Shave and a Haircut - Part 2
By Veronica Haylee McKenzie
The Nightmare Begins
And THAT’S how my nightmare, Chronastasia’s nightmare, began.
In hindsight, MORFS could have been much worse… I could have developed a taste for houseflies (UUGGHH!!), for example. As Doc Adams said, "MORFS is a dual-edged blessing, and it’s up to each of us to come to terms with our ‘changes’."
Personal Entry 01-Sept-2046
MORFS sucks! I HATE IT! Yesterday, I was a normal, albeit geeky, boy. Invisible to all, and somewhat transparent. I had a fairly normal life, did the usual geeky stuff all pre-pubescent boys do - video games, riding bikes, goofing off - you know, STUFF! But that all changed overnight. I woke up a girl! And if that wasn't bad enough, I have to now worry about what timeframe I'm in, as I 'developed' the 'gift' to time travel, and manipulate time itself. I made the 'mistake' of altering history once, and I never want to do that again. Too damned confusing! I hate my life as a girl. It's all don't do this, sit like that, don't eat this, make sure you do... blah, blah, blah! Mom's always on my case now. Hell, she's been a girl all her life (I think). I've had one f'n day. Give me a break! I had to MORF in front of this really cute guy, too... *Did I just say that? OUT LOUD?* AAAaarrrrggggghhhhh!!!! Even my thought processes have MORF'd. Now what am I going to do? I hate my life! I wish I were dead or something...
Personal Entry 12-Sept-2046
It’s been almost 2 weeks since that fateful day. Much has happened since then as I’m slowly adjusting to my new body and gift. The dreams, if that’s what you want to call them, have subsided, and life has finally begun to return to normal, I guess. I’ve been assigned a new classroom, and haven’t had any major problems (yet!). No one knows about my MORFS, and I don’t plan to tell them any time soon. Fortunately, someone (Mom, perhaps?) has everyone thinking that Ron’s visiting relatives upstate.
I’ve been unable to obtain any information on Amber Darting, the teenager’s life I ‘invaded’ when I MORF’d. For some reason, all pertinent data was ‘classified’. I still don’t know how I managed to bring back the suspenders, and wondered how embarrassed Carl was when he lost them. I have done some research from that era, and have dug up some old newspapers about an organization called Al-Qaeda. They were terrorists that started the whole bio-tech war thing in the late 90’s and early 2k’s. I didn’t know (yet) where Ms. Darting fit in, but I intended to find out.
Personal Entry 13-Sept-2046
There’s this kid at my new school named Josh Porter, but everyone calls him Hacker. He’s a cybernetic MORF who’s into cracking networks and stuff. He can turn himself into a raw data stream and access the information by becoming computer code. I introduced myself and asked him if he could help me get information on Ms. Darting. He said, “I can help… for a price.” I wondered what he was really after.
Homeroom can be a bore at times. I have nothing to do there, and it seems to take all day to do it. As I sat and watched the hands of the clock morph into bygone minutes I began to wonder about the futility of everything. MORFS changes your entire perspective instantaneously. As my mind began to wander, I thought back to simpler times. Suddenly, I was there… I remember what I wrote in my diary as I sat there. I’m trying to write it down as I did then…
Personal Entry 14 April 1865
Today was a blustery day in April. The sun was shining brightly, and Ford’s was hosting a new play tonight. Mum said we could go if I minded my manners, and we might even get to sit in the balcony. There was even a rumor that Mr. Lincoln might be attending tonight… I do so hope my dear Henry can get good seats in the presidential box…
Mum said the play tonight was “Our American Cousin”, and I should lay out my best petticoat for when Henry arrived. He’s a good man and I so look forward to his company tonight… Maybe he’ll finally ask the question I’ve been dying to hear.
I was putting on the last of my petticoats as I heard Henry’s carriage pull into the courtyard. I can’t believe how refined he looks in his uniform, and it makes me proud that he chose to serve so well and so long during this time of civil unrest. I hope he can relax tonight, though, and enjoy the play. The stress he is under must seem unbearable.
I quickly freshened up as I heard Mum downstairs escorting Major Rathbone into the drawing room. I do so love to make a grand entrance, and my heart fluttered when I heard Henry’s baritone voice. Sometimes I think I could just melt in his arms…
I gingerly, yet gracefully glided down the stairs, and extended my hand to the only man I’ve ever cared about. I just knew I would enjoy tonight…
As we left the gardens, I noticed the church bells tolling the evening hour. The show started at 9:00 PM, so hopefully we could dine beforehand. I do so look forward to meeting Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln tonight…
We arrive at the theatre just in time to take our seats in the balcony, right behind Mr. Lincoln. After introductions all around, we take our seats, and await the curtain.
I can’t help but feel honored that I was invited to sit with the president, and can’t help but notice that he seems a little distant tonight, as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. I wonder if it would be proper to inquire of him of his feelings about the war. Perhaps I’ll ask at intermission…
Suddenly, shots were fired! An armed assailant leaped from the balcony near us, tripped on the bunting, and crashed to the floor. In all the confusion and chaos, no one noticed as Mr. Lincoln slumped to the floor, gasping for breath and clutching his chest. I hurried to his side, doing the only thing I could think of: comforting the dying man. In my mind I knew that this is what must be, but I secretly wished the bullet to dislodge, and spare the life of this great man! I gasped as the room began to spin, and all was black again.
Personal Entry 02 Robert, 181 PL (Post Lincoln)
When I came to (amid laughter of my peers for my being caught daydreaming in class yet again!), I was clutching the deflected bullet of what appeared to be a late 1800's Derringer. "Wow!" I thought, as I remembered the 'dream'. I didn’t remember extracting the bullet, and I couldn’t recall being a part of the Northern Republic of Lincoln...
‘What have I gotten myself into???’ That was all I could think as I held the bullet clenched in my fist. The warmth and damp stickiness of the oozing blood were still fresh in my mind. The teacher noticed my shock (panic?) and asked if I wanted to go to ‘the Mary Todd’. When I met her gaze, with eyes reflecting total confusion, she asked a fellow student if she’d escort me to get checked out. Things sure have gotten weird quickly…
We walked slowly to the office, and I was left alone in what appeared to be a nurse's station. A gruff elderly woman came in and introduced herself as Gladys, Mary Todd 3rd class. She asked me if I was feeling Booth and motioned me to an examining table. She took my vitals and muttered under her breath about ladies not wearing their crinolines and hoop skirts. She had me lie down, and blew out the lamp as she left the room. All was dark and quiet as I contemplated what had transpired:
1) There was no United States anymore. There was the Northern
Territory of Lincoln and The Confederated States of America.
The 'country' was run by Abraham IX, Exalted Ruler of The
Protectorate. Apparently, Lincoln (HRH Abraham I) LOST the
'War Between the States', and declared martial law in the
Northern Territories, declaring himself Supreme Monarch.
The South, aided by England and France, became a Protected
Colony of The United Monarchies. Lincoln was forced, in
humiliation, to be a 'puppet monarch' under British control,
while The Confederacy was allowed to keep Jefferson Davis as
president, under French rule.
2) Robert Lincoln (Abraham's son) led a successful revolt in 1900
AD against British forces. This was known as the 2nd Revolution.
He instilled a 'New Democracy', loosely based on the original
Constitution, but with little thought for citizens' rights. A
Lincoln son had served as government head ever since.
3) All times were based on the birth of HRH Abraham I, and the
months were named in honor of his sons and grandsons. All
'typical' female occupations bore the Mary Todd seal of
approval - nursing, seamstress, baker, tailor, etc. The
'Feminist Movement' never took place, and schools were
segregated by sex. Men learned politics, military life, and
assembly and labor skills, while women learned home economics and
the like. Only men over 18 could vote, and only by permission of
the head of household.
‘How can I correct this?’ I thought as I fondled the bullet in my sweaty palm. ‘How could so much have changed so fast?’ A part of me felt responsible. Is all this because I somehow SAVED Abraham Lincoln? How could I have known HE WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN SHOT??? With that thought, the queasy feeling came again, and with it, thankfully, another shift.
Personal Entry - 14 April, 1864
“Hurry, Clara darling, or we shall miss the theatre. Major Henry (Rathbone) and your father are waiting in the carriage!”
’I'm back!’ I thought as the room stopped shimmering and I began to focus. ‘Now for the task at hand - making sure Lincoln is assassinated.’
As I entered the theatre, a chill ran down my spine as I realized that, knowing what I now knew, I had to sit silently and watch helplessly, as a murder took place. I saw the actors take the stage, and as each was announced, I couldn't help but wonder when this nightmare would end. Finally, Booth took the stage, amid thunderous applause. As our eyes met briefly, I shot him an icy stare. ‘MURDERER!!!’ my eyes screamed, unnoticed by all around. Booth took his bow, and exited the stage, heading straight for his appointment with destiny. As the tears welled in my eyes, I excused myself to the ‘powder room’. The shot was fired, and as Booth tripped on the bunting, I heard his scream of SIC SEMPER TYRANNUS! (and thus to tyrants…) A new wave of nausea washed over me as everything faded black…
Personal Entry 13-Sept-2046
"Daydreaming again?" Hacker said as he dropped into a seat next to mine at the cafe. "Better watch out. 'The Rat' doesn't like that," he whispered, making squeaky noises as he did so. 'The Rat' is Mr. Rathbone, the school principal. He MORF'd when he was 13, and gained stealth and super speed. He's one of the few known Multi-MORFs, people who went through MORFS more than once. The last MORF wasn't kind, leaving him looking like a malformed version of Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
"Here's the stuff you asked for," Hacker said, depositing a stack of documents two feet high on a chair in front of me. "Ex-CIA operative, huh? Hope you know what you're doing. That stuff wasn't easy to find. I've still got 3rd-degree burns from the firewalls, and frostbite from the black ice…"
"I'm sorry!" I sympathized. "Can I get you some burn cream or something?" I asked naively, oblivious to his lame attempt at a joke.
"Nah," he chortled, "It's OK. Joking. You do owe me big, though. How about a movie next Friday night? My treat."
"Huh?" I asked, confused.
"A movie. You know, pictures that move, sound, came out in the 1900s, a D-A-T-E?"
"Oh, OK. But only if you buy me dinner first," I flirted.
"OK, then it's a date. I'll pick you up at 7."
"By the way," I added, with a sly grin, "I can really go for a couple of steaks, or lobster, or caviar, or…"
"I get the point," Hacker said. "Rob a bank before the date. Gotcha covered." He gave me a nervous wink, turned, and walked right into a dogwood. "Never saw it coming’…"
I stifled a giggle as I helped him to his feet and said goodbye. "You know," I said with a smile, "Its bark was worse than its bite. See you later."
Classes dragged on forever, and finally the bell rang for dismissal. The ride home was uneventful, and as I made my way to my bedroom, my thoughts wandered to the dossier hidden in my backpack. I locked my bedroom door, and lay sprawled out on the bed. I began to read:
Name: Amber Renee Darting
I thought to myself, ‘What's going on here? Why cover up a person's sex? It's obvious she's female, right???’
To be continued…
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/Encyclopedia.html