Schism

by Flashdance

 

Part One

 

Aint found a way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere
The bullets scream to me from somewhere
Here they come to snuff the rooster
Yeah here come the rooster, yeah
You know he aint gonna die
No, no, no, ya know he aint gonna die
My buddys breathin his dyin breath
Oh God please won’t you help me make it through

--August 30th, 2048 A.D—

I switched off my turntable…and listened closely to a knocking sound at my bedroom door.

“Honey, it’s your mother,” a clearly female voice said.

“Can you please turn your music down? I can hear it all the way downstairs,” she asked kindly and with a sympathetic look on her face.

“Sure,” I said. It was no skin off my nose since I had already raised the tone arm.

I could tell my mother was looking at me, since I could see her out of the corner of my eye. I knew what she was here about…since I had been told earlier. “Jeremy…Kevin is, well he’s going to die. I think we should go visit him in the hospital, because the doctors say he won’t last the night,” she said sadly.

“I know…from what his mother told me I figured he was beyond saving…oh mom,” I said and tears started streaming down my cheeks. I waved my mom out of the room…completely embarrassed by the fact I had cried right in front of her. I rubbed at the tears, and the facial hair stubble scratched at my hand. The news had probably been hardest on me…right after his parents perhaps.

I walked back over and set the tone arm back down on the vinyl record, which strangely enough had come back into style around the early 2000’s, and stayed in style as a sort of retro audiophile hobby. I had a fairly nice setup…the turntable was a new high technology version, all digital except for the analog sound transducer and parts. I currently had it plugged into my eCom. Allowing me to record sounds while the turntable played vinyl records.
           
I’ve even heard that some newer records were made of composite substances to make them supposedly sound better. Compact disks had gone the way of the horse and carriage…seems only digital music and vinyl records were sold in stores anymore. Sold in stories, of course, meaning that a person could take their eCom on the internet, or actually into a store and link to a network and pay to download albums. It was cheap and convenient.

I was wearing only my boxers, which was highly common for me when I was relaxing in my room. So I set about getting dressed, I knew mom expected me to get dressed and be downstairs as quickly as I could given my general state of mind. I really didn’t want to go watch my best friend die. However, I threw on a t-shirt and some baggy men’s cargo pants and I was downstairs in a short while.

“Are you ready to go?” mom asked, when she saw me get to the bottom stair.

“Yes, I suppose so,” I answered.

I followed mom out to the car, which was a 2023’ Pontiac Tempest GT. It was a sporty mid-size convertible. Climbing into the car, mom switched the ignition on, and a nearly silent hum met our ears. The hydrogen fuel cells were active and we pulled away from the curve, and proceeded to drive to the hospital. A journey I was still foreboding in my mind. Some familiar songs played on the radio as we drove, and I was tempted to flat out shut the radio off so I could have some peace and quiet. But my mother was humming along and seemed to be enjoying herself, so I left it on.
           
We arrived at the hospital and my mother pulled up next to the front doors and we both got out of the vehicle. Night had fallen, and it was a bit cool out…with a breeze that gave me the chills. I heard the locusts’ song, a sweet lullaby coaxing me with the rhythms of nature and life. It was a chore, forcing myself to walk through the front doors of the hospital, into the harsh halogen-fluorescent lights that lit the facility. It was only a matter of minutes before we had checked in and were standing in front of the doorway to the hospital room, that my best friend was in. I walked in, and the room smelled faintly of ammonia and perhaps other cleaning agents, and Mss. Walker was already there. She stood when she saw us and right away enveloped me in a hug when she reached us.

“Oh Jeremy, I’m so glad you could make it. Especially since I know this must be hard on you,” Ms. Walker said.

“I love Kevin like a brother, of course…not coming would be unthinkable,” I said sadly.
Ms. Walker gave me a kind smile and then turned to mother, thanking her and leading her over to sit with her. I was left alone…staring at the hospital bed in the middle of the room. The windows were black, as night had fallen shortly after leaving the house…the clock said it was just past ten. Not normal visiting hours, but the hospital made an exception in this case.
           
I slowly walked forward until I was standing in front of Kevin’s bed. He was all bandaged up…from his face to his toes and had breathing apparatus going into his mouth. The heartbeat monitor beeped in sync with his heart…and every so often it was skip or beep irregularly in a scary way. I knew he was dying just looking at him, he was fairly quiet, except for moaning every so often and making gurgling noises.

“Kevin…buddy, I’m here,” I said grabbing his hand. Holding back tears I squeezed his hand gently. Kevin had caught MORFS, but it was a rare case because it was an unstable variant, that ultimately led to some of his organs failing. Essentially, he was dying from MORFS…and the doctors were completely incapable of helping him. They said that his body somehow locked into stage 2 of MORFS, because the strain was so unstable. His body wasn’t able to heal and started to die. Not to mention some of the mutations, which hadn’t given him any abilities actually damaged his tissues…kind of like cancer. It was rare though…MORFS was surprisingly efficient so it was bizarre when a strain malfunctioned and killed the MORFS infected individual. The odds were close to 1 in 20,000 of such a thing happening. Poor Kevin, it happened to him.
           
Watching him strain to breathe with the aid of the machine, I saw him open his eyes…and he barely smiled even with the life support tubes snaking into his mouth. I saw a single tear slide from the corner of his eye. I knew it was because he was glad I was there, we did think of each other almost like brothers.

“Don’t worry Kev…I’m here, and I’m not going to leave anytime soon,” I said as gently as my gruff male voice could sound.
“I know your scared…and I am too! But don’t worry, I love you to death and I will always love ya, bro…you’re truly the brother I never had.”
           
Suddenly Mss. Walker started sobbing quietly, and my mother hugged her and held her trying to comfort her. I didn’t mean for that to happen, but Mss. Walker already knew how close I had been to her son. I mean shit, if we had been any closer we would have been gay lovers. Which is funny, because it would have never happened. We were very clearly both straight, heterosexual males.
           
MORFS was a sequential-strand-DNA error, that affected organisms all over the planet. It started in the earlier half of the century, when terrorists used a biological weapon that contained a virus, which infected people and led to the MORFS condition, which further led to cellular mutations. Mss Walker was a MORFS survivor, she had mutated into a semi-cat hybrid. She looked like a normal woman, except for the fact that she had cat ears and a tail.
           
Watching the hours tick by was a chore…but I didn’t want to leave my friend to die when I wasn’t here, and didn’t want him to feel lonely.

I heard the heart monitor go flat line…I must have been drowsing. However, looking now I could see that doctors were rushing into the room, and ushering us out. The bio-elementals were there with the doctors and nurses, and indeed some of the bio-elementals were doctors and nurses.  However, bio-elementals had tried to fix the problem before, but it was surprisingly…stubborn. I suppose one could say that Kevin was doomed from the start. The doctors had forced us all out into the hallway, where Mss. Walker was sobbing in a nearby chair, loudly mourning the passing of someone that meant a great deal to so many.
           
The harsh fluorescent lights gleamed off the polished hospital floors, which were made of a new type of ceramic. That’s how the night ended…my best friend in the whole world dying in some cold hospital bed. That’s when it hit me…this is life, life is hell and life sometimes sucks. Life was unfair, life was sometimes depressing and dark…I had lived a very sheltered life for so long, naïve to the very end. Nevertheless, no more I think…I finally understood what for so long, I had not.
           
I left the hospital that night not speaking to anyone. My mother kept trying to talk to me, urging me to talk to her. I don’t understand why she doesn’t understand that I just don’t want to talk.
           
It seemed like it took us forever to drive home, looking out the window I pretended to be lost in thought so my mother wouldn’t bother me. Driving through the rain was a harrowing experience, the big rain drops splashing on the wind shield. Mom had turned the radio on and was humming to herself as we drove.

“I’m really going to miss him,” I said quietly, forgetting that I wasn’t wanting to talk.

“Oh…I never thought you wouldn’t. You two were very close,” mom replied sadly.

“Mom, I love you.”

“I know sweetie…I know.”

~~~
--August 31st, 2048--

Pulling into the driveway I got out of the car and ran down the sidewalk and stood on the porch. It was still raining hard…I heard thunder in the distance. I had always liked calm storms, especially at night…I’ve always loved going to sleep with the sound of rain hitting the windows and thunder booming. I always lull into sleep right away…as if the heavens were singing me a lullaby.
           
My mom was coming up the walk…her pink umbrella held in her hand and her keys in the other. I was wet because I didn’t have an umbrella…hence why I ran. As I predicted, I could tell that the thunder was drawing closer…I think I’ll get that nighttime thunder storm I wanted.

“Would you like something to eat before bed, hon?”

“No, I think I’d like to go straight to bed,” I answered in a solemn voice. After all, I didn’t feel like thinking about tonight anymore, and I thought the storm would help me sleep quicker…didn’t want it to pass before I managed to get to bed.

Mom unlocked the door, and as we both stepped into the warm home, she flipped a light switch and turned the porch light off. Dad was home, he must have left it on for us, knowing that we’d be getting home late. Shutting the door, the house was dark except for a wall outlet night light to my right, here in the foyer.

“Night mom,” I said taking the hall on the right towards my room. I heard my mom say goodnight as I turned the corner into the dark hallway. I didn’t bother switching on the light, since I’d lived here my whole life. I could feel my hand along the walls and guide myself into my room. Which I did. Closing the door behind me, I stripped off my clothes in the dark, put on a new pair of boxers and flopped down on my bed. My room was fairly small, through the window on my right, I could see flashes of lightning flickering, even though my thick grey drapes were drawn. In between the flashes my room was pitch black…I should have brushed my teeth but…well…sleep. I rolled over and drifted off while listening to rain and thunder.

Dim light was shining from behind the closed drapes…slowly waking up I opened my eyes. Morning was here, and my alarm clock read seven-forty A.M. It was set to go off in five minutes to get me up for school. I had a queen sized bed…that took up most the space in my room. There was a dresser off to the right and two book cases on the left. Straight ahead was the closet, which happened to be my destination. Opening the door I grabbed some clean clothes…then got some of the same from the dresser.
           
I groggily made my way into the bathroom…flipping the light on. I wish there was a window in this bathroom, which was right across the hall from my bedroom. The light made me squint against the brightness of it. I squinted into the mirror and smiled at my familiar reflection, and then jumped into the shower once the water felt warm on my hand. With both hands I leaned against the front of the shower, just under the shower head. The hot water spraying against my shoulders and back…I felt the heat of the water relaxing my muscles and I started to stretch a bit and loosen up. I wasn’t looking forward to school today…even though today was Thursday. Thursday was my second favorite day of the week because the next day was always Friday, “Thank God it’s Friday,” was always my slogan for Friday mornings. “Thank God I can finally sit my ass down,” is my slogan for Friday afternoons, which is usually when I finally get home from school. I would then not do my homework until the weekend.
           
I scrubbed down with the Axe body soap…this stuff had a masculine scent to it, and had evidently been a best seller since the early 2000s. Shampooing my hair took about…a minute since I had a short cut like most guys my age. Stepping out of the shower I checked myself over in the mirror again…smiling at my sky colored blue eyes. I was about five foot-nine even, a hundred and fifty five pounds with sandy brown hair. It’s not that I’m vain or anything…but I was feeling better than I was last night so I was just in a smiling kind of mood. Smiling back at myself in the mirror, I brushed my teeth and my hair and went into got dressed after towel drying my hair. Walking into the kitchen a few minutes later, mom was just finishing some cinnamon rolls which she knows I love. Pulling them out of the oven she put two on a plate and set them on the table. I sat and started eating one of the big rolls…and smiles as I ate. The cinnamon taste was strong, and my mom always managed to cook them just right.
           
I looked up to notice my mom leaning against the kitchen counter straight in front of me, sipping her coffee out of a mug that read, “Call me a bitch, I like it that way.” She’d been watching me, with an expression that told me she was trying to get a read on me.
“Don’t worry mom, I’m feeling better this morning.”

“I’m glad…you had me a little worried last night,” she replied happily, although she was barely smiling. “You’re sure your all right then?” she asked a few moments later, hesitating between words a bit.

“Yeah…poor Kev though, I’ll break the news to some of my friends at school today who were also friends with Kevin,” I said matter-of-factly.

“Alright, try to stay cheerful hon…I like to see you smile.” She said.

“You ready yet?” she asked, as I just finished the last roll.

“As a matter of fact, I am.”

I got up from the table and put the dishes in the sink. Mom grabbed her purse from the dining room, which was through a doorway in the kitchen. Putting on my tennis shoes, I was ready to face the day.

~~~

           
Slamming the car door behind me, and waving to my mom as she pulled away from the curb, I surveyed Sun Valley High School. The city I lived in wasn’t called Sun Valley though, that was just the name of the school. The city I lived in is called Harpers Valley…which was located in Eastern New Mexico. It was nestled in a valley near the shore, and got enough rain that It was a fairly tropical environment.
           
Sun Valley H.S had palm trees lining it’s drives and sidewalks. Walking up the main sidewalk towards the front entrance, I marveled at the Desert South-western motif that was implemented throughout all it’s architecture. I walked through the arched entrance and nodded at some jocks walking by, that I knew. Going to my locker, I pulled my book bag over my shoulder and put it into the locker, pulling out the books I need.

I noticed a girl walking up to me while I was at my locker. “Hey tiger, how’s Kevin?” Hailee asked. Hailee was a good friend of mine, she was friends of Kevin as well. Got to know him through me as a matter of fact. Of course Hailee wasn’t always Hailee, she used to be named Gavin…as in she used to be a guy before she MORF’d into well…a girl. Sex changes weren’t all that common when it came to MORFS…but they also weren’t all that rare either. I don’t think I’d appreciate a forced sex change, and neither did Hailee for that matter. I was friends with Gavin for five years before he became…Hailee. I was worried he’d kill himself after he became a she. His parents had to place him into the hospital…and they put him on suicide watch, because he had attempted suicide in the bathroom at home, and came terrifyingly close to success. It’s only been a week actually since that happened.

“Kevin passed away last night. He’s in a better place now,” I told her.

“Oh no,” she said, her eyes welling with tears. Then she paused for a moment and in a sobbing voice said, “Although I was expecting that, after his health started failing a week ago.”

I listened to her and made some small talk to get our minds off of the news about Kevin.

“You seem tired this morning…up all night?” I asked, concerned for her health.

“No,” she said, making a funny face at me.

“You look a little raw, that’s all,” I added.

“Um, I don’t know if it’s cool to admitt this to you or not, but uh…it’s that time of month for me,” she said darkly, eyes downcast.

“Oh…for the first time since you changed. I’m sorry, it must be tough for you,” I said as gently as I could. I gave her a hug, quick and friendly so she wouldn’t freak out. I notice girls were more okay with hugs, but especially now I had to keep in mind that Hailee wasn’t a girl on the inside, at least not yet. She was accepting it though…but it was a slow process.

“Yeah…you could say that.” She replied, quietly. She finally looked up at me with her big brown eyes, and did her best to smile. She had a very fair complexion, just like she did before morfs. She was about five foot four inches, probably a hundred and fifteen pounds

“But I’ll be okay,” she said, shaking her head, which caused her hair to shake from side to side. I always tried to think of her as just Gavin, but it was moments like this that I had to be careful, because she was a cute girl. She wasn’t stunning, but she was definitely what I’d consider girlfriend material. I also knew that quite a few guys had the hots for her and weren’t afraid to make it known aloud. I did my best to help let her know that I still viewed her as a close friend.
           
My only concern on the issue, was because of the fact that it might make her extremely uncomfortable. As I said, she hadn’t accepted being female very well yet. I noticed she would sneak looks at attractive boys in the hall, and then she would get upset with herself. I knew she found men attractive, but I also knew that she still felt like a straight male even though her body was now telling her otherwise. It was a very difficult ordeal for her to deal with, so I was very careful to keep my reactions to her in a very platonic light.
           
“I’m still sad about Kev though…I’ll miss him like hell,” she said sniffling a little.

“Yeah, I feel the same way,” I replied, smiling sadly at her.

I could see she was on the verge of crying, but she was fighting it. She really hated how the hormones affected her. I hope someday she’d just accept it instead of beating herself about it all. But nevertheless, I tried to think of something to take her mind off of our lost friend. If I could do that, then she wouldn’t start crying and then get upset over the fact that she was crying. Looking at the clock however, I had some sudden inspiration.

“Hailee, we’re gonna be late for class!” I said, speaking the truth.

“Oh! I’ll walk with you since we have the same class together,” Hailee said.

“Okay,” I replied.

Walking with her we talked about a recent homework assignment that was due this morning. I was lucky that I had finished it before yesterday…because I didn’t have time for homework last night due to the hospital visit.

~~~

Lunch came after what seemed forever, my first hour class with Hailee was boring. Hailee seemed to have cheered up a bit though, probably daydreaming about guys while wishing she was daydreaming about girls. If she heard me say that she’d have a fit and then admit it was true. I know her quite well…although she’s changed a lot since becoming a she, so I can’t be so sure of that now after considering that.
           
Getting myself some fries and a bottle of juice I sat at the usual table, some of my friends were already there. Jinnoh, who was an Asian boy that played varsity tennis. Sean was a mountain lion-partial hybrid. Mountain lion’s were common around here, usually living in the upper part of the valley and only venturing down into the city at night, when there were less people. Alex waved at me as I sat down and smiled at me.

“Hey Jeremy…Hailee told me about Kevin, I’m so sorry. How are you taking it?” Alex questioned.

“Well…I’m better. Still a bit depressed though…especially since he was in all my morning classes with me, except for the first hour one. I’m really feeling his absence now that I’m here,” I replied.

“I’m sorry, do you want a hug,” Alex asked before he looked surprised by the fact he had asked.

“Maybe later,” I said, not wanting to make Alex feel nervous. You see, Alex was the only other gender switched morf in the school….except unlike Hailee Alex also gained the ability of being a fire elemental. It was a little strange that I was friends with both of them, but I was. Alex used to be named Ashleigh, and…well, she was my girlfriend. Anyways, I broke up with her er…him after the switch. I was perfectly nice about it though because he was having just as much trouble as Hailee was over the whole ordeal. I did however wait a while before breaking up though, so that it wasn’t too much all at once. I also did my best to maintain a friendship afterwards, because I knew that Alex had lost a few friends over the whole thing…even though some of his previous friends who were girls stayed loyal.
           
I still love Alex, but as a friend. Ashleigh had been cute in the same way that Hailee is now, although now she was a modestly attractive boy…who’s thinking about trying out for the track team. I think it would help him accept his new gender role, if he joined the team. As for his sexual orientation, well I’m not real sure about that yet. I think he might be gay, but he only acts weird around me…probably because he still has feelings for me. Which doesn’t bother me, I do my best to be understanding about Alex…since he’s been through a lot. Poor guy. As for me, I still love Ashleigh and wish she was here with me right now…as a girl of course. I miss Ashleigh a lot…because Alex was faster to accept the new gender than say…Hailee as comparison.
           
I finished my fries just as Hailee came and sat at the table with her lunch. I was still hungry but didn’t feel like eating; I don’t like to eat much when I’m feeling down for whatever reason.

“Um, Jeremy that reminds me…I was gonna ask you if you’d like to hang out later this afternoon?” Alex asked me, giving me a secretive little smile. I tried to smile back but I was getting that gay notion again, although as always I wouldn’t think less of Alex because of it. It was the least I could do for Ashleigh…even though she was him.

“Alright, I’ll clear a couple hours,” I said looking him in the eye.

Alex smiled happily and waved at Hailee. Alex and Hailee were becoming fairly close friends since they switched, although Alex switched two months ago where as Hailee switched about three weeks ago. I guess because they were the only two gender switched morfs, they both had a lot to talk about. I think it’s a good thing that they have each other to talk to when they’re having a rough time with their new lives.
           
~~~

I waited outside the front doors of the school for Alex, since he said he’d meet me there. I sat down on the bench with my legs spread and stared at the blue afternoon skies.

“Jeremy, sorry it took me so long,” he said walking through the front doors.

“No problem, I’ve only been waiting five minutes or so,” I said.

“You want to crash at my place for an hour or two?” I asked.

“Sure, that’s fine.” He answered.

I saw my mom pull up to the curb and so I got off the bench and headed for the car. Alex followed at my side, glancing at me now and then. Once we were in the car Alex sat in the back and I sat in front, since it was my car after all.

The journey home didn’t take too long. I stepped out of the car and headed through the house and out onto the rear patio. There was a pool out here as well, which I sat facing at the nearby patio table. Alex came out a bit later with a can of soda in his hand, and sat across from me.

We sat in silence a while before Alex looked at me and said, “I’m sorry I never really thanked you for treating me as well as you have.”

“It’s no problem, Alex.”

“Maybe not, but I know that a lot of guys wouldn’t have done that if their girlfriend suddenly woke up as a guy.” He said quietly.

“Well, guys like that are assholes.” I answered quickly.

“Well…thanks,” he said a short while later.

“I really do care about you Alex. You’re a friend, and I can tell we’re going to become close friends. At least I hope we will. Besides, you couldn’t help what happened to you. And I know how much misery and misfortune it’s inflicted on your life.”

“Yeah…it has been difficult,” he said almost as if to himself.

He turned to me and said, “Jeremy, I think I’m gay.”

“I figured that much,” I answered. I smiled though, to let Alex know it was okay.

“Alex, I owe…well I owe you that much, and I know Ashleigh is still in there somewhere,” I said sadly.

“Well…I mean, you see me that differently?” Alex asked, eyes averted.

“Well…I feel like I’ve loss Ashleigh, and even though I have you…well…it’s not the same,” I answered.

“I’m right here though,” Alex quickly responded in his vibrant voice.

“I know but it’s not the same. I see you as my friend Alex, but even though I’ve tried I can’t see you as Ashleigh,” I said, my words sounding weak even to me.

“But…but, I’m not gone,” Alex said looking taken aback.

“I know, but I still feel like I loss the girl I love. And in a way it’s exactly true, she’s gone and I’ll never see her again. Just like Kevin in a way,” I answered, looking away for fear my eyes might be tearing up. I felt like I might cry if I wasn’t careful.

“Oh…oh my god. I’m sorry…I didn’t realize you felt that way,” Alex said.

“Like I said, you mean a lot to me Alex. It’s just that things are different now, that’s all.” I said gently.

I reached forward and touched his hand, which felt a little rough like mine. I drew away after a bit because his hand felt…well…like a boys hand. Which kind of freaked me out a bit, but it seemed to have calmed Alex down, so it had been worth it.

“Wanna go play a game or something…I bought that new Xbox unit that just came out,” I asked.

“Sure!” Alex said jubilantly. Sometimes Ashleigh shone through in his personality, a trace that showed that she really was there even though I felt as if she was gone..

~~~

Alex called home and was able to stay for dinner. My dad came into the room, “Oh…Ash-err…Alex, you’re having dinner with us tonight. Well that’s nice, I’m glad you two still get along.” All the while he had his amber wolf eyes focused on me.
           
My dad had gone through morfs when he was my age, and he had ended up a wolf hybrid. He hadn’t gotten it so bad though, a tail and wolf eyes with wolf-paw-like hands and claws.

“Yeah, I think me and Alex are getting to be pretty good friends,” I said waiting for my mom to bring dinner in from the kitchen. I saw Alex smile at my comment, out of the corner of my eye.

Alex looked at me for a moment before a surprised expression came over his face, and he said, “Don’t forget our field trip tomorrow, to the American branch of CERN. That facility is amazing…I know you love science Jeremy, so make sure your rested up.”

C.E.R.N was a European physics laboratory, and in 2019 they constructed a sister facility here in New Mexico just outside of town. Nevertheless, we just called it CERN or AERN, pronounced like the word, “earn.” A.E.R.N was where both my parents worked. So understandably I was big into the physical and theoretical sciences, since my parents had been teaching me about it since I was in diapers.
           
My mom at that moment came in through the open archway that led to the kitchen, and set some plates down on the table in front of us. It looked like she had cooked a spicy Mexican grilled salmon fillet. I was feeling pretty tired, even though I got a good nights rest last night, aside from thinking incessantly about Kev. My other friends had taken it better than I had, maybe because I had been closer to Kevin than them.
           
Alex and I yapped about music and some new games coming out, which is funny…because it seems like we talk about more things now than we did as girlfriend/boyfriend. Maybe because she’s a boy now, we just naturally have more things in common. As I swallowed the last portions of my meal I laughed and joked about how Alex ate as much as me now…where as before obviously Ashleigh was never able to eat as much as me. However, the joke made Alex space out for a bit, and it made me miss her even more than I had that evening.
           
Alex and I went back down to the basement, which had the holo-television and Xbox 3000. However I got too sleepy way earlier than usual, and so I let Alex out, locking the door behind him. Got ready for bed in a rush and then hit the sheets, and I was out like a light.

~~~
Sep 1st, 2048
           
Opening my eyes the next morning I drug myself out of bed. I felt groggy and even more tired than I had last night. I did my routine…showered blinked at my reflection in the mirror, got dressed, ate breakfast and then went to school. My mom had been concerned that I didn’t sleep well last night. She said I looked like hell, and I’m not sure I disagree with her. I had that trip to C.E.R.N this morning, which was nice because I wouldn’t have any morning classes in order to give me and most the physics classes time to visit the facility.
           
The whole day made me feel even more like shit. Having just arrived back at school after visiting C.E.R.N, sitting down at the lunch table I was absolutely zoned out. I looked around before choosing my seat next to Hailee, and my other friends were at the table which included; Jake, Brian, Alex, Payton and Eric. I knew them all pretty well, and they had all been friends with Kevin as well.

“Woah…Jeremy, you’re looking rough! Didn’t you get enough sleep or something?” Hailee asked when she saw me sit down.

I looked and smiled, her big brown eyes blinked at me in response.

“That’s a funny smile,” she laughed.

“Oh, I guess so,” I replied.

She frowned and remarked, “Well…you’d better not be admiring me. I know that look…I used to give it to cute girls all the time.” Then she frowned some more before adding, “But seriously, you look awful.”

Alex heard us talking and chimed in with, “Yeah, you look even worse than you did right before I left your house. You okay?” he asked, in a slightly girlish manner. Which caused me to laugh a bit.

“I honestly got a good nights sleep. I just feel dead tired, and it started last night.”

“Oh, if it gets worse you should see a doctor. It could be morfs.” Hailee said, with sincere concern in her voice.

“No it can’t be morfs. I don’t feel sick,” I said…worried.

“Well look, some people don’t feel all that sick. I’m just telling you to be wary of that,” she retorted.

“I agree with Hailee,” Alex said after a slight pause following Hailee’s statement.

“I really, really don’t want to end up with morfs,” I said quietly.

“Well you’ll just have to accept it if you do. Listen, I know Kevin’s death might have freaked you out. But you’ll be fine…you know I’m statistically correct on that one. Just stay calm, don’t panic and get a doctor right away,” she said getting angry. Nevertheless, it was a good angry since it was because she was really concerned about me…I’d say she was worried over my well being.

“I know but, ever since Kevin died, morfs has freaked me out just thinking about it,” I confessed.

“Well Jer, maybe you’ll turn into a girl like me!” Hailee said, with mock terror in her voice.

“I hope not,” I said picturing it in my head.

“Oh yes, well at least then I’d have someone going through what I am that I could relate to. And Alex doesn’t count cuz he turned into a boy,” she laughed.

“I’m just worried that I’ll turn into a squirrel hybrid or something. You know, and look fuzzy and stupid. Or something just plain ugly,” I said sulking.

“I think I’m gonna go home now. I can’t bear the idea of trying to stay awake in class, so going home early is the only option,” I said, getting up from my seat.

~~~

I’d been laying in bed, cat napping all afternoon when I heard a knock at my door.

“What?” I called loudly, and sleepily.

“Honey, it’s mom.” She said, opening the door and sticking her head in.

“Okay,” I said, on the verge of drifting back to sleep.

“Do you feel any better?” she asked.

“A little…maybe I need more sleep,” I droned.

Drifting back to sleep I was out cold. It seemed like I hadn’t been asleep very long, when I…I opened my eyes. I ran into the bathroom, and emptied my stomach into the toilet.

“MOM!” I yelled.

A few minutes later my mother came dashing through the open doorway and took in everything before finally saying, “Don’t worry hon, I’ll get you to the twenty-four hour clinic.”

~~~

Drifting into the clinic and crashing in a chair in the lobby, my mom went to the reception desk to check us in. I had retched up everything I had so I wasn’t worried about throwing up anymore. Although I still felt awfully nauseous. It wasn’t long before the doctor had taken me into the examination room and had me lay on a cold metal table. He called in a nurse and she took some blood samples, he did some physical tests and then left the room.
           
I heard his footsteps on the tile floor of the hallway as he came back. The fluorescent lights reminded me of the hospital a couple nights ago, the memory made me close my eyes to keep from thinking about it.

“Jeremy Clemens…I’m sorry to inform you that you most definitely have morfs. You’re in stage one, which it looks like you’ve been in for about a day and a half…you’ll be in stage 2 pretty soon, so hurry and get this prescription filled,” the doctor said. I hadn’t even heard him come in.

“Oh…well that’s no good,” I said absent-mindedly.

“Well I’m afraid you’re just going to have to roll with the punches and accept it. Not to mention the changes that result,” he said In a lecturing voice.

“Try to make the best of it,” he added a little afterwards. He handed my mom a prescription and walked out of the room.

Mom turned to me, and seeing the almost panicked expression said, “Honey, don’t worry. You might go through some serious drastic changes, but you can make it if you just try. You know you’ll have my support no matter what.”

~~~

My mom hurried us to the pharmacy and before long I was sitting on my bed, at home in my bedroom. I had an energy pack in my hand, and swallowing it’s contents I took a pill that would put me into a deep sleep. The energy pack would simply give my body the nutrients it needed to morf safely and as painlessly as possible. As I drifted off to sleep I had to consider what exactly might happen to me. However soon I blacked out into a dreamless sleep.

~~~
           

My eyes fluttered open, and I got up slowly…I was in a bit of pain, but not a huge amount. I drug myself into the bathroom to look in the mirror and noticed that I didn’t feel too different. I realized suddenly that the light was off…yet my vision was quite good despite the fact. Flipping on the lights, I grimaced and squinted through the bright light.
           
I showered and then brushed my teeth after I took another energy pack. I considered not looking in the mirror for a bit, but then decided against it. If I’m going through some changes, I want to be aware of them, rather than get an unpleasant surprise all at once. However, looking in the mirror, I wasn’t too horrified. My eyes looked a bit like my dads…except different. My hands seemed a bit larger and rounder, but not enough to seriously cause problems with everyday tasks. I achingly laid myself back in bed and after swallowing my pill, was quickly out.

~~~

The next morning marked day two…and despite the discomfort I rushed into the bathroom to get a good look in the mirror. Flipping the switch, I stared at a face that was more alien to me than the day before. I had…uh…pointed dog ears or so it looked sitting at angles on my head. My eyes looked a little different from the day before and I had some particularly sharp canines in my mouth. I kept biting my tongue on accident, which was quite a nuisance. Showering was more difficult than usual because my…very human looking paws kept dropping the soap. I could see what looked like black claws just under my finger nails. I’m sure they’d emerge within the next couple days or so. I crashed back in bed not that long of a time later, after taking another energy pack and a pill.

~~~

I woke up the next day to find that I felt slightly better, although that wasn’t much of an improvement. The typical routine was yet harder, although not surprisingly so. My claws had fully extended and my human fingernails were gone. Now I had human hands with some modest claws on them that resembled my fathers. Although I didn’t think I was a wolf, even though my brown eyes had turned into grey canine animalistic looking eyes. Climbing into the shower, I realized my tail bone felt funny, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary however you never know how soon that could change.
           
This time I was able to hold the soap thanks to my sharp little finger-nail-claw things. I just dug them into the bar of soap so it wouldn’t slip out of my hands. I keep saying hands, although I noticed they were a little wider than usual…I figured before long I’d have paws like a dog or something. Stepping out of the shower, I didn’t bother drying myself off since I was already getting really tired. Instead, I climbed straight back into bed swallowing an energy pack and a sleeping pill. I didn’t really give a damn that I was dripping wet anyways.

~~~
Sep 5th, 2048
           
Waking up a fourth time was…better. I didn’t have to worry so much this time since I felt alright. I suppose it was finally over, and I do emphasize the finally part of that thought. I made my way into the bathroom feeling quite upbeat. My energy levels seemed to have returned to almost normal. Stepping into the bathroom I looked much the same…I seemed to be the same height I had been before. Similar weight, although slightly more muscled in the legs and arms. It wasn’t body builder muscle…more like the kind of muscle that was only noticeable when you flexed. Other than that, my body seemed more streamlined that before.
           
Looking in the mirror, I was glad I was still alive after being scared to death of dying like Kevin did. Even though the odds of that were extremely unlikely, it still scared me. The claws were only a bit longer than the day before…so perhaps an inch for each nail. They seemed to get in the way of trying to do things. I now had short fur on my hands…er…paws. Although my arms were still normal and the fur didn’t extend above my wrists.
           
Looking in the mirror I thought the morfs had made me a bit of a freak, but in comparison to what happened to some survivors, I got out easy. Aside from the claws on my hands and feet and the ears I looked much the same. Not to mention this irritating tail I seemed to have sprouted. Yes, that’s right…a tail. A fluffy-furry tail that looked like a wolf’s tail. The fur on my tail, ears and fore-paws was a dull sandy color with grey mixed in.
           
Climbing into the shower, I used my claws to help hold the soap in my fore paws which made things easier. I suppose the results weren’t too bad. Morfs turned me into a furry critter boy, but I was far more worried about becoming an absolute hybrid. If that had been the case I’d probably look more like the wolfman from one of those old non-holo B-movies made during the twentieth century.
           
I walked out and back into my bedroom and got dressed, although I had a hell of a time with the tail. I decided to just wear some baggy sweat pants with my tail sticking out the back. I then threw on a polo shirt and walked slowly into the kitchen which was near the center of the house. My parents were both in there, thank goodness. I was excused from school today due to my unpleasant morf.

“Woah…glad to see you’re up and looking fairly happy,” my dad said.

“Well, I got off fairly easy I suppose. I can live with these changes…I’m not as much of a freak as I feared I might be,” I mentioned.

“I think I turned into a dog hybrid though…or a wolf like you, dad.”

“Actually Jeremy, I’m definitely sure you’re a Coyote hybrid,” my dad said calmly, observing me from his seat at the kitchen table.

“A Coyote? How?” I asked.

“Well, they are all over the place, on the outskirts of town and out in the desert areas,” he laughed.

“Okay…well, a Coyote hybrid is a little unique,” I said.

“Yeah a little…by the way, did your eyes turn to grey Coyote eyes?” he asked.

“Yeah. They did,” I said, while turning to face my dad so he could get a better look.

“I didn’t get a chance to ask you a couple days ago, but how did you like your trip to CERN?” dad asked, looking hopeful.

“I liked it, but then again you know I love science. I think I’d like to major in theoretical physics in college and get a job at the facility.” I explained.

“Good! I’d always hoped you’d follow in my foot steps,” my dad replied enthusiastically.

I spent the rest of the morning considering how I was going to tell my friends about this, although all of them except for Brian had already undergone morfs. So I suppose I wouldn’t have to explain too much to them, or feel too embarrassed or out of place.
           
Grabbing my eCom, I dialed Hailee on the phone and let out a sigh of relief when I heard her feminine voice on the other end. I kept the visual feed turned off, because I didn’t want her to see me on the holographic view screen. I’d rather her see what I look like in person, just because I prefer interactions to be that way.

“Hello?” Hailee asked.

“Hey, it’s me…uh, sorry I haven’t contacted you lately,” I said.

“Don’t worry, I called your house and your mom answered. She told me you got morfs. I’m really sorry about that by the way…anyways how did it turn out?” she asked with sincere concern in her voice.

“I’m fine…nothing too drastic happened,” I replied.

She paused for a moment and I think let out a sigh of relief, “That’s great to hear. I have to say, you sound great. Although your voice has changed a good bit, but I can hear you clearly. I’m really glad you’re doing better after this whole ordeal.” She explained.

“Yeah, it had me worried when the doctor told me, but I think I can live with these changes.”

“Will I be shocked?” Hailee asked.

“Not really, I MORF’d into a coyote partial hybrid, so it’s nothing too drastic. Although it is a bit exotic in a peculiar way.”

“Well Hailee, I have to go…but I’ll call you tomorrow,” I told her.

“Okay, bye, hope to hear from you soon,” with that she hung up.

After she hung up the phone, I gave Alex a call. After ringing for a couple seconds, he picked up. “Hello?”

“Hi Alex...it’s me,” I said. There was a slight pause afterwards, then I heard his voice, “Jeremy? Wow you’ve been gone from school for a couple days you know!”

“Yeah I know,” I said.

“Mind telling me why?” he asked, in a tone that reminded me of his former life. Sometimes he sounded so girlish, probably because he was a girl on the inside.

“Morfs.”

“Oh shit! I’m so sorry, I know how worried you were over the whole Kevin thing,” then he paused a bit before going on, “So anyways, what’s the results? Or are you gonna keep me hanging?”

“Nothing big. A partial coyote hybrid,” I laughed.

There was a short silence, then Alex sounded very sad when he replied with, “Yeah...you’re lucky, I wish I had just gotten that sort of MORF.”

“Alex...what do you mean?” I questioned.

“Well I mean...if something like that had happened to me, I’d still be Ashleigh.” Alex replied in a nearly sobbing voice.

“Oh, well yeah I suppose so,” I said, wondering where this was going.

“God, I hate being Alex. I have a confession to make. Jeremy, I still love you!” Alex said, breaking into tears. “I hate this! I hate being a boy! It’s not me! I wish I was still Ashleigh, because if I was I’d still be with you!”

I was stunned, and confused...I had no clue what to say in response to that.

Alex was still so much of a girl inside, and he reacted like one. Even though she was now a male like me, I was still just as clueless as to how to deal with him.
“Alex, I’m sorry,” I said, trying to think of something to say.

There was a slight pause and then the phone went dead. I panicked for a moment, “WAIT! Alex! I didn’t mean it that way!” However Alex had hung up, and it was already too late. Poor Alex, I hadn’t meant it that way! I had said I was sorry because I couldn’t think of anything else to say at the time. I suppose now with twenty-twenty hindsight, I could have said any number of things. Such as telling Alex that he was a very important to me. I still love Ashleigh...but because Alex was so different now, there was a disconnect.

However, looking back, saying I love Ashleigh probably would have made it worse, because it would have reminded Alex that I loved Ashleigh, and that he was no longer her. I wish I could love Alex, but I'm not gay. I wish there was something I could do to help, I really do. I just hope Alex doesn’t do something to hurt himself.

Sitting at the table for lunch, I was glad that I would get a couple days off from school to help recover from the MORFS. My parents were both at work, so after resting for a bit I got up and made myself a sandwich and added some potato chips to the plate. My mom had told me earlier today that tomorrow I had an appointment at the post-morfs clinic. I wasn’t sure that I was looking forward to that experience in the least.

 

 

End Part One

 

 

   

 

 

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

 


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