When the bell rang out, the school year was finally over. Students rushed to empty their lockers and flee the confines of school for the summer. In the midst of the crowd was a boy. Most didn’t even know he was there and that suited him, or rather, me, just fine.
In a school of six thousand teenagers, many with morfed abilities, and many of the others just plain mean, I’d found it best to stay off the radar
That’s where I fit in. I’m Hailey Masters. I’ve spent my first three years here trying desperately to stay out of trouble. As far as I know, no one hated me. Heck, most probably didn’t even know my name, and that suited me just fine. As I walked out the doors about 10 minutes behind the herd, I shuddered, thinking about grade school, where I was constantly teased about my name,
I’ve often marveled at why my parents had named me Hailey, despite their arguments that it was a unisex name. Finally they’d told me, I was named after my great uncle Hailey. I did some research on the family tree, and found they hadn’t gotten it right. His name was Haley, not Hailey, and he’d always gone by the name ‘Hal’. When I’d moved up to high school, I ditched my girly sounding name in favor of the nickname ‘Hail’ and for 4 years I’d kept my full name a secret from all but a few, who luckily didn’t seem to care anymore.
Now I was ready to get home and enjoy the summer, doing nothing, or at least, as little as I couldn’t avoid. As I headed home I sighed, seeing Pete Hessner soaring overhead. Pete had been a skinny geek like me until he’d morfed near the end of eighth grade. Now he was one of the best morfed athletes in school, taller and more muscular than he’d ever been before the change and he could fly like Superman. All the girls liked him and everyone knew his name and wanted to be seen talking to, or just hanging out with him.
Halfway home I had the fleeting thought that maybe over the summer, I’d get MORFs, and end up a big man on campus the way Pete had, but hardly had the thought occurred than I knew nothing like that would ever happen to me. I just wasn’t lucky like that.
When I got home I grabbed a drink from the fridge and went out back to relax. Oreo perked up her ears and came towards me as I sat in a chair on the deck. My former black and white house cat had Morfed, and now resembled a pink and white striped tiger cub. I picked Oreo up and put her in my lap, stroking her fur absently as I sat on the deck day dreaming.
When Mom got home from work, I heard her call, “Hailey? Are you home?” She was the only one who still called me Hailey.
“I’m outside Mom,” I called back as I picked up Oreo and walked inside with the big furball purring in my arms. “How was work?”
“It was alright. You need to go get changed. We’re going out for a nice family dinner tonight, and we need to leave soon.”
When I got upstairs I had to pass my sister’s room, where I was bombarded by the loud music coming through the closed door. I kept walking, past my brother’s room and my parent’s bedroom toward my own little sanctuary. As I climbed the old fold down stairs that led to my loft in the attic I remembered how it had taken months to convince my parents to let me set up a room up there so I’d have a place of my own.
They’d only agreed to it when I offered to pay for the construction materials needed and promised to do the work myself. In the end, I’d only had to supply the paint, and Dad helped with the framing and drywall. Not having to share a room with my brother was worth all the effort and money.
I got out of my school clothes and put on a nice collared shirt and my best pants, buffed my shoes and then sat down at my computer. When I checked my email I saw my friends were having a small party next weekend to celebrate the end of the school year. There would only be about 5 people there but that was how many close friends I had. I wasn’t big on huge end of school parties anyways. They were full of guys who would make fun of me and girls who wouldn’t be interested in me.
‘I wish I was just a little bigger. How come I had to be the runt all the time’ I’m even the runt in the family, even my younger sister is over an inch taller than I am,
My reverie was broken by Mom’s voice, “Hailey, we need to get going!”
I walked over to Oreo, who was sleeping in the dormer window. “You stay out of trouble while I’m gone,” I said as I scratched behind her ears. She purred at the attention and let out a sneeze just as I was pulling away my hand. “Gee, thanks girl.” I sighed as I wiped my hand off on my pants.
Downstairs, I was herded out to the family car with my siblings. Even among my family I was generally ignored. My brother and sister had always demanded our parent’s attention, so subsequently, I was usually ignored.
As I’d kind of expected it to be, dinner was a big bore. When we got home I dashed upstairs to get away from my brother and sister. By the time I’d run up both flights of stairs, it was all I could do to get across the room and sit on my bed. I was so out of breath I had a coughing fit. “Why does it hurt?’ I asked myself. After a second coughing fit I lay back, trying to catch my breath.
The impact of Oreo jumping on my chest woke me. The sunlight streaming through the window told me that is was morning, and I’d slept all night in my good clothes. When I stood up to change clothes, I was overcome by a strong sense of nausea. I fought through it and managed to change into a pair of shorts and a dirty tee, before I staggered down from my room only to find that someone was already in the bathroom.
When I banged on the door, my sister shouted, “I’m busy. Use the other bathroom!” through the closed door.
Mumbling under my breath, I reached the main level just as my brother came bounding down the hall and shoved me to the side as he pounded up the steps. The sudden movement was accompanied by another wave of nausea and I slumped forward, spewing my dinner from the night before all over the floor
“What on earth …?” Mom quickly made her way to me. “ Hailey, sweetie, are you alright?” She felt my forehead, and at her touch, I realized I was burning up. When I silently shook my head, she helped me to the living room couch.
I wondered what she was doing as she ran from the room. Then I knew, when she returned a moment later with a dusty box that read M.O.R.F.S. home testing kit. I remembered her buying it when my sister reached MORFS age, but she’d never had any use for it until now.
I watched with almost no interest as she took the kit from the box and strapped it to my finger. When she pushed the button and a small needle pricked my finger and drew a small drop of blood, I felt it, but was too out of it to even wince.
A few minutes later, when the test indicated positive, she yelled at my brother to help her get me to the car, telling him to clean up the mess I’d made. When he protested, “Awwww, Mom … “ She yelled, “Don’t argue, just do it!”
The trip to the doctor wasn’t really needed to confirm the diagnosis but it was required to get me set up with an arm mounted IV unit. It was a simple contraption. The doctor inserted the IV needle into my arm and locked it in place with the brace then gave Mom several bottles that looked like small aerosol cans. “These need to be replaced every 12 hours, or even sooner if this telltale turns red,” he told her, pointing to a LED on the can’s side. “So until you have a good idea of the rate Hail’s using them up, I’d start checking every hour after the 6th hour.”
The doctor showed her how to insert the first one, the telltale lighting up green as it clicked in place and sent us on our way. With the energy pack to help, I was able to make it all the way to my room when we got home. After I was under my blankets, Mom set the IV to automatic, promising to check on my every hour or two. I think I was asleep before she got to the bottom of the stairs.
I don’t even remember her coming in to check on me or change the IV can. When I woke in the morning, I staggered to the bathroom on my own. Too drowsy and weak to stand, I sat to relieve myself. After flushing I started to go back to my room when I decided to check for any changes. I found a big one!
“Where’s all my hair?” I ran my hand over my now smooth head. Every single hair on my head was gone, even my eyelashes and eyebrows. I was in shock.
Somehow I managed to stagger back down the hall and up to my room, thinking, ‘Great, I’m gonna be a freak.’ Sighing, I brushed the shed hair off of my pillow before dropping onto the bed. Seeing the telltale was starting to change to red, I loaded a new IV can, placing the old one on my bedside table before I pulled the blanket over my head.
The next day as I was waking up, I ran my hands over my head and was relieved to feel stubble. ‘My hair is growing back.’ Not having to go to the bathroom, I noted the telltale was starting to turn orange, so I took my meds, reached for another IV pack and quickly went back to sleep. I had to replace it once more during the day. I seem to remember Mom coming in to check on me a couple of times, but I guess that seeing the telltale was green, and a growing set of empty packs, she was as satisfied as she could be.
The morning of day three, I woke with a strong headache and after a rushed bathroom trip I took my meds and faded back into nothingness.
Before the week was over, MORFS had run its course on my body and the IV pack noted the change in requirements. As the medication started to wear off I slowly came awake. That didn’t mean that when I lurched to a sitting position, I felt fine, as my head felt like it was splitting apart, and I started to scream, until I realized this just added to the throbbing in my head. I quickly covered my ears and tried to tune out everything. Everything was so noisy! It was almost deafening.
Before I opened my eyes, I was expecting to need to ask a crowd of people to leave my room and let me have some peace. I didn’t know if they would be able to hear me, as I knew I didn’t want to shout. Forcing my eyes open I was amazed to find there wasn’t anyone else in the room.
I heard my name and instinctively turned towards the source of sounds and focused. “… Hailey looks like he’s about done changing. He certainly changed quite a bit.” It was Mom speaking.”
Dad’s voice was only a little bit softer, , “… so you’ll take him for his MORFS exam when he wakes up?”
“… Don’t worry about Hailey, he’ll be fine, I’ll take good care of him. You have a good flight and we’ll see you when you get home from your trip.”
“Okay, say hi to the kids for me. I love you…”
“I love you too.”
When the conversation ended, I stopped focusing on Mom’s voice, and was immediately bombarded by intense noise once again. I could hear everything. My sister’s music, even her conversation on the phone. Oreo was chasing a squirrel in the yard, and my brother working on his motorcycle. I could hear everything all at once and it hurt... I tried to focus on Mom again and the other noise faded into the background. I could hear Mom humming as she came up the stairs from the ground floor.
‘I must be a telepath if I’m hearing all these things at once,’ I thought. Then, ‘But how did I hear dad over the phone, or Oreo outside? I thought telepaths only read thoughts.’
I noticed that the sound built up again, so I resumed focusing on his mother’s footsteps as she came up the steps until she knocked on my bedroom door. The knock seemed really loud and caused my head to throb.
“Come in …,” I might have said more, except I was shocked by the sound of my voice. ‘I sound like a girl!’
Mom entered the room and sat on the edge of the bed. “How are you feeling, Honey?”
‘Honey? She hasn’t called me that for years. Aloud, I answered, “I feel fine except for a bad headache. Everything is so loud! It’s as if I can hear everything all at once, even outside the house.”
“Well, go get showered, I’m sure you want to see how you’ve changed. Once you’re dressed I’ll take you to the doctor for your post MORFS exam. I’m sure the doctor will have some answers for you.”
I carefully nodded my head so I wouldn’t make it hurt more, then slowly got out of bed and headed down to the bathroom. Going down the steps, I concentrated on where to place my feet, with my eyes closed. There were several sensations that gave me a hint of what might have happened.
I didn’t want to look, and yet, I did, so as I entered the bathroom, I turned my back to the mirror, closed the door and stripped down before turning to face my reflection.
I was shocked. My once wiry body was now curvy. My hips were wide and my waist was small. Turning sideways, I looked at my profile. My butt was bigger and my chest had what I could only describe as small breasts. My shed body hair had not re-grown and my skin looked very soft and smooth.
But perhaps the most startling change was my head. My face was almost the same, but somehow a little softer. ‘No more peach fuzz,’ I realized. My lips looked a tad bit fuller, but it was definitely still my own face. No, the big change was the hair that had grown in to replace the short blonde hair that had fallen out. My eyelashes had grown back full and thick, and black. This made my eyes seem much larger than they really were. But my eyebrows and hair however, had grown back in a very different color that made my eyes stand out even more. The contrast in color made it look like I was wearing mascara. Pretty looking lashes weren’t nearly my biggest problem though. The hair on my head was a mix of dozens of shades of pink, ranging from soft, nearly white, baby pink to darker highlights and hot pink lowlights. It reached past my shoulders, and was thick and full with a natural wave to it.
My eyebrows had also grown back, but they were much thinner than before and had a much higher, very feminine arch to them. They were a medium shade of pink which matched nicely with my hair.
But I wasn’t ready to accept these changes. I started to wail, but the pain that brought on made me silence the scream that had been about to erupt from my lips.
For a moment longer I went back to looking at my overall appearance. The overall effect of the new hair color and softer features left me looking very much a girl. I checked between my legs, and nothing had changed, I was still a boy. “Yeah, I’m a freak!” My eyes started to tear up. I hadn’t cried for years, but now I couldn’t help myself.
Getting in the shower, I reluctantly got ready. I was definitely NOT looking forward to leaving the house. I didn’t want anyone to see how I looked. I decided to cut and dye my hair right away after the doctor’s appointment.
I had to cut the shower short. Each drop of water hitting my skin sounded like someone banging on a drum, and my headache got worse, though I hadn’t thought it possible.. Drying myself, I wrapped myself in a towel and went back to my room.
There, the next problem was finding clothes that fit. Each pair of pants I tried were too tight around my hips and too loose in the waist. I went to the door to call down to Mom. But no sound seemed to come out of my mouth. Instead, I heard my own voice, somewhere downstairs, call for my mother.
I heard Mom looking around for me. Eventually she came up to my room. “Did you call me?”
“I did, but I think I somehow threw my voice.”
“Well that’s odd, what do you need? We need to get going very soon.”
“Uh, none of my pants fit. They’re too tight in the hips, and the waist is too big now.”
“Okay, I’ll be right back.” mom left and went downstairs. Returning a moment later, she handed me a pair of baby blue sweats. “See if these fit.”
“But these are Heather’s,” I complained.
“They’re all we’ve got, just try them on.”
I tried them on and while they fit my waist once I snugged up the drawstring, they were awfully snug against my butt and hips.
“Okay, let’s get going.”
I spent the drive to the doctors with my hair tucked up under a hood with my fingers in my ears, but I was still bombarded with the noise of traffic and everything else.
Thankfully, our wait in the noisy waiting room was fairly short and I was soon being inspected by the doctor. I forced myself to put up with the poking and prodding, realizing it was all necessary. I mentioned to the doctor that all of my hair had fallen out and re-grown, which prompted the doctor to decide that he needed a sample of my new pink hair.
He tried to cut a small piece but couldn’t cut my hair with his scissors. Not even his surgical saw would cut it. He finally got a small piece using a laser cutter. He put it under the microscope and took a look.
“Well Hailey, I’d like to send your hair sample away for further analysis at the lab, but I’m pretty sure I know why it was so hard to cut. Ever since they’ve started hybridizing plants to grow neosilk, we’ve been seeing people with nano tubes developing in their bodies from MORFS, as it’s now a biological source that MORFS can get DNA from. It looks like your hair is somehow made of pink neosilk. So while it’s silky smooth and pliable like regular hair, it has a nearly unbreakable nanotube core.”
The doctor motioned for me to look through the microscope and I saw extremely think pink fibers woven around a thicker core.
“So how do I cut it? Or dye it?”
“I don’t know if you can. I doubt a dye will hold, and I don’t know any salons that have a laser cutter.”
I sat still as the telepath screened me for powers. She quickly confirmed that I was not in the least bit a telepath. It seemed an eternity as I sat across from her while she completed the scan.
“Okay Hailey, I have a few more tests I’d like to run to confirm what I’ve found.”
“Uh, okay …” The telepath went over to a cupboard and returned with a small keyboard and a small microphone.
“Okay, so I’m going to play a note and I would like you to hum or sing the same note. Okay?”
“Sure.” I was curious what this kind of test would prove, but went along with it. She set up the keyboards and plugged the microphone to her eCom. She played a note and I sang the same note. She moved a few notes higher and I sang that one as well. This continued until I’d sung the highest note the keyboard could produce. Then switched to the lower notes and I matched those, too, right down to the lowest one it could make.. She pulled out a small metal whistle and asked me to duplicate its sound. The note hurt my ears a bit and was extremely high, but I repeated it back.
“Hailey, you’ve just duplicated a dog whistle, I couldn’t hear it but it seems that you could, and so could the meter.” I nodded.
“Now, you mentioned throwing your voice, I’d like you to try and introduce yourself without opening your mouth.”
I thought about it a bit but then said, “Hi, my name is Hailey Masters,” without opening my mouth.
“I think that’s all the tests we have to do. It seems as though you are a sound elemental. I’ve only ever met one other sound elemental, and you might not be exactly the same, anyway, so I don’t know exactly what you’re capable of. But I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”
To Be Continued .
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/