Salamander

By EMW

 

Ch1 – The Beginning (Mort)

 

When I think back to how my previous life ended, I find it amazing that my prior existence lasted so long, and that I mourned its loss at all, knowing what I know now.

 

In many ways, going through MORFS, and becoming someone else was the best thing to happen to me, even  though my birth into my new life was a painful and frightening one. I often wonder if I had been given the choice, knowing where it would lead, and the cost associated with it, would I have chosen to become this new person. Impossible to say.

 

My name is, or should I say, was, Mortimer Wilson and I was a 15 years old boy. Yes I know, not exactly the best name to be saddled with. Then again at least I didn't get any obscure middle names that I would need to hide. Most people called me Mort (which I didn't mind), or Morty (which I hated even more than my full name).

 

I lived in a relatively large village, called Little Greenvale, that borders the sprawling conurbation of Oxford.

 

Given the rate of expansion, and desire of people to live close to the tech centres along the Thames, I have no doubt it will be subsumed one of these days, but so far, that has been prevented, thanks, in no small part, to the large proportion of local politicians and upper class types who live in the area, calling in various favours.

 

It is a place where the old values still rule, and prominent land owners still lord it over the common man. It is a place of strong Christian values, and a part of the world that has remained fairly unchanged for the better part of a hundred years. It is also a place where they do not look kindly on people changed by MORFS, especially those unfortunate enough to be hybrids.

 

My family had a great deal to do with this. My father, Grant Wilson, is a local landowner and farmer. He prides himself on (as he puts it) his “moral purity”. No one in the family has openly undergone MORFS. There have been instances of family members suddenly up and vanishing to live abroad, (or any of a dozen excuses and euphemisms, which at the time I didn't recognise but now understand better) but they are fairly few and far between. Mostly limited to people who married into the family.

 

My father is a tough man, who speaks his mind, and expects to be obeyed. He has little time for the opinions of anyone else. The only man he listens to is his older brother Richard, or Reverend Wilson. He runs the local church, and oversees his parish's spiritual well-being with an iron fist. He is of the fire and brimstone school of preaching. In his lengthy Sunday sermons, he expounds hatred of those who have been afflicted with MORFS, attributing their change to unchristian living. He also advocates the public shunning of these individuals, labelling them demons who have possessed the souls of the living.

 

Their efforts to make Little Greenvale a haven against the unclean individuals changed by MORFS have been quite successful, attracting a large number of like-minded individuals, who have taken up roles in the community from local law enforcement, to running the local businesses, to staffing local schools, and even the local politicians. This has made the village a very closed community, and very unfriendly to those who have obviously undergone MORFS.

 

While laws supposedly prevent discrimination, on the few occasions that locals have changed as a result of MORFS, or people have tried to move to the area who were affected, they have been given steadily increasing and unpleasant incentives to move elsewhere. When all the local authorities are allied against, you making a complaint about harassment does little good.

 

So growing up in such an environment, you can understand why I might have a somewhat twisted view of people who had been changed by MORFS. Not all people in the village felt that way, but anyone who publicly expressed an opinion contrary to the line taken by the ruling elite, was given almost the same treatment as someone afflicted by MORFS, so most kept quiet.

 

I have a brother, and a sister, both older than me. My brother, Grant Junior, is very much his father’s son, a real chip off the old block. He and I don't get along. He is everything I am not, strong and athletic, captain of the local rugby team, and reasonably good at school (enough to get by, at any rate). He is also a bully, and extremely arrogant. He makes my life hell, his dominance of me is something Father seems to find amusing.

 

My sister Gwen is the only member of my family I like. She is a good deal older than me, at 19, but we get on quite well. She some how manages to stand outside the usual family pecking order, even defying father, if not openly. Despite repeated attempts by my Father and Mother to marry her off into a good family, she has remained free of such entanglements, and is planning to go to university as soon as she can earn enough money to pay for her tuition fees. (Since father refused to waste money on sending a daughter to college when she should be married, yet another attitude of fathers anchored in the dark ages). She is a very beautiful young lady, not just because of her good looks, but for her warm loving heart. The family tolerates her, mainly because they believe she will come around once she settles down.

 

The rest of my family is just as bad as Father. My mother, Mary Wilson, is a member of the women's group for village happiness and well being. Ostensibly a social group, they are really another side of the control over the village. They organise all the social events, and act as a rudimentary spy network, gossiping and exposing any local secrets. On more than one occasion, it has been this group who outed those who tried to keep their affliction with MORFS a secret, even occasionally outing people who had never undergone any changes simply out of spite, or some affront to their collective control.

 

 

I am the youngest member of the family, and a constant disappointment to the bulk of the family. I was scrawny, standing a mere 5'3", and useless at any kind of sport. I preferred a nice quiet read, instead of rushing about a muddy field in the freezing cold with an inflated pigs bladder. I was not hideous at school work, but by no means exceptional. As a result, I was treated at best, as invisible, at worse a disappointment.

 

That changed one Friday in October 2035, it was turning autumn the leaves were beginning to fall and the nights were drawing in. I was on my way back from school. It was now out for a week, due to an anti-MORFS protest all the local big-wigs were going to, and local children were expected to attend as well, for moral fibre. I was a bit unhappy at the closure, for two reasons. One was the reason behind the closure, and the other was the fact that I had actually been enjoying school for once. We had been studying animals, and some children had even brought in exotic pets to show. Since the local school was run by the village in a pseudo private manner, such closures happened quite frequently. The head teacher, Mr Thomas, had been fired from a prominent position at a private school for his refusal to teach students who had undergone MORFS, so teaching at little Greenvale was something of a dream job for him. As such, he had no problem with closing the school for such events.

 

I hated such events, though mainly due to the requirement to spend hours marching to protest in my parent’s and brother’s company (my sister always finding some way of being elsewhere those days). Protesting against people with MORFS, and any laws to help, them didn't really bother me then. I had been conditioned practically from birth to think that people who had been changed by MORFS were evil monsters.

It was the fact that the marching usually gave me blisters I hated, and this time it would be worse due to it being a weeklong set of protests up and down the country, culminating in a march on parliament.

 

The very thought of all the marching, and sleeping in a cold tent with my brother was making me feel sick. At least that's what I thought at the time.

 

 I got back home to our house, which was a converted barn. It had a lovely rustic look, with all exposed timber beams, even if the lack of proper insulation and double glazing made the place draughty.

 

I felt like death warmed up, and was met by my mother who gave me a cold look. "You are late!" she told me. "You are well aware we need to be off promptly to meet with the group"

 

Her expression was beginning to become a sneer of distaste.

 

"I wasn't feeling too well" I replied weakly. By now my nausea was accompanied by a dull throbbing pain in my head.

 

"I'm in no mood for your nonsense tonight," she snapped. "What I ever did to deserve an ungrateful wretch of a son like you, I will never know. I've a good mind to have your father teach you a jolly good lesson about being punctual."

 

I paled at her threat, I did not want to receive another of my father’s punishments, it would mean the belt for sure.

 

"If only there were the time," she said almost regretfully. "Go and get your bag ready now, before I change my mind"

 

I hurried off quickly to avoid getting further into her bad books. I could only hope that she would forget this, or I might get a worse punishment later. I rushed up stairs to my small room. On the way I nearly ran into my brother, who shoved me roughly out of the way, and I staggered back against the wall.

 

"Look where you're going, pip squeak!" he shouted, with a nasty grin on his face.

 

As he strode of down the corridor with a confident swagger, I just knew he was going to make this week a nightmare. I pulled myself back on to my feet and continued to my room. My headache was getting worse. I gathered what I needed for the week as quickly as possible, not wanting to anger my mother any more than she already was.

 

Just as I was zipping up rucksack ready to go, I suddenly felt on the brink of throwing up. I raced to the bathroom, barely making it in time. I was violently sick in the toilet, and while I was recovering, I heard someone walk into the bathroom. I looked up expecting the worst, to see my sister standing in the doorway with a look of concern on her face.

 

"Mort, are you all right?" she said with a worried look in her eyes.

 

I tried to answer her, but was sick again.

 

Then I heard a booming voice shout from downstairs. "What the devil are you doing up there boy? Get down here this instant! Don't make me come up there, or you'll regret it!" my father yelled.

 

A few seconds later I heard him stomping up the stairs. "You asked for it, boy!" he growled.

 

I turned to see my sister shoved aside, as my father walked into the doorway with a look of fury on his face, at which point I threw up again. By the time I had recovered enough to look back, the look of fury had been replaced by one of disgust and contempt.

 

"Mort isn't well," my sister said quietly. "He probably needs to see a doctor"

 

"Stupid baby's just faking," sneered my brother from the corridor. He had obviously followed my father back up, in the hopes of seeing a beating.

 

"We don't have time for this. We need to be going, now!" my father exclaimed angrily.

 

"Look leave Mort with me, I'll take care of him. You get off to your protest," my sister reasoned.

 

My father snorted and fiddled with his watch. "All right but when I get back we are going to have words, boy," he threatened.

 

With that he was gone. I heard the door slam and a car drive off moments later. I could only hope that the protest went so well that when he got back he forgot his anger at me.

 

"Come on," my sister said while helping me up, now my sickness seemed to have subsided a bit. "Let’s get you cleaned up, and into bed. Then I'll call Dr Benson to see if he can come and take a look at you."

 

I nodded weakly as she helped me wash my face, then helped me to my room and tucked me in to bed. I was too weak to undress, so just fell into bed fully clothed. Despite my splitting headache, I must have passed out, as the next thing I knew I was being shaken awake by my sister, and Dr Benson stood at the foot of my bed. Dr Benson was the local g.p. (general practitioner) a kindly old fellow. He was also one of the few local people who spoke out openly against the anti-MORFS attitude of the village. He had been pressured to reveal patients who had undergone MORFS, and to not offer treatment to those affected, and had steadfastly refused.

 

Various people had tried to have him struck off the medical register, but he was an outstanding doctor, with an impeccable record so all had failed. As a result, most of the high and mighty snubbed him, and tried to pressure him to retire. "How are you feeling, young Mortimer?" he asked with a gentle smile. "Your sister tells me you are not feeling too well."

 

I sat up, and managed a quiet, "I've been better, Doctor."

 

"Why don't you tell me your symptoms, lad," he replied.

 

I went on to describe the sickness, the headache, the muscle pains, and anything else I could think of.

 

The doctor hummed and ahh'd a bit then opened his medical bag. "Right, let’s take a look at you then." He pulled out a stethoscope.

 

He listened to my heart, proceeded to take my blood pressure, check my temperature, and all the usual doctor things. He stood there with a frown for a bit, as if in thought, then rummaged around in his bag for a bit, coming out with a small white box. He opened up the package and took from it a small box with a hole in one end, a small vial of liquid, and what looked like a pin sealed in a sterile container.

 

"This is a blood testing kit, which I just want to use to rule something out," the doctor said calmly, though I thought I saw a glimmer of worry in his eyes.

 

"OK, What do I do?"

 

"Just hold your finger here," Dr Benson said. "I'm just going to prick your finger, there we go."

 

The doctor pricked my finger and allowed a small drop of blood to fall into the hole in the tester. He then put a plaster on my finger, and added the contents of the vial to the hole.

 

He gently shook the tester. "This will just take a moment."

 

I was beginning to worry, what was wrong with me, that was so bad the doctor would not even mention what he was testing for?

 

Dr Benson looked at a small results strip in the tester, and compared it to a key in the instructions. He seemed to be checking the results very thoroughly, as if he didn't want the result he had. Then he put the test down and said quietly, "Oh dear."

 

"What is it, doctor?" my sister said worriedly.

 

 "I'm afraid ... " he said hesitantly pausing, and looking me right in the eye, "… you are in the first stage of Massive Ontogenetic Regulation Failure Syndrome or MORFS"

 

 


 

Ch2 – Transition (Mort)

I was too shocked to speak. The doctor was muttering, that there was nothing to worry about, and other semi comforting nonsense.

 

I barely heard him. "But ... I ... How!?" I stammered.

 

The doctor gave me a sympathetic look, "Despite what your father believes, there is nothing supernatural about MORFS. The fact that your family has been relatively unaffected by the disease was no guarantee this would always be the case. All it takes is the right infection to trigger the syndrome. The fact that most of the rest of your immediate family haven't undergone MORFS is sheer luck." He paused a took a pad out of his bag, "I'm going to prescribe some energy packs, which will help your body get through the illness quickly."

 

He wrote some trademark doctor unintelligible scribble on the pad, tore off the sheet, and handed it to my sister.

 

"I don't recommended you try and get that locally", he commented dryly. "For one thing, the local pharmacist refuses to stock it, and it would also attract unwanted attention."

 

He turned to look at me. "I am well aware of your situation, and normally, in the case of a minor such as yourself, I would be required to inform your parents of you current condition. However, in this case, I feel that would do far more harm than good. Cheer up, its not the end of the world, you know. There is a good chance you will come through this unscathed. All that matters now, is to let the sickness run its course, and take things from there."

 

He smiled faintly, gave me a pat on the shoulder, then stepped out into the corridor. My sister went with him, and I could hear them talking, but I was too much in shock to try and overhear what the were saying.

 

What was I going to do! Right now, I could be turning into a monster! What would happen to me when my father found out? I was terrified.

 

A few moments later my sister came back into my room. "Lets get you into your pyjamas, then I'll head in to town to pick up your medicine," she said, helping me out of bed and handing me my bed clothes. "Don't worry too much. I'm sure things will turn out fine"

 

I got changed and she helped me into bed, giving me a hug. Stepping out of the room, she returned with a basin, which she put by my bed. "I'm going to leave you this, in case you feel sick again. I'll have my phone with me if you need me. Try and get some rest, and I'll be back soon." She gave me a small smile before heading off.

 

I did my best to sleep, but my headache had returned with a vengeance. Thankfully, my sickness seemed to have subsided a bit to a general unwell feeling. Somehow I managed to doze a bit, and a few hours later, my sister returned with a bag of medicine.

 

She said handed me a plastic medicine bottle full of ominous brown liquid, "OK, you need to drink this down, and then take one of these pills to help you to sleep"

 

I knocked back the bottles contents grimacing at its horrible taste.  "Yealch!", I exclaimed.

 

"Well you know what they say, if medicine tastes nice, it doesn't do you any good," my sister quipped. "The pill should knock you out. I'll try and be here when you wake up, but if I'm not, make sure you take another dose from the bag. Dr Benson said it will make the disease pass quicker and easier."

 

"OK," I took the pill she handed me.

 

I lay back, and my sister leaned over and kissed my forehead.  "Sweet dreams Mort" she said with a smile as I drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

 

When I came to, it was dark, the middle of the night. I still felt awful. In addition to the sickness and headache, all my muscles ached. I looked around and saw my sister sitting on a chair across from my bed fast asleep. I decided not to wake her and quietly gulped down another bottle of the gunge and popped the pill, and it was back to unconsciousness.

 

When I next surfaced, it was midmorning. I staggered out of bed and made my way down to the bathroom. I felt very odd my pyjamas were pinching me everywhere. I noticed my skin was covered in a layer of ooze. ‘Maybe that caused my clothes to shrink.’ I reasoned. I answered the call of nature, then took a quick shower. I had a quick look in the mirror while drying off, but didn't see anything odd. My hair looked a touch longer, but hopefully I could get through this and no one need ever know.

 

I put on my bathrobe, and headed back to my room to find my sister changing my sheets.

 

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

 

"Pretty awful"

 

She gathered up the dirty sheets, adding my pyjamas to them. "Well take your medicine, and get off to bed. You'll feel a lot better to get it over with."

 

As she headed out to take care of the washing, I grabbed another pair of pyjamas, downed another bottle of medicine and took a pill. As I was drifting off to sleep it occurred to me that these pyjamas were pinching too.

 

I woke up in the middle of the night again. My sister wasn't there, but I can't say I blamed her. I can't imagine sleeping on that chair was comfortable. My bed clothes were pinching some more, especially around the hip area. I tried to get more comfy, but gave up and took my meds. Chemically enforced sleep claimed me again.

 

The next day I awoke to quite severe pain. Rather than the headache or nausea or muscle pain I’d had previously, this pain was caused by my pyjamas cutting into my flesh. In the night they had gone from pinching, to cutting off the circulation. I managed to get them off, having to rip them in a few places to get free. Feeling relief at having circulation restored to my limbs, I grabbed my bathrobe and staggered over to the bathroom. My balance seemed even worse than the day before. After cleaning up I checked my reflection. My hair was longer, and I realised I was taller.

 

I realised I was changing more radically than I had hoped, and fear was threatening to surface. Still, hopefully, if I slouched a lot for a few weeks, and got a hair cut, no one would notice. I could pass off the extra height as a growth spurt. Yes, I was so sure that would work that I suppressed the rising panic.

 

My sister had left some clean sheets out, so after I slipped on a large t shirt, changed my bedding. As I was gathering up the old sheets to put them in the washing basket, Gwen wandered in. She picked up my ripped pyjamas, looked at them for a bit then gave me an appraising look.

 

"I think I got a bit bigger" I said. My voice cracked halfway through speaking, and I coughed to try and clear my throat.

 

Gwen gave a small frown. "Yes you must be a good 3 inches taller. I thought you looked a bit bigger yesterday, but wasn't sure."

 

Suddenly feeling very weak, I stumbled back a bit. My sister grabbed me and held me steady. Then she helped me into bed and handed me my meds. After I knocked them back, I passed out again.

 

This time, when I woke up in the night, my face, my hands, my back,  my feet and a few other bits of me itched. I scratched absently, then jumped in pain. My nails seemed to have become really sharp. For some reason, my vision was all blurry, and it being dark I couldn't see much. I figured my nails were growing like my hair. I grabbed another bottle and pill, and went back to sleep.

 

In the morning, I followed my usual routine and headed to the bath room. I noticed the skin that had been itching last night was beginning started to peel, and it also had a sort of bumpy texture to it.

My nails had changed colour and more alarmingly, had become pointed. I was not happy with that.

 

 I dried off and checked myself out in the mirror. I was taller, had talon like nails on my hands and feet, plus, my proportions were odd. My hips seemed wider. I had the same patches of bumpy peeling skin down the sides of my face and neck, joining into a patch down the middle of my back, with bits on my hands and feet.

 

Then I saw my eyes! They seemed to have no irises. Being large black pupils, they looked inhuman. As I stared at them in horror, it got worse, as a thin film flicked across my eyes. Part of me calmly realised it was a nictitating membrane like you see on lizards. The rest of me was horrified.

 

With a high pitched moan, I collapsed to the floor.

 

Gwen came rushing in. "What is it! What's wrong?" she exclaimed.

 

I regarded her with my inhuman eyes, realising I no longer blinked. "I'm turning into a monster," I wailed.

 

My sister grabbed me, and held me. "No you're not. No matter what father and his cronies would say, you are not a monster!" More gently, she said, "Come on, back to bed. Let’s get this over with. We can deal with the future, then."  I was soon asleep again.

 

I woke up late, or possibly it was early, depending on your point of view. I scratched my face, and felt the skin peel off. The surface underneath seemed more bumpy, and felt odd. I forced my hands away, not wanting to know. In the process I brushed my chest, discovering another aspect of my change, two protrusions on my chest. Breasts, small breasts, but undoubtedly there.

 

Hurriedly, I reached for my meds, half praying this was some delusional nightmare brought on by the sickness. If not, I wanted to be safely unconscious before I discovered any more horrific changes.

 

I woke up feeling odd, but no longer sick. I was finally finished with the change. Now I had to face the twisted creature it had made me.

 

I pulled back the covers and stood up. The whole room looked smaller, I had obviously grown some more during the night. I looked down at myself. The once tent like t shirt, was now very tight across the chest, and barely came down to my hips, which seemed to have widened considerably. I needed to see the extent of the damage, I needed a mirror.

 

I left my room, padded down the corridor, and went into the bathroom. I decided to get it all out of the way in one go. so I quickly whipped off my t shirt and, mentally bracing myself, turned to face the mirrors.

 

A girl stood there, naked, staring at me. A freak girl, who bore an uncanny resemblance to my sister.

 

She was tall, with what could probably be called an athletic build. She had reasonably sized breasts and wide hips, making her body pretty sexy and pleasing to look at. Her hair was shoulder length and very light brown. Her crotch was obviously feminine, but had no pubic hair.

 

As the girl in the mirror reached up to cup her breasts, I saw that her hands were strange. She had black nails, like talons, and her hands were covered with scales. The pads of her fingers looked odd, not scaly, but certainly not skin.

 

The scales which were a light brown, with a white speckle pattern to above her wrists. Her feet matched her hands, and she also had a stripe of scales down either side of her face and neck, running over her shoulders.

 

As she turned  it became apparent that the two stripes joined, becoming a patch of scales running down the middle of her back, stopping just above her full posterior.

 

Her face was both gorgeous, and a bit scary, much like the rest of her. Her eyes had no visible iris, making it look like she had two very large pupils. Her eyes were unblinking. Every now and then they flickered, as nictitating membranes flashed across. Her lips looked very kissable, but as she licked her lips, her tongue seemed to stretch out way too far.

 

I felt my hand cup a handful of soft firm flesh, and felt my new chest being cupped by a small hand. I looked down, seeing my scaly hand gripping my newly grown bosom.

 

The disconnect between the girl in the mirror, and me came crashing down.

She looked, I looked,  simultaneously beautiful, exotic, and frightening.

 

I collapsed to the floor, shaking uncontrollably. When I screamed, even my voice was different, higher and softer, even with the anguish.

 

When Gwen came running in and saw me on the floor, she grabbed me and held me, gently rocking me back and forth as I sobbed endlessly.

 

After a while, I calmed a bit, and was able to talk through my tears. As I did so, I realised my tongue felt odd. I feared I had gained a forked tongue to go with my other demonic qualities. Though from what I could see, the tip though slightly misshapen, was not forked.

 

"Why is ... this ... ha .. .pening t ... to me?" I wailed. "I always prayed, and was good like Uncle Richard said. Why is God punishing me by turning me into this sub-human monster"

 

"Now you mustn't think that way, Mort!" Gwen lightly stroked my hair. "You are not a monster!"

 

"But Uncle Richard …" I started.

 

"IS WRONG!" Gwen interrupted, making me sit back in surprise "Mort, this isn't a curse from god, or any kind of punishment. It could happen to anyone. Uncle Richard has always preached hate against those changed by MORFS, and his hate has poisoned your thinking. The Bible teaches love and understanding, Uncle Richard and father have twisted that message for their own ends."

 

I looked deep into my sisters eyes, and saw only love and compassion. I also felt a strange warm feeling radiating from her, like warm sunlight. I wasn't sure what that was, but it comforted me. I hugged her some more, and cried a bit, but I was beginning to feel a lot better. As long as my sister still loved me, there was some hope.

 

When she helped me up, I realised I was slightly taller than she was.

 

"You must be at least 6 foot tall now!" She sounded as surprised as I was. "None of your old clothes are likely to fit,  maybe some of mine will."

 

I abruptly realised I was completely naked. I made an attempt to cover myself, but Gwen told me, ”Don’t be silly. You have nothing I haven't seen before. And besides, we are all girls here now.”

 

 She led me to her room, and sat me on her bed. "I guessed you would need these from the way your changes were going." she handed me an unopened pack of plain cotton panties. "Hopefully I can find something else for you to wear. You'll have to go without a bra for now, as I don't think mine will fit you."

 

I grimaced, but put on a pair of the panties, which fit reasonably well. Gwen threw a t shirt and some slacks at me, which though on the tight side, were reasonably comfy. She followed them with a pair of socks and some trainers. My razor sharp toe nails tore holes in the ends of the socks, and the trainers were awfully tight, but they would do for now.

 

We then had some breakfast. I was famished, eating three helpings of cereal. After breakfast we went and sat in the living room.  "What am I going to do?" I asked.

 

"Well, first things first. We better get Dr Benson to check you out. We can deal with the rest a bit later. The protest is scheduled to run till the end of the week, so you don't have to worry about what happens with father for a while," Gwen said. "I'll call ahead, you look for a jacket or something to hide your appearance a touch. We don't want the kind of hassle seeing you in the village would bring. Try looking in Grant’s stuff. You're probably a bit taller than him now, but he should have something that will fit you."

 

I wandered upstairs to my brothers room. and after some rummaging, found a large hoody which fit and some gloves. Suitably covered, I should be able to pass unnoticed. Looking at my reflection, I saw that with the hood pulled up, and gloves on, I looked more or less like a normal girl. I realised I would probably need to make a conscious effort to blink if we got close to anyone. I would also have to hope it would prevent my nictitating membranes from doing their thing, otherwise someone might see through my camouflage.

 

I debated wearing sunglasses but it was late in the year, I figured it would be too obvious that I was trying to hide myself, and I’d attract more attention as a result. I pulled my hood up and shoved my hands in my pockets, trying to project sulking moody teenager, rather than inhuman freak trying to hide their hideous form. So long as no one looked too closely, I reckoned I might get away with it.

 

I went back down stairs. Gwen and I went out the front door, and hopped in her small car. I found my increased size made it a tougher squeeze than usual. I had to push the seat a lot further back to stop my knees bashing the dashboard.

 

As we drove over to Dr Benson's clinic, I became more and more apprehensive. With it being a weekday, and what with the protest, things should be relatively quiet. Still, I had visions of angry mobs with pitchforks trying to kill the monster.

 

We arrived at the clinic with no sign of any mobs, hurried in, and took a seat in the waiting room. This being a small clinic, there was no receptionist, and the doctors office had the 'in session' light lit. The room had one other person in it, a young girl probably 10 or so, who was flicking through a magazine

 

I got a strange warm sensation from her, similar to the one I’d got from my sister earlier, but this was different. It felt dull, but flared briefly when the girl looked up at us, then faded back down again.

I wondered what these strange feelings I was getting were. It was all so confusing. I shrugged it off and picked up a magazine. More people came in. A mother and her son arrived and sat down, I tried to make myself as small as possible, in the hopes people would ignore me, which was hard, since I was probably the tallest person in the room. I could feel more of the strange feelings from the newcomers but I forced them out of my mind.

 

A short while later, the door opened, and Dr Benson walked out talking to a young mother leading a small girl. Dr Benson shook the woman's hand, then glanced around the room, his eyes coming to rest on me and Gwen.

 

There was a brief flare of surprise as he regarded me, then in an even tone of voice, he said, "Ah Gwen, this must be your cousin you mentioned on the phone. Why don't you bring her through?"

 

Gwen led me into the doctors office. Behind us, he was talking with the other people waiting. We both sat down and a few moments later, Doctor Benson came back in and sat down.

 

"Now then, young Mortimer, I hope you don't mind the small amount of subterfuge earlier." He grinned,  "But I thought it wise to prevent word of your change reaching the community at large just yet, given the unfriendly attitude of certain community members to people in your situation."

 

He paused, and gave me a sympathetic look. "How are you doing? Your change appears quite drastic. if your sister hadn't called and told me beforehand, I doubt I would have recognised you, even given the resemblance between you and Gwen"

 

I thought for a bit then answered quietly, "I feel very strange. The sickness is almost completely gone, but I feel weird in this body."

 

Dr Benson nodded, "Well then, shall we get started? Would you like your sister to stay?"

 

I nodded, and then we were in to the examination. The doctor had me undress and sit on an examination table at the back of his office, where he poked and prodded me in all sorts of places which embarrassed me no end. He checked my blood pressure, shined lights into my eyes and ears etc. and once finished, let me dress again before giving me the results.

 

"Well, you seem to be in perfect health as far as I can determine. If anything, I would say you are in better physical condition than your last check up. You are, as far as I can tell, completely female. You may want to see a specialist to check that. Your height has increased to 6 foot 1 inches. You also seem to be heavier than you should be for that height, which judging by your muscle tone, may be due to increased muscle mass, or perhaps, higher bone density. You could learn more about your more unique alterations by going to a specialist post-MORFS centre. Regrettably, there is not one in the area, but I can recommend one, and arrange an appointment when you are feeling up to it."

 

"You will, of course, need to register your changed condition with the government, so that your new appearance and gender can be recorded, and new identity papers can be issued. The post-MORFS centres often have the facilities to deal with this process, and will be able to help with any paperwork," Doctor Benson said.

 

"Thank you, Doctor."

 

"No problem at all, it’s what I'm here for. Don't hesitate to call if you need anything," he said. "I know you are going to have a difficult time of it, so if you need any help, or just a sympathetic ear, give me a ring."

 

I was touched by Dr Benson's gesture. It was good to know there were people out there who would help me. As we were leaving, I forgot to put my hood back up to cover my face, and as we walked out of the doctors office the young woman looked up.

 

Her eyes locked on me, going wide, I felt the strange feeling again, though this time it was searingly hot and painful. Her face distorted into a mask of rage. "Monster!" she screamed. "How dare you bring that unclean thing here. There are children it could attack. Get that inhuman beast out of here this instant, before its evil damns us all!"

 

She had clutched her son close to her, shielding him from me. I quickly tried to cover my twisted form, but the woman still gazed at me with fury.

 

Gwen fixed the woman with a cold stare and said, "She is far more human than you will ever be, with your stupid superstitions, and lack of compassion."

 

I hurried out, not wanting to attracted any more attention, glancing back to see Gwen give the woman another hard look before she followed.

 

"Don't let them get to you Mort. They are small minded fools who know nothing." We jumped back in her car, and drove back home. The incident at the doctor’s office had shaken me. The doctor’s kindness had made me forget what I had become, a horrible freak, a monster’ like the woman said.

 

A few people might accept me, but they would be in the minority. I would have to resign myself to a life hidden away from society, lest my terrible visage scare the normal untainted humans.

 

When we got home, Gwen made a pot of tea. A nice cuppa did lift my mood a little. A short while later, we heard the sound of a car pulling up. Gwen went to take a look. "It’s Officer Stevens!" she exclaimed. "Quickly, go up to your room. You've done nothing wrong, but that won't stop someone like him making trouble if he finds you here."

 

I rushed upstairs, and hid where I could hear what was going on. If things turned bad, I wanted some warning, so I could make a run for it. Officer Stevens was one of the local policemen, and one of the most rabid of the anti-MORFS. He was quick to anger, and favoured violence as a solution to most problems. He was a thug, plain and simple.

 

The doorbell rang, and Gwen answered it a short while later. "Yes?" Gwen said simply.

 

"Gwen, can I come in and have a word?" Officer Stevens asked.

 

"I suppose," Gwen replied . "So long as it doesn't take too long, I've a very busy schedule today."

 

I heard the door shut and the sound of footsteps. I guessed they had gone into the living room, which was confirmed a few moments later when I heard voices coming from there.

 

"We got word from a reliable citizen, that you were in the doctor’s office with one of them animals," Officer Stevens voice was dripping with malice.

 

"I don't see how that would be any business of yours, even if it were true," Gwen said with an air of indifference.

 

"Now look here, Missy! Those things are dangerous. You may think it fun to rebel against your betters by bringing one of them demons into our town, but you are really putting yourself and everyone around you at risk. Now you'd best tell me where the monster is hiding, so I can take care of it before it decides to snack on a local child," snarled Officer Stevens.

 

"I have no idea what you are talking about, I would suggest that whoever told you these stories was making them up," Gwen responded.

 

Officer Stevens went quiet. I suspected he was thinking about taking my sister in to question further, but given who her family was, he couldn't risk it without more direct proof. He knew who called the shots in Greenvale. It would be a different matter if he had seen us together. At best, both of us would be in the jail on trumped up charges. I didn't even want to imagine what the worst outcome might be.

 

"Alright Missy, if that's the way you want to play it," Officer Stevens said angrily. "But if I find you with one of them freaks, you'll be sorry!"

 

A short time later, I heard the sound of the door opening and closing, then a car driving off. I waited a bit, not wanting to come down until I knew it was safe.

 

"You can come down now, Mort," my sister called out from downstairs.

 

I wandered back down. My sister looked a bit shaken, but more angry than anything else. I tried not to think about what this latest encounter would mean, and what a nightmare my life had become.

 

We sat quietly drinking our tea, then Gwen decided it was time for lunch. The rest of the day passed in a daze. It was soon early evening, and Gwen and I were watching some television. That’s probably why we didn't hear the car draw up or the front door open. The first I knew about it was that strange burning heat feeling flaring up in several points behind me, then hearing a loud voice from the now open doorway.

 

"What is that thing doing in my house!" said my father.

 

I turned in shock. Behind him, mother and my brother both stood with looks of hate on their faces. The protest must have finished early. Terror filled me as I wondered what was I going to say.

 

Gwen acted first. "Mort go up to your room! I will talk to father,” she said firmly.

 

The momentary shock of Gwen calling me Mort, seemed to freeze father, and I quickly ran to my room. I could hear raised voices, but not make out the words. Brief surges of the odd feelings punctuated the sounds, with the hot burning feeling and a strange prickly sensation that gradually increased. The sensations were beginning to worry me, where were they coming from and what were they?

 

A short while later I heard the sound of running footsteps. Gwen burst into my room. "Mort! You've got to get out of here. Father’s gone crazy!" she said franticly.

 

My brother burst through the door, and grabbed Gwen. "Get away from that monster, you stupid girl!" he shouted, eyeing me with hate.

 

A second later father entered, carrying a shotgun.

 

"No! Father, it’s me, Mort!" I pleaded.

 

"You are merely the demon that has infested Mort's body," he snarled. "I will free his soul"

 

He loaded the shotgun, and pointed it at me. Surely he wasn't going to shoot me. I raised my hands towards him. and tried to make him calm down a bit.

 

The shotgun went off., There was a deafening roar, and my sister screamed. The blast shredded my left hand, leaving me with a bloody stump, my fingers scattered across the room. I must have been in shock, as I didn't feel anything, I just stood there staring at the remains of my left hand.

 

Suddenly, my sister lunged out of my brother’s grip, and slammed into my father. knocking him to the ground. He had been taking better aim to finish me off.  "Run Mort!" she screamed.

 

That snapped me out of my daze, and I raced out of the door. I saw mother coming down the corridor towards me. I thought maybe she had been coming to stop father, but as I got near her she swung at me with a kitchen knife. I pushed past her, taking a cut on my cheek before I managed to get away. I raced straight for the door and out into the evening.

 

 


 

Ch3 – Running Wild (Mort)

I don't know how long I ran, for I just wanted to get as far away as possible. Eventually a combination of fatigue, and probably blood loss, brought me to a stop. I found a small wooded area in a small park, and hid in the bushes, and I must have passed out.

 

I woke up in the dark, with a horrible pain in what remained of my left hand. I looked at the bloody stump in horror. I knew it needed at the very least, bandaging, if not surgery, but I could not get help in the village. Dr Benson might have helped me, but he was surely being watched now.

 

I remembered I still had the gloves I had earlier used to hide my hands. I used one as a rudimentary bandage. The pain was unimaginable, I almost fainted, but managed to hold on as I pulled the bandage tight. I slipped the other glove on to hide my other hand. I checked my face, but the cut seemed to have sealed itself, as no more wet blood flowed when I tentatively touched it.

 

I decided I had to get further away before they began searching for me in earnest. I pulled my blood splattered hood up and ran on. I kept going as long as I could, keeping hidden as much as possible. I have no idea what time it was when I had to stop again, but by this point, I had no idea where I was. I managed to find another bush to hide in behind a bench, and collapsed.

 

I woke to the sound of voices, two teenage girls were sitting on the bench eating burgers.

I suddenly realised how hungry I was. I couldn't let them discover me, so I kept as still as possible, fighting the pain surging through me from a combination of my ruined hand and my awkward position. They chattered away for a while about their boyfriends, and school. I felt more of the odd sensations. Though they faded in and out, the pain I was in made it hard to focus. The smell of their food was making my stomach growl, and I was sure they would hear it. Eventually they got up, threw their rubbish in a nearby bin, and moved off.

 

When I was sure they had gone, I sneaked out of my hiding place. I hesitated a moment, then swallowing my pride, had a look to see if there were any leftovers. One of the girls must have been on a diet or something, as there was over half a burger left. I nabbed it and ate greedily, too hungry to care about the fact I was eating stuff from the rubbish.

 

After finishing my meal I continued on my run. As I ran, I tried to think of a destination, but I couldn't think of anywhere to go. In the end, I decided to make for the nearest big town and try and find one of the post-MORFS centres. Maybe they would be able to help. It was a long shot, but I had no where else to go.

 

I stopped for the night in an abandoned barn, hiding as best I could in some old boxes. Despite the cold, and uncomfortable floor, I passed out almost immediately. Nightmares of mobs with pitch forks led by my father wielding a shotgun, haunted me during the night. I awoke stiff and cold, my missing hand throbbing. I decided to check the wound.

 

After a painful few minutes easing my make shift bandage off, I found my stump seemed to have completely healed over, with a layer of what looked like skin. This surprised me a bit, it couldn't have been more than 12 hours since it was raw bloody flesh. Surely it took longer than that to heal over. It didn't look infected as far as I could tell, so I refitted my bandage, and then was on my way.

 

The next few days followed a similar pattern, days of dodging through shadows trying to remain unseen, grabbing food where and when I could find it, then sleeping wherever I thought I would be safe for the night. I was terrified that some one would see me and hurt me. Fear of capture and loathing at my grotesque twisted body gnawed at me, driving me into deep despair. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep, and when sleep did come, it was filled with nightmares of what might happen if I was found.

 

My first close call came the next Saturday, when I was on the outskirts of a small town. I was trying to find somewhere to sleep for the night, and didn't notice the man approaching.

 

The first I knew, was a voice behind me. "What yer doing out here at this time little girl.", a deep voice slurred drunkenly.

 

I spun round, seeing a large man standing behind me, holding a bottle of something. On seeing me head on, his eyes went wide. I got a fleeting burst of the odd sensations again, a strange pulse, then a weird series waves of heat, different from the heat I had felt before.   

 

"Ur one of dem freaks!" he said. "Still you look pretty good, even if you are one of them animals. I think you'd be pretty good in the sack, wild like the animal you are, and I gets to be the one tames you."

 

As he leered at me and started towards me, I ran. He was pretty fast, even for a drunk guy. I was managing to get out ahead, when I made a mistake, and ran down a dead end. I franticly searched for a way out but there was no exit, so I tried to hide in a small pile of rubbish. I managed to cover some of my body before I heard my pursuer rounding the corner. I froze, my head and upper body still exposed. I had to hope that he didn't spot me. I focused on keeping still and remaining unseen.

 

"I know you're in here, girly" he shouted. "Make it easy on your self, give up. It won't be so bad, you'll enjoy it once ur broke in."

 

He moved into the alleyway, slowly getting closer, I stopped breathing. He walked past me and up to the end of the alley. My heart was racing. After searching around for a bit he turned back, and began walking back out. I felt a surge of relief, until he suddenly turned and looked right at me. My heart felt like it was going to explode, I was frozen in terror.

 

He took a step towards me then stopped, muttered something, then ran out of the alleyway.

 

I couldn't believe it! How had he missed me? I waited a bit till I was sure he was gone, then took a few calming breaths, and my heart rate began slowing. I pondered how he had missed me, even given the relatively low light.

 

Then I spotted a reflection of the wall where I was hiding, in a window opposite, I did a double take. I could see the wall, the rubbish, but there was no sign of me at all. I shifted to get a better look. Suddenly a section of the wall and pavement in the reflection shimmered, and rubbish moved seemingly on its own. The section was vaguely girl shaped. I looked down at myself. My body was not there. I moved my hand up to look at it and saw the same shimmery outline of an arm move up. It looked like whatever was behind it, I could only see it due to the movement, and even then it was like glass, or water.

 

I moved closer to the window to get a better look, seeing a shimmery outline of a girl approach the reflection. She almost looked transparent. When I stopped moving, the shimmery effect vanished, and so did the girl. Slowly my mind pieced together what was going on.

 

I was somehow making myself invisible. I had heard that monsters gained abilities after changing, but I had never considered I would. After a little experimentation, I realised that I was somehow generating a sort of illusion around me, that would adapt to my environment. If I moved too quickly, it couldn't keep up. So long as I moved slowly, it made me invisible. It seemed to cover even my clothes, and my make shift bandage, as if I was wrapped in one of those invisibility cloaks of old legend.

I picked some small stones, and giggled at the flying stones. I could now see in the window the whole situation, with the chase and now the sudden discovery of these strange abilities had made me a bit hysterical.

 

I found with concentration, I could make the invisibility field cover the stone, too. It looked odd, like the space around them stretched and swallowed them. The field seemed to be semi-solid. It clung to me, conforming to my shape, so that if I touched something, it remained on the outside, unless I willed the field to stretch around the object. If I threw an object like a stone from under it, the invisibility seemed to stretch, distorting the world behind it like a soap bubble, then snapping back to my skin, or the top of my clothing, when it stretched too far.

 

I tried to cover a large brick I found with the field. As the invisibility stretched further over the object, I felt slightly faint, and suddenly, my invisibility switched off. I panicked a bit, now exposed in a dead end alley, so I quickly made my way out. I managed to find a small tool shed to hide in n the grounds of an abandoned warehouse. It could be locked from the inside, so it made me feel a lot safer.

 

Before going to sleep, I tried turning my invisibility back on. After a while I figured out how to do it, and with some practice, could turn it off and on at will. It was odd to see it turn on, like a bubble of glass, that bent and distorting the light, exploding out from my skin and through my clothes. Then contracting in like rubber, the colours and patterns matching its environment making me invisible.

 

I experimented further. I couldn't cover objects that were too far away from my body. The limit seemed to be 5 to 10 cm. I found I could even consciously alter the illusion. With a lot of concentration, I could make it change colour and pattern, but this seemed to wear me out quickly. The default invisible option was the easiest to maintain. I drifted off to sleep, happy to have this new tool to keep me hidden and safe.

 

I woke to find myself still invisible, having switched it on before going to sleep. It seemed to have maintained itself while I slept. This pleased me, since it would allow me an extra element of protection when sleeping, if I could hide myself with my invisibility without conscious thought. I made my way back out, and continued on my journey.

 

Over the next few days I made good progress, using my new found skill to stay hidden. I even once used it to steal some proper food, but it made me feel so guilty, I didn't do it again. I decided I might be a monster, but I was going to try to keep my lawlessness to the minimum, if I could help it. Still, my newly discovered ability gave me a degree of confidence, and I was more daring, covering more ground as a result. It also bought me a bit more peace. Though this new skill only served to underline my freakish nature, it kept some of the fear of discovery at bay. There were still the odd bouts of depression, but less than before.

 

By Friday morning I was on the outskirts of Wilynsford a large town (no abbey so not a city but still sizeable). I was pretty sure it would have one of the post-MORFS centres, I just had to find it, and hope they could help me. Up until now. I had been moving through small towns and villages, so had not encountered many people. Now there were lots of people about, even in the early morning time. I pulled my dirty hood up, and tried my best to act inconspicuous.

 

I seemed to have entered in a bad part of town. The buildings looked a bit run down, covered with graffiti, and many with boarded up windows. Groups of men hung around drinking, and the streets were dirty and filled with debris and rubbish. I hurried along towards what looked like a nicer, less dangerous part. In my haste and efforts to remain hidden, I didn't notice a large man coming towards me, not looking where he was going. I walked right into him, falling back. In the process my hood fell back.

 

He looked down at me with a look of annoyance which quickly turned to rage, the sensation of heat flared at me. "Freak!" he shouted.

 

I scrambled to my feet to try and get away, but soon the man and several others were chasing me. The burning sensation radiating from them. I knew if I could get out of sight, I could vanish, and escape.

 

I raced ahead running for the nearest alleyway. As I rounded the corner, I readied myself to disappear, but I found another group of men blocking my path. Soon their faces showed anger, too. I tried to double back, but my pursuers caught up, trapping me. Soon the men circled me, I made a few attempts to get out, but was roughly shoved back into the middle. The strange burning painful feeling was radiating from every direction.

 

"Please leave me alone," I pleaded.

 

"Your kind ain't welcome round here. We're going to teach you a lesson. that animals should know their place," one of the men growled.

 

I tried again to get away. This time I was grabbed, and punched straight in the face. They threw me between them, hitting me. Every time I tried to get away, I was grabbed and shoved back to another tormentor.

 

Suddenly one of the men let out a startled yelp and went flying into a wall. Standing where he had been, was an enormously tall figure in a long coat and hat. "Why don't you pick on someone your own size," the figure said. From the voice, it was a young girl.

 

I was tossed against the wall as the gang rounded on the newcomer. Soon there were more bodies flying through the air. Whoever this girl was, she was immensely strong. Soon the remains of the gang realised they were outclassed, and ran.

 

As the girl walked towards me, I cringed backwards, afraid of her size and strength. She held up her hands in a comforting gesture. She knelt down near me and I could see her face. She was quite pretty, with vivid, almost glowing golden eyes, and striking violet hair. In spite of her size, she was very feminine looking under the big coat. She looked very trim and athletic, but not at all bulky, or overly muscular as her strength might have suggested.

 

A look of concern creased her features. "Are you OK?" she said gently.

 

I looked at her and felt a soft warmth coming from her. All of a sudden, I felt safe with her there. I made to stand up, but I felt very weak and passed out.

 


 

Ch4 – A Chance Encounter (Dorothy)

I was on my way back from picking up a book for my mum. I hated this part of town it had become something of a enclave for anti-MORFS elements, and it was not somewhere someone with obvious physical differences was made welcome. In better times, it had been a prosperous retail district, till larger shopping centres opened up on the other side of town, drawing trade away, and causing it to become run down and populated by more unsavoury types.

 

But some of the old shops still remained, not able to afford places closer to the new shopping areas, and it was home to some of the best rare book shops in the county, so the trip was often worthwhile. My mum has an interest in rare books, so I often run such errands for her. She is a hybrid, and since my father died, has become somewhat reclusive.

 

I was lucky to be almost normal looking, but only relatively speaking. I am 7ft tall, but generally human shaped, a little on the curvy Amazon side, if I do say so myself. Not as curvy as I might have liked, but still, at 15 there is some chance of further development, though then again, I might end up taller, which would make it even harder to find clothes in my size.

 

My hair and eyes look odd, with a slightly outlandish colouration, though nothing that couldn't come from a bottle or a pair of contacts. My canine teeth are slightly elongated, not exactly fangs, but still I have to be careful not to smile too much, which isn't usually a problem in this part of town. So long as I cover up well, I am usually just ignored, other than people noticing my height. My physical presence usually discourages any further investigation.

 

As I was making my way home, I heard a commotion in an alleyway, a lot of shouting, with the odd high pitched scream. I went to investigate, finding a group of 10 or 20 men attacking a young hybrid girl about my own age. I didn't know how she had ended up in this part of town. I would have thought anyone would know better than to come here.

 

She was taking quite a beating and I decided I’d better step in before someone did any permanent damage. I grabbed the nearest guy, and flung him into a pile of rubbish. "Why don't you pick on someone your own size" I suggested.

 

The group turned, then came at me. I easily dispatched them, as most of them were too drunk to put up much of a fight, and I could easily out manoeuvre them. Soon, the ones still standing decided they didn't like dealing with someone who fought back, and did a runner. I made my way over to the girl, who looked terrified. She backed away slightly, holding up a hand to ward off any attack.

 

I did my best to put her at ease. She was in a bad way, covered in scrapes, and she was also filthy. Her clothes had mud, and what looked like dried blood, all over them. She looked like she had been sleeping rough for a while.

 

She was quite pretty, even under all that muck, quite tall for a girl, but still a good foot shorter than me. She had a vaguely snake like look, with scales down the sides of her face and neck. The hand she held in front of her seemed similarly covered in scales, with black, talon-like nails. Intense dark eyes stared out at me from underneath a hood. Her eyes had very large pupils, and seemingly, no iris at all. She never seemed to blink and I saw the reason seemed to be some sort of membrane that periodically flashed over her eyes. Her light brown shoulder length hair was clogged with dirt and bits of debris. Under the shapeless rags she wore, she seemed to have a nice figure, though judging by her face, she was a little on the thin side. She had probably not been getting regular meals. I decided that cleaned up, with a few good meals in her and some decent clothes, she would probably be quite a looker, exotic, but very attractive.

 

As gently as I could I asked, "Are you OK?"

 

She seemed to relax a little, but as she tried to stand up, she collapsed. I caught her as she fell, and easily lifted the unconscious girl up into my arms, though she weighed more than I would have thought for someone her size.

 

Having got her I wasn't initially sure what to do with her. I couldn't very well leave her there, especially unconscious, but what could I do with her. I decided to carry her home, at least for now. If she came round in the meantime, I could ask her where she wanted to be taken.

 

I got some pretty funny looks carrying an unconscious girl through the bad part of town, but no one said anything, obviously not wanting to get involved. After a while, I got into some of the nicer neighbourhoods, and a few people tentatively asked if the girl was alright, to which I replied to the effect I was taking her to see a doctor. Which was mostly true, my mum was a doctor, but of the PHD variety. When I got home a while later, the girl was still passed out.

 

As I was trying to carry her through the door without cracking her head on the jamb, my mum called out. "Hello, Dear, did you manage to get the books ... Who is that you're carrying?" as she walked into the hallway and saw my burden.

 

"She was being attacked by a group of men when I was on the way back from the bookshop. I drove them off, but she passed out before I could find out if she was alright. It didn't seem right to leave her there. She took a nasty beating, and I think she was in a pretty bad way to start with. She’s been sleeping rough by the looks of it."

 

"Oh the poor dear. Take her up to the spare room, Dot. We'll look after her till she comes round."

 

I carried the girl up to the spare room, and gently put her on the bed, then carefully slipped off her shoes and socks. I noticed scales like the ones on her face covered her feet from the ankle down, and her toe nails were like talons and completely black, They were also fearsomely sharp. I went back out to get her a blanket, and when I returned she was gone!

 

I searched around. She couldn't have got past me, but there was no sign of her. I went back to the spare room in case she had hidden in there. Nothing. Then I caught movement on the bed out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned, I saw nothing.

 

I looked really close, and just when I was sure I was imagining things, I saw a slight shimmer. I reached out gently and felt the girl, right where I had left her. She had some sort of camouflage ability. I carefully draped a blanket over her. it seemed to float over a girl shaped chunk of thin air.

 

I quietly closed the door, and made my way down stairs.

 

"How is she?" Mum asked.

 

"Still out." I answered. "Gave me a bit of a shock though, she's got some sort of camouflage ability. I thought she'd run off while I was getting a blanket. I only spotted her when she moved"

 

"Handy talent to be able to disappear," Mum said wistfully. "I could use a skill like that myself sometimes."

 

Mum is not exactly inconspicuous, nearly as tall as me at 6 ft 6 and quite muscular, with light yellow fur. She is vaguely lion-like, with golden eyes, which I inherited, and sharp pronounced teeth. Apart from that, she looks like a normal woman.

 

She is one of the gentlest people. Her fairly fearsome appearance masks the kind, shy person underneath. She got a lot of grief for her looks, and since she is not a confrontational type, she tries to avoid situations where she will stand out.

 

When Dad was alive, she was a bit more outgoing. He had been the sort of person who wouldn't let anyone tell him where he could and couldn't go, or who he could be with. As a result, he would take mum and me out all the time, and taught me never to be cowed into letting other’s prejudices dictate what I did.

 

But he had been killed in a car crash when I was ten.  Both Mum and me were hit hard by it. She had retreated into her internal world of books, and hidden away. I had become her interface with the world, running errands, and getting anything we needed. She rarely went out, and often, I was her only human contact for weeks at a time. Over time, she had come out of her shell a bit, though it was still hard for her.

 

I gained a lot of my height from her, being 6ft or so, till a few months back when MORFS gave me a boost to 7ft. I had managed to avoid gaining any overly obvious hybrid features. My golden irises,  violet hair, and somewhat fearsome looking teeth were all fairly easy to conceal, making me look like a normal, albeit tall, girl.

 

The fact that I had gained a lot of strength during my MORFS induced growth spurt didn't hurt my confidence either. My size made it easy to run errands to the bad parts of town without having to worry about being hassled.

 

We sat and talked for a bit, then Mum started a pot of tea, and I went to check on the girl.

 

 


 

Ch5 - awakening (Mort)

I came to in a comfy bed. At first, I thought I must be hallucinating. When the feeling didn't go away, I wondered where I was. Still, I was comfy and no one was attacking me, so I rested for a bit. After a few weeks of sleeping rough, it was wonderful to be in a soft comfy bed. A short while later the door opened, and the girl who had saved me from the group of men earlier stuck her head round the door.

 

She looked at me quizzically for a bit then asked, "Are you awake?" She paused "I can sort of see you moving."

 

I wondered what she meant by that, then realised my invisibility was on. I mentally flipped its off switch and the girl’s face lit up with a smile, though it was a touch menacing, due to her teeth, which seemed slightly long and more pointed than most.

 

"That is so cool" she exclaimed. "My name’s Dorothy, but you can call me D."

 

"m ... Mort" I stammered.

 

She looked momentarily taken aback, but quickly recovered. "I don't mean to be rude but you could use a shower. I can probably find you some clean clothes that would fit you from before I grew, if you'd like?"

 

I nodded and got off the bed, and D showed me to the bathroom.

 

"I'll see about getting you some clothes," she said as she left me.

 

I struggled out of my clothes. Only having one hand made it tricky, but over the past few weeks I had managed to learn some of the trick of it. I folded my clothes, a somewhat futile gesture given how filthy they were, but old habits die hard.

 

I climbed into the shower, finding that the accumulated muck took a while to wash off. Suddenly the door opened, and D walked in. I must have instinctively triggered my invisibility, as I was suddenly a vague shape in the stream of water. Not transparent, but sort of a body shaped pillar of water, as my camouflage tried to adapt to the fast moving water droplets. It was a quite interesting effect, sort of naked girl made of flowing water, but not really an effective way to hide.

 

D stared at me for a bit, then shook herself, and put a towel down then picked up my clothes. "I put some clean clothes out on the bed, and got you a towel. I'll put your clothes on to wash", she said before going back out of the door.

 

I continued my shower. It was a strange experience. My new body was much more stimulated than before. I pushed that thought out of my head, and finished cleaning myself.

 

I dried off slowly then wrapped a towel around my middle, like I had seen my sister do. I padded across to the room I had waked up in, and found some clothes on the bed. There was a light blue track suit, a plain white t shirt, and plain panties.

I slipped the clothes on, finding that they fitted reasonably well. Clothed and clean, and feeling pretty good, I headed out of the room, pausing to hang the wet towel on a drying rack I had seen in the bathroom.

 

The house was fairly large old, I would guess a Victorian place, with solid brick construction. It had a nice warm feeling to it, with bright colours, and nice airy curtains in bright flowery patterns. It had exposed wood doors, and nice plush carpets that felt wonderful on my bare feet, especially after a few weeks of hard roads.

 

I heard voices coming from down stairs, so I made my way towards them. I caught the tail end of a conversation.  "... Just taking a shower I put some of my old clothes out for her. She was a little jumpy. Maybe she's a runaway," I hear D say.

 

"Poor dear," I heard a woman's voice say. "She has obviously been having a tough time even before you came across her."

 

I wandered into the room the voices were coming from. It appeared to be a kitchen, with a large wooden table. As I walked in, I could see the girl D sitting at the table talking to someone just out of my line of sight.

 

"Hi" I said. As I rounded the corner and came into the room I could see the person D was talking to, and I  froze. A huge, (though smaller than D), furry woman stood by the counter.

 

 

As I took an involuntary step back, the woman gasped and nearly dropped the cup she was holding. I realised I had gone invisible at the same time as I’d stepped back. I stared at the large, muscular, furry woman in front of me. My initial shock and fear was tempered a bit, by the fact she was wearing a flowery dress, and had her hair done with brightly coloured ribbons and bows.

 

"It’s alright, this is my mum," D said, looking in my general direction.

 

I relaxed a bit, I didn't feel any of the same feelings I had had before when people had wanted to hurt me. I lowered my invisibility, and tentatively stepped forward, giving a little smile to the furry woman, D's mum.

 

"You gave me such a fright, just vanishing like that," D's mum said with a gentle smile. "That's a very surprising trick you have." She seemed to collect her thoughts, then added, "You can call me Joyce. What is your name, dear?"

 

"I'm Mort" I said quietly.

 

"That's an unusual name," she answered. "Would you like a cup of tea, dear?"

 

"Yes, please," I replied.

 

"Have a seat at the table, and I'll pour you a cup. Do you take milk and sugar?"

 

"Milk, no sugar, please," I replied. I took a seat at the table, and Joyce handed me a steaming mug of tea. I took a sip, feeling instantly better about everything.

 

"Help yourself to a biscuit, Dear." Joyce indicated a plate of chocolate digestives.

 

Without thinking about it, I reached towards the plate with my left hand, my right being occupied by tea.

 

"My goodness! What happened to your hand?" Joyce exclaimed on seeing my stump.

 

I stared at what was left of my hand, seeing it for the first time without the blood and muck covering it. The raw wounded end had completely healed over, and the scaly pattern on the rest of it had started to cover it again. Seeing it, caused the memories of a few weeks ago to come flooding back, and for a while I just stared at the stump with tears in my eyes, before finally sobbing, "My father shot it off,"

 

"What?" D practically shouted, a look of horror on her face.

 

I sobbed a bit, and then the whole wretched story of the last few weeks tumbled out. I told them everything from before I changed, up until D rescued me.

 

After a bit, I realized Joyce was holding me, gently stroking my hair without a word as I cried. After a while, I calmed down and felt a bit better, dried my eyes and sat back.

 

"There, there, dear. Do you feel a bit better now?" asked Joyce, putting a gentle hand on my shoulder.

 

I nodded.

 

"Well then drink your tea, there’s no need to fret. You're safe now," Joyce said.

 

D giggled, "I thought Mort was a strange name for a girl," to which I added a chuckle.

 

Joyce seemed to come to some sort of decision and turned to looked at me. "I think for the time being you should stay here with us. We have plenty of room, and I won't have you out on the streets any more. We'll see what we can do to sort out the long term situation as and when, but for now, you can stay here. That is, if you want to"

 

I couldn't believe that someone I barely knew was offering me a safe place to stay.

 

"Thank you," I said, my eyes tearing up again.

 

"You're welcome, Dear. Now have a biscuit. You'll feel better." Joyce said with a smile.

 

I looked back at the plate, and was thinking about taking the biscuit nearest me, when quite automatically I opened my mouth, and my tongue shot out like a rocket, stretching a good half meter to the plate with no discomfort. It somehow grabbed the biscuit I was after, and retracted so the biscuit was in my mouth.

 

As D nearly choked on her tea, I clapped my hand to my mouth in shock.

 

By now D had recovered a bit and spluttered, "Girl, you are full of surprises!"

 

I chewed and swallowed my biscuit, then removing my hand said, "I didn't know I could do that"

 

"Hmm" said Joyce "It might be worth taking you down to the local testing centre, just in case you have any other tricks up your figurative sleeves."

 

Joyce went off to sort out an appointment at the testing centre, so I sat with D drinking my tea, occasionally fiddling with my tongue experimentally. By pulling on the end of it, I found it could stretch out to quite astounding lengths. It was as if I had a reel of tongue in the back of my mouth. D watched me fiddling with my tongue with wide eyes, a look of amusement and shock on her face.

 

"So," she said hesitantly. "Do you have any other cool tricks?"

 

"Not that I know of," I answered slowly. "The tongue thing is new, though"

 

After a bit more thought I said. "I can sort of make the invisibility thing change, so rather than invisibleness, it projects something else." I demonstrated by turning myself purple.

 

"Wow! That's a little weird. You look like a purple statue or something."

 

"Yeah." I replied shifting back to normal."It takes a lot more effort to do anything that's not invisible, and I can't hold it for long. So do you have any cool abilities?"

 

"Pah, I wish. I'm big, and fairly strong, and I've got pretty good night vision, but that's about it

 

Joyce returned and sat down. "I had a word with a friend of mine at the centre, and though normally they couldn't see you without your parents, they are going to make an exception due to the circumstances. We'll take you down later this afternoon to get that hand, and the rest of you, checked out."

 

I sat quietly for a bit and then regarded what was left of my hand, Was it my imagination, or did it look different? I guessed it must be scarring or some such, or maybe just the fact that it was clean made it look different from what I remembered.

 

We had some more tea, as both Joyce and D made small talk. I was for the most part quiet. Eventually Joyce said it was nearly time for my appointment. We bundled into a car and drove to the centre.

 

The place was a far cry from the simple doctor’s office I was used to, all gleaming sterile and clinical. It had a receptionist, who directed us to a waiting room. There we sat for a few minutes, with Joyce muttering about how even with a pre-arranged appointment, you still had to wait, so what was the point of booking in the first place.

Joyce seemed a little ill at ease, as I was, as there were the many people sitting in the waiting room. I kept getting flashes of the odd feeling, lots of different things and from all directions. It made me a bit nervous, and I sat with my feet up on the chair, hugging my knees. The fact that Joyce and D were there calmed me a bit.

 

Eventually we were called, and they took me into an office. The doctor was a small blond lady who looked to be in her early 30's. "Hello. I'm Dr Jones, but please, call me Sarah." she said, coming round her desk to shake my hand.

 

"Hi" I said, a touch nervous.

 

"Now we are going to leave you in Sarah's capable hands. We'll be just down the hall," Joyce said, giving me a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder.

 

Joyce and D gave me a wave, then stepped out and closed the door. I turned back to Dr Jones who gave me a smile, and gestured to a seat.  "Now then, Mort, I understand you went through MORFS approximate two weeks ago."

 

"Yes, Doctor Jones" I replied.

 

"Call me Sarah. I always think my mother has walked into the room when people call me doctor Jones.” She continued, “Did you see a doctor after you finished changing?"

 

"Yes, I saw our village doctor."

 

"OK, what village is this, and what is your doctor’s name?" she asked.

 

I hesitated, and sensing this she continued "Joyce told me you are apprehensive about your hometown. She didn't go into the details, but I gather your parents are not being at all supportive. Rest assure, I'm not going to contact them, but if I can get access to your previous medical history, then it would be useful."

 

I nodded, then slowly said, "My doctor’s name was Dr Benson, and the village is called Little Greenvale. My full name is Mortimer Wilson."

 

She gave me a sympathetic look when I named the village. "Ah that explains a lot. I have heard of Little Greenvale, and have had a few patients from there before. I will just see about getting access to your records."

 

She tapped away at the computer for a while, then turned back to me.

 

"Excellent, it seems Dr Benson is very thorough. That will certainly help things along. Now then, I understand you injured your hand?"

 

"Yes" I said flatly, bringing what was left of my hand up to show her.

 

"My goodness!", she said quite visibly shocked. Clearly she had pictured a bad cut or something. "What on earth did this?"

 

"A shotgun" I said." My father tried to kill me when he found out I'd changed."

 

Sarah sat there with her mouth open. She tried to speak a few times, but seemed unable to get the words out. Suddenly, I felt a change in her, as a strange burning sensation flared up inside her. As she began radiating burning heat, her expression become one of anger.

 

I cringed back away from her frightened by this sudden change. "Please, you're burning me!" I cried.

 

"What?" With a look of confusion, the burning died down a bit.

 

"I don't know why, but I could feel a burning heat coming from you all of a sudden. I've felt it before when people have been trying to attack me," I told her.

 

"Hmm." She looked thoughtful. "It is possible you're empathic. That means you can sense other people’s emotions. I think you were feeling my anger at what had happened to you. I wasn't angry with you, far from it, and I didn't mean to hurt you. I'll try and keep it in check."

 

"Let’s take a look at your hand, first." She walked over and gently examined my stump, carefully, yet firmly, manipulating it.

 

“Hmm.” A thoughtful look came over her face “That's interesting. The way its healed is odd. Let’s take a look inside with a scanner, to see what's going on.”

 

She led me over to an examining table and had me lie on it, then stepped back and pressed some buttons. An arm covered in blue lights descended from the ceiling.

 

"Now just close your eyes and relax. This is a scanner that can see through you like an old x ray, but without the harmful radiation. I'd tell you how it works, but I'm afraid machines aren't my thing. One of the technicians tried to explain it once, going on about near field super lenses, teraHertz waves, and resonance scanning, but I'm afraid I'm still none the wiser. She could have said tiny magic pixies, and I probably would have just nodded and smiled.” Sarah smiled. “I'm going to do a full body image, so we can make sure everything’s alright."

 

I closed my eyes and then there was a faint humming noise for a few minutes.

 

"OK you can get up now", Sarah led me back over to the desk.

 

"Now let’s take a look here. Hmm, … Interesting. You suffered the damage to your hand a week or two ago?", she asked. I nodded.  "By the looks of this scan. you appear to have gained the ability to regenerate. Let me show you."

 

She swung the screen around to face me. "You see here? Well this looks to be bones regrowing, You can make out new finger bones just here. You look to have picked up some reptilian DNA. A lot of reptiles are capable of regrowing lost limbs."

 

I looked down at my damaged hand, amazed to hear that it was growing back.

 

"That's not the only place were you seem to have gained reptile-like features", Sarah continued. "Your tongue seems to be a lot like a chameleon's. It has a special ball of muscle on the end that allows it to create a vacuum and stick to things. It’s also extremely stretchy, almost elastic like in properties. Some chameleons can stretch their tongue to up to one and a half times their body length. their tongue expanding 600% from its resting size. Your tongue, though bigger than a regular  human tongue, is proportionally smaller than a chameleon's so I would estimate one body length is the most you could do. It’s attached such that it normally acts like a regular tongue, but when needed this bone, here at the base, lifts it up and forward then special muscles along its length allow it to first expand out at high velocity, the tip grabbing on the target, then to more slowly retract what it captured into the mouth"

 

"I discovered that earlier. It was a bit of a shock." I said.

 

"I would imagine," Sarah said with a smile "Let’s see what else. Oh yes. you have nictitating membranes on your eyes, which keep your eyes moist and protect them from dirt. Your hands and feet seem to have setae on the pads of digits, which are microscopic bristles or hairs, millions of them in close proximity. Some lizards have them. They allow hugely improved grip on any surface, even glass, making use of Van der Waals intermolecular forces. In your case, its covering a proportionally smaller area, so I'm not sure how much your grip will increase as a result. So I wouldn't try climbing the outside of any tall buildings just yet.

 

Your nails also seem to be adapted to climbing, and there seems to be some adaptation to the fingers and toes, possibly increasing their range of movement. You also seem to have increased efficiency in muscles and connective tissues. So you may feel stronger, and more agile than you used to, not a lot, but some. Your bones and tissues are tougher. You also seem to have a somewhat heightened metabolism and immune response, though some of that is probably due to your still being in stage 3 of MORFS. Or, it could also be a side effect of the regeneration. Now is there anything else you've noticed that I've missed?"

 

"Well, there is this," I said, going invisible.

 

Sarah gasped, then chuckled. "You are just full of surprises." She took a hand held gadget from her desk. "now just stay where you are while I take some readings."

 

She waved the gadget in my general direction. "OK, that should do it," she said, so I dropped my invisibility.

 

She plugged the gadget into her computer tapped away for a bit then said. "You seem to emit a field, a sort of hologram if you will, in a shell around your body. It adapts to the environment to render you effectively invisible. It also seems to dampen noise and scent to further hide you."

 

"I've found I can control it a bit, but it takes a lot out of me and I can't hold it for long."

 

"Interesting, the camouflage must be some sort of instinctual reaction. It seems to be a variant of illusionist abilities, that is, the ability to create realistic images that fool the eyes. It’s localised to just around your body, and you seem to have some sort of adaptive sense, that allows it to match the world around you without conscious thought. From the scan results, you are, beyond the differences I've already mentioned, a normal young girl. I think that covers everything I can test for. I'd just like to have a colleague step in for a moment. She's a telepath, so can check to see if you have any more surprises lurking. Is that OK?"

 

When I nodded, she picked up her phone and spoke for a bit, then hung up. A short while later there was a knock on the door. Sarah called out a quick, “Come in,” and a small lady with iridescent green hair and purple eyes entered. She was one of those people who seemed to have a permanent smile, and I felt an odd resonance with her. She gave me a big smile, then a quirky look, as she came over and sat down. Her sunny disposition seemed to flow out of her and I could feel it all around me, making my own emotions mirror it.

 

"Hi, I'm Anna" she offered her hand, which I shook." Now this won't take a moment. Just relax, and try to think happy thoughts."

 

She closed her eyes, and I tried to relax and think happy thoughts. I felt a strange tickling sensation in my head and the odd resonance I sensed in Anna seemed to spin up, getting stronger. I went back to thinking happy thoughts. I thought about my sister, and the happy times we’d had.

 

Then I thought about the last time I’d seen her, which unfortunately led my mind into less happy territory. I was suddenly reliving that horrible night up until the point where the shotgun took my hand. I felt the pain of it again and that seemed to lead to other memories of pain, and fear of the man who threatened to rape me, and then the gang who’d attacked me, their hate burning at me as they punched and kicked me about.

 

I could feel something odd, the resonance I had felt was getting stronger, the emotions I was feeling seemed to be flowing through it.

 

I was startled back to reality by a soft scream. Anna had been picking up my decidedly non-happy thoughts, and seemed to be badly effected by them, trapped in some sort of emotional feedback loop.

 

I gathered all my will, and focused my entire mind on a single happy image. My sister’s smile on her birthday, when I’d given her a hand made wooden box I had spent months making.

 

I felt Anna relax and the telepathic link dissolve, and when I looked at her, I saw she was slumped in her chair breathing heavily. Sarah looked concerned.

 

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you," I apologised. I folded myself up, trying to make myself small and avoid touching anyone else, lest I hurt them, too. I felt terrible that I had hurt her. My previously happy mood had evaporated, and depression rose up in its place. I was once again confronted with the reality that I was tainted, a monster, who would hurt everyone around them, even without meaning to. I had visions of being locked up in a dark cold cage for unintentionally harming Anna, kept away from normal people, chained up like the animal I was.

 

Just as my dark mood was intensifying I felt Anna's mood return from its shocked state to her happy norm. She seemed to get her breath back, gave me a smile, and held my hand, maybe sensing my inner turmoil at what had happened.

 

Her comforting gestures and happy mood brought my dark mood back under control. "That's OK. You couldn’t know. I should have guessed we might have problems, since you are potentially an empathy. It’s just that normally, people don't have quite so much pain in their heads. You got a double dose, the physical, and the sensed emotions. I'm quite impressed that you realised what was going on, and managed to block it out so quickly. It often takes a lot of practice to do that sort of thing"

 

"Are you alright now, Anna?" Sarah asked.

 

"Yeah, just a little psychic feedback I'll be fine.”

“Anyway, she said, turning back to me, “To the matter in hand, your abilities. You are definitely an empathy, probably a reasonably sensitive one with training, though I don't know if you'll be able to project or control emotions. That is because you seem to have some innate resistance to telepathy, possibly down to your empathy. So I can access thoughts and feelings, but only if you let me. It’s sort of as if you give me your mental permission if you like. I'm pretty sure you can block all but vague hints of emotion, to even quite high level telepaths unless you consciously let them in. It seems a sort of automatic lock out, so the deeper level stuff that you aren't consciously aware of is almost completely inaccessible. Since you don't know its there, you can't give permission for me to rummage through it. From the little I can see, I can tell you that you are an elemental, though what type, and level I can't determine. I couldn't sense anything more than that, but you should be careful. You could have more tricks in there."

 

"Like this?" suddenly feeling very playful for some reason, I turned invisible, then purple, then the wood colour of the desk, and back to normal.

 

Anna gave a little shriek of laughter,. "You little minx!"

 

"Stop teasing poor Anna. Normally she can read people like a book. It must be driving her up the wall, not being able to get inside that head of yours and see what makes you tick." Sarah was laughing away so hard, she could barely get it out.

 

"I'll be good," I said. But what she said gave me an idea, I made myself look like a book from the doctor's desk. It must have looked very odd, as  I made all my clothes like the cover and my skin, the pages. It took a lot of concentration and I couldn't hold it for long, but it got both Anna and Sarah laughing.

 

When she managed to stop laughing, Sarah told us, "I think we're all done here. Why don't you go out and sit with D for a bit. Have Joyce come in so I can put her mind at rest."

 

I thanked Sarah and shook her hand. As I started to do the same with Anna, she surprised me by pulling me into a hug. "Don't worry too much. Things will sort themselves out," she whispered into my ear.

 

I wandered back to the waiting room, and told Joyce that Sarah wanted a word. Then I just sat and talked a bit with D.

 

 


 

Ch6  - A Helping Hand (Joyce)

 

I was sitting in the waiting room when I saw Mort return from her appointment. She was a strange young thing, but not unsurprisingly so, given her recent history. She seemed uncomfortable with the world around her, and was always very jumpy. She seemed very ill at ease with hybrids. Not having grown up around them probably played a big part in that. She was also uncomfortable in her own skin, her movements clumsy, due to her change. Still, even given the fundamentalist brainwashing she had grown up with, she seemed a nice kind individual. If she could break that programming and become more comfortable with herself and others like her, she might well be happy.

 

I wandered along to Sarah's office, and as I was getting near, I felt a familiar presence in my head.

I knocked, then entered and saw Sarah and Anna.

 

"I thought I felt you poking around up here, Anna." I tapped my forehead. "How are you, Dear?"

 

"A bit shaken, Joyce," Anna replied. "Had quite a wild ride with your young house guest."

 

"Really? I knew she had had a tough time of it, but I didn't realise it was something that bad.".

 

"She carries a lot of scars." Anna looked sad. "It’s made worse by the fact that she is empathic. Since her change, she's had a horrific time of things, and all the pain and hate she's experienced is in there. I inadvertently tripped the memory of how she lost her hand. It’s monstrous that someone could treat their child like that. I'm going to make a note in her file about it. With any luck, the bastards will do time for this"

 

"With any luck, most of the physical damage will fade, given enough time," Sarah added "She seems to have gained regenerative capabilities. Her hand already show signs of growing back"

 

"The emotional scars won't fade so easily," said Anna. "While I can't read her perfectly, I do know that she has a hard road ahead of her. She has been conditioned her whole life to hate people who have undergone MORFS, especially hybrids. Now she is one, not to mention, female. She has lost her old identity, and become, as she sees it, a monster. She's also suffered a hellish introduction to her new life, losing her hand, going on the run, sleeping rough, being attacked and hated. It’s a wonder she’s still sane.”

 

“On the plus side, she never really liked any of her family, with the exception of her sister who seems a far more balanced individual. This should make it easier to reject their twisted world view. She's going to need a lot of support, understanding, and even more, patience. Her empathic abilities are in some ways going to help her adapt. She will undoubtedly instinctively know when people are lying to her. It’s one of the reasons she so quickly trusted you and D. She feels safe with you, and at an instinctual level, knows you mean her no harm and are trying to help. It gets around any issues she might have trusting the both of you. She just knows who is friendly and who is not.

 

“Given what I witnessed, and with the physical evidence to back it up, I can get a temporary protection order started. While telepathic witnessing is not enough to get criminal proceedings started, with Sarah's scans, it will be enough that we can provisionally keep her away from her parents while her case is evaluated to see if more long term measures are required.” Anna told me. “If you're willing, I'm going to recommend that she stay with you initially. I don't think bouncing her around to a whole load of new people would be good for her mental state."

 

"She obviously needs our help, and I can't turn away from someone that needs help so badly," I said "she can stay as long as she wants."

 

"She has other abilities, currently latent, but they could show up at any time," Anna warned. "I can't tell the details, due to her resistance. As far as I can make out, she is not dangerous, at least not intentionally so. She has much more of a run and hide mentality, than a stand and fight. You should still exercise some caution, however. Also, bear in mind that she has not yet really accepted what has happened to her. Her time since her change has been pure survival, all fear and adrenaline. Now she is out of immediate danger, she may have some trouble adapting to her new sex, and radically different body. She knows nothing about being a girl, and lacks even the basic knowledge of what to expect and how to act. Dot can probably help her a lot, given their similar ages"

 

"Bring her back in a week or so. We can do a follow up on that hand, and see how she is doing.", Sarah requested.

 

“I will get things rolling on making sure she is safe, and protected long term,” said Anna. “I will also see about getting her new identification and registration documents to reflect her new status.”

 

I stood up and we all shook hands, then I walked out of Sarah's office and went to find Dorothy and Mort. Maybe she could do with a new name, Mort didn't really suit her any more. First things first she need some clothes. No doubt Dorothy could be easily persuaded to rectify that situation. With that thought in mind I found the girls, and we headed back to the car.

 

 


 

Ch7 - Revelations (Dr Benson)

I had just dealt with the last patient of the morning, and was tidying up ready for heading home for some lunch, when I noticed a change of status notification on my computer for one of my patient’s files.

 

I took a quick look and found that it was Mortimer Wilson's file. I was quite pleased to see that young Mortimer had been to a specialist centre for a checkup. Though I had done what I could, the local climate was unfavourable to those who had suffered MORFS, so no local specialised care was available.

 

I looked through the centres findings with interest. I noticed the report mentioned a hand injury, but all details were blocked. That had to mean some sort of special circumstances, since normally all details would be recorded so as to keep a full medical history.

 

Concerned I decided to give Gwen Wilson, Mort's sister, a ring to see what had happened. For some reason, the wording of what little information there was, disquieted me.

 

I dug out her number from the files, and rang her up.

 

"Hello" she answered.

 

At first I wasn't sure I had the right number. Gwen was usually a very bright and cheerful person, This voice sounded very depressed, so out of character I didn't recognise it.

 

"Hello, I'm trying to reach Gwen Wilson."

 

"Speaking," she replied.

 

"Ah, hello, Gwen. This is Doctor Benson. I was wondering if I could speak to you about Mort."

 

"I ... I  can't speak about that. My parents might hear me." she sounded very frightened.

 

I hesitated, not sure how to proceed.  "I see" I finally said. "Well the thing of it is, I was just wondering about the hand injury ..."

 

Gwen cut me off  "What! How did you know about that?"

 

"Well, it’s mentioned in the file. I know Mort had no hand injuries when I examined her a few weeks back, so when I saw the updated report, I wondered what had happened"

 

Gwen was stammering, seemingly unable to get out the words, and I began to put two and two together.

 

"You didn't take her to the post-MORFS centre, did you," I said.

 

Gwen exploded in a torrent of questions.

"She's alive! Oh I've been so worried. …  How is she? Is she healthy? Where is she?"

 

"Well, I'm not sure how much of that I can answer, due to patient confidentiality. But I think I can safely say she is in reasonably good health. Perhaps you had better tell me what happened," I said.

 

"The evening after we came to see you, mother and father came home early. I tried to reason with them, but they were very angry about how Mort had changed. They started in on that demonic possession nonsense. I thought they might kick Mort out, but it was worse. Father decided he would free Mort's soul from the demon inhabiting his body. Worse still, both my mother and brother agreed with him. I tried to warn Mort so she could get away, but Grant Junior held me back. Father cornered Mort, and tried to shot her. He blew her hand to shreds. I managed to get free, and knock him down before he finished the job, and Mort ran. I haven't heard from her since, and mother and father are keeping me a virtual prisoner."

 

I was shocked beyond belief. "He shot her!? I knew your family were anti-MORFS. but that's, ... That's madness!"

 

"I didn't know what to do afterwards. I thought about going to the police, but the locals are owned by my father, and uncle. With Mort gone, I didn't know what I could do to help, since I had no idea where she was or if she was even still alive," Gwen sobbed.

 

Then she said. "Is there any way I could talk to her, or even pass her a letter or something?" her voice brightening hopefully.

 

"I don't know, Gwen, I have no contact information for her. I could ask the doctor she has been seeing if she could forward a message, but there is no guarantee they will honour that request. Especially, if she has relayed the details of how she lost her hand to them."

 

"Please, could you try? Mort knows my number, so if they just asked her to call me, she could make the decision her self. I've got to go. If I'm caught talking to you, well, it won't be pleasant." Gwen said.

 

"I will see what I can do but no promises I'm afraid."

 

After that we both rang off. I gathered my thoughts, and considered what to do. Any doctor should try to always act with their patient’s best interests at heart. Having gone through a traumatic ordeal at the hands of her family, I could see them being extremely reluctant to hand over contact details to anyone in the family she'd just escaped from. Still, Gwen was a sweet girl, and obviously loved her new sister very much, so I had to at least try to put them back in touch.

 

I looked through the records and located the doctor’s name, and the number of the centre. I rang the centre and asked to speak with Doctor Sarah Jones.

 

The phone rang for a short while, before a young woman's voice answered. "Dr Sarah Jones."

 

"Hello Doctor Jones, this is Doctor Clive Benson, here. I was wondering if I could speak to you about a mutual patient," I said.

 

"Always happy to help a fellow medical professional Dr Benson. Which patient are you referring to?" she replied.

 

"The patient’s name is Mortimer Wilson," I said.

 

"Ah yes, Miss Wilson. What was it you wanted to talk to me about?" Dr Jones sounded a touch reserved.

 

"I saw your update to her file, and noted the hand injury. It not having been present when I last examined her, I investigated, which led me to discover the horrific circumstances behind it, from young Mortimer's sister. I was, needless to say, quite shocked. I am therefore loath to make this somewhat unconventional request. Gwen, that's Mortimer's sister, asked if I could pass a message to Mortimer. She is quite anxious to speak to her, and wants Mortimer to calls her. She apparently has the number. I will quite understand given the situation if you decline this request, since Mortimer's well being must be paramount."

 

"Well, that is an unusual request". The phone went quiet for a good while, then she continued, "I can't make any promises."

 

"Naturally, I thought that would be the case, and told Gwen the same." I replied." If it were any other family member making the request, quite frankly, we wouldn't be speaking. But Mortimer and Gwen were quite close, and she does not share the rest of the family’s somewhat distasteful attitude to those who have undergone MORFS. So I felt it worth at least asking."

 

"I will consult with some of my colleagues, and make a decision in due course. If there is nothing else, I wish you a pleasant evening, Doctor."

 

"And a pleasant evening to you, too, Doctor. Goodbye," I replied, then hung up.

 

It wasn't much, but I had at least done my part to pass on the message. The ball was in their court now. I packed up and headed home, hoping that Gwen got her wish, and got to speak to her sister.

 

 


 

Ch8 - Practice Makes Perfect (Mort)

We got back from the doctor's a short while later, and I relayed Sarah and Anna's discovery's. D suggested I practice grabbing things with my tongue, since this could prove to be a useful skill in attaining snacks quickly, and with stealth.

 

Joyce rolled her eyes at this and went to make some tea. D set out some objects to practice on, and reluctantly, I tried to grab them with my tongue.

 

It took some time to work out how to use my tongue consciously, and I quickly discovered there were limits to what I could grab, weight being a factor, and also how good a grip I could get on things. I found I could lift a surprising amount. Though even given there were limits, it also took a lot of goes to get my aim in. Still, after some practice I could grab objects at range, and pull them up to my mouth.

 

At this point we had some tea, and I demonstrated my new skills by stealing biscuits off the plate before D could get them. This soon became a game of stealth and cunning, as D tried to trick and outwit me. Joyce seemed fairly amused at our antics. Eventually I got tired of the game, mainly because I’d had more than my fill of biscuits, so we just finished our tea.

 

After we were done Joyce said, "Why don't you two go out for a bit, and get some fresh air?"

 

"Yeah, we could go to the park. You can test out your body a bit, see what the doc meant about you being stronger, etc." D said.

 

"That sounds like a good idea, but make sure you're back before it gets dark." Joyce told us.

 

I followed D out of the house, and we headed down the street. I felt quite nervous and exposed, but since D was there, I didn't feel too bad. I still had a tendency to hunch up and try to look small, (which next to D was easily achievable without any effort), as well as keeping my hand and stump hidden in my pockets.

 

Joyce's and D's house was in a typical Victorian terrace, with small front gardens. So we passed quite a few houses where people were out taking advantage of the nice weather to do a spot of gardening. A few people waved to D and said hello, they didn't seem at all by my presence.

If I had done the same thing at home, I likely would have had insults or worse hurled at me. It was a strange feeling to wander about openly, and be treated as essentially a normal person.

 

I wondered whether it was just this neighbourhood that was friendly to those who had been changed by MORFS, or if maybe, the unfriendly places like Greenvale were the exception, rather than the rule. Buoyed up by the feeling of acceptance, I tried to stand straighter, and free my hands from my pockets.

 

We soon arrived at the park, was a small section of greenery with some paths for walking or running, a few wooded areas, and a large open playing field, as well as a small pond. There were a few people out enjoying the afternoon. D took us over to a set of what looked like kids climbing frames. On closer inspection, they were more rugged, taller, and not brightly coloured enough to be aimed at kids.

 

"They put these up a few years ago," explained D. "It is part of a fitness run you can do through the park." She took me over to a wooden wall that had some rough had holds on it. "Let’s try some climbing to start with. With only one hand it'll be tougher, but I'll be here ready to catch you, should you slip"

 

I eyed the wall warily. It was quite tall, even given my increased height. Still, I decided to give it a go, and took a grip on the first hand holds. My sharp talon like nails gave me a good grip on the wood, and I found using just the nails and the tips of my fingers worked quite well. With some careful manoeuvring I was soon quite a ways up the wall. I had never been good at climbing, lacking the strength required, so it was a surprise to find it reasonably easy, even lacking a hand. I had to be careful of my grip, since I had to hold myself on three points, but I found that with some care it was possible.

 

My feet didn't grip quite so well and I was beginning to wonder if I would be better off barefoot, where I could use my similarly talon-like toenails for additional grip.

 

As I was thinking this, one of my shoes slipped, just as I had my hand away from the wall. I started to fall and scrabbled for a grip. Out of instinct, I slapped my hand flat against the wood, my fingers flat against the surface, just as my other shoe lost its footing. I found myself hanging by my hand which seemed to have stuck itself to the wood. I hung there, bemused for a bit. I realised this must be the increased grip Sarah had mentioned.

 

I found new places to grip with my feet and then tried pulling my hand free, it was stuck. I pulled for a bit, then relaxed and tried to manipulate my fingers so they would unstick. Next, I tried bending my fingers in, but given my hand was more or less flat on the wall I couldn't move them much.

 

Just as I had visions of having to spend the rest of my life glued to a section of wall, I relaxed my hand, trying to flatten the fingers so maybe they would come away from the wall. I was rather surprised when they kept bending from flat, and bent back on themselves, in the process, peeling themselves loose.

 

I realised it was a bit like Velcro, very strongly bonded unless you peeled the two halves apart. It seemed my digits were now all double jointed, so I could disconnect my self from a surface.

 

I jumped down to the ground and stood examining my hand for a while. "That was cool, I thought you were going to fall, but you just stuck there like you were glued on." D had a big smile etched into her features.

 

"It was a bit odd, just hanging there. I was a little concerned I was stuck for good for a bit," I replied, "It didn't take as much effort as I would have expected. The finger thing was a bit weird. …." I bent my fingers back on themselves experimentally, and tried flexing my toes the same way.

 

 I suddenly had an idea. "Hang on a sec! I want to try something.”

 

I slipped off my shoes and socks, then walked over to the wall again. The rough stony ground didn't hurt as much as I had thought it would, I guess my scaled feet were tougher than normal skin.

I put the pads of my fingers flat against the wall and felt them stick, then hauling myself up a bit, pressed the toes of my left foot against the wall. I felt the same sensation of it sticking itself to the wall I’d got with my palm.

 

I repeated the process with my right foot. I was now hanging from the wall using none of the supplied hand holds, simply using my finger and toe pads to grip the wall. I slowly started to climb, getting the hang of using my double jointed fingers and toes to ungrip the wall. Below me, D let out a laugh as I soon scrambled my way to the top. Then, feeling adventurous, I turned round and climbed back down, head first. I didn't get dizzy or disorientated from the odd angles I was at. I guessed this was some aspect of my new body.

 

"That was so cool, you were like one of those little lizards running up a wall." D told me.

 

"That's probably where I got it from," I replied with a smile "It'd be even easier if I had both hands, though if the doc is right, that may well not be a problem soon."

 

"Let’s try some more stuff", D exclaimed excitedly.

 

I put my shoes back on and we ran over to some more of the exercise equipment. D had me do some one arm pull-ups, which seemed reasonably easy. Then she had me practice jumping. I was surprised by how high and far I could jump, a lot further than I could have done before.

 

We then tried out my balance, which was still a little off, due to me not being used to my new body. D assured me that would improve given time.

 

I decided to play a trick on her by combining some of my newly discovered skills. I quietly slipped off my shoes and socks, then, when D's back was turned, I leaped up, and grabbed an overhead smooth metal beam, gripping it with my finger and toe pads. Then I switched on my invisibility and hung there motionless.

 

D turned back and I sensed her confusion as she looked round to see where I had gone. Then she noticed my shoes, and I felt the glitter of amusement even before she began laughing. "Damn, girl. If you work out a way to hide your shoes, you'll play a mean game of hide and seek."

 

Suddenly a voice called out, "It has finally happened! You've flipped, and are talking to an empty pair of shoes.”

 

“Well I can't say I'm surprised you went nuts, though I'm amazed it took this long." a young girl said with a hint of amusement in her voice.

 

"Jane! How's my favourite human lie detector TK chick?" D said.

 

I twisted to get a better look and saw a small red headed girl with intense electric blue eyes walking towards us.

 

"Not bad, not bad. Seriously though, why are you talking to a pair of shoes? It makes you look like a real nutter."

 

"I'm not talking to the shoes, I'm talking to Little Miss Chameleon, whose shoes those are. She has hidden herself around here some place. Any hints, o' great telepath?"

 

"Hmm, … I can normally sense people, but I can't get a fix on your friend there. Now that I'm trying hard, I can sort of tell there is someone there, but not localise it." Jane’s voice sounded puzzled.

 

"Weird, guess Missy Stealth has some sort of anti telepath option on her invisibility shielding." D told her. "Anyway, come out, come out, wherever you are, as I don't want to get carted off to the funny farm for talking to a pair of shoes."

 

I laughed at that, and both D and Jane looked up at where I was hiding. I switched off my invisibility, which made Jane jump a bit, then unstuck my feet and lowered myself down by my hand. When I had my arm straight, I unstuck my fingers any dropped to the ground.

 

"Pah! Show off!" D smiled.

 

"How did you grip like that? It was as if your hand was stuck to the metal bar," Jane asked.

 

"Magic fingers," I replied, showing her my finger pads. "They grip things. Something to do with lots of really small hairs and intermolecular forces." I wiggled my fingers then bent them back on themselves.

 

"Gah! Don't do that!" said D. "It freaks me out."

 

"So, you're a telepath?" I asked Jane.

 

"Barely," she replied "I can sense people, their emotional state, and usually, tell if they are lying. I can't make out what they are thinking. It’s like people talking just beyond your hearing. You can tell its talking, but not make out what's being said. If someone nearby mentally shouts at me, I can sometimes pick it up, and I can project thoughts at people, but my range sucks. I have a little bit of telekinesis as a side bonus, but it’s pretty weak though. I can grab small objects and move them."

 

She turned towards D and prodded her then said, "So, D. Are you going to introduce us, or what?"

 

"Sorry, Jane this is Mort. She's staying with me and Mum. Mort, this is Jane. We go to school together."

 

"Hi," I said.

 

Jane reached out to shake hands. I reached out to take her hand, and just as our hands made contact it was like an electric shock. There was a strange sensation of information flowing between us, with images of the last few months flowing between us. I got some impressions of a date she had been on that had ended badly, and some highlights of the past few weeks. I could guess what she was getting.

 

As it ended and we fell back from each other, we were both shaking. We slowly regained our balance.

 

"Shit!" Jane exclaimed.

 

D asked, "What the hell just happened? Are you two alright?"

 

"When we touched I got a burst of, I guess, memories." I told her. "It was intense"

 

"I got the same thing" said Jane "I can't believe what happened to you ... They took your fucking hand!"

 

I looked down at my stump, feeling anger radiating from Jane, though I didn't think it was aimed at me.

 

"Yeah" I said quietly. "On the plus side, it is probably growing back. I'm sorry about that, I haven't had many good memories over the last few weeks, at least till D showed up."

 

"It’s not your fault, and having experienced what happened to you first hand, I'm super angry about it. I'm glad D found you." Jane said. "That was weird though, I've never had that happen before."

 

I thought a bit, then said, "The telepath at the testing centre said I am an empath. A similar thing happened to her when she was poking around in my head, except not a two way exchange like with you. Maybe my being empathic, combined with your telepathy, allowed us to exchange memories."

 

"I suppose" Jane sounded thoughtful. "But how come I could only just sense you before, and then suddenly, we were in each others heads?"

 

"I don't know, maybe I should ask Sarah or Anna from the centre about it." I replied.

 

"Probably a good idea, or you're going to have to avoid shaking hands with telepaths in the future" D suggested..

 

“Yeah,” said Jane, “though it does make for a hell of an introduction. Kinda, ‘Hello, here's my recent history in a handshake!’”

 

“It’s one way to break the ice at parties,” I said.

 

“It did explain your name, which confused me, initially,” said Jane

 

“Yeah, Mort is a bit of a strange name for a girl,” said D.

 

“It’s a fairly strange name for a boy,” I countered. That earned me a laugh. “I guess I should think about changing it, but I've had so much else on my mind. I guess I haven't had time to give it some thought.”

 

“There's no rush” Jane put her hand on my shoulder, “Besides, its worth taking the time to choose something you'll be happy with.”

 

“We should be heading back. Do you want to join us Jane? We could have a cuppa, and Mort could demonstrate her ninja biscuit trick.”

 

“Ninja biscuit trick?” Jane raised her eyebrow “Sounds intriguing, I wouldn't mind a cup of tea. It'd steady my nerves after her last unexpected trick”

 

We headed off back to the D and Joyce's house, with D and Jane exchanging more jibes on the way, which seemed to be normal behaviour between them. I had never spent much time in the company of girls before my change, so I was a little unsure how to act. But then, I hadn't really had any friends of either gender, before, not fitting into any of the social groups very well. I hoped D, and maybe, Jane, would be my first true friends.

 

When we got back, D put the kettle on, and while it got hot, we sat in the living room and chatted for a bit.  When we had our tea, D had me demonstrate my biscuit nabbing technique. It nearly caused Jane to spit tea all over the place.

 

At some point the phone rang, I heard Joyce answer, then a few moments later, she came into the room, “Mort, it’s for you. Dr Jones wants a word.”.

 

“OK,” I replied.

 

I followed Joyce to the phone, and picked up the handset. “Hello.”

 

“Hi Mort, its Sarah here.”

 

“Hiya,” I replied.

 

“I had a call today from Dr Benson. He had a request that I thought I should at least pass on to you, even if you decide not to act on it.”.

 

“What did he want?” I asked, a little perturbed. ‘Could my father have got to Dr Benson?’

 

“He wanted to tell you that your sister was quite keen to hear from you. Given what happened with your family, you shouldn't feel obliged to contact them. From speaking to Anna, I understand  you were fairly close to your sister, so I can understand if you want to contact her. However you should be careful not to tell her where you are, as she could be coerced into telling. Until we can make sure you are free from the danger your family poses, you shouldn't put yourself at undue risk."

 

"Danger! You think they'll come after me?" I asked anxiously.

 

"I don't discount the possibility. Currently they have no way of finding you. None of your records know where you are, so even if they could get access to them, it would only show you had been here at the centre at some point, not where you are staying. Still, you should take care not to let them know where you are."

 

"OK I'll keep that in mind if I decided to talk to her," I replied. "Something else happened today I wanted to ask you about." I relayed the events with Jane to Sarah. "So, I guess what I want to know is if this sort of thing is going to keep happening?" I finished.

 

"This is more Anna's area than mine, I'll see if she's still in." The phone went quiet for a bit, then, "OK I'm going to patch her in, assuming I can remember what buttons to press."

 

There was a pause, then a clicking, and then Anna's voice came through. "Hello."

 

"Hi," I said.

 

"Hi Mort. Sarah told me about your incident this afternoon. It does sounds like some interaction between your empathic abilities, and your friends telepathy. A sort of psychic feedback, if you will. I wouldn't worry too much about it happening all the time. I suspect your natural telepathic resistance will prevent it from happening very often. As a precaution, do your best to keep your thoughts guarded when coming into close contact with telepaths, and you should be fine"

 

"OK I'll try and remember that. Thanks, Anna."

 

"No problem. Bye now."

 

"Bye," I replied.

 

There was a click and Sarah came back on. "Any other questions Mort?"

 

"Not at the moment."

 

"OK. Well, if you do want to ask me or Anna anything, give us a ring."

 

"OK, thanks Sarah, bye now"

 

"Bye" she replied and hung up.

 

I decided to talk to Joyce and D about calling my sister. I wanted to let her know I was alright, but if Sarah was right, my parents might try and use her to find me. I wasn't concerned that she would give me up, but I didn't want her to get hurt as a result of protecting me.

 

I wandered back into the living room. "What did the doc want?" asked D.

 

"Apparently my sister wanted to contact me, and passed a message through my previous doctor to Sarah," I said.  Turning to Jane I continued, "Oh, I asked about the thing that happened between you and me. Anna, the telepath I saw last time, said she didn't think it would keep happening. She referred to it as 'psychic feedback', probably a brief interaction between your telepathy and my empathy."

 

Jane smiled," Well that's good. Guess you don't need to start wearing gloves all the time."

 

"Sarah was a little concerned, that if I contacted my sister. my family might try to find me. I know Gwen, my sister, wouldn't tell them anything, but I don't like the idea that they might try to hurt her to get to me."

 

"Do you really think they might hurt her?" asked Joyce.

 

"I don't know. Before, I would have said no, but after what happened, I can't be sure. My sister’s normal, so she probably won't gain as much ire as me. They might make things unpleasant for her though."

 

"That's tricky. Your sister must know the risk she's running in trying to contact you, so she must regard it as an acceptable price for finding out how you are," said Joyce." But if you want to talk to her, I suggest you do it from a pay phone. It will limit the risk of it being traced back to you. I'll give you some money, and Dot can show you where one is that's suitably far away. In fact, you need some new clothes, so you two could go into town, and kill two birds with one stone."

 

"Sound like a good idea," said D. "You can't keep wearing that same set of clothes"

 

"Oh? I don't know," I used my camouflage to change the colours of the clothes I was wearing.

 

"Ha!" said D, with a smile.

 

"Cool, you can change the way you look!" said Jane.

 

"Little bit," I replied. "It takes a lot of effort, and it only works a few centimetres out from my body. The stealth thing is largely automatic, I don't have to consciously control it. So it takes less effort, and I can stay that way a lot longer."

 

"Can you make yourself look like some one else? Me, for instance?" Jane asked.

 

"Maybe, I can't alter my height but I might be able to do something. ".

 

I focused on Jane and tried to make my camouflage duplicate her face over my own. It took a lot more effort than anything else I had tried, and I could only hold it for a few seconds.

 

"Wow!" Jane and D said in unison.

 

"For a second or so, you looked just like me, well, like I would if I were as tall as you," Jane said.

 

"I couldn't hold it for long," I said.

 

"You'll probably get better with practice, " Jane said.

 

"Bah, I wish I had some cool tricks like that," said D.

 

"You're big and strong. That a pretty cool thing to have," observed Jane

 

"Yeah I guess. Though she's a lot stronger than she looks. Able to do one handed pull ups, and climb up sheer walls by sticking to them, as well as the invisibility," D said.

 

"Oh poor baby, you're so hard done by, and now you're jealous of Mort," Joyce giggled..

 

D responded by sticking her tongue out at Joyce, and then at me. I responded in kind, by sticking my tongue out and using it to steal one of her biscuits, which caused her to burst out laughing. "No fair! She's even better at sticking her tongue out than me," D complained, but continued to laugh.

 

We finished our tea, then the three of us girls headed off to town, which Jane insisted was necessary since apparently, D had terrible fashion sense. I didn't mind the extra company, Jane seemed a nice person. It felts good to meet more friendly people around my own age. So, with some money from Joyce, for which I thanked her profusely, the three of us headed off into town.

 

 


 

Ch9 - A Friendly Chat (Mort)

D, Jane, and myself walked into town together. It was a reasonable way, taking an hour or so, but it was a nice day, so I didn't mind the walk.

 

When we got into the centre of the shopping district it was fairly busy. It seemed to be the  evening rush of people hitting the shops after work. This made me a bit nervous, but being with D and Jane reassured me a little. There were one or two people other people about who had been obviously affected by MORFS, and no one seemed to be bothered.

 

Jane asked, Have you decided whether to call your sister yet?"

 

"I think I will. If it wasn't for her, I don't know what would have happened to me. So I at least owe her a call to let her know I'm alright. Plus, I miss her, so it'll be good to hear her voice," I replied.

 

"OK," said D. "Next question, do you want to call first, then shop, or the other way around?"

 

"I think call first," I said.

 

We went in search of a pay phone, which didn't take very long. D gave me a stack of coins good for quite a while, then she and Jane went over and sat on a nearby bench to give me some privacy.

 

I put in some credit, and dialled my sister’s number.

 

After a few short rings she answered. "Hello?" Gwen said. She sounded tired.

 

"Hi, its er, Mort here," I said, not sure she would recognise my voice.

 

"Just a second Anne, I'll head outside for better reception.".

 

I guessed she couldn't talk, so used the ruse to get some privacy. There was a hopeful tone in her voice that banished a lot of the tiredness I had heard before.

 

After a brief pause, as I heard her moving about, and doors opening and closing, she started talking again. "Oh Mort, is it really you? I've been so worried. How are you? Are you safe? What happened to you?" she rattled off questions, rapid fire.

 

"Whoa, easy, Gwen. Let me start at the beginning. After what happened, I ran trying to get as far away as I could. I ran mostly at night. hidden in the day, sleeping rough. I eventually calmed down enough to think about what to do, and decided to make for one of the post MORFS centres the doc mentioned.

 

“It was a rough trip, I had some close calls along the way. I'll spare you the details, but in the end I got to a large enough town. I ran into some trouble. I ended up in a bad part of town, a ... a mob of men surrounded and attacked me. Luckily, a girl rescued me, took me home to her house, and she and her mother took me in. After that, I went to get checked out and then talked to you." I was a little out of breath by the time I got it all out. It struck me then how much had happened to me in a scant few weeks.

 

"I'm so glad you're OK. I've had nightmares about what happened, and about what could have happened next. I never imagined father would have done what he did," she said grimly, as if looking back sparked her memory "Oh! Your hand! Goodness! How badly did he damage it?"

 

"it was basically shredded. My left hand is pretty much gone," I told her.

 

Before I could finish, she broke in angrily, "Oh no! How horrible! Damn them all for doing this to you!"

 

"Well on the plus side, it appears to be growing back" I finished when she stopped yelling.

 

"What! How?" Gwen said in an astonished voice.

 

"Seems MORFS spliced some reptile DNA in, and I gained the ability to regenerate. It’s been slowly growing back. In a few weeks, it will hopefully be fully regrown," I replied.

 

"Oh, that's great news," Gwen sounded very relieved.

 

"Yeah, it'll be good to have two hands again. Only having the one makes it hard to do things."

 

"I better go, I don't want mother and father to get suspicious. I'd really like to see you again, but we have to be careful. Father was insane when you escaped. I don't know if it would be safe if he knew where you are."

 

"Indeed, better to stay hidden," I replied.

 

"Well, it was great to talk to you. Hopefully we can do it again soon. Bye, now,"

 

"Bye," I said, and Gwen hung up.

 

I collected the unused coins, then headed over to where D and Jane were sitting, so we could go shopping.

 


 

Ch10 - Betrayal (Grant Junior)

I was just coming into the lounge when I heard my sister on her phone. She was talking to someone called Anne, which was odd, as none of her friends were called Anne. Plus, she seemed unusually pleased to get this call. She had been moping since she’d helped the freak demon that had possessed Mort escape. If it hadn't been for her, Dad would have blown that monster’s head clean off. I decided to follow her, to see what the silly cow was up to.

 

She headed outside through the front door, so I circled round out the back, and edged up the side toward the front of the house. I managed to hide in earshot, so I could make out at least Gwen's side of the conversation.

 

What I heard made me incredibly angry. She was obviously talking to that monster. It took all my self restraint to not go over there and grab the phone.

 

‘What the hell is she playing at? Everyone knows those things are evil, pretending to be the people they had hatched out of, so they can infect and damn more innocents.’

 

I waited till she had gone and made my way back into the house. I headed straight to Dad’s study, he would want to know about this straight away. I smirked, as I wondered how much of a beating the silly girl would get this time.

 

Dad was at his desk going over some letters. Looking up as I came in he said, "What is it son? I'm quite busy at the moment."

 

"It’s Gwen, Dad. I overheard her on the phone, talking to the monster that took over Mort."

 

Dad turned bright red with rage. "That foolish girl. She'll let the demon take her soul, too, and after the leniency I showed her." Then he looked thoughtful, "Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. After she stopped us doing Gods work, she has become the key to completing it."

 

Confused, I said, "I don't understand, Dad.".

 

"Well son, look at it this way. She is sure not to leave it at mere phone calls. She will want to meet with the beast. So we just have to wait and watch carefully, then Gwen will lead us to the monster. Then we can finish what we started." He smiled, "We must be careful though, Gwen must not suspect we are on to her."

 

‘The old man is a genius! She’s the key to finding the freak, and saving humanity from its evil.’

 

"You can count on me, Dad"

 

"I know son. Watch your sister like a hawk. Let me know as soon as it looks like she is off to meet with the demon. I will make sure we are ready."

 

I smiled as I left Dad’s study. I would make sure I found out when Gwen was meeting the thing, and then we would make certain it was no longer able to curse mankind.

 


 

Ch11 - Shopping Trip (Mort)

After speaking to my sister, I felt quite elated. D, Jane, and I started out on our shopping trip with gusto.

 

First, we needed to get things like underwear, which took a bit of the shine off my happiness. Still, it was a necessary evil, so I tried to suppress my embarrassment. Since we had no idea of my sizes, beyond a general shorter than D, taller than Jane, I had to be measured. The lady in the shop was more than happy to help out with that. A short while later we knew my statistics, and I was blushing so incandescently I was sure I was about to burst into flame, something that both D and Jane seemed to find immensely amusing.

 

We picked out a few packs of generic panties, and a few bras which I had to try on to make sure they fitted me properlyI was dispatched to the changing room with a basket of bras in what should be the right size, with orders to try them on.

 

After taking off my top, I then struggled to figure out how the bra was supposed to work. I understood the basic theory of how it should go on, they had hooks and eyes that were supposed to go together, but it looked somewhat difficult to manage with only the one hand. I was just trying to work out what to do, when the curtain of the changing stall was pulled back. “How are you doing” said D.

 

D and the saleslady were standing outside the stall. Hey, where'd she go?” asked the sales woman, for being surprised as someone pulled back the curtain, I had gone invisible.

 

“It’s alright, it’s just us,” said D. When I didn't immediately become visible again she tried to reassure me “Hey it’s not like you have anything we haven't seen before.”

 

I became visible again which caused the saleslady to gasp. I was still a little nervous, so I brought my arm up to cover my chest. D put a hand on my shoulder trying to comfort me a little, which, seeing as I was nearly naked, didn't help overly much. Still, I felt a bit more relaxed.

 

“How are you getting along, did you find any that fit?” D asked.

 

“I had some trouble putting them on,” I said.

 

The saleslady said, “It just takes some practice, Dear,”.

 

“Well, it’s not just that. I only have the one hand at the moment. so it’s difficult to do up.” I held up my stump. “It probably won't be a problem later.”

 

The sales lady gave me a quizzical look. “Are you getting a prosthesis then?”

 

No, my hand is growing back,” I said matter of factly.

 

Oh.” I could hear the surprise in her voice.

 

D said, “OK. Well let me help you get that done up for now, and hopefully later, you can do it for your self once you get your fingers back.”.

 

D helped me try on the bras and we checked to see which ones were most comfortable, and soon we had enough for day to day use. D went up to the counter with the stuff and paid for it. I was beginning to get a handle on my odd empathic senses, and could now differentiate more than extremes of emotion, so I could sense that Jane was struggling to hide something that felt a lot like amusement.

 

But she was spoiling her hard work by smirking when she thought I wasn't looking, so, even without the empathy, I would have known something was up. “What?” I asked.

 

You'll see,” she said, realizing she was partially caught.

 

Wondering what the two of them were up, to we moved on to other shops. After the embarrassment of the underwear, shopping for other girl clothes was not nearly as bad. We went into a generic department store, and headed for the women's clothing section.

 

Unlike when I had been clothes shopping before, when I had been a boy, it wasn't a case of just looking on the rack for something in my size I liked, then just buying it. Jane and D insisted I had to try on each piece of clothing to make sure that it fit and looked OK. While I could understand this, since we weren't sure what would fit my new shape, I didn't see the point of trying on all the clothes once we had found which sizes fit in a particular brand, since I assumed the size would be the same.

 

I felt a bit like I was some life sized doll that D and Jane were playing dress up with. I found the whole clothes shopping process quite boring. Still, I got to try on lots of outfits and see how I looked in a variety of colours. To my horror, I found I looked quite good in pink.

 

After we had a selection of clothing picked out that would see me through most situations, D and Jane picked out an outfit for me to dress in to try out the new clothes in public.

D also took a package I didn't remember us buying out of the lingerie bags, for me to wear as well.

 

Both D and Jane's faces were full of mischief, as in the changing room, D revealed the package to be a sexy red bra and thong set, which D practically forced me into.

 

“Wow, that looks even better on you than I thought it would,” said D. “You look totally hot!”

 

I was a little uncomfortable with that thought, but I had to admit it did make me look pretty sexy,  plus the soft silky material of the underwear felt very good against my skin. Wearing a thong felt really odd, as I had always been more of a boxers person.

 

I put on the rest of the outfit, which was much more understated than the racy red bra and thong set, and took a look in the mirror. The bra made my breasts look bigger, and the top’s neckline was just low enough for a glimpse of cleavage, though still respectable enough to be seen in public. The jeans hugged my new curves and made me look much more feminine.

 

We rounded it off with a pink zip up jumper, which I left unzipped. The tall, exotic, curvy young girl staring back at me from the mirror looked nothing like the old Mortimer. Even after the weeks that I had been in this body, it was still hard to think of her as me.

 

We went out to the register, where D paid for the clothes, including the ones I was wearing. Then Jane and D decided we should have a bite to eat, so we head over to the food court. I was still quite nervous being out in public dressed as a girl. I soon realized I was attracting a few glances, but none seemed hostile, more interested, which in some ways worried me more. We had a drink and a burger, and I tried to ignore some of the attention I was getting.

 

Hey, relax,” said Jane, noticing my discomfort. “You look great.”

 

Yeah, that outfit really suits you, Tish,” said D with a smirk.

 

“Tish?” I asked.

 

Well, while we were waiting for you, I remembered this really old TV show I saw a while back about this spooky family. There was this woman in it called Morticia, which sounds a lot like your name, so I figured I'd call you Tish.” She smiled, “At least till you pick another name.”

 

“It sounds more girly than Mort,” Jane added.

 

I shrugged, figuring it was not the worse nickname I could acquire.

 

We ate our food then talked for a bit. D and Jane discussed the various bands they liked. Jane was into mostly girl bands, whereas D was into a wider selection. tallying a bit with my like of rock and metal, something I had always had to hide, since my parents considered anything that wasn't hymns as satanic music.

 

After discussing the finer points of rock with D, much to the disgust of Jane who kept trying to convince us that some, (in my opinion) whiney, girl pop act was the best thing since sliced bread, we went on to find me some shoes.

 

The ones I had borrowed didn't really fit properly, so we went into the local shoe shop to get some new ones. We had been in the shop for a few minutes looking at various styles, when I felt what I had come to recognise as hate radiating from three people behind me. I was standing away from D and Jane looking at the trainers, while they were giggling about some high heels I was certain they were intent on making me try on, when I felt it.

 

"Look at its hands," I heard a girl’s voice say.

 

"You really would have thought they would have prevented an animal like that being allowed in the shopping centre, let alone into a shop," said another girl. "It should be tied up out front with the other animals."

 

I turned to see what was going on. Three well dressed young girls about my own age stood at the entrance to the shoe shop. They were staring at me with hate and disgust. When they got a better look at me their anger intensified. "My god, it’s hideous! I can't believe it can walk around displaying a face like that," said one of the girls, a pretty redhead. Though the tallest of the bunch, she was still a good six inches shorter than me.

 

"In a decent society, all these animals would be rounded up and locked in zoos, where they belong." said the short light brown haired girl, whose body language and attitude projected the fact that she was the leader of this group.

 

"Yeah" said a thin dark haired girl dressed all in black. She would have struck me as a goth, except she had on hot pink lipstick and no piercings or tattoos. She also had the most amazing emerald green eyes. They seemed to almost glow, due to the contrast with her dark hair.

 

I felt hate burning at me, with an undercurrent of fear from the leader and the red head. The other, quieter girl seemed different. The hate was there but it almost seemed like it was there to mask the feeling underneath, which felt odd.

It was like the feeling I had been getting from some of the people staring at me in the food court. Could it be attraction or lust? This threw me a bit.

 

"You animals should learn you are less than human, and should be tied up outside with the rest of the animals," said the leader. She started to move at me, her arm raised. I thought she was going to hit me or grab me, so I went invisible and backed away.

 

"What the fuck! Where'd the freak go?" shouted the red head.

 

I ran over to where D and Jane were. They had been right over the other side of the shop, so had missed the commotion. On the way, I bumped into a woman, who naturally hadn’t seen me, so walked right into my path. This was a down side of invisibility. not being visible, meant everyone would assume the space I occupied was empty air, so they would just try to walk right through me, with predictable results. I would have to remember this in the future.

 

"There it goes" said the leader, my mishap tipping them off as to my location.

 

I dodged round the confused woman with a muttered apology, and ran slightly more carefully to D and Jane. "D!"

 

Both she and Jane turned sharply at my voice and tried to work out where I was.

 

"What is it? Where are you?" she said.

 

"Some girls, …  They ..." I started, and then I heard the leader’s voice.

 

"It came this way," she said in a cold voice.

 

I positioned myself behind D, and dropped my invisibility.

 

"Out of the way, you big dumb lump. That animal needs to be taught a lesson." said the girl.

 

D's expression turned cold as ice, and I could feel her anger boiling under the surface. This girl was making a very bad mistake, I was worried D might rip her to shreds.

 

"Leave her alone, Stacy!" D told her.

 

"I should have known the big simpleton would stand up for her, given your mother is a filthy animal. I guess under the skin, so are you," the girl said, making D so angry I felt sure the whole place would burst into flames.

 

The girl’s companions seemed to realise the danger of pushing someone of D's size and strength, and began backing away.

 

At this point, the shops manager, and one of the staff showed up.  "What is going on here?" She asked.

 

"We were just doing you a service by getting rid of that animal," Stacy said, gesturing at me. "But the big lug here seems to have taken this lizard as a pet"

 

The manager looked at Stacy with a cold glare, then said, "I know you. You've caused trouble like this before. I suggest you take your prejudice elsewhere, unless you want me to call security and have you thrown out of the centre." the manager gave her a look of contempt. "And if I hear of you pulling a stunt like this again, I'll see to it you're banned from the centre permanently!"

 

The look of shock and indignant rage on Stacy's face was priceless. She was seemingly about to launch into a tirade about being treated this way, when the redhead grabbed her by the shoulder. "Come on Stacy, we don't want to be shopping in a place that allow these animals as patrons anyway."

 

After a little fuming, Stacy let herself be led away. The dark haired girl was still staring at me seemingly lost in thought.  "Come on, Helen!" shouted the redhead, which snapped her out of her trance and she ran out after her friends.

 

After watching the three girls leave, the manager turned to us, then with a pleasant smile said to me, "Are you OK?"

 

"I'm fine. Thank you for stepping in."

 

"My pleasure," she replied. "Now, what can I help you girls find?"

 

She then helped me find some comfy trainers in my size, even giving us a special price on them.

After we were done there, we were all set to head back, but I needed to use the toilet. So the girls pointed me right direction. Jane grabbed me as I made to head over, and whispered in my ear, Don't forget use the ladies"

 

That was good thinking, as I might well have just gone straight into the gents on auto pilot.

I headed over and did my business, I was just washing my hands when the door opened, and someone came in.

 

Then a familiar voice said, "Well, well, well, look who it is," said Stacy.

 

I turned invisible, and tried to make a break for the door.

 

"Not this time. Becky grab it! It’s time we taught this animal a lesson!"

 

The redhead, I guessed she was Becky, blocked the door. I tried to get past her, but she caught me. I struggled trying to get free, dropping my invisibility to concentrate all my effort on escape.

 

"Helen, grab it’s other arm" ordered Becky.

 

The dark haired girl grabbed onto me and she and Becky held me down While Stacy slapped me hard across the face. It didn't really hurt, but it shocked me.

 

Stacy yelled, "You stupid animal! This will, teach you to mess with your betters!"

 

She hit me a few more times. It still did little more than sting a bit. I decided to just bear it, and let her work it out of her system, rather than fight back. This seemed to infuriate Stacy even more, her anger burning like a flame, and she began hitting me harder.

 

It still didn't really hurt, I figured that she was either really weak or I had gotten a lot tougher.

 

"You are pitiful, not even enough brains to fight back," she told me "Any responsible family would have taken you out and shot you by now."

 

At that, something in me snapped. ‘Who does this stuck up little bitch think she is? How would she like it to have her life torn apart, and have her family try to kill her?’

 

 As she brought her hand down to deliver another slap, I shoved away the two holding me. I was vaguely aware that they had both been tossed across the room, without me really using much effort. I grabbed her hand as it swung towards me with considerable force, and without really knowing what I was doing, I focused my entire being on the events of the last few weeks.

 

The world stopped, and all that existed were Stacy's eyes, which slowly went from hate, to confusion, to fear. At some point, she started screaming. This brought D and Jane running, and the next thing I knew, they were holding me back from a sobbing, shaking girl on the bathroom floor.

 

"What did you do to her?" said Helen

 

"I showed her what it felt like to have your family try and kill you." I replied

 

"We should go," said D.

 

I picked up my bags and we walked out of the toilet. I followed D and Jane as we swiftly made our way out of the centre.

 

I realised as we got clear, that I was far more shaken up by the event than I had thought. I felt weak and dizzy. As I tried to tell D and Jane about it, my legs folded under me, and I collapsed to the ground.

 

When I came to, I was lying on a bench with my head on D's lap. "What happened?"

 

"You passed out," said D. “Do you remember what happened?”

 

“I remember I was going to the toilet, then as I was going to leave, those three girls came in. I tried to get to the exit, but two of them grabbed me, then the other one, Stacy, started hitting me. They weren't hurting me much so I just waited for them to finish with it.

 

“Then Stacy said something about how any responsible family would have taken me out and shot me. I just snapped, I threw the two holding me off, and grabbed Stacy's hand as she tried to slap me again. I did something, I'm not sure what, but I think it was like the time I gave Jane a fast download of what had happened, except less detailed. After that I started to feel really weak when we left.”

 

“Whatever you did must have over stretched your new abilities,” said Jane “I got like that the first time I tried to use my telekinesis.”

 

“How did she do that though? that bitch Stacy was out like she had been zapped, or something,” said D.

 

“I reckon it was something to do with her empathic stuff. She projected the emotions into that piece of work Stacy,” said Jane “I know from experience, Tish has some pretty dark stuff locked in that head of hers. It packs quite a wallop, and if you're not able to handle things like that it'd really do a number on you.”

 

“So far, when things like that happen, it seems to be only when I'm in contact with someone that it happens,” I said thoughtfully

 

“Yeah it could be contact based. I know a few telepaths that are like that,” said Jane. ”Or it could be that it's still developing. You never know with things like that”

 

D looked me in the eyes, “You should be careful, you can't go incapacitating people like that all the time. Plus, from the looks of it, you threw those other two off you pretty hard, I think you're a lot stronger than you used to be.”

 

“Are you feeling better now?” Jane asked.

 

“Yeah, but still a little woozy” I said.

 

“You probably need some food and some rest, then you'll be fine,” Jane said. “Let’s get you home”

 

As we were leaving, a police car pulled up and two officers got out. "Excuse me ladies, I'm afraid you will have to come with us. Someone matching your friend’s description allegedly attacked a young woman back at the shopping centre," one of the officers said.

 

We did as we were told and went with the policemen. They took us back to the shops where Stacy was being looked at by a medic of some sort. When she saw me, she started screaming. Her friend Becky said, "That's her officer. The monster that attacked us without any provocation"

 

"Thank you, Miss" said the officer. Then turning to us he continued "Now, what's your side of this story"

 

"What are you doing talking to it? It will only lie. Do your job and have it taken away in chains to a cage where it belongs," screamed Stacy.

 

The officer looked back at her with an annoyed expression. "Thank you, Miss. I don't need you to tell me my job." He turned back to us "Now, as I was saying, would you care to tell me what you three think happened."

 

"Well," started D "We were in the shoe shop earlier when these three came in and started picking on Mort here."

 

"That's a lie!" Becky shouted.

 

"Please be quiet, Miss. You had your chance," said the officer, without even turning his head. "Please, continue.."

 

"So they came in, and started picked on her, calling her an animal. Then the manager showed up, and threatened to call security if they didn't leave." D said .

 

Becky and Stacy looked poised to object again, but a glare from the other officer made them keep quiet.

 

"Which shop was this?" The policeman asked D gave him directions. "John, check it out. What happened then"

 

"After they left, we finished our shopping, and then on our way out, Mort went to the loo. A bit later, we heard a scream and me and Jane ran in to find those three on the floor."

 

"OK, so what happened while you were in the bathroom?" the officer asked, turning to me.

 

"When I went in the toilets were empty. As I was leaving, these three walked in. I tried to run away, but those two," I indicated Becky and Helen, "grabbed me and held me, while the third one hit me"

 

"That's not true! She came and attacked us. We didn't go looking for that freak," Said Becky.

 

"And that will be very easy to check, on the CCTV camera over there, which covers that toilet entrance," said the officer "Now, for the last time, please be quiet so I can sort this out.” He turned to me once more, “Please continue."

 

"She wasn't hurting me much, so I didn't try to fight back, in the hopes she would get bored and leave me alone." I said "Then she said something that made me very angry, and I pushed those two off me and grabbed her hand as she made to hit me again. I don't really know what happened next, but I think I showed her how I felt about what she had said. It wasn't intentional and I didn't mean to hurt her."

 

"OK so you say she attacked you without provocation." he said. To the three girls, "And you say they attacked you first. Only one of you can be right."

 

"I am," shouted Stacy "I have witnesses. They'll both testify that she attacked us without us laying a finger on her."

 

Becky nodded vigorously, but Helen looked less convinced. Stacy prodded her with her boot, which caused Helen to glare at her. She seemed to be wresting with her conscience.

 

Then after a while she said., "No"

 

"What!" blurted Stacy.

 

"I'm not going to lie to the police for you," she said. "It happened like she said. We grabbed her before she did anything to us."

 

"You stupid Bitch! I should have known you were a closet freak lover," exploded Stacy. "It makes no difference. It’s mine and Becky's word against that thing and its lesbian lover, and no one would take its word over mine"

 

"There is a way we can resolve that," said the officer "We could bring in a police telepath, and you could agree to be read."

 

"I'm not having some freak poke around in my head," said Stacy.

 

"That's what I figured. How about you? It would allow you to prove your innocence," the cop said.

 

"OK, if it will help," I said.

 

The officer called the police station and they dispatched their telepath. After a short wait, a young police woman with bright pink hair showed up. She introduced herself as officer Bobbie Williams. After a quick check to make sure I knew this was voluntary, she asked me to relax. I warned her that my history with telepaths wasn't good, and that she should take care not to trip some of my darker memories. She told me, a touch condescendingly, that she was a professional, and not to worry.

 

She started to sift through my memories and the events of the day replayed. As she scanned me, I realised, that with effort, I could quite probably close my mind off, locking Officer Williams out of my mind. I didn't try to do it. I went the opposite way, opening my mind fully, and I felt Officer Williams take note of this as showing I was cooperating, and had nothing to hide.

 

However, when we got to the point where I grabbed Stacy the predictable happened, and I took another psychic through my darkest moments. I tried to shut off the link, to spare Officer Williams the pain, but I was so drained I passed out again.

 

When I came to the first thing I heard, was Stacy shouting, "Its just faking," to which officer Williams said, "Oh do be quiet! She is not faking"

 

Then she turned to me. "That was some trip. Are you alright?"

 

"I think so, I did warn you that it might be intense," I replied.

 

"Intense is an understatement. I can't believe the things you've been through recently. To lose your hand like that, its amazing you're not a gibbering wreck. Anyway, I had better speak with the officer on the case."

 

She wandered over, and spoke with the other officer in hushed tones, then they both turn back to us. "Officer Williams has told me of her findings. It’s true that you attacked her first, and what she did do to you, was more out of instinct than intent to cause harm."

 

"All you've got is the word of that other freak there, everyone knows they just lie all the time." said Stacy, who by now was practically seething with rage.

 

"Aspersions aside, you are quite wrong. I have the statement of the shoe shop manager that you were causing trouble, and that it wasn't the first time. I have the CCTV footage showing you waiting for these three to leave the shoe shop, then following this young lady into the toilets, and I have the statement of that young lady, and one of your accomplices, that you attacked her first.

 

“So even without officer Williams testimony, it would be doubtful it would be seen as anything other than self defence. With her statement, it just makes things even more clear cut. As far as I'm concerned, there is no case to answer, and if you push it, you could very well end up charged for assault"

 

With that Stacy stormed, off Becky following. When Helen tried to follow, Stacy turned round and glared at her. "I don't want to see you again! Stay with the freaks you love so much," she said.

 

After that Stacy and Becky stormed, off leaving Helen standing there looking a bit forlorn, I felt a bit sorry for her, as all she had done was tell the truth. But then, she had held me while Stacy hit me, so I didn't feel too terrible for her.

 

The officer turned to me and said, "You should be more careful in the future. This time it was clear she had no case, but it might not always be so in the future."

 

"Thank you, officer, I'll try and keep control of myself in future.".

 

"Good girl. Have a pleasant evening, ladies." he said as he dismissed us.

 

We murmured our thanks and goodbyes, then made to move off, but officer Williams stopped me. "Because of what I saw happen to you, I'd like to make an official report about it."

 

"I don't want to cause trouble," I replied.

 

"You won’t. It’s just a record that it happened, and as an official police telepath I witnessed the memories of the event. It would help if they ever try and hurt you again, or claim it never happened, to have it officially on record." she said.

 

After some thought, I agreed, and officer Williams gave me some paperwork to fill out.

 

Once that was done, D and Jane helped me get home. I was pretty drained by the whole experience, I had no doubt I was going to sleep well that night.

 

 


 

Ch12 - Reunion (Mort)

The next few days went by pretty quickly. I spent a lot of time with D and Jane, the three of us becoming good friends. I practised my abilities some more, as my hand slowly regrew. I was soon at the point of having stubs where my fingers should be. While D and Jane were at school I stayed with Joyce. I had a few more conversations with Gwen, who was getting more and more keen to meet up. After much discussion with Joyce and D, I agreed, and we set a time and a place which was public and relatively safe. So even if my sister was followed, they couldn't do anything. As an additional precaution D would come as well to make sure I was alright.

I was very excited to be seeing my sister again, and it seemed like the day couldn't come soon enough.

 

Finally the day came, I put extra effort into picking out my outfit intent on making a good impression with Gwen.

After some cautionary words from Joyce, D and me set off.

 

I found myself both immensely excited, and slightly nervous. It had been a while since I had last seen my sister, and in that time I had changed quite a bit. What would she think of me now, how would she react to my abilities, and my more feminine attire?  These thoughts were bouncing round in my head on the way to the small open park we had chosen for our meeting place, right up until the point we arrived and I saw Gwen waiting.

 

At that I broke into a run, and practically tackled Gwen. Who, judging by the fierce hug, and kiss on the cheek, she gave me was just as happy to see me.

 

Most of the time I didn't really notice my new height, partly as I was spending most of my time with D, who towered over most people, making me feel as small as before. My change was brought home to me once again, by the disparity between Gwen's and my height. Where as before Gwen would have towered over me, now her head was shoulder level.

I was still held tight by Gwen, when D caught up with me.

 

"Oh, Gwen this is D," I said, breaking our embrace "She's the one who rescued me, and her and her mum took me in"

 

"Very pleased to meet you., Gwen said, shaking D's hand. "Thank you for taking care of my sister."

 

"I'll let you and Tish catch up," D told her as she retreated to a small bench.

 

"Tish?" said Gwen questioningly.

 

"It's a nick name that D has for me" I said. "It comes from some old TV show, with a character called Morticia"

 

"Hmm I see" she said, a bemused expression on her face.

 

We chatted for a while, and wandered around the park.

 

"How have you been Mort?" she asked

 

"Good, D and Joyce have been taking good care of me." I said.

 

"How did you meet them?" she asked

 

"D saved me," I replied "When I first got here, I ran into a bad area of town and this group of men attacked me. D showed up and fought them off. Then she took me back to her house and Joyce offered me a place to stay."

 

"Wow, you were really lucky to find such nice people."

 

"Yeah, they've been great. D and her friend Jane have been helping me with getting used to my new body, and been great new friends in general."

 

"You seem happier now, than I've seen you in a long time. Even before you changed, you had trouble making friends in Greenvale. It’s good to see you coming into your own," Gwen said with a smile.

 

We talked away, happy to be in each others company again, we were so wrapped up in our conversation neither of us spotted the van pull along side us until its side doors flew open, and two masked men grabbed the two of us. We were pulled into the van and the door slammed shut. The van quickly peeled away. I fought with all of my newly enhanced strength, managing to get my hand free, and swiped at one of the masked men. My sharp talons cut through the flimsy mask, cutting bloody rents into his face, causing him to scream in pain. As I was capitalising on this, one of the other men smacked me over the back of the head and everything went dark.

 


 

Ch13 - lost (D)

It happened so fast. One moment Mort and her sister were there talking, the next they were gone, and a van was speeding off into the distance. I tried to run after them but they were too quick. I franticly wrote down the van's number plate, only just getting it before it vanished from sight. I wasn't sure what to do next, so I called mum. By this point, I was in a bit of a panic.

 

"Mum! Mort has been kidnapped! She was with her sister, then a van got them both. I couldn't do anything," I shouted into the phone.

 

"What? Dorothy, calm down! Tell me what happened,"

 

I took a deep breath, I wasn't going to be much good to Mort if I was hysterical. I tried again.

"We meet up with Mort's sister, and everything was going well. I backed off to give them some space to talk, then this van pulled up and these masked men grabbed the two of them, and then the van sped off. I tried to chase them but I couldn't do much on foot. I managed to get the number plate though," I said.

 

"Oh my, do you think that her sister planned this?" Mum asked

 

"I don't think so. She was struggling just as hard as Mort. Someone must have followed her, and been prepared to risk snatching them in broad daylight." I said. "What are we going to do?"

 

"OK we need to get some professional help. You mentioned that a police officer took a statement from Mort just in case something happened. It might be worth contacting her to see if she can help. At the very least, she will know who to talk to in a situation like this. I will see if Sarah can do anything, She has a lot of contacts who may be able to help."

 

I gave her the number of the van, then went about tracking down officer Williams. After some negotiation with the police operator, I got through to the police woman we had met a few weeks ago. "Bobbie Williams" she said.

 

"Hello officer Williams, this is Dorothy Newman here. I don't know if you remember me, we met a few weeks ago when you were called out to scan my friend Mort, who was being accused of attacking this girl in a shopping centre."

 

"Oh yes she was the one who inadvertently gave me a brief history of her life. How could I forget." she said.

 

"Well she was just grabbed off the street by some masked men in a van, and I'm not sure what to do." I said.

 

"She was grabbed!?!?" she was obviously quite surprised.

 

I recapped the van incident again, and the officer took down the number plate. She told me to head home while she looked into it for me. I only hoped that Mort would be OK till the officer could do something to help her. I made my way home, all I could do now was wait, and hope Mort was OK.

 

 


 

Ch14 - Prisoner (Mort)

When I came to, I wished I hadn't. I was tied up in an old cellar in an old brick building with thick walls and high ceilings. A small skylight set into a tall shaft the only illumination. The way in and out of the room was blocked by a large wooden door. Even if I could get free, I doubted anyone could escape here without help.

 

I heard voices outside the door, and then the sound of a key entering the lock. I went slack, and pretended to still be unconscious.

 

"So this is the monster that consumed your brother," said a voice I only vaguely recognised. "It doesn't look like much"

 

"It’s stronger than it looks. It has a demon’s strength, and claws to match. You've seen what it did to my face." said another voice which I recognised instantly as my brothers. So he had been the one I sliced in the van.

 

"It makes no odds, we will burn the demon out of him soon enough," said a third voice, one I didn't know at all. "What about your sister"

 

"Dad thinks she is irrevocably tainted, we will purify her after we have done this thing," my brother said.

 

I was not liking the sound of this. Not only were they planning to burn me, but by the sounds of it, Gwen as well. I had to try and get out of this, and free my sister as well.

 

My brother, and I guessed, two of his friends, left shortly afterwards and I focused on getting free. I had no plan to get out of the room, but I figured that the first step would be to get out of the ropes. From there I could look at what to do next.

 

I struggled against my bonds, but they were too tight. I tried cutting them with my sharp nails, but couldn't get at the rope.

 

I thought for a bit, maybe I could use my double jointed fingers to get at the rope. With some effort I bent back my fingers to the point that I could touch the rope around my wrists, and with a bit of sawing I started to weaken the rope. It took a good twenty minutes to get the rope to the point where I was free.

Running over, I checked the door. It was too solidly built to force, and I could see no way around it from the inside. I could try waiting, rely on my invisibility to protect me, then try and sneak out once they thought I was gone. It would probably work, but it might complicate getting Gwen free. There had to be another way. I looked around me, and tried to think in terms of my new abilities rather than what I had been capable of before.

 

Then it hit me, the skylight!. While the high ceiling would stop a normal person, I could scale the walls, cross the gap to the shaft, climb it, and get out onto the roof. I would have to take it carefully, I had never attempted such a difficult climb before, however I was sure it was possible. Approaching the nearest wall, I took off my shoes, and tied them carefully to my belt.

Positioning my hand high on the wall, I gripped, made sure I had a good grip, then moved first one foot, then the other up onto the wall. I was now completely clear of the ground, and slowly I began to climb.

 

I made good progress, and was soon at the top of the wall. That is where things got tricky. Not for the first time, I cursed my lack of a hand, then cursed its slow regrowth. I needed to cross the ceiling hanging from my three limbs, I moved myself as high as I could on the wall then began moving out. Shifting my feet was OK, but moving my hand was tough. I eventually settled on repositioning my feet far apart, for greater stability, before releasing my hand. I could then use my, now stronger abdominals to hold me close to the ceiling. I also hooked my handless arm around the front leg to hold some of my weight, I could then move my hand forward grip and then move my legs up. This was not exactly the most efficient way of crossing the ceiling, but it did work. Eventually I got to the shaft, and after carefully negotiating the lip, I was climbing up the shaft towards the skylight.

 

I was nearly free, all I needed to do was get out onto the roof. The skylight did not appear to be secured in any way, but it was badly rusted. I tried to move it, to no avail. I had to be careful. One loud noise and I could be found out, I worked the rusted metal, trying to loosen it. Gradually the skylight started to open. It made a few disquieting squeaks, but no one came running, so I carried on till it was open enough to get through. I climbed out of the gap and onto the roof, closing the skylight behind me, not wanting to give my captors any clues as to how I had escaped.

 

I surveyed the roof. It was a reasonably flat roof that covered what looked like an farm building of some description. It was unlikely that I would be seen from the ground, but just on the off chance, I activated my camouflage. I made my way across the roof, on the lookout for where they were keeping Gwen. A bit further on, I spied another skylight, took a peek, and saw Gwen tied to a post in a room much like the one I had been in. There didn't seem much point in sneaking in and freeing her if there was no way to get her out of that room, since although I could, with some effort, scale the walls there was no way I could carry her back out the same way. I continued down the roof, and found another opening, the skylight was already open on this one.

 

I took a look. A man was sitting at a table reading a book. On the table was a bunch of keys I was pretty sure were to the cell doors. After some consideration, I reckoned that if I could get the keys I could free Gwen and unlock the cell from the inside. Given the way the guard was positioned with his back to the door, if we were quiet, we could sneak past him and out of the building, maybe make a run for the nearby trees.

 

The plan all hinged on me getting the keys, I wondered if my tongue trick would do it. Only one way to find out, I lowered myself as far into the room as I dared, then took careful aim, waiting for the ideal moment. When he turned the pages, I made my move. My tongue shot out, latched onto the keys and reeled them in. When I had them close enough I stealthed them, too, by willing my invisibility around them. I kept as still as possible and waited. After a short while, when I was sure that the guard hadn't noticed any thing, I eased myself back up onto the roof then back to Gwen's skylight. This one moved with no effort, so I could get straight in without all the mucking about. I carefully climbed in and down, the keys still in my mouth.

 

I negotiated the ceiling and then made my way down the wall landing softly on the floor. I turned towards Gwen who was tied and gagged in the centre of the room. She was staring at me with a look of terror. I wondered why, I even turned round, checking that there wasn't someone near, thinking maybe the room had been a trap in case I did escape.

 

There was no one there.

 

Confused, I turned and started moving towards Gwen, which made her flinch away, trying to loosen her bonds, making moaning sounds through the gag. I realised she was scared of me for some reason. Then it hit me! I was still in stealth mode, and nearly invisible. All she could see was a indistinct shimmery shape that had climbed in through the skylight, and down the walls, and was now coming straight for her.

 

All things that normal people didn't do, and since I hadn't got around to telling her, she didn't know that I was capable of such feats.

I switched off my camouflage and held my finger to my lips in a shushing motion. Gwen looked very shocked, then relieved. I moved over, and using my talons, slashed the ropes holding her to shreds, then removed her gag. She immediately hugged me hard enough for me to worry about her cracking some ribs.

 

“Oh Mort it’s you. I was so scared. How did you do that? It was like you weren't there, and you scaled a sheer wall, how?” Gwen whispered.

 

“Later,” I whispered back. “If we don't get out of here, they'll likely kill us both”

 

“But the doors locked. How are we going to get out of here? Are you going to carry me out?”

 

“I got the keys,” I said. “We need to be very quiet, but the guard they left was busy reading, and facing away from the door. So I reckon we can sneak past if we are careful.”

 

I slipped my shoes back on, and moved to the door, carefully unlocking it. Slowly, I eased it open till there was a gap big enough to fit through. Turning on my camouflage, I slowly peeked out. The guard was still busy reading, so I reached back and took Gwen's hand. We eased out and past him and out of the exit.

 

Once we were clear I switched off my invisibility, and turned to Gwen. “OK, I think we should make for the trees. We can hide easier in the forest. Then we cut across, try and find a road, then see if we can hitch a ride out of this hell hole.”

 

“Sounds good to me,” she said.

 

I moved carefully round the corner, and prepared to make a break for the trees, but when I rounded the corner, a piece of two by four hit me squarely in the head, knocking me to the floor. It wasn't quite enough to knock me out, but it made me pretty woozy. I turned my head to see my brother wielding the chunk of wood at me, intent on finishing the job. I flailed out with my foot, catching him in the chest. sending him flying into the wall. As I tried to get back to my feet, another man grabbed me and tried to hold me down. I tried to get free, but I couldn't get any leverage.

 

I turned to see Gwen kicking my brother in the ribs till a third man grabbed her. My brother stood up and slapped Gwen hard in the face. She looked at him with fury and kicked him hard in the groin. The kick was hard enough to make me wince. even though part of me realised that I didn't have the equipment to experience that kind of pain again. It floored my brother, who just lay there moaning for a bit.

After a while, my brother picked himself up and hit Gwen hard in the stomach, then another blow to the head, and she went down. I redoubled my efforts managing to get my hand free. I plunged my razor sharp talons into my assailant’s belly, causing him to scream out in pain and let go.

 

I staggered to my feet and turned to take on the other two, only to get another whack to the head. This one was enough to make me drift into oblivion.

 

 


 

Ch15 - Rescue (D)

I got home in record time, and found that Sarah was already there, talking on the phone to someone. When she saw me, she gave me a reassuring squeeze of the hand, then went back to the phone. I found my way in to the kitchen, to find mum making tea. She handed me a cuppa, giving me a worried look. I took a drink of tea, and feeling a bit better, told mum what Officer Williams had said.

 

“Don't worry too much Dear. Everyone is working on finding her and getting her back safe,” Mum tried to reassure me.

 

I tried to give her a smile. I could tell she was just as worried about Mort as me. We hadn't known her very long, but she had become someone I cared about. After hearing what had happened to her at her family's hand the last time on impulse, I dreaded to think what the nutters had in store for her now they’d had time to prepare.

 

I shrugged off the images in my head. Dwelling on such things would do me no good. At this point, Sarah walked in. “I've been speaking with the police. The registration on that van came back to a rental company, who show it being loaned to Mort's father, so we are sure that's who took her. Since their telepath has already reported witnessing what happened psychicly, with Anna's testimony from before, it is enough for us to act. We have been negotiating for a protective order so we can take Mort away from her parents,” she said.

 

“That's great, and all but we still don't know where she is,” I protested.

 

“Yes and no. They were able to partially track the van through the town centre’s CCTV network, but once it moved outside that, they lost it. Hopefully, that won't be a problem for much longer. I've called in some favours and a friend of Anna's is going to help us. He is a tracker, a very specialised telepath who can locate people. given a mental impression of them. Officer Williams is coming along to provide that. so we can locate Mort.”

 

“Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s get going,” I said.

 

“Calm down, Dot” Mum said.

 

“Sorry, Mum, I just don't want Mort in their hands any longer than possible,” I said.

 

“Officer Williams is on her way with some police backup, and Anna is going to fetch the tracker. They will both meet us here, and then we can go after Mort. I'll be coming along in case she needs any medical care,” Sarah said.

 

As we sat in the kitchen, I tried to keep still, but the nervous energy in me due to inaction made me pace about.

 

“Dorothy, you'll wear the floors out!” Mum smiled. “Please, sit down, and drink your tea.”

 

I gave her a weak smile and tried to relax. A few minutes later there was a knock at the door. Mum went to see who it was, and few moments later Officer Williams walked into the kitchen with another policeman at her side, whom she introduced as Officer Steven Higgins.

 

After greetings were exchanged and tea offered, we sat down to wait for the others to arrive. Officer Williams turned to me and said, “I'm sorry about what's happened to your friend. If I’d had any idea she was in this kind of danger, I would have done more to make sure she was safe. As it is, I still feel having seen what happened, I should have done more than just take a statement.”

 

“That's OK. I don't think anyone had any idea that something like this might happen.” I replied.

 

We all waited quietly until all of a sudden, Sarah jerked upright in her seat. “Anna's outside.” We all jumped up and were out the door.

 

Anna was waiting by her car with a small Asian man. “Officer Williams this is Henry Tong” Anna said.

 

“Pleased to meet you, Officer. I understand you have an impression for me. Anna could have given it to me, but since this is official, I wanted to make sure it was all aboveboard.” Henry said with a smile.

 

“Quite right,” said Officer Williams. She and walked over and took Henry's hand. Both of them closed their eyes and a look of intense concentration lined both their features. After a second or so they both let go, and Henry staggered back against the car.

 

“That's some impression,” he said, looking a bit shocked.

 

“Yes, I'm afraid my contact with her was quite intense. I should have warned you.”

 

“Not to worry” Henry grinned, “OK, now let’s see.” he turned in a circle, his eyes closed. He stopped, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a small hand held GPS unit with a compass fixed to it.

 

“OK, I would estimate she is 40 miles from our current position, in a north-easterly direction, ...  Which puts her … approximately … here.” He gestured to the GPS, it looked like a farm out in the countryside.

 

“Right then,” said officer Williams “let’s get going.” We all piled into the cars, and drove off.

 

Anna's car went first, to allow them to direct us as we got closer. It was a tense drive. We followed Anna's car as it took to back roads. Soon there was very little civilisation. It would be the perfect place to do something you didn't want people to stumble across.

 

We turned onto a dirt track, then suddenly Anna's car screeched to a halt. There was a police car blocking the road. We piled out to see what was going on. A police officer got out of the car and walked towards us.

 

“This is private property,” said the officer. “All of you get back into your vehicles and go back to the main road.”

 

“What's going on here,” said officer Williams.

 

“This is Private property,” said the officer, looking a bit more perturbed. “You can't come in here without a warrant.”

 

Officer Williams raised an eyebrow. “Steven,” she said. Officer Higgins walked forward and produced a piece of paper.

 

“This is an open warrant to pursue the kidnappers of one Mortimer Wilson so we can retrieve her and put her into protective custody,” he said.

 

“But you ... But ... There's no one of that name here,” said the increasingly flustered officer.

 

“Oh, but we know she's here,” said Officer Williams. “We have a tracker. Now step aside or we will have to arrest you for interfering with an official investigation.”

 

Suddenly the officer moved to reach for a gun holstered at his hip. Officer Higgins moved so fast he was a blur and the next thing I knew the Officer,was handcuffed and on the ground.

 

“I don't like the way this is going. We need to move quickly. If he was willing to shoot us to stop us proceeding, then this is getting pretty serious,” Officer Williams told us.

 

They put the cuffed officer into the back of their police car, and then moved his car that was blocking the way. We continued on the way with a new sense of urgency, finally coming to a series of buildings, and got out.

 

“She is that way, beyond those buildings,” said Henry.

 

We moved quickly, Soon we heard sounds of a girl shouting. I broke into a run. I rounded the corner. When a boy carrying a bit of two by four shouted, I smashed him, hurling him through the air. As I rounded the corner, the sounds from the girl had turned from shouting to screaming.

 

I saw a group of men holding Mort's sister, who was struggling and screaming. In front of them was an older man and woman. The man tossed something in front of him. I looked, then I saw Mort and when I saw what had just been thrown near her, I cried out in horror.

 

 


 

Ch16 - Trial by Fire (Mort)

I came to a while later. Things had gotten worse again. I could hear Gwen shouting. I was chained to something a post in the ground, surrounded by piles of wood. With a sinking sensation, I realised I was on a bonfire, chained to a post in the centre.

 

I looked up and saw several men holding my sister. In front of them were my father and mother. My father was holding a lit torch. Father was spouting some religious scripture, while mother looked on with a righteous look on her face. I heard my brother cry out, and then saw D run round the corner. She had come to save me.

 

Hope peaked momentarily, then I heard my father say something. “The Heathen scum are too late to save you, demon. Now we free the soul you have imprisoned with fire.” He tossed the torch onto the bonfire.

 

The fire caught quickly, as the wood must have been soaked in petrol or something. I heard D scream out, and saw one of the men turn towards her. She casually threw him out of the way. The fire was catching faster, coming closer, I could already feel the heat. As D raced towards me, Father attacked her and she just picked him up and tossed him aside.

 

The fire was getting much closer. It was at my feet, then surrounded me on all sides. D tried to get to me, but the fire was too intense. I could see more people running towards us, Joyce, Anna, Sarah, and Officer Williams. I struggled with the chains, but it was no good, I couldn't get free.

 

When I saw my clothes catch on fire, I screamed. I could feel the heat surrounding me. I looked up at Gwen and D, seeing tears in both of their eyes.

 

The fire was moving up my clothes. I was ablaze, fire all around me. I could barely see out of the flames to where everyone was standing, held back by the heat. The heat haze distorted everything. I could hear Gwen's screams as she tried to get to me, while a sobbing D held her back, knowing they couldn't reach me.

 

I realised though, as the fire became more intense, something was off, I didn't feel as if I was burning. My clothes had been almost completely consumed by flame and my body was at the centre of an inferno. Yet, while I could feel the heat, it was not painful. It was more an abstract quality, just a temperature I could feel around me, similar to stepping from the cold outside, to a warm room. I could feel the difference, but there was no discomfort or pain involved.

 

I could feel the fire, it was like it was drawn to me. My clothes were completely consumed now, and I was now bathed in flames. The flames seemed to flow through me. Where they touched my body, they clung to me, making me seem to be made of living flame. I was naked and yet clothed in fire. Yet it was more than that, the flames were part of me, as if somewhere inside me, there was a core of fire that was reaching out, controlling and creating the fires around me.

 

Instinctively, I reached out with my senses, feeling the flames. I concentrated on my hand, and I felt the flames respond, flowing around my hand, with more fire issuing from the bright hot core of my being, causing the heat to intensify to unimaginable levels.

 

I focused the flames on the chains which were now glowing red hot. The chains got hotter and hotter, going from red hot, to white hot. They began to go soft, then melt away, the metal flowing like liquid off me.

 

I was free. I stood up, the bonfire blazing brightly around me. I stood at its centre, the bright heart of the inferno.

 

The fire was so intense that anyone looking would likely have seen only flame. The bonfire had seemingly been accelerated by my presence, nearly all the wood having been consumed. I looked out at the scene in front of me.

 

It seemed the blazing inferno, and my silence, had made everyone assume I had perished in the fire. Gwen was on the ground, sobbing uncontrollably. D stood by her, but was facing my father with a look of fury. In the confusion, my father had picked up a shotgun, probably the same one he had taken my hand with, and was holding it, pointed at D and Gwen.

 

“Put that down” shouted officer Williams. “Don't make it any harder on yourself,”

 

“You won't stop me. I am doing God’s work” shouted my father. “I have already destroyed the Demon who took my son. Now I must root out the corruption in my daughter.”

 

I knew he would kill both Gwen and D before anyone could stop him. He thought he had already killed one child today, what was one more? The other Morfs girl was merely a bonus. I stepped out of the bonfire, fire parting around me revealing my fiery visage.

 

The men, who had been holding my sister, and my brother, screamed out in terror. My sister’s and D’s eyes went wide.

 

I walked forward, the ground bursting into flame where I trod, the heat reaching before me. Mother turned, feeling the heat, then screamed as the fire reached out from me towards them.


“The Demon!” she screamed.

 

My father turned and looked at me in terror. He swung the shot gun towards me. A shot rang out.

 

I reacted instinctively, and focused all the heat I could in front of me, creating a shield of flame, white hot in intensity. The intense heat, combined with the direction of application, caused a massive blast of high velocity super heated air to travel in front of my shield, a bit like a jet engines output.

 

This slowed the projectiles, and also melted their aerodynamic shape, slowing them further, so on reaching the flames, they fell harmlessly to the ground. The blast of air also knocked Mother and Father down, and rather surprisingly, punched a hole in the barn behind them. Before Father could fire another shot, I focused the waves of searing heat at his gun. He screamed out as the fire reached him. The gun’s barrel turned red hot and deformed to the point it would never fire again. Father dropped the smoking hot gun and backed away from the approaching fire.

 

Through me coursed the anger at years of humiliation and lies. Fire burned in me. I wanted to burn everything to ash. I clenched my fists in rage, the heat building to unimaginable levels. The ground was aflame, fire spreading out from me in a sphere.

 

As my parents cowered before the flames, I took a slow steps towards them, the ground around me immolated in a circle of by my blazing aura. "You wanted purification by fire? Now embrace the fire you yourselves have set," I shouted.

 

I reached out, jets of flame setting fire to all the buildings around me, fire flowing like water covering every surface.

 

"God! Protect your loyal servants from this demon!" screamed my father.

 

"Fool! You think a just god would protect one such as you? He would send you to burn," I shouted

 

They were still trying to edge away, so I surrounded them with flames. The flames were so hot their clothes began to smoulder. The rage inside me burned still brighter. It would take so little to let the fires consume them.

 

I was so full of rage that the rational part of me that knew doing so would probably destroy me, was almost gone. I stared at them, pitiful snivelling creatures that they were, praying to a god I didn't believe in to save them.

 

Then I came to an abrupt decision. I wouldn't let the rage win. I wouldn't become like them. I had a life now, beyond their petty minded ideals. "I will not let you destroy me," I said in a quiet voice. " It may be less than you deserve, but I will let you go. So the police can cart you off in irons for a life behind bars. I will not take your path of hate and violence. I am better than that."

 

With that, I pulled the flames back. All the fires went out, and the temperature dropped till it was back to normal. The flames around me receded, and as they faded, they shrank till there was only a tiny flame deep inside me. I realised this fire would never truly go out. It was part of me now.

 

I collapsed to the ground, the exertion of calling all that flame catching up to me. D and Gwen ran up and grabbed me, being careful to check that I was now cool to the touch.

 

"I can't believe it you're alright, Tish," exclaimed D. "When I saw them set you on fire, I thought you were a goner."

 

Gwen said nothing, just hugged me tight. I could feel her joy at my being alive glowing within her.

 

"I nearly lost myself there for a bit. The anger at all they had done just boiled out of me. I wanted to burn them up," I said, tears in my eyes.

 

"But you didn't! You stood on the edge and stepped back. You are better than them, don't forget that. You had a chance to hurt them for revenge, and chose mercy instead. I'm proud of you," Gwen hugged me even tighter.

 

After a while, I tried to stand up, but I was still very unsteady on my feet. I was also naked. my clothes having been consumed in the blaze. D gave me her coat, which was quite big on my smaller frame, which worked to my advantage covering me up.

 

Then D lifted me into her arms and began carrying me. I put an arm round her shoulders and looked up at her and smiled, feeling safe again.

 

I looked around. The whole area was a smoking charred mess. I had done a lot of damage. Most of the buildings I had set ablaze were pretty much destroyed. The area where the fire had been set to burn me alive was nothing but ash now, razed to blackened earth in a circle a few meters wide.

 

"Did I do all that?" I asked a bit shocked at the level of destruction I had wrought.

 

"It’s all you, kiddo." D grinned. "Not to worry though, no long term damage to anything but a few old buildings. It was quite a show you put on though, you were like living fire, the scaled parts of you standing out like the patterns you get when wood burns, and your hair was like flame. It was quite something, makes me wish I’d brought a camera."

 

"Maybe next time," I said with a smile. That caused D to laugh.

 

We stopped to watch the officers cuffing my family and their helpers. Most would not meet my gaze. My mother and brother looked at me with fear in their eyes.

 

I saw Sarah standing with Anna, Joyce, and a small man I didn't know. D carried me over and Sarah checked me over. "How are you feeling?" she asked.

 

"A little tired, but otherwise OK," I replied.

 

"That's probably from using too much energy. You have some slight bruising to your head, a few cuts that seem to have sealed up already, but no broken bones that I can see. Get some rest and come in and see me for a check up tomorrow. Glad to see you're OK," she said.

 

"I knew you were an elemental," said Anna.” It is almost continuing your lizard theme, too"

 

"How do you mean?" I asked.

 

"A salamander. They were once thought to be fire elementals. They're not lizards really, they are amphibians, but they have similar features," she said with a grin.

 

"A fire elemental. I guess that's what I am now." I said.

 

"And a pretty powerful one I would guess, based on your performance earlier. You'll need to take care. You could do a lot of damage, so I recommend you practice somewhere isolated, with plenty of fire extinguishers."

 

"If you get a handle on it, mum will never need to pay for heating again," said D with a grin, to which I replied by sticking my tongue out at her. "Bah, I get nothing in the way of powers, and Tish has got them coming out of her ears,"

 

"She can do what with her ears" said Gwen, making us all chuckle.

 

It felt good to relax. I felt safe in D's arms. With people I trusted around me, and before long I was drifting off to sleep. I woke briefly in the car, my head resting on Gwen's shoulder then settled back to sleep.

 

When I woke next. I was tucked up in bed at Joyce and D's house. It was late and I was still very tired. So I went back to sleep. It had been a trying few days, and since I hadn't waked up chained to something the last couple of times, I figured it was safe to relax a bit. I settled into a deep sleep, and slept through the night. I guess it wasn't that surprising that I dreamt of fire. Not really nightmares, but odd abstract stuff. The sort of dreams that seem to have deep significance, but come morning, you remember almost nothing about them.

 

Still, when I woke I felt refreshed and much better. I dressed, a little peeved that one of my favourite outfits was now toast, and then wandered down the stairs to the kitchen.

 

“Well good morning, sleepy head. I thought you were going to sleep all day,” Gwen greeted me.

 

“Hey” I said. “I was really out of it last night!”

 

“Yeah, you barely woke at all on the ride back,” Gwen told me. “Sarah said it wasn't anything to worry about, you probably used a lot of energy yesterday”

 

“Yeah, I must have, I torched that place,” I said, and Gwen nodded. “What happened to Father?”

 

“That nice police officer took him away on three counts of attempted murder and two counts of kidnapping. She also booked our brother and those other men, our mother, and a police officer for numerous offences.” Gwen had a look of satisfaction on her face. “They're going away for a long time, and won't be bothering us again”

 

“What happens to us now?” I asked.

 

“Well, Joyce kindly offered us a place to stay for as long as we need. Sarah is sorting out the details with the authorities but hopefully they are going to arrange it so I'm your legal guardian. We'll find ourselves a place and get on with our lives away, from Greenvale forever.”

 

I smiled and took her hand. We were together, and free from the rest of our family for good. We could make a new life, without their stupid lies. We had each other, and I had met some good friends who liked me for who I was, and didn't care what I was. Life would still be tough, there would still be people who wouldn't accept me, and I still had a lot of things to get used to. I was far from completely comfortable in my new skin. But I was getting there, and I was happier than I had been in years.

 

'All in all, I thought that getting MORFS had been a change for the better, even if the rebirth had been a painful one. This new life was looking much improved over my previous one.

 

“So” said Gwen “did you think of a new name yet, how about Sally? Like salamander”

 

She was grinning like a Cheshire cat, obviously having thought of this joke a good while ago, and had been bursting to tell it since then.

 

“That's so lame,” I said with a smile. “Maybe I could go with something along similar lines though, like Amanda”

 

“Ha!” said Gwen “I was only joking”

 

“I know, I kind of like the idea, though.” I said.

 

“Hmm there are worse names, and I think one of our grandma's was called Amanda, the one who didn't approve of Fathers attitude, so we never saw her much”

 

“Well that settles it, a proper family name,” I said.

 

“If you’re sure, Amanda it is, or would you prefer Mandy?”

 

“I don't mind, but I know D is going to call me Tish till the day I die though,” I said with a grin.

 

“I think she will at that” said Gwen. “How about a nice cup of tea then, Mandy?”

 

“That'd be lovely,” I said. ‘Yep’, I thought to myself, ‘Things are going to be alright.’

Ch17 - Epilogue (Grant Sr)

 

We got out of the clutches of the foolish police only by way of my brother calling in a multitude of favours. They didn't know what they were doing. Now more than ever, I was sure I was doing God’s work in trying to destroy the monster that had taken over my son. For what else could have survived that fire, and called on it like some tame beast to do their bidding, but a Demon sent to destroy us.

 

“Thank you, Brother, for freeing us. The fools don't know what a terrible error of judgement they have made.”

 

“It took a great deal to get them to even bail you. I will do what I can to help you, but I doubt there is much even I can do to prevent them imprisoning you eventually,” Richard replied. “What exactly did you think you were doing, and why didn't you inform me about this?”

 

“I was ashamed, Brother. I couldn't believe that my own blood could have been seduced by the Demon. I felt it best I deal with the situation myself. I didn't want your good name tarnished by association with such evil,” I replied.

 

“Brother, I serve the highest power, and it is my duty to root out such corruption. You should have informed me of this as soon as it happened. I could have had it taken care of without effort. As it is, now I can do nothing.”

 

He was right. What a fool I had been to think I could handle the demon without his help. Its tricks and lies had turned all my good work to nothing, and brought the godless fools down on me. Still, I could not give up at the first hurdle, for what good would faith be if I simply abandoned the calling at the first minor inconvenience? These godless wretches may have sided with the demon, but I would try and save them from it anyway. If not by fire, then maybe other methods would serve.

 

“Surely we can do something. To know that thing is out there in the world, loose to spread its evil, and damn yet more souls is a terrible weight on my mind,” I told him.

 

My brother dropped his head in contemplation then  “Though I may not be able to do anything, there may be others who can act.”

 

“Name them, and I will gladly help them in anyway possible,” I told him.

 

“There may come a time when they call on your help, but for now you must appear beaten. This will allow the beast to let its guard down, and allow others to move on it,” my brother said, a righteous gleam in his eyes, and I knew that all was not lost yet. “They are called the Knights. They serve a secret holy order, whose sole purpose is to extinguish the evil of this curse that has afflicted our world. They can move in on this beast, while it feels itself to be safe and secure, the forces of good beaten. Then, without warning they will strike, destroying the evil and vanishing without trace. Now, pray with me brother, for their success, and the eventual salvation of your son’s soul.”

 

I bent my head in prayer and thanked god that the forces of light were still working against this fearsome curse.

 

“The demon may think it has won, but the battle is only just beginning. Its time will come.”

 

   

 

 

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

 


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