear, you and your brother were just the same at that age," Grandma said wistfully.

"Hmmmph," snorted Mum, not convinced.

I resumed the chase, and, "Tag you're it!" I cried, finally managing to corner Frankie. She pouted, then lunged at me, trying to catch me off guard. I raced off, dodging her hand. We ran round and round the garden squealing with laughter.

"They're making me quite dizzy," said Grandma with a smile, then went on. "Come on dear let's have a nice cup of tea."

The three grown-ups moved inside as the two of us continued our mad dash around the garden.

I was just trying to clamber over part of a climbing frame Dad had put up for us when I felt funny. Suddenly dizzy, and sick. I slipped and tumbled to the ground.

As I staggered to my feet disorientated, Frankie raced in and tagged me, shouting with glee, "Tag you're it!" She ran off giggling.

I tried to move, but felt so ill I sat on the ground holding my tummy. Frankie had by now noticed I was not following, and was looking back at me, confused. She hesitantly took a few steps back towards me, wary that this was a trick to get her in tag range. But when I didn't leap up, she came closer.

"I don't feel good," I wailed rubbing my tummy.

Frankie put her thumb in her mouth, then clutched her bear, looking thoughtful before raced off, shouting, "Mummy, Jamie’s sick!"

Suddenly I was throwing up on the grass next to me. I felt rotten and lay on the ground moaning.
Then I heard running feet running from the house. "I just knew all that running around would make one of them sick, especially after all the ice cream you probably fed them at the zoo," I heard my mother sigh.

"Mummy, I feel bad!" I cried.

The three adults reached where I was lying, with my sister following, hugging Pinky Bear and looking worried. Mum had a slightly annoyed but resigned look, like she thought this was my fault.

Grandma put a hand on my forehead. "Oh she's burning up Zoë," she said worriedly.

My mother’s expression changed slightly, and she felt my forehead herself, starting to look worried. I had begun to shake slightly feeling more and more ill.

My Granddad, a tall bear of a man gently scooped me up in his arms, "Come on, Poppet.” He turned his head, “Let's get her inside and cleaned up she must be coming down with something."

He carried me back to the house where I was cleaned up put in my favourite pyjamas and put into bed while mum talked to the doctor. They managed to arrange an appointment on short notice, but mum had some work to do later, and didn't have her own car. Luckily, Granddad agreed to take me over to the nearest doctor’s on the other side of the forest in his car. Grandma would stay and look after Frankie while everyone else was off doing things.

Dressed up warm, and still feeling a bit ill, I was loaded into my granddad's ancient old car. A big clunky metal thing which looked nothing like modern cars. I waved weakly to Frankie, Mum, and Grandma as I left, not expecting to be gone long.

We took the short cut through the forest, a windy road over the hills which, though a bit more bumpy and treacherous in parts, was significantly quicker. Granddad drove this battered old car which was some sort of all terrain vehicle, except it had lots of rusty holes in it so it couldn't go in the water or your feet got wet. It had even once run on something called petrol, but had a conversion bolted on so that he could get fuel for it. Grandma was always complaining that it was a death-trap and that he should buy a new one, but he would chuckle then, say they didn't make classics like this any more.

We clattered through the forest quite quickly. The roads were a touch wet still after some quite heavy rains a few days before, so Granddad was taking it slightly easier than usual.

We reached the doctor’s only a short while later and I sat in the waiting room feeling ill, staring at my feet, and trying not to be sick while we waited for the doctor to be free. I had with me my little backpack of things that I liked to have when going anywhere. It was a small rucksack that I had been given as a present by my dad, and I was very fond of it. I guess it was my Pinky Bear, my security blanket. I put my favourite book, toy, and some pictures in there and carried it with me whenever we went somewhere. Today I just clutched it in my arms, too unwell to read or play. Granddad put his arm round me, comforting me till my name was called.

The nice doctor greeted us as we walked in to his office, “Hello, Jamie, not feeling too well I hear,” he said with a warm smile.

“No doctor,” I replied weakly.

“Well let's see what's the matter, so we can get you right as rain in no time,” he smiled.

Granddad told him my symptoms and he did a few things, checking my temperature and listening to me breathe and so on. He pulled out a small machine a white box with a little hole for a finger in it. He took out a little cartridge and slotted it into a slot on the side of the box under the finger hole.

“Because of her age and the symptoms I want to do a quick test of her blood,” the doctor told Granddad, who just nodded. The doctor turned to me and said gently, “Now I want you to put your finger in here and it will prick you very slightly to take a sample of your blood for testing. It shouldn't hurt but you need to keep still. Do you think you can do that for me?”

I nodded a little nervously. I had never had this test before. I held out my finger and he put the box over it there was a sudden pain in my finger like a splinter or something. When the box made a bleep and the doctor pulled it away putting it to one side.

He put a colourful plaster on my finger and smiled at me, “There that wasn't so bad was it? And you didn't move at all. What a brave girl you are.”

He went back to the box and pressed a few buttons on it and put it next to his tablet. He tapped away for a bit with various pretty patterns displaying on the screen.

When the doctor turned back to us, he looked serious, “The blood test shows she is entering the first stages of MORFS,” said the doctor.

Granddad stiffened and looked a little shocked, but covered up quickly. I knew about MORFS. We had been told about it in school. It made you sick and did funny things to you. I was suddenly a bit scared, and gripped Granddad's hand tighter. The doctor reached into a drawer and pulled out a few booklets, handing one to me that was called John, Mary, and MORFS. It had lots of pretty pictures and cartoons on it as well as colouring in pictures and games to play. He handed the other to Granddad, and it didn't look anywhere near as fun. No pictures, and the title was different, lots of long words I didn't understand.

“Take a look through this information pack. It will explain what will happen over the next few days. It's not something to be worried about unnecessarily. Details of things to watch out for are in the guide. If you have any doubts or problems at all, please call me or go to your nearest hospital. I'm going to write Jamie a course of energy drinks formulated for younger children. She should find them easier to deal with than the other types, which can be a bit hard to swallow. The sedative is mixed in with the drink, so she doesn't need to take any separate pills, just drink one bottle a day when she wakes up. She will be out of things maybe a week, depending on the course things take. When she has finished, I would recommend taking her over to the nearest post-MORFS centre for a check up. It's a bit of a trip, but they can handle the after care better than we can. The phone number for the nearest post-MORF centre is printed in the back of the information pack.” The Doctor turned to me, “Now Jamie, the reason you are sick is you have what is called MORFS. Do you know what that is?”

“It changes people,” I said.

“Very good, it can change people. It doesn't always change people and even when it does often it's just a small change, hair or eye colour. I'm going to give you some medicine that will help your body get through the sickness. It's a special drink that will make you sleepy. You will probably be asleep for most of the next week, and you won't need to eat. The medicine contains all the stuff your body needs. Now during that time you may undergo some changes, but it is nothing to be worried about. Just try and keep happy and you'll be back on your feet in no time,” he told me with a smile.

I did my best to return it, but was still feeling rotten, “The book explains more about MORFS and what to expect. Why don't you read it with mummy before you drink the first dose of medicine when you get home?”

I nodded. As I was putting the book into my back pack, the doctor was scribbling something on a pad which he tore off and handed to my granddad. “There you go. There is a pharmacy round the corner who should stock that. Goodbye now,” he said, waving as Granddad led me out the door.

We returned to the car and Granddad drove to the pharmacy. There was a big queue, so I sat on a chair reading my book while we waited. It seemed a little babyish for me, but I guess it was the closest they had to my age.

“John and Mary are not well.” The book started, showing a picture of a boy and a girl looking green and unhappy. I wondered if I looked green as well. I checked, looking in the mirror across from me and didn't seem to, though I did look pale, maybe I would turn green later.

“John and Mary go to the doctor.” It showed the two of them with a grown up leading them to the doctor’s.

“The doctor says, John and Mary have MORFS.” The book showed the doctor pointing to a sign that said MORFS.

“John and Mary get special drinks to help them get better.” It showed the girl and the boy carrying small crates of bottles.

“The drinks make John and Mary sleepy.” It showed the two kids sleeping after drinking the drinks.

"While John and Mary get better they don't need food, as all they need is in their special drinks." It showed the two turning down food.

“As they sleep, John and Mary change.” It showed a series of picture of the two kids waking up with different gradual changes. John seemed to resemble a kitty cat, with tail and ears. Mary got taller, and her hair turned blue.

“After a week, John and Mary feel better.” It showed the two changed kids with happy smiles.

“John is now a cat hybrid, and Mary is a water elemental, which means John has a tail and cat ears and Mary can control water if she concentrates.” It showed the two of them, showing their differences.

“Some people change when they get MORFS, and some gain strange abilities. You might change too. Try to be happy like John and Mary.” Picture of the two of them beaming playing with a ball with other kids, all different, but with happy smiles.

The rest of the book was puzzles and things to do. I slipped it back in my backpack to wait. Granddad was at the counter now talking to the lady. After a short while he came over. I was expecting a huge crate of bottles like in the cartoon, but he had a small box of plastic bottles filled with a bright pink liquid.

“Right, then let's go home and get you tucked into bed, Poppet. Would you like to carry your medicine in your bag?” he asked.

I nodded enthusiastically, and he helped me put the box in my bag. We then walked out to the car and started on the journey home. I wasn't paying much attention on the way back, staring out at the trees as they whipped by. I could tell we were taking the same route back, as the slightly rough road bouncing us around didn't do anything for my upset tummy.

Suddenly my Granddad cried out and the car swerved wildly. There were large rocks in the road where the hill above had fallen down. I clung on for dear life as my Granddad tried to avoid the rocks. Granddad wrestled with the wheel as we skidded and slid, the car hit something and I cried out as we headed towards the edge of the road which fell off into a valley. I screamed as the edge got closer and the valley below spread out beneath us, all jagged rocks. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see it coming. Finally I felt the car stop I hesitantly opened my eyes to see the valley below right outside my door. The car had stopped right on the edge, the back hanging out over the drop next to me.

I looked forward to see steam and smoke pouring out of the engine.

"Granddad!" I cried terrified.

"Jamie it's alright stay still, all four of the wheels are on the road we'll be fine," he said in a tense voice. He tried to start the engine to move us forward but it was wrecked.

"OK, I want you to take off your seat belt and slide over to the other side. I'll come round and open the door," he said.

I tried to remain calm, I was a big girl. I could do this. I took off my belt and slid over. clutching my bag. slipping my arms though the straps to carry it on my front. I knew the doors wouldn't open, as they had child locks on them, so I sat impatiently for Granddad to open the door.

He opened his door and carefully climbed out. Because of the angle of the car he could get out, but my side opened out onto the edge. Granddad walked briskly round to my side of the car, not running, but not far off..

There was a cracking noise and the car shifted. Granddad ran to the door just as the road under the back tires gave way. I watched his horrified face as the car tumbled over the edge with me inside it.

The next few moments were awful. I was flung around like I was in a washing machine as the car tumbled. I was struck painfully against the seats and the door, I heard breaking glass and eventually I must have been thrown clear, falling through space into a hole in the ground, landing with a sickening crunch. I lost consciousness briefly, resurfacing in time to hear a violent explosion. New cars were designed to be very hard to explode, but granddad's old converted car was far less robust. I looked up to see the small hole I had probably fallen down filling with rocks loosened by the car falling. Soon the light was gone and I passed out from the pain.

I woke up cold and in agony in the dark. I cried out in pain and for help, but no one called back, I was buried down here. I tried to move and stabbing pain lanced through me as I shifted my leg. I reached around in the dark, my hand brushing some sort of fabric. I felt along to find my backpack, I remembered clinging to it as I was bashed around in the car. It must have fallen with me into this hole. It felt intact, so I began rummaging inside eventually finding what I was looking for, a small wind-up torch I had gotten one Christmas. I turned it on and was momentarily blinded by the light. Once my eyes adjusted I saw I was in a small cave in the rock. I couldn't see any way out. The rock fall had sealed me in.

I lowered my torch to look at my legs, which were both bent at funny angles and hurt a lot. I knew I needed help. With my legs not working there was no way I would be able to get out of here.

I began shouting for help again, shouting till my throat hurt. When I couldn't shout anymore I lay there, listening for the sounds of people coming to help me, but there was nothing. I cried for a while, whimpering in the dark, wanting my Mummy and Daddy.

Exhausted, in pain, hungry, and still feeling ill I passed out again. That happened several times, I would wake up, start shouting, crying, wear myself out, and pass out each time getting more desperate.

Goodness knows how long I went on like that hoping someone would hear me. My hunger was getting worse and worse, and my body was losing energy quickly. It was getting so bad the hunger hurt worse than my legs, like my stomach was gnawing on my insides. I looked through my stuff for something to eat coming across the pack of MORFS medicine. I remembered the comic saying you didn't need food when you drank it. Maybe if I drank the drink it would satisfy my horrible hunger.

I scrambled around in the bag, pulling out the box of bottles of medicine, thankful they had survived the fall intact. I opened the package and took one bottle out.

Examining it with my torch, it said "Warning keep out of reach of children, use only as directed by a doctor, do not consume more than one dose per day." and lots of other long words.

The bottle had a strange cap on it to prevent people getting into it, I remembered seeing my parents struggle with these things before. I examined it and managed to get the thing open quite quickly, I wondered why Mummy and Daddy had so much difficulty, since I had got it open easily.

I sniffed the pink liquid hesitantly, it smelled a bit like strawberries, but with an odd bitter undertone.

I sipped a bit, it was weird. Too sweet, strawberry flavour at first, then a harsh bitter taste I associated with medicine.

I steeled my self and drank the rest down. "Bleargh!" I exclaimed on finishing. It was pretty revolting stuff, if anything, the strawberry flavouring made it worse. Still, it filled my aching tummy a little, for which I could suffer the bad taste.

I began to feel very sleepy, I was soon barely able to keep my eyes open. I fought it, knowing it would be better to stay awake so I could continue to call for help, but whatever was in the medicine made me too tired, and I dozed off.

When I came to I was hungry again. I felt a bit odd, and my skin itched horribly. The pain in my legs was getting worse. I wound up my torch and had a look. My legs were covered in bruises and swollen now. I worried that they would fall off or something and I would have to have false legs like the one legged Mr Materson down the street, who all the children called Pegleg. I would be called Peglegs then, and not able to run or play or anything. Still, it would be better to get out of this cold cave minus some legs than to die here alone. I began crying and wailing for my Mummy and Daddy, even Frankie who I was missing terribly. After a while my grumbling tummy reminded me I was very hungry and thirsty, so I drank the next bottle of medicine and passed out.

I had a dream that my parents found me and took me home and I was all better again, except I wore an eye patch and everyone called me Peglegs. I also had a parrot who talked and would sit on my shoulder. When I woke up in the cold dark cave in pain and hungry, I was upset to find it had just been a dream.

I tried calling out some more, but no one came. I had no idea how long had passed since I fell in the hole, or even what time of the day it was. I had a little cry again, which made me feel a bit better. I noticed my skin was all scratchy and was peeling off in places. Underneath it was smooth and hard. I drank down another drink, hoping to dream of my family again.

When I woke up I was very uncomfortable I had rolled over onto my side in the night, and my leg was hurting greatly. My hips also hurt like the bones were all shifted around. I tried to move but couldn't. All of my skin was peeling off and going hard and smooth. It was divided into plates a bit like a bug. My hands seemed to be growing them too. My finger nails had all fallen off and the skin was going hard, too. They were also a peculiar colour, a sort of light yellowy green.

I tried moving and found I could with now move some effort without increasing the pain. It was just all the plates made me stiff. I could even stand up without too much pain. The plates on my legs seemed to have straightened my legs up and stopped the breaks from  bending, like a cast my friend Ally had got when she broke her arm after riding her bike down some steps.

I felt around me for other changes. My arms had strange bulges on them and there was an odd bump on my back above my bum. These changes scared me, and I wanted more than ever my Mummy and Daddy to hold me and tell me it was going to be alright. I staggered round the cave, trying to see if there was a way out. I found a pile of rocks that looked like it might block the way out, but I couldn't shift them, ‘cuz my body was too weak.

I lay down again after tiring myself out wailing and trying to get out. I drank another bottle of the medicine to feel better, my tummy grumbling like crazy under my plate covered belly. I found it very difficult to get the bottle open. Without my nails I couldn't get the box to open. Eventually I managed it, and drank another of the medicine bottles, falling asleep almost immediately.

The next day my hands were all covered in plates too, with only the palm and bits of the surface of my fingers exposed. There were strange pointy caps on my fingertips instead of nails. I could still feel things somehow, even though the plates were hard. I looked closely with my torch and found little hairs that protruded through the plating. I also noticed some strange new feature on my middle. There were some comb-like things on either side. When I touched them they felt as if they were feelers of some kind. They reminded me of something, but I couldn't remember what. The odd shapes on my arm were larger, and seemed to be hinged. somehow I moved them a bit and they snapped back into place. The little bump on my back had grown into a small plated tail with a strange bulb at the end. I found I could move it slightly.

It was all too much, and  I sat on the floor, hugging my hard plated knees to my hard plated chest and cried. Why was this happening to me! Alone in a dark cave I was changing into a monster. I wanted my parents desperately, or anyone to come and save me. I longed to wake up in my bed a pink soft girl, rather than the hard armoured monster I was becoming. I wanted to wake and find it was all a dream.

In my anguish, I barely noticed that terrible pain in my leg was now only a dull ache and though I was still weak and sick, I was slowly improving.

I drank another of the drinks, knowing that in sleep I would at least not have to face what was happening to me.

The next day my tail had grown even bigger, it now reached half way up my back and the tip was slightly pointed. The strange things on my arms now seemed to move on their own if I flexed some new muscle. They had a curved pointed tip with little sharp bumps I wondered what they were for. I found my legs would twist in odd ways now. I could walk normally, but with a push of another strange muscle my hips seemed to shift and my legs would go out to the side of me, letting me move about on all fours. My face felt strange too, like it was gaining plates too, and my vision was odd, sharper even in the dark. I did more crying at my fate, I didn't even bother to call for help any more. After so long with no one coming I had begun to loose hope. When my food ran out I was sure I would die here. I drank down another bottle of medicine and slept.

The next day I felt better, strong again. My tail had grown to nearly the full height of my upper body, with a sharp spike at its tip. With some concentration I could move it a bit. I swung it forward so I could look seeing a large bulb thing with a sharp pointed spike protruding out of it at the tip of my plated tail. Again, it reminded me of something, but I couldn't place it. My face was now all plated. In fact, almost all of my body was covered in hard shiny yellowy green plates. Just a few small areas of skin remained around my mouth, small amount of my hands, and my downstairs bits. Even that skin was slightly mis-coloured, fading in to match my plating.

I had to get out to get help. Maybe they could fix me. Feeling stronger now, I tried again to get out of the cave. The stones I had barely been able to move before shifted with little effort now. It took a while to make a hole, but eventually I managed to get outside. I had fallen into a small cave open to the forest. I jumped with glee. making my tail move oddly behind me. nearly making me fall down.

It was night time, and I thought it quite dark, though I didn't have any trouble seeing.  The colours were off, almost but not quite like it was all in black and white. I walked carefully out into the wood, finding my balance severely affected by my tail. I soon found it easier to go along the ground in my odd new all fours method. Behind the cave there was a large set of rocks, and then above that a steep rocky slope leading to the road above I could make out the section where the car had fallen from. There was no one about now though.

As my belly brushed the ground, the strange new comb things reacted, I got strange new sensations like I could feel the level of the ground and almost sense across it's surface. Like it was the surface of a drum, I could feel something moving over in the bushes to the left. I raced over to surprise a small mouse out looking for food.

I was getting other sensations as well, strange things not from my eyes or ears, maybe from the odd comb things. It was like I could see into things, or maybe see was the wrong word, it was different. Like I could feel things around me, it was all very confusing and hard to make sense of.

I continued looking for help as I made my way further away from the cave I came across a section that was all charred and blackened. I stood up and began looking around it was a large scorched area with bits of old drums and the remains of some sort of shed. Several blackened trees surrounded the clearing, which was at least 4 car lengths across. I wondered if this was were Granddad's car had come to rest. I wouldn't have thought it could cause so much destruction, but then it looked like something else had been here, a structure of some kind that had exploded quite violently. I slipped back onto all fours, for a bit, finding the motion easier now and was able to move more quickly that way. I scuttled down through the forest, seeing a the lake in the distance. Suddenly very thirsty, I raced over.

I began drinking the water, not caring that it might have been filthy or had all sorts of beasties in it. I cupped my hands, taking big mouthfuls of cold water. Then I saw something in the water, a shape with black eyes. I cried out in terror and fell back onto my tail which was pretty uncomfortable. I sat there for a bit, then slowly edged forward looking into the water, the same dark eyes looked back, but this time I realised what they were and that made me cry out even more. They, were me! I howled at the horror of it for several minutes, unable to look away from the terrifying image of how I now looked. After I had calmed down I decided I had to see all of it. I took off my filthy clothes and stood naked at the waters edge, then leaned over to see what I had become. A nightmare come to life stared back at me. She was covered all over by shiny hard plates with small gaps to allow her to move. The only exceptions were her palms, mouth, downstairs bits, and the top of her head, which had a shock of dirty blonde hair.. She had a huge tail that swung out behind her arching away from her back a little, at its tip, this nasty looking barb with a bulb that folded in against it, pointing down. Her eyes were black spheres with no iris or pupil, making them black pits set in the hard plates that covered her face. I reflectively flexed my hands and the two bulges on the top and bottom of my arms shot forward, enveloping my hands. Odd new muscles then began to work and these strange new enclosures covering my hands snapped open and shut, their hard armoured shaped extending from the wrist out maybe twice as far as my hands. I stared at the water, and the horror snapped her pincers at me.

That's when I put it all together, pincers, a hard plated body, a long tail tipped with a fearsome barb, preferring to run along the ground on my belly, and the strange comb things which I remembered were called pectines. I had seen them at the zoo before I got sick. We had been watching a display about scorpions one of the zoo keepers was giving. He brought the small terrifying creatures close to us in their plastic box so we could see all of them, including their comb-like feelers on their belly.

I wailed again, my pincer hands opening up and moving back onto my arms with a snicking noise, releasing my more normal hands. I sat down, hugging my knees, crying. I was a scorpion girl, not some cute furry kitty cat like the cartoon had said. No, I was a horrible monstrous creepy crawly thing that would scare everyone away.

After I had cried some more, I sat there sniffling. At that point I realised I was really stinky. My clothes were awful, too. I decided to wash them and me in the lake. I grabbed my clothes and dunked them washing them out. Then laying them on rocks, then I walked into the lake and gave myself a wash down. I climbed out and stood there soaking wet and naked in the cold night. Strangely, I didn't feel that cold. I guess my armour plates kept me warm, deciding they had to be good for something.

I slipped back into my clothes, my tail making my dress not fit very well, but still, they stayed on. I decided that I had to get home, there was no one about and it was the middle of the night. If I could get to my parents, maybe everything would be alright. I raced back to the cave and got my backpack, not wanting to leave it behind. I had some difficulty getting it on, my tail getting in the way, but eventually I worked it out. I strode off towards where I thought the village was, following the line of the old road. After a while I found walking a bit uncomfortable and switched to my scuttling mode, racing over the ground on all fours. When I got to the point the short cut road met the main one, the entrance had a load of barriers, saying the road was closed, and something about it being unsafe.

I turned onto the main road which went to the village. I wondered what time it was. When I got to a section with street lights, they were on and it was very bright to my eyes. Slowly the light seemed to fade and I could see again. I straightened up and walked into the outskirts of the village, not wanting to be seen on all fours. I was glad it was late, as there were very few people about. I passed the local pub where Daddy took me and Frankie for lemonade, and a packet of crisps in the garden after a walk. it sounded like it was busy.

As I passed a man came walking out of the pub, although he seemed not to be able to walk straight. I hurried past and he stared at me open-mouthed, then raced back into the pub. I heard some shouting about someone with a tail, and then lots of laughter. I hurried on.

As I was getting close to my house, I began to become apprehensive what would my parents say when they saw me like this. Reaching my door, I found all the lights were off. I hesitated, then rang the bell. I waited then rang it again and again, but no one came. They must have been out, maybe looking for me. I decided to see if I could find a way in to wait for them.

I walked round and clambered over the fence into the garden. I found the hidden key to the door and let myself in. I walked in, seeing lots of pictures of me out everywhere, well the old me. I wondered why.

I went to the kitchen, hungry again and looked for something to eat in the fridge. I found some chicken drumsticks that had been cooked and put in a box, so I hungrily devoured them. I managed to eat them all, then felt a bit guilty so I put the box with the bones back where I’d found it.

I walked up to my room to wait for them to come back. I took off my still fairly dirty clothes and found a t-shirt and shorts that worked better with my tail. I waited, but began to feel a little sleepy so I just had a quick lie down. Next thing I knew, I woke to see a small girl in a smart dress carrying a pink teddy bear staring warily at me from the door way.

“Who are you, and what are you doing in Jamie's room?” asked Frankie, sucking her thumb.

I stared at her for a bit. She was wearing the smart clothes she had to wear whenever we went to the boring church place. We hardly ever went, just on certain occasions when Mummy decided we should. I wondered why they had been there now.

“It's me, Jamie,” I said quietly.

“Oh!” said Frankie looking at me with her head on her side. Then she smiled, “I recognise you now! You have your backpack! You look funny. Where have you been?” she asked, coming closer to me. “I missed you.”  

 

“Francesca, who is that you are talking to, Honey?” called Dad's voice from down the stairs.

She padded across to the door, “It's Jamie. She's in her room, but she's all funny looking now.”

“We told you, Francesca. Jamie had to go away,” said Dad's voice very sadly.

“She's come back though. I knew she would,” Frankie said brightly.

“No Honey, she's not coming back,” said Dad as he walked closer to the door.

“She is back! Look! There she is.” Frankie pointed at me.

Dad came into the room, a large blond haired man with the same dark blue eyes as I used to have. He reminded me of a big cuddly bear, who used to lift me up on his shoulders and carry me round before I got too big. He looked thin and grey, not the happy person I knew. His face was all bristly, like he hadn't been shaving much. He looked tiredly in my direction, his eyes all red and puffy as if he had been crying.

 I had never seen him cry before. His eyes registered confusion as they locked on me then something else alarm. “Francesca go to your room!” he shouted.

“But ...” she said.

“Go to your room, NOW!” he shouted, and then put himself between me and Frankie, like he was protecting her.

He eyed me with anger. I was scared, wondering why was he mad at me.

“What are you doing in my daughter’s room!” he shouted at me. “You desecrate the memory of my poor dead daughter by coming in her and stealing her things, scaring her sister! You monster!”

“But Da ... Dddd ...dy!” I stuttered, starting to cry.

“You beast I'll teach you a lesson for that!” He advanced on me. I squealed in terror and fright and dodged past him, “Get back here!” he shouted after me.

I raced down the stairs, looking for my Mummy, thinking she would see it was really me. I found her in the dining room sobbing over a picture of me. She looked up in shock as I raced into the room. As I held my hands up pleadingly, she let out a blood curdling scream and threw the picture at me. The frame hit me, the glass shattering. It didn't hurt due to my armour, but the horror of my Mummy throwing things at me cut me deep. She didn't stop with that, tossing more objects at me.

“But Mummy, it's me Jamie!” I cried in tears.

She stopped and stared at me for a bit, her mouth opening and closing like a fish. Then she started shouting, “no, no, no, NO! It can't be you're not my little girl. She's dead, DEAD! Not some hideous monster. You liar! You foul thing! You beast!”

She started throwing things at me again, shouting at me all the time. By now Daddy had caught up and ran at me.

I ran for the nearest exit, the back door, tripping on the step and tumbling out onto the ground, scrambling to get away, crying all the time. As I tried to get up I was grabbed by my feet and dragged backwards. I screamed in terror.

Daddy flipped me over, fist raised to hit me. On instinct, I flexed my strange new muscles and my tail shot out like rocket. I just wanted to stop him from hitting me and get away. The strange stinger barb at the end slammed into him, but as he had flipped me over, now close to me and with the light from the kitchen illuminating me, in that instant his expression had changed. A look of recognition and surprise crossed his face wiping away the anger and he relaxed his fist, but it was too late.

“Jamie?” he said in surprise seeing for the first time who I was just as the stinger slammed home injecting what ever hideous venom I now carried inside me into him.

Then he looked over at the stinger and said, “Oh no, my sweet Jamie, what have I done ...” and collapsed off me, shook for a bit, then went limp like a puppet that'd had its strings cut.

I stared at his still body in horror, I had killed my Daddy! I began wailing at the horror of it. Mummy came running out looking giving a shout of anguish then running to his body grabbing it in her arms and burying her face on his chest.

“Oh what have you done! You monster, you've killed him!” she cried. She looked up at me, rage and venom in her eyes, “You know what you are? Poison, that's what! An evil pernicious monster who took my sweet daughter and consumed her. Now you are a toxin that kills anything it touches. Just look at your freakish body and what you've done! I'll make sure they lock you in a cage and put you down. Poison the Poison!”

I scrabbled back, unable to believe this was my warm loving mother. It was as if she had snapped, gone completely mad. Now I was looking at death for what I had done to Daddy, even though it had been an accident. I knew they put down dangerous animals. Maybe my mother was right and they would do the same to me. I didn't want that at all, it had been a mistake I hadn't meant to kill him, but I knew that looking like this, no one would believe me. I had only one choice. I had to run.

I leapt through over the wall and down the street, startling some late night dog walkers. I could hear my Mummy shouting at me but could not make out the words any more.

She had called me Poison and it was what I was. I had gone there hoping to find my family again and ended up killing my Daddy, and had driven my Mother mad. I was a horrible toxin that destroyed everything I came into contact with. I ran, bawling my eyes out. Not knowing where to go or what to do, but knowing I had to get away, I made for the forest where no one would find me, where I couldn't hurt anyone else.

 

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

 


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